Disabled Girl Dating Sim Katawa Shoujo Finally Available

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 17 NEXT
 

Disabled Girl Dating Sim Katawa Shoujo Finally Available

image

After five years in development, Katawa Shoujo, a visual novel-style game that tasks players with romancing the physically disabled, is now available to the public.

Whether you find that glib description intriguing or appalling, it's entirely legit. I promise.

From the game's official blog:

Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel set in the fictional Yamaku High School for disabled children, located in modern Japan. Hisao Nakai, a normal boy living a normal life, has his life turned upside down when a congenital heart defect forces him to move to a new school after a long hospitalization. Despite his difficulties, Hisao is able to find friends - and perhaps love, if he plays his cards right. There are five main paths corresponding to the 5 main female characters, each path following the storyline pertaining to that character. The story is told through the perspective of the main character, using a first person narrative. The game uses a traditional text and sprite-based visual novel model with an ADV text box.

The aforementioned five female characters include a blind girl, a deaf girl, a track and field athlete who lost both her legs in a traffic accident, a burn victim and a "thalidomide girl" whose birth defect manifests in the form of severely shortened arms. Despite their respective physical limitations, each girl features the typical adorably big-eyed anime heroine look.

And as the protagonist of the story, it's your job to romance these ladies.

Before any of you can react, let me also mention that the game has had a very, very long gestation period. If it weren't for the subject matter, that would be the interesting story here.

Also from the official blog:

The story of Katawa Shoujo is a long one, spanning over a decade. In December of the year 2000, the doujin Schuppen Harnische was released by the artist RAITA of circle Zettai Shoujo. One of the pages in the extras section of the doujin contained a sketch imagining a game about disabilities set in a Japanese high school. If not for later events, that may well have been the end of it. With the sticky in 4chan's anime board in January of 2007, though, interest was suddenly sparked in the idea within, and the idea of creating this game came about. After months of brainstorming, but little progress, a core development team by the name of Four Leaf Studios was formed in April of the same year. With this, Katawa Shoujo was set on the path to its final creation.

Four Leaf Studios is a volunteer group of twenty-one developers from around the world, having come together for the sole purpose of developing Katawa Shoujo. Hailing from many different countries, backgrounds, and professions, Four Leaf Studios became committed to working towards Katawa Shoujo as an entirely free game, with no money involved in the project.

But in this reality, that tale takes a back seat to the eyebrow-raising existence of a videogame that tasks players with dating the physically disabled. Feel free to scrawl any kneejerk opinions in the comments section below, but since I'm writing this story, I get to go first.

While initially the idea of this game seemed purely exploitative and crass, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is a positive. For a surprisingly large segment of the gamer population, these sorts of visual novels are an expression of their sexuality, so doesn't it stand to reason that the subgenre should include all facets of the multihued tapestry that comprises human romantic thought? If anything, Katawa Shoujo offers a counterbalance to the vast assortment of visual novels that focus on large-breasted, blonde cliches, and with that it pushes the needle a bit closer to representational equality. If nothing else, it should inspire discussion about the very real trials and tribulations the physically disabled face when it comes to romantic interaction.

Well, that's the ideal anyway.

After you're finished waxing vitriolic in the comments, you can actually download the game, free of charge, for either PC or Mac via Four Leaf Studios' official website. At the moment it seems to have been crushed by a flood of traffic, but I've been told that it should be coming back up just as soon as the studio's tech staff can snuff the server fires.

Source: Katawa Shoujo Dev Blog

Permalink

People were actually waiting for something like this? Dating sims always came across as creepy and stupid to me, but this one is just taking the piss.

Edit: Actually, I wanna know why all of the physically disabled people are all in the one class. I bet there's some strange reason for that in the game.

I don't see the short-armed girl in the screenshot.

But seriously... who the heck decided those five handicaps where okay to include in a DATING game?
I mean, being disabled is nothing to be ashamed off, I was born handicapped as well. But to debute handicaps in games by having you romance what passes for "super hot chicks" in Japan isn't an ideal introduction, I reckon....

The problem with so called "Positive discrimination" is that ALL discrimination is wrong, because it only widens the gap. When a person gets a benefit from being handicapped (which appearantly includes belonging to a huge group that isn't "native"), every OTHER person gets really pissed off. In the hypothetical game scenario here I would say the "hero" protagonist would go: "Hey, WTF can't I date quote-un-quote "NORMAL" women/girls?, just because I have some heart defect????".

Not that it makes a sliver of difference, since they all have abnormally large boobs and ditto faces... ?

Kenjitsuka:
The problem with so called "Positive discrimination" is that ALL discrimination is wrong, because it only widens the gap. When a person gets a benefit from it, every OTHER person gets really pissed off. In the hypothetical game scenario here I would say the "hero" protagonist would go: "Hey, WTF can't I date quote-un-quote "NORMAL" women/girls?, just because I have some heart defect????".

Not that it makes a sliver of difference, since they all have abnormally large boobs and ditto faces... ?

It sounds like that character was moved to a special school inhabited solely with people of various disabilites. Maybe I'm reading it wrong though?

If my interpretation is correct however, it would make sense that he can only romance them. That's the constraints of the game. Sure in real life he could leave school and walk to the mall and scope out dates. But seeing as how the cast is made up entirely of his classmates, that's not necessarily what they were going for.

Kenjitsuka:
I don't see the short-armed girl in the screenshot.

That screenshot doesn't feature all the main girls. None of the ones I found did, actually.

Micalas:
It sounds like that character was moved to a special school inhabited solely with people of various disabilites. Maybe I'm reading it wrong though?

That's what I read as well. His heart issue was the impetus for his being enrolled in a school for the disabled. And then the story goes from there.

It is a really well put together game, even by most visual novel standards.

Disabled people can't experience love too? These are hormonal teens put together in a special nursing school for disabled people. You are bound to make friends, rivals, and romance just as you would expect in a novel taking place in this kind of setting. I think it is very humanizing the way they are portrayed and it was a very much 'we are people too' kinda fashion.

They handled the subject matter very tastefully and from what I understand they had real doctors, nurses, and counselors on their forum advising them so they sure did their homework in portraying these people in a very real way.

Its a visual novels, romance is what you do in this genre, a game/novel that doesn't go anywhere is hardly a game or novel at all! The trick is that isn't so much the romance itself but the journey there that defines games in this genre.

I have to say when I first heard about this game I thought it was a big, elaborate joke. However after playing through a bit of the first Act, I can say that this game is completely serious about it's subject matter. I don't see anything wrong with the main guy trying to romance disabled girls, heck freshmen year of high school I had a crush on a disabled girl (she was missing a leg in case you wanted to know), so I really don't see a problem with it. Now as for the actually game part, compared to other visual novels I've played, it looks like it could have been professionally done by a big company in Japan, instead of a bunch of guys in their basement with a budget of "bugger all". OH and I should probably mention, since no one else has, this IS A HENTAI GAME... have fun.

If they aren't blatantly exploiting handicapped people (or fetishes for that matter) I don't see a problem with this. I am not one to play Dating Sims, but if the only difference between this game and your average Dating Sim is the fact that the romance options are physically disabled I honestly don't see a problem. To think otherwise is to think that is is somehow wrong to be attracted to a physically disabled person... unless of course this is exploitation. That last bit is important.

Well I for one actually quite enjoy Japanese dating sims.

Mind you, I lived in Japan for 7 yrs and read/write/speak the lingo fluently. My wife is constantly embarrassed as - when she visits family back in Osaka - I ask her to run down to Den Den Town and pick me up some random 'renai' sims.

I'm not talking the hentai ones, (of which I'm sure more than half would be illegal in my home country - Australia, home of prudish court actions that grant drawings the same rights as living breathing humans - in some cases, more rights) just the 'senior year of high school boy trying to juggle insane study requirements with the desire to hold a part time job at the convenience store whilst clumsily trying to get a girlfriend' sub-genre.

As far as this one being focused around people with handicaps? Well hell, why the hell not? One of the standard features of J-dating sims is the haemophiliac girl who constantly faints, her body a weak and vulnerable thing that appeals to the guys playing who like to play the protector-type (just as there is usually the fiery, competitive sports girl; the rich, unfulfilled princess; the strict brainiac that just-wants-to-have-fun; and the girl-next-door childhood friend / sister-type).

I find perhaps that *all* of the girls are disabled in some way a little too much. I would rather see a regular dating sim incorporating maybe one or two of these characters into it - why? Because, when presented with a choice of love interests who are *all* disabled, it's like saying 'we know that if we put an 'able-bodied' girl in here you'd choose her. So you only get these ones to play with.'

I think the emotional impact (admittedly .. I'm not sure how far people read into these games) would be far stronger if the player had freedom of choice - pursue the bitchy, stupid, arrogant, disloyal girl ... or pursue the kind, intelligent, vivacious girl ... who just happens to be in a wheelchair.

This is actually kind of interesting. If not for the fact that this is, in fact, eroge, I would play it. The fact that it is eroge is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I can get, like, no privacy in my house for extended periods of time. I'm perfectly alright with visual novels, dating sims and hentai, but I have a big computer screen and a freaking windowed door with no lock, and I'm pretty sure that my parents might take issue with an erotic game. I don't want to put it on my laptop, either, because I bring it to school. The idea of having a game like this at school is something that makes me anxious, even if I could hide it so that nobody can find it.

Just to be clear, this game is erotic. Although it doesn't state it in the article, I looked it up and it turns out that is eroge and should be avoided by people who have an issue with such subject matter. I don't, but my family might. I'm afraid I'll have to pass on it for now.

Definitely keeping it in mind, though. Katawa Shoujo... Gotta remember that name.

My first thought was, this is actually really cool if it's not just 'let's fetish over the disabled', and could bring a lot of depth.

And then I realised that was still a knee jerk reaction. I've got no idea how people feel about having people think of them like that, but I guess if someone associates they're appearance firmly with a disability, then it's probably nice to know that people think you're sexy.

I think I'll keep an open mind until someone in a situation relevant tells me how they feel, and then I'll go with that. I'm quite tempted to play it but I don't play eroges and I'm not firm enough in my mind to quite feel comfortable playing this one

I just finished one of the five routes. For those wondering: It's all very tastefully done. None of the characters let themselves be defined by their disabilities. She's not the deaf girl; she's the competitive student council president. She's not the "thalidomide girl"; she's the eccentric artist. Obviously, I'm trying to be concise here. This is not a character study. I hope you get the idea.

You know, it's almost like disabled people are human and have their own personalities like everyone else. Shocking, right? /obvioussarcasm

And yes, there is sex. Though at least in the one route I've played so far it was very sweet and tastefully done. It's also barely existent, in terms of plot-to-porn ratio (not that I would call it porn).

So if anyone here is even slightly interested, I'd urge them to at least give it a try. Act 1 isn't very long. Hell, a complete route takes only a couple of hours.

supersupersuperguy:
The fact that it is eroge is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I can get, like, no privacy in my house for extended periods of time.

It's possible to disable "adult content" in the options, if that changes anything.

supersupersuperguy:
This is actually kind of interesting. If not for the fact that this is, in fact, eroge, I would play it. The fact that it is eroge is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I can get, like, no privacy in my house for extended periods of time. I'm perfectly alright with visual novels, dating sims and hentai, but I have a big computer screen and a freaking windowed door with no lock, and I'm pretty sure that my parents might take issue with an erotic game. I don't want to put it on my laptop, either, because I bring it to school. The idea of having a game like this at school is something that makes me anxious, even if I could hide it so that nobody can find it.

Just to be clear, this game is erotic. Although it doesn't state it in the article, I looked it up and it turns out that is eroge and should be avoided by people who have an issue with such subject matter. I don't, but my family might. I'm afraid I'll have to pass on it for now.

Definitely keeping it in mind, though. Katawa Shoujo... Gotta remember that name.

There is actually an option to turn off the Adult content.

hypovolemia:
I just finished one of the five routes. For those wondering: It's all very tastefully done. None of the characters let themselves be defined by their disabilities. She's not the deaf girl; she's the competitive student council president. She's not the "thalidomide girl"; she's the eccentric artist. Obviously, I'm trying to be concise here. This is not a character study. I hope you get the idea.

You know, it's almost like disabled people are human and have their own personalities like everyone else. Shocking, right? /obvioussarcasm

And yes, there is sex. Though at least in the one route I've played so far it was very sweet and tastefully done. It's also barely existent, in terms of plot-to-porn ratio (not that I would call it porn).

So if anyone here is even slightly interested, I'd urge them to at least give it a try. Act 1 isn't very long. Hell, a complete route takes only a couple of hours.

supersupersuperguy:
The fact that it is eroge is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I can get, like, no privacy in my house for extended periods of time.

It's possible to disable "adult content" in the options, if that changes anything.

Couldn't have wrote it any better.

OT: For those of you wondering, It's just as this guy says it is done very tastefully done. No love interst in this VN are defined by thier disability. And I also recommend giving this a try, atleast to act 1.

Aeryn Seoung:

supersupersuperguy:
This is actually kind of interesting. If not for the fact that this is, in fact, eroge, I would play it. The fact that it is eroge is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I can get, like, no privacy in my house for extended periods of time. I'm perfectly alright with visual novels, dating sims and hentai, but I have a big computer screen and a freaking windowed door with no lock, and I'm pretty sure that my parents might take issue with an erotic game. I don't want to put it on my laptop, either, because I bring it to school. The idea of having a game like this at school is something that makes me anxious, even if I could hide it so that nobody can find it.

Just to be clear, this game is erotic. Although it doesn't state it in the article, I looked it up and it turns out that is eroge and should be avoided by people who have an issue with such subject matter. I don't, but my family might. I'm afraid I'll have to pass on it for now.

Definitely keeping it in mind, though. Katawa Shoujo... Gotta remember that name.

There is actually an option to turn off the Adult content.

Yeah, but one glance at the screen and you see a 2-D anime girl with speech options. The last thing I think is wholesome activity.

I love how everyone declaring the game as some sort of sick exploitation game hasn't played it, and everyone who has actually played it has nothing but positive, constructive things to say about it, this type of game isn't my kind of thing, but it's pretty obviously not some perverted fantasy game if you take the slightest bit of time to look at it in depth

Since I haven't played the game yet, the only thing I have to say is that if I had one of those conditions, I certainly wouldn't be insulted to know people were attracted to it. Maybe a bit weirded out, but I think I'd take it in stride.

I'm still not sure if I'm going to download this yet, but I'm leaning towards doing so. It's a different kind of game and I think it was done for alot of good reasons or at least intentions beyond just letting someone have their kink. (which, if you think about it, if that was all it was they would be charging for it.) I like the thought behind this. the idea that the disabled are people as well and just as deserving of love and all the things we enjoy in this world. If the intentions behind this are pure, I'd call this yet another possible example of games being art (after a fashion), and being able to explore various themes, concepts, and ideas with a certain amount of taste.

Earnest Cavalli:
If anything, Katawa Shoujo offers a counterbalance to the vast assortment of visual novels that focus on large-breasted, blonde cliches, and with that it pushes the needle a bit closer to representational equality.

I find that funny considering that I haven't noticed a large number of big breasted blong girls in VNs, they usually have unnatural hair colours, and that the blind girl is a big breasted blond girl.

Dear Japan. Props on including people with disabilities in games.

But seriously. What. The Hell?

Disabled people have just as much right to be sexually objectified as everybody else. I don't even know what the problem is.

Only thing that really bothers me is that the game features exclusively handicapped girls, with a handicapped protagonist.

In a game like this (a dating sim), why not have handicapped individuals romanceable along-side the "big-breasted blonde cliches"? Are people under the impression that handicapped people are a different species than those who aren't?

Because this comes off as just fetish indulgement. Not that that's especially strange considering this is an anime dating sim, but still.

I don't think anyone did, but if someone followed the Lazlow Show, does anyone remember Big Wayne's baby arm story? Seems suitable for right now.

I see no problem with it. Ive never been a fan of J-Dating sims. Or dating sims as a whole. They cant keep my attention for more then 10 or 15 minutes.

As long as its not just blatant sexual fetishism, theres nothing wrong with this game. Disabled people are human, and you/them have the right to date whoever you want. Disabled or not.

TL:DR, This is morally grey, and as such, should not subject to the opinions of people who have not tried the game, weather they like the premise or not.

Why does that make me come off as an arsehole? >.>;

As a longtime /a/non, I was very happy to wait alongside everyone else for release at 12:22AM today. I've played many visual novels and eroge (both translated and untranslated) and Katawa Shoujo is a welcome release despite it's place as a non-Japanese creation.

ResonanceSD:
Dear Japan. Props on including people with disabilities in games.

But seriously. What. The Hell?

Did you read the article? Japan did not make this game.

Fawxy:
Only thing that really bothers me is that the game features exclusively handicapped girls, with a handicapped protagonist.

In a game like this (a dating sim), why not have handicapped individuals romanceable along-side the "big-breasted blonde cliches"? Are people under the impression that handicapped people are a different species than those who aren't?

The entire idea spawned from a sketch of five disabled girls, that's what spawned such interest in the first place. There's nothing wrong with that.

Fawxy:
Are people under the impression that handicapped people are a different species than those who aren't?

This issue is handled in the game, and if unless you're disabled there's no way you can understand lack of limbs, sight, or hearing. It's a whole different world.

Colinmac93:
Edit: Actually, I wanna know why all of the physically disabled people are all in the one class. I bet there's some strange reason for that in the game.

Maybe it's a class specifically for disabled people. Makes sense to me.

There's likely going to be a lot of controversy over something like this. People will say that it's dumb and others will say they're being discriminatory. Frankly, it has been said before that the only way to eliminate discrimination is to ignore it. As in, include minorities but don't draw attention to them being minorities.

Nouw:

Colinmac93:
Edit: Actually, I wanna know why all of the physically disabled people are all in the one class. I bet there's some strange reason for that in the game.

Maybe it's a class specifically for disabled people. Makes sense to me.

"Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel set in the fictional Yamaku High School for disabled children"

How about actually playing the game before criticizing? I played the ACT 1 teaser when it came out back in the day, and my God, was it well handled and tasteful. Also: Disabled people aren't allowed to love? We aren't supposed to like disabled characters?

I have not played the game (YET) but from what I have heard and read from people that have, it is apparently handled in a mature and/or respectful way. Personally I do not think that this is such a offensive or negative situation to show in a videogame. Portraying characters with disabilities is merely telling a story about love between characters that most people would not normally think about unless they are actually presented with the obvious scenario (Hence this game).

Anyone notice Lelouch from Code Geass in the middle of the screenshot..?

Lovely Mixture:

Nouw:

Colinmac93:
Edit: Actually, I wanna know why all of the physically disabled people are all in the one class. I bet there's some strange reason for that in the game.

Maybe it's a class specifically for disabled people. Makes sense to me.

"Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel set in the fictional Yamaku High School for disabled children"

And that makes even more sense. Thanks Lovely, I should really read the OP more thoroughly :P.

Kenjitsuka:
I don't see the short-armed girl in the screenshot.

The red-head in the right hand upper corner is her.

Fappy:
If they aren't blatantly exploiting handicapped people (or fetishes for that matter) I don't see a problem with this.

They aren't. It's handled well and maturely. Well as maturely as high school dating sims can get. Maybe a little bit more mature than that.

ResonanceSD:
Dear Japan. Props on including people with disabilities in games.

But seriously. What. The Hell?

Four Leaf Studios is a volunteer group of twenty-one developers from around the world, having come together for the sole purpose of developing Katawa Shoujo. Hailing from many different countries, backgrounds, and professions, Four Leaf Studios became committed to working towards Katawa Shoujo as an entirely free game, with no money involved in the project.

Can't chalk this one up to Japan alone bro.

OT: I think anyone interested in my opinion can clearly see what it is with what I have written here above. But I don't understand all the "disgust" or whatever you might call it around Katawa Shoujo since it's a good VN. And the people that are perplexed by it are just making assumptions without even reading the full article. At least read the entire article before judging something, but preferably play it to get the full hands-on experience before you judge it honestly.

I, personally, believe that when it comes to fiction people have the right to produce any kinf of content as well as having the right to criticize it by saying: "It is good." or "It is crap.".

Many kudos to Four Leaf studios. From the main post and the players posts in this forum it seems to be not only a well done but a beautifull game. They could have done a cheap, sinister thrill counting on outrage publicity and weird fetishists. Instead they seem to have made a great story of love and sex (why not, it is good) to a community who is normally ignored, pitied or reviled (I can't say what is worst).

Interesting. Just downloaded it, because I'm quite curious. Those girls are cute, I just want to hug them.

As for the issue of controversy: of course there exist fetishists who get a thrill out of it, but the same thing happens in real life, and people can get off on relatively innocuous things. It seems as if this is something with good intentions, and that isn't undermined because it happens to be a fetish for someone, somewhere.

Also, certainly good to see a quality VN - and indeed animation, produced outside Japan. I think there should be a lot more of that, not as a bastardised pseudo-anime, but similar animation production values based more on Western culture + interpretations.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 17 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here