A Brief Look At Bishōjo, The Japanese “Pretty Girl” Games

A Brief Look At Bishōjo, The Japanese “Pretty Girl” Games

The Japanese are known for their boundless creativity and knack for discovering new and intriguing entertainments, and yes, sometimes they can be a bit shocking, and in many cases prurient to western eyes. Such is the case with the bishōjo “pretty girl” games that are big in Japan and finding a growing audience globally in countries where they are allowe! In short, the bishōjo is a variety of video game that revolves around virtual interactions with the eponymous pretty girls.

These games resemble a Choose Your Own Adventure book in a digital format, with the game unfolding a story based on the player’s choices, each one of which changes the storyline in different ways, some less positive than others. The games are generally fairly tame; falling under the category of soft porn for the most part, but there are definitely hardcore pornographic versions that usually feature adult sex toys and a variety of highly sexual; and often fetish oriented encounters.

History of bishōjo concept :

The bishōjo concept first appeared in Japan during the 1980’s in the early days of personal computers; or, as the Japanese dubbed them, pasacon.  The first commercial bishōjo adventure was Koei’s Night Life of 1982, but its success was limite by the primitive 16 colour graphics. In 1985 Jast’s Tenshitachi No Gogo (Angel’s Afternoon) marked the first big success in the market thanks to its more advanced graphics and Japanese animation-inspired look; with characters possessing the large eyes and small mouths and noses the genre is famed for. One drawback of these games pretty girl was that they required proprietary Japanese hardware to play; so their popularity in the West was severe; despite the international phenomenon anime was growing into.

In the 1990’s the new DOS platform that eventually evolved into Windows gave the bishōjo a foothold in the west. Konami’s 1994 release of Tokimeki Memorial, pretty girl a platonic dating simulation,marked a burst of popularity for the genre thanks to the new technology. The 1999 release of  Visual Arts/Key’s Kanon;  which focused on young men dealing with “the emotional trials and tribulations of pure love”, marked an increase; in sexual content that would foreshadow the future prominence of highly sexualised Japanese computer games. The sexual content was later delete from the game; unexpectedly causing it to grow even more popular, and resulting in its release on the popular PlayStation 2 gaming platform.


In the 2000s the bishōjo gaming industry still relie on simple 2D graphics and text storytelling; but the growing popularity; of 3D graphics eventually had to be addresse. The 2001 release of Tokimeki’s Memorial 3 was the first to go with the new look, although the more traditionally styled games still enjoy immense popularity. Windows is is the most popular platform for bishōjo games; but they are also on offer from Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, Nintendo DS, and the PlayStation 2l; with the console versions usually having all sexual content remove.

It should be noted that Australia is quite strict about video game content. It bans many situations that don’t raise an eyebrow in cinema, ostensibly because they think games are for kids! The tamer bishōjo are allowed, but the spicier content very likely is not. Have fun talking to the digital pretty girls, they’re always nice!

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