Decide who to romance and what the outcome of the game will be. Your choices influence which way the story goes, and finishes with one of fifteen possible endings!
Since dramatic romances are often the main focus of these games and are necessary to lead the stories along their branching paths, you are expected to fulfill your obligation as a good sport and at least attempt to fall in love.
Or else the game really won't know what to do with you, and thus you will be punished. Non-romantic visual novels do exist for those who don't want to opt in to this particular character-focused experience, but for this article we’ll be limiting ourselves to the love simulation variety.
Dating sims are a huge thing in Japan, but in the West they’re kind of seen as a bit of a joke.
Perhaps it’s not “cool” to role-play as a character when the aim of the game is to win someone’s heart instead of fighting a war or defeating a dastardly nemesis?
The general format for the games usually involves taking on the role of a high school student who advances through several years of school while attempting to forge relationships with a variety of NPCs.
Clever dialogue choices aren’t enough to win you the heart of your pixellated beloved, though – you’ll need to build up your parameters and stats, too.
The games are usually designed to be replayable, since the choices you make around the game often lead you to different endings.
Dating games are very popular in Japan, they appeared on the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to be played on consoles and early PCs.
For example, if your chosen guy or girl likes someone who’s good at sports, you’d better get those physical parameters up as high as they can go.