Category Archives: Cover Games

The major, feature-length articles of MoeGamer. Each month, a single game or series gets the Cover Game treatment and is explored over the course of at least four articles.

Nekopara: A Day in the Life of Some Cats

The concept of the “fandisc” is a curiously Japanese phenomenon that allows fans to engage with their favourite works in alternative ways, and for creators to celebrate the success of a work without making a full-blown sequel.

The closest equivalent we probably have here in the West is downloadable story DLC or expansion packs for popular video games, but those aren’t quite the same thing as a fandisc; while exceptions exist, they tend to be about “adding value” to an existing product, whereas your typical fandisc stands by itself as its own discrete title in the context of a larger series.

Such is the case with Nekopara vol. 0, an all-ages fandisc for the series that launched in August of 2015, about eight months after the surprise success of vol. 1.

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Nekopara: The Story Begins

And so we come to Nekopara vol. 1, the first of this series of popular eroge, and the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon.

Except that’s not quite accurate; while Nekopara vol. 1 was indeed the first place that many fans came across this series — particularly in the West — it’s far from the beginning of the story as a whole.

To see the origins of Nekopara and everyone’s favourite catgirls, we need to look back much further to some non-game works by series artist Sayori, and how those designs evolved into the colourful, cutesy funtime we know as Nekopara today.

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Nekopara: Introduction

Nekopara (or “Cat’s Paradise”, if you prefer) is a series of catgirl-centric visual novels that has become a genuine worldwide phenomenon since its launch in 2014.

Since the release of first game Nekopara vol. 1, developer Nekoworks has brought out roughly one new installment a year, beginning with the short fandisc prequel Nekopara vol. 0 in 2015 before continuing with vol. 2 and vol. 3 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Unusually for a visual novel, the whole Nekopara series has seen simultaneous worldwide releases since its inception rather than releasing in its native territories first then localising later. This has helped fans across the world enjoy its lightweight slice-of-life comedy together, and has almost certainly been a huge contributing factor in making it so popular in both the East and West.

We’re going to start our look at the series with a broad exploration of where the catgirl phenomenon as a whole came from, and how Nekopara fits in with all that.

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Gravity Rush 2: Bigger, Better, Bolder

In making the jump from the handheld PlayStation Vita to the much more powerful PlayStation 4, Gravity Rush 2 ups the ante from the original considerably in terms of scale, scope and ambition.

While the first game, in some ways, felt somewhat like a proof of concept — admittedly an enormously enjoyable, playable and compelling proof of concept — it’s Gravity Rush 2 where it truly feels like the series has truly hit its stride, both in terms of mechanics and narrative.

What’s rather impressive about it more than anything else, though, is that despite releasing five years after its predecessor, it’s clear that there has been a solid plan in place from the very beginning, making this sequel not only an excellent game in its own right, but a fantastic follow-up that is immensely satisfying for fans of the original who wanted answers to its unresolved questions.

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Gravity Rush: A Hero is Born

The original Gravity Rush was an important release for Sony’s Vita handheld: it was a high-profile, first-party release, which the system has not, to date, seen all that many of, and is unlikely to see any more.

It was positively received at the time of its original release by press and public alike, but Sony’s consistently poor marketing of the platform — coupled with a general sense of apathy by the more “mainstream” parts of the gaming community — meant that it passed a lot of people by.

And that’s a great shame, as it was an excellent game. Thankfully, Bluepoint Games managed to give it a second chance on the much more popular and widespread PlayStation 4 in the form of enhanced port Gravity Rush Remastered, so a whole new audience can discover the joy of swooping around Hekseville.

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Gravity Rush: The Franco-Belgian Tradition, via Japan

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Gravity Rush series is its aesthetic.

As we noted last time, director Keiichiro Toyama’s desire was to create a game that, while still recognisably Japanese, incorporated elements from other locales in order to create something that, in theory, would be universally appealing across the world. The Western influences he chose to focus on were the Franco-Belgian artists of the bandes dessinées tradition.

The Franco-Belgian influence is particularly apparent in the first installment, while the second, in keeping with its much larger scope, draws more broadly on influences from across Europe. Let’s take a look at the specifics of how Gravity Rush got its distinctive look and feel, starting with a bit of background on Toyama’s main influence from Franco-Belgian comic books: an artist named Jean Giraud, better known to some as Mœbius or Gir.

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Gravity Rush: Introduction and History

Gravity Rush is an interesting series. Originally intended as something of a flagship title for Sony’s Vita handheld, its first installment was well-received but passed a lot of people by.

Fortunately, it managed to get a second chance at success thanks to an enhanced port for PlayStation 4 by Bluepoint Games, the company previously responsible for the PS3 versions of God of War and Team Ico’s classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. And, from there, it did well enough to spawn a true sequel, this time specifically designed for the PlayStation 4.

The two games are both excellent, but both suffered somewhat from poor release timing and, in the case of the first game, the somewhat niche-interest status of the Vita as a platform in the West. Consequently, they haven’t had nearly as much love as they deserve from the general public.

What better reason to take a closer look at where this series came from and why you should check it out, then?

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