Chaos;Head – PC games discover the semi-colon

Will this be the game to satisfy my current love of semi-colons? SIGNS POINT TO YES.

Over on Gametrailers, the (Japanese) trailer for the forthcoming – ahem – Visual Novel Chaos;Head is up. The imaginative use of punctuation lead me to visit their website, and I was rewarded by some Pathologic-esque broken translation of incredible/awesome pretension. I quote: “If you are God and the delusion becomes reality. About what kind of the noids you get? Is it the sensual world? The despotic society? The destructive sanctions? Or…”

Or…, indeed. Yes, it’s easy to laugh at iffy translation, but I’m all about the easy, as the VD clinic in Bath will testify. Demo trailer and opening cinematic video beneath the cut…

The trailer includes images of schoolgirls covered in blood, which is the sort of thing I probably shouldn’t make jokes about, so will shut up.

The opening cinematic decides to forget about the blood and just show the schoolgirls. And that also is probably the sort of thing I shouldn’t make jokes about, so I’ll move along swiftly. However, from my interpretation of the plot – God’s mind warping reality, etc – it seens that God spends a lot of time thinking about slender leggy girls.

Seriously, I’m moving along.

I’m intrigued – while playing import games in non-English languages is a fairly common thing in console culture, it’s not often talked about in PC games. Any devotees of the Visual Novel out there?

28 Comments

  1. Ian says:

    I just watched those two clips and my first thought was “I have next to no idea what just happened.”

  2. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Here’s one.

    Nitro (plus). Those fellows can make some dark, but thought-provoking visual novels. Or they can skip the thought provoking and make it just dark, too.

    A few times, they skipped both. But really, dark and thoughtful tends to be their strong point, this developer.

    Not sure if this will reach “Saya no Uta” levels of overseas devotion, but the conspicuous semicolon is a nice touch on their part.

    Ian: Yes, but it’s awfully pretty, isn’t it?

  3. Espy says:

    Judging from the trailers, it might actually be Chäos;Head, with a heavy metal umlaut. Weird.

    Also, what are the games actually about? The videos offer no clues there.

  4. Noc says:

    On one hand, I’m really liking the idea of a “Visual Novel.” That is, I’m really liking the fantasy in my head where there are a whole bunch of IF games with beautiful and well-animated visual components, combining the quality of game writing you only seem to get in IF games with the aesthetic flare of Braid or something.

    But I’ve a hunch that in the context of a Japanese import, this means that you’re spending the whole game clicking through dialog without with only minimal meaningful choice-making. Which isn’t really my thing.

    Also, yeah, totally gratuitous umlaut.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Visual Novels are – basically – really simple adventures.

    KG

  6. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    The lack of a text parser makes any questionable content in the Visual Novel genre somewhat less amusing. I’ll leave you with that thought for the afternoon.

  7. Jochen Scheisse says:

    There are few exceptions, but generally all anime are bullcrap. Percieved lesbo schoolgirl gore tendencies lead me to believe that this…game…follows the bullcrappy mainstream.

  8. James says:

    I really think that every marketing campaign should feature sentences asking us “About what kind of the noids you get?” if we were a creator being.

  9. dartt says:

    We all knew this day would come. ; ; ; ; ;

  10. GibletHead2000 says:

    I’ve always preferred to avoid noids, rather than ‘get’ them.

  11. FhnuZoag says:

    Apparently, the type-moon games are very popular and well regarded, and somewhat often imported. (Though I suspect more often torrented) There’s groups doing translations.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    These things are games only in the loosest possible sense, though. You gotta love the horrible engrish, though.

  12. Feet says:

    Those crazy Japs (not all of them obv), always with the school girls, always “skirting” just a little too close to paedophilia.

  13. RobotLiberationArmy says:

    @Feet:
    i c wut u did thar

    More seriously, I’d like to note that JRPGs are, in fact, really simple adventure games with combat. Does that mean visual novels are, actually, JRPGs without combat?

  14. malkav11 says:

    I’ve encountered one or two with interesting plots (most notably, Divi Dead), but the translations are inevitably poor and there’s almost no interactivity in the majority of them. They really seem to function best as porn delivery systems, and we seem to be getting an increasing number of non-pornographic ones for some reason.

  15. Bob Arctor says:

    I liked the porn-sax in the background.

  16. Pace says:

    Excellent title Mr. Gillen! Definite title of the week contender.

  17. c-Row says:

    I, for one, welcome our new punctuation overlords!

  18. Zhal says:

    Anyone know what song is that in opening cinema?

    Other than that not much to say about the visual novel itself, except for some beautiful art.

  19. Arnulf says:

    They did not only discover the semicolon but the umlaut also. Chäos;Head. My mind boggles…

    I (as a german native speaker) find it strange that the little preposition über has found that curious usage among the English speaking (and writing) web community. Stranger even the occasional use of ü in band names and such.

    Now that some Japanese with their intricate and (for me at least) fascinating own calligraphy go and use some crude latin letters and add some umlaut punctuation to it makes me wonder.

    For lack of a better phrase I’d call that culture shock to the power of two.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    To be fair, UBER is a really awesome word. Good work, Germans.

    KG

  21. sbs says:

    Arnulf: There is a number Japanese games named with german words, I can only remember Ehrgeiz and Einhänder right now but I believe there were some more. I think the latter one was spelled without the umlaut though.

  22. AdrianWerner says:

    In recent years the fan translations of visual novels have really picked up, We got full translation of Tsukihime, Wind and Utawarerumono. As well as partial translations of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Umineko no Naku Koro ni and Fate/Stay Night.
    We will be getting Clannad translation soon. And those are just examples, there’s more of it avaible

    Those are huge projects, the ammount of text is insane (afair Clannad has 10K pages long script)

    The funny thing is that those are porno games (aside from Clannad), but they have in reality little porn (like 1% of whole playtime, if not less) and the quality of story and characters writing is above and beyond anything normal videogames have been offering in the past decade.

  23. Alarik says:

    Yeah, story-wise they are quite good. Add to that (usually) gorgeous visuals, great voice acting and nice music and you have quite a piece.

    There are usually more story arcs and multiple possible endings which add to “reaplayability”, a lot. Basically to get the whole story/picture you need to finish more arcs (for different persons) or/end to get multiple endings.

    I wouldn’t even call them “porn” or “erotic” usually. There are different games/genre for that (eg. Illusion Software “games”). Erm.

    Well, I am using quotes here, because as it was already said, using word “gameplay” isn’t exactly the best choice here, I guess.

    I would compare visual novels to the classical game books most of you probably know – for example imagine Lone Wolf story with fewer choices and more text :-) It varies from VS to VS of course. Heh, and there could be minigames too :-)

    Quite good and accessible (as in English version available for purchase and with profesional translation) visual novel is Animamundi: Dark Alchemist – gothic one (and Victorian feel to it – I mean, alchemy, occultism, Faust variant, etc.).

    Generally (about Japanese originals) there are those annoying issues with Regional settins, meh >_> Annoying.

  24. betr says:

    Until recently, Hirameki International have been trying to localise and publish visual novels in America.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Among it’s product line-up, most people will probably agree that those two titles are the best:

    link to en.wikipedia.org
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Phantom of Inferno was Nitroplus’s claim to fame, while Ever17 was considered one of the best KID games. Incidentally, Chaos;Head happens to be a collaboration project between Nitroplus and some ex-KID staff.

  25. Fujiiro says:

    CHAOS;HEAD’s just great and really cool, and you get to study VIP語,,, but my prejudices tell me that translating it (be it that it’s well performed) kind of ruins 75% of the fun. Maybe you eventually get used to it, but somehow (even tho it sounds kinda nihonjinron-ish) it works a lot better in Japanese… the flow’s just different.. but I mean, it also does take great writer, such as Nasu Kinoko to accomplish such feats…

  26. Newprimus says:

    There’s a fan translation effort underway for this game:

    link to tsukuru.info

    There’s a brief description of the game on that site as well. There’s no porn in this game by the way. The protagonist is also fully-voiced. Pretty much everyone who’s played the game thought it was excellent, although the protagonist apparently sets new boundaries of pathetic-ness.

    It’s also being made into an anime that’s going to start airing in Japan pretty soon.

  27. Chan says:

    An English Alpha Patch is out.

    The last few chapters of the game- When everything is put together- is unspeakably awesome.

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