What Are Doujins?
“Doujin” or “Dojin” is a very common term in Asia; it's somewhat familiar in other parts of the world such as North America and Latin America provided you are really in-tune with the otaku lifestyle pertaining to games, video games, and manga. Doujins are groups of people, usually friends or associates, that come together through a usual interest. In most cases they are brought together by anime, manga, and/or games. One solid example would be the anime and manga series called “Genshinken” which centers on a group of otaku. By all means, that can be classified as a school doujin.
It's not uncommon for many people in these dojins to have skills in the following: programming, coding, sketching, painting, etc. With Japan being one of the most technological advanced countries in the world, many people have access to the necessary computer hardware. They create their own works, called doujinshis, which end up as: fighting games, shooter games, role-playing games, visual novels, etc. While they don't have the resources that the major game companies have, they have turned up some decent titles even though most of them are PC exclusive and not always released outside of Japan. They constantly make updates to their games which get featured at Comiket.
There are doujins that have members that are former programmers for notable video game companies.
Big Bang Beat:
“Big Bang Beat” is perhaps, in a spiritual way, the 2D version of Capcom's “Rival Schools” fighting game series. It's one of your typical school-based fighting games that takes place in Japan. Unlike Rival Schools, Big Bang Beat is not necessarily tongue-in-cheek. If the fighting system got tweaked and improved, Big Bang Beat may have the potential for an arcade or console release.
Like many doujin titles, Big Bang Beat is mostly in Japanese. Unless you are able to understand Japanese, it may get difficult to navigate through the game. Originally, the game came out in 2007 with an updated version, “Big Bang Beat – Resolve,” coming out in 2011. It plays like your typical console fighting game.
This game roster of characters to choose from are part of the cast of the game called “Big Bang Age” which focuses on Japan in which the “Demonic Hole” erupted in the middle of the country. The land got distorted as a result. Special students that manifested powers as a result of this Demonic Hole are united together as they attempt to take over Japan. The story focuses on a “strength rules” or “might is right” paradigm.
It definitely has the feel of “Street Fighter,” but, it has more of a “Guilty Gear” feel due to the wacky characters and so forth. If you enjoy school-themed fighting games, you may want to check out Big Bang Beat; though, it seems highly unlikely that it will ever see an official international release. For those that have MUGEN, you can add the characters from BBB to your roster.
“Hinokakera the Fragments of Innocent Sinner,” a 2.5D game set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, originally came out to the PC back in 2003. Over the years, Hinokakera has went through a couple of revisions. Updated versions include: “Hinokakera the Fragments of Innocent Reinforced Edition,” “Hinokakera fragment:Eclipse,” and “Hinokakera Chaotic Eclipse.” It has similar elements from several games such as 2.5D fighting from “Street Fighter EX” and “Street Fighter IV,” endless stages which was present in “Tekken,” and so forth.
Originally, the game has 7 characters; with future revisions, the number of playable characters increased. Looking at Hinokakera, it felt like a 2.5D version of “Melty Blood.” From the visuals of Hinokakera, there is definitely that anime feel of things. Like many doujinshi fighting games, Hinokakera is exclusive to the PC let alone PCs in Japan.
The game play itself has proven to be pretty fluid to an extent. Like other doujin fighting games, Hinokakera is mostly in Japanese. It's unlikely that this may get ported to the consoles and it's unlikely that this game will ever see an international release. When playing the game, you can see that the visuals and animations are pretty satisfactory. Hinokakera's visuals definitely feel similar to "Final Fantasy VII," "Final Fantasy VIII," or "Toshinden 3." If you are interested in playing the game, you can download it from Reddish Region's website.
“Melty Blood,” a result of Type-Moon and French Bread, is the prime example of how there are doujin titles that got mainstream recognition. While this is a doujinshi title, Melty Blood is a pretty commercial title due to the recognition it has gained. The game is a 2D fighting game adaptation of the Type-Moon visual novel series “Tsukihime” which is linked to both “Fate/Stay Night” and “Kara No Kyoukai.” The game introduces Sion Eltnam Atlasia who is the main character of the fighting game series and a member of the Mages Association. In this respect, the game is told through Sion's perspective. Melty Blood proved to be a balanced fighting game; as it grew in popularity, expanded versions of the game were released.
The two groups definitely knew what they were doing. Melty Blood has the combined feel of Rival Schools and “Darkstalkers,” two of Capcom's fighting game series, due to the former having the high school feel and the latter having the supernatural feel. The first game came out in 2002.
In 2004, “Melty Blood: ReAct” got released with a new story that takes place after the first Melty Blood title.
In 2005, “Melty Blood: Act Cadenza” got released. This time, it wasn't released to the PC. Sega published the game. As a result, the game got ported to the arcade using the Sega Naomi arcade board. This was the first step of the game's mainstream legitimacy. In 2006, the same title would be published by Ecole Software and would be ported to the Playstation 2 console. In 2007, “Melty Blood: Act Cadenza Ver. B” would be released to the PC.
In 2007, “Melty Blood: Actress Again” got published by Sega and ported onto the Sega Naomi arcade board. In 2009, Ecole Software would publish the game for the Playstation 2 port.
Come 2010, “Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code” would be published by Sega and ported onto the Sega RingWide arcade board. Subsequent updates were available for the arcade. In 2011, a PC version of the game was made with Type-Moon being the publisher.
Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen
“Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen” is a solid-looking but extremely quirky 2D fighting game. The game seemingly is a combination between Rival Schools and “Street Fighter Alpha” (another of Capcom's fighting game series). However, there's no serious story in the game. Like Rival Schools, Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen and “Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen 2” are very tongue-in-cheek; but, this pertains toward the culture of Japanese anime. The cast of playable characters are pretty diverse; so far, this is a game in which “shotoclones” are not present. That fact alone makes Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen a rather original title.
Like many other doujin titles, Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen is a PC-exclusive title in Japan. However, you can still find a copy of the game somewhere online. Nettou Jakuniku Gakuen is adapted from “Anime Tenchou” aka “Animation Store Manager!!” It focused on Meito Anizawa whose position is titular with the name. As a person who loves anime merchandise, Meito is becomes the store manager and does battle against a rival store. Anime Tenchou got adapted into a manga and an OVA. While it comes off as a serious game, it's a humorous game at the same time. If you know about Anime Tenchou, you may appreciate the humor behind such a game title.
Doujins have been making games let alone fighting games for many years now. Are they going to stop? Most likely no. Doujins will keep making these games because they love those respective franchises. While the companies that own the licenses to these franchises have taken notice, they let the doujins do their work. In the long run, it becomes beneficial to those companies as these doujinshi works bring attention to those franchises. Plus, game companies are keeping an eye as the doujins are filled with talented programmers and artists.
Will these doujinshis get ported to consoles? Only a few will ever get ported due to the amount of buzz generated combined with whoever is responsible for the creation of such titles. At this moment, a small number have been ported to consoles due to finding an interested publisher. Will those titles ever see an international release? It will be incredibly rare due to many of the franchises not having enough of an international interest.