Happy New Year 2020 – Let’s Celebrate With The 20 Best Girls Games Of The Past 20 Years
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Happy New Years! I thought it’d be fun to celebrate the new year by counting down the 20 best girl games released between 2000 – 2020. Before we can start the countdown we need to talk about what makes a good girl game anyways? I have talked about this before on my site, but incase you are new to my site, here’s a recap.
First let me start by saying, I target a niche audience, girls (and guys) who like a certain type of games – In general, young females prefer these types of games more than men, but there are men who play these games too, and likewise, there are girls who don’t enjoy these games and prefer more violent action games that we see a lot of young men playing. My website kinda over generalizes things, because it’s just simpler for me to focus a very small target audience.
So what is a girl game? Yes, there are “Otome Games” which literally means “Games for Girls” these are visual novels where the protagonist is a female and pursues male love interests. There are also Yuri games where the protagonist is female and pursues female love interests. But that’s only one small – very small – type of games that I write about on my site.
In my opinion most girls want the following things from their games:
Story is king – girls want to stimulate their minds, more than their reflexes. We want to feel an emotional connection to the characters, we want a story full of mystery, drama, romance, fantasy, and likable and interesting characters.
Graphics are important but in a different way than “guy games” – Girls want to play “cute” games, probably with anime graphics, while most guys want photo-realistic 3D. Most girls actually prefer 2D, especially with newer technologies like cell shading or Live2D which can make a 3D character look like a 2D character. Girls don’t want to play an ugly game. Girls want cute characters – especially if they can customize the characters – which is another point later – they want beautiful environments, not drab grey, brown, green, blah blah looking landscapes. We prefer cute colors, either bright, or pastel, feminine colors that look cute, fanciful, and vibrant.
Gameplay is still important – a game is only good if it has great gameplay – which is why I say visual novels and the like are only a small percentage of games girls play, because unless you’re just in the mood to read a book, they aren’t that engaging. Girls still care about gameplay, but maybe in a different way than guys. We want games that offer a variety of experiences.
For example, one of the new games I got for Christmas is Fire Emblem Three Houses, and I can also compare this to an old game series called Suikoden. What is similar? Well outside of combat, there are many, many, many activities, from cooking, to dating, to recruiting team members, to training new skills, to talking to various characters.
Each also offers some additional gameplay perks. In suikoden you can build a castle, and in Fire Emblem Three Houses, you’re a teacher, and set a lesson plan, and go to things like choir practice, or attend seminars hosted by other teachers, etc.
It has like these “Life Simulation” elements, along side some hard battles – traditionally in Fire Emblem if a character dies in a fight, like reaches zero HP – that’s it, they are gone forever, even main characters / story characters – but in this version, there is an option to turn off the perma death if you choose.
The fights are grid based, and require a lot of strategy. There are many, many classes your characters can become, each with distinct tactical advantages and disadvantages. A lot of mental stimulation here, even in the combat.
Like I said, girls still care about gameplay, and a game with great gameplay AND a great story, is going to trump a game, that just has one or the other.
Girls want games that allow them to express themselves somehow. The more various ways of self expression the better. Some examples include, extensive character creation tools, character customization, dressup / fashion options, costumes, etc, games that let you choose the gender of the character, things like skin color, hair style and color, eye color, sliders to adjust everything from body size, to how far the eyes are from each other, to lip size, to hair length, chin shape, cheekbone height, etc. But it goes beyond just characters too – Girls like games that let them build and play in the world in which they live, building a town, a city, or even just decorating a room.
This brings us to the next point, Girls want a game where decisions matter. Girls want to be able to influence the story and what happens to the characters. This makes us feel that we are actually part of the game, and not just watching from the side lines. It also increases replay value, which I think can be universally valued by both guys and girls.
This can be done in a number of ways, like the visual novels and Otome games which drive story with prompts that ask you to respond to certain characters, or through gameplay such as chronotrigger, where your choices – even minor ones – led to different outcomes – like eating the old man’s chicken, etc. Or games like Torment, Dragon Age, and Witcher that focus on freedom of choice and create a game where almost no two playthrus are ever the same.
Lastly, girls care about music and voice acting. We want an immersive experience, and music and well cast voice actors can help draw you further into the world. It can convey emotions, create suspense, create calm, or sadness. Music is a universal language and just takes that game to the next level.
Ok, now that you know what I feel is important in a good “girl’s game” – here’s my 20 favorite girl games, of the past 2 decades.
- Catherine Full Body – PS4
This game is a remake of Catherine on PS3 – which also fits this list as it was released in 2011. There is going to be some head scratching as to why this is given the number one spot on our list. Especially since it deals with some suggestive themes and sexual content. I am no feminist, and I don’t really mind seeing sexual or suggestive content in my games. I don’t find it demeaning or offensive to women, but I know there are women who would be offended by this game or some of the other games on this list because of this. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this game has all of the ear marks of what makes a good girls game. It has a great story, it has choice and consequence, it has cute/beautiful anime graphics, it has good gameplay – although there’s other games on this list that trump one or another aspect here, but when viewed in whole, this game does not miss a single mark. Other games may have better story, or better gameplay, but then they may lack in another area, which lowers their overall score. Catherine – the first one – I haven’t gotten around to finishing and reviewing Full Body yet – anyways the first one is the highest scoring game on my site so far. It has a 96% A. “Excellent Game For Girls!” rating – almost a perfect 100! Read my review of Catherine here.
2. School Days HQ
Alright, I know this is weird, because this is a hentai game – flat out, porn game. But actually, it’s a pretty damn good game! Like Catherine, it has the great cell-shaded anime graphics that is like PLAYING an “anime” more than “watching an anime” or “playing a game” – and Yes, it has sex, and kink, and perversion – but…. not that much? This is a long ass game. And there’s like probably 80+ hours of gameplay/story, of which the sex scenes – ALL added together equal MAYBE 4 hours? or less? of that 80 hours. The story is actually really good. The graphics aren’t quite as good as Catherine, and the game is a fair bit older – from 2005 – HQ was maybe a few years later, around same time as Catherine maybe like 2012? – Either way still eligible for this list. And most of all – it is admittedly lacking any gameplay whatsoever aside from choice and consequence, because it is a visual novel. Whereas Catherine has the awesome puzzles and side scrolling type gameplay, in addition to minigames and the visual novel elements. School Days HQ is really lacking any gameplay – but it is just… this weird… interactive anime experience. There’s even opening and ending songs between chapters – wtf? lol. If you love anime, then you’re gonna love School Days HQ – if you hate porn or are easily offended though then obviously skip this one. The characters are likable, the story is sad, dramatic, suspenseful. Like Catherine, it’s a love triangle at heart. Now one of the weird things about this game are all of the bad endings – so many bad endings – that’s kinda what this game is famous for. But maybe it’s because I’m a girl and I know how to treat a girl, and just play it how I’d want a guy to treat me, but come on!!! It’s not THAT hard. Don’t be a dick and you’ll be fine LOL. There are numerous happy endings too!! In fact, I played multiple times and never saw those bad endings – I forget how many endings there are – but it’s like some INSANE amount – there are many many happy endings – for EACH girl – instead of just one “good ending” there’s also like I said many bad endings – I don’t think I’ve finished all of the endings – It’s good – it’s not the best visual novel story wise, but that anime experience – with the opening and ending songs, and how it’s like fully animated and not just still images – it’s so different from most visual novels…. Really if you like visual novels and don’t mind some hentai scenes – really it’s worth playing. I know it’s weird to be on my list – but there’s just nothing else like it. Check it out if you want – you can always kinda just click past all the porn scenes too if you want. The game is cute, the story’s good, characters good, your choices actually have a lot of impact on the game – oh and you’re timed too, sometimes choosing nothing is the “correct” choice, in that way I guess it does have some gameplay, but yeah that’s the only flaw really is no gameplay. You can read my review of School Days HQ here.
3. Detroit Become Human
I am absolutely in love with this game. I am fascinated by androids and such stories in general. Like most tales of androids, the game presents a story about what rights if any, should artificial intelligence have, and if artificial intelligence is capable of free thought and human emotion – and obviously right now today in the year 2020, that answer is still a hard no. But who knows what the future will bring? This game is set just a few years in the future, in a world where androids are ubiquitous in human society. They work, or run errands, while their human owners, enjoy more engaging activities. But there’s this one old man, who treats his robot as if it was his own son. He encourages his robot to explore arts, from painting, to music, to other things that typically only humans do. It seems the robot also lovingly takes care of the man whose health is failing. They really seem like a family. While at the opposite end of that spectrum, a man has several robot servants who he mistreats and abuses, to the point of being akin to domestic violence, he beats the hell out of one of the robots, to where it has to go back to the factory for repairs. Across the city, the people are divided, but most feel threatened by the robots who have taken their jobs, and a revolution is about to happen pitting robot vs human as robots take a stand for human rights… I love this story – but ultimately what happens in the story is up to YOU! whose side will you take, robot or man? Your choices determine the fate of the characters, including permadeath, who lives or dies, will they have equal rights, or be deemed not human enough for equality. I sided with robots, because I love robots, but you don’t have to – you can choose to help squash the robot rebellion. Your choices determine everything in this game. You can also choose pacifism or aggression with different good and bad endings. I chose pacifism and love. But you can pick your own path. The graphics are good, and freedom of choice, exploration, and story, also great. This is my favorite game of the last few years for sure. Absolutely love this game. With all my heart! The game is now only like $14 oh and it’s also coming out on PC soon – so if you haven’t played it yet – please check it out – it’s such a great game. I have never cared more for another character or felt so involved in a story. It’s so emotional and beautiful. A great game! Check out my review of Detroit Become Human here.
4. Secret of Mana 3 – Trials of Mana
Ok so this is a little bit of a “trick” because the original game is too old for this list, but thanks to a new telling of Secret of Mana 3 on Nintendo Switch it was again released to a new generation of gamers. – I haven’t actually yet played Trials of Mana, but Secret of Mana 3 is my favorite Secret of mana game. The original release on Super Nintendo never made it over to North America – I imported it – even though I can’t read Japanese – which admittedly, with an RPG takes a huge amount of fun and purpose away from playing it – I imported a few other games back in the 90s as well – like Tales of Phantasia and Secret of Blue water (yes based on the anime) to name a few. – Anyways for whatever reason, Squaresoft decided not to bring Secret of Mana 3 to us back in the 90s – and instead we got a game that they did not get in Japan called Secret of Evermore – which I actually also really enjoy (even though for some reason it was a flop and a lot of people dislike it). – Anyways so all of these years, one of, if not THE, best title in the mana series has remained as a Japan only title – but it was eventually fan translated – and I played that years ago too and loved that!! But now — it finally like 2 decades later – has an official real english release by Squaresoft on the Nintendo Switch – I haven’t played it yet – I know it’s not a direct port – I don’t think so anyways? I think it’s been remastered and some changes made over the past 2 decades to bring it more “up to speed” so to speak for a new generation. So what made Secret of Mana 3 so great? It had high replay value, great characters, great story, and fun gameplay. You pick 3 characters and see the story told through their eyes, and which 3 you pick kinda influence some parts of the story, some pair together better than others, but there’s no wrong or right way to play. This is similar to some other squaresoft games that largely remained in Japan aside from a few releases here or there, such as Romance Saga and Live Alive. There’s also a class system like Final Fantasy 5. There are a total of 5 different classes for each character – maybe more in the new nintendo switch version. I haven’t even watched a video or looked at screenshots yet of this title, but I assume it has a number of enhancements over the 1995 SNES title. I think the new nintendo switch version has new graphics and additional story elements and other improvements too. It’s on my must buy list for sure after I finish some other games first. Check out my review of Secret of Mana 3 here.
5. Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side
For this, I’m lumping the whole series together – it is hands down my all time favorite Visual Novel / Otome Game / Dating Sim / Whatever you want to call it. – The first installment was from 2002 – which just barely qualifies it for our list – but still works – and there’s been additional installments since then. – NONE of which have ever been released outside of Japan – Come on Konami!!! Can’t you see there’s a market here??? All of your competitors are on board bringing Otome games, visual novels, dating sims, over seas. More and more and more lately – The past decade this genre has EXPLODED – thanks in part to smart phones – but also taking hold on PC and consoles too. – But the best ever Otome game still only remains in Japan.
But thanks to some really dedicated fans – you can play these games in English!!! – The patches have been around for a few years now – thankfully!
What I love about this game – let me count the ways lol. The customization, fashion dressup elements when you go out on dates. The characters, the cute anime art style, the life simulation elements, the story (all be it a lil bland / generic), just everything – not only do you date characters, but you have female friends, you have a job!! and you go to school, you join clubs, you have to take tests, you have to raise your stats – there’s more meat to this game, there’s holidays and special events, there’s all kinds of things, I love it soooo much because of the gameplay variety and it’s soooo much more than just clicking through a story and making some choices, and it’s not just about the romance, you’re living life as a school girl doing allllll the things that the school girls do. It’s much more than just a dating sim or just a visual novel. And your choices matter a lot! Everything from what your room looks like, how you dress, how you respond to characters, how you spend your free time, what clubs you join, what you study, who you hang out with. There are numerous endings and story paths, you can have jealous female friends, jealous male friends, you can have love triangles, just all kinds of delicious drama lol. And the story is cute, the cannon characters are usually like childhood friends, but there’s a huge variety of characters, from bad biker boys, to shy flower boys, to teacher pets, hell you can even date your teacher! lol. I am not even close to all of the endings or all of the routes on ANY of these games. I’ve gone for 2 or 3 characters on each one and that’s it. That makes me want to dig it out and play it again RIGHT NOW lol. It stands the test of time because of huge replay value. It is a long ass game though and I think it is lacking a skip function – so it has a few small flaws, but really – just play it. It’s the best. If you’re gonna play an Otome Game, might as well play this one, there aren’t any better Otome games out there!! Check out my review of Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side here.
6. Chrono Trigger
Ok so again this one is a bit of a “trick” – The original game was released in 1995 making it too old for our list here, – but it was ported to mobile and then to PC within the last few years – which technically qualifies it a spot here – and while millions of people are ENRAGED by this port and consider it to be the scum of the internet — I have to say… I disagree… Others also disagree because it’s rated “Very Positively” on steam – but I’ve read some people just SLAM this game and SLAM Squaresoft for this game so hard – and I am willing to say – I still love this game. And at time of this post, it is 50% off on Steam.
So yes, there are some obvious flaws. An ugly UI, some major pixel and texture issues going on, some hard to read text, etc…
But… needless to say… the game itself… is one of the greatest games of all time. With something like 16 endings – and where every choice counts – even when you aren’t aware you’re even making a choice – see that’s the beauty of it – it’s not like a visual novel – The game is more action packed and the way Chrono Trigger handles choice and consequence is with subtlety and Grace.
The story is one of the highlights of game. In this time travelling tale we encounter the butterfly effect. Changing something in the past, inevitably influences things in the present and future. And the more you go back to try to right what you may have wronged, the more messed up things tend to become.
The characters are memorable, the music is absolutely amazing, and the game is very unique. Despite the obvious flaws of the port, I would still recommend you play this game. If this was the ONLY way you had to experience the game — then I’d still say it’s better than 99% of any other games available on the market today — bad port and all. Check out my review of Chrono Trigger here.
7. Ever17 The Out of Infinity
This little obscure gem here is from 2002, just barely making it eligible for our list. The game was given an official English release – but it is now almost impossible to find because it was sadly before the days of digital distribution.
This visual novel is so great because it is a complete and utter mind fuck. So are the other games in this series – Remember11 and Never7. Those two titles never received an official English release but they have been fan translated by the visual novel community. I feel like Ever17 is the strongest of the 3.
You spend countless hours playing through each route – to unlock the true ending – a concept pretty familiar to those who play visual novels…
But… the true ending completely takes the game, turns it upside down on its head, and puts a whole new perspective on the last 120+ hours you’ve probably spent on the game… But in a good and unique and refreshing way I guess….
I don’t want to reveal to much because… the mind fuck is the best part about the whole game. You can read my review of Ever17 here.
8. Steambot Chronicles
Coming in at number 8, we have the 2005 somewhat underground hit, Steambot Chronicles. – There was also going to be a sequel that was cancelled along with many other games due to the devastating Tokyo tsunami in 2011.
This is one of my favorite games for so many reasons. The music which is a highlight of the game, included several vocal tracks which were used as plot devices and directly related to the story. You could ride in giant mecha, you could customize said mech with new parts and upgrades, and you could directly influence the story, being good or evil if you so wished. There were dressup-game elements, and a personality quiz that determined some dialogue choices in the game. This game is just… everything. It has all of the ear markings of what I consider to be a great girl’s game. It has the story, it has the customization, it has the freedom of choice, it has the music, the gameplay. What more could you want? Highly recommend.
Ok so Lunar has forever been my all-time favorite game series. (Although Persona is such a close second that sometimes the two switch between favorite and second favorite). Working Designs will forever and always be my all-time favorite Game Publisher and I own nearly every single one of their works (except for the turbo graffix ones as I never owned that console).
This is another “trick” obviously as Lunar was released way back in the early 90s. But — It was remade… again and again and again and again… With the most recent one in 2010. Even after Working Designs – the publisher of the North American version – sadly heart breakingly shuttered their doors – other Publishers have stepped up to bring us these fine new entries into the world of Lunar.
I think I prefer Lunar Eternal Blue – ever so slightly – over Lunar Silver Star – although Ghaleon is my favorite fictional character of all time – and he has a bigger role in Silver Star – but the key for me – is Lucia and Hiro’s sweet love story – although Alex and Luna’s love story is also pretty darn great. Lucia and Hiro however stand out more in my mind – especially in the epilogue – stay until after the credits people for like an additional 6 hours of gameplay – not just a quick video clip – lol. The epilogue changes the story completely – I think most people are well aware of the epilogue now – but maybe some people may not realize it and just shut their console off after reaching the credits.
The only reason this isn’t higher on my list is I try and look at flaws – and rank games, not based on my personal enjoyment or how great they are – but based on what – if anything – they are lacking – and sadly, the gameplay is…. not great? I mean it was normal back in the 90s – but this game is turn based, rpg combat, no customization, no classes, no freedom, linear, no branching plot, just, super vanilla…
Story wise and character wise – Lunar reigns supreme – and probably always will for me – maybe in part to nostalgia or some other factors – but no – seriously – really…. the story is….. just so incredible. It’s emotional, it’s engaging, it’s surprising, it’s shocking, it’s funny, it’s witty, it’s charming. I think the story and characters for me – make it my fave game. And the world is so damn detailed, full of so much lore, back story, they really went all out, on the history of the world, and created almost a whole mythological society, with religion and culture, and traditions, all crafted just as a setting and backdrop to the real story.
I still want to see a game some day about the original 4 heroes where you play as Dyne, Ghaleon, Mel, (and forgive me I’ve forgotten the last one, pretty sure it was a female).
I’m pretty sure we’ll never get that game now – I don’t even know if it ever crossed their mind to make such a game but I always had this desire to see a game like that and I can’t be the only one whose thought that would make a great game – but sadly I don’t think we’ll see a Lunar 3 ever now – as I’m pretty sure Game Arts went out of business long ago. The last Game Arts game I’m aware of was Grandia II back in 2015. You can read my review of Lunar here.
10. Norn9 Var Commons
This was one of the very first commercially available English Otome Games on the market. It’s still one of the best. It has some major gameplay flaws though. Visual Novels as a whole lack any gameplay beyond like reading a goosebumps book and turning to the page matching your answer. But Idea Factory games seems to dumb down the gameplay even further by having you lock into a route and making every choice wrong or right, if you don’t answer every single minute tiny question exactly right – well you’re screwed and get the bad ending.
I still never fully finished Norn9 Var Commons. It is a long game, with 3 different female protagnists to play as and several guys to romance, and you have to get all of the good endings to unlock the true ending.
The concepts of time travel and mystery and suspense I think really set the game apart from most other Otome games that focus more on just slice of life stuff.
I enjoyed the story – and still want to play more to answer some burning questions and suspicions that I still have.
So Persona has been around for a long time with the first installment actually back on PS1 – and still with new installments in the works like Persona 5 S – which has not been given an official release date yet but which will be available on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
These games are great in terms of story and characters – and also equally great in terms of gameplay – you forge bonds with monsters you fight in dungeons to recruit them as Personas, you can then mix Personas together to create new Personas, with hundreds of different combinations.
Similar to other games on our top 10 list, you go to school, join clubs, participate in activities, and go on dates, the bonds you forge and choices you make sometimes cause you to see different parts of the game, and you can never see it all in a single play through, like if you choose to join one club, you lose access to the others, and you only have so many “game days” in which to spend your time. What you do with said time is up to you – will you go fight in the dungeons, will you work a part time job, will you go to club activities, or even go on a date. There’s holidays and special events too.
The story is more or less linear with a few different scenes changing based on your choices. Your choices don’t influence much, but they do influence some, how the characters respond to you, and what little cutscenes you will see.
The wide range of gameplay, anime graphics, and story lines, earn it a spot on our top 20 list. You can get the latest Persona game now for $9.99 – I’m not sure why it’s so cheap? Did it bomb? I enjoyed it – and I paid like $69 for my copy of it. — Still at such a low price – you really need to play this game! You can read my review of the previous game, Persona 4, here.
The last “real” Suikoden game was back in 2006… almost 15 years ago now… There were a few spinoffs but the gameplay was vastly different ranging from puzzle games to visual novels, and not the typical gameplay we’ve come to love of Suikoden.
Konami makes a lot of bad decisions…. and I do not think we will ever see Suikoden 6… although fan rumors persist everywhere – even as recently as a few months ago.
I think Suikoden 2 was my favorite, but I have really enjoyed them all. As I mentioned way back at the begining of this long post – I have been playing Fire Emblem 3 Houses – I have not played (m)any Fire Emblem Games (for some reason – I dunno why, hmm, just never really got into the series I guess). – But as I’m playing this one – I’m feeling all kinds of nostalgia and keep reminiscing about Suikoden for some reason – as the two games bear a lot of similarities.
In Suikoden you can cook, you can build your own city, you can fish, gamble, play various mini games, and yeah, there are some characters that die. I cried. I laughed. I loved all of the characters – and damn there’s a lot of them… 108 stars of destiny.
You can only take like 6 of them with you into combat at a time, but there’s also massive huge scale wars, once again like Fire Emblem, where you need everyone to be kinda leveled up to defend your castle.
So yeah, if you like Suikoden, you’ll probably like Fire Emblem, because the gameplay is pretty darn similar in a lot of ways! I have surprisingly, not reviewed this game yet. Or at least I can’t find it – I swear I reviewed Suikoden 2… lol. I’ll do a review soon – but I’ll probably review Fire Emblem 3 Houses first because that’s what I’m playing currently.
13. Fire Emblem
So I guess if I’m gonna include Suikoden, I might as well include Fire Emblem. I’m really loving this game so far – I’m only 6 hours in. I’d only ever played one other Fire Emblem game – on a handheld device – it was not the immensely hugely popular successful Fire Emblem Awakening nor was it Fates – It may have been Shadow Dragon, – I dunno. Whatever one it was before it was not for me – I played maybe 2 hours and that was it. When Awakening got so much attention – be it good (such as glowing reviews, high sales, popularity) – or bad (an example of the bad is heavy censorship) – I admit I did begin to want to play the series then – But I had a lot going on in real life, and a lot of other hobbies and games and things vying for my attention – so here I am just now, almost a year after its release, playing the first Nintendo Switch entry into Fire Emblem – and it’s great. It really is.
There is a really great story, with freedom of choice (although it’s somewhat debatable how much choice you actually have – at least there’s some choice, the largest being which house you will teach.) And very strategic combat with a lot of options for how to build your characters into different classes – but also very fun slice of life activities – that make it a great girls game too. You’re a teacher in this newest installment and you create lesson plans and can do things like choir practice or eating lunch with your students. Neat! Gameplay shines, Story shines, If I was further into this it might even rank higher up my list.
14. Atelier Series
The Atelier series is one of my faves. I love crafting, and the cute anime graphics. Each one has unique characters and different stories. Gameplay is largely the same in each version – however, there was one on Nintendo DS, that everyone seemed to hate and I really really enjoyed that had completely different gameplay. – There are a ton of Atelier games – and I’ve only played maybe 4? of them. There’s probably like 20+ of them. I feel like they’re running it into the ground, but also, always happy to hear another one has been released, I sometimes feel the story is slow, and that’s the only reason I don’t buy more / play more / or rank this game higher – however, just making our top 20 list proves it’s one of the best games for girls in the world.
15. Animal Crossing
Who here’s excited for new horizons?! I see COUNTLESS people getting Nintendo Switch JUST for this game – seriously over christmas, the animal crossing groups on Facebook were exploding with kids bragging about getting a switch – and others asking if they should get a switch, for the game. Meanwhile, it is a popular mobile game, and also popular retro game – we have people who still play the old installments because the game NEVER ends – ever… you can always sit down and play in the open word, crafting, designing, fishing, hunting (bugs), gardening, gathering and collecting items, dressing your character, and all of the cute characters, bright colors, and adorable graphics make it the perfect game for girls. This game is zen, it’s about relaxation, and there’s no time limits, or any real concept that you have to do something or should do something, it’s just about enjoying your life in the game. This makes it unlike really any other game out there – except maybe something like Minecraft – which isn’t nearly as cute or colorful as this. You can check out my review of the mobile game version of Animal Crossing here.
16. Stardew Valley
So Stardew Valley is kinda sorta like an Indie Harvest Moon – while Harvest Moon has generally been on the decline, Stardew Valley is a huge success. I played it quite a bit, but ultimately I got kinda bored because the dialogue is rather bland and repeats a lot and the characters just aren’t really very likable to me – but the gameplay is really great especially if you’re a fan of Harvest Moon. You take care of a farm, and different seasons allow you to work with different crops or different livestock, you take care of your house, upgrade your farm tools, and eventually yes you get married, and maybe even have some kids. You can cook, and there are festivals, and all of that. Like I said, it’s basically like Harvest Moon. – Because of that, 16 and 17 are pretty interchangeable on my list here. Stardew Valley now has multiplayer and the fact that Stardew Valley was made by just ONE person, and is still constantly receiving updates – makes it slightly more impressive than Harvest Moon. You Can Read My Review Of Stardew Valley Here.
17. Harvest Moon
If we’re going to give props to Stardew Valley, we have to give respect to Harvest Moon – in fact, I find the dialogue in Harvest Moon and characters to be a little bit more interesting than Stardew Valley, but that varries from Game to Game. Harvest Moon has had several installments over the years, and some are definitely better than others – but all and all – each one has that unique fun farming simulation gameplay. Harvest Moon was the first to create this type of game.
The sims is one of my favorite games – but only when I have cc (custom content) made by other players – because the base game is so friggin ugly — but with custom content – of which there’s hundreds if not thousands of things – from hair styles, to skin tones, to dresses, to eyes, makeup, toys, furniture, etc. – the game becomes beautiful and fun and exciting. It’s another one of those super open ended relaxing games – with so much freedom of choice, freedom of self expression – you can date, marry, have children, who inherit your traits, both physical, and personality wise, you can have jobs, have parties, have pets, the pets can breed and have babies, you can have roommates, have friends, go on vacation, explore the city, go to night clubs, go to restaurants, go to university – just my god, the possibilities are endless. But for some reason, after a bit, they get boring, I haven’t played a Sims game in 2+ years now. but I also ALWAYS end up going back to them time and time again. I would only ever recommend playing these on the PC and with lots of custom content. Otherwise the choices for character customization are ugly and not nearly as diverse.
19. Dragon Age
One of my favorite PC games of all times, lots of things to do, and your choices definitely matter. From different starting characters/stories, to different plot points, the choices you make have a great influence on how the story plays out. I find this game to be much more fun than traditional visual novels and other choice based games. Witcher is another good example of these types of games – I prefer Dragon Age a bit more – but Witcher is good too – but not good enough to get my next spot on my top 20 list. If I had to squeeze it in though it’d probably go right about here with Dragon Age, the two games are very similar, and which one you like more is just a matter of preference.
Pokemon has to get a spot on our list somewhere. Although the games get repetitive and boring fast due to really any sense of story – the cute characters and fun “gotta catch em all” mentality make for a great addictive gaming experience. Most of the recent forays into the series include the ability to play as a female and many dressup and character customization options as well. The cute graphics and adorable pokemon continue to steal the hearts of new generations of gamers each year.
So there you have it – that’s my top 20 games of the past 20 years – did your favorites make my list? If not then what’s your favorite game of the past 20 years?
There’s been so many great games – but my favorite decade for gaming is still the 90s – although in the last 5-10 years especially we’ve seen a lot of otome games and visual novels come out and for that I’m grateful.
There’s been a lot of other really really great games for girls on console, PC and mobile, but unfortunately my list only included an in depth look at my top 20.
In no particular order, here’s a list of some honorable mentions:
Torment – yes the original was before 2000, by one year, but there has been remastered versions and even sequels released since then
Rune Factory – a spin off of Harvest Moon
Zelda – my favorite Zelda is still a link to the past from back in the 90s, but the newer installments are great too
Clannad – and other visual novels by KEY – my favorite KEY novel is AIR.
Tsukihime – my first and probably favorite visual novel – it had horrible artwork but great characters and a great story – to my knowledge, the remake is still in works – but it’s been in works for like 6+ years and not much news is ever shared of it. The story is the best of any visual novel I’ve played – I have never seen the anime and I hear it’s garbage – but the novel was great. Super thankful to the fan translators who tackled such a huge script.
Life is Strange – I have not played the sequel yet – but the original game is one of my faves.
Shout Out To some of my favorite mobile games (dressup games, otome games, visual novels) In no particular order:
Mr Love Queen’s Choice
Anything by NTT Solmare – love you guys – keep giving us more please – my favorite is Wizardess Heart.
Anything by Voltage – even though you have to pay for most of their stuff
Anything by Ciagram – another great publisher of English Otome games
Idol M@ster – wish they’d bring it out in English
Ensemble Stars – also wish it was in English
Show By Rock – again wish it was in English
Bang Dream Girls
Dream Girlfriend / Dream Boyfriend / Animal Boyfriend / Fairy Doll – some of the best dressup games / gacha games around – lots of limited events and special items.
With that long list of shout outs I think we’ll end there – there are many many more games that couldn’t make the list for brevity’s sake. 🙂
These past 20 years of gaming have been great – where will the next 20 years take us?
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