For once, this is actually a serious post. I’ve had this thought it my head for months, although with this trend continuing in some recently announced otome games, i think it’s time to consider this as a possible direction for visual novels to move in. Good Or Bad?
For a while, bishoujo games have been produced where there is obviously a “main” heroine and all the other heroines feel like sub-characters. For example, in Nanatsuiro Drops, Sumomo is obviously the main heroine. And in the Tiny Dungeon series, where each of the games focuses on a different heroine.
However, the main difference with this new trend of visual novels is that only one character is featured in each game. This poses the question of whether the said game actually a visual novel rather than a kinetic novel. My answer to this is that it depends on the game. In my perspective, the difference between a visual novel and a kinetic novel are the choices. So, technically speaking, if one of these new “one route” games has some form of choice and more than one ending, it is a visual novel.
The most unusual of these type of visual novels is “Imouto Style“, an imouto-ge by C:Drive. Basically, this was released as a full game where there were 5 routes, however, there were 6 download editions released (the complete game + 5 individual route packages). I believe, in the individual routes, the short common route was cut out, and the games started at the point where the routes split, which wasn’t that far into the game since there was only one choice that separated the routes.
The other bishoujo game i can think of like this is “Seifuku Tenshi”, the first game by the commercial company Sherbert Soft (they did release some other games as a doujin company). Basically, this was meant to be a series of games, each one focusing on a separate girl while still having an overall storyline. This was a clever ploy to make the user buy all the games in the series since there were some plot holes in the first game, while being able to have more in-depth stories and character development as the games are longer than what a heroine’s route would be in an average eroge. I don’t know if this has worked out for the company though, since instead of releasing or announcing a game for the other main characters in the first game, they’ve added some downloadable content featuring a new heroine who only adds some S H scenes. Smart move? No.
Now onto the otome game examples, Shinohazu Seven is the first otome game by company Hituzigumo (who usually only make drama cds) and it’s pretty much an adaption of the Amemakura drama CDs but focusing on the school festival. Each of the 6 characters will have their very own game where there’ll be no common route. BlackButterfly will be releasing the “Dousei Kareshi Series”, each featuring one of three characters
with riduculous names.
While this is an interesting idea, there are both pros and cons to having visual novels being released like this.
More Character Development
In my opinion, this is the best thing about having one character per game. Typically, one of these games will be around 6+ hours, whereas i find a normal route in a visual novel rarely exceeds 3 hours. This means that there is double the amount of time for the game to develop the characters and make their stories more interesting, while including more icha icha for people who like that.
Don’t Have To Suffer Through Characters You Don’t Like
Don’t you just hate it when there’s a character that you don’t like in a visual novel? For me, i hate “Yamato Nadeshikos” and “Do-S” characters a lot, so i would love to just pick the routes of the characters who i like, while not having to pay for routes that i wouldn’t enjoy.
SImply put, having games released this way is expensive – or is it? One of these games is around the 3000 yen mark, which is considered a “low price game”. Now, most full VNs are 9000 yen. Hence, buying individual games in a series would cost more if there are more than 2 or 3 games. However, for otome games moreso, Drama CDs are very popular. These usually feature one character, typically last for 2 hours and cost, on average, between 1500-2000 yen each. Now, compare these to the individual character games and you see that it is “better value for money” to play the game since it’s longer and features artwork. I know it’s not completely fair to compare drama cds and VNs since they’re different mediums but isn’t buying these single route games not too much different from a Drama CD version of a VN?
No Common Route
I would say that this is another important reason. In a lot of games, the common route is the best bit of the game since there’s usually some good character interactions and some comedy. Examples of this include Natsuyuki, Poco A Poco & Denkoi. So having single route games with no common route means that we’ll miss out on all this too.
No “True End” build-up
This only applies to VNs with a true ending (Rewrite, G-senjou no Maou, ect). because of the structure of these games, it is impossible to have any build up to a true route without having to buy a load of games. This does ruin the story element, especially if there are things you need to know from other routes.
I know i have just covered a few of the points in this debate. And while i feel that having a single route VN is nice once in a while, i wouldn’t like every visual novel to be like this. Although, i’d love to be able to avoid those S characters for good! I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on this topic though.