This is not at all what I expected from the author of Megaman Sprite Game. Instead of a jokey romp, we have a very introspective, psychological exploration of the author's ideal existence. Apparently, he's a dude named Samuel who wishes she was a lady named Samantha, and smushes that together into Samanthuel. On the surface, the game is a very friendly, positive look at an idyllic life in the woods. Underneath, there's some implications that I'm not very comfortable with. In that respect, this review may focus more on gender politics and psychology than the game itself, and so naturally it's going to be controversial as hell and I hope I don't offend anyone, least of all the author of this game.
Outside of Samanthuel herself, there's 4 kinds of characters in the game who I feel give us a valuable insight into how the author might look at other people. There's her pets, a number of cats and a handsome beetle. There's her woodland frog friends in the woods, and finally there's her gay girlfriend, the game goes out of its way to mention the gayness. The cats are the simplest. One is energetic and outgoing, the other shy and quiet. This sets up an easy contrast which allows Samanthuel to endorse both introversion and extroversion. The cats are okay the way they are.
The frogs all look alike, but each one has a distinct trait. One of 'em is pretty, one of 'em is talented, two of them are besties. Samanthuel takes a really weird pride in identifying the good trait of each frog, as if she has to validate their existence somehow. It's the first sign we get that Samanthuel is a person who cares deeply what other people think, though she says so herself a little later, killing the need for the metaphor. Does Samanthuel wish she were a pretty little frog, and that visitors to the woods would stop what they were doing and address how pretty she is? It seems to be a fair assumption. Like the frogs, she has no apparent responsibility and leads a life without care.
Her beetle friend is another interesting example of the author's need for validation. At the end of your trip outside, you find another friendly looking beetle, whom she takes home to "be friends" with the other beetle. There's something that's off to me about how easily she scoops up a living creature and dumps it into a life of captivity. Why assume that the other beetle will hit it off with the one she already has? Even weirder, we're told that she'll set the beetles free "when they're ready". How will Samanthuel tell? I can't put my finger on it, but there's something very authoritarian with the way she scoops things out of their natural habitat, puts them into a safe, controlled environment, and then dumps them back out into the "real world" after they've served her purpose, the way she assumes to know what's best for everyone in the woods.
Which brings us to our final supporting character, girlfriend. She doesn't have a name, any dialogue, or defining characteristics. Even "Dumb Whore" in James Dopplers Sci-Fi Fantasy Epic Quest RPG was better developed. When Samanthuel wakes up, Girlfriend is already awake and sitting on the couch. When Samanthuel gets home from her quest, Girlfriend is already in bed asleep. There's no sense of emotional attachment between the two of them, save for the three heart icons in the textbox where she identifies her. Strangely, the companion beetle also gets three heart icons in the textbox where Samanthuel finds her and much like the beetle, the girlfriend serves no real purpose other than an empty promise of token companionship: Samanthuel wants to have someone at any costs, regardless of whether there's any actual feelings between them. It's sad to see someone look so hard for validation in everyone else around them. The only person a person ever really lives with is themself, and that's the person you should seek to be happy with.
So how does Samanthuel think of themself? Let's take a look at what the game tells us about her, but first let's summarize the other characters for comparison:
Full of energy and loves running around
Quiet and prefers to be away from others, which is okay!
Pretty, a beautiful frog!
Very talented, a frog to take pride in
Smart, worthy of praise!
Cool, a role model!
Very healthy, handsome and strong
Gay <3 <3 <3
All pretty positive, hell even her home is described as lovely! But take a look at the traits the game attributes to Samanthuel...
Not good at applying makeup.
Is lucky to live where she does.
A bit fat
Got teased for having moobs
Is never going to lose weight
poor motor control mandates extra wheels on all bicycles
always feels judged
From the sounds of things, the main one judging Samanthuel is Samanthuel. The game makes a big deal about what a positive person she is, yet at every opportunity she's cutting herself down, revealing weaknesses and generally not being positive. Even in your own ideal world you're treating yourself this way, and that's retarded. Present the self you want to be, and it will become the truth.
If you want to be a woman, then forget Samuel and be Samantha, if you want to be a man, then forget Samantha and be Samuel and if you're happy with being neither or both, then Samanthuel is perfect. But whatever you're going to be, reach out there and be it with both hands. If you can't be who you want to be in your own fantasy, how are you ever going to be who you want to be in real life? And forget about all the stupid stereotype stuff. Men aren't GI Joes and women aren't Barbies. I'm a man and I like to cook and I know plenty of women who like to work on cars. Worrying about stuff like that is petty and stupid, and fun fact? The kind of people who'd judge you on stuff like that are petty and stupid too. Ultimately, you are who you are and you shouldn't let yourself be peer pressured by society/culture into being something you're not.
Basically, if you want to be a woman and pee standing up, go right ahead.