Edutainment is a noble concept, and simple enough. You’re more likely to retain knowledge of something if it’s fun, right? In the case of video games it appears to have worked somewhat – many children of the late 80s and early 90s have fond memories of Math Blaster, The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, to name a few. The latter of those is of particular interest here, as it appears to have inspired Michael and John O’brien of Australian-based Newbyte Educational Software to create Wanted: Ned Kelly.
Aside from games with wild peripherals, the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) genre might well be the most difficult to preserve due to the way they work. Being online only games, when the company running the game decides it’s time to end it, due to financial reasons or introducing a new product, that game becomes unplayable. There are of course, exceptions, though rarely. Some games, such as Star Wars Galaxies and Phantasy Star Online have third-party private servers, where the server-side backend has either been reverse-engineered or leaked and is run by fans, often with some difference such as higher experience and item drop rates. Generally speaking though, they are gone for good. Most MMORPGs simple cease to exist when the time comes, but sometimes there are special “end of world” events, or the reason for end of service is very notable. A quick few of these follows.
During the late 1980’s, every game company wanted a game as big and great as Super Mario Bros. With good reason – it sold millions, kids loved it, merchandise was flying off the shelf and it help push the Nintendo Entertainment System into the homes of many families. While most developers and publishers would be content just to make their own thing and hope for the best, one in particular decided to outright clone Super Mario Bros., for better or worse.
Blade Runner was one of the most influential films of the 80’s. Its influence on design, atmosphere and storytelling can still be felt in movies to this day. Like just about any movie, good or bad, it had a video game tie-in, right? Well sort of.
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Kindle Imagine Develop (KID)
Publisher: Hirameki International
Also on: Dreamcast/PlayStation 2/PlayStation Portable/Xbox 360
You’ve likely not ever heard the term ‘visual novel’ before, so I’ll give a quick outline of it. A visual novel is basically a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure book and the Infocom interactive fiction games of the 80’s. Have you ever played Phoenix Wright, or Nine Persons Nine Hours Nine Doors? They’re visual novels. How about Sakura Wars, or Agarest: Generations of War? Those are two games which mix Strategy RPG gameplay with visual novel scenes to create something altogether different.
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 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 great is its plot. Continue reading “Ever17 ~ the out of infinity”