I finally found a casual Western game that I consider to fit in the otome genre! Thanks to Valerie’s recommendation on the Smart Bitches’ Regency Love review (which I also might count as an otome game from what I hear, but unfortunately I can’t play it to check), I found Everlove:Rose, which is available on iOS and Android, and published by Silicon Sisters, a company whose aim is to make games for women by women.
For romance novel readers, I think this is a great portal into gaming, and for otome gamers, it’s perfect if you’re interested in a different sort of otome game. For casual gamers, it’s a nice change from all the horror-based hidden object games and stressful time management games.
In Everlove:Rose, you’re a modern woman, Rose, trying to figure out strange dreams you’ve been having with the help of your therapist, Dr. Alys. She wants to try sending you into your unconscious (or something) to experience your past life where the dreams originated. This framing does a couple things: makes things feel safer, since you’re only dreaming, and lets Rose think and act like a modern woman in a medieval setting believably. The only drawback is that you won’t get a regular ‘happy ever after’ sort of ending, since at the end Rose wakes up again in modern times. Still, I think it works for this game.
Once Rose starts dreaming, she wakes up in a medieval village. She quickly meets some handsome men who could easily be on the cover of a historical romance novel, as well as her friend and her aunt, who for a short time is Dr. Alys.
Everlove is a fairly short game (it is casual, after all), but I think it’s reasonable for the price (~$5). There are four men to romance (in order of appearance):
It’s a small cast but they all have their own arcs. As you play you can see how the storyline branches, which is great, though there’s a lot of overlap. There are several simple puzzles along the way that casual gamers will find familiar – hidden object scenes where you gather herbs and piecing together various letters/artworks. Apparently you can skip them once you’ve completed them once – I didn’t find out how but that would make the gameplay even more smooth than what I experienced. The one thing I’d change is that each character’s route is very simple and there’s not much showing the relationship development between Rose and the guys.
As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a traditional HEA at the end of each story, but there is a small extra scene to complete the background story once you finish all four routes.
Overall, Everlove: Rose is very enjoyable to play and though I’d love some more story scenes to deepen our understanding and connection to the characters, I’m really impressed that Silicon Sisters got so much right on their first romance videogame – and really, it’s still great value. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance novels, or casual games with more character/relationship focus.
There are quite a few mobile otome games on the market now and both Android and iOS users can get in on the action (Windows Mobile, I don’t think so but correct me if I’m wrong). I thought I’d do an introduction and rundown of the titles I’m familiar with.
One of the great things about the surge in mobile games is that it’s a fantastic channel for otome games and visual novels in general, and since there’s often no sound, there are lots that are translated to English – there are way more mobile otome games available than console or PC games. The lack of PC and console otoge saddens me because that’s my bread and butter, but really, anything that gets more otome games available to more people is a good thing.
Since mobile is both relatively new and relatively (emphasis on relative) cheap, there are a lot of different formats and ways that the creators are trying to make money. Some are more annoying than others (this is foreshadowing…)
There seem to be a couple big companies who take developed games and publish them for mobile, and will also often make two versions of them – paid, and ‘free to play’ or f2p. Voltage and Solmare are two which have a lot of titles on the market.
I personally like the paid versions better, as you pay $3-5 for a story and can then read/play it whenever you have time. You can also REplay it very easily.
However, if you don’t like that, you can play the f2p versions. In these, you get a set amount of ‘energy’ or ‘story tickets’, often 1 point per four hours, and you can only read a bit of the story at a time. Also, there are usually challenges throughout the story where you need to spend more points, and there’s a chance of failure, or you need to ‘train’ some stat such as ‘charm’ or ‘princess points’. Many also have avatar gameplay, where you can dress up your character in different clothes and have decorations in your room. You can still spend real money on these, and if you’re impatient, it can easily end up being more than the paid version, which is another reason I like the paid versions.
When you go on the Google Play pages for the paid versions, you’ll often see complaints that you have to pay. I gotta say, these piss me off because most of these games don’t have ads – how are the creators supposed to make any money? Do people expect creators to work at a non-game making job during the day and then spend all their ‘off’ time making and maintaining games for free? Give me a damn break. Ahem, sorry.
However, even though I get the paid when possible, I often get the free versions as well – because spinoff stories are usually only available on the free version. I get the best of both worlds, yay!
Here’s a quick listing of some of the games available, and my general impressions of them. Links are usually to the Google Play store.
Pirates in Love: This was one of the first to be translated, and I was really jealous of my iPhone-using friends because it was in the AppStore way before anything came out for Android (at least that I could find) and it looked gorgeous. Now it’s available on Google Play too, and I’ve played through a few routes.
Now, it’s not cheap. A free intro tries to hook you on one or more of the guys, and to get each of their routes you’ll have to pay $4 each. There are no voices (though this is standard for mobile games). That’s pretty expensive if you want more than one or two routes.
However, the art is gorgeous, and though the dialogue is bad, for me it’s in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. The CGs are few but nice. And since it was the first mobile otome game I played, I didn’t realize that the production values were actually pretty high – there are save and load options, the transitions are pretty smooth, and the user interface is nice.
Magic Sword: You’re a princess who has to go on a quest with an elf archer, a mage, and a swordsman to win back your country’s treasure, Excalibur, which has been stolen by King Arthur and Merlin. I consider the system here to be similar to Pirates in Love. Free prologue, pay $4 per character and then you can play it as much as you want. Right now there are three routes. The art is really nice (I think comparable to Pirates in Love), and the routes are pretty good – though I would recommend not playing Ethan first as he’s…hard to like in the beginning. Also, there are three endings for each guy, and in one you have sex! The CG isn’t that graphic but the narration…sometimes is. Just a note.
There’s also a ‘free-to-play‘ version, which I’ve been playing the side stories on.
Alice in the Heart – various prices – Quinrose put the full version of Heart on Kuni no Alice on Android, including voices! That’s the good news. The bad news is the translation is atrocious, and when I can’t listen to the Japanese (like when Alice is talking or thinking), sometimes I can’t even figure out what the dialogue means. I’ve heard lots of people complaining about the price, which for all characters and voices is $38, but I actually think that’s reasonable – or it would be if the translation was decent. I’ve heard that they finally hired some help to fix it, so I look forward to being able to recommend it to everyone after that.
Hakuoki Premium Hakuoki Normal – I haven’t played this, but it says that it’s full-voice and has an extra scenario. Even with the normal version you have to pay for each chapter, if I got it I’d go for the premium at $29 to get it all at once for cheaper.
Scarlet Fate Scarlet Fate+ – This is another console otome game ported to mobile, but unfortunately it doesn’t include voices or music. It’s Hiiro no Kakera 4/5, the Heian one. I’m playing the paid one now, and it’s good, but even on my tablet the CGs aren’t at full size which is sad, and having no voices, music, or sound effects really takes away from the atmosphere. This is one title which I think I’d rather play on a console.
Shall we date: Ninja Love Shall We Date? Ninja Love+ – This is from Solmare, who have also made Destiny Ninja and many other titles. The paid version (first link) is $4 for all three main characters, which I think is pretty good.
Shall we date: Destiny Ninja – I think this is one of the more successful mobile otome games. It’s set during the Genpei war (Genji vs. Taira) and you’re a young noblewoman who loses her memory and gets saved by the Genji side. There are lots of characters, and it’s not too hard to get through a story without spending money. There are also a metric ton of side stories. I find it funny that two of the ‘starting’ ninja who the company assumes are popular, are the ones everyone hates (because they’re jerks). I’m working on those ones now since I’ve finished all the others, and they’re just as annoying as I thought! If you’re wondering about this one, when I looked for a PV on Youtube, I didn’t find an official video but I found TONS of playthrough vids. OH, and one thing that excites and scares me – they have some bonus stories which are voiced! I haven’t tried them yet.
Some other mobile games I’ve played a bit:
Mononoke Kiss: Heian Japan, you’re a princess who finds out your (dead) mom was the keeper of a Demon Sword. A bad spirit, Jinosuke, comes and kills your dad and good spirits show up to protect you. OK art, I’ve just finished my first route (normal ending, boooo!) so I can’t talk much about the story.
My Sweet Bodyguard: One of the few contemporary mobile games which isn’t about the guys being princes or rich/famous people, in this you choose your own bodyguard when you’re targeted because your dad is the Japanese PM. I liked it up until I couldn’t get any farther because of the minigames/requirements. $5 is the max I’ll pay for each route in a f2p, and either I would’ve had to pay more, or my payments weren’t working correctly. Either way, I gave up on this.
My Sweet Hero: Kind of similar to My Sweet Bodyguard, your dad is a scientist working on something dangerous and gets kidnapped. This one I could buy each route so I did, it was pretty good although the ninja guy’s attitude pissed me off.
There are also a few games which you can buy in the English Google Play stores (I’m in Canada, I’m sure they’re in the US and probably Europe and Australia?) which haven’t been translated from Japanese. I really wish that Midnight Library, in particular, would get translated, because the art’s really nice, and the stories are different than most mobile games I’ve played.
Tengu Otogizoushi – unvoiced – A historical fantasy set in Kyoto where the heroine is getting ready to dance in an upcoming festival to her father’s flute music. Her mom died giving birth to her, so she feels responsible to take care of her father and uphold his reputation. She’s promised to marry a childhood friend, Kagetoki, who’s an onmyouji (priest/exorcist). One night when she’s practicing dancing she gets kidnapped by a tengu, Yamabuki, a powerful winged spirit who protects the local mountain. At first she’s afraid, but then remembers that she was saved from evil spirits by this same tengu years ago, and she promised then to become his wife when she grew up. There are also two other tengu, Chitose and Koharu, who show up. Yamabuki agrees to let her go back home until the festival is over so her father doesn’t get in trouble. While she’s at home getting ready, the choices you make determine whether you choose to go with one of the tengu or marry Kagetoki. Apparently there’s also another spirit, Asahi. Some of the scenery is really nice, and the character designs are pretty good. I really enjoyed this one, it was very atmospheric and almost mystical. (I can’t find this anymore, which is too bad as I found it very different from other mobile games).
Midnight Library – unvoiced $4 / route – the intro for this has an AWFUL icon that looks like clip art from the 80’s. Ignore it, because the character designs and stories are actually very nice and I really enjoyed it. You’re a normal high school girl, and by chance you and a group of schoolmates start searching the school library at night for a rumoured book that will grant one wish. The stories are all really different, and one of them actually creeped me out a lot (in a good, horror/suspense kind of way).
Oiran – mostly unvoiced, mostly free – in this one you travel back in time to the Bakumatsu in Edo (yes the Shinsengumi, these boys sure get around!), where you get to know all the important characters of the period as an oiran. It’s not as story-based as most games, but it’s quick to play and has a bunch of fun avatar and game mechanics. It’s also way easier to play without spending any money than many mobile games. Plus you don’t have to choose one character route, as you pretty much just get story bits at random when the characters come visit you at the restaurant/bar where you work.
There are way more games available, especially the Shall we date series which has almost any setup you can think of…my favourite right now is The Niflheim, which is a somewhat steampunk/gothic story set in the land of the dead.
My favourite site for guides (because it really hurts when you pick one wrong answer and you can’t save or reload in these games!) is Otome Otaku Girl – it’s fantastic and has so many mobile game guides! I also found a new forum/database site that focuses on English otome games (especially mobile) from her links, Kokoro Cafe!