First and foremost, Harland Sanders was a real guy. The Wendy’s mascot is based off a real person: Wendy Thomas – Dave Thomas’ daughter. Why does the Internet insist on making memes out of real people?
Anyway, I don’t really have too much to say on this one. It was announced this morning that KFC and Yum Brands, their parent company, were teasing a visual novel based on the Colonel Sanders mascot. Or, at the very least, they’ve created a trailer and Steam storefront for I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator. This being a clear parody of the subgenre, I’ll believe it when I see it completed…and will then probably play it because yeah, this is the life I’ve chosen. Anyway, here’s a bit of the synopsis then we’ll get into the thought I had when I saw it:
I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator follows you, a promising culinary student, as you try to date your classmate, Colonel Sanders. Throughout your journey, you’ll be faced with life-changing decisions that will affect your chances of friendship and love. But be careful! Your choices have real consequences with real animated characters’ feelings at stake.
Now, when I saw this and after I quipped about Irish Coffee, my immediate thoughts went into two long-running predictions I’ve had about English Visual Novels. The first one I discussed way back in 2013 and it is that, inevitably, larger media companies will start to make their own VNs once they realize how cheap they are to make. Even with the inflated ambitions of many VN Kickstarters, you can make still make a good visual novel for less than $10,000. If you’re sitting in a corporate boardroom trying to pitch a marketing strategy and you can pretty much guarantee maximum exposure and to double your potential revenue, there is no downside.
Second, as I noted in talking about the cursed anniversary of Sakura Spirit on The VNs Now Podcast, this fits into the current timeline of how the general public views English Visual Novels. Irony, satire and parodies come about after the establishment of a general idea of what a genre is. Case-in-point, Scary Movie could not have come out before the boom of slasher horror films. Or, to age myself dramatically, Batman and Robin could not have been made without the Tim Burton movies coming first. The reason we’re seeing many ‘satirical’ EVNs at the moment is because Katawa Shoujo, Sakura Spirit and possibly that one visual novel where you can bang a tiramisu established what an EVN was to a mainstream audience.
The question for your humble reviewer is what now comes next for this subgenre I’ve been covering for eight years. There is no such thing as a vacuum when it comes to trends in media, after all. Everything has its time and cycles tend to loop. The ‘loop’ to Batman and Robin was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy and Blade 1 and 2. The response to Marvel’s evolution was Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. And then we evolved entirely with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you look at the EVN timeline in the public consciousness as starting with Katawa Shoujo and Sakura Spirit, then the chronological artistic response diverge between Dream Daddy (satire) and Doki Doki Literature Club (subversion). The thing is, instead of trying to respond to those tracks, some gamers are trying to push developers into following one of the two tracks. I have no doubt that will not last: it never does.
So, can we expect a reboot of sorts where we go back to the roots of this thing: rediscovering the titles that actually made EVNs a viable gaming medium? Or is there another bend in this road? I’d love to hear what you guys think about this: especially my long-time readers. It’s safe to say though that whether it is released or not, KFC VN is a sign of the times. And for those curious, you can see the Steam page here. JP3: OUT.