2002’s Rance 5D (finally localised into English in 2017) is probably one of the most unusual RPGs you will ever play.
At least part of its rather distinctive nature is due to the fact that it is actually developer Alicesoft’s fourth attempt at a fifth Rance game, hence the “D” on the end of the title — A, B and C were all failed attempts that never saw the light of day.
Thankfully, Rance 5D did, however, and it’s nothing if not a memorable experience, both from a narrative and mechanical perspective — and from the perspective of its rather troubled development history, too.
Continue reading Rance 5D: Roulette, Role-Playing and RNG
Typically, when we talk about gaming franchises that have been around since the early days of the medium, the same names tend to come up all the time.
There’s Final Fantasy, of course, which first appeared in 1987. Super Mario Bros., which hails from 1985. The Legend of Zelda from 1986. All classic series that are still going strong and have been highly prolific over the years, not just with their mainline installments but with numerous spinoffs, too.
What we’re going to explore this month is a series of games from Japan that has been going as long as these established classics, but which remains relatively unknown in the West so far due to 1) its status as an eroge and 2) the fact it only got its first localised release in December of 2016 thanks to MangaGamer.
I am, of course, talking about Rance. Tooooohhhh!
Continue reading Rance: Introduction and History
In this new weekly series, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most memorable, interesting, attractive, sexy, badass and just plain awesome female characters in Japanese gaming, as well as highlighting some great fanart.
And what better place to begin than with Hanako Ikezawa from Katawa Shoujo, my favourite character from the game that truly got me into visual novels and the Japanese style of interactive storytelling once and for all — even if the game in question itself was actually developed as something of a worldwide collaborative effort.
Hanako is a character that I found to be deeply relatable, enormously sympathetic and highly memorable; she’ll always occupy a very special place in my heart, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Hanako Ikezawa
And so we come to Nekopara vol. 1, the first of this series of popular eroge, and the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon.
Except that’s not quite accurate; while Nekopara vol. 1 was indeed the first place that many fans came across this series — particularly in the West — it’s far from the beginning of the story as a whole.
To see the origins of Nekopara and everyone’s favourite catgirls, we need to look back much further to some non-game works by series artist Sayori, and how those designs evolved into the colourful, cutesy funtime we know as Nekopara today.
Continue reading Nekopara: The Story Begins
With the rise in free-to-play mobile games, the humble standalone puzzle game has become something of a rarity.
That’s not to say that they don’t exist at all any more, however, and, more to the point, puzzle games as a genre generally age a whole lot better than other types of game due to their abstract mechanics and non-reliance on realistic graphics.
With that in mind, then, let’s kick off a regular look at puzzle games from both yesterday and today to run alongside the other Essentials columns for Wii U games and shoot ’em ups.
First up for examination is a modern title from Grisaia developer Frontwing, loosely based on their unlocalised Pure Girl and Innocent Girl visual novels: Purino Party.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Purino Party
“From the hate-scorched sky, with righteous anger in our hearts, we draw forth the sword that smites Evil! Thou art the innocent blade! DEMONBANE!”
This is one of the most iconic, regularly-occurring quotes from Nitroplus’ visual novel Deus Machina Demonbane, and it doesn’t get any less thrilling each time you hear it — even as the game stretches on and on well past the 20-hour mark.
By the end of the game, you’ll be triumphantly bellowing it along with protagonists Kurou and Al as they prepare, once again, to smite Evil with the titular metal monster.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: Thou Art the Innocent Blade, Demonbane!
Frontwing’s Grisaia series, which kicked off in 2011 with the Japanese release of first installment The Fruit of Grisaia, has come to be regarded as a particular high point for the visual novel medium.
Indeed, back in 2015, the /r/visualnovels subreddit voted The Fruit of Grisaia as number one on its list of top 10 visual novels (later republished on GameFAQs), and the community still holds the game in high regard today, as evidenced by its prominent position on the subreddit’s comprehensive diagram of recommendations.
Grisaia’s high ranking on /r/visualnovels’ list was particularly exciting to enthusiasts of the medium, as growing localisation company Sekai Project had already run a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the whole series West in the twilight hours of 2014 and the start of 2015, potentially opening it up to a whole new audience that was perhaps less familiar with acquiring Japanese visual novels and patching them with fan translations.
But what makes this series so remarkable? Let’s take a high-level look at it.
Continue reading Grisaia: Introduction