An Hour Of Japanese Indie Games From Comiket 86

Comiket is a yearly three-day dōjinshi fair held in Tokyo in which over half a million people gather to sell, buy and share a love for self-published works. That normally means manga comics, but also includes Japanese indie games which are often unavailable to buy anywhere else. A similarly yearly tradition is shmup developer Edelweiss‘s hour-long preview video presenting clips of some of the games attending the show. It’s always a fascinating glimpse at indie games locked away behind a language barrier, and at a development scene that’s grown in isolation according to its own trends.

Come, flick through, and have your horizons broadened.

There are obvious, long-running trends on display here, including bullet hell shmups, Touhou games, abundant anime art, flying magical spell combat and inscrutable RPGs. There’s also a sequel to Rose & Camellia (this), a great-looking perspective-twisting 2.5D stealth game called Ghost 94, and, to give you a warning, some typically problematic stuff in the anime art.

Is there any way you can play these games? They’re almost all PC games, so certainly yes. You can find links to each of the game’s featured in the preview video at Eldelweiss’ site. The issue is, of course, that they’re all in Japanese. If you can’t understand that, your best bet might be to dive back to 2010 and play Recettear, which was born of the Japanese dōjin community but received an English translation by Carpe Fulgur.

This year’s Comiket happened back in August, so this video is a month old. I’m only seeing it now though, thanks to the lovely TIGSource. Thanks, TIGSource!

32 Comments

  1. Anthile says:

    Small correction: Comiket occurs twice a year. Hence the rather large number of 86.

  2. Gog Magog says:

    Thank fuck someone is making games that are politically incorrect, or, as some like to call it, “problematic”. (well okay plenty of people are doing so and plenty of them are not Japanese and some of them are even Western Anglophone. some. Castle Doctrine am looking at you.)
    “Problems” need to be “solved” until they “no longer exist as problems”. This means adjusting your own “view” of the “problem” or “ending” the “problem” permanently. ”
    “”””

    • Ross Angus says:

      There, there.

    • Niko says:

      Politically Incorrect Panties.

      • Gog Magog says:

        unforgivable

      • Baines says:

        You mean like being able to buy crotchless Hello Kitty panties for your iPhone? There has to be something politically incorrect about that.

        (Seriously, that is a real product. Hello Kitty panties that you slip onto your phone. Including a crotchless version.)

    • RARARA says:

      That’s nice, dear.

  3. Soulstrider says:

    I wish we got more of the indie Japanese games in PC in the west. Sadly in here with some rare exceptions we only get some of their bigger console releases, which sucks for me who loves japanese games and anime style art but doesn’t have a console.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Boy, I sure love videogames about 8-year old girls dressing like grannies.

      • Soulstrider says:

        Stop liking what I don’t like much?

        Also I don’t even like Tohou

      • Coinfish says:

        It’s actually grannies dressed up like 8 years old(see touhou for 100+years old dressed like 10)..they just dont look like grannies. They’re supernaturally legal so it’s OK.

  4. Anthile says:

    Okay, I’m trying to comprehend Fata morgana no Yakata here, the game shown in the title image and the sequel to Rose & Camellia. So apparently it’s a visual novel set in the horror genre with a haunted house and all with actual gameplay sections that consist of a maid slapping other women. W-what? It’s already out for two years but MangaGamer picked it up and it’s allegedly coming to Steam perhaps even this year.
    On the subject of Recettear, EasyGameStation (the developer, not a console) didn’t show Territoire which seems to be stuck in development hell. It’s supposedly a cutesy 4X, something like Civilization with magical high schools.

    • Imaginary Llamas says:

      That slapping game bit reminded me of a game RPS mentioned ages ago. I think it involved Jane Austen characters slapping each other or something weird like that, but I don’t remember the name.

      • Baines says:

        You might be thinking of Rose & Camellia, which Anthile mentioned. RPS covered it back in (quick online search) 2007, getting it from a SelectButton forum thread.

    • Mezzo says:

      The House in Fata morgana is a horror/tragedy visual novel, yes. The slapping game is a tie-in crossover they are doing with Nigoro as a sort of joke.

  5. Koinzellgaming says:

    Honestly I’m not 100% sure how closed off the indie games development in Japan is as I don’t know that much what the gamers in japan play (I mean how can you know if some of those devs haven’t been influenced by Western games? I know that they’re really hyped about certain japanese games, but I would like to think that they’re not exactly completely enclosed.). For example I saw a TD game which should be western, and a slapping game that seemed similar to a boxing game that I played some time ago (Which should be a western thing I think?). And there was the “Thomas was alone” sort of game with really annoying music.. >_>
    Though I guess there’s no question that majority of those games were all japanese styled games, but I don’t know how good it would be to generalize like that? Because I do think I saw a few games have some western influence as well in the gameplay aspect (Though their style tended to be mostly anime style. Which can be understood as it was in Comiket, which is mostly anime/manga.. And soo many SMUPS..).

    • pepperfez says:

      As I understand it PC-game development in Japan is overwhelmingly an indie field – the big players are all console-first. So I would expect a pretty significant amount of Western influence, even beyond the usual interconnected-world baseline. The doujin scene, though, is much more insular than, say, the US or Swedish indie scenes. I’m an outsider to games development in general, though, so don’t quote me too confidently.

  6. Christo4 says:

    The game at minute 47 seems really interesting imo.

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      Wow, that looks great. One of the most original platformer ideas I’ve seen in a while.

  7. islisis says:

    say what you will about their inability/unwillingness to evolve the genres, but i’ll take attention to aesthetic over attention to awesomeness (=attention to getting attention) any day

    • Niko says:

      In some cases, yeah. I’d like to see more well-made games like Tyrian or Jets’n’Guns on PC.

      • islisis says:

        ones with a purchasing/story mode are rare, but shooters are the doujin developer’s bread and butter

        link to shmups.system11.org

        • Niko says:

          Thanks! I’m looking for ones with less bullets preferably.

          • subedii says:

            Yeah I grew up on SHMUPS, but ones like Xenon 2 and Tyrian where you’re not permanently flying through a maze of bullets where one hit will insta-kill you.

            “Bullet hell” shooters just aren’t my thing, I’ve always felt that they seem to be based around memorisation more than anything, but they seem to be the only ones I ever see talked about anymore.

  8. zproc says:

    I wish we could get more localized games like Recettear… Sigh.

  9. Baines says:

    A word of note for people looking to import or otherwise track down something that they might find interesting, a few Japanese developers in the past have tried to implement DRM schemes blocking access outside of Japan. (Well, on top of the semi-DRM of varying degrees of requiring Japanese Windows.) For example, I want to recall that IP addresses outside of Japan were blocked from downloading updates to the Homura Combat games in previous years.

  10. Dave Tosser says:

    I’ve been waiting for more Rose and Camellia since 2007. Thanks, Japan!

  11. Chaz says:

    That Ghost 94 does look most entertaining.

    Apart from the odd few the majority of the rest look as if they’re all about teen witches in mop caps and goth lolita gear beating each other up.

  12. SpaceDrake says:

    Very, very cool to see this get mentioned on RPS.

    And hopefully you won’t have to go back to the wild days of our youth in 2014 to enjoy something from a certain group of lightning-grabbers for too much longer…

  13. Nouser says:

    That’s a ton of Touhou.

  14. Da5e says:

    Waifus and fanservice, hooray.

  15. DrManhatten says:

    My highlights:

    * The face slapping game (genius who comes up with that stuff?)
    * The witches arena flying/fighting game
    * The RPG of tanks,airplanes and warships (WTF???)

    Otherwise too many platformers and Shoot em’ ups. But a few hidden gems here and there. Suprised there were not more (S)RPG lots of ARPGs.

    Oh yeah did anybody understand the card game and that strange guy eating stuff?