Kratzen
Proudly presents…

Mermaid Splash! Passion Festival” Review

with ♥ from Froge
Synopsis

Release date: .
Developers: Sofdelux Studio
Recommended age: Everyone.
License: Copywrong’d.
Download: https://sofdelux.itch.io/mermaid-splash

Verdict: 2/5 stars. You might eke some enjoyment out of the artwork. But for your sake, please read something of actual substance.

Introduction

NomNomNami, can’t you see? All your games are JeBaiting me. Get past the waifu façade, and one must work on their writing. Or is it pronounced fa – SAHD?

To be fair, and to avoid seeming like a scumbag for forcing a Slick Rick call – out, Nami is just one – half of the GAY GAY GAY art collective that is Sofdelux Studio, just as I am one – half of the Degenerates, only substantially less gay. The other half is someone called DarkChibiShadow. I think I speak for everyone looking over DCS’s work when I say, ”where is the furry porn?“ I’ve probably seen more animals nude than I have humans, and yet I’m still not satisfied with the lack of content coming from the Shadow Lands.

Alright, I guess this novel counts a little, even as I type this up while the same fruity loop plays in the background, which ironically was made in Fruity Loops. Mermaid Splash! Passion Festival is about this cute little black mermaid named Cici who speaks in a black Southern vernacular and introduces herself as “Hey Ya’ll” and ends every other word with an apostrophe… oh, Christ. How did this accent even develop? Was there mer – segregation and mer – slavery? Are we playing as the Merst Nations on a Coral Reefservation? Yes, I know there are people who actually speak like this. I mean, I don’t know them, because a black person in Canada is as rare as a treaty negotiation. But do you really want to introduce Cici the same way reality television would?

The set – up is that Cici wants to enter the Passion Festival, but has never found anything she wanted to do in life, and so must spend the next month doing hardcore training, which is explained in the three – minute long intro. The setup doesn’t matter, as it’s about getting to know the GAY GAY GAY characters: Gardener, Fighter, Dancer, Artist, all dark – skinned and with their own cheery personalities. Except for the artist, because of course the artist is a shut – in. I wish Cici luck in becoming a fighter in a month. Honey, looking at your arms makes me feel like Hulk Hogan.

The Mer – Discourse

As visual novels share the same traits of video games, being a visual novel and a game you see through the magic of video respectively, you would think that both art and writing were important traits for a production like this, given that’s the entirety of what makes this medium unique. One would think that getting half right and the other half not – so – right would create a work that’s perfectly average. A lot worse, actually.

Well the art is fine, just fine, with a great deal of cohesion and care put into it. You got a menu design that’s just like candy, with gradients and sparkles and keen animations that reminds me of the raw imagination put into something, say Neopets. The character models are appealing (except for the shark girl’s horrifying teeth), though I suffer no delusions they were meant to resemble anything like actual human beings. Also, it bugs me how Cici’s eye colours match up with her split – coloured hair, but the opposite eye matches the opposite colour. I find it a sign of a coy artist, who doesn’t think symmetry is good enough for them and so has to create a distracting asymmetrical design for the sake of being different. But the rest are well – designed; the octopus especially. Why am I attracted to girls who can beat me up?

I’m not ashamed to admit I download games based on how cute the cover art looks; gamers in China do this all the time, and in fact actively hates the Western style of flat – coloured angry men yelling at the screen. Barring my shame that China has better taste than us, I was more attracted to Nami’s more furry works, because I’m just plain disgusting like that. I didn’t feel any real lewd thoughts towards any of these characters, which is always a pisser when it comes to these sort of games that rely on character relationships. Alright, neither did Katawa Shoujo: it was the personalities of the girls which made me smile. So how’s the writing in this game?

SO HOW IS

Not good. Although I’m a fan of basic plots that carry through the entire game, like the first half of New Vegas before it all turns into a clusterheck and your entire motivation is “kill the guy who killed you”, that type of plot really only works if the story has the freedom to do whatever it wants with the setup. But here the routes are quite linear, and aren’t surprising at all, where all you do is talk to the little mers (no, not “murrs”) and share…

What, exactly? What vital information are they talking about? Usually in these types of novels the dialogue is interesting, where characters figure out their personal problems together and confide in each other for great friendship. That’s barely a thing in this novel, and instead of replacing it with interesting topic such as discussing the viability of Georgist economics in a corporate – owned world where public spaces are never public because of the intrinsic greed and brand management policies that cause members of the public to be arbitrarily restricted and censored because of said corporate interests, it’s mostly about small talk. You know, I get games like Cherry Tree High Comedy Club had a lot of small talk, but it was funny and charming, even if the themes were pretty shallow. The writing here isn’t either of those things, and the theme can be summed up as “have determination”. Not exactly revolutionary stuff, here.

Mechanically, it’s not much better. Prose takes place in the Bizarro world where we’re supposed to tell and not show, leading to great lines like “Cici’s almost forgotten what their actual plan for the day was. It’s just too much fun talking to Bea!”. This type of writing would extremely interesting in an unreliable narrator, author – versus – protagonist type of novel, but I think those terms are too highbrow for this work. Cici expresses her desires out loud, as do the other characters, and when they fail to do so the narrator kindly steps in. There is no room for nuance or subtext within this novel, where “inference” is a foreign word, there is no conflict or central story beyond Cici just doing stuff, and the audience’s engagement never extends beyond the surface level that is presented. I was being silly with the Georgist suggestion, but come on. I’d take that novel over this one in a heartbeat.

Conclusion

I’m feeling a little light – headed, probably because this novel is too darn light. I’m a grown man! I need things that feed the brain and excite my interests, even if those interests are perverse. I need to feel, to think, to do, and to live my life as one that other people want to live as well. Where does this work lead me? As a stunning example of what happens when artists are allowed to write, as well? I don’t believe in this cynical outlook — Nina Paley wrote Sita Sings the Blues, and that was a masterclass in independent animation. I’m still hoping her blatant transphobia turns out to be an elaborate and ill – advised April Fools prank that went far, far, far too long, but as AWOLNATION says, “I say you kill your heroes and fly, fly, baby don't cry…”

So what do we have with this work? It’s pretty to look at but has no substance whatsoever. Wait, isn’t that just like AAA gaming? Nami! You betrayed me! You were supposed to kill the evil, not make a mediocre novel!