[PAX EAST] N1RV ANN-A Hands On Preview

Written by Derek Wright

Introducing: N1RV ANN-A Switch Preview

Visual novels are peculiar to me. For one, I’m not the most avid reader so “reading” a whole game never appealed to me. I may have had the genre pegged wrong as I approached N1RV ANN-A with fear and trepidation. Was I going to read dialog between a bartender and random people at the establishment? Yes, that is an integral part apparently. What I did not realize is how interesting the story telling of these games can be and how awesome it is to make a killer martini.

Whadda Have’n?

N1RV ANN-A is the pseudo-sequel to VA11 HA11-A from Sukeban Games and Ysbryd Games. It follows a bartender named Sam working at a higher end bar set in Saint Alicia, which is a far cry from the previous setting of Glitch City. In VA11 HA11-A, the drinks served were all made of synthetic ingredients, but N1RV ANN-A features the “good stuff.” Lena from Ysbryd explains that this was done to show the difference in the way of life the people on the upper crust experience. The recipes shown are quite close to the real thing in comparison to the previous game’s drinks.

Aside from the drinks being real alcohol, the characters are not the average joes or working class citizens that you would see in the previous title. The one client that I served drinks to seemed like quite a fancy lady. Her name was Olivia and she worked in the administrative office of Kagami Biotech, a producer of augmented bodily implants. Playing as Sam, who is not cut from the same cloth, added for some interesting dialog. Most of the time, you would just watch the scene unfold, but on occasion, you can choose what kind of response to give people. This will alter the way Olivia will interact with you.

Social Drinking

Another key feature in deciding how Olivia will interact with Sam is how she mixes the drinks. If you can effectively make the correct drinks, it will influence her in a positive way. You can also add more alcohol to drinks or remove it completely. All of these choices will change how she treats you and what she is willing to say. I must have put a bit too much alcohol in her drink because by the end of it, she fell off of her bar stool. She was unharmed, but quite giggly.

The freedom of choice I mentioned above can be used to either make the best drink ever, or to make the worst drink possible. Lena told me that someone who played before me decided to only serve guests milk. They were unhappy, but the game continued, with only milk being served. I do believe I misjudged what a visual novel could be. I was quite thrilled with my short demo of N1RV ANN-A. It changed my expectations.

Lastly, I need to discuss the presentation of this game. The high-quality pixel art and the smooth, jazzy music were like cherries on the top of a delicious sundae. I am a sucker for pixels and these characters were gorgeously detailed. They were very expressive and the little sprites for all the drinks were quite cute and pretty much spot on. The music added to the feeling of being in a fancy bar. I am curious for what the rest of the soundtrack has in store! I did some research and VA11 HA11-A has one heck of a soundtrack too.

N1RV ANN-A is coming soon to the Nintendo Switch.

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