Many of you may be unfamiliar with this gaming genre. Some may have heard of the term, but are not too keen on finding out what it's all about. And perhaps, there are those who think this type of games aren't their cup of tea.
But let's get down to business: what in the world does "otome" mean?
The term, in Japanese, literally translates to 'maiden', which in itself already gives you an idea--otome games cater towards the female demographic, or those who would like to experience having a female in-game counterpart.
女性主人公と男性キャラクターの交流・恋愛を主な内容としているゲームの総称 (It's a term that refers to games that mainly deal with the relationship or romance between a female protagonist and male character/s.)
It's a common misconception that this genre only consists of "dating sims for girls". While it is true that most otome games include the protagonist's journey to find her best match, it doesn't necessarily mean that these only focus on romance and the likes.
There's a lot more to otome games than flirting with guys and gaining intimacy points.
The First Maiden
The title that ushered in the rise of otome games is a Japanese dating sim series, "Angelique". The story follows a young girl chosen to be next queen of a fantasy land. She undertakes several tasks to prove her worth with the help of the male elemental guardians, whom she can befriend and fall in love with.
The game was made by an all-girl production team and was released in 1993.
"Tokimeki Memorial" is a well-known dating sim series for men. The games in this franchise are mostly in visual novel format, where an image (may or may not be animated) of the person being talked to is displayed, as well as his/her dialogues. Players are given a few options to respond with.
In 2002, Konami released "Girl's Side" for the PS2, which officially started the otome game craze.
"Starry Sky" is another excellent otome game franchise. Its popularity paved the way to manga and anime adaptations, as well as Drama CDs. It may be your typical school romance story, but it's so well-received that it's continuously being released for newer consoles, such as the PS Vita.
A samurai-themed visual novel, "Hakuoki" has a huge fan base in and out of Japan. It tells about a young girl's journey with the Shinsengumi of Kyoto as she searches for her father, and at the same time, combats the forces of evil--formerly ordinary men who drank an elixir called the "Water of Life".
Who hasn't heard of the Rune Factory series, the well-loved spin-off to the Harvest Moon games? Well, in this otome game, the basic elements (farming, cooking, crafting, and romance) are retained, while introducing more RPG elements such as slumber parties.
In this fantasy RPG, the tables have been turned. The protagonist, a young girl named Cornet, ventures throughout the magical land to find and defeat the evil witch who took her beloved prince away. Who's in distress and needs saving now?