Visual Novels

A major part of the reason MoeGamer exists is to celebrate the wonderful world of visual novels — a game-like form of interactive entertainment where the written prose and dialogue of a story is supported by music, voice acting, sound, visuals and sometimes animation.

Here you’ll find all of MoeGamer’s in-depth explorations of these wonderful works of digital artistry and creativity. Be prepared for adult content and spoilers — we’re diving deep into narrative here!

Nurse Love Syndrome

Nurse Love Addiction

My Time With Dee Dee

LAMUNATION!

The Expression: Amrilato

Our World is Ended

428: Shibuya Scramble

Fate stay/night

Nekopara

Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto

The Grisaia series

Katawa Shoujo

Kira Kira


One-off articles about visual novels

Waifu Wednesday: Yasuko Yamanouchi - At the time of writing, I haven’t yet finished a full readthrough of Kogado Studio’s Nurse Love Syndrome, but I did want to show some love for one of its main characters. (And probably some more in the near future.) For the unfamiliar, Nurse Love Syndrome is a visual novel that explores new nurse Kaori Sawai’s early … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Yasuko Yamanouchi
Nutaku: Destigmatising and Democratising Adult Video Games - Nutaku, if you’re unfamiliar, is a Canadian adult gaming website that launched in December of 2014 and quickly racked up a million registered users within its first year of operation. Over the course of the following five years, that number has exploded to over fifty million — and the platform has big plans for the … Continue reading Nutaku: Destigmatising and Democratising Adult Video Games
Around the Network - Good afternoon! I spent my weekend frantically playing a game for (paid) review, so didn’t find time to do this then. Also it’s hot. Really hot. And I don’t want to do anything that involves the slightest bit of activity. Not that sitting on my arse typing some nonsense really counts as “activity”, of course, … Continue reading Around the Network
Steam’s Inconsistency is Hurting Visual Novels – How We Can Help - Update: 05/08/2020 Steam has reinstated Bokuten after investigation confirmed the issue with the missed (and inaccessible) CGs mentioned below. This article remains relevant, however, because Steam’s treatment of MangaGamer in this incident was totally unacceptable. Original article follows. Steam is the largest, most well-established PC gaming platform out there. For many gamers, “PC gaming” and … Continue reading Steam’s Inconsistency is Hurting Visual Novels – How We Can Help
SeaBed: What You Leave Behind - I reviewed this visual novel over at Nintendo Life — please go support my work over there, then join me back here to delve into the narrative in more detail! SeaBed from Paleontology Soft is a kinetic novel that first released in 2015. It was localised for PC two years later, much to the delight … Continue reading SeaBed: What You Leave Behind
Coffee Talk: It’s A Brewtiful Day - One of the great things about modern gaming is the sheer diversity of experiences you can have from one moment to the next. If you’re in the mood for hacking and slashing through hordes of enemies as the cute girl personification of a video games console, gaming has you covered. If you fancy taking photos … Continue reading Coffee Talk: It’s A Brewtiful Day
The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: Ten Years, Ten VNs - The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas! – It’s nearly the end of a … Continue reading The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: Ten Years, Ten VNs
The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: Best Character Arc - The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas! – We’re all about narrative-centric games here, … Continue reading The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: Best Character Arc
The Secrets We Keep: A Modern Love Story - I’ll level with you, dear reader: as a heterosexual man, I’ve never really made checking out boys’ love (BL) media a particular priority — though I must also admit that I’ve been curious for quite a while to see what it’s like. My past experiences with otome games aimed at heterosexual women have been universally positive, … Continue reading The Secrets We Keep: A Modern Love Story
LOVE³ -Love Cube-: Can’t Escape From Crossing Fates - Have you ever wondered what it would be like if, for once, everything went your way? I know I have. Doubtless many of you reading this have, at some point in your lives, wondered “what’s the point?” and contemplated giving up altogether. “I work my ass off,” the train of thought inevitably goes, “and I … Continue reading LOVE³ -Love Cube-: Can’t Escape From Crossing Fates
Waifu Wednesday: Rin Takato - Before we leave The Expression: Amrilato behind, I wanted to show a particular bit of appreciation for its protagonist Rin. Rin is the player’s eyes and ears over the course of the narrative, and as the game progresses you develop something of a mutually beneficial relationship with her as a player; she, more often than … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Rin Takato
Waifu Wednesday: Yukino Tsubaki - Despite PQube’s excellent Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa not being a romance-centric visual novel, it has no shortage of characters — both male and female — designed to be very appealing. My personal favourite from the ensemble cast after completing the whole thing — that is, after finding out all of their respective dirty … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Yukino Tsubaki
Kotodama – The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa: Stripping Away Deceit - Over the last few years, UK-based outfit PQube Games has become a force to be reckoned with in the localisation and publishing space. Since its inception in 2009, PQube has brought Western fans a variety of games that might otherwise have never made it out of Japan, including Inti Creates’ Gal*Gun Double Peace and Gal*Gun 2, Kadokawa Games’ Root … Continue reading Kotodama – The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa: Stripping Away Deceit
Educational Esperanto Visual Novel Struggles with Valve’s Amorphous Content Policies - [UPDATE 22/06/2019: The Expression: Amrilato is now available on Steam! See this blog post by MangaGamer for further details. I’m leaving this story up, as the discussion points it raised remain pertinent.] I don’t normally cover “news” here on MoeGamer, but this is something I think it’s important to talk about right now. Prolific publisher … Continue reading Educational Esperanto Visual Novel Struggles with Valve’s Amorphous Content Policies
Waifu Wednesday: Yuno Hayase - Who doesn’t love a good girl? That, it seems, is the angle that Yuno Hayase, valued member of game developer Judgement 7 alongside her sister Asano, is going for. Throughout the early hours of visual novel Our World is Ended, Yuno represents a source of relentless positivity and optimism. She’s always there to encourage protagonist Reiji and … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Yuno Hayase
Waifu Wednesday: Natsumi Yuki - It’s fair to say that “insecurity” is a pretty core theme to Our World is Ended, and the different characters all express this trait in one way or another to varying degrees. To date, we’ve seen how Tatiana is a walking contradiction in terms of the clash between her naturally childish nature and her genius-level … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Natsumi Yuki
Bluemoonpark: The Most Precious Wings - It’s always a pleasure when a developer, publisher or localiser reaches out to me and asks if I’ll take a look at their project, because it tends to expose me to things that I might otherwise have been unaware of. In turn, I can then share those things with you, and you can check them out as … Continue reading Bluemoonpark: The Most Precious Wings
Waifu Wednesday: Asano Hayase - If there’s one type of character voice actress Eri Kitamura knows how to play well, it’s the seemingly aggressive but actually terribly insecure tsundere. Asano Hayase from Red Entertainment’s visual novel Our World is Ended is a great example, affording Kitamura the opportunity to demonstrate her full vocal range over the course of the character’s development and … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Asano Hayase
Waifu Wednesday: Tatiana Alexandrovna Sharapova - Well, it’s character-centric visual novel time again here on MoeGamer at the time of writing, and that always provides plenty of interesting female characters to discuss! The first heroine from Our World is Ended that I wanted to look at is Tatiana Alexandrovna Sharapova. She has been the subject of a certain amount of controversy thanks to … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Tatiana Alexandrovna Sharapova
Waifu Wednesday: Maria Osawa - Before we bid 428: Shibuya Scramble a fond farewell from the Cover Game spotlight, I wanted to give some love to one of its main characters. Since many of the articles on MoeGamer deal with the core narrative themes of the games under the microscope, I don’t typically bother with spoiler warnings. However, in this … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Maria Osawa
Waifu Wednesday: Michiru Matsushima - After many months (years, actually, I think) of waiting, I finally took possession of my Grisaia Complete Box today. As you may recall, I had many, many words to say on the subject of The Fruit of Grisaia and its sequel in a previous Cover Game feature, but I’m yet to explore either the third and final … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Michiru Matsushima
Waifu Wednesday: Aya Kamiki - We’ve had celebrities putting in appearances in video games for a good while now, mostly as voice actors, but it’s quite rare to see a performer appear in a game as themselves. Japanese singer, actress and model Aya Kamiki evidently saw a good opportunity back in 2008, though, and played a part in Spike Chunsoft’s … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Aya Kamiki
What’s in the Box: Song of Memories – Encore Edition - Is it Limited Edition time again? Why yes, yes it is! I actually wasn’t expecting this one quite so soon; Song of Memories has been delayed so much from its originally anticipated release date that I was very surprised to get a shipping notification the other day, and find it showing up on my doorstep a day … Continue reading What’s in the Box: Song of Memories – Encore Edition
Magical Diary: Wolf Hall – A Wolf in Wizard’s Clothing - Those of you who have been following my work for a while may recall a good few years back now I was rather enthusiastic about a game called Magical Diary: Horse Hall. This unusual game, developed by Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar, blended elements of visual novel, life sim and first-person dungeon crawler to create … Continue reading Magical Diary: Wolf Hall – A Wolf in Wizard’s Clothing
The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Best H-Scene - The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here! This award was suggested by… well, me, but AK thought it … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Best H-Scene
The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Character I Learned to Love - The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here! This award was suggested by AK. — A really interesting aspect … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Character I Learned to Love
Waifu Wednesday: Kathryn Lapucelle - Well, we’ve covered all the other “main” waifus Ramius, Riche and Gurigura from Evenicle so far, so it’s only fair we give Kathryn some love too! Kathryn is the last playable character to join protagonist Aster’s family, and she is, for sure, an interesting one — both from a narrative and a mechanical perspective. Let’s just … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Kathryn Lapucelle
Lucy Got Problems: What’s an ADHD Succubus to Do? - Know what I love? Demon girls. Know what I love even more? Demon girls who are really bad at being demons. With that in mind, I knew I was going to have a good time with Lucy Got Problems almost immediately, since it opens with the eponymous succubus rather meekly prostrating herself in front of her superior … Continue reading Lucy Got Problems: What’s an ADHD Succubus to Do?
Senran Kagura Reflexions: Shinobi Intimacy - Here in the West, we’re all thoroughly familiar with the idea of furthering your enjoyment of a game by purchasing additional merchandise to celebrate your love of it. Depending on the game, we might get action figures, posters, comics, books, soundtrack CDs… but rarely something “extra” in the original medium, unless a sequel comes along, … Continue reading Senran Kagura Reflexions: Shinobi Intimacy
Reflections on PlayStation Vita - At the time of writing, Sony has just announced that production of the PlayStation Vita will be ending in 2019, with no plans for a successor. This follows news from earlier this year that we’re counting down the days until the last Western physical Vita release, with many of the last releases coming in limited … Continue reading Reflections on PlayStation Vita
Lily’s Night Off: The Visual Novel, Condensed, Polished to a Fine Sheen - It’s always a genuine pleasure to see a developer refine and improve their craft — particularly when it’s obvious how much time, effort and passion they put into their work. Anyone who follows Lily series developer Kyuppin on Twitter — or indeed, anyone who read my previous coverage of Lily’s Day Off — will know he is a great example … Continue reading Lily’s Night Off: The Visual Novel, Condensed, Polished to a Fine Sheen
Lily’s Day Off: The Visual Novel, Condensed - 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, … Continue reading Lily’s Day Off: The Visual Novel, Condensed
Supipara Chapter 2: With a Spring in Our Steps - [Editor’s note: as of February 2019, it appears that unfortunately minori is ceasing operations. This article has been left in its original form as published in June 2018 to preserve the original intention behind the series, even if it will likely never happen now.] It’s wonderful to see that minori’s ambitious Supipara project is moving … Continue reading Supipara Chapter 2: With a Spring in Our Steps
The MoeGamer Podcast: Episode 2 – No Sex Please, We’re Valve - Pete flies solo for a discussion of Steam's seemingly incoherent content policy, and how a disproportionate number of games with anime-style art seem to be getting hit with the ban hammer.
Seven Days with the Ghost: Fragile, Frustrated and Female - Ayako Orihara is frustrated, in more ways than one. She’s frustrated at the fact her school’s Occult Research Club, of which she is the only member and current president, is likely to be dissolved if she doesn’t find some new members. She’s frustrated at her relationship (or lack thereof) with her mother. And by God, is she … Continue reading Seven Days with the Ghost: Fragile, Frustrated and Female
Puzzler Essentials: Tropical Liquor - For many of you reading this, the words “erotic puzzle game-cum-dating sim with art by Sayori” will doubtless be enough to convince you that Tropical Liquor is worth a shot. For those less familiar with Sayori’s work — or those who simply prefer to think very carefully about every £7.19 purchase they consider making — … Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Tropical Liquor
The MoeGamer Awards: The “I Shouldn’t Have Hesitated” Award - 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! There are certain games and series whose reputation precedes them. Of course, there are those series that are legendarily excellent … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: The “I Shouldn’t Have Hesitated” Award
The MoeGamer Awards: Best Couple - 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! I love the fact that modern gaming is such an interesting, broad medium that it is possible to even contemplate … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Couple
The MoeGamer Awards: Character I’d Most Like to Talk To - 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 suggestion is another one from longstanding friend of the site Annie Gallagher. Check out her page Guardian Acorn for some insightful … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Character I’d Most Like to Talk To
The MoeGamer Awards: Best Waifu - 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 suggestion comes to us from Annie Gallagher, longtime friend of the site and self-described trans feminist philosopher, critic, gamer … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Waifu
Waifu Wednesday: Shizuka Masou - This week’s waifu is once again drawn from the extensive cast of the Rance series, and is a character who has been part of the brutish hero’s saga almost since the very beginning. First appearing as an antagonist in Rance II: The Rebellious Maidens, Shizuka has been a fixture in the series alongside her best friend … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Shizuka Masou
Waifu Wednesday: Alice Kamishiro - It’s the last Waifu Wednesday before Halloween, so who better to explore this week than an honest to goodness witch? Alice Kamishiro is one of the central characters of minori’s Supipara, a proposed five-part series of visual novels of which we’ve seen the first in the West so far, thanks to MangaGamer. Although the first chapter isn’t … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Alice Kamishiro
Doki Doki Literature Club: Cute Girls Write Poems - I normally don’t bother with spoiler warnings here on MoeGamer, since it should be fairly apparent that in the process of analysing certain works in depth, “spoilers” are something of a necessity. I will, however, make an exception in the case of Doki Doki Literature Club, a Japanese-style visual novel from independent Western developer Team Salvato. This … Continue reading Doki Doki Literature Club: Cute Girls Write Poems
Space Live: Flawless Fanservice - Sometimes a good palate-cleanser is just what the doctor ordered, and that’s exactly what Space Live: Advent of the Net Idols provides. Developed as a West-first release by a collaborative effort between Da Capo creator Circus and localisation specialists MangaGamer, Space Live markets itself as a “short and sweet visual novel that will add some kick into your step … Continue reading Space Live: Flawless Fanservice
The Three Ages of Visual Novels - 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 … Continue reading The Three Ages of Visual Novels
Waifu Wednesday: Al Azif - Nitroplus’ Deus Machina Demonbane is an absolutely remarkable visual novel. Combining elements of Lovecraftian horror and giant robot anime with a generous dash of noir, it is quite unlike any other piece of interactive entertainment I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. And a big part of that is due to one of its major characters: Al … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Al Azif
My Earliest Visual Novel Memories - Although it was quite a few years ago, I have some vivid and fond memories of my first experiences with what I now know to be visual novels. I commonly attribute my present love of visual novels to 2012’s Katawa Shoujo, but in fact my earliest encounter with the medium was some years earlier. This was … Continue reading My Earliest Visual Novel Memories
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 … Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Shadow of Memories
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 … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Hanako Ikezawa
From The Archives: Man, I Feel Like a Woman… Oh, Wait - What would you do if you suddenly found that you’d changed sex? That’s the core question in Crowd’s X-Change, localized for us Westerners by Peach Princess. At heart, it’s an interesting question and, frankly, one that I have found myself pondering in quieter moments — as, I’m sure, have many of you reading this, regardless of whether … Continue reading From The Archives: Man, I Feel Like a Woman… Oh, Wait
Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha - I’ll freely admit that, up until the time of writing, I’ve had little to no familiarity with the Fate series as a whole aside from recognising various Saber incarnations and Tamamo no Mae on sight, and having some complicated feelings towards Astolfo. But with the North American release of Fate/Grand Order — accessible outside the … Continue reading Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha
From the Archives: You Must Be This Awesome to Succeed - When I beat Lifesigns: Hospital Affairs (aka Lifesigns: Surgical Unit, aka Resident Doctor Tendo 2) I was ultimately very satisfied with the whole game. But the fact that I didn’t get the “best” endings to each chapter throughout very much made me think of a now-famous video clip from popular Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, which you may have seen do … Continue reading From the Archives: You Must Be This Awesome to Succeed
From the Archives: Reasons to Read - Those of you who enjoy visual novels have probably come up against at least one gamer friend who has refused to even entertain the possibility of exploring this interesting medium on the grounds that it’s “too much text” and/or “not enough gameplay.” In fact, in several cases, visual novels which have hit “mainstream” platforms such … Continue reading From the Archives: Reasons to Read
From the Archives: Hospital Affairs - The Nintendo DS might not be the first place you’d think to look for some quality visual novels, but in actual fact Nintendo’s diminuitive and immensely popular handheld has played host to a number of interesting titles over the years. Besides the well-known Ace Attorney series, there’s Kotaro Uchikoshi’s Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the Hotel Dusk series… and … Continue reading From the Archives: Hospital Affairs
From the Archives: Our Changing Attitudes to Interactive Storytelling - As I write this, I have beside me a copy of the October 1997 issue of PC Zone, a then-popular, now sadly defunct PC games magazine from my homeland of the UK. I keep this magazine around for two reasons: firstly, the walkthrough of Discworld II on page 145 was written by none other than a teenage … Continue reading From the Archives: Our Changing Attitudes to Interactive Storytelling
Puzzler Essentials: HuniePop - HuniePop from Ryan Koons’ studio HuniePot was partly developed as a sort of “protest” game: an attempt to fight back against the growing trend of political correctness that was starting to take root in the games industry. There was clearly demand for such a game, even back in late 2013; a successful Kickstarter campaign allowed … Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: HuniePop
From the Archives: Reading Deeper into Magical Diary - I realize I’m being terribly unorthodox here, but after playing the subject of last week’s column a little more, I feel the urge to talk about it for the second week in a row. And this time I’m going to get spoilery, so those of you who have not yet played Magical Diary and are intending … Continue reading From the Archives: Reading Deeper into Magical Diary
Virtual Intimacy - The arrival of relatively affordable virtual reality solutions has the potential to allow us to explore narrative and characterisation in all-new ways — and I’m especially excited to see what Japan comes up with.  An oft-cited strength of narrative-centric Japanese interactive entertainment is the sense of “intimacy” it engenders between the player, the protagonist and … Continue reading Virtual Intimacy
From the Archives: Make Some Time for Magical Diary - You know how every so often you take a look at your Steam library and start to feel guilty about games you purchased because they sounded like just your sort of thing, but then you never got around to playing them? Well, that was the thought that was going through my mind when I decided to … Continue reading From the Archives: Make Some Time for Magical Diary
Games & Girls: Embracing the Stereotype - Among the denizens of the Internet, particularly those who are interested in video games, anime and other such nerdy things — especially those nerdy things that are a little outside the mainstream — there’s a strong trend of self-deprecation. It’s not uncommon to hear people referring to themselves with something akin to “pride” when they describe … Continue reading Games & Girls: Embracing the Stereotype
Puzzler Essentials: Purino Party - With the rise in free-to-play mobile games, the humble standalone puzzle game has become something of a rarity. That’s not to say that they don’t exist at all any more, however, and, more to the point, puzzle games as a genre generally age a whole lot better than other types of game due to their … Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Purino Party
Japanese Games Didn’t Just Suddenly “Get Good” - MoeGamer’s mission statement, which you’ll find over on the right, is “to provide comprehensive, interesting, positive and well-researched coverage of niche-interest and overlooked, underappreciated titles that tend to get a raw deal from the mainstream press”. This has been my stated goal with the site from its inception in April 2014 — yes, we’re coming … Continue reading Japanese Games Didn’t Just Suddenly “Get Good”
School of Talent – Suzu Route: A Song of Joy - 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 — … Continue reading School of Talent – Suzu Route: A Song of Joy
The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 10 – Season 1 Finale - In this week’s GameCast… the truth about Penelope! If you can prove your worth, that is… This episode features a quiz that you need to beat in order to get the best ending. Rather than having to get full marks as with Midori’s JRPG quiz from Episode 3, however, in this case you have a bit … Continue reading The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 10 – Season 1 Finale
From the Archives: It’s Not What It Looks Like - The discerning visual novel fan who decides to “go public” with his or her love for the medium faces a challenge that you tend not to encounter in the more “mainstream” parts of gaming — the gaming equivalent of the “I read it for the articles” conversation. Allow me to share an actual exchange I … Continue reading From the Archives: It’s Not What It Looks Like
From the Archives: A Fine Romance - The terms “visual novel” and “dating sim” are used somewhat interchangeably in the West — even by those who publish them — but in actuality, this isn’t particularly accurate. Visual novels often involve romantic and/or sexual relationships as a key part of their narrative, sure, and dating sims involve a lot of reading text and … Continue reading From the Archives: A Fine Romance
The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 8 – Garden of Memories, Part 1 - The search for Penelope is on as Midori, Yumi and I find ourselves in the “Garden of Memories”, attempting to hunt down our elusive cat-eared friend. This is a fairly short episode as I’ve been horribly ill over the last few days and barely able to get out of bed! Hopefully you’ll still enjoy what’s … Continue reading The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 8 – Garden of Memories, Part 1
From the Archives: Culture Shock - 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 … Continue reading From the Archives: Culture Shock
The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 7 – Missing - In this episode of the GameCast, Midori, Yumi and I talk about music, and Plot Happens. Original music, as ever, is the work of MusMus, and the awesome retro font is by Style64. Other music in this episode remains the copyright of its respective owners. If you’re having trouble running the browser version, take a … Continue reading The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 7 – Missing
From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal’s World Made of Words - I’m an RPG fan, and yet I typically find myself drawn to more linear experiences rather than open-world affairs. Specifically, I often find that the richly-detailed worlds of titles like Skyrim leave me cold due to their lack of “personality”, for want of a better word — they may be beautiful to look at and packed with … Continue reading From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal’s World Made of Words
From the Archives: I Will Fly You to the Moon and Back - This week I wanted to return to one of my favorite narrative-based games of all time, Freebird Games’ To The Moon, which is also an interesting discussion point from the perspective of presentation, gameplay and emotional engagement. In To The Moon, you take on the role of Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts, two doctors with a … Continue reading From the Archives: I Will Fly You to the Moon and Back
From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal and the Balance of Story and Game - A few weeks ago, we spent this column discussing the reason why we play different types of game. The answer is, of course, different for everyone, but in the case of visual novel fans, most people will cite “story” as their main motivation to continue — even if the actual “gameplay” side of the title … Continue reading From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal and the Balance of Story and Game
From the Archives: The Guilty Pleasures of the Bad Ending - “Failure is not an option.” It’s a mantra we’ve had repeatedly rammed down our throats since the dawn of gaming — sometimes using those exact words — but is it really true? Well, in the case of most games, yes — “failing” whatever task you have been set usually results in a Game Over screen … Continue reading From the Archives: The Guilty Pleasures of the Bad Ending
From The Archives: Darkness and Scissors – The Horror of Corpse Party - If you have a PSP (or Vita) then you really owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of the magnificent Corpse Party from Team GrisGris, localised by XSEED. (Editor’s note: Since this article was written in 2012, you can now also get a version of the game for 3DS and PC, though note that these are … Continue reading From The Archives: Darkness and Scissors – The Horror of Corpse Party
The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 2 - In this episode, Midori, Yumi, Penelope and I talk about whether it’s professional to cover your eyes at the prospect of boobs, one of the most well-received anime in the current season, Steam Greenlight and more. The GameCast as a whole has had a few minor refinements since Episode 1. Music should now loop properly … Continue reading The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 2
From the Archives: Thou Art the Innocent Blade, Demonbane! - “From the hate-scorched sky, with righteous anger in our hearts, we draw forth the sword that smites Evil! Thou art the innocent blade! DEMONBANE!” This is one of the most iconic, regularly-occurring quotes from Nitroplus’ visual novel Deus Machina Demonbane, and it doesn’t get any less thrilling each time you hear it — even as the game stretches … Continue reading From the Archives: Thou Art the Innocent Blade, Demonbane!
The MoeGamer GameCast: Pilot Episode - There are a variety of different game creation packages available these days, allowing even those with no knowledge of coding to put something that looks convincing together. Visual novels have always been a bit more of a challenge, though, thanks to their strong use of visual art as well as descriptive prose. For those who … Continue reading The MoeGamer GameCast: Pilot Episode
From the Archives: Why Do We Play? - A philosophical question for you today, prompted by a thought-provoking discussion I had with a friend the other evening. It’s a particularly interesting question with regard to visual novels, which are regarded by some as not being “games” in the traditionally-understood sense, but it also applies to the interactive entertainment medium as a whole. The … Continue reading From the Archives: Why Do We Play?
From the Archives: Politics Has Never Been So Moe - It occurred to me while compiling last week’s entry on the subject of “genre” that most of the visual novels I have personally played to date (Editor’s Note: at the time of original writing, 2012) have been rather “serious” affairs, dealing with delicate social and psychological issues, more often than not in a respectful, sensible manner. … Continue reading From the Archives: Politics Has Never Been So Moe
From the Archives: A Question of Genre - How do you describe a piece of interactive entertainment? Chances are the first thing you mention is the way it plays, or the supposed “genre” it is part of. Final Fantasy is a JRPG; Gears of War is a third-person shooter; Mario games are platformers. And this isn’t only true for mainstream games, either — even … Continue reading From the Archives: A Question of Genre
From the Archives: School Days, Chaos Theory and Emotional Engagement - School Days HQ is a visual novel/interactive movie from STACK and 0verflow, localised by Sekai Project and published by JAST USA. It’s a remastered remake of an earlier title from 2005, simply called School Days, and is rather notorious for all the wrong reasons — specifically, its violent tragic bad endings, which I won’t spoil here. … Continue reading From the Archives: School Days, Chaos Theory and Emotional Engagement
Root Letter: Eleven Letters, Eight People, One Truth - 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 … Continue reading Root Letter: Eleven Letters, Eight People, One Truth
Negligee: Pretty Girls in Sexy Pants - With a title like “Negligee”, you probably think you know what you’re getting — and in this case, you’d probably be right. Mostly. Negligee is a short visual novel from the UK-based (but heavily Japan-inspired) developer Dharker Studio, whose previous work has included Beach Bounce, Summer Fling and Club Life, among others. To date, the team has put out works … Continue reading Negligee: Pretty Girls in Sexy Pants
Supipara: A Tale of the Greatest of Smiles - [Editor’s note: as of February 2019, it appears that unfortunately minori is ceasing operations. This article has been left in its original form as published in October 2016 to preserve the original intention behind the series, even if it will likely never happen now.] minori’s Supipara, a collection of five visual novels, the first of … Continue reading Supipara: A Tale of the Greatest of Smiles
VA-11 Hall-A: Mixing Drinks and Changing Lives - VA-11 Hall-A is a remarkable work in so many ways. Not only is it the work of just two mysterious chaps from Venezuela, it’s one of the most authentically “Japanese-feeling” Western works for quite some time. On top of all that, it’s simply an extremely well put together package, featuring beautiful pixel art by Christopher … Continue reading VA-11 Hall-A: Mixing Drinks and Changing Lives
Where Everybody Knows Your Name is “Bartender” - One of the most powerful — and underexplored — aspects of video games at large is that they allow us to put ourselves in the shoes of other people: to explore lives that are not our own. In the case of most games, the “lives that are not our own” tend to be power fantasies: … Continue reading Where Everybody Knows Your Name is “Bartender”
Sexual Healing - Visual novels have been around for a lot longer than some people realise — and, like any art form, they’ve changed noticeably over time. An excellent example of the way they’ve changed — aesthetically, thematically and in terms of gameplay — comes in the form of Nocturnal Illusion, a title first brought to Western shores by … Continue reading Sexual Healing
In Pursuit of Several Truths - One common aspect of modern Japanese narrative-centric games and visual novels that we tend not to see quite so much in contemporary Western titles is the matter of multiple endings. In some cases — visual novels being the prime example — seeing another ending is a relatively straightforward matter of picking different choices throughout the … Continue reading In Pursuit of Several Truths
There’s Not Always a Happy Ending - The modern world is incredibly concerned with spoilers: the giving away of surprises before you, yourself, have reached that part in the narrative. But some of the most effective stories out there are pretty up-front about their most surprising elements and still manage to forge a compelling, interesting narrative. D.O.’s Kana Little Sister is a good example … Continue reading There’s Not Always a Happy Ending
The Rusian Fairy and the Chivalrous Pervert - In the strange and twisted world that forms the setting for Alcot’s comedy visual novel My Girlfriend is the President, Irina Putina is the Rusian [sic] president who shows up early in the game’s (fixed) first act and then sticks around for varying amounts of time in the remaining three, depending on which route you chose. She’s … Continue reading The Rusian Fairy and the Chivalrous Pervert
Guidebook to Another Culture - Video games are a great means of immersing yourself in another culture. For years now, Western gamers have been enjoying titles like Yu Suzuki’s sadly unfinished Shenmue series and Atlus’ Persona titles not only for their enjoyable gameplay and overarching storylines, but for their ability to make you feel like you’re “living the Japanese life”. There’s … Continue reading Guidebook to Another Culture
Visual Novels and Games: The Same, But Different - Every time I settle down to play — or even to write about — a visual novel, I’m reminded of how much I love the medium. I use the word “medium” when referring to visual novels rather than “genre” because in many cases, it’s not entirely accurate to call them “games”, despite the fact that … Continue reading Visual Novels and Games: The Same, But Different
I Lost My Heart to a Starship - Ell, or Starship Ezekiel to give her her full name — yes, she really is a starship — is the resident “cute” character amid the cast of Alcot’s comedy visual novel My Girlfriend is the President. My Girlfriend is the President tells an eminently silly story about how the protagonist Junichiro’s childhood friend Yukino becomes, through a series of … Continue reading I Lost My Heart to a Starship
We Need to Talk About Your Sister - The definition of a “classic” varies from person to person in any medium, but if ever there were a visual novel that deserves to be branded with this label, it would be Kana Little Sister from D.O. It’s a title that most enthusiasts of the medium have at least heard of if not played, and … Continue reading We Need to Talk About Your Sister

The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today

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