Ikémen Prince | First Impressions & Beginner’s Guide
Ikemen Prince tells a tale as old as time, of Beauty and Her Beast, as the player is invited to star in their own fairy tale romance. A common woman known for her unbridled obsession with books, the protagonist suddenly finds her life turned upside down when she’s whisked to the castle, declared to be the new ‘Belle’, and tasked with choosing Rhodolite’s new king from a selection of eight, beastly princes…
If you’ve played other games in the Ikemen Series franchise, then Ikemen Prince will likely feel familiar to you, as the general layout and structure of the game is similar to other titles by CYBIRD. It features the same, daily 5 x free story tickets (enough to read 1 chapter of the story per day), as well as a minigame to acquire ‘Intimacy’ points, and a player avatar, which you can decorate with attire and other items collected throughout the game.
As is typical for a mobile otome game, Ikemen Prince features frequent, limited-time events, as well as several types of gacha. The gacha is probably the part of the game that is the most different from other Ikemen titles, as it allows more options for resources to spend and different types of gacha to choose from, including a daily free pull on the ‘gold’ banner.
Current progress: So far, I’ve completed the prologue, beginner missions, and given myself a tour of all the different menus, buttons, and features. I haven’t completed my first playthrough yet, so this is more of a first impression than a full review, although I will also include an overview of all the different sections of the game, as it can be overwhelming to try and learn all the new game mechanics in the beginning.
Prologue: When you first open the game, you’ll automatically begin reading the prologue. It’s broken down into ten chapter parts, but you can actually skip the entire thing and read it later if you’d rather jump straight into the game. There’s also a 2-page mini-comic displayed at the end to summarise the major events, but I recommend reading the full prologue, if you have the time.
Even though I was excited and impatient to start my first playthrough, I’m still glad I read the prologue properly before I started. You get a chance to meet each of the main characters in a way that makes sense, rather than feeling like a string of introductions pieced together with tenuous plot, and it built up my excitement for the main story by establishing the concept and setting.
You also get a taste of MC as a protagonist, as she gets her own time in the spotlight, and, while I thought I already knew the essentials of the plot, I was NOT expecting the plot twist they dropped in the final scenes! (If you know about ‘Clause 99’, then you know what I mean!).
“You’ve been selected as “Belle” to choose the next king out of the eight princes. If that wasn’t hard enough, the princes turn out to be hot…and deadly. In a world of war and intrigue, will you be able to save his heart and yours as you enter your very own fairy tale?”– Ikémen Prince (Official Website)
MC in Ikemen Prince has a default name, Emma, which is unusual in the Ikemen Series, but there is still the option to select a custom name if you prefer. So far, I really like the MC in Ikemen Prince. She seems to be more mature than the classic otome heroine, as she laments in the prologue about her friends getting married and settling into their adult lives, while she’s still working in the bookstore, dreaming of adventures and fairy tales.
I get the sense that Emma was designed to appeal to older otome game players, as I know many of us (myself included) can relate to her love of romance stories, as well as her misgivings about growing up. In short, she’s one of us – enamoured with dramatic tales of passionate, intense love, yet very aware of the differences between fiction and reality.
I’m excited to get to know her more as the game progresses, as I’m interested to know how her personality comes in to play when she’s less overwhelmed by the whole, “congratulations you’re now in charge of choosing the next king”, situation that she’s dealing with in the beginning. She definitely seems brave, based on her actions in the prologue, and while she wasn’t afraid to speak up when it was important, she also understood the gravity of her situation and the potential consequences if she said something out of line.
If the prologue is anything to go by, Ikemen Prince’s protagonist is intelligent, brave, and kind, so I have high hopes for our Middle-Ages equivalent of an otome game fan, who also happens to be inspired by Belle from Beauty and the Beast (my favourite Disney princess!).
While the prologue introduces players to a cast of ten love interests, only three of these options are currently available. If we go by the pattern of the rest of the Ikemen Series, it’s likely we’ll get new route releases every few months, with an Act 2 after most of the initial characters have been released. Some of the characters likely won’t be available until Act 2, and there will probably be some other love interests introduced around that time (usually antagonists or villains!).
The three currently available love interests are the 4th Prince, Leon Dompteur, the 2nd Prince, Chevalier Michel, and the 5th Prince, Yves Kloss. Including these three characters, there are eight princes, with two non-Prince love interests to make ten LI’s in total.
The general theme is that these princes may seem noble, but are actually flawed, dangerous men. Tradition dictates that when a new king needs to be selected, a pure-hearted common woman must be appointed as ‘Belle’, who will then choose the next ruler of Rhodolite, and help these inhuman ‘beasts’ regain their humanity…
“I’ll prove it through the way that I live whether the qualities of a king dwells in a person’s blood or their character.”– Leon Dompteur
Leon is the character I’ve chosen for my first playthrough (which means he’ll also be the first character review we post!) and so far my impression is that he’s charismatic and noble, but also a little bit dangerous. There’s a scene in the prologue where we get to see his ‘beastly’ side, but otherwise he reminds me a lot of Napoleon from Ikemen Vampire, maybe mixed with Date Masamune from Ikemen Sengoku (although this could just be because Masamune is also voiced by Kazuki Kato).
The brave and friendly fourth prince is liked by almost everyone. People look up to him, and his confident smile is infectious. He has a secret though, and this secret is big enough to shake the very foundations of the kingdom if it were to ever be found out.
“There is no need for you. No matter who Belle chooses, the future where I become king is inevitable.”– Chevalier Michel
I mentioned this on Twitter, but I would like to thank the artist Kachiru Ishizue for designing Chevalier with the shading on the upper half of his face, just to really emphasise the fact that he’s looking down on us. While he spends the majority of the prologue telling MC she’s irrelevant, it doesn’t seem to come from a place of maliciousness so much as… well, indifference. My current plan is to play his route after Leon’s – I’m really curious to know more about this aloof prince, and he gives off some Ikemen Vampire Mozart vibes that I get the feeling I’ll enjoy a lot…
The prince who will use any means to achieve his goals, even if it stains his coat red with blood. Not many dare to approach this heartless beast, but will you? Can you turn this beast back into a human?
“I’m not a poor prince. Even if no one accepts me, I will.”– Yves Kloss
Note: While most of the translation seems pretty good so far, I think Yves’ character quote is a little misleading. It makes it sound like they mean ‘poor’ as in ‘doesn’t have a lot of money’, but based on the Japanese audio I heard when he said the line, it means ‘poor’ as in, ‘aww, poor you’, or someone to be pitied.
Still, I think the current three characters are well-rounded, covering a range of interests. You have Leon (the noble, older-brother type with a wild side), Chevalier (the perfectionist, haughty prince with walls of ice around his heart), and Yves (a very, very pretty prince with a lot of attitude, presumably to hide his insecurities…). He’s also frequently described as being ‘cat-like’, so if you’re into cute, proud cat-boys, Yves is the prince for you!
Don’t let this prince’s beauty fool you, for his haughty and proud nature, and the fact that he’s as fickle as a cat makes him hard to tame. But the pained expressions he sometimes makes when he thinks no one is looking… just what exactly is he hiding?
Currently Unavailable Characters
Based on the glimpses of the remaining, unreleased love interests in Ikemen Prince, it looks like a varied cast with types to suit everyone’s tastes. Personally, I’m most interested in Nokto, the mischievous playboy with the fox as his crest (silver-haired kitsune!), but I’m also curious about Luke, the lazy, easy-going bear, and Clavis, whose entire introduction in the prologue seems to just be “I like to cause chaos”.
The layout and gameplay of Ikemen Prince is much the same as other Ikemen Series titles. There’s a main story mode which provides 5 free chapter tickets per day and the story chapters are interspersed with minigame and attire challenges.
The minigame in Ikemen Prince is called ‘Salon’, which you complete using stamina (AP) and a deck of cards to acquire ‘Intimacy’ points. There is also a gacha feature, where you can collect cards to use in Salons, but there are plenty of free cards provided if you’re not a fan of gacha games.
To access the main story mode, either select ‘Story’ from the homepage, or click the ‘menu’ button on the top-right corner of the screen, and select ‘Story’ from the top row of buttons that appear.
Once you’re in the ‘Story’ screen, you’ll see the love interest you have selected, a small text preview (which is also voiced), a meter indicating how many ‘Romantic’ and ‘Dramatic’ points you have, and the story list.
Players receive 5 free chapter tickets a day*, which is enough to read one chapter for free per day. You can also purchase extra chapter tickets from the store, or acquire free bonus tickets through log-in and event rewards.
Each route has 20 chapters before branching to either a Romantic or Dramatic ending. The endings have a further 5 chapters and an epilogue, with a bonus after completing both endings. This means 25 chapters per playthrough.
If you want to do a full playthrough using only the 5 free daily tickets, it will take 25 days to complete. However, as there are challenges to pass throughout the route, it may take longer if you’re unable to pass the challenge straight away. On the other hand, if you’re prepared to spend money, you may be able to finish the route in a shorter timeframe.
*Just a note about the 5 x free tickets – these don’t accumulate, so you have to use them in order to receive the next day’s tickets. In other words, rather than receiving 5 tickets every day, your maximum of 5 free tickets is replenished each day. If you don’t use your tickets today, you won’t have 10 tickets tomorrow, you’ll just keep the tickets you already have until you use them. Be sure to spend them each day to make the most of them! And remember to do your Salons whenever your stamina replenishes so you can quickly overcome the intimacy checks.
Homepage & User Interface
While Ikemen Prince was only recently published on English servers, it has been longer since the initial launch on Japanese servers, so that does mean it starts off as an already slightly dated game. You can see that Ikemen Prince has made some improvements to the overall experience when compared to older Ikemen games, with more voicing, more ‘mature’ content overtly available from the outset (I get the feeling CYBIRD have just embraced the ‘spicy’ stuff now, rather than playing coy), and more gacha options available.
However, after recent releases of games like Obey Me! and Tears of Themis, it does feel a little odd going back to a less dynamic user interface. That being said, there’s nothing awkward or clunky with the way Ikemen Prince is designed, so it’s not enough to make me stop playing the game. It’s perfectly fine, and actually an improvement on older games, it’s just not beautifully-rendered like Tears of Themis, or sleek and clean like Obey Me!.
Most of the main features are accessible via the home page, and everything else is listed in the main menu, so there’s nothing that I feel is too difficult to find. When you first start playing, you’ll be guided with some tutorials, but there are a lot of different features to get used to, so I’ve included an overview of all the different buttons and pages in Ikemen Prince to help you find what you’re looking for, as it can take some time to figure out where everything is…
At the top of the homepage, you can view how many diamonds and gold you have collected. Diamonds usually need to be purchased with real-world money, but you can acquire some for free through log-in and other event bonuses.
Gold is acquired through Salons (the minigame element of Ikemen Prince, similar to Love Battles and Destiny Duels in other Ikemen Series games), as well as a new feature to the Ikemen Series, which is sending ‘likes’ to other player’s profiles and avatars (and receiving ‘likes’ in return).
You can do this through the Avatar feature, or by visiting a player’s profile. This is similar to sending friendship badges in Tears of Themis, or AP in Obey Me! You also gain gold when someone uses your card as a support in their Salons.
Underneath your diamond and gold counters is a small envelope icon labelled ‘News’ – you can select this to see any recent updates or notifications. These will show up automatically when you load the app, but if you missed something or want to re-read them, you can do so here.
In the top-right corner is the ‘Menu’ button, which lists every feature of the game, grouped into several categories, but most features are also available from the home page.
Underneath the menu button is ‘Mission Board’, which features quest or task lists that you can complete to acquire rewards. Below this is the ‘Inbox‘, which is where you collect any items, cards, or attire you receive, including daily log-in bonuses, mission board rewards, and prizes collected in the gacha.
The buttons in the bottom-right corner are the major features of the game; Avatar, Salon, and Story. ‘Avatar’ is where you go to access your closet, attire, and where you can send and receive ‘Likes’ with other players. The ‘Story’ button takes you to the main story page, where you can read the route you have selected and check your Romantic and Dramatic point score.
Salon is the name for the minigame you complete to boost your ‘Intimacy’ score, which is needed to pass intimacy checks and progress in the story. Completing salons also awards ‘gold’, which you can use to purchase attire or play the ‘Gold’ gacha banner.
The bar at the bottom of the page has buttons for: Events (showcases any limited-time events happening in the game, including story events, gacha banners, and store sales), Shop (where you go to purchase diamonds, event sets, special stories, and more), Home (returns you to the home page if you aren’t there already), Card (set your deck for Salons and select which cards will appear on the home page), and Gacha (spend diamonds and gold to acquire cards, attire, and items).
By selecting the ‘Menu’ button on the top-right hand corner of the screen, you open a more comprehensive list of the game’s features.
The three options at the top are likely to be the ones you use the most: Story, Salon, and Avatar. These take you to the same screens as the buttons of the same name on the home page.
Next is a row of buttons labelled ‘Items’. First is the ‘Inbox‘, which is where you collect any goodies you receive. Then, ‘Inventory‘, which shows you what items you already have available, including expendable items to replenish stamina, boost Romantic or Dramatic points, and increase your ‘Intimacy’ score.
There’s also a button for the ‘Login Bonus‘, which you automatically collect when you login, but if you want to check what you received and what’s coming up, you can do so here. There’s also a button to take you to ‘Memories‘, which isn’t present on the home page, but worth checking out if you want to see the cards, photos, and stories you’ve collected.
Underneath ‘Items’ is ‘Social & News’. ‘Profile‘ shows you your player name, ID number and other player information. ‘Friends‘ is where you go to add and manage your friends list. ‘Ranking‘ shows the players with the highest BP, and ‘News‘ is the same as the button on the home page of the same name.
The final line of menu items is labelled ‘Other’, and contains ‘Mission Board’, ‘Characters’, ‘World’, ‘Video’, and the ‘Settings & Help’ button. The Mission Board features missions to complete in exchange for rewards, so you can click here to keep track of the tasks and claim any rewards for quests you complete. ‘Characters’ takes you to the character selection screen, so if you want to change the route you’re on, you can do so here.
‘World‘ takes you to a series of pages showcasing the lore of the game, including a character relationship chart, facts about the setting, and a glossary for some of the terms used in the story. ‘Video‘ has a selection of videos to watch; including the promotional videos for the game and currently available routes, and I imagine more will be added over time.
The gacha feature of Ikemen Series games seems to be the part CYBIRD experiments with the most. Ikemen Prince probably has my favourite one so far, as receiving duplicates of cards boosts the card’s stats, rather than providing trading stamps that are only useful initially, until you’ve bought everything in the exchange store…
In the tutorial, you’re taken to a special gacha that allows you to keep re-rolling until you receive a 5-Star card you want to keep. This basically means you get to choose a 5-Star card from the permanent (ongoing) collection. Usually, however, the gacha operates in the same way as every other game, providing a random card from the available pool, with different odds for different rarities.
Cost: As with Ikemen Vampire and Ikemen Revolution, there is a discounted daily pull for only 90 diamonds, but these diamonds have to be ‘paid’, rather than ‘free’, so you can’t use this option if your diamonds were acquired through free gifts, event rewards, and log in bonuses. For free diamonds, it costs 300 per single pull, or 3,000 for a 10 x pull. Doing 10 at once guarantees a 4-Star card or higher, so the odds are increased for getting the rarer cards.
There is also a ‘gold’ banner, which you can play using gold rather than diamonds. This banner has a free daily roll, so it’s worth doing each day just to get something for free! The rewards available don’t include the 4 and 5-Star cards from the other banners, but the items are useful and you can get some attire and low-rarity cards, so the free pull each day is a nice bonus, and you can potentially get some decent prizes.
Frequent limited-time event banners will also appear, which either feature exclusive cards or higher odds for a select number of cards from the permanent collection. It’s typically worth saving diamonds for these event banners, as you can either get an exclusive card that isn’t available elsewhere, or even if you really want one from the ongoing collection, you can wait for it to appear on a rate-up banner to boost your odds of getting a specific card.
The gacha feature isn’t technically necessary for playing the main story, so you don’t have to participate in this part of the game unless you want to. It’s fun for players who like to collect things, as the cards feature some pretty (and spicy!) art, as well as voiced lines that are exclusive to that card. However, you receive a card for free when you start each route, and you get a 5-Star card during the tutorial, so it’s possible to put a decent deck together for salons without needing to use the gacha at all.
Salons are a quick and easy minigame that players can complete to earn ‘Intimacy’ points and gold. Intimacy points are needed to pass ‘Intimacy Checks’ and progress in the story, so it’s definitely worth doing the Salons when you have the stamina to avoid getting stuck in the story while you try to raise your score.
Gold is also a useful resource, and can be used to purchase attire and roll on the ‘Gold’ gacha banner. There are other ways to earn gold, including having other players use your cards as a support card in Salons, or by sending and receiving likes on player profiles, but Salons are an easy way to acquire gold without relying on other players.
Salons are easy to complete – you select a deck comprised of your cards and one support card from another player, click the buttons, watch a short animation and you’re done. You can even skip the animation completely if you want. The major limit on Salons is your stamina (AP), which automatically replenishes over time, but can also be restored quickly through the use of items. You can purchase these items through the store, or acquire them for free through the gold gacha, log-in bonuses, and other prizes.
Unless you desperately want to overcome an Intimacy Check, I’d recommend saving the stamina items for events, as you often need to repeatedly complete Salons to either pass event story challenges or make the most of ‘lucky’ times in collection events. Some of these stamina items may need to be used by a certain date, but you can check for any expiry dates in your ‘inventory’.
As with a lot of the gameplay in Ikemen Prince, if you’re familiar with the Ikemen Series, then you’ll already have the general gist of how the game works. Salons are the same as Destiny Duels, Love Battles, and the like, with the main difference being the ‘skip’ function, which saves you tapping the screen repeatedly to skip the different animations. They’re quick and easy to complete, which makes building up Intimacy points a breeze, so long as you remember to do them periodically, even if you’re not actively trying to pass a check.
Avatar & Attire
The attire you collect for your avatar will have a ‘BP’ score, which is added together to make your total ‘Avatar BP’. This score is used in Salons to determine the results, but mostly the ‘Avatar’ feature is just for fun. It may come into play more in events, but generally with the Ikemen Series, it’s not necessary to enjoy the main game.
You can acquire ‘Attire’ through the gold gacha banner, log-in bonuses, and other rewards. Throughout the story mode, you will also encounter ‘attire challenges’, which prompt you to choose an item of attire from the store and purchase it. You’ll then receive a different bonus story depending on which item of attire you chose.
I usually like the Avatar feature of Ikemen games, but I definitely see it as a fun bonus, rather than my primary focus in the game. I collect attire as a I go and I like to try and theme it around my favourite love interest, but unless there’s an event with attire that I particularly love, I don’t usually try to get anything specific.
Although, with the new profile like system in Ikemen Prince, player avatar design may become a more pronounced part of the game. I’m curious to see what happens once there is more attire available!
Ikemen Prince’s prologue sets up an intriguing premise, with a twist in the final scene that left me shocked and incredibly curious to see how the story unfolds. The cast of love interests features a wide range of archetypes and aesthetics, who I’m sure I’ll only grow more interested in as I play through the three available routes.
Princes and their Princesses are a common theme in the romance genre, so it’s not a surprise to see how much interest has been garnered in the otome community already. While the ‘fairy tale’ aspect does remind me of Ikemen Revolution, it’s approached in a more mature manner from the outset, and the protagonist seems to be older and more ‘worldy’ than the Ikemen Revolution MC.
If you’ve played Midnight Cinderella, one of CYBIRD’s earlier games, this may feel pretty familiar. It almost feels to me like CYBIRD really liked the concept of a common woman suddenly being forced to adapt to a royal lifestyle, all while dealing with troublesome princes, but they previously lacked the funding and know-how to produce a game that matched their vision. Ikemen Prince is clearly an improvement on the style and gameplay of previous titles in the Ikemen Series, and the overall fairy tale concept has been polished into a premise that is made clear with distinct themes, even in the prologue.
I love the added element of the ‘Beast’, with the princes alluding to darker sides to their otherwise noble personalities. I know some otome game players are tired of the ‘predator vs. prey’ and ‘healing troubled men’ tropes, but, personally, I love these kinds of stories, especially if they’re done in a new or interesting way. It’s too soon for me to comment much on the story (I’ll write a full game review after completing a few playthroughs), but the concept is appealing to me, and I’m always keen for more spicy romances…
In short, I’m a huge fan of the Ikemen Series, and I’m super excited to have another game filled with ikemen to fawn over. I have high hopes for Ikemen Prince, but with incredibly beautiful character design, a compelling premise, streamlined, intuitive gameplay, and an overt, mature tone with an older MC to match, there’s plenty here to indicate that Ikemen Prince will easily meet, if not exceed, my expectations.
You’ll like Ikémen Prince if you like: other games in the Ikemen Series, Midnight Cinderella, princes with hidden ‘beasts’, mature romances, relatable protagonists, fairy tales with a twist, drama, complicated stories featuring complicated men…
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