Year: 1994 Genre: Horizontal Shooter Developer: Taito Publisher: Taito Platform: Arcade Also on: Saturn/PlayStation/Windows/PlayStation 2/Xbox
It can be hard to believe that at one point, arcades were dominated by “shooters”. Not first-person shooters such as Doom or Quake, but games where you had a small spaceship (or plane, as was the case with Capcom‘s 1942) and fired upon waves and waves of enemies, generally of the alien variety. In 1978, Taito more or less invented the genre, depending on your views of Spacewar!, and really pushed video games into public knowledge with Space Invaders. Space Invaders was one of those games which managed to become a household name and in Japan even managed to create a shortage of 100 yen coins. It was a fairly simple game. You had a spaceship, positioned at the bottom of the screen, and shot at blocky aliens who somewhat resembled sea critters. This last part leads us to 1986, where Toshio Kohno at Taito decided to make a game where you shot at giant mechanical fish, with the action taking place across three monitors to give it a huge widescreen look. Weirdness aside, the first couple of Darius games were very by-the-numbers shooters. They weren’t bad or unpopular, but nothing special. And then, in 1994, Darius Gaiden was released.
Year: 2002 Genre: Visual Novel Developer: Kindle Imagine Develop (KID) Publisher: Hirameki International Platform: PC/Windows Also on: Dreamcast/PlayStation 2/PlayStation Portable/Xbox 360
‘Visual novels’ long since struggled to find a foothold in the international market, and even with the niche but relatively popular releases of several games in the west, such as Phoenix Wright, Zero Escape and Danganronpa, they never truly caught on in the mainstream. For the uninitiated, a visual novel is basically a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure book and the Infocom interactive fiction games of the 80’s. Sometimes visual novel-like structures are used to tell the story in games with other gameplay, such as in Sega‘s Sakura Wars
In a nutshell, a visual novel tells you a story, shows you some graphics and music (sometimes voice acting, too) to illustrate the scene, and then gives you some choices. Some of these can be quite complex (such as Ever17) or quite long (Fate/stay night is often said to be three times the length of all three Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit combined).
With that in mind, you can understand that it’s quite tough to write or talk about a specific visual novel without completely spoiling it, given that ninety percent of what makes it special is its plot.