Enjoy books in an interactive way, the Visual Novels

  • OTAKU
  • CULTURE
  • Talking about Novels, some people are too lazy to read novel with each page being filled with text, or maybe when reading a novel, they are getting sleepy. Well, in Japan, there is a better way to read novels. They mixed it with a game and called it “Visual Novel”.
    Visual Novel (ビジュアルノベル) is a kind of video game featuring text of the story and graphics, often using anime-style art. Most of visual novels use background music and voice for each character.

    Gameplay

    visual-novel-1

    Author’s photo

    Is different from the other games where you need to move your joystick quickly or press the keyboard left and right to control your character, Visual Novel has extremely minimal user interaction, but there are some VNs that use RPG gameplay in them such as Utawarerumono, Soukoku no Arterial and Kamidori Alchemy Meister. Because the basic is a novel, what you need to do is to read the story accompanied with the graphics and sound. To follow the storyline, you need to click the next button. In some cases you may find two or more options, you can choose what you want to see because most of VNs have various story lines.

    Visual Novel Elements

    Visual Novel “Little Busters!”
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    Single-picture CG of Visual Novel “Clannad”
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    • Text
      Basically, the text shown is similar to that of a novel. It is separated into several sentences for a screen followed by a standing-character and a voice.
    • Graphics
      ■ Background
      It is used in normal scenes which show the locations of a story. Most of Visual Novels use static images for the background. Some producers take the background for a visual novel from a photo of the real world which later is converted into anime-style.

      ■ Standing Picture
      It is a picture of a character or some characters that appear on screen while they are talking. Most of standing characters bodies only are only shows about 2/3, from the hip to the head or chest to head. The character emotions also change when they are happy, excited, relaxed, sad or angry depending on the text on the screen. Basically, standing pictures or characters are static, but today you may find some visual novels that use motion in them (e.g, Neko Para Vol.1 Soleil Kaiten Shimashita!).
      Most of VNs standing characters consist of the heroines and supporting characters, not the main character (which is you).

      ■ CG Events
      Event CG is combination of some standing pictures and background in short scenes. Some of them have character and background drawn as a single picture. Most of VNs have CG menu which allows player to collect and replay it.

    • Sound
      ■ Background Music (BGM)
      It is an instrumental music which is played along the game. The bgm depends on the atmosphere of the scene, whether it is fun, sad or tense. Most of VNs have different bgm for each heroine to have a special impact.

      ■ Voice
      Each time the text and standing character appear on the screen, they are followed by the narration of voice actor (If a heroine says anything). This feature was applied in late 2000s.

      ■ Sound Effect (SE)
      Such as door being opened, sound of rain, glass being broken and so on.

    Platform

    Most of VNs are made for computers (Windows OS). But, today you can find a lot of VNs available for PSP, Mac, PS2 and PS3, XBox 360, and even Android OS.

    Content and Genre

    Adult Content
    Adult Visual Novels are known as eroge, an abbreviation of “erotic game”. The games feature sexual context that appear after completing certain routes in the game. Usually, Visual Novels with such content are marked with “18+”.

    Storyline
    • Multi-Storyline
      The game has two or more storylines which allow players to choose a route they want.
    • Single Storyline
      The game only has one storyline