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We're slowly starting to get more of these in the West, but for the most part relationship-themed games that get localized from Japan are still largely of the variety, where a heterosexual male protagonist pursues relationships with one (or, occasionally, more than one) of the impossibly attractive female cast members.Oddly enough, it's Western developers rather than localization teams who seem to be leading the charge for gradually changing thanks to titles like the excellent Sweet Fuse.

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(Aside: I was actually tempted to write about Sweet Fuse today, but I've said most of the things I want to say in my review, so be sure to check that out if you're interested.) The game I've had on my mind for today's column is Hanako Games' Magical Diary.

In this game, you're cast in the role of an extraordinary high school student -- you have magical powers!

It is widely regarded as one of their best early games, and still often called one of the best dating sims available in English, despite its relative age and the fact that its graphics and interface have been far surpassed by more recent English releases.

This popularity can be attributed to the game's strong characters, evocative setting, and high replay value: each of the girls has her own personality and story, and in some cases it is difficult to make the correct choices to get together with a particular girl.

This is Dating Sim Month, however, so as you might expect a significant part of Magical Diary revolves around the pursuit of romantic relationships with a number of different cast members.