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The Princess, the Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart (PC) artwork

The Princess, the Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart (PC) review

"A purrfect port denied over Royalty issues?"

This is going to be a bit of a mess.

Okay. So.

Nora to Ōjo to Noraneko Hāto is an eroge visual novel released over in Japan back in 2016. Itís the story of Nora, a normal schoolboy in that special way that Japan depicts such normality; as a young man surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women who look like theyíre smuggling basketballs under their blouses. He finds himself having to deal with those everyday issues all students do, such as an oppressive school regime, making time for study groups, and the discovery of a really cute emissary from the netherworld that has come to destroy all life on the planet.

It was kind of a big deal, back then, doing well enough to spawn a sequel and small handful of anime adaptations. Predictably, this was met with an eventual translation and Western release and The Princess, the Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart was born. Itís more or less the same game except it falls under different umbrellas of censorship depending on the platform. Herein lays the problem suffered across the board: this is an eroge visual novel containing no eroge, with no effort made to disguise the fact that there are massive holes where all the adult content should be.

Sometimes, itís not that big a deal. During his adventures primarily revolving around helping to climate the adorable would-be destroyer of worlds to life among the living, he has the chance to pursue four different girls, decided through the gameís very limited number of choices. Some of these paths certainly orbit the now-removed R18 content harder than others, but they all leave any and all references to the absent adult sections intact. Sometimes, itís just a little clumsy; propositions are thrown down and, rather than present all the graphic details, assumed sex just happens off screen. Only, usually, itís much more blatant and youíll have to puzzle through direct references being made to scenes that you have no way of seeing, or youíre presented with a rare choice with one path obviously leading to passages that no longer exists.

Itís either brave or short-sighted (or both) that every risquť conversation, double entendre, or indecent block of flirting is left fully intact while the scenes theyíre point blank written to support have been exterminated to coddle our sensitive Western sensibilities due to licensing issues. There will be a large slice of this gameís would-be target audience who will vow to never purchase this game without an 18+ restoration patch. But because of the way itís handled, some of them might actually mean it when they say itís less to do with their oppressive need for all of the anime breasts, and more because it genuinely hurts the story Matters of the Heart is trying to tell.

Moreís the pity, because the visual noveling that survived localisation is often commendable. Every line is excellently voiced (the voice actress alone assures that Michi is best girl; any contrary views are simply wrong) and each journey towards having off-screen sex with any of the four girls is laudably unique, veering off in ways youíd never predict. What they all share is the unfortunate ailment Noraís accidently saddled with as punishment for meddling with the netherworld envoy. Every time heís kissed by a girl, he turns into a cat. He needs a follow-up kiss to turn him back into a human.

Itís obvious with that in mind that the bulk of the story is going to invest in a heavy comedic turn and, thanks to the strength of its cast and its unapologetic commitment to the material, it manages to do just that quite handily. Itís not a short read; the game blurb boasts up to 45 hours of content should you hunt down every path available, which is something I did only partially because itís, you know, my job. Itís a fun read, but itís also not afraid to delve into more serious situations, finding the ability to pull at your heartstrings because it allows the oft-goofy cast to really establish themselves enough for you to care about. This, obviously, is a trap for when things inevitably start to go horribly wrong.

Who knew that could be the case when the main focus of the game is trying to have sex with a well-endowed blonde zombie in the hopes of distracting her from destroying all life as we know it? For long stretches of Matters of the Heart, you wonít even notice massive chunks of it are openly missing or somewhat edited. PC gamers get the best of this, obtaining extra Ďmewsingí cut-away scenes which have little to do with the main plot and act as self-contained comedy skits largely focused on the supporting cast. Itís not enough to make up for having so much of the novel absent, but it could always have been worse. As the new Cali-based Sony and its weird war against the homeland has helpfully proved. Itís a pretty standard VN trick to hide any unfortunate bouts of unwanted nudity behind something like a handy plume of steam or a convenient lens flare, but imagine being so afraid of presenting an attractive girl in a bikini that you inflict the anime equivalent of the sun exploding to ensure you have enough light beams present to protect innocent eyes from the horrors of thighs and navels. Observe the following!

Most versions of The Princess, the Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart suffer somewhat from the fact that theyíre not a complete product. But only Sony's version suffers from the fact that itís a complete joke.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 20, 2019)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted June 20, 2019:

Great review of a game I was going to have to cover. I'm glad I didn't have to; I'm glad you did! Amazingly, the review is mostly typo-free. Less amazingly, it's very lyrically and cheekily written. It's so hard to do both.
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EmP posted June 20, 2019:

Appreciate it, bud. My thoughts were all over the place with this one, so that fact that I went back over it more than usually to make sure I didn't keep derailing myself probably helped weed out those typos.

I didn't think you'd take this one, but I didn't really mind going through it. Thanks for reading!
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hastypixels posted June 24, 2019:

You presented that rather classily. There have been some interesting standards antics going on of late, with some higher rated content - purportedly - headed to the Switch whilst Sony maintains its content shielding. My stance is stanch on the matter, but how these companies deal with the subject is more the curio.

Although Nintendo signaled its intent early on...

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