It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and with the world being the way it is right now, it’s not been a great time to meet new people. So instead of fretting about it, why not just settle in for a nice comfy evening with a 2D waifu or ten? Prolific visual novel localiser MangaGamer even has a sale going on right now to cater to your every want, need and/or desire, so here’s five top picks from their lineup.
MangaGamer’s sale started last night and is running until February 18, 9PM PT (that’s 5AM on February 19 in GMT). You can find the full list of sale titles here. And note that most of these games are emphatically NSFW, as if you needed me to tell you that.
A Kiss for the Petals
A Kiss for the Petals, also known as Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke o, is a pretty legendary series of yuri visual novels. The series has been around since 2006 and consists of 23 titles in total, though only three of these have made it west to date.
The first of these, known as Maidens of Michael, is the eleventh title in the series, and originally acted as a solid title to reintroduce (or introduce!) the main cast, thanks to its focus on most of the core pairings found in the rest of the series.
The second, known as Remembering How We Met, looks back on the formation of the relationship between core cast members Risa and Miya.
And The New Generation explores the lives and loves of a group of girls who live in the annex of the main series’ school campus.
Maidens of Michael is one of several visual novels MangaGamer has had repeated trouble getting listed on Steam, so if it’s a title you’re interested in, grab it directly from them while it’s cheap!
Da Capo and its follow-ups are some all-time classic visual novels, originally released in Japan in 2002 and localised at the tail end of 2008. This means that they’ve got something of a “classic” look about them in terms of their art style, and also they run in a 4:3 aspect ratio; bear this in mind if you care about such things.
The original Da Capo visual novel concerns a protagonist who has two mysterious powers: the ability to produce Japanese sweets out of nowhere, and the power to see other people’s dreams. The second game is a direct sequel that unfolds 53 years later. And Da Capo: Innocent Finale is a “what if” visual novel that explores what might have happened if things had gone differently for a particularly popular character in the original game.
Fun fact: fans of Senran Kagura may be interested to note that iconic series artist Nan Yaegashi was one of the main character designers for Da Capo II, working under the alias Mochi Chinochi at the time. Specifically, he was responsible for the characters Nanaka, Koko, Akane, Maya, Mayuki, Wataru, Maika, Mifuyu, Yuzu, Shin and Midori.
Kira Kira is a coming-of-age visual novel about members of an ailing school club who form a band to give themselves a good send-off as they barrel towards the inevitable crushing disappointment of adulthood. Hang on a minute, you might think, isn’t that just the plot to K-On? Well, kinda, but Kira Kira is a distinctly less light-hearted “cute girls doing cute things” affair, and instead concerns each of the main characters coming to terms with various aspects of themselves and their lives.
There’s some surprisingly deep and meaningful stories to be told over the course of this visual novel — and at least one emotionally crushing moment that you will almost certainly never see coming. But there are also some good times to be had — and, of course, plenty of sexy scenes with the main heroines.
Also the main protagonist spends the majority of the game dressed up as a girl, so make of that what you will.
Kira Kira is followed up by a quasi-sequel fandisc known as Kira Kira Curtain Call, which follows the lives of some of the secondary characters from the original game. If you enjoyed the characters and the setting of the main Kira Kira visual novel, this is a nice way to spend a bit more time in that world.
Purple Software’s Hapymaher is a well-regarded visual novel with lots of different routes, plenty of suspense and an exciting story to explore. It’s a pretty long affair, so if you’re interested in a visual novel that will keep you busy for some time, this is definitely one to go for.
Hapymaher’s narrative concerns a protagonist who has begun to have nothing but lucid dreams, meaning he is unable to find true “rest” whether he is asleep or awake. During his lucid dreams, he encounters the mysterious Alice Toriumi, a girl who claims that she can wander from dream to dream — and that she is an ally of the protagonist. But is she really?
As many of MangaGamer’s community reviewers point out, this is not a visual novel to read if you’re just looking for some cheap thrills with a bit of narrative filler between sex scenes. The sexual content is well-integrated into the narrative, but the emphasis is very much on the actual story. There are a variety of different routes to explore, making this a very replayable visual novel with a ton of mysteries to uncover!
While not strictly speaking “visual novels” in the traditional sense, the Rance games tend to tell their story in visual novel style while incorporating a variety of different RPG elements. And if you found our recent exploration of the series’ history to be interesting, now’s a great time to get involved!
Rance 01 and 02 are remakes of the first two Rance games with all-new graphics and refined gameplay, allowing you to explore the origins of the series in a somewhat more accessible, modern format.
Rance 5D and VI are two very different games that serve as an excellent entry point to the series, since they were considered as something of a “soft reboot”. Rance 5D features a fascinating “roulette RPG” system taking heavy inspiration from tabletop roleplaying, while Rance VI is a sprawling and mechanically dense first-person dungeon crawler with deep character progression systems, a huge playable cast and a compelling story.
Sengoku Rance, seventh in the series, is more of a grand strategy affair, in which Rance sets out to conquer the lands of “Nippon” — and, of course, bed as many women as possible along the way, too.
Don’t let Rance’s reputation of being heavy on the sexual assault side of things put you off; while that content is undoubtedly present and you should be aware of that going in, these are games that unfold in an extraordinarily well-crafted narrative universe with a delightfully wicked and often absurd sense of humour. And you’ll find yourself getting very, very attached to the many characters you encounter along the way, particularly since most of them stick around for subsequent games once they’ve been introduced.
So, the only question remaining is: how are you going to spend your Valentine’s Day this year?
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