Otome Review: My Cup of Tea

Before we begin today’s dive into synthetic social life, I’d like to take a moment to commemorate this day. Because, this Wednesday, we officially reach the fiftieth post on the Otaku-don. As proud as I am for making it this far, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys. We are small but we are mighty, so thank you for giving an ear to this over-excitable nerd. This celebration is for you.

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You guys are the best, all my love, more than I can ever give.

Now, onto today’s topic: Kathleen Lieu, better known as Nummyz on Deviantart. While Pacthesis was my gateway drug into Otome games, Nummyz was my steady dealer for quite a few years.  I loved her quirky but cute aesthetic, and her easy to play titles made for an addictive experience.  Today we start with her very first title, which I discovered a few years after I’d been a fan. My Cup of Tea is her weakest title, as most first attempts are, but it still set the stage for the stronger pieces that I loved so much. 

  • Plot

When it came to her later games, Nummyz always boasted a unique story with her shojo-esque asthetic.  As such, My Cup of Tea feels like your standard shojo anime, but doesn’t really make an effort to go above and beyond.

You are Sara Biea Affen, a silly teenage girl who’s awkward, cute, and obsessed with chickens. Sara’s goal is simple:  land herself a boyfriend by the end of the summer, I.E, 30 days from now. It’s up to us, the dedicated player, to see how her Summer of Fun unfolds,  be it everlasting love or perpetual loneliness.

how-to-get-a-date

And sadly, that’s all we get. We do feature characters from Kathleen’s other original stories (including Jenna Moonlight, who would get her own game later) but, if you never read these stories, then the plot is gonna feel sparse and lacking.

  • Gameplay

Like our last entry, the goal here is to get one of our in-world contestants to fall madly in love with you by summer’s end, or 30 days from now. You have 50 HP to spend on either talking with your crush or working your part time job at the Creamery with your hot coworker, who’s also a romantic prospect.  If you’d rather not progress the plot, your home base also features a tiny dress-up game where you pick Sara’s clothes, call her friends on a novelty chicken phone, or keep track of gifts your date gets you. No matter what you do it’s gonna make the music start, stop and loop at the weirdest places, so I recommend muting the tab.

map

Onto the meat of the game. To win your crush, find them at one of three possible spots and get to talking their ear off, spending ten HP per chat. Unlike Festival Days this gets monotonous real fast, as your date will repeat the same phrase several times until they reach a new level of affection for you. But oh you better pay attention to what they say because, once you reach 200 points, you can try to “Impress” them by recalling details about themselves they’ve mentioned.

ian-asking

Onto the meat of the game. To win your crush, find them at one of three possible spots and get to talking their ear off, spending ten HP per chat. Unlike Festival Days this gets monotonous real fast, as your date will repeat the same phrase several times until they reach a new level of affection for you. But oh you better pay attention to what they say because, once you reach 200 points, you can try to “Impress” them by recalling details about themselves they’ve mentioned.the-kiss

But if you answer the questions correctly, and give them two of three possible gifts, you earn the option to go on a date with them. You can go to the mall, where your date will buy you something and possibly make out with you, or you can go to their second location, where you’ll get a rather stilted romantic scene that will end in a Big Ole’ Kiss.

silly-quizes

 

Now I mentioned before that Nummyz makes her games easy to play, and fairly easy to get the best ending, but here I found myself at a lost. I did all of the above, earning some pretty high relationship numbers, but wasn’t able to get the best ending. I have a guess that it requires getting the numbers up to 1500 or more, but certain mechanics take up whole days to get done, making that number almost impossible to reach.  Between working to afford the expensive gifts and taking a whole day for the date, I just didn’t have enough time.

  • Art

Kathleen takes pride in the fact that this was drawn with a free-hand mouse. And while this does make the art suffer slightly, it somehow fits the mood of the game as a whole.

The free-form art feels loopy and unstructured, and I have a distinct feeling that I could throw water on it and wash it all away. That being said, the silly, cartoony feel of the art fits with Nummyz’s self-aware, self-deprecating style of sim. It’s trippy and innocent in its own right, and I think it works well for a younger audience.

untitled

Impressively, this comical and wacky style does not translate to the date-able characters, who look decent for free-form mouse. They may all be sporting the spiky bishi-hair, but they look attractive enough to be desirable targets.

  • Our Prey

Liger Trey

liger-portrait

Once again I find myself starting with the cold jerk, but this time I am not sticking around for seconds. Liger Trey, besides being the only sod lucky enough to get a last name, is an odd specimen. He claims his sexuality is “ambiguous” while occasionally dressing in feminine clothing. All the while, he calls you a “stalker” and insults your appearance, eventually caving via constant exposure. For all Liger’s pretty features and sexual ambiguity, I can’t find anything to balance out Liger’s uptight demeanor.

Kyle

kyle-portrait

Kyle is our blond surfer boy, with little else to add to the party. He’s fun and easy going, with a bland sense of humor and those beautiful blue eyes. Admittedly, Kyle is funny and likes to have a good time, but I didn’t have much else to peg down when I played his route. Thus, I recommend him for players who haven’t played titles like this before. He’s pretty easy (heh) and provides an excellent tutorial.

 

 

 

Ian

ian-portrait

Just looking at Ian, and then interacting with him a bit, I sense he was supposed to be the “give-no-fuck, cool” type, with the half-lidded eyes, punkish jewelry, and lazy smile. That being said, the only thing about Ian that struck me was how shy he was, and how blase his dialogue sounded.  While one could argue that Ian was the best looking of the boys, he certainly isn’t any more unique.

 

 

 

Sasha

sasha-portraitOur surprise/secret date is a lesbian, making this our first same-sex option on this series. I’m not a lesbian myself but I played Sasha’s route  and, surprisingly, found her to be the most well written. She has a personality that’s pretty well defined: relaxed, assertive, and protective. It’s all very subtly written but it’s more than we get from the others. I also may have just been a big fan of her flashing eyes… they speak to me, heh.

 

  • Final Verdict

My Cup Of Tea ultimately feels like a rough draft. It has the bones of a good story, the bones that can make great structure for a more fleshed-out trail, but ultimately fails to deliver on the fine details. It’s a simple and clean dating sim with silly images, cute dates and a rather repetitive sense of game-play. It’s clear that it hasn’t aged well, but further titles also make it clear that Kathleen sharpened her skills. This game may have fallen just short, but it became the stepping stool to much greater things.

Was My Cup of Tea your cup of sweets, or was it not the right flavor? Feel free to share in the comments below. Don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this.

Next time: Halloween Otome

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