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Visual novel

From Wikipedia, in a visual modern way

A visual novel (Japanese: ビジュアルノベル, Hepburn: bijuaru noberu), often abbreviated as VN, is a form of digital semi-interactive fiction. Visual novels are often associated with and used in the medium of video games, but are not always labeled as such themselves.[1][2] They combine a textual narrative with static or animated illustrations and a varying degree of interactivity. The format is more rarely referred to as novel game, a retranscription of the wasei-eigo term noberu gēmu (ノベルゲーム), which is more often used in Japanese.[3]

Visual novels originated in and are especially prevalent in Japan, where they made up nearly 70% of the PC game titles released in 2006.[4] In Japanese, a distinction is often made between visual novels (NVL, from "novel"), which consist primarily of narration and have very few interactive elements, and adventure games (AVG or ADV, from "adventure"), which incorporate problem-solving and other types of gameplay. This distinction is normally lost outside Japan, as both visual novels and adventure games are commonly referred to as "visual novels" by international fans.

Visual novels are rarely produced exclusively for dedicated video game consoles, but the more popular games have occasionally been ported from PC (or a hardware equivalent) to systems such as the Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, PlayStation Portable, or Xbox 360. The more famous visual novels are also often adapted into light novels, manga or anime and are sometimes succeeded or complimented by actual video games, such as RPGs or action games set in the same universe. The market for visual novels outside of East Asia is small, though a number of anime based on visual novels are popular among anime fans in the Western world; examples include Clannad, Steins;Gate, and Fate/stay night.

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Japanese language

Japanese language

Japanese is spoken as a native language by about 128 million people, primarily Japanese people and primarily in Japan, the only country where it is the national language. Japanese belongs to the Japonic or Japanese-Ryukyuan language family. There have been many attempts to group the Japonic languages with other families such as the Ainu, Austroasiatic, Koreanic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Hepburn romanization

Hepburn romanization

Hepburn romanization is the most widely used system of romanization for the Japanese language. Originally published in 1867 by American missionary James Curtis Hepburn as the standard in the first edition of his Japanese–English dictionary, the system is distinct from other romanization methods in its use of English orthography to phonetically transcribe sounds: for example, the syllable [ɕi] is written as shi and [tɕa] is written as cha, reflecting their spellings in English.

Interactive fiction

Interactive fiction

Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, is software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives, either in the form of interactive narratives or interactive narrations. These works can also be understood as a form of video game, either in the form of an adventure game or role-playing game. In common usage, the term refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game where the entire interface can be "text-only", however, graphic text adventures still fall under the text adventure category if the main way to interact with the game is by typing text. Some users of the term distinguish between interactive fiction, known as "Puzzle-free", that focuses on narrative, and "text adventures" that focus on puzzles.

Interactivity

Interactivity

Across the many fields concerned with interactivity, including information science, computer science, human-computer interaction, communication, and industrial design, there is little agreement over the meaning of the term "interactivity", but most definitions are related to interaction between users and computers and other machines through a user interface. Interactivity can however also refer to interaction between people. It nevertheless usually refers to interaction between people and computers – and sometimes to interaction between computers – through software, hardware, and networks.

Japan

Japan

Japan is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, and Taiwan in the south. Japan is a part of the Ring of Fire, and spans an archipelago of 6852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.

Adventure game

Adventure game

An adventure game is a video game genre in which the player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story, driven by exploration and/or puzzle-solving. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media, such as literature and film, encompassing a wide variety of genres. Most adventure games are designed for a single player, since the emphasis on story and character makes multiplayer design difficult. Colossal Cave Adventure is identified as the first such adventure game, first released in 1976, while other notable adventure game series include Zork, King's Quest, Monkey Island, Syberia, and Myst.

Dreamcast

Dreamcast

The Dreamcast is a home video game console released by Sega on November 27, 1998, in Japan; September 9, 1999, in North America; and October 14, 1999, in Europe. It was the first sixth-generation video game console, preceding Sony's PlayStation 2, Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft's Xbox, and it was Sega's final console, ending the company's eighteen years in the console market.

Light novel

Light novel

A light novel is a style of young adult novel primarily targeting high school and middle school students. The term "light novel" is a wasei-eigo, or a Japanese term formed from words in the English language. Light novels are often called ranobe (ラノベ) or, in English, LN. The average length of a light novel is about 50,000 words, and is published in the bunkobon format. Light novels are subject to dense publishing schedules, with new installations being published in 3–9-month intervals.

Anime

Anime

Anime is hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from Japan. Outside of Japan and in English, anime refers specifically to animation produced in Japan. However, in Japan and in Japanese, anime describes all animated works, regardless of style or origin. Animation produced outside of Japan with similar style to Japanese animation is commonly referred to as anime-influenced animation.

Action game

Action game

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games, and platform games. Multiplayer online battle arena and some real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

List of anime based on video games

List of anime based on video games

This is a list of anime based on video games. It includes anime that are adaptations of video games or whose characters originated in video games. Many anime are based on Japanese video games, particularly visual novels and JRPGs. For example, the Pokémon TV series debuted in 1997 and is based on the Pokémon video games released in 1996 for the Game Boy.

Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon and originally released as an adult game for Windows on January 30, 2004. A version of Fate/stay night rated for ages 15 and up titled Fate/stay night Réalta Nua, which features the Japanese voice actors from the anime series, was released in 2007 for the PlayStation 2 and later for download on Windows as a trilogy covering the three main storylines: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel. Réalta Nua was also ported to the PlayStation Vita, iOS and Android. The plot focuses on a young mage named Shirou Emiya who becomes a warrior in a battle between "Servants" known as the Holy Grail War. Shirou bonds with a heroine through each route and confronts different adversaries participating in the war.

Structure

Visual novels are distinguished from other game types by their generally minimal gameplay. Typically the majority of player interaction is limited to clicking to keep the text, graphics and sound moving as if they were turning a page (many recent games offer "play" or "fast-forward" toggles that make this unnecessary), while making narrative choices along the way. Another main characteristic of visual novels is their strong emphasis on the prose, as the narration in visual novels is delivered through text. This characteristic makes playing visual novels similar to reading a book.[5]

Most visual novels have multiple storylines and more than one ending; the mechanic in these cases typically consists of intermittent multiple-choice decision points, where the player selects a direction in which to take the game. For example, in a dating simulator-themed visual novel, the player is prompted to pick different characters to date which, in turn, leads to a different ending. This style of gameplay is similar to story-driven interactive fiction, or the shorter and less detailed real-life gamebook books.[6] Many fans of visual novels hold them up as exceptions to the relatively weak storytelling in video games overall.

Some visual novels do not limit themselves into merely interactive fictions, but also incorporate other elements into them. An example of this approach is Symphonic Rain, where the player is required to play a musical instrument of some sort, and attain a good score in order to advance. Usually such an element is related as a plot device in the game.

Fan-created novel games are reasonably popular; there are a number of free game engines and construction kits aimed at making them easy to construct, most notably NScripter, KiriKiri and Ren'Py.

Many visual novels use voice actors to provide voices for the non-player characters in the game. Often, the protagonist (that is, the player character) is left unvoiced, even when the rest of the characters are fully voiced. This choice is meant to aid the player in identifying with the protagonist and to avoid having to record large amounts of dialogue, as the main character typically has the most speaking lines due to the branching nature of visual novels.

Narrative branches

In many visual novels, players are sometimes subjected to choices they need to make in order to proceed.
In many visual novels, players are sometimes subjected to choices they need to make in order to proceed.

Non-linear branching storylines are a common trend in visual novels, which frequently use multiple branching storylines to achieve multiple different endings, allowing non-linear freedom of choice along the way, similar to a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Decision points within a visual novel often present players with the option of altering the course of events during the game, leading to many different possible outcomes.[7][8] An acclaimed example is Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, where nearly every action and dialogue choice can lead to entirely new branching paths and endings. Each path only reveals certain aspects of the overall storyline and it is only after uncovering all the possible different paths and outcomes, through multiple playthroughs, that every component comes together to form a coherent, well-written story.

The digital medium in visual novels allow for significant improvements, such as being able to fully explore multiple aspects and perspectives of a story. Another improvement is having hidden decision points that are automatically determined based on the player's past decisions. In Fate/stay night, for example, the way the player character behaved towards non-player characters during the course of the game affects the way they react to the player character in later scenes, such as whether or not they choose to help in life-or-death situations. This would be far more difficult to track with physical books. More importantly, visual novels do not face the same length restrictions as a physical book. For example, the total word count of the English fan translation of Fate/stay night, taking all the branching paths into account, exceeds that of The Lord of the Rings by almost 80%. This significant increase in length allows visual novels to tell stories as long and complex as those often found in traditional novels, while still maintaining a branching path structure, and allowing them to focus on complex stories with mature themes and consistent plots in a way which Choose Your Own Adventure books were unable to do due to their physical limitations.

Many visual novels often revolve almost entirely around character interactions and dialogue choices usually featuring complex branching dialogues and often presenting the player's possible responses word-for-word as the player character would say them. Such titles revolving around relationship-building, including visual novels as well as dating simulations, such as Tokimeki Memorial, and some role-playing video games, such as Persona, often give choices that have a different number of associated "mood points" that influence a player character's relationship and future conversations with a non-player character. These games often feature a day-night cycle with a time scheduling system that provides context and relevance to character interactions, allowing players to choose when and if to interact with certain characters, which in turn influences their responses during later conversations.[9]

It is not uncommon for visual novels to have morality systems. A well-known example is the 2005 title School Days, an animated visual novel that Kotaku describes as going well beyond the usual "black and white choice systems" (referring to video games such as Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and BioShock) where you "pick a side and stick with it" while leaving "the expansive middle area between unexplored". School Days instead encourages players to explore the grey, neutral middle-ground in order to view the more interesting, "bad" endings,[10] i. e. an ending where a character dies or the main protagonist does not advance towards the flow of the story.

Kinetic novels

Visual novels with non-branching plots, similar to a conventional novel or a graphic novel in multimedia form. Higurashi When They Cry, Muv-Luv Alternative, and Digital: A Love Story are known as kinetic novels.[6][11] The term was first used by the publisher Key for their title Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet.

RPG hybrids

There are role-playing video games that feature visual novel-style elements. A well-known example in the West is Mistwalker's Lost Odyssey, an RPG that features a series of visual novel-style flashback sequences called "A Thousand Years of Dreams".[12] These sequences were penned by an award-winning Japanese short story writer, Kiyoshi Shigematsu.[13] Another title is the Arc System Works fighting game series BlazBlue, which plays off of a complex fantasy setting where a one-hundred-year period is reset indefinitely with many variables. The many branching storylines in Story Mode can serve as stand-alone stories, but players must consider them together along with Arcade Mode stories to be able to fully understand the universe.

Another successful example is Sega's Sakura Wars series, which combined tactical role-playing game combat with visual novel elements, introducing a real-time branching choice system where, during an event or conversation, the player must choose an action or dialogue choice within a time limit, or to not respond at all within that time. The player's choice, or lack thereof, affects the player character's relationship with other characters and in turn the characters' performance in battle, the direction of the storyline, and the ending. Later games in the series added several variations, including an action gauge that can be raised up or down depending on the situation, and a gauge that the player can manipulate using the analog stick depending on the situation.[14] The success of Sakura Wars led to a wave of games that combine role-playing and visual novel elements, including Thousand Arms, Riviera: The Promised Land, and Luminous Arc.[15]

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Dating sim

Dating sim

Dating sims, or romance simulation games , are video game subgenre of simulation games with romantic elements.

Interactive fiction

Interactive fiction

Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, is software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives, either in the form of interactive narratives or interactive narrations. These works can also be understood as a form of video game, either in the form of an adventure game or role-playing game. In common usage, the term refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game where the entire interface can be "text-only", however, graphic text adventures still fall under the text adventure category if the main way to interact with the game is by typing text. Some users of the term distinguish between interactive fiction, known as "Puzzle-free", that focuses on narrative, and "text adventures" that focus on puzzles.

Gamebook

Gamebook

A gamebook is a work of printed fiction that allows the reader to participate in the story by making choices. The narrative branches along various paths, typically through the use of numbered paragraphs or pages. Each narrative typically does not follow paragraphs in a linear or ordered fashion. Gamebooks are sometimes called choose your own adventure books or CYOA after the influential Choose Your Own Adventure series originally published by US company Bantam Books. Gamebooks influenced hypertext fiction.

Symphonic Rain

Symphonic Rain

Symphonic Rain is a Japanese musical visual novel developed by Kogado Studio and first released as a limited edition version on March 26, 2004, for Windows as part of a series of "music adventure" games done by its Kuroneko-san Team; the regular edition followed on August 27, 2004. The game is rated for all-ages, and contains themes which revolve around romance and relationships. The game was later published and released in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Mainland China by T-Time Technology. Symphonic Rain was released twice more in Japan, first on June 24, 2005, as a collector's edition, and again on November 22, 2007, as a popular edition at a reduced price.

Plot device

Plot device

A plot device or plot mechanism is any technique in a narrative used to move the plot forward. A clichéd plot device may annoy the reader and a contrived or arbitrary device may confuse the reader, causing a loss of the suspension of disbelief. However, a well-crafted plot device, or one that emerges naturally from the setting or characters of the story, may be entirely accepted, or may even be unnoticed by the audience.

Ren'Py

Ren'Py

The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine is a free software game engine which facilitates the creation of visual novels. Ren'Py is a portmanteau of ren'ai (恋愛), the Japanese word for 'romantic love', a common element of games made using Ren'Py; and Python, the programming language that Ren'Py runs on.

Non-player character

Non-player character

A non-player character (NPC), or non-playable character, is any character in a game that is not controlled by a player. The term originated in traditional tabletop role-playing games where it applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee rather than by another player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer that has a predetermined set of behaviors that potentially will impact gameplay, but will not necessarily be the product of true artificial intelligence.

Player character

Player character

A player character is a fictional character in a video game or tabletop role-playing game whose actions are controlled by a player rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

Nonlinear gameplay

Nonlinear gameplay

A video game with nonlinear gameplay presents players with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences. Each player may take on only some of the challenges possible, and the same challenges may be played in a different order. Conversely, a video game with linear gameplay will confront a player with a fixed sequence of challenges: every player faces every challenge and has to overcome them in the same order.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure is a series of children's gamebooks where each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character's actions and the plot's outcome. The series was based upon a concept created by Edward Packard and originally published by Constance Cappel's and R. A. Montgomery's Vermont Crossroads Press as the "Adventures of You" series, starting with Packard's Sugarcane Island in 1976.

Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon and originally released as an adult game for Windows on January 30, 2004. A version of Fate/stay night rated for ages 15 and up titled Fate/stay night Réalta Nua, which features the Japanese voice actors from the anime series, was released in 2007 for the PlayStation 2 and later for download on Windows as a trilogy covering the three main storylines: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel. Réalta Nua was also ported to the PlayStation Vita, iOS and Android. The plot focuses on a young mage named Shirou Emiya who becomes a warrior in a battle between "Servants" known as the Holy Grail War. Shirou bonds with a heroine through each route and confronts different adversaries participating in the war.

Fan translation

Fan translation

Fan translation refers to the unofficial translation of various forms of written or multimedia products made by fans, often into a language in which an official translated version is not yet available. Generally, fans do not have formal training as translators but they volunteer to participate in translation projects based on interest in a specific audiovisual genre, TV series, movie, etc.

Style

Visual novels are commonly characterized with dialog boxes and sprites denoting the speaker. This is a recreation of the usual screen layout of a visual novel, generated by the Ren'Py game engine.
Visual novels are commonly characterized with dialog boxes and sprites denoting the speaker. This is a recreation of the usual screen layout of a visual novel, generated by the Ren'Py game engine.

Despite using the narrative style of literature, visual novels have evolved a style somewhat different from print novels. In general, visual novels are more likely to be narrated in the first person than the third, and typically present events from the point of view of only one character.

In the typical visual novel, the graphics comprise a set of generic backgrounds (normally just one for each location in the game), with character sprites (立ち絵, tachi-e) superimposed onto these; the perspective is usually first-person, with the protagonist remaining unseen. At certain key moments in the plot, special event CG computer graphics are displayed instead; these are more detailed images, drawn specially for that scene rather than being composed from predefined elements, which often use more cinematic camera angles and include the protagonist. These event CGs can usually be viewed at any time once they have been "unlocked" by finding them in-game; this provides a motivation to replay the game and try making different decisions, as it is normally impossible to view all special events on a single play-through.

Up until the 1990s, the majority of visual novels utilized pixel art. This was particularly common on the NEC PC-9801 format, which showcased what is considered to be some of the best pixel art in the history of video games, with a popular example being Policenauts in 1994.[16] There have also been visual novels that use live-action stills or video footage, such as several Sound Novel games by Chunsoft. The most successful example is Machi, one of the most celebrated games in Japan, where it was voted No. 5 in a 2006 Famitsu reader poll of top 100 games of all time. The game resembled a live-action television drama, but allowing players to explore multiple character perspectives and affect the outcomes. Another successful example is 428: Shibuya Scramble, which received a perfect score of 40 out of 40 from Famitsu magazine.[12]

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Sprite (computer graphics)

Sprite (computer graphics)

In computer graphics, a sprite is a two-dimensional bitmap that is integrated into a larger scene, most often in a 2D video game. Originally, the term sprite referred to fixed-sized objects composited together, by hardware, with a background. Use of the term has since become more general.

Ren'Py

Ren'Py

The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine is a free software game engine which facilitates the creation of visual novels. Ren'Py is a portmanteau of ren'ai (恋愛), the Japanese word for 'romantic love', a common element of games made using Ren'Py; and Python, the programming language that Ren'Py runs on.

Literature

Literature

Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include oral literature, much of which has been transcribed. Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment, and can also have a social, psychological, spiritual, or political role.

Computer graphics

Computer graphics

Computer graphics deals with generating images and art with the aid of computers. Today, computer graphics is a core technology in digital photography, film, video games, digital art, cell phone and computer displays, and many specialized applications. A great deal of specialized hardware and software has been developed, with the displays of most devices being driven by computer graphics hardware. It is a vast and recently developed area of computer science. The phrase was coined in 1960 by computer graphics researchers Verne Hudson and William Fetter of Boeing. It is often abbreviated as CG, or typically in the context of film as computer generated imagery (CGI). The non-artistic aspects of computer graphics are the subject of computer science research.

Pixel art

Pixel art

Pixel art is a form of digital art drawn with graphical software where images are built using pixels as the only building block. It is widely associated with the low-resolution graphics from 8-bit and 16-bit era computers and arcade video game consoles, in addition to other limited systems such as LED displays and graphing calculators, which have a limited number of pixels and colors available. The art form is still employed to this day by pixel artists and game studios, even though the technological limitations have since been surpassed.

History of video games

History of video games

The history of video games began in the 1950s and 1960s as computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations on minicomputers and mainframes. Spacewar! was developed by MIT student hobbyists in 1962 as one of the first such games on a video display. The first consumer video game hardware was released in the early 1970s. The first home video game console is the Magnavox Odyssey, and the first arcade video games are Computer Space and Pong. After its home console conversions, numerous companies sprang up to capture Pong's success in both the arcade and the home by cloning the game, causing a series of boom and bust cycles due to oversaturation and lack of innovation.

Policenauts

Policenauts

Policenauts is a graphic adventure game developed and published by Konami. It was written and directed by Hideo Kojima, and originally released for the PC-9821 in 1994. A hard science fiction story, Policenauts is set in the mid 21st century and follows Jonathan Ingram, an astronaut recently recovered floating in space in cryosleep after an accident at a space colony sent him drifting into space for 24 years. Now a detective in Los Angeles, Ingram travels back to the colony to investigate the murder of his ex-wife and her husband's disappearance. As he begins his investigation, he starts to uncover an illegal organ trafficking ring.

Machi (video game)

Machi (video game)

Machi is a visual novel and the third entry in the "Sound Novel Evolution" series published by Chunsoft. It was ported to PlayStation, and for PlayStation Portable as Machi: Unmei no Kousaten: Tokubetsuhen .

Famitsu

Famitsu

Famitsu, formerly Famicom Tsūshin, is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Kadokawa Game Linkage, a subsidiary of Kadokawa. Famitsu is published in both weekly and monthly formats as well as in the form of special topical issues devoted to only one console, video game company, or other theme. Shūkan Famitsū, the original Famitsu publication, is considered the most widely read and respected video game news magazine in Japan. From October 28, 2011, the company began releasing the digital version of the magazine exclusively on BookWalker weekly.

428: Shibuya Scramble

428: Shibuya Scramble

428: Shibuya Scramble is a visual novel adventure video game produced by Koichi Nakamura with Jiro Ishii serving as executive producer, developed by Nakamura's company Chunsoft, and initially published by Sega, originally in Japan for the Wii on December 4, 2008. The game was ported by Spike to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable in September 2009. A version for iOS and Android was released in November 2011. PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows versions were released internationally in September 2018.

History

The history of visual novels dates back to Portopia Serial Murder Case (1983). It featured non-linear elements, which include traveling between different areas in a generally open world, a branching dialogue conversation system where the story develops through entering commands and receiving responses from other characters, and making choices that determine the dialogues and order of events as well as alternate outcomes, though there is only one true culprit while the others are red herrings. It also features a phone that could be used to dial any number to contact several non-player characters.[17] The game was well received in Japan for its well-told storyline and surprising twist ending, and for allowing multiple ways to achieve objectives.[16] Shortly after, in 1988, Snatcher appeared, developed by Hideo Kojima and released for the PC-8801 and MSX2 in 1988, in which a cyberpunk detective hunts down a serial killer.[18] Another more non-linear early example was Mirrors, released by Soft Studio Wing for the PC-8801 and FM Towns computers in 1990; it featured a branching narrative, multiple endings, and audio CD music.[19]

A common feature used in visual novels is having multiple protagonists giving different perspectives on the story. EVE Burst Error (1995), developed by Hiroyuki Kanno and C's Ware, introduced a unique twist to the system by allowing the player to switch between both protagonists at any time during the game, instead of finishing one protagonist's scenario before playing the other. EVE Burst Error often requires the player to have both protagonists co-operate with each other at various points during the game, with choices in one scenario affecting the other.[20]

An important milestone in the history of visual novels was YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world (1996), which was developed by Hiroyuki Kanno and is ELF's most famous visual novel.[21] It featured non-linear storytelling, with a science fiction plot revolving around time travel and parallel universes. The player travels between parallel worlds using a Reflector device, which employs a limited number of stones to mark a certain position as a returning location, so that if the player decides to retrace their steps, they can go to an alternate universe to the time they have used a Reflector stone. The game also implemented an original system called Automatic Diverge Mapping System (ADMS), which displays a screen that the player can check at any time to see the direction in which they are heading along the branching plot lines.[22]

YU-NO revolutionized the visual novel industry, particularly with its ADMS system.[21] Audiences soon began demanding large-scope plotlines and musical scores of similar quality and ambition to that of YU-NO, and that responded by hiring talent. According to Gamasutra: "The genre became an all-new arena for young artists and musicians once again, with companies willing to take chances on fresh blood; the market thrived with the excitement and the risks that were being taken, and became a hotbed of creativity".[23] The branching timeline system was influential, opening "the door for visual novels to become more elaborate and have a greater range of narrative arcs, without requiring the player to replay the game over and over again".[24] According to Nintendo Life, "the modern visual novel genre would simply not exist without" YU-NO.[25] Branching timeline systems similar to YU-NO also later appeared in role-playing video games such as Radiant Historia (2010)[26][27] and the PSP version of Tactics Ogre (2010).[28]

Chunsoft sound novels such as Machi (1998) and 428: Shibuya Scramble (2008) developed the multiple-perspective concept further. They allow the player to alternate between the perspectives of several or more different characters, making choices with one character that have consequences for other characters.[12][29] 428 in particular features up to 85 different possible endings.[29] Another popular visual novel featuring multiple perspectives is Fate/stay night (2004).[6]

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Open world

Open world

In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear and structured gameplay. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard for the concept which has been used since.

Red herring

Red herring

A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question. It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or audiences toward a false conclusion. A red herring may be used intentionally, as in mystery fiction or as part of rhetorical strategies, or may be used in argumentation inadvertently.

Non-player character

Non-player character

A non-player character (NPC), or non-playable character, is any character in a game that is not controlled by a player. The term originated in traditional tabletop role-playing games where it applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee rather than by another player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer that has a predetermined set of behaviors that potentially will impact gameplay, but will not necessarily be the product of true artificial intelligence.

FM Towns

FM Towns

The FM Towns is a Japanese personal computer, built by Fujitsu from February 1989 to the summer of 1997. It started as a proprietary PC variant intended for multimedia applications and PC games, but later became more compatible with IBM PC compatibles. In 1993, the FM Towns Marty was released, a game console compatible with existing FM Towns games.

Hiroyuki Kanno (game designer)

Hiroyuki Kanno (game designer)

Hiroyuki Kanno was a Japanese video game designer who wrote and directed visual novels and eroge adventure games starting in the 1990s. Some of his most well-known games include Xenon, Desire, Eve Burst Error and YU-NO, which had a major influence on the visual novel genre. He was friends with Ryu Umemoto, who often worked closely with him and composed music for the games. In December 1997, he founded Abel corporation and became its CEO. In 2011, Kanno died due to cerebral infarction and brain hemorrhage.

ELF Corporation

ELF Corporation

ELF Corporation , stylized as élf, was a Japanese eroge studio. One of its most popular games is Dōkyūsei, a pioneering dating sim, which has had a sequel and been turned into adult OVA series. The character design of the main villains from the -saku series is the company mascot. They are also known for role-playing video games such as the Dragon Knight series and visual novel adventure games such as YU-NO. Many ELF games had been turned into adult OVA series. Three of ELF game series had even been turned into TV anime series: Elf-ban Kakyūsei, Raimuiro Senkitan and YU-NO.

Time travel

Time travel

Time travel is the concept of movement between certain points in time, analogous to movement between different points in space by an object or a person, typically with the use of a hypothetical device known as a time machine. Time travel is a widely recognized concept in philosophy and fiction, particularly science fiction. The idea of a time machine was popularized by H. G. Wells' 1895 novel The Time Machine.

Radiant Historia

Radiant Historia

Radiant Historia is a role-playing video game co-developed by Atlus and Headlock for the Nintendo DS. It was released in Japan in 2010 by Atlus, and in North America in 2011 by their subsidiary Atlus USA. An expanded remake for the Nintendo 3DS, titled Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, was released in 2017 in Japan and released in North America and Europe the following year, with the European version being published by Deep Silver.

Content and genres

Many visual novels are centered on drama, particularly themes involving romance or family, but visual novels centered on science fiction, fantasy fiction, and horror fiction are not uncommon.

Dōjinshi games (dōjin soft)

Dōjinshi (同人誌, often transliterated as doujinshi) is the Japanese term for self-published (fan-made) works. This includes (but is not limited to) dōjin games (同人ゲーム), also sometimes called dōjin soft (同人ソフト). These visual novel-style games are created as fan-made works based on pre-existing fandoms (usually anime and manga, but also for TV shows or even other pre-existing games and visual novels). Dōjinshi games are often based on romance (or shipping) between two characters, known as an otome game (乙女ゲーム) or dating sim; sometimes becoming sexual (or hentai), known as an eroge (エロゲ, a portmanteau of erotic game: (エロチックゲーム)).

Erotic content

Many visual novels also qualify as eroge, an abbreviation of 'erotic game'. These games feature sexually explicit imagery that is accessed by completing certain routes in the game, most often depicting the game's protagonist having sex with one of the game's other characters. Like other pornographic media in Japan, scenes depicting genitalia are censored in their original Japanese releases, only becoming uncensored if the game is licensed outside Japan with all art assets intact. Certain eroge titles receive re-releases which exclude explicit content in order to be sold to a younger audience, such as ports to consoles or handheld systems where sexually explicit content is not allowed, and storylines referring to aforementioned sex scenes are often omitted from adaptations into other media, unless that media is also pornographic in nature, such as a hentai anime.

Traditionally, PC-based visual novels have contained risque scenes even if the overall focus is not erotic (similar to the "obligatory sex scene" in Hollywood action films). However, the vast majority of console ports do not contain adult material, and a number of recent PC games have also been targeted at the all-age market; for example, all of Key's titles come in censored versions, although the content might still not be appropriate for children, and three have never contained erotic content at all. Also, all of KID's titles are made with general audiences in mind.

However, some of these games are later re-released with the addition of erotic scenes, or have a sequel with such. For example, Little Busters! was first released as an all-ages visual novel, but a version with erotic scenes titled Little Busters! Ecstasy came out later, and though Clannad is also all-ages, its spinoff Tomoyo After: It's a Wonderful Life is not.

Often, the beginning of the eroge will be dedicated to introducing the characters and developing the protagonist's relationship with them, before the protagonist sexually interacts with other characters, for example, Lump of Sugar games such as Tayutama: Kiss on my Deity and Everlasting Summer do this. The effect it has on the reader is the H-scenes (sex scenes) will have a stronger emotional impact for the two (or possibly more) characters.

Some of Japan's earliest adventure games were erotic bishōjo games developed by Koei.[30] In 1982, they released Night Life, the first commercial erotic computer game.[16] It was a graphic adventure,[31] with sexually explicit images.[16] That same year, they released another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yūwaku (Seduction of the Condominium Wife), which was an early adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company.[30] Other now-famous companies such as Enix, Square and Nihon Falcom also produced similar erotic games in the early 1980s before they became famous for their role-playing video games. While some early erotic games integrate the erotic content into a thoughtful and nuanced storylines, others often used it as a simplistic vehicle for fetishism, pleasure, an aid of the lightheaded themes that encourage stress relief or to portray nuances of sexuality.[16] The Japanese game Pai Touch! involves the protagonist gaining the ability to change the size of girls' breasts, and the adventures that ensue in trying to choose which girl to use the power on the most.

Another subgenre is called "nukige" (抜きゲー), in which sexual gratification of the player is the main focus of the game.[32]

Science fiction

In 1986, Square released the science fiction adventure game Suishō no Dragon for the NES console. The game featured several innovations, including the use of animation in many of the scenes rather than still images,[33] and an interface resembling that of a point-and-click interface for a console, like Portopia Serial Murder Case, but making use of visual icons rather than text-based ones to represent various actions. Like the NES version of Portopia Serial Murder Case, it featured a cursor that could be moved around the screen using the D-pad to examine the scenery, though the cursor in Suishō no Dragon was also used to click on the action icons.[33][34]

Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear fame) was inspired by Portopia Serial Murder Case to enter the video game industry,[35] and later produced his own adventure games. After completing the stealth game Metal Gear, his first graphic adventure was released by Konami the following year: Snatcher (1988), an ambitious cyberpunk detective novel, graphic adventure, that was highly regarded at the time for pushing the boundaries of video game storytelling, cinematic cut scenes, and mature content.[36] It also featured a post-apocalyptic science fiction setting, an amnesiac protagonist, and some light gun shooter segments. It was praised for its graphics, soundtrack, high quality writing comparable to a novel, voice acting comparable to a film or radio drama, and in-game computer database with optional documents that flesh out the game world. The Sega CD version of Snatcher was for a long time the only major visual novel game to be released in America, where it, despite low sales, gained a cult following.[37]

Following Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Kojima produced his next graphic adventure, Policenauts (1994), a point-and-click adventure notable for being an early example of extensive voice recording in video games.[38] It also featured a hard science fiction setting, a theme revolving around space exploration, a plot inspired by the ancient Japanese tale of Urashima Taro, and some occasional full-motion video cut scenes. The gameplay was largely similar to Snatcher, but with the addition of a point-and-click interface and some first-person shooter segments. Policenauts also introduced summary screens, which act to refresh the player's memory of the plot upon reloading a saved game (save), an element Kojima would later use in Metal Gear Solid. The PlayStation version of Policenauts could also read the memory card and give some easter egg dialogues if a save file of Konami's dating sim Tokimeki Memorial is present, a technique Kojima would also later use in Metal Gear Solid.[37] From 1997 to 1999, Kojima developed the three Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series titles, which were adaptations of Tokimeki Memorial in a visual novel adventure game format.[39] Other acclaimed examples of science fiction visual novels include ELF's Yu-No (1996) and 5pb.'s Chaos;Head (2008) and Steins;Gate (2009).

Nakige and Utsuge

Popular subgenres of visual novels include the nakige (泣きゲー, "crying game"), which still usually has a happy ending, and the utsuge (鬱ゲー, "depressing game"), which may not. The genres are somewhat fluid and were largely pioneered in parallel during the late 1990s through the early 2000s by the works of Key co-founder, scenario writer, lyricist, and composer Jun Maeda; and through the works of Hirohiko Yoshida [ja] through his affiliated company Âge, particularly Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and its successors, notably Muv-Luv.[40] The ultimate goal of nakige and utsuge are emotional connection with the characters, through exploration of their personalities and evolving interrelationships through the drama of the game's storyline, and to emotionally resonate with the player; repeated playthroughs across a rich cast of characters offers a multi-layered narrative. Games from publisher Key often follow a similar formula: a comedic first half, with a heart-warming romantic middle, followed by a tragic separation, and finally (though not always) an emotional reunion. This formula was influenced primarily by Hiroyuki Kanno's YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World (1996) and Leaf's To Heart (1997), and was further developed in One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e (1998) by Tactics. After One was complete, the development team quit Tactics to form Key where they developed their first title Kanon, also based upon this formula. According to Satoshi Todome in his book, A History of Adult Games, Kanon was "heavily hyped [and] had gamers impatient until its release. It was only one game released by Key so far, and yet [it] had already sent major shockwaves around the industry. And yet another game [Air], two years later, sent even more shockwaves. Air was equally hyped and well received."[41]

Key's "crying game" formula used successfully in One and Kanon was later adopted by other visual novel companies to create their own "crying games". Examples of this include: Kana: Little Sister (1999) by Digital Object, the Memories Off series (1999 onwards) by KID, D.C.: Da Capo (2002) by Circus, Wind: A Breath of Heart (2002) by Minori, and Snow (2003) by Studio Mebius (under Visual Art's).

One of the most acclaimed visual novels of this subgenre was Key's Clannad, written by Jun Maeda, Yūichi Suzumoto, and Kai and Tōya Okano. Released in 2004, its story revolved around the central theme of the value of having a family.[42] It was voted the best bishōjo game of all time in a poll held by Dengeki G's Magazine.[43] It served as the basis for a media franchise, with successful adaptations into a light novel, manga, animated film, and acclaimed anime series.

In 2008, several of Key's visual novels were voted in the Dengeki poll of the ten most tear-inducing games of all time, including Clannad at No. 2, Kanon at No. 4, Air at No. 7, and Little Busters! at No. 10.[44] In 2011, several visual novels were also voted in Famitsu's poll of 20 most tear-inducing games of all time, with Clannad at No. 4, Steins;Gate at No. 6, Air at No. 7, Little Busters! at No. 10, and 428: Shibuya Scramble at No. 14.[45]

Horror

After developing The Portopia Serial Murder Case, Chunsoft released Otogiriso in 1992.Koichi Nakamura conceived the title after showing his work on the Dragon Quest role-playing video games to a girl he was dating. On finding she did not enjoy them, he was encouraged to make a video game that he described as "for people who haven't played games before."[46] Influenced by the early survival horror game Sweet Home, he developed it into a horror-themed interactive story. Chunsoft's next release, Kamaitachi no Yoru was also a best seller and would prove to be highly influential.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry) was a 2002 horror-themed visual novel by 07th Expansion, influenced by the "crying game" subgenre. Ryukishi07 of 07th Expansion mentioned in 2004 how he was influenced by Key's works and Tsukihime during the planning of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.[47] He played their games, as well as other visual novels, as a reference and analyzed them to try to determine why they were so popular. He decided that the secret was that the stories would start with ordinary, enjoyable days, but then a sudden event would occur leading the player to cry from shock. He used a similar model as the basis for Higurashi but instead of leading the player to cry, Ryukishi07 wanted to scare the player with the addition of horror elements.[48] Other examples of horror-themed visual novels include: Animamundi: Dark Alchemist, Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Ookami Kakushi, Imabikisou, Saya no Uta, Doki Doki Literature Club!, and Corpse Party.

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Adventure game

Adventure game

An adventure game is a video game genre in which the player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story, driven by exploration and/or puzzle-solving. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media, such as literature and film, encompassing a wide variety of genres. Most adventure games are designed for a single player, since the emphasis on story and character makes multiplayer design difficult. Colossal Cave Adventure is identified as the first such adventure game, first released in 1976, while other notable adventure game series include Zork, King's Quest, Monkey Island, Syberia, and Myst.

Bishōjo game

Bishōjo game

A bishōjo game or gal game , is "a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive girls".

Dating sim

Dating sim

Dating sims, or romance simulation games , are video game subgenre of simulation games with romantic elements.

Otome game

Otome game

An otome game , is a story-based video game that is targeted towards women. Generally one of the goals, besides the main idea/goal, is to develop a romantic relationship between the female player/main character and one of the second-lead male characters.

Horror fiction

Horror fiction

Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, or disgust. Horror is often divided into the sub-genres of psychological horror and supernatural horror, which is in the realm of speculative fiction. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon, in 1984, defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing". Horror intends to create an eerie and frightening atmosphere for the reader. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for larger fears of a society.

Fan labor

Fan labor

Fan labor, also called fan works, are the creative activities engaged in by fans, primarily those of various media properties or musical groups. These activities can include creation of written works, visual or computer-assisted art, films and videos, animations, games, music, or applied arts and costuming.

Fandom

Fandom

A fandom is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the objects of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices, differentiating fandom-affiliated people from those with only a casual interest.

Anime and manga fandom

Anime and manga fandom

Anime and manga fandom is a worldwide community of fans of anime and manga. Anime includes animated series, films and videos, while manga includes manga, graphic novels, drawings and related artworks. The anime and manga fandom traces back to the 1970s, with numerous countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan and Malaysia participating in it.

Shipping (fandom)

Shipping (fandom)

Shipping is the desire by followers of a fandom for two or more people, either real-life people or fictional characters, to be in a romantic or sexual relationship. It is considered a general term for fans' involvement with the ongoing character development of two people's character arcs in a work of fiction. Shipping often takes the form of unofficial creative works, including fanfiction stories and fan art, most often published on the Internet.

Hentai

Hentai

Hentai is anime and manga pornography. A loanword from Japanese, the original term does not describe a genre of media, but rather an abnormal sexual desire or act, as an abbreviation of hentai seiyoku . In addition to anime and manga, hentai works exist in a variety of media, including artwork and video games.

Eroge

Eroge

An eroge is a Japanese genre of erotic video game. In 1982, Japan's Koei, founded by husband-and-wife team Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa, released the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics, Night Life, an early graphic adventure game for the NEC PC-8801. That same year, Koei released another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku, which was an early role-playing adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company. On the other hand, some writers, like Naoki Miyamoto, considered the Yakyūken (1981) produced for Sharp MZ computers by Hudson Soft to be the first Japanese adult game.

Visual novels in the Western world

Prior to the year 2000, few Japanese visual novels were translated into other languages. As with the visual novel genre in general, a majority of titles released for the PC have been eroge, with Hirameki's now-discontinued AnimePlay series a notable exception. As of 2014, JAST USA and MangaGamer are the two most prolific publishers of translated visual novels for the PC; both primarily release eroge, but have begun to diversify into the all-ages market in recent years, with titles such as Steins;Gate and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni respectively. In addition to official commercial translations, a vibrant fan translation scene exists, which has translated many free visual novels (such as Narcissu and True Remembrance) and a few commercial works (such as Umineko no Naku Koro ni and Policenauts) into English. Fan translations of Japanese visual novels into languages other than English such as Chinese, French, German and Russian are commonplace as well.

English translations of Japanese visual novels on video game consoles were rare until the release of the Nintendo DS, though some games with visual novel elements had been published in the Western world before then, such as Hideo Kojima's Snatcher. Following the success of mystery titles for the Nintendo DS such as Capcom's Ace Attorney series (which began on the Game Boy Advance in 2001), Cing's Hotel Dusk series (beginning in 2006),[49] and Level-5's Professor Layton series (beginning in 2007),[50] Japanese visual novels have been published in other countries more frequently. The success of these games has sparked a resurgence in the adventure game genre outside Japan.[49][51][52]

GameSpot has credited Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in particular for revitalizing the adventure game genre.[53] The success of the Ace Attorney series was followed soon after by the even greater success of Level-5's Professor Layton in 2007. Both have since become some of the best selling adventure game franchises, with Ace Attorney selling over 3.9 million units worldwide and Professor Layton selling over 9.5 million units worldwide by 2010.[50] Their success has led to an increase in Japanese visual novels being localized for release outside Japan, including: KID's Ever 17: The Out of Infinity (2002), Cing's Another Code series (2005 onwards), Marvelous Entertainment's Lux-Pain (2008), Chunsoft's 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (2010), and Capcom's Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2010). In more recent years, several modern Western narrative adventure games have drawn comparisons to visual novels, including Telltale Games titles such as The Walking Dead (2012),[54] and Dontnod Entertainment's Life Is Strange (2015); the latter's creative director cited visual novels such as Danganronpa (2010) as an influence.[55]

Additionally, there have been some visual novels developed mainly in English, and intended for an English-speaking audience; one of the earliest commercially-available examples on a mainstream platform is 2004's Sprung, and in more recent times, the availability of the genre has increased, with notable examples being Doki Doki Literature Club! and VA-11 HALL-A. Other languages have been the focus in visual novels, including Spanish, French, Russian and Mandarin, which have seen increased success due to the popularity of the genre.

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Eroge

Eroge

An eroge is a Japanese genre of erotic video game. In 1982, Japan's Koei, founded by husband-and-wife team Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa, released the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics, Night Life, an early graphic adventure game for the NEC PC-8801. That same year, Koei released another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku, which was an early role-playing adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company. On the other hand, some writers, like Naoki Miyamoto, considered the Yakyūken (1981) produced for Sharp MZ computers by Hudson Soft to be the first Japanese adult game.

Hirameki

Hirameki

Hirameki International Group Inc. was an American company founded in March 2000 which specialized in translating visual novels from Japan and releasing them to the American market. It is named after the Japanese word for the noun "flash" or "insight". On January 2, 2008, the company elected to bow out of games production.

AnimePlay

AnimePlay

Anime Play is a trademark used to refer to the visual novel games distributed by Hirameki International and a (discontinued) magazine profiling these games.

JAST USA

JAST USA

JAST USA is a publisher of English-language versions of Japanese video games, specifically bishōjo games, dating sims, visual novels and Japanese RPGs. It was founded in 1996, and their first game releases were Sakura Soft's Season of the Sakura and JAST's Three Sisters' Story. It has had several brands: Peach Princess, G-Collections, JAST Densetsu, and JAST Blue.

MangaGamer

MangaGamer

MangaGamer is a video game publisher specializing in the English localization and distribution of Japanese eroge and visual novels. It is run by Japanese-based company Japan Animation Contents.

Fan translation

Fan translation

Fan translation refers to the unofficial translation of various forms of written or multimedia products made by fans, often into a language in which an official translated version is not yet available. Generally, fans do not have formal training as translators but they volunteer to participate in translation projects based on interest in a specific audiovisual genre, TV series, movie, etc.

Narcissu

Narcissu

Narcissu is a free visual novel video game developed by the dōjin group Stage-nana, telling the story of a terminally ill young man and woman. It was made with the NScripter engine.

Hideo Kojima

Hideo Kojima

Hideo Kojima is a Japanese video game designer, director, producer and writer. He is regarded as an auteur of video games. He developed a strong passion for action/adventure cinema and literature during his childhood and adolescence. In 1986, he was hired by Konami, for which he designed and wrote Metal Gear (1987) for the MSX2, a game that laid the foundations for stealth games and the Metal Gear series, his best known and most appreciated works. He is also known for producing the Zone of the Enders series, as well as writing and designing Snatcher (1988) and Policenauts (1994), graphic adventure games regarded for their cinematic presentation.

Capcom

Capcom

Capcom Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher. It has created a number of multi-million-selling game franchises, with its most commercially successful being Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Devil May Cry, Dead Rising, and Marvel vs. Capcom. Mega Man himself serves as the official mascot of the company. Established in 1979, it has become an international enterprise with subsidiaries in East Asia, Europe, and North America.

Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney is a series of visual novel adventure video games developed by Capcom. With storytelling fashioned after legal dramas, the first entry in the series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released in 2001; since then, five further main series games, as well as various spin-offs, prequels and high-definition remasters for newer game consoles, have been released. Additionally, the series has seen adaptations in the form of a live-action film and an anime, and has been the base for manga series, drama CDs, musicals and stage plays.

Game Boy Advance

Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance (GBA) is a 32-bit handheld game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo as the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001, in North America on June 11, 2001, in the PAL region on June 22, 2001, and in mainland China as iQue Game Boy Advance on June 8, 2004. The GBA is part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. The original model does not have an illuminated screen; Nintendo addressed that with the release of a redesigned model with a frontlit screen, the Game Boy Advance SP, in 2003. A newer revision of the redesign was released in 2005, with a backlit screen. Around the same time, the final redesign, the Game Boy Micro, was released in September 2005.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a point-and-click adventure game for the Nintendo DS. Originally titled as Wish Room, the game made its first public appearance on May 9, 2006, at that year's E3 convention. It was originally released in North America on January 22, 2007, before being released subsequently in other regions. The game supports the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak accessory. The game was later republished in 2008 as part of the Touch! Generations line of DS games. The game was developed by the now-defunct Cing. A sequel, Last Window: The Secret of Cape West, was released in 2010 for the DS.

List of best-selling visual novels

Sales data for visual novels is frequently unavailable; the sales listed below can be significantly outdated as some of the sources are over a decade old, and series qualified for an entry could be missing. These lists should be referenced carefully.

Free visual novels do not appear in these lists due to the unreliability of download numbers and for consistency with other best-selling lists.

Series

Visual novel series that have sold over 100,000 copies
Series Debut Creator(s) Sales Note(s)/ref(s)
J.B. Harold Murder Club 1986 Riverhillsoft 20,000,000 [56]
Professor Layton 2007 Level-5 / Akihiro Hino 17,020,337 [a]
Ace Attorney 2001 Capcom / Shu Takumi 9,200,000 [59]
Danganronpa 2010 Spike (Spike Chunsoft) / Kazutaka Kodaka 5,000,000 [b]
Sakura Wars (Sakura Taisen) 1996 Sega CS2 R&D / Red Entertainment 4,718,113 [c]
Tokimeki Memorial 1994 Konami / Koji Igarashi 3,714,704 [d]
Nekopara 2014 Neko Works / Sayori 3,000,000 [64][65]
Sound Novel 1992 Chunsoft (Spike Chunsoft) 2,709,907 [f]
Tantei Jingūji Saburō (Jake Hunter) 1987 Data East 2,346,841 [g]
Fate 2004 Type-Moon / Kinoko Nasu 2,096,148 [i]
Sakura 2014 Winged Cloud 1,566,022 [j]
Zero Escape 2009 Chunsoft / Kotaro Uchikoshi 1,290,213 [k]
Steins;Gate 2009 5pb. / Nitroplus 1,244,545 [l]
Rance 1989 AliceSoft 1,159,193 [m]
Higurashi: When They Cry 2002 07th Expansion / Ryukishi07 1,109,018 [o]
Shinseiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion) 1996 Sega AM2 / Gainax Network Systems 1,040,972 [p]
Muv-Luv 2003 âge 800,000 [q]
D.C Da Capo 2002 Circus 800,000 [r]
Dōkyūsei 1992 ELF Corporation 722,662 [s]
The Death Trap 1984 Squaresoft / Hironobu Sakaguchi 600,000 [t]
To Heart 1997 Leaf 584,263 [u]
EVE 1995 Hiroyuki Kanno / C's Ware 575,873 [v]
Clannad 2004 Key / Jun Maeda 468,278 [w]
Majikoi! 2009 Minato Soft 400,000 [x]
Welcome to Pia Carrot 1996 Cocktail Soft 320,696 [y]
Hatoful Boyfriend 2011 PigeoNation Inc. / Hato Moa 317,015 [z]
Kidou Senkan Nadesico (Martian Successor Nadesico) 1997 Sega 284,255 [aa]
Cardcaptor Sakura ~Sakura to Card to O-Tomodachi~ 1999 MTO 193,745 [58]
Dies irae 2007 Light 100,000 [94]

Standalone

Standalone visual novels that have sold over 100,000 copies
Title Release Developer(s) Sales Note(s)/ref(s)
Doki Doki Literature Club! 2017 Team Salvato 2,500,000 [95][96]
Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (The Portopia Serial Murder Case) 1983 Yuji Horii / Chunsoft 700,000 [97]
Digimon Survive 2022 Hyde 500,000 [98]
VA-11 HALL-A 2016 Sukeban Games 500,000 [99]
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim 2019 Vanillaware 500,000 [100]
Nonomura Byōin no Hitobito (Mystery of Nonomura Hospital) 1996 ELF Corporation 400,000 [101]
YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World 1996 Hiroyuki Kanno / ELF Corporation 380,820 [ab]
Long Live the Queen 2012 Hanako Games / Spiky Caterpillar 369,384 [73]
Policenauts 1994 Hideo Kojima / Konami 341,483 [58]
Kanon 1999 Key / Naoki Hisaya 317,512 [ac]
Air 2000 Key / Jun Maeda 308,382 [ad]
Tsukihime –A piece of blue glass moon- 2021 Type-Moon 240,000 [ae]
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 2007 Cing 213,208 [104]
Monster Prom 2018 Beautiful Glitch 200,000 [105]
Can Can Bunny: Premiere 1992 Cocktail Soft / KID 159,502 [79]
Doukoku Soshite... 1997 Data East 131,085 [58]
Witch on the Holy Night 2022 Type-Moon 110,000 [af]
Desire 1994 Hiroyuki Kanno / C's Ware 102,187 [79]
One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e 1998 Tactics 100,000 [107]

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List of best-selling Japanese role-playing game franchises

List of best-selling Japanese role-playing game franchises

This is a list of best-selling Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) franchises. For inclusion on the list, a franchise must have sold or shipped at least one million copies. For the purpose of this article, a JRPG is defined as a franchise which: (1) is considered a role-playing game by reliable sources and was made in Japan or (2) made in another country, but otherwise the franchise would be difficult to differentiate from a JRPG due to having common traits found in JRPGs such as: anime/manga character designs, RPG elements, fantasy setting and widely considered as being inspired or influenced by a JRPG. The numbers for sales or shipments are based on the most recent available sourced numbers and often may not include non-video game sales or more recent sales; actual total sales numbers may be higher.

List of best-selling manga

List of best-selling manga

The following is a list of the best-selling Japanese manga series to date in terms of the number of collected tankōbon volumes sold. All series in this list have at least 20 million copies in circulation. This list is limited to Japanese manga and does not include manhwa, manhua or original English-language manga. The series are listed according to the highest circulation estimate of their collected tankōbon volumes as reported in reliable sources unless indicated otherwise. As for the series with the same total number of circulation or sales, they are arranged in alphabetical order.

List of highest-grossing media franchises

List of highest-grossing media franchises

This article lists notable highest-grossing media franchises. Due to companies and corporations rarely reporting the total revenue(s) figures of their franchises, the list uses estimated figures based on publicly available data and includes the total estimated revenue figure(s) and their breakdown.

J.B. Harold Murder Club

J.B. Harold Murder Club

J.B. Harold Murder Club, known as J.B. Harold no Jikenbo #1: Murder Club in Japan, is a 1986 murder mystery adventure game, developed by Riverhillsoft and released for the NEC PC-98, MSX, MS-DOS, NEC TurboGrafx-CD (TurboDuo) and Nintendo DS platforms. The TurboGrafx-CD version featured still photographs, text and audio voices as well as the option to select the language, English or Japanese. It was the first entry in the J.B. Harold series, which have been released on various platforms and sold 20 million copies as of 2011.

Level-5 (company)

Level-5 (company)

Level-5 Inc. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher based in Fukuoka. The company was founded in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino after he departed from Riverhillsoft. Early in its history, the company enjoyed a close relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment, with many of its games then funded by and produced in conjunction with them. Level-5 began self-publishing its games in Japan by the late 2000s, with other companies such as Nintendo handling publishing worldwide. The company is best known for their Dark Cloud, Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Ni no Kuni, Yo-kai Watch, and Snack World franchises.

Akihiro Hino

Akihiro Hino

Akihiro Hino is a Japanese video game designer and businessman. Starting his career as a programmer in the 1990s, he later took on roles in writing, design, directing and producing. He founded Level-5 in 1998, where he remains its president and CEO.

Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney is a series of visual novel adventure video games developed by Capcom. With storytelling fashioned after legal dramas, the first entry in the series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released in 2001; since then, five further main series games, as well as various spin-offs, prequels and high-definition remasters for newer game consoles, have been released. Additionally, the series has seen adaptations in the form of a live-action film and an anime, and has been the base for manga series, drama CDs, musicals and stage plays.

Capcom

Capcom

Capcom Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher. It has created a number of multi-million-selling game franchises, with its most commercially successful being Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Devil May Cry, Dead Rising, and Marvel vs. Capcom. Mega Man himself serves as the official mascot of the company. Established in 1979, it has become an international enterprise with subsidiaries in East Asia, Europe, and North America.

Danganronpa

Danganronpa

Danganronpa is a Japanese video game franchise created by Kazutaka Kodaka and developed and owned by Spike Chunsoft. The series primarily surrounds various groups of apparent high school students who are forced into murdering each other by a robotic teddy bear named Monokuma. Gameplay features a mix of adventure, visual novel, detective and dating simulator elements. The first game, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, was released for the PlayStation Portable in 2010.

Kazutaka Kodaka

Kazutaka Kodaka

Kazutaka Kodaka is a Japanese video game designer, writer and mangaka. His work is known for recurring themes of contrasting hope/despair, luck/talent, truth/lies; mixing tragedy with dark humor, numerous plot-twists etc. He was an employee of Spike Chunsoft and is widely known as the creator and writer of the Danganronpa franchise. He left the company in 2017 and founded Too Kyo Games with other ex-employees.

Konami

Konami

Konami Group Corporation is a Japanese multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Chūō, Tokyo, it also produces and distributes trading cards, anime, tokusatsu, pachinko machines, slot machines, and arcade cabinets. Konami has casinos around the world and operates health and physical fitness clubs across Japan.

Koji Igarashi

Koji Igarashi

Koji Igarashi is a Japanese video game producer, programmer, writer, and creative director. Often credited as IGA, he began his career by joining Konami in 1990 as a programmer. Over the next ten years, he moved into a senior role within the company, working on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as a programmer, writer, and assistant director. He later served as the lead producer on the Castlevania series, starting with Castlevania Chronicles in 1999 and ending with Castlevania: Harmony of Despair in 2011. During his time with Konami, he was also involved in other titles, such as Nano Breaker and Tokimeki Memorial. In 2014, Igarashi left Konami to later become the co-founder of Artplay who in June 2019 released Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night.

Source: "Visual novel", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_novel.

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Notes
  1. ^ Professor Layton series:
  2. ^ Danganronpa series: [60]
  3. ^ Sakura Wars series:
  4. ^ Tokimeki Memorial series:
    • 3 million+[63]
    • August 2006 to 2019 (Japan) – 714,703[58]
  5. ^ See 428: Shibuya Scramble § Reception
  6. ^ Sound Novel series:
  7. ^ Tantei Jingūji Saburō series
    • As of May 2007 – 2.22 million[68]
    • July 2007 to 2019 (Japan) – 126,841[58]
  8. ^ See Fate/stay night § Reception
  9. ^ Fate series (Japan)
  10. ^ Sakura series:
    • Sakura Agent, Sakura Dungeon, Sakura Gamer, Sakura Magical Girls – 206,022
    • Other titles – 1.36 million[70]
  11. ^ Zero Escape series:
    • Japan (consoles) – 90,213[58]
    • Steam (PC) – 1,200,000+[71]
  12. ^ Steins;Gate series:
  13. ^ Rance series:
    • Japan – 1,000,000 (Data of all series until Rance 03 –Fall of Leazas–)
    • Rance X (PC) – 159,193 (2018)[77]
  14. ^ See Higurashi When They Cry § Reception
  15. ^ Higurashi When They Cry series:
    • Japan (consoles) – 908,391[n]
    • Steam (PC) – 200,627+
      • Ch.1 – 100,000+[78]
      • Ch.2 – 28,301+[73]
      • Ch.3 – 20,000+[78]
      • Ch.4 – 12,326+[73]
      • Ch.5 and Ch.6 – 40,000+[78]
  16. ^ Neon Genesis Evangelion series (Japan)
  17. ^ Muv-Luv series
    • Worldwide – 800,000 (Total cumulative of series)[80]
    • Japan – 500,000 (Total cumulative of series until 2015)[81]
    • Steam (PC) overseas – 5,256[73]
  18. ^ D.C Da Capo series:
    • Japan – 800,000 (Total cumulative of all games until Da Capo 5)[83]
  19. ^ Dōkyūsei series (Japan)
  20. ^ The Death Trap series:
  21. ^ To Heart series (Japan)
  22. ^ EVE series
  23. ^ Clannad series:
  24. ^ Majikoi!' series:
  25. ^ Pia Carrot series (Japan)
    • Consoles – 284,186[58]
    • PC (2006) – 36,510[82]
  26. ^ Hatoful Boyfriend:
    • Steam – 309,725[73]
    • DLsite English – 7,290[93]
  27. ^ Kidou Senkan Nadesico series (Japan)
    • Yappari Saigo ha 'Ai ga Katsu'? – 138,161[79]
    • The Blank of Three Year and The Mission – 146,094[58]
  28. ^ See YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World § Reception
  29. ^ Kanon:
  30. ^ Air:
  31. ^ Tsukimhime:
    • Sales prior to September 2021 – 240,000+[103]
  32. ^ Tsukimhime:
    • First Week Sales – 110,000+[106]
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