My History with Visual Novels
Prior to 2016, I never heard about visual novels before and never cared at the time. When I got into the Ace Attorney series, that's when I got intrested with the genre. But it wasn't until I got into the Dangaronpa series is when I really got into visual novels. I even start looking up the history of them and how a quarter of visual novels that came out in the 90s' was hentai! Of course I might be wrong, but that what the first thing that the mainsteam think when you mention visual novels and anime in general....
At first, I tend to watch LP to see their reaction over the story and the plot twist before getting the game in question myself. Eventaully, I started buying them and so far, I have only played 5 of them (shame on me) and 5 that I watch an LP on. Like the other games on my backloggery, I will too, get a crack on them and hope that I'm not mentally damaged at the end! As for the visual novel genre I enjoy is adventure based, mystery, slice of life, science fiction and some eroge.
Warning: There will be spoliers in the various visual novels that I'll be talking about. If you haven't seen the games yourself, STAY AWAY!!!! And also some of the visual novels mention death, suicide, gore, decaying bodies, depression, dark topics and yandere, so be careful when reading!
List of Visual Novels that I have played/watched
Ace Attorney series
Year: Jan. 2016
In early January, a bored me was in my dorm room, browsing TV Tropes to kill time. Or something. It was around the time I accepted the fact that my favorite show/special interest, Total Drama, isn't coming back (that's after Cartoon Network finished airing the spin-off series, The Ridonculous Race, a few months back as it suffered from bad scheduling and even had low ratings, a sign that a show is going to be cancelled). And I was netural with Steven Universe when it was airing at the time. Like, I liked the show, but it wasn't clicking as much as Total Drama did to me. So now, I had to find something to get attached to and that's when I landed the main page of the Ace Attorney on TV Tropes and that's when I start to get interest in the series.
I watched the LP of the series and accidently watched the LP of the second game, Justice for All, instead of the first game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney! It's a long story that I might put in later when I have the enegry to do so... Because of that and for some strange reason, I perfer the second game, over the first game, even thought many agree that the second game isn't that good as it only had 4 cases (this was the DS version, of course), the story isn't that strong, compared to the first game and the fan favorite prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth didn't show up until the last case of Justice for All (the devolpers had a good reason, thought)!! But I did like Trials and Tribulations, as the plot was good and it was kind of heartbreaking by the end the game.
I heard about the fourth game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, which the fans did not like due Phoenix Wright isn't the main character in the game. He's not even a lawyer anymore as he lost his licence, a few months after the end of Trials and Tribulations! And also, some of the characters in the game were mean-spirit to Apollo and his assistant, Trudy. Then there's that third trail that everyone hated due to having to use the video to rewind to point out things (it's been years since I saw the LP of that game, so my memory is a bit rusty on how bad it was). On the plus side, the prosecutor (who serve as the antagonist) of the game, Klaver Gavin, was the only prosectour whose willing to help out the defense team and not throw any nasty tricks at them like some of the prosecutors did in the past (and that include the infamous "updated autopsy report" that Edgeworth threw at Phoenix in the second case of the first game)! While I didn't play the game myself (I watched an LP of it), I think the game is fine, even thought I have issues with some of the writing in the game.
In the spring of 2018 (when I wasn't interest in the series as much I used to 2 years ago), I watched the LP of Duel Destinies, where most agree that the plot is better, the characters aren't jerks to the defense team (well, most of the time) and then there's the fact that it's the first game that got a M RATING!!!! Yes, the M rating where you must be 17 or older to play the game. For a series that is normally a T rated game for blood, murder, swearing and some fan service, this is the first time this has ever happened. Why? Because in the first case of the game, there was a terrorist attack, where a bomb blew up the court room! Well....actually it's because of how dark the last case got. Like, really dark. So dark, it might take too long to explain! Anyone who played that game know what I'm talking about.
I loved one of the spin-off series of the Ace Attoney, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Yes, there's a spin-off series about Edgeworth who goes around to build a case and solve crimes without even stepping in a courtroom (even thought the thrid case in the first game, sort of did)! In 2016, I saw the LP for both the first game and the second game that was never released here (it's the curse of Japan keeping all the good stuffto themselves). But the main reason for that is because the DS era was about to come to an end and the first game didn't sale too well here, so they didn't even bother. Thankfully, there's a fan translation of the second game, that is somewhere online and the sequel of the game, is actually good! Maybe one day, when Capcom (the video game company that published the series) will do a rerelease of the Ace Attorney Investigations games, just like they did for both the first 3 games (which I bought on the eShop and played all of them) and the later 3 games (which I also bought before the eShop shut down in March 2023, but never played them, but at least the later games are getting a rerelease).
Then I saw the infamous Ace Attorney anime, (which covers the first two games) that came out the same year I got into the series. Like the animation was bad, they cut out a few scenes in sake of time and money and even some of the writing was questionable (they made them sister!?!) But, I managed to watch all of them, even this means waiting until after it ended so I can watch it on Crunchroll for free (back when they used to do that). While the first half of the series (that covered Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) wasn't good, but by the second half (where it covered Justice For All), it got better and it even made the infamous third trial of the second game, BETTER! I know about the second season of the anime, which covers Trials and Tribulations, that came out 2 years later. I heard it's an improvement compared to the first season. The series is on my anime backlog list (which is as bad compared to my gaming backlog) and I'll get to it eventually.
The only Ace Attorney games I haven't played/watched the LP of is Spirit of Justice, the sixth game where Maya, Phoenix's assistant, returns as she was last seen in Trials and Tribulations. I stupidly looked up the character bio pages on TV Tropes when the game came out and got spoiled on whose the main culprit in each case. Oops. It's been years since I did that, but I still don't have the enegry to play/watch the game. I might one day. Then there's The Great Ace Attorney, another spin-off game that takes place in Menji Japan with the main character is one of Phoenix's ancestor. And he later meets Sherloc...I mean Herlock Sholmes (this was the reason why it took Capcom so long to release the second game to the West). Then there's a crossover game with Professor Layton, a manga series, a live action movie, several stage plays, etc, etc... Even after over 20 years, the franchise is still going on to this very day.
Year: Dec. 2016
Then at the end of the year, I was back at home for Winter Break. I was browsing TV Tropes, once more, like I do when I'm bored. My interest in the Ace Attorney series was starting to wind down after almost a year and like with Steven Universe (I promise that I'm not bashing the show, I swear), it never clicked in. So, I browing a TV Tropes page of an LP I followed and looked at some of the games they played in the past and one of them was Dangaronpa. I looked at the summary of the first game, Trigger Happy Havoc and their character bios (knowing that I might get spoiled on who was the victims and whose the culprit). But for some reason, I started connecting some of the characters from Trigger Happy Havoc to some of the characters from Total Drama (my speical interest stikes again), based off of their personalities. And that's when it clicked. Danganronpa became my special interest that I got attached to and helped get me though the last 3 years of University. It's also similar to Ace Attorney, which helped.
I eventually watched the LP of the first game, where the LPer played the fan translation of the game because when they first did the LP at the time, the game was NEVER released here as Spike Chunsoft (the video game company that published the series) thought we Westerners, might be weirded out seeing a talking teddy bear named Momokuma, kidnapped a group of talented teenagers, tells them to murder each other and then do a trail to see who did it (that was me at first, but thankfully, I got over this), for the name of dispair. But it didn't as someone on Something Awful (remember that site?) did a LP of the fan translation of the game back in 2010/11...and it actually got popular! So popular that in 2014, the game finally came out with a localized version of the game with an offical English voice acting. As for my experience with the first game, I liked it. But not as much as the sequel, Goodbye Despair.
After finishing the LP of the first game, I watched the LP of the second game and I feel in love with the characters. I also like the plot better than the first game, where there's a huge plot twist at end (as one scene from Spongebob SqaurePants summerize: "I'm the Mananic!"). The characterization of the students are also better compared to the first game to the point that Goodbye Despair is one of the few sequal that is better than the first game! Then there's the fact the second game takes place on an island. So, it's basically a M rated, Japanese verison of Total Drama with main difference is instead of voting each other out, YOU KILLED THEM and hope to God you get away with it! Thankfully, I'm not the first person to note that.
One of the good thing about getting in the Danganronpa series in late 2016 is that there's a new game, called Killing Harmony, that's going to be release in Septemeber 2017. Oh course, Japan got the game first as you expect and dumb me got spoiled who were the victims and culprit as usual. Then when the game finally came out here, I watched the LP of the game, where the designs and the game mechanics are a huge improvement, compared to the last two games. There's a female protagonist for once (sort of....)! And a huge post-game board game called Ultimate Talent Development Plan (which I loved), where it takes place in an alternative universe where you can have the characters from 3 games, TALK and hang with each other!!! There's even a dungeon crawling game that is tied to the Developement Plan!!!
Then there's the infamous ending where the creator, Kazutaka Kodaka, basically torched the series, in hoping that he never have to make another game again! To be fair, he did later left Spike Chunsoft in 2017 to make his own video game company, Too Kyo Games.
I also saw an LP of one of its spin-off game, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. Unlike the main series, it's a third-person shooting game, that starts the younger sister of the protagonist from Trigger Happy Havoc. And it takes place at least 6 months after the first game. It's known to get pretty dark in some part of the game. So beware if your not comfortable with them (and with the main game in general, thought).
Another spin-off series I heard of was Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, which is bascially an expansion of Ultimate Talent Development Plan, the post-game board game from Killing Harmony, but it takes place on a beach. When the game was first announced in 2021, everyone on the Danganronpa subreddit FREAKED OUT as there was a meme going around that one of the characters from the second game, Nagito Komaeda, announced that he's on the Nintendo Swtich (before that is was he's on the Nintendo DS) and that the game came out on the Switch! Then the game actually came out and the hype died down as the game was actually...lackluster. Welp, that's what you expect for the game that has the gacha feature. Despite that, I bought the game on the Switch (which is strange since I have all the three main games on Steam), by using some of my Nintendo Golden points, which means I have a discount when buying the game. I haven't played it yet (but I did played the main 3 games thought) and I might one day...
Then there are two Danganronpa anime series. The first one that covers the first game and the second one that is basically a grand finale of both Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair (and that it's divided into 2 arcs. Don't ask, just trust me on this one). I hear both animes were not that good and because of it, I stayed away from them for the longest time. It wasn't until late 2021, as part of my 5 year anniversary of getting into the franchise, I finally watched the first anime. I'm aware that the anime isn't good if you already played the game before hand, so I keep my expectation of the series, very low and it's what I expected. While the first half of the series was alright, by the time it made it to the third case, that's when they start speeding the plot and taking out some things from the game, which made fans upset. It also didn't help that the game is about 25 hour long and they're supposed to cram it into a 13 episode anime. And also they changed some of the English voice acting, which made some of the character's fans upset as they didn't sound right to them.
Then there's the second anime series, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, that has 2 arcs, Future and Despair and you need to watch them one by one (like Future is the first epsiode you watch and then you watch Despair next, then you watch Future next and so for). I hear the writing is mixed, some of the characters who appeared in the first two games the main games were out of character. Then there's some characters who are just, not likable at all. Then there's the ending, which divided the fandom on how it went. And like with the first anime, the characters in the English dub had different voice actors, which made fans upset as they didn't hear right to them. Because of that, I stayed away from the anime. So much, this was the only time I actually read the summary of it, just to avoid it! One day I might watch it, but I have to be in a good mental state to watch it as it gets really dark, at the end.
Like with the Ace Attonery series, there's also serveral mangas, a few stage plays (I hear Japan loves those) and an OVA. It's even on every platform system known to man.
Doki Doki Literature Club
Year: June. 2018
WARNING: This visual novel mentions suicide, death, decaying bodies, gore and yandere. Please take care before reading!
I heard about the game, back in September 2017 when it first came out and how everyone on the Internet was singing its praises due to its writing. But despite it's cute logo and the female characters, the game is actually really DARK!!!! And that's why everyone loved it! For me, I hate super dark things (even thought I played Danganronpa, which is known to get dark) and I didn't want to be mentally scarred by it as I just transfered schools. So instead, I waited until Summer Break to watch an LP of it to see how "bad" it is.
So I end up watching the Game Grumps doing an LP of the game (with them unaware how dark the game is and even thought about dropping it at first before one of their friends encourged them to keep going). At first, it about main character joining a Literature Club, that has only 4 girls in it. Create a poem based on 20 words in each chapter and bond with them. Then at a certain point of the game, that's when it takes a dark turn when one of them hanged themself. Then another stabbed themseleves to death and we're forced to see their rotting body for a period of time, in-game (that you can't even skip it). Then finally, there's one whose actually a Yandere and even went far to break the FOURTH WALL!
I binged the entire LP in a day and by the time I was done, I was mentally truamaized! Like, I'm used to things getting dark in both Ace Attoney and Danganronpa and not be bother by it (disturbing yes, but not too truamaizing). And watching several crime documentary series also unfazed me. But this game? I actually had problems sleeping at night and at one point, had to sleep with the lights on! So yeah, I can see why people liked this game.
Years later, I got the game for free on Steam (another reason why the game got popular) and I might play it one day since it been nearly 5 years since I saw the LP and I might be mentally strong at that point. But if not, I'm only going to allow to play the game during the day time, to keep me from having problems from falling asleep at night.
Danganronpa Another series
Year: Jan. 2020
WARNING: This visual novel mentions decaying bodies, religion and dismemberment. Please take care before reading!
I was well aware about fan games of the Danganronpa series (or Fangaronpa as they are called) from the Danganaronpa subreddit, but I never cared for them at first. Not until this fan game, that is. It was early 2020 and my Danganronpa special interest was starting to decline a bit, so I need to find a new franchise. So I browsed TV Tropes as always and looked at one of the fan games in the fan work section of Danganronpa TV Trope page. One of them was a two game series from a South Korean developer LINUJ called the Another series. I looked at the character's bios from the first game (back when there was barely in it) and that's when I got interest in the series....
But I was actually attached the sequel, Super Danganronpa Another 2, at first as it was the only one where there was an actual English translation of the game, compared to the first game. I remember watching an LP from the English translator on YouTube and they stopped halfway throught the final trial! While you can donwload the game (with all the chapters translated to English), but you have to do wired things to your computer, such as changing a setting that allow to read software from South Korea, as it won't work if you try to download it by using the setting of the your home country. I might get around with it one day, but I'm worried that my 9 year old laptop, might not like it and will actually cause it to die!
Things start to change around 2021 when someone finally made an English translation of the first game, Danganronpa Another. Prior to that, only the prolouge and the first chapter were translated. I think it was that moment I became more attached to the cast of the first game, compared to the second game (well, it actually in late 2020 when I start to get attached to one of the characters from the first game, but the English tranlation, made me like them more).
At first, Danganronpa Another itself, looked at a stand alone game that is inspired by the main series. But by the end of the game, it actually take placed before Trigger Happy Havoc as the students here, were actually guinea pigs, so the mastermind of the series can see what the Killing Game does and does not work before trying it out on the main cast of Trigger Happy Havoc. Unlike the main game, this can actually get really dark. Like in chapter 5, Monokuma takes a dead body of a student, who died in chapter 1, to prove the protagonist a point. And then tells them that they are only allow to look at the former students and not doing anything else with it! Insert that one scene from that one Spongebob episode where Patrick flatly says "Touch" as he's touching things at the Jellyfish Convention and the security guard tells him to stop, (I know, I have some dark humor, don't I...). Then there's the mastermind of Danganronpa Another that was basically a plot twist itself! While I mention that there will be spoilers in this page, this one I won't mention as I feel like you should see it for yourself.
The other thing about Danganronpa Another that some of the cases and motivates are inspired by the first two games. Like chapter 1 in Another is basically chapter 1 from Trigger Happy Havoc, but the main difference is that the culprit in Another end up killing the wrong person that they send a note out to all because....their name plates were switched when one of the students accidently broke it and Monokuma forced them to put them back in the right place! Yup, that was the reason. But the motivation was still the same. Then there was chapter 3 where the culprit was a priest, who was forced to kill in order to save the orphans at his chruch and he was remorseful in doing it (then later found out that the children were dead all along). The reason why I brought this up is because fangames are most likely to get away with stuff like that, where if the main series tried to do that, it might angier actual Christians and the game might've end of banned in a few countries over it (like how Killing Harmony was banned in South Korea due to a teenager killing a child and they said that it was "too soon"). And his execution is the reactment of Jesus Christ's death, but with rocket launchers.
As for the second game, Super Danganronpa Another 2, it takes on an island (well not really as the students actually sleep and live on a cruise ship) and the protagonist is a female (which it's funny as Another 2 came out around the same month as the international verison of Killing Harmony was release and they have a female protagonist). Like with the first game, Another 2 was inspired by Goodbye Despair and Killing Harmony when it comes to the characters. But the motives and the killings were actually different as none of them were based off from the main games (I think as it's been years since I last saw the LP). But like Another, the game can get very dark with the murders and the themes such as in chapter 2, a student was stuffed in a fridge and froze to death! Then the murder in chapter 3 was actually disturbing, where a student was dismembered and was place on a pentagram in a creepy room (the student was long dead before having their body parts being cut up)! Then we found out the culprit was an actual serial killer who also might have some unwanted feelings for a relative of their....
Like with chapter 3 in the first game, there's no way that the main game will allow this as it'll end up in the news, where there's report of a game where a teenager was dismembered. Heck, it won't even make it out of the cutting board before the devolpers can make the game itself! I remember after seeing that body discoverment, I got spooked real good to the point, I have to back away from watching the video for the rest of the day. To this day, I dread looking up images for chapter 3 in the games wiki page as it might bring back some unwanted flashbacks.
One of the few things about this series is that it's one of the only fan games that is acutally complete as many abandoned them due to time, lack of skills, poor writing, graphics and bad game play mechanics. For the first game, its devolpment lasted from 2013 to 2015 while the second game's devolpment, it lasted from 2017 to early 2020 (around the same time I got into the series). As of right now, the series are my current speical interest and has been for the past 3 years. I'm worried that it too, will decline just like my last two special interest.Especially when there will be no more games from series as LINUJ moved on and became an actual game devolper for a video game company in South Korea.
Year: Oct. 2021
On my attempt in cleaning out my backloggery on Steam, I remember buying this game during the annual Steam Summer Sale for a low price of $4 ( or something like that). This one stands out me the most because this is my first non-Japanese visual novel, my first dating sim and first visual novel where I can be in a same-sex relationship (which helps since I'm bisexual). The purpose of the game is that you choose a protagonist to either ask one of the 6 monsters (8 if you include the DLC) out for Prom or work together with another player, so you can both get their desired partner. And you have 3 weeks in-game to do so. There's also a feature that make the game either long or short, based on how much time you want in your run.
I remember in my first attempt in the game, I tried to romance Miranda Vanderbilt...and accidently got her killed in an assination plot! And it happened on the 14 anniversary of my father's death! Oops. Not only that, I got a rare achievement for that! I think I got with another character, Polly Geist. I went through a couple routes, but that's about it. I should pick the game again and do that.
BAD END THEATER
Year: Jan. 2023
On a normal Saturday night, I was drawing and listening to ProtonJon in the background and he played this game during his famous Fortune Cookie Stream, where he picks 5 random games from the "cookie jar" and the chat gets to vote what game he should play next. This end up winning the poll and I remember him enjoying the game. He even beat the game under an hour! So I decided that when the game goes on sale, I should buy it.
I did and it took me almost 2 hours to see all the endings (both good and bad as this is what the game is about). I even managed to get to see the Omega Ending, for getting all the endings, which then give me to get a rare achievement for doing that. The game itself, became the first game to get all the achievements, which I never did before! I feel so proud of myself!!!
As for the game itself, it was very sweet and can get sad at some point of the game. And I like the couple that got back together at the end of the Omega Ending.
The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog
Year: Apr. 2023
Yes, this is the joke game that SEGA of America release on April Fools Day 2023 (well it's actually release on March 31, 2023). And the fact it was released on Steam for free, is what made the game popular when it first came out. I remember people made jokes about the game and such, so I decided to try out the game myself.
Basically, it's where your a new empolyee that board the Mirage Express and help throw a murder-mystery themed birthday party for Amy-Rose. And good ol' Sonic ends up as the murder victim, so you and Tails have to solve the case on who killed the Hedgehog. And Dr. Eggman somewhat gets involved. Yup, the game goes to places.
The game plays out like Ace Attorney as you go find evidence and interrogate characters for infomation. There's even a minigame where have to run through isometric settings to sort out their thoughts, just like in Danganronpa. I remember there's a setting that you can get rid of gaps and to even slow down the running segments, which is great for some like me.
Overall, I liked the game as it was short and mostly simple, althought I think I got spoiled some of the plot of Sonic Frontiers (which came out in 2022 and that I bought a copy for the Switch and haven't touched it yet). And to be frank...this was my first Sonic game that I played and beaten! Woooo....I guess?
Year: Apr. 2023
WARNING: This visual novel mentions decaying bodies, gore, animal cruelty, dismemberment and jump scares. Please take care before reading!
This is one of my first "retro" visual novel that I saw an LP on. Take place in Neo Kobe City, Japan in 2047, it's a cyberpunk game where you play as an amnesiac, Gillian Seed, who joins JUNK, an police force where it's their job is to stop a group of robots called, Snatchers who kidnapped people, kills them and replaced them by using their advanced artifical skin, that allow them to look like their victims. The game is unqiue as it was one of the few visual novels from the 90s' that not only has an English release, but it has actual good voice acting where back then, was either a hit or a miss. And it was made by Hideo Kojima, who later made the Metal Gear Solid series.
Not only the game has the normal menu-driven interface that all visual novels have back in the day, it also have shooting sequences that uses a 3x3 grid. Unfortunately, the shooting sequence isn't that good and it actually get harder to shoot at the Snatchers and other robots later on in the game. So, it's recommended that you do badly at the tutoral shooting range, so you can have an easier time shooting them.
Oh, the game gets really dark in some parts of the game. Such as at the first area of the game, you go see a one of the JUNKER's head get twisted off by the Snatchers and lands on his lap! Then later on, they throw a dead dog, in the window in one of the houses you investigate for clues. You even go to an abandoned hospital to see 4 decaying bodies that the Snatchers took and kill! And there was a close up on one of them too, YUCK! Then there's some jumpscares that will throw you off if your not too careful. They did with me and I had to sleep the lights on, once more because of how it traumaized me.
And if you want to play the game yourself, good luck with that. That's because when it was localized to English in 1994, Sega only made 25,000 copies for the Sega CD and it was at the end of it's lifespan. Because of that, it's now a collector's item and is worth over $200 for a used disk! So, the only way to play is to emluate it and because of how bad the shooting section, the game is actually harder that it looks. I might emulate the game one day and hope the jump scare doesn't bother me in the future (but it will..)
Visual Novels that I want to play/watch LP
- Katawa Shoujo
- one night, hot springs
- VA -11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
- Three Sisters Story
- Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
- School Days
- 428: Shibuya Scramble
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
- Zero Escape series
- Analogue: A Hate Story
- Fate/stay night
- Everlasting Summer
- I Love You, Colonel Sanders!
- Your Turn to Die
- Kana: Little Sister
- A Summer's End — Hong Kong, 1986
- Our Life: Beginnings and Always