A visual novel (ビジュアルノベル, bijuaru noberu) is a game featuring mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art. As the name might suggest, they resemble mixed-media novels or tableau vivant stage plays.
Many visual novels track statistics that the player must build in order to advance the plot, and permit a variety of endings, allowing more dynamic reactions to the player’s actions than a typical linear adventure plot.
Many visual novels are dating sims, including bishōjo games. Visual novels are especially prevalent in Japan, where they make up nearly 70% of PC games released. They are rarely produced for video game consoles, but the more popular games are sometimes ported to systems such as the Dreamcast or the PlayStation 2. The market for visual novels outside Japan, however, was nearly non-existent prior to the success of the Nintendo DS, for which several Japanese visual novels were released in the West, such as the Ace Attorney series.