Before we dive in, I should give you a little context on the game you (by proxy) and I (by directly) will be playing.
Tsukihime is a pretty big-deal game, actually. One upon a time, even before the year 2000, there were these dudes; Kinoko Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi. Nasu wrote words and Takeuchi drew pictures, and they had this idea that they'd pool their talents to make some kinda videogame or somethin'. Being as Nasu wrote and Takeuchi drew, they went into the only videogame genre where words and pictures alone can make a completed project: the visual novel.
For the uninitiated, a visual novel is kind of like an adventure game, except without the parts where you walk around, look for things, solve puzzles, and In fact, player involvement is at an absolute minimum: you read the story, you look at the pictures, and every so often you are presented with a choice which affects the direction of the plot. A lot of people don't even consider this a videogame; indeed, its closest relative is the Choose Your Own Adventure book that we all read when we were kids.
You're probably wondering why anybody would buy a visual novel when more technologically impressive things are going around. The answer is a subject of quite a bit of heated nerd debate.
Some people will tell you that visual novels sell solely on the content of their writing and their artwork. You see, popular PC visual novels are often ported to consoles without the naughty bits and they sell just fine. And nowadays the bigger companies are putting out visual novels that don't have any sex scenes in them in the first place, so they've got to be selling on something else.
I will tell you that those people are nuts and that they sell on sex. You see, the only reason popular visual novels get popular is that they had the naughty bits in them in the first place. This isn't to imply that these games can't sell on the quality of their art and their writing; it's just that sex always sells better. Leaf put out To Heart 2 a little while ago and they did great with it, but you know what? They put out To Heart 2 X-Rated not long after and it did better.
We're both a little right. They sell on moe (say it mo-eh, kind of). Oh, moe, you mysterious phenomenon! You subject of a whole other post! Nobody agrees as to what the fuck you mean! We'll keep it short, because this is already running much too long, and say that these games bank on the player becoming all attached to the characters; they are moe, he feels moe for them, and people seem to use it the way Smurfs use "smurf".
So these guys get together, and they form the doujin soft group Type-Moon. They take the moe and the sex, and they throw in vampires. Then they drop the lot of them into this insanely convoluted place that fans like to call the "Nasuverse", and they have their game. They sell it themselves at Comic Market, the massive Japanese comic convention that makes this whole self-publishing business lucrative in the first place. Tsukihime's art was rough, and hell, so was its writing, but it was probably that crazy Nasu magic that got it popular. The game became one of the genre's biggest hits, outdoing even commercial work. Too big for a doujin group, probably, because after Tsukihime (and its expansions and its spinoff fighting game which is the only reason I know anything about Type-Moon at all in the first place), Type-Moon went pro. They have since released Fate Stay/Night, a terribly named game which has been, likewise, extremely popular.
A side-effect of Tsukihime's small-press roots is that demand has completely outstripped supply. The game is now damned hard to find, and has been for a couple years. By itself, the game fetches Radiant Silvergun prices ($200, if you're not a Saturn fan), and if you want the three-disc box set with the expansions and whatnot then that'll run you more like $500. The translators, meanwhile, have been telling people that their patch is only to be used with genuine copies of the game. It's a good thing my buddy Space Gundam V dropped by the other day with an original honest-to-God copy of Tsukihime or none of this shit would be here right now! Thanks, Space Gundam V!
Well, now that we've slogged through the context, we'll start tomorrow. Hopefully.