Posts Tagged 'mangagamer'

Steampunk, Otomes and Dreaming Stars

"Get behind me. The games, they are flooding in!!"

“Get behind me. The games, they are flooding in!!”

Some great news came up on the visual novel front at AX14, with some nice big story-focused titles announced to come out from the different VN companies here in the west. I’m excited about quite a few of them, more than I have been for VN releases in a while. I’ll touch briefly on some of them here, and will likely return to take a closer look at all of them as time goes by.

To start with, there is the big player, MangaGamer. With two of their titles, MangaGamer confirmed their expansion into Otome and BL territory with the games OzMafia!! and No, Thank you!!! (what is with all those exclamation marks!?!?)

More than that, they also gave a bit of news on their long awaited Steam release of Higurashi. In an earlier post I mentioned the concern for how Higurashi would be received by non-fans on Steam due to its very basic graphics, something that is now being resolved in an interesting way: The Steam release will get its own graphical makeover, with new character art by artist Kurosaki. A teaser of the new art was shown on MangaGamers blog:

Higurashi_002-450x337As the matter of rights would likely get in the way of using the Playstation version of the art, this is an interesting solution I had not seen coming. Along with how some of the translations of 07th Expansion’s works have been handled, this shows some really nice and close cooperation between the two parties in bringing these titles overseas. I look forward to seeing if this makeover only goes as far as character sprites, or if we get new backgrounds or even event CGs as well. Maybe the latter is too much to hope for?

The last big thing from MangaGamer was their new partnership with Liar-Soft, a company that I have been interested in for quite a while though I have not managed to try any of their games yet. The title MangaGamer is bringing from them first is Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning, a steampunk visual novel.

I’m really excited for this one – Liar-Soft appears to make interesting stories, and the art is very beautiful. (This opening doesn’t beat the one for Shikkoku no Sharnoth though, still one my favourite videos and songs.)

According to this tweet from Moogy, the game also seems to consist in very large part of a female PoV. I wonder how it all comes together, and it is definitely something that intrigues me. Different viewpoints like this in visual novels can be interesting.

Sekai Project is also proving a force to be reckoned with. After their work with World End Economica, and the promising Fault coming up, they have now announced releasing the first of the Grisaia games in english. This is a game that has had an english fan translation for a while, and even before then I remember often hearing this title come up when people were asked to mention great VN titles. So far it seems like another title I will be looking very much forward to, and I’m pleased to see such solid and big VNs being released commercially in english.

grisaia

And last but not least! Sekai Project have also come together with VisualArts, securing a release of Planetarian for Steam.

For many people who got into visual novels around the same time as me, Planetarian holds a dear place in their hearts. It is a choiceless novel, or ‘Kinetic Novel’, with only two characters – only one of them actually shown on screen. It is a great example of what stories can be told in the medium, without taking hours to slog through like some of the titles mentioned above, and I will be sure to pick it up again when it comes out. Especially since I believe the digital download I once bought is now defunct. Or at least it was, for quite a while.

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I hear Planetarian has been out on iOS for quite a while before this, but Steam should be a good platform for raising much more awareness of the title. As well as one other important factor: this means VisualArts/Key could finally be inclined to release more titles here in the west. I really hope this will help convince them that bringing over more games is a viable option.

From all this I definitely think Gahkthun, Grisaia and Planetarian were the most exciting announcements for me. OzMafia and No, Thank you! are also very interesting, if only for the fact that they mean that the western companies are finally giving those genres some more attention. I don’t know much about the two titles personally, but will be keeping an eye out for them now after these news. Of the two I am most likely only going to be interested in OzMafia, a game that will hopefully prove to be a good representative of the genre, and convince them to go further with games for the female market.

Perceived Quality

It’s time to go on a bit of a tangent!

So this should be the year where we get to see the original Higurashi digital novel released on Steam! There is still no date, but apparently the game is going through a re-translation before its final release to the mainstream masses.

I’m currently going through the second half of Higurashi myself, and a little shine on the script probably wouldn’t hurt, putting aside the faults that were probably in the original to begin with.

This is great (even if old) news to the vn crowd though. Lately, especially with the Greenlight program, visual novels have seen a small surge in places like Steam and the general gaming media. From the start with Analogue to japanese titles like World End Economica.

And that’s not all. Recently a wave of crowd-funded visual novels have appeared on Kickstarter, most of them very successful. And many of them very ambitious, such as the returned SunRider and Exogenesis, two of my favourites at the moment.

For me at least, it raises an interesting question though. Looking at the last two projects, and then back at Higurashi, there is a steep difference between the two when counting first impressions and glossy surfaces.

"I just want to be a real girl!"

“I just want to be a real girl!”

This is going to be a hard sell to people who don’t already know of the novel or the popular anime based on it. (There are un-official patches on the internet that replaces the original art with the art from the polished console ports, but because of copyright issues I wonder if these will be able to make it to the Steam Workshop?)

Looking past the visual impression, Higurashi also lacks another thing that visual novels have become known for – interaction. There are no choices or branching storylines in this novel. Past each chapter the game likes to tease you with “good or bad endings” and “difficulty” depending on what you as a reader has deducted on your own so far, but that is all. It is simply a linear textbook with added sound and pictures. (For those wondering, without patches the game also has no voice acting. It’s a true barebones doujin game).

For those who know and love Higurashi however, this doesn’t stop them. After all, to my knowledge it didn’t take much for this title to be greenlit in the first place. There are plenty of people who already got this from MangaGamer (me included), and more that want to make their first buy on Steam. For these people the shoddy art and simple UI doesn’t deter from what the game is really about. Some are willing to look past it, and for others this simple style is part of the story’s charm.

How much leeway does this give other non-japanese indie games? Will people be just as willing to look past the simplicities of the surface of similar games that are not from Japan, and find similar hidden gems?

It’s a difficult subject. With the increased focus on this part of the market, both “good” and even more “bad” are flooding through, and no one has the time or patience to look through it all. Without Higurashi’s reputation, something of similar looks and simplicity will probably find it difficult to find proper footing in the market. But the question of what people find “acceptable” in terms of art and presentation still intrigues me every time titles like these manage to make it through, when they have competition like this.

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What are your thoughts on the subject?

(And speaking of Steam Greenlight, have you voted for Blue Rose yet?)

English KiraKira All Ages for PC out!

It came out of nowhere, but today MangaGamer put up an All-ages version of Kira Kira on their website.

This is an instant get for me. I have heard good things about Kira Kira, and I truly want to support a company that is finally exploring the possibility of releasing both H and non-H versions of their games.

Bad news is that I haven’t even finished Fate/Stay Night yet, and I hear that Kira Kira is a long game too… well, hopefully it won’t slow my own development down too much 😛

Nitro+, JAST USA and fan translators…

nitro2

As you may already know, a lot of things have happened in the english VN scene lately. MangaGamer has licensed Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Navel’s games, and JAST USA revealed their new partnership with Nitro+. Their first game is Demonbane, and Jingai Makyou is also hinted at by the picture in the background.

Now for the interesting part – (as if the rest wasn’t) – when Jast announced their partnership, every Nitro+ translation project was taken down from TLWiki by the translators, with the message that people should wait for an official announcement. And now that announcement is up.

Here’s your official statement regarding our Nitro+ translations.

We are currently trying out a bit of a partnership with JAST USA in order to do a few different things:

1) Increase the speed at which the finished products are released. This is probably the item of most interest.
2) Ensure that Nitro+ fans are working on the projects, in order to provide the highest localization quality possible.
3) Simply get more Nitro+ titles translated in general and help support the companies involved. The fact that we can do this with Nitro+’s blessing is even better.

As for details of the partnership… Basically, we’ll just let them have our current work and continue to work with them to finish anything we’re not done with. We’re also interested in working with them on games that haven’t seen any sort of translation attempt as of yet.

Obviously, since we’ll be working with JAST to have our translations released officially, we’ve taken the script files and patches offline. This was done in order to both support future official releases and to provide incentive for others to actually buy the damn games.

If you have any questions about this, or are someone who has translated or is interested in translating Nitro+ games, please don’t hesitate to contact me or LoSs about the matter.

By the way, we will continue to work on the Noah translation project.

I, for one, find this very awesome. The chance that I will actually buy these games is pretty slim since I usually avoid h-games, but this is still great news. I wish them luck with their partnership – if the miracle should happen that even a game like Chaos;Head gets a localisation, I won’t hesitate from buying another copy.

And the possibility for companies and fan translators to work together like this is great. After all, why not help eachother out when the chance presents itself? Unfortunately I doubt that such an opportunity will present itself for our team 😛

Whether this deal with Nitro+ is going to affect NitroChiral games is unknown. Who knows – in the future BL game fans may get their fix as well in commercial form, helped along by their fan translators?


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