Aside from publishing fighting games Arc System Works releases visual novels. Jake Hunter known as Detective Saburo Jinguji in Japan is their flagship series, but ArcSys is branching out with other titles like Another Time Another Leaf from the ex-Atlus developers at Killaware.
Since Aksys is the primary, and currently only source, for Arc System Works games in North America I asked what they thought about the genre in North America.
“We released [Jake Hunter:] Memories of the Past, an update with an all new localization and an extra three stories included in the original Japanese version plus an extra three chibi stories,” Gail Salamanca, Director of Marketing, said.
“Again, it’s more of a test to see if that genre is viable. We thought we would give it another shot to see if people would pick up on it.”
“If it catches on like how Phoenix Wright does then we’ll consider building up,” Harry Chang, Brand Manager, emphasized. “We know Jake Hunter has a really long slew of games. They’re legacy is long, but we’re not sure if American’s are going to accept visual novels.” Harry
“It’s a tough genre,” Salamanca proclaimed.
“It is. Even Phoenix Wright looks like a visual novel, it isn’t. There’s more gameplay than you think,” Chang concluded.
Personally, I classify the Phoenix Wright games as visual novels and the Ace Attorney games are arguably the most successful visual novels in North America to date. While the genre is just getting legs on the DS there were a few “adventure” style visual novel games on the NES like Shadowgate, Deja Vu, and The Uninvited. Each of those games had item fetching puzzles sort of like Phoenix Wright. Perhaps, visual novel/adventure games will be the overseas gateway into the genre.