One year ago, after enduring the hell that was 2020, I wrote a year-end round-up post for this blog and my other creative projects, listing everything I had still somehow managed to write during such a difficult time. I really enjoyed looking back on it all and reminding myself of all the little things I’d accomplished, so I think I’m going to make it a yearly thing! Here’s what I wrote in 2021, including visual novels, reviews, and more.
Wizard School Woes
In May, I participated in a 72-hour game jam and wrote a short story about helping a stressed-out wizard boy with his final project at a magic academy! I’m really proud of what I managed to put together under such a major time constraint, so check out Wizard School Woes if you’re interested in a short free visual novel about magic and academia.
Seeds of Dreams (Demo)
And in June, I released the demo for what’s shaping up to be my longest visual novel project yet: a game about friendship and farming and a little bit of mystery called Seeds of Dreams! Development for the full release is ongoing, and I plan to post some more updates on the itch.io page soon. If you’re interested, I’d love to get some feedback on the demo and which characters are your favourites so far!
Reviews & Other Articles
I feel like this has been a big year on my blog, as I’ve expanded my scope a bit to write about some more books and TV shows alongside my mainstay of visual novels and other games. But first, I wrote a review of the memorably named 18+ otome, Fxxx Me Royally!! Horny Magical Princess. My next full visual novel review after that was indie studio Neo Tegoel’s debut release, the horror comedy Gloom and Doom. After that, I stepped away from my usual narrative-based genres to review co-op action game Warhammer: Vermintide 2, and classic dating sim Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side. Thanks Tim Rogers of Action Button Reviews for inspiring that last one!
I then returned to visual novels with one that I’d still call my favourite of the year: the dark, unique, and absurd Psycholonials. If you’re looking for just one review to read out of this whole list, go for that one, as it’s a game I’d love to encourage more people to play. After that, I got into the hypertext game Excalibur, followed by the offbeat slice-of-life story Raptor Boyfriend. I looked at a queer take on the tropes of Western movies in Dead Man’s Rest, and then another unabashedly queer personal favourite of the year, Christine Love’s RPG Get In The Car, Loser! I also interviewed fellow developer Quilly about her supernatural mystery Death Becomes You, celebrated Halloween a little late with Not It: Spookiest Edition, and finally featured a post from guest writer ArcticMetal about the very first Final Fantasy.
Meanwhile, over in my Short Reviews of Short Visual Novels series, I gave my impressions of 10 of the hundreds of games included the summer’s Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid across Short Reviews: Charity Bundle Edition 2, and Short Reviews: Charity Bundle Edition 2.5, taking a look at Grumpy Librarian, When We First Met, Conversations With My Anxiety, Is Lupin Still Flirting?, Good Lookin’ Home Cookin’, Who Killed My Father Academy!, Parcels And Pollen, Songs & Flowers, Red Embrace, and After School. I also dipped my toes into this year’s Spooktober Jam entries with The Case of the Serialized Killer, Stardander: Revenant, Scary Gourmet, Wolfskin’s Curse, and Blank. I kept meaning to do a part 2 for that one too, but with everything else I was working on toward the end of this year, I never got around to it. If you have any recommendations for great short VNs I missed, let me know in the comments or on twitter, and maybe I’ll feature them next year!
I also wrote a little bit about my experience with game development this year! I chronicled the short and hectic creative process behind Wizard School Woes in My 72-Hour Game Jam Experience, which I hope might be a helpful read for other devs considering trying out similar challenges. And I was really happy to be a part of a Pride Month mega-interview organized by Blerdy Otome called Voices of the Community: Game Devs on LGBTQ+ Representation in Games. Check it out for insights from a variety of queer developers including myself on what representation in video games means to us!
And in posts about other media, I kicked off the year with Ciaphas Cain: Hero Of My Personal Bookshelf, expressing my love for a series that’s been a great comfort to me during all the chaos of the past couple years. That’s another post I’d especially recommend reading; I just want to tell as many people as possible about my boy Ciaphas Cain. But even the commissar himself couldn’t protect my mental health forever, as it wasn’t long until I Binge-Watched The Snowpiercer TV Show And Lost My Goddamn Mind. In fact, I’d like to revise the opinions I expressed in that post about Snowpiercer’s infamous mango scene: upon rewatching it, I feel that I understand it completely. Not only was it infinitely more interesting than a normal sex scene would have been, but it was also in fact extremely hot, and I hope Wilford and Audrey continue to do some equally weird stuff in season 3. But if you want to read about a show I still find baffling, I’ve also got some hot takes for you in Code Geass Isn’t Nearly As Good As I Remember, a chronicle of my partner’s gradual loss of trust in my taste in anime. And finally, I ended the year with They’ll Post Anything These Days, a reflection on how I suddenly and unexpectedly became a big fan of James Bond movies. I’ve still got about half the franchise to catch up on, so maybe I’ll revisit it in another post next year now that I’ve resigned myself to my new life as A Dude With Opinions About James Bond.
And one last new interest I started writing about this year is translations of Japanese light novels! My good friend Bishounen-P has been taking the localization world by storm, and I interviewed her about her work in quality assurance and editing on titles like The Sidekick Never Gets The Girl, Let Alone The Protag’s Sister! And once she had introduced me to the light novel world, I wanted to read more, so I picked up some freelance work writing LN reviews for Jotaku Network. So far I’ve given my impressions on Bond and Book: The Devotion of the Surgery Room, The Detective Is Already Dead, and Spy Classroom, and I have another one lined up soon! So keep an eye on Jotaku if you’re interested in more book recommendations from yours truly. 2021 is going be a year of absolute constant reading.
Jane Titor Past & Future
Finally, there’s one more massive project I finished this year that I haven’t mentioned yet: my PhD dissertation, which I successfully defended just before the holidays! It’s been a long road to get to this point, and I’m so happy to have finally accomplished the goal I set so long ago. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m going to have a lot more free time to dedicate to my writing. I’m excited to get back to work on development of Seeds of Dreams, and I also have some interesting posts planned out for this blog and plenty of other updates coming soon! If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of that news, you can follow me on twitter and itch.io. Or if you want to catch up on some of my older work you might not have seen in the past, take a look at my website and my blog archive.
Today, December 27, 2021, also turns out to be a very momentous occasion: the 5-year anniversary of when I posted my very first visual novel review on Part-Time Storier. (I’m not going to link to it, because it’s not very good. I don’t think I hit my stride until at least a few reviews in.) But as it happens, while cleaning out my childhood bedroom over the holidays, I actually stumbled across an even older example of my game blogger aspirations: an article I wrote about Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs when I was 10 years old! My class was putting together a cute little zine where we had largely free reign over what to contribute, and I chose to take that opportunity to inform all the kids and parents reading it that “I personally think this is a good game,” and “if you own a gameboy advance, maybe you should try playing the game sometime.” Truly prescient words from baby Jane. Here’s to many more decades of telling everyone my video game opinions! Happy New Year!