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Oxygen

What are "Classic" VNs?

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I just started getting into visual novels and really enjoyed Swan Song, Saya no Uta and Narcissus. I don't think i'll have the time to really explore the medium in depth, so i'm interested in at least playing the "basic", well known, very good visual novels. Basically, if you had to select visual novels to put in a time capsule, which would you pick? On a personal note, I prefer as few choices as possible and non-school settings(I can tolerate them though). I'm also very into grotesque stuff. I think the more desentisized a person is, the freer their mind. 

Edited by Oxygen

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6 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

Note: They don't have to be well-known. A lot of classic literature is barely known, but they're timeless and very well made.

Huh, that's the first time I read that a classic isn't necessarily well known. Really made me think.

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Just now, kokoro said:

Huh, that's the first time I read that a classic isn't necessarily well known. Really made me think.

Have you heard of Solaris? My very loose criteria for classics is: timeless, innovative/evocative, genre transcending/defining and multi-layered. You can pick it up over and over again and still get something more out of it. It's not gimmicky and reliant on crutches or pandering. To me at least, Lord of The Rings is classic, Game of Thrones is not. Farenheit 451 is classic, Divergent is not. 

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I'm assuming English-only, based on the fact that you are a beginner by admission.

Ayakashibito (Shares a writer with the anime Fate/Apocrypha and the post-London Fate/Grand Order main story)

Fate/Stay Night

Tsukihime

Noble Works

Fruit of Grisaia (series)

Majikoi

Ever17

 

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21 minutes ago, Clephas said:

I'm assuming English-only, based on the fact that you are a beginner by admission.

You're right. A lot of the best known vns are probably translated, but that doesn't necessarily make them better. For future reference, which Japanese ones would you recommend? Right now I've decided on Subarashiki. 

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3 minutes ago, Canicheslayer said:

Clannad

Is it better than the anime? The characters seemed pretty flat in that. Didn't really like the excessive crying and inconsistent fantasy/sci-fi either. 

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19 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

Is it better than the anime? The characters seemed pretty flat in that. Didn't really like the excessive crying and inconsistent fantasy/sci-fi either. 

I have never seen the anime. But as a rule, a visual novel is (almost) always a ten/hundred times better than an anime adaptation.

Edited by Canicheslayer

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1 hour ago, Oxygen said:

You're right. A lot of the best known vns are probably translated, but that doesn't necessarily make them better. For future reference, which Japanese ones would you recommend? Right now I've decided on Subarashiki. 

Monetary incentives generally decide whether a game gets translated... that and the random whims of fantranslators.

 

English-translated

Dies Irae

Hapymaher

Untranslated

Koiiro Soramoyou

Tasogare no Sinsemilla

Konata yori Kanata made

Akagoei (series)

Mirai Nostalgia

Komorebi no Nostalgica

Arcology series (Fake Azure Arcology and Re:Birth Colony)

Muramasa

Jingai Makyou

Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no (translation in progress)

Ikusa Megami Zero

Kitto, Sumiwataru Asairo yori mo

Moshimo Ashita ga Harenaraba

Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas

Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteiru Futari no Elder

Rui wa Tomo o Yobu

Shin Koihime Musou

Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide

Tsuisou no Augment

Vermilion Bind of Blood

Semiramis no Tenbin

Houkago no Futekikakusha

Venus Blood Hypno

Kamikaze Explorer

Love Revenge

Baldr Skydive (series, in progress translation)

Kami no Ue no Mahoutsukai

Lovesick Puppies

Sakura, Sakimashita

Hikoukigumo no Mukougawa

Dracu-riot (until the release, whenever that is)

Shirogane no Soleil

Hanasaki Work Spring

Hatsuyuki Sakura

Hyper→Highspeed→Genius

Tiny Dungeon

Midori no Umi

Ojou-sama wa Gokigen Naname

Sanzen Sekai Yuugi (the only otomege here)

Walkure Romanze

Edit: I went for a sampling of genres and companies/maker teams with this, as opposed to just naming every classic VN.  With VNs, it is better to find a type you prefer and blow through all the similar ones before you start branching out, because you'll just end up coming back to what you first liked anyway.

 

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Classic, as in genre defining and revolutionary for the times? It is important to note that these not only face the hardware limitations of the times, but are reflective of what the audience was interested in. I will also not talk about "visual novels" since that's an english term, but eroge (erotic games).

Lolita Yakyuuken (PC-88) probably the first eroge, and most certainly the first loli game (which has a different meaning nowadays). Alice is another text adventure lolige.

Strawberry Porn Game Series (PC-88) an erotic graphic adventure game initially marketed as an aid for couples to learn sexual positions, and for one of the first depictions of sexual conduct in full graphics. Moreover, it was developed by Koei!

Custer's Revenge (Atari 2600) is one of the first games where the sole objective is to well, rape women. And thus, should be considered the origin of eroge involving sexual assault. 

Mari-chan's Close Call (PC-88) a sadistic game where you act as Mari-chan's bodyguard, all the while she is being chased by all kinds of assassins and crazy stalkers. After each encounter, Mari loses one piece of clothing, being naked by the end of the game. It's an undressing (as a reward) type of game. Oh, and would you look at that, it was made by Enix, everyone's beloved company.

Tokyo Nanpa Street (PC-88) quite possibly the origin of dating sims - nanpa referring to the act of flirting with/trying to pick up/hitting on women. Rather than just finding women to have sex with, here you actually have to pick the correct choices to be able to smooth them over.

Then you have Fairy Dust 's games, which are based on some of the first H-OVAs. Some of the characters are voiced by the REAL idols (look at Lemon Angel), so you can only imagine what it was like to listen to your favorite idol live and then fap to her moans on your computer back in your basement.

If you noticed the Escalation games released by Fairy Dust and thought of the games published by JAST...you're on the right track. They are remakes of the original games, but JAST won't tell you this so no one will know the story behind these games.

Super Real Mahjong a series of undressing mahjong games, that originated on the Arcade. Yup, that's right, you could undress women in public...without going to jail!

Then, you could think of the Dragon Knight series, combining RPG with sexual elements, the game being created by Elf, one of the most important eroge companies.

Rance 1 - the series that spawned an entire franchise, with new games still being made today. A fantasy ADV/RPG that belongs to Alice Soft, an eroge company probably about as important as Elf.

To round them up, you have Fairytale with their own works mixing RPG with sexual elements, as well as more plot-heavy mystery/detective work games.

Skipping forward, you have Elf's Dokyuusei, taking the concept of nanpa and affection systems to create what was considered to be a true masterpiece. You don't start dating the heroines after one or two conversations - you have to meet their several times as you trigger events and develop your relationship, finding out when and where they show up on the map, and learning their patterns/schedule. Compared to Tokyo Nanpa Street, there is a greater reward and emphasis on visiting the same heroine multiple times.

Dokyuusei spawned an entire series of games, anime series, live-action films and more. A true classic dating sim.

If you believe that RPG/ADV hybrids and text adventure games and shouldn't be considered VNs, well, I think it's important to consider the origin.

This about covers the PC-88 era. Now for PC-98...

I'm too tired to go on, and I'm not even sure if this is what you wanted. Then again, I now realize that this might be too much to take in for a beginner. Even if I told you, for example, that One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~ is THE game that really spun the wheels for the "nakige" genre, Clannad is probably the better game (and the one that everyone knows/plays). 

If you mean classic as in extremely popular and that stands the test of time, sorting vndb/EGS by popularity ranking or rating would give you the answers you seek. Like, literally taking a look at this list gives you a good idea of some of the "must read" titles. First play the good games that are popular to create a foundation, and later research a particular genre that you're interested in. Old games aren't just for everyone either, even if there are concepts and characters that are as good today as they were back then.

 

Edited by Ramaladni

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Grisaia no Kajitsu . Pretty much ticks all the boxes (even the school setting is not quite the average school setting). Don't let the colorful cast and overly comedic common route fool you either (there are reasons the characters are as eccentric as they are, character routes get quite dark).

ef - a fairy tale of the two . Goes from love triangle drama ....... into some friggin' dark territory in the latter tale.

Muv-Luv & Muv-Luv Alternative . Muv-Luv Extra is your typical fluffy school setting (get to know the characters, and cherish the good times while you can...). Before Muv-Luv Unlimited throws the whole cast into a war torn timeline. Still, Unlimited is mostly just more character building. Then Alternative ...... is a trainwreck that gives you all the drama, all the heartbreak, all the pain, all the PTSD (even some graphic imagery).

 

Others you should probably read (I havn't read them yet, so I can't really comment)......

Steins;Gate

The Shadows of Pygmalion

Devil on G-String

Hapymaher

Kara no Shoujo

White Album 2

 

And for really effed up things, check out....

Subahibi

Euphoria

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8 minutes ago, Ramaladni said:

Classic, as in genre defining and revolutionary for the times? It is important to note that these not only face the hardware limitations of the times, but are reflective of what the audience was interested in. I will also not talk about "visual novels" since that's an english term, but eroge (erotic games).

Well, this is very informative. Thank you. I knew of some of these already and I was already familiar with ero famicom games. I spent a lot of time listening to pc-98 music too, so if you tell me about them I might recognize some names. What do you mean by "loli games" meaning something different now? Also, what are Visual Novels called in Japan? They don't have a general term for the medium? 

I really don't like the sequelitis many visual novels seem to have. Having so many things be a massive franchise is sort of offputting. Alternative, ultimate, zero, redux, etc. After reading Narcissus, I don't get why it needs anything else to tell its story.

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35 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

Well, this is very informative. Thank you. I knew of some of these already and I was already familiar with ero famicom games. I spent a lot of time listening to pc-98 music too, so if you tell me about them I might recognize some names. What do you mean by "loli games" meaning something different now? Also, what are Visual Novels called in Japan? They don't have a general term for the medium? 

I really don't like the sequelitis many visual novels seem to have. Having so many things be a massive franchise is sort of offputting. Alternative, ultimate, zero, redux, etc. After reading Narcissus, I don't get why it needs anything else to tell its story.

I'm pleased to know that you found this to be interesting, and that you already had some knowledge of these games - rather unexpected.

About Lolita, refer to this post. It's more so that the meaning of "lolicon" back in the 80s and 90s was different, it changed over time, and so did the characters.

The term "visual novel" does exist in Japan, as does "digital novel". However, they usually refer to them as adventure or erotic games (eroge for short). They consider everything to be a game, as it should be, since they're all pieces of software. Because of this, there are eroge that aren't considered visual novels by western definition. The problem with this is that there are extremely important games not documented by vndb, like one of the first dating sims to ever be localized (https://vndb.org/t12262), but there is space left for five minutes troll games made with Ren'py. On the other side, you have EGS (Erogamescape, the Japanese eroge database) that lists especially text-heavy RPGs, or things like the Idolm@ster games... Perfect examples of being too exclusive and too inclusive.

That's a problem with Japanese otaku who want their games to be as long as possible. They want fandiscs, they want spin-offs, sequels. For me, when I finish reading a book, and if it's a good book, I'm moving on to the next one, not exactly wishing for more. Unless it's a really, really good story, I'd rather keep things fresh with a new scenario and set of characters, but that's just me. Personally, I dislike unnecessary padding and filler.

As for alternative versions, eroge, just like any other game, receive updates or re-releases over time (updated art, OS compatibility, resolution, music, extra scenarios, extra voice acting, etc.). It's not all that uncommon, and in most cases I'd recommend playing the latest version. However, not all updates can be considered improvements - the new art could be awful, the new scenarios might not fit with the story, the voice acting might suck, the ending might change completely to a terrible one, and so on...

It's really important to do your proper research to be sure that you are playing the best version, or at least the one that you believe will get the most enjoyment out of. Another point to consider as English speakers is translation quality and such - whoever said that a bad TL is better no TL either doesn't care for the game or has absolutely no standards. Censorship is an even bigger issue - removing entire characters because they might be deemed ofensive, removing sexually suggestive text, altering CGs, etc.

 

Anyway, I'm sorry for derailing the thread. I'm sure that you'll be well-served with what the other users recommended so far. Like clephas said, Visual Novels are very genre heavy, each genre having their own tropes and commonalities. With time, you too will find your own preferences.

Edited by Ramaladni

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9 minutes ago, Ramaladni said:

The term "visual novel" does exist in Japan, as does "digital novel". However, they usually refer to them as adventure or erotic games (eroge for short). They consider everything to be a game, as it should be, since they're all pieces of software. Because of this, there are eroge that aren't considered visual novels by western definition. The problem with this is that there are extremely important games not documented by vndb, like one of the first dating sims to ever be localized (https://vndb.org/t12262), but there is space left for five minutes troll games made with Ren'py. On the other side, you have EGS (Erogamescape, the Japanese eroge database) that lists especially text-heavy RPGs, or things like the Idolm@ster games... Perfect examples of being too exclusive and too inclusive.

It's confusing that adventure games are grouped with erotic games. I guess there isn't that same proclivity for catergorizing and organizing things over there, maybe since it's a life style. From the outside looking in "visual novels" look like a natural evolution of books. It's a wonder that nobody has just taken the text from a book and digitized it with added pictures and music in the west. 

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8 hours ago, Oxygen said:

Have you heard of Solaris? My very loose criteria for classics is: timeless, innovative/evocative, genre transcending/defining and multi-layered. You can pick it up over and over again and still get something more out of it. It's not gimmicky and reliant on crutches or pandering. To me at least, Lord of The Rings is classic, Game of Thrones is not. Farenheit 451 is classic, Divergent is not. 

There are very few games corresponding this criteria. Most of them are one time thing. Here are the ones I can return to over the years discovering new layer of depth each time:

DESIRE - Haitoku no Rasen

Eve: Burst Error

Kuro no Danshou: The Literary Fragment

Es no Houteishiki

Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO

Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~

EVE: The Lost One

luv wave

One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~

Kazeoto, Chirin

EVE Zero

Nijuuei

Eve: The Fatal Attraction 

Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~

Interlude

Cross†Channel

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2 hours ago, Oxygen said:

It's confusing that adventure games are grouped with erotic games. I guess there isn't that same proclivity for catergorizing and organizing things over there, maybe since it's a life style. From the outside looking in "visual novels" look like a natural evolution of books. It's a wonder that nobody has just taken the text from a book and digitized it with added pictures and music in the west. 

There are such efforts, however small: https://vndb.org/v11520 https://vndb.org/v3249 https://vndb.org/v11705
The day might yet come where the medium really takes off in the West, although I wouldn't want books to go away. This conversation reminds me of the time when the bookstore at a shopping mall closed down, with plans for the space to be used for a extra cinema auditorium - an analogy for the obsolescence of the medium, perhaps.

As for EGS, that's probably because those games have dating sim/galge elements. The perfect example is Suikoden V, the only Suikoden game listed, presumedly because it has an affinity points system. Idolm@ster games are essentially idol management games, where you have to take care of raising your heroine's stats. Plenty of ADV style text too.

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I'm nearly finished with the first chapter of Subarashiki and it's not really what I was expecting. Was what I was reading before unusual and this the norm? I don't hate watching characters lie in the same bed, or compete over who's the better maid, or bathe together naked, or talk about being late to school, but there's just... a lot of that. Swan Song had similar scenes, but they provided relief from the main narrative and not the other way around. Is most of Subarashiki like this? I'm a lot less likely to recommend this one to anybody I know in real life. If I had to summarize every event so far that felt important, I could probably do it in thirty seconds. 

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1 hour ago, Oxygen said:

I'm nearly finished with the first chapter of Subarashiki and it's not really what I was expecting. Was what I was reading before unusual and this the norm? I don't hate watching characters lie in the same bed, or compete over who's the better maid, or bathe together naked, or talk about being late to school, but there's just... a lot of that. Swan Song had similar scenes, but they provided relief from the main narrative and not the other way around. Is most of Subarashiki like this? I'm a lot less likely to recommend this one to anybody I know in real life. If I had to summarize every event so far that felt important, I could probably do it in thirty seconds. 

I haven't read it, but i think the first chapter is the vanilla chapter and the vn goes batshit crazy from now on.

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7 minutes ago, Stormwolf said:

I haven't read it, but i think the first chapter is the vanilla chapter and the vn goes batshit crazy from now on.

Good to know. Higurashi does something similar, right? I get that the point is to mess with our expectations and build investment first, but it's not exactly compelling in massive dosages. 

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