The Weirdest Dating Sims Around
Dating sims are pretty self-explanatory as far as games go, but they don’t always have to come in human-to-human form. Here’s some of the more ridiculous examples of the genre.
Hailing from Japan, the dating sim is a humble game in which you (typically portrayed by a male character) seek to woo and eventually gain the love of one of many potential dating options (typically portrayed by anime girls). Originally for the now old-hat market of straight men, since the early ’80’s the genre has expanded to include games tailored for straight girls, with all-male dating options, and further to include same-sex relationships and more. Because the nature of a dating sim is pretty unorthodox anyway, it didn’t take long for some of the options and events to get way out there.
Today we take a look into some of these sims which don’t merely tailor to specific interests, but who do away with the whole human love interest element. Prepare yourself for a journey into the truly bizarre as we go to our first example…
In this dating sim, you play as the only human attendee of a school for pigeons. In fact, you’re the only human around the entire city. Everyone else is a pigeon. And you meet pigeons of various types, all illustrated with anthropomorphised bishonen images, in addition to pictures of actual pigeons. It’s heaven for ornithophiles.
Why is a human even at a school for pigeons? Well, it turns out your main character is pigeon-obsessed, so she’s trying to fit in as best she can. It’s a bizarre concept, but the gameplay is so endearing and corresponds so nicely to traditional dating sim conventions, that it’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the storyline. You also have the option to level your character up in specific classes, which increases your chances at dating specific pigeons. The weird side is, you run the risk of taking a walk outside after completing it and wondering why the pigeons on the pavement aren’t telling you what classes they’ve elected this semester. Not that this happened to me, of course.
There’s a catch to playing this game too. If you fail to woo a pigeon towards the end, you attract the attention of some higher-up folk who start ‘reconsidering’ their decision to let a human integrate into pigeon society. So, better make your choice and put on your best pigeonly charms!
The game is available here, with English translation.
This is a real short and sweet game. It was made in just under two days as part of the 2013 Pulse Pounding Heart Stopping Dating Sim Jam, is free to play, and is totally worth every second of it. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to date a T-Rex who also attends your school and has confidence issues surrounding his ability to play the ukulele? It’s a cute story about acceptance and believing in your friends, with added romance, and it doesn’t take too long to complete.
It’s totally free too, so play it here and cross that Cretaceous love boundary!
PacaPlus (My Girlfriend Is An Alpaca).
Because why wouldn’t you want to play a dating sim that lets you date an alpaca?
The storyline here is more along the lines of: Your girlfriend has been turned into an alpaca, now romance away. It’s very cute (in a sort of creepy way, though. Alpacas don’t normally wear blush) and it’s full of fluff and loveliness. Similar to Hatoful Boyfriend, it follows pretty conventional dating sim tropes, except for the glaringly obvious fact that you’re talking to an alpaca with a cute moe voice. It’s hilarious and cute, and what’s not to like about that?
Now we’re getting way out there. Pigeons and crickets aren’t enough – the new deal is printers! Or, at least, this promotional game by a Japanese printer company (Brother International) would have us believe this is so. They’ve made a bizarre dating sim in which you actually get the chance to date one of their printers. It’s free to play here, but is only available in Japanese.
Creature To Koi Shiyo! Kokonoe Kokoro.
There isn’t really much to say about this one, other than it’s perhaps the weirdest one on this list. And not weird as in cute-weird, like PacaPlus. Just weird. The principal love interest is a giant human-sized cricket. The title basically translates to ‘Let’s fall in love with creatures!’ And, as the official site says, ‘There is a swimsuit scene! There is a sex appeal scene! There is a kissing scene!’ Then follows a light jest that one’s aversion to the subject matter of giant cricket might just prevent them from being able to complete the game. Sounds like a challenge, right?
They are right though. It’s the slightly creepier side of weird. If you ever feel the need to test yourself against this one, you can find it here. Again, this has no English translation, but it is free.
There’s also an otome (girls) version, featuring male creatures, including a bedbug and an octopus. Because of course.
The Bacon Lettuce Biographies.
They say love is like a deep hunger. And nowhere does this ring more true than in the Bacon Lettuce Biographies. Your aim in this game is to date meat. That’s right. This game will mean you can never look at yakiniku in the same way again. And each different meat has an anthropomorphised version, too, as with Hatoful Boyfriend. It’s weird anthropomorphising meat, because at one point, that meat was part of lots of other bits of meat that were once an actual animal. If you’re a meat-eater (see what I did there?) you might find this game tricky as you try not to get hungry by the sight of delicious anime food that you’re meant to be dating.
In the words of the creators, ‘Please enjoy the sense of not knowing the boundaries of normal and abnormal.’ You can find the game here, also free, also Japanese only.
We’ve seen some bizarre and interesting examples here, but I’m tempted to add in the well-known Mass Effect series as a bonus. I mean, isn’t it basically an alien dating sim disguised as an elaborate and well-constructed third-person RPG shooter? (spoilers: it totally is).
I personally think all this absurdism is great. Besides, not many people can say they know what it’s like to date a pigeon (albeit a virtual one – please don’t go out doing this in real life!). The result of all this is a hilarious take on the entire dating sim genre, which brings to light the genre’s tropes and idiosyncrasies, and it’s so worth it. So go forth, and enjoy some unconventional romances thanks to these far-out games.
images used in main image © Pigeonation Inc, GPTouch and Paco Project respectively.