Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro is a visual novel of loving a grasshopper girl in a world of monster creatures – about finding romance in a world of ugliness.
Siliconera spoke to Nostalgia, the team behind Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro, to figure out why they chose such unsettling characters and monsters for the player to care about, and how they wanted to explore what it meant to love someone for their personality over their looks.
Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro explores love for a monstrous girl. What made you want to tell this kind of love story?
Nostalgia, developers of Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro – There are many reasons people fall in love, but for the majority of people, someone ugly is not someone to fall in love with. We thought to ourselves to have someone fall in love not because of appearances, but because of what’s inside. With that as the concept of this game, there was a need for us to create a character that was as ugly as possible.
What immediately came to mind were the creatures from Alien. A creature that makes you want to avert your eyes, but with a personality of a brave, kind girl… If we can express that, then I think we’ll be able to convey our concept to the players. That was how we approached creating this love story.
Why did you choose to make everyone a monster except for the protagonist? Why is the hero a human in this world of creatures?
We placed the most importance on the player’s visual information in this game. As I mentioned earlier, this game is about loving the characters for who they are, and not their appearance. We don’t mean the protagonist Ichitarou falling in love, but rather, the players themselves falling in love. Hence, as the vessel for the players to project themselves into the game, we couldn’t let him be a creature as well. If the protagonist were a creature as well, then he wouldn’t be "the player themselves", but just "someone in the game".
As for placing importance on visual information, that also refers to the writing of the game’s text: how it doesn’t discuss that everyone else around him is a creature, and how the heroines’ creature-like traits are not touched upon. We paid close attention to those two points. That’s because if we point out the creatures’ physical characteristics in the text, then it’s no longer purely "visual information". Though I did put stuff like "her boobs are big" (lol).
This game isn’t about creature-creature romance. It’s not about the human protagonist falling in love with the creature heroine. It is all about the human player falling in love with an ugly heroine.
Why is the love interest a grasshopper? What made you want her to be this kind of insect?
We wanted to convey the concept of falling in love with someone’s personality, and not at all due to their appearance, as was said earlier. To bring this concept to life, we needed a suitable character – a creature. As for why it’s a grasshopper, the reason is simple: because I hate grasshoppers, and the illustrator, Moser, is great at drawing grasshopper-like creatures.
It’s just those two reasons. Nothing particularly deep. That’s why the second game and the novel have a different creature as the romantic interest (lol).
Grasshoppers can be seen as gross by many people, especially in such detail as we see in Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro. What is different about making a love story about an ugly creature as opposed to a pretty one?
Love stories with someone "beautiful" often end up meaning someone with a "beautiful appearance", which make it easy to fall in love with them. Meanwhile, the falling in love with their personality ends up being rather vague. However, in a love story with someone "not beautiful", then it’s inevitable that one must fall in love with their personality and so the reason for love is that personality, rather than appearance.
Despite the initial horror, there is a cute side to the grasshopper heroine. How did you make an insect feel cute to the player?
A typical romance game’s presentation usually has a fallible protagonist who is constantly supported by a brave heroine. This game takes that method and makes use of it. Even with a compact story, it contains ups and downs and waves of emotion through the heroine, which help to bring out her attractiveness.
How did you help the player make friendly connections with the menacing creatures of the game? How did you help them overcome fear/revulsion/discomfort to learn to feel for these creatures?
We portrayed the protagonist as a truly weak, faulty character, while the heroine kindly supports him all throughout. In those interactions, the heroine’s affection for the player peeks in and out. I think Kokoro-chan’s love can be conveyed even through the screen.
What is the fun part, for you as a developer, in telling such a different love story as Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro?
Though we began with a fairly serious concept for the game, we’re really jokers at heart, so we thought about going all the way with bad ends. We had the most fun making completely senseless bad ends. The second game in this Creature Romances series has even wilder bad ends.
As a final note, we’d love for this to get a Hollywood adaptation, so spread the word! (lol)