Once again, we come to Valentine’s Day, the day marked by a sudden spike in the business of movie theaters and restaurants. Somewhere, someplace, somebody is proposing a marriage, because that’s incredibly romantic and definitely hasn’t been done before. But hey, maybe you are without a date today? Whether by choice or circumstance, maybe some company wouldn’t hurt. So let me set you up on an improptu Valentine’s Day date, with videogames! Check out these lovely specimens, and hey, maybe you’ll even fall in love?
Looking for something different? Something with a dark sense of humor, and a quirky, offset, yet charming personality? Chulip is for you. While Chulip will definitely make you work for it, and perhaps at time seem even unfair, look past that and you’ll find yourself quite amusing with its sense of style and offbeat humor. From the minds of former Love-de-Lic members, whose team created cult titles such as L.O.L (Lack of Love), and whose other members also went on to develop Chibi-Robo, Chulip is a “kissing simulator” where you take the role of a poor boy who has moved to a small town and must get on the town’s good side by learning about the townsfolk and moving in for a smooch. Nearly everyone in town can be kissed, regardless of age, gender, or species. The town itself is drenched in the absurd, with curfews enforced by uzi-wielding cops, aliens and people living in cracks in the earth.
The game’s sound design complements this madness, with cut up and warped voices in the style of Chibi-Robo, and a bouncing Jazz soundtrack (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfMRoDTY3Lk) to keep you company as you become waist deep in the absurd. You should be warned though, Chulip is a hard partner to please and you’ll often find yourself trying frantically to be in the right place at the right time with no success, or falling to absurd, random death. Think of the King’s Quest series from Sierra and you’ll have an idea of the kind of pain you’re in for. But hey, if you’ve a bit of a masochistic streak and a taste for the strange and offbeat, this is for you.
From the people who brought you Bientôt l’été, a game about speaking to another in a cafe via chess pieces, comes Luxuria Superbia, a game about running down a tunnel, touching and teasing petals to make them bloom into—you get where this is going, right? If you’re not the type who blushes and shies away, you might find some joy and teasing color into the tunnel, and watching as trees, bees and rainbows blossom. You can also pick it up for Android and iPad for the most sensual experience.
Harvest Moon is that hometown girl, simple, lighthearted, and comfortable. It’s just a warm game you can settle down with. There’s a version on almost every system now so it’s not hard to get. Personally, I enjoy the simplicity of the SNES incarnation, but there are so many to pick from, with many having versions for both boys and girls, that you’ll likely to find one that suits your lifestyle. Run around town doing errands, grow crops and raise animals, and start a family. Harvest Moon may not be a flashy dance partner, but it’s definitely one you can start a life with.
The companion piece to Analogue: A Hate Story, Hate Plus is a visual novel that continues where its predecessor left off. As you float back to Earth, you further unravel the mysteries of a large space vessel whose society somehow regressed into a Confucian Era Korean society. Kept company by two AI companions, you’ll unwrap various conspiracies and familial dealings. Honestly, this game is best picked up with A Hate Story in order to keep the web of generations straight and get a better context of what’s going on. For those who bookish types who like to read and become tangled in fiction so thick you need a flowchart, this one is for you.
Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy starts rubbing goldfish out of his stomach. That’s how it works right? Well, that’s how it works in Feel the Magic. A humorous little DS game from Sonic Team of all people, you’ll have to impress the girl by participating in a set of absurd mini-games that involve vigorous use of the DS’s touch screen and microphone. The sequel (prequel?) gets you into more nonsense shenanigans and sees others competing for the affections of you and your girl as well. For the person who isn’t afraid to make a bit of a fool of themselves for love, pick this up and rub one out.
Do you like a bit of mystery in your love stories? Then step into this time capsule and let’s get a bit Nancy Drew. Set in June 1995, you come back from a year of college to your family’s new home, a large mansion your father inherited, only to find it empty. With nothing but a strange note from your sister, you begin to suspect that something strange has happened here. Coming from a team comprised of Bioshock veterans, Gone Home tells the story of your family, the history of the house, and details the psyche and personalities of the people who lived there entirely through environmental story telling and letters from your sister. Its portrait of a 90’s era suburban househould is spot on, and the environment does a beautiful job of capturing a snapshot of the era. All this threaded around a story about girls in love.
High school can be a pain. Schoolwork, tests, navigating friendships, part-time work, and dealing with supernatural forces threatening to end the world and slowly murder people in your town; how do they expect us to even have time to do all this? The last entries in ATLUS’s Persona franchise, 3 and 4 through off the typical dungeon crawling formula by adding in a daily routine to structure the game around. As you go deeper into the supernatural conspiracies that are creating havoc in your town you’ll build up friendships and become closer to your classmates. These bonds strengthen your ability to create and summon more powerful demonic allies in battle.
At this point you’ve likely at least heard, or played through these two games. While the RPG combat can become routine at times, the elegant characterization builds up compelling portraits of normal people battling with identity issues, both figuratively and at times literally. If you want a lengthy adventure to get sucked into, something not afraid to set into a few dark places, this one’s for you.
Well, there you go, lover. Hopefully there’s something there that caught your eye, so don’t be shy! Take a chance and put yourself out there! And hey, if you didn’t find anything for you this Valentine’s Day, that’s alright as well. It’s all fun and games anyhow. Arrivederci!