Science Adventure

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Science Adventure
A stylized illustration depicting three women in front of a clockwork background
Art from a Science Adventure event, featuring characters from the first three main games. Left to right: Rimi, Kurisu, and Akiho.
Genre(s)Visual novel
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)
Creator(s)Chiyomaru Shikura
Artist(s)
Writer(s)Naotaka Hayashi
Composer(s)Takeshi Abo
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch
First releaseChaos;Head
April 25, 2008[1]
Latest releaseSteins;Gate Elite
8-bit ADV Steins;Gate
September 20, 2018[2]

Science Adventure[a] is a series of science fiction visual novel video games developed by 5pb., Nitroplus, and Chiyomaru Studio. The first entry in the series, Chaos;Head, was released in 2008, and is followed by Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, Chaos;Child, Steins;Gate 0, and the upcoming Robotics;Notes DaSH. The series also includes six spin-off games based on Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, and Chaos;Child, and other media including anime, manga, light novels, audio dramas, and stage plays.

The games all take place in the same fictional universe. Chaos;Head and Chaos;Child focus on individuals with reality-altering powers, while the Steins;Gate games focus on time travel. The player can affect the course of the story by making certain choices: in Chaos;Head and Chaos;Child this is done by choosing what kind of delusions the player characters experience. The choices in the Steins;Gate games and Robotics;Notes are made via messages set by the player via an in-game cell phone or tablet computer.

The series is planned by Chiyomaru Shikura, the CEO of 5pb., composed by Takeshi Abo and Zizz Studio, written by Naotaka Hayashi along with other writers, and features character designs by artists including Mutsumi Sasaki, Huke, and Tomonori Fukuda. The developers aimed to make the series set within reality, as Shikura felt it made it more relatable and believable. The series has been commercially and critically successful both in Japan and internationally, selling more than expected for the genre and helping establishing 5pb. as a game developer.

Titles[edit]

Timeline of release years
2008Chaos;Head
2009Steins;Gate
2010Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu!
2011Steins;Gate: Darling of Loving Vows
Steins;Gate: Variant Space Octet
2012Robotics;Notes
2013Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram
2014Chaos;Child
2015Steins;Gate 0
2016
2017Chaos;Child Love Chu Chu!!
2018Steins;Gate Elite
8-bit ADV Steins;Gate
2019Robotics;Notes DaSH

The Science Adventure series consists of five core games,[3] and six spin-off games: one based on Chaos;Head,[4] four based on Steins;Gate,[2][5] and one based on Chaos;Child.[6] Some of the games have received updated editions with added content.[3] The series is published by 5pb. and Nitroplus in Japan,[1][7] and by JAST USA, PQube, 5pb., and Spike Chunsoft internationally.[8][9][10][11]

Steins;Gate, Steins;Gate 0, and Chaos;Child have been released officially in English,[3][12][13] and there are plans to localize Steins;Gate Elite, Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram, and 8-bit ADV Steins;Gate.[11]

Main games[edit]

  • Chaos;Head is the first entry in the series. It was originally released for Microsoft Windows in 2008;[1] an updated version, Chaos;Head Noah, was released for Xbox 360 in 2009,[14][15] and later ported to PlayStation Portable,[16] iOS,[17] Android,[18] PlayStation 3,[19] and PlayStation Vita.[20] The game follows Takumi, a shut-in who starts experiencing delusions after witnessing a murder, and becomes suspected by the police for the series of "New Generation Madness" killings.[3][21]
  • Steins;Gate is the second entry in the series. It was originally released for Xbox 360 in 2009,[22] and later ported to Microsoft Windows,[23] PlayStation Portable,[24] iOS,[25] PlayStation 3,[26] PlayStation Vita,[27] and PlayStation 4.[28] An updated version, Steins;Gate Elite, was released for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch in 2018, and later ported to Microsoft Windows.[11][2] The game follows Okabe, who accidentally invents time travel; he and his friends use this to send emails into the past, altering the present.[3]
  • Robotics;Notes is the third main entry in the series. It was originally released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2012;[29][30] an updated version, Robotics;Notes Elite, was released in 2014 for PlayStation Vita[31] and is in development for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.[32] The game follows Kaito and a group of people in a high school robotics club, who are trying to build a realistic giant robot.[3]
  • Chaos;Child is the fourth main entry in the series. It was originally released for Xbox One in 2014,[33] and later ported to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita,[34] Microsoft Windows,[35] iOS, and Android.[36][37] It is a thematic sequel to Chaos;Head,[33] and follows Takuru, who notices that two recent murders took place on the same dates as the serial killings in Chaos;Head, and learns that he and several of his friends are potential future targets.[3]
  • Steins;Gate 0 is the fifth main entry in the series. It was originally released in 2015 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita,[38] and later ported to Microsoft Windows[39] and Xbox One.[40] It is a sequel to Steins;Gate, taking place during the original Steins;Gate's ending.[3]
  • Robotics;Notes DaSH is the upcoming sixth main entry in the series. It is planned to be released for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in 2019.[41] It is a sequel to Robotics;Notes, and follows the former members of the robotics club.[42]

Spin-off games[edit]

  • Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu! was originally released for the Xbox 360 in 2010,[43] and later ported to PlayStation Portable,[44] PlayStation 3,[45] and PlayStation Vita.[20] It is a romantic comedy spin-off from Chaos;Head.[4]
  • Steins;Gate: Darling of Loving Vows was originally released for Xbox 360 in 2011,[46] and later ported to PlayStation Portable,[47] PlayStation 3,[48] PlayStation Vita,[49] and iOS.[50] It is a romance-themed "what if?" type of game, where Okabe builds a relationship with Steins;Gate characters.[5]
  • Steins;Gate: Variant Space Octet[b] was released for Microsoft Windows in 2011.[51] It is a non-canonical sequel to Steins;Gate, presented as a text-based adventure game with 8-bit art, where the player types commands to perform actions.[5]
  • Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram was originally released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2013,[52][53] and later ported to PlayStation Vita[54] and iOS.[55] A PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows version is planned to be released in 2018.[56][11] It consists of eleven side stories set in different world lines. Two of the stories follow Okabe, while the rest focus on other characters.[5]
  • Chaos;Child Love Chu Chu!! was released for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in 2017. It is a spin-off from Chaos;Child, in which Takuru does not have any interest in the events of the original game, and instead spends time with the game's female characters.[6]
  • 8-bit ADV Steins;Gate[c] was released for Nintendo Switch in 2018. It is a Steins;Gate game in the style of 1980s adventure games for the Famicom.[56]

Common elements[edit]

In the Steins;Gate games, the player affects the outcome of the story by using the player character's cell phone.

The Science Adventure games all feature stories in the science fiction genre. They make use of real scientific concept and theories, but also cross over into fictional territory, using non-accurate science. Chaos;Head and Chaos;Child focus on individuals with the power to alter reality, and discuss topics such as perception, reality, and antimatter, while Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 focus on time travel. The games are all set in the same world, and are tied together through the use of the Committee of 300 as the antagonist. The Committee, based on the real conspiracy theory, seeks world domination, and is portrayed as very powerful, having control over corporations, politicians, and religions, and being seemingly impossible to beat even with time travel and superpowers.[3]

The games are visual novels, in which the player can affect the outcome of the story through choices. In Chaos;Head and Chaos;Child, the player does this by controlling what types of delusions the player characters experience: the player can make them experience positive or negative delusions, or alternatively choose to let them stay in reality.[3] Chaos;Child Love Chu Chu!! additionally uses a "yes/no" questionnaire the player character takes in in-game magazines to determine the plot's direction.[57] In Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0, the player affects the outcome by using the player character's cell phone: in Steins;Gate, it is done by choosing to respond to certain messages, make phone calls, or taking out the phone at specific times, as this affects what information the player character learns and how he interacts with other characters; and in Steins;Gate 0, it is done by deciding whether or not to answer the phone at certain times. Robotics;Notes works similarly to Steins;Gate, but with the player using a tablet computer and its apps instead of a cell phone.[3]

Development[edit]

The logo of JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
5pb. cooperated with JAXA to increase the realism; Shikura felt that aiming for reality makes stories more relatable and believable.

The series is planned by 5pb.'s CEO Chiyomaru Shikura,[58] and is developed by 5pb., Nitroplus,[59] and Shikura's multimedia concept studio Chiyomaru Studio, the latter of which owns the copyright to the series.[60][61] Naotaka Hayashi has worked on the series writing, both in the role as a scenario writer and as a scenario supervisor.[62][63][64][65][66] Recurring character designers include Mutsumi Sasaki (Chaos;Head and Chaos;Child games),[65][67] Huke (Steins;Gate games),[68] and Tomonori Fukuda (Robotics;Notes games).[60][69] The games' soundtracks are composed by Takeshi Abo and Zizz Studio.[70]

Shikura aimed for the series to be set in reality, feeling that it made the stories more relatable and believable; he said that he personally found it difficult to "buy into" fantasy, and that he was not convinced that people could get excited for "exaggerated fantasy stories".[59] For Steins;Gate, the development team aimed for a rate of "99% science and 1% fantasy";[71] Shikura called the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II a direct influence on Steins;Gate, citing how it is just believable enough to feel real.[72] For Robotics;Notes, 5pb. cooperated with JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to bring further realism to the story.[58] The concept of the phone system used in Steins;Gate was created by Tatsuya Matsuhara at 5pb., who at first wanted the game to make use of the player's own cell phone, but changed the idea due to concerns that it might have gone against Japanese privacy laws.[73]

Abo noted that while all the games are part of one series, their sound have different images; comparing them to weather, he called Chaos;Head rainy, Steins;Gate cloudy, Robotics;Notes clear weather, and Chaos;Child stormy. He used the same process for all of them when composing the music: he started by reading the story, to understand the setting and characters as well as possible, and writing down notes about the games' emotional flow and the situations that occur throughout the stories. Using these notes, he constructed musical worldviews for the games, with a lot of weight on his first impressions. This approach, while slower than just designating songs to different areas of a game, allowed him to compose higher-quality songs with a better relationship to the games' worldviews. He was given a lot of freedom when working on the series, and was able to make the music he wanted to make for it, something he enjoyed greatly. Abo also got to compose each game's theme song, and was especially happy with Steins;Gate's theme song, "Gate of Steiner", which he aimed to represent the entirety of the game with.[70]

Reception[edit]

Japanese and Western review scores
As of October 26, 2017.
Game Famitsu Metacritic
Chaos;Head 32/40[14]
Steins;Gate 34/40[22] 87/100[74]
Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu! 26/40[43]
Steins;Gate: Darling of Loving Vows 30/40[46]
Robotics;Notes 30/40[31]
Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram 34/40[52]
Chaos;Child 31/40[75] 76/100[76]
Steins;Gate 0 35/40[77] 81/100[78]

The Science Adventure series has been a commercial success for 5pb., with the release of Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate helping establishing them as a game developer.[59] In June 2011, Steins;Gate sales passed 300,000 copies sold, something Shikura noted as an achievement for its genre.[79] A year later, he revealed that there had been more than 80,000 preorders for Robotics;Notes, which was a large improvement compared to Steins;Gate's original release.[80] Steins;Gate 0 similarly did well commercially, selling 100,000 copies during its first day,[81] bringing the combined sales of all Steins;Gate games past one million copies.[82] Chaos;Child's original release, however, failed to chart on Media Create's weekly top 50 sales list in Japan, selling an estimated 1,415 copies.[83] The English console releases of Steins;Gate performed "phenomenally" well, with a large majority of the sold copies being of the PlayStation Vita version; according to PQube's head of marketing, Geraint Evans, it was the game that made PQube break through and get noticed as a publisher.[84]

The games have also received generally positive reviews, both in Japan[14][22][31][75][77] and the West.[74][76][78] Critics have enjoyed the story,[3][31][63][77] the music and visuals,[5][85][86] and the implementation of the gameplay elements within the visual novel presentation,[31][87] although some have noted how it is complicated and difficult to unlock certain routes.[85][88] Anime News Network wrote that the series has well-paced mysteries and uses creative concepts, but that the conclusions often are not as good as the set-ups.[89]

In 2009, Steins;Gate won Famitsu's annual Game of Excellence award.[90] RPGFan included Steins;Gate on a list over the 30 essential role-playing games of 2010–2015, calling it one of the best visual novels on the market.[91] It was also nominated for the Golden Joystick Awards, for best handheld/mobile game of 2015.[92]

Related media and other appearances[edit]

In addition to the games, the series has seen adaptations and spin-offs in several types of media, such as audio dramas,[93] stage plays,[94] light novels, and manga.[95][96] There are also anime adaptations of all the main series games: Chaos;Head (2008),[97] Steins;Gate (2011),[98] Robotics;Notes (2012–2013),[99] Chaos;Child (2017),[96] and Steins;Gate 0 (2018).[100] The Steins;Gate anime series has also received an anime film sequel, Load Region of Déjà Vu, which premiered in 2013.[101] There are several music albums featuring the games' original soundtracks, as well as albums featuring new arrangements.[70]

The Steins;Gate characters Kurisu Makise and Mayuri Shiina appear in the 2012 role-playing video game Nendoroid Generation.[102] Kurisu also appears as a playable character along with the Chaos;Head character Rimi Sakihata in the 2011 fighting game Phantom Breaker,[103] and along with the Robotics;Notes character Frau Koujiro in the 2013 game Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds.[104][105] Multiple Steins;Gate characters also appear as bosses in the 2013 role-playing game Divine Gate.[106] 5pb.'s visual novel Occultic;Nine, while not part of Science Adventure, will include story content connecting it to the series.[107]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Science Adventure (Japanese: 科学アドベンチャー, Hepburn: Kagaku Adobenchā)
  2. ^ Also known as Steins;Gate 8bit.
  3. ^ Known in Japan as Famicolle ADV Steins;Gate.

References[edit]

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