Hot Japanese Imports: Air doujin games

August 10, 2009 - 4:28 pm No Comments

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, PCs, Windows, Game-Companies, Developers, Indie, Genres, 2D, Action, Fighting, Shooter

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Air PSPKey’s Air visual novel may have began life as an adult visual novel, but its popularity has made it more than that. Later releases of the game for consoles and handhelds had the adult content removed, so a wider audience could enjoy the game. It later inspired a manga, an anime, an animated film and drama cds.

However, fans have taken the series much further with doujin games. A doujin game is typically a computer game that may or may not be related to an existing anime/manga/video game/series. The irony of Airis that none of the popular doujin games created to honor the series that I found while researching are visual novels, for mature audiences or closely related to the series’ storyline. Instead, these high quality fan games cover a wide variety of genres. If you find a doujin game to download online, chances are it is a demo version. The original games are often created for, and sold at, conventions.

Thanks to the wonder that is Google, anyone who searches for the games and information on them should have no trouble finding a demo copy to test out. Let’s take a brief look over Air Flight, Air Force, AirRade, Air Tennis, Eternal Fighter Zero, Kanon & Air Smash and Pocket Kanon & Air and see what each game has to offer.

General Games

The majority of the Air inspired doujin games are assorted action games that are connected to the game only because they borrow characters from the visual novel. Two of the games I’ve encountered, while checking through doujin titles, happened to be renditions of existing games. The third was an original series of games. Coincidentally, the original series is the best known of the three.

First, I discovered Air Flight. Remember the old Sega game Flicky, where you guided a blue bird through levels to save fluffy yellow chicks from cats? Air Flight is very similar, only with the three main female heroines from Air replace Flicky the bird, the chicks are replaced by teddy bears and the cats are replaced by dogs. Other than that, it’s very similar.

Air Tennis is the second game, and it happens to be a Alleyway/Arkanoid/Breakout game. Players once again choose one of the Air heroines to act as the paddle. She sits at the bottom of the screen holding a tennis racket. You then hit a ball up against multicolor blocks that are suspended on the upper half of the screen.

The most popular Air doujin game that falls into this grouping is undoubtedly AirRade. It even has an IGN listing. It’s also the inspiration for this column, as I happened across a demo of AirRade Air while browsing online, and that made me want to learn more about doujin games. AirRade, also known as AirRade Air, is a side-scrolling shooting game featuring all of the major and minor characters from Air. There was even a follow-up game, AirRade Summer. Studio Siesta is responsible for both games.

AirRade and AirRade Summer are two of the most intricate Air doujin games. They’re also two of the most difficult. You can see in the YouTube video above the insane amount of enemies with loads of fire-power. If you search YouTube, you can find quite a few videos people have made depicting AirRade and AirRade Summer playthroughs.

Fighting Games

Then, there are the fighting games. I don’t know about you, but when I think about doujin games, fighting games are the genre that immediately comes to mind. There are three games where Air character are prominently featured. Once again, this is a genre where three of the doujin games aren’t as famous as the other.

Air Force and Air & Kanon Smash are both executed in a manner similar to Smash Brothers Brawl. Air Force has players picking out Air characters, then arming them with weapons lying around the stage so they can attack one another. Air & Kanon Smash features characters from both Air and Kanon (another, earlier visual novel from Key). In Air & Kanon Smash, you can attack other characters with or without weapons.

Studio Siesta also created a fighting Air doujin game called Pocket Kanon & Air. As you can tell from the title, it also offers characters from Kanon as fighters. It’s interesting because it is an overhead fighting game. Players attack mainly attack one another with bombs. Other stage specific characters, like angry, anthropomorphic snowmen will roam around attacking indescriminately.

The most famous fighting game to feature Air characters seems to be Eternal Fighter Zero. Eternal Fighter Zero is a standard, 2D fighting game from Twilight Frontier that features characters from not only the visual novel Air, but also from Kanon, Moon and One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e. (Yes, once again adult games inspire an all ages doujin game.) Eternal Fighter Zero has been so popular that multiple versions of the game have been released.

If you enjoy fighting games from Capcom or SNK, changes are Eternal Fighter Zero would delight you. It’s executed in a similar manner, with plenty of special moves. All of the characters have detailed battle sprites (as you can see from the YouTube video above), and aspects of the game cite the source games and established fighting games. It also has a fairly large character roster, with over 20 characters available, and the official release came with an editor which lets players tweak the existing character sprites.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables reviews the PSP visual novel Your Memories Off: Girl’s Style.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables looked over a few series that would make great visual novels.

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