I didn’t expect to be quite so incensed upon my completion of this virtual game, but here I go with it anyway. The night I spent working my way through the 1Dreamboy universe is going to haunt me forever; I’m going to be deeply regretting the hours wasted on that bullshit game while I’m on my deathbed, wondering where my youth went, probably.
An eroge (“erotic game,” as it were) is a type of video game centered on sexual content. Gameplay is often in the style of a dating sim (“dating simulator” — that’s just how we’re talking now), where you move through the story making occasional “choose your own adventure”-type choices in the hopes of attaining a relationship with one (or many?) of the characters. Sometimes the characters are pigeons. Sometimes they’re aliens. Sometimes they’re Harry Styles. Japan is a creative place.
1Dreamboy is kind of like that: it’s a romance-driven online game, and the player’s objective is to marry boyband One Direction within 60 days. Natch.
I lasted about two minutes in the realm of 1Dreamboy version 1.0. They expected me to sit through full audio clips ripped from YouTube of the boys’ original “X Factor” auditions, and Simon Cowell kept yelling at me to go away. Nope. Not even for true love. I decided to peace out and try the updated version with slightly better graphics, which was released in May 2014.
The story starts off on the first day of school: my teacher announces that Harry, Louis and Niall will be joining our class for the semester, while Zayn and Liam hold down the fort at “1D Headquarters,” which already makes no sense at all, but whatever.
Niall is the only one who appears to actually attend school; Harry and Louis stand in the hallway and are exceptionally rude. Harry says “Who the hell are you?” every time I try to initiate conversation, while Louis seems to respond best to me acting completely unhinged. When I select “LOUIS! MARRY ME!” as an opening line from the provided chat options, his response is, “You’re crazy, but I like it!”
Yeah, alright, let’s go with that.
The first step of the game is to get to know the characters a little better. Zayn takes me to “the karaoke,” where I have to actually enable my computer’s microphone and sing along with a sped-up, Muzak rendition of “Best Song Ever.” Harry makes me play the piano while he rehearses “Little Things” (this is not only a difficult task to execute using my keyboard, but I had to mute my speakers through it as well because that song is god-awful).
Then, shit gets weird. At one point, Niall leaves me alone with Justin Bieber, who has appeared solely to participate in this scene. Bieber suggests that we split up and search the town for Niall as if he’s a lost puppy. When I finally find him, I discover that he’s been kidnapped by the cast of “Mean Girls” for some reason, and I have to engage in fisticuffs with Regina George. Now that’s romance.
The next day, Taylor Swift shows up to confront me about my relationship with Harry. I really don’t have one — as I said, he’s mostly rebuffed my advances. But she also wants to fight. And she also kicks my ass. Afterwards, Harry shows up and confesses his love for me, which is really the only reasonable reaction to this kind of situation.
Little did I know, this would cause some tension between Louis and Harry. Back in their hallway at school, Harry accuses Louis of playing me. Louis — ever the ladies’ man — tells Harry off, so Harry takes a swing at him. After the fight, they both demote me back to “just friends” status and delete their numbers from my cell phone. Rude as hell, but probably for the best.
I decide to pursue Zayn instead. Once I’ve formed a rapport with him by asking “Vas happenin,” I can ask him on a date, at which point the game becomes incredibly boring. He asks me to describe myself, and I lose points for giving him the “wrong” answers to questions like “What’s your favorite color?” Well, alright, Zayn. Maybe I’m just a little distracted by the disproportionate head-to-torso ratio this game’s animators have given you.
I suddenly realize that I’m running out of time, but Niall won’t accept any of my marriage proposals, so I find myself at an impasse. Once my 60 days are up, the boys determine that I don’t love them enough, so they decide to skip town. It’s the most frustrating conclusion imaginable. I don’t love you enough?! I just spent the better part of my night completing word searches and buying bouquets of flowers for you!
Once I come up for air, it’s 11 p.m., and I have missed messages on my phone from real, actual people who are out doing things in the physical world while I’ve been immersed in the 1Dreamboy universe. I can’t believe these are the life choices I’ve made.