With that said, I think it’s time for this long-time, console gamer to ask what clearly isn’t an obvious question: who is the Mario of English Visual Novels?
Which is why you don’t start in the Olympic pool, you start in the family lake or neighborhood pool. There’s no pressure for greatness or insane competitiveness. It’s familiar, fun and something that will let you experience the basics of swimming. And if you want to be more competitive, there are larger pools for it. Now, since the VNs Now audience is very intelligent, I’m sure you see where this is going and I won’t extend the metaphor any longer than I have to. But it is important to remember that every genre of entertainment is intimidating to the new viewer/reader/listener. If people got into gaming strictly to play Elder Scrolls or Dark Souls, there wouldn’t be a lot of gamers. Which is why all of the gaming icons are usually the equivalent of the neighborhood lake.
And my story isn’t an isolated incident. Hell, I’d go so far to say it is the standard. As gaming has grown into a more accepted hobby, the icons of the past have grown into household names. People who have never played a game before in their life can hum the themes of both World 1-1 and 1-2 from the original game and knows that the playable character of Legend of Zelda is actually Link and exactly what happens to Aerith by game’s end. And because of that, these characters will always have a place in our culture as the starting point not only to a hobby worth persevering, but a business and audience that should be taken seriously.
The power of a solid ‘Mario’ that not only grabs your interests but your imagination is difficult to reproduce…and I know that because the gaming industry have stuck to the model for nearly thirty years. From Mario and Sonic all the way to Master Chief and Nathan Drake, who I would argue stole the crown from Final Fantasy for PlayStation, the industry wouldn’t keep going back to this well if it wasn’t effective. And yet, while millions of gamers world-wide defend the honor of the icons they grew up with to such severity that companies are actually going backward to recreate the old-school feel of Mario and Sonic, the EVN community seems slow to pick up on this.
To be fair, the same could be said for Japanese Visual Novels. I mean, really, what iconic character could represent everything great about the genre to the uninformed? Well, going strictly from sales figures, that would be Misuzu Kamio from Air…yeeeeaaaah. If I have to explain to you why Super Moe Princess here isn’t a viable candidate for this particular job in the West, then allow me to welcome you to VNs Now because this is your first time on the site. Though I’m sure the fans of the character and game enjoy the influence she’s had, most people will see her, laugh and never touch the actual game.
I’m not. Unless you’re building Otome Game #570612348, I’m not asking for the actual content of the games to change. What I am saying is that you’re about to be written off.
“Officially localized and released visual novels are few in number. That and also makers that actively try to spread the Japanese-born visual novel game genre to the West are few in number too. Perhaps for that reason, I feel that there are also few Western-made visual novels. Of course there are visual novel creators out there in the world, but not to the extent that you could say the visual novel genre is commonplace.” – ‘Fujisan’, Moenovel
“It’s no secret that visual novels lack a solid market here in the West. Even with the surprise success of such titles as the outstanding Zero Escape series, visual novels remain mostly out of the spotlight.” -RPGFan
That’s where I come in.
I’ll be going a bit more into this in time, but what everyone needs to know right now is that this site is going to start looking for the EVN Mario along with the other billion things I have planned. I don’t take this lightly…and I’m sure many think I shouldn’t undertake it at all: but it will happen. There should be one visual novel series we can all rally behind and hold up as a standard, a flagship if you will, to those who have no understanding of the medium. And I will do so, without fail.
Of course, you can help the process. Comment below, follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and tell me what you think of this little plot. I’m sure the responses I get for this will be very interesting…very, very interesting. Until then JP3: OUT.