In the spirit of Valentine's Day, let's spare a thought for the lonely hearts out there who don't have a girlfriend to share their love with. If you happen to live in Japan, you are in luck this year however, with the release of New LovePlus and LovePlus Tools an upgrade on the existing LovePlus virtual girlfriend series.
For those of you who are not familiar with LovePlus, the player interacts with one of several virtual girls on activities and dates via their Nintendo 3DS. For its large Japanese audience, it is a viable choice — it's cheaper than real dates and best of all when you are done with your date you can power down without a fuss.
How can you improve on this? Simple. Add personal emails.
For a monthly fee, users can subscribe to Girlfriend Mail — a service that will e-mail you details about your virtual girlfriend's day via your PC or smartphone. It will also deliver special emails for your birthday or other special events for a more personal touch.
LovePlus Tools also has an AR feature that players can use to print out life-sized photographs of their special girl on A3 or A4 paper. New AR cards will be released on Mondays with new locations and situations so fans will have plenty of new interactions to look forward to with the start of their week.
The Tools will run users 200 yen ($2.55USD), and the Girlfriend Mail service is free until March, at which point users will pay 315 yen ($4USD) per month.
Lest you think I'm making fun of the LovePlus series or that it does an injustice to my sex, think again. I actually think it is a brilliant extension of some classic game traditions — the Japanese anime character and their complex backstories. Then there is the Tamagotchi aspect of this sim — taking care of something and nurturing a relationship.
I love the idea of this game and the improvements Konami is rolling out. Too bad I won't be heading to Japan anytime soon to see it for myself!