A vast majority of visual novel style games are marketed to men, featuring a male main character pursuing a number of lovely animated women. Occasionally, though, a game comes along that switches up the roles to offer something to female fans. Known as “otome games,” literally meaning “girl games,” these are story heavy games that generally focus on a female character trying to woo a number of handsome animated men. So, it’s the same, but different!
With visual novels being niche in the West, one would think that ones that cater to female players would have little to no audience at all. This made it a surprise when Aksys Games brought Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom to North America in 2012, on the quickly-dying PSP no less. Against all odds, the game proved popular enough for Aksys to release the 3DS port (this time subtitled Memories of the Shinsengumi) and a hack-and-slash game spin-off again for the PSP (subtitled Warriors of the Shinsengumi) in 2013.
It seems now that Aksys is at it again, preparing to release the HD remastered version of the original game in North America as Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi.
The story of Hakuoki focuses on the Edo period of Japan, where the main character, Chizuru, is being pursued by warriors loyal to the Emperor while searching for her father. The pursuers are murdered by men with glowing eyes, but Chizuru is saved by a group of warriors known as the Shinsengumi. These warriors turn out to be searching for Chizuru’s father for other reasons, so she teams up with them. Alongside a story with political warfare comes, of course, a story of romance. Despite being marketed as a game for women, Hakuoki also has a following of male fans who enjoy the story centered around warfare.
The HD rerelease includes this story along with a number of side-stories that were originally released as a “fan disk” in Japan. Aksys is also offering a limited edition version of the game that includes the game, a Japanese “love charm,” a comb, and a hair pin.
For anyone interested in this game, regardless of gender, the regular and limited editions will be released in North America on May 6th for the PS3.