Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was originally a series of sound novels for the PC.
These sound novels—often abbreviated SNs or VNs (visual novels)—were written and illustrated by Ryukishi07 while his brother, Yatazakura, scripted them into NScripter.
The term "sound novel" is used for the original Higurashi games, instead of the more proper term "visual novel", because, while the art may seem lacking and simple, the wide range of sound effects and music set the atmosphere for the reader. One notable sound effect used throughout the entire series is the chorus of higurashi, a kind of cicada, which is played at the main menu and throughout many scenes.
The first chapter of the question arcs, Onikakushi-hen, was released at Comiket, August 10, 2002.
The last chapter of Kai, the answer arcs, Matsuribayashi-hen was released at Comiket, August 13, 2006.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
- Onikakushi-hen August 10, 2002
- Watanagashi-hen December 29, 2002
- Tatarigoroshi-hen August 15, 2003
- Himatsubushi-hen August 14, 2004
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai
- Meakashi-hen December 30, 2004
- Tsumihoroboshi-hen August 14, 2005
- Minagoroshi-hen December 30, 2005
- Matsuribayashi-hen August 13, 2006
All three releases of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni are still available internationally in online import stores.
Both Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (known as Higurashi When They Cry in the English localization) have been licensed and translated into English by Japanese visual novel licensing company, MangaGamer. The first release, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (which contains all four question arcs) was released in December 2009. The first Answer arc, Meakashi-hen, was released February 2010, and all three remaining arcs were released individually throughout the year, with the final arc, Matsuribayashi-hen, being released in July. All games are available for download-only. The extra arc Rei has not yet been translated. Because of copyright issues some modifications were made for the release, these include:
- Replacement of BGM in some scenes
- Removal of the Music Room
- Removal of the Mini Game
- Removal of the Staff Room
- Only available on Windows or iOS (up to Meakashi-hen)
You can find the Higurashi official English release on Steam which was published by MangaGamer. However, do note that MangaGamer has only localized up to Meakashi-hen. Many fans suggest supporting the official release over the other methods from years past.
The Sound Novels also have been officially translated by one person in French, Pbsaffran (or Saffran Prod) as Le sanglot des cigales ("The cicadas' sob", the "sang" part written in red is a pun with "blood"). Compared to the English release, nothing has been removed from the sound novel, and it is available on Windows, Mac and Linux like the original and the translation is professional. The novels are also physically available on Amazon.fr. The 8 arcs are available, the 4 first were called Le sanglot des cigales ~cycle des énigmes~ and the 4 last were named Le sanglot des cigales R ~cycle des résolutions~. The extra arc Rei is has not yet been translated.