One of the few otome games available to English players: Hakuoki for the PSP, published by Aksys.

It’s no mystery that Japanese otome games are one of the most under-represented video game genres in English. Off the top of my head, I only know of 3 localized titles available to English players and all of these are fairly recent too. I’ve noticed there has been some iOS otome games available recently as well, but I worry about the quality of these free applications. Thankfully I discovered this neat little database for otome game fans. It neatly categorizes all otome games based on platform and the best part is that it only has info on English otome games, so I know I will be able to pick up the games listed if I want. The interesting thing about this site is that is includes otome games made by western developers and for this I’m actually quite thankful because there are a few titles that look quite interesting.

One of the demos was actually a browser demo for an English developed otome game calledX-Note. Since I didn’t have to worry about downloading from unknown places, I decided to give this demo a try. It was great! I really liked the story so far and it really pulled me in. I’m a little hesitant to purchase it at the moment given the price (20$ USD, 17.99 € ) and how much that converts into my currency, but if I ever come across the game on sale, I’ll pick it up in a heart beat (or when I have less on my plate). The point of this ramble? Demos are awesome (and more developers need to make use of them) and I just wanted to share this cool resource site I discovered. As a budding otome fan, I think it’s a great resource and I really liked how it introduced me to English otome games.

X-Note has available guys, like a typical otome game, but it also has what looks to be an intriguing sci-fi story too.

That said, I do question the database’s inclusion of Avalon Code and Atelier Annie as otome DS games. I can see why they could squeeze Harvest Moon in as a pseudo otome game (getting a guy and marrying them is pretty big objective in the games that let you play as a female character), but Atelier Annie, as awesome of a game it is, doesn’t have any relationship system. And if they are going to list Annie, why not Rorona/Totori/Meruru? They star female characters with an in-dept relationship structured story (but no system). It seems kind of arbitrary. That and the Atelier games aren’t considered or made with just female players in mind. They may star girls, but they are aimed at dudes too. This probably seems weird to some English players, but there are lots of games like this in Japan: Idolmaster, Princess Maker, and the recently released Ciel no Surge all come to mind. This ties back to the moe phenomenon and anime and game audiences crossing over, but I won’t go into that here as that topic is massive. Just I personally feel that games with female characters or playable female characters don’t automatically make them otome games (i.e. games aimed specially at girls or women). The requirements, I feel, have to be stricter. A gender choice already means the game is being aimed at both sexes, so calling it otome is already sort of wrong. Which is why I don’t agree that Avalon Code should be listed, even as a pseudo otome game. It may have a small relationship system, but (from what I’ve seen) the bulk of the game is about other things. A small relationship system does not make something similar to an otome game. I personally feel the game has to have an emphasis on the relationship aspect to be called pseudo otome. But still, opinions! The site is still a great resource and even if those two games aren’t similar to otome games, they probably can be enjoyed by otome game fans, especially the Atelier series.

Anyone else enjoy otome games? Any recommendations and thoughts?

–SW

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