IMPORTANT INFORMATION: PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES
This document is based on the original document compliled by the
tsubasa, Interactive Civilian, HaGeShiKu, cyocum, GameOuji, worldcitizen, sunandshadow, Pocky, NDarkstar, Arechan, milkchan, WooJin Lee
This rewrite/revision is compiled by:
omoikane, olf_le_fol, Blue Lemma
This document is an attempt to update a nearly 2-year old document with the intent to upgrade, to fix, to rephrase and correct, and to present the plight of ren'ai gaming in a more objective & palatable manner for the typical reader of Megatokyo. The main purpose of this revision is to fix and add links, and to rephrase certain...troublesome wording. Most importantly, we hope this revised edition will serve you better than the older edition.
That said, while this document will not contain everything in the old FAQ, so please, please, please read the old FAQ as well if you want to know more about ren'ai gaming and other things of the art, from a different perspective. I will try to include all that I see fit to include, but some tidbits are omitted as a victim of practical time limits ^_^;;
2005/01/25 - Many links updated, added informations about US fanmade games and translation patches.
2004/06/05 - Links to (free) fanmade Japanese games
2003/09/10 - Several links updated by Blue Lemma
2002/11/19 - Finished with first draft, posted for feedback
2002/10/11 - Included chapter 2 from olf_le_fol and finished chapter 3
2002/09/26 - Posted current progress (80% done with chapter 1)
2002/09/23 - Revision Started
The copyrights of the materials/articles/websites/trademarks are owned by the respective manufacturers/holders. This article is posted for the convenience of the MegaTokyo audience, and is not intended to violate the intellectual rights or property of any involved parties.
While to inform the public is our aim, please also respect the content and the effort individuals put forth to make the information avaliable for your peruse. Please cite properly shall you choose to quote something from this document.
Naturally, opinions expressed here are purely of the people that put together this document. Megatokyo and any other parties associated with this document are not expressedly represented by anything we say in this document.
Many links off this document are external, and we cannot be responsible for and we cannot guarantee their contents. Also please be aware that some links are not suitable for minors, as these links will be noted explicitly.
Table of Contents
0 Header information, disclaimers, history
1 General Information about Megatokyo and ren'ai games
1.1 What is Megatokyo? What is the Dating Sims and Visual Novels Forum?
1.2 What are Dating Sims, Ren'ai games, Visual Novels, Upbringing simulations?
1.3 What are Bishoujo games?
1.4 What are hentai games, h games, erotic games, or erogee?
1.5 Are there any Dating-sims for girls?
1.6 Are there any dating-sims in English?
1.7 How much Japanese do I need to know to play dating-sims?
1.8 Are there any Dating sims for the Dreamcast/PC/MAC/Playstation 1&2/X-Box/GameCube/Saturn/etc?
1.9 Are there any place where I can discuss about Dating-sims?
2 How to obtain ren'ai games and other bishoujo games
2.1 Where can I get them for free? / Where can I download them? / Can I get a copy from someone / After all, I'm only (some young age) so I don't have money! It's natural for me to find the copy on the net!
2.2 Where can I get them? Where can I download them from? I'll pay for them!
2.3 I have paid to the paysite to get the downloadable version of __________, but the quality was poor.
2.4 How do I get the Dating-Sims translated into English? Can I enjoy ren'ai simulation games if I don't understand Japanese?
2.5 So, are there any ren'ai sim games already in English?
2.6 Where can I find demos, previews or reviews?
3 How to get Japanese games to work on my non-Japanese system?
3.1 What are these .lzh files and how do I deal with them?
3.2 How compatible are imports on U.S. console systems?
3.3 Some of the characters in certain people's post are jibberish, such as in Tsubasa's song translation threads.
3.4 I want to type some Japanese. How do I cut/paste the Japanese characters without a Japanese operating system?
3.5 How come the Japanese characters show up on some sites and not on some others?
3.6 The Japanese games won't show Japanese characters correctly on my PC. What can I do about it?
4 About Japan & Japanese
4.1 What is Kanji? What is Katakana? What is Hiragana?
4.2 What is Romanji?
4.3 Where do I learn casual Japanese?
4.4 Where do I learn formal Japanese?
4.5 How do I teach myself? Is there any way to learn Japanese by myself?
4.6 How do I get started in learning Japanese?
4.7 What does [commonly asked Japanese word/phrase] mean?
4.8 How do I get to Akihabara after I arrived at Narita Airport?
4.9 My Japanese knowledge is limited. Tell me about the Survival Japanese.
4.10 How much do things cost in Japan?
4.11 What is the JET program?
4.12 What information is there about teaching English in Japan?
5 Amateur culture in Japan
5.1 What is Doujinshi?
5.2 How can I obtain them?
5.3 What is comiket? Is it a sort of anime convention like cons in the US?
1.1. What is Megatokyo? What is the Dating Sims and Visual Novels Forum?
1.9 Are there any place where I can discuss about Dating-sims?
2. How to get Japanese (and other imports) to work on my system?
2.1. Where can I get them for free? Where can I download them from for free? After all, I'm only (some young age) so I don't have money! It's natural for me to find the copy on the net!
Well, you have to understand that those games are commercial games, meaning that they're being sold. So, no, none of them are free. Also, please note that this board is totally against pirating, so, please, don't post asking for free download of those commercial games: you'd only get flamed. And a note: neither manga, anime, nor in that case computer games (even if dating-sims or simply Japanese) are a right, so sorry, no one has any right to play a computer game which he didn't buy (or get offered by someone who bought it... you get the idea). Work to have money to buy it or have it offered to you.
At last, I'd like to mention MutoAnime. He used to offer free dating sims (made by himself) to download, but I think he's now selling his games (they're in English though...). I don't know his exact current status, so you may want to email him...
2.2. Where can I get them? Where can I download them from? I'll
pay for them!
For translated PC games, go to 2.5. For
Japanese PC games, the most famous is Himeya. They're very expensive and
discriminate towards poor countries (i.e. won't ship to them...) but very
reliable. They also sell console games.
Akibado are a good store as well, but they don't have a "true" catalog, so you have to ask them exactly what you want.
At last, for used (thus cheaper) games or out-of-print ones, your best friend would be Yahoo! Auction Japan. You need to be efficient in Japanese though; also, there is a monthly charge to use Yahoo! Auction Japan. And beware that most of Japanese aunctioners won't ship outside of Japan! To go around that, some stores accept to bid for you for an item, get it and sent it to you (all of that for a fee, of course). Akibado do so, but you also have Celga and Rinkya.
For most, you can pay either via your Credit Card or an International Postal Money Order.
As for paying to download them... I'm afraid most of the paysites are pirating/exploiting the stuff that circulates the Internet.
2.3. I have paid to the paysite to get the downloadable version of __________, but the quality was poor.
2.4. How do I get the Dating-Sims translated into English? Can I enjoy ren'ai simulation games if I don't understand Japanese?
Your best friend for translations and walkthroughs may be GameFAQs, where you can find, for
instance, the Kanon
walkthrough, the Saturn's Tokimeki
Memorial mini-FAQ and other Tokimeki Memorial games endings translations,
the Saturn's Pia Carrot,
etc. You can find more Tokimeki Memorial (a.k.a. Tokimemo) info in
English from here.
As for fans making translation patches:
2.5. So, are there any ren'ai sim games already in English?
First, the failed attempts and out-of-print games...
Then, the most recent games...
Five companies still in business translated/are translating bishoujo games: Himeya Soft, JAST USA, Hobibox Europe, Peach Princess, G-Collections and Hirameki International Group. The four first are translating adult games, though, so don't click unless you're 18+.
You can look here for free english fan-projects, too: 2.1
At last, there are some English-translated games, which have dating-sims elements in them:
2.6. Where can I find demos, previews or reviews?
Also, often avaliable for download for free are demos and promotional videos. You can usually find them on the game's maker official webpages.
To know which game makers released which demo, you can consult the many bishoujo games magazines online, which would give you the latest news. For instance: Dengeki Online (for console games), Gamespot (for console and PC games), Digi Chronicle (contains adult content) (for PC), Peaks (for PC), D-Dreams (for PC) and Gamelex (contains adult content) (for PC). If you don't read Japanese, Gamelex has an English page (contains adult content)
3.1. What are these .lzh files and how do I deal with them?
The software above is called lhaca. It's easy to install, and you can drag-and-drop the *.lzh file on the lhaca icon. If you drag in non-LZH files, the lhaca will archive the files to LZH file.
It doesn't need external DLLs.
The Lhaca supports Windows 98, Me, NT4, and 2000 Professional (and probably XP as well)
More importantly, .lzh is a common compression scheme for PCs back in the early-mid 90s, so there are plenty of PC solutions for them if you do a search with google or such. On the other hand, if the archive includes files with certain multibyte filenames, your OS may have issues extracting such files as well. In that case go to the FAQ section 3 =)
3.2. How compatible are imports on U.S. console systems?
This is a complicated question (a lot more than 3...). Ever since the beginning of the international console market, there has always been regional distinction between games released in certain areas (generally, Japan & east asia, North America, Europe & Australia). Nowadays, it can be some work for people to play imported games and expect them to work fine on the native system. Even for PC games, there can exist issues related to OS incompability (see section 3).
The purpose of this FAQ isn't geared to help you mod your console, but feel free to discuss any particular questions you may have either in here, or in other sections of MT forums in regarding to modifying your console.
3.3. Some of the characters in certain people's post are jibberish, such as in Tsubasa's song translation threads.
Usually, this is due to the fact that they are using a different language than your browser's setting for that page. You can manually change it (in MS IE) by changing "view->encoding->japanese-autodetect." For other browsers, there should be similar options you can choose. On some websites the default language code is listed in the header, so your browser will choose it automatically (such as www.megatokyo.com). If you have not installed the Japanese Language pack for your OS, you might want to do that (in order to enable the option).
Outside of your web browser, if you want to view Japanese, your way in going about it will depend on your OS. For Windows 9x/NT/2000/ME, the easiest way is to install an independent program such as NJSTAR.
3.4. I want to type some Japanese. How do I cut/paste the Japanese characters without a Japanese operating system?
You cut and paste Japanese text no differently with any text. For the most part Japanese text is represented as multiple-byte text (as opposed to english text which is always 1 byte per character). If you do not have some sort of Japanese-text viewer enabled, or your OS is not told to use Japanese text it will look like jibberish.
However, when you paste multibyte characters, certain types of encoding is not supported across all applications, so instead of the correct "jibberish" you may get "?" or "�" instead (this happens a lot with unicode...) And by that, naturally there are different way to represent the same Japanese text by different ways of text encoding, so it is not uncommon to see different types of Japanese text in which you can only decode one sorts at a time.
For actually inputting Japanese text, for Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS 9+ by installing the proper language kits you will be able to use the language input device. Here's a quote how to use it in Mac OS 9:
[Interactive Civilian] For Japanese Character input on a Macintosh, you must have the Japanese Language Kit installed. Luckily, it is easy, and free if you are running Mac OS 9. The installer is on your System CD in the following folder: Software Installers: Language Kits. Just double click the "Install Language Kits" install script and follow the instructions.
As for input, after you have restarted, you will notice a menu with an American Flag icon next to your menu-bar clock. Open it and select the Japanese option. Now, it is as simple as typing the Romaji and it will translate it into the Kana and the Kanji. By default, it tries to "best guess" the Kanji that you want, however it is often wrong(how it's "best guess" system works, I have no idea). However, when you type a word in, press the up arrow, and it will give a list of the Kanji/Kana combinations that phoenetically match what you have input. Simply select the proper characters and you are done. For example:
3.5. How come the Japanese characters show up on some sites and not on some others?
Usually it simply means that 1) the webpage did not specify which language set your browser should be using, so it would default to your native language set on your browser, or 2) the encoding on the webpage is not what the browser is using. You might have to change things manually as per 3.3.
3.6. The Japanese games won't show Japanese characters correctly on my PC. What can I do about it?
Generally speaking, if you want to run Japanese PC games properly, the best thing to do is to run a Japanese edition of the OS--Win98 second edition Japanese, for example. However, if you want to maintain English (or any other language thoretically) functionality, it's the best to run Windows 2000 or Windows XP as you can get nearly 100% compability. Simply change the "locale" option in your regionals controls in control panel to Japan, and make sure you have installed all the proper language packs. This forum post explains some issues with running dual-language Win32 OS in the same computer, and if you can't use an operating system that's friendly to unicode, using a 3rd party program to cope with your circumstances will be the best you can do.
4. Japan and Japanese
4.1. What is Kanji? What is Katakana? What is Hiragana?
4.2. What is Romanji?
Hepburn represents a system that uses English syllables to emulate Japanese speech, while the JSL and the Standard system are based more on the structure of the Japanese alphabet. Example: "ta chi tsu te to" (Hepburn) and "ta ti tu te to" (JSL). Refer to the original FAQ for more details.
4.3. Where do I learn casual Japanese?
If you want to stay home, the easiest way is to pick up some Japanese comic books or Japanese TV dramas, but it helps to have some basic, formal Japanese education. There are various study guides and aids on the internet, such as Mangajin's Learning Basic japanese through comics.
4.4. Where do I learn formal Japanese?
Well, duh, take a class! It never hurts to start early (in High school, with a tutor, or by yourself), and most universities should offer Japanese and that's perhaps the best place to learn it formally. Of course, also take advantage of study abroad programs listed in the section above.
4.5. How do I teach myself? Is there any way to learn Japanese by myself?
Certainly. It takes a high amount of determination and effort, however. The important things to remember is that try to use all the resources avaliable to you to supplement your studies. Check out a wide variety of quality textbooks available, as well as get some multimedia aid such as TV shows and instructional tapes and the like. Ask people that has tried to self-study or has surveyed textbooks and variety of study methods to help you find the one that suits you the best.
4.6. How do I get started in learning Japanese?
If you're reading this FAQ, you probably can start with
megatokyo's forum, perhaps? :) If you use the search feature in the forum,
entering phrases like "Learning Japanese," "Japanese Lesson," etc should be
able to find some hits. It's a place to start. Some of the links below also
points to "learn japanese" threads directly:
About Power Japanese
One (of many) of tsubasa's Japanese teaching threads
Yet another one on 'learning japanese'
4.7. What does [commonly asked Japanese word/phrase] mean?
4.8. How do I get to Akihabara after I arrived at Narita Airport?
4.9. My Japanese knowledge is limited. Tell me about the Survival Japanese.
If you plan to be all touristy and carry a survival book, that's great too, as there are several good ones. However, these are just survival books, so use plenty of common sense when trying to say something. Keep it simple and basic. Learn basic phrases such as 'help,' 'thank you,' 'excuse me,' 'do you take credit,' etc.
4.10. How much do things cost in Japan?
Also try some of the other other MT board threads about Travel/living in
Foreign Exchange, how much Japanese do you need to know
Travel to Japan: planning length, plane costs, useful shopping phrases
4.11. What is the JET program?
The JET program is the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. The best source of information about the JET program would be their website. But, briefly, it is an exchange program run by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Council of Local Authorities for International Relations. It offers three positions: Assistant Language Teacher, Coordinator for International Relations, and Sports Exchange Advisor.
As far as I know, the main requirement to apply to the JET program is a Bachelor's Degree in anything. The Assistant Language Teacher position has no requirement for knowledge of Japanese, though the other two positions do.
US citizens can download an application for the JET program from the Japanese Embassy. Application deadlines are in early December, and if accepted, applicants arrive in Japan on June 30 of the following year. [and yes it helps, Interactive Civilian ;)]
4.12. What information is there about teaching English in Japan?
Besides from JET, there are actually a handful of other programs (often also governmentally subsidized), but feel free to check old forum threads, your favorite search engine on the web, or start a new thread.
5 Amateur culture in Japan
5.1. What is Doujinshi?
Doujinshi are books/comics/illustrations/etc that are published directly by the author directly, without going through a professional publisher. Usually it's done by amateur artists but these days professional artists do it too. The implication here is that almost always these doujinshi are also fanworks of a professional work, therefore bypassing certain ethical quibbling.
5.2. How can I obtain them?
5.3. What is comiket? Is it a sort of anime convention like cons in the US?
Why are there so many English words in anime/J-pop songs?
Often, some Japanese (those who are the geared audience of or makers of anime/J-pop) think English is cool....similar to how most fanboys/fangirls in the US think Japanese is cool, or some English-speakers think French sounds exotic. This however is a level more serious than mere fandom, as the modern Japanese language is ridden with borrowed words (frequently from English)
What do -san, -chan, -sama, and other suffixes mean?
What are some greetings and goodbyes in Japanese?
Where can I download Graduation?
I don't have a credit card, how will I be able to shop online?
Links to some fan-translated Tokimeki Memorial can be found
Who supplies these games - actually it is more about recommended suppliers of shoujo manga.