Tag Archives: visual novel

Fate/stay night: Oneself as an Ideal

Fate/stay night’s complete three-part narrative opens with the simply named Fate.

In the original 2004 release of the game, this 30+ hour path was a prerequisite to unlocking the other routes of the game Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel, though the 2012 Réalta Nua release on PC split the three routes into separate executable files, allowing them to be played independently, albeit with some shared save data.

It’s still best to play them in the order they were originally intended, however, since Fate, as we’ll explore today, carries the important role of allowing us to understand the context in which the other narratives unfold.

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PS2 Essentials: Shadow of Memories

The first game I ever played on the PlayStation 2 was Konami’s Shadow of Memories, also known as Shadow of Destiny in the States.

I’d wanted a PS2 for a while, but even back then, I felt like I didn’t want to pick up a game that I felt I already knew all about from reading about it in magazines. So I deliberately chose a game I knew absolutely nothing about as my first PS2 game, then sat down to play it and found myself utterly entranced by something quite unlike anything I’d ever played before.

Combining elements of traditional adventure games, visual novels and even open-world exploration, Shadow of Memories remains a highly noteworthy title in the PS2’s library, and well worth exploring even today.

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Fate/stay night: Introduction and History

To say that Type-Moon’s Fate/stay night is an influential work in Japanese popular media is something of an understatement.

Since its first appearance as an adults-only visual novel in 2004, the series has gone on to spawn a visual novel sequel and all-ages remake, numerous spin-off games for a variety of different console and handheld platforms, several anime series, manga volumes, light novels, movies and, most recently, a successful free-to-play mobile game.

The original game is regarded as one of the best visual novels of all time, and indeed was a bestseller in its year of release in Japan. And yet, for some reason, we’ve never seen an official localisation in the West, even from long-standing powerhouses of visual novel publishing such as JAST USA, MangaGamer or Sekai Project.

Thankfully, all is not lost, thanks to the continuing efforts of various fan translation groups, who have not only translated the original 2004 visual novel, but also the 2012 release of the Réalta Nua remake, including the ability to re-integrate the adult content from the original.

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Waifu Wednesday: Hanako Ikezawa

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.

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Nekopara: Staying True to Yourself

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.

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Nekopara: Honesty is the Best Policy

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.

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Nekopara: A Day in the Life of Some Cats

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.

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