Freezer Pops Review: Of Dudes and Desserts
Freezer Pops markets itself as a “bara visual novel.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term—and I’m generalizing here—it’s essentially the beefed-up version of the boys’ love (BL) genre, but it’s created by and for gay men. As with any genre, these works are just as diverse as their creators—romantic, strictly sexual, and everything in-between. More than anything, though, we’re talking about ridiculously ripped dudes with masculine traits. These guys could probably bench press their slimmer, more feminine BL counterparts.
A personal note before we get started: I do have some experience with the BL genre, but I’m not an expert by any means. As far as I know, bara is still rather rare in the West, so I’ve never read any of it. However, as a gay man, I am indeed part of the game’s intended audience.
Muscles for Days
Freezer Pops begins with aspiring game developer Alexandre, our protagonist, discovering he’s lost his university scholarship. His roommate also abandons him to travel, leaving him with all the bills. With the end of the month quickly approaching, Alexandre has to immediately come up with a plan.
That plan, of course, is to sell gourmet freezer pops. It’s apparent from the start that this is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It doesn’t take long for Alexandre to cross paths with a couple of hunky guys, Fernando and Anderson, and the self-proclaimed freezer pops queen, who doesn’t take kindly to competitors.
Freezer Pops follows the general structure of any other visual novel. You’ve got dialogue choices and a branching narrative that determines which guy you spend time with. The story is short, though, so the branches aren’t especially dynamic. In fact, there are situations and dialogue shared between the two guys, which kind of hampers the fun of exploring the narrative. There are four endings, two for each guy, both positive and negative, but they’re all similar regardless of the choices you make.
As I mentioned, Freezer Pops doesn’t take itself seriously, and that fact becomes apparent early on. Some of the situations Alexandre finds himself in are decidedly…how to put this…stereotypically porn-y. He’s not the sexy pizza delivery or cable repair man, but he might as well be. At one point in both routes, Alexandre daydreams about Fernando as a lifeguard or Anderson as a firefighter. Both scenarios end in sexy times because who doesn’t want to have sex after almost drowning or being burned alive?
Oh, also, there are sexy sleepovers. It could be dangerous to walk home at night, so it’s far better for Alexandre to stay with someone who will make sure all his needs are taken care of, right? Right.
So, the whole thing is generally silly and over the top, which is fine. However, that does result in an odd tonal shift regarding the freezer pops queen at the end. Her shady dealings and surprisingly mature storyline clash with Alexandre’s shenanigans. It almost feels like they’re different narratives. There are also moments in which the guys talk about coming out and their struggles, all of which could have been explored for emotional depth. Not that I expected an emotionally deep tour de force in a game about hot guys. Still, if those topics are worth mentioning, they’re worth exploring.
Do Words Even Matter?
There are other inconsistencies too. Both guys have a kink, which is mostly just stated as a fact, and you can engage in some good old-fashioned kink-shaming if you’d like. It doesn’t matter either way because, despite being upset, they’ll still sleep with Alexandre a second later. I guess he’s just that irresistible.
More concerning, however, is the translation. As the developers are based in Brazil, I assume the game was translated from Portuguese into English. It is, unfortunately, rough. Some lines are missing words or punctuation. Sometimes, words are swapped with each other. Other times, the language is just awkward, as in “He puts a surprised look on his face,” which is otherwise known as, “He looks surprised.” The script would have benefitted from a copyedit, for sure. I generally don’t knock off points for misspellings and poor grammar, but it happens so frequently that I can’t ignore it this time.
Everyone Can Get It
On the plus side, the art is pretty good. Freezer Pops certainly succeeds at showcasing its goods. I’m not positive, but I think shirts might be illegal in this universe. The upbeat pop soundtrack is a nice fit for the generally lighthearted story. The highlight, by far, is the ’70s-style music that plays when things heat up. If this were indeed a ’70s porno, it’s what you’d expect to hear when it’s time to pay the sexy pizza delivery guy but, inexplicably, the “customer” doesn’t have any money. I could, however, do without the…uh…spurting sound that happens when events…climax. I imagine it’s akin to dropping mayonnaise on the floor. Ahh yeah, sexy times.
Also, this is the Switch version, so you won’t see anything explicit. Things get steamy, but you’ll want to play the Steam version if you want to see everything. Frankly, I’m impressed to even be playing it on the Switch, but that’s a different conversation for another day.
tl;dr: It’s Just about Beefy Dudes
Much like its inspiration, Freezer Pops is a one-note experience. We all know the narrative is just a flimsy pretext for getting these guys into ostensibly sexy situations. It only takes a few hours to complete, and there’s little reason to revisit it. It’s kind of a wild ride while it lasts, though.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: Switch (reviewed), Steam; Publisher: eastasiasoft; Developer: Male Doll; Players: 1; Release Date: May 27, 2022; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $9.99
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.