Masturbation is the ultimate single-player game. Let me put that a different way - it's not a game you'd be leaping to play with everyone on your Steam friends list. But there's a little more to it than that: The better single-player games tend to be gripping, pleasurable and have an explosive climax. So it's no surprise the years have borne witness to a number of titles where you only need one hand to play.

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Erotic gaming does not have a particularly distinguished history. Most of the retrotica consists of rubbish Tetris knock-offs, incredible monochrome attempts at strip poker or racist hijinks. Today, things are slightly better for digital pleasure seekers: There are innumerable Flash games out there featuring sweaty bodies waggling together with eight frames of animation. Looming high above them all, however, is the Japanese eroge industry.

Dote Up A Denton

Amid the tower of hentai titles in the timeless tradition of underage cat-girls is Artificial Girl 3, by a company called Illusion. AG3 is billed as "a 3-D lovelove life simulation game," although something may have been lost in Google's translation. Players create one or more female companions in the separate "girl creation" program, populate a small town with them and proceed to enjoy a "wonderful life with wonderful girls." We'll explore what that means in a moment.

Illusion seems well aware of how disturbing the concept of "girl creation" is and have cheerfully embraced this weirdness by depicting said creation in jars of fluid. Essentially, your future partners must be grown in a vat in the style of Deus Ex's own bio-engineered agent, JC Denton. As with JC, you can augment multiple aspects of your girls, but these changes are unfortunately limited to their appearance rather than aggressive defence systems or cloaking devices.

(Without dwelling on it for too long, yes, you can very easily produce some characters who look on the shy side of 10 years old. But since it would be a stretch to qualify any of the creations emerging from Dr. Leering's Magical Vat of Females as strictly human, this may not be as big an issue as it seems.)

Hair styles, nose length and, of course, breast size are just a few of the options available to any prospective girl-grower. To round out the cavalcade of creepiness, each girl has a number of traits and personality types to choose from, such as "acts like a preschooler" and "is a blood relation." Somewhat put off by the array of buttons and sliders, I opted for the "randomize" button a couple of times. This proved to be a mistake, as I was presented with a bug-eyed elfin creature with bright blue lips - not exactly the traits I look for in a woman

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