After tweaking away to my heart's discontent, I finally found the perfect distance between mouth and eyebrows. (Anything outside the range of 8 to 10 centimeters and I just can't get off.) It is, of course, impossible to set waist and eye sizes outside the recognized limits of "anime nightmare." But there's better news for people who like to play dress-up: After sculpting your character, you get the chance to design outfits for her to wear. Frankly, there's nothing hotter than struggling with a baffling blouse-creation interface while pondering whether your CGI love-buddy would look better in a massive pink hat or a suit of armor.

Ghost Town

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The 3-D townscape of AG3 is curiously deserted. Of course, the game is pure fantasy, and it wouldn't do to have other people getting in the way of your conquests, but it nonetheless gives this supposedly erotic title an eerie feel. It's like you've stumbled into a decaying urban environment straight out of The Road, which immediately leads to worries about chancing across a bloated corpse or two. That would be creepy enough, but my companion also seemed obsessed with running on the beach at night. Maybe I should've increased the width of her eyebrows after all; perhaps then she wouldn't be drifting back and forth across the sands like a ghoul.

If you're ever able to shake off the heavy sense of unease and get down to business, the way into every Artificial Girl's pants is through hugging. Really. You need to hold her in your arms and only stop when her lungs are about to collapse. Each hug raises points towards making the girl fancy you, as does lurking around near her, which suggests that stalking and inappropriate touching are the keys to building and maintaining a successful relationship. Once you've done this enough to achieve "lover" status, most of your sinister hugging will act as a trigger for more salacious acts. You can choose between a few positions, each one as stilted and repetitive as the last and each one ending with the curious icon of a bulbous red mushroom coated in pale hummus.

Curious to see how other, more dedicated players approached the game, I hopped online. Along with some extremely in-depth guides to the rules of AG3-lovemaking, I found a thriving community. This seemed something of a paradox for a game that appears to be so resolutely aimed at the single (in every sense) player. The people who have painstakingly recreated the exact outfits and body-types of their favorite anime heroines probably don't often discuss their hobby in public, but online they are more than happy to share. This felt to me like the ultimate act of altruism: putting hours of work into a look-a-like character that other people in the community will use to get off. It's oddly touching - if you don't think about it too much.

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