We’re well into the Monster Hunter 10th Anniversary Community Game-Along, but there’s still some content from last month’s dating sim event to catch up on! Interest did seem to drop off towards the second half of the month, both in the NeoGAF thread and content produced, but there are still plenty of articles worth sharing. I contributed a dating sim-themed podcast featuring Amanda Cosmos earlier in the month, so be sure to give that a listen if you haven’t already!
First, Pete Davison continued his dating sim game picks for his weekly column JPgamer at USGamer with Kira Kira and Go! Go! Nippon. Kira Kira is a character-driven visual novel that Pete describes as a “good, accessible example of how games like this can tackle some significant narrative challenges and tell a compelling, convincing and believable story about some very normal characters” that also happens to have some romance themes. Go! Go! Nippon, on the other hand, is both a dating sim and an interactive guide to Japan, and even offers text in both English in Japanese for language learners. The game was recently made available on Steam, making it one of the more accessible titles covered for Dating Sim Month, and sounds like a great choice for a heterosexual otaku (or, at least, someone who doesn’t mind playing a game clearly aimed at the heterosexual otaku demographic) looking to brush up on their knowledge of Japan.
Meanwhile, Bryan over at The Gay Gamer has been chronicling his journey through Sweet Fuse: At Your Side, culminating with his Great Gaymathon review of the 2013 PSP otome game. Sweet Fuse is usually the first otome game I recommend to folks interested in trying out the genre, so I was very interested to hear how it stacked up for him. Overall, his impressions are very positive, but he does lament that the romance visual novel staple of choosing the correct options in order to get the romance desired is more obtuse than it should be. If you’re at all interested in giving the game a try, his review is definitely worth checking out!
Patrick over at Nintendo Everything wrote a brilliant, insightful piece about LovePlus, that notorious “hella heteronormative ‘girlfriend simulator'” for the Nintendo DS (note to self: make opportunities to use the phrase “hella heteronormative” more often). Not only does he describe the game’s systems in great depth, but he talks at length at exactly how the game goes about creating an interactive romance simulation, concluding, “if the game has the potential to make players approach actual relationships with more care and respect, I think that’s a really positive thing.” Even if you’re not interested in playing LovePlus, Patrick’s article is a must read, as it touches on themes that are applicable to all games in the genre.
Finally, Brian Clark tries his hand at his very first dating sim: Sakura Taisen! While the first few chapters dragged on for him, he claims that the game’s overall polished presentation and combination of simulation and SRPG elements were what managed to hook him in the end. Unfortunately the game is only available in Japanese, but Brian’s article does a great job of providing a nice overview of the game for those who want to know more but aren’t planning on springing for a copy.
I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who participated in the Dating Sim Community Game-Along during the month of February! The month may be over, but that doesn’t mean you should stop seeking out and playing these awesome dating sims! Hopefully this and the first roundup post will provide some good suggestions for future games to add to your library. And if you’re looking to continue with the Game-Along fun, be sure to join in on this month’s Monster Hunter Game-Along!