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Important Importables: Japanese iOS visual novels

Sections: 2D, Adventure, Columns, Exclusives, Features, Genres, Handhelds, iPhone & iPod Touch & iPad, Japanese Imports, Originals

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Import games are a luxury, and usually come with a hefty price tag. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to test out a Japanese game without paying $40? Oh wait, there is. The iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch have become home to quite a few visual novels. Think of them as Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games. The genre is much more popular in Japan than it is in other regions, but now companies are starting to test and see if people are interested in these kinds of games in other areas thanks to iTunes. If you pay attention, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a Japanese or translated VN to test out.

This week, I make it easier for you. I’ve gone through iTunes and picked out 11 visual novel games. Some are in Japanese, ready to play. Others have Japanese and English language options. Plus, for those who don’t read Japanese but still are interested in the genre, there’s a nice assortment of English-language VNs to try. Some of them are even free, so why not take a look to see if there’s something you want to play.

Road to Emerald iPhone iPad iPod Touch

iOS VNs in English on iTunes

If you’re just getting into visual novels and don’t speak Japanese, then you’re going to have to stick with the translated games appearing on iTunes. Well, in some cases they’re translated. In others, like in the case of Ripples, they’re VNs created by developers outside Japan that tend to mimick the style and fashion of the imported games. Just brace yourself if you get a completely translated game. If it’s a smaller company that took care of it, there’s a chance the script could suffer.

Here are some English-language games to check out.

The Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook
Price: $4,99
Age Rating: 4+
Description: A visual novel and dating sim about a slacker college student who has to go to the country to help out at his uncle’s farm and do some actual work. Your choices affect the story, and influence who Steve ends up with. It is also an adapted port of this computer game.

Phantom Seeds
Price: Free
Age Rating: 12+
Description: This is a fairly straightforward visual novel by an English speaking developer. A small village thrives due to its rice paddies, but when a strange child comes to the town, it ends up having a detrimenal affect on everyone’s lives.

Phoenix Wright
Price: $4.99
Age Rating: 9+
Description: This is an iOS port of the first Phoenix Wright game. Technically, it’s an adventure game, but there’s enough text to sneak it in here. Plus, playing this could help you determine if a visual novel is really the kind of game for you. Help defense attorney Phoenix Wright defend his clients and prove their innocence.

Pinky Distortion
Price: Free
Age Rating: 4+
Description: In this visual novel, you help a band manager named Maria make the visual-kei rock band DIS:CODE a success, while also getting close to the various members. The script’s translation supposedly has some quirks, but it’s free so it couldn’t hurt to try it. Also, it has otome (girl’s dating sim) elements.

Ripples
Price: Free
Age Rating: 4+
Description: A rather short, boy-meets-girl visual novel. Cynical boy meets friendly girl who helps him open his heart. It’s free and by an English-speaking developer, so there won’t be any script issues.

Road to Emerald
Price: $1.99
Age Rating: 4+
Description: A visual novel inspired by Wizard of Oz. A girl named Makoto falls into the book and has to get home. It’s also an otome game (girl’s dating sim). The script isn’t a perfect translation, but it’s good enough. Also ImageCircus, the company that brought Road to Emerald to iTunes, has more Japanese-language VNs available to buy.

Kira Kira iPhone iPad iPod Touch

iOS VNs in Japanese and English on iTunes

If you’re just starting to learn to read Japanese, then these visual novels present an interesting opportunity. If you pick up one with two language options, you could take a chance at actually reading it in Japanese. Then, if that attempt doesn’t go too well, you could fall back on the English translation. Like with the aforementioned group of iOS VNs, the English translation’s script may not be perfect. Also, watch those age ratings! The dual language VNs tend to be where adult VNs can sneak in.

Here are some games with English and Japanese language options to check out.

Gift
Price: Lite version is free, full version is $15.99
Age Rating: 9+
Description: There’s no English version of this yet, but it is on the way. It’s a visual novel dating sim set in high school. It even has voice acting. All people in the game have a power known as Gift, which allows each person to perform one miracle. Players follow Haruhiko, who has a wish to use, and decide which girl to use it on. The original computer game was for adults, but the iOS adaptation is a port of the all ages PS2 game.

Kira Kira
Price: $4.99
Age Rating: 12+
Description: This is a suspenseful visual novel about a young man who’s taking in his younger sister, who was abused by their parents. It’s an example of a darker kind of visual novel, so I’d even say it may be better if people who are 16+ pick it up.

Shall We Date? Heian Love
Price: $1.99
Age Rating: 12+
Description: A visual novel set set in the past. Players play as a young woman who could fall in love with a number of suitors. Yup – it’s another otome game. The English translation may not be perfect, but it’s still an additional option. Plus, it’s on sale for $1.99 until May 11, 2011.

Chaos Head Noah iPhone iPad iPod Touch

iOS VNs in Japanese on iTunes

A Japanese language visual novel could be a nice place for intermediate Japanese language learners to start. You get to experience a new game genre and put your new language skills to good use. Granted, you’ll have to pay to do it, but still. It’s a good learning experience. Again, be sure to check the age rating, as there are some adult VNs on iTunes.

We’re going to go with two 5pb games here, because 5pb is known for making great visual novels.

CHAOS;HEAD NOAH
Price: $25.99
Age Rating: 17+
Description: This is a thriller visual novel, so keep that in mind before buying. A high school student named Takumi stumbles on a murder on his way home from school. It seems a serial killer is around. To make things worse, Takumi is losing his grip on reality and police think he’s the murderer because it seems they are somehow connected to him.

Memories Off 6 ~T-wave~
Price: $18.99
Age Rating: 12+
Description: A high school dating sim, where players help Shio live his life and perhaps find a girlfriend. The Memories Off series is well known and has many fans in Japan, and has even inspired an otome game called Memories Off Girl’s Side.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables talks about 5pb.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week listed some Tokyopop manga you should grab before they go out of print, since the company’s going out of business.

Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

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