Bacchikoi, a game by BlackMonkey Pro, is a boys’ love (BL) visual novel themed around the great American pastime, baseball. See life through the eyes of Toshu, a transfer student recently arrived at a new school, as he tries to juggle friendship, his studies and the sport he loves. Players will need to strike the right balance to get the most from this yaoi novel.
BlackMonkey Pro has contributed their fair share of material to the yaoi and boys’ love fandoms. One quick look at their library shows a number of projects, spanning a myriad of genres and artistic mediums. BlackMonkey Pro is responsible for a number of manga, short novels and games, and shows no sign of quitting. BlackMonkey consists of numerous artists, who have congregated from around the world to share their talents, with a specific interest in adult media. One such piece of media – and our focus today – is Bacchikoi.
Bacchikoi is the story of Toshu, a young transfer student who has recently arrived at the Yakyusha Academy. Having recently left his previous school, Toshu transferred to the Academy due to family commitments, but also to pursue his true passion – baseball. The Yakyusha academy is well known in the region for its prestigious athletic background, offering scholarships for sportsmen who prove their worth. Luckily for Toshu, moving in with his auntie allowed him to attend. On his first day, Toshu spots a flyer for the baseball club. The flyer seems appealing, and Toshu heads to the field right away.
Upon his arrival, we are introduced to one of our love interests – Masaru. Masaru, along with being rather handsome, is the team’s catcher and team captain. The pair hit it off, with Masaru inviting Toshu to join the team right away. Not wanting to waste any time, Masaru begins to introduce Toshu to the rest of the team – by which I mean one other person. This is where we meet Ichiru, the team’s batter. Ichiru is a young and feisty blonde, well known for his attitude both on and off the field. The three new teammates click immediately, discussing their hopes for the team’s year and Toshu’s time at his new school. So concludes the first day, and our introduction to Bacchikoi.
As a visual novel, players will experience the story first and foremost. Bacchikoi takes place over a number of different locations, incorporating both the narrative structure of a visual novel as well as some more interactive gameplay elements. As always, player decisions are key to the way things unfold, with Bacchikoi providing numerous options for consideration. There are usually four or more decisions you can make at any one time, which can lead to vastly different outcomes. It certainly leaves you wanting more, with replayability being almost a necessity, but more on that later.
There are a total of six different endings available in Bacchikoi, which leaves a lot of potential pathways through the game. As mentioned, you’re often presented with a lot of choices at once for how you’d like to proceed. Whereas in other visual novels you may have an A or B decision, Bachhikoi can offer you four at a time. This can lead to some screw ups, as I was given the worst ending twice in a row based on my decisions. It’s certainly not as simple as choosing which options you think might lead to your prize; there’s actually some trial and error to it. Regardless, the game presents you with our two aforementioned love interests – Masaru and Ichiru.
Masaru and Ichiru, much as you would expect, are quite the odd couple. Masaru is very protective and emotionally open, though he lacks confidence due to his turbulent home life. Masaru is most certainly the top of the game, and should attract players who enjoy the taller, older man. Ichiru on the other hand is far more mischievous, hiding his own torment behind a veil of sarcasm and comedy. Ichiru is the son of wealthy parents, and while it means he has everything he could ever want, he finds himself lacking their affections. Bacchikoi certainly does its best to make you feel bad for both Masaru and Ichiru, so players will need to choose who will break their heart the least. Romantically speaking, Masaru and Ichiru seem to be as far as it goes. BlackMonkey has been kind enough to provide some interesting extra content however, which we’ll come to later.
Bacchikoi, while primarily a visual novel, also incorporates additional gameplay elements into its core. Due to its focus around baseball, the developers decided to include some themed mini-games to break up the days. These mini-games, as you would expect, focus on the main aspects of baseball – pitching and batting. Other than the copious gay jokes you could conjure from them, the mini-games are a neat addition. Pitching is a little different than it would be in the bedroom, with players having to time their throw perfectly in order to get a strike. A small glove and ball appear on screen, and players will have to tap their screen or mouse at the point where they intersect. Failing to do so will result in a “safe” for the batter, and you’ll lose immediately.
The batting mini-game, while less humorous than catching would be, plays somewhat similarly. Toshu still pitches, but this time players will gain control of Ichiru as he takes the plate. As Toshu throws, a graphic at the top of the screen will track the progress of the pitch. Once the ball meets the hit zone, players will again tap or click their mouse to make a hit. Depending on how close you are to the hit zone, you’ll either make a “safe” hit, a home run, or miss entirely. Missing isn’t as bad in the batting mini-game, as you get more chances to reach your passing grade. The mini-games also have an effect on the story, so depending on which one you decide to go for on any given day – you could end up with a different outcome.
The design and artwork of Bacchikoi is definitely its best feature. It has a very clean and digital feel to it, and everything is where it should be anatomically. Bacchikoi is drawn in an anime style, and remains very faithful to its roots. Each of the characters has their own look and style, from the tall, dark and handsome Masaru to the young and twinkish Ichiru. The creators were clearly a fan of muscular males, as each of the characters has some degree of strength about them. This is understandable due to their sporting pedigree, but for fans of other body types there isn’t much for you here.
As a visual novel, Bacchikoi is comprised of still images overlaid with text and changing expressions. At points, various CGs will break up the standardized sections of dialogue, usually in the form of some saucy interaction. These interactions depend on your choices, but invariably take place in similar locations. The CGs are definitely hot, and often capture that heart pounding “spur of the moment” romp outdoors. The scenes mostly feature Toshu and whichever lover you’ve picked, with him taking top, bottom or switch depending on that choice. There’s no shortage of these scenes, and they were most certainly appealing.
Thankfully, BlackMonkey provides an easily accessible CG gallery that’s available on the main menu. This gallery fills up over time, depending on your exploits, which means you can go back and view the scenes you’ve played through. Bacchikoi also offers additional content within these galleries, which can be purchased for bronze, silver and gold coins. Don’t panic though, these coins are acquired in game by playing through a path, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to purchase them with real cash. Depending on the nature of the scene, you’ll require one of these coins to unlock it for your viewing pleasure. There are even additional scenes that don’t seem to appear in the game itself, featuring non-love interest characters and even a threesome. Additionally there’s a hidden gallery you’ll need to find, that offers even more material for you to look at.
While BlackMonkey advertises an original soundtrack and theme, it’s really nothing special. It seems like a running theme for me to dislike VN music, but it really is repetitive when you’ve played through the game for the fourth time. There’s not an awful lot to say about it. The sound effects are also few and far between, and there are no squishy sounds for any of the sex scenes. It’s a shame, but it’s still quite hard to really criticize a visual experience too much on the sound department. The sound is there, it does what it says on the tin, that’s about it.
The writing held up well. Each character had their distinct mannerisms and way of speaking, from Masaru’s protective and heartfelt demeanour to Ichiru’s cheeky and bubbly tone. There were a couple of typos in there that I think I spotted, but otherwise things were just fine. The writing was definitely very casual, with modern humour sprinkled in and around the dialogue. Things did get serious now and again, particularly with the sadder aspects of the characters’ lives, the tonal shift playing with your emotions. Overall, I felt quite connected with things, and at times even quite upset that I had managed to get the bad ending twice over. It’s certainly enough to entertain you and keep you interested.
There are some drawbacks with Bacchikoi. Firstly, and this is a pretty glaring problem for a VN, there are no save slots. You get one save. It gets overwritten whenever you try to save again, so you can’t have different points to go back to. You also can’t access the save button when making decisions, and since you’ve got no idea they’re coming, you can’t save before them a lot of the time. Only having one save file is really bad, especially when there’s no conceivable reason to do it that way. We have a ton of memory space these days, and most other VNs provide ample slots. It just didn’t really make a lot of sense.
Secondly, and this may be more subjective, is that the decisions aren’t obvious at all. As I explained earlier, I got the worst ending twice in a row. For my second attempt I deliberately made a play to go for Masaru, but I still ended up dead in the water. Some choices actually enact the total opposite of what you chose to do, so unless you saved recently you’ll have to redo the whole thing. It wouldn’t be so much of a problem if you had more save slots, or had the ability to save during choices. Bacchikoi is a maze. That may be appealing to some people, but personally I found it annoying at times and totally unintuitive at others. I never managed to get all six endings, and after some research, it seems to be a common trend. I wasn’t the only one who got the bad ending multiple times either – people have been begging for a walkthrough for a year now.
So that’s Bacchikoi. I would still recommend it, even if it is somewhat flawed. If you like muscular guys getting it on and are into the anime stylings in the images shown here, then you probably won’t be disappointed. You might come away upset that you fucked up again, but at least you’ll have some CGs to cheer you up. The game is currently available on BlackMonkey’s site, for both PC and mobile. The game costs $39.99 uncensored ($74.99 for PC/Mobile bundle), which seems quite expensive really. It does come with 200 CGs though, and it’ll probably give you at least one modern AAA game’s worth of entertainment. Those cost $60 and can end up being four or five hours, so if you want to get multiple routes from Bacchikoi you’ll get at least that. There’s also an expansion that came out recently, which features a collection of additional stories based on the original. It might be worth a look if you liked what you saw here.