One of the most remarkable things about Alicesoft’s Rance series is quite how detailed its lore is.
This might not be something you expect to hear about a series of 18+ games with rather a lot of sexually explicit content, but just a few minutes with a Rance title will make it abundantly clear Alicesoft takes this franchise very seriously indeed. At least, so far as ensuring its lore is internally consistent; as a series with absurdist (and often black) humour at its heart, Rance is anything but “serious”.
This combination of a significant humorous component with deep, well-crafted lore established over a long cycle of individual works particularly brings to mind Terry Pratchett’s influential Discworld series. And if we look a little more deeply into that lore we can see a number of similarities along the way, particularly in terms of how things the audience will recognise from modern life are blended with the conventions of fantastic fiction.
NOTE: A hanny from /vg/ helpfully pointed out that the original version of this article used terminology from the original Japanese versions and fan translations. It’s now been updated with terminology from MangaGamer’s “official” translation to prevent confusion for series newcomers!
Continue reading Rance: The “Discworld” of Eroge
Namco’s Ridge Racer may have declined somewhat in terms of popularity and relevance at the time of writing, but there’s little denying that during its heyday, this series was one of the most important franchises in gaming.
Most notably playing a significant role in solidifying the PlayStation’s position as the leading console of the 32-bit era in particular, the Ridge Racer series remains for many the benchmark to which all 3D arcade racers — a sadly dying breed — should be compared.
So where did this all start?
Continue reading Ridge Racer: Where it All Began
With this month’s Cover Game being one of the most influential, well-regarded visual novels of all time, it seems only right and proper to take a look at the history of the medium as a whole.
To date, there have been three main “eras” of visual novels that can be clearly distinguished through a combination of their visual style, thematic content, gameplay elements (if any) and breadth of appeal. Of course, things aren’t quite as neat and simple as that might suggest, with some modern works deliberately channeling older styles, or some older works being ahead of their time, but it’s a working hypothesis to start from.
And, since visual novels form an extremely important part of both Japanese gaming and Japanese popular media in general, it’s worth tracing the route things have taken to get to where we are today.
Continue reading The Three Ages of Visual Novels
Square Enix’s second Final Fantasy MMORPG is a big success now, having just enjoyed the release of its second expansion pack, but things weren’t always so rosy.
In fact, the story of how Final Fantasy XIV came to be what it is now is one of the most interesting in all of gaming — and certainly an inspiring example that demonstrates even if you release a completely broken mess of a game, it’s not necessarily beyond redemption.
Today, then, let’s take a look at the history of Final Fantasy XIV as a whole, and in particular how it’s developed since the release of A Realm Reborn in 2013.
Continue reading Stormblood: Introduction
First-person, grid-based dungeon crawlers have, over the years, become the place to go for those who like hardcore, mechanics-driven, combat- and exploration-centric role-playing games.
Often de-emphasising narrative in favour of deep customisation, challenging encounters and devious level design, the dungeon crawler has gone from strength to strength over the last few years in particular, but also remains a subgenre that is notoriously difficult to get into.
Its with this in mind that Idea Factory and Compile Heart developed MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death (or Death Under the Labyrinth as it was known in Japan) — it’s designed to be accessible and enjoyable even to newcomers, yet incorporate the elements of the genre that longstanding fans enjoy so much. And it’s very successful at what it does.
So how did we get here?
Continue reading MeiQ: Introduction and History
Somehow, I only remembered recently that I actually share a birthday with this little corner of the Internet.
Sure enough, if you check the first ever post on here (complete with old-style Midori and Yumi) you’ll see that it was published on April 29, 2014. That’s three full years of this site being in existence, after it launched on my thirty-third birthday. And while it hasn’t been three years of constant content — the regular posting schedule is something I’ve only introduced relatively recently, beginning with the introduction of Cover Games around this time last year — it’s still quite an achievement in the cutthroat world of “writing about games”.
MoeGamer is something I’ve come to do simply because I enjoy it. But it originally came about as a result of the state of the modern mainstream commercial games press — and how apparently there wasn’t a place for someone like me in it any more, despite working in the field having been a lifelong dream.
So let’s look back at how MoeGamer came to be, why it exists now and why it’s important to me personally.
Continue reading MoeGamer: The Third Birthday
Nier: Automata is a fascinating game in its own right, but it becomes even more of an interesting story when you take it in context of everything that led to its creation.
In order to understand Nier: Automata and its predecessors, it is particularly important to understand creator Taro Yoko, one of the most distinctive “auteurs” in all of video game making — albeit one who, until the release of Automata, had largely flown under the radar in stark contrast to his contemporaries such as Hideo Kojima.
Yoko is a creator who, it’s fair to say, has consistently pushed back against the boundaries of what is “accepted practice” in video game development — both in terms of subject matter and mechanical considerations. And the results of his resistance to conventions and norms are some of the most distinctive and interesting — albeit sometimes flawed — creations in all of gaming.
Continue reading Nier Automata: Introduction and History