I stumbled upon an app called Class Trip Crush a few years ago and decided ‘why the hell not?’ This was my first exposure to the world of the choose-your-own-adventure visual novel.
Since then, I’ve played many similar games such as Kissed By The Baddest Bidder, Scandal In The Spotlight, Mystic Messenger, and more. At first, I was engrossed in these games, willingly spending my money on getting some character stories. Though the obsession dwindled over the last few years, I occasionally read a few free stories from time to time to kill my boredom.
It wasn’t during this period that the main characters started to irk me, and the repetitive scenarios had me skipping scenes and dialogue. The following are two characteristics of what I came to love and ultimately dislike about dating visual novels.
Focused on Voltage Inc Games.
Once you’ve played enough, you’ll notice that no matter the scenario or plot, each boy is a specific type. Arrogant, cold, cute and mischievous, the nice guy, smart and distant, you have it all. However, they all have a hidden side to them that’s opposite of what they portray.
The arrogant, alpha-male characters are secretly kind and have suffered due to their often tragic past. The nice guys may have a dominating side in terms of romance. Regardless, there’s a type for everyone and the choices you choose to play to their personality traits at the time.
I’m going to make you mine. And you don’t get to say no.
– Eisuke Ichinomiya
As for the main female character, she works hard in whatever she does but is too easily influenced by her emotions. It’s a distinct contrast to the characteristics of the boys who arguably control the situation and solves problems in a calm and collected manner.
While this does not apply to all dating visual novel games, it was a repetitive one from Voltage Inc. Though their game, Kiss Of Revenge, focuses on a more goal-driven and headstrong female lead.
The Storyline / Endings
Each boy has a distinguished plot. However, they essentially follow the same format: meeting the female character to her learning about him and his conflict in resolving his problem to realizing and admitting his feelings for her.
I’ve come to enjoy many storylines such as Yamato in My Wedding and 7 Rings, Wakaba Rui and Nanahoshi Sakuya in True Love Sweet Lies, and Mononobe Rikiya in After School Affairs.
However, while each storyline is catered to a specific character, once you’ve played a hefty amount, you can make an educated guess of the types of choices you have to choose to get a good or bad ending regardless of what the premise is. The only “knowledge” you need is the type of guy you chose.
For example, Eisuke from Kissed By The Baddest Bidder and Kyohei from Scandal In The Spotlight is arrogant types. For them, choices, where you accept and submit to their demands, are better than those they don’t. Later, its choices where you help him get out of conflict no matter how that’s accomplished or choices that reflect you’re worried about him.
Depending on the choices you make, you progress to a specific ending that’s either “good” or “bad” while “good” endings tend to be sweet and romantic while “bad” endings tend to lean toward male dominance in either physical or mental form.
Perhaps that’s why Voltage Inc., one of the biggest Japanese dating visual novel company, introduced endings such as “amorous” and “climatic” and “blessed” and “forbidden” which provoke the player to want to obtain both endings as one is not necessairly good or bad.
You can also unlock photos (more commonly known as CGs) that are specific for each end which means more time and perhaps money spent on the app. This package makes for a good marketing technique.
Current Thoughts On Dating Visual Novels
Do I still play dating visual novels? Sort of. Would I spend money on them again? No.
I still find myself browsing through new character releases and titles of Voltage Inc’s app Love 365, the home for the company’s entire collection of dating visual novels. And there are few I would recommend such as Mystic Messenger by Cheritz and all of the routes from Voltage Inc.’s game, Finally, in Love Again.
These factors were some things I’ve taken notice of throughout the years as I found the portrayed female character to be similar to my younger self. Whether this was due to the influence of the game or other factors, dating visual novels should be read caution as the things we love and enjoy can bleed into our actions and personality as we grow.
I would love to see a game where there’s only one specific type of boy and see how they battle it out to woo the female character. It would be interesting to even see how they interact with each other and their relationship dynamic.
Let me know what are some of your favourite dating sim games if you’ve played any and which character routes you like!