|Release date(s)||Free version
|Genre(s)||Dating simulation, Otome game|
Hatoful Boyfriend (はーとふる彼氏 Hātofuru Kareshi ) is an otome visual novel/dating sim created by Hato Moa that features pigeons as characters rather than the more common human anime characters. The title of the game is a "pun on the words 'heartful' (also 'hurtful') in English and 'hato' (pigeon/dove) in Japanese." The player character is a human girl who is attending St. PigeoNation's Institute, and is the only human at the institute. As each of the pursuable male pigeons are introduced throughout the game, they are shown with an anime version of what they would look like as a human, though this is only shown for the first meeting. The game was originally released only in Japanese, but the developer later released an English patch after employing a translator, Nazerine. A sequel to the original game, Hatoful Boyfriend HolidayStar, was released in 2012, with the English-language translation being released on Christmas Day of that year. The game also has three drama CDs.
One of the spurs to the game's popularity was a playthrough and image upload recorded by Angie Gallant on the Quarter to Three forums.
The game plays the same as most other visual novels for the PC, with the controls limited to the mouse and the only interactions being clicking to forward the game's text or to choose between multiple plot choices (some small, and some that affect the game's ending). The keyboard can also be used, with 'enter' serving the same purpose as clicking.
The save button can be employed at any point during the game, which also features several pages of save slots, allowing gameplay to be easily picked up from prior to a choice the player made. An arrow button in the upper right corner also allows the player to speed through dialogue and interactions that they have already experienced.
At various points during gameplay, the player is allowed to choose which classes to attend, which change the character's stats depending on the activity chosen. The player can also choose which places to visit, which determines what bird character's love path that the player will encounter.
Alec Meer for Rock, Paper, Shotgun commented that Hatoful Boyfriend is "more a visual novel than a game, but you do get to make a few choices and increase your (human, pigeon-fancying) character’s stats and… well, it’s about dating pigeons. And going to a posh school for pigeons. I would imagine that’s reason enough to play it." Also for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Craig Pearson stated that the game "could only be better if it was a secret game from Valve and Bioware". Dora from Jay Is Games praised the game, saying, "At just over five bucks, I will tell you right now that Hatoful Boyfriend is possibly the craziest and most entertaining game purchase I have ever made. Highly recommended, for everybirdie!"
- Hato, Moa (November 28, 2011). "Hi there!". Tumblr. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- Emily Balistrieri (August 7, 2011). "Human x Pigeon Love Blossoms in "Hatoful Boyfriend"". Crunchyroll. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Matthew Hawkins (October 21, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend Illustrates The Forbidden Love Between Man And Pigeon". GameSetWatch. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Mike Fahey (December 1, 2011). "I Want Its Plumage, I Want Its Suspense, My Game Of The Year Could Be A Bird Romance". Kotaku. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Jonathan Holmes (November 27, 2011). "Inter-species dating sim gets an English patch". Destructoid. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Leah (January 2, 2013). "Hatoful Boyfriend Sequel is Now Available for Download". Game Podunk. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- Dora (February 26, 2012). "Hatoful Boyfriend Review". Jay Is Games. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- Alec Meer (December 9, 2011). "Bird Watching: The Pigeon Dating Sim". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Craig Pearson (February 15, 2012). "Fancier Pigeons: Hatoful Boyfriend Has Flown The Coop". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved May 29, 2012.