Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star is the festive Hatoful Boyfriend complimentary visual novel. Set between winter break and the third semester of the original game, it follows Hiyoko and the fine feathered fellows in the cast as they get up to various holiday antics. There are four main episodes in the game, each offering a different sort of adventure.
While Hatoful Boyfriend was the sort of game where any moment could be golden, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star is more subdued. It attempts a more cohesive narrative, despite introducing an outlandish “King” and a supernatural story focusing on Anghel’s abilities. It’s also a largely kinetic visual novel. It has a tale to tell and you’re going to hear it. If you do need to make a choice, it will either do nothing or lead to a bad ending. To help prepare you, there are three choices in the first story, none of which change anything. The second story has one choice and, if you don’t pick the right answer of the three, you’re taken to a bad end. The third story has one choice, which leads to a bad end if the incorrect option is chosen. Finally, the fourth story has three choices and I recommend saving before each one. A wrong answer at any of the branching points will lead to a bad ending.
Don’t let the threat of a bad end and linear storylines scare you. There are still plenty of special moments to enjoy in Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star. To give you an idea of what to expect, these are three that absolutely won’t spoil the overall experience for you.
“The Christmas Thieves Attack!,” the first episode in Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, is about a group of thieves stealing Christmas trees. Hiyoko, Ryouta, Sakuya, Okosan, and other members of St. Pigeonation get caught up in the events, hoping to foil the heists. The most memorable moment for me in this tale comes right at the very beginning. Given the mystery surrounding the thieves, Hiyoko seizes on the opportunity to reference one of Capcom’s best series, Ace Attorney. When Ryouta is relaying his firsthand account of the initial heist, where Rabu was assaulted and Torimi Cafe’s tree taken, Hiyoko makes sure to “object,” tell him to “hold it,” and continually point her finger at every revelation. It’s especially great since Hiyoko remains “in character” throughout the episode.
It’s a happy reminder of the contents of the original Hatoful Boyfriend. The first game was full of little Easter eggs that referenced other video games, and that Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star immediately does the same is reassuring. Especially since the “Hold on!” and “I object!” effects are just similar enough to call to mind Phoenix Wright.
The second adventure in Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star is “Fallen Chronicles – Absolute Zero.” It turns out Comiket still exists in this bird-inhabited future, and Anghel is working on a creation for the “Day of Judgment, Ragnarok.” Hiyoko ends up helping out as a volunteer at the event, as does Ryouta. Which brings me to the one of the most memorable parts of this section. Hatocatch Pretty Coore is an established series within the game’s world, along the lines of Precure or other magical girl stories. Talk about cosplay comes up quite a bit in this episode, and that means Ryouta gets another costume to wear! His appearance as Coore Grey is something to behold.
That’s also another thing that Hatoful Boyfriend unintentionally does well. Like all visual novels, it’s a means of informing people about Japanese culture. The first game introduced some people to the visual novel genre, and this supplemental story helps people understand what Comiket could be like and why people might dress up in costumes of their favorite characters. After all, cosplay isn’t exactly a common thing outside of fandom circles. Ryouta’s explanation and example is surprisingly educational.
The last two stories in Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star are two parts of “The Day the Night Slept.” I was almost going to pick two memories from this segment, but I didn’t want to risk spoiling the second part for anyone, so we’re only looking at a memorable moment from the first half of this adventure. In this storyline, Hiyoko, Ryouta, and Nageki start off on a train heading home from St. Pigeonation and end up encountering a King. It also features some spoilers from the original Hatoful Boyfriend, so keep that in mind before you head into this two part portion.
This segment begins with Mr. Nanaki telling the class that the Astronomy Club is going to have an event the next night to observe a total lunar eclipse. This being Hatoful Boyfriend, an eclipse is never just an eclipse. Hiyoko, Nageki, and the rest of the class go to a roof for the moon viewing party. It’s what leads up to this part that makes this storyline so special. Nageki is a rather unorthodox character, and the first part of this episode provides more insight into his nature. We learn more about what he is and isn’t capable of, tying up some lose ends from the first game.
It’s these early moments in Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star’s second to last chapter that show why it’s so important as a supplemental piece. It helps expand the series’ lore. What it does for Nageki in the first 10-15 minutes of “The Day the Night Slept” is invaluable for people who were fans of the character. It’s information that couldn’t have come up in the original game, but we still get a chance to savor it.
Each person will take away different things from Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, depending on who and what they loved most about the original game. There’s plenty to learn and enjoy in these side-stories, which means people who loved Hatoful Boyfriend will get something out of this.
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star is immediately available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PCs.