Sound Novel is a brand name for a series of simplified adventure games developed by Chunsoft that focus mainly on reading text with interactions being limited to only making choices that effect the games' branching narratives. Koichi Nakamura, the founder of Chunsoft and the director of the first Sound Novel, has described that the goal of the series was to adopt the fun of reading a novel into a video game format while containing graphics, sound and branching storylines in order to maintain the perceived value of the title .
The defining traits of a sound novel usually include a heavy reliance on sound effects and music to create the game's atmosphere combined with minimalist visuals that emphasize the text over the artwork, most commonly covering the entire screen instead of being contained in a textbox. Chunsoft also often used live-action photographs and video footage to show what was being described in the story with characters either not being shown at all or being represented by actors as well as blue silhouettes in the case of the Kamaitachi no Yoru sub-series. The connections between the various titles in the franchise are loose at best although they are often mystery stories with horror and or suspenseful elements.
Chunsoft's Sound Novels
The sound novels created by Chunsoft were immensely popular in Japan during the 1990s and were responsible for popularizing "novel games" as well as serving as the progenitor to the visual novel genre, directly influencing the Leaf Visual Novel Series which created and popularized the visual novel genre.
Outside of titles produced by Chunsoft, the term sound novel is often treated as its own genre that is used by other companies and fans to classify games similar to Chunsoft's. One of the earliest instances of a company mimicking Chunsoft's Sound Novel franchise is Athena's Yakochu for the Super Famicom which was released only a few months after Kamaitachi no Yoru in 1995. Examples of non-Chunsoft sound novels that are more well known in the West include titles such as the Higurashi series developed by 07th Expansion as well as Chrono Trigger's Satellaview exclusive sequel, Radical Dreamers.
- What is Game Design? Three Perspectives - Translation of an article from Game Hihyou magazine done by Shmuplations.
- Chunsoft 30th Anniversary Interview translated by Shmuplations.
- Bungle Bungle - The official website of Tatsuya Takahashi and Tooru Minazuki, creators of the Leaf Visual Novel Series.