Last January saw the release of Katawa Shoujo, a fan-made visual novel based around the idea of dating girls with physical disabilities. When I first heard the concept of the game and then heard it was being made by a group who met on 4chan, I was sure it would be a horribly insensitive, offensive pile of irreverent hate. It was not.
It was respectful. It was touching. It was simply the best visual novel I have ever played.
But just because it's a serious take on a touchy subject doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with it.
One of the most enjoyable parts of Katawa Shoujo was the character of Kenji Setou, your incredibly myopic neighbour who is continuously ranting about over-the-top feminist conspiracy theories — making him the personification of the game's much needed comic relief.
But how must the world look to Kenji, the only sane man in an insane world (as Kenji sees himself), with bloodsucking feminists hiding around every corner, out to devour his very soul?
Newgounds user ShadowWhoWalks answers this question with his fan-game Kenjivania: Crippled Tears. In celebration of Katawa Shoujo's one year anniversary, he created what he calls "a love letter" to the game by mixing Katawa Shoujo with Castlevania.
Kenjivania was made by taking the sprites from Castlevania and changing them to reflect the characters of Katawa Shoujo. The backgrounds, similarly, were assembled from tiles taken from screenshots of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The enemy AI, however, was coded from scratch — though it mirrors that of the original enemies, for the most part. All in all, the game was built over the course of three months.
According to ShadowWhoWalks, polish was his focus on this game. He wanted to make sure the game looked good and played well; so he focused on those points rather than on length. He even added in more than a few secret areas for those who are willing to do a bit of exploring. "It's a lot of effort and time spent for something this short," he pointed out, "and a lot of them go to waste because players give up after their first game over. But for the few people who do get it, it's all worth it."
This is not the first time ShadowWhoWalks has crossed Katawa Shoujo with Castlevania. A year ago, in celebration of Katawa Shoujo's release, he released Katawa Shoujo: Symphony of the Feminists which recreated the opening scene from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in full Kenjivania-style.
But the real question is why mix Katawa Shoujo with Castlevania in the first place? "Because it's unexpected to play a brutal game based on a slow and steady visual novel." ShadowWhoWalks explained. "The result was worth a laugh."
The full Kenjivania: Crippled Tears game can be played at Newgrounds as can Katawa Shoujo: Symphony of the Feminists, along with ShadowWhoWalks' other work. The original Katawa Shoujo can be downloaded free of charge at the Katawa Shoujo homepage.