Amnesia: Memories, an otome game set in modern day Japan was localized for PC and PlayStation Vita this week. This is just one of the dozens of otome games Idea Factory International makes each year. Their line up ranges from the Hakuoki series to Sweet Fuse to Yunohana Spring, an upcoming otome game set in Japanese hot springs. Siliconera had a chance to speak with Norihisa Kochiwa who oversees all of development at Idea Factory including the Otomate label.
Otomate makes lots of otome games, what settings have you found to be the most popular? Modern day, Sengoku, Fantasy, etc.
Norihisa Kochiwa, Idea Factory Game Development Manager: Historical and vampire-themed settings seem to be the most popular amongst Otomate fans. Hakuoki is one of them. We do add some original elements in our interpretations, so they aren’t the exact same stories you would read in history books.
That aside, Amnesia has gained a lot of fan support despite it being set in modern day, and its popularity led us to making it a series. Our goal is to create otome titles with a wide variety of backdrops; that is, if female users are interested in exploring world settings that may not be considered “traditional.”
Can you tell us how you design otome characters? It feels like games typically have a “cool” character, a shy socially aloof character, tsundere character, a close friend, and a prince type character. Are there new kinds of characters you think would work in an otome game?
Character design is the most important aspect of otome games, so we take a great deal of time in carefully designing characters for each Otomate title. Appearance-wise, the character must be gorgeous, and that’s an absolute when considering the foundation of the design. After that, we tend to decide on the individual’s character based on the gap between his looks and his personality, and how the title’s story will develop.
One example of a unique character from our most recent title is Yoshiie Ukita from Shinobi Koi Utsutsu (pictured above). He is a lazy ninja with narcoleptic tendencies, but he does what he has to do when the time comes. It seems like female players have really taken to him!
SPOILER ALERT: Warning the next question has spoilers about Amensia: Memories
Some otome games, perhaps Amnesia: Memories, have characters that… are a little obsessive. This wouldn’t be a healthy relationship in real life, but some of these characters have huge fanbases. Why do you think females are drawn to yandere characters?
Toma from Amnesia does represent that particular character type. In the game, the Toma story unfolds in such a non-realistic way… (I won’t go into details due to spoilers)… but he has become one of the most popular Otomate characters. Toma expresses such deep love and care for the heroine in the game, so I suppose as players progress through the story, they come to accept him as who he is. It is a video game, so players can freely dive into and enjoy the experience as a non-realistic, fictional love story.
OK, spoilers end here.
There are some big otome events in Japan like the Otomate Party. What can you tell us about the otome fans in Japan? How is this different from otome fans with West?
We’ve noticed that otome fans really love and care about titles and characters. We just held Otomate Party 2015, which had 15,000 attendees in only two days. During the event, voice actors and actresses performed as their characters in front of the fans, which generated tons of momentum and was the one of the biggest highlights of the event. Most of the fans at the event ranged from teens to those in their thirties, and we also had some fans come to the event with their families as well!
I think majority of the fans are also fans of video games and voice actors/actresses. I don’t think there are too many differences between Japanese and western otome fans, although I believe Japanese otome fans have been in the most privileged environment since they have access to the most otome titles compared to other countries in the world. What we at Otomate would like to focus on and strive toward now is to work with various partner companies and creators to bring more of our Otomate titles to fans worldwide! We appreciate all your continued support!
Otome games cater to romantic fantasies. How is writing for an otome game different from a dating sim where there is a male protagonist?
It would not apply to all titles, but we tend to make videogames targeting male players more complicated in regards to aspects of the game system itself. For video games with a female audience, we tend to focus more on the story and the intricate details of the story’s romances. Amnesia has a very simple gameplay system, with the player in the role of a heroine without any memories, having to choose which world to go into right at the beginning of the game.
After selecting a world, you have to seek out the truth and find true love with the male character in each world, whose love gauge is maxed out from the beginning. As you can see, it’s a very unique way to start a game. Even if they all fall within the otome genre, the settings and content for each game is unique and varied, so we would love it if everyone could give them all a try!
I tend to like the otome games with wild ideas like Princess Arthur where you can date the knights of the round table or Romeo vs. Juliet which re-imagines Shakespeare’s play as an otome game (and has Shakespeare as a dateable character!). What are some of your favorite wild otome games you’ve worked on and what unique setting would you want to create an otome game in?
First of all, thank you very much for playing Princess Arthur! My personal favorite is our recent title, I DOLL U, which lets you fall in love with super-eccentric idols. Tsubasa Kuroyume is especially unique… He’s an idol who is actually a demon, and on top of that, he is extremely sadistic. I believe we were able to create a very interesting world in that title.
As for any new, unique worlds for our upcoming titles… I have something in mind, but I’m sorry I can’t share it with you all just yet. But please look forward to it!
At the Otomate Party in August, we announced 12 new titles. We are planning to create and release many more titles in the future, so please keep an eye out for these announcements as well! Also, we would love to have feedback from western otome fans! Our first step is to try and introduce otome games as part of gaming culture in western countries, and grow the otome genre with our fans!
Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to talk about our otome games