Very shortly I will be returning home to the UK, and on my list of things to do is to finally own a home so I can have a cat. Unfortunately for me, I don’t live in the same universe as the Minaduki household, which means that a cat will only be a cat, but a cat is fine too.
NekoPara, as we have covered before in Volume 1, is a veritable Cat’s Paradise. The first volume of this visual novel told the story of the elder brother of the Minaduki family, Kashou, leaving home to open a bakery before finding himself the keeper of two of his family’s catgirls, the mischievous Chocola and the ever sarcastic Vanilla. Volume 0 is a prequel detailing a normal day in the life of the Minaduki household, prior to the departure of Chocola and Vanilla to Kashou’s patisserie.
This visual novel is about one thing and one thing only - how Shigure, the brother-obsessed master of a catgirl menagerie, manages to survive her day with six hyperactive catgirls all vying for her attention. As a former cat owner I can understand how tiring this may be; it's bad enough just having two cats, and they don’t have opposable thumbs! The Minaduki day starts like any other when you have catgirls, with a big pile of kitty snuggles. What follows on this typically lazy day is disastrous.
Breakfast ends in a personality clash between the boisterous Munchkin, Azuki, and the bigger American Curl, Maple. The result of this clash of two powerful catgirl titans results in the only surviving morsel of food being the ever-tasty dry cat food. It is then left to the tall, pretty, and clumsy as hell Maine Coon, Coconut, to clean up. She has a smashing time - uhankfully she isn’t the only one, as we all have our issues when cleaning. Its just that when it comes to catgirls, even something simple like cleaning the bathroom turns into an adventure, especially when Cinammon starts getting all wet and sticky...
The girls all go out to lunch, drink coffee, shop a little, cook and consume dinner together. They relax in front of wildlife programming, and bathe together before finally sleeping. It's all very idyllic, and that is actually half of NekoPara’s charm. It really is an ideal world. Other than the odd muck-up born from a cat's instincts (damn you string!) their lives are actually very easy. You do have to envy them, although not when it comes to bedtime - you have to feel sorry for Shigure, getting no sleep due to being crushed by in her sleep by catgirl snuggles.
As a man of certain tastes NekoPara Volume 0, just as Volume 1, ticks all the right boxes, except this time Volume 0 provides something that Volume 1 lacked - choice. Although you did briefly meet the various cat-eared members of the Minaduki family, all you could really see was a small glimpse of their personalities and a bloody good glimpse of their figures. It wasn’t much to help you start declaring favourites. I am happy to announce that finally, thanks to the amount of character development, the witty (and at times incredibly pervy) dialogue and the very sweet story, I can now formally declare my favourite NekoPara catgirl. I was formerly a Vanilla man, and now I am instead torn between garnishing with Cinnamon, or cracking into a Coconut. Either way, NekoPara Volume 0 provides a very tasty catgirl garnish to any dessert.
In addition to providing much wanted additional character development, NekoPara Volume 0 also gives us a new interactive feature. Petting. Click the hand in the top right of the screen, and you can pet all of the girls in many different places and watch them react. This works at any time and quite frankly, it's cute as hell. You also get Steam Achievements for petting each and every one of them. There are also some graphical improvements to the “jiggle engine” that debuted in Volume 1 - as with all Steam visual novels there is no adult content, but for once this game is free of any content that is of that nature, with the only questionable content remaining in the penultimate bathing chapter. Even the version available through adult-friendly storefronts doesn’t have any adult content, unlike its Volume 1 predecessor which was edited heavily for the Steam release. As expected and as seen in other media, the subtle use of steam and placement of hair and hands means that nipples and genitals, are well obscured.
It leaves me to say that I am not completely satisfied. NekoPara Volume 0 is a little under an hour long start to finish, and while being incredibly cute and very funny it is short, especially when compared to Volume 1. Then again, given the subject matter, I am not convinced that the story could have been dragged out any longer. The game is very cheap, which makes up for this small shortfall.
As a final point, Shigure is seriously creepy. Her lust for her brother is quite indescribable at times, but even with her "peculiar" needs NekoPara Volume 0 is populated by six of the finest catgirls you could possibly dream for and catering to all needs. It's well worth a visit, especially to catgirl connoisseurs of the first game.