Gaming

Soapbox: It’s the summer of visual novels on the switch, and it’s just the beginning

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Visual novels. Are they games, or are they presentations?

Well, let’s do one direct thing, because this is a soapbox: I personally it doesn’t particularly matter. I like an evening stacked with a good book, and equally, I like an evening stacked with a good visual novel about the game in auto, occasionally squeezing my hand out of the mountain of blankets and cookie cutters to make a choice.

I think visual novels are fantastic, especially because so many of them play with convention in a way that books could never do. They often don’t offer much in the way of interaction, although many of them will give the player dialogue choices, but they are not to be discounted. a whole genre of excellent games because I don’t have to press the buttons enough.

The House in Fairy Morgana is one of the best visual novels of all time
The House in Fairy Morgana is one of the best visual novels of all time

I played it The House In Fairy Morgana for the past few weeks – a visual novel that came out in April, and it is widely regarded as one of the best – and the way he tells his story not only through the words on the screen, but through his framing, his interface, and even through his menu is a wonderfully surprising touch in the genre. . Visual novels create the expectation that you are about to make a comeback very much to read, but that doesn’t mean they don’t even have something up their sleeve.

Doki Doki Literature Club, which I’ve also played, is similar, in that it subverts players ’expectations through various unusual narrative devices. It’s easy to dismiss these games as trashy, girly, or somehow less ‘worthy’ because they’re anime, or because they’re “just for reading” – but it’s like avoiding action movies because “it’s just guns , innit ”and then you’ll never get to witness the sheer brilliance of movies like that The Fifth Element and Mad Max.

Doki Doki Literature Club is one of the best visual novels of all time
Doki Doki Literature Club is one of the best visual novels of all time

However, I don’t want to waste time defending visual novels against the criticisms they make always get it, because frankly, if someone wants to avoid the whole genre because of some preconceived notions about how boring reading is, then they’re just missing out. And it goes well. More visual novels for me. Yum yum.

But just take a look at the slate for 2021, and it’s clear that a third-party crowd – and Nintendo itself – will be investing in a particular kind of game. Between The House In Fairy Morgana, Famicom Detective Club, The Great Ace Lawyer Chronicles, the Doki Doki Literature Club port, and the Danganronpa Decadence collection, a trend emerges: titles with lots of Ds in them the growing popularity of visual novels and narrative adventure games on the Switch.

Danganronpa is one of the best visual novels of all time
Danganronpa is one of the best visual novels of all time (Image: Push Square)

Some of these games were super popular on the PC, and they made it to Change thanks to their proven success elsewhere. Doki Doki Literature Club has over 150,000 reviews on Steam, most of which are “strictly positive”; The House In Fairy Morgana was, for at least a month or two, a most voted game of all time on Metacritic (it is now tied for fourth place). Others, such as Danganronpa and The Great Ace Attorney, have been asked in both Switch and English for a long time. Then there’s the Famicom Detective Club, a 30-year-old game and something like that no one waited.

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But many of the recently announced or released visual novels have not been made for Switch. A few of them are ports or translations of old games, as well Gnosia, which is a PS Vita port, and Root movie it’s a new game, but also a sequel to a PS Vita 2016 game. There are also many more games in the visual genres of adjacent novels that I do not know even coming to Change, despite requests from their fanbases, such as older entries in the Professor Layton, u Zero Escape would be, and Person 5.

999: Nine Hours, Nine People, Nine Doors (the first in the Zero Escape series) is one of the best visual novels of all time.
999: Nine Hours, Nine People, Nine Doors (the first in the Zero Escape series) is one of the best visual novels of all time

You may have noticed a bit of a running theme if you’re a fan of visual novels: Discounting the PC, where you can play just about any game ever made, the console that was best known for serving this particular section of the gaming public it was PS Vita, which excelled in presenting the strange and interesting types of games we started seeing in Switch. Unfortunately, Vita has emerged much faster than its nearest rival, the 3DS, and although we haven’t yet seen a real successor to the types of games that Vita offers, Switch has possibly taken its role in recent years. years with an ever-increasing library of niche titles.

First I played Danganronpa on the PS Vita, then I am happy to see it coming to Change, even if I can already play the games on PC. There’s something in a visual novel that goes very well with a handheld console – probably because we often want to play VNs in a similar way to how we read books: on trains, in the bathroom, in bed.

It’s not really surprising that Nintendo is coming in, as the only mainstream (semi) portable console left, and as a company in a position to bring more Japanese games to the West, but the question arises: what’s next for visual novels? on consoles?

Ace Attorney is not a traditional visual novel, and many people disagree that it is a visual novel.  But it’s still one of the best visual novels of all time
Ace Attorney is not a traditional visual novel, and many people disagree that it is a visual novel. But it’s still one of the best visual novels of all time

So far, it feels like we’re back. Visual novels and narrative adventure games always feel like the person, fighting for recognition and legitimacy in a packed market. Those who climb to the top – such as Danganronpa and Doki Doki Literature Club – gain cult following until they reach a critical mass. The Switch receives tons of ports and remakes of these super-popular games because they’re the ones that sell the best, and allow Nintendo to fill its bookshelves with the the best of the best to attract more VN fans to the platform.

We could play to the reunion, but it also feels promising. We’re going to get some of the biggest batsmen in terms of visual novels on the Switch, like a football team made up of, eh … Pelé? And … Messi? Why did I choose a football analogy? I don’t know. However, once we indoctrinate everyone who owns a Nintendo Switch with games like Ace Attorney and Danganronpa, then we will be able to force them to play the more niche ones, such as Clannad and AI: The leaves of dreams. Nyahaha! Everything is part of an evil plan to rule the world with visual novels !!

Whether they like it or not, there is no denying it: this summer is the summer of visual novels. You can join us in the sun, or you will only join us when we inevitably force every single video game in the world to be a VN.

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