Hustle Cat is for Dream Daddy Fans Who Like Magic and Cats

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As Dream Daddy continues to enjoy considerable well-deserved acclaim as well as a booming fandom, I found myself thinking of other western dating sims that flew a bit more under the radar. It’s certainly no crime that DD’s young writing staff garnered the producorial support of the Game Grumps, allowing their sweet, sincere game further reach. But there are also other, earlier western dating sims who’ve tried to write more inclusively—going at least as far back as Hanako Games’ Magical Diary in 2011. Today I want to spotlight Date Nighto’s 2016 game Hustle Cat, which won my heart with its low-key but empathetic romances and fantasy elements. And also, its literal cat people.

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Angels in America and Log Cabin Republicans: How Dream Daddy’s Joseph Reflects Gay Conservatism

bad idea

When I first heard the rumor about a secret ending where blond, yacht-owning, sweater-and-polo-wearing Dream Daddy Joseph is revealed to be a cult leader, my first thought was “yeah, that sounds about right.” Dream Daddy is a visual novel, after all, and that’s a genre known for including strange hidden elements—look no further than the post-apocalyptic worldbuilding of Hatoful Boyfriend or the infamously bloody Bad Endings of Dramatical Murder, Togainu no Chi, or School Days.

The initial discovery of the “cult ending” script in the game files was followed by a wave of complicating factors that turned it (fittingly, given one of the routes) into something of a cryptid. First of all, it isn’t actually possible to unlock the ending in the build of the game that was released on Steam. Chapter 18 has no start command, meaning there’s no way to launch it. Additionally, several of the included assets are reported to be broken, and the dialogue refers to an older draft of the game wherein the player character had a wife named Cora rather than a spouse named Alex.

At the same time, there is also a Steam achievement suspected to be related to the ending (“Escape from Margarita Zone” and possibly “World’s Okayest Dad,” though 0% of users have been able to unlock them), and a few remaining lines in the finished game that refer to the cult ending (such as receiving a warning about Joseph and a knife from Robert). All in all, particularly with the context of DD’s hectic and delayed launch window, I would estimate it to be content tested and then cut late into development, at which point the developers were too busy fixing other issues to remove the remnants of the route (this is not uncommon even in big budget games: see Grand Theft Auto’s “Hot Coffee” minigame or the first Mass Effect’s nearly intact m!Shepard/Kaidan romance, both still salvageable from the code of the finished product).

good advice robert

While the debatable accessibility and purpose of the scrapped content are ultimately a curiosity, the ripple effect was a debate on whether or not the existence of this ending casts a pall of homophobia over the game as a whole. Much of this clamoring has come from an echo chamber of false information, well-meaning people who heard a thing through the grape vine and didn’t bother to confirm, and a likely handful of deliberate shit-stirrers.

There are, however, two issues that I do want to tackle in regards to Joseph: how he reflects a very specific and harmful mindset among the queer community, most strongly associated with the “gay conservative” (a connection I believe the game’s writing deliberately evokes); and how offering a breadth of representation means being able to portray bad people who happen to be part of an oppressed group without making a statement about that group as a whole.

I.  A Brief History of Gay Conservatism 
II. Joseph v. Joe: A Comparison of Closeted Religious Men
III. How Joseph Operates and What He Wants
IV. Representation Means Variety

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[Link] Why I’ve Been Playing Undertale After the Election

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I think election night was a bad time for most of us. At least that’s what I’m assuming, since you’re reading an article about coping in the aftermath. I started out checking the incoming results excitedly, then compulsively, the same way you scratch as a bug bite even when it’s already bleeding. My partner was with me over video chat, and when I needed to either distract myself or escalate from rocking quietly in my chair to a fullblown panic attack, I suggested we finish playing Undertale.

It wasn’t something I picked out for some thematic reason. She’d wanted to see it but didn’t want to deal with the Bullet Hell gameplay, and I still had it in my Steam library even if I hadn’t played for a year. Simple as that. And while it might not have seemed like it as my partner and I were quietly crying on both sides of the connection – hearing the final tallies, feeling scared and sick – it turned out to be the best decision I made that night.

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Stardew Valley – Eldritch Lore? In MY Farming Sim?

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It’s possible that a person might wake up and realize, “well shit, I just spent 12 straight hours playing Stardew Valley; guess I’d better write about it.” Possibly it is less extreme for those without obsessive disorders, but I get the feeling I’m not entirely alone in this whole unexpected time loss thing. It lures you in with the hypnotic cycle of daily tasks that’s become a staple of so many mobile games, and when you look up again you realize 50 hours have passed and you’re not sure if you’re angrier at the game or at life for taking you away from the game.

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Hatoful Boyfriend Writes its Own Fanfiction

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After finally knuckling down to get a Steam account in order to start at least trying to catch up on my lengthy to-play list, I wound up crying more tears than my previous years of gaming combined. The first offender was The Walking Dead Season 1, aka “Ugly Cry Generator 2k12;” the other was Hatoful Boyfriend. You know, the pigeon dating sim?

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The Value of OFF after Undertale

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It can be difficult to recommend OFF in a post-Undertale world. After all, it would seem that everything Mortis Ghost’s 2008 indie darling had to offer was revisited and built upon by Toby Fox’s recent masterpiece. OFF, in broad strokes, is basically equivalent to being locked into a Genocide Run; only without the other, redemptive half of the story on offer. This isn’t to say that OFF is somehow to blame for this: the seven year gap between the two games spans the death throes of the PS2, the entire 360/PS3 generation and the beginning of current-gen and nascent VR; it’s to be expected that there would be leaps and bounds in what could potentially be programmed even before taking in Toby’s experience as a modder versus what was, by all appearances, the first time effort of an amateur developer. I come not to dismiss OFF nor to bury Undertale, but to ask: what does a landmark work have to offer when future generations build on its best ideas?

As you might suppose, extensive spoilers for two excellent games will follow hereafter.

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Artist Spotlight – AgentJR & Genghis Kait

It’s something of a custom around here to use this week of American Turkey Day to shine a spotlight on underappreciated artists. To that end, let’s talk about Let’s Players: folks who record themselves playing video games in whole or in part for the enjoyment of others. It’s often not a highly respected art, derided as riding on the coattails of other creative endeavors by people who don’t understand the time and effort of play time, editing, and presenting one’s own persona as part of the experience that all go into a well-made Let’s Play.

Not to mention that video games (before we even touch problems with the community mentality) are the most exclusionary art form out there aside from, perhaps, Broadway. Certainly it’s the only art form that deliberately plans its own obsolescence and correspondingly wrings potential consumers for every penny of disposable income they have, backed up by an emphasis on modernity that demands being able to put down those large sums regularly at launch in order to find the factor of community involvement even slightly surmountable. And never mind if you come late to the party and find yourself interested in a game that’s four or five years old. Good luck finding it and potentially a system to play it on (if indeed it existed as physical media and was not ghosted a la the infamous PT). And so Let’s Plays can come to serve not just as entertainment but as historical documents for curious viewers who lack the means, equipment, skill, or time to tackle a game themselves.

And while I am quite the fan of well-known individuals like Jim Sterling, Laura Kate, and Markiplier (an example of how modern Players have shaded into the realm of sketch comedy, but certainly a kind and generous individual with some enjoyable longform LPs), today I wanted to focus on two channels who’ve been consistently talented and entertaining and deserve far, far more recognition than they get – one old, one new.

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