Preview: Sonicomi

Alright, let’s talk a little about a game that has yet to be released. Sonicomi, or Sonico Communications, is a game based off a drawing.

I am not joking about that. Nitro+ has hosted their ‘Nitro Super Sonic’ event yearly since 2000, and Sonico started out as a nameless girl drawn as a promotional poster for Nitro Super Sonic 2007.

Somehow, that nameless girl caught the hearts of a lot of people who saw her, and quickly became a favorite for fanart. None of which is really SFW.

She is now calles Super Sonico after the event she advertised for, and the entire game is basically to appeal to her fans. there are already artbooks and figures of her available for purchase, most of which are NSFW, and as such, will not be linked.

And, with a recent update from the DannyChoo network, their mascot Mirai will be appearing in the game.

Mascots of a popular website, NSFW fanart of a person, everything so far appears to be catering to the fans, so my cynicism is at DEFCON 5 and ready for the release of the game. All of those things spell out trouble.

But I can’t say anything until I have played it, as I am not a loser fanboy, but an amateur reviewer (the difference between amateur and professional is an amateur makes less than half their income from something. Fun fact of the day.)

There are so many photos that are safe for work that I will not be posting them up. However, I will give a couple links to websites that discuss it and the one has the PV for the game.

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978467914

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/25830/SoniComi.html

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/25947/Sonico+and+Mirai.html

Read through those before continuing on. Read them? Good.

This brings me to why I gave it an award for may innovate, may be awful. Look at the PV-unlike every other game I can think of, she MOVES. Deus Makina Demonbane has animated scenes, but the rest of the time, everything is the typical paper cutout character.

Not only does she move, but you can interact with her. It isn’t just click an option when prompted, you can select to make a choice, then hold her hand or something. Until now, there has been no game that has provided this unprecedented level of interaction in a VN. Interaction is a critical part of games-It’s why many VNs and dating sims can be hard to run through in one go. Sure, they may take less time than reading the book or books, but the tactile interaction is gone, replaced with a click every line of dialogue or action.

And, back to the PV for a moment. Notice how, instead of taking a jump pose, she actually DOES the physical action of a jump.

Consider this for a moment: most all VNs have little interaction beyond click a choice when prompted. They have a little less holding out interest than those Goosebumps choose-your-own-adventure books. Now, consider one of the recently made great games, Mass Effect. You can pursue a relationship, but the game requires interaction with other elements, people, or events to progress along a path. Every VN says ‘you decide to walk to the park. What will you do next? (choose one.)’

Mass Effect requires you to travel to the park physically. You interact with the environment and other characters not part of the relationship. You build up  greater understanding of the character by your actions and the reactions of others around you.

I am by no means saying that VNs should abandon what they are and try to ape Mass Effect. But I will state my theory-Interaction in a VN, eroge, H game, dating sim, etc will make it a more liked experience and a more memorable one when compared to a standard VN.

To talk about another game real quick, that theory is why I would actually like to play Gun-Katana, despite it being an H game. It is interactive. You as the player hold conversations and ‘conversations’ but at other times, you have to go out and take an action by DOING said action, not clicking a choice. Suddenly, advancement in the story relies on skill. If you need to do X thing at Y level, and only do it at N level, then you won’t progress along the same story path that someone who did it at Z level will have.

And that is what I HOPE Sonicomi will do: blend together interaction and story in a way that will be worth playing. Interaction in the form of animated, moving, 3d-esque characters and interacting with them by doing an action, and interacting with other characters and your environment as well. They have a much greater palette to tell their story by, I hope it makes Sonicomi the needed Vista Service Pack, not the one that breaks all your programs.

To prove through (circumstantial) evidence that interaction coupled with story make a very engrossing and potentially powerful storytelling tool, this preview is a week late because I spent that time playing through the Korean made MMO Vindictus. It has a very well done and rather dark story, yet it is highly interactive. Maybe I will actually review it someday.

For those who may be interested in Sonicomi and don’t already know, her SFW website is located here: http://supersonico.jp/sonicomi/

There is a trial version available for download, and a twitter feed if you care.

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