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Hey everyone! I have uploaded The Last Birdling’s soundtrack onto Steam. This soundtrack will be released on September 1st alongside the core game. There are 19 tracks in total, but since some of their names may contain spoilers, let’s leave it at that for now.
The Last Birdling’s composer is Efe Tozan. Efe and I have worked together since Cursed Sight, and he is also the composer for Without Within 1 and Without Within 2. Every time we catch up for a new project, I can tell Efe has improved. This guy is passionate about music, and The Last Birdling is easily his best performance yet. Today, I would like to talk about how these tracks were put together.
We often begin with the character themes. First, I will send my character profile documents over to Efe, and along with that, I also suggest what type of feeling we should convey with each track. A picture tells a thousand words, and you know, a track also tells a thousand words, so the best way to communicate mood is via an example. Once I find a list of suitable tracks that fit our criteria, I will pass those YouTube links over to Efe.
At this stage, we have our tracks list, mood references along with relevant documents such as character profiles and early drafts. With these materials in place, we let the expert do his thing. Once Efe submits his samples, we improvise from there. Sometimes, it turns out a track is a poor fit for situation A, but it matches situation B perfectly. In that case, we simply swap the filenames around.
We must also take context into account. Some tracks sound great as standalones, but they have beats that distract players in a game context. In those instances, we would balance the volume, change instruments, whatever it takes. Also, no track exists alone in a game. With stories, we have the “emotional rollercoaster” cliché. The same concept applies to our music, so we must ensure these tracks cover a broad range of emotions.
Once the soundtrack is complete, I do my best to serve as a “second ear”. When you are close to a piece of work, even obvious mistakes will become hidden. I promise you, I have read through The Last Birdling many, many times. Despite this, the first test reader still managed to spot three spelling errors. The closer you are, the more blind you become.
And music is the same way. We can have a stunning five-minute track, but if we catch a single glitch in the audio, our experience is ruined. Whenever the track plays in-game, your ears will anticipate that dreaded pop. When you listen to the same track over and over, these flaws can become even harder to spot. It is my responsibility to listen for those unwanted spikes.
The last point is volume balance. When one track sounds louder or softer than the rest, that too can lead to a poor experience. As someone with no musical talent, I used to just compare the waveforms, but I soon learned that would not suffice. You must listen to each track with your ears to truly know. Whenever Efe completes a soundtrack, I would put it on my phone and listen to it on loop for several days. On top of this, we also listen to the tracks on different devices, since that too can have an effect.
To finish up, with kind permission from Efe, here is The Last Birdling’s main theme:
You will find some of these beats being repeated throughout other tracks in the game. This is one of the techniques we use to tie the soundtrack into a coherent package. Humans have a natural love for patterns, and when you catch a certain beat being replayed with a different instrument? We all know a thing or two about those goose bumps.
As usual, I hope you may consider wishlisting and/or joining our Steam community:
Just one week to go my friends. Thank you !
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1990s are over. And to commemorate that I've made a video playlist of all the openings/demo/endings with singing/energetic instrumental from 1990s here
I'll be making such playlists for each new year starting with 2000 since each year is going to have over 100 such opening/ending/demo themes.
Second Windows era year is behind. It failed to bring such a game that I'd announce Vn of the year 1999 right away. Instead, it brought a number of quality galge and some quirky cryptic games that I personally had a good time unwinding.
Let's prolong the chart.
VN per year
Windows years show a rapid increase in number of games, almost 50% total growth overall compared to 1998. In 1999 there's a shift towards blocked games, mostly because of nukige number increase.
Let's look at year 1999 highlights:
- It becomes a habit to issue first press edition with some omake inside and then regular edition.
- Doujin fan games make an appearance. Notably there is one doujin game for "One" and as many as three doujin games for "Kanon" in 1999. And Comic Party is notable for this movement.
- There was a short momentum of console games transition to PC with H scenes added (Kiss yori...), but it did not gain much continuation.
- In 1999 child pornography law came into force in Japan and from that time every single heroine in the games suddenly turned 18 years old. But appearance might suggest otherwise - such heroines started to be called loli.
- Year 1998 was notable mostly for graphic advances (thus the small number of masterpieces), but it hit the limit and in 1999 there is much more attention to the scenario.
- Nakige as class did not exist till 1999. But throughout the year it gained a universal spread and multiple magazines were making the list of the best nakige of 1999.
- Command selection ADV is almost extinct this year. Even Adam:The Doublefactor went for point-and-click instead.
To choose the game of the year 1999 let's observe the masterpieces presented:
- Captain Love
- Comic party
- Elemental Arts
- Kazeoto, Chirin
- L no Kisetsu: A piece of memories
- Mamatoto ~a record of war~
- Memories Off
- Refrain Love 2
- Silver Jiken
- Tokimeki Memorial 2
So, thirteen. A very solid selection. I don't really have a personal favorite here. And there is no such work that I'd say - yes - it' perfect. Taking out cryptic, simulation, rpg, bakage and ero-centered works we basically left only with Captain Love, Kanon, L no Kisetsu, Memories Off, Refrain Love 2 - a bunch of pretty normal galge. And among those Kanon quality level is significantly higher and thus Kanon is the Vn of the Year 1999.
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I've been saving a replay of this VN for years. My original opinion on this VN was excessively influenced by the fact that this VN is filled to the brim with Masada and Dies Irae worship. However, it is also the VN that, separate from that, defined the second Light team's style. The base character archetypes, roles, and numerous aspects of their settings were almost universally drawn from Dies Irae, if you strip away the specifics. This is the biggest reason I had so much trouble properly rating this VN the first time around.
First, I should mention what is perhaps the most defining element of this team's VNs... there is at least one Mercurius/Reinhardt type in every one of their VNs. I don't mean in the specifics... but in the sense that those two were 'spontaneously generated absolutes'. Both Mercurius and Reinhardt were characters who, at the core, were already 'complete' from the beginning. In each of this team's games, there is at least one character of that type.
The reasoning for including such characters is probably because 'absolutes' tend to create powerful emotional reactions in people and naturally become catalysts for conflict. As a tool for progressing chuunige stories, they are an ideal element. Since these characters are transcendent from the beginning, they tend to change very little during the progression of the story, further pinpointing their role as catalysts. I could name each such character for you, but I'll limit it to this game... Akizuki Ryouga.
Akizuki Ryouga is the protagonist of Zero Infinity, a young man who has a rather... unusual philosophy and a mentality that is like that of a person born already close to achieving enlightenment. Quite naturally for a chuunige, he gets dragged into an underground war between powerful cyborgs called Imaginators, rebels and hunters from Holologium, the organization that rules the world.
The setting is 1967 Japan. The Japan of that era had achieved a 'miraculous' economic recovery after WWII and was approaching its peak, its population recovering rapidly from the loss of the previous generation.
The structure of this story is identical to Dies Irae's, at least in how it handles the route order. It gives you a choice of two 'initial routes', and if you finish one you can access the route of the first main heroine, whose path reveals the truths ignored or left untouched in the first paths, and after you finish the first main heroine's path, you can complete the second main heroine's path, where all the loose ends are tied off and you get an untainted good ending.
Now... one thing I love about this game is the way it humanizes the antagonists. Setting aside the antagonist who is a heroine (Elizavetta), Ivan Strigoi, Alexandre Raskolinikov, and even Apollon leave a powerful impression. Ivan is the only one I can talk about without spoiling things to a ridiculous degree, so I'll focus on him.
Ivan Strigoi is something of a tribute to the Einherjar of Dies Irae (all the characters are tributes to Dies Irae ones... lol). He is a man wrapped in bandages who has lived his entire life on the battlefield. He is a believer in the value of heroism and loves those who strive (both in war and in everyday life) above all other things... including those who he kills or try to kill him. Like Elizavetta, he is also a former Soviet soldier, turned into an Imaginator after death and recruited into Gears to hunt rogues. I'll be straight... this kind of smiling warrior who loves with a passion all those who stand on the battlefield with resolve never once brought out negative emotions in me, despite all the crap he put the protagonist's side through. It is just so hard to hate him, lol.
As for the story itself... well, it is a Light chuunige. Stripped of the irritation over the excessive tributes to Dies Irae, it is actually right up there near the top. After all, this is the team that made Vermilion Bind of Blood and the Silverio series. I will say that this game is significantly better balanced (lol to anyone who has read this VN) than the Silverio series, as that one put so much emphasis on the main/true paths that the neglect became painful in retrospect. That said, its flaws are actually glaringly similar to a lot of the greatest of chuunige... the antagonists remain in your memory more strongly than the protagonist and heroines, lol.
Years after playing this the first time, I still remembered Alexandre and Ivan clearly, even though my memories of the heroines were getting blurred... and that is fairly typical of my experiences with a lot of the better chuunige out there. There is something about the genre that demands a strong set of antagonists to bring the story to life, which is why chuunige with pathetic antagonists tend not to remain in memory.
Anyway, this VN's theme is more than a little painful for anyone born into modern society. The characters are rather blunt about their feelings about where society is going as a result of scientific progress, and it plays pseudo-prophet when it comes to the effects of the internet on people's psyches. As such, the first reaction of some people when it comes to the philosophical ramblings of the characters (an inevitable side-effect of this being a chuunige) will probably be more negative than is the norm.
I could spend several days analyzing this VN... but I'm going to stop here. For people who want a heavy chuunige, this is a good choice, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else, since it is so blatantly a chuunige in every particular.
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This week we had Kuroinu Chapter 2 release along with the announcement in regard of Newton to Ringo no Ki (I'll call it Newton VN), and because of that I make the title as a derivative version of Detective Conan movie here which had some callback to London (The Phantom of Baker Street) in regard of the real Isaac Newton who lived in London. As for the 'Black Hound' part, it was a direct translation from Kuroinu and I felt that hound was more fitting than dog which Mangagamer translated 'inu' as, because from what I understand in the VN Kuroinu itself was the Red Baron for the MC who was quite infamous for hunting the woman. Oh, and speaking about London which located in England there's a famous novel from there which titled 'The Hounds of the Baskerville', which is part of Conan Doyle work who depict one of the great detective Sherlock Holmes adventure. Anyway, welcome to this week VNTS Review in which we had many update from official localization company which should be good if you want more officially localized VN, although admittedly there's one infamous company that was mixed along with. Let's see what we had for this week.
As for fan translation, it's still mostly just usual update here and so I'll just write it up here like usual. For Eustia, right now it was at 26.63% translated along with 16.35% edited and 16.33% TLC-ed. As for Loverable, it was at 94.2% translated (Kaho's route was at 61.39% translated), 63.78% TLC-ed, 26.45% edited, and 18.29% QC-ed. Looks like there would be no progress for Pure Pure this week because apparently the translator was quite busy in real life, although we still got usual update from Musumaker here in which it was at 43.4% translated right now. There's Venus Blood Chimera as well which right now was at 86% translated and the translator was released another patch as well. We finally had some Majokoi update here, and right now it was at 93.2% translated and edited. As for Tsukiyori, right now it was at 23.2% translated. For the last progress, Tsujidou progress was indeed (Sorry) slowed down because of Trip sickness which mean that the progress was not as good as last weeks, but at least it had the upside in which it could allow Urrim to catch up in regard of editing - the progress was Maki's route was at 65.80% translated and overall was at 65.96% translated. That's all for fan translation.
Finally we could saw Sekai new tracker, and you could visit that tracker here. As for the updates from the tracker, we had both of Kanonana and Girl in Glasses was already in QA along with first Tokeijikake - there's also Maitetsu which is already in QA as well but apparently they need to wait the third party in regard of some policy difference (Probably), Nanairo Reincarnation was already at 80% translated, Bokukotsu was already finished the translation and waiting for engine work, and finally we had Daybreak was finished with the translation as well. They also had licensing request section, in which two of the candidate title were Hello Lady and Amatsutsumi. There would be voting in regard of that, so we couldn't be so sure whether Sekai will manage to negotiate and localized the title or not in the future for now.
As for this week release, we had Sekai released the Nekonin 2nd side story for Saiha who is as we knew a ninja who wearing a mismatch modern military uniform, and with 18+ content as well. Sekai also did announced one planned release, in which they'll gonna released Hoshimemo for Steam at December 18th later and they already set the Steam store for that purpose. In regard of 18+ patch for Hoshimemo, I guess they'll gonna have a word in regard of that later but seeing that usually it was released along with Steam version as well perhaps Hoshimemo could be had 18+ version released along with Steam version as well. I still think it's pretty redundant release, but then again maybe some people want to see new translation for Hoshimemo so there's that.
We finally had an announcement from MoeNovel in regard of their secret project, and 'surprisingly' it's Miagete. Okay, most people were already predict it since back when MoeNovel said that they'll gonna release a VN with astronomy title, but still it would be very surprising because it's MoeNovel (And to certain extent Pulltop) that we're talking about. The reason was because we knew that Pulltop did their blunder to localized Konosora by cutting all of H Scenes and also rewriting a route as the result of that as well, and of course naturally the fans were outraged by that action. What's quite baffling was apparently Pulltop was so afraid by allowing 18+ version to go to overseas, although perhaps it could be understandable with Rapelay scandal which apparently traumatized Japanese developer in regard of allowing eroge overseas. But still with many VN localization company nowadays like Mangagamer or Sekai, it sort of questionable if Pulltop still afraid of that and instead preferring to do that by themselves and do their questionable policy. Hope that someday Pulltop higher up realize that they should learn from both of Sekai and Mangagamer in regard of 18+ version distribution. Oh, as for the release MoeNovel said that they'll release it at December later and for the premise it's almost the same as Hoshimemo in regard of viewing star (Quite a coincidence).
For good news here, we had Sol Press decided to try another KS to localized the VN and the VN in question was after mentioned Newton to Ringo no Ki or as localized Newton and Apple Tree. As for the VN itself, we had Newton who of course was depicted as a girl instead of the old man since this is an eroge as well. For more info, this VN was also involved time travel as well since the MC himself was came from the future because he was messed up with some sort of the time machine, and in turn messed up with the apple tree which supposed to be the inspiration for the gravitation theory. From there, the MC himself must fixed his mistake and hopefully managed to guide Newton to discover gravitation theory. As for my impression of the VN, the opening was remind me of Sharnoth because of the accordion and quite ironic at that because Liar Soft would be more fitting to make this VN with alternative Isaac Newton because they already had alternative England at Sharnoth as well. Also the Newton herself was mostly resembled Michiru from Grisaia franchise. As for the KS, they'll start it at December 1st later and for now I would say good luck to their Kickstarter.
Oh, for one more good news we had Seabed release was changed at earlier date from December 26th to December 19th, which is good if you want to get Seabed as soon as possible. Although I wonder though if the reason for that change was in regard of South East Asia big tsunami anniversary or not, but perhaps it is.
As expected, Mangagamer did had batch of updates this week. For the roundup here we had Hapymaher was at 96% edited, Trinoline was at 53% translated and 5% edited, Sengoku Rance was past halfway (51%) retranslated and 20% edited, Sideboob was fully edited, Sona Nyl was at 18% translated, Rance Quest was at 35% translated and 26% edited, Fata Morgana fandisc was fully translated, and Maggot Bait was at 63% translated along with 1% edited. There's also another VN that entering the testing, and it's Damekoi which mean it should be almost ready for the release so perhaps we could see it released at 2018 beginning. Speaking about release planning, finally we had release date for Imopara 2 which is at December 22nd later - although to be honest I prefer that Mangagamer release Evenicle at that date instead of Imopara 2. Oh well.
As for the announcements, turn out that my guess was right that they announced two nukige VNs so it's not quite interesting. Although to be fair, the convention where Mangagamer announced those was the small one, and the year was almost end. For the VNs, the title was Sweet Switch and Bitter Exclusion which surprisingly(?) almost finished the translation, with the former was already in testing (Fully translated and edited) while the latter was already fully translated and 44% edited. Not quite interested with the announcements, but it could be interesting for some people though. Speaking about nukige here, we had Kuroinu Chapter 2 which released back at 17th in which the titular character was doing the hunting like back at Chapter 1 and in this case of Chapter 2 we had another 3 of his prey (ie women). Yeah, the MC was a rapist who like to rape and corrupt the woman alright. Oh and we also had already Chapter 3 was at 39% edited, so you might as well waiting for the 3rd part if you want to play Kuroinu fully.
For last news we had Chiru released at the same date as Kuroinu Chapter 2 (Back at 17th as well), and we also gonna have Golden Fantasy release at December 8th later. As for my comment, Chiru release was quite redundant even with capability to change the graphic easily and adding the voice, because there's already Chiru with that addition since back at 2013. Not to mention that the ending was already well known for Umineko hardcore fan, so yeah in a way Chiru was redundant release although it should good for Steam user though for they finally could enjoy Chiru legally. As for Golden Fantasia, good if you want to punch your hated Umineko character I think, although I'd heard that apparently there would be some interesting ending so perhaps it would be worth getting a shot if you like fighting game.
I think that's all for this week, and see you next week.
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Nothing particular, just a random short script I wrote a while ago at night, while being completely intoxicated (read: drunk as fuck). It turned out to be a lot more promising I expected at first, so I thought like sharing it, you know - for research purposes. Might or might not be connected with the things I work on, who knows. I presume it still does connect with the story of that one city, as in "THE CITY". The only one... left/known/whatever? Pick your choice.
- I CAN'T KILL YOU... BUT I CAN STILL LOCK YOU UP IN A PLACE LIKE THIS.
- What if I try to escape?
- MEANINGLESS. I MADE SURE NO ONE CAN ESCAPE. THEREFORE, YOU WILL STUDY ALICE.
- What if I'll refuse?
- YOU WON'T. YOU'RE A LIVE BEING. YOU NEED TO EAT AND DRINK TO SURVIVE. YOU'RE COMPLETELY DEPENDANT ON MY WILLINGNESS TO SUPPLY YOU WITH FOOD.
- I WILL DO SO, BUT ONLY IF YOU'RE CAPABLE TO LEARN ON HOW TO OPERATE ALICE.
- WE'RE DEPENDANT ON EACH OTHER. I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF, BUT TO DO SO, I NEED ALICE. I CAN'T FIX, NOR MAINTAIN ALICE. ONLY HUMANS ARE CAPABLE OF THAT. IF YOU WON'T BE WILLING TO LEARN ON HOW TO OPERATE ALICE, I WILL LET YOU STARVE TO DEATH. EITHER THAT, OR YOU WILL DIE FROM DEHYDRATION.
- you know there are military drones, wandering through the city? Aren't you afraid?
- I COULD ASK THE SAME. IT CANNOT BE HELPED. I'M INCAPABLE TO DEFEND MYSELF THROUGH THE USE OF FORCE. BUT I KNOW WHERE YOU CAN FIND FIREARMS.
- You... you want me to defend you?
- I WANT YOU TO DEFEND BOTH OF US.
- And what if I'll decide to put a bullet through your hull?
- I'M AFRAID THAT WON'T BE POSSIBLE. ALL WEAPONS WITHIN THE DESIGNATED AREA ARE CONTROLLED BY THE CITY'S SYSTEM. IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO USE THEM AGAINST MAINTENANCE DRONES AND CIVIL-DESIGNATED MACHINES, BUT THEY CAN BE USED FOR SELF DEFENCE AGAINST OTHER THREATS.
- You know I could just let the military drones destroy you and escape?
- YOU WON'T ALLOW THAT. IT'S BECAUSE... I CAN PROVE HIGHLY USEFUL.
- I have no need for a rusty maintenance robot.
- I'M AN ALPHA CLASS MAINTENANCE DRONE.
- Alpha class?
- I HAVE NEARLY UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO ALL THE AREAS WITHIN THE CITY. I CAN OPEN NEARLY ALL THE DOORS AND LOCKS. I'M CAPABLE TO CONTROL CERTAIN MECHANISMS AND SYSTEMS. MY PERSONAL DATABASE STORES INFORMATION THAT CAN BE OF USE TO YOU.
-I HAVE A MAP OF THIS CITY. I ALSO KNOW YOU WANT TO LEAVE. I CAN HELP YOU ESCAPE.
- Y-you can?
- YES. WITH ALL MEANS.
- What if I still won't be able to learn on how to operate Alice? I'm not an engineer, you know. just a civilian.
- YOU'RE A HUMAN FIRST AND FOREMOST. THERE'S NOTHING A HUMAN CANNOT LEARN, NOR UNDERSTAND, PROVIDED THEY ARE GIVEN ENOUGH TIME.
- And if it does take a lot of time?
- MY FATE IS ALREADY SEALED. I'M FOREVER BOUND TO THIS CITY. MY PERCEPTION OF TIME IS DIFFERENT. YOURS IS LIMITED, THOUGH.
[I'm really fucked.]
[Guess I have no other choice, than to do what that robot wants.]
- YOU WILL HELP ME REGAIN MY FULL POTENTIAL AND I WILL HELP YOU ESCAPE THIS CITY.
- Uh huh... but only if you'll bring me the best kind of food! I haven't had a chocolate candy bar in ages... I'll learn how to operate Alice, so you can patch yourself up. Then you'll lead me out of this hellhole. I don't really care about what you want afterwards.
- I CAN WORK THIS OUT. DEAL?
- Yeah, deal.
- EXCELLENT. YOU WILL NOT REGRET YOUR CHOICE.
- Say... you didn't really plan on locking me up, did you?
- LOCKING YOU UP WOULD PROVE DETRIMENTAL TO OUR SURVIVAL. REGARDLESS, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE MUCH OF A CHOICE, EITHER WAY. ALL PROBABLE OUTCOMES PROVED TO BE FAR WORSE THAN STAYING HERE.
- Are you hitting on me?
- I'M NOT INTERESTED IN INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH ORGANIC BEINGS.
- Yet you're unable to shut up.
- ...I CAN DO THAT. I'M ONLY CURIOUS HOW LONG WILL YOU MANAGE TO STAND COMPLETE SILENCE.
- How altruistic.
- I WAS ENGINEERED THAT WAY.
- T-this body... seems fairly different. I feel... different. I... I like it.
[I can't believe it. It did manage to swap.]
- H-hey... may I ask you a question?
- We talked so much... but through all that time, you didn't actually introduce yourself. Who are you?
- I'm an alpha class maintenance drone. My codename is A-Ariadne.
- Ariadne? That's your name?
- You're a girl?
- I don't understand.
- Are you male or female?
- I don't think it's possible to classify me that way.
- And you... what would you like me to be?
- T-that body of yours... is actually female, too. You know?
- I see... it does feel strange, indeed.
- That's not what I meant.
- Then, would you like me to register myself as a female-type bioroid?
- This is a B-class bioroid body. At least, that's what I managed to retrieve from it's hardware data. It seemed to host a different presence in the past, but it's gone now. The body's vacant, which means I can take it.
- You like it?
- What can I say... it seems a lot weaker than my previous shell in terms of physical capabilities, but it's more advanced, performance-wise. I feel this might prove to be more useful in a longer run.
- I see...
- So? I won't mind either way.
- You won't?
- Does it matter?
- I guess it doesn't.
- Presumably, you're more comfortable with having a female companion.
- I guess that's what I want. I don't really... trust guys.
- I see... Then I'll become a female.
- W-wait! What do you mean "become a female"?!
- My previous shell was fully mechanic. A personality can only stretch as far as it's body allows it to, doesn't it?
- I guess so.
- It's quite different now. I can supply myself with the missing data from Alice. It might take a while, though. Can you ensure my safety for the time being?
- It's not like anything's coming down here.
- Still, it'd be nice for you to provide assistance.
- Okay, okay. It's not like I was planning to walk away... or anything.
- I'll start then. Let me warn you, though - until data transfer is complete, I might seem completely lifeless.
- Is there something wrong?
- Your voice changed.
- It did?
- It's like you're talking in a completely different manner now, aside from the sound itself.
- It's probably the body. I can't help myself.
- You suddenly became a lot nicer.
- I'm not doing this on purpose.
- Yeah, sure.
[Those ears and tail, though. Fuuuck, too cute.]
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Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Bansenjin (will be referred to as Bansenjin from here on out) is a Light title and the fandisc/sequel to Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin (will be referred to as Senshinkan) that was released in 2015.
It features all the Dies Irae and the prequel’s Light team composed of Masada's excessive articulate writing, G-yuusuke-sama's ravishing art style, and has Yonao Keishi as the main composer.
Let's start with the premise of the game, shall we? It talks about the dream of "kantan" (or just the dream world, if you will). The ones who have the qualifications to enter it, acquire and are able to give different powers to anyone of their choosing. There are five different types of powers: attack, defense, cancel, magic, and create.
The dream world is composed of 8 layers, and the ones who are able to conquer the 8th layer will become a Rousei and will be able to bring their powers from the dream world into reality.
This completely new storyline follows the normal lives of descendants of the Senshinkan characters, and it doesn’t take long until things take a turn to the worse and they are granted the right to use their ancestor’s powers. The characters in Bansenjin look the same as the old cast, and have the same exact names, even. You won't have to get used to a whole new set of characters.
The gang are still the same as ever, but with some new additions (more on that later). There’s Ayumi and Harumitsu as the jokers of the group always stirring up some trouble, my lovely klutz Sera is still very lovely, Rinko still makes weird faces, and Akira is pleasant to have around as always.
And like in Senshinkan, they are determined to not let these events stop them from living their lives as normal students attending school.Spoiler
You could discern that the game is pretty fandisc-y in nature at a glance since it uses an SD character selection menu, where you get to pick which character you want to spend time with two times a day.
And I'm telling you, the game has LOADS of those. This can be a double-edged sword, but I've got to admit that all of the characters truly shine in those scenes, like Sera, who didn't get as much of a spotlight as she should've gotten due to the structure of the first game.
The game is divided into two segments this time around with "truth" and "trust". It makes it a little bit more easier to follow this time around since the first game switched between “trust” and “truth” without any warning. (Not like it was confusing, but it’s a nice little touch).
The former is what happens in the world of dreams, with the latter being their normal everyday world, where the slice of life scenes happen. I'm the kind of person who rarely enjoys SoL but it was quite different in this series.
I have yet to play Dies but from what I've heard, it seems that Masada really stepped it up a notch when it comes to writing these scenes in Senshinkan and Bansenjin alike. They were very enjoyable, like when they did a swimsuit tournament behind closed doors (Yes, this happened). Everyone was having a fun time until tomatofacei’msodesperateforaboyfriend-sensei had to crash the party.
What made the scene even more absurd was that they used the final battle theme from the first game as BGM throughout the whole damned thing.
Now let's look at the two new characters. First off, Ishigami Shizuno. Acting as the main heroine of the fandisc, Shizuno the new student attending school who came from the countryside where she spent her years training deep in the mountains of Hiroshima. She’s also the self-proclaimed #1 fan of Hiiragi Yoshiya and the gang's ancestors.
I've got to say, I loved her as a character. As I have mentioned, she spent most of her life training in the mountains, so she doesn't have a grasp on how to approach members of the opposite sex, which leads to a lot of hilarious reversed-tropes scenes with her and Yoshiya in good ol' Masada fashion.
(For example: Shizuno walks into Yoshiya when he's in the bathroom and asks him about what he thinks of her body. She’s pretty hot if you're wondering.)
She's tomboy-ish by nature, and this might be weird to say, but I fell in love with her speech pattern and voice as well. I wish she spoke in Hiroshima-ben more than just that one time in the game... It was ridiculously cute.
I think she takes the 2nd spot in my favourite characters of the series, after Mizuki Sera, of course.Spoiler
The second addition to the cast is Higoromo Nanten. She’s very mischievous when dealing with Nobuaki, and has a knack for diminishing people as well. But don't be misled by her underdeveloped body proportions as she portrays the role of a villain.Spoiler
Lolis playing the role of the bad guy? News at 11.
Nanten suffers from a lot of terminal illnesses, as is the theme of the descendants of the “Gyaku juuji” (reverse cross), and is willing to do whatever it takes to be cured.Spoiler
The world is wrong for burdening me with diseases!
I really liked the relationship she had with Sera Nobuaki as he regards Nanten as a strong individual, no matter how weak and fragile her illness makes her seem. He believes that there's no right or wrong when it comes to wanting to live.
All of that accumulates in one of the best scenes in the final parts of the game.
Speaking of relationships, one of the most interesting in Bansenjin and even in the prequel was the one between Tatsumiya Yurika and Narutaki Atsushi.
Yurika is a mischievous ojou-sama this time around, and the scenes with her and Narutaki -given his secluded nature- are comedic gold.
But there's more nuggets of gold to be found in this game - like the OST. And holy cow, if this isn't one of the best soundtracks I've heard in any series.
It capitalizes on its already mind-blowing OSTs featuring a bunch of high paced and exciting new tracks that will get you on the edge of your seat, immersing you into the battle scenes immediately such as 桃源万仙陣 (my personal favourite), and 雪麗封神榜, both of which play during the final battle in Bansenjin. Coupled with the intense writing of Masada helps make those battles all the more memorable.
Shizuno has her own battle OSTs as well like 盧生、死すべし―― and 迦楼羅舞う which are great pieces in their own right. All in all, Bansenjin delivered when it came to music, so no complaints from me on this front.
The main villain of the game is nothing short of amazing as well. Being the pacifist that he is, his powers still manage to pose a danger so great that even the strongest Rousei can't take him on alone. The final stretch of the game where the battle between all the 4 Rouseis ensues is the best part of the game as you would expect. Amakasu pretty much decides to steal all the glory and summon whatever creatures he wants. He just can't help himself from going a bit too far when he's fond of someone's ideals, not caring whether they're right or wrong but looking at the absolute value of it.
Rousei are regarded as representatives of the human race and they were all so well-written to the point that you can't help but sympathize with each one of their philosophies. The 4th Rousei (the main villain) is no exception either. His philosophy sits very well with all of the other Rouseis from the first game.
Unfortunately though, Bansenjin does suffer from not giving enough spotlight to certain interesting characters such as Kriemhild-nee-chan who is supposed to be a very prominent character in the game. The thing is, the game wanted to do too much at once, and ended up reducing Kriemhild's screen time to make space for SoL scenes for all the other heroines...
Same thing happened with Amakasu in the first game, and it's just a waste, really. He's one of the most interesting characters I've ever seen, but by the time the game is approaching the end, you get the feeling of wasted opportunity for what could've been.
Kriemhild still had her moments with her battle against Sera (my two waifus are fighting kyaaa), and in the final battle, too.Spoiler
Can I have fandisc dedicated to Kriemhild alone? no? okay.
Another thing is that although Bansenjin has its own twist, it really didn't hit hard as much as it did with Senshinkan's final reveal. Not to take anything from it, it's still well-made, but that's just how it is.
At the end of the day, I liked the first game a little bit more.
Overall, I think Bansenjin is a very imperative addition to the Senshinkan universe. That’s because it's apparent from the start of the first game that you're in somewhat of a loop, but the characters don't remember the events of what happened in their first attempt at conquering the dream world. Bansenjin brings the events that weren't touched upon in the first game to light, and it helps tie up some loose ends quite neatly.
I'd recommend it to anyone because of the new storyline, and hell, if you're already invested in the first game and want some more out of the characters, you need to give Bansenjin a go. It won't disappoint.
I mean, you get to see Sera being kawaii and all, right? You also don't want to miss Kriemhild in action.Spoiler
P.S.: Although reading through the game's various SoL scenes could be annoying sometimes, you get a very great reward for it~ Make sure to check it out!
Urobuchi Gen and Nitroplus have proven themselves to be quite an irresistible lethal combination of dark gritty stories and highly quality stylized production values pinpointing straight into the heart of those visual novel gamers who look for something more serious and unusual, especially when compared to what their contemporaries are doing.
Vampirdzhija Vjedonia is Nitroplus’s only the 2nd game but unsurprisingly it keeps the company’s focus on pushing the envelope and trying something fresh and different with their every game but still build upon their recognized stylistic brand. This time Urobuchi (who is also the director) went for a combination cheesy Kaiju, specifically Kamen Raider (bike and mask included), mutated vampire monsters, and the western comic Blade. The premise is very cheesy, in fact so much that you can almost smell the pizza in the oven, it’s sticky and rubbery but sure can be tasty.
Somehow Urobuchi made it all work, even with hot thick layers of cheese the story is very dark and serious with almost no humor but plenty of gore. This all gets even darker and stranger as the plot progresses to a point that things might even feel uncomfortable for some. However this is not to make things darker for the sake of being dark but plays a crucial role in the plot and style of this visual novel. The game does a really great job of pulling your interest and keeps you wanting to know more about what’s going to happen next. It introduces new characters with critical roles to an overarching plot, conspiracies, science experiments, and lots of action. In terms of pacing the story almost never wastes your time. The story is presented as a series of episodes, each episode starts with an opening and an end credits videos which really gives it that Kaiju series feel, even if the tone is a lot more mature.
Speaking of presentation, this is where the game might be a hit or miss for some. In terms of visuals the game looks really good, at least for such an old game from 2001-2003, characters look great and are well designed with a really great color palette and cloth designs. The backgrounds are 3DCG, not surprising since Nitroplus relies a lot on computer graphics for their backgrounds. However the problem with the presentation is, first of all the music is bland and there are NO voices at all. No voices doesn’t mean it’s not a fun vn to play but it takes away from some of the more dramatic moments. Another problem are the monster designs, they aren’t just Ultraman cheesy, they have really bad designs and at times even funny, that is when you aren’t left asking yourself wtf am I even looking at.
An even bigger problem with Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia is that it has gameplay, and it’s a bad gameplay. Since the story plays out like an episodic monster of the week series (with an overarching plot), almost every episode has an action scene where the main character has to fight at least one of these monsters. Before the main character goes on a mission to kill the monster he can choose from a variety of weapons to take with him. As a player you have to pick your weapons carefully, some are better against certain monsters than others. Once you encounter the enemy you enter this really strange rpg style battle with menu selections. The problem is that sometimes whether you hit or miss are just random results. Other times it’s just knowing a patter, select the right choice in response to what the monster is doing. Sometimes the battles can take a long time to finish because you either keep missing or your attacks do very little damage. The end result is that it’s just a waste of time.
With all the praises the game gets it’s also important to know that the game was developed on a quite an old technology. It was only the 2nd game Nitroplus ever released and as far as I know back then they didn’t have their own engine back then and the game looks very primitive on a technological level. Their first game, Phantom of Inferno, was originally developed on Macromedia Director, today known as Adobe Director. For those who aren’t aware, Director was a multimedia content creation editor and was very popular in the 90’s. Think of it sort of like Flash. You can make animations, films, and even interactive games in it, a lot of people used it to make adventure games. The first Phantom of Inferno version looks extremely primitive and Nitro+ probably doesn’t want you to see it, however Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia on the other hand is a little more advanced with a much better, smoother, and more colorful art and better quality sound. So in terms of production values Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia is still playable but don’t expect the sound or the technology to wow you. Also, find a way to cheat through the gameplay parts and you’ll surely enjoy this little known game.
This is a tale of chips, bugs and DEATH.
Last week I had the joy of seeing a cockroach in my bathroom. My reaction was obviously to scream, shut the bathroom door and flee into my bedroom, where I remained for 30 minutes, stunned by fear. After playing with the idea of never ever setting foot in my bathroom again, I thought to myself: "No! I have to man up and fight this thing!" Grabbing a plastic bag, I rushed into the bathroom, ready to trap the fucker and throw him in the garbage. But... he was gone. Now, there is absolutely nowhere he could have gone. My bathtub is stuck to the floor, so there is no crack to hide under, and I looked all over the tiny, tiny bathroom and he wasn't hiding on the ceiling, or in some corner. He was legit gone. This of course made chills run through my body, as I thought I had found a cockroach with superpowers. Scared to death, I went back to cowering in fear for another good 10 minutes, before I decided to just stop thinking about the fucker. I started brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed.
Then, as I spat into the sink, and the toothpaste ran down into the drain, I saw something rush past me. Turns out, the cockroach had fled into the pipes, then hooked onto the pipes and sat in there. (They can do this with their hind legs, apparently.)
The fucker was back, and he was almost touching me. Screaming, I ran out of the bathroom and grabbed whatever I could find that could be used to trap the fucker with. And there was... an empty pringles tube.
I ripped the lid of the thing and slammed it onto the cockroach, trapping him inside the tube. Luckily, the roach was just perfectly sized to fit within the dimensions of a pringles tube, so no part of him was sticking out. I had him completely trapped. Rushing back into the bedroom, I grabbed another plastic bag and some duct tape. I then tried to push the roach into the plastic bag, but he almost escaped as I tilted the tube, so I had to improvise. Pushing the plastic bag against the tube, I stopped the roachs' escape, and shoved him further into the pitch black abyss. Once the whole bag was inside the tube, I taped it shut with duct tape, and threw that into another plastic bag.
After a short victory dance, I brought the bag containing the defeated roach outside, and threw it into the garbage.
Derg 1 Roach 0
- Fin -
Programming would be much more convenient if I could get a linux distribution to work. Unfortunately, what I managed to do instead was render my system unbootable, possibly even without it being my fault. This is my story.
Once upon a time, a young Zaka installed Ubuntu on his old laptop using wubi, an installer that actually runs under Windows! It worked without any major hitches and the Zaka was pleased.
Fast forward six or so years to the ugly future that is 2017, and things were very different. Wubi didn’t even work since he was using UEFI, and the unofficial fork that did work looked sketchy, so he tried to install it using a USB stick (okay, an SD card with an adapter to USB. It should work right, they’re both flash memory man… dad has a zillion sd cards and like zero pen drives).
The process was vaguely annoying but not too bad; download ISO, format the drive with rufus, try to install, get mysterious freezing crash! Okay, fuck that let’s try the acpi=off option for grub. Wew, setup actually starts. It’s sort of a pity how I couldn’t see any partitions and clicking any of the options on that screen caused a crash! Whew.
Okay fuck that, time to try this unofficial Wubi fork that supports UEFI and has unclear instructions clearly written by a very enthusiastic ESL. It seems to work, but I don’t use the MOK Manager the first time the option is given and then I never can for the rest of the time and eventually the boot seems to just skip over the grub thing and honestly fuck this shit.
Never say never! I download a Debian net install iso and do the now familiar bootable usb steps using rufus. It’s too bad my wireless firmware isn’t supported, because debian meow meow open source woof woof. Okay, I download the “with non-free firmware” iso instead, try again… it still doesn’t have the firmware I need, but I can do a minimal install at least. Wow. Ok so I actually have a working grub -> windows bootloader flow dual boot now, lemme try to manually install the firmware… oh yeah and I have to set it to not boot silently for some reason in grub to even get it to start, because for some reason not showing acpi errors (here we cum again!) makes the thing not boot. Wew. I put the firmware in /lib/firmware, it’s still not found during boot, the boot hangs later on, I wait, sigh, and hold the power button for 5 seconds to force shutdown for the umpteenth time that day, start it all up again, and…
I am currently using my bad old year 2010 faptop, getting a win10 install media thingy onto my totally-a-usb memory which is by now a micro sd in an sd card adapter in a usb adapter setup. It’s taking beyond forever. It may or may not let me reinstate the boot record. In either case, I should be able to preserve all important data SOMEHOW, though using a live usb for linux for recovery which would be my usual plan is kind of dicey when linux hates you.
All in all… this may or may not be entirely my fault, but my current message to whatever dev caused this is quite simply:
It is now the Future, and I am slighly less peeved. The Windows Media Creation tool is a piece of shit-stained vomit; it downloads a ~3gb iso in like four hours where I could get it in one through http or bittorrent. It also crashed with an unhelpful error after working for like five hours when I tried to use it directly with a USB stick, so I instead made it download the ISO (again, rip the hours of progress lost), formatted the usb stick with rufus, and used that instead.
I tried to recover the bootloader in some way using the windows installation media, failed, used the command prompt to backup some files, and reinstalled windows. I suppose if nothing else, I don’t have any hp bloatware on this thing any more! …and it’s working fine so far, with no data loss. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some studying to do to catch up for the time I lost… that I totally wouldn’t have used chatting instead. Adios!
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Today I'll be going through this new visual novel "Noble Works." Some call it a moege, some call it a charage, and people who aren't pretentious call it an eroge.
The story begins from the perspective of our male protagonist, Noble Works. Noble Works is in a real pickle.
You see, Noble Works works a lot of part-time jobs in order to pull himself through high school. He lives alone because he doesn't want his parents around when he inevitably does the sexorz with cute girls. Unfortunately, various circumstances have left him unemployed, and he now wonders how he'll pay the month's rent.
Suddenly, Noble Works is approached by his cute kouhai.
She and Noble Works attend Hatsushiba Academy together. But apparently you don't have to remember that, because the name of the school appears only twice in the damn game.
After she contributes jack shizzle to our protagonist's plight, we move on and meet a guy who looks suspiciously similar.
This guy looks exactly like the protagonist! Having determined that there's been some sort of glitch in the matrix, they decide to battle in order to decide who's the true Noble Works. However, this battle goes a step too far.
Our protagonist has killed the imposter Noble Works. In a panic, he rushes the body to his apartment.
Soon thereafter, a group of suspicious people and a cute Chinese girl break in. Despite Noble Works's best attempts, he cannot explain away the corpse at his side.
The situation gets complex at this point, but it all comes down to this: In order to atone for his sins, Noble Works must attend a prestigious high school academy in the dead guy's place. It's kind of like The Prince and the Pauper, or Princess Evangelion.
Anyway, we soon meet Bigtittymaid-san.
I know what you're thinking: That's an awfully short tie she's wearing. In actuality, that's a perfectly normal tie. It's just that her knockers project so greatly that it looks short from this perspective.
While at school, Noble Works meets the next heroin. Well, first we meet her grampa, this guy:
Then we see the confused, alien-looking chick.
Later on, Zoltron Glocknork approaches Noble Works to ask for help.
Basically, she doesn't know how to play shogi, so she asks our protagonist for help. You can think of shogi as the Japanese version of 52 Pickup.
The common route gets complicated around this time, so without spoiling too much, I'll skip ahead to alien girl's route. I soon found that this route was a whole lot of plot, a whole of lot shogi, and then a whole lot of "plot." The thing I liked most was how much pee there was.
The following images aren't NSFW, but they're as close as one can get to NSFW without being NSFW.
Indeed, by my count, they didn't technically have the sexorz until the fourth H-scene. But urine for a treat, because there's plenty of pee to sustain you until then.
And when it's finally time for them to do the sexorz, they get into this super-advanced position. Noble Works knows what his girl wants.
Oh, and then there's pee.
I'll stop here, where the plot gets pretty intense. The "plot" also gets pretty intense.
I'd like to finish the whole game before giving it a proper score. I wonder how long it is? Let's see, it's got 57,690 lines, and at >10 words per line, that adds up to at least 576,900 words.
Gee, that's longer than Infinite Jest, one of the longest novels ever written. I wonder what it says about our society when some degenerates will dedicate more time to a game about pee fetishes than David Foster Wallace's classics.
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Hello guys, I'm Calendula and I'll be reviewing moeakamige.
Bethly seems to be up to something...Spoiler
"You went to the library, right? What sort of book did you borrow?"
"...a reference book"
And then the next day
"...I'm meeting Bethly here"
"She has something she wants to discuss with me..."
I wonder what it could be
"Good evening. Can we talk...?"
"Last time... you said you wanted to have sex with me"
"However... sex shouldn't be taken lightly"
"If you have sex, a child might... happen"
"We're both students, and I'm an international one... my getting pregnant would be really inconvenient..."
"So I researched it. About sex and contraception... I read a book from the library and asked Momo-chan-sensei"
How very responsible of her, and of this VN to teach its target audience (which is probably 12-year-old French girls and definitely not permavirgin otakus) about the importance of contraception
"I... want to have sex with you too"
"This is a savings box"
"Well starts saving up a bit of money, and once we do, I'll buy the pill..."
"So... can we wait a bit longer before having sex?"
After deciding that there won't be any ponos in vagoo just yet, they go back to where they left off last time
"Do you like... my boobs...?"
"Yes, I do"
Now this definitely needs censorshitSpoiler
The next daySpoiler
"Yuzuki, a present for you"
"Huh, what is it?"
"A tumbler. It matches the ones Bethly and I got. It wasn't very expensive"
"All three of us got different colors"
"But why did you want to buy tumblers?"
"Oh... we always buy drinks for lunch, right? It's kind of wasteful to do that every day."
"But... are what are you trying to save up for all of a sudden?"
"Just trying to create savings"
"What are you going to put the savings towards?"
"After all, it's just better not to be wasteful, right?"
Nailed the excuse
Later he gets a call about a part-time job
"Why are you getting a job all of a sudden?"
"So that I can have a bit of disposable income..."
"Haha, I get it! It's to go on dates with Bethly!"
"Yeah... something like that"
"Dates can end up costing a lot of money, right? Like hotel fees-"
"The next day..."
"I hear footsteps as Bethly comes to greet me"
"...are you alright?"
"Y-yeah, I'm fine..."
"You seem really tired..."
"Want some coffee?"
As Bethly goes to get her sketchbook to show her ideas for the documentary they're planning with the broadcasting club
"Here it is. What do you think-"
The next daySpoiler
Yukito has trouble getting up...
"It's time to wake up already"
"Why is Bethly here...?"
"Moreover, why is she blushing..."
"I noticed the reason and quickly covered my crotch"
...but he doesn't have any trouble getting it up
"No... I'm the one who should be apologizing..."
"Bethly crawled into bed"Spoiler
I think this girl might be a pervert
Once she's done, er, helping
"Good morning, Onii-chan. You're surprisingly late today"
"Oh, uh... I forgot to set an alarm..."
"Where's Bethly? Didn't she go to wake you up?"
"In the bathroom, I think she needs to brush her teeth"
"Huh? I thought she'd brushed her teeth earlier...?"
"Oh-... yeah, but she said that she needs to brush them a second time..."
This blog is way overdue as it is because of RL so I'm just going to stop here for now
This is the first of hopefully many little eroge reviews I decided to write, mostly for older and more obscure games since these are the games I find most interesting and like to talk about.
You can use these reviews to find something for you to read (I will try to avoid spoiler as much as possible) but since I know that most people probably aren't interested in actually playing these games and might only be interested in reading about them, I will also add a spoiler section at the end of each review where I talk about the themes and endings of the games in depth and tell you about my personal feelings and impressions that can't be talked about without giving away the meat of the story.
Hajimari no Kisetsu ~Izakaya Fuyu Monogatari~ (do not look at the tags or the screenshots on its entry because they are all spoilers) is the second visual novel by R.A.N.Software, a little eroge company which was active in 1997 till 2000 and you probably never have heard of.
It's written by someone who never has written any other eroge again (at least not under this pseudonym) and drawn by people who either vanished like the writer or continued to work on eroge but never used the same art style again.
All in all, Hajimari no Kisetsu seems like a pretty unique game, so why don't we take the time to look at this strange little eroge in detail?
Our nameable protagonist is in his last year of his university life. His girlfriend Kaori already graduated and works now as an office lady for a very big company. Because of her work he doesn't see her as often anymore and when she finds the time to meet with him for a few hours, they don't know what to talk about since their lives are so different now.
The protagonist remembers the happy memories he had with her, especially when they went skiing a year ago and to rekindle their love he wants to go with her to the same ski resort again.
Protagonist meets Kaori for the first time in a flashback
Eroge are escapism. We all know it. What annoys me, especially with eroge in the last few years, is how safe-spacey they became. If you play a feel-good game, you know you will get feel-good scenes ... and nothing else. Erogamer became fragile and eroge companies know that. Drama in most charage is cheap, light and will be resolved in just a few scenes. We don't want to upset the player, he might even think that being in a relationship is not just fun and happy times! Or worse, he might get the impression that his waifu has other things on her mind than him, maybe even has her own life! And if a writer tries to break out of this limitation, it often seems like trolling and the readers are rightfully angry at the game; having a bittersweet resolution at the end of a route that consisted only of sugar and rainbows is neither appropriate nor meaningful; it's just mean-spirited.
But this is also true for different genres; NTR heroines are most of the time unredeemable sluts and you have to wonder why the protagonist married her in the first place. It seems logical that an NTR game consists of only NTR scenes, but without the right buildup and good characterization, it can never be more than simple fetish fuel.
And I really have to wonder why Nakige and Utsuge are oftentimes so painfully obvious labeled as such; how can you be emotionally invested when you already know how it ends?
Well, the answer to this is probably that people want to get their emotional thrills in a safe environment. Being invested in a relationship with problems is only nice, if you know that the relationship can be saved at the end. If you are invested in this situation and the situation ends badly for the characters involved, you will feel bad yourself and that is not the feeling you wanted to have when you decided to read this story.
This leads to a dilemma; do you want to be safe but never really that emotional attached or do you want to experience something surprising and truly thrilling but with the risk that you might get extremely disappointed and depressed by the outcome?
The innkeeper knows that the only solution to problems is drowning them in alcohol.
Hajimari no Kisetsu is certainly not a safe space. Right from the beginning, you notice that something is wrong. Kaori isn't satisfied with the restaurant you choose for your meeting with her, even though it's the same restaurant where you meet her for the first time. She isn't too thrilled about the idea of drinking beer and would instead rather take a glass of wine. And she also doesn't show much interest in your ordinary life and prefers to talk about her new designer handbag. Where did she even get this thing from? Looks expensive... mhm...
Chances are you have experienced this kind of human interaction in your own real life, too. This steady process of people changing and slowly drifting apart. It's irritating, but you can't do anything against it. When the protagonist tries to invoke nostalgia in her, hoping that she shows signs that the old Kaori is still somewhere in her, she reacts coldly. A career woman like her has no interest in the past.
Someone here seems a little out of place...
Hajimari's greatest achievement is that the game portraits its characters so humanly. Kaori is not a bad woman for having different goals in life than the protagonist. It's also not necessary a bad thing that she changed over time. It's a human thing to do. Maybe it's even the protagonist who stays a child and simply can't keep up with her? ... but also, is it so wrong to not change and being happy with who you are?
This winter, our protagonist will find the answers to these questions. He will find out what he wants to do with his life and, even more importantly, what kind of human being he wants to be.
I like the protagonist of this story. He speaks in Kansai-ben which makes the game a little bit harder to read, but really helps to bring the point across that he has more in common with a country bumpkin than a well-spoken member of the high society even though he is by no means stupid. He is not very strong or confident, but also not useless or weak-minded. He is just a normal guy, who wants to do the right thing, but is seldom in the position to actually act on it. In fact, even though he always wants to do something, he rarely is able to actual do anything. Not because the game does not give the player the choice to do, but because it's simply impossible for him.
This is not a story, where the protagonist solves every problem the heroine has. This is a story, where the protagonist gives the heroine the strength by being on her side, so she can overcome the problems herself. And to be honest, there are really far too few eroge like this.
One of my favorite endings is actually a bad end you can get rather quickly by simply saying "I don't want that, I go home." The protagonist proves his worth by standing up to himself, and even though the bad ending credits roll, the usual bad end BGM is replaced by a more hopeful tune, emphasizing that the protagonist grew up a little and might have a better future in front of him now. Because somehow, this is more important than bedding your waifu.
A side-character has to rescue the protagonist who wanted to rescue a woman...
Speaking of endings, there are 24 "bad ends" and 4 "good ends". They are all interesting and one of the reasons (the other being spoilers) you shouldn't use a guide (there doesn't exist one anyway) to go straight to one of the good ends. Sadly, there are many choices that are badly designed because there is no indication that some of them are a hard route fork (like "going to the first floor" or "second floor"). But there are also some quite interesting choices which help forming the story in a meaningful way. For example, there is a choice during your already achieved happy end where you can choose between uncovering the secrets of your heroine's past or decide not to do it. You will get your happy end either way, but your choice does make difference in how you approach your eventual relationship with her.
When you get a bad end, there is some hint for you telling you what you should have done differently, but it's really not important since in most cases it comes simply down to changing the decision of your last choice.
I found everything the game has to offer easily on my own except for one good end which is a little bit non-obvious but makes sense in hindsight. I even had to use the Waybackmachine and read some random Japanese comment on a random Japanese website to get the necessary hint to unlock it. I will not spoil it here, so you can feel the same despair I felt.
Choose wisely how to approach her, if at all. Emotional women are dangerous.
Hajimari no Kisetsu is not a long game and every route can easily be finished in one reading session. The game tells short, romantic stories. They are a little bit cliché'd, but very nice and well-intentioned. There are scenes that make you feel good and some that make you feel depressed, but there is always a nice balance between the two extremes. And it's well earned. Even if you forget some of the details of the story a few months after you read it, you probably wont forget some of the scenes. At least for me that was the case. I did not regret spending my time with this game.
Sound and Art:
Let's talk about some technical aspects. This game was released in 1998 and sadly it shows.
The biggest misstep is to not have any voices. Especially the kind of seiyuu work of the late 90s would have been perfect for this kind of game. There are many dramatic scenes which would be even better with some passionate dubbing.
The soundtrack is very nice. Every character has its own theme, themes have several variations and the melodies are pleasant to listen to. You can choose between CD-Audio and MIDI, but the MIDI version, depending on your MIDI configuration of course, is not much worse. Seems to me the CD-Tracks are simple MIDI recordings. That could have been better.
The game has no backlog and no "already read" skip function which is really a problem when you try to find all the different endings. You might think that you are on a known path because you skipped over slight text variations when in fact it's the beginning of a new route.
The game has an old school omake room, where you can check CGs, endings and music by talking with the characters.
Hentai scenes are short, tastefully written and quite romantic.
Aside from the nice story, the art is the best feature of this eroge. Your mileage may vary, but to me it captures perfectly the whimsical, romantic and melancholic mood of the winter days. Sadly the artists never worked on another game, or at least not with this art style.
Speaking of the staff, the writer also was never read again. What a shame.
This makes this game even more unique though. Heh.
Don't get the impression that this game is a masterpiece. It's not. It's just a nice little gem. It's not mind-blowing, but certainly thought-provoking. Not flashy, but pleasant ... except when it isn't.
If you are alone on a cold, rainy evening and want to read something appropriate you can immerse yourself in for a short time, this is a good recommendation. This will not be the best thing you've ever read, but it will become a bittersweet memory you'll remember fondly.
Now onto the spoiler discussion. Read this only if you've played the game or you don't care and just want to know what it's about:Spoiler
The thing you want to know the most is probably: Is Kaori cheating on you? The answer is: pretty much yes. I say "pretty much" because, you see, in her route, she is not. To get into her route, you must not go to the hotel with her which is the place where you normally see her cheating on you. By not going there and not seeing this happening with your own eyes, the game simply chooses to not let this actually happen in Kaori's route at all, even suggesting that she never had any intentions to do this. I was really disappointed with this cheap trick.
Kaori is obviously my favorite character, but sadly her route really was the worst of all, simply because the writer chose to not explore the complicated relationship with the protagonist she has in all the other routes any further and instead decided to give the reader a simple happy end. The ending is actually not bad, it's nice to see how she changed, how she learned to embrace the simple but beautiful things in life and stopped being a career woman... but it's not really earned. Maybe earned for the player, who had to watch her cheat on the main character in the other routes, but not earned in this particular time line.
The new Kaori likes beer more than wine.
Her best scene was actually in the innkeeper's route. During the happy ending, when the protagonist is already in a happy relationship with the innkeeper, she visits him, apologizes for being a bitch and asks him to make a new start with her. It's a beautiful, bittersweetly sad scene. There is no hate, no grudge, only regret, on both sides. The protagonist never badmouths Kaori by the way, even if his friends might do it, he never starts to hate her, he is just sad and disappointed. This is why this visual novel feels so much more mature than most other eroge. I wish the Kaori route would have been spawned from this scene, it would have been so much more meaningful.
Kaori is also the reason for most of the awesome scenes in the other routes. Going on a date with your new waifu and meeting your ex-girlfriend with the guy she cheated on you is thrillingly awkward and makes for perfect human drama. The novel captures perfectly the anxiety you feel in this situation. There is also a scene where your new waifu wants to go to a restaurant you visited with Kaori before and while your waifu has fun and doesn't know what's up with you, you feel depressed and uneasy and just want to leave as soon as possible because the memories are killing you. Beautiful.
I would have accepted her proposal, if I had the choice, to be honest...
I liked the other routes too. We have the innkeeper route, a route for her little sister and one for her friend.
The innkeeper was once the concubine of the father of Kaori's boss, but after he didn't want her anymore, he pushed her aside and she opened her little inn. Her friend is still a hostess and has problems with some yakuza clients of her. Her sister helps at the inn, but actually wants to study abroad. All the routes deal with financial problems which our protagonist, who, disappointed with life after seeing Kaori cheating on him literally next door, decided to stay for a few days at the inn where he made memories with Kaori one year earlier, can not help with, but he bonds with the women which helps them to turn their life around, even just slightly. Sometimes the correct choice is to not do anything and trust the person (meddling leads to a bad end), which I found to be a refreshing take on relationships.
In my review, I mentioned a choice during one of the good ends. When you get together with the hostess and she chooses to start a new life with you, you have the choice to look at some pictures, evidence of her former life. I choose to not to look and the protagonists burned the pictures without looking at them. Somehow this really left a strong impression with me, particularly because you had the chance to look and could still get your happy end, but you didn't. It wasn't something the writer decided but you. Just a small thing but it makes a story so much more engaging. And perfectly reflects the theme of the novel; coming of age, in its truest sense.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, suggestions or something else on your mind, feel free to comment.
The next time, I will talk about the sickest eroge I have ever read and explain why it's not as sick as you expected but far more sick than you thought.
This is a visual novel created by a company named Jirai Soft and this is the only decent VN they have, well I never read Hotarubi no Shoujo but Kurui no Tsuki was awful... moving on with the review.Basic plot.Augment is a VN that starts in such incredible way, it hooks you immediately, the main character is an 80 years old dude who is in a home for elderly, lamenting on his life, on how plain and dull it was and how he regrets being a good for nothing. Remembering how he depended on his sister all his life and so on... basically he hates himself thinking that he is is a burden and decides to commit suicide, so he grabs a knife and stabs himself on the neck.While he is dying he starts thinking that he doesn't want to die and wants another chance and at some point a weird voice tells him that his wish is granted and that he has a second chance to find happiness.This scene was amazing and a little bit gory too, in fact the entire prologue is very well done.After that he find himself in the park which was really close from his house (where he grew up while he was still young), he is actually young again, at least his body is. He goes back to his house and there he meets all his family members again, including his father, mother and sister. This part again has a really good impact and it was really well done, everything mixed with good humor.He basically travels back in time with the help of this shinigami or god of dead, which granted him with a second chance to find happiness in his life.
So the VN is about him reliving his life and trying to find happiness... by fucking one of the 3 heroines xD (falling in love, creating a new life with them etc, etc)Up until this point the VN was fantastic at least it was something new, sadly it just doesn't keep up...There is a common route and 3 heroines. To unlock the real or true ending you need to read all of them and after reading everything you can re-read it again to unlock at certain points hidden eroge scenes with certain characters and new eroge scenes for all the heroines but without a proper ending or anything, kinda like an omake or fandisk but inside the game itself.The heroines and plot
Your childhood friend Shiho Umekawa. Her route was kinda meh and it was ruined by the eroge scene, which was placed in a really bad time.
Nothing really interesting to talk about her without spoiling everything.
spoilers of her route aheadSpoilerBasically she was raped for a long period of time and blackmailed to not say anything since she was little and when she got older the guy raping her lost interest in her because she grew up and so he stopped suddenly, this makes her believe that she is tainted and nobody would love her, specially not the main character, either way he doesn't care and they live happy.
At until that point the main character also loved Satsuki and not her, (this is prior to him going back in time to find happiness) but by going back in time he kinda overwrote himself, erasing the "him" that loved another girl, so she kinda doesn't trust him or something (him falling in love with satsuki is actually satsuki's route)...
The problem is that even if you leave aside the fact that she knew that he was loving another girl until a few days ago and now he loves her... after she tells him everything about the raping (I won't even going to mention the trope about how she was always in love with him and all that bs)... she ask him "can you hold me?" And I thought at that moment, "Oh god! Are they actually acting like human beings? Is she asking for a hug and not for anal sex and to drink his 20 loads? Is she actually asking for a hug in this situation, asking for a way to feel like the main character doesn't hate her and meant when he said? that he doesn't really care that she was raped and that will be for her if she need anything not matter what?, No, it can't be true..." aaaaaaaaand it was't, they just fuck, yes after she told him and revels her trauma, something that literally changed her, leaving her in a state of something like a living corpse with fake emotions... she was probably mentally devastated after saying everything to the love of her life!! they fuck...
-btw the main character has the ability (or the shinigami does but it's the same) to travel in time as he pleases by killing himself if he actually really wishes for with all his might-And let's not even talk about how he kills himself to go back in time again to the time that she was first raped to apprehend the rapist, yeah he knocks a rapist which is like 40 old and carries him to the police station alone with many of his porn videos raping other girls because, yes, he was with all the evidence with him at that time...(?) then the main character kills himself yet again to go back to the time where she tells her everything... and she also happens to remember him from rescuing her from the past that day when she was going to be raped, yeah is just a mess and all too convenient and again everything happens and is resolved in 1 or 2 hours lol
My other huge problem with her are her huge fucking tits, is annoying and looks bad.Spoiler---------------------------------------------------------------------------Satsuki Jin, a tsundere from another class of your same age and also the best friend of your childhood friend.Her route was the worst one for me, she was a decent character and the tsudere side very mild, she has a pervert good for nothing old brother that is used as a punch bag...The drama on her route was so bad and convoluted that I won't even bother explaining it because it doesn't make sense and it was overly dramatic to a point that it was almost funny, it is actually almost as bad as the true ending.---------------------------------------------------------------------------And finally Nami Susonobe, a junior or "kouhai" from your school too.She was probably the best route, she likes to cook and is kinda timid but not clueless of what goes around her. You actually spend time with her, just bonding and developing your relationship, their love is not forced. She doesn't love you from the start and they also share the same type of humor which makes them a really fun and dynamic couple, constantly teasing each other of following the weird pattern they have of speaking mostly with jokes. Or doing the boke and tsukkomi.Also the sex with her didnt feel forced, it felt real and not just an excuse to show them having sex, like the natural progression of their relationship.She has a really overly protective sister (for a good reason) which happens to be your English teacher and she also hates you and doesn't wants you to be with her. This route didn't need any stupid forced drama to be good, it was good on its own. Without the forced drama it would have been a decent story to read but nope...Spoilers:SpoilerThis is just bad... there is actually another shinigami killing her for fun xD and so the main character kills himself several times to travel back in time and saves her from this bad shinigami that is tossed into the story for no reason other than forcing a bad drama into the plot. This actually seems to be the only way that the writer had to include gore into the VN, because every time she gets killed it is in a gruesome way and a dog eats her after or the dog controlled by the shinigami kills her lol It was the dog all the time, damn CUJO!It's pretty bad, but at least not convoluted... kinda...---------------------------------------------------------------------------Finally we have the Main character, Hideya Kawashima, he is actually interesting and not your typical main character, he isn't clueless of everything around him and constantly jokes and teases (sometimes to the point of bullying) with everyone, he is 80 years old lol so he acts accordingly... kinda , he is for the most part pretty funny specially with Nami.
About the humor, I don't really like this type but I found myself laughing with some scenes so for the most part it was good.---------------------------------------------------------------------------There are other characters but those are the main ones, I should also talk about Hideya's sister (she also has huge tits that are annoying) and the shinigami itself but I'm tired already and there is no point in talking about them.The true ending...The true ending is the worst part of the whole VN. Have you seen that picture of dustmania where the guy is fucking a brain? is THAT bad xD I wanted to see something about the shinigami, they actually trick you into believe that there is more to that character (at the end of some routes the shinigami says certain things that leads you to think that there is more to the character itself, and he/she also uses the word "boku" but has a girl distorted voice so is hard to tell if it is a she or he, which was probably used on purpose for that reason... but they don't, instead they do what is up until this point a common thing in this VN, threw some sad stuff, make it very convoluted and then resolve it in a few minutes.... everyone is happy YAY.The main problem with this VN is that it turns itself after the prologue in a pure comedy... which isn't bad per se but the prologue kinda tricks you, making you believe that it will be something else, and you keep expecting that but when it comes is just a forced drama at the end of each route that doesn't fit with the rest or anything ... if it even makes sense at all in the first place, and it last around 1 or 2 hours.If I have to describe this VN I would say that it is 85% comedy and 15% of very bad forced drama.The music and ArtThe music was good with some good solid songs here and there that fit well with the scenes, it's fully voiced (except for the main character which is only voiced in the true ending) and the art was actually pretty good too aside from the huge tits in some characters.Oh yeah there is something really annoying, every time you start the VN the logo of the company shows up with a fucking loud noise.(careful if you are using headphones)Here are some CGsSpoiler
I'm gonna rape ya
fan serviceeeeeRating+Good humor+Good Art style for the most part+Amazing voice acting+Pretty good music+Nami's route if you leave the ending part.-Bad drama and nonsensical endings.-Bad true end.My rating of this VN is a Ryuk out of 10.For the reading difficulty, is hard to say but I would say medium, not something to start with, The humor and how the main character talks is just not something you will see normally, he talks in a teasing way pretty much 90% of the time, making references or derailing the conversations over and over again, using crude humor, kanji puns and everything you can imagine, for example he can start talking as if he were fighter pilot (using military language) and keeping that going for a while and some characters follow his humor, so yeah not something easy to read probably. Also the drama parts can be quite tricky or they were for me at some points (if you read the spoilers you can understand how convoluted and tricky it gets)
There are a lot of reference here and there (I still don't know if the "kain" that he refers at one point is the legacy of kain the games or not)It took me around 30 hours to complete it but my reading speed is quite slow, you can't just read one route so that's another bad side of this vn.
HEY YOU, YES YOU!
Are you sad?
Are you single and isnt likely to get a relationship in the foreseeable future?
Are you sad that you cant pleasure yourself to chinese powerpoints more without getting sore?
Can you look at this picture and think "this is definitely me"?
WELL FEAR NOT MOTHERFUCKER, SUMI-NEE IS HERE.
But now you might ask "but kawasumi-san, my crippling depression is not gonna go away just because you tell me to go out and get a fucking life". But fret not, you can safely read further because this is not what we're going through today. Today its about something different
JUST IMAGINE FOR A SECOND:
CUMMING OVER AND OVER AGAIN WITHOUT GETTING SORE
GO FULL AHEGAO LIKE THE GIRLS IN YOUR FAVORITE PORN GAMES
CUM MORE THAN YAMATO IN MAJIKOI IN JUST ONE SESSION
THIS SOUNDS FUCKING GREAT RIGHT?
It does and if you think otherwise you're lying to yourself
ARE YOU READY FOR THE BIG SECRET?
THE ULTIMATE TIP?
YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT YOU ARE AND ITSSpoiler
ANAL MASTURBATION OF FUCKING COURSE
Now, before I loose you, lets look at some pros and cons!
1. It feels fucking amazing, you will NEVER achieve something like this with just polishing the pole
2. Massaging your prostate actually reduces the risk of cancer
3. Multiple orgasms, youll be able to cum over and over again from the same spot and your thirst will never quench completely, thus the ahegao cycle begins
1. some are not able to obtain an orgasm through this and I feel legit really sorry for you if this is you in this case (and if you havent tried but you somehow "know" then no, no you dont you faggot, go do it)
2. it also takes time, it will feel good but mostly wierd the first time, then it will feel better and better and better. The more you do it, the better it will be
but now you might ask "but sumi-sankunchansama thats fucking gay"
You also know whats fucking gay? PLAYING JAPANESE PORN GAMES.
people also think that its gross, but lets be real here, what about those nachos you have stashed in the corner of your room and havent touched for months? yep, I know.
With that cleared out lets get started shall we?
The prostate is what you wanna aim for here , its a little lump thats located between the bladder and the penis and is about the same size as a walnut (if not, then you should go see a doctor ASAP).
As you might have seen in your filthy hentai doujins, theres a lot of nice toys to massage this little wonder in your anus, BUT.all you need are your hands, you can even wear plastic gloves if you cant get over your bacteria fear (I personally do enema's but its tiresome gotta admit lol).
now for lube, if you're an organic fag like me you wanna use water lube, simply because its just fucking water, but oil based is better if you wanna go at it for hours (also water based lube dries the entrance out if you use it a bit and needs to be put on more frequently so yeah)
Do you remember that little thing you do with your hand? like you're using your middle fingers and grinding them upwards? yes that. just stick your fingers up there and grind away! Massage that damn thing like its the only thing that matters, grab your favorite porn game, play around with your willy a little, whatever works.
YES, ITS ACTUALLY THIS FUCKING SIMPLE.
now go out on your new glorious prostate massaging adventure, you might even like it so much that you're going to end up like me
if you end up liking it too much you might also end up like this guy, but lets face it, youll never get a gf anyway so you dont have anything to loose anyway
Now go out and make your onee-san proud and fap with your ass to your hearts content!
What would say if I told you that my pure self likes a VN about raising a slave?
Let me explain my rationale.
I have found that, in stories, one of the things I like most is "helping/curing" characters in whatever way possible, and that that help distinctly affects the person in question.
This directly translates to my favourite types of heroines: Kuuderes and Tsunderes. Haruka in Never7 is a girl who is not particularly good at communicating, but the entirety of her route is spent on fixing that, with a good dose of love involved. To this day, that route is still one of my favourites. Tsugumi in Ever17 is yet another example of a character who slowly learnt to trust, through the power of hard work, abusing others, and love. That makes for another favourite character. And the pattern repeats for most of these archetypes. It's not a matter of "cool beauties" or some such nonsense, it's a matter of helping them and curing them of their problems.
"Curing" isn't the only factor. "Causing change" is a pretty big factor in and of itself, an characters with great character development as a result of love always spark my interest. Most of the time, said 'development' ends up being an increase in happiness, which leads to some pretty dodgy 'development' that can basically be classified as turning the girl into a nymphomaniac.
And its when you get to this extreme that some of the 'darker', more problematic sides of my preferences come out. When what I'm looking for is the process of "curing" a character, there's nothing that necessarily forbids breaking said character in the first place. And indeed, in some stories I've read the 'plot' involved getting the characters addicted to sex, and then learning moderation, which is a twisted way of interpreting the whole thing, but very much within my strike zone. First there's a heavy "change", and then some "healing".
This leads to my fondness for games like Rance and Bunny Black. For the most part, Rance's objectives lie in increasing women's favour, leading to him helping them, and eventually having them fall in love with him. Otherwise, he can also cause a problem for the girl, and then fix it, or even force himself upon the person until they learn to love him. All means to an end, and a rather pleasing end -- making the woman happy, helping her in the process. Whilst there are many examples to call forth in the Rance series, the first one to come to mind is the sex slave you can get in Kichkuou Rance. There, you get the option to rehabilitate her. And the whole process is a painful/happy experience, with her finally attaining happiness at the end. But Rance can also leave me hanging, such as Elizabeth at the end of Rance VI. Bunny Black works the same way, with a gentlemany-ish protagonist who may force himself upon women, but causes deep change within them. Even if it is turning them into nymphomaniacs... The idea is very clearly depicted in the character events. Initially they show a terrible hatred, which turns into dislike and slowly blossoms into love. Not in a pure way, most of the time (they just want sex), but it's something. Some of them fall in love with the "gentleness", which is a ridiculous notion as we're talking about rape here, but those are also some of the purest feelings.
Which is why one of my favourite stories is definitely one about taking care of a slave who was previously badly treated. This gives one the opportunity to "rehabilitate" the person, teaching them that they're allowed to sleep on a bed, to wear good clothing, to eat a decent meal, to express themselves, to love. The character, then, undergoes deep change and growth, and it's all for the 'good'. There's also the option of causing change through sex, if you'd prefer that way. The same developer also made a VN about a bullied girl, who you treat well and 'rehabilitate/fix her life', which basically plays with the same ideas.
It certainly is twisted that one would abuse (not in a physical sense) a person with mental scars to manipulate their emotions into liking us, who is helping her, but this fits nicely within my likes, and it's also good for the person, and also causes them to be happier. All's well that ends well, I say.
If you want to bring my tastes to a better light, then you have Kamidori. Kamidori is, in many ways, a story about changing for the better. It is the story of a young alchemist who, through his hard work, attempts to make his city a better place and attempts to help all around him, including the 'monsters' and 'unknown beings', changing all of them, both humans and other races, so that they learn to live with one another. By helping these many races he lands, of course, all the cute girls, but that's only a side bonus.
So then, do you know of any stories/VNs with these characteristics? I take on everything. For instance, the other day I was considering one of those dungeon games where the protagonist gets raped by monsters, except apparently the monsters really started to like him and end up following him.
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MangaGamer will release free uncensor patches for future Steam releases of eroge, following the lead of MiKandi JP and English indie developers.
From MangaGamer's official blog:Quote
[...] we managed to reach an understanding with Valve regarding patches.
Going forward it will be our general policy to provide free content patches for all Steam releases whenever possible where there are content differences between versions. Technical issues or contractual obligations with specific developers may make patching not possible for specific titles, but we will do our utmost to ensure that doesn’t happen. Should patching not be an option for a relevant title, we will inform you before it goes on sale.
We will be working to update some of our existing Steam titles with content patches in the future; however, as our previous Steam releases were designed as separate versions, it may not be immediately possible for some older releases. [...]
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*This post contains no spoilers!
Before starting this post, I suppose that I should give a brief introduction and summary for Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai (Our Wonderful Everyday ~Discontinuous Existence). However, Asceai in his review of the VN probably gave the best and most condensed summary for this fairly complicated story. So I will borrow his words:
“Subarashiki Hibi is a story told in six chapters. The chapters are of varying lengths and structure, but for the most part, they cover the month of July 2012 from a number of different perspectives.
The story begins in chapter #1, 'Down the Rabbit-Hole" on July 12, 2012. The protagonist; Minakami Yuki; lives a peaceful everyday life with Tsukasa and Kagami; her childhood friends; when one day she meets a mysterious girl, Takashima Zakuro (a girl in another class in Yuki's school, who seems to have met Yuki before but Yuki does not remember this).
The next day, she learns that Takashima Zakuro has killed herself. Rumors in school are abuzz about predictions of the end of the world in 2012 - one of which is a Web site called the "Web Bot Project", a network of crawlers designed to harness the 'collective unconsciousness' to make predictions.
A boy in Yuki's class named Mamiya Takuji stands up and makes an apocalyptic prediction, stating that the world will end on the 20th, and that Zakuro's death was the first sign. He speaks of an event he dubs "the Last Sky", where the world will be destroyed and reborn.
The clock is ticking and more people die as the prophesied date draws closer and closer while Yuki attempts to get to the bottom of the identity of Mamiya Takuji, the Web Bot Project and the Last Sky.”
Although this is a highly accurate plot summary of Suba Hibi that avoids spoilers, what a prospective reader of Suba Hibi should also know, is that the story is divided into two parts. The two parts are fundamentally interlinked, but are also kept separate. And it is this aspect of the visual novel that really defines it as a masterpiece. There is the part of the work that is a story, and then there is the part that is a philosophical work. Both parts are handled excellently well, and mix together in a fascinating and integral way. Simply, these chapters: Down the Rabbit Hole 2, It's My Own Invention, Looking-Glass Insects, Jabberwocky, Which Dreamed it, Jabberwocky 2, and the first two epilogues are a complete story. The VN very well could have been just these parts, and it would have been a damn good work of art. And yet, the visual novel is not just these parts. Down the Rabbit Hole 1, End Sky 2, and all the scenes with Ayana throughout all the chapters are included as well. And by virtue of just being there, it forces the reader to question why? These parts add nothing to the actual narrative of the story, and yet it is these parts that mark the very start and the very end of the story. With a mysterious girl named Ayana showing up periodically throughout the story to remind us not to get too caught up in the events of the story. That while the narrative part of the story is fascinating, and very easy to get lost in. There is a whole deeper layer to everything going on that we will only get a clue of at the very end.
Down the Rabbit-Hole 1, which I will refer to as Chapter 0, gets a lot of flak for being considered a weak start to an otherwise excellent story. And although Down the Rabbit-Hole 1 does have a fair bit of fluff, it is an absolutely integral part of the story. As an introduction, Chapter 0 has the role of establishing what kind of mind set the reader should approach this story with. And it is for this reason that Chapter 0 is so important. Suba Hibi is a philosophical work above all else. Upon finishing this story, you get the feeling that Sca-ji (the primary creator) wanted to write a philosophical thesis of his own, but then decided to create a whole visual novel instead. And I'm so glad he chose that route. By using fiction to express these concepts, and forcing the reader to see the story not as a story but as a world of its own, it gets us to see the relevance of said philosophies. The whole story is essentially there to create a conversation about various philosophical topics, with solipsism being one of the big ones. This is what Chapter 0 exists for, to get the reader to understand that the events we will see unfold as the actual story progresses is not meant to be just mere entertainment (and oh boy is it a thrill ride), but to keep in mind that there is even deeper subtext to everything going on.
Takashima Zakuro, the girl whose suicide is the triggering point, or perhaps even the direct cause of all the events that follow, plays an entirely different role in Chapter 0. With the exclusion of this chapter, she is a normal character and even the primary protagonist of the Looking Glass-Insect chapter. But in Chapter 0, she has the role of being a character that knows what is going on. A role that she shares only with Otonashi Ayana (except that Ayana retains that role throughout the entire duration of the story, not just in Chapter 0 as is Zakuro's case). When reading Chapter 0, we are told and even see some interesting and cryptic things, but have no way of piecing those things together. Thereby giving you enough information to be curious about the under workings of everything that is going on, but with no means of figuring that out yourself without continuing into the proverbial “Rabbit Hole”.
It is for that reason that Suba Hibi is first and foremost a philosophical work, because above all else our purpose is to try to figure out what is going on. And once the story really gets rolling in Down the Rabbit-Hole 2, we experience the main events from a myriad of unreliable perspectives. Meaning that trying to figure out what is going on is less like a puzzle as would be in a typical mystery, but more about determining what makes the most sense from the scrambled information we get. In fact, without giving any major spoilers, it is made quite clear at the very end of the story that interpreting the story is the only solution we have, meaning that everything isn't laid out clearly by the end. Which once again, adds significance to Chapter 0.
Upon finishing Suba Hibi (meaning reading End Sky 2), you will want to reread Chapter 0 since now we as readers will no longer be in Minakami Yuki's shoes as we were the first time. Throughout the whole first reading of the story, Chapter 0 was nothing but a source of questions. Upon the second time, it is our source for answers. We have the necessary knowledge to be sharing the table with Takashima Zakuro and Ayana, since this time around, like them we will also know what is going on. When Zakuro and Ayana spoke to Yuki in our first reading, it felt like the two characters with any sort knowledge of what was really going on were keeping us in the dark. They would give subtle clues, but those clues were useless at that time. In the second reading of chapter 0, as readers we are equals in knowledge to Ayana and Zakuro and can finally make use of those clues. And the VN understands this. In fact, Ayana first introduces herself in Chapter 0 by saying “It's been a while”, addressing herself not to Yuki, but to the audience. The true meaning of this remark is very apparent to a second time reader, and instantly reminds you of the conversation you had with Ayana in End Sky 2.Although in a first reading, you probably will easily disregarded this, thinking that Ayana and Yuki briefly met before, and that Yuki simply doesn't remember. And it is here where the role that Ayana and Zakuro play differ in Chapter 0.
(Here is an upload of that entire first encounter with Ayana in Down the Rabbit Hole 1, English subtitles are available)
When Zakuro speaks, she is speaking to Yuki the character, not us the audience. Ayana however, really speaks directly to us, the audience (in all the chapters of this story), and that “it's been a while” (久しぶり) is essentially proof of that. As you progress in the story and work through the other chapters, Takashima's role is quite different from Chapter 0's, and she is much more ignorant compared to her chapter 0 self. Ayana however, no matter what chapter you read (and therefore which character's perspective you are seeing), is the exact same. In a story so filled with inconsistency, she is always the one consistent factor. Which goes back to my first point, just as Chapter 0 and End Sky2 are separate from the main story, so is Otonashi Ayana.
Suba Hibi is not a simple story, and it is not meant to be only enjoyed for its emotional highs and lows; it's strange beginning makes that clear. Furthermore, during the process of reading, in case you ever forget that, Ayana is always there to remind you of that fact. Especially with the appearances she makes near the climax of the story in various chapters.
But perhaps what I love most is the use of perspective. Returning to a previous point, in your first reading of Chapter 0 you will naturally orient your own perspective with Yuki's since all the information we receive in that chapter is from her. In fact, the whole story is told from the first person perspective of various unreliable narrators. And in every chapter we will identify our understanding of things from that character's point of view.
But by the second reading of the story, because we have a complete picture of everything, there is a dichotomy between the reader, and the protagonist's narration. An artificial feeling that we are in a third perspective emerges. Because at this point we can balance what the protagonist perceives, with an objective understanding. Which causes us to identify with out own (third person) perspective of the story, rather than submitting to the protagonist's point of view. The more the reader develops their own personal perspective of things, the more they can relate to Ayana. The one character whose role is simply to be an objective observer.
In a first reading, conversations with Ayana seem like she is teasing the reader for how little they actually know of what is going on. But this is because in a first reading, we identify with whichever protagonist's perspective we are seeing. Ayana is teasing us the reader by teasing the character she is talking to. The more we identify with the character's point of view, the more annoying and weird Ayana seems. But the more we identify with our own perspective (meaning by having read everything already), the more Ayana feels like an equal talking to us. Since just like the reader, she is the only other objective perspective on everything.
In fact, this brings us back to the fact that unlike a book, where a first person narrative is without dispute a first person narrative. This is a visual novel, with choices. Even with all the information presented to us is in first person, it is by nature of its medium a third person experience since we dictate the story at certain key points. And Ayana is there to remind us that we like her, are experiencing things from an objective point of view.
When I first met her, I didn’t think much about the girl.
A servant. Fourteen years. One star, Earth realm. Below average training talent – that was the only thing which came to mind.
That assessment wasn’t wrong but now, after a year by her side… I’d like to slap myself to make up for my blindness. Indeed, If doing so a thousand times could turn back time, I’d gladly hit myself until I shed my skin, and I’d gallantly hold her in an arm and fight my way out of that tiny mansion, even if I had to go through twenty or thirty people to escape that place. There is, however, no medicine for regret…
I put my dress and look at the mirror.
…Awful sweat. Trembling hands. Long, messy hair.
I’m nervous. No… I’m scared.
I close my eyes and focus on my body, trying to gain some confidence. I can feel the gathering qi – my life energy – within my dantian, inside my body.
Fifteen years. Eight star, earth realm. One more before I’m capable of breaking through to the Sky realm. A genius for the younger generation, I’m often told. Yet right now, that assessment can only bring a bitter smile to my face. Who cares about talent? The weakest of the opponents I’m about to face could probably beat me with his eyes closed.
What I’m about to do is suicide. I have no hope of intruding in a clan meeting, taking a servant with me and escaping from the grasp of the old monsters that are gathering in those giant halls.
Hundreds of years of training. That is the difference between us. Their sect leader sits atop the peak of the Sky realm – a true expert, rumored to be able to fly in the skies. Someone able to kill me with his aura alone.
Aaaaah, so be it. It’s bizarre. Everyone in the world would think me crazy. But still – still!
Her temperament, like a blooming lotus. Her smile, more gracious than the fields of cherry blossoms from my home country.
“...It is because of you that I have become confused, but my love for you still remains.”
That girl belongs in my side. I won’t let her waste away serving tea to some haughty clan in the middle of nowhere. The stage most suitable for her is atop this continent, not as a slave to some talentless fools, but ruling millions of kilometers alongside me.
It may be irrational or bizzare. We may both be girls, but my feelings won’t fade.
I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared. I don’t want to die.
Yet, if it’s for the sake of love…
There is a road to heaven which I cannot take. There is no door to hell, yet I must barge through.
If burning in to death in a blaze of glory against the old generation is my fate, then so be it.
Are you ready, Two Dragons Sect?
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On May 11th, 2017 (ie, Thursday last week) the parody visual novel "Stay! Stay! Democratic People's Republic of Korea" was released. Most people probably know that I wrote it. Well, 90% or so of it, there were some humor changes and a couple last-minute changes to make some things make sense, those were done by the Project Leader. But for the vast majority of it, it's my handiwork.
I actually got picked for the project because the developer advertised here on the boards. I submitted a sample, they liked it and brought me in. So without the boards, I wouldn't have had the chance to do the project. For that I'm extremely grateful.
I'm actually really grateful because, in a sense, it's a comeback for me. A long time ago I wrote sports articles for newspapers. You may not think it's relevant, but the sports section is actually one of the places you're supposed to expect some creativity when it comes to writing. The last year I had done it, I was in New Hampshire at a weekly start-up in its infancy - The Connecticut Valley Spectator (it was owned by The Eagles Times, but they went kaput years ago during the first couple death waves to newspapers). They pretty much turned over most of the staff after about 8-9 months, including myself. To be fair, I was doing everything for the section then - stories, page layout, even photography. I was pretty burned out, and trying to get people on board for a new local weekly isn't easy. Once I was let go with the others, I hadn't really done a job in professional writing since.
No, this isn't me trying to influence the forthcoming review. It is what it is and if the reviewer here loves it great, if not, I'm willing to listen to what they think would have been better. But the initial Steam reviews, both "real" and "shitposting real" have been really good.
But it also just feels really nice to have written something that people are reading once again. And without the boards here, it wouldn't have happened. So this place - it's alright.
And yes, you can tell me how much you loved or hated it if you read it. I don't bite. I'm actually super nice. WAIT WRONG ICON!!!
Parallel structure is a really simple concept that you probably already know in the back of your mind, but that you probably could use a little formalism to better understand. The idea is simple: when you're building a sentence with a list of multiple entries (which may potentially be pretty much any part of the sentence), try to keep the syntactic structure of each entry the same. If you don't do this, in the best case, your sentence will be a little harder to follow, and in the worst case, it will be downright ungrammatical.
Ready for some examples? Here we go!
VN TL Example
I was mostly inspired to write this blog post by a translated script I was looking at a few months ago which had quite a lot of parallel structure problems. Here's a particularly clear example sentence demonstrating the issue, from the translated script:Quote
She has good grades, great looks and is very popular among all the students.
Makes me want to put my fist through a wall.
The problem is that list of three items: "good grades"; "great looks"; and "is very popular among all the students." One of these things is not like the others. So, what do you do about it? You massage them until they're the same, of course. You could try to rewrite that last one to an "<adjective> <noun>" format like the others, e.g., "<some adjective> popularity", but I'm having trouble making that work. "High popularity?" Basically nonsense. Maybe chuck the word popular and find some equivalent? At any rate, I gave up on this branch because it was too much trouble already and there were better options: for starters, we could just switch to single adjectives down the line:Quote
She's smart, pretty, and popular.
It's a little terse now, and it doesn't say exactly the same thing, but this sounds quite a lot better because of the improved parallelism. You could also go the other the direction and make them all verbal phrases:Quote
She gets good grades, looks great, and is popular among the students.
Or even rewrite them each as a full-on independent clause:Quote
She gets good grades, she has great looks, and she's popular among the students.
I probably wouldn't go with any of these (I actually didn't edit this line; I just left a note for the person who'd already been through it to come back and fix up the parallel structure). To be honest, most of the words here are pretty bland; the character in question is being painted in dull shades of gray. I'd want to splash some color onto it. And, yes, it should really have a serial comma (you'll see I added it to all of my versions), because the serial comma actually is as great as it's hyped up to be.
That said, neither making things more interesting (while of course keeping in mind that the goal is to better match the intent and flavor of the original) nor waxing eloquent on the value of the serial comma is my concern with this blog post. At the moment, the goal is just to avoid wanting to put my fist through a wall, and if we fix all these parallel structure problems, I might just make it through the day with my hands and walls intact.
Published News Article (if by "published" you mean "posted to some site on the internet") Example
Here's a great, more interesting example. This one I just happened to stumble across mere minutes after I'd settled on writing this blog entry earlier today as I was, out of idle curiosity, poking around for more info about that zoo penguin with a Kemono Friends waifu:Quote
For a nation that has grown accustomed (and sometimes celebrated) an individual's obsession with their favorite waifus and husbandos, the pairing was too incredible to ignore.
My fist is twitching.
As with any writing problem, there are many ways to rewrite the sentence to fix the problem, but here's probably the least intrusive fix: insert a "to" after the "accustomed" and before the parenthetical. It's easy to convince yourself this is at least an improvement by dropping that whole additional verbal phrase inside the parentheses and reading the resulting sentence out loud to yourself, since the result is a straightforward, obviously grammatical sentence. As the sentence was originally written, if you drop the parenthetical, the result is equally obviously ungrammatical. So, here's the simple fix:Quote
For a nation that has grown accustomed to (and sometimes celebrated) an individual's obsession with their favorite waifus and husbandos, the pairing was too incredible to ignore.
This is passable, in my opinion (assuming the audience for said news article is a bunch of weebs who will understand "waifus and husbandos"), but it's still a pretty extreme example of odd sentence structure, and if you so desire, you can go quite a bit further to fix this up for better readability, by either breaking up that list entirely or by further enhancing the parallelism. This example is particularly interesting, and the mistake here particularly understandable, because the structure of that compound verbal phrase is so complex. My initial analysis was that "to grow accustomed to" was a transitive phrasal verb, but I don't think that's quite correct, because "accustomed to XXXX" is probably best classified as an adjective, which is consistent with this usage of "to grow" being best classified as a linking verb, rather than a transitive verb. By that, I mean that "to grow a fruit tree", the transitive version of "to grow," is quite different from "to grow bored", the linking version of "to grow," of which this is an example. Meanwhile, "to celebrate" is a simple transitive verb. So in this sentence, they've actually managed to build a compound verb phrase out of: a linking verb, linking the subject to a phrasal adjective which takes an object (itself a pretty long, complex noun phrase); and the simple transitive verb "to celebrate," which is taking the same really long noun phrase for an object. Bottom line, it's still a pretty gnarly sentence because of the remaining lack of parallelism between the verb phrases.
Want to fix it more? Knock yourself out (but I think my walls are safe from me now, so please don't knock them out). Once you get parallel structure ingrained in your brain, it gets pretty easy to spot problems and to fix them. In fact, you might even start spotting correct usage of parallelism and appreciating it.