Top 7 Japan Dating Sim Games

For the uninitiated, dating sim games – or otome games as they are known in the Far East – may seem like a small niche in the video gaming world. And while this certainly isn’t the most popular video game genre, calling it “small” would also be inaccurate, as otome games have millions of devoted fans all over the world.

In fact, the genre was especially popular in the 90s, and even though it hasn’t reached the same heights since then, you can still find otome games on your App Store with millions and even tens of millions of downloads and countless thousands of positive reviews.

Of course, Japanese gaming studios aren’t the only ones making otome games out there, and many of the most popular titles come from South Korean studios. For the purposes of this list, however, we will try to focus exclusively on dating sim games from Japan.

Who is the otome genre for?

The fans of dating sim games come in all types and genders. There are otome games with male and female protagonists, and there are games in various sub-genres and with numerous objectives. Otome games are played by teens and adults, by single people and by folks in serious relationships, by men and women, and so on.

In the West, Japanese otome games are especially popular among people dreaming of Japanese women for marriage, but who haven’t yet dared to look into Japanese mail order brides websites. In the East, otome games are played by virtually anyone who likes sim games with a touch of romance, dating, or NSFW themes in them.

1. Lost In Secular Love

Do you feel up for some sexy monk shenanigans? Here’s a very popular dating sim game that doesn’t offer just that but also has a very deep romantic story and a lot of insight into one young woman’s internal journey toward self-discovery and Enlightenment.

The protagonist – Qiye Cui – comes from a noble family who has fallen from grace. In an attempt to help her family, Qiye decided to marry a local Moyu (fantasy Buddhism) monk, as monks in this fantasy settings not only can marry, but their temples can be inherited by their spouses.

The setup may sound silly – and it is – but don’t let that distract you from the surprisingly deep plot that stems from it.

2. Nightshade

With an ESRB rating of M for Mature (17+), Nightshade is one of the standout dating sim games on the Nintendo Switch. The game takes place during the Sengoku period and revolves around two rivaling ninja clans – the Kōga and Iga clans.

After Nobunaga Oda started the Tenshō Iga war in 1593 and wiped out most of the Iga clan and assimilated a few of its survivors into Kōga. The game follows Enju, the daughter of the head of the Kōga clan, who is training to become a ninja herself, but stumbles upon a dangerous conspiracy within the clan.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with Japan’s top dating sim games – don’t worry, this is indeed such a game. In fact, it’s one of the best ones out there.

3. Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome

If you are looking into the dating sim otome genre exclusively because you want an NSFW 18+ game, then “Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome” is the game for you. An outright perverted game meant for folks who want to play out their horniest fetishes, “Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome” offers two possible love interests for the female protagonist – Miki and Saito.

One is a masochist, and the other – a sadist. Whom you choose and what you do with them, that’s entirely up to you. And, yes, there is a patch that un-censors all the spicy scenes.

4. Tokimeki Memorial

If you want a dating sim game that has a web of possibilities that are as vast and intricate as possible, “Tokimeki Memorial” is one of the first games you should try. The simulated relationships are as fun as they are challenging to navigate, and the humor is both abundant and incredibly (and consistently!) good, even in the game’s English translation.

Even though it’s been 30 years since the game was released in 1994, “Tokimeki Memorial” not only remains one of the best otome games out there, but its sheer replayability has fans playing it to this day.

5. Even If Tempest

In a fantasy world of monsters and witch trials, the protagonist, Anastasia, finds a way to rewind time through her own fiery death. So, she vows not only to discover her ideal self but also to save the ones she loves and get revenge for all the wrongdoings she has suffered.

The topic is indeed dark, but “Even If Tempest” is rated T for Teen, and is suitable for everyone above 13 who loves a bit of dark fantasy in their otome dating sims.

6. Ozmafia

Dating sims, a gangster story, and a Wizard of Oz-style fairy theme. If this sounds as enticing as it is peculiar, “Ozmafia” is the right game for you. The game protagonist you’d be in charge of is a Fuka – a girl with no memories – who lives in a strange town full of strange inhabitants.

From there, the game offers lots of possible paths and numerous different dating storylines, depending on which of the side characters you decide to date. In each case, however, as you go through the game, you also get to learn the mysterious forgotten past of your character.

7. Glass Heart Princess

This otome game follows the beautiful, smart, and athletic daughter of a well-respected family. Things are not as great as they sound, however, as she gets stricken by a rare disease – “Glass Heart Syndrome” – which can be quite deadly should her heart rate ever rise above a certain threshold. So, she decides on the obvious solution – to go on a series of heart-pounding dates with charming strangers! This silly, but also funny and charming premise has made for a funny and charming game that most fans of the otome genre would certainly love.

Wrapping up

The otome game genre certainly has a lot of peculiar sub-genres and titles – so much so that you are bound to miss many people’s favorites even with a Top 7 list because everyone has a different idea of what the best otome is and what it should include.

Some are R-rated, raunchy games that only care about the physical fantasies of the gamer; others are purely romantic and sweet; others play on the taboo nature of certain romantic situations; many others take place in fantasy or sci-fi settings, and there are also certain otome games where the dating is just a component of the overall “life sim” story of the game.

Which you would prefer and which game you should try next is entirely up to you, but the seven titles above are certainly some of the most popular otome games out there.