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My VN review/video essay series


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Hello all!

I wanted to post this and share it with everyone here, since I think people here would find it interesting.

As I've started getting back into visual novels and had the urge to make videos again, I decided to start doing video reviews and essays on the games I play. As of now I'm mostly focusing on older titles, since those seem to get the least attention and I wanna give them a spotlight, both because their history is interesting and because some of them are still fantastic titles!

My latest video is on Kanon and its themes, and what it means to me personally: 

The rest of my videos are on the channel it self here: https://www.youtube.com/c/AmelieDoree/featured

As of now I've covered both of the PC Engine Galaxy Fraulein Yuna VNs and Welcome to Pia Carrot, all of which I think are pretty good for different reasons! The next game I plan on talking about is Angelique, specifically the Special version, widely regarded as the first otome game. 

If you have any suggestions on VNs from around 2002 and earlier you'd like me to check out, please let me know! Right now I can only handle translated games but I'm hoping to change that. eventually ;____;

Edited by AmelieDoree
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12 hours ago, AmelieDoree said:

Hello all!

I wanted to post this and share it with everyone here, since I think people here would find it interesting.

As I've started getting back into visual novels and had the urge to make videos again, I decided to start doing video reviews and essays on the games I play. As of now I'm mostly focusing on older titles, since those seem to get the least attention and I wanna give them a spotlight, both because their history is interesting and because some of them are still fantastic titles!

If you have any suggestions on VNs from around 2002 and earlier you'd like me to check out, please let me know! Right now I can only handle translated games but I'm hoping to change that. eventually ;____;

This is very nice! It's really nice to have somebody focusing on retro VNs. Kanon also is a huge soft spot of mine so I'll be sure to check that video out very soon.

Regarding translated suggestions, the first ones that immediately spring to mind are YU-NO, Kana: Little Sister, and Nocturnal Illusion. Also, to briefly indulge in some self-promotion myself, last year I published a freeware VN that is entirely focused on retro VNs and immersed in that vibe. (You can find the link in my signature) 

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Thanks in advance. I've yet to see the video (a bit too long so I have to find the time to watch it) but Kanon, along with CLANNAD, is to me the best VN from KEY and I feel it deserves more attention than it gets.

I sure took some pleasure reading Planetarian for example, but I prefer longer VNs with more characters and interactions. Little Busters should have been along my preferred Key's VNS but it didn't click well with me.

I don't know, the mood maybe ? This can be read as a contradiction in nature, but I can't help myself but feel that the only VNs truly infused by 'Key's spirit' are those two. Also : I really like the OSTs of both Kanon and CLANNAD and a mere 10s intro of the best BGMs take me back in time.

Yeah of course, nostalgia clearly is a part of it for me, contrary to what you said in the first minute (that I watched) of your video.

EDIT : by the way, I did not read the few last Key VNs so at least a part of my opinion is based on prejudices, and I'm living well with it ^^.

Edited by Bredan
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On 2/10/2022 at 11:24 PM, Zalor said:

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Thank you! I was really disappointed by the lack of content on them and wanted to try and fix that. At some point I want take a look at all the ones you mentioned -- though I'm considering waiting on Nocturnal Illusion for a while cause I've heard mixed things about the translation.

I really wanna do a video on a grabbag of short VNs at some point, so I'll check yours out at some point and see if I can maybe fit it in!

On 2/11/2022 at 8:13 AM, Bredan said:

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I really enjoy shorter stories but, I do think longer ones are better too. I think the sweet spot is something around the 20 to 40 hour mark, long enough for me to stay engaged with in most cases but not so long that it has to be REALLY good to get me to push through until the end (Fate and Umineko are the only two exceptionally long VNs I've read).

There's definitely some nostalgia there for me too, though not as much as most. I grew up watching 90s and early 2000s anime, whatever I actually could, as well as lots of doujin games besides VNs uploaded to websites, so the kind of aesthetic that Kanon has hits me in the exact right spot. I didn't actually think about the latter until now... I probably dumped hundreds of hours into Touhou games when I was growing up.

Edited by AmelieDoree
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15 hours ago, AmelieDoree said:

I really wanna do a video on a grabbag of short VNs at some point, so I'll check yours out at some point and see if I can maybe fit it in!

If you get around to doing that video, I'd be honored if my VN makes the cut! If you're also looking for shorter VN recommendations, I couldn't recommend Narcissu enough. It's basically an extended meditation on death and the ephemerality of life. So long as you're okay with heavy themes like that, then Narcissu is certainly worth checking out sometime. 

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Great video! I've been looking for content creators (tbh not very thoroughly) in the VN-fandom who take a more analytical angle regarding themes and this kind of stuff, and I like Key, so this was right up my alley.

Have you watched/read anything else by Key? If Kanon's core themes resonated with you, their other titles might as well. I'd suggest going chronologically though as each game somewhat builds on the ideas of the previous one, something I realised only very recently when I finally got around to watching the Air anime.

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On 2/14/2022 at 6:59 AM, Zalor said:

If you get around to doing that video, [...]

That's definitely down my alley. Given its length I don't think I could say much about it unless I can tie it into some other media, so it's perfect for a video like that!

7 hours ago, alpacaman said:

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Thank you! I'm glad I could provide that ^^

I haven't, but I really want to. People in the comments have sold me on Clannad being a lot of what I found lacking in Kanon, and that combined with Kanon it self has me super interested in checking out Key's other works. If Air isn't super duper long to read, then I may check it out and try to do a video on it once I start running dry on my scheduled topics

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

These look really good and it's nice to see someone digging into old VNs, since I'm a bit of a fan of them myself (Well, Eve:Burst Error and Yu-No particularly).  i'm keen to play Kanon in the near future though so don't want to spoil it at this point...

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I see a review of Angelique, and I did encounter several mention of it from some of Precure reviews that my favorite Precure reviewer made. The premise here has some similarities with STPC, and I can see that STPC writer may took Angelique as one of the reference when he wrote STPC script. Also surprisingly it's quite rare to see the premise is repeated even though it can be fitting for shonen demography as well, but I suppose back then the anime companies thought that the male would prefer something like Dragon Ball or Fist of the North Star. That said though, nowadays there are several works that apply the ruling plot from Angelique, with one of those is How a Realist Hero Build a Kingdom which quite similar down to how the MC has several heroines who love him.

Edited by littleshogun
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  • 1 month later...

Gahhh, I didn't see notifications for the thread and forgot to check it... ;___;

Well regardless, new review is up! Taking a look at Doukyuusei, primarily its remake - the game that truly codified dating sims as a genre. 

 

On 4/6/2022 at 11:38 PM, littleshogun said:

(...)

Yeah, it's surprised me after playing Angelique how much of it shows up in places. I can't say I expected Precure but it makes total sense from what I know of the show!

 

 

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Excellent video, it's really quite well done from pretty much every aspect. While not directly related to the video, I do have an observation I'd like to share and I'm curious about your thoughts.

Briefly in the Intro & History portion of the video you go over how Japanese PC games eventually evolved to become more story focused. Eventually embracing more text heavy games. Bowl of Lentils in his video does a good job connecting this to the history of Japanese Adventure Games. Something I find quite curious though, is that at around the same time American PC games also began to merge story and adventure with Point and Click games, like Adventure of Monkey Island, Sam and Max, Drowned God, etc. In a certain sense I think 90's VNs and 90's Point and Click games have a point of commonality that I haven't seen anyone talk about. The difference between the two is quite obvious, with Point and Click focusing on storytelling through environment interaction, and VNs focusing on character interaction more than explicit environment interaction. But the desire to explore and get the reader participating in a story I think is shared between both. 

This is just an observation I've had for awhile and I'm just curious to get other peoples input on. You seem like a person that might have some thoughts about it so I'm posting it here   

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Your videos are incredible, thank you.

I'm no expert in Youtube monetization but I suspect both the subjects and the length of your videos won't earn you even your next bought VN... doing so for the passion I guess : thanks again.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/16/2022 at 3:38 AM, Zalor said:

The difference between the two is quite obvious, with Point and Click focusing on storytelling through environment interaction, and VNs focusing on character interaction more than explicit environment interaction. But the desire to explore and get the reader participating in a story I think is shared between both. 

I remember one western mid '90s adventure game that seems to sit at similar point that proto-VNs of this time, such as Sakura no Kisetsu. I'm talking about Eric The Unready (and apparently there were also other similar titles from this dev). It was pretty funny, and presentation is what would be called "ADV" in the VN world ;)

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Wiki seems to categorize it as "Interactive Fiction" and this game, just like the other adventure games you mentioned, still focuses more on environment interaction than the character interaction. Also, that list of commands is enormous - since it was there to provide alternative for the parser, which is also present, and allows for some crazy things, like...

733289-eric-the-unready-dos-screenshot-t

Edited by adamstan
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On 5/18/2022 at 1:46 PM, adamstan said:

I remember one western mid '90s adventure game that seems to sit at similar point that proto-VNs of this time, such as Sakura no Kisetsu. I'm talking about Eric The Unready (and apparently there were also other similar titles from this dev). It was pretty funny, and presentation is what would be called "ADV" in the VN world ;)

Wiki seems to categorize it as "Interactive Fiction" and this game, just like the other adventure games you mentioned, still focuses more on environment interaction than the character interaction. Also, that list of commands is enormous - since it was there to provide alternative for the parser, which is also present, and allows for some crazy things, like...

 

Yeah, I mean both VNs and point and click adventures have their roots in text adventure games and interactive fiction. What I find kind of interesting is that at a certain point, both in Japan and in the west the emphasis of interactive fiction starts getting placed more on the fiction, and relatively less on the interaction. 

In early text-adventures, the fiction is really just an excuse for interaction. But in the 90s with both VNs and point and click games, this seems to flip where the interaction becomes a means to explore the fiction. Kind of like looking at an evolutionary chart of a species, it's interesting to see how VNs and point and click adventures branch off from a similar point, yet in essence strive to do similar things but in different ways. 

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16 hours ago, Zalor said:

But in the 90s with both VNs and point and click games, this seems to flip where the interaction becomes a means to explore the fiction.

Yes, that's right. Starting in '90s, adventure games started to have more and more developed stories, and puzzles ceased to be the main point ;)

 

16 hours ago, Zalor said:

Kind of like looking at an evolutionary chart of a species, it's interesting to see how VNs and point and click adventures branch off from a similar point, yet in essence strive to do similar things but in different ways.

I think one of the reasons for going different ways might be influence of dating sims - which also gave birth to the concept of "routes". Western adventure games just kind of evolved on their own, and stayed linear most of the time, while VNs started as a hybrid between adventure and a dating sim. :illyathink:

Edited by adamstan
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On 5/20/2022 at 2:06 PM, adamstan said:

Yes, that's right. Starting in '90s, adventure games started to have more and more developed stories, and puzzles ceased to be the main point ;)

 

I think one of the reasons for going different ways might be influence of dating sims - which also gave birth to the concept of "routes". Western adventure games just kind of evolved on their own, and stayed linear most of the time, while VNs started as a hybrid between adventure and a dating sim. :illyathink:

I agree, the merging of dating sims with adventure games was an interesting development that was central in creating VNs. If you go back to the Sound Novel era with stuff like Kamaitachi no Yoru, it's not immediately obvious that the two genres (sound novels and dating sims) would work so well together. But because of that hybrid, VNs went in the direction where choices effect the direction the narrative goes, choose your adventure book style. Currently I'm playing some retro point and click games, and its interesting how open to exploration they are, but the structure of the story is more linear as you pointed out. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

See I'm responsible I actually posted this one to the thread on time

Celebrating the most bizarre, the weirdest, and the silliest fantasies imaginable with no shame, Ayayo-san is a little known series of eroge about a very dumb girl and her cast of friends that's had an interesting impact on many facets of VN history, and friends... it is BEAUTIFUL.

 

I also apologize for not responding to everyone; I'll try to handle some of it now ^^;

On 5/15/2022 at 9:38 PM, Zalor said:

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There's a lot of interesting convergent evolution with Japanese and Western PC game genres - that's a very good example of it, but there's also the way that Alone in the Dark and Doctor Hauzer both were developed and released at similar times without knowledge of each other far as I know. I'd really love to cover the latter game some day, if not just to have an excuse to talk about that subject

 

On 5/17/2022 at 2:20 PM, Bredan said:

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Patreon makes enough to cover some stuff related to the videos, but yeah it's rough making any money off of these, haha. But I really enjoy talking about visual novels, so I'm happy to do it just to do it.

Edited by AmelieDoree
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