Butterfly Soup: Not Your Average Visual Novel

butterfly soup

Group project summary, by leader Bria Moore

Butterfly Soup is a visual novel that stars four 9th grade girls who join their high school baseball team. Or in the eloquent words of Brianna Lei, the developer, Butterfly Soup is “A visual novel about gay asian girls playing baseball and falling in love.” Furthermore, it is a tale of self-discovery, growth, and finding love. Romance is a central component of the story, though comedy is thoroughly embedded as well.

The four main protagonists are Diya, Min-seo, Noelle, and Akarsha. Diya is socially awkward and an exceptionally talented baseball player. Min-seo, also known as Min, has a short fuse and will not hesitate to cause bodily harm to get what she wants. She is only sweet to Diya. Noelle is a strait-laced and studious girl who is consistently pressured by her parents to succeed. Akarsha is an eccentric goofball who loves to ask ridiculously random questions just for attention. Other less prominent characters in the game are Jin-seo (also known as Jin), Hayden, Chryssa, and Liz. Jin is Min’s twin brother, Hayden is a childhood friend, and Chryssa and Liz are the leaders of the baseball team.

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Does Hatoful Boyfriend’s absurdity add to its romantic comedy?

Group project summary, by leader Max Marcussen

Hatoful Boyfriend is, from the start, an absurd game. The premise of the game is that the player character, Hiyoko, is a human hunter-gatherer who’s been invited to the world’s best pigeon high school. Hiyoko interacts with professors, school doctors, fellow students, and a biker gang leader who’s also a parakeet, and tries to find love with a pigeon. But in spite of this absurd premise, Hatoful Boyfriend operates in much the same way most romantic comedies do. Many romantic comedy films involve absurd premises, like Sandra Bullock pretending she’s engaged to her subordinate Ryan Reynolds or business nemeses Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan by chance being best friends online. In most romantic comedies, absurdity doesn’t detract from narrative conflict, but instead ends up being what usually solves it. 

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Katawa Shoujo

Group project summary by group leader Victoria Keating

A common mistake about romance is that it is an easy genre to write. It’s simple you may think. Person meets person. They fall in love. They face adverse circumstances. Someone may even die. Love prevails in some way or another. As someone who is a sucker for a good romance, I would have to disagree. One requirement not mentioned was good characters. For a romance to be successful, the audience needs to have a reason to care about the characters. In some cases, we care because we can easily imagine ourselves as the main character. In other cases, we care about the characters because they have such good backgrounds and stories that we can’t help but be drawn in. Katawa Shoujo is a perfect example of how having good characters can carry a romance far.

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The Looking Theme in A Case of Identity and Return of the Obra Dinn

Group project video essay, created by leader Haoru Wang

I used walkthroughs and Let’s Play footage in this video essay, because I haven’t upgrade my Laptop, and it won’t allow me to use iMovie to edit the video. I had to use iPad for editing, and here’s my reference list:

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The Revolutionary Power of Clues in Return of the Obra Dinn

Group project video essay and summary blog post, created/written by co-leader Kellie Lu

Warning: contains spoilers.

Return of the Obra Dinn is a distillation of the mystery genre that manages to make a player a true detective while adding its own intimate flair. Unlike many detective games that give the player god-like powers or modes to highlight clues and select the correct choice from a pre-written plot, the player must investigate environments without hand-holding. And it does this well. Many players comment on the way that the game makes them feel empowered, and this is the key to which Obra Dinn revolutionizes the mystery game genre.

How does the game do this? Roger Caillois states that the pleasure of reading a mystery novel is “not that of listening to a story, but rather that of watching a “magic” trick which the magician immediately explains. The author has set everything up in advance. The story opens on a rigged set; we do not even see the main event, but only its disturbing consequences” (4).

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Get a Clue: Clues and Obra Dinn

Co-group leader and resident anxiety machine Albert Aboaf

“The contradiction? Elementary.” I say, before submitting every possible piece of evidence from the court record in a pathetic attempt to convince Ace Attorney I’ve been paying attention.

The difference between the puzzle of a traditional detective story, and the puzzle of a game floating loosely in that genre, is fundamentally set around the question of the audience’s relationship to the method of solution; the clue. In the traditional form of the puzzling story, the primary work expected of the audience is in interpretation. This is of course, because the story medium doesn’t allow the reader to discover things on their own. You can never truly see the scene of the crime as Holmes does.

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Minecraft: The Robinsonade of Creativity or Colonialism?

Group project summary, by leader Adayan Munsuarrieta

Minecraft (2009) is a sandbox survival game that was developed by Mojang and has evolved into a household staple across the United States. The initial premise of Minecraft is similar to that of the genesis of the robinsonade genre; the story of Robinson Crusoe in its survival and resource building mechanics. Robinsonade stories have existed for centuries which means their popularity and colonialist themes have stood the test of time. However, through its incorporation of multiplayer features and creative mode, Minecraft has had a split between being a robinsonade survival game and a creative outlet for people to construct their own worlds. Nearly eleven years since the release of Minecraft, how has it reproduced stereotypes within its genre and how has its new modes influenced the perception of the game?

Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe, set the norm for many of its successors through its colonialist origins and themes such as survival, the exploitation of natural resources, and otherness. Throughout the novel, the protagonist is faced with numerous challenges from being taken hostage by Moroccan pirates to being shipwrecked on an island alone; his one goal remains the same: to survive and benefit himself. During his shipwreck, Crusoe made his own settlement and claimed ownership of the land and its resources like the diamond mine. He finds ways to not only survive on the island but also sees things through an industrial lens. Similarly, during his journey we see him make companions such as Xury and Friday and make enemies out of indigenous people he defines as cannibalistic monsters. Despite this distinction between ally and foe that Crusoe made, he devalues the lives of people of color as he makes Xury an indentured slave for ten years and reduces Friday to being his slave. Therefore, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe creates a generic category that reproduces the colonialist experience.

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The Forest: Spatial Narratives in a Subversive Robinsonade

Group presentation summary by Peter Forberg. This post will contain small spoilers for survival horror game The Forest.

The history of the Robinsonade is the history of shipwrecks: by boat, by plane, or by spacecraft, hapless travelers find themselves stranded on the shores, hidden beneath the canopies, or lost in the sands of some remote island or labyrinthian forest or sprawling desert. In this sense, The Forest (2013) begins much like any other transit disaster, sending the player crashing down into the trees of a mountain-lined peninsula with no other survivors—no other survivors except the player’s adolescent son, who is immediately pulled from the wreckage by a looming, naked mutant. And so, at the outset, The Forest announces that it is not merely a sandbox for enterprising colonizers, nor does it hide the fact that this brave new world is filled with dangerous mystery and lush with stories. Understanding that The Forest emerged during the survival-crafting game boom of the early 2010s, the developers needed a way to differentiate their game from the endless explore-mine-build games that followed Minecraft’s (2009) massive success. Thus, they took a different approach to the genre, with the director of the game Ben Falcone stating, “Our focus is much more on a survival horror experience, letting players experience being in the world of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ or an 80’s Italian cannibal film” (Savage 2013). Seven years out of the initial alpha release, Falcone’s vision has been realized (with a sequel in the works), so what exactly does The Forest accomplish within this generic category; more specifically, how does it apply and subvert the tropes players will associate with popular survival games such as Minecraft or Terraria (2011)?

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