Ever since Richard Bachman (Stephen King's early alter-ego) pioneered the idea in The Running Man, twisted and innovative game show scenarios have become something of a staple of science fiction. Young Adult fiction has certainly taken the idea and run with it, as seen in The Hunger Games, but lately even erotica has gotten into the game, as we've seen with The Games by Nancy Rose. Ideal Lovers - The TG Game Show by DK Masters is the latest entry in that competitive sub-genre, and it's a lot of fun.
Set in the 22nd century, mankind has not only taken to the stars, but we've colonized other planets. One of those planets, Terra Prime, is something of an idyllic paradise - clean, unspoiled, and beautiful. It's also the only place in the universe where aura gems can be found - ridiculously expensive, closely guarded crystals with the ability to focus thoughts and enact magical transformations. Since most people could never dream of affording an aura gem, much less using it for selfish purposes, the game show Ideal Lovers was invented. Suddenly, contestants have the ability to be completely selfish and use the magic of the aura gems to transform their opponent into the perfect lover - physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Having just watched a wife successfully turn her husband into the perfect lesbian lover, Sam arrives on Terra Prime to play the game against Rick, his best friend. The rules of the game are a kind of magical rock-paper-scissors, with contestants able to cast a transformation, reflect a transformation, or drain their opponent's aura on each turn. It's a concept that could get tiresome pretty quickly, but Masters plays it exceptionally well, creating a story that's as dramatic and exciting as it is fast-paced. A few bad choices put Sam in a tight spot early on, but he battles back to make a game of it. As he and Rick find themselves becoming more feminine, more aroused, more submissive, it gets harder and harder to think straight (pun intended) and play the game.
If I were to have one complaint about the story, it's the underlying assumption in the game that the 'ideal' lover is a wholly feminine, submissive, sexually voracious, pregnant homemaker. There's a lot of potential here, so I think it'd be interesting to see additions episodes of Ideal Lovers with different 'idea' lovers, such as one where a contestant's goal is to transform his opponent into a sort of dual-gendered dominatrix, while resisting his own transformation into an aggressive, muscle-bound freak of nature. Regardless, this was a fun story that delivered beautifully on the potential of the game.