MangaGamer released their results for their latest licensing survey. In second place was Diabolik Lovers.
My first thought?
Obviously, vampire stories are incredibly popular, and Diabolik Lovers has a following on both sides of the Pacific. Several games have been released along with character CDs, an anime adaptation, stage plays, and more. Not only has Diabolik Lovers been one of the most requested titles at MangaGamer, but the series is often requested on Idea Factory and Otomate’s English social media accounts.
In Diabolik Lovers, a girl named Yui suddenly has to live with a bunch of vampire brothers who all want her blood. The first game (Diabolik Lovers: Haunted Dark Bridal) was originally released for the PSP before being ported to the Vita (Limited V Edition). It was developed by Rejet and published by Idea Factory under its Otomate line.
If it’s so popular, what’s the issue? The guys may suck blood, but they also just suck. The whole premise pretty much lies in Stockholm Syndrome. Read reviews on Amazon Japan, and while many people praise the voices and the visuals, they also wonder why the heck Yui fell for these guys. They’re sadistic and violent. As one reviewer put it, “There is no sweetness at all.”
Some of you may truly like Diabolik Lovers. That’s fine. But I’m worried some people are clamping onto Diabolik Lovers because that’s the only otoge they know. Even though there are many wonderful blogs that review Japanese otome games — not to mention the awesome Visual Novel Database — many titles just get lost thanks to information overload.
So, I humbly present to you a dozen alternatives to Diabolik Lovers.
I’m limiting this list to Otomate games because a) the company actually has a presence overseas and b) other companies also have and will continue to release their games. I’m not saying all of these are better than Diabolik Lovers (tastes are subjective after all), but this list is meant to raise awareness about some other Otomate games.
In addition, while ratings only tell half the story (and I’ve already written about how Japanese Amazon reviews may be harsher than American reviews), I only selected games rated higher than Diabolik Lovers (3.6 stars out of 53 reviews for the Vita port, 3.1 stars out of 158 for the original PSP game). A good portion of these are ports, but, heck, so is Diabolik Lovers. Some games are already a couple of years old; others are much more recent.
As a point of reference, here are the current Amazon review averages for most of Otomate’s Vita releases that have been or will be released in English:
Bad Apple Wars – 3.3 stars out of 132 reviews
Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ – 4.2 stars out of 175 reviews
Collar x Malice – 4.3 stars out of 133 reviews
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – 3.8 stars out of 60 reviews
Norn9 Var Commons – 4.1 stars out of 42 reviews
Period Cube – 3.7 stars out of 38 reviews
On to the list!
Bara ni Kakusareshi Verite
Le Bouc Émissaire de la Reine
3.9 stars out of 72 reviews
Liese is a servant to the Austrian Archduchess. Having lived in the castle her whole life, she knows little of the outside world. But on May 16th, Marie Antoinette collapses, and Liese has to drink a special formula that will transform her into Marie Antoinette. Can Liese successfully impersonate the Archduchess? And even if she does, is Paris safe for her to stay?
Stories set during the French Revolution always have beautiful outfits, and this game is no exception. I would think the setting would appeal to many visual novel players.
3.9 stars out of 50 reviews
Set in the near future, the country of Cloud was a utopia. But the peace was shattered when a substance known as “Hoshi” was developed. While it was meant to give people good dreams, “Hoshi” turned them evil instead. Fuu’s parents started dealing “Hoshi”, and they were murdered. She was rescued by the Tenshi, and she vowed to atone for her parents’ crime by becoming a Tenshi herself.
Basically, a girl becomes a cop in order to stop a drug. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Also, the artstyle looks amazing.
Black Wolves Saga -Weiβ und Schwarz-
4.1 stars out of 11 reviews
In a land where humans and half-humans live, an epidemic spreads. The disease, Zodiva, was rumored to have originated from a wolf’s curse, and the kingdom issues a decree to exterminate the wolves. Years later, Fiona, a girl with a sickly body, lives sheltered in a tower. But just before her 16th birthday, she is captured by the prince and accused of being a witch.
This game is another port, but at least it’s two games in one. It’s also the only Cero D game, roughly equivalent to the M rating in the U.S.
Clock Zero ~Shuuen no Ichibyou~ ExTime
CLOCK ZERO ~終焉の一秒~ ExTime
4.2 stars out of 85 reviews
Sixth grader Nadeshiko suddenly keeps having dreams of another world. Then she, her childhood friend, and some rumored troublemakers are forced into an afterschool club by the new teacher. The teacher gives them an “assignment” each day, and this group starts to discover reality may be far more complicated. Nadeshiko keeps dreaming of her older self and starts to realize she was supposed to meet “him” there. Who is “he”, and what is this other world?
As you may have guessed, time travel is involved, and that always complicates the plot. I usually don’t think about it too hard because it makes my brain hurt.
Hanayaka Nari, Waga Ichizoku Modern Nostalgie
4.4 stars out of 40 reviews
Set in the Taisho period, Haru gets a job as a maid to support her family. But working at the Miyanomori household may be harder than Haru thought: each of the six young masters have their own personal issues. Will the hostile workplace cause Haru to quit, or will she manage to foster a friendship with one of the brothers — and perhaps more?
While Hakuoki is also a period piece, a more realistic game may have a harder time getting licensed.
Juuza Engi ~Engetsu Sangokuden~ 1-2
4.5 stars out of 49 reviews
At the end of the Han dynasty, the cat-eared human-like Maozoku live away from people. The despised Maozoku are called “Juuza”, named after the excluded cat of the Zodiac legends. Kan’u, Liu Bei, and Zhang Fei live like siblings in peace, away from the war. But when the Han army shows up looking for the rebels, Kan’u and the others are forcifully drafted into the conflict.
A spin on the popular Three Kingdoms story. Three Kingdoms is not really well-known in the West though.
Kyoukai no Shirayuki
4.0 stars out of 53 reviews
Mashiro, a university student, attends a “Mirrors of the World” exhibit and meets eight guys there. That night, she eats a pomegranate and falls into a deep sleep. When she wakes up, a mirror has appeared in her hands. It tells her to save the destined one. She meets the eight men again, and suddenly Mashiro finds herself in a “Mirror World”. Why are the guys calling her “Snow White” with a crazed look in their eyes? Not to mention the Queen wants to capture Snow White…
Since this is a twist on the Snow White fairy tale, I think this game would be accessible to a lot of players.
Senjou no Waltz
4.0 stars out of 83 reviews
Desperate to protect her home and family, Ran somehow manages to obtain the cursed demon sword sealed in her village. Now in possession of a great power, she is forced to train at Nirvana, the nation’s military academy, to prepare for battle. Together with her talking sword, Ran just might find a place where she belongs and a reason to wield her sword.
This game seems to have been made in conjunction with Tezuka Productions. It’s also done by the same team as Princess Arthur I believe.
Shinobi, Koi Utsutsu -Setsugekka Koi Emaki-
4.3 stars out of 66 reviews
Ever since she was saved by some ninja, Kaede has dreamed of being a shinobi. Her goal seems within reach now that she’s been invited to ninja school on a trial basis. But things don’t go smoothly when Kaede accidentally casts a jutsu that makes guys fall in love with her! Now Kaede must train her special ability in order to be a full-fledged student at the academy.
I think it’s a law that if you love Japanese culture, you must also love ninja. Although is that one guy ready to sneeze or something?
Wand of Fortune R
3.9 stars out of 22 reviews
Lulu is known as a problem child at her magic school. So she decides to transfer to Latium’s elite Mills Claire academy. There, Lulu learns why she is so bad at magic: she doesn’t have an “Attribute”! If she doesn’t gain an Attribute, her magic will be sealed forever. But Lulu may be able to gain an Attribute if someone helps train her and she passes her final exam…
In an unusual move, the heroine’s name is not only voiced, but Lulu herself is also partially voiced.
Yuukyuu no Tier Blade -Lost Chronicle-
悠久のティアブレイド -Lost Chronicle-
4.3 stars out of 74 reviews
In the far-off apocalyptic future, slumboy Shud meets the fugitive Atalva and learns of a girl named Eve. Eve supposedly has a special power and has lived 3,000 years in the “Neosphere” with an A.I. named “Cradle”. The two head off to find Eve, but when they do, they are attacked. Suddenly, as if to protect Eve, a humanoid weapon appears in front of them: the Tier Blade.
This game was billed as Otomate’s first sci-fi game with two illustrators. The plot reminds me a bit of Norn9.
Welcome to Fukujuro
4.0 stars out of 59 reviews
After hearing her mother has collapsed, Yunoha returns to her parent’s home in the countryside. There she learns her family’s once-popular bathhouse is now struggling. Determined not to lose to the competition, Yunoha temporarily becomes the proprietress of Fukujuro. What does the future have in store for Fukujuro — and, more importantly, Yunoha?
Doesn’t this cover look so cheery? It might look a too cutesy for some people, but the picture puts a smile on my face.
Drug wars, talking swords, bathhouses — there are a lot of other games I want over a girl trapped by sadistic vampires. Hopefully one or two of these titles have grabbed your interest so that when Otomate and/or other companies ask for ideas, you can offer your suggestions.
If you want to see other games from this developer and publisher, go to The Visual Novel Database. Alternatively, go to Amazon Japan and copy this text: アイディアファクトリー. You can switch Amazon Japan’s site to English and choose the Video Games (TV Games) category for best results. And for the love of bishounen, make sure you are requesting games from the right companies!
Would you support an English version of Diabolik Lovers? Or what other otome game would you like to see in English?