“Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” by Shu Takumi

Open "Turnabout Beginnings", a case in Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations.
Open “Turnabout Beginnings,” a case in Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations.

A thrilling courtroom drama delivered through a medium which blurs the line between visual and textual narratives, Ace Attorney, whose first release in 2001 proved unexpectedly popular in the West, can be counted among the works most responsible for bringing the visual novel paradigm to the mainstream. It, along with selected others which can be strictly categorized as true “visual novels”, such as:

…are most easily described as text-based adventure games which require minimal player input, since visual novels are formally labelled as ‘computer games’ by society at large. In practice, however, they are essentially a novel-length narrative retold through text and animation.

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“[con]artist” by Randy Adams

"[con] artist" by Randy Adams
Open “[con]artist” by Randy Adams
This hypertext multimedia work by the late master remixer Randy Adams is an homage to the World Wide Web. Adams describes his impetus “to create a hypertext[url] Web art work that pays homage to the World Wide Web and, on the other hand, pokes some fun at it” and “to utilize and interpret, exclusively, text and images found on the web.” To achieve this he embarked upon a constraint-based writing described in detail within the project, but best read after experiencing the work.

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“Paperwounds,” by Andy Campbell

Screen capture of “Paperwounds,” by Andy Campbell. Black backround. Picture of a wrinkled paper.
Open “Paper Wounds,” by Andy Campbell

“Paperwounds,” is an intimate look into the sometimes-surreal, often-manic realm of the suicidal and depressed. It is an intense snapshot of the numerous facets that go into the decision of taking one’s own life, each of its disparate parts aligning to form a piecemeal narrative readers may only ever really guess at in its entirety. Presented as a crumpled up piece of paper, readers “unwrap” the suicide note by clicking on the highlighted/pulsating words within its folds. Doing so exhumes other, shorter notes the writer placed within the virtual letter, each one a different illustration of–perhaps–what drove the fictional victim to this ultimate negation of self. The interface, technological sounds, and brief animations when you mouse over certain texts combined with the ruined state of the materials create a forensic tone for the work, casting the reader in the role of an investigator. The poem may be zoomed in on, zoomed out from, flipped, rotated, dimmed, and made completely invisible–though doing any of the aforementioned does not seem to change the nature of the text at first glance.

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“RedRidinghood” by Donna Leishman

Open “RedRidinghood” by Donna Leishman

In “RedRidinghood,” Donna Leishman retells the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Using Flash in a similar way to “Deviant” (previously reviewed here), Leishman offers a modern reading of the traditional tale, which acknowledges its indebtedness to Angela Carter (thanked in the credits as the person who initiated it all). In this interactive narrative, Red Riding Hood sets out on her way to her grandmother’s house. In the woods, she meets a boy-wolf who will eventually seduce her, but also experiences the forest itself before falling asleep and dreaming.

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“Random Paths” by Jody Zellen

"Random Paths" by Jody Zellen
Open “Random Paths” by Jody Zellen

“the data][h!][bleeding texts” by Mez Breeze

Screen shot from “the data][h!][bleeding texts” by Mez Breeze. Red colored background with a white and black text. Text: “/me open s][ource][ auce codes, open/ window vent][ings][, o][h!][.pens and/ pencils…/ /me leans down 2 the room’s floor, a/ velvet sounding boarded surface, and listens…/ /me D.texts a soft murmuring, voices/ swooning in 2 b$w, a soft echo of the/ page…” these are the only parts of the text which are in black: s][ource][auce, vent][ings, o][h!][. Pens, D.texts, 2, 2.
Open “the data][h!][bleeding texts” by Mez Breeze

“The Minotaur Project” by Kim White

Screen capture of “The Minotaur Project” by Kim White. White background with squares forming a picture of a human, white skin colored ear. There is a text on top but it is too small to read.
Open “The Minotaur Project” by Kim White

“Web Warp & Weft” by Helen Whitehead

Screen capture from "Web Warp & Weft" by Helen Whitehead. White background with various lines of text written in different colors. Text: All text is too small to read.
Open “Web Warp & Weft” by Helen Whitehead

“Delimited Meshings” by Talan Memmott

Screen capture of “Delimited Meshings” by Talan Memmott. Title page of poem, divided vertically with appendix on right side and floorplan sketch on left. Text: "Delimitied Meshings, a white paper, talan memmott, SORTS, Appendix, Equilabryt, Opera, Missed.Story, Narcisystems."
Open “Delimited Meshings” by Talan Memmott

“Whispering” by Sean Donohue

Open: “Whispering” by Sean Donohue