Anime and Video Game News Site/Convention Panel Group

Shira Oka: An American Made Visual Novel?

Visual novels are a market that has been mainly dominated by Japan since…well ever! Sure there have been pretenders on sites like Newgrounds and such, but now America decided to try its hand at the idea. “Shira Oka – Second Chances” is an America developed visual novel, possibly one of, if not the first of its kind. While the game had already been released one week ago, a demo is still available on the game’s official site, so that players can try before they buy.

The basic gist of the game is that you are a high school student given an opportunity to re-live your days in school however you want, whether your goal is popularity, academic achievement, or falling in love with that special someone. However since the cast of characters seems to be predominantly female, it’s a safe bet what the most obvious goal is going to be. However some notable things have already been pointed out by people who’ve played the game, including their mixed harsh feelings about the artwork, the lack of sex that makes up, not completely, but mostly what this genre has available, and especially the fact that it’s American made, yet tries so hard to be Japanese, including a Japanese theme song, Japanese setting, and a considerable lack of any actual American characters.

click here for a link to the game, and here for info about the developer, Okashi Studios

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3 responses

  1. Emmy

    Nowhere even *vaguely* near the first of its kind. There are TONS of other English-made dating sims and visual novels. Some are free, some are commercial, some are on PC, some are on console, some are complete crap, some are actually pretty good.

    Just for quick starters, google:

    Surviving High School
    Sprung
    Summer Session
    Date Warp
    Brooktown High

    I could list tons more but that should surely be enough to prove my point. Sorry, it’s just a pet peeve of mine. I get equally annoyed when journalists post that adventure games are a dead genre, when there are tons of *commercial* ones being released every year, to say nothing of the countless hordes of fan games!

    December 18, 2010 at 11:38

    • Thanks for commenting first of all, but let me say that I took the time to search those games that you left before and well from what I could find:

      Sprung – Dating sim but not a visual novel. Besides, this was about an AMERICAN release…this is Canadian

      Surviving High School – again, not a visual novel but a dating sim

      Summer Session – dating sim yet again

      Date Warp – Well this seems legit enough but

      Brooktown High – another dating sim

      There is a big difference (at least to me and I’d like to think most people) between dating sims like the ones mentioned before, and actual visual novels such as Fate/Stay Night, Ef Tale of Memories, Utawareromono, Kanon and such with an actual plot to follow.

      The wikipedia definition of the term “visual novel” which says,

      “also known as sound novel, is an interactive fiction game featuring mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art. As the name might suggest, they resemble mixed-media novels or tableau vivant stage plays.”

      Now the entry goes on to say,

      “This style of game play has been compared to the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Most, however, strive for a higher level of plot and character depth than the aforementioned series of interactive children books. These can be more closely compared to story-driven interactive fiction.”

      Now it DOES mention that visual novels tend to stray away from the norm and have other game play elements, but more often than not, they still have a specific plot to follow.

      So if you would like to mention some real visual novels along those lines, then please do. I really do appreciate your comment and since you claim to know about American visual novels, I would like to know if there indeed more out there to know about and any others who may read this might want to know as well.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:54

  2. Emmy

    Shira Oka itself is a dating sim, not a visual novel by official definitions – it’s a stat-raiser and you have to get your stats up to get girls, not just make choices within the story. That’s why I listed mostly dating sims.

    Commercially, English-made pure visual novels are rare. Most include some extra element of gameplay, like dating sim stuff or puzzles (Fatal Hearts). One that’s a completely pure visual novel is Bionic Heart. Oh, and Jisei which is a murder-mystery VN, but that one’s supershort (it’s supposed to be the start of a series, the sequel is in development). The Heileen games should also count.

    December 20, 2010 at 07:43

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