Visual Novel Spotlight: NaNoRenO!

It’s my second anniversary of writing for Rice Digital, and this year my celebration post is all about Western VNs. That’s because this very month of March is the annual game jam for visual novel developers from all over the world – NaNoRenO!




NaNoRenO (no extended name) is a visual novel game jam that takes place in March and produces some of the most wonderful, creative and short visual novels produced by English-writing developers. People from all over the world collaborate on art, music, writing, programming, editing, sound and any other aspect possible to produce a game by March 31st or April 1st in an effort much like that of NaNoWriMo or NaNoMangO. Now in its 11th year, the game jam just keeps getting bigger and better. And how better to explain the whole thing than with a look at some games it’s helped create!



 Juniper’s Knot by Dischan (2012)


Likely one of the best generally known projects to release for NaNoRenO is Dischan’s own Juniper’s Knot. Upon getting lost in a run-down building outside of town, a boy comes across a fiend who is trapped in a magic circle and bound to stay there forever. Through some trickery and sincerity, the two make a pact, and from there change their lives. This VN shines with all the team’s contributions, from the direction of the sprites to the strange English dialogue to the sound effects to the strong score and stronger art. It’s truly a short taste of what English visual novel developers can do.



ROMANCE DETECTIVE by Nomnom Nami (2014)


ROMANCE DETECTIVE is about ROMANCE DETECTIVE and her latest sidekick, ROMANCE COP. Together they must solve the crime of the stolen vase and corner the ROMANCE THIEF before any more crimes of passion can be carried out. But their adventures don’t end there in this quirky VN full of pink, hearts and roses. Nomnom Nami’s particular art and writing style makes this game an enjoyable hour of mystery, intrigue and, yes, romance.



Ristorante Amore by Cyanide Tea (2012)


Ristorante Amore is all about clumsy college graduate Lily trying to do her best while working at an Italian restaurant, surrounded by handsome guys. It’s about the power of love, but where that power is actually going is better off a surprise. Besides being a wonderfully detailed game with plenty of routes and surprises, Ristorante Amore is a perfect example of NaNoRenO encouraging people to try new ideas and twist expectations.



The Knife of the Traitor by Clua (2012)


2012 was just an especially good year for NaNoRenO. The Knife of the Traitor is another short game with a unique artistic direction that plays with an unusual idea amidst choices that might not be too obvious to pick. While it’s the shortest game listed here, its mystery, charm and little details make it stand out. Will you find out what happened to the kingdom of Ulla and who plotted to kill its successor? Or will you meet dead ends wherever you wander?


To list every great thing that has been born from this game jam would take the time away from you to go out and play them. For as many English visual novel projects are out there, several more are created just for March. Whether it’s a first attempt or round three or four wrestling with code, NaNoRenO is a time when creators can finally make that VN they’ve been thinking about or help someone make their dream into a text adventure. It’s also a place you might like to dive more into if finding gems among indie games or game jams is your thing.


Interested and need more info? Check out the jam page, Lemmasoft Forums and the #NaNoRenO tag on your favourite social media platform. You can also browse the current prospective line-up over here.

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