coffeentacos Aw thanks! I forgot how long winded I made that first post 😅 I will continue to proselytize these games!
I actually JUST got Jack Jeanne and Radiant Tale which released less than a week ago! Really looking forward to both of those. I saw Jack Jeanne is one of the highest metacritic games of the year which is pretty funny, hopefully it attracts some new people to the genre!
Y’all want to indulge me by seeing my switch collection? I put these in the general order that I got them.
I honestly haven’t played half of these YET but when you see one on sale for $30, the premise seems fun, and know it’s going to go out of print in a year, you might as well pick it up. It’s such a niche thing that I don’t think it’s smart to expect them to go up in value, but who knows. I have pretty much all the games that interest me, including a bunch of imports and games that are now out of print. Idea Factory and Aksus found their audience on switch so it’s expensive to try to collect them all. Plus I would feel a rock in the pit of my stomach if I saw Amnesia ~ Memories ~ on my shelf. Dammit Toma.
Around the start of the switch generation I picked up Code Realize and sometime after that the Future Blessings Fandisk. I’m not the biggest fan tbh (impey’s cool but wasn’t huge into the other routes), I got it just because there weren’t other options and I wanted to support otomes making their way to the west. Little did I know what Aksus was cookin up.
I imported Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi. It’s…. very old (2004). I mean the genre didn’t really kick off until 9 Doors 9 Persons 9 Rooms proved that people would buy visual novels. And even then Hakuoki didn’t release for PS2 until 2008! Obviously Angelique and Tokimeki (which we’ll get to later) are old, but those are quite different from the visual novel otome genre. Anyway, Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi is not super well localized, it’s not really as romantic as later games, and I think the art style is ugly. But it is a sorta interesting as a historical document. But if I had to pick a PS2 otome, you should get Palais du Reine which is not on switch. There is a steam version that might have a virus in it. Didn’t stop me from playing it.
Cafe Enchante is another one that I picked up when it seemed like we weren’t going to get many of these games in the west, It’s moreso targeted to furries so… I didn’t get far in it. The art style kind of falls apart for me when the characters are too fantastical, so you can see a big difference between this and Code Realize and the games I get later, which are more historical and theatrical. But it’s very good if you’re into fur.
Next is my favorite, Nightshade 百花百狼 (Hundred Flowers and Hundred Wolves). I took a big chance importing it, and it turned out to be perfectly what I’m into. It’s partly cozy and idyllic, but at the same time there’s high stakes, comedy, tragedy, there’s complicated backstories and twists. Every route in this game is great. Goemon and Hanzo have never looked so good. But Kuroyuki and Gekkamaru are where this game really shines. Love it so much.
I imported Steam Prison, and it was a little bit of a disappointment. The localization is not great. The worldbuilding is very very dark. It’s a much darker game than any of the others I own. To put it frankly… it’s kind of a bummer. Like, Piofiore ~ Fated Memories ~ deals with dark themes of crime and death but Stream Prison is just about how classism and hierarchies create despair. I don’t know that I would really recommend it but it has an interesting tone to it that you don’t get often. Could be that I read it at a weird time. Piofiore on the other hand feels like a real adventure, it’s a mafia game. But it’s kind of easy to get a bad ending where horrible things can happen to you.
But those pale in comparison to Bustafellows! It’s also full of danger, but you take a very active role in it as a detective who can time travel. I think it’s extremely well paced and has some great memorable routes.
Olympia Soiree is a really fun one that I need to get back to and play some more. It’s all about racism and colorism, and it’s presented in a heavy handed but interesting way. It’s not perfect but it’s compelling. You also have the cutest little mouse friend <3 I love him.
I have NOT played Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani, Cupid Parasite, Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei, Piofiore 1924, Winter’s Wish Spirits of Edo, and Varaible Barricade yet. But they seem to all take place in very cool settings. Cupid Parasite I was most on the fence of, and nearly missed out on it entirely, but picked it up for like $25 on ebay after it went out of print. Muah ha ha.
Arcade Spirits is the odd one out on this list for being the only western game. I think it’s an otome at least from what I’ve read about it… but I haven’t actually played it to see if maybe it doesn’t fit. I know it is a dating visual novel with multiple routes, but I’m unsure if it has the je ne sais quoi that these other games have. There’s also a sequel with a physical release, so I should get around to playing it soon so I can see if I want to pick that one up.
Now… another that is becoming one of my all time favs is Lover Pretend! I had so much fun playing this one this year. It’s a fun romantic comedy. Just a good time, good characters. Not particularly deep but I had a lot of fun with the characters. It inspired me to pick up two other light, comedic games – Paradigm Paradox and Variable Barricade. I played a bit of Paradigm, a game where you date boys who turn into a Sailor Moon style team of magical girls, and it doesn’t quite live up to the premise. It plays it very straight but not in a silly way. I haven’t started Variable Barricade yet but I love the art style so it’s up there on my list.
I picked up Tokimeki Memorial -Girl’s Side- 4th Heart and Angelique Luminarise recently. These are different from the others because they are Japanese only. I started playing through Tokimeki Memorial, but was kind of turned off that the principal wants to have a skinship with you, and you have a hot teacher you’re after. It’s a little … ehhhhh…. but I mean I’ll come back to it because it is so much more than that. It just kind of turned me off initially. I haven’t gotten to Angelique Luminarise yet, but I had fun playing the original one earlier this year so I’m hoping the gameplay remains weird!
Then there’s the newest games in my collection… Charade Maniacs… Jack Jeanne…. and Radiant Tale… The throughline is that they’re all about drama performers and in Radiant Tale’s case, the circus! These are high up on my list of games I want to play but because they are kind of thematically similar I’ll probably switch between them and some of the historical games. I don’t have time to play all the games before something new comes out that I want to play! We’re in the golden age of otomes!