Also available on Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 8/12/2019 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
My Girlfriend is a Mermaid!? was an impulse buy for me. Being a visual novel with cute anime girls, how could I possibly say no? For the most part, it’s exactly like you’d expect from a visual novel – a cute story with likable characters and a handful of different endings depending on what choices you made at certain junction points throughout the game. While sticking to the formula isn’t a bad thing when it’s a solid tried-and-true formula, the other side of that safe route is that it also doesn’t really stand out from the crowd too much.
The game’s story revolves around the main character returning to his childhood hometown during a summer break from college to get away from the city and relax in the quiet countryside. While hiking in the mountains, he is reunited with a dear childhood friend…who has, at some point, transformed into a mermaid. Naturally, he is quite perplexed. This confusion grows when he encounters a younger (and much more cognitively challenged) mermaid later on. From there, the story focuses on his interpersonal relationships with the two mermaids as well as his attempts to understand just what the hell is going on and what mermaid ecology and psychology is like especially compared to that of humans. It’s a cute tale that does suck you in, but it pretty much follows the visual novel how-to roadmap right down to the token tsundere and yandere characters and the obligatory “totally unexpected” plot twist.
The ambient background sounds and voice acting are pretty par for the course although having the choice between Japanese and Korean voice acting was a nice surprise as I was only expecting Japanese voices. The art style, however, is very well done. Each of the characters is beautifully drawn, and the facial expressions each has really added to the story and illustrate the emotion behind each line of dialogue pretty well. There are a few exceptions, of course, and there are only a handful of facial expressions that get recycled, but what is there is extremely well done. The backgrounds, as well, really stood out to me as something special because they’re not just photographs with character images pasted over them; they have an almost oil painting look to them, and while I suspect they might be photographs that have been digitally edited, they are nonetheless gorgeous.
My Girlfriend is a Mermaid!? is a bit of an odd game for me when it comes to either recommending it or not because it’s such a niche product. Most people are not going to be interested in a video game that’s 99.9% reading especially when the story is about cute anime half-fish girls. If that IS your cup of tea, however, then while it’s not treading new ground in the genre, it does the genre quite well. If you’re a #SwitchCorps collector or just fond of cute anime visuals novels, then yeah, for sure check this one out. If you’re just a casual visual novel fan, maybe keep an eye out for a sale on Steam, but truthfully, there isn’t anything here that the average Switch gamer is likely to find particularly interesting.