I don’t normally seek out erotic visual novels, but if I did, I doubt I’d leap to describe them as “delightful”. But Sugarscript’s Cute Demon Crashers proved the exception in both of these, by not only getting me to play a sexy dating sim but leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling that (you’d think) would be uncharacteristic of the genre. If you look at the creators’ mission statement, though, you’ll realize that was the point:
In our team, we felt there was a need of consent and safe spaces in 18+ VNs for women, and NaNoRenO 2015 was the perfect excuse to make a game to fit those needs!
Consent and comfort is a massive, integral part of Cute Demon Crashers. College student Claire (who the player can rename) accidentally summons three incubi and one succubus who sense that she’s lonely, and over the course of the game she can bond with them and learn about them, and, if she wants to, pick one to have sex with that night. Whichever adorable sexy demon she picks, the ensuing sex scene is sweet, gentle, sometimes funny, and each demon is lovely in their own unique way. Because consent is an integral part of the development team’s mission, it’s an integral part of the gameplay: plenty of options pop up throughout the scene, with Claire’s lovers asking her if she wants to do this, or that, or stop. And indeed, a big stop button is available in the corner of the screen at all times. If you hit the button or want to back down, the demons never make Claire feel bad about it, and they do everything they can to make sure she’s physically and emotionally comfortable throughout the whole process.
There are no bad ends in this visual novel. It’s entirely about having a good time and exploring sexuality in a fun, safe, and comfortable way, with the magical love demon aspect managing to be adorable rather than skeevy like it could be. The whole game was a delightful and fun experience, which is why I’m super excited that Sugarscript has announced that they’re working on a “Side B” sequel/spinoff for the game.
Interestingly, while Cute Demon Crashers had three incubi love interests for Claire and one succubus, Sugarscript has announced that Side B will have a guy as its main character and only incubi (male demons) as the potential lovers. When asked why they decided to do an entirely “boy x boy” project this time, the team said:
The original Cute Demon Crashers team was mostly made up of women, and we knew we couldn’t provide the right perspective accurately since we based it off of personal experiences. It would also double assets and time, which we couldn’t accommodate since we planned it to be a short project. However, we found a writer who has that perspective, and we will be supporting him.
In the same post the team declared that the game was “intended for a gay male audience, […] and sweet with an emphasis on consent as always”, meaning that in a rare case this seems it’s going to be a work written by and for and about queer men. Sugarscript hopes that BL and yaoi fans can enjoy the game too, but these are not the immediate intended audience. Which is awesome, frankly—this is no slight against boys love fans, but it’s really nice to see that this is going to be made for actual mlm first, with said BL fans considered an added bonus rather than the immediate target audience. Romantic or erotic works about queer men but not necessarily made by or for queer men run a much greater risk of falling into negative tropes (like the dreaded seme and uke nonsense, for example) or being fetishized, given that the viewing pleasure of fans (often women) is prioritized over how actual queer men might want to see themselves represented, or what they might want to see in their media.
Given that Sugarscript avoided writing any mlm content into their games until they had a queer guy on the team to “provide the right perspective”, it gives me hope that they were aware of all this possible negativity and wanted to dodge it as best they could, thus representing queer men as best they could. And it’s a Cute Demon Crashers game, so you know that the sexual content will be deliberately fluffy and comfortable, which is also reassuring given that so much of “boys love” media is infamous for having dubious consent, unequal power dynamics, and again, fetishization running rampant as they attempt to appeal to the fujoshi market rather than actual mlm.
All I know about Side B is that it’s going to exist at some point, so I don’t want to project too many hopes and dreams onto it yet. But given how lovely and positive Cute Demon Crashers was, I think we can have high hopes for this new installment. Claire’s relationship with the single succubus, Mirari, wasn’t fetishized at all and came across just as sweet, caring and uplifting as the other routes, so we have prior evidence that Sugarscript wants to—and can—portray queer relationships and queer erotica without wandering into icky territory. Given that Cute Demon Crashers was the story of a woman’s sexual awakening and Side B is a man’s (Side B’s protagonist has been implied to be Claire’s brother, which I kind of love—won’t that be a great conversation for the siblings to have?), it will be interesting to see what, if any, differences pop up in the storytelling. It will also be interesting to see what kind of characters fill the brand new cast of demons, and what relationships and interactions come out of their bonding with the protagonist and what facets of intimacy they choose to explore.
Cute Demon Crashers might be a silly, fun little visual novel, and I enjoy it for that, but it’s also an important piece of media. It was possibly the first piece of fiction (or anything, come to think of it) that explicitly said to me “you only have to have sex if you want to”. Weirdly enough, because unfortunately that’s just how society seems to work, nothing else had prompted me to consider this an option—the pervasive message and assumption is that it’s just what you do when you like someone. And yet here are a bunch of literal sex demons telling me it was actually optional and all about my feelings and comfort. Is this indie smut game what set me on the path to realizing I’m ace? As hilariously ironic as that would be, that’s a deep and introspective post for another day. Given the amount of messages Sugarscript have gotten, though, I feel like this game resonated with a lot of people—so many users were thanking the team for presenting sex in such a non-threatening way, or providing a safe way to work through their own anxieties or trauma, or just for making such a sweet and fun game.
Sugarscript will be producing Side B over this year’s NaNoRenO game jam, which takes up the month of March, so hopefully we should see some progress (if not the finished product—they polished Cute Demon Crashers a lot before releasing it in order to give their players the best possible experience) by April. In the meantime, some of the team is also working on the crowdfunded visual novel Caramel Mokkacino, which looks to be just as adorable, and, because they hit all their stretch goals, will include the opportunity for polyamorous endings. Lots to look forward to, is what I’m saying. And while we wait, if you want to check out Cute Demon Crashers in all its sexy sweetness, you can download it for free here!
Read more from Alex at her blog, The Afictionado!