Being an avid fan of RPG business simulator games like Recettear, Kamidori Alchemy Meister, Adventure Bar Story, and Holy Potatoes!, I was instantly drawn to the premise of PaPaPub like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, I ended up getting burned like one too.
In PaPaPub, you take on the role of an unnamed famous adventurer who decides to retire from the frontlines and open up a small pub in a quaint town named Himiya Village. Your days are filled with preparing food, drinks, and a pleasant atmosphere for your customers in order to make ends meet. Your true intentions for opening the pub, however, extend beyond merely just making an honest living. Rumors and gossip of strange things happening to female adventurers who stay the night there begin to spread among the villagers. Little do they know, everything they whisper is true.
Within the first few minutes of PaPaPub, the game's storyline is quickly and briefly explained, never to really be fleshed out much past the synopsis points described above. Its bare bones nature is fairly standard for most nukige titles, and is really only used to provide context and a purpose for the ample sex scenes that take up the bulk of the game.
As the protagonist, your main goal is to improve your pub in order to draw beautiful women into your establishment. Once you lure in suitable "prey," you slip drugs into their food and drink so you can rape or coerce them into various sexual acts when they retire to their rooms for the night.
Your list of potential victims includes Elizabeth, a blonde, buxom nun completely devoted in her service to God. Serena, a fierce and fiery kemonomimi warrior that the game oddly refers to as an "orc." Shafiya, sometimes referred to as Sapphire, is an ancient elf trying to find some enjoyment in life. Asmodes, a beautiful and innocent demon, and finally Ruby, a young and spoiled noblewoman with a bad attitude, round out the cast.
Like with the game's story, the girls aren't fleshed out much past this, as the only time you interact with them is during sex scenes where they're either asleep or in a drug-induced haze. Your actions become bolder with each visit the women make as you attempt to corrupt them, make them your sex toys, and impregnate them. The title also has an optional purchasable DLC pack, which added in some more sex scenes and endings for all of the girls. While the endings are abrupt, and to some degree felt disjointed from everything else, they did add some minor story elements to the overall game.
A couple of details in my character descriptions may seem a bit weird, and that is due to the fact that, plainly put, the translation in this game fucking sucks. For years I've done my best to actively avoid anything that appears to have a shitty translation, and boy did I end up stepping in a big pile of flaming dung with this one. At least Sleepover only suffered from non-native English problems, and wasn't a machine translated clusterfuck like PaPaPub.
Attempting to read and comprehend this text vomit reminded me of the early '00s, when the English market pretty much consisted of equally shitty fan translations on Hongfire, occasional competent fan patches, hentai flash games, and some official releases from JAST USA. I put up with machine translations back then because there weren't many options, especially in the visual novel scene, and I was a horny teenage girl looking for some anime tit and dick action.
That was many years ago now though, and this shit shouldn't fly in an era where the H-game market is bustling with tons of great titles to choose from. The translation was so confusing and infuriating 99% of the time that I had to practically have a mini-bar at my computer just to make it through the constant gender pronoun/reference mix-ups, flower holes, choo choos, and woahs.
There was even one scene in the DLC where one word just filled up the entire fucking text box. I've mentally blocked out what word and scene that was in order to protect my sanity. Commercially sold machine translated titles touting themselves as "English" translated can fuck right off.
The technical aspects of the title didn't fair any better. For starters, the game lacked some of the most basic of abilities, such as hiding the text UI during scenes and auto text. Sorry guys, but you won't be able to go hands free with this one. There was no voice acting, with the exception of some groans and moans during sex scenes, and fucking god awful loud screeches that looped for what felt like an eternity when the girls came.
I ended up turning off my sound completely because it was like nails on a chalkboard. The music was okay, but the same half a dozen tracks for nearly the entirety of the game got boring very quickly. The endings introduced in the DLC pack had some new tracks, but given the brevity of the endings, they were gone before I really had a chance to listen to them much.
The most egregious technical problem I faced was the fact that I had to restart my computer every goddamned time I closed the game and tried to start it back up later just to get back in. It would just sit in my processes list and never fire up no matter how long I waited, and its not like I'm playing on a potato PC — even killing the process in Task Manager wouldn't work. It got to be so time consuming and annoying that eventually I started to just leave the game running when I wasn't playing it.
I also ended up hitting an ending from the DLC that would just completely freeze and lock the game up every time I got to it. While I managed to unlock nearly everything else, I never did end up getting that ending before I called it quits after trying several times, leaving me unable to 100% the game and DLC content.
One of the extremely few positives of PaPaPub was its artwork. All of the women's character designs were gorgeous and varied, with good high quality CGs and paper dolls to showcase them. I especially loved Asmodes and Shafiya's designs. There were some minor issues in the art department, however, involving some awkward anatomy and angles in a couple of scenes. Serena's artwork also looked somewhat different between her paper doll and CGs.
One thing that does need to be mentioned and touched upon is the complicated nature of the game's mosaic censorship. The title does come with mosaics due to DLSites requirement for them, but the developer does have a de-censoring patch available for free off of their website that makes the game's CGs uncensored.
However, this patch appears to only work on the base game, and does not work with the title's additional DLC installed. I had hoped that it would keep the base CGs uncensored and the DLC ones censored, but unfortunately my game would not open up no matter how many times I restarted after I installed the patch over my DLC enabled game. It wasn't until I removed the patch that I was able to open it back up. I did, however, confirm that it works flawlessly with just the main game and no DLC.
As for the actual sex scenes themselves, they're an extremely mixed bag leaning heavily into the negative territory. You can understand what's going on in them, but the horrendous translation seriously crippled any real enjoyment of them. The CGs were really nice and pleasant to look at, but I found myself getting completely sidelined with what was going on in the text descriptions.
I spent so much time double taking, feeling confused, laughing in disbelief, and trying to parse out what I was reading that I just wanted that shit to be over with. A nukige that makes you want to just skip through its sex scenes pretty much defeats its entire purpose. The DLC scenes added some nice variety, but they suffered from the same problems as the base game in regards to the translation.
The actual gameplay portions weren't terrible, but they weren't good either. There are two different gameplay types that you interact with: an RPG battle portion and a simulator portion. The RPG portion involves you purchasing different "minion" types, such as assassins and mercenaries, and deploying them to a dungeon. There really isn't any interactivity to these dungeon crawls, as the battles run on autopilot without any input from you, and your success comes down to your combat power vs the enemies.
Your combat power is based on some invisible multipliers/stats and how many minions you have from each of the five types, with marksman being the most powerful. If you lose a battle you will die and get a game over. There's some slight difficulty early on due to money constraints, which limited my ability to buy minions, but it was never challenging. By the 20th-30th in-game day I was earning enough coin to keep my numbers pretty well stocked, which effectively allowed me to basically steamroll even the hardest dungeon. At this point, I was so completely bored with the RPG battles that I just hit the CTRL key to auto-skip to the results every time.
The main purpose of the dungeon segments is to collect items for upgrading your pub facilities and ingredients for your drugs. It's in the simulation part where you use these items. You can upgrade your pub's wallpaper, chairs/tables, food, and drink. Upgrading these are an important part of the game, as it affects your income and, most importantly, which women visit your pub.
Each woman has a specific stat threshold you must meet before she will visit your pub. When one does visit, you are able to drug her meal and get an H-scene. In order to drug her, you need to have items for making the drugs, which come from the lowest level of each dungeon. If you don't have any ingredients for them, you'll be forced to abandon your attempts to drug and rape them. Interestingly enough, this still holds true even after you've essentially morally corrupted them into wanting to have sex with you willingly.
While the DLC did add more scenes to unlock, it unfortunately did not add any new dungeons or pub upgrades to work towards. This would have been a nice addition, as the game was still piss easy to complete even with the added scenes making it slightly harder to unlock all of them in one playthrough. In fact, I managed to unlock everything in one NG+ replay, since your money and items transfer over to your new game. For the endings, I skipped having to go through painful multiple replays by simply saving a few days prior to the 60 day end and reloading it to unlock a new one.
In conclusion, PaPaPub was a severe disappointment that I absolutely cannot recommend. Hell, I had more fun writing this review than actually playing the damn game. The nice artwork and DLC additions couldn't save this game from its subpar gameplay, atrocious translation, and technical problems. The translation was by far the most egregious problem though, and if not for that issue, it might have been a decent enough and serviceable nukige title despite its other flaws.
If you feel like engaging in masochistic self-flagellation for the sake of anime tits, you can buy PaPaPub from DLSite here for $9.74, estimated from ¥1,080. In order to remove the game's mosaics, you'll need to grab the decensoring patch from R'lyehGame's website here. You can also purchase the optional DLC content, also released on DLSite, here for $11.69, estimated from ¥1,296.