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
One of the things video games are particularly good at as an entire medium is allowing you to immerse yourself in… things.
Exactly what you’re able to immerse yourself in depends entirely on the game — in Microsoft Flight Simulator you can immerse yourself in a realistic depiction of what it is like to fly a real aircraft, for example, while in Xenoblade Chronicles you can immerse yourself in a well-realized fantasy world.
One interesting possibility that this immersiveness allows for is the ability to “live” in another culture. For Westerners, it’s particularly intriguing to be able to immerse oneself into Japanese culture, for example, which is in many ways rather alien to the societal norms we see in America and Europe. Of course, said societal norms vary even between America and Europe, but not quite so drastically as the divergence in culture between “East” and “West.”
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: Culture Shock
Kadokawa Games’ Root Letter, first in their new Kadokawa Games Mystery series, quietly snuck out onto the market at the end of October, just four months after its Japanese release.
The proposed series is set to be a collection of visual novel-cum-adventure game hybrids for PlayStation platforms that feature real-world locations, artwork from Love Plus character designer Mino Taro and a cast of fictional actresses who will play different roles in each game. The plan, presumably, is to create a series of adventures that, while distinct in their own right in terms of story, will have numerous thematic and stylistic similarities throughout that make them feel like “part of a set”.
So far, all we have to judge the series on is its inaugural installment Root Letter, but fortunately it’s a very strong start indeed, eminently worthy of your time if you’ve ever enjoyed the Ace Attorney or Danganronpa games.
Continue reading Root Letter: Eleven Letters, Eight People, One Truth