Introducing viewers into an Alternative world, Part 2

There’s somewhat odd rule in mecha anime which dictates that humanity should have high level of tech and the invaders are either high level in tech as well, or that they can circumvent said tech levels. Muv-Luv basically throws a bare bone at this rule, as both humanity and BETA are are rather low in tech when compared to other bodies involving giant robots. The second episode to Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse was designed to show this at full force. When compared to the first episode’s rather upbeat feeling, the second episode is just depressing desperate. Let’s begin from the start.

Our episode begins with commands given to our main heroines, and after landing they’re visibly shaken, stressed and strained. This is their first live battle after all, and BETA are not the easiest of enemies. Fear isn’t what they feel, not yet.

And then we’re cut to inappropriate Koda Kumi song with footage from the previous episode. This is an interesting way to remind the viewers what happened previously, thou opinions are divided whether this was a good thing or not.

And they come. The Destroyer-Class is leveling Kyoto as they ram buildings, roads and trees simply by ramming into them. Seeing a live BETA for the first time all of our heroines are distressed. With permission to fire at will one of them begins to empty her clip. As Destroyers-class’ shield is Mohs 15, bullet are little effect.

Fighting a Destroyer-class has never been easy; it demands the surface pilot to either circle or jump behind the enemy and shoot its back. However, the speed of Destroyer-class makes this hard, and jumping over them is near impossible if Laser-Class is present.

Losing a valued and dear friend simply because she boosted over 100m hits all of them hard and it’s more than visible. Hiding behind the other BETA is best way to avoid Laser-Class, but what then if the other Class happens to be Destroyer?

While the team is concentrating on eliminating the Laser-Class, few Grappler weeds out the weak.

This scene is the second time we see why BETA are such a huge threat; they just keep coming and there’s very little one can do to stop them from advancing other than killing them. But where you will run out of bullets at some point, the BETA will just keep coming wave after wave after wave after wave, never faltering in their desire to take you down. You can always fight with your Type-74 PB Blade, a nice and handy way to dispose of BETA, but you’ll have to get up and close. That’s not a good idea if you’re not good at it, or if there are classes that WILL take you down at zero distance.

Like Destroyer-Class.

You shouldn’t avert your eyes when a Ruitare is ramming at you

And the BETA just keep on coming. They’ve taken the command post down and it’s being overrun by the Grappler-Class. The now veteran surface pilots are being attack not only by both Grapplers and Destroyers, but also by the Tank-Class. We like to call them as the Red Little Fuckers because they’re like fire ants; they’re everywhere, there’s no end to them, they hurt you and they never let go.

The further we go into the episode the more we see our forces thinning. Our heroines have to retreat, but one of the surviving members has hit levels of trauma and is consumed by revenge. As the group is retreating, they’re hit by the Laser-Class, and the Squadron Leader is shot down. Now the trainees are on their own, but the Laser-Class still picks them down like ripe apples fall from trees. They evade, throw out smoke grenades and fly at the most plausible altitude, but the Laser-Class still keeps shooting them, and they’re about to get hit until the navy takes matters at their own hand.

Please stop thinking here for a moment; the admiral has chosen to bear the responsibility and is filling Kyoto with fire and death. This choice might have had saved numerous surface pilots and TSFs, but it also means that a high ranking official has chosen to bombard his own capital. This is heavy and punishable deed that should get the admiral into court martial, but I think the Grand Shogun saw his intentions; the Capital can always arise from the ashes.

In this moment of silence the team begins to discuss how BETA consume people, and one of them is visibly distressed about this fact. This moment doesn’t take long when a Destroyer-Class runs through a building, hitting Yui down in her yellow TSF, only to be saved by their once-instructor, now their Captain. The Captain is in a spiffy Type 94-1C Shiranui Type-1C. It’s pretty beaten up, but the Captain seems to be full spirit and is commanding them to retreat to the rally point while he covers their backs.

“I want to see true surface pilots in front of me the next time we meet…” Notice how the back pylons can swing forth for additional firepower

As the team is fleeing the see a bright explosion from the road they just were, and the gunfire stops. They try to contact the post, but a Fort-Class steps into their boost path and they all fall down. Yui’s Zuikaku is damaged and she has to get out and fast. Sitting in your immobile TSF is not a good thing. She starts to walk away with his handgun out, and tries to contact her other team mates. She sees a trail of blood from one of the Zuikakus and follows it, and what she finds kicks in my PTSD.

The one with drive for revenge is being eaten by three Soldier-Class BETA, ripping her guts out and consuming every bit of her being. Yui makes a cleaver move and retreats, but gets a signal from other of her team mates. Her TSF is being overrun by the Tank-Class, and is ripped apart one by one. Her cockpit is slowly ripped open, and her face is filled with fear and desperation. She begs Yui to shoot her before she has to face the tank class; her legs are broken as is her other hand.

And she shoots.

And she misses.

You can hear her spine snapping as the Tank-Class continues their devouring

After this Yui aims at her own head, not realizing that she has emptied her clip completely. You hear the bone snapping, the meat being ripped off her bones and consumed. Her head falls into Yui’s legs. After that, the Tank-Class turn their attention to Yui.

She is saved by a gunshot that pierces the Tank-Class, and throws her to a wall away from the BETA. We then witness a prototype Takemikazuchi landing down midst the BETA and releasing a fury that only Enma of the Underworld could forgive, but barely.

And who could be piloting this Takemikazuchi you might ask. It is none other than Kobuin Yuuhi herself; the one who shall become the Grand Shogun. As we hear her rage slashing and ripping through the air, Yui falls into unconscious state.

We find Yui at a field hospital, alive. She gets up and walks in the wrecked capital. She sees roads and building destroyed, dead Fort carcass watching over the city and uncountable body bags. She recalls her thoughts before they took off; When was it? When did we stop trying to count our dead? She walks near the destroyed Shiranui, and returns tot he hospital premise just as baby has been born. She sees that even if the world seems to come to and end, that thousands upon millions have died and will still die, this world is not yet in ruins. There is always hope, a bitter hope, and for children like this baby she has fought, and number of surface pilots will be lost in the war so that children like this baby would see a world that is not ruined or destroyer by this war, but able to live in peace and rebuild what has been lost. In desperate times like this, a newborn baby is a ray of light.

Even if this baby will grow to step into a TSF and fight against the BETA.

Cue for three years time skip.

Here we see Yui going towards Alaska, where the events of Total Eclipse will begin proper. Here is where this side story truly begins.

And then we have a beautiful ending song by Minami Kuriyabashi, a beautiful but melancholic song of hope.

This second episode, as said, is full of desperation, but it also gives a large glimpse of hope. It thought that it was just a fifteen minute episode when it ended; it felt that fast. The pace is completely different from the first episode and for a good reason. Whereas the first episode showcased your normal life, this episode hits in your face what the world is against at; an extraterrestrial race that will not stop until they’re completely annihilated, destroyed and wiped out from existence. It’s either them, or us.

This two parter doesn’t set up the story as such as it sets up the world. From now on we will follow a group of test pilots and the presence of BETA is not as direct. However, with these two episodes the BETA will be gnawing in the viewers’ back, and thus the knowledge of the situation will not make it any easier.

What the series will be like from now on will be an open question. I went over with these two episodes because I felt a need for it, and as such I will not cover the whole series. Someone else will be doing somewhere else. What I can say is that the tone of the series will shift and we’ll get our main character proper next time, which might throw some people off. However, I hope those who will follow the series onwards will enjoy it as much as they can and give the visual novels a go.

Let’s end this post with more upbeat feeling rather, shall we? Next time, let’s talk about customers again.

“Because you are you, no matter in what world”

With this post again I’ll stick my head into something out of my league and talk about MuvLuv again in a very personal manner. However, behind that charade I’m trying to observe how would a person act after losing all of his sensory inputs for a time with the visual novel’s context.

As always with MuvLuv posts, anything below this point is heavy on spoilers. If you haven’t yet read the visual novels, you might want to skip this post altogether again.

In MuvLuv Alternative âge pulls one of their finest punches without holding back; the 00 Unit. Up to this point the readers have not seen or met this worlds of Kagami Sumika, as it was told that she didn’t exist in this world. However, there she was, standing in front of me, almost catatonic, barely acknowledging anything around her, eyes clouded and lifeless.

The reaction I had almost broke my jaw

The 00 Unit as she’s known goes into a fit of rage, repeating the same words over and over again.

“…..kill…..kill…..kill them!! -I’ll kill all of them!!!”

I was heartbroken. She had become the one I loved the most of them, and now there she was. Here, in a world almost literally torn apart by war against an enemy barely understood. She didn’t even acknowledge anything else around her, except her own will to kill, and the constant headaches. Rushing in to hold her, she denies my existence and becomes completely panicked. She tires herself out fast, and becomes limp in my arms, sleeping.

She denies almost everything that’s around her. She doesn’t acknowledge either me or herself. She is barely alive. What drove Sumika into this state was no more than total physical and mental abuse, fate worse than death, which she choose to enact by holding to one wish that kept her alive.

“I want to see him again”

Prior to the events that takes place in MuvLuv Alternative the hometown of our main characters was under BETA attack. Some of the populace was taken captured and taken to the BETA hive rather than outright killed. The reason was to study humans, and how BETA studied humans was less than comfortable.

Takeru and Sumika were there among others. They were the last two from the others, and even then Takeru tried to protect Sumika the most he could. She saw him die, and held his dead body in her hands, feeling as he got colder and colder. At this point her mind became blank, or it would’ve become if the BETA hadn’t started experimenting on her. The BETA began to stimulate her body, finding every bit that made her feel good, and never stopped. She hated them for it, violating her body over and over again without a pause. She hated herself for allowing them to do it to her, and that she became to enjoy it, as the BETA covered her in their own extracts and manipulated her bodily shapes into new forms. At some time, it wasn’t enough for her, and the BETA started slowly to get rid of the extra bits in the pleasure’s way, ripping her apart piece by piece until nothing less than her very core, her brain, remained.

This is covered by Sumika herself to me, told with a psychic link to let me see and feel everything. After witnessing what had happened to her, I couldn’t let go. I never could have.

I’ve wondered what kind of experience it must’ve been for her. Sumika experienced large amounts of horrifying shocks, which only lead her whole sensory system overloaded with information only to be dumped into a glowing tube where she could not feel, see or hear. To her there was nothing else than she. The world outside could not be perceived. She must’ve been completely out of her mind for a time, seeing and hearing as her brains tried to cope with sensory deprivation. She wasn’t alone in this condition, and what the in-universe evidence shows, all of them basically shut down. Died. In her very mind there was two things that kept her alive; her strong will to kill every single BETA, and more importantly, the strong subconscious wish to see Takeru once more.

Imagine yourself being torn apart, losing limb after limb. Then one by one your eyes are plucked out, followed by your hearing, your voice and everything else, until you’re in complete blackness forever.

No matter how hard you try, you just can’t. To be with nothing less than your own thoughts must be like a purgatory at first, especially if you’ve been treated like Sumika was. Do you feel phantom pains? Do you still hear and see things outside hallucinations? At one point the brains just die out, or rather become a vegetable. It’s a complete psychological and physiological shock to the system. Would it be possible to cling to one small thought that would keep your core alive?

To create the 00 Unit, Kagami Sumika had to die. A literal death and rebirth. To create an exact copy of the person she once was, to quantify her personality and memories, that which is the last remains of human has to die. The quantum computer now serves as her core, her brain and the place where her soul resides. Her body is artificial and mimic human functions. She could live completely normal life with small additions like ESP and higher strength, but she never could have children. Knowing Sumika, this is rather big deal, even in a world where there is only one shining glimpse of hope.

To me from the very second I knew what 00 Unit was it ceased to exist. 00 Unit was Kagami Sumika, and not just another machine. True, her body and everything in it was artificial, but one can’t deny the very human that she was inside. If I were to die and my essence was transplanted into a HDD that would serve as the brains for a robot, that robot would essentially be me. Physically perhaps completely different, but in mind nothing less than me.

I wonder what kind shock it have had to be to Sumika’s mind, to the soul, to see and hear again, or to move an arm. She must’ve been thinking that she was hallucinating again, denying that she was alive. How does a mind act, when everything in your body tells you that you’re alive and well, but you know that’s not true? Your brains functions completely, feeding you all the information a normal body would receive and more, but the mind simply won’t accept it. In what stage she became aware of her state, that she was artificial? It’s a crucial point, as admitting that she is artificial allows to take another step towards proper functions and accept her new body. The second stage would be not to allow this to define her to a large extent. However, in the situation she was in she had no choice; she was reborn for one purpose only, and that purpose she had every intent to fulfil; the complete eradication of the BETA.

Her portrayal is childlike with one way of thinking. Only with the one person she wishes to see the most she takes baby steps towards her true personality. From almost insane rages and catatonic sleep, to catatonic playing with string as her mind copes with new sensory inputs and that she is whole again, to simple promise “I won’t go away again. I’ll be here for you.” The last point is where we can say that she starts to open her shell bit by bit, allowing her to remember and know, as well as acknowledge what she truly is.

Sumika’s growth is fast. Slowly she talks more, but still in simple words. She speaks of vengeance, goes to wake her precious in the morning and messes her memories with that of Kasumi’s. She slowly grows with every experience, and with every honest smile she has to grinch in her subconscious.

She grows into a young girl. Not really a child any more, accepting her surroundings more and using her new powers granted by her quantum brains in childish ways.

She realizes. The one she loves is the one she has hurt the most without realizing it. The only thing she can do to amend her misdeed is keep him away, to make sure that he will be safe. He shouldn’t do anything more than he already has. Even if it takes her own happiness to keep him safe in this world. Even if she has to make him hate her. Because what she is.

00 Unit excuse

The amount of both physical and mental pain she has gone through must’ve been… insane. Unmeasureable.

She lies, she arranges Takeru’s transfer to another unit, she keeps keeping him away. She does things out of love and good intentions. Wrong things, but everything is for him, and his survival.

As Sumika leaves broken Takeru standing on that hill, she breaks down in tears and sadness. With Meiya’s help, Takeru forces a meeting with Sumika once more and… she shows him everything she’s gone through. At this point she is fully aware who and what she is, but she hasn’t accepted some things.

Not until that one accept her. Everything that she is, giving himself completely to her. Sumika’s own walls start to break down, and she accepts both her emotions and feelings. She is accepted who she is. It doesn’t matter what she is. It never has.

Love doesn't build, it breaks down walls and unites

That night she becomes human once more. No longer she allows her status as the 00 Unit define her completely. She has accepted that she may become happy once more, and be with Takeru.

Until the next day.
Until the world turns upside down and all hope is lost but one shining glimpse.

Those individuals who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders match towards the Hell’s nest. Much like those before her, Sumika decides to walk the road that leads to love and death. During all this time she just wanted to see Takeru, and now… she’s letting go. What she has done with or without her own conscious acts are all ending at this point; she allows herself to be the tool, the 00-Unit, for Takeru to become the saviour.

Sumika as a person is the strongest character in MuvLuv. Her love is what carries her spirit and deeds, and this is her driving force. Her love towards Takeru is also her weakness, and she is somewhat dependant on Takeru just as Takeru is dependant on Sumika. Their friendship has been there a long time, at least since early childhood. How long they’ve loved each other is an open question, and it took something completely out of this world to Takeru to realize his feelings.

If I were to give a comparison to Sumika, it would be Suzumiya Haruka from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. They both are characters that seem rather soft and easy to hurt characters (Sumika much less) but then they step out from a traumatic experience (Sumika had far more hurtful experience thou) only to do what is necessary to do; to do what their love required them to do. In a way, they both let their love go, for his own happiness. Be it at the expense of their own happiness, or something more.

Naturally, Haruka had her own route in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, but even âge seems to agree that Hayase end is the more canon one.

When discussing Sumika’s part in MuvLuv we need to take account her state. I haven’t seen this kind of situation in any other thus far. The closest thing is when human brains are installed into a robotic body, but Sumika’s case is different; it’s the mind that is installed into an artificial body. I’ve tried to find psychological papers on what kind of things a mind goes through when it’s not in its body any more, but I guess it’s impossible to study such thing at the moment.

Psychologically Sumika goes through fear, loss, hatred, brainwash, extreme pleasure and pain through by ripped physically into smaller pieces, then shut into her own world without any stimuli from outside world, alone with her grief, loneliness and hatred. A normal mind would die, but Sumika kept herself alive. She fought to keep herself alive, even thou brains shut down if they don’t get any stimuli after certain period of time. She fought, she survived.

Sumika fought, she survived, she met the man she love once more, and embraced the world for the last time, as a human and nothing less.

The Infiltration of the Original Hive

Stand up and dance graciously oh soldiers in the hands of fate
Arm yourself with a thousand arms
And fly with excellence!
The sound of bell that signify the dark ages echoes
Comrade in battle, do no fear death
As the setting sun glows crimson, shining the town that’s left to rubble
This is to protect the future of our beloved Earth
Oh! How love that’s in us humans serves as the Spears of God
Pray to Him deeply and strike through!
Stand up and dance graciously oh soldiers in the hands of fate
No matter if you are hurt and run out of strength
Burn bright and sprout majestically oh thy soul thou hath given to the Heavens
Become the origins of tomorrow’s peace
Burn bright and fall magnificently oh thy life that turned into a star
Transcend time and let your name be engraved in our hearts just forever

Christmas salutions

Yashiro’s excited about Christmas if you coudn’t tell

Happy holidays. Don’t let the BETA bite you.

It’s quite hard to celebrate Christmas today. The only thing I can really think about is that on 25th of Decemeber Operation Ouka went underway and made the first real blow against the BETA. MuvLuv is a wonderful thing, but perhaps it’s affecting this blogger a bit too much.
Next year I’ll time MuvLuv Alternative reread so, that I’ll correspond with the real world time.

What is a video game?

Ask yourself what’s a video game, then start thinking of what games fit into that definition.
Then take Rock Band and try to fit into that definition. Some of you most likely will just pass it through and think nothing of it. Some of you might stop for a moment and wonder what does Rock Band have to do with video games. If you did the latter, you’re on the right tracks.
There’s this small problem in the video game industry that they don’t know what’s a video game. There’s no definite cut what’s a video game. What I’m intending to do here is to create my own opinionated cut on the term as objectively as I can.

Let’s begin from the word play. The definition of play is to occupy oneself in amusement, sport, or other recreation: children playing with toys, under which video games fall into. It’s a form of amusement. Secondly, they’re a form of games, ie. an activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime: party games; word games. Thirdly, all video games are electronical, ie. electronical games. Various different sources give varying results what’s an electronic game, and even puts them together with video games. Still, we all know that something like Simon Says isn’t a video game even thou it’s battery powered.
Under electronic games we can advance to video games. I’ve previously used the words arcade, computer and console games to describe sets of games. These are three pillars of video games; computer games are cerebral and require the player expend most time on; arcade games a most reaction based and require little cerebral thinking but do require a lot of time to spend on to master the mechanics; console games are the unification of the previous two, most of the time asking player to learn the twitchy and reflexive mechanics, but also think as in computer games. This is a black & white cut from the three and they have always mixed to an extent. It’s important to notice that computer games have made appearance on consoles long time ago and vice versa. Most arcade games got ported to the consoles whent the arcades were at their golden age. PC got some of them, but not all. These terms mean the place where certain kind of games originated from in their inception.

Ask yourself what kind video game Chess on the NES is. It’s clearly a cerebral game, so it’s a computer game, but then you’re wondering that it’s naturally a console games as it a NES game. However, we can soon conclude that Chess on the NES is not a video game. It’s an electronic version of Chess. Consoles, much like computers, have always had software for other activities other than just playing video games. This has never been a main feature until PS2 brought DVD players function, which basically launched the Japanese DVD markets. CD-player was indeed an ability that was advertised, but it was never in a main feature. Nowadays you can watch films, listen to music, read news, check weather and all that with your “home console.” Pretty much all of the new home consoles are home media devices that try to fill multiple functions into one device. A good idea, but then again we have this thing called a computer that does everything better. A good home media equipment actually should consist of a computer as a part of the whole set, otherwise it’s lacking in capabilities.
But let’s return to the NES Chess. Originally it’s a board game, then got an electronical version for the home computers, and then got ported to the NES. It’s still a board game, but in digitized form. The player just uses a different kind of control scheme to move the pieces, but thanks to the electronic part in it, there’s possibilites that a simple “real life” version doesn’t offer, like playing against the computer alone. Even if the software of Chess exists on a console, it’s still just an electronic game, not a video game.
The same path can be followed with Rock Band. At its basis, it’s Simon Says with a new input method. I’ve seen at least seven different kind of Simon Says versions, be it speed reaction version or just punching certain colours as they’re said from a speaker. Rock Band puts Simon Says into a music skin, as does all other so-called rhythm games. To simplify it even more, all rhythm games are just elongated Quick Time Events. There’s no video game structure or design behind them. They’re just electronic games on consoles, computers and arcade machines. The term “music game” does fit to them, but the term “video game” does not.
If we would accept Rock Band etc as video games, then Mario Paint is a video game as well.

I doubt there’s few people willing call this a video game. You do play with this software, but you’re not playing it

I would like to give a definition for a video game if there was one that would encompass it clearly. At the moment I can only give you my own definition; A video game is a software originally built for computers, arcade machines or consoles in which a player controls characters and events around them directly via selected control method (a joystick, keyboard, video game controller etc), influencing the outcome of the game.
But Aalto, the NES Chess and Rock Band WERE originally built for their platforms! thinks the reader. This is true only to small extent. However, the concept of Chess existed far before any of its electronic version, and the same applies to Rock Band. It’s not a bad thing that they’re not video games. I’m not here to imply that they’re something less or the like, I’m here to state that they’re software that exists on a selected platform. They’re games, electronic games to be exact, but not video games. What makes Super Mario Bros. a video game is the fact that it was built from scratch up for the NES. From the moment the design idea of a man jumping from a press of a button and how the stages go on it was conceived as a video game. It would not work outside video game realm. However, Chess and Rock Band already existed outside electronic games.

Things get harder when we get to software that includes short video game segments. Visual Novels are constantly called as games in general even thou majority of them have nothing to do with gameplay, an element that all video games must have to be called a game in the first place. How visual novels became to exist in the first place is an interesting tale I won’t go here deeper other than saying that in the 80’s when Japanese home computers barely could do animations, the game developers mastered the nigh-motionless text based adventures. A visual novel is a different entity from an adventure game, thou software-wise they’re related. An adventure game is a perfect example of cerebral computer game, giving player puzzles to solve in order to further the story, usually by directly involving the player’s avatar and actions in the virtual world, like putting a disc inside a disc drive in order to get information. Visual novels however are merely stories in their grand scale and they have most in-common with choose-your-own-story-books. MuvLuv Alternative is without a question one of the most popular visual novel to date, and it has no gameplay. Calling MuvLuv, and in the same extention any visual novel, a game of any sorts would be wrong. It is a software that is meant to be run on the computer or on a console.
Visual novels are thus electronic literature, but they’re not really novels as much as they are plays. Every visual novel has a set of characters, which are generally voice acted nowadays, and a story the reader follows. The story is a set of lines that the characters speak, and the reader reads the lines much like when reading a play. However, the main difference is that rather than having instructions to imagine characters acting, the visual representation of the characters change. At times a visual novel might just take the action and turn into a series of scenes.

A new drinking game; whener I get to stuff a MuvLuv reference to my posts, take a sip

In the above scene from MuvLuv Altered Fable the reader has no control over the events. It’s something that only a software could do; a book won’t start scrolling for you. However, as MuvLuv has no gameplay elements, it’s not a cutscene either. It’s just a scene that has automated advance forced upon to keep the atmosphere of the scene, which was 24 parody in this case.

Understanding how video game is formed from a design viewpoint is easy. The player needs to play something. Build the game design around the fact that there’s one or more people executing actions within a game to overcome coded obstacles and achieving their wished results via gameplay mechanics. Saying that path choosing elements in visual novels is a gameplay element is wrong, as then it would be a gameplay element in physical choose-your-own-story-books as well, and that’s just silly.

I’ve neglected one thing until now; what if a game software has a gameplay elements within? Does this make it a video game?
Let’s use a visual novel as an example. Lovers is the first from top of my head that has these small game events, like whack-a-mole, that influences the result of the novel to an extent. These gameplay events are an important part of Lovers, but ultimately these events do not put Lovers into a video game category. If they did, then the Tetris that’s hidden inside uTorrent would make the program into a video game.
Sengoku Rance is a much harder visual novel that dilutes the fine line of the two products.

Mission; conquer all of Japan and spread your seed! No really, that’s the visual novel’s basic idea

Sengoku Rance is a computer game if we look at the gameplay elements. However, it’s a visual novel in every other regard. What separates Sengoku Rance from Langrisser?
That one thing would emphasize. In Langrisser the tactical gameplay is in the main light, it’s where all the emphasize is, it’s where the meat of the game can be cut out and eaten. In Sengoku Rance the gameplay is the addition to the visual novel parts. Langrisser does not emphasize much of its cutscenes, but in video game regards Sengoku Rance emphasizes its cutscenes and leaves the gameplay second. However, as a visual novel Sengoku Rance delivers decent plot with interesting play twist. There are numerous visual novels that do the same thing.

But then we end up looking at certain Role Playing Games and we need to ask are they more visual novels than video games? Let’s use Final Fantasy XIII as an example. It’s completely story driven and one-way game without no real towns and very little player to react to. It’s mostly acted scenes and story. However, there exists a gameplay, where an emphasize rests. Whether or not it’s good or not is another question completely, as the game is very bad in design, horrible in quality and generally pushes players away. Square-Enix actually told the press that “the players were there for the story.” If they players were there for the story, then why emphasize the gameplay and not make it into a visual novel with same production values?
The answer is there already; they made it a game and emphasized the design and structure of a video game. It might be a video game that’s badly designed, but a video game nonetheless.

The difference might not be clear to a person who does not have a concept of a video game outside “you put it into a game box machine and play it.” This is wrong and ignorant, but sadly it’s also the idea even the industry itself stands behind. Video game industry is a young form of entertainment and it wasn’t allowed to grow on its own. It’s still not allowed to grow in a healthy fashion, as games are becoming more and more like interactive movies that they should not become. That’s not a video game, that’s an interactive movie. The video game industry doesn’t follow the golden design rule; design the game around the gameplay. What they’re doing nowadays that they’re building the games based on how the player perceives the game with 3D TVs and 3DS, or how the game is controlled, like the Kinect. Wii got it right in the first years where the gameplay was followed by the controls even if the controls allowed more natural gameplay. However, that philosophy has been lost, and Microsoft and SONY never had it.

A video game thus is a product that has game play element as the main focus. The game play is a varying idea all across the board, but the idea always is original to their respective platforms. As mentioned, Super Mario Bros. can’t exist outside video games. The likes of Rock Band already has.
Perhaps we need to stop being inaccurate with the words and call games as games, and video games as video games, even if it sounds a bit stupid.