Issues of Import – Visual Novels for Achievements

Issues of Import

I’m going to preface this by telling you that I sincerely doubt anyone reading this will or should be buying any of the games talked about here – this is strictly an informative piece. The preceding sentence is there to cover you should someone peer over your shoulder and see the suggestive screenshots within this post. Aren’t I nice?

For the uninitiated, Japanese visual novels are typically interactive text-based games using static CG backgrounds and revolve around dialogue trees, unwinding in a similar fashion to an adventure gamebook, only with less cheating. Literally, at least. Franchises like Ace Attorney and Zero Escape borrow a lot of visual novel elements, but are a different kettle of fish…

Keep your shirt on. No, really. Please.
Keep your shirt on. No, really. Please.

Today we’ll just be focusing on the 360’s visual novel library as it’s – dare I say it – where I have the most experience. In Japan, the 360 has just two niches with a following: shmups and visual novels. I say visual novels, but more often than not they boil down to erotic dating sims censored to meet Microsoft’s certification requirements. Unsurprisingly, none of these “eroge” (erotic games – that’s a hard g; I thought this had a French pronunciation for far too long) have been localised for the 360 in the West.

Why would anyone want to play them anyway? Well, there is one market: achievement hunters. It’s quite easy to bolster your gamerscore with these games by following roadmaps detailing how to complete every branch of dialogue and unlock all 1000G within a few hours thanks to fast-forward options. You don’t even have to learn kanji – just match the squiggles with the corresponding answer from the guide.

Achievement unlocked... but at what cost?
Achievement unlocked… but at what cost?

Embarrassing as it sounds, as part of my misuse of time in Japan I have been one of these people. As I live in Japan it’s easy enough to buy the game second-hand, polish it off and sell it back (can’t rent them – Nintendo made game rental illegal in Japan during the Famicom era). Typically, I keep a guide open in one window, output from my PVR in the next and a random episode of Arrested Development in front. A productive evening in. Of sorts.

If you fancy spending far too much money importing these titles for some easy, time-consumingly mind-numbing achievements… you may need help. You’ll also embarrass yourself if anyone checks your games history and sees a bunch of suggestive animu achievement thumbnails.

Ah... er... sorry, wrong door.
Ah… er… sorry, wrong door.

The few games that aren’t toned-down porn, like Steins;Gate, actually seem a lot more atmospheric and have received a fair amount of critical acclaim over here but, having played them in Japanese, I can’t claim to understand what any of them are about.

Apologies if you were expecting me to go on about whether these games were any good or not. The vanilla eroge seem like total tripe to me; not even worth playing for a laugh. If they look like your cup of tea, you’re undoubtedly better off getting the translated, uncensored PC versions. You fiend, you.

Keep on importing; probably not any of these though…


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