Eroge for All Seasons
October 20, 2009 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Japan has a flourishing market for video games featuring adult content, or Eroge. Unfortunately, the sole exposure of some westerners to this wide genre may be through the controversy surrounding the irredeemably disgusting Rapelay (previously). That's a shame, because there is wide variation in content and gameplay focus in even the small subset of Eroge games translated and released for the western market by specialty publishers like Peach Princess and G-Collections.

For every Rapelay or Water Closet (which should only be played if you wish to subsequently gouge out your eyes with a dull spoon), there are games like Amorous Professor Cherry, The Sagara Family, or Come See Me Tonight, which at least attempt a coherent narrative love story and usually reward empathetic behavior.

Even these games are only more subtly misogynistic, unfortunately; the female characters are targets, first and foremost, as evidenced by the fact that the most difficult endings to obtain in each game feature unlikely sexual couplings of two or more of the female characters with the first-person narrator, which are known as "harems" in Eroge game parlance.

Which brings me to my two final examples of Eroge, and the only two such games I've played thus far that I would recommend to a wide (mature) audience: Kana: Little Sister (for those concerned, no actual fictional blood relatives are banged in the course of gameplay), and Crescendo. Both are visual novels, include only a few mature scenes in the course of several hours of gameplay, and attempt to evoke complex emotions and leave a lasting impression on the player.
posted by The Confessor (40 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, so we can go ahead and say that just about every link there is NSFW, thanks.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:11 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Both games are available for download, as well as retail, for those especially concerned with discretion.

I might have also mentioned in the post that I cried like a baby while playing two separate end scenarios of Kana: Little Sister, but I realize that my observation regarding misogyny already makes my post tread a bit too close to the "get your own blog" frontier.
posted by The Confessor at 7:15 AM on October 20, 2009


Anime Girl - Hey big man want to take me to a school dance?
CHOICES:
-Yes! Let's a dance the evening.
-You are a study... nothing more.
-(Oral)
posted by Damn That Television at 7:23 AM on October 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


If Kana is the one you'd recommend, and when I click on your explanatory link, I see topless animes, then I'm probably going to skip this whole genre, thanks. Interesting post, though.
posted by Damn That Television at 7:26 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting post indeed. Since I'm at work, I won't go within 10 feet of these links. Hell, I was afraid to click on [more inside]. I'll check it out later though.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:30 AM on October 20, 2009


When it comes to Japanese sexploitation games, "more inside" could conceivably involve a speculum.
posted by adipocere at 7:32 AM on October 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Damn That Television

I used the publisher's website. I might have used Wikipedia instead, except that I got the impression from a few failed posts of mine in the past that primary sources are preferred.
posted by The Confessor at 7:38 AM on October 20, 2009


Nomi-chan: "PIRROUPU YOU ARE LIKE A BROTHER TO ME THIS IS WRONG"
Pirroupu: "..."
Nomi-chan: "AGREED THEN. I WILL LIFT UP MY SKIRTS THIS SINGLE TIME BUT FIRST YOU MUST PRESS BUTTON IN A CERTAIN ORDER"
Pirroupu: "I HAVE DONE SO"
Nomi-chan: "CONGRATULATION.YOU HAVE ACHEIVE APOTHEOSIS."

[cut scene of anime children fucking]
posted by zoomorphic at 7:41 AM on October 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


So...do these "games" fall into some special category as far as what I have come to believe is Japanese obscenity laws are concerned? Where's the usual strategic pixelization? I'm seeing a lot of surprisingly uncensored images that I assume are screencaps from the actual games.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:55 AM on October 20, 2009


Thorzdad

The original images, as drawn by the artists, are usually uncensored. Mosaics are added before release in accordance with Japanese law. After a few early games were translated, the publishing houses began reverting games to the original, uncensored art for international release.
posted by The Confessor at 8:08 AM on October 20, 2009


Ah. Gotcha. Thanks.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:52 AM on October 20, 2009


I was playing Smackdown vs RAW 2008 for the Xbox360, and I realized that its "Career Mode" was almost literally a hentai dating simulator. It's got it all:

- Days tick off of a calendar, leading up to Wrestlemania
- Each day, you can choose whether to rest, work out at the gym, do a photo-op. Your stats recharge accordingly
- There are a dozen other wrestlers vying for your attention -- some aggressive, some friendly, some jealous, and the requisite MILF (Shawn Michaels).
- Eventually you work up to the point where one of them will "become your manager" or you'll at least get to wrestle him
- You can, if you play your cards right, wrestle all of them independently

All that's missing is a cheesy MIDI soundtrack. It just so happens I have about 30 of those already written.
posted by jake at 9:03 AM on October 20, 2009 [13 favorites]


Counterpoint

I also liked Excel Saga's take on the genre.
posted by ymgve at 9:25 AM on October 20, 2009


I'm always amused by people talking about how wonderful the stories are for eroge, and how emotionally invested they get. and, amazingly enough, they almost always say something like "I cried like a baby at the ending" for any eroge they liked.

my own experience is that eroge (and I've played half the games mentioned in this post) is that it's horrifically written, 2 dimensional trite garbage. if you dig animated or illustrated porn, hey, enjoy them. they're fun if you've never played one before. but don't be fooled into thinking these are good pieces of writing outside of any erotic content.
posted by shmegegge at 9:26 AM on October 20, 2009


and the rapelay thing reminds me: I was surprised that that was the game that finally brought rape games to american attention and japanese governmental attention. it's not the first rape centric game they've made. it's not even the hundredth. they make dozens of the things every year.
posted by shmegegge at 9:27 AM on October 20, 2009


(for those concerned, no actual fictional blood relatives are banged in the course of gameplay)

I see you had to get in that blood relatives qualifier there. Ah, Japanese cartoon smut, a world where all illustrated kids are eighteen, no matter how patently ridiculous that assertion may appear in the context of the actual illustrations.
posted by nanojath at 9:28 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


do you know what misogyny means? while there might be such as thing as "subtle" misogyny, it is still a hatred of women. in addition to your own blog, you might want to look into therapy. good luck, confessor. women are wonderful.
posted by Shike at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2009


Jesus Christ, could you have picked worse examples? I've got little to no experience with the genre and even I know your latter two examples are very heavy on the incest.

Why didn't you pick something like Fate/Stay Night or Tsukhime? Is it because the porn in those is tacked on to get people to play the game instead of the center of the story?
posted by flatluigi at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2009


Shike

I shouldn't have used misogyny to refer to the "middle" category of games; while it is an accurate descriptor for Water Closet and Rapelay (I'm assuming, having played only a short portion of the former and none of the latter), games such as Come See Me Tonight are more disrespectful rather than actually misogynistic.

Either way, the games that I highlighted at the end of my post are those that, in my opinion, largely eschew such disrespect in their portrayal of relationships... although I haven't yet finished all of the multiple endings of Crescendo to confirm its approach.

Having said that, Shike, the tone and ad hominem nature of your comment was offensive. No one forced you to read this thread.
posted by The Confessor at 10:04 AM on October 20, 2009


I'm pretty iffy about hentai games at this stage in my life anyway, but what I really want to know why we've got an entire post focused on stuff we've got to buy. Hentai Blue, much?

There's probably actually a game called Hentai Blue somewhere, isn't there?
posted by Caduceus at 10:05 AM on October 20, 2009


games such as Come See Me Tonight are more disrespectful rather than actually misogynistic.

Also, and I seriously don't mean this as an attack, just as an observation, but I think you need to revise your definition of misogyny.
posted by Caduceus at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some more interesting ero games in my mind are:

Ie, Tatemasu! which is a fan made game by Japanese gay men, and which completely avoids 'yaoi' conventions and indeed most porn conventions. I've never played it, but Insert Credit's review is fairly interesting, and deserves to be read.

Saya's Song This one's really a visual novel rather than a game - there's only 3 choices. It's a very eerie Lovecraftian love story, and I actually thought the erotic scenes were more a distraction than a vital part.

Also, I'm sure this one is crap, but the trailer made me laugh - My girlfriend is the PRESIDENT?!
posted by dragoon at 10:09 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm confused.. Are these games misogynistic or not? Please, somebody settle this important question of semantics!!!
posted by Chuckles at 10:14 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sure this one is crap, but the trailer made me laugh - My girlfriend is the PRESIDENT?!

I love how the ICBMs in the background are pixelated. Too phallic for Japanese obsenity laws?
posted by Chuckles at 10:19 AM on October 20, 2009


Caduceus

Perhaps. I was going by the American Heritage Dictionary definition myself, and I don't think that the material in such games meets the standard of hatred, rather than disrespect. But whatever my choice of words, the intent was not to exalt them, but to resign them to a middle tier for their portrayal.
posted by The Confessor at 10:25 AM on October 20, 2009


Why are we limiting the entire adventure genre, which is alive and well in Japan, to erotic games? Sure, they're more shocking, but the non-sexy games are far more interesting in my opinion.

For example:
Planetarian ($10) is a story of redemption taking place in the ruins of a city in a brilliantly imagined post-apocalyptic future.
Narcissu (free) is a G-rated story about terminal illness and suicide.
Red Shift (free) is a psychological short story in graphic form.
EVER 17 (originally $30, now more used) is a 40-hour mystery story that takes place in an underwater research vessel closed off from the outside world.
True Remembrance (free) is a powerful drama that achieved fame among Japanese gamers.
posted by shii at 11:25 AM on October 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Narcissu (free) is a G-rated story about terminal illness and suicide.

Your "G" rating has slightly different qualifications than mine, it appears.
posted by nanojath at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2009


These may all be interesting games in their own right, but really, are they Grim Fandango?

I submit that they are not.

Oh Manny, will we ever see your like again?
posted by JHarris at 1:24 PM on October 20, 2009


"Ah, Japanese cartoon smut, a world where all illustrated kids are eighteen, no matter how patently ridiculous that assertion may appear in the context of the actual illustrations."

You should probably put the word "exported" before "Japanese cartoon smut". The whole "make every character 18" thing isn't done in Japan, that's part of the localization process when they translate it to English.

"I love how the ICBMs in the background are pixelated. Too phallic for Japanese obsenity laws?"

That's the joke. Like pixelating video of a fireplace and writing "Too Hot For TV!"
posted by Bugbread at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2009


Well, some of it is only a little bit racist, so I guess it's okay.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 1:31 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yanno, if this were the state of anti-racism activism today, I'm pretty sure it would be acceptable to say that white people suck. The people here are such a bunch of ignorant assholes, I don't even know where to begin.

Except possibly men suck and should have to wear leashes. This entire thread should be nuked from orbit. Assholes.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 1:40 PM on October 20, 2009


bravelittletoaster

I've already addressed your point, and done my penance; 'disrespect' would have been a better word for that context.

But in bringing up racism as a metaphor for misogyny, you've also given me a platform to discuss another commonality between the two that occurred to me a few hours ago, while composing a previous response.

Just as not everything people of a given race find offensive is inherently racist, not everything a female might find offensive is misogynistic. The dictionaries, as I noted before, tend to define the term rather dryly and narrowly, as a hatred of women. The current Wikipedia summary, however, adds a parenthesized "or contempt" to hatred... an incongruence that is not surprising when you reflect on their differing editorial focus, as the dictionaries reflect the consensus of a relatively small circle of academics while Wikipedia (absent article vandalism or vigilante editorialism) might better reflect the shifting standards of the wider culture.
posted by The Confessor at 1:58 PM on October 20, 2009


Yanno, if this were the state of anti-racism activism today, I'm pretty sure it would be acceptable to say that white people suck. The people here are such a bunch of ignorant assholes, I don't even know where to begin.

Except possibly men suck and should have to wear leashes. This entire thread should be nuked from orbit. Assholes.


Um. Okay. Are you actually responding to anything in particular this thread? Because the out-of-left-field invectives are no substitute for actually making a coherent point. It seems you're taking what has otherwise been a civil discussion quite emotionally, so maybe you want to take five? I'm interested in what you have to contribute, but all I'm getting from what you've written so far is "I'M ANGRY."
posted by Amanojaku at 2:02 PM on October 20, 2009


I'm not following here...Have there been some deleted comments? Who is Yanno, and what did he/she say about racism?
posted by Bugbread at 2:37 PM on October 20, 2009


The Confessor, I know this thing is going kind of bumpily but at this point you're kind of overmoderating your own thread a bit.

I know the topic of the thread is a little bit fraught right out of the gate, but it'd be great if folks could either cool it a bit in both directions or find some way to relocate the peripheral discussion if it really needs to happen.
posted by cortex at 2:40 PM on October 20, 2009


Yanno = y'know.
posted by cortex at 2:40 PM on October 20, 2009


Ah. Oh. Color me embarrassed.
posted by Bugbread at 2:54 PM on October 20, 2009


I love how the ICBMs in the background are pixelated. Too phallic for Japanese obsenity laws?

They're actually giant penises. They replaced ICBMs after the Great Phallic Tentacle Invasion in 2004.
posted by armage at 6:33 PM on October 20, 2009


To me this post reads as far too bloggy for my liking. It seems like The Confessor has a point to make about Eroge - rather than setting up something for discussion, he's presented his case and continues to defend it. And that's without even getting into the specifics of the links or the ensuing discussion.
posted by crossoverman at 6:48 PM on October 20, 2009


The problem with Eroge is that the packaging the software comes in is fairly brittle and sharp, which makes fucking it extremely painful and ultimately unsatisfying.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:46 PM on October 30, 2009


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