Massage Freaks is a rhythm game developed and published by The Future You’ve Been Dreaming Of studio qureate. It’s now available on PC via Steam, but you won’t find it under that name. Instead, it’s got a new title: Beat Refle.
Beat Refle was originally set to debut on the Nintendo Switch under its old title (Massage Freaks). However, it was “delayed indefinitely” on Switch following qureate’s “discussion with concerned parties”. The game attracted attention from commentators in Japan, at first by using character names that seemed suspiciously similar to members of real-life idol group Hinatazaka46. qureate changed the names, but by then the backlash had blossomed to include criticism of the game’s risqué content, and the massage parlor theme’s connection to a recent series of sexual assaults in Japan.
Beat Refle is a rhythm game, but its gameplay mechanics involve giving massages to female clients. Players enter inputs in time with the music to get customers fully relaxed. There are also light story elements presented in the manner of a visual novel, with event art and voice acting. Over 50 songs are in the game, with six different customers to interact with.
On Steam, Beat Refle has an optional patch (downloadable from qureate’s website) that enables minigames unlocked by getting a high score in the rhythm portion. Based on early customer comments in the Steam discussion forums, even with the patch in place Beat Refle is not a pornographic title. Steam usually allows the sale of such games behind adults-only content filters, and these include some games published by qureate, but by those standards Beat Refle would not qualify. Massage Freaks was given a Cero D rating (ages 17+) in Japan and a ESRB T (ages 13+) in North America prior to the Switch release being postponed.
Beat Refle is available on PC via Steam. Its Nintendo Switch release as Massage Freaks is delayed indefinitely.