Note: Review code provided by Noodletub Games
Been a while since I reviewed a yuri Visual Novel, let alone an 18+ one. Fortunately one came out in 2021, one I was eagerly anticipating since discovering it and promoted it as much as possible. The obvious question is if it was worth the wait. Join me as we take a look at LOVE BAKUDAN, by Noodeletub Games.
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, Romance, Yuri
Length: 6-10 hours per route. Depends on reading speed.
Objectionable content: Alcohol, naughty words, sexual and smoking references and uncensored nudity.
Plot Summary: Haruka Mishima and her two mothers moved from Akiyama to Tokyo. Haruka thought the city life would be grand but it was not long before she moved her hometown and dearest friends. One day the three women received a letter from Haruka’s grandmother who passed away. She had inherited the family business, a lesbian erotica bookstore. Makes sense as this story is set in an all-female universe. That or men are an endangered species there. She would soon realize that a treasure trove of naughty yuri literature was but the tip of the iceberg of what awaited her back in Akiyama.
The best way to describe LOVE BAKUDAN as a whole would be “The developers had a lot of fun working on this game”. From the simple naughty humor, the solid drama Haruka and her love interests face along with the naughty scenes it felt like I was reading stories written by ladies who, workload and everything in between, enjoyed making the project. Not saying this is unique compared to other developers. Not at all. It just felt that way. Reminded me of Rose Seed Replica in its “fluffy and yummy” interactions but here there is of course some added spice in the dialogue and some CGs per woman.
Each love interest has their own story to tell and their own kind of romance, be it a soap opera romance, a “looks can be deceiving” tale, a raunchy romance with a developing action plot or even a “commoner x celebrity” thing. The game touts having a unique experience per route and this is true. Bar some minor repeat setups at the start and end of each route every one of them is different. The three grannies at the start of a route have a heated debate over a different novel in each one. Some of the other women have different interactions or screen time. Some of the ladies hook up with each other but the pairings are always different. For example, only one route has Sei X Yuki get together. Basically it works similarly to the Amagami SS anime where each woman’s story is set in their own universe and the other ladies are around but play different roles each time. It is all nicely structured and something I will get to a bit more later.
The story structure is nicely done too. It takes it time to set everything up and get “plreaders” into the mood. We are first introduced to Haruka and learn about how she left and came back to Akiyama, her mothers and grandmother, given a tour of the town and then introduced to the six love interests one by one. Via the introductions “plreaders” (play-read) get a good idea of what they are all like, what they are be about (from their personalities to their potential personal struggles) and of course the family business Bakudan Books. All this to help “plreaders” choose which lovely to woo first using a magical “romance quiz” in a magazine. More on that in a bit.
The presentation is simple and charming. It uses realistic backgrounds found in some independent VNs (which this one of) except in CGs and I find the character designs cute, sexy and especially spunky. The main ladies all look lovely along with the cute little grannies. The soundtrack is chill and fits the locales and mood.
From left to right: Himeko, “Angel“, Yuki, Haruka, Sei, Akane and Teru
Before we get to the gameplay let us briefly go over Haruka and her potential suitors.
Haruka herself acts differently based on the chosen route. What remain the same are her personality traits. She is a kind, laid back and mostly confident woman who knows how to “bust a move” and is always hungry for “tacos” and “melons” of all sizes. Depending on the chosen route however, how she thinks, approaches situations and her tastes in “burritos” differ.
Yuki is one of Haruka’s childhood friends. She is emotional in that she feels strongly about many things but is also one of the strongest people Haruka’s ever known who takes crap from no one yet is one of the best allies anyone could ask for.
Sei is the other childhood friend of Haruka’s. She loves laughter and will do all she can to make people around her laugh too. Her craving for “chalupas” is equal to Haruka’s and has had her fair share but like Haruka has yet to find the “main course”.
“Angel” is well-known to many, except Haruka. However, “Angel” somehow knows about Haruka despite the two seemingly never meeting each other before, or have they?
Himeko is a very shy woman afraid to talk to other people despite having so much she wants to share with other people with similar interests as hers. That being said, she has an interesting secret. You know what they say about the quiet ones…
Akane, aka “These ladies designed Akane especially for OG”. A reflection of perfection in many ways from her personality to her hidden soft side. In short, she was worth the wait.
Teru: The “bad girl” of the cast. A mobster and owner of a bar one of our heroines works at. Going after her spells instant trouble…but maybe the “plreader” can persuade Haruka to want to “dance with danger”.
All ladies were fun and interesting to interact with and “plread” how Haruka courted them. By the way, yes, for “plreaders” who pay attention one of the 6 ladies is 95% the canon route, or at least it felt that way based on first impressions and Haruka’s thoughts on them. Although the writers did a good job making each woman the protagonist of their respective route it always felt like “THAT ONE” would be the one Haruka ends up with in a LOVE BAKUDAN anime.
The CGs are yummy as expected. Depending on the pose “plreaders” will either see Haruka, her love interest or both at “full power” and each time the “quesadillas” and “watermelons” are heavenly. Each woman has a couple of love scenes, two or three. By the way, “plreaders” wishing to exclude H scenes can do so in the menu.
Now it is time to talk about the gameplay. As usual in VNs it is multiple choice options but this time there is a twist. I mentioned a magical romance quiz earlier. I recommend creating one exclusive save file at this point. See, near the end of the prologue Haruka decides to take a romance quiz she found. It consists of 3 categories with 10 questions each. The categories go over Haruka’s personality, tastes in women and finally her favorite “salad toppings”. The end result will determine which of the 6 women Haruka goes after. From then on it mostly becomes like one of 6 (+) Kinetic Novel with playing a mini-game 4 times per route. Each love interest has their own set of answers guaranteeing their route but for fun try and see which lovely lady “plreaders” get their first time based on what they themselves would answer.
The mini-game in question has Haruka selling erotica. She runs a bookstore after all so there has be something related to it. Here it is as simple as listening to customers’ requests, sometimes one of the main ladies or side-characters, and pick one of three novels that fit their criteria. Get them all right and “plreaders” unlock some them to read when they please. Win all 4 rounds in one route and a 5th novel is unlocked, totaling to around 30 or so side-stories (No CGs for these though. Gotta use your imagination) to unlock. Not to mention after clearing a route special dialogues between the love interest and some of the other ladies are unlocked. That and something extra upon clearing one route. Basically there is plenty more to enjoy besides the main six love stories.
Overall LOVE BAKUDAN is a lot of fun to experience one or all of the love stories within. Haruka and each of her suitors are entertaining and interesting, the presentation is simple and lovely, the narrative is nicely structured and I dig the idea of a quiz determining the protagonist’s additional traits and who they are really into. Highly recommended to yuri fans looking for a fun and sexy time.