Cupid Parasite

Review: Cupid Parasite – Sweet and Spicy Darling

While Idea Factory is better known for its JRPG releases, they are no stranger to the Otome genre, especially for Otomate-developed releases like Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling. My time with the Nintendo Switch-only guy dating visual novel game was initially confusing because this was my first Otome game in a while, so I needed to figure out what I was getting into. Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is shockingly (for me only probably) a sequel/fan disc of additional content to 2021’s Cupid Parasite and lets fans of the first game experience the “after story” campaigns of Cupid Parasite‘s original six routes.

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After Story and After Marriage

While this seemed alarming initially, the Sweet and Spicy Darling entry makes each route feel like a continuation of that romance narrative while feeling (mostly) like a separate standalone entry. While there are some references to the past game, such as past events or supporting characters, the flow of the visual novel’s storytelling gives players an overview of what happened in the first game, but not overbearingly. That goes for players who picked up the first game two years ago and even someone uniquely like me who had “no idea what was going on.”

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling puts players into the heels of Lynette Mirror, the pinked-hair goddess of love better known to us as Cupid. She became better at her job by living among humans and is a bridal advisor of the Cupid Corporation, a Los York-based matchmaking service that offers single men and women help to find their true love. In the first game, Lynette strives for the top bridal advisor position. She is desperate for a promotion, so her boss, Shelby Snail, assigns her to play matchmaker with the infamous Parasite 5, Cupid Corporation’s five most challenging clients.

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Cupid’s Arrow Fails, But Love Finds A Way

Lynette takes on the task uniquely, using reality TV, stripteases, and more to get these boys off the market. All the effort goes down the toilet, as our heroine fails to find a match for any of them but succeeds in another way. Along the way, in each respective route, one of the Parasite 5 and even her Cupid Corporation boss slowly falls in love with our bridal advisor protagonist. Cupid herself, for once, falls victim to a (figurative) love arrow as she finds herself falling in love with them, later leading to marriage, which is where we find ourselves in Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling as players find out how marriage Life is treating Lynette and the boys.

On top of the epilogue stories of the main cast, Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling also adds a new “New Parasite” mode, letting players experience a brand new route where they will meet Merenice Levin. This route takes place during the event of the first Cupid Parasite game. In addition, players can also explore routes unlocked in the “bonus episode” mode, letting them experience six bonus episodes with unique CG visuals. Overall, Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling‘s narrative isn’t going to knock your socks off, but thankfully, it’s a comedic romp as the game knows what it is, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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An Otome Game Through and Through

The narrative is fun with the amount of ridiculousness in certain moments, even legally, when not-Iron Man shows up at some point. Although it is still an Otome game at its core, if you’re expecting “suggestively intimate” scenes between characters, it isn’t lacking, as there are tons for players to enjoy in all routes. It’s not all good, though, as I would warn anyone that the game includes triggering themes in the bad endings of specific routes I did not enjoy; I question the inclusion.

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As for gameplay, what’s there to say? Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is an Otome visual novel game, so if you’re looking for lip-moving character art, text dialogue (so much of it), and many hot guys to romance, then you are in the right place. Thankfully, like others in its genre, it’s not a one-playthrough-and-you’re-done kind of game as each section in one of the routes features a dialogue choice that has players choose between either “Sweet” or “Spicy” responses; “what is this some sort of sweet or spicy squad.” Whatever number of responses players will get will determine the ending.

The Good and the Bad of Cupid Parasite

The best thing going for Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is the artwork, which showcases how beautiful the characters, environment, and CGs were during my playthrough, thanks in part to its art style. Thanks to its American setting, it does this with a style that doesn’t necessarily feel Japanese, making it feel like it went above the confines of other Otome games. The quality, however, could be more consistent, as some artwork pieces sometimes felt cheap. The art complaints don’t stop there; whenever a voiced side character pops up in the text box, and no character art accompanies it, it immediately takes me out of the interaction.

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When you don’t put in the effort, why should you care about them and what they have to say? Even a normal-looking one with a design of a background anime character with swamp-out coloured hair or outfits would have been an improvement. From art to the game’s music, Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling has a solid soundtrack that is good enough to stand alone. However, and I don’t say this lightly, Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling‘s pause menu is honestly one of the worst I’ve ever seen in any game, with the amount of unaligned selections that made me question every time where they go.

Verdict

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is a serviceable visual novel in the Otome genre thanks to the developer honing in on what it does best with the amount of ridiculousness and comedic high jinks that the characters will go through. This approach complements the game’s art, style, soundtrack and setting. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with the developer’s questionable trigger warning content alongside Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling‘s bad menus and other quickly-made art that looks cheap compared to everything else in the game. 

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Cupid Parasite
Review: Cupid Parasite – Sweet and Spicy Darling
Summary
Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is a serviceable visual novel in the Otome genre thanks to the developer honing in on what it does best with the amount of ridiculousness and comedic high jinks that the characters will go through.
Liked
Story is fun and comedic at times in the best way
Unique approach and art style in the realm of Otome games
Good Soundtrack
Didn't Like
Artwork Quality is inconsistent/Lack of Character Art For Minor Characters
Menus are bad
Trigger warning endings