Doujin Soft

The term "doujin soft[ware]", also known as "doujin games", refers to a sub-genre of doujinshi — essentially, self-published video games. They can be considered Japan's equivalent to an Indie Game; while the term "indie" exists in Japan, it is a relatively new concept which refers only to games released through commercial channels.

Doujin games are generally released for Windows-based computers, and, like doujinshi, doujin soft may offer games based on one or more intellectual properties, or entirely original works. The most frequent genres seen in this category of games are platformers, fighting games, RPGs, shoot 'em ups (often Bullet Hell shooters), and visual novels. These games are often released at special Japanese conventions, such as the Comic Market (a.k.a. Comiket) and Reitaisai. Depending on the game's subject matter, they can also be considered fan games (e.g., Grief Syndrome to Puella Magi Madoka Magica) or a Homage to another favorite franchise (e.g. RosenkreuzStilette to Mega Man). Most of the time, doujin game developers manage to avoid getting screwed by the lawyers concerning the use of another franchise, while a few others aren't so lucky. Case in point: Rockmen R: Dr. Wily's Counterattack.

Doujin gaming has been around for a very long time. One of the most prominent (and well-known) long-runners of the doujin scene is the Touhou series, with its first entry debuting in 1996; since then, it has expanded across 22 official games in the series and a cornucopia of fan-games. That is not to say there aren't other doujin game series that have contended for such a position and legacy. Other doujin series, such as the Higurashi: When They Cry series, have even migrated into the realm of mainstream anime and manga.

Obtaining these games, however, can a difficult endeavor for those outside of Japan (freeware ones are easier to get), given the level of obscurity of certain titles and limited print runs. There's also the matter of the games themselves being in Japanese, which can problematic if it's very text-heavy (usually in the case of visual novels and RPGs) or when a game requires you to learn something you can't read. Often at times these games get translated by fans with the knowledge of the Japanese language and the proper know-how of hacking, editing, and re-programming a game to run in a completely different language, and the willingness to do so. Also, some games are already in English and comes with English documentation, which makes playing them easier.

In recent years, there have also been a very small but growing number of publishers, independent or otherwise, that localize these games outside of Japan and bring them overseas. There are also a few specialty online retailers that can import the original pressings of a doujin game, if copies are available in stock and if shipping the game in question isn't taxing on your wallet. Additionally, some doujin games have been re-released and localized digitally through digital distribution services such DLsite, Playism, and Steam to make things easier for those who could not attend to the events where they were released in and alleviate the cost of importing the games overseas.

Notable doujin soft titles include:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 

    Action Game 
First-Person Shooter
  • Another Bound and Another Bound NEO (a Metroid Prime-esque freeware game)

  • armored hunter GUNHOUND (a mecha run-and-gun game)
  • Gigantic Army
  • Gun Star (a run-and-gun Lucky Star fan-game; not to be confused with Gunstar Heroes)

Third-Person Shooter
  • Homura Combat and its expansion pack (a Puella Magi Madoka Magica meets Earth Defense Force fan-game)

    Adventure Game 
Interactive Adventure

    Beat 'em Up 

    Card Battle Game 
  • No Net Card

    Fighting Game 
  • Acceleration of SUGURI and its expansion pack
    • Acceleration of SUGURI 2
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf
  • The Black Heart: A fan-game using the M.U.G.E.N engine, created by Andrés Borghi.
  • Blue Mischief
  • Crimson Alive
    • Angel Star Road (Crimson Alive's spiritual successor)
  • Big Bang Beat and its sequel, Big Bang Beat Revolve
  • Elemental Battle Academy (from the same creators of Magical Battle Arena; uses third-person combat and gunplay)
    • Magical Battle Festa (Elemental Battle Academy's spiritual successor)
  • Eternal Fighter Zero series:
    • Eternal Fighter Zero
    • Eternal Fighter Zero -RENEWAL-
    • Eternal Fighter Zero: Blue Sky Edition
    • Eternal Fighter Zero: Bad Moon Edition
    • Eternal Fighter Zero -Memorial-
    • Eternal Fighter Zero -Revival-
  • Fate/sword dance (a fighting fan-game of Fate/stay night)
  • Fuuka Taisen (a fan-game of Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome)
  • Magical Battle Arena (an aerial combat crossover fighting game featuring characters from various and popular magical-girl anime series)
  • Maribato
  • Mega Man X: Rush to Battle (a Mega Man X fighting game)
  • Melty Blood
  • Million Knights Vermillion
  • Ougon Musou Kyoku (a fighting Umineko no Naku Koro Ni gaiden game)
  • The Queen Of Heart
  • Tenshou Tenshi VALFORCE (a Virtual-ON doujin game with mecha-musumes)
  • Touhou (The spin-off fighting games Immaterial And Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Hisoutensoku, Hopeless Masquerade and Urban Legend in Limbo.
  • Vanguard Princess
  • Under Night In-Birth
  • Windom XP:
    • Bootfighter Windom XP SP-2 (only the game in the series that is free)
    • Ultimate Knight Windom XP and its expansion pack
    • Ultimate Knight Windom SV
  • Yatagarasu (an indie game from former SNK developers)
  • Terrordrome the Game: Rise of the Boogeymen (A fighting game starring various horror movie characters)

    Platform Game 
  • Eryi's Action (a Super Mario Bros.-esque platform hell game)
  • Lethal Crisis and Lethal Crisis ProtoSphere (a spin-off series of Lethal Application; the latter is also a rogue-like)
  • Ragna Chronicle (a Ragnarok Battle Online-eqsue Mega Man game)
  • Rockmen R: Dr. Wily's Counterattack (a fan-sequel to Rockman 9)
  • RosenkreuzStilette (an homage to the classic Mega Man series as well as various manga, anime, and visual novel series)
  • SorcerLand (a retro-styled action-platformer featuring anthromorphic characters)
  • Tobari and the Night of the Curious Moon (a Super Marios Bros.-esque platformer with gameplay elements from the Kirby series)

    Role-Playing Game 

    Shoot 'em Up 
Vertically-scrolling Shooter
  • Akashicverse ~Malicious Wake~ (a surreal shoot 'em up where special weapons are activated akin a fighting game)
  • Aurora Blast and its sequel (a shoot 'em up series with very fast bullet patterns)
  • Banshiryuu
  • Blue Wish
  • Blue Sabers
  • The Chaste Fullmetal Maiden Leiria and its remake (formally retail doujin games now officially freeware)
  • Cho Ren Sha 68k (a freeware retro-styled shooter)
  • Crimzon Clover
  • Green Wind
    • Eden's Edge
    • Eden's Aegis
  • eXceed series:
    • eXceed-Gun Bullet Children-
    • eXceed2nd-VAMPIRE- and eXceed2nd-VAMPIRE REX-
  • Flying Red Barrel ~A Diary of Little Aviator~ (from the circle behind the SUGURI series)
  • Hitogata Happa from the Gundemonium series
  • HECTOR '39 (a freeware shoot 'em up featuring Miku Hatsune)
  • The Hurricane of the Varstray: Collateral Hazard (from the doujin circle behind Trouble Witches)
  • Lethal Application
  • Meglilo The Witchborg
  • Patriot Dark (a formally retail DoDoPatchi-esque freeware shooter)
  • QP Shooting and QP Shooting Dangerous (also from the creators of SUGURI)
  • Rozen Diadem (freeware shooter based on Rozen Maiden)
  • RefRain ~prism memories~ (from the makers Samidare and Seihou)
  • ring^-10 (a retro-styled shooter; from the makers of Patriot Dark)
  • Samidare
  • Seihou
  • Strike Witches STG (a freeware PC one, not the Japan-only Xbox 360 one)
  • The Tale of ALLTYNEX series:
  • Touhou
  • TWINS / TWAIN series:
  • Stella Vanity
  • Warning Forever
  • Zillion Beatz (a music-based vertical shooter)

Horizontally-scrolling Shooter

  • Gunner's Heart

  • Ether Vapor and ETHER VAPOR Remaster (a shoot 'em up with changing gameplay, going from a vertical shooter, horizontal shooter, and even a rail shooter)
    • Astebreed, a spiritual successor to Ether Vapor
  • Erst Kerf (an RPG adventure game with an overhead shoot 'em up perspective)
  • Every Extend
  • QUALIA (localized as Qlione by Rockin' Android)

    Visual Novel 

Board Game:
  • 100% Orange Juice, a crossover game by Orange_Juice featuring characters from some of their games (SUGURI, Flying Red Barrel, and QP Shooting)