If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve indulged in a visual novel or two in your time. Perhaps they’re even a primary form of entertainment for you.
Those of you who have explored the medium to some extent have doubtless discovered that there isn’t really any such thing as a “typical” visual novel — some, like Dharker Studio’s Negligee, are effectively short stories designed to be enjoyed over the course of no more than a couple of hours, even if they have multiple endings or routes. Others, like the wonderful Grisaia and Fate/stay night, can take a hundred hours or more to see through to completion.
Sometimes, you want the experience of a visual novel’s approach to interactive multimedia storytelling without having to devote a significant proportion of your life to enjoying it. Sometimes you want something that will just entertain you for an evening but still give you the sense that you’ve “completed” something. Sometimes a game like Lily’s Day Off is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Continue reading Lily’s Day Off: The Visual Novel, Condensed
It may seem faintly sacrilegious to include a game like Deep Space Waifu in the same column as legends such as Thunder Force II, Raiden IV and Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. But the fact is, this rough-around-the-edges, budget-price affair is actually well worth your time and attention.
Developed by the mysterious “Neko Climax Studios”, whose only online presence appears to be a Facebook page under the ID “@nekohentaiking” and whose credits consist entirely of initials, Deep Space Waifu describes itself as a “casual strip ’em up action game, full of colours and girls”. And, really, that’s pretty much the perfect description.
At first glance, this appears to be a game that does not take itself at all seriously. But beneath the neon colours, chaotic visual effects and questionable artwork, there’s a surprisingly solid shoot ’em up that has clearly been designed with some care and attention.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Deep Space Waifu
MyDearest’s visual novel School of Talent is in a similar situation to minori’s beautiful Supipara in that it’s the first in a series that doesn’t quite exist as yet.
In the case of both Supipara and School of Talent, the complete narrative work clearly exists as a concept that has been carefully considered, planned and fleshed out — just not yet explored from every possible angle. And in both cases, this fact doesn’t stop them from being highly enjoyable, touching and self-contained narrative experiences in their own right.
School of Talent is a little more up-front about its long-term intentions than the rather mysterious and ethereal Supipara, however, with that prominent Suzu Route subtitle on the first installment making it abundantly clear which of the girls on the cast the narrative is primarily going to be concerned with. And, while School of Talent’s overall cast of heroines is pretty consistently strong, the eponymous Suzu turned out to be a good focal point for this (potential) series’ debut.
Continue reading School of Talent – Suzu Route: A Song of Joy
You have to respect a game that is up-front about what it is; one that says to you “we both know why you’re here.”
Japanese developers and localisers — particularly in the visual novel sector, and especially when it comes to nukige, or games where the main point is sexual content rather than narrative — are good at this sort of frank honesty; browsing, for example, MangaGamer’s (emphatically not safe for work) front page reveals titles such as Boob Wars: Big Breasts vs Flat Chests, Busty Maid: Creampie Heaven and the gloriously self-aware Eroge: Sex and Games Makes Sexy Games.
Devleoper-publisher Zoo Corporation is no stranger to this practice, either, with its various labels Norn, Cybele, Miel and Yumesta each putting out a variety of games with fairly self-explanatory titles. Prior to 2015, the only Zoo title we’d seen in the West was 1994 puzzler BreakThru! — which Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov had his name attached to despite having very little to do with — but all that changed with the release of Mahjong Pretty Girls Battle in January of that year.
A new series was born, with Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire being its latest installment. And, you know, it’s pretty good, particularly considering its ludicrously cheap price at the time of writing.
Continue reading Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire: Exactly What it Sounds Like