Many of us try to find love at every opportunity. Online dating, maybe going out, or meeting new friends, all valid methods for finding that special someone. But how do you find that suitable girl, to establish a deep and meaningful relationship? How do you really trust a girl? Well, for Kenji, the secret is in their panties. That’s right, he is going to meet the perfect girl by analyzing their panties, and you as the player, will help him! Will his mission be a success? Do panty styles really define a girl’s personality?
Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s, takes players into a journey that would make Freud jealous! We play as Kenji in the early 90’s, a young-man who never really followed any specific line of work but kept learning a bit of everything. Soon, he would be known as the “Jack of All Trades”, and everyone would call him for all sorts of jobs. But Kenji it's not your typical college guy, he has a secret, one he can’t stop thinking… Collecting panties! It’s not just a hobby, or an obsession, it’s the means to an end, and it's what it takes to find that special someone! Considering his jobs, he does have access to girls' houses, and so it starts; his never ending search for the perfect girl.
With such a plot, anyone would underestimate Pantsu Hunter, and how sad would that be. It’s a game that distinguishes itself from a status of perversion, to a complete desolation state of social misery in which relationships have become! This title lingers in the dark subject of panty thieves, but also shows a delicate, sad and unfortunate side, one we all try to ignore; Solitude. Kenji doesn’t just steal their underwear, he describes each pair as what type of girl would use them, in a methodical and psychological way.
The storyline follows four different girls, in which Kenji meets, either to fix their VHS recorder or fix the computer. Each has their own memories and past, and they all have something Kenji enjoys, either their personality or their hobbies. The narrative is simple, but quite fluid, which means it’s well written, and has a low tolerance in small talk, therefore everything said is important to manufacture their personalities. It’s a direct approach, but works perfectly. Will Kenji go outside his comfort zone to actually meet a person without judging their underwear? Or could this be a very well depicted metaphor for how much have the external image conceptualize our romantic intentions in today’s age!?
The writing is good, and the whole game is available in five different languages for subtitles. The game has a few bonuses for those completionists out there, giving them unlocked special scenes that portray specific events in the life of all the girl’s involved. These scenes can be funny moments, but will mostly be filled with sadness and lost hope, which adds to the whole concept of disintegrated love expectancy, quite common in Anime. There is enough humour to go around, and with such concept, it’s exactly what one would expect, filled with hilarious situations.
Visuals are a complete bliss for nostalgic fans, even if you didn’t live through the golden years of watching anime on a CRT TV, it’s impossible not to get that vibe from the visual art. Colors illustrate a very atmospheric ambient, details shine through the bright reflexes and the renders artwork reminds anyone of classic Anime shows. Some references such as Sailor Moon and others are embedded within the game, in a way capable of flashing memories through our eyes.
Renders have a nice variety of expressions such as the voice-lip, eyes blinking, blushing, and another handful of expressions. Poses sometimes change angles, but are limited to a small amount, although considering how good they look, it’s barely noticeable. Characters have the hand-draw style that characterizes an era of Anime, and they are portrayed not only through clothes and haircuts but also by their attitude.
Pantsu Hunter is a symbiosis between traditional Visual Novels and Point & Click adventure games. This works with both elements, maintaining the simplicity in the gameplay and objectives. Players can interact with characters as in any other Visual Novel, with dialogue decisions to be made, which will affect the outcome ending. At some point, girls will have to be absent from the main narrative, either to pick up the phone, or fetch some sort of item. While at this, players have a time limit to search for… Well, panties! That’s really the main motto, and here’s when the game turns into a Point & Click. Players will have to select or gather objects, open doors, cabinets and all sorts of furniture to keep searching for those precious panities. Some of them are very well hidden, therefore one have to decipher simple puzzles like basic safes, or word combination to unlock that secret item.
There are 3 main storylines to follow and they all use the same system, players meet a character and play out the same scenario until every item or scene is completed. There’s a total of 18 different panties to be found, and a True Ending to accomplish. Each route can be finished in just about 20 minutes, but due to its replay value, they can increase significantly, up to 2 hours. Each character one meets has very diverse routes, and almost each decision will have an impact, and result in a different ending, from over 40 available. There’s also an extra chapter, where our main character takes all the girls to a hot spring, in a 100% Visual Novel style, with choices that lead to five distinct endings. An extra Epilogue is also available.
Technically, Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s, really is back to early 90’s, where save-game was something from the future. It’s understandable save-game is not included within the game, as this title is mostly fueled by paving your way through the levels and using your memory as a beacon to accomplish new objectives. Progress is still saved obviously, just not while in-game as most Visual Novels! It’s probably for the best, and using Unity, there are other aspects we could mention as a negative; There is no V-Sync, so frames go off the roof, and the options are extremely basic. Sound, for instance, is either On or Off, no bar to level the sound, and the other option is to toggle subtitles. That’s all the in-game settings. Unity configuration menu still lets you choose the desired resolution and window/Fullscreen mode.
The soundtrack is quite reminiscent of the 90’s, in very catchy and melodic way, plus with the quality we’re already used to nowadays. A simple wave of nostalgic will overflow your ears, although I personally get a huge vibe from deep, strong drums from the 80's, with the so well slow pop waves mixed with the new-age of early 90's wave we've all heard of lately, but not in a Cyberpunk way thankfully.
Every single girl in the game is voiced-over, with a dedicated actress, and not in a bad way. Voices are smooth and cute, following well their emotional role, and the lip-sync is surprisingly amazing. Definitely a top-notch recording, and the only thing it would make this even better would be the voices in Japanese, but guess what? Many of us grew up watching dubbed Anime, so that’s even a plus for our memory trip!
The Hunter is haunted by his natural desire to find love, but is it love what he’ll find? A title that doesn’t fall for cheap obscenities and perversions, but still offers humour in well directed storylines with feelings attached!