I have to hand it to Aksys. They've been taking a lot of risks on titles which, even in today's tolerant environment, would still be considered niche-within-niche. Games like this one, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side (Bakudan Handan) for the PSP. It's an "otome game", a romance-centric type of visual novel/dating sim targeted at the female market. Stories and character designs trend towards hot men, lady protagonists, and the courting by the former of the latter (and occasionally by the former of each other).
Sweet Fuse is notable in that it capitalizes on the popularity of Keiji Inafune (he of Mega Man fame) by casting players in the role of Saki Inafune, his fictional niece. Rather than a giant laser-firing space battleship, Keiji Inafune is now a theme park owner, one being held hostage by the dastardly, Ferris Wheel-destroying Count Hogstein, and Saki must participate in a series of deadly games alongside a bevy of fabulous bachelors to save him.
Yeah, you can't make this stuff up. Check out some press release goodness below.
Aksys to localize otome game Sweet Fuse [Japanator]
Aksys Games is pleased to announce a new visual novel adventure title, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side, a heart-felt blend of bomb-defusing action and death-defying romance for the PlayStation®Portable. Developed by the Idea Factory Otomate Studio, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is the newest addition to a growing catalog of adventure titles published by Aksys Games. Featuring an eccentric cast, engaging puzzle mechanics, and numerous unique story segments, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is your ticket to a wild and explosive adventure.
Saki Inafune, niece to legendary game developer Keiji Inafune, can’t wait to visit her uncle’s new theme park. She’s been invited to the opening day ceremonies, and is looking forward to a day of fun and excitement when suddenly Count Hogstein—a villain as corpulent and cliché as he is evil—blows up the Ferris wheel, takes the park management hostage, and declares the beginning of a deadly series of games.
Desperate to save her uncle, Saki volunteers to be one of the participants in Hogstein’s games, and finds herself thrust into the midst of excitement very different from what she’d expected when she woke up that morning. She’ll need all of her cunning, determination, and exceptional insight to get herself and her fellow participants—all available bachelors—out alive and maybe, with a little luck, find love along the way.
Sweet Fuse: At Your Side Features
-Vast, Diverging Story – 14 different endings and a host of unexpected twists and turns allow for over 30 hours of compelling gameplay.
-Stylish Art – Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is an experience that is stylish and easy on the eyes, with complex, eye-catching character designs.
-Disarm Perilous Puzzles – Reach an epiphany and solve dangerous puzzles; the fate of you and your companions depends on your insight.
-Unique Characters and Interactions – Blow your fuse or stay completely cool, the choice is yours when dealing with this crazy cast of characters.