Visual novels are known by a few different names including sound novel. These games rely on well written narrative and little actual game play. Comparatively, they are similar to Choose Your Own Adventure novels since each creation allows the player to make multiple decisions that lead to a myriad of different outcomes. More often than not they are designed for visual gaming consoles and are often made into manga. The designers of these games come from many varied backgrounds. Nonetheless, the enormous success of their games speak for themselves. These are ten companies that have produced some of the best received games in the industry.
Here are the Top 10 Best Visual Novel Companies Ever until 2017
10. Woodsy Studio
This is the brainchild of Jenny Gibbons; a St Louis MO resident. ‘As evidenced by my published games, I am an artist, writer, and interactive designer with a passion for games and storytelling.’ This passion is evident in all of her work both in gaming and also books. When she is not working on visual novels she writes historical fiction and fantasy under the pen name Jayden Woods. She holds a BFA from University of Southern California’s Screenwriting program with an emphasis on Animation and Web Scripting. This background was the launching point for her visual novels Echoes of the Fey, Serafina’s Crown, Serafina’s Saga and Quantum Conscience. She is a one woman company who does everything in her work from story lines to animation.
This software brand was originally known CoMixWave. The name was changed to Minori in April of 2007. Some of the major players in there studios are Nobukazu Sakai (primary director), Makoto Shikai (Animator), and Mitsuishi Shona (character designer). They are best know for EF: A Fairy Tale of Two. EF had spinoffs of a Manga game and two animated series . It was then ported to Playstation. They have published quite a few different games including Bittersweet Fools, Wind:A Breath of Heart, and Tenshi no Nichiyobi which was a fan disc. One of things Minori is best known for their harsh consequences for fan-translastions as well as piracy. This has decreased their fan base. This also resulted in them blocking people outside of Japan from viewing their website. However, in 2010 they partnered with the companies NoName losers and MangaGamers to make their products available globally.
They are part of Acid Co LTD. The founders are Hirohiko Yoshiba, Baka Prince Persia, Nanpuureima, Spin Drill, and Carnelian. In 2001 the company made its mark on the industry with the release of Kimi ga Nozuu Eien. They followed with the release of Kaseki no Uta Age Maniax. They have also published under the brands Mirage and Oage.
They were founded in 2000. Typically, Nitroplus focuses on darker themes such as reanimation and murder. However they did collaborate with Type-Moon to create a lighter visual novel called Fate/Zero. A few of their other works include Phantom of Inferno, Jinga Makyo, Sabbat Nabe, Sumaga, and Sumaga Special They also have a secondary company called Nitro+Chiral whose forte is Boys’ Love novels.
6. Front Wing
This company began in 2000. They produce Eroge as well as Visual Novels. The lead character designer is Watanabe Akio and the illustrators are Fumio and Yosai Kuchu. They specialize in adult visual novels; hardcore adult games and some love stories. Some of their titles include Canary, Hooligan, Tea Society of a Witch, Sweet Legacy, and Sky Song. The first title to reach the English market was The Fruit of Grisaia in 2015.
The studio started in 1998 under Visual Arts. It was founded by Itaru Hinoue, Naoki Hisaya, Jun Maeda, and Shinki Orito. They all worked for a different company. However, due to creative differences they split off to form Key. It is rumored that the true impact of this company was when the developers worked for Tactics a division of Nexton. Music and elaborate storylines are predominent in all of Keys works. The first of their visual novels was Kanon in 1999; Air followed two years later utilizing the same formula to emulate the success of their first major release.
This is a newer company that debuted in 2005. Akabeisoft2 found commercial success with Tamamyura which they followed up with Sharin no Kuni: The Girl Among the Sunflowers the same year. Sono Yokogao and Konna Ko ga Itara Boku wa Mou followed in 2006. They started in the doujin circle Akabei Soft. Despite being new, they are already award winning. They received the Bishojo Game award (graphic categories). Sekai Renai Kiko received the Moe Game Award silver prize in 2009. Their latest work is Yaya, Oikba ga nai! in 2011.
3. Type Moon
This company was founded in 2000 by Takashi Takeuchi and Kinoko Nasu who were former classmates. The company name Type Moon is taken from one of Kinoko’s earlier works called Angel Notes. Although they are a Japanese gaming company, they are best known for their visual novels. They have done visual novel series like Kara no Kyoukai, Tsukihime, and Melty Blood. Their second visual novel Fate/stay night was later adapted into a manga series. This garnered them a global fanbase. Currently, they have two new works in production; Tsukihime and Girls’ Work.
2. Square Enix
They were founded in 1975 by Yasuhiro Fukushima; an architect.The company’s name is derived from the word phoenix. It is an apropos name since they originally published tabloids and real estate advertisements. However, when these ventures failed they turned to gaming. In 2003 they merged with Square Co to become Square Enix. There visual novel series include Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jinken, Joshi Ryou Panic, Lolita Syndrome, Ankoko-Jou, Zarth, Wingman, Again, ElDorado Denki, Toykyo Nampa Street, Karuizawa Yuukai Annai, and Jesus. They are best known for their Dragon Quest, Star Ocean and Valkyrie series.
This is one of the largest gaming company that has an entire division devoted to visual novels. They started in 1979 as I.R.M. Corporation. It wasn’t until 1983 they changed their name to Capcom. Ace Attorney was released in 2001 and is considered ‘the father of all visual novels’ according to Mediacraft. It was so successful in fact that it was made not only into Anime and Manga but had its turn on the silver screen. It was not Capcom’s only major release. They have also done Rosario to Vampire, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law , and quite a few additional Ace Attorney games.
This Visual Novel Phenomenon started almost thirty five years ago with the release of Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken. In the beginning, this genre was centuralized in Asia. However, as the years pass this type of gaming has become a phenomenon in all parts of the world.