[Game Review] Notice Me Senpai!

[UPDATE] This game is now discontinued.

Notice Me Senpai is a casual game released in December 2015 by Skillshot Labs (formerly known as Transcosmos Philippines, Inc.). I’m so happy to review a Filipino game! (I literally did not know about it being Filipino-based until the day after I wrote this review.)

Ever played Neko Atsume? Notice Me Senpai is just like that but the main difference is, instead of attracting cats to your backyard, you’re attracting boys to come over to your coffee shop. It’s honestly a very funny concept to me. I found out about it while I was scrolling through Instagram and I tried it out.

notice me senpai cafe

Gameplay

notice me senpai love noteNotice Me Senpai is a casual game with dating sim elements. Not only do these boys or senpais come to visit you, they also gain affection for you.

To be able to play the game, all you have to do is fill your coffee maker with beans, and place the right item/s you think they would be interested in to be able to attract them. You have the choice to pick what kind of beans (basic beans, magic beans, etc.) and also different kinds of items or furniture to use and place in your shop. You also take photos; either a profile picture or a cafe photo (You’re definitely a stalker… and so am I, in this case). My problem with taking photos is that you can’t save them to your phone, you only get the share to social media or the delete option when taking a cafe photo. I might as well just take a screenshot of the cafe using my phone’s features. Another disappointing thing is there is no full cafe photo option. You can only take photos of one side of your cafe even if you’ve already expanded.

Coins and gems function as currency; sometimes boys will give you coins and sometimes they will leave you gems. It seems their usual amount is around 40-45 coins and a small amount of gems. To purchase nicer looking items, and more importantly expand your cafe and redesign the theme, you will need gems. For expansion, you will need to accumulate 200 gems. Notice Me Senpai also has daily reward bonuses; and at the start, if you log in for 16 days straight, you win a PC. I did that, but I don’t think I was able to claim it OR I probably didn’t check on the 16th day so the rewards reset. I ended up buying the PC.

The game is still in development and still updates every now and then; when I first got it around mid-January, navigation was very difficult. Every time I would click on a senpai to view his profile, exiting would lead me to the menu screen so I would have to exit again to return to the main view. After their update, it got much easier to use. Also when I replace furniture or items while a senpai is at a table, they don’t pay at all, although after the update, that was fixed as well.




There are 23 unlockable senpais, but since the game is still continuously updating,

notice me senpai profile
I’ve got a feeling Goat-senpai is the most good looking.

there is a chance that the number of characters will increase. The profiles of the boys are very similar to stereotypical anime/manga kind of characters. It also has seasonal updates that add additional content, the latest one is for giving Valentine’s gifts that ensures a gift from the senpai you gave a gift to on White Day!

Additional Features

This is where the dating sim elements come in. It’s comparable to Harvest Moon’s heart system (without having to interact with them); the boy’s heart color will change depending on the hearts you get to earn. If you’re able to garner a certain number of hearts, you will be able to gain collectibles from them. At 3 hearts (green hearts), your senpai will leave a love note for you, and at 4 or 5 hearts (purple/red hearts), you will get the opportunity to witness a cutscene where the boy confesses his feelings for you. In the event of a cutscene, the design is very much like a visual novel, also providing one CG (unless the senpai offers more than one) to match.

One of the things that pleasantly surprised me, and also a feature that I really like is that once you gain two or three hearts for any senpai, you’ll be given the opportunity to choose what nickname to call him.

There is also a rating for your cafe, although there’s no explanation on how your cafe gets rated. I’ve already expanded and changed the theme of my cafe and my coffee beans are always the Golden Beans but it remains a two-star rated cafe. It already reached three stars, but then it went back. I don’t know the cause, or its mechanics, and there is no tutorial section on how the game functions.

Graphics

The chibi factor of this game is exceptional. I absolutely love the design! Even the animation while just viewing what’s going on in the cafe isn’t stagnant. The senpais do different things depending on the object/piece of furniture. If it’s a long couch, Ren (lazy senpai) will be lying down. If it’s a computer, Hideki (crammer senpai) won’t be facing you and will be preoccupied with it. One of the senpais reminded me very much of Hunny-senpai from Ouran High School Host Club.

After witnessing my first cutscene, I didn’t expect there would actually be CGs. Although that’s a good touch, I prefer the chibi versions, even though they act very robotic, haha!

Glitches

My friend sent me this photo a few hours ago and I laughed really hard. I don’t know if these glitches are necessarily a bad thing; this is gold.

notice me senpai glitch

Now while I thought this was hilarious, I realized that there are downsides to having this glitch.

Souh-senpai is a new customer for me. I wanted to take his photo but I couldn’t because every time I clicked on him, it would go to Reiji-senpai’s profile. I tried touching other parts of the screen near Souh but to no avail. I wondered if it was another glitch, that maybe it was just like what my friend sent. I replaced the Grand Piano with another piece of furniture, and found that Souh really did visit, and I was unable to view his profile let alone take his photo. I realize that maybe the reason why this is, is because once you place a large item in your cafe, the two table slots at the bottom merge into one, as shown by the grand piano in the third photo. Pretty frustrating when you want to collect all the senpais before the Valentine’s promo ends.

Another is where some of my friends reported that some photos they take don’t get saved. I also recall getting the cutscene for Cupid or Ai-senpai, but when I checked my CG Collection (I assume since he’s the last character on the senpai list, his CG would be on the last page, but to clarify, I checked all the pages), his CG wasn’t there.

Also, it’s happened around two or three times where I notice Goat-senpai (Baa) doesn’t leave my cafe even when the coffee beans are completely gone. He stayed for three days until I forced  him to leave (whoops) by replacing the item on the table where he was positioned. I don’t know if that’s Goat-senpai’s trait or if it’s a glitch.

Sounds

Background music is repetitive but not really annoying although I don’t really get the cafe feel from it. It sounds more like the background music to a dress-up game in my opinion. There’s no sound effect when you take a snapshot, either, although there are sounds when refilling the coffee maker, buying from the shop and claiming money from the cash register.


Conclusion

I didn’t have as violent a reaction with Notice Me Senpai the way I did with Neko Atsume, most likely because Notice Me Senpai is a new game and wasn’t big on the hype. I really like that you get to interact more with the characters and you’re rewarded with more collectibles. I never once got the feeling that I wanted to delete the game. I actually genuinely want to complete my list of senpais.

I was hoping there was at least a Help section as well; for people that don’t get to check on it often (and forget the game’s features), and especially for the people that have not played Neko Atsume. I think people mainly know how to play this game because they already know it’s similar to the mechanics of Neko Atsume. Almost every feature article I’ve read about this game compares it to Neko Atsume (which is not a bad thing). Notice Me Senpai has a great concept and for me, even surpasses that of Neko Atsume. It only lacks a bit on the execution and minor details that could make this game much, much better.

I’m still waiting for other updates and in the future I will still change my rating, and hopefully the game works more smoothly after said updates. There is an ongoing promo for the Valentine’s update (it got extended until March 13, 2016!) and if you want your favorite senpai to give you a gift on White Day, now is your chance!

Rating: 7 / 10

Download the game on the App Store / Google Play.




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