the visual novel database

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Special Games

1. Introduction

We have inclusion guidelines to determine whether or not a game should be added to this database. You will want to read those first, otherwise the rest of this page will not make much sense. This page addresses some common questions around the inclusion guidelines and lists a few commonly contested games with a short explanation for why they are or aren't included.

2. FAQ

2.1. Your guidelines don't make sense!

VNDB exists for a very specific type of game, "visual novel" is the term that we ended up choosing to describe such games. Pretty much nobody disputes that these games can be called "visual novels", but disagreements happen around the borders with similar genres such as adventure games, dating sims, RPGs, interactive fiction, etc. Some people believe that the "visual novel" genre encompasses all narrative-focussed or text-heavy games, while others limit it to games that have no gameplay whatsoever except for the occasional choice. There is no real consensus, anywhere, in any community, about what a "visual novel" really is, but either way it doesn't change the type of games that we cater to. The guidelines exist to determine whether or not a game fits in the database irrespective of any individual's interpretation of the term "visual novel".

2.2. Why not just include VN-like games?

Our guidelines do allow visual novels with gameplay elements to be added to the database, to a certain extent. But even with that we have to draw a line somewhere, or we'll end up as yet-another-generic-game database. We have no ambition to become an "obscure Japanese game database", nor a "porn game database", or "database for <related-community>" or "game database for visual novels fans" (hint: visual novel fans have wildly varying tastes in video games, so that will not work at all).

But why not expand the scope of the database to include every video game in existence? Because then we'll lose our focus on visual novels - which is presumably the reason you're here in the first place.

2.3. Why are you so inconsistent?

The goal is to be mostly consistent, but that sadly doesn't always work out as well as we would like, for several reasons:

  • Anyone can add games to the database, there is no approval process at all. We're low-staffed on moderators who have time and are willing to check and verify games, so we're often lagging behind and have to rely on user reports to prioritize games to check. It's not unheard of for a game to be in the database for years before it's brought to our attention, especially if it's not a well-known title.
  • Some non-visual novel games were added to the database before our current inclusion guidelines came into effect. These have been "grandfathered" into the database and are allowed to stay, for now. A few popular entries are mentioned below.
  • Given that the inclusion guidelines are not perfect and can be ambiguous in some cases, perfect consistency is completely impossible to achieve even if the above points were somehow addressed.

Another very common reason why people believe the database is inconsistent is because they apply their own definition of what makes a visual novel, rather than the guidelines that we use. The entire notion of "consistency" is kind of meaningless if that's how you go about it...

An existing inconsistency in the database, whether real or perceived, is never an argument to include more non-VN games into the database.

2.4. Why did you delete game X when game Y is still in the database!?

See above points and the list of games below. The most common reason is that we've simply not checked game Y yet. If you're arguing for the inclusion of a particular game, it's rarely a good idea to refer to similar games, because a game being in the database does not always mean that it actually adheres to our inclusion guidelines.

3. Deleted Games

The following is a list of games that have been (proposed to be) included in the database, but that were removed or rejected. These games are not visual novels and will not be reinstated.

  • The Disgaea series (except for Infinite)
    They are TRPGs with no narration or uninterrupted VN segments.
  • Persona 3/4
    They are JRPGs and have no narration or VN segments.
  • Ghost Trick
    A Puzzle/Adventure game with no narration.
  • Princess Maker 1/2/3
    Pure raising sims with no narration or VN segments.
  • Battle Moon Wars
    Super Robot Wars style TRPG with no narration.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei series
    RPGs/TRPGs with no narration.
  • The Touhou games
    Bullet hell shooters with only token character interactions.
  • Record of Agarest War / Agarest Senki
    No narration and very low story/gameplay ratio.
  • To The Moon
    An adventure game with no narration.
  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
    An adventure game with no narration or VN parts. Almost all dialogue happens through speech bubbles (meaning very few ADV or NVL sections) and is constantly interrupted by short walking and interactive parts, even when not counting the Tactical RPG portions of the game.

4. Borderline Games

The following is a lists of few games that are included in the database, but are very much borderline cases. When arguing for another game to be included, do not, ever, refer to these games as examples.

  • The Ar TonĂ©lico series
    The series is in the database because of the Cosmosphere sections, which are long, uninterrupted VN segments. The rest of the game might be a relatively typical JRPG, but it doesn't matter in this case.
  • The Phoenix Wright series
    The games are only considered VNs in the broadest sense, and thus they should not be cited as examples for inclusion. They are considered one of the few "mod approved" games that stay in the DB mostly because of reasons not necessarily related to the guidelines (in this case that removing them would cause more problems than keeping them).
  • The Melty Blood series
    The only reason the series is in the DB is because the first game has narration and proper VN segments, and while the rest are straight up fighting games, they are only considered different releases of said game.
  • The BlazBlue series
    The game has narration in the ADV VN segments between battles and these segments are extensive enough to qualify it, if only barely.
  • The Rance series and other turn-based Alice Soft titles
    VN hybrids, Sengoku Rance in particular has a lot of narration, and while there is a lot of gameplay in them, they still qualify.
  • Castle Fantasia 2
    No consistent narration, but otherwise the game fulfills all other VN requirements, so it is kept as-is.
  • The Corpse Party series (except for the original and Rebuilded)
    The games have narration and event CGs, which qualify it over the lack of ADV/NVL presentation.
  • The School Days series (Shiny Days, Summer Days, etc.)
    While it would be arguable that the games are more "interactive anime" instead of VNs, they have rudimentary narration and other VN elements to qualify, albeit barely. They are the second most borderline "mod approved" keepers beside the Phoenix Wright series.
  • 999 / Kyokugen Dasshutsu 9-Jikan 9-Nin 9 no Tobira / 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
    A pure VN with puzzles. I don't even know why people like to bring it up as an example, but it is a proper VN with narration and every other necessary aspect.
  • The Lightning Warrior Raidy series
    The games are mostly dungeon crawlers, but they have enough narrated ADV segments to warrant their presence in the DB, albeit barely.
  • Kamidori and other Eushully games
    These games have very extensive TRPG gameplay and crafting systems, but they also have equally extensive, uninterrupted and narrated VN segments throughout the games.
  • Danganronpa series
    While dialogues are numerous, these are mostly very long, made in a VN format (sprites, background and ADV text box). Besides the investigation parts, the mini-games never interrupt the reading parts for long amounts of time and aren't very long, even during class trials.