Ah, nostalgia. HuniePop was, of course, the first game I ever reviewed. And now here we are, over a year later, reviewing the spin-off game. I remember the hate HuniePop got, and it seems to have been multiplied several times over for this release for various reasons. Do I share in that hatred, or will my previous unexpected liking for the first game repeat itself for its little sibling? Let's take a look.
HunieCam Studio is a spin-off of Hunie Pop in which Kyu (who may or not be a fairy in this version, it's never explicitly addressed) hires you to manage a cam studio. After walking you through the basics (unless you select "Skip All Tutorials"), she gives you three weeks to prove that you have what it takes to run this kind of operation.
Gameplay is part management simulator and part clicker. There are a variety of activities you can assign your girls: cam shows for cash, photo shoots for fans, pole dancing and shopping for talent and style respectively, recruiting other girls at a modeling agency, relaxing at a spa to relieve stress, escorting at a sleazy motel, or buying cigarettes, booze, and adult products for their benefits. The management part of the game is very well executed, but the clicker part can get painful...and by that I mean physically painful. You have to click on a building rapidly to gain the money/fans/other resources from it, and you can also speed up the girls' tasks by rapidly clicking on the buildings they're in. The speed at which you're required to do this if you want to do well gets to ridiculous levels. There are upgrades you can purchase to have the buildings automatically collect resources every so often, but you still have to do the bulk of the work.
If you thought HuniePop didn't have a story, you'll want to stop right here and have a good laugh, because the story in this game is nonexistent. The girls don't even get last names, and the only way you'll ever learn anything about any of them is by playing HuniePop. That said, I don't feel like a deep story is necessary or would do well in this type of game.
The art style was heavily criticized when it was unveiled, but the developer chose to stick to the newer one, and I have to admire him for sticking to his guns in the face of so much ire. I don't have any strong feelings about the art style one way or another; it fits with the game well enough, and mostly I'm just glad they didn't try to do actual porn with it.
Replayability? Sort of. At the end of the three-week period Kyu gives you, you get a trophy based on how many fans you have, and you get a few wardrobe tokens, which you can use from the main menu to unlock new hairstyles and outfits for the girls...that you really only see on their profile page in-game. You could theoretically keep replaying to unlock all the achievements and wardrobe items; I suppose that depends on the kind of person you are.
I'm mostly put in mind of Bejeweled. The game is little more than a time sink; it's Cookie Clicker but with particularly sleazy management sim aspects added in. However, it serves its purpose extremely well, and the large amounts of self-aware humor throughout help lighten the darker aspects that aren't as apparent at first glance. In a continuity nod that I was particularly impressed by, Audrey from HuniePop is a cam girl because she developed an expensive coke habit after finding out that her previous boyfriend was sleeping around on her with every eligible girl in town. Yeah, that's right, it's all your fault. HuniePop had a startling lack of consequences for the womanizing protagonist, and it's nice to see some realistic fallout applied here. Also, Kyu, the only character you really ever interact with on a dialogue level, retains the seedy sarcasm that made her so enjoyable in the first game.
So how do I feel about HunieCam Studio, then? I seem to be going back and forth. Well, I don't think it's a fantastic game. I wouldn't mind an easy mode, maybe. I wouldn't mind some more development from these characters, even if it would be out of place in this particular title. But I'm not judging it as anything other than a Bejeweled-style time waster, and as that, it executes very well. Will I be playing it some more? Sure...as soon as my fingers stop hurting.
HunieCam Studio is available on Steam and the Humble Store.
Final verdict: A deep, complex game this is not, but HunieCam Studio succeeds at being a competent time-killing simulator helped along by poking fun at itself every couple minutes.
HunieCam Studio is developed and published by HuniePot. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.