Last Saturday was White Day, the annual Japanese celebration in which men give gifts to women who gave them gifts for Valentine’s Day. As such, confectioners rolled out a huge selection of special offerings for the occasion, and while chocolate is a perennial favorite, shoppers could also choose from strawberry, green tea, cherry blossom, and a variety of other gourmet options.
Among female dating simulator fans, though, the big hit flavor this year seems to have been “kisses.” No, not Hershey’s Kisses, but candy that actually claims to tastes like locking lips with one of six virtual boyfriends. Even stranger, gamers were clamoring to buy them even though no one really knows what “kiss-flavored” means, except that apparently the anime-style heartthrobs’ kisses don’t taste like shellfish.
Riding high on the success of 2012’s Girlfriend Beta, software developed Cyber Agent decided to flip the script and make a dating simulator for girls. Thus was born the smartphone game Boyfriend Beta.
Despite what you might assume from its elaborately-coifed cast of characters, Boyfriend Beta doesn’t put the player into the shoes of a marketing executive picking the perfect model to star in a shampoo company’s newest TV commercial campaign. Instead, it’s a high school romance game, wherein the player can enjoy being romanced by one of many possible future beaus.
▼ Boyfriend Beta’s Rinto Shinkai
As mentioned above, in Japan it’s customary for girls to give presents, usually chocolate, to guys they have a crush on for Valentine’s Day. Cyber Agent decided to have a bit of fun by asking fans, on February 14, to tweet which Boyfriend Beta hottie they’d like to give chocolate to. Then, for White Day (March 14), Cyber Agent would team up with confectioner Kanro to sell a limited run of “kiss flavor” candies for the six most popular characters.
▼ Rikyo Tsukuyomi
Now it’s true that among dating simulator fans you can find mature, worldly types who’re currently in a serious relationship with another human being. That said, the largest and loyalist block of the fanbase for the genre has traditionally been gamers who’re, let’s say, “inexperienced” in the ways of real world romance. In reality, people’s kisses tend to taste like the last thing they put in their mouths, meaning the flavor possibilities run the gamut from refreshing mint and sweet strawberries to cheap whiskey and fermented soybeans (actually a pretty common breakfast food in Japan). So really, it’s sort of a crap shoot as to whether someone’s kiss is going to taste like paradise, or, well, crap.
▼ Keito Amane
In the case of the Boyfriend Beta candies, Kanro’s website indicates they’re OK for people with shrimp, crab, flour, buckwheat, egg, milk, and peanut allergies. But while it was a pretty safe bet that those flavor possibilities were off the table, no one knew exactly what to expect. Nonetheless, Boyfriend Beta fans flooded Kanro’s website once the candies went on sale at noon on March 14, with messages popping up soon after that the candies were sold out.
▼ Shu Sagisaka
However, Kanro actually still had the candies, which sold in 2,000-yen (US$17) sets of three tins of 33 grams (1.2 ounces) each, in stock. So many customers were trying to order at once that they had crashed the company’s order system. Unable to sort the issue out immediately, Kanro had no choice but to temporarily suspend orders.
▼ Hiromu Osaka
The company still hasn’t cleared up exactly what the candies taste like, however. Looking over the ingredient lists, it seems that all six contain sugar, honey, and chemical sweeteners. That means that the overall effect can possibly be described as sweet, sappy, and artificial, which, if you’re the cynical type, might also be your unflinchingly harsh evaluation of the romance genre of video games as a whole.
▼ Toma Kisaragi
Kanro has subsequently announced it will begin taking orders for the candies again at noon on March 28 here through its website. While you’re waiting, you might want to while away the time by playing the Boyfriend Beta game itself, which can be downloaded for iOS devices here. And if you find you just can’t wait for your candies to come before giving your in-game dream guy a smooch, consider smearing a little honey on the screen first.