HuniePop 2 Tries Too Hard To Be Different

HuniePop is the best match-three game by a huge margin. Match-three is a genre that normally relies on time pressure, blindly finding matches as fast as possible to cover the screen in particle effects as little gems or fruits or whatever explode and sound effects chime in panicked celebration, and the game’s difficulty is balanced so that you’ll usually get about 90% of the score needed to beat the level and they can offer to sell you an extra ten seconds to push you over the top.

HuniePop takes that jangling set of plastic keys and turns it into a real game by giving you unlimited time but a fixed amount of turns and more flexibility in how far you can move a token to make a match (you can move a token as far as you want along a row or a column, but not diagonally or by making turns, which puts much more of the board in play). Then it ties the whole thing together with an in-game upgrade system that makes victory near-inevitable yet allows you to challenge yourself by winning with as few upgrades as possible, bolts on some character-driven with a cast that’s middlingly shallow individually but also large and diverse enough to carry the game despite the somewhat one-note nature of most of the individual characters, and then adds anime boobies.

That last feature is in some ways utterly bizarre, drastically narrowing the potential audience for the game, and yet I think it might be less mad than it is genius, because the anime boobies audience definitely exists and is absolutely ravenous and yet rarely served by any game with any selling point beyond “there are anime boobies.” A game that had both anime boobies and actual gameplay was able to pick that audience up and walk away with it (I mean, not really – the whole HuniePop series has all of three games in it (one of which barely counts), and that’s hardly draining the hikikomori slush fund to the point where no one else is making sales, but it could if there were enough of them).

I was never super into HuniePop’s anime boobs. My interests are narrow and none of the HuniePop girls are relevant to them. I played HuniePop partly because a lot of people talked about it when it came out and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but also partly because it had actually good gameplay.

My lack of interest in the anime boobs is probably at the root of part of the reason why I dislike a lot of the changes HuniePop 2 made to the original. HuniePop 2 doesn’t have a ton of characters in common, but one of them is Lola, the ambitious go-getter flight attendant. Original Lola is on the left, sequal Lola is on the right.

Original flavor Lola is definitely playing the stewardess uniform for sex appeal, and it rides the edge of plausibility in doing so. I don’t know if there’s a single airline in the real world that has actual flight attendant uniforms like that anymore, but it’s easy to imagine a time or place where they did, and that HuniePop’s fictional setting has flight attendant uniforms like that. Aiko, the sexy professor character, is ludicrously underdressed for her job, but also she’s a burnout who gives absolutely no fucks about her job, so that works with her character. Beli is normally dressed very conservatively, and Nikki and Kyanna are dressed like it’s hot outside but not like they’re on the way to a photoshoot for their OnlyFans. Jessie is dressed fairly flirtatiously, but less so than you’d expect considering she actually is on the way to a photoshoot for her OnlyFans. All the characters have unlockable costumes and at least one for each character is some kind of bikini or lingerie. These appear automatically in certain locations (a character’s bikini outfit will show up if you meet them at the beach or go on a date to the water park, for example) and you can toggle them to always appear in a certain costume. I think some of the unlockables might only come up when toggled to always appear? Either way, characters were dressed in a way that fit their personality, even if they were always pushed to the sexiest end of plausibility for that personality.

In HuniePop 2, everyone is dressed like the stripper version of their nominal job. Lola up there is now wearing a sexy stewardess Halloween costume. The super shady but ultimately good-hearted Nora is basically in a bikini even when working her job as a hotel maid. Leilani and Abia are both dressed pretty conservatively (much like Beli from the first game), but nearly every other character is dressed in some kind of lingerie or bikini as their ordinary clothes, whether it makes any sense with their character or not.

But while I personally don’t like this change very much, I can see sexing up all the girls would’ve been well-received for the general audience of the anime sex game.

I dunno how well-received the characters are, but holy shit the density of annoying little fucks in this game is so high that it might end up going into Regrets. HuniePop had Audrey, the pointlessly caustic bitch girl, but other than that the girls were all at-worst kinda bland, and while none of them were particularly titilating to me, a lot of them were fun to hang out with. They all have, like, two character traits, both of which come up in basically every conversation, so Beli’s a calm spiritual yoga person with a well-hidden freaky side, Tiffany is a studious college student who’s implied to be a rave-level party girl, Aiko’s pretty chill but also suffering severe burnout, which, like, mood, Nikki is a girl hikikomori but also…uh, actually, that’s pretty much Nikki’s whole deal. Not massive depth but all clearly distinct from each other and, except for Audrey, fun to see on screen. Well, maybe Momo the overly-cutesy cat girl is also kind of a nuisance, but only kind of and anyway she’s a secret character.

In HuniePop 2, Lilian is supposed to be goth-themed but she’s so relentless with the “ugh, everything SUCKS” variant on the goth archetype that she ends up nearly as aggravating as Audrey was, Suki is a weeaboo attention whore who’s really testing my dedication to the principle of self-identification, Candace is a dipshit who’s supposed to be super hot but, like, all the girls are drawn sexy and “hot” isn’t a personality so the only thing that sets her apart is being stupider than Patrick Starr, and that’s just the ones who are intentionally aggravating. Brooke’s mommy dommy routine and Abia’s incessant hyper-fixation with sex annoy me, but those at least seem like they’re peculiar to me – I’d expect everyone who doesn’t specifically have a kink for Lilian, Suki, and Candace are going to find them irritating. Apparently Zoey was originally also supposed to be an annoying, confrontational kind of character, so fully one third of the cast was originally going to be antagonistic, and they wound up cutting it down to merely a quarter. Jesus.

HuniePop 2 is one game created by a small team, so this might be indicative more of their personal foibles than broader trends, but I do worry that this represents a shift in HuniePop’s target audience from 2015 (when the first game was released), when eleven out of the twelve girls were at least more or less reasonable and friendly people. Many of them were reasonable and friendly without qualification – Nikki and Aiko are a little bit bristly at the edges, but Beli, Tiffany, Kyanna, and Lola are all very easy to get along with. But in 2021’s HuniePop 2, fully one quarter of the cast are intentionally contemptible. I am very skeptical of the accusation that games like the first HuniePop are misogynistic for portraying a large cast of women being open to sex once suitably impressed by the protagonist’s match-three skills, but HuniePop 2 actually is giving me some misogynistic vibes because of the bizarre density of girls who are shitty human beings in its cast. This isn’t helped by the fact that the game frames some of the non-shitty girls in shitty ways, most notably Zoey (maybe as an artifact of the version of the script where she was also insufferable?), who the game frames as crazy, but in practice she is an actual psychic whose powers never miss.

But the other thing I dislike about HuniePop 2 compared to its original might be of broader distaste: A lot of mechanics change to no immediately apparent reason except to be different. Now, some of the mechanics have changed for the very good reason that the whole theme of the game is threesomes and that this should feel meaningfully different from dating just one girl at a time. So, the mechanics where you have to switch focus between the two girls you’re dating and they have separate buffs and debuffs to worry about so you might want to match red tokens while focused one of them and green tokens while focused on the other so sometimes you’ll be trying to find a way to preserve a really good red match without using it immediately because you want to give the red-tokens girl a move or two to cool off before you switch focus back to her. Each girl has a unique set of “baggage,” special buffs and debuffs that she only shares with you after a certain amount of time spent with her and which alter the way the game is played, usually in harmful ways, and this adds additional considerations for which girl you want to focus on, because a girl’s baggage debuffs are only in play when you’re focused on her, but you can’t focus on the girl with more manageable baggage forever. It’s a means of complicating gameplay while also reinforcing the individual personality of the different girls. These changes all help to either emphasize this game’s theme of threesomes, build on the mechanics of the original, or both.

But the way the advancement system has changed seems much more pointless compared to the previous game’s simpler system. In the original game you had XP (called hunie) and money (called munie) and you got XP from talking to girls and giving them gifts and you got money from going on dates, which is the opposite of how that works, but the gameplay loop was sound mechanically. In HuniePop 2, you have four different kinds of XP based on the four different kinds of tokens you can match for points: Red, blue, green, and orange. Talking to girls gives you a bit of XP, usually of the type the girl favors, and going on a successful date gives you a bunch of XP of all types, but especially the type the girl favors (and probably less of the type she disfavors?). You no longer have money, and instead food and gifts are bought with XP (and the gifts that gave you XP have been removed entirely, but other gifts had other effects and now those are the only kinds of gifts in the game). Making everything purchasable with XP might’ve streamlined things, but with four different kinds of XP, the amount of resources to keep track of has actually doubled, and now it’s much harder to build up specific stats because instead of amassing XP from any girl and using it to buy up any stat, you now have to seek out girls who give out specific types of XP in order to increase their associated stats.

Same problem in a different place, only two of the original HuniePop’s girls return (as dateable characters, at least, the tutorial NPC/quest giver returns but is no longer dateable and thus has no stats), and both of them now have different favored/disfavored token types from before. Jessie used to like favor tokens and disfavor orange, now she favors orange and disfavors blue. Lola used to favor orange and disfavor blue, now she favors blue and disfavors green. In both cases the girl’s least favorite token became her favorite. I’m referring to them as color to try and keep things as legible as possible for people not familiar with the game, but these token colors are associated with things that are relevant to the girls’ personalities. Jessie’s changes are justified with some character development, but Lola’s are completely unexplained.

To the extent the new XP system is any good, it’s mainly that XP of all four types comes in so much faster than upgrades I actually want to buy (you get a random selection to pick from each game day) that I can mostly ignore it, but the game would’ve been better off if they just copied the XP and money from the original.

Also, this is a relatively minor complaint, especially since I don’t even go for these kinds of achievements anyway, but the game still has achievements for beating it in a certain number of game days but no longer tells you what game day you’re on. While I never bother getting good enough to hit those kinds of achievements (which usually require a perfect run with no failed match-three games whatsoever), I do try to keep an eye on them to see how far I’m overshooting. In HuniePop 1, the achievement is for 18 days (some quick math suggests there is some room for failure there, although it might just be that my math is a little off) and I got 30, so, not great. In my defense, I lost a couple of full days due to scheduling, because you can only have one date with a specific girl per day but there’s four time slots in each day, so if, for example, you hate Audrey and try to avoid dating her for a while, you’ll end up with a couple of days where she is the only one left to date. In HuniePop 2, the deadline is now 15 days (math suggests the dates required to hit this achievement is identical (48), but the scheduling is less punishing since you can now have a final date at any time of day and also HuniePop 1’s final boss was guaranteed to chew up at least four days no matter what you do), but I haven’t the first damn clue how close I am to overshooting that.

4 thoughts on “HuniePop 2 Tries Too Hard To Be Different”

  1. >HuniePop is the best match-three game by a huge margin
    It’s been over a decade since I’ve played Puzzle Quest, so maybe I’m full of shit, but I liked Puzzle Quest a fair bit.

    >the anime boobies audience definitely exists and is absolutely ravenous and yet rarely served by any game with any selling point beyond “there are anime boobies.
    You’d be surprised. RPGMaker is probably the second most common delivery format for eroge after “visual novel”. And in terms of gameplay density, there are definitely some monsters here and there. Rance, which concluded in 2018, ran for 29 years and had unique gameplay in every game. Incidentally, Rance X has the longest video game script ever, being ten times longer than the script of Dragon Age Origins. Literally ten times. Eiyu*Senki shamelessly aped Sengoku Rance’s grand strategy format and was a success. Elona is a *dense* sandbox RPG that’s been in early access for like half a decade. And I’d be remiss not to mention Monster Girl Quest, which is yet another RPG. Though I don’t like MGQ – I’m not a fan of femdom. On the western side, Last Evil is a succubus-themed deckbuilder card game, Karryn’s Prison is an RPGMaker prison-conquest game, The Last Sovereign is a huge epic fantasy RPGM game, and a Struggle With Sin is a survival-low-fantasy RPGM game. There are probably more big names I’m not remembering right now.
    In short – HunniePop was for normies thrilled at the idea of eroge even existing.

    >But while I personally don’t like this change very much, I can see sexing up all the girls would’ve been well-received for the general audience of the anime sex game.
    You’d be wrong! We, the eroge players, are a highly tasteful audience 🧐
    Nah, I’m lying. There are all kinds of people.

    To be honest, I’ve got nothing specific about HunniePop 2. I’ve never played. I never cared for it. In the realm of eroge, my tastes generally lie with Japanese productions over American ones, though there are some hits on the US side too.


  2. >RPGMaker is probably the second most common delivery format for eroge after “visual novel”.

    Huh. Steam is happy to serve me a lot of RPGMaker games and a lot of eroge visual novels, but has never offered me any eroge RPGMaker games. I was aware that things like the Rance series existed even when I wrote this (which was before you’d linked me your Let’s Play on the game – link for the curious:, but between the lack of any non-visual novel eroge crossing my Steam recommendations and the shockwaves HuniePop sent through gaming subcultures in 2015, I’d figured stuff like that couldn’t be common. I wonder why HuniePop turned out to be such a big deal, then? I guess it must’ve been pitched outside of the usual eroge audience somehow, but I’m not sure how. Did it just have more marketing or something?


    1. Steam is super weird about eroge and what is and isn’t allowed. “Furry Sex With Hitler” (sic)? Come right in! Rance? Get the hell out of here!
      That said, a lot of Japanese RPGM games localized by Kagura Games have been available on Steam.

      MangaGamer, joren, JAST USA, and f95zone are the places to keep an eye on for this product. Loverslab if you want mods, like for Skyrim, Sims, Crusader Kings, Stellaris, etc.

      HunniePop is very normie friendly. It’s all vanilla and mild and a gaming publication can get away with covering it. I’m willing to bet that Fenoxo with his Patreon-funded furry extravaganza “Corruption of the Champions” and “Trials in Tainted Space” made way more money than HunniePop.


    2. I must issue a correction. In the first post I said “Elona”. I meant “Lona”. Elona is a different roguelike sandbox game that has some NSFW, but is far, far safer than Lona. Lona is fucked up.


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