Visual Novels

What are these things? That’s probably a question that you asked when you read my previous post, well, there are many answers. Wikipedia has one, and Visual-Novels has one, but I’ll give my own explination about it and explain it in hopes of getting more people to know this genre of gaming. I will be demonstrating various parts of the game using The December Without and Angel as an example. If you know what visual novels are, then read my next post, which is a review of a bishoujo game that I just finished.

There are many different kinds of visual novels, (which happen to the term that I will use for the games in general) for instance, bishoujo games, dating sims, eroge, kinetic novels, and others.

The setup is very simple; there are back grounds, a character in front, and a text box in front of that. The story is told through the text box, which is almost always in first person format. Sometimes the text box covers the entire screen

But in most games the text box is at the bottom of the screen.

You advance through the story by clicking inside the window, which makes the next line show up. Generally, the entirety of the game is spent reading. Most games have multiple endings, which one can achieve through selecting different choices whenever an option pops up.

Almost all of these games involve no fighting, so almost all of the budgect is focused on the story and the art. The art of Japanese visual novels are almost always 2d, and involves some very famous artists with some really amazing artwork. Almost all games will have music and voice acting.

Another thing to note is that many games have 18+ materials, though there are many games which don’t.

Quite a few games have been adopted into anime, for instance: Da capo, Clannad, Air, Kanon, Higurashi no naku koro ni and Fate/stay night. There are few cases of this, but there are some animes with visual novel adaptions, for instance, Mai-hime, Code geass, and Ouran high school host club.

There are quite a few terms associated with visual novels, which I will explain now.

dKiWi from Heisei democracy explains it this way

“Visual Novel – Bishoujo Game – Eroge – Yaruge


Storyline/plot strength
is high on the left side of the spectrum and decreases as we move towards the right side of the spectrum.

Moe strength
is medium on the left side of the spectrum, peaks when it reaches the middle left of the spectrum and decreases steadily as we move towards the right side of the spectrum

Erotic content is low or non-existant on the left side of the spectrum, and increases steadily as we move to the right side of the spectrum.

Consequently, Bishoujo games are the most popular in Japan since they contain a good mix of storyline and moe, and are available to most audiences (15+ content).

Here are my term definitions.

Dating Sims: this is the type of game where you can control a guy and you have to control his stats in order to “get the girl”.

Visual novels: games that focus largely on story and character development

Bishoujo game: games that rely mainly on cute, beautiful, and interesting girls.

Eroge: a game that focuses largely on sexual relationships and showcases many h-scenes. But this term can be used for any game that has 18+ material.

Kinetic novel: there are few cases of this, but it’s a novel where there are no choices. Sometimes the company goes even more minimalist and do not include character images or voices.

Sound novel: a games that focuses on music. I only know of one series that do this, the WHEN THEY CRY series, but I’ll add this in since it is the best selling doujin series ever made.

There are a few companies that translates these games into English, but the majority of them are eroge, with Hirameki international being the only company that translates games of all ages and calling them visual novels. They also translated the most successful visual novel sold in North America: Ever 17. Sadly, that company closed down.

There are many english fan-translation on the internet, a list can be found here and here. But the games that I will be writing about will probably be Chinese ones.

Some visual novels that I played and likes are Narcissu, True Remembrance, Higurashi no naku koro ni, Umineko no naku koro ni, Ef the first tale, fate stay/night, Nanatsuiro Drops, Memories off 5, Ever 17, Clannad, Tomoyo after, To heart 2, and Parfait chocolat second brew.

If you have any comments and disagreements feel free to comment.


6 thoughts on “Visual Novels

  1. That was a great introduction to the genre a very interesting read indeed.

    What is it exactly about them that you like in particular?

    I can see how they would be an appeal from an art and musical standpoint.

  2. I first got introduced to them because of the art, yes, but the beautiful stories are what made me kept reading them. My very contact was with with watching the anime toheart remember my memories, that led to me finding out that it was based off of a game. The very first visual novel I played was Narcissu and then I went around digging for more games that was translated. I only found out about chinese translations recently though, and I still have some catching up to do.

  3. Oh thanks for the fan translation sites, now I can play Visual Novels without learning Japanese. XD
    But wow you’ve played some pretty famous eroges. I haven’t really touched eroges at all ^^;

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