After a month-long hiatus brought about by computer failures, the strains of work & the near destruction of all humanity (no more details – an out of court settlement was reached), Shipon returns with a look at MediaWorks attempts to bring the visual novel to the Nintendo DS.

Software houses have been porting visual novels and renai games to portable systems since Sony dropped the PSP into the marketplace. This week’s foray to Gamers for the months Megami and Dengeki G’s magazine netted an advertising glossy fortelling the joys of MediaWorks upcoming offerings for the NintendoDS.

Anime and manga property tie-in games for the DS aren’t rare by any measure. Late last week, the first Negima! game for the DS was released to join the pool of games for such popular series as CLAMP’s Tsubasa Chronicles, Shonen Jump character games and others. What’s interesting about these new items is that MediaWorks is touting them as a ‘Sound Novel + Card Game’.


Inukami!

According to the literature and accompanying screenshots, three titles are on the offer. アリソン (Arison) and いぬかみっ! (Inukami!) are due for release on 12/7 and イリヤのそら、UFOの夏 (Sky of Iriya, Summer of UFO) is slated for the decidedly non-summery 1/11. The gimmick with these is that the DS is turned 90 degrees so you are using the DS like a novel! Wow! Genius!

The other thing is that they’ll also have full sound, which will mean that whilst you read through the novel in an e-book sort of way (only with better graphics) you’ll get sound effects and music. The interesting game of the three mentioned is いぬかみっ! which features your heart-throb and mine, Horie Yui, in full voice. The press for this game also advertises that it features animation, although it doesn’t detail to what extent. However, whilst not strictly being a visual novel (the only user interaction to advance the story is that which advances the page), still an interesting prospect.

The story content has been created originally for these games DS Novels, but MediaWorks being MediaWorks, they won’t stop till they’ve flogged every last dollar from the brands. To that end they’re also advertising the tie-ins such as the inevitable paper versions (ie, tankubon), drama CDs and other branded goods.

And of course there’s the card games. These (once again judging from the screenshots) seem to be standard games-without-actually being games: trivia quizzes based on content from within the novel part, battle games, etc.


More Inukami!

Currently, with it’s abilities to play media off memory sticks and hundreds of anime titles available on UMDs, the Sony PSP is King of passive-media amongst the portables. If MediaWorks can pull the launch of these titles off successfully it’ll be an interesting shift in the portable software market. The cost of programming the content would be quite minimal and the production schedule would be quite short making for an easy entry into the game format for any of MediaWorks already substantial number of properties.

More information is available (Japanese only and, sadly for those of you relying on Rikai-chan, in Flash) here on MediaWork’s DS Novel site.

Shipon lives in Northern Japan and is eagerly awaiting the first snows of the season.