Japanese "doujin" (indie) games have been part of gaming culture for quite some time now, but it's only in the last few years that we've started to see more of them in the West.
The rise of the digital distribution age has meant that there are fewer risks in localizing and publishing niche titles like this, and doujin specialist companies such as Carpe Fulgur (Recettear, Fortune Summoners) and Nyu Media (Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, eXceed) are thriving even with such a relatively narrow focus.
Part of the reason these companies are doing so well is, of course, the fact that a significant proportion of these independently developed Japanese titles are actually really good games in their own right. But given the inherently "niche" nature of many of these games -- coupled with the fact that they often struggle to get any significant press coverage amid the noise from the triple-A end of the industry -- you may not know where to start trying these games for yourself.
As longtime supporters of initiatives such as the Humble Bundle will know, pay-what-you-want packages of multiple products can be an excellent means of building up a collection of things you might not have otherwise tried for yourself. They're low-risk investments, often do good by allowing you to send part of your payment to charity, and help increase exposure for titles that might have otherwise passed you by.
As such, it's surprising we haven't seen more bundles focusing on doujin games as they've grown in popularity. A new Groupees bundle aims to correct that oversight, though, with a collection of seven games from various sources.
Cherry Tree High Comedy Club is a life sim/adventure in which you must guide a teenage girl on her quest to recruit members for her after-school comedy club. Gameplay is pretty much the same as Persona 4 without the dungeon crawling -- you level up your social stats, build relationships with people and eventually add them to your "party." It enjoyed a particularly good localization, with the translation handled by the same team who brought the Ace Attorney series to the West.
Ether Vapor Remaster is a spectacular cinematic shoot 'em up featuring primarily 2D gameplay with super-smooth 3D graphics. You'll find yourself battling enemies from a variety of different camera angles, and fending off some physically improbable missile assaults, among other things.
War of the Human Tanks is a peculiar story-driven strategy game in which you control anthropomorphized tanks as they battle against rival forces and grow in strength over the course of the game.
Yousei is a supernatural murder mystery visual novel featuring psychic teenagers, investigation and multiple endings, along with some really lovely 2D art.
Yatagarasu is an excellent 2D fighter from ex-SNK/King of Fighters developers, with its successor currently coming into the final stretch of its Indiegogo funding campaign.
Croixleur is an arena-based brawler/action game in which you battle against waves of enemies in an attempt to beat your long-standing rival to the top of a tower.
Finally, Cafe 0: The Drowned Mermaid is another supernatural visual novel, this time telling the story of a girl's final week on Earth prior to her death.
The bundle also includes the soundtrack for War of the Human Tanks, and if enough bundles are sold, you'll also get a copy of challenging old-school "bullet heaven" shooter Pester.
Interestingly, unlike most bundles, you don't have to buy all of the games -- you can purchase anywhere between two and all seven of them for your donation, so no more buying a bundle then never playing most of it!
Grab a copy here.