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Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013



This is a visual novel.

It's a novel you read on your console/PC. Normally there is music and character voices to add immersion to the story, along with graphics to show characters and locations, but aside from those basic changes these are, more or less, Choose Your Own Adventure books that you 'play' on a system.

Since visual novels have been popping up more and more frequently on Steam and in other places (as well as being absolutely everywhere in Japan) I figured it was about time to open a thread for folks to talk about them.

Here's some basics before we get started:

Why 'All-Ages'?
All-Ages is a term used mainly in Japan when dealing with visual novels. It refers to the visual novels that have no adult content. This thread is for talking about All-Ages VNs, and we will be aggressively avoiding talking about the other kind. Thanks.

Diversity
It is a common misconception that VNs are 100% for lonely guys and are full of busty girls and dumb romantic comedy situations. While the great majority that come over to the West seem to follow this pattern, in reality there are quite a number of exceptions. In fact, there are tons of VNs in the horror, mystery and thriller genres, and tons more that shake up the normal 'high school romance/comedy' stereotypes. This is definitely the place to ask if you're curious what VNs have to offer that is new or interesting.

There are also many VNs that include other gameplay types, such as VN/RPGs and VN/Strategy games. Often when these come out West they get panned for having too much reading compared to their gameplay. When you look at them from the perspective of being a book with gameplay attached rather than a game with a book attached it becomes a little clearer why they are the way they are. For VN fans, these games with added mechanics are refreshing when you want to do more than just read the story.

Japanese
Not knowing Japanese sadly severely limits your access to all the wonderful all-ages VNs out there. However, in recent years there have been quite a few that have come out in English (whether through official channels or otherwise) so there is still plenty for English-speakers to talk about. However, if you are learning Japanese I would heartily recommend trying out VNs for a good Japanese learning experience. VNs, especially recent ones for systems PS2 and newer, often have almost all their lines voiced. This makes it easy to read along in the Japanese while listening to the characters pronouncing the words. Almost 100% of VNs also have a system for re-reading/replaying previous lines, so you can hear a single line repeated multiple times. Anyone studying Japanese knows how much of a nightmare it is trying to learn kanji and read a book in Japanese, so having the voice-over to help you along is great. Think of how little kids learn English by listening to storybooks and reading along in the text. This is just like that, except instead of a children's book you're reading an interesting story aimed at mature audiences.

For Girls
VNs aren't just for lonely guys either! There is a genre of VN known as Otome which provide stories full of hot guys for the girls to read. These tend to be even more diverse than those aimed at guys, and many have stories that are interesting enough to give them a following among male players as well.

Certain Games
Even among All-Ages VNs there are ones that are just too creepy to be brought to light and talked about here. Please use your good judgment.

Thread Title
Refers to the fact that, of the current generation, the Vita is currently being swamped with the largest amount of visual novels. The PSP was much the same, and both systems were great for folks like me who wanted to take some of their favorite stories on the road. Before these handhelds the main bulk of VNs went to the Sony home consoles, and before that Sega had the majority of them on the Dreamcast and Saturn.

Relevant Links
The Dangan Ronpa Thread
The (Current) Ace Attorney Thread
The Virtue's Last Reward Thread

More pertinent info will be added here if there's more anyone needs to know before diving in, but this is just such a wide subject area with so many possibilities it's hard to cover all the bases without the OP becoming unreadably long. Let's just leave it at this for now and jump right into the discussion.

Getsuya fucked around with this message at 22:38 on Mar 12, 2015

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Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Various Recommendations


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VatkGGooKrI
English Patch Available Here
Little Busters! is a visual novel by Key, a company known for putting out some fine stories. It is the story about a group of friends who decide to celebrate their oldest member's final year at their school by, randomly, scraping together a baseball team. Rather than using his popularity to put the team together himself, the oldest member designates the two main characters, Riki and Rin, to go around gathering up members. This seems like an impossible task for the two incredibly shy kids, but over the course of the game many, many things will change and the small circle of friends will grow much larger and stronger. This game encourages multiple playthroughs, with subtle changes in the common route in each new playthrough. At first you may not notice as you restart the first or second time to see different routes, but as you clear more routes you will notice rather obvious changes to the way things play out. But, more importantly, this game is hilarious. The translation team was very rigorous in their checking of the translation to make sure everything made sense and that all the jokes would come across for English readers. There is no way not to have fun reading this VN. Best of all, the payoff is amazing. Unlike many of Keys other games which relied on miracles or magic to solve some of the problems in the story, in Little Busters the characters face their own problems with their own strength and a whole lot of Power of Friendship, and it makes the amazing conclusion all the more sweet.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtkM0Aza4qw
English Patch Available Here
Symphonic Rain is a musical VN with actual rhythm game mechanics. You play as a student at a music academy in a city where it rains pretty much every day. The rain is so common and daily that people just ignore it, most not even using umbrellas anymore. With final exams coming up, you have to find a partner to sing for you while you play your Fortell, a magical instrument that can produce complete orchestrations with only one person playing it. The Fortell draws on the power of emotion for its music, so forging a strong relationship with your musical partner will lead to a much better performance. Story-wise, anyway. Mechanically your performance depends on how well you can DDR on your keyboard. The music is one of the big highlights of this game, with most of it composed by Ritsuko Okazaki, a very influential anime songstress/songwriter during the 90s. Here try some: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg5vzHKP6OA
The music, especially the vocal themes, will carry you through some of the (admittedly weak or frustrating... or rage inducing) heroine routes. Which is good, because the True End is amazing. Besides the music, the other thing that will carry the story is Phorni, the little musical fairy that lives with the main character who only he can see. If you find her endearing she will make reading through the game much smoother. If not I wouldn't recommend trying to force yourself through this game. There is, sadly, quite a lot wrong with most of the early routes and the game really doesn't shine until the very last route (though it does shine quite a bit then).
But, it's a short(-ish), simple VN with a fun mechanic if you like rhythm games. And hey if you're a Precious Moments or Final Fantasy Tactics fan the art-style should be right up your alley!

[From Junpei Hyde]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTGJz0fP2og
Corpse Party for the PSP. It's a remake of an indie PC98 horror game. You play as a bunch of kids trapped in the haunted Heavenly Host Elementary School and have to find a way out. Unfortunately, the school won't make that easy for you, and it and the various ghosts inhabiting it want to put a kibosh on that by gruesomely murdering you in manners that are very lovingly narrated for your late night viewing pleasure. Half the fun is in getting all the bad ends. It also uses binaural audio, so headphones are a must (as is playing the game at night, you wuss.) Unfortunately it's a remake of a game made in RPGmaker and it shows in the presentation, however the sound design is phenomenal. Also, it's pretty anime but hey this is a VN thread anyway. I think the PC version's being released on steam this year but I think that version had original Higurashi tier art. Still a personal recommendation of mine. Also, you should inspect every toilet in the game and obey every sign, nothing bad will happen.

Getsuya fucked around with this message at 23:19 on Mar 12, 2015

Sakurazuka
Jan 24, 2004

NANI?



Genuinely surprised Steins; Gate is getting a physical release on Vita in the UK, VN's just scream download only anywhere outside Japan.

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Both of the Kickstarter VN localization projects I've had my eyes on lately (Grisaia and Clannad) had physical copies as rewards for pledges but I'm not sure if either of them is going to get a physical release outside of the rewards. Still, that's 4 awesome VNs (plus a few side-story games) headed West.

Mithaldu
Sep 25, 2007

Let's cuddle.


I applaud you starting the thread with pretty much the biggest gun possible.

Edit: Do americans seriously consider Higurashi "all ages"? There's nothing sexual in it, but everything else puts it firmly in the "only to be read by adults category" for me.

Mithaldu fucked around with this message at 09:33 on Mar 12, 2015

Ibram Gaunt
Jul 22, 2009


All-Ages is just the catch all term for a VN without pornographic content.

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Speaking of Higurashi Sui, which is one of the main reasons I'm buying a Vita again (along with a few other VNs both already out and forthcoming), the new opening for it is pretty sweet. It has quite a few spoilers for those who know what they're looking at, but I figure people who don't know the series won't be able to see any real stuff beyond the ridiculous amounts of red herrings the series throws at you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVLKN7Q8iA0

Edit: No seriously it's to the point where you'll be halfway through the series before you even realize which mystery you're supposed to be solving.

Rollersnake
May 9, 2005

Please, please don't let me end up in a threesome with the lunch lady and a gay pirate. That would hit a little too close to home.


Unlockable Ben

Is Fragment's Note worth playing at all? It really doesn't look like it, but I've seen people mention it as a highlight of the PlayStation Mobile game library. I'd like to grab it while I still can if it's any good.

Junpei Hyde
Mar 15, 2013


Never believe in lies





If I enjoyed Hakuoki would I also like Sweet Fuse on PSP?

Luceid
Jan 20, 2005

Buy some freaking medicine.


VNs are cool sometimes. I should finish Umineko but the game by this point (early in the final chapter) feels like it's way up its own rear end. I shouldn't have read the interviews with the creator I guess. I also recall hearing something vaguely like the ending is a mega-downer so after all this way I don't know if I can be bothered!!

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Luceid posted:

VNs are cool sometimes. I should finish Umineko but the game by this point (early in the final chapter) feels like it's way up its own rear end. I shouldn't have read the interviews with the creator I guess. I also recall hearing something vaguely like the ending is a mega-downer so after all this way I don't know if I can be bothered!!

I really, really liked Umineko so I can't really give an objective review of it, but I can at least tell you that that thing you spoilered is only true if you make the dumb choice by ignoring all the hints the last game beats you over the head with as to which choice you are supposed to make. Then again, if you are the kind of person who would naturally pick the wrong choice then I'm not sure the ending you get by picking the right one will appeal to you.

Truga
May 4, 2014



Lipstick Apathy

Is there a list of fully voiced VNs somewhere?

I listen to drama CDs at work during slow hours, but I ran out of fun ones (all 3 of them) and need an alternative. VNs are just text with a couple pictures anyway, so it'd be the perfect replacement. Hit auto, continue work.

ACES CURE PLANES
Oct 21, 2010




Junpei Hyde posted:

If I enjoyed Hakuoki would I also like Sweet Fuse on PSP?

I never played Hakuoki, but Sweet Fuse has a fun setup, entertaining characters, and hot guys doing hot guy things. I haven't gotten too far, but it's shaping up to have a bit of a puzzle system a la Professor Layton to it too, looks like? Certainly seems like kind of a slow burn but entertaining. I'd definitely say go for it at the price it was at when it was on sale, but I don't know if the current price will work for you.

Squiddycat
Jan 14, 2010

If you're afraid of dying, how can you live!?



Lipstick Apathy

Play Ever17. It's Uchikoshi's (same guy who wrote 999 and VLR) magnum opus.

Peace.

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Volt Catfish posted:

Play Ever17. It's Uchikoshi's (same guy who wrote 999 and VLR) magnum opus.

Peace.

Alternatively, if you can read Japanese, buy the (roughly) $100 four-pack of the whole Infinity series (Never7, Ever 17, Remember11 and 12Riven) and play them all!

(I feel deep shame that I have yet to do this despite being able to)

Rollersnake
May 9, 2005

Please, please don't let me end up in a threesome with the lunch lady and a gay pirate. That would hit a little too close to home.


Unlockable Ben

Junpei Hyde posted:

If I enjoyed Hakuoki would I also like Sweet Fuse on PSP?

My girlfriend and I both enjoyed it. It's funny and entertaining, and the protagonist isn't nearly as spineless as Hakuoki's. The central gimmick is that she has a short fuse, and a lot of the decision points are about either keeping cool or verbally taking down whoever's pissing you off.

The worst I can say about it is that one of the routes is a bit creepy due to the character you romance being an irredeemably terrible person, but it's nothing particularly bad by the standards of the genre.

Also don't buy the game for the puzzles as they barely qualify as puzzles.

Rollersnake fucked around with this message at 12:03 on Mar 12, 2015

Junpei Hyde
Mar 15, 2013


Never believe in lies





Volt Catfish posted:

Play Ever17. It's Uchikoshi's (same guy who wrote 999 and VLR) magnum opus.

Peace.

Is there an easy way to get Ever17 legally? Last I checked it was only available physically and went out of print forever ago.

Junpei Hyde
Mar 15, 2013


Never believe in lies





Rollersnake posted:

My girlfriend and I both enjoyed it. It's funny and entertaining, and the protagonist isn't nearly as spineless as Hakuoki's. The worst I can say about it is that one of the routes is a bit creepy due to the character you romance being an irredeemably terrible person, but it's nothing particularly bad by the standards of the genre.

Thank God. Hakuoki's cool but I was waiting all game for something other than "stand around while hot samurai dudes do all the cool stuff" but it never happened .

Luceid
Jan 20, 2005

Buy some freaking medicine.


Getsuya posted:

I really, really liked Umineko so I can't really give an objective review of it, but I can at least tell you that that thing you spoilered is only true if you make the dumb choice by ignoring all the hints the last game beats you over the head with as to which choice you are supposed to make. Then again, if you are the kind of person who would naturally pick the wrong choice then I'm not sure the ending you get by picking the right one will appeal to you.

I'm not that dumb so it will probably be ok, I just wound up liking the unfolding story/struggle in the magic meta-universe more because it felt weird and different and I didn't see it coming, going into the series totally blind

Nate RFB
Jan 17, 2005



Clapping Larry

I really, really like Higurashi, but I also became completely exasperated by all of the spin-offs and side stories so even if that Vita game got translated I'm not sure I'd buy it. I liked the original 8 chapters and everything after that felt to me either superfluous or straight up bad.

Umineko is even better and people who complained about the ending IMO missed the point, I was pretty satisfied with it. Arguably Chiru overall wasn't as solid as the first four chapters but that's something else.

Endorph
Jul 22, 2009

I may not be as cute as the other girls, but I'm the best at arm wrestling!


Junpei Hyde posted:

Thank God. Hakuoki's cool but I was waiting all game for something other than "stand around while hot samurai dudes do all the cool stuff" but it never happened .
you're going to be sitting around a while with the otome genre then

the protagonist is a self-insert through which you interact with the guys, generally. frankly the hakuoki protag is on the better side of things in that at least she has personality.

Squiddycat
Jan 14, 2010

If you're afraid of dying, how can you live!?



Lipstick Apathy

Nate RFB posted:

I really, really like Higurashi, but I also became completely exasperated by all of the spin-offs and side stories so even if that Vita game got translated I'm not sure I'd buy it. I liked the original 8 chapters and everything after that felt to me either superfluous or straight up bad.

Umineko is even better and people who complained about the ending IMO missed the point, I was pretty satisfied with it. Arguably Chiru overall wasn't as solid as the first four chapters but that's something else.

I'm cool with how Umineko turned out, mostly. Except Episode 6. Dear god what a disappointment that one was.

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


It probably sounds silly but one of the things that really excites me about the Vita recently is that it got ports of some August VNs. Now August made some great stuff like Brighter than Dawning Blue that got ported just about everywhere, and they had a port of Fortune Arterial (which is the greatest name for a vampire story ever) planned for PS3 before suddenly canning it. Now on the Vita we've got ports of Aiyoku no Eustia and Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai (bizarrely both are ported by different companies) and they've done decently well so I'm hoping maybe they'll take the chance to finally give us an all-ages version of Fortune Arterial.

In the meantime that's two more games for my rapidly growing list of Vita VNs I need to pick up.

Nate RFB
Jan 17, 2005



Clapping Larry

Volt Catfish posted:

I'm cool with how Umineko turned out, mostly. Except Episode 6. Dear god what a disappointment that one was.
Yeah EP6 wasn't that hot, especially because it came off of the heels of EP5 which ended on an extremely high note. My favorite is probably EP7 which had a really clever presentation, lots of reveals, and maybe the best selection of new music.

Luceid
Jan 20, 2005

Buy some freaking medicine.


Nate RFB posted:

Yeah EP6 wasn't that hot, especially because it came off of the heels of EP5 which ended on an extremely high note. My favorite is probably EP7 which had a really clever presentation, lots of reveals, and maybe the best selection of new music.

Agreed on 5 and 7 being extremely cool and good. Will and Lion were really nice characters to boot. Ok i guess i'm gonna finish 8 this weekend, i hope i'm not too much of a retard and appreciate the ending and actually get it.

Snow Halation
Dec 29, 2008



Are we going to have a recommended VN list at the top of the thread? If so, some obvious choices to start off with are Steins; Gate (esp. with the upcoming console release) and Narcissu (available for free on Steam.)

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Sure. If you have recommendations write up a little blurb and find a pic and I'll copypasta them into the 2nd post. I'll probably write up a few of my own eventually but I haven't played Steins;Gate (yeah yeah I'll get to it) and, I know I'm going to get burned at the stake for this but, I didn't really like Narcissu. Just wasn't my cup of tea.

Edit: Also, is it to mention that a VN has a fan-translation available without telling people where to get it? Shouldn't it be fine as long as we're only talking about games without an official translation available or planned? I have one or two recommendations I can make if so...

Mr. Fortitude
Jul 9, 2010


Has there been any news on the localization of Chaos;Head? Steins;Gate gets all the attention and while it's a much better VN, being able to mess with a schizophrenic otaku rear end in a top hat in the precursor to Steins;Gate was fun too. The fan patch is currently very buggy and stopped because an official localization deal was going through but that was a few years ago now.

Nate RFB
Jan 17, 2005



Clapping Larry

I really want to like Chaos;Head but the last chapter is so bad it really ruined the whole experience.

Regarding fan translations, don't patches (such as AAI2 in the Ace Attorney thread) regularly get posted? Just don't link to actual downloads for the games.

Getsuya posted:

I know I'm going to get burned at the stake for this but, I didn't really like Narcissu. Just wasn't my cup of tea.
I'm with you there. My other unpopular opinion is that Ever17 is super overrated and overshadowed by 999 and especially VLR.

Sakurazuka
Jan 24, 2004

NANI?



Getsuya posted:

Edit: Also, is it to mention that a VN has a fan-translation available without telling people where to get it? Shouldn't it be fine as long as we're only talking about games without an official translation available or planned? I have one or two recommendations I can make if so...

Pretty sure it's not, since there was plenty of discussion of the AAI2 fan translation in the Ace Attorney thread.

Junpei Hyde
Mar 15, 2013


Never believe in lies





I'm phoneposting so I can't easily get a good picture but I'll recommend Corpse Party for the PSP. It's a remake of an indie PC98 horror game. You play as a bunch of kids trapped in the haunted Heavenly Host Elementary School and have to find a way out. Unfortunately, the school won't make that easy for you, and it and the various ghosts inhabiting it want to put a kibosh on that by gruesomely murdering you in manners that are very lovingly narrated for your late night viewing pleasure. Half the fun is in getting all the bad ends. It also uses binaural audio, so headphones are a must (as is playing the game at night, you wuss.) Unfortunately it's a remake of a game made in RPGmaker and it shows in the presentation, however the sound design is phenomenal. Also, it's pretty anime but hey this is a VN thread anyway. I think the PC version's being released on steam this year but I think that version had original Higurashi tier art. Still a personal recommendation of mine. Also, you should inspect every toilet in the game and obey every sign, nothing bad will happen.

Delusibeta
Aug 7, 2013


Sakurazuka posted:

Genuinely surprised Steins; Gate is getting a physical release on Vita in the UK, VN's just scream download only anywhere outside Japan.

That's Zen United pQube for ya.

oblomov
Jun 20, 2002

Meh... #overrated

Snow Halation posted:

Are we going to have a recommended VN list at the top of the thread? If so, some obvious choices to start off with are Steins; Gate (esp. with the upcoming console release) and Narcissu (available for free on Steam.)

We should add 999, VLR and Ace Attorney if we are doing that. Those are going to be must have I would think.

Junpei Hyde
Mar 15, 2013


Never believe in lies





oblomov posted:

We should add 999, VLR and Ace Attorney if we are doing that. Those are going to be must have I would think.

Those have their own threads, so maybe just link to those.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Junpei Hyde posted:

Is there an easy way to get Ever17 legally? Last I checked it was only available physically and went out of print forever ago.

No one seemed to answer this so I'm gonna ask as well. I loving loved Steins;Gate and both 999/VLR, so this seems right up my alley.

Ibram Gaunt
Jul 22, 2009


Pretty sure the only way to get it legally in English is to buy it from resellers for upwards of 100 dollars on ebay. I don't think it's really at that point since both the original parent company AND the company that translated it are gone, but I could be wrong.

I'm not sure if it actually got finished but someone I know was editing a project to make the translation less lovely too so if anyone ends up reading it I'd look for that too.

Nate RFB
Jan 17, 2005



Clapping Larry

Ibram Gaunt posted:

Pretty sure the only way to get it legally in English is to buy it from resellers for upwards of 100 dollars on ebay. I don't think it's really at that point since both the original parent company AND the company that translated it are gone, but I could be wrong.

I'm not sure if it actually got finished but someone I know was editing a project to make the translation less lovely too so if anyone ends up reading it I'd look for that too.
Those got posted on animesuki IIRC and I have them laying around somewhere. It just fixed a few typos though, unless you're referring to some other project.

Liquid Penguins
Feb 18, 2006

by Cowcaster


Grimey Drawer

I'm gay and I like gay anime bois, what is the v/n for me? I have a vita and a steam compatible computer in my abode.

Ibram Gaunt
Jul 22, 2009


Nate RFB posted:

Those got posted on animesuki IIRC and I have them laying around somewhere. It just fixed a few typos though, unless you're referring to some other project.

That's probably it, I know it was supposed to be a more ambitious project but I think they canned it when they started working on other projects.

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Endorph
Jul 22, 2009

I may not be as cute as the other girls, but I'm the best at arm wrestling!


Liquid Penguins posted:

I'm gay and I like gay anime bois, what is the v/n for me? I have a vita and a steam compatible computer in my abode.
i dont think any yaoi VNs have gotten releases on vita or steam

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