Spike Chunsoft is a Japanese localization and game development company. Through a partnership with other developers, they’ve introduced some of gaming’s most influential titles: Danganronpa, Zero Escape, and the Science Adventure series.
The Science Adventure series, a title used to describe sci-fi visual novels sharing a similar universe, is particularly noteworthy. Steins;Gate, an emotional and dark story about the abuses of time travel, has spearheaded the Science Adventure series into the anime industry, garnering fans around the world.
With the release of last year’s Steins;Gate 0 adaptation, Spike Chunsoft is localizing a retelling of the original story. At a local event, Honey’s Anime was graced with the opportunity to meet Chunsoft representatives and ask about their upcoming projects. I took this opportunity to learn more about Steins;Gate Elite a seen through their presentation.
The Context of Steins;Gate Elite’s Localization
As of 2019, the original Japanese Steins;Gate has reached its 10th anniversary. With the release Steins;Gate 0’s anime, Spike Chunsoft saw a unique situation: a renewed interest in the series for its fans, but also a new audience unaware of its original story. Seizing this opportunity, Spike Chunsoft worked with animation studio White Fox to create Steins;Gate Elite, a game seeking to bridge the gap between fans of the game, anime, and a new generation of “lab members.”
An Ambitious Project
Steins;Gate Elite pushes the VN medium in an ambitious direction: an entirely animated experience. White Fox have designed scenes absent from the anime, creating a different perspective for both fans of the show and visual novel. The anime’s original director will also be working on the new content for Elite.
The intended goal is immersion. By turning the entire experience into a seamless audio/visual experience, the VN shifts closer towards the TV medium. However, if readers prefer a more controlled experience, they can choose to progress through scenes at their own pace, pausing and continuing with the press of a button.
Understandably, with Elite’s changes, there will be concerns about its execution. Fans of the original might prefer Huke’s artwork and a more controlled, specific vision of its author. These are some valid concerns and ones that I share as well.
In some ways, Elite is like an adaptation. It is a visual novel that is transitioning into a medium where ideas are introduced by the director and new staff members. Adaptations are interpretations, and thus naturally different from the original. If your hesitation stems from concerns of accuracy or execution, the developers have anticipated them. To not exclude these fans, they’ve chosen to package Steins;Gate Elite in an appealing way.
An Elite Package: A Little Something for Everyone
While this won’t directly influence the main product, Steins;Gate Elite is more than just the original story. Depending on your console of choice, the bonus content will differ. Packaged with the Nintendo Switch version is a free DLC code, containing an exclusive and completely new story. Done in 8-bit Famicon style, this new adventure will feature the main cast of the game exploring Akihabara.
The PS4 version comes with an impressive addition as well--one that I think can sell the game on its own. Steins;Gate: Linear Phenogram, a 30-hour side story that was never before released outside of Japan, will be packaged as a DLC code alongside the PS4 release. In it includes the works of multiple writers, including the original author Hayashi Naotaka. If you’re interested in seeing more content for your favorite characters, Linear Phenogram is an amazingly generous addition to a full game.
Based on initial impressions, I think the audience that would best benefit from Steins;Gate Elite will be those new to its story. While different from the original vision, if your chief concern is more content, then Elite has that in spades.
For returning fans, I think Linear Phenogram is already a worthwhile game on its own, but if you’re curious about how the new scenes are directed or want a nostalgic reminder of the original story, then this will be worth your interest. If you have neither a PS4 nor Nintendo Switch, steam will have Steins;Gate Elite and Linear Phenogram available this coming February 19.
That said, while my impressions are positive, I’m crossing my fingers. As a fan of visual novels and the Science Adventure series, I hope the animation studio that made the Steins;Gate adaptations so loved will hit another one out of the park.