Hey Hey Guys, I have a super special awesome post today! Auri and Nairne over at Manga Toritsukareru Koto doing it big for their third (er, second) Bloggiversary, by hosting the Animanga Festival. This month long celebration will feature themed posts, events, and games that the entire Aniblogger community is encouraged to participate in throughout the month of October. I just happen to be one of the many bloggers participating in the event and I am super excited to see what everyone comes up with for their posts!!
If you’re still curious about The Animanga Festival check out Auri and Nairne’s introduction post over on their blog for all deets and important links: The #Animanga Festival Begins Tomorrow
Today’s festival prompt is “Anime/Manga You’d Recommend to a First Timer”, since this is a gaming blog, I figured I’d focus on Otome Games. But, I couldn’t decide on just one game to recommend, so I chose FIVE instead!
For those of you unfamiliar with the otome games genre, I highly recommend checking out my Beginners Guide To Otome Games series for a crash course on everything you need to know about otome games. But, if you don’t feel like reading that right now, here’s the cliffnotes version:
“Otome Game (乙女ゲーム lit. otome gemu) is a Japanese term used to describe a series of story based games targeted primarily towards women… the main goal of otome games is to foster romantic relationships between an in game female protagonist (also often referred to as the MC or Heroine) and one of multiple male protagonist (some games also feature female romantic partners), similar to the setup of reverse harem media.”
First on the list is a title I like to call ‘baby’s first otome’ because it is one of the most accessible mainstream otome game localizations (just behind Hakuoki). Amnesia Memories was one of the first otome game localizations to come out after Hakuoki proved that there was a market for them in the West. The premise is simple enough, you play as an amnesiac young woman who wakes up in the hospital with no memory of who she is or how she got there. The only clue she has is a young man who claims to be her boyfriend, but you find you can’t remember him either. He agrees to help you reclaim your lost memories, but suspect that he is harboring secrets of his own and you doubt his intentions. Will this man help you regain the pieces of your memories or is he planning something more sinister?
Amnesia Memories has five love interests to choose from, however, your relationship with each of the love interests varies depending on which route you choose. Each route is a different parallel world which corresponds to one of five playing card suites: Heart, Spade, Clover, Diamond and Joker. On your journey you are accompanied by a spirit named Orion, who serves as the player’s guide and inner voice as you navigate the events of the game. I like suggesting Amnesia to newbies because it’s almost always on sale, so you can get a fully voiced mainstream otome game for as low as $5.00. Also the plot is easy enough to follow, and there aren’t any intense stats raising mechanics, rather you just make choices to raise affection with your chosen love interests. And the inclusion of actual bad ends (you can die in the game) gives the players choices in Amnesia much more weight because there are real consequences for “bad choices”.
Mobile otome games are a great place to start for newbies looking for their first otome game title, they’re free (with optional microtransactions) and you can play them on your phone (which most people carry with them regularly). But, anyone that has ever searched “otome game” in their favorite app store knows there are tons of game companies and titles to choose from. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options, Cybird, Genius, Abracadabra, NTT Solmare, and Voltage’s Otome Romance are all great mobile otome games producers for newbies (and old heads), but if I had to choose one game from the lot, I’d have to go with Cybird’s Ikemen Vampire game. It re-imagines famous historical and fictional figures as immortal vampires you can date.
Cybird’s Ikemen series is fairly standard for mobile otome games: there are mini-game like challenges players can participate in to gain in-game currency which can in turn be used to purchase special items for your character avatar, which helps with clearing certain story checkpoints. Unlike pay to play games, you can read the story for absolutely free, however the game limits the number of chapters you can read per day with the use of reloadable story tickets. Free to play otome games are more social than your regular otome game titles, so sharing friend codes is highly encouraged since your in-game friends can assist you with certain events or help in obtaining special items.
In a sea of games about dating beautiful men, there is one game that challenges you to look beyond appearances and date birds instead! Yeah, you read that right, there’s an otome game out there that lets you date a bunch of handsome birds! Hatoful Boyfriends is one of those otome games I think every otome fan needs to play, it’s practically an otome rite of passage. In the game you play as the lone human student at the prestigious St. Pigeonation Academy, home to some of the most brilliant (and handsome) birdies around.
Hatoful Boyfriend starts off as a comedic tongue and cheek otome game with tons of cheesy jokes, bird shenanigans, and romance. But, this game gets dark real quick, like insanely dark! Hatoful Boyfriend is a surprisingly complex game with secret agendas, political intrigue, and even… murder. It’s one of the few games to really shake up the otome status quo and I think that’s a great thing for newbies to the genre to experience, since it shows just how versatile otome games can be.
I can’t pen a list about games for newbies without including one of the biggest otome hits, Hakuoki. This franchise is credited with ushering in the otome boom in the west with the release of Hakuoki Demon of the Fleeting Blossoms in 2012. This is one of the most accessible otome games available on almost every platform, with a number of remakes and spin-offs that expand on the world of the game. Hakuoki follows the exploits of the members of the Shinsengumi as good looking men, blending together Japanese historical events with a wholly original supernatural storyline.
Even if you aren’t much of a history buff, you will enjoy Hakuoki, the game is full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance… it’s the total package. It’s one of the few otome games to have mass appeal with even non-otome games praising the series for it’s compelling story and characters. Honestly, this is just one of those staples that every otome fan should play.
It’s no secret that I’m a strong supporter of indie game developers, especially those that produce English otome games. Like Japanese otome games they give players a chance to date a set of love interests, but English otome games tend to feature much more progressive stories and more variety in the types of characters they portray. If I had to say which I liked better I’d definitely go with English otome games, since I find their characters to be much more relatable, especially the heroines. There are quite a few English otome games to choose from and I wish I could list them all, but since I can only choose one, I think Dicesuki’s Cinderella Phenomenon is one of the best out there.
Four years after the end of the Great War that threatened the lives of everyone in Angielle and claimed the life of her mother, Crown Princess Lucette is still struggling to come to terms with her new life. Her father has since remarried and she resents her new step-family, cold-hearted and bitter, Lucette lashes out at everyone around her. But, her life is changed forever when a witch casts the Fairytale Curse on her, now with her titles gone and nowhere to go, Lucette must seek out other victims of the curse in hopes of finding a cure. But, it won’t be easy breaking this curse, and Lucette will have to learn to open her heart or risk staying cursed forever.
I thought long and hard about which games to include on this list, should I go with well know otome games or simpler ones that give new players a good feel of otome mechanics and gameplay? In the end I shot for the middle, including a few popular titles with those that I felt wouldn’t overwhelm folks not familiar with the premise of otome games. While romance will always be a large part of otome games, it’s important for newbies to know that at the end of the day, otome games are just visual novels. Each one has a story to tell, be it a fantasy adventure or a slice of life coming of age story, there is literally a narrative that will appeal to everyone. So, if you’re new to the otome genre and looking for a good starting place, you won’t go wrong with these five picks.
This is just my first entry for #TheAnimangaFestival and there are many more in the coming days and weeks! Also keep an eye out for other posts from the amazing members of the Aniblogging community who will no doubt put their own unique spin on the various prompts, events, and activities.
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