Let's Meow Meow! (PC) review
"Obsession is a blinding force. Ibuki Takao’s infatuation is particularly consuming, given that it’s one of a sexual nature. He simply cannot resist a catgirl. The fixation even manifests itself in his everyday behavior; he projects his love of these fictional creatures onto their existing counterparts by feeding strays at the park. Little did he know how these efforts would be rewarded. In a dreamy haze, the Cat God appears and grants Ibuki a single wish. Without hesitation, he screams his ..."
Obsession is a blinding force. Ibuki Takao’s infatuation is particularly consuming, given that it’s one of a sexual nature. He simply cannot resist a catgirl. The fixation even manifests itself in his everyday behavior; he projects his love of these fictional creatures onto their existing counterparts by feeding strays at the park. Little did he know how these efforts would be rewarded. In a dreamy haze, the Cat God appears and grants Ibuki a single wish. Without hesitation, he screams his unqualified desire. To our hero, it matters not if she is the most roly-poly creature ever conceived. As long she has furry, pointy ears and a long, plush tail, he’ll be satisfied forever with his own wondrous catgirl.
Fortunately for him, and for us, the Cat God has more refined taste, and he bestows upon our protagonist a cute, agreeable kitty named Mikan. With her immediate declaration of everlasting devotion to her new master, it seems that Ibuki’s life will be a long, tranquil paradise. But even Gods make mistakes. A stream of interdimensional interlopers accidentally followed Mikan’s trail, and now they’re all leaking into Ibuki’s path. As this is an adult adventure, most of these intruders are of the female persuasion, and it’s up to the player to decide how get the main character into their hearts and pants (except, because of their tails, they mostly wear skirts). Right from its preposterous start, this game establishes itself as an aimless comedy. It's certainly not concerned with drawing the player in with compelling drama or gameplay, instead relying only on the unique genetics of its cast to garner attention.
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the game is the selection of those characters. With the title Let’s Meow Meow! and the leading man’s plainly-stated personal taste, one would expect that catgirls would comprise most all of the company. Aside from the sweet Mikan, though, only the dreamy miko Kohaku is feline, and she doesn’t even get her own ending. Technically, the clumsy Koboshi would count as half a catgirl, since she’s composed of wires and circuits under her girlish exterior. When considering the other species, Nanami’s purely human presence as the aggressive childhood friend and de facto bride isn’t surprising, but then LMM! starts in with stranger combinations of anatomy. Shinju’s bushier tail is the only sign that she’s part canine, as she gets along remarkably well with her cat counterparts; it must be her military discipline. Finally, Hanabi wears the traditional bustier of a bunny girl, but her floppy ears and cotton tail are genuine, along with her hedonistic belief in free exchange (at least of other people's property). While the variety may initially disappoint, the personalities behind it definitely liven up the game. Shinju and Hanabi serve as perfect foils for each other, and it's hard to avoid smiling when hearing Namami's exasperated reproaching of her friend's corrupt thoughts.
So unless you’re a monogamous lover of the neko, you can still enjoy this ragtag band of exiles, at least as long as you find entertainment in the vapid adventures typical of other harem-style anime and manga. Fortunately, LMM! maintains a crisp pace. The cute characters are introduced one by one; just when the action seems to have calmed down a new addition storms in to stir things up. Once assembled, the girls bicker, brawl, and generally make Ibuki's life wonderfully troublesome. Keep in mind that none of this action is animated on-screen, it's actually just a text bubble superimposed over static character shots. Still, at first you feel pretty involved in choosing the exact mischief Ibuki's going to find. Even though most of your time is spent reading dialogue, the game will present a couple of options for you every few minutes. These deal directly with how Ibuki interacts with his new acquaintances, so the responses have a great impact on the impression he makes. Unfortunately, this effect isn't immediate; the scenes play out almost identically regardless of which you pick(making subsequent replays of the first half of the game virtually the same). Furthermore, the typical situation lets Ibuki either flatter with a compliment or dispense a more disparaging remark. It's not even necessary to consider the person he's speaking with to arrive at the correct conclusion, and the outcome is obvious, robbing the player of that glorious trepidation that accompanies unknown consequences.
That criticism applies equally to the second half of the game, and the two halves are divided by a more disappointing partition: simple screens that blatantly ask which girl you like best. These always feel like a bit of a copout, as if the developers believe people will give up if they don't immediately find what they want. However, if used effectively, they can still cause flutters of apprehension, serving as a final leap of faith that the hero's done enough to win your target's heart. Since LMM!'s gameplay is already so brainless though, they're basically just an anticlimactic menu that automatically conveys you down the selected path.
But that's not the last opportunity squandered by the game's creators. They try to build towards an emotional apex by introducing a more dramatic element, the prospect that the girls may have to return to their own world. Actually, it's the perfect solution to evolve past its simple fanservice appeal. The potential anguish caused by two lovers separated by an insurmountable space makes the heart tremble, and think of the inner struggle each person must face, all the decisions that would have to be made in handling such a tough situation. Yes, ponder the myriad of possible reactions and how, since you ostensibly control the protagonist, it would be natural for you to shape his feelings and determine his course of action. But no. With only slight consideration, Ibuki neatly reaches his own peaceful conclusions, cutting off the player from what should be the most important moments in the game. Instead, the focus remains mostly on sex. Evidently, you're just around to make sure this guy gets laid.
That's an empty feeling, hardly filled by the somber mood set with tender serenades or the passion generated by the lecherous performances of the excellent voice actresses. Sentiment aside, the animalistic theme of LMM! really takes over in these scenes. In-between naughty sounds the nekomimi girls will mewl with delight, and Shinju will even whimper like a puppy when she's desperately in heat. Every shot catches a glimpse of fuzzy ears and a seductively curved tail, and even without those accoutrements, Nanami has her sexy tan lines to distinguish herself.
Their lithe bodies are shown off in a wide range of perspectives and positions, and even the threesomes are sufficiently varied so that you can't guess what the next scenes will reveal. These ménages are present both in the regular routes and the bonus harem path, which sadly culminates in a rather boring orgy – if you believe sex with a half dozen partners can be ordinary. Instead of going out with a bang, this final scene only features one picture, unlike the two included in every other encounter. It’s a minor annoyance, and with the outstanding variety of artwork seen throughout the game you really can’t complain about the visuals. Still, LMM! can’t even escape its own silliness in these lust-filled spaces; juvenile terms like “yogurt slinger” appear frequently enough to temper the sensuality of the moment.
That example serves as a microcosm of the game’s troubles. It dangles that emotional edge but lacks a serious bite, instead relying completely on the comedy created by off-the-wall characters. That vacuous humor eventually wears thin, able to persistently entertain only those who are determined to like it. In spite of its deficiencies, though, Let’s Meow Meow! still has that niche appeal. It offers a wide assortment of attractively rendered sexual situations involving a prevalent fetish. If you're searching for a catgirl paradise, relish this as a frivolous treasure.
Community review by woodhouse (March 06, 2005)
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