Love conquers all
If love can bloom on the battlefield, then by God, it can bloom anywhere it damn well pleases. Regardless of race, creed, species, plane of existence, or definition of “alive,” your perfect match is waiting for you somewhere in the great cosmos. And when it comes to, shall we say, progressive couples, no one tops the open-minded pairings found in dating sims. Jumping race or social castes is just the beginning; no line is too sacred for these poignant tales of romance. Collected here are dating sims with the courage – and moreover the moxie – to shatter all barriers with the power of pure love (and raging hormones). Whether or not you believe dating sims are purely for pervs, you cannot deny the incredible, atypical affairs of the heart on display in these games. After all, the heart wants what the heart wants.
Supports the love between: Keiji Inafune’s niece and some theme park employees
So you’re going along, reading the description for Sweet Fuse (opens in new tab), and everything seems to be on the up and up. The game is “a heart-felt blend of bomb-defusing action and death-defying romance” with puzzles to solve and people to date, all very typical of the genre. Then you hit this line, “Saki Inafune, niece to legendary game developer Keiji Inafune, cant wait to visit her uncles new theme park.” Wait, hold on, hold the phone, is this Mega-Man-and-Resident-Evil auteur Keiji Inafune? Why yes, yes it is. Why is he and his fictional niece in this game? No idea.
Sadly – perhaps, even, tragically – because you are Keiji Inafune’s makebelieve niece you can’t date the man himself. In his stead, Sweet Fuse has a stable of hunky dudes to fill the game designer’s shoes, including fighting game champ Kouta Meoshi and Ryuusei Mitarashi, male gigolo. Bomb defusing-antics are what await as you travel the park searching for your uncle and trying to rescue the other captured attendants. It’s a ridiculous premise to be sure, but I’m sure deep down we all secretly pine for immortality via dating sim – or is that just me?
Love Love Chau!!
Supports the love between: The male cast members of Pacific Rim
There’s no shortage of simple, absurdist dating sims revolving around meme-status celebrities, including Nicolas Cage, Adam Sandler, and John Cena, to name a few. They’re good for a laugh, but typically one-note gags, with little substance beyond the ridiculous premise. Love Love Chau!! is the exception. Its scenario is no less bizarre, featuring the buff, tough Jaeger pilots and quirky scientists of Pacific Rim as your friends / potential love interests. Obviously, you play as the most sensible character choice from the film: Hannibal Chau, the impossibly eccentric black market organ dealer brought to life by the one and only Ron Perlman.
And yet, everything about Love Love Chau!! shines with a clear application of effort on the creator’s part. The intro movie alone justifies the existence of this game, but let’s face it – we’ve all been longing for a dating sim that lets us court Idris Elba and Charlie Day in the Shatterdome cafeteria. Admittedly, Love Love Chau!! can be finished in 15 minutes or less, ends on one heck of a cliffhanger, and its download link sadly seems to be lost to time. But to pretend like Hannibal Chau’s romantic hardships never happened would be a disservice to true Pacific Rim and Guillermo del Toro fans everywhere.
Supports the love between: Man and alpaca
PacaPlus (opens in new tab) begins the way most dating sims end. Saeki Kazuma, just your normal highschool student, has a good life, good friends, and a loving relationship with his girlfriend, Izumi Yukari. However, things take a turn for the weird when, after a fun day at the Alpaca Kingdom, Kazuma awakes to find his girlfriend transformed into a fluffy, flirtatious alpaca. Maybe. No one else seems to notice Yukari’s wild ‘n wooly exterior. Kazuma must discover the secrets of Yukari’s alpacalization, or learn to love her fuzzy new form.
This is a good game to play with your own significant other, because it’s important to have an open dialogue about the consequences of sudden alpaca transformation. Trust me, if you’ve been in a relationship long enough, you know what I’m talking about. Knowing whether you can see love in those beady, alpaca eyes, or whether your partner would let you ride on their alpaca back, is something all couples face sooner or later. Play this one with an open mind, and an open heart.
TomakSave the EarthLove Story
Supports the love between: A guy and his disembodied head/potted plant
Humanity’s days are numbered. The gods have decreed Earth shall be destroyed because true love no longer exists. Evian, the Goddess of Love, is still in our corner, and to prove the other gods wrong she has descended to Earth to find true love. That’s easier said than done, however, since the gods made her leave her body behind and appear as nothing more than a head in a flowerpot. Personally, I think Her is a better disembodied love story, but this is a close second.
Caring for a woman’s potted head is every bit as creepy as it sounds. You can tickle, pinch, hit, hold, and (of course) kiss her. You can dress her up in different hats and jewelry, or place her in different locations around your house. All of these things will affect a litany of personality meters, ranging from ‘goodwill’ to ‘sensibility’ and the game’s art style will change based on her mood. There are also, apparently, non-potted plant woman you can date, but if you’re not here to pervert your love of botany with dating then why even play this game?
Kiss of Revenge
Supports the love between: You and the guy who maybe killed your mom
Sometimes romance can bloom out of tragedy. It was 12 years ago, after your mother died during surgery due to an unreported error, that you first hatched your vengeful plot. You would study in the medical field, get hired as a nurse at the hospital where your mom died, find whoever it was that let her die due to negligence, and murder him yourself. What you didn’t account for in your master plan was falling in love along the way.
I don’t care who you are – that’s a damn intriguing premise, and Kiss of Revenge does even more to invite players in by offering the prologue for free on iOS and Android. From there, you buy individual unlocks depending on which hunky guy you’ve decided to romance: the hospital director’s suave son, your childhood sweetheart, or a surgeon who will do whatever he’s told. And no matter which hot hospital worker you choose, the simple thought exercise of giving up revenge and embracing forgiveness in the face of love is fascinating.
Shall We Date? The Niflheim+
Supports the love between: A dead girl and her underworld suitors
Here’s a line you won’t hear too often: “Till death again do us part?” Such is the tagline of free-to-start mobile app The Niflheim+, in which you play as a nondescript Princess waking up in the afterlife after a 1,000-year-long slumber. You barely get a chance to take in the cold, Norse-inspired kingdom of Niflheim before undead men start longing for your heart. It’s up to you whether you want to court heartthrobs like the smug King Jean, a steampunk zombie named JJ, and a flamboyant socialite by the name of Orlando.
Anyone with an appreciation for the occult will get a kick out of Niflheim’s supporting cast, including a skeleton who acts as your love guru and a horned Frankenstein’s-monster type whose pieced-together body parts induced a case of split personalities. And even if such macabre ideas don’t excite you, the absolutely gorgeous gothic art style and beautiful use of color make for an enchanting aesthetic.
Meat Log Mountain
Supports the love between: The denizens of a manly-men-only lumberjack town
If you move to a place called Meat Log Mountain, you ought to be mentally prepared for a certain kind of atmosphere. That is to say, if you’re not a burly dude with an appreciation for bears – not referring to the woodland creature – then you might have trouble fitting in with the lumberjack locals. Luckily for our hero Thaddeus Cub, the town’s new doctor, his hulking physique and willingness to closely inspect the crotches of man, demon, and orc alike make him the perfect fit for the Meat Log community.
This isn’t so much a dating sim as it is a tale of a doctor having raucous, unethical sex with all of his muscular, uncircumcised patients, but the free love regardless of race sends a powerful message of acceptance. The three ‘daddy’ characters you can seduce all have extensive backstories, and there’s even an entire mythos surrounding Meatorion, the god of Meat Log Mountain river. This game is actually the first in a series, which is fortunate for anyone who wants to explore the area beyond the confines of the local clinic.
Creature to Koi Shiyo! Kokonoe Kokoro
Supports the love between: A teenage boy and a human-sized cricket
In Japanese, this dating sim’s title roughly translates to Lets Be in Love with Creatures! What that means in regards to gameplay is, your primary goal is to win the heart of your cute classmate: a giant cricket in a schoolgirl’s outfit. Is that so wrong? IS IT!? Look, if you’ve got a problem with your in-game human hero Ichitarou chasing after the cricket girl Kokoro, then let’s just label you as an intolerant bigot and move on.
However, if you primarily look for chitinous exteriors and large antennae in your perfect match, Creature to Koi Shiyo! is the love story you can finally relate to. There’s even a first-person kissing scene (tongue no doubt included) and the oops-I-walked-in-on-you-changing gag (those mandibles – be still, my heart!). I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but by my estimation, Kokoro is one of the select few insects I’d consider having intercourse with.
Supports the love between: A teenage girl and many, many siblings
Your parents got divorced; it sucks, but it happens. Then your mom re-married, and guess what? You now have 13 step brothers. Also, you’re maybe kind of attracted to them. All of them. Such is life in Brothers Conflict, an otome (dating sims aimed at the female demographic) extravaganza. Vaguely incestuous romance is one thing – but 13 brothers?! What are the odds!?
Having that many dudes pining for the same girl is already a complicated situation, but when all parties involved are technically siblings, things get really hairy. On top of all that, there seems to have been some sexual tension between the brothers before you even arrived on the scene. What I wouldn’t give to get invited to an Asahina family Christmas party.
Supports the love between: You and female versions of notable historical figures
If only you were born in the 15th century. If only you could get to know Ferdinand Magellan on a deep, personal level. If only Ferdinand Magellan looked like a nine-year-old girl in a skintight one-piece swimsuit. Have you often caught yourself thinking these wistful thoughts? Then Eiyuu Senki is your dream come true – a game where you play as a brave leader, strengthening your nation’s forces by doing the dirty with legendary names from throughout history. Oh, and they’ve all transformed into of-age girls who look like tweens.
Does flipping through a history textbook get you hot and/or bothered? Have you ever wanted to know the loving caress of Billy the Kid, listen to Napoleon whisper sweet nothings in your ear, or fondle Julius Caesar’s E-cup breasts? In Eiyuu Senki, you can rewrite history to do just that. As an aside, the images that are now cached into my browser history as a result of researching Eiyuu Senki’s waifus will inevitably lead to my unemployment and possible arrest.