When it comes to games involving the pursuit of romance, it’s not often something that we of the Western hemisphere have picked up on as much, say, Japan. Japan has their visual novels and dating sims covering a broad variety of niches, as well as varying levels of lewdness. Over on this side of the planet, however, it’s not something we’ve really done as often. Such games exist, sure, most notably the Leisure Suit Larry games, but they’re usually almost always adult in nature. So here we have Man Enough, a dating game that features little to no actual sex. Not that would be an issue, if the game itself weren’t utterly stupid.
You play as a nameless, faceless male, who has apparently had little luck in the dating scene in quite some time. Your friend offers you a business card to the Man Enough dating service, where you encounter its owner, a woman by the name of Jeri. You’re given the choice of three dialogue options, one of which is “I’ve got your condom shipment, babe. You take deliveries in the rear?”. This is about the dirtiest the game ever gets, so if you were hoping for porn, you were sadly mistaken. Despite this, Jeri somehow sees you fit to enter the dating service. Jeri herself explains that she will not date you herself, at least, not until you successfully date all five of her friends. Because apparently Jeri bases her romantic life off of a video game final boss.
All five of your prospective dates conveniently hang out at the same gym, which basically lets you select which one you want to date, first. You can also watch them work out, like the creeper you are. Once you actually select a lady, this will put you into a conversation with them, and here’s about where 95% of the game itself actually takes place. You’re given three options to choose from, and while they’re not usually as bad as the line from earlier, they are the sort of thing that would probably allow a person to legally punch you in the face. If the lady in question likes your line, she’ll throw some badly written innuendo your way. If she does not, however, she will instantly turn around and insult you.
As you may be surprised to learn, Man Enough is not a particularly realistic game when it comes to speaking with members of the opposite sex. In fairness, the game does come with a set of “dating profiles” that you’re presumably supposed to read to know more about each of the ladies, all of which contain not quite enough personality to fill up a napkin. You might try speaking to Quinn, for instance. Her thing is that she’s a TV anchorwoman, so she’s the sort of woman who likes it when a complete stranger says things like “I’ve done some pretty incredible things in front of a camera.” As stupid as your lines sound, however, it’s not much better on her end when she says things like “We could pop your tape in my VCR and press fast forward”.
That’s generally about what you can expect from the game, although even with a PDF of the dating profiles on hand, it’s still a complete guessing game as to what you’re supposed to say. Take Kellie, who’s a lawyer who apparently appreciates professionalism above all else. Can you guess which line is the correct one to say to her?
Did you guess option 1? Well, that’s wrong. Congratulations, you have pretty much the entire gameplay experience of Man Enough figured out. The game is, at the very least, forgiving. You’re usually given several chances to turn your date’s mood around if you pick the wrong options, although there are a few lines that are so bad she’ll instantly end your date, and then Jeri will complain at you. Each date comes in several ‘segments’, however, and each time you reach a new part of the date, you’ll restart from there if you screw up. Yes, it’s a dating game with checkpoints, but you’re going to need them when you’re dealing with a lady who gets turned on when you ask her about handcuffs, but gets offended when you ask about a candlelight dinner with her. She does like chess a lot, however, so if you see any chess-based innuendo, that’s usually your best option.
Basically, the first part of each date is involves you chatting with your date in the gym. Once you get past that, you immediately move to talking to your prospective date over the phone while she’s in her underwear, trading innuendos. Oddly enough, it’s only after that point where you begin your first actual date. If you can get past that point, you’ll be lead somewhere supposedly more intimate, like a bedroom, or in the case of one particular girl, the inside of a plane. You think that’d be where you’d finally get what you were presumably playing this game for, but you still have about ten or so more dialogue options to choose. About the only break in all of this is a paintball game with one particular girl, which involves choosing a direction at random and watching a bunch of very slow FMV scenes of you walking forward, hoping you don’t randomly get shot by your date.
It should be said that no matter how well you do, nothing between you and your date actually occurs. Something stupid happens that basically makes your date kick you out, regardless of how many pick up lines based on conspiracy theories. At the very most, you’ll see a bare leg, meaning that the sexiest thing you’ll find in this game is a woman breathlessly teasing you with lines like “And maybe we’re closer to the checkout stand than you realize.”
Overall, Man Enough is a game about trying terrible lines again and again, in an attempt to impress women who will randomly switch between teasing you sultrily and loudly insulting you, with little to no actual reward in the end. There’s a joke to be made, there.