Musumaker: First Impressions: Trial

Title: Musumaker
Company: Digital Cute
System: PC
Release date: 12-19-08

After the death of his father left him in insurmountable debt, Itsuki is persuaded to continue the family work of handling the orphanage his father once owned, although unaware as to the exact nature of the establishment. While each resident has vastly different issues of their own, they all have one thing in common: each of them come from horrific circumstances. Some are from neglectful families, others are scarred by violence, or left ragged by poverty.

In order for them to continue their peaceful days at the orphanage, where they are supplied tuition, entertainment, and live in extraordinary comfort, it serves another function, as a rather different sort of business. Although it seems like a simple orphanage at first, it is also an underground brothel, wherein its residents work to provide their customers with the forbidden pleasures they ask for.

Contrary to his first impressions, Itsuki is not simply the overseer―he is also meant to act as a fatherly figure to the orphans, and to ease the newest entrees into their training.

While the premise may be questionable in terms of consent, it must be noted that all the residents do agree to their lessons without emotional blackmail, bribery, or forceful methods. Additionally, there is the prerequisite age disclaimer which accompanies the title screen, stating that all of the characters are adults. As it is, the heroines are all willing, if not eager, to serve their customers, as the orphanage has saved them from destitution and far crueler fates.

Taking that into account, there is an overwhelmingly charming and adorable atmosphere as the loveable heroines get into mischief, and antics lead to amusing scenarios. At its heart, Musumaker is meant to be a light-hearted title, but whether each orphan ends up prosperous and content, or traumatized and unbalanced depends on the care they are given.

Beyond the occasional choices most eroge provide, there is an innovative and challenging system, where it’s decided how every student will spend her week: you can choose from studying, waitressing, serving customers, resting, or calligraphy, each with their own stats which determine how she will turn out in the future. Work her to exhaustion, and her health will go down, but focusing too much on one area can lead her away from a bright future. Items can also be bought, whether stuffed animals and sweets to raise her mood, or adult toys to unlock different types of erotic scenes.

The aesthetics are just as luxurious: the music is obviously synthetic, but never grating, while the art is simple, colorful, and unspeakably cute, appropriately fitting the mood. There are even occasional moments of animation, whether it’s each girl going about her day or an interactive training sequence.

While to the non-lolicon crowd, it may be unusual―yet, it still should be considered for high praise as a creative raising sim, a heartwarming story, and a thoroughly enjoyable title.  For those not of the pettanko persuasion, it likely won’t be suited to their tastes, but for those who are, there are few games with as much to offer as Musumaker.

Characters:


Tsuchiya Itsuki
Since his mother’s death, Itsuki had been left in the care of his father, whose constant neglect and disappointment in his son left him deprived of both love and acknowledgement. Itsuki lived a troubled childhood and frustrated adolescence, managing to find a sense of companionship through physical intimacy. His past has left Itsuki a cynical and stoic man who carries out his new obligations without complaint, although he is not without pity for the trainees.


Mikan
Mikan is no less than a little angel: obedient, unassuming to a fault, and unwaveringly optimistic―yet her innocence and sweetness, while charming, are also her weakest points. After the death of her parents, Mikan unwittingly inherited her father’s enormous debt owed to illegal sources. She lived with another couple for a short while, but the constant threats left them with no other alternative than to place her in the safety of an orphanage.

icchigo
Ichigo
Ichigo is as devilish as she is darling, whose childish demands and boundless energy only make her fondness for vulgar innuendo all the more shocking. Left helpless after the unexplained disappearance of her father, Ichigo was taken in by the orphanage in exchange for her participation in the brothel business.


Karin
Abandoned by her parents, Karin now harbors an especially strong hatred for her elders, refusing to rely on others and acting rather maturely for her age. Haughty and temperamental, she is quick to resort to violence if her pride is threatened, behaving the most hostile towards Itsuki. The only one she shows kindness towards is Mikan, her classmate and closest friend, and she is fiercely protective of her.


Zakuro
Zakuro is an enigma, having been hospitalized before her admission under mysterious circumstances, yet her current health seems stable. One of the oldest girls at the orphanage, she is always emotionless and silent, showing neither affection or attachment.


Suika
Having been brutally abused by her parents, Suika has been left timid, scarred, and frightened, but cautiously hopeful for a better life in the orphanage. The degree of her abuse was so severe that she has been left disabled, forced to rely on crutches for walking, only adding to her severe body image issues. In spite of this, she genuinely enjoys the security of her new life, especially the luxuries of video games.

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