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The rules of a Good Trap Protagonist game

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Clephas

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I will say it, yes, games with trap protagonists are one of my secret pleasures.  While there are numerous types of this particular niche in VNs, and there are a disproportionate number of this type of game compared to ten years ago, there are some rules shared by all the greats that I thought I'd put out there.

1.  A good trap protagonist is a voiced protagonist.  Most trap protagonists are voiced.  There are a number of reasons for this, but, regardless of the reason, almost all the 'good' trap protagonist are voiced.  There are exceptions (early on) or ones where the voice was added on later (Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou), but they are just that, exceptions.

2.  The protagonist has some kind of spectacularly high level skill or attractive point.  This really is universal.  In some cases it is housework (protagonist in Otome no Sahou) and in others it is physical prowess, force of personality, or artistic talent.  However, regardless of what it is, no good trap protagonist is devoid of such skills.

3.  There is at least one 'ojousama' heroine.  While this is not universal, given the nature of this type of game and the fact that most of the schools they 'sneak into' are girls' schools, this is inevitable.  Girls schools, even in Japan, are private institutions, meaning there is inevitably (or so says the kami of eroge) going to be at least one sheltered girl that comes from wealth.

4.  There will be at least some drama when the protagonist is 'revealed' to the heroines.  Easy transitions make for bad games.  All the heroines merely accepting it as if it doesn't matter at all means that there was no weight at all to the protagonist's earlier whini- *coughs* ahem, worrying about being revealed.  While this drama might be comedic, tense, or sexual in nature, it should not go without note.

5.  At some point, most such protagonists will begin to react naturally as their female persona without realizing it (leading to many fans simply forgetting their original names, such as in the case with Mizuki in Koi no Canvas).

There are two major types of this type of protagonist.  One is the 'forceful personality' type, and the other is the 'submissive personality' type.  An example of the former would be Ojousama no Hanbun wa Ren'ai de Dekiteimasu, and an example of the latter would be Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas.  In the former case, the protagonist has a clear objective in infiltrating the girls' school, and he uses his personal abilities ruthlessly and aggressively for that purpose.  In the latter case, the protagonist loses himself (herself as I sometimes think of Mizuki) in his role so completely that he often catches himself reacting entirely as a female.

I like both types, and I find this particular niche tends to produce a disproportionate amount of good games compared to the rest of the VN world... but then, I'm biased.

Edit: As a side note, for those who are interested in recs involving this kind of thing, there are no truly transgender protagonists in any of these games, as far as I know.  There are a few who get addicted to dressing in drag or who live as a woman of their own free will even after the story is over depending on the route (Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou), but as far as I know none of these have been confirmed as actually being transgender.  That's not to say that none of the writers/makers have intended any of these protagonists to be such (it is a distinct possibility), but so far, in the games I've played/read, none of them have actually confirmed themselves as being such, even in their own thoughts (though again, some have edged around it or verged upon it).  

Edit2: Examples of this type of game that have either a submissive or a dominant protagonist that also are top tier.

Submissive (outside of H, since most H scenes in male-oriented VNs are inevitably bed-yakuza affairs)

Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou

Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas

Otome Domain

Dominant

Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide 

Ojousama no Hanbun wa Ren'ai de Dekiteimasu

Otoboku (despite appearances, all three games)

Koi Suru Otome to Shugo no Tate (though this one can be borderline at times)

Hmm... there were fewer great ones than I thought... the barrage of endless Ensemble games makes me forget sometimes, lol.

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Hmm... there were fewer great ones than I thought... the barrage of endless Ensemble games makes me forget sometimes, lol.

Like Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier's protagonist? I was expecting him to appear here, to be honest.

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22 hours ago, Nekopie said:

Like Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier's protagonist? I was expecting him to appear here, to be honest.

Good point... but that one is so alien to other trap protag games that I honestly didn't consider it with these.  I simply consider it a chuunige that happens to have a cross-dressing protag, lol.

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6 hours ago, Ramaladni said:

I don't think these are rules so much as commonalities... You fail to mention why any of this makes the games good to begin with.

Voiced protagonist is obvious.  It shouldn't even need mentioning that having the protagonist voiced is a universal plus.  By definition, point 2 is a quality that allows a protagonist to be 'not just another worthless non-person protagonist', so again, a plus.   In my opinion, if the heroines are voiced in ANY VN, the protagonist should also be voiced... but if you like your protagonist to be a non-person cipher with no personality, that's your business.  

Point 3 is purely personal tastes, I'll admit openly.  However, it is a commonality to all good trap protag charage.  Probably because most ojousama protagonists in JVNs tend to fall into the yurufuwa (think sweet-mannered airhead), arrogant (often combined with tsundere elements, for some reason), or elegant archetypes, all of which are good archetypes for creating atmosphere.  

Point 4... completely glossing over the drama of a cross-dressing revelation stretches suspension of disbelief by definition, even beyond that of a cross-dressing guy infiltrating a girls' school.  While no one seriously thinks any of this is realistic, suspension of disbelief for the purpose of enjoyment is a necessary process to enjoy most fiction.  Oh, I'm not talking about drama on the level of Tsuki ni Yorisou Otome no Sahou's normal/bad end, but rather the kind of drama where there is real tension on one or both sides of the equation.  In my experience, when all or a majority of the heroines sort of just blink and say 'that's fine' without even thinking about it, it is a serious mood-killer.

5.  This is just a common comedic point that creates internal laughs for fans of the genre... and having built-in jokes is always nice.  

In the end, points 1, 2, and 4 contribute the most to the quality of the works in question.  3 and 5, as you mentioned, are mostly matters of taste and commonality.  

Well, if you actually wanted an answer, there is your answer.

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Out of the entries in your list, it seems only KoiTate and OtoBoku have been translated, and they're both dominant types. I prefer submissive type heroines in general, but I don't think I've come across a dominant trap type yet.

There are a couple others that are translated, but didn't make the list. What are your thoughts on Heart de Roommate and Otomaid? I don't plan on prioritizing these titles over KoiTate or OtoBoku, but I'd like to know if they're at least worth reading.

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VNs with trap MC and female heroines? Well if I may say something I'm kind of hoping that we can see more of it, and that's the reason on why I did included Otoboku in my best rated translated VNs in 2012 despite the average score is at less than 7. Speaking about Otoboku, it's just too bad that currently it's the only trap VN with heroine female that was translated, and the projects to translated that kind of VNs is halted (ie Koitate and Tsukiyori translation project). I just hope that we can get more ensemble VNs being localized in the future (Hopefully by either Nekonyan or Mangagamer if possible).

I think mod Clephas here did explain enough his PoV about trap VN, but perhaps I may elaborate a bit here if possible. For voiced MC, well of course it's because it would be interesting to hear female voice and surely it could convinced the gamer that the male MC did sounded like female (Also to further convinced the gamer and the heroines that the MC is indeed a female). For the second point, since we have harem MC and that the heroines in high class school setting is mostly ojou-sama, the MC should have the skill to attract the heroines because the heroines most likely wouldn't attracted to the other gorl without reason (This is not a GL VN after all, even though trap VN here brimg GL atmosphere). I think the reason on why the usual setting need to be high class girl school is explained enough, so let me state that it should be because otherwise we may have some best friend archetype attracted with the MC lol. For the fourth point, I kind of like whenever the MC revealed their identity so it should be a problem to me here (Of course it should be well written).

I guess that's all for what I can write for now.

PS - Speaking about ensemble, recently they made a crossover VN featuring the trap MCs from their previous VNs. At first I thought that their appearence is like the idol with the uniform and all, and turned out that my thought is right because they're supposed to be the idol group for the amusement one of the heroine XDD.

Edited by littleshogun

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9 hours ago, Kenshin_sama said:

Out of the entries in your list, it seems only KoiTate and OtoBoku have been translated, and they're both dominant types. I prefer submissive type heroines in general, but I don't think I've come across a dominant trap type yet.

There are a couple others that are translated, but didn't make the list. What are your thoughts on Heart de Roommate and Otomaid? I don't plan on prioritizing these titles over KoiTate or OtoBoku, but I'd like to know if they're at least worth reading.

Otomaid I haven't played.  If I recall correctly, Heart de Roommate wasn't that good...  it was already tled at the time I first started to play vns, and it was one of the first I purchased.  I don't recall it being interesting though and I have never had the urge to replay it or even remember it, lol.

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I definitely agree with point 1 and 2. Trap protagonists tend to occupy this weird space being both the protagonist and a heroine (male, lol) of his own right. 

A good trap protagonist having a specialty made him stand out among the heroines as someone special and attractive because of his actions/talents/etc not just because being a boy and being nice to someone automatically made loads of girl falling for him. Thus, this automatically made the protagonist his own character and not just an audience stand-in like many moege protagonists.

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