If there's one thing I'm passionate about, it's otome games! Otome games are romance games, usually novel games, for girls and women that feature a female protagonist and male romantic interest/s. They originate from Japan and the term otome (乙女) means maiden. So they're maiden games, or games for maidens! The very first otome game is often said to be the first Angelique game released for the SNES in 1994 by Koei in Japan.
Otome games have been a part of my life for many years now. I tend to be quite fickle with my hobbies and what I'm into frequently changes. Otome games are one of the few interests that have stuck with me throughout the years, at least thus far. In my early years of being an otome games fan there weren't many translations of games at all. Since I knew no Japanese back then I played a lot of mediocre to bad OELVNs to satiate my hunger for otome. Those were truly dark times. I'm currently truly glad I had started learning Japanese when I was younger, because now I am finally able to play some of the games previously locked behind that tall language barrier. English localisations of otome games have increased significantly compared to the past, but compared to the sheer amount of how many otome games exist, those localisations still amount to barely anything. I'm solely referring to PC/console otome games regarding this. There are apparently a few more mobile otome games that have been localised, but I have absolutely 0 interest in those.
I am however thankful that those mobile otome games (particularly one of them) has greatly increased the awareness and interest in otome games in the west. Because of the money generated from localisation there's even one instance that an otome game developer was saved from bankruptcy due to the localisation of one of their games. On the subject of bankruptcy, otome games are not in a good place right now. There's a reason some people refer to it as a dead hobby. Sales right now are not good. A few years back a major otome game developer went bankrupt. They were probably the second most prominent developer at the time. Just very recently another prominent developer also shut down.
There weren't many notable otome game developers to begin with but their already thin numbers are dropping. The sales of games have been dwindling in the past few(?) years and they may be at their all-time low right now as companies are trying to make the move from releasing their games on the PS Vita to the Switch. Whenever I've visited the 5ch otome game sales thread on the joseimuke games board it's always just gloom and doom and sometimes even speculating when the genre is going to die for good. One of my greatest fears is that eventually developers are just going to give up on making otome games for console/PC and it's all going to move to mobile. If that ever happens I'll probably just bury myself in relics of the past (more than I already am now) and completely ignore modern titles.
I'll end all that foreboding text by saying please play otome games! Give them a shot! If you like them, please support them by buying games and even merchandise too!
If you don't know where to start I'll leave a few suggestions! If you're an EOP I'd suggest a game like Code:Realize.
If you know Japanese, I and my bias would definitely say any of the Neoromance series. Angelique (especially Retour) and Corda 3 are great places to start! Non-Neoromance suggestions would be the Black Wolves Saga series and Taisho Alice.
My current favorite otome games are all of the main four series that make up Koei/Ruby Party's Neoromance brand. Unlike most otome games which are mainly novel games, all of the Neoromance games actually all have some form of gameplay! Some more complicated than others but they all do have a gameplay aspect to them! It's a big reason why I love them as much as I do. I want more otome games to have gameplay. I played my first Neoromance game in mid January of 2019 and fell in love! But anyway, all of the Neoromance series listed in chronological order are:
I haven't played every game in all of the series yet since I'm still very new to Neoromance games but I'm quickly working on it!
Here's a list of all the Neoromance games I've played so far! An asterisk (*) at the end of the title means that I've completed all endings in them.
Angelique Special 2
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 6* + Gentou Rondo*
Kin'iro no Corda 3*
Geten no Hana* + Yume Akari*
Here's a list of all the non-Neoromance otome games I've fully completed plus my favorite boys from them. * holds the same meaning as previous list. (games listed in no particular order)
Black Wolves Saga* (Julian, Mejojo)
Bad Apple Wars* (Shikishima)
Dot Kareshi* (Maou)
Dynamic Chord Liar-S* (Haru-kun)
Chouchou Jiken* (Haruka)
Code:Realize* (Saint Germain)
Collar x Malice* (Shiraishi)
Kyoukai no Shirayuki* (Yori, Nazuki)
Shinobi, Koi Utsutsu* (Hanzou)
Shiro to Kuro no Alice* (Jack, Minette)
Jakou no Lyla* (Rolan)
Akazukin to Mayoi no Mori (Nightmare)
Sweet Fuse/Bakudan Handan (Meoshi)
Kenka Bancho Otome (Totomaru)
Kuro to Kin no Akanai Kagi
Kusunoki Yashiki no Monogatari (Shounosuke)
Marginal #4 Idol of Supernova (Atom)
Torikago no marriage (Hayama)