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During Dating Sim Month, the aim is to get people trying out relationship-centric games in all shapes and sizes, ranging from full-on traditional dating sims to romantically-themed visual novels or but which was subsequently rewritten into an "all ages" formula, and a game that blends elements of dating sims, visual novels, strategy games and RPGs to create something enormously compelling.
This week, we're taking at something a little different, in a number of ways.
Video games that stem from or are shown in anime tend to be visual novels and simulations.
For those who are just getting into otome games, maybe you'd like to consider Princess Debut.
The story begins with the protagonist dreaming of being whisked away by a prince when a princess suddenly bursts out of her closet.
As an otome game, Princess Debut delivers all the features of standard otome games where you are able to pursue your prince as you please, but it doesn't make you play through several months or years to get to the ending like some other otome games.
There isn't a main focus on any one aspect of the game.
You're quite literally building your character as you play, too; the choices that you make throughout, whether it's scheduling your time for going to classes or deciding what you do with your free time after class has finished, help define you as a person -- how strong and smart you are (not mutually exclusive concepts); how cute and weird you are (ditto); which particular aspects of magic you're skilled with.
By the end of the game, you'll have a good idea of exactly who your character is, what they're good at, what they're bad at and whether they're in a relationship that is likely to last.
These are no ordinary exams, of course; being a magical school, they naturally involve you being transported into a dank, smelly dungeon and tasked with finding your way out using the spells you've managed to master in the preceding weeks.
This is Dating Sim Month, however, so as you might expect a significant part of Magical Diary revolves around the pursuit of romantic relationships with a number of different cast members.
game -- a game where you play a female protagonist and, in this case, pursue relationships with people of both genders.
We're slowly starting to get more of these in the West, but for the most part relationship-themed games that get localized from Japan are still largely of the variety, where a heterosexual male protagonist pursues relationships with one (or, occasionally, more than one) of the impossibly attractive female cast members.
It may not be a Japanese game in itself, but Hanako Games' Magical Diary is a great example of not only a traditional dating sim model, but also of "otome games" aimed specifically at female players.