Taking a break from Piracy and have something else to talk about.
When I started playing video games since the Nintendo Entertainment System era, regardless of difficulty and lengthy game play mechanics, I am convinced that from the early days when playing tennis on a computer circa 1950’s is an interactive medium. From the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Playstation 3, games have interactive storytelling.
So when I heard about Visual Novels and the concepts, my expectations was high that you can interact with other characters much like a role playing game. What I witnessed after completing one character arc in one visual novel or dating simulation is massive disappointment and anger that result in almost breaking my 10 year old laptop. But what hit me hard the most is when people lump Visual Novels as part of video games. I have played 3 visual novels so far and only gotten mixed feelings about wasting my time when I could have read a book.
I understand that Japan culture is different to the west and I certainly can see the appeal of playing visual novels because you get to
fuck gently caress the heroine that you have affection for. Then repeat for other characters until 100% completion. Few Visual Novels has exceptions of not having sexual encounters. To classify Visual Novels as video games, I feel as myself, the player to input my actions that would affect the game but Visual Novels aren’t like that. Visual Novels only give choices that will determine the protagonist’s fate. Few Visual Novels involve the plot unless it is a story driven narrative but mostly a character driven story. Visual Novels are a book but with multiple narratives. Much like a tree, it has multiple routes to take. Would you take route A? B? C? Visual Novels tend to be having Chrono Trigger endings since there happens to be dozen of bad endings (including for each heroine and various situations) and good ending for each heroine depending on what choices you make.
My experience playing Visual Novels the first was Clannad and I played over 16 hours. Probably what made me disappointed me was that I watched the animated version from Kyoto Animation studios before the Visual Novel version and how I played my first Visual Novel in a completely wrong way. For the first five hours I input different choices and I happen to get all bad endings. Until when I check out the menu, there was a save button. And happen to have guides like a flowchart showing how to get the girl you wanted. When obtaining the guide, I followed the guide like a laser and after completing one character arc, I felt mixed emotions debating if Visual Novels are video games. It also stirs my mind whether or not playing Visual Novels with guide ruins the experience.
Fate Stay Night was perhaps the emphasis why it operates as a novel and it completely sealed it for me to convince myself that Visual Novels are not video games. The heavy driven dialogue between characters and plot development feels like a novel. The latest Visual Novel I have played that recently came out by 4leaf studios named Katawa Shoujo and everyone who heard about the hype learned it the hard way that it isn’t a video game. It is a completely character driven novel.
What Atlus did right on their games is that they done more than I expected from a Visual Novel as interactive storytelling. Persona 4 and Catherine doesn’t feel like a visual novel but they nailed the aspects of a dating simulation as you being a puppet master. For example in Catherine, you play as Vincent Brooks an adult who is being pressured by Katherine to tie the knot together as husband and wife. Vincent however encounters Catherine who is the complete opposite to Katherine as outgoing and freely. The way Catherine the game operates feels somewhat similar to a Visual Novel but really doesn’t due to various ways of how the game will end. The same goes for Persona 4 main character that you can interact with other supporting characters. Visual Novels are somewhat similar in vein to Japanese Role Playing Games but lack the game part.
Don’t think that I hate Visual Novels altogether. I do like the artwork, backgrounds and CG and several menu interfaces Visual Novels offer. And sometimes I wish that several Visual Novels be translated. Fate Stay Night and Clannad are fan translated and some are working in translation. Sadly, Visual Novels are currently a niche market and I never see a published/translated by a distributor Visual Novel much like anime today. Probably due to pornographic scenes which disgust or put off people. But that is how Visual Novels got started. Personally, I would recommend reading Give Yourself Goosebumps novels. I read through 5 books and I was amused by the dozens of endings. On the other hand, if you prefer playing video games, just go play Choose your adventure games. Preferably A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or Zork series.
TL;DR – Visual Novels is choose your adventure book with half the book gone, fill it with loads of heroines, background scenes, good looking CG and there you go. Call it a dating simulation. Or remove Visual Novels from video games and deem it as reading a book.
P.S: Anybody who brings up the argument of Western Role Playing Game vs. Japanese Role Playing Game, leave your comment once and never look back.