Last month, the developers of the very popular Dating Sim Game, Crush Crush, were guest speakers on St-John’s University Official Radio Station to talk about the game, their journey to success and their upcoming projects. Developers Cody and Morgan, from Sad Panda Studios, also discussed their partnership with Nutaku. Find out what led them to release the Moist & Uncensored version of Crush Crush, only on Nutaku.net.
In 2015, Cody and Morgan were casually discussing ideas at a coffee shop when one idea seemed to stick out. The two co-workers brainstormed combining a Dating Sim Game with an Idle Game. Cody had previous experience in the idle genre and Morgan had more experience in the Dating Sims genre as well as an impressive art portfolio. For those reasons, the two friends decided to create their very own video game.
It was their ambitious character and desire to create that led them to finishing the first version of Crush Crush just one year after their coffee shop chat. On February 9, 2016, the game launched right before Valentine’s Day on Kongregate. It turned out to be the ideal launch date as the Dating Sim game ranked within the top 5 most played games on the platform that month. Morgan describes Kongregate as the perfect website to initially launch Crush Crush, explaining, “Places like Kongregate are really receptive to [demos] and [you can] get a lot of ideas or you may connect with people that want to help you.” The team embraced all feedback and criticism to continuously improve the game which turned out to work well for them. One year after launch, Crush Crush has a rating of 4.13 and over 3.6 million gameplays on Kongregate. The game is also featured on Steam with over 4000 very positive reviews.
For those not familiar with the game, Crush Crush is an anime-styled game that gets players to take on real-life activities in a colorful world. The main goal of the game is to meet and date the girls in this world. Currently, there are 19 beautifully distinct female characters with unique personalities and style. However, just like in real life, you can only do so if you budget your time, get a job to pay for your dates and gifts, and spend time getting to know the girls. The game also ensures players have hobbies and skills in order to develop your avatar into the ideal eligible bachelor or bachelorette. As you progress through the game, you will receive promotions and develop a wide variety of skills. The best part is that your avatar will progress even when you’re not logged in and playing the game. Players continuously earn money, develop skills and advance their relationships with the girls. All you have to do is check in to monitor progress, make certain upgrades and obtain rewards.
Morgan explains that idle games give players that freedom to just check in on their progress and that it’s always an upward progression, which always feels great. Cody goes on to compare an idle game to a bonsai experience, saying, “It’s like you come back to the bonsai tree and you go clip here, clip here, make some small clips and then you’re like ah, perfect. That’s exactly how I like it and then I’ll come back later and see if it needs more.”
There is no doubt that Crush Crush has gameplay appeal, but what about it, specifically, made it so popular? Cody and Morgan underline the main reasons why they thought the game turned out to be so successful: “I think the game holds up because of its aesthetic, and its charm, and its writing, and a lot of other facets to it that sort of put it in a different niche for idle games,” Morgan also pointed to the game's depth of story, memorable dialogue and the aesthetics of the game. Both developers detailed that they added features not usually present in idle games. For example, players can decide if their avatar is male or female. The game also has limited time blocks which forces players to decide how to use their time, making it even more comparable to real-life.
The developers also emphasize how the mix of both game genres contribute to the Crush Crush’s success. It was discussed that the idle element provides continuous progress and satisfaction to the players whereas the dating element creates the storyline and limitations that an idle game normally wouldn't have. “Relationships need to have a rise and fall,” Cody explained, “they need to have consummation, so we knew the genre of the Dating Sim didn’t mesh perfectly with an endless idle.”
The team was also aware that people would want to develop their relationship beyond just dating the girls. “We heard a lot from fans that were like, yes, we would like to see the game go in that direction but a lot of platforms aren’t very comfortable with it, so we had our hands tied for a while,” Cody explained as he remembered fans suggesting to add adult content in the game. “Then Nutaku, [an adult gaming platform,] actually approached us and said… we would love to feature it on our website so do you want to partner with us?” At first Morgan was hesitant but quickly was impressed as soon as she looked up Nutaku’s website. “When I checked out their site I was actually pretty impressed… they were very professional and clean and all their games had beautiful anime and art styles.” Having an adult version of Crush Crush seemed like the next best step, which was introduced with the release of the Moist & Uncensored version of Crush Crush on Nutaku.net. The Moist & Uncensored version of Crush Crush is the exact same story as the original game but with the possibility of getting intimate with the girls you date. When your relationship reaches the Lover status, players can you unlock sexy scenes with the beautiful babes.
Sad Panda Studios is very happy with the outcome of their efforts and the positive feedback from all the supportive fans. Crush Crush became so popular that the team is planning on developing a boy version called Blush Blush. They also plan on creating visual novels with characters from the original Crush Crush game to further explore and deepen their characters and storylines. Keep up with Cody and Morgan on their Sad Panda Studio Youtube Channel and find the Moist & Uncensored version of Crush Crush, only here on Nutaku.