Are "Ironic" Western Visual Novels hurting the VN Genre?


Crisis Dino
Oct 25, 2017
Ibis Island
I'm sure most have seen the announcement of the KFC Visual Novel

A game made by Psyop (Who has made positive VNs) and published by KFC themselves as marketing to get people talking about the brand. All in all, it doesn't seem like a big deal. Just a weird VN to get people talking. However, said VN announcement has had a lot of push back and seems to be the straw that broke the camels back within the VN community.

There are plenty of examples on twitter If you search for VN.
One of the biggest complaints I noticed, is how VN's such as this will get exposure on all manner of gaming website (regardless if they typically covers VNs).
While other titles will never see an article or a mention, despite being of high quality. I think this is a fair point, even if there's no real input I can share on fixing it.

As someone who likes VNs and has played their fair share of all types (Though I wouldn't say i'm a connoisseur of the genre). I can understand the concerns of "Ironic" VNs doing more harm than good in the west. Especially when the genre has a image problem it can't seem to shake in appealing past the already set fans it has when new titles come out actually asking for higher prices (Due to localization costs and the like). In the case of the KFC Visual Novel, I do think it's a little unfair to throw it under the bus before it has come out, as there's always the chance it's better than expected. One example that's brought up is Hatoful Boyfriend which is actually a quality story despite the odd setting. Even If the title is not, at least the developers were able to get a pay check and perhaps use those funds on another game as they’ve made a positively received VN before

Overall, I think a lot of the concerns that have been brought to light are perfectly valid. Regardless of how the KFC VN turns out, it has definitely opened up the conversation on this topic as a whole and i'm curious to see how others feel on the matter. As the conversation seems to be going further than just the KFC title now.
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Oct 31, 2017
I personally don't think so. I think it gets more people into the genre, and some will only ever buy joke VNs, and that's fine too.


Oct 28, 2017
I wasn’t familiar with this game, but from what’s shown in the OP: it’s marketing. Did Sneak King disrespect the stealth genre? This is giving it too much credit.


Oct 27, 2017
To be honest, I'm not sure it'll hurt their reputation, since they already have an unfortunately shitty one in the West :/


Oct 25, 2017
Anecdotally, the gateway effect that makes narrative sense doesn't actually happen - people who get exposed to DDLC or Hatoful or Ace Attorney don't tend to continue further down the rabbit hole.
Nov 15, 2017
They don't really have a big enough reputation in the west to hurt in the first place. Well, minus the ones that actually have some form of gameplay interaction like Ace Attorney and Danganronpa but those are kind of seen in a different light to begin with(and even then are still kind of niche)

The numerous parody stuff exists because the genre is ignorantly looked down on as a joke in the western mainstream from the very start and I doubt that's ever really going to change with or without the parody games. It's not the disease it's just a symptom
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The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
The only type of people who’re going to be influenced negatively towards VN was a whole by this game were not interested in the first place. I fell to see how it impacts the genre as a whole.


Apr 16, 2018
Maybe, this KFC game is just dumb.

It's sad that great visual novels like Fata Morgana are ignored because of shit like this and pedo creepies.


Oct 25, 2017
Lmao, get offended on behalf of the sanctity of the visual novel genre by some dumb marketing KFC cash in, by anime profile picture twitter accounts. It’s definitely 2019.

L Thammy

Oct 25, 2017
I'm reminded of the argument that the the most popular type of fanfiction with male audiences is intentionally bad fanfiction.


Oct 26, 2017
Has the game been released somewhere else already? Or is there a demo/alpha/beta build that people played? I don't understand why people commenting like they've already played the game.

Even the screenshots don't seem that offensive or problematic. Looks like Hatoful Boyfriend to me.


Oct 25, 2017
Maybe Ironic Visual Novels gets more people into a genre they may have overlooked or otherwise may not have been interested in?


Dec 6, 2017
"If you want to make games in this genre you must bow down and pay your respects to Little Sister Swimsuit Highschool."


Nov 8, 2017
Probably yeah, but off the top of my head I can't really think of any other examples of this other than Hatoful Boyfriend and maybe that Normal Boots VN.

Brian Damage

Nov 1, 2017
Probably yeah, but off the top of my head I can't really think of any other examples of this other than Hatoful Boyfriend and maybe that Normal Boots VN.
I'm not too familiar with the genre beyond Ace Attorney and Danganronpa (which have their own things going on), but didn't Hatoful Boyfriend end up being unironically good? That's the impression I get when people talk about it.

Hours Left

Oct 26, 2017
Not at all. No one gets to determine a creative direction for a genre of art/creative work.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be critical of it, as there is a a lot of garbage out there. But I’d rather play this KFC game than the boatload of shitty games out there that follow these so called “standards”.
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Dee Dee

Nov 2, 2017
Is it only bad because it's by KFC?

Because I thought that Hatoful Boyfriend was generally considered to be one of the high points of the genre (Otome/Romance Sim, not VN in general), despite being a parody of it.
And Dream Daddy is on the good list too?
What about that weird fan made Romance Sim with the Starcraft players? Or the one where you date tanks?

As someone who reads predominantely Otome when it comes to VN, I laughed hard when it came to the part about "showing respect" for the genre.
This is one if the pulpiest, trashiest, stupidest genres, AND THAT'S WHY I LOVE IT.
Remember that time you could date a cat in UtaPri?
Or that time you time travelled to the Taisho era to date your own brother in The Charming Empire (or something like that, that plot was whack)? What about that game where you date Yokai that are also in a rockband?

Romance Sims are amazing an fun, and this KFC game seems in the same vein.
We can talk about whether it's good once it's out, but wtf at assuming that this is misrepresenting the genre.
Don't worry guys, I'm sure there's an abusive asshole in there that secretly loves you because you're his step-sister and wants to drink your blood to get closer to his mother again. Because you gotta be respectful to the genre!

Chie Satonaka

Oct 25, 2017
I dunno.

I'm kinda torn on this. I like VN's, but I never hear about all the good ones because I either see hentai stuff (not that there's anything wrong with that) or some joke VN like this dumb KFC shit.

I can totally see why people who love the genre would get frustrated by seeing stuff like this get buzz and attention. I love platfomers. I'd be pissed off too if good platform games were looked over in favor of something like "Ninjabread Man Returns!" or "Wendy's Burger Busting Bonanza"!

...Okay fine, I'd probably play that last one. Still, I understand the frustration. Also, I should fire up Long Live The Queen. It's been in my backlog forever.


Indie Game Dev
Oct 27, 2017

Stuff like this hurts VNs more than a joke about KFC, IMO. The twitter profile in the OP uses an avatar that looks like a child making the "I love you" hand gesture. When even one of the very best early examples of the genre, snatcher, includes a scene where an adult man walks in on a 14 year old girl in the shower.

I know not all VNs are like that, but that's very honestly what I think of when I think of the genre. It's just a mental association I have. When I saw the KFC news, I thought it was lame humor, sure, but it didn't repulse me like the mental association I have with VNs does. I wish I didn't have that mental association, because I know there are struggling small devs fighting to overcome it, and that association is hurting the.
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Oct 25, 2017
Eh, I'm sure there's plenty of legitimately great VNs out there for people who are into that. I just have no respect for genre snobs.

It would be like if someone made a dopey joke RPG and I was all, "How dare you disrespect Baldur's Gate" . Jesus, get ya hand off it.
That comparison would be more apt if the gaming press was largely oblivious to existence of Baldur's Gate, while at the same time presenting Dopey Joke RPG as the face of the genre.


Oct 25, 2017
I don't think so.

Gamers know that games in a given genre can come in many types.
Just because a game like Borderlands exists doesn't mean that people will be less likely to get say Halo or Gears (Which are also shooters. And yes one is first person and one is third person, but not all visual novels play the same either) because the humor in borderlands turned them off. They know that halo and gears are done by other people with different tastes.

There is a wide range of different Visual novels and just because joke stuff exists doesn't make the other ones any less legitimate.

I will just take the time to put my thoughts to the first twitter post

"- an obvious lack of respect for the medium"
It's okay for people to make jokes, even for corporate marketing. It's a game, the point is to have fun/ be engaging/enjoyable, not "respect the medium"
- an obvious lack of any real knowledge of VN tropes*
Knowledge of tropes can indeed help writing, but aren't remotely needed to create a good product. (not that I'm claiming the KFC game will be good, but it could be. we will find out in 2 weeks)
- the sheer attention and praise they get "
It is a shame that other visual novels don't get as much attention or praise, but quite frankly they are more appealing to most western audiences. It's not the "ironic" western visual novel's fault that playing through a parody is more appealing to your average western gamer compared to playing through a Japanese story where you need to know the tropes and culture to get the full enjoyment.

I like a number of visual novels. But it's quite frankly not an impactful enough genre that most people will even think twice about it. While
Anecdotally, the gateway effect that makes narrative sense doesn't actually happen - people who get exposed to DDLC or Hatoful or Ace Attorney don't tend to continue further down the rabbit hole.
This may be the case... I know of a few people who have gone down the rabbit hole more because of Ace Attorney (one is playing Clannad the other Higurashi) and also because of Hatoful (that friend tends to play free mobile games that are visual novels from time to time). I've gotten someone into dating sims because of Monster Prom (and they have been enjoying long live the queen as well). On the flip side I don't know anyone who is going to avoid an entire genre of games unless they legitimately don't enjoy the mechanics of those games. A lot of people don't want to read a game or want to be more engaged, and they will likely never check out a "proper" visual novel. And not only is that fine, but it's also fine if they end up playing the KFC game instead.