HuniePop 2: Double Date is double the fun and double the trouble of the original, HuniePop, released in 2015. After a series of unfortunate delays, HuniePop 2 was finally released on February 8th of this year, and it improves on the original in almost every way.
Be warned, there will be some minor spoilers of the original HuniePop when story comes up, or when game play comparisons are made.
Candy Crush, for Adults
Now let’s take a step back. HuniePop 2 is a match-3 game recognizable to anyone who’s played Bejeweled or Candy Crush, but with an adult-flavored twist: matching symbols is a metaphor for scoring points with women on dates. HuniePop 2 is therefore a hybrid tile-matching game and a dating sim, where success rewards you with sexy CGs.
You play generic every-man protagonist, taken under the — literal — wing of the love fairy Kyu, who you first met in HuniePop when you were a desperate loser virgin. Now a registered babe-magnet, and so successful you have canonically seduced the goddess of love, it turns out there’s some ancient evil prophecy about the destruction of the galaxy by raving PMS Ancient Evil Entities™ called nymphojinn that you are equipped to solve with threesomes (and double dates). You must head to an island destination and accumulate sexual energy by engaging in threesomes with the locals and other vacationers, including a few familiar faces.
The core gameplay involves matching colorful symbols, called tokens, in groups of three or more to score points, with each heroine getting extra points from a specific token type, and fewer points when matching the one token they dislike. You are focused on one woman at a time on your double dates, so matching tokens with the right heroine selected is the key to victory.
But those are just the core mechanics. Each heroine has a stamina bar with a maximum of six notches, and each move you make with one date costs variable stamina based on how many tiles you are matching. Match the standard three and lose one stamina, match four plus, or make multiple three tile matches at once, and you will rake in points but also quickly exhaust your stamina. Each move you make while focused on one heroine recovers the other’s stamina by one notch, regardless of your move quality. Then there are broken heart tokens, if you match 3 or more purple hearts your selected date loses all stamina immediately. Until a heroine who has dropped to zero stamina recovers to four notches, you can’t select her.
So how else do you recover stamina?
The first method is with the stamina tiles new to HuniePop 2. These grey pentagons recover the stamina of your selected date, instead of reducing it. The second is more familiar to HuniePop players: date gifts.
Date gifts are items with special abilities that give you a boost during dates when equipped to a specific heroine. You are able to use them by matching tear drop tiles, which grants your selected date Sentiment. To play a date gift you have to be able to afford its cost, which increases based on how powerful the effect is. Among the more powerful effects are extra moves and items that refill stamina — sometimes for both your dates at once!
You buy date gifts with currencies named after the four main token types. Talent, which is a blue musical note. Flirtation, a green star. Romance, an orange moon. And Sexuality, represented by a red flame. You gain currency after dates, whether they are successful or not, but successful dates result in more currency. At the start of the game gifts aren’t necessary to win, but for every successful date you go on the score required to win future dates goes up. The whole game is an arms race, as along with date gifts you can spend currency buying items that give you experience that make scoring tokens worth more, or makes raising the Passion of your dates more efficient.
Passion is represented by the pink heart tokens, and is tracked by a percentage meter linked to each heroine. A higher percentage increases the ‘weight’ of your matches, giving you a higher score boost the higher a date’s Passion is. It’s zero by default. Along with matching heart tokens, you can raise Passion with date gifts, or with pre-date gifts like food. Since feeding heroines can raise their starting stamina or Sentiment as well, there is a lot of strategic depth in picking the right items to use, both during and before your dates, and one wrong choice can leave you a couple moves short of succeeding on your date.
HuniePop 2 has another complication called baggage. Each heroine has pieces of baggage they unlock as you get to know them. Only one is active for each date, seemingly selected at random, and it’s a disadvantage that hampers your efforts. For example, Lola’s Busy Schedule steals a move from you for every 10 moves you make.
All these mechanics add up to a difficult game, one that will challenge your ability to strategize, not just welcome you to fap and forget. The blade’s edge gameplay makes you consider all your choices carefully, and led me to spend hours playing per session, always justifying it as “just one more date”. I’m sure professional match-3 players won’t struggle too badly, but even then there are enough novelty mechanics and twists on the format for them to learn to perfect their hunie popping game.
Blood Pumping Audio
HuniePop 2 has excellent upbeat music that gets the blood pumping as you scour the token grid for your best move. The UI design is a huge improvement over the first game, with cheerful pulsing buttons with a clear hierarchy and labels, yet they retain the colors and features of the first game so you can switch between the games seamlessly and still know what you’re doing.
The voice acting is excellent, with sassy returning characters like Kyu and Jessie retaining their personalities, and a large cast of new heroines to win over your heart and loins, or for people to love to hate.
The dating simulation element is primarily explored through the talk feature, which lets you get to know the dozen heroines. Talking has a mechanical benefit as well, giving you one extra move for the coming date at the cost of two stamina. Outside of talking, each heroine has scenes with their double date partners when they meet so you can see their dynamic. There are also lots of situational phrases that activate when you go to meet dates, hit the date button, and finish your double dates, which culminate in the threesomes you need to fight evil. The story and these little phrases alike are full of writing that is unafraid, full of humor, and even has faintly heartbreaking elements alike, and is just lewd enough to remind you you’re playing an adult game.
HuniePop 2 has great art, whether the CGs or just the character busts (which I particularly love). In comparison to HuniePop the quality has leaped ahead, and even among other visual novels HuniePop 2 has high quality, if not top quality, art.
HuniePop 2 is a game that’s fun, quirky, hilarious, and addictive. Play it for its gameplay, for its creativity, and for its visual novel elements. There is nothing quite like it, and any fan of eroge, match-3, or just quirky Japanese-style games is missing out if they don’t play it. Available now online, including from JAST USA (NSFW).