The otome update: good times are ahead

The New Game Plus Expo showcase that streamed on the 31st of last month left otome fans very excited for a wealth of upcoming announcements — it seems very good times are ahead for fans of the genre!

Here we’ll compile all of the otome-related announcements from the stream. Sadly, there aren’t too many solid release dates as yet, but at the very least such a list will give all of us an idea of what to look forward to. By all accounts, 2022 looks like being one of the best years for otome localisations in a very long time, so let’s revel in all the excitement now!

Aksys Games going full steam ahead with 5 new otomes

We’ve previously explored Aksys’ promising lineup of upcoming otome titles, although now we have yet another one to add to the lengthy list with Jack Jeanne. It’s an otome game plenty of us have wished to see be localised, mostly due to the fact it was created by Tokyo Ghoul’s Sui Ishida. The game promises to be an experience anyone and everyone can take something away from, since it’s one of a few recent otome titles to be marketed to a wider audience. It’s not a bad move, and especially not when it’s bringing wider recognition to the appeal elements of the genre.

Both Jack Jeanne and the previously announced Kimi wa Yukima ni Koinegau, now with the English title Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo, are set to release sometime next year, so we’ll have to buckle up and make do with what we have in the meantime before these two promising titles hit the west.

Otome localisations: Winter's Wish - Spirits of Edo
Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo

Comparatively, the three titles LoverPretend, Paradigm Paradox, and Piofiore: Episodio 1926 are definitely going to grace us later this year, all slated for back-to-back releases this autumn!

While Piofiore: Episodio 1926 is the only one to have a stunning limited edition up for pre-order, almost certainly due to how well its predecessor performed, LoverPretend, Paradigm Paradox and Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo all have online-exclusive listings that include soundtracks along with the game. Get them while you still can!

Idea Factory International coming back strong after Cupid Parasite

Idea Factory Intertional gave us the absolute pleasure of a sudden announcement of a project that had previously been shrouded in mystery: a port of Amnesia: Memories to Nintendo Switch, along with its two fandiscs Crowd and Later bundled together in a single collection called Amnesia: Later x Crowd.

This is a seriously big deal, as Amnesia is a classic of the otome sphere, so it’s great to see it get a comeback 7 years after its original release. Autumn this year is already jam-packed with Aksys’ upcoming titles, but you’d better add Amnesia to that list too — start saving those pennies now!

So, a bit about why Amnesia: Memories is so special, for the unfamiliar. The game saw its original English release digitally for both Vita and PC in 2015. There was also a mobile port in the same year. It’s now 2022, and we can we finally see a physical release of the original game, but a confirmation of almost all of the series finally reaching English-only fans.

Amnesia is often recommended to be a prospective English-only otome player’s first game in the genre, alongside Hakuoki. Seeing its revival and the continuation of its story for English-only audiences is a sight to behold, especially for long-time fans.

Otome games: Amnesia

It’s also high time that anyone and everyone who missed out on the original release should finally get to playing it on the Nintendo Switch, indisputably one of the greatest consoles of all time for visual novels and otome titles at this point. There will be no excuses!

The best news is that Amnesia will release as multiple limited editions that you can already wishlist, including a double pack of Amnesia and Later x Crowd, Amnesia: Memories by itself, and the two fandiscs together. The greatest bit of news may very well be yet to come, because if these releases perform well, we may well see the final entry in the series, World, also make it over here. Either way, back in the cage we go!

But hold your horses, because we also have Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei to look forward to, slated for July 1st in Europe. This is a title set to impress with its historical setting, strong heroine and interesting gameplay mechanic of managing the heroine’s Strength, Knowledge and Kindness statistics. We haven’t yet explored this one in detail, so watch out for an extensive preview nearer its release. The limited edition is also available to wishlist.

Other important developers worth noting

Aksys Games and Idea Factory International are definitely the big ones taking up all of the attention here, due to how much they’re offering to otome fans.

But that’s not all, as Voltage Inc. are venturing into original Nintendo Switch releases, with even if TEMPEST being a brand new game rather than a port of a mobile title. It all looks very intriguing, with promises of a time-bending narrative and interesting gameplay mechanics. It’s a shame the monster isn’t romanceable though! Despite this glaring oversight, it’s going to be another Nintendo Switch exclusive, and is one I’m particularly excited for.

even if TEMPEST

Mystic Messenger’s developers Cheritz have also recently announced a title that was first teased years back: The Ssum finally has a release date of April 27th, four years since it was originally revealed. It’s sure to be one that’ll perform well after the massive success of Mystic Messenger.

And, of course, most recently, there was a sudden announcement by developer PROTOTYPE that Taisho x Alice is coming to the Nintendo Switch — right now, in fact! It’s available as an “all in one” package rather than as its original episodic release, though note that the Switch version’s English translation is actually paid DLC for the Japanese-only base game. There should be a bundle available on the eShop, which is cheaper than buying the two items separately.

All this isn’t even to mention the thriving indie scene, with multiple projects set to release sometime soon, or at least within 2022, with titles like Peachleaf Valley: Seeds of Love, Belle Automata, Imperial Grace, Made Marion and Royal Order all worthy of note. These are all hotly anticipated releases in the genre, and each one deserve to be wishlisted to show our support!

The then and now

Let’s finally get into the meat on the bone here. As you can already see from all the links above, there’s a satisfying amount of limited editions on the way for many of these titles. Hopefully we’ll see plenty of time and effort put into Jack Jeanne, because the Japanese limited edition rivals BUSTAFELLOWS in terms of quality.

The announcements were immensely satisfying. It’s great to see the return of Amnesia: Memories with not only a port but also a physical release and two of its three other games getting localised, too. Then, as previously noted, Jack Jeanne is likely to make it onto plenty of “best otome games ever” lists”.

But the major point I want to make here is to simply compare this year’s amount of announcements with prior years. Honestly, we’ve never had it so good. So here’s a quick history roundup while we’re at it, focusing solely on physical releases.

It all started back in 2006 with the first ever otome localisation: Two-Five’s Yo-Jin-Bo for PC, brought west by Hirameki International. But we wouldn’t see anything else otome-related in the west after this initial tentative step into the genre until the PSP’s heyday between 2012 and 2015. We got Sweet Fuse: At Your Side and Hakuoki as officially released physical games, though many other otome titles got fan translations over the years.

After that, Idea Factory International would go on to localise their first otome for the west with Amnesia: Memories on Vita, PC, and mobile devices in 2015.

Otome games: Hakuoki

Just a year later, MangaGamer joined the otome market scene in the west, with Ozmafia!! releasing in 2016, and Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome in 2017. In 2018, Idea Factory International would release their final (at least currently) Hakuoki game for the west, with two Hakuoki mainline games getting definitive releases with extra content. We also got a physical release of Nightshade, published by D3 Publisher.

The Vita thrived in terms of localised otome titles compared to the PSP, with Aksys Games bringing a number of big names such as Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly and 7’scarley all coming in quick succession as part of a “Summer of Mystery” event.

We also got a number of Vita-exclusive otome titles between 2012 and 2019, including Bad Apple Wars, Norn9 and Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ — plus the first appearances of well-known and beloved titles like Collar x Malice and Code: Realize, plus yet more Hakuoki and the underappreciated London Detective Mysteria.

We’re seeing history being made right now, though, with how many new titles and rereleases are coming out. Aksys Games remains a primary source for the genre, bringing us games like Collar x Malice, Piofiore: Fated Memories, Café Enchanté, Olympia Soiree, Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani and Variable Barricade all releasing thanks to the company. This lineup from just one company over the last couple of years rivals what the Vita boasted in its entire lifetime!

But now, look who else has come on board: the excellent Cupid Parasite has brought Idea Factory International back into the game, Voltage Inc. are trying console-exclusive otomes for the first time and we’re even seeing unexpected releases such as Broccoli’s works coming overseas. Right now, we’re waiting on ten new otome titles for Nintendo Switch alone, and with plenty more already available there’s a lot out there to keep you busy.

Overall, it’s a great time to be an otome fan, and I remain extremely optimistic for even more exciting announcements in the near future. Bring on 2023 so I can enjoy all these goodies already!

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Lilia Hellal
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