Review – Pretty x Cation 2

Surprise! Fuzzy’s back from the grave! I had a brief respite from work and got in some eroge time! While everyone else played the arguably better releases of April, I chose to continue the site’s tradition of Cation reviews with Aero’s blessing. As many of you know, Pretty x Cation 1 was painfully average or a traumatic letdown compared to Lovely x Cation. Some players have probably sworn the series off for good.

However, when I saw the new heroines, the new artist, and E-mote, I thought maybe…just MAYBE…the developers did better this time. So is PxC2 a story of redemption? Or does the cycle of hatred repeat? A little of both!

PxC Round

Company: hibiki works (foreign IP block)
Game site: PRETTY×CATION2 (foreign IP block)
Release date: April 24, 2015
Links: VNDB, Getchu, Walkthrough

Spring is the season of new beginnings. Your parents have left you to work abroad in France and you move to the lakeside town of Sakimiya, where your mother once lived. While it is a great for those who love the outdoors, it is much less convenient than living in the city and you don’t feel comfortable at all.

Passing by the harbor, a woman who was fishing strikes up a chat with you. She tells you that falling in love is like fishing: you have to cast out into the unknown and it requires assertiveness and patience. She suggests that since you’re new in town, it’s a good time to try something new, like love.

Where do you start when you don’t have any experience? Will you be able to change yourself and find your dearest lover in this town? Full of both anxiety and excitement, you feel that your first love will soon begin.

[From Micchi’s Blog]

Opening


Good opening! I’d rank the opening better than PxC1, but lower than LxC1-2.

Progression

Gameplay and progression are nearly identical to PxC1, so rather than explaining the setup and system for the fourth time, please refer to our joint review for the details. Stats requirements, items, H-bonuses, text messaging, lovely shots, walking talks…coincidental heroine stalking. Nothing has changed, nor did I expect anything else. The freshness of these features wore off after LxC2. I think PxC would be no worse for wear if they removed the dating sim gameplay. Like PxC1, the Lovely Call system wasn’t great this time either as most of the voices had awkward timing and tone. However, the overall voice acting was still good.

PxC2 Map

Characters

The protagonist is another blank slate whose hobbies will match the heroine you’re pursuing; this time around they are books, fashion, music, or wannabe cooking. Despite the more attractive character designs, I still had low character expectations coming in. Surprisingly, two heroines were LxC quality and the other two were PxC quality. Batting 50/50 is better than last time! While the writing and execution was spotty at times, the overall scenario was better than PxC1. What made PxC2 work for me was the developers compensated for the lack of proper routes and character arcs by putting more effort into the slice of life atmosphere. In my opinion, the theme that ties together the slice of life is PxC2’s subtitle: “I wish I could be with you forever.”

Like many eroge, each Cation game has a subtitle; LxC2’s was “Love which continues eternally.” Yet PxC2 was the first time I thought there was more to the subtitle than gibberish English. In PxC1, you spent a lot of time together with the heroines in and out of school, but it was mostly routine, generic, and unmemorable. PxC2 takes the reverse approach by highlighting the constraints in the relationship without the cheesy melodrama. So in the better routes, what the subtitle means to me is “We can’t spend every moment together, so let’s cherish the time that we have.” The screen time of the relationship is no different than the other Cation games, yet the scenario for PxC2 made me conscious of the time element and constraints.

Walking Talk w/Suzuka

The first constraint is that in the common route, and in a Cation series first, the protagonist gets a part-time job. Working in food service at a local restaurant called Café Lakeside, the protagonist now has to balance school, work, and his relationship. The selected heroine also makes a deliberate effort to spend the night (or several days!) at the protagonist’s apartment on several occasions…sometimes with no H-scene! They want to spend time together, so rather than going on a date, they just “hang out” or flirt; some of these scenes play out really well with E-mote. If anything, I was so content with the slice of life for some heroines that I wished the scenario took more risks with character arcs and drama. Nevertheless, the Cation games have a mixed track record with this stuff so I can see why they still played it safe.

Chitose at your apartment

I know I’m reading way too into this theme, but here’s an example of what happens across the routes. One day in Chitose’s route, she stays at your apartment, but you have to leave for your shift at work. On your way out, she embraces you because she’s sad you couldn’t see each other till the evening. Or sometimes she shows up when you’re shift’s done just so you can walk home together. These situations might seem clingy or mundane, but in a good slice of life/romance, these little moments (with E-mote’s help) strike the heart strings. I’ll mention more examples for the appropriate heroines.

Honami

Honami at the park

CV: 藤森ゆき奈 = Fujimori Yukina

You’re classmate and a generic bookworm heroine that also works part-time at her family’s flower shop. She’s not technology savvy or trendy, instead, she likes keeping to herself. You meet Honami several times at the library or quiet places outside where she’s reading books; sometimes she’s so absorbed in reading that she’s oblivious to her surroundings. Honami reminded me the most of the PxC1 heroines…meaning an average experience. There’s some brief drama when she becomes self-conscious of comparing herself to other girls, but overall it’s a plain Jane experience just like her character.

Honami at the flower shop

Suzuka

Waitress Suzuka

CV: まのめるか = Manomeruka (白月かなめ= Shirotsuki Kaname)

This is Suzuka. Wait…need to change focus to the below picture.

Oppai Suzuka

THIS is Suzuka (the game points out her rack on several occasions). A third year student at another school who is also your co-worker at Café Lakeside. She loves fashion, shopping for clothes, and hanging out at the arcade/sports center. At first glance, Suzuka is similar to Hime from LxC2: spunky personality, tomboyish yet still feminine, and works as a waitress. She not’s a blatant copy of Hime and has enough quirks that distinguish her. If anything, Suzuka is more adventurous, enthusiastic, and affectionate.

Feminine Suzuka

I’m surprised how much I enjoyed Suzuka’s route. While the challenge to capture her is not as high as Sera or Wakoto, there’s a nice sense of progression as you try to get closer to Suzuka before confession. Post-confession, the events and the relationship are great because despite being independent and a go-getter, she always tries prioritizing the relationship and having fun together. Tying back to the constraints in the relationship, Suzuka goes to a different school with a longer commute, so you always get up earlier to meet her on route or try to land the same shifts at work at night. These interactions also have more weight considering the inevitable fact that Suzuka will graduate this year.

Suzuka at the batting cage

Suzuka Date

Azusa

Azusa at the music store

CV: 八尋まみ = Yahiro Mami

A first year kuudere (or is it dandere? Shimakaze?) that loves listening to music. Like the protagonist, she also recently moved to the town. However, she has no interest in learning more about the town and she doesn’t enjoy socializing. You bump into her at the music store and school, yet she doesn’t even say her name until you’re well into her route.

Azusa's catnip

Maybe some people like this kind of heroine, but Azusa bored me. She treats you like dirt, then post confession, you’re like her catnip and she fawns over you. This turn of events isn’t always bad in eroge, except her resistance to interacting with other people also narrows the screen time to mostly you and her…and she has no personality and little character development. A boring character with a figure below my strike zone is a double whammy.

Chitose

Cooking Chitose, I swear she's not yandere

CV: 雪村とあ = Yukimura Toa

A biology teacher at your school that’s candid and popular with the students. Chitose is a town local that loves the outdoors and cooking. You meet her several times in and out of school in the common route as she initially worries about you as a transfer student adopting to the school and the town. At the start of her route, you find out she lives in the same apartment building! Horrified by the terrible diet of a lonely bachelor student, Chitose gives you secret cooking lessons at home and things develop from there.

Row your boat with sensei!

I have an unabashed bias for older/teacher heroines, so I’ll refrain from gushing too much. Suffice it to say her playful/childish side mixed with her serious side is a perfect blend of sweet and salty tastes. The buildup to confession is good and after confession, Chitose takes the initiative in breaking down the constraints of the teacher/student barrier out of school. She’s eager for you to learn about her and vice versa so that you’ll treat each other as equals despite the gap in ages and social status. As a teacher, Chitose usually leaves early and comes back late, so you work around each other’s schedules and responsibilities to maximize your time together. She also visits your room often since you both live in the same building. Out of all the Cation teacher heroines, Chitose is definitely the best to date. ALL HAIL SENSEI!!!

Sweet and Salty Sensei

Route Rankings: Suzuka = Chitose > Honami > Azusa

E-mote/Graphics

For better or worse, the E-mote system is gradually becoming more common in games. Initially, I feared adding the E-mote system was a desperate gimmick to “improve” the game. Several games have mindlessly implemented the system; the end result was talking bobble heads with…bobbling boobs. Much to my surprise, hibiki works takes full advantage of E-mote to develop choreography and expressions that complement the heroines’ voice work. Boob slider aside, character movements and reactions were almost as detailed as character sprites’ champs like Clochette and Minato-soft. And yes, I turned the sliders to maximum…no regrets.

One bug that popped up a couple times in each route was that for some lines of dialogue, the heroines would lose their anime “glass eye” and look hypnotized or yandere. I believe they have already or will patch this bug.

Yandere/Hypno E-mote bug

I was quite happy to see Asami Asami (W.L.O., Artemis Blue, etc.) doing the art, as her character designs are more distinct compared to Oryo. The art is a major improvement over PxC1, but I still like Iizuki Tasuku better. I wouldn’t mind playing another PxC with Asami Asami as the artist. Now bring in Alpha too!

Chitose Date

H-scenes

Banzai!

10 scenes per heroine. Unlike the generic ero-snooze fest of PxC1, PxC2 rebounds on the ero-front. Although not quite LxC2 level, the scenes were longer, cgs were more detailed, and better ero-dialogue. While the setups weren’t original, the scenes matched the progression in the relationship; only one route had an H-scene immediately after confession. Append scenarios will come out each month like before. However, in the May append, only 1 heroine had a bonus H-scene unlike 2 heroines per month in past games….hopefully this isn’t a permanent cutback.

Final Words

Overall: 75/100

If PxC1 traumatized you, PxC2 won’t restore your faith in the Cation series. However, if you thought PxC1 was okay/mediocre, PxC2 is a better game that recaptures some of the good parts of LxC1-2…but not quite the same level yet. While LxC2 is still the benchmark, I enjoyed most of the slice of life and romance in PxC2. Overall, the development staff has learned lessons from PxC1 and hopefully they have nowhere to go but up.

27 thoughts on “Review – Pretty x Cation 2

  1. Welcome back Fuzzy.

    Ah… I see this is what you told me about to stay tuned. Actually the PxC that I mentioned on the other comments is for or PurexConnect and not PrettyxCaption. lol

    I really like this artist drawing but unfortunately don’t find any the heroines interesting, except for Suzuka.

    • Well, saying PxC on a LxC2 review comments section leads me to assume in one direction, lol.😉 I’m sure Aero will do a post on PurexConnect, but that game’s in my backlog!

      • My bad, wasn’t paying attention what post that comment on. Anyway, my point was that since all of us probably plan to play it… Ah we can choke it down Aedes’s throat or sumthing😄 then we can do a 4 ways review.. \o/ ofc if you guys are interested

  2. The moment I saw Suzuka I immediately thought it was the second coming of Hime. The sheer amount they’re similar to each other is a bit too much to be coincidence. My gut feeling tells me that even though I’ll like Suzuka, Hime will still hold a higher place in my heart. However, it’s nice to hear that Suzuka has the best route.

    • I thought Suzuka and Chitose were equal.🙂 Reminded me of some post review thoughts: Suzuka/Hime comparison never crossed my mind till after I finished her route, so while there are some initial similarities, by no means did it detract from my enjoyment. In fact, while I like both Suzuka and Hime, if you forced me to choose I’d pick Suzuka.

      I thought Chitose was equal because I just plain enjoyed her character/route.  While I like the teacher/older heroine (just like there’s an army of players who prefer the kouhai/imouto heroine), the archetype is secondary to a good character/route. Komachi from PxC1 is a teacher, yet I’m not going to pretend that route was even good. The Misa route from Natsu no Ame on the other hand was so good, her being a teacher was only a bonus. I’d lump Chitose more so in the latter although Misa is still the best teacher heroine.

      • Waitress, energetic, plus big boobs. Pretty SCREAMS hime right there =D. But if you were to pick Suzuka…makes me pretty tempted to play the game. Because I must admit, I do like her character type.

        Haha I don’t think there will have a teacher route that can match Misa’ route…seriously her route was just so good. The age gap issue is actually addressed in a not stupid manner in her route ^^.

        I can really only seeing myself playing PxC2 for Suzuka and Honami. I don’t have many plans for eroge over the next couple of months, so I might have some time to fit it in.

    • Finished Suzuka’s route a few days ago. There are similarities between her and Hime, but Suzuka comes off as just a “cool, stylish girl” while Hime has a genuine tomboy streak.

  3. Finally! Someone who was kind enough to play the game and write a review! (Aero, I am disappoint)

    Well based on purely what I see in the review, PxC2 is going to be a game that scores 5/10 at best for me, so I’m going to have to pass this time. Not only was PxC1 just trash, I’m not really a fan of the romance development that hibiki works uses in the first place; even LxC2, which I think was the “best” doesn’t take enough time with the romance and has characters falling in love literally within a month, and their tendency to fill the heroine route with (what I think is) unnecessary H-scenes leave a relatively bad taste in the mouth.

    • Hey, I spent last month playing Evenicle (a game I highly recommend), and then the first part of this month playing Pure x Connect. Like you, I wasn’t really keen to play PxC2 after what happened with the first game >____>

      • Haha, I jest my friend. I definitely empathize with your hesitance to play PxC2 especially because unlike me, your experience with hibiki works involved LxC series first.

        But on the other hand, I guess Evenicle is something I’ll need to give a second look seeing how you liked it… I’m not sure what you thought of Pure Connect, but I have mixed feelings for it

        • Like Aero, I think you definitely should try Evenicle. I already played it and now I’m at chapter 3. I really like Evenicle so far. I’m really absorbed with Evenicle now and even I put Pure x Connect aside and split my time to play FM15 just for Evenicle.

          I think its story is good. It’s not the best story, but it isn’t bad either. Though there are many cliches in its story, but I think they’re executed well. There are one or two things that I hate in its story though and the romance in it, I feel is kinda weird though.
          The system and gameplay is kinda simple I think, but it’s easy to learn. The system definitely won’t give you a headache.
          For its art…….Well, I think it’s much better than today standard. Sorry, I’m not good at judging art.
          For character, for the protagonist, it can be shorted with a sentence. Womanizer. He talks like “All cute girls in this world are mine” (in my opinion). But I don’t hate him.

          I hope you will try Evenicle. If you try Evenicle, maybe we can make a joint review about Evenicle after we finish it.
          Btw, I think I also feel the same like you about Pure x Connect.

          Btw, if you have time, please reply my mail too. There are things that I want to ask to you.

        • LOL I would probably be more inclined to pick up PxC2 if there were more appealing heroines; they’re not bad…just nothing spectacular.

          I was once a big fan of RPGs, so Evenicle appeals to my old love for genre. Add in cute girls and H-scenes, and you’ve pretty much got me hooked =D. Asterisk is quite the funny protagonist, and I love how he isn’t a dickhead like Rance.

          The story is decent considering it’s an odyssey, and they manage to fit in some fairly good romance scenes with all the heroines. The gameplay is fairly basic, and I won’t lie, it does get repetitive. However this game’s level of difficultly is gentle in the sense that you aren’t really required to grind at all. I guess this could be seen as a downside to the game as well, but I enjoyed how the story kept moving along.

          Optional bosses, side quests, capturing female monsters, and a bunch of other side quests like things are a nice bonus I would say. CG graphics could probably be better I suppose, but I didn’t mind the style they used. In battle graphics are super slick though =p. I am not a big fan of rape…but I felt that it was necessary for the game given the setting.

          My verdict: 90/100

          Haha I feel that instead of that rant just now, I should have just written a review for Evenicle. I still might, but it’ll have to be sometime after I finish writing my review for PURExCONNECT.

          • Mostly I agree with your opinion there. I think Evenicle is definitely a good game because it has 3 important aspect for game.
            I agree Asterisk is quite the funny protagonist, but you forgot that he is also a pervert and womanizer. Even few times I feel he got cocky when he is talking or went overboard. But because he isn’t a dickhead like Rance, that’s why maybe I don’t come to hate him.

            The gameplay is fairly basic, and I won’t lie, it does get repetitive. However this game’s level of difficultly is gentle in the sense that you aren’t really required to grind at all.
            I pretty much agree with you. It’s true that its gameplay is fairly basic, but because it’s fairly basic, it’s easy to learn and easy to understand for people who just begin playing Evenicle.

            My verdict so far:
            Story: 7/10
            System: 9/10
            Art: 8/10
            Character: 8/10
            Music: 7/10
            Opening: 10/10
            H-scenes: 8/10
            Overall: 81/100

            Depends on how its story goes, I think the score of its story, character, and music can change. The score of its system, art, opening, and H-scenes is already fixed.

            If you want to write a review of Evenivle, how about you make a review of Evenicle along with me and Jason (if he decide to play Evenicle). More merrier makes thing more interesting.

      • I’m playing Evenicle and put aside Pure x Connect now. I really like Evenicle and I think it’s pretty good as RPG eroge. After I finish Evenicle, maybe I will continue Pure x Connect.

        • Based off I know of you, which is pretty much nothing, slice of games aren’t really up your alley. Seems like games with an actual game play component or games with an actual story are more your thing.

          So yeah…I’ll be quite surprised if you finished Pure x Connect.

          • I see, that makes sense now. Especially since I like to write a story that has an actual story. I even still don’t finish Clover Day’s yet hahaha. Well, I also still don’t finish IroSekai and AstralAir too.

            So yeah…I’ll be quite surprised if you finished Pure x Connect.
            Is this invitation to finish Pure x Connect or what?

  4. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I love the OP song as well =D. What’s really funny is that back in the day the OP song for LxC (Wondering Truth) was super hard to find. The OP song for this I got like a couple of weeks after the game was released.

  5. Having completed Suzuka’s and Chitose’s route, I think it’s a decent slice-of-life vanilla romance from the start to the confession stage, but after that the story and character development essentially die. After the confession, it’s just ichaicha slice of life that doesn’t reveal new, interesting aspects of the characters’ personalities. Neither are the relationships tested like with some of Lovely Cation 1’s heroines, hence there is no dramatic arc whatsoever, therefore the story stagnates. Since Suzuka and Chitose are considered the best routes in PxC2 I imagine the other two are worse.

    And while we’re on recent eroges, I’ve played several of Pure Connect’s routes and the same problem surfaces, but on an even worse level. There is no obstacle to the protag getting into a relationship with a girl. She just confesses suddenly out of the blue and the two are suddenly a couple. After that, just slice-of-life through the rest of the routes. Again, there are no major obstacles for the couple to surmount, hence no dramatic arc, hence the story feels flat.

    Despite the flatness of the story and character development, the characters themselves are still more multi-layered than PxC2’s girls, so I think I actually prefer Pure Connect over PxC2.

    Still, neither can touch Lovely Cation 1, especially Yuuki’s route.

    • I guess if I had to pick a favorite route in Pure x Connect, it’s Arisa’s. Her pre and post-confession transformation is such a dramatic tsun to dere progression that it’s highly entertaining to watch. Plus there is some actual drama that occurs later in the route, even if it’s not really much.

        • NYAAAA~

          I just wish the creators had actually done something with what had seemed like it could’ve been a genuine obstacle to Sora and Hayato’s relationship. There’s also the fact that the interaction between Sora and Hayato doesn’t change much from when they were just osanajimi and when they’re lovers, and that could’ve been a good opportunity for some tension with the relationship.

    • Thanks for the second opinion! While I agree having story/character development and ichaicha/slice of life is the best of both worlds, I think expecting both out of the recent Cation games or going forward has been a lost cause for me…especially drama. If anything, hibiki works has been gradually backing away from obstacles/dramatic arcs after LxC1. While the drama in Yuuki’s route played out fine, I think the general feedback hibiki works got was that it soured some of the other routes…like Yuni.

      So with LxC2, they toned the drama down and focused on characterization/ichaicha/slice of life over story…then with the switch in development staff for PxC1, they downright lost the ability to write a competent scenario. With PxC2, I think they’ve recaptured the ability to write some decent ichaicha/slice of life, but I also had zero expectations for story. If anything, I wished they would have taken more risks with story/character arc…but hibiki works either thinks it no longer fits the Cation series or they don’t have a scenario writer like insider who could pull it off yet.

      I also don’t think focusing on ichaicha/slice of life over story/character development is necessarily a bad thing…just different tastes/different style. So if I was reviewing PxC2 based on story, yes, I would have been much harsher…I go to other games for that! Personally, I liked LxC2 more than LxC1, and that’s the direction I hope PxC will eventually get back to. However, I agree that Yuuki is still one of the best Cation heroines…great character and voiced by Rita!!!🙂

      PurexConnect is in my backlog, but I’m still looking forward to it.

  6. Hello I know it’s kinda late for posting this but I need help. I’ve recently found this game when I was cleaning out my room still in the shrink wrap so I decided to install it and play.

    Here’s the issue, during the character creation menu, I’ve chose a name from the ‘Lovely Call’ list and typed it in the field, however the heroines did not say the name I’ve input and I’ve tried different names from the list but to no avail.

    Does the thing only work if I have an actual Japanese keyboard since I’ve been using the Microsoft IME language bar thingy to type the words.

    Thanks for reading.

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