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.
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.
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.