Now that otome games have a worldwide presence, they are opening the doors to other titles with similar influences. A3! Act, Addict, Actors is among them. It is one of the first purely ikemen games to appear worldwide. But, with it being an unusual property, this might mean people won’t know what to make of it. Fortunately, once people start to spend some time with A3, they might see what makes it worthy of occupying precious real estate on a mobile device.
First, the term “ikemen” might throw people. It’s a term for good looking men, but suggests that the characters in question might be older. So think of them as perhaps the generation after the bishonen. Which works out well, as the people who started out with Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom when Aksys localized the PSP release in 2012 might be looking for games starring older potential love interests.
A3! is considered an idol-raising game, but it doesn’t function in the same way as an Idolmaster game. Instead, you are collecting cards and building them up, so you can have characters form relationships with one another and put on performances. Consider it something of a next step for people who maybe got into visual novels because of otome games, but are now looking for a more involved game that doesn’t have the romantic elements to it.
Basically, A3! characters are split into four groups named after seasons. While certain actor troupes have different stories, you don’t have to only have people from that team to go through them. Players just need to build up their own from the cards that they have, help improve their skills with the lessons that essentially autoplay themselves and collect items from the minigame. Ideally, you want to have a team for each of the three elements, which are Action, Comedy and Drama, as you want to match the practice to the proper attribute.
The reward for all of this is the opportunity to get additional plays and new storylines. Affection does grow as well, though players aren’t getting traditional otome rewards like “dates” with the characters they like best. Rather, you get the satisfaction of seeing how the people in the troupe interact with one another, while also earning new actors and seeing the theater suddenly brim with new life and potential. By having good looking characters with developed storylines and enticing personalities, people who might have gotten into visual novels because of dating sim elements could see A3!’s cast and progression as an incentive to delve deeper into the genre.
The key here is the character growth and progression. Advancing the story and building better cards comes down to having the patience to regularly play. Since you aren’t focusing on specific relationships, you might instead find yourself growing attached to more people and rooting for them to perform well.