Tuesday, March 16, 2010

92nd Day

Lately, me and my friend have been talking about Visual Novels. I realized there's some misunderstandings about it and I saw this nice thread in Novelty forums, I thought I'd share :)

What is a visual novel?

Visual novels are interactive fiction games that focus heavily on plot. Most people in the west mistake visual novels as simply dating sims, but true fans know that this is a common misconception. While dating sims share an EXTREMELY similar look, when played they are noticeably different.

The gameplay for visual novels is quite minimum, except for a few exceptions, normally consisting of reading text and making a choice to influence the game ending. Some games have over 100 choices and nearly 15 or more endings while some are linear.Many visual novels feature voice acting, but fan made doujin games are easily spotted because of their lack in this category. The point of view can be anything from first, third or god mode. The genre's vary from slice of life to graphic horror, and the content can feature way too many ero scenes or none at all.
Visual novels also make up more than half of all Japanese computer games released each year, doujin and official.

Visual Novel Proper VS Adventure Game
The differences between visual novel proper (NVL) games and Japanese adventure games (ADV) are often lost to the western market, as adventure games have a completely different meaning in America and other western countries. Almost all visual novels licensed in the US are actually ADVs, which are technically still visual novels. The real difference is the way the text is displayed and other elements inside the game itself. Lately, I have noticed a downfall of NVL style games and a rise of ADV style visual novels, most likely due to the immense popularity of the reading format even if the only game play is "click an option, click to continue".

An example of NVL:

An example of ADV:

It is also possible to combine the two views. One is that when in a monologue, the scene shifts to NVL mode and when they start talking, they shift to ADV mode.

To Branch or Stay Kinetic , That is the Question
The easy way to tell apart a Branching visual novel and a kinetic visual novel is this: can you make choices? If you can, than you have a branching visual novel that most likely has multiple endings. Some branching games do not, and the choices only influence the content before the ending like Utawarerumono (a branching game, but not a branching plot). No choices in sight? Then you have a kinetic one in your hands, just read and enjoy.

Branching Examples:
Fate/Stay Night (notorious amount of Bad Endings), Katawa Shoujo and Phoenix Wright
Kinetic Examples:
Narcissu, The Noose, 40 Days and Nights of Rain

Erotic content, why are you here?
Unfortunately, some popular visual novels seem to fall under the "required Hollywood sex scene" disease... There are many games like Yume Miru Kusuri, Tears to Tiara and 11eyes that could have done with absolutely no erotic content whatsoever because of beautiful story lines, while games like Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni and Ever 17 are extremly popular and have no ero content at all. Some visual novels are just that, erotic scenes . However, others like Fate/Stay Night, Silver Chaos, and Saya no Uta have very nicely done ero scenes that seem to advance characters or plot instead of simply adding fan service and I find that to be a very nice medium. The choice of adding these scenes is up to the maker, and a decent balance will make players who normally don't like ero scenes not mind them at all.

Other terms to know (will be updated when I find out more stuff)
Genre: as I said visual novels can be ANY genre. And I mean any genre. just look them up, you'll see.

Side elements: games like Utawarerumono and Phoenix Wright have these. These aren't simply novels but games that require extra input from the player in order to advance.
Sound Novel: A very... hard to describe term... these are where visual novels originated from. This consist of the NVL format, background music and sound effects. Like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and The Noose (Zigzag).

Originally from here and I edited it a bit. But that's basically it~

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