When a game is dubbed “girly,” it can be a death knell. Even if it’s well made and entertaining, it’ll be largely ignored and only rarely highlighted on some store shelf with a “Games for Girls” tag above it. Women find them insulting, men avoid them, boys ignore them and even girls would bypass them in favor of something better.
Unfortunately, some of these games for girls don’t deserve better. They’re fun, and not just for women. These adventures are good for gamers of any gender, even if their target audience is 10 year old girls. In fact, they can have a surprising amount of depth and men and women of all ages should definitely check out the next five games.
1. Style Savvy: Trendsetters (3DS)
The first girly game suggestion may prove pretty surprising – it’s Style Savvy: Trendsetters. I’ve been playing it since shortly after it launched and, since then, discussing it on Twitter with friends. These friends are both male and female. People are easy to shove this into the girls-only category since it involves dressing up, but Style Savvy: Trendsetters is more than that. It’s a very capable shop management simulation. You have to choose the appropriate stock, then design a store that will attract people who want those particular styles. If you have a luxury look, you won’t sell clothes from the Mint Sprinkles pop line. If you have a gothic front, nobody will come in looking for Zhade or Castellian luxury clothes. Not to mention customers talk about their deals, so selling someone punk clothes will generate more punk customers.
2. Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (PSP)
Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (PSP) is an otome visual novel. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a dating sim for girls that is essentially an electronic Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Hakuoki is set in Japan during the time of the Shinsengumi. It stars a girl named Chizuru who comes to Kyoto to find her missing doctor father, but arrives in disguise to avoid trouble while traveling. She encounters supernatural creatures called Rasetsu and the warriors of the Shinsengumi. Since they’re looking for her father too, they agree to take her in as a sort of mascot. Being a dating sim, you’d think it’s only for women, but it’s far more than that. There are more battles, supernatural intrigue and drama than there is romance and this unique take on historical fiction could be enjoyed by anyone.
3. Atelier Meruru (PS3)
A lot of men probably write off the more recent Atelier games as being for girls. After all, the color palette for the Arland saga is pastel, the heroines are almost always female and they have a tendency to lean towards incredibly cute, even when providing fan service. Atelier Meruru, the most recent entry, is a good example. Controlling Princess Meruru of Arls, a kingdom about to be absorbed into a larger empire, who also wants to become an alchemist who makes things could be considered a bit feminine. Once you get involved in the adventure, you find it’s really more gender-neutral than anything. Not to mention some of the boss battles and recipes are incredibly demanding and only the best players can unlock the better endings.
4. Princess Debut (DS)
Princess Debut (DS) isn’t the best of the best and this music game with dating sim aspects is designed to target little girls, but it’s better than people may expect. Those jonesing for a music game along the lines of Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents with the ability to collect extra outfits may want to pick this up, whether they’re a man or a woman. It’s only so-so, but it can be charming. Plus, it was developed by Cave, the company known for its awesome shmups.
5. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (DS, PS1)
We’ll close this out with an oldie, but goodie – Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. This was a musical RPG that proceeded like a fairytale. A young girl named Coronet with the ability to speak to puppets competes in a contest to try and wed Prince Ferdinand, but he’s been turned to stone and stolen away by an evil witch named Marjoly. Coronet then heads off to rescue him. It’s cute and filled with charming songs, with a very girl-power feel. That may turn off some “manly” gamers, but ones who do stick around will find this game has heart. Pick up the PS1 version if you can though, as it’s more challenging with its strategic RPG battles than the turned-based DS port.