The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
Today’s award comes to us from the delightfully named “Garbage Weeb” via Twitter, also known as the host of At the Ebicentre and co-creator of Oppai Bros, both on YouTube. Check out these channels for an interesting mix of livestream discussion and commentary on the former and gameplay of niche and fanservicey games on the latter. Thanks!
There were actually a whole lot of different works I enjoyed this year that this award could have gone to. It was definitely a close-run thing, but I had to make a decision in the end!
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Most Relevant Opening Song
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
As the Nekopara series has progressed, it’s clear that Sayori and the rest of the team at Nekoworks have become more comfortable and confident with these characters.
With each new installment, the series steps further away from the admittedly appealing initial novelty value of the main cast being catgirls, and further into stronger characterisation, including deeper exploration of the girls’ personalities, backgrounds and attitudes towards one another.
Nekopara vol. 3, the latest installment to be released at the time of writing (though a vol. 4 has already been confirmed), is the strongest episode to date, featuring some truly touching scenes, wonderful characterisation and, if you’re playing the 18+ version, it has to be said, some of the absolute hottest H-scenes in the series.
Continue reading Nekopara: Staying True to Yourself
Honesty is the best policy, as the idiom has it. And the further you delve into the Nekopara series, the more it becomes clear that this enjoyable series of visual novels is designed with this philosophy at their core.
Several of the Minaduki catgirls describe themselves as inherently honest (albeit whimsical) creatures, preferring to rely on their natural instincts and desires rather than indulging the distinctly human tendency to say one thing and mean another… though it comes more easily to some than others.
The rather deadpan Vanilla, who is explored in detail in the first volume of the series in particular, finds it very easy both to be honest — to an abrasive fault at times — and to encourage her peers to be honest with themselves.
Others such as Azuki and Coconut have a tougher time, however, and it’s this latter pair’s struggles with this concept that forms the backdrop to Nekopara vol. 2.
Continue reading Nekopara: Honesty is the Best Policy
The concept of the “fandisc” is a curiously Japanese phenomenon that allows fans to engage with their favourite works in alternative ways, and for creators to celebrate the success of a work without making a full-blown sequel.
The closest equivalent we probably have here in the West is downloadable story DLC or expansion packs for popular video games, but those aren’t quite the same thing as a fandisc; while exceptions exist, they tend to be about “adding value” to an existing product, whereas your typical fandisc stands by itself as its own discrete title in the context of a larger series.
Such is the case with Nekopara vol. 0, an all-ages fandisc for the series that launched in August of 2015, about eight months after the surprise success of vol. 1.
Continue reading Nekopara: A Day in the Life of Some Cats
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
Nekopara (or “Cat’s Paradise”, if you prefer) is a series of catgirl-centric visual novels that has become a genuine worldwide phenomenon since its launch in 2014.
Since the release of first game Nekopara vol. 1, developer Nekoworks has brought out roughly one new installment a year, beginning with the short fandisc prequel Nekopara vol. 0 in 2015 before continuing with vol. 2 and vol. 3 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Unusually for a visual novel, the whole Nekopara series has seen simultaneous worldwide releases since its inception rather than releasing in its native territories first then localising later. This has helped fans across the world enjoy its lightweight slice-of-life comedy together, and has almost certainly been a huge contributing factor in making it so popular in both the East and West.
We’re going to start our look at the series with a broad exploration of where the catgirl phenomenon as a whole came from, and how Nekopara fits in with all that.
Continue reading Nekopara: Introduction