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, 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 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.
Supports the love between: People with disabilities
No, we're not saying that dating someone with a disability is the same as courting a pigeon - stick with us on this one. As both a game and a thing that exists in the world, Katawa Shoujo teaches an invaluable lesson: never be too quick to judge. Our story starts on 4chan, which you might assume is incapable of producing anything heartfelt or genuinely touching. Not so. After striking up a discussion around a sketch of cute girls who all happen to have disabilities, a handful of 4chan users banded together to turn the concept into a dating sim.
It sounds like a recipe for demeaning fetishism, but the final product is anything but. Katawa Shoujo may be a game about a young guy surrounded by a harem of disabled girls, but it treats the circumstances with the utmost respect. Its message is clear: Disabled people are just people, with talents, flaws, and aspirations just like any of us. It just goes to show that some 4chan regulars are capable of feeling and evoking genuine empathy. Who knew?
Supports the love between: An androgynous alien and the protagonists from various Namco IPs
If you've ever transferred between schools, you probably know about the trials and tribulations of being the new kid, just trying to fit in as you get your social bearings. And if you've ever been to an arcade, then you definitely know what it's like to feel sexually attracted to Pac-Man's voluptuous sprite and the curvaceous Galaga ship. Namco High combines those two awkward phases into one wonderful experience.
As an exchange student from the Katamari universe, you find yourself in detention with ne'er-do-wells, mean girls, and outcasts from all over the Namco universe. I can safely say that, without any doubt, this is the only game that lets you befriend and possibly romance Richard Miller from Time Crisis. I was also unaware that the Taiko no Tatsujin drums could be such divas until I delved into Namco High. Someone was clearly Namco High when they conjured up this idea - but given the intriguing end result, I'm not complaining.
Supports the love between: A group of male gangsters
Take the classic 1963 film The Great Escape, then amplify any homoerotic undertones to their absolute limits. What you get is Luckydog1, the tale of five infamous mafiosos who endeavor to bust out of prison, possibly taking the time to make sweet love to one another along the way. Tough-guy bravado is all well and good, but when you get two handsome convicts alone in a room together, well anything can happen.
As Gian, an Italian member of the Cosa Nostra CR-5, you must use your adept jailbreaking skills to bail out your four CR-5 brethren (who, coincidentally, are also your four potential love interests). This ain't a baseball game, but you've gotta decide: Will you be a pitcher, a catcher, or both? Look, I've never been to prison, but if the taxpayer's dollars are spent on helping inmates determine their sexual preferences, so much the better.
Supports the love between: Teenage boys with impossibly sharp chins
True fact: the more attractive the guy, the more his chin will have in common with a machete. Gakuen Handsome (Let's Handsome~! in Japanese) looks like it was drawn by a pre-teen with a loose understanding of MS Paint, but don't hold that against it. What other game lets you fawn over men with extremely - extremely - pointy faces? You step into the shoes of an introverted 17-year-old, who finds himself surrounded by attractive men who look like Egyptian sarcophagi faces come to life.
Yes, Gakuen Handsome is purposely silly, and its main love interests are parodies of the all-too-typical dating sim archetypes. The dour rich kid, the flirtatious teacher, the bad-boy jock, the mysterious transfer student - they're all here, and they all look like someone grabbed their face and violently pulled downwards. If you've secretly had a crush on Jay Leno all your life, Gakuen Handsome is your dream come true.
Supports the love between: A young girl and a pigeon
Hatoful Boyfriend has been mystifying gamers since 2011, achieving such infamous cult status that it somehow made its way onto the PS4. It's a simple tale portraying what happens when a high school girl and pigeon become more than just friends. If you've never imagined what it would be like to start a relationship with a pigeon, then I have two questions: What's wrong with you, and wouldn't you like to know what you've been missing?
In Hatoful Boyfriend, you step into the shoes of a female student at St. PigeoNation's Institute, which is basically private school for urban birds. As the only human to walk through St. PigeoNation's halls, you've got plenty of feathered potential suitors to choose from. For instance, will you fall for the empathetic rock dove? Do badboy fantails make you go weak in the knees? Should you dare to start a forbidden romance with your teacher who is also a quail? It's entirely up to you - just make sure you don't get your eyes pecked when you move in for the first kiss.
Burn Your Fat With Me!!
Supports the love between: People of contrasting physical fitness
Do you wish you were in better shape, but suffer from a lack of incentive? What if every push-up or squat you did had a direct correlation to the affections of an adorable workout buddy? Burn Your Fat With Me!! ensures that you won't flake on your workout regimen, lest you fall out of favor with the girl of your dreams. Your exercise routine becomes the means of progression through a dating sim, which some gym rats might call an accurate representation of reality.
Think you could do 50 sit-ups in three minutes if it meant going out on a date? Of course you could! You might start this ingenious app as an undefined ball of flab, but by the end of the game, you'll be fit as a fiddle. When people ask you how you got into such great shape, just tell them the truth: You won your trainer's heart with your stick-to-itiveness and discipline. The game dubs this impetus "movation" - and as an appreciator of puns, I've got to give props for that one.
Supports the love between: A teenage girl and a dinosaur
Steven Spielberg is one of the most respected directors in the film industry, but even he couldn't capture the gentle nuance of a tyrannosaurus rex's softer side. Jurassic Heart does what Spielberg could not: make you feel emotionally attached to a prehistoric creature that could potentially devour you in one bite. Even a vegan would fall in love with the carnivorous Taira-kun, a shy T-rex who struggles with performance anxiety.
Of all the dinosaurs I've ever known, Taira-kun is the only one capable of serenading me on the ukulele. Here's a tip, ladies: if you want to impress the tyrant lizard in your life, wear some meat-based accessories in your hair. Play your cards right, and you just might be on your way to bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, if you catch my meaning.
Osananajimi wa Daitouryou: My Girlfriend is the President
Supports the love between: A teenage boy and an alien disguised as the Chief of State
Let me attempt to describe this game as straightforwardly as possible. When aliens invade Earth and destroy the capital of the United States of Nippon, they brainwash the nation's citizens to think that nothing happened. There's just one small change: the girl next door has now been sworn in as President. You play as a perverted guy with a can-do attitude. Will you endeavor to boink the most powerful woman in the world? Or does your heart truly lie with the likes of Irina Vladimirovna Putina?
When the world's leaders all look like prepubescent girls, politics become a hell of a lot more interesting. And even if it's all a sinister plot schemed by our alien overlords, can't the denizens of the Snow (White) House have a little fun? On the one hand, My Girlfriend is the President has a penchant for graphic depictions of seemingly underage sexual encounters. On the other hand, it stars a female president, so it deserves at least a modicum of credit for progressive ideas.
Supports the love between: MMO addicts and the people who grief them
If you're at all familiar with EverQuest, you might remember the legendary "You Stole My Cloudsong!" video, where a particularly vitriolic gamer was deprived of a super rare item when some hooligans snatched it up off the ground. Now, imagine that this scenario was the basis for a high school romance. Yeah, I don't know why someone didn't think of that sooner, either.
Merui Lucas is an avid player of the faux MMO Rivenwell Online, and she's deduced that one of three boys at school must be the jerk - someone by the name of Alistair - who stole her phat lootz. You've got 30 days to crack the case, dipping in and out of the in-game game but will you fall in love by month's end? If every instance of ninja looting escalated into a full-on love triangle, the world would be a very different place indeed.
Supports the love between: A real-world man and a machine
Meet Sal 9000 (name likely withheld to protect the socially damaged). He's just a normal guy living in Japan, who fell head over heels for Nene Anegasaki. As their love grew stronger, Sal's heart got bolder, until finally he resolutely decided that he would marry her. Now, Sal 9000 and Nene Anegasaki are happily married. Actually, I can't quite say that with 100 percent certainty, because Nene Anegasaki is a character in a Nintendo DS game, and is therefore incapable of discriminating between potential suitors. Sal 9000, on the other hand, is all too real.
Though it's not legally binding, Sal 9000 did in fact marry Nene - there are witnesses and livestream archives to prove it. And while Sal 9000 may never know the touch of a woman, perhaps he truly has found love, bridging the gap between virtual and real worlds. Everyone was raving over that movie Her, right? Little do they know that Joaquin Phoenix's got nothing on this guy! Call it unbelievably creepy if you want - but if this guy's truly happy, then who are we to judge?