The best light novel game adaptations

While most know what a novel is, not everyone may know what a light novel is. In simple terms, it is a type of Japanese novel that often has illustrations throughout the book. Light novels rarely exceed 200 pages and are usually between 40,000 and 50,000 words in length. Other interesting attributes of a light novel include the size of the book, notably A6 10.5cm x 14.8, and the vast majority are from Japan with Chinese and Korean authors appearing more frequently in recent years.

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Nowadays, it is very common for an anime or a manga to receive a light novel adaptation, while the reverse is just like it is no longer common. This is not the case when it comes to game franchises receiving light novel adaptations. While it has become more common in the past 10 years, most of the games that get this treatment are visual novels. Non-visual novels that are adapted tend to still be games developed in Japanese and are often not translated. Still, the lack of translations won’t stop devoted fans and this list from drawing attention to existing adaptations and why every fan should read them.


Danganronpa Kirigiri

Danganronpa Kirigiri Light Novel with volumes 7 and 8

Released in 2010 for PSP by Spike Chunsoft, Danganronpa was a huge hit upon release, spawning many sequels, spin-offs, anime and manga tie-ins. While the game wasn’t groundbreaking, audiences loved the mix of visual novel, dating simulator, and murder mystery gameplay elements as well as a well-constructed story and lore. The success of the first game caught the attention of popular mystery author Takekuni Kitayama, who expressed interest in writing a story centered around the popular character Kyoko Kirigiri. Just three years after the release of the first game, Kitayama would come out Danganronpa Kirigiri.

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Set as a prequel to the events of Danganronpa: Happy Trigger discomfort and Danganronpa Zero the story takes place during the middle school years of Kyoko and newcomer Yui Samidare exploring the cases of Duel Noir. The series enjoyed great success in Japan releasing seven volumes from 2013 to 2020 and becoming the most popular light novel series in the franchise. As with the other three light novel series in the franchise, it hasn’t been officially released in English, but that hasn’t stopped the dedicated fan base from posting amazing fan translations that are worth tracking down.

Kingdom Hearts The novel

Kingdom Hearts novel in both English and Japanese

Many of the other light novels on this list will be alternate stories, but the Kingdom of hearts Novel it’s mostly a retelling of the original story with unfortunate changes and omissions. Most notable is the omission of some worlds such as Halloween Town and Atlantic as well as any characters from said worlds. Despite this, the light novel is a good option to experience the story for any newcomer to the franchise.

Written by Tomoco Kanemaki and with talented illustrations by Shiro Amano, the light novel was originally released in two volumes in Japan by Square Enix in 2005 before being re-released as the only omnibus for English-speaking regions by Yen Press in 2015. The novel isn’t the most popular of the books in the franchise, but it’s a good starting point for those looking for a leaner, more digestible version of the original. Kingdom of hearts history.

Final Fantasy 7: On the road to a smile

Final Fantasy VII On the Way to a Smile light novel

Final fantasy is arguably the crown jewel for Square Enix with the seventh entry being one of if not the best in the franchise. Due to the popularity of the game, it was inevitable that other media would expand on that specific game’s lore. Written by Kazushige Nojima, who was also the lead writer for many gods Final fantasy games including 7, the book is a series of short stories that follow many of the familiar characters such as Tifa, Barret and Yuffie. The story itself takes place between the events of Final fantasy 7 the game and its CGI animated film Advent children.

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The stories were originally released in chapters on the official Japanese Advent Children website in 2005 before receiving the official all-chapter light novel release in 2009. Yen Press would continue to publish the English translation in 2018 with the release in German, French and Spanish later shortly thereafter. The novel was very successful and remains the most popular light novel adaptation of the franchise despite there being another light novel focusing on the same game called Final Fantasy 7: Turchi Side Biography.


Image of the light novel Fate/Zero of the 4 volumes

The Destiny The franchise has grown into a massive property that has expanded beyond its early roots as eroge visual novels into critically acclaimed anime, manga, and of course, light novels. Written by Gen Urobuchi and illustrated by Takashi Takeuchi, Destiny/Zero was a collaboration between TYPE-MOON and developer Nitro+, which they both previously had and continue to work on Destiny games and novels. Released in four volumes from December 2006 to December 2007, the novel was successful enough to receive an anime adaptation and a direct sequel in 2011.

Destiny/Zero is a prequel set 10 years earlier Destiny/stay night, during the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War in the city of Fuyuki, focusing on popular characters such as Excalibur, Kiritsugu Emiya and Kirei Kotomine, to name a few. Due to some minor detail changes and strange story quirks such as missing characters at key moments, the story takes place in a parallel world to the original Destiny/Stay Night. Despite the story being the most famous light novel in the series, it hasn’t been officially released in English, but it’s really worth experiencing through the fan translations that exist.

Devil May Cry (light novel)

Devil May Cry light novel in both English and Japanese

One risk that comes with popular franchise novels is that the content within them may no longer be considered canon as the story continues from the original source. This was the case with Devil May Cry light novel despite its writer, Shin-ya Goikeda, receiving direct assistance from franchise creator Hideki Kamiya. Fortunately Devil May Cry 5and the accompanying media would confirm that most of the story is canon.

Originally released in Japanese in 2002 by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., LTD, it was only in 2006 that English and German speaking fans could experience the story thanks to TokyoPop and Panini respectively. The story is a prequel to the first Devil May Cry game that follows Dante under the alias Tony Redgrave as he is forced to leave his loved ones and work on an unsolvable case in the dark underworld. The novel is also notable for being illustrated by Shirow Miwa, the author of the popular manga DOGS: Bullets and Carnage.

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