This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsGirl's RPG: Cinderellife is the newest game by Level-5. Far from the puzzle solving of Professor Layton or the giant armored suits of White Knight Chronicles, this title is directed toward the female gamer demographic—just as the name suggests. But what exactly is a "Girls RPG," I wondered. Is it about a strong female protagonist, trying to make it in a man's world? Or is it a more stereotypical girl's tale about princesses, unicorns, and evil witches? Despite having one too many Y-chromosomes (or one too few X-chromosomes as the case may be), I decided I had to find out. But nothing could have possibly prepared me for what Girl's RPG: Cinderellife really is: a game romanticizing the life of a Japanese hostess. So please, join me in this insanity as I share with you my notes of the first hour of gameplay.


00:00 The title screen—made entirely out of varying shades of pink—starts with the theme song asking questions like "How can she be so beautiful?" and "Isn't everyone else jealous?" and stating that "her beauty will bring happiness to the world." Remember, girls: outward beauty is the most important thing.

00:30 The warning message (and all other text in the game, actually) shows the phonetic reading for all the Kanji (Chinese characters), proving this is indeed a game aimed at young children. Not teens or adults—but impressionable young girls.

This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsS

02:00 Oh goodie, time for character creation. Let's see, my possible choices of body type are: 1) Anorexic and flat 2) anorexic and busty, 3) thin and flat, and 4) thin and busty. Remember, girls: No fatties allowed.

03:00 Apparently this guy on the jumbotron went from being a normal high school student to a billionaire CEO in just one year. Now his greatest goal is searching for the beautiful legendary "butterfly of happiness." Young, hot, and rich? I smell a love interest!

This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsS

05:00 Oh but how can a plain girl like me ever compare to these beautiful hostesses? I mean, I have pig tails and straight black hair! Truly so very ugly. No make-over could ever make ::gasp-sob:: me beautiful!

06:00 Alright. So far in this game, I've been "propositioned" to work for a hostess club and now live and work in a flower shop.

15:00 Oh no you guys, my character's cell phone totally has Twitter. If it has Tumblr too, I may never progress in this game.

18:00 My character has just discovered the hostesses she met earlier were in fact hostesses and not professional models like she had assumed. Also, men frequenting the hostess club seem to be the majority of my flower shop's customer base. Poor deluded saps... Welp, off to the club to deliver some roses!

21:00 On the main street, I just passed an Irish pub called "Bar Never Knows."

25:00 In the club—named "Castle" just in case we needed to make the modern-day Cinderella cliché clearer—my character has come across an old high school friend. She is now telling my character all about the romantic life of working in a hostess club—which, as far as I always understood it, is pretending to be interested in a guy while getting him drunk on very expensive sake. I don't think my definition matches hers….

26:00 …And now "just for fun" they've hoed me up like a hostess. How nice of them. M-Maybe I can actually ::gasp:: be beautiful!?

27:00 So I've been left all alone in these expensive clothes and now have to enter the ballroom. But isn't that where all the male customers are? I can sense a misunderstanding coming.

28:00 The "Princess" of the "Castle" just entered the main ballroom. Apparently, men orgasm at the mere sight of her. Women, on the other hand, turn lesbian and THEN orgasm at the sight of her.

This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsS

30:00 A rich foreign (read: white) guy, recently come to Japan, has decided to be my escort for the evening. My first actual choice in the game is A) complementing his Japanese, B) offering to show him around, or C) asking him what he's seen so far. I chose the Japanese stereotypical reaction and complemented his Japanese... it was the right answer.

31:00 The more of these conversations I do, the more I see that I should just agree with whatever he says. Remember, girls: don't be yourself, present yourself as whatever men want you to be.

This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsS

36:00 WTF! The Princess just cockblocked me! (or whatever the female equivalent may be). Here I am, in the middle of a conversation mini game, and she sends a butler over to interrupt and demand to speak with my date. It is SO on!

36:15 Um, wow. The Princess has both a crown and little roses literally blooming off of her at all times. I… I don't know how to compete with that.

40:00 Welp, I did so well pretending to be a hostess that the club is offering me a gift: The chance to do it again, of course!

41:00 So, at this point, they are offering me the choice of becoming a hostess or not. I wonder if picking "no" at this point is really an option. Only one way to find out.

41:30 Selecting "I don't want to be" starts a conversation loop where everyone peer-pressures me into joining. Remember girls: if ever you feel hesitant about making yourself into a sex object for men, just be sure to let your friends force you into it. Surely they know better than you. *Note: if you say no a second or third time, it just keeps looping.

This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsS

47:00 Wow! Now that's a sudden change. I'm currently watching a pair of scientists examining a giant glowing crystal and containers full of butterflies in their search for the "butterfly of happiness."

55:00 I like how in the game hostesses aren't called hostesses; they're called "Neogennu"—a made-up word that means nothing but sounds foreign. It's like calling a prostitute a "Iminashi" and expecting that to quash any moral implications.

58:00 My high school friend just came by and gave me a $500 signing bonus so I can go buy a new dress. Let's get our shopping on!

1:00:00 But do I really have the hips for this? I just don't know…

This Japanese Video Game Sets Feminism Back, Oh, a Good Hundred YearsS


Girl's RPG: Cinderellife was released in Japan on March 8, 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS. There is currently no word on an international release.