Review: Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling

23 May 2024

What is it that the kids say these days when the content they like is getting released on a regular basis? Ah yes, we are eating good. This is definitely the case for otome fans. Many titles have released this year, and among them is the sequel to Idea Factory’s popular Cupid Parasite. 

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling drops us back into the city of Los York, where our heroine and her love interests are continuing their love story as a married couple! Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is set to release on May 28th, 2024, for the Nintendo Switch.

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling is a sequel and as such it doesn’t have an underlying story that ties things together like a normal otome game usually does. Instead, you choose from the six love interests from the original game, and the stories vary depending on what each groom is facing in their life after marrying the game’s heroine.

I’m going to start this review by saying that I did not play the first game. I was offered an opportunity to review this and, because I love romance games (and given the price point foolishly thought this would have enough content to stand on its own), didn’t think twice before accepting. However, this was a mistake. There is a lot of expose and in-game references to how each couple fell in love and what happened during that process, but it doesn’t do nearly enough to get you caught up to where the couples are today.

For example, I played Allan’s route and while it was fun to get through, the character development and world-building were pretty minimal because it was already established that the two had overcome hardships together and now they were just existing. The characters have some slight internal conflicts but nothing that holds up in a way where newcomers will feel like they’re getting a fleshed-out and unique story.  In fact, most of the routes are just sweet gooey cuteness with a bit of conflict peppered in at the end. 

Normally I wouldn’t mind this, but it lacks the tension I normally enjoy of two characters falling in love. If I had that prior experience, perhaps playing through this would have been a much better time.

That isn’t to say that Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling fails as an otome game. The characters are unique and some are pretty funny. Their exchanges with the heroine are also very sweet and quite a few of them are “spicy” which is right up my alley. There are also quite a lot of romantic moments because of the setting, so you get more exposure to that aspect of the relationship because of the fact it’s a sequel and they’re already deeply in love. It’s just hard to enjoy this fully when you’re often left feeling like an outsider if you don’t already have knowledge of who everyone is.

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling has pretty standard otome gameplay. As the heroine, you are constantly deciding between two possible choices. There is the “sweet” option and the “spicy” option. Consistency guarantees you either one of the aforementioned endings, and the right mix of choices gets you the remaining three. 

I’ll be honest and say that the impact of which dialogue option you choose is a little oversold. Your decisions don’t truly change the story in a significant way, it’s more so just a few lines of differing dialogue and then a specific ending. The various endings are unique enough that unlocking them is worth it, but I wouldn’t say you can play a route multiple times without resorting to skipping the already-read text to expedite things. 

The only other gameplay mechanic worth mentioning is that Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling has three modes. There’s the main routes for each character. Then there is a mode where you can play side episodes for the characters. These are cute and come with specific CGs but can only be unlocked once you complete all of the main storylines. The other mode is specifically for the new character introduced in Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling, Merenice Levin. This route was the only one that felt like a complete love story, but that’s because it was built from the ground up and you’re not dropped into the middle of it.  

Aside from picking your responses, you also have access to a flowchart, the gauge for which ending your lover is leaning towards, a map, and a chat log. 

All in all, the gameplay for this title is not at all unique, but that’s to be expected and I’m fine with it. It’s par for the course for the genre.

Sweetness Overload

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling’s aesthetic can only be described as sensory overload. The visuals, characters, backdrops, and everything in between are overdone in a bombardment of color. The selection screen has a bunch of vibrant animations in the shape of desserts, the location backgrounds aren’t afraid to use the entire color wheel if necessary, and even the music follows along to make this game pop as much as possible. 

Now, my description of this may sound negative but I think it fits the game’s theme perfectly. I loved that every character still stood out despite the backgrounds sometimes being hot pink or entirely purple. It shows that they were designed intentionally to fit their surroundings. The sprites and their movements were great and I enjoyed unlocking the myriad of CGs this game has as they all tended to be outstanding. 

Unfortunately, while the audio *fit* the theme, I wasn’t as much of a fan of it as I was of the visuals. Some of the music missed the mark during specific scenes and certain sounds, like when you pressed B to return to a previous screen, were a bit too jarring if not just flat-out annoying.

Of course, these gripes could be chalked up to nitpicks of mine. After all, the things that truly matter, like the game’s voice acting, was top-notch. This is something I have come to expect from Idea Factory and I’m glad they didn’t let me down this time. The voiced songs were also really good. There were multiple and those did fit perfectly in every scene.

All in all this aspect of the game was mostly positive. HUGE shoutout for no spelling or grammar errors this time around as well. As you may know, that’s one of my pet peeves. But from the routes I played, everything seemed extremely polished.

Half-Baked But Still Sweet

Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling should’ve been a DLC. I don’t think it’s a bad game by any means, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have enough world-building and character development to stand on its own. 

Because of this, I can’t in good conscience recommend you pick up this title if you have not played the first game. I constantly felt like I was missing out by not having experienced each character’s love story from the beginning and that’s not a great feeling to have at a $50 price point.  

However, if you have played the first game and just want to see how your favorite couple has been doing since getting together, PLEASE buy this! The characters are so fun and it’s not often you get a glimpse into the best part of otome games, the characters and their interactions when they finally get together!

Maybe I will use my experience with this title as the motivation I need to pick up and finish the first game. I think revisiting this after I have the proper context could be a lot of fun!

~ Final Score: 6/10 ~

Review copy provided by Idea Factory for Nintendo Switch. Screenshots taken by reviewer.