EDIT: shinkiro0 has reviewed a visual novel here on Moar Powah! before. Check out his Kira Kira review here.
Greetings, Moar Powah! Since visual novels will likely be what I will be writing about the most, I needed to get this introductory post out of the way. Those of you who watch decent amounts of anime should have seen a few adaptations of visual novels here and there, and those of you who have played any sort of adventure game have some sort of idea how the “gameplay” works. But many still don’t know what a visual novel is, why they are popular, and what sort of impact they have made on whole industries. This is why this post will be an introduction to visual novels for those are unfamiliar but interested in the medium and for those who want to get into the medium but don’t know where to start. To start off, when reading/playing a visual novel (while both terms can be correct, for the most part I will use ‘reading’ unless there is at least a significant portion of actual gameplay), most of the time, you’ll see something like this:
What we have here is a background with a character sprite and then a text box in front of everything. Additionally, there will likely be music and sound effects. To boil it down, you could say a visual novel is like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from the ‘90’s with pictures and sound. Of course presentation can vary, but that’s the gist of it.
Since visual novels are defined by how they are presented, there are actually a wide number of them. On the gameplay end of the scale, you have titles such as Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk. On the other end of the scale, you have titles like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, which not only has no gameplay, but also has no choices, making it closer to an actual novel with pictures and sound.
The visual novel medium as a result has a lot of overlap with the eroge medium, since eroge often use the visual novel presentation. Many visual novels also have sex scenes. In fact, many titles focus solely on sex. Despite that, you still have titles that are capable of telling amazing stories, even if they do have sex scenes.
“Why not just watch anime or read manga?” you may ask. Or read a book. While anime and manga can and do also tell amazing stories, they do so in more of a visual style. Traditional novels tell amazing stories in a narrative style. Visual novels can, and often do, tell stories in a visual/narrative combination style. At the very least, this type of style is unique, and the style itself can be very entertaining.
With this, I can now start reviewing visual novels. I want to aim for one a week, but I may decide to write about something else for a week. That said, I will start with all ages titles just to make sure I don’t lose my readers immediately. For my first review, I will start with 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, a sleeper hit from 2009 that uses the unique features of the DS for more than just gameplay.
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