But that's just one of the many, many flaws that puzzle me about these repetitive clones and why there is such an enormous fan base for them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I encourage you to comment after you see the evidence. Read more to find out all about the trouble with Otome games and let's see if we can find a solution.
Can you see the above image? What does it look like to you? Does it look like a man and a woman in bed, about to do something sexual?
It's not. Stop fapping.
I know that ads are supposed to entice you by any means necessary, and let's face facts here, sex sells. But it's just plain wrong to promise something sexual and then not deliver. I've played several of these games, watched countless playthroughs, and very, very few of them see the main character get ANY kind of play that doesn't involve pseudo-rape or coercion.
2. Weird teasing.
Your character is walking down the hall. (We'll call her Klutzina for the rest of the article.) She's confused (we'll get back to that) and dazed, trying to decide how she wants to say "thank you" to her suddenly appointed man-boy servant, Jailbait (Aaaaaand we'll discuss him later.) for helping her mail the letter in secret the night before. But as she stumbles and fumbles in high heels, a haughty voice bellows from behind her.
"What do you think YOU are doing here?"
Klutzina gasps hard, turning around to see... HIM!
"Oh!! It's YOU again!!"
Sneering, Duke Asswipe rubs his chin, eyeing her softly. "You KNOW you're not allowed in this corridor, don't you?"
On the basis of technicality, Klutzina should be defending her right to walk wherever the hell she pleases, but a sudden bolt of hormones has struck her, and she is too intoxicated by his musky choice of Axe bodyspray to realize she is in danger. As she stares at his stringy yet silky locks of Pantine Pro-V perfection, she listens only to the sound of her own heartbeat as Duke Asswipe twiddles his fingers through her constantly matted and filthy hair.
"How dim can you be? You've been scolded time and again about this, and I'm starting to doubt you as the next in line."
Your heart aches a little, as the object of your crush, whom you've known exactly a day and a half, is reading you the riot act. But suddenly, he smirks.
"You realize what can happen to you, right? Or should I teach you a lesson."
Then suddenly, a flash of light hits the screen, and we cut to a still photo, painted in Manga Studio.
"You can't be too careful.... Klutzina..."
And with that, everyone is suddenly standing up, fully clothed. No sex or make out has happened, not even a kiss.
We will not visit another one of these near-rape, unrealistic, violent yet steamy segments again, until you fork over $4.99 for another chapter, or wait the 72 hours for your tickets to refresh.
First of all, this is unrealistic. Real men do not behave like this, unless they are on drugs.
Second, let me be very clear. This was NOT romantic. This was nearly rape. This man verbally assaults your character, behaves in a controlling manner, and then flops himself on top of your character, trying to sexually tease her, only to stop, leaving her flustered and frustrated. This scenario happens in a bulk of these games, and it never appeals to me as anything other than the giant, neon warning sign that the heroine is in a volatile situation.
Third, your character is a doormat, which brings me to the next item.
3. You play as a slightly hormonal doormat.
Look, I understand that the main character or MC doesn't need much time on screen to develop any meaningful lives. Half the fun is having a blank character that you project yourself or your favorite fictional character onto. I appreciate it up to a point.
But they ALL have the same, uneducated, vapid-then-flustered personality.
And they are almost always clumsy as hell, falling into and onto people left and right.
Your character will have the plot points explained to her over and over across 13+ chapters, and still be just as clueless at chapter 9 as she was in chapter 1.
As an example, there's a game called Midnight Cinderella. In it, your MC is chosen as the princess elect. Now follow me on this. She's a school teacher, who accidentally slips into a castle, past a long line of women hoping to take over the kingdom, and becomes the princess elect when someone decides she's just interesting enough to smack a crown onto, dismissing all of the other women who actually did want this and re-arranged their schedule to be here.
Two chapters in, every, single, character, is still explaining to her that she is now a princess and she will soon rule the land as queen. Finally, her tutor informs her that she needs to get ready for the coronation ceremony, which confirms her status as princess in front of the entire world.
"Um... coronation? What's that?"
........ 5...4...3..2...1... nope, screw this. *Screams*
YOU ARE A FORMER SCHOOL TEACHER!! It's your freaking job to know what the hell a coronation is, you clueless simpleton!!
But this is the format of all Otome games. Your character is very stupid. She has a short-term memory, and needs about five flashbacks per chapter just to remember how to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom. Nobody would dare grant her a piece of bubble gum, because she'd likely choke on it, trip, fall and somehow send Jailbait down the stairs. The castle would burn to the ground after she pulls a curtain and slam dunks a candelabra while blacking out from choking on the gum, and the epilogue chapter would just have one, super sparkly mass grave with a twinkling tiara resting snugly on a stone that reads "Long Live the Bubble Choking Klutz" and a pink button, asking you to replay this mess to get the "true" ending.
As if this level of unbridled stupidity isn't enough to make you scream, there's the fact that the MC lacks any sense of common sense.
See, any kindergartner can tell you that if someone is nice to you, you treat them nicely in return. If someone is mean to you, stay away from them. But every day is opposite day for your MC! She slaps and gets frustrated when a man tries to be a gentleman or confess his feelings towards her before the 3rd chapter, but she is silent when a man treats her badly, and allows him to handle her like a rag doll. Bitch, he ain't even cute. Oh, and speaking of...
4. The guys... are... awful.
First of all, they all have the exact... same... body type.
Not every guy needs a six pack of abs, but my god, at least LOOK like you've seen a full meal this century. Id' be too afraid to break him if I gave him a standard hug. Since when is osteoporosis sexy?? This is what a boy between the ages of 12 and 15 looks like, not hot.
Second? All of the faces fall into three categories.
1. I want to be the Vocaloid KAiTO or Tuxedo Mask.
2. I wear glasses and have a super long and skinny nose.
3. I'm 12.
Add to it generic, spiky, straight hairstyles, questionable fashion choices and the occasional fingernail polish (this is a thing) and we have a visual mess that has me longing for a basic t-shirt.
So then, we're left with the exact same personalities over and over, to the point where you'll have two and three guys in the SAME GAME who have the same personality.
1. Verbally abusive asshole.
2. Haughty "I'm better than you" ice king.
3. Extra flirty, almost rapey wild child.
4. Innocent at first and then flips the script angel with a demonic edge boy.
5. Nobody understands me DeviantArt troll.
6. The all knowing teacher who wants to mold you into something you're not.
7. Emo/Punk "Bad Boy" who is really awful and everyone tells you to stay away from him.
All of them have the exact same excuses too.
1. I'm really a sensitive guy.
2. I was hurt in my past.
3. I'm selfish.
And they all run hot and cold.
Oh sure, in that glittery ad that scrolled onto your smartphone, they all seem passionate, charming and seductive. But as soon as you start to play, they are standoffish, weak, judgmental, demanding, too fast or if you're very lucky, just mischievous.
All of them are trying to mold you into a different person, long before they learn your name or anything about you. And they're smug about it.
And it's always up to the MC to play the psychiatrist role while also acting as a vapid, innocent girl, and coax these hidden issues out of them. You then have to prove your worth to each man, and convince him that you're more than just a sexual conquest.
And why is this all on just your shoulders?
Guys don't like it when they have to prove their worth to their chosen females in the usual dating sims, especially while trying to peel back the layers of said female's daddy issues, so why then would anybody think we would like this more??
Furthermore, these guys in these games are just awful people. Controlling, abusive, argumentative, I sometimes pick the flirtatious near-rapist just so I can get a "please" and a "thank you" once in a while. That is pathetic!
Ladies, not only don't real men actually behave like this, they shouldn't. Why are you fantasizing about dating horrible people??
These are the men who routinely end up on the 6 o'clock news, being dissected mentally after they have locked up a female in the basement.
5. There's almost always... Jailbait.
This is a problem that games aimed at men constantly have, but we have it too, and it needs to be addressed.
People, if they are under the age of 18, I don't want to hear any of the following, fake excuses.
1. It's art.
2. You can marry them at 13 in some places.
3. It's just a video game/app/cartoon.
I don't care. If they are under 18, they are children. Get over it. Learn to like it. It's not changing, you creepy pedo.
And if you're not a pedobear, you're a pedo apologizer, and ergo, just as gross and creepy.
Just as I grind my teeth into bloody stubs seeing internet trolls sexualize loli's, I equally grind them when I see a shouta.
When I see a boy flash across my screen with giant, bubble eyes, blush and a baby's smile, I'm not ever thinking "Oh he's HAWT" I'm always asking the same thing.
"Where is your mother/father/legal guardian and do they know you're out here?"
6. You have to be superficial.
Now I'm not going to bellyache about the fact that this is a money pit. Most app games beg for cash. It happens. Life moves on.
But what they want you to spend your cash on is ridiculous.
When I first played Shall We Date: Oz, I saw a ton of super cute avatars, each with flouncy, sparkly dresses, so I figured "Okay, I can earn in game currency to buy my Dorothy something that isn't so boring and froppy." and I was right... but not for the right reasons.
"Princess, you need to buy _________ dress in order to pass the challenge. You also need _______ charisma and _____ charm in order to proceed."
... Say WHAT?
Ladies, this is not only again, unrealistic. It's damn right dangerous.
So let me get this straight. If I don't have the right makeup, dress, hair or jewelry on, that's it? Our romance takes a hit? Oh, but I have to put up with your greasy locks, your mismatched vest and shoes, that dank piece of khaki and your sick fascination with black-maroon jackets?? REALLY??
I should not have to point out how dangerous it is to tell a female that her worth, especially in a relationship, is tied up in what she wears to the grocery store, especially after I just covered what horrible individuals these men are to begin with. This bothers me way more than the unreasonable amount these games charge you to purchase the coins needed to buy these costumes, which if you wore them in real life, would probably make you a klutz anyway with how tight they are in the waist and how fluffy and long they are at the feet. (Which makes me understand the MC just a tad better.)
And worse? If you get the costume wrong, or you went for the paid-with-freebie-currency outfit instead of the I-spent-real-life-cash costume, the game will punish you. You don't get the full art, you don't get the full ending, hell, sometimes you may not even get the guy. You get the "it was nice knowing you" ending with a kiss on the hand and a slap to your ego. Not worth it.
There is a fine line between a man taking control in the bedroom, and a man being so controlling that it borders on slavery.
Aaaaand these games take a pole vault leap over that line.
There's Midnight Cinderella in which you are thrust into the life of a princess elect, and everyone makes decisions for you.
In many of these games, the MC has no control over what happens from day to day. Even what time and how you brush your teeth is being carefully choreographed by a stranger you barely even know, and woe be onto you should you break a rule. You are scolded like a child, the other characters treat you like dirt, and you are knocked down several pegs of the "love meter" that decides whether or not you get the happy ending cut scene.
This is not romantic, this is psychotic. And nobody should ever aspire to exist in these situations.
8. Too much dialogue, not enough action.
Returning to that misleading commercial again, we find that the "prince" is going to save you and protect you from evil sources.
... This never happens.
Your character is always being thrust into unsavory verbal fights with so-called "enemy" characters, and quite often, you are placed in physical danger, but it's usually not more harrowing than surviving a paper cut. The prince will never save you.
Also.. there is no action. Seriously. What little fighting does go on, it's usually like the tiny amount of sex that rarely exists in these stories.
Off screen, quick, never mentioned again.
It isn't bad enough you can't fight for yourself (though the MC will lie and say she can) but there is nothing for the prince to protect you from. He can't save you from the things actually happening to you, and the things he thinks could hurt you do not exist. There's no dragon to slay, no war to fight in, there is no platform for the prince to spring into any action from.
Amid multiple slow-loading text boxes from boytoys giving you unsavory gazes and chatting among themselves, you get virtually no action, either physically or sexually. These things go on forever, sucking up your "story tickets" and going nowhere, and they are rife with flashbacks to other text boxes, with very little to justify them.
Even when you do get any kind of action, even if it's just a playful kiss, it almost seems like a punishment. It's his way of shutting you up, as seen in this after scene below with Giles from Midnight Cinderella.
1. Keep it short. We don't need 13 chapters to finish a story.
2. Add more body types! Not everyone likes the ultra skinny fetus men. Throw in some brawny wrestler types, someone who has seen the gym, maybe a few husky guys. Believe it or not, some gals actually like chubby guys, they don't complain about the cooking and they won't break if you give them a good, strong hug.
3. Make the guys more realistic. Real men have personality, funny senses of humor, manners. Not all of them hate life or have trust issues.
4. Bring on the real romance! Don't make us wait until chapter eight for a half-assed kiss. Let him be affectionate. Let her reciprocate. Let them make out, let them date, let them have sex. It's what real people do in relationships.
5. Change the reason for the outfits. Have the MC change her hair and clothes because she feels like it, not because he'll love her less if she didn't buy the premium costume. You can still have the competition among other players without holding the romance hostage because she wore a Fall color in the middle of May.
Dating games for any gender are supposed to be sweet, fun and sexy. But for all genders, we have a long road ahead of us if we're going to make them palatable.