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This genre is most established in Japan, and is mostly made up of visual novels and simulation games; particularly dating sims and life simulation games.
In 2002, Konami released its very successful Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, which brought many new fans to the still-new genre.
In 2006, Famitsu's listings for the Top 20 selling love games included seven otome games.
Early games borrowed heavily from the iconography and story conventions of "retro shoujo manga", "the archetypical girly heroines, the emphasis on pure, sexless, tranquil romance and on a peaceful, stable setting", but as the category expanded, other narrative and gameplay elements were introduced, including action/adventure, combat and plots in which "the heroine can ‘save the world’ and ‘get the guy’ at the same time".
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Otome games have strong links with shōjo manga, with popular titles often spawning a manga series (e.g.
Neo Angelique and Meine Liebe), and popular manga series getting adapted to videogames (such as Nana).
Gameplay occasionally does not particularly focus on romance, even if there are several characters whose "routes" you can follow.
In the visual novel examples of the genre, the player proceeds in the story by selecting dialogue or action choices which affect their relationships in a decision tree format.
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Some examples of simultaneous releases of a manga and otome game also exist such as Angelique and Full House Kiss.