Visual Novel Shortage on Nintendo Switch
As 2017 has come to a close, I find myself trying to frantically finish all the key releases that the year has brought us. While I’ve still only finished route A of Nier, haven’t even picked up Nioh or Horizon: Zero Dawn, and have only defeated two divine beasts in Zelda despite my 120 hour play time, I found myself being drawn to a free pc title. Out of all the games I have played from last year, this particular game hit me hardest for a multitude of reasons.
Doki Doki Literature Club was that game, a visual novel I downloaded from steam, and I thought it was spectacular. It has a clever story with interesting characters, and twists that make the game one you must go in to blind. But I’m not writing to tell you how amazing this game is, but rather a thought that occurred to me whilst I was playing. That thought being, “Where are all the visual novels on the Switch?”
Besides a few Japan only announcements and releases, the visual novel output is barren for Switch owners in the West. This boggles my mind, as the Switch seems like the perfect device for the genre. With people reading kindles, tablets and ebooks, the perfect equivalent for gamers would logically be the visual novel. On my commutes I used to play them on my Vita, whether it was completing Steins;Gate multiple times until I achieved that platinum trophy, or playing through the Danganronpa series. Instead of reading a book, I was interacting with it, and I couldn’t get enough. The one thing I wished more than anything was that the Vita had a bigger screen.
Fast forward to the Switch announcement and my excitement for its potential was astronomical. Beyond the obvious reasons, I thought we would finally have the perfect device for my beloved visual novels. Almost a year in, and you will be hard pressed to find a single one on the eshop. Where are they? Are we doomed to interact with our anime school friends in front of our computers or squinting at the minuscule text on our Vita screens? My eyes aren’t what they used to be, so the latter option is becoming increasingly difficult as the years wear on.
The lack of visual novels seems like an obvious hole in the Switch’s library, one that a developer or publisher who takes a chance on leveraging could potentially benefit from immensely. I believe it will only take one or two decent quality novels to release to finally burst open the floodgates, but who will be the first ones to try their hand at breaking into the western market with this genre? The forum chatter is there, people are waiting anxiously, watching the releases in Japan and grasping at any news on English translations. Will our prayers finally be answered?