Disabled Girl Dating Sim Katawa Shoujo Finally Available

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So i have actually played the game, and in fact the demo over a year ago. I will admit that i was attracted to the game with the same morbid curiosity most people probably were, but that soon changed after i actually began playing it. This isn't even really a game, it is a visual novel with a few choices sprinkled in and doesn't have much porn in it. Surprisingly, i'm not complaining about that last fact, it is a beautifully written story that makes all of the characters insanely deep and interesting. never comes across as something that is just trying to get a rise out of people, and is one of the most emotionally intense things i have ever read. Also, this game is freaking long, i have only completed one of the paths and it took around 8 hours.

bopoink:
So i have actually played the game, and in fact the demo over a year ago. I will admit that i was attracted to the game with the same morbid curiosity most people probably were, but that soon changed after i actually began playing it. This isn't even really a game, it is a visual novel with a few choices sprinkled in and doesn't have much porn in it. Surprisingly, i'm not complaining about that last fact, it is a beautifully written story that makes all of the characters insanely deep and interesting. never comes across as something that is just trying to get a rise out of people, and is one of the most emotionally intense things i have ever read. Also, this game is freaking long, i have only completed one of the paths and it took around 8 hours.

I'm happy I found someone like me who tried this out of curiosity and found the story, characters, and the emotions to be extremely fleshed out.

The physically disabled deserve love, too. I don't see the problem here.

Played it, loved it. Didn't expect to love it, I just thought it was going to be another desperate attempt to relieve some stigma between disabled people and non-disabled people, and to fill some sort of warped niché in the market. I haven't completed it yet, but there is an option to disable 'adult content' in the options menu... I'm braced for an incredibly awkward paraplegic sex scene. Or at least some ecchi moments.

But it is Japanese, so the story is excellent and very touching, if a little clichéd. I actually ended up literally caring for each of the girls, Hanoko to a greater extent. The game forces you to not date a girl just because that is the aim of the game, it forced me into wanting to date the girl. It was an extremely surreal experience. I haven't played many dating sims, but this one was a real thumbs up from me. I can sort of see why they are so popular in Japan, there are a lot of story elements, and a lot of emotional development. Something I don't think western audiences are keen on as a whole.

Art was superb, I have played other visual novels in the past, with varying levels of artwork, but this was a very good piece by contrast. Music is nice, if a bit basic, but why would it need to be extravagant I suppose? Not as many routes as I'd hoped there'd be, but I knew that when I saw the file size. And the story is rather un-fantastic, so players that don't really care much about the subject matter will probably find it a bit boring.

Other than that, very good Visual Novel.

I see were people may take offense, but It doesn't really bother me. I'll play it to see then I will state my verdict.

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.

I might just get it if that's the case.

I don't play dating sims at all as I've never had an interest in them, and to be honest it's got an associated stigma in my mind. But if I can disable adult content and it's got a decent story and characterisation I might give it a look.

My problem with the phrase "dating sim", is that it sounds almost like calling an FPS a "murder simulator". Maybe it's technically accurate, since there really is murder/dating going on, and it's not real so it is simulated, but otherwise it gives an incredibly misleading impression about WHY anyone would want to play/read them. Namely, that they are whole fictional works, with plot, and atmosphere, and characters, etc, but the phrase "simuator" makes it sound like they are just some pragmatic tool, soullessly crafted together to fulfill a certain goal, to imitate something.

I also dislike phrases like "in this story, you are dating disabled girls". That makes almost as much sense as "In The Catcher in the Rye, you are a rebellious teenager" or "In Harry Potter, you are fighting Lord Voldemort". No. Hisao Nakai is the one who is, among other things, dating disabled girls. He is a point-of-view protagonist, but just as much like the above two. The few interactive options are not to control his character, but to choose alternate plots to read through.

Probably these things should be advertised to literature communities, rather than gamers. It's just working on an entirely different paradigm.

Well, as long as it's all handled maturely (which seems to be the case), I'm all right with it. Disabled people are not inhuman beings incapable of human emotions, so I don't see why this novel should strike a controversy. Of course, someone out there is going to use this for their fetish, but that is probably the case with everything that was ever created, so that fact holds no value.

NeutralDrow:

Ariyura:
Thank you for posting this. I'm going to try it. I usually stick to Otome games but this looks interesting.

Oh hey, off-topic, but would you have any recommendations on that front? I haven't had much exposure to otome genre, and to be honest, the only game I can name off the top of my head is Yo-Jin-Bo...

piscian:
The responses to this thread make me sad.

To be honest, I was expecting much worse. I certainly wasn't expecting such a flatly obvious delineation of opinions...let alone everyone who actually played it having such overwhelmingly positive things to say about it, and at least a small portion of people intrigued enough to be neutral.

Are you looking mainly for translated Otome games? There's not very many of those I'm afraid. I'm currently wrapped up in Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side on the ds.I love the skinship system but they usually get mad if you poke them too much. Duel Love also on the DS isn't as much of a Otome game but it has the elements and it's fun to help them train. Angelique is nicely done. Hakou will be released on psp in English later this year, I haven't played the Japanese counterpart just yet. Uta no Prince-sama is also a psp game and it will be my next one I import. If they brought all these games over in English they would make so much money from me. There are english Otome games out there, done by Americans in the anime style. There are a lot of them on the Ipod surprisingly but some of them are a hit and miss. I've only played one I really liked on there and that was Pinkystreet I think the name was.

Finally started playing, still early on but im very impressed so far :) Good interactions/characters and the art is impressive.

*doesn't read all 4 pages of comments*

So, what you're saying is, 4chan helped spawn a game about dating disabled people? The surprise there is that none of them have penises.

Earnest Cavalli:
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

Wait... so is there sex? I don't get why this is such a negative.

While something like this could be seen as creepy, to me, it's about as creepy as making yourself in the Sims and having 5 gf's at once simply to boost your ego (don't lie, if you've ever played the Sims, you have inevitably done SOMETHING like that).

But if there's sex in it (a long series of text based conversations all leading up to the "prize" of having a virtual sex doll) I can see controversy here.

Other than that, I think it's an honorable attempt at spreading understanding of disabled people from a multitude of backgrounds. I'm tempted to try it out simply to applaud such an effort.

Unless it has sex. Something's wrong about making a game where you can have sex with highschool students.

Alterego-X:
My problem with the phrase "dating sim", is that it sounds almost like calling an FPS a "murder simulator". Maybe it's technically accurate, since there really is murder/dating going on, and it's not real so it is simulated, but otherwise it gives an incredibly misleading impression about WHY anyone would want to play/read them. Namely, that they are whole fictional works, with plot, and atmosphere, and characters, etc, but the phrase "simuator" makes it sound like they are just some pragmatic tool, soullessly crafted together to fulfill a certain goal, to imitate something.

I also dislike phrases like "in this story, you are dating disabled girls". That makes almost as much sense as "In The Catcher in the Rye, you are a rebellious teenager" or "In Harry Potter, you are fighting Lord Voldemort". No. Hisao Nakai is the one who is, among other things, dating disabled girls. He is a point-of-view protagonist, but just as much like the above two. The few interactive options are not to control his character, but to choose alternate plots to read through.

Probably these things should be advertised to literature communities, rather than gamers. It's just working on an entirely different paradigm.

I actually completely see what you mean, even though I don't think I quite thought of it like this.

It's also ridiculous because I feel as though these are the types of games that would bring more women into the hardcore gaming scene. Imagine a gaming version of some hit MTV series. I imagine it would play out like something from Heavy Rain. The developer could have regular content updates (probably in the form of DLC) that would either add branching story paths or continue your story into a "another season", similar to how tv works.

And God knows there'd probably be lots of dating.

That isn't to say that all women are like that. I'm not trying to be sexist. It's just that I feel games that these are unheard of among large segments of the population who'd probably enjoy them. And these people have never heard them mostly because of advertisements. This "dating sim" game as an example - people think, "What kind of loser would want to play that? I'm not a loser!" when in reality, it's just an interactive story. You're no more of a loser "playing" this game than you are for reading twilight.

no no, actually, you're probably cooler.

But I think you get my point.

Robert Ewing:
Played it, loved it. Didn't expect to love it, I just thought it was going to be another desperate attempt to relieve some stigma between disabled people and non-disabled people, and to fill some sort of warped niché in the market. I haven't completed it yet, but there is an option to disable 'adult content' in the options menu... I'm braced for an incredibly awkward paraplegic sex scene. Or at least some ecchi moments.

But it is Japanese, so the story is excellent and very touching, if a little clichéd. I actually ended up literally caring for each of the girls, Hanoko to a greater extent. The game forces you to not date a girl just because that is the aim of the game, it forced me into wanting to date the girl. It was an extremely surreal experience. I haven't played many dating sims, but this one was a real thumbs up from me. I can sort of see why they are so popular in Japan, there are a lot of story elements, and a lot of emotional development. Something I don't think western audiences are keen on as a whole.

Art was superb, I have played other visual novels in the past, with varying levels of artwork, but this was a very good piece by contrast. Music is nice, if a bit basic, but why would it need to be extravagant I suppose? Not as many routes as I'd hoped there'd be, but I knew that when I saw the file size. And the story is rather un-fantastic, so players that don't really care much about the subject matter will probably find it a bit boring.

Other than that, very good Visual Novel.

So there IS adult content in the game?

Let me ask you this question: is it "tasteful" or is it just some good hentai?

Hmmm.... I see an interesting forum topic...

"Can sex in games be used for artistic expression rather than a pornographic ad technique?"

Hmmm... very interesting discussion...

Mimsofthedawg:
So there IS adult content in the game?

Let me ask you this question: is it "tasteful" or is it just some good hentai?

Hmmm.... I see an interesting forum topic...

"Can sex in games be used for artistic expression rather than a pornographic ad technique?"

Hmmm... very interesting discussion...

It entirely depends on your view of tasteful, but personally I felt it was fine. The sex aspect really takes a background role. I've just finished a playthrough with Rin (the girl with the thalidomide stunted arms) and was genuinely absorbed in it. Like I mentioned previously, it's more about Hisao coming to terms with his condition rather than him attempting to shag everything in sight.

Cheeseman Muncher:

Mimsofthedawg:
So there IS adult content in the game?

Let me ask you this question: is it "tasteful" or is it just some good hentai?

Hmmm.... I see an interesting forum topic...

"Can sex in games be used for artistic expression rather than a pornographic ad technique?"

Hmmm... very interesting discussion...

It entirely depends on your view of tasteful, but personally I felt it was fine. The sex aspect really takes a background role. I've just finished a playthrough with Rin (the girl with the thalidomide stunted arms) and was genuinely absorbed in it. Like I mentioned previously, it's more about Hisao coming to terms with his condition rather than him attempting to shag everything in sight.

Also, It can be turned off in the settings, so the plot will skip those few scenes if you are not intrested in them.

Though I guess that's also bad news, in a way, about their significance; that yes, they are only added as an afterthought just in case you also happen to be a disability fetishist.

Well, it hardly deals with a subject that as a point of departure interest me much, but considering that reactions have so far been universally positive from anyone who've actually tried it - apparently regardless of whether they have any prior experience with its medium or not - I'll get to it somewhere along the line.

The best part about this sim is disabled people can't leave your dates with the ease of the fully able!

I just hope this is shown tastefully

By the way, if anyone wanting to try it is having trouble with the website, it can also be downloaded from torrents. (legally, of course).

I, what, why would, no wait, it's not like that just..... seriously. Hmm. Well it's innocent enough I guess. Nothing to raise the pitchforks and torches about against. Plenty of other things to use those on. *Activates toleration mode*.

I've said it before in this thread and I will say it again. Give it a try for the story because you might find something you didn't expect to find with this "game".

Downloaded it. How nice that it's free. I'd just like to add that it's good to approach any media without too many assumptions. It may be seen as offensive in itself to instantly assume unfamiliar japanese media is going to be perverted or is somehow morally wrong.

It's a slightly suprising concept though, so it's existence is quite amusing.

This thread needs way more Kenji.

He's the best misogynist half-blind Harry Potter look-a-like in all of fiction.

Fawxy:

One Hit Noob:

Fawxy:
You know what would tell an even better story? A guy shunning the hot but manipulative/abusive girl in favor of the nice quiet girl in a wheelchair. BOOM. Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Those are the writers' ideas. So they get to craft the story into whatever they want. Make one yourself if you think your idea is "GENIOUS!!!"

Oh, oh my. Didn't think it would go there.

The age-old "if you don't like it why don't you make something better" defense.

Nevermind hundreds of years of literary criticism and the positive impact it has had, we should all just let authors and artists alike spoon-feed us their works without a second thought as to what's going on. Mhmm. Well, it's been fun.

You want to know why I used the so-called age-old "if you don't like it why don't you make something better"" defense? Because right now, that's all you've been doing since the first post in here. "Why can't they do that, why can't they do this?". Well, if you think your idea is so magical and awesome. Do it yourself.

By the way, there ARE other visual novels with disabled heroines. For example, "Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two" has a heroine who lost an eye in an accident, and also got anterograde amnesia.( Can't form new memories, like in "The 50 First Dates", but played for drama). It doesn't even treat it like a fetish, it's also one of the serious dramatic VNs. (It isn't even in the pick-your-chosn-girl's-route format, but with a series of different couples' stories after each other.)

Nothing coming from Japan surprises me anymore when it comes to niche video games.

It doesn't really seem to be too offensive, but I have no intention of trying the game as dating sims are not my thing. To each his/her own.

Nemu:
Nothing coming from Japan surprises me anymore when it comes to niche video games.

It's not coming from Japan.

I'm honestly glad he made this dating sims game. I won't play it, but to know that handicapped people are still people you can fall in love and date like anyone else is always touching (despite this is a game we're talking about.) We may see it as some fetish or odd mechanic when hearing about it but I bet the game has much depth and story to each character where it starts to tug on your heart strings (least I hope it does.)

That said, I nearly spit my soda out when seeing that picture...
because the girl on the very right in the front row seat looks a lot like my ex-girlfriend. *stares*

Sounds fine to me. Any game that breaks the norm and represent diverse nationality, sexuality, physical ability, etc. etc. should be appreciate for doing something new. It's another issue to say if its just a fetish for the disabled but at least it represents a new group.

I love how opinionated people are about a game that they know next to nothing about. The word "prejudice" is ringing in my mind. From someone who's looked into the game I think you should find out about it's development history and play it (it's absolutely free) before judging where it stands on a moral scale.

I don't think this game deserves to be in a pantheon of legendary games but it certainly takes visual novels in a refreshing direction that broadens the themes to be explored in such a narrative medium.

One detail which I'm sure a lot of people are unaware of catches my special attention an I will share it with you. The protagonist of the story, far from being a blank slate, discovers at the beginning of the story that he suffers from a heart disease that changes his life permanently. After being quickly forgotten by his girlfriend and classmates, he succumbs to depression trapped in a hospital bed until he is given the chance to start over by attending a special school for those who need special care and treatment nearby. One of the main themes of the story is how the main character comes to terms with his reality, who he is and decides to accept the cards he has been dealt in life.

This game certainly breaks from the tired formula of playing the parts of the archetypical and overidealized brave and noble lead or the dark and angsty one. Instead, it explores working under the skin of a lead with real problems he has to learn to deal with. The game isn't trying to hook you by letting you pretend you are a cool and successful hero, but a broken and very touching human being. If you haven't guessed it, the game mainly relies on it's narrative virtue to keep you interested as opposed to the escapist fantasy that most video games in general offer.

I understand that the fact that this game gets any mainstream media coverage at all is close to a miracle, but I wish it were getting more endorsement from critics and other journalists if nothing else for it's bold and innovative moves in an otherwise stagnating medium.

Colinmac93:
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.

It's an entire academy for people with disabilities. On call nursing staff, etc. Not just one class.

lapan:
If you date the disabled girls you are playing this game wrong anyways:

...I don't want to

DarkRyter:
This thread needs way more Kenji.

He's the best misogynist half-blind Harry Potter look-a-like in all of fiction.

Really? He was the only thing I disliked from the game.
Though most of the time I ignore him ever since he kept pestering the main character for pizza money. Right after a shower.
And his rants just kept going on and on.

In any case, I played the demo years back and was pleasantly surprised, especially since it was my first foray into Visual Novels.

Having played one full route(shizune is awesome), honestly, I forgot that they had disabilities in the first place. Most of their problems came from their characters and their disabilities just played off them. You will genuinely care for the characters because the writers present them and their stories so well.

Also, you could probably make a drinking game out of this thread.
"WTF, japan"though it says that it doesn't come from Japan, take a shot
"Ewww sick fetish"-Take a shot
"Porn, not playing"ignoring the replies that it can be turned off(I won't hold against them though but)take a shot
"Harsh opinion of the game followed by disclaimer saying they haven't played it" take a shot
"Argument between supporters and opponents" take a shot per reply, sip per quotes

Those who didn't really have an idea about how a "dating sim" or visual novel works, before trying out Katawa Shoujo, but liked it, should definitely try out some others.

It's not particularly unique in it's execution quality, the only reason why it even got mentioned here is the fact that it's the first big english original, not a translation, so it got hyped to hell on western otaku websites.

But among the translations, there lots of other equally good ones, both with serious topics, and with lighthearted fun.

I'll give it a crack, more out of morbid curiosity.

I mean it's free, so unless it's totally fucked up I can't complain.

I don't really understand how this could inspire vitriol? Unless the boy is being deliberatively exploitative of the girls (seducing disabled girls because it's 'easier' or some crap), or they experience horrible stereotyping/characterisation from the writing/development/art team, this seems like only a good thing imo.

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