So you have come here, perhaps by intent, perhaps by accident. And now you are wondering, "Exactly what is a bishoujo game?"
Well, to begin with, bishoujo literally translates from Japanese to mean "pretty girl" or "fair lady". So in the simplest sense, a bishoujo game is a game about pretty girls/fair ladies. The difference between a bishoujo movie, manga, or slideshow and a bishoujo game is that YOU control the story/action, and very often have the choice of where you go, what you do, and which girls to pursue. Some games are more interactive than others; many have multiple endings/paths, while others have only one. There are also fighting, sports, and puzzle games that tend less towards choices and more towards action/puzzles.
There are two types of bishoujo games. Some are the NON-adult bishoujo games. These feature lots of what the anime community calls 'fan service', lots of shots of pretty girls in provocative clothing and/or poses, but there is no actual sex or complete nudity portrayed in the game. Other examples of this type of bishoujo is Graduation, Tokimeki Memorial, Sentimental Graffiti, Thousand Arms, Rhapsody, and Princess Maker (not available in English).
The other type is the ADULT bishoujo game. These games have full nudity and detailed sexual encounters between characters. Many (though not all) of these are mosaic-censored in Japan, but companies like Peach Princess are kind enough to un-censor these images for the english-speaking community when they translate the game. however, this is not ALWAYS done for translated games. It is just too time-consuming for a small market to do all that extra work all the time.
There are many genres of bishoujo games, ranging from strange and wacky comedy (X-Change, Amy's Fantasies), to pretty much all sex and kinkiness (Fatal Relations, Return to Paradise Heights), to very touching romantic stories (Snow Drop, Season of the Sakura), to simulations (Maid's Story, True Love), to science-fiction (Critical Point), to horror(Nocturnal Illusion, DiviDead), to mystery (Eve: Burst Error), to hardcore fetish (Water Closet), to RPG's (Brave Soul), to fighting and action(I haven't played any, but they're there), to your 'defies-a-single-genre' types (Tokimeki Checkin). So you can see, there really is a bishoujo game for everyone who enjoys sex and pretty girls. These games have beautiful artwork, characters and environments alike.
I now come to the unfortunate downside of english bishoujo gaming. The industry is very small in America right now, and finds itself hindered in many ways. The first way this industry is threatened is by the retailers of games themselves. It seems the stores and retailers who sell games have decided for us that we don't want to buy adult bishoujo games, even though it is an established fact that pornography sells very very well in America. We have pornography videos, magazines, animation sex websites, and so on, but for some reason, it has been decided FOR US that we don't want bishoujo games, which often have more content, more story, and more replay value than any of the above.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you like bishoujo games, TELL YOUR LOCAL GAME RETAILERS THAT YOU WANT THEM! DEMAND is what gets results, and if we demand it, they must comply. Most bishoujo games are rated by the ESRB, and their packaging is perfectly appropriate for being put on a shelf. There is no reason why these games (especially the non-adult ones) shouldn't be in every major game retail store in America. There is no reason why the adult bishoujo games shouldn't be offered at every adult store. We can make this happen, but we must DEMAND that we be given the choice of what we want.
The other bane to bishoujo gaming's existence is SOFTWARE PIRATES. Yes, you read that right. The bishoujo gaming industry is small right now, and it needs all the sales it can get to show the big Japanese companies that initially make these games that it is worth their while to sell us the rights to translate the games. If 2/3rd's of the possible sales go to pirating, then that is 2/3rd's of the demand that the companies never see, hence they think there is no demand because the English company only sells 500 copies, instead of the 10000 that are actually in circulation.
In addition, companies like Peach Princess are small and really NEED the revenue from selling their games to keep the company up and running. These small companies usually begin by paying for things out of their own pockets because of their desire to bring these quality games to America. They need to at least break even to stay in business. And a profit is even better, because then they can do even more with the extra money.
So keep in mind these points:
If you like bishoujo gaming, BUY LEGITIMATELY!
TELL RETAILERS YOU WANT THESE GAMES!
There are plenty of places online to buy these games. Links are given on this site.
Sign petitions, support the industry by buying the games where you can get them, write letters or emails to the retailers. Let them know you'll make your OWN choices about what you want.
TELL RETAILERS YOU WANT THESE GAMES!