Humble Beginnings and Visual Novels

 

2017-07-07-110919 (1)

PROLOGUE TO VISUAL NOVEL HELL

Hey everyone, and thanks for dropping by to my blog and taking the time to read this post, as I’m not the greatest blogger out there, I feel I can write this post with some justice. I wrote something called Otome Prologue that briefly goes over my transition into otome games, but this blog will touch a bit more on how I got into not just otomes, but the visual novel genre itself.

I’ve been a gamer since the early age of seven when my dad bought my sister and me a first-person shooter game that I cannot even remember the life of me what the name was. With all, it’s old fashion pixels and horrific leggo block explosions when you blew something up on those big hunky monitor screens that weighed a ton.

Time for some good old fashioned Packard Bell shenanigans. Thanks ...

To say the least, I got my first brush with games because of my dad and was pretty happy that I never turned back after those days. However, my love of games expanded from being a poor shot to those of JRPG nature, consisting of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts as a majority of my young days. However, something tilted my perspective of games when I found the game, Persona 4 Golden.

Persona 4 Golden is PS Vita's Top-Rated Game – PlayStation.Blog

(Available here on PSNor Amazon)

While it wasn’t the original Persona 4 that was released on PS2, I was a bit bemused by the game at first because not only did you have to fight like in a JRPG and level up. There was an aspect to romance people? Just as a heads up, not only am I gamer, I’m also an avid romance reader who can devour books like I can take up camp playing games all night if left to my own devices.

So finding out about being able to romance a character, I was pretty psyched (although I got a bit upset because I wanted to romance Yosuke, and you could only become like EXTREME best bros with the man…) and romanced Naoto Shiragane, because she’s waifu.

Persona 4 Golden [Romance] - Naoto Shirogane S. Link Rank 10 ...

After completing this game, I started finding myself searching for more games that had this aspect where I could romance other characters. Pilfering shelves of Gamestop or indie stores that were around me and constantly asking if they had games with a romance element or gameplay concept. A lot of the time they would point to games that had just one person you statically fall for, you don’t dictate anything and you just kinda play and what not… Which wasn’t what I was looking for…

However, at this time, there wasn’t much for me to find as most of the games were more JRPG or shooter type, and a lot of the associates from the stores couldn’t find something fitting to what I was looking for… So… sadly, I gave up my search of ever finding something that had a little more romance in it geared towards women.

Until… one day, several years later, my husband found this game:

Amazon.com: Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi - PlayStation 3 ...

(Regular Edition Available on Amazon)

When I first got my hands on this game I was fairly shocked at how it looked, as my husband is more of the type to go and buy shooter, JRPG, or heavy grinding type games. You could imagine my surprise when he brought this game home to me and said that these types of games are popular from his homeland (Japan), and in Tsundere fashion, he handed it to me with a blush on his face.

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“So I got this because you finished school and–These games are popular back home for girls so…”

My reaction: 

Huh GIF - Huh Anime Questionmark - Discover & Share GIFs
Extreme confusion at the item being presented…

 

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“…”

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You know what, just take it!”

(I’m not kidding, my husband is a tsundere at times and I was pretty bemused when he showed me this game and how he was acting about it LMAO)

I remember taking the box from him and staring at it in awe and opening it to see Hakuoki and a few other items inside the box. It was amazing and beyond my wildest dreams, and I wasn’t even sure at the time what it was, or that this was an ‘otome’ game.

Alas, this game and I were not meant to be at the time… as I soon was bombarded by work and the game slowly began to just be a collection piece on my gaming shelf.

Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi Limited Edition Release Date (PS3)

(Special Edition Box Available here on Amazon)

However, the Visual Novel Gods were looking out for me and brought me into their heaven (hell) and I became a devout follower a year later when I moved to the tropical lands of Hawaii. I became obsessed with otome games and found a small community at the time on Tumblr who helped expand my horizons on not just Otome Games but the Visual Novel genre itself, and I’m grateful to them.

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PRESS START TO ADVANCE TO VISUAL NOVEL HEL–AHEM–HEAVEN

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So then, you may be sitting there and wondering, okay she talked about her beginnings into gaming and visual novel discovery but what’s so great about them? They’re just stories, right?

You are correct, they are stories, but visual novels or VNs is an umbrella term for a much bigger set of sub-genres underneath this category. What makes them great is that there are many variants of the genre that can cater to everyone’s particular taste or desires, depending on where you go and what you crave. So in reality, when someone says Visual Novel it may look like an iceberg that as a bit of depth… but don’t be fooled after you hit the iceberg and go down further you get caught in a web of different ways to go and you get entirely sucked in.

Emirati Entrepreneur Floats Iceberg Idea to Address Freshwater ...
A calm iceberg with some depth…
graph theory | The IT Student Blog
The bottom of the iceberg and the neverending discovery of subgenres in VNs

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{What’s a Visual Novel?}

The Best Visual Novel Clannad Is Coming to PlayStation 4!

A visual novel or VN is a story written like a novel with static pictures and sprites. Usually, you see anime-style characterizations in these novels, but there is rarely any interactive engagement from the gamer. While certain visual novels will have an element for you to do certain moves like participate in a battle or decide on what an MC can say to another character. VNs mainly rely on heavy narration, and remain very static for the most part; basically watching a movie or anime except you’re reading it like a book.

Reading GIF - Find on GIFER

Gameplay for VNs are usually nonexistent, with linear events that will occur in the story regardless as the story progresses over time. A good example of this type of a VN is Higurashi: When They Cry, you are basically placed in the protagonist’s viewpoint and watch the story unfold from their POV without making any choices. Regardless of what you wish to do, you can only follow along as a third party and watch the events unfold and bawl your eyes out or go insane…

Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.1 Onikakushi on Steam

While I know there are some RPG variations like Persona 4 and such, you have to remember that most of your interaction with a visual novel itself is scrolling and clicking through a written script.

“As a footnote here, games like Fire Emblem and Persona may have a romance element in them but they aren’t otome games, as romance is not a need to further the story and develop the characters versus when you play an otome game, a lot of your choices and actions are geared towards romancing or appealing to a certain character to drive the plot.”

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What is an Otome Game?

Browsing Otome

(Steam Prison Available on Mangagamer, Steam, and Amazon)

Well from my point of view, an otome is a romance-driven game where in order to develop the story you are building a relationship with several male or female suitors. Different from a ‘Choose Your Own’ adventure, your choices dictate the relationship you take with the characters, usually these specific choices either help you get to a happy ending or a horrific ending…

Otome translates to ‘maiden’, so when we say otome games we’re saying ‘maiden games,’ and this subgenre of the visual novel scope is very popular in Japan. The very first Otome Game came out from Japan, called Angelique, which was created by Koei with an all-women team back in 1994. The game became very popular towards teenagers and women in their 20s and above, and thus began the trend of what we know as otome. Spinning off a sub-genre that would seek to please or pleasure female readers and gamers alike with aesthetically pleasing visuals and engaging stories.

Like I stated above, most otome games have more than one romanceable guy/girl that you as the gamer can choose to woo, in a lot of the games I’ve seen most of the plot revolves around a single MC who has a harem of disorientating proportions. The gameplay is based on the choices that you choose as the reader that either assists or hinders the MC from developing or becoming a complete pushover.

BAD END EXAMPLE (TBH I didn’t think this was a bad ending, but I have a thing for horror and Yanderes LMAO):

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I really don’t think this was a bad end, but LOL

HAPPY END EXAMPLE (He’s not really a psycho baby, but his ending gives a lot of feels):

Amnesia Memories – Toma Good Ending Walkthrough | once upon a writer
AMNESIA MEMORIES OF NO ONE: TOMA GOOD ENDING

(Game Available on Amazon, PSN, and Steam)

“Most otome games are of boy/girl relations…”

However, there are games that steer towards girl/girl relationships that are starting to come out of the shadows, which I’m deeply thankful for because I love me some sexy ladies that can make my heart go dokidoki as well. Such as Nurse Love Addiction & Nurse Love Syndrome this game appeals to my medical background and the romanceable characters are cute and also hot as hell.

Visual Novel Nurse Love Addiction Coming to Steam | GameGrin

(Both games are available on PSN, Steam, and Amazon)

I digress, while I mentioned the notable GxG otome, the more well-known games are the GxB (girl pursues boy) to name a few would be games such as Amnesia, Memories of No One, Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth, and Kissed By The Baddest Bidder.

Otome games are available on PC, mobile devices, PSTV, PSVita, and other certain gaming platforms like the Switch. However, if you’re looking for otome games that have a bit more emphasis on sexual advances with CGs, Sony and Nintendo will censor that right off the bat, but you can definitely find your 18+ fix on PC games such as Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome from Mangagamer or getting the ‘smexy’ patch from Mangagamer after getting the steam version.

Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome on Steam

However, there are plenty of other game titles that deserve some justice out there, but we will get to those in due time.

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What is a Bishōjo Game?

Playasia on Twitter: "Are you a fan of bishoujo games? Well ...

(Pure Station is available on Nintendo Switch)

Okay, I know we talked about Visual Novels, Otome Games but let’s also talk about another branch of this area… Bishōjo games!!

In my opinion, bishōjo games are what I call the male version of otome games, thus, these games are geared towards men or boys in high school (pick your poison). With almost a similar premise of what Otome Games are, you romance a particular female interest and progress the story along with your choices or actions. However, the Bishōjos can go into a very gray area, so if you are interested in playing the male version of otomes RESEARCH PLEASE!

Bishōjo translates to ‘pretty girl’ or gal game, so to speak. When you play these games, you see a lot of the characters are very sexy, cute, or beautiful women who either abhor from the MC or fall hopelessly in love with them (like otome games hohoho~). Similar to otome you choose your own adventure or romance, however, in certain cases just like the maiden games. You will more than likely need to get both the good and bad endings to unlock extra content, or be able to get a secret route that was hidden in the game.

EXAMPLE OF A MAYBE A BAD END… HAREM HEAVEN:

I Thought this was Harem Heaven, but it's Yandere Hell' has a lot ...
EVERYBODY IS A YANDERE; GET YOUR FEAR ON

(Available for purchase on Amazon)

EXAMPLE OF MAYBE A GOOD END… Aokana (actually no, because a lot of the good ends have some explicit scenes so this will do LOL):

Release date announced for Aokana - Four Rhythmns Across the Blue ...
Good ends in Bishojos tend to be sexually explicit, so let’s just have this here instead LOL

(Aokana can be found on Mangagamer, reader’s discretion is advised because there’s smexy stuff all over the webpage for this game. You’ve been warned!)

I want to make something clear, as I mentioned above that Bishōjo’s are geared towards men, so there is a lot of questionable tastes, kinks, and fetishes that you may find if you decide to play one of these games. Hence why I say to research before you just pick whatever comes up on steam, one of the few games I recommend that doesn’t have fanservice explosion out the ass is:

A Butterfly in a District of Dreams

A Butterfly in the District of Dreams – Sekai Project(Available on Steam)

This is a cute start for anyone looking for an adorable and CLEAN beginning to bishōjo titles, I bought this game for my little brother and he absolutely enjoyed the story and the characters in it.

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What about BL Games?

The Broken Clock Official Trailer // FREE BL (Yaoi) Game - YouTube

(This game is no longer available…. sigh… but I loved this game so much)

I’ll state this for clarification purposes, while BL games have a visual novel element and you can romance people, it is not considered an otome. Why? It’s a male character romancing a male character, similar to the girl and girl romance, these visual novels fall under their own subgenres such as Yuri and Yaoi.

Now with these games, they also can have a tendency to go from cutesy to HOLY-FUCK-WHAT-DID-I-JUST-PLAY!? In a span of 1-50+ hours of gameplay, so as a fair warning to my readers exercise a lot of caution and research the games before you jump right in. One of the games I do recommend for the BL genre that isn’t going to blow your brain up from how psychotic or detrimental it can be is :

First Love Story from Fabary

First Impressions | 'First Love Story' (Favary) | Of Sakura and Kisses

This game is less intense as the other BL games I’ve played this game is available on a mobile device only, and it’s free to play! It’s a high school love that you’re bound to find cute in certain ways depending on the choices you make, while the more demure type BL Games can be found on mobile.

However, if you want a little more engagement and romance I suggest this new game that just came out and is very well done!

Royal Alchemist

Royal Alchemist - Otome / BL Visual Novel by Nifty Visuals ...

(Available on Steam)

This game is a strategy game with an Otome & BL twist, the images are pleasing, no crazy stuff, and most of all you get to exercise your brain in a battle of tactics. You’ll never be bored, you can play as either a male or female, however similar to Kenka Bancho Otome; you can either have a romance ending, friendship ending, or a very bad ending LOL.

Royal Alchemist by Nifty Visuals

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ADULT CONTENT TYPE GAMES

As we come to an end with this blog, I wanted to save this part for last for our more ‘adult’ and ‘mature’ audiences who need a little more ‘spice’ and sexiness to their visual novels. Be advised you can find the more ‘adult’ kind of love on PC Games, so if you are looking for something more adventurous in all visual novel areas…

[COMPLETED] Scales and Flower Petals (Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru! & DxD) | Page 75 ...

Please check out some of the titles on JASTUSA, Itch.io, and Mangagamer to get your fix.

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Thanks for reading!

Catch you on the gaming side~!!

Sincerely, a "Gamer Girl" | Her Campus

Author: Gray's Otome

A bundle of chaos that's been pressed into paper and leatherbound, waiting for an unsuspected reader to pick me up and be devoured by gaming problems.

4 thoughts on “Humble Beginnings and Visual Novels”

    1. I never got to play Angelique :(, but I would really love for them to localize the other games that branched from it. But I agree, a lot about the men in otome games, they raise the bar LOL

      Liked by 1 person

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