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  1. gEYVnXBl.jpg

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

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    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:

    https://youtu.be/XgdjGFUt4mM

    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:

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/629430/The_Last_Birdling/

    Just one week to go my friends. Thank you :vinty:!

  2. Foreword: Game had already couple reviews, but those weren't too specific on the story, so I had to check it out myself in the end.

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    Title: 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~

    Developer: Nihon Create

    Date: 1993-02-05

    VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v4547

    Length: 6 hours.

    Game type: Command selection ADV

    Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq-kxnAJKmFd5cOYSn55q0UZ

    Difficulty: That happens to be the main part of review. FM Towns/PCE version is perfect with difficulty level low, full voicing and nice interface. The PC-98 version is gamer's hell, but only this version is hookable, so I proceeded with it. It's the fullest version having extra parts the other versions don't have, but pc-98 version has clunky interface of multiple windows that keep jumping all over and horrible mechanics that demand multiple clicking on the same commands to proceed with the game. That much useless clicking forces to miss on important parts as well. And there was a pitch moment in the second branch that made me waste two more hours on clicking through every room and searching for capture information which did not really help me, so only bruteforce clicking through every possible variant in each room only helped.

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    Synopsis: 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ is based on the manga and anime series 3x3 Eyes. Pai, a young girl from the immortal tribe of sanzhiyan, three-eyed demons of Chinese origin, wants to become a human again. She meets a Japanese teenager named Yakumo Fujii, whom she accidentally turns into a "wu", an immortal obedient servant of a three-eyed demon. Together, Pai and Yakumo try to regain their lost humanity.

    This game can be considered a side-story to the series. The player does not control Yakumo, but an ordinary high-school student named Kenichi Yamamoto. Accidentally, Kenichi comes into contact with the world of demons, and now he needs the help of Pai and Yakumo to be freed.

    Structure: None.

    Character Design rating: 7/10

    Protagonist rating: 6/10

    Story rating: 6/10

    Game quality: 7/10 PCE (2/10 PC-98)

    Overall rating: 6/10

    Rating comments: I actually expected more from the story and hoped for more gore. The characters only get interesting in voiced version and in PC-98 not so much. PC-98 version is so horrible that it's a miracle I made it to the end.

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    Protagonist: Kenichi Yamamoto does not really give a good impression. Pretty normal one for a fantasy story - positive, brave, curious etc.

    Characters: Pai is a cheerful girl who happens to have her own secret. She and Yakumo don't really play an important role in the story - they just tag along and support. Sujin is the main heroine and love interest of Kenichi. She's a mysterious blonde with some superpowers and her true aims aren't clear. All the other characters get mixed in the swarm of children who get caught up in the blizzard and they go out of the stage more or less together at one point.

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    Story: Kenichi Yamamoto just happens to have some bug crawl inside his forehead - there's no story behind it - it just happens. And at the same time strange persons start to find him interesting and some supernatural events start to occur around him. He and a swarm of other children get caught up in the blizzard and find shelter in a wooden house. However, a murder happens and panic rises with part of children leaving to find the way out of the blizzard. And both parties get attacked by the killer. And the battle finally shows who is the enemy and who is the real friend. From then on the main heroes seek the way to get the bug out of Kenichi body and for that seek advice from a specialist researcher and from then on seek for the remedy in different parts of the world.

    CG: CG are shown in a small window. That looks awful.

    Sound: PC-98 has horrible sound support. No sounds - just BGM. And those BGM aren't always suitable for the event on the screen - it can easily be a merry tune during a sad event.

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    Overall comments: So the game starts with the longest clicking sessions and slowest progression ever. It would be easy to fall asleep for several times if you did not need to click furiously for 100 clicks per minute. Then there goes the short action part where the things settle - and it's the best part of the game. The second half of the game of searching around the world just does not have much in the story department - it's just defeating several lackeys of a bad guy and finally meeting the bad guy. And to make life more difficult there are two mazes implemented - one for each branching. I've only found the basic branching that actually coincides in the same story in the final part of the game. There should actually be a way to get the second naked body scene and even another ending. So it all comes to a poor conclusion - PCE version can't be read since it's not hookable and PC-98 version lacks the interest to be read attentively due to horrible mechanics. I would call the story eclectic since there is not much explanation for actions - like professor is lost and noone cares since there is little time left till mutation or like the light is blown out and four people can't find each other in a narrow corridor and just go separately without really trying to get together. There are some minor events that I fail to get the meaning of. So the main definition for PC-98 version is torture - both story-wise, mechanic-wise and even sound-wise. Quite a short story that would fit in a 40-minutes OVA is stretched mercilessly to 6+ hours of unsatisfying gameplay.

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    mnmnoko
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    As a Japanese Otaku,  I,  was hugely affected by VNs/eroge in my youth, have wanted to organize what I experienced on VNs and culture around them in Japan. There are some critical text on VNs and their history much better than mine on the Internet or books, but sometimes personal view like this could be useful, so I'm writing this now. 
     
    As you might already know, a thinker or critic Hiroki Azuma actively was writing on Otaku culture from around 1993 to 2007, and he was surely in a central position of criticism about some kind of modern Japanese popular culture. Simply putting, he is a Postmodern theorist studied under other modern Japanese thinkers. As for me, I was late teen and interested in modern art or paintings (I liked Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter) at that time, knew about him around 2004-2005 through researching Takashi Murakami, a famous Japanese artist. Those days, maybe because Azuma was impressed by the advent of a VN (Shizuku, by Leaf, 1996) and its rapid growth of narrative and structure (e.g., YU-NO, ONE, Kanon, Tsukihime), he published one book referring VNs from a renowned publisher Kodansha in 2001 and two self-publishing books only about VNs in 2004. I used to read his book and website repeatedly then, and inevitably, fascinated by old school VNs that had queer, immature yet beautiful allure. 
     
    Sadly enough, the golden age can't last forever. Around the end of 2005, Azuma said that the VNs' craze ended, and started concentrating on social criticism. When I think of it now, he might lack a responsibility to the culture he lead in some sense. I was able to understand what he meant, however. Around that time, Type-Moon changed into a company from a doujin circle, CLANNAD was released without adult contents, Leaf/AQUAPLUS gradually became interested in all-aged console market. If I might say, VNs grew into a full-fledged genre of Otaku culture, and at the same time, it had to lose verdant attraction that only a growing genre can have. (I must say I would prefer modern VNs at present, and modern VNs tend to have great quality - especially graphic quality.) Anyhow, I needed to find my own criterion of what VNs are great for me, since I almost relied on his opinion, in other words, I had to stand on my own feet as an independent Otaku.
     
    In the end, what criterion have I found out? In short, I regard character design as important, in particular cuteness, glamour, and how to paint character (not only drawing). I like paintings after all. The technique of Bishoujo pictures (Moe-e) surely has a fashion, and I have been wondering where cuteness and modernity of Bishoujo girls arises from. Um, I'm being derailed a little, so, I will stop droning on. When I get a definite idea about something, I would like write again. Thank you for reading :wafuu:
  3. Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!

    Just like during the Steam Winter Sale, I offer you a short list of interesting, worthwhile offers on Western-made VNs that popped up for the occasion of Chinese New Year. The Steam market is still a pretty strange place - since forever, some of the best OELVNs available there are absolutely free (honourable mentions in this regard go to Cinderella Phenomenon, Lucid9, One Thousand Lies and CUPID). Thankfully, there's also a lot of interesting, commercial titles that are worth your attention. Be sure to check the previous post, if you didn't buy the games listed there - most of them now have similar, or even deeper discounts. Now, to the new stuff! The order in which the games are listed is more or less random, and consider all of these games equally endorsed by me, unless I say otherwise in their descriptions. ;)

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    Cursed Sight (-30%, $4.19)

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    Invert Mouse was once a regular poster in the developer blog section of our forums - while he seemingly gave up on communicating with our little community, it shouldn't prevent us from appreciating his fairly unique, story-driven VNs. Cursed Sight is one of his earlier works, offering a fantasy setting stylized after ancient China and a story avoiding typical romance cliches, but rather trying to present interesting drama and ask some slight philosophical questions. While it's fairly unorthodox and might not be to everyone's taste, it's definitely worth trying out, especially for the current, modest price.

     

    The Last Birdling (-25%, $6.74)

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    Continuing with Invert Mouse's work, his latest VN is an emotional story about friendship beyond prejudice and once more will offer you some pretty heavy, non-romantic drama that is far-detached from usual tropes of the genre. With production qualities somewhat higher than in IM's past titles, it's an interesting proposition for those looking for an enjoyable, slightly out-of-the-box experience.

     

    Sweetest Monster (-30%, $4.19)

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    Ebi-Hime's horror kinetic novel is a very different piece of work than her yuri titles but offers one of the strongest additions to its genre among western-produced VNs. Viewed from the perspective of a middle-aged man going through a marital crisis, Sweetest Monster's themes and story structure will offer you a distinct, engrossing experience you won't easily forget - and all this coupled with really impressive production qualities.

     

    The Way We All Go (-75%, $1.49)

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    The Way We All Go is one of Ebi-Hime's earliest titles and a relatively forgotten one, but the somewhat-simplistic visuals shouldn't fool you. It's a dark, complex story, with impressive route variety, a huge number of endings and solid writing - much longer and more intricate than the usual OELVN of that era and way beyond most things you can buy for such a small price. Just be sure you're ready to see some death and violence if you want to try this one out.

     

    Hate Plus (-33%, $6.69)

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    I'm sure you did buy Analogue: A Hate Story the last time I told you to, so why not look at its sequel? Hate Plus follows essentially the same investigation/database exploration formula, this time showing us the events that led to the Mugunghwa "year zero" disaster - the incident which threw the colony ship off-course and started an age of technological and societal regress we can observe in Analogue. With more fleshed-out route system, immersive UI and the same great-quality writing, it's another top-rate western VN and a must read for those interested in our fledgeling weeb-game market.

     

    Love Ribbon (-30%, $6.99)

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    Full-sister incest love story might sound like an excuse for trashy porn, but Love Ribbon takes this concept and does something you don't really see very often - make a serious, emotionally striking forbidden love drama, written in such a way that you can pretty easily imagine it happening in real life, with the same problems and outcomes as those shown in the game. While it has its share of unlockable h-scenes, Love Ribbon's core content makes it one of the most interesting and compelling examples of the genre even outside of just the OELVN scene and something I vigorously recommend to all yuri fans out there - also, the all-ages version should be a worthwhile read for anyone without clear aversion to shoujo-ai or incest themes.

     

    Sunrider: Liberation Day (-75%, $6.24)

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    While for me personally the sequel to Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius felt in many ways like a step backwards when compared to the original, it's a quite interesting and enjoyable VN/turn-based strategy hybrid. Love in Space's ambition of conquering the Japanese market might have effected in a slightly bizarre, misguided attempt at "Japanisation", with full-JP voice acting and some caricaturally-implemented eroge tropes, but Liberation Day still captures quite a lot of the space-opera charm and well-developed gameplay that the series relies on. I would also like to mention that the first Sunrider is still one of the best free OELVNs out there, while during this sale you can also buy its rather amusing dating sim spin-off, Sunrider Academy, for close to nothing, 90% off the regular price.

     

    Crimson Gray (-50%, $4.99)

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    Decent VNs centered around a yandere heroine are not something easy to find, no matter if we look at the Japanese or Western market. Crimson Gray takes that somewhat-ridiculed and often trashy theme and turns it into a solid, well-paced psychological horror. While in many ways minimalistic, it's a very focused and effective game - one that knows exactly what it wants to achieve and delivers in a way that should satisfy most fans of the genre.

     

    Brilliant Shadows - Part One of the Book of Magic (-30%, $4.89)

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    One of the more unique and visually striking OELVNs on Steam offers many of the traits I most enjoy in non-JP visual novels - unorthodox story, unique setting, a strong female protagonist and yuri themes that go beyond fluffy romance or cheap fanservice. Non-Japanese voice acting, while not perfect, is quite solid here and the game as a whole shows a lot of imagination and character, being a worthy read for anyone looking for the less-usual approaches to the visual novel formula.

     

    Solstice (-60%, $7.99)

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    After the highly-appreciated Cinders, MoaCube's second title further establishes that Studio's highly-distinct approach to the VN formula. With its extremely detailed, non-anime artstyle and intrigue slightly more akin to the classic western adventure game than typical visual novel storytelling, Solstice will definitely not be to everyone's liking. It's possible to argue though that the visual fireworks alone make it something worth experiencing, especially for the relatively modest price of $8.

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    I hope you've found this list interesting (and possibly even helpful)! Making these let me realize how small the commercial OELVN market still is. While there is a substantial number of western VNs showing up every year, the most interesting ones even now tend to be freeware titles created by hobbyists, and the products that actually ask us to pay money for them are more often than not very average or impressive in some respects, but deeply flawed - those games might still be interesting to some but are quite hard to blindly recommend. There's a lot of talent and interesting ideas in the scene, but it takes quite a lot of time and dedication to dig through all the mediocre stuff (and the tons of utter shovelware infesting Steam) and find those few, truly valuable titles. Still, as long as I have time and strength for it, I will try to fish out worthwhile OELVNs for your (and my own) enjoyment. ;)

    Have a great week everyone!

  4. Gensou no Idea is the third VN from 3rdEye, a company specializing in chuunige.  When I originally played this game, I was a bit more perverse, personality-wise, and as a result, I treated this VN badly, as one of my pet-peeves is dual-perspective VNs.  I generally prefer for there to be only one protagonist, and my reaction to this game was colored badly by that.

    First, I'll introduce the protagonists. 

    The first protagonist is Minase Yuuma, an optimistic young man who is nonetheless grounded firmly in reality.  There isn't a scrap of malice in this kid, but he is not an innocent or unaware of the nature of the world he lives in... he simply has a very firm philosophy on life, as the result of being raised by a rather... strong personality.  Yuuma is a 'cleaner', specializing in the removal of corpses and the cleaning of homes that have been contaminated by them.  He takes pride in his work, and he is one of the few optimist protagonists I actually like.

    The second protagonist is Akashi, an Idea (the term that refers to beings from Utopia that roughly conform to human legends) who possesses control over fire.  His emotions are weak in most areas, partly because he isn't human, partly because he is missing a big chunk of memories.  However, he possesses a driving urge to recover his memories and destroy the 'Phantom' who brought ruin to his life.  He has a strong interest in humans and believes firmly that he is good at mimicking them, but he is... not very good at it, lol. 

    Now for the heroines... strictly speaking, there are no separate heroine paths in this game.  This game is, like Sorcery Jokers, essentially a kinetic novel where you choose which protagonist perspective you see first sometimes.  There are epilogues for each heroine, but they are pretty short and to the point.

    The first Yuuma heroine is Naru.  Naru is a fortune-teller with a bad case of chuunibyou and an inherent optimism that matches Yuuma's own.  She is very prideful and has a tendency to lose her cool rather easily.

    The second Yuuma heroine is Rinon.  Rinon is an idol and an Idea that Yuuma follows obsessively.  She is arrogant, possessive, and violent.  However, once she falls for him she is... passionate and loyal.  I really, really liked her epilogue, and I almost fell out of my chair laughing at its end.

    The third Yuuma heroine is Kokoro.  Kokoro is your classic 'emotionless heroine', showing little reaction to most stimuli. 

    The first Akashi heroine is Noel.  Noel is a possessive, jealous Idea woman whose first priority is Akashi's love, second is Akashi's safety, third is Akashi's happiness, and fourth is Akashi's penis.... do I need to go on?  One of her ongoing hobbies is drugging Akashi and having him tortured to find out the identities of women he is cheating on her with (she defines 'cheating' as talking to or being talked to by another woman... or looking at them, touching them, or breathing the same air as them). 

    The second Akashi heroine is Mitsuki.  Mitsuki... has issues.  She is very much an introvert, and she has a tendency to keep her distance from others.  She does get pretty cute when Akashi manages to make it past her guard, though.

    The setting

    This game is based around a century or two after Bloody Rondo (don't know if this is fully canon or not), seven years after a disaster that nearly destroyed humanity.  In this new world, where a large portion of the planet's surface has been submerged and the human population has been greatly reduced, Archive Square, the corporation that has taken charge of the recovery, has become the central power in the world.  This is the case across most of the world, but the city this story is based in is one where more than half of the population works for AS.

    There are two worlds in this game... one is 'Dystopia' (the name Idea give Earth) and the other 'Utopia' (the word the Idea use for their own world).  Idea, beings of immense power from Utopia, have been going back and forth between the worlds for centuries, taking the form of humans on Earth and generally indulging their curiosity and whims as they desire.

    The story

    This story focuses on two perspectives... Yuuma as he deals with the changes in his situation, and Akashi as he seeks the past.  This story has a lot of really good battle scenes, emotional moments, and some seriously interesting hedge philosophy (mostly out of Kyouko and Yuuma, though Akashi contributes sometimes). 

    On my second playthrough, having gone in with a more open mind than my first, I found the story a great deal more interesting.  I won't say it is perfectly paced or that the characters are the best I've ever run into in a chuunige (they aren't), but I honestly enjoyed the ride, from beginning to end.  This isn't a VN that is likely to make it into my top fifty, but if you are looking for a good chuunige and have already read the more famous names, this is an excellent choice. 

  5. Or: These game characters should learn to stop worrying and love the dong

     

    Disclaimer: The following opinion is genuine. But I like to express myself in creative ways after so many mostly serious posts, so shit ensues. A review will be up next week, please keep supporting this blog.
     

    After so many dicks, I looked back to my complete VNs folder and tried to do one of the most dumb things a fan can do: compare not completely alike games. Bl games comes in all kinds of packages, with different plot genres and structures, but as long as they are under the same umbrella definition of BL, I noticed they all share the same types of mistakes. Misses that I found in BL anime and manga too. Of course, when I say all I don't mean AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL of them, but I'm trying to raise awareness of the problems that I usually spot in the majority of the popular releases. I already saw every one of those pitfalls being avoided in mangas, so there's hope in this world. 

    Since Fuwa surely love some top X, I'll organize it in some top 5 countdown fashion. Do notice that I'll not tackle what I see in doujinshis here, because seriously, who wants to fix the fantasy world of short doujins? Hell, if everything they did there had 100% realism, instead of 17/20 pages of porn we would get 17/20 pages of (trying to) pay bills.

    But enough sadness, let's get this over with!


    5) Girls

    Okay okay, maybe lots of people don't want tits in their BL works, but unless we're on a prison/gang/old army/all-boys school/world where mpreg is a thing (90% of the games are out already...), we need some of them! Of the works I read, if I happen to see some girl, one of the following happens:

    • She's some character's mom. Then she dies/is murdered and the guy angsts;
    • She's some character's sister. Then she dies/is murdered and the guy goes into a roaring rampage of revenge (in both cases, she dies within the first five minutes of the novel);
    • She's the main villain. She eventually dies;
    • Plot twist, she's actually male! Because of this maaaaybe she can survive.

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    She totally confused me for a second...

    I would love to see some day a BL story where the MC have some female best friend and they talk about boys together aaah~
     

    4) Porn that doesn't sound like your average BxG h-scene

    Seriously, if some games didn't keep reminding me that both participants have dicks, I would think that I was reading some R18 otomege. Even some CGs seems like the guy on top is totally hitting the wrong place, artists, please get basic anatomy right thank you. I wouldn't copy a whole scene of this type here because effort, but it's as full of "yameteeeee, yaaaaaaa, Ryou-kun (random name) dameeee" as you're expecting.

    And what's the deal of only the guy on the receiving end feeling it? Draw some expressions on the other guy too! It almost looks like that while the uke is having the time of his life, the seme suddenly realized that he'll probably die before Kentaro Miura finishes Berserk. Probably he and all of us, actually.
     

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    Not BL, but I'll never forget Akihito pulling a Sad Affleck in the middle of the porn years before Sad Aflleck was a thing! 
    (Image edited by ESRB)

     

    3) Characters that actually identify themselves as gay/bisexual

    Okay, we get that social stigma exists and all that... But BL VNs are usually more "edgy" than Yuri ones... Sometimes society collapsed already, what are you waiting for, you dummy??? "Oh, I'm totally not gay, it's just because it's you!" Yeah sure, Jun-kun (random name) only liked Kou-kun (random name), not a single woman (they exists? See point 5 above) or guy before. Or after. You're really not gay, Jun-kun, you're Kousexual apparently.

    The scenario is even worse for bisexual characters. Remember any? Exactly.
     

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    Just kidding, I remember him! In fact... Everyone is bi in this pic. This is one bitastic game!

     

    2) Condoms

    Eeeer, just because none of you guys can become pregnant (if mpreg isn't a thing in their world, that is) doesn't mean it's all okay... But maybe if they DID try to use one, the following could happen, so guess in the end it's all the same...
     

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    FINISH HIM!
    (ESRB attacked again, thank you for your understanding)

     

    1) Lube

    Dude, seriously, ouch. Just... ouch.

  6. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rbdNTnDkk7k/UCNmZS3GSgI/AAAAAAAAAMA/ejekvK6piMw/s640/GA+(cut).png

    ( In a galaxy far, far away. )

    The Setup

    It all started with a flash game. It's hard to believe that my love affair with Visual Novels and my dalliances with manga and anime all sprang from the same source but it's true. Of course, I had watched anime before on both Fox Kids when I was real little, and on Toonami when I was older. The thing of it was I never really tried to seek it out on my own. If a show that I was watching stopped being aired then I stopped watching it. That all changed when I played the Galaxy Angel Sim Date when I was still a freshman in high school. It was on Newgrounds, which was at the time the most popular site for dumb flash games and videos. Of course, being the pervy high schooler that I was, I wanted what was in the adults only category. That's where I found Galaxy Angel Sim Date. Now I don't know exactly why but for some reason I really came to love that game, and I was very interested in finding what it was based on. That led me eventually to the anime, the manga, and much later to the visual novel. The internet can be a weird and amazing place.

    The Story

    GA- The Duo

    (Tact Mayers, the man himself)

    The Transvaal Galaxy has been gripped in terror! Exiled Prince Eonia and a huge fleet of unknown vessels have undertaken a massive Coup d'état against the Emperor of Transvaal, and the White Moon! Hope is not lost however, the famed Angel Wing has managed to escape with the last of the royal family aboard the Elsior. Now the fate of the entire galaxy is up to...you, apparently. You are Tact Mayers, a greenhorn layabout who usually leaves all the important work to your adjutant, Lester Coolduras. Unfortunately for your dreams of sloth you are chosen for a daring rescue mission. It's not all bad though as you are also given command of the strongest strike force in the galaxy, powered by only cute girls. Life, it takes and it gives. Basically, the plot is that you must attempt to outrun Eonia's forces for as long as possible. At first, the Angel Wing might not trust their new fresh off the boat commander but who knows, it's a long voyage, anything can happen, even dare I say it, love. Galaxy Angel is without a doubt a pure space opera. It wears it on it's sleeve and dances with it in the dark. It might not be the most intricate of plots but it is still filled with a lot of powerful moments. But just who are the mystery girls?

    The Characters

    https://animetree.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/ga-intermission.png

    (Forte and Mint to the left, Vanilla and Ranpha to the right, and Milfeulle in the middle)

    Characters are important to any story and in my humble opinion these are some of the best, even if they might not be the most well developed. More than that I've grown up with these characters so I know them backwards and forwards. Each Angel pilots their very own Emblem Frames, which are one of a kind ships powered by the fabled (and convenient) Lost Technology. Here is a breakdown of the characters and what they pilot.

    Mifuelle Sakuraba: She pilots the Lucky Star and is the epitome of a air headed girl. She loves to cook and is gifted with a unholy amount of reality breaking luck. Milfeulle also happens to be the "main" girl of the VN.

    Ranpha Franboise: Ranpha pilots the Kung Fu Fighter and is basically your typical energetic, and tsundere girl. She works out a lot and loves fortune telling.

    Forte Stollen: Forte pilots the Happy Trigger and is in many ways the older sister of the group. She is obsessed with ancient firearms and is an avid collector.

    Vanilla H: She pilots the Harvester and is the youngest and most quiet of the troupe. Vanilla is able to control nanomachines incredibly well and is an excellent healer.

    Mint Blancmanche: Mint is the pilot of the Trick Master and the source of all good things in this world. Mint is a telepath and because of this does not trust anyone easily. She is obsessed with cute and sweet things.

    The story is centered around them with each chapter centered around a specific member of the team. This gives you a chance to get to know each of them while getting closer at the same time. At a certain point the story it is possible to choose a characters and their specific route opens up. There are also quite a few noteworthy side characters like Lester Coolduras who engages you with a galaxy spanning bromance. By some weird design the combat effectiveness of the Emblem Frames are determined by the mental states of each pilot. Your job as the commander is to basically make nice with them or else their performance will suffer. This leads me to one of the more unique aspects of Galaxy Angel, the gameplay.

    The Gameplay

    https://animetree.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/ga-gameplay-1.png

    https://animetree.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/ga-gameplay-2.png

    (Combat Inaction)

    The gameplay is pretty basic but it works. After every mission you briefing you give the Angels their orders and they engage in ship to ship combat. Each Emblem Frames have their own special advantages and weakness. For example the Kung Fu Fighter is the fastest but has the weakest shields while the Happy Trigger is the slowest but with the most firepower. Each ship also has a special ability that can be used effectively once a certain bar is filled up. When it does you can give the Frame a command and they will use it against the enemy. (The only one that does not is the Harvester, Vanillas special attack heals all the of the Frames.) Like I said before the gameplay is very bare bones though they often throw some new elements in play like stronger enemy types or more complicated objectives. There is one last ship that I have yet to bring up which is the Elsior, which is another piece of lost technology and the flagship that everyone resides in. It has extremely weak firepower though it mostly makes up with that by having the power to completely heal each Angel Frame. It's poor combat effectiveness and slow speed is easily the most annoying parts in the game. With it's awful firepower it is always advisable to keep it way out of enemy range. While that may be easy enough at first there are several missions when you must escort it through enemy lines which can be incredibly frustrating. The graphics also reflect the fact that this Visual Novel was released in 2002 so don't go expecting that much in that way. Still, the battles can be very thrilling at times and I think it would be quite a loss if the gameplay was not present. The later games really improved the mechanics quite a bit while keeping to the core concept. The second aspect of the game is moving around the Elsior and talking with the crew. This improves the relationship and combat effectiveness. It's pretty basic stuff and it is real easy to see just how each angel thinks of you.

    Meh, it's only the 2nd chapter

    (Oh yeah did I mention that this is all determined by a telepathic space whale?)

    Final Thoughts

    What can I say Galaxy Angel is still one of my favorite Visual Novels and I have a great deal of affection for it. It might not have the most compelling of stories, but it does something extremely well and that is make you feel invested with the characters. It can be pretty powerful stuff when they start to actually like and trust you. This is the first part of a great trilogy and it serves as a wonderful jumping off point. The only problem with the game is that since it was released in 2002 it is quite difficult to get working on modern computers. Despite that setback I would really recommend checking out. You might come to love it too.

  7. Lazy town memes have this weird tendency to fade away then come back stronger than ever after like 2 years. Dunno how to really explain it. God knows I got tired of listening to "we are number one" in recent times. I digress, though. 

    This post is by no means a defense of piracy. Hear me out for a sec though.

    Fuwa has been a weird place over the last few years. As I'm sure you all know, we used to be a VN-hosting website, with a bunch of pre-patched torrents that collectively pissed off the entire existing community when we started hosting them because translators didn't want their patches pre-patched so they wouldn't be associated with piracy and there was like a 1/4 chance something weird would break in the games we were pre-patching when we first started doing it (though by the time we stopped hosting them, we were actually pretty good at it.)

    Aaeru, our creator, who is now a blur in the forums and you can only find via remembering exactly where she posted or via our discontinued gift bot (who has none of her involvement or her personality, but does maintan her avatar) was vehemently pro-piracy, going so far as to include a text file in every single one of our old torrents explaining how piracy was a good thing for an industry, an idea she passionately championed.  

    A few years ago, we stopped hosting torrents, a decision that was probably for the best, and we got to this. What we currently have in the forums. Saying you have pirated a visual novel will lead to a slap in your wrist, and we're all more or less supposed to pretend no one pirates anything, even though everyone knows that's not the case. Like talking about being a nazi in germany, you will be strongly admonished, though without the getting arrested and loathed part. But hey, our torrents didn't enact a terrible, irrational and disgusting massacre against our fellow human beings, so I think the reaction being weaker is justified. Just a little bit. 

    g6Iwmxd.png

    There are several reasons that lead people to pirate things. One big problem is torrents. If this was back in the old days, where you had to download daemons tools, install that, figure out how to use it and, download 20 parts of zip files through your shitty wifi connection with the hosting service also being complete garbage and half of those files randomly crashing because internet and servers are a potato and you having to start their download from the beginning then figuring out how to install the patch it might be a pain, but torrents are very convenient.

    It is literally easier for me to download a torrent for grisaia than it is for me to buy it right now. I will spend less time and go through less steps by downloading this torrent than I would if I tried to buy it. That is a serious problem, because I will obviously spend less money downloading a torrent for grisaia than I would if I bought it, and if I'm even slightly savvy at this, the torrent will be no less safe than buying the game. 

    And that's for official releases. Fan translations are a completely different beast. No normal person will go out of their way to buy a game in japanese going through sites they don't understand or having to deal with the long ass 2 week wait and uncertain clusterfuck that is international shopping to then apply a fan patch to read a game just because they want to support the industry.

    The average VN reader does not give half a fuck about the industry, and that will never change. 

    You are probably a pirate. Chances are that if you are reading this, you are either a complete newcomer who hasn't even read 50 VNs or you have pirated games before. Because it's much much easier and more convenient to be one. Out of all the people this post will reach, I doubt even 5 go out of their way to buy jp games then patch them. 

    And there's so many more small things that add up to it. If I want to buy VNs, I need to make accounts in like 5 different websites and input my credit card info in all of them when I could literally just go to the same torrent site and download all of them without any of the extra steps. 

     

    I think the way VNs are sold needs to change somehow for them to actually get the sales they could get. No clue how, though. But until someone figures out how to do it, the vast majority of readers will continue being pirates. Because it's easier, convenient, doesn't take money and no one cares about the consequences. 

     

  8. Visual Novel Translation Status (02/10/2018)

    First of all sorry for very belated review here, and welcome to this week VNTS Review - I'll tell about the title in my PS. As for this week update, well anemic was one way to put it like admin Tay although perhaps we could call this a slow week. That said, we still get some update though so it's enough for now. Let's see what we get for this week.

    We finally to have release date for Root Double PSV version at March 8th later, which mean that Sekai finally managed to fulfill one on their KS promise. It's quite a good news alright, only that apparently it's only for NA which mean unfortunately Europe still didn't get that yet, although Sekai promised that they'll look at the issue. Not that I care anyway, since I didn't own PSV lol. Other than Root Double PSV, we got Bokukotsu release estimation, in which they gonna release it at this month - it's rumored that it'll be released at Valentine day later, but for now it's still unconfirmed whether they'll release it at 14th or not. Other than those two, no other interesting info from Sekai.

    This week back at Tuesday, Mangagamer did released Sono Hanabira 11 demo. As for the demo, apparently it's only for the engine testing so there's no much content to see. If anything, at least they already prepared the engine for the release at 22nd later. Oh, and since obviously there's already exact release date for Sono Hanabira 11, it mean that the fan translation project of this was halted and therefore there'll be no more progress from that project. While this week Mangagamer didn't have their usual updates, Arunaru tweeted some interesting thing that namely he managed to have Sengoku Rance was at 90% retranslated and he hope that by next week it should be finished.

    Fo fan translation, there's still some updates like I said earlier. The roundup goes like Eustia was at 21.22% edited and 20.86% TLC-ed; Loverable was at 74.16% TLC-ed; Musumaker was at 48% translated; and Majokoi was at 85% TLC-ed, which is good because at least they're on track to finished TLC within one or two month. No update from Pure Pure at this week, because the translator said that he's quite busy at the school (The info was at Abyss Translation Facebook). As for Tsujidou, right now Renna's route was at almost halfway (49.05%) translated and overall was at 88.25% translated - no much to say I admit. There's also another two updates from both of Koiken Otome fandisc and Shin Koihime Musou, in which they have some progress. For more info, Koiken Otome fandisc was at 13% translated, and right now Shin Koihime Musou was at 91% translated along with 15% edited.

    Before closing this VNTS Review, there's another update from Newton VN. As for the update, right now they managed to fully translated Lavi's route and fully edited Yotsuko's route. Other than that, there's no much info from them at this week.

    Well, that's all for this week and I admit that this week review is pretty short. See you next week.

    PS - For the title, seeing that we got a sleeping succubus in front of monitor and the sucubuss herself was from Bokukotsu (The full title is 'Boku to Koi Suru Ponkotsu Akuma', and the ponkotsu part from the title is mean 'affectionately useless'), I decided to just adapt Pulltop's Lovekami VN from 'Useless Goddess' to 'Useless Succubus'.

  9. Despite there being a few good editing blogs on Fuwanovel, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of translation blogs. I think part of the reason for this is that editors in the fan translation scene are often doing things the translator could very well be doing themselves, often to the detriment of the final product. Look at, say, the “big back” entry Fred wrote. Now tell me why this issue couldn’t be avoided back at the translation stage.

    There are two reasons why you would do this: one, you don’t know Japanese well enough to understand what is actually meant, so you put down whatever it says literally. In this case, the sane way to handle the issue is to ask someone who knows Japanese better than you for advice. Two, you’re just lazy. Who actually thinks “the date changed” sounds right in English? An edge case of this is prioritizing speed; Ixrec and MDZ* both prioritized speed and neither had very good results to show for it, but they did complete things. Personally I still think this is ultimately lazy; it is significantly more simple to translate literally than to try to actually write well. In this case, ask yourself if you really want to produce a shitty translation.

    What I’m trying to get at is this: if you actually want to produce something good, you can’t just leave writing the thing up to the editor. Editors are not miracle workers; they have to deal with what they’re given. Furthermore, many editors working on fan translations, and well, translations period, are not very good at the job. Any time you leave something bad in, there is always the possibility of it sticking around in the final product. I’m not saying you have to be perfect. I’m saying this: for the love of visual novels, try.

    If you ask me, before you hand your script to the editor, you should have already done an editing pass on it. Or two. The lines should connect with each other rather than float like islands in a sea of prose, there should be at least an attempt at character voice, and all ugly stock translations should be kawari-fucking-mashita’d, much like the 日付 at midnight, with extreme prejudice.

    Sometimes you’re still going to come up short. Sometimes it just won’t sound right whatever you try. That’s when you should pray that your editor knows better than you  leave a note at the line explaining the problem, move on, and hope to hell that your editor is actually good enough to work it out. That’s what the editor is for. The editor should not be translating from weeb to English. The editor should not be doing your job.

    *Its not just the fan translation scene that does this, by the way  there are companies, like Aksys, which demand its translators write a colorless literal translation to be punched up by superstar editors later. Unsurprisingly, they’ve put out some real stinkers; I have a lot of respect for Ben Bateman’s work on 999 for this reason.


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  10. Hey, what’s up. This is Bee, or better known as Barry. So far, my activity on this forum has been limited to just spam troll comments and threads, and while that is, for the most part, funny and entertaining, I thought that I should make a serious post about something just to counter the not-so-serious ones I’ve been pumping out so far.

    I decided to start this blog with a series of posts, which I have named “New Companies: Good or Bad?.”It’s a series in which I’ll “analyze” and, hopefully, try to convince people that might be interested in supporting these companies to at least give some thought to where they’re getting their money into. Since this is a very broad subject I’ll be splitting this up into a series, in which I’ll be taking on the different companies and also give some of my opinion in general of them in every aspect that concerns localizations, such as meeting deadlines, having professional PR/workers and so on and so forth.

    Disclaimer: In these blog posts I’ll be reviewing the newer companies (although I might go over the old ones as well) detailing their pros and cons contrasted with my opinion. Remember that I am VERY biased and that my opinion is as worthless as anyone else’s, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Anyways, without further ado, I’ll start this episode talking about the newer company that has risen from the depths of hell (moe hell, to be precise), and this one being NekoNyan

    Logo.

    NekoNyan seems to be the newest company that has appeared in what I’d call the “Massification of VN’s” era, one in which people are just spawning new companies in an attempt to compete against the current monsters that gobble the industry, being MangaGamer and Sekai Project primarily (I’ll leave JAST and FrontWing aside because I do not consider them being very relevant in the market at the moment.)

    NekoNyan seems to follow the same pattern of thought as SolPress, this being their “core beliefs” if I’d call it like that.

     

    1. “We believe that we’ve learned the mistakes other companies have made.” - This is a general phrase that these new companies have been selling us; they assure that they’ve learned from past mistakes companies like Sekai Project have made (a fair example would be the latest releases of Hoshimemo and Leyline). Very strange that they’re saying this, because the main two members of Hoshimemo’s disaster (Akerou, CEO & Translator of NekoNyan, and Chuee, Editor at NekoNyan as well) are working in that company in the first place. I mean, I believe in the fact that people can change, but to be completely honest those two (especially you, Chuee) don’t really give me the good vibes. Especially from someone who is not critical about himself and refuses to improve his work. In summary, they seem to have a better scope of things, but I don't see much difference regarding other companies. How about being more open about what you do? *Daily reminder that Hoshimemo’s disaster was not because of these two alone, but they were part of the problem.
    2. “We strive to bring Japanese culture and to connect fans with developers.” This sounds awfully close to what Sekai Project says in their website. It’s not inherently a bad thing, but as far as I’ve grasped they’re using the same method of team compositions as Sekai Project. Hopefully their project coordinator (whoever that is) either exists in the first place (SP has none afaik, at least not a good one) or knows his shit, because otherwise prepare to see fiestas like Leyline.
    3. This is a very difficult and broad subject to touch but I find it funny how these people pride themselves for being professional at what they do. I don’t think that’s the case, though. One of the many definitions of professional by the cambridge university says as follows: “having the qualities that you connect with trained and skilled people, such as effectiveness, skill, organization, and seriousness of manner,” aka, you have to have the skills in order to be a professional, it’s not only about being paid for translating or editing something. I’ve been paid numerous times for working on the English department in some Light Novels, does that mean that I’m automatically a “professional”? Not in my eyes, at least. Working on SakuSaku and Hoshimemo doesn’t mean you’re up for professional work, neither does having your edits released by Sekai Project. I’m not going to debate here whether the rest of the staff is up for it or not because I have yet to see something from them (not all, though, I genuinely believe that some of their staff is good) but before something comes out I’m going to say that the final product won’t be anything outstanding and won’t break any expectations compared to other companies. This talking about a translation quality standpoint, in the case of PR, Project Management and coordination we'll have to wait and see.
    4. About the choice of games they went for; to be honest I can’t blame them. Moege is, in my eyes, insufferable trash, but it’s what sells and what Steam users usually prefer. Not all of them seem like full moege/slice of life stuff, but in a general sense they’re more focused on a selling standpoint, meaning that they won’t take risks and will probably go after moege, which is what sells. What does this mean? Even though this means more VN’s getting localized, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be good. In fact, I dare to say that they’re just going to oversaturate the market (it’s already saturated IMO, but even more now).

     

    To sum things up;

     

    Do I think NekoNyan will be the “saviour of VN’s and have a “unique personality” compared to other companies, like say, MangaGamer? No. Their choices are bland, most of their staff seems the same staff that every other company has (let’s remember that the same people are always the ones working for every single company) and my general distrust towards some of the staff members just doesn’t make it up for me. As for unique personality goes, I don’t think they’ll be any different than SolPress, for example. ALthough their focus seems to be specified on VN’s only (maybe they expand to LN’s and Manga like everyone else in due time, we’ll have to see.)

    Are their practices better than Sekai Project’s, for example? As far as consumer-focus goes, a very big yes. They appeal to a broader audience and they seem to have taken some very important steps in order to make things generally better and not bring shame upon themselves (thank god they’re not kickstarting their projects, that’s a big plus and deserves respect). As far as internal focus goes, we’ll have to wait and see. Same goes with PR, so far, nothing wrong. Hopefully they’ll hire someone actually competent at that job instead of random people.

    Should people instantly follow them like lambs and praising their work even if they haven't even read an excerpt of what they've translated? No. This is a recurrent problem nowadays, when people see something new they always tend to think it's better. And the matter of fact is that that's not the case, at least here. Companies like SolPress are already being labelled as the "saviours" of translations, when, as far as I've seen from their work it's nothing different compared to a decent translation work made by MG or even SP. Hopefully people will be more skeptic about new companies like these ones, but that's obviously not going to be the case and droolers will start appearing sooner or later. Tldr: they're nothing different from what we've seen so far.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Unrelated to the post;

    • Please leave your opinion on the format of the post and the display of topic in general: Did you like it? Would you add more info or less info? Would you like more company “reviews”? Was I too harsh? Constructive criticism so I can improve my blog posting is very appreciated.
    • Since this is a very new company with no games released yet I retrained myself about commenting about other elements that are core when translating VN's, I'll probably make a more detailed post about NekoNyan in the future, once we've seen a full scope of their intentions and quality.
    • Before someone raises the question: “Then who do you consider a good professional?” I’ll answer with people like: Conjueror, Garejei, Makoto, Koestl and Ambigravity for example, there are more but these are the better known people in my book.
    • Another thing I need to reiterate: this is not a hate thread towards certain people (some will get the wrong idea reading "1."). If I mention names I just want to be clear about my intentions: I'm not here to hate on anybody.
    • Thanks for reading so far (if you actually did).
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    This is my first ever review, so I would love feedback on this or even general advice on review writing!

    The Setting

    Danganronpa is a murder-filled mystery told over six chapters. Fifteen students are gathered at a school (ironically named Hope’s Peak) by an emotionally unstable teddy bear (Monukuma). The only way to leave the school is by playing Monukuma’s twisted game - to commit murder, without being caught. If the murderer is caught, he is brutally executed, if he succeeds he is set free while the remaining students are executed.

    Gameplay

    Chapters are divided into three parts, Daily Life, Deadly Life and the Class Trial.

    Daily Life is where you the initial character development takes place. In this phase you can walk around and talk to other people, advancing the plot. You are also given “Free Time” where you can get closer to specific characters, which then unlocks power-ups that can be used in the class trial mini-games. The “Daily Life” period usually ends once a murder occurs. The nature of the game, makes most of these murders of the “whodunit” type. These tended to be fun and lasted around an hour each.

    Deadly Life is the investigative period. You explore your murder scene and examine items as you look for clues to help solve your mystery. This holds several similarities to “Phoenix Wright” investigations.

    The Court-Trials were basically the final showdown in each chapter where you solved the mystery. These were fast paced and interesting. The trial-system itself was horrible though. It was littered with some of the most irritating mini-games of all time. Several obvious statements that can be inferred from the evidence, have to be explicitly found through multiple mini games. On the other hand, the comic-style closing arguments was done very well.

    The PC port was horrible. The controls were not mapped out well at all, and to advance text, you are forced to use your mouse rather than the enter key or spacebar. This was very irritating and definitely affected my overall experience with the game.

     

    Soundtrack

    The BGM is very catchy, the kind that ends up sticking in your head for a while. While not all of it is amazing, there will probably be at least one or two tracks that you will enjoy.

    Visuals

    The CG’s and graphics are beautiful and the video-clips are well made. One thing that could have been better was the gore. All blood and wounds, were a bright pink color. If it actually looked like blood, a lot of the gruesome deaths would have impacted me a bit more.

    The Story

    Danganronpa starts of very strong. The very first case tries to drive home that anyone can die. I enjoyed the first two cases the most. The third and fourth cases were good as well, but by then the number of people remaining had reduced making it easier to identify the culprit. The last two chapters, were basically the same case. While I enjoyed them a lot some things have still not been explained.

    Spoiler

    Spoiler

    Spoiler

    the tragedy, what has happened in the outside world-

     

    . Overall several good mysteries with innovative solutions. Also Danganronpa is Kinetic in nature. If you are given a choice, you either advance, or it loops back until you pick the right choice. The epilogue doesn’t really conclude the story well and is very open/teaserish in nature. (Most Spike Chunsoft games seem to do this, like 999)

    The Characters

    Most of the characters were strong personalities, the kind which would naturally end up being the center of their groups. Gathering them all in one place would naturally cause conflict. Most of them exemplified a single quality to an exaggerated degree, almost to the extent where their whole personality could be built around it. Each character was unique and interesting, which lead to interesting motives as well as murderers. While I could never support the murderer, I found myself understanding and sympathizing with the killers as well as the victims in some of the cases.

    Pros

    Great mysteries

    Well explored characters

    Fun investigations/Large World to explore

    Court System/ Case Arguments

    Monukuma

    Cons

    Pink fake blood/gore

    Some plot points left unexplained

    PC port

    Court System/Bullet Time Battle (This had no purpose but to infuriate anyone playing the game)

    Verdict – 9/10

  11. Did you know Fuwanovel was once almost called Hoshinovel? No? Well, you should.

    Today I am here to counter the travesty that is this website that was almost named after this game having two bad reviews giving it a 1/5.

    Now, I haven't played this game for years, never really liked it all that much and I don't remember half the plot points or really any of the character names. I did look at a CG gallery for two minutes while cropping this avatar so that should be a pretty good reminder of the story though.

    Under these circumstances, you might think that writing a defense of a game would be something only a moron would do - But the loli is pretty great and I've been called much worse. 

    Now, I don't actually remember anything about this game other than a sex scene with this one girl dressed in a maid outfit carefully licking the protagonist's ochinchin (or was that in the fandisc? Doesn't really matter), so it's pretty hard to actually write something about it. Luckily, we have Fred's review, and coupled with my memory from looking at that HCG set we can just read that and explain why he's wrong.

    Well, without any more chatter, let's begin. 

     

    Now there's really not a lot going on with his first two paragraphs - 15 lines and he talks about who made the game, explains the premise and says the release was shit.  Now, we can already see this writer's limitations at the very beginning of this review. In its first 15 lines, Hoshizora no Memoria already gave you a solid idea of something and had a girl you wanted to fuck. Probably. I dunno. Shutup it's fiction, if we do it by percentages, this is a big portion of the review, think of how much hoshimemo managed to do with that same percentage of its play time. 

    This is pretty  undeniable straightforward proof that the author of this review is a worse writer than the author of hoshizora no memoria, and so has no place to criticize his writing (since author probably just didn't get the genius behind hoshimemo.) 

    I will note that the review's author talks about how hanging out with a loli shinigami sounds actually neat, proving his taste at least isn't complete garbage. 

    That is, until this:

    Screenshot-730-cropped.png

     

    Now, twintails tsundere girl is the worst girl of the story and it's pretty terrible to put her as your review's first image. She is a tsundere, and as all tsunderes are, her existence is testament that Hoshizora no Memoria is a game that truly appeals to all crowds, including, *ahem*, special people, but putting a character that's meant for the dull and braindead alike as the game's poster and first impression for normal readers is nothing but intellectual dishonesty, and I question the author's intent in doing so. 

    Past that, he says he'll talk about why he hates the game, but only says some broad stuff about the writing being bad and "failing the bigger picture" that you can apply to almost literally anything. There are VNs where you cannot apply this phrase to, but I haven't read them, so they don't exist. He says the game has no themes other than stars, but the game's title is clearly hoshizora no memoria, which means memory of starry sky. Him needing to say that shows the review's author isn't particularly fluent in japanese and as such he can't criticize the game's original writing because he never read it. I wonder how much fuwanovel pays these people, because I could probably do much better. 

    He criticizes the game for the use of misunderstandings as a romantic tool, but 2009 anime kimi ni todoke had a misunderstanding and it's like one of the top most popular romance otaku works of all time, so all this servers to show is that this guy doesn't know shit about romance in our medium. 

    He talks about how there's no substance or something to grab too, but I'll get back to it after this image.

    Screenshot-900-cropped.png

     

    This is actually a pretty cute CG but I'd like to point out he posts the obnoxious text log no one cares about in front of the loli's face, just providing us extra proof he doesn't know or get anything about the appeal of this game. Literally no one cares about what these characters are saying, it's cute, she's talking about how girls want to get close to you and how you should only enter a girl's route after you already set your mind to fuck her, all stuff that's important to hear but that we all know already. This goes back to criticizing the game "not having anything for you to grab on" and complaining about themes, it's a moege not kafka, you're just supposed to want to fuck the girls, look at her beautiful eyes and hair and black dress with the little ribbon thing having space in between her tiny shoulders as the picture reveals her skin to the moonlight. This is one of the best parts of the game where you're supposed to be at 1000% and this guy is paying attention to stuff literally no one other than reviewers cares about, and he still dedicates a whole extra paragraph to talking about this shit. If that's not missing the point, I don't know what is. 

     

    He goes on to talk about how the game doesn't know how to build and mantain tension but that's clearly not true because whenever I looked at the blue haired girl's face the sexual tension went up the roof and I wasn't even reading the game. He also complains about the game giving info to you (while clearly complaining about the game not giving info for you to grab on just one paragraph earlier) but it's totally ok because the problem is that the game didn't give you info the way he wanted it to give, which at this point is pretty clear to all smart readers that he's just looking for excuses to complain about this masterpiece and he doesn't care about truth at all. 

    He talks some stuff about the characters but at this point it's pretty clear that he's a biased writer and I dunno who's who by name so we'll just skip over that. Here's some girls in maid outfits showing the game truly knows what's what. 

    Screenshot-632-cropped.png

     

    Then, I shit you not, this review goes completely grammar nazi and starts talking about all this random english shit literally no one other than an english literature college freshman would care about, not even his teachers, for what is like half of the entire review. I didn't count the words so it might be less but I had to scroll my screen to skip over that garbage fire so half of the review is probably correct.

    He goes on to talk about how he checked the japanese script and found out the localization was nonsense, but that's clearly untrue because we already proved he doesn't know any japanese in this rebuttal so no need to spend any more time on that. 

    Now, even this guy can't deny the game is top tier 10/10 master artwork with pretty good ost, so he makes up some excuse about how the game's writing is bad so it's complete trash because it's a visual novel and you're suppoosed to read visual novels. 

    Not true. The VN community in the west started with people who didn't know a single word of japanese buying porn games they'd fap to because images and voices are good enough. If writing was also so important, might as well not even have visuals in the first place. 

     

    Anyway I think it's pretty clear FuwaReviews hates visual novels, doesn't want people to read the good ones in the west and wants everyone to read pretentious hipster book-ey shit instead. Because they took the effort to make fake propaganda about how this game is bad, I think it's blindingly obvious that it's 10/10 masterpiece and the best VN of all time. My face right now is just like the text below this loli's which is why I made her my avatar.

    Screenshot-737-cropped.png

    Peace. 

  12. Cinderella Phenomenon is a FREEeeee Otome game which you can get on Steam or itch.io. This is the story of Lucette (or whatever you choose to name her), the Crown Princess for the Kingdom of Angielle.
    Like all other Otome games I've played, this game has an ongoing mystery and a plot, and so I'd actually recommend the following route order:
    • Rod
    • Karma
    • Rumpel
    • Fritz (locked at start)
    • Waltz (locked at start)

    Turns out this is also the order the developers recommend. Such a shame I only noticed this today, after having already played it.

    Common Route (Light Spoilers):

    One idea I've always found interesting is the idea of having a Tsundere be a protagonist. Not those cheap Tsunderes who are only violent to hide their embarrassment. I mean the real Tsunderes who, for one reason or another, have a distaste for people and are generally verbally or physically aggressive towards most others. Do not take 'Tsundere' to be a degrading term that marks the protagonist as a simple 2D cut-out with no real personality. A person may be a Tsundere for any number of reasons. That is what 'depth' is. Her motivations, desires and thoughts are what makes her a character, and not simply the way she acts.
    Lucette is called 'Ice Princess' by the denizens of her Kingdom, due to her icy cold heart. That should give you an idea of what kind of protagonist we're dealing with. Because of this protagonist, however, the story was truly unique to read through. It is not often that one gets to see the inner workings of a Tsundere, and I was astonished by how mean she was to everybody, and how selfish she seemed. Towards the start of the game, I quite disliked Lucette, but it's interesting to note this dynamic: Seeing a Tsundere from the outside makes me want to gain her trust, become her friend, melt her cold interior. But seeing her from inside her own head? Knowing her thoughts and thought processes? More often than not I was sad or mad at her. How could she be so... not good?

    Regardless, this common route also contained most of the funnier moments of the game. It's always interesting to see Lucette dishing out the sass and verbal abuse, and she even has worthy rivals in the sarcasm department. There's also something quite charming about a Princess struggling with a broom.

    A number of characters are introduced during the common route.
    Parfait is an incredibly powerful person that, unfortunately, overworks herself to no end, and this is reflected in her sprite, being the most sickly-looking character in the cast. I actually really like that they were able to convey this tidbit through the character sprite. She is a very good person, which makes it all the more hilarious when her honesty lets slip certain scathing comments about people.
    Delora is perhaps Lucette's only true rival in vitriol, though perhaps without any real ill-intent. Capable, witty, and, most infuriatingly of all, generally right.
    Waltz is a young boy that does puppet shows in the streets, gathering tips in the process. Also known as resident nice guy.
    Karma is a person whose narcissism is immense, comparable only to their apparent laziness.
    Rod is Lucette's step-brother, who has generally avoided interacting with her.
    Fritz is Lucette's personal knight and perhaps the only person she doesn't actively degrade. What a feat.
    Rumpel is an amnesiac. He is also an unparalleled flirt. One of the main sources of comedy in this story.

    (From here on, spoilers in spoilers, silly)

    Rod's Route:

    Rod's route is the route which least delves into the real intrigue of the story. For this reason, it is the recommended route to start with.

    Spoiler

    In this route, Lucette ends up working at the castle, as a maid. She believes that undoing the 'evil' she did towards her family will give her the three good deeds she needs.
    Well... pretty much.

    We quickly find out how intense Rod truly is, and I liked this personality of his. He doesn't mince his words and is upfront about everything... while simultaneously contradicting himself so frequently. He was always so determined in his actions and decisions. At the start, Rod truly believed that Lucette was irredeemable and that her absence made his family much happier. Over time, though, Lucette's exposure to her ever-cheerful but nevertheless troubled step-sister made them become real friends, and alleviate Emelaigne's concerns.
    As a side note, I believe this had actually relatively little to do with Lucette herself. I'm sure that if just about anyone else were appointed to be Emelaigne's personal maid, and they didn't actively shy away from her, they would have served just as well to make Emelaigne happy.

    This route, as should be no surprise, focuses on Lucette's family; those she used to scorn and refused to open her heart to. By staying with them, and truly learning how much they care for others with very little to gain from showing such care, Lucette learns that they are genuine in their feelings. By seeing how her step-sister, the one who she had always assumed to be vying for the throne, was truly troubled by her role as the Crown Princess, Lucette learns that her family had no ill-intentions in being kind to her, and regretted having rejected them.
    I loved this, of course. From the moment I started this VN seeing how Lucette made up with her family was one of my most anticipated moments, and I was not disappointed. They're all such good folks.

    Rod is one of two characters I didn't actually care to romance. Whilst his shyness was cute, as well as the interactions with his plushie, I didn't feel that they had a romantic bond as much as a familiar one, and the 'incest' didn't do much for me, either.

    Mythros shows up in this route, and I liked how his actual motive was left hanging. If at the point I played this route I didn't already know what he wanted, this might have been a pretty good tease for the mystery.

    I just feel bad for the writer. Writing 'Emelaigne' so many times must have been hard.

    Karma's Route:

    In this route we're given some pieces of the puzzle, but are left mostly in the dark.

    Spoiler

    Karma has an interesting personality. Sometimes he looks like he's seducing the protagonist, other times he's pushing her away. He may only be cross-dressing, but he's got those mood swings down pat.
    He is one of the love interests who I felt had proper chemistry with our protagonist, due to how similar they were. This noble is unused to labour, so avoids it all costs. His personality is not exactly the epitome of virtue, and the circumstances behind his curse are similar to the princess'.
    Since I'm a sucker for Beauty and the Beast I was also a sucker for this route. No surprise there. The revelation caught me off-guard, though. Guess I missed the blatant foreshadowing.

    Like Rod's, this route also focuses on certain side characters, and, also like Rod's, these are some of my favourites: The exiled knights.
    Since I liked their personalities I liked knowing more about them. I'm also astonished they went ahead and made them into a couple. Visual Novels don't do nearly enough of that. Are the writers afraid creating couples other than with the protagonist will shatter all the players dreams? Thank you for daring, writers. Immensely satisfying.

    Also, Lucette learns how to use a sword. Cooool.

    This route also focuses more on Alcaster, and herein lies another strength of the story: It's like playing a randomized match. You never quite know how things will turn out. Will Mythos come out on top? Alcaster? They seem like equally possible possibilities.

    Rumpel's Route:

    This route throws all the pieces at our face and then doesn't do anything with them. It's great for teasing stuff, I guess.
    For the love of god, don't start with this one.

    Spoiler

    Rumpel's route is my first route, and may be because of that my favourite of the bunch. All the mysteries, Lucette's character growth, the plot, everything hit me at once. More importantly, Rumpel's a sweetheart.
    He's the character I think has the most chemistry with Lucette, mostly to how dissimilar they are to one another. Whereas Rumpel doomed himself by being too nice, Lucette was the polar opposite. This makes them both fit to learn from each other: Lucette learning how to do good, Rumpel learning how to care for himself. Seeing them help each other, as two non-combatants, is the sweetest thing.

    Despite spoiling more things, it's also more disconnected than other routes. Rumpel's story had nothing to do with anything, but it makes for a great mystery, trying to figure out the truth behind our Chevalier.

    We also learn Mythos' motive this time around. Oooh, tease.

    My favourite romance in the whole Visual Novel.

    Fritz's Route:

    I really like knights. There's something about servitude and dedication... Wait, that doesn't sound good for a healthy relationship.

    Spoiler

    I hope you weren't a fan of Varg, because he got shafted. ...I think? Didn't actually read the bad end.

    This route focuses on Varg. And not enough on Fritz. Who is Varg.
    I didn't like Varg and I liked Fritz a lot, so I kept wishing that Fritz would open his eyes to reality and kick Varg's arse. Lucette didn't trust Fritz enough, either.

    Yes. I'm pouting in this route because I liked Fritz a lot but he was a spineless idiot most of the time. He looked like a VN protagonist, only pulling out a cool moment towards the end.

    But I liked Fritz a lot, so I also liked this route. The end.

     

    Okay. It was also pretty cool to see Lucette's mother and to see Lucette dawn on the realisation that she wasn't as nice as she remembered. It's also among the worst endings for everybody.  Sucks to be everyone else, I guess.

    Waltz's Route:

    The culmination of everything. Highly recommended that you read all else first. It will definitely better your experience.

    Spoiler

    Waltz's route is perhaps the most interesting, in the way that it builds on the foundation of what the previous routes have laid out. Lucette does not fall into any of the traps she does in other routes: She doesn't leave her allies, they tell her the truth early on, she doesn't believe Mythos, she doesn't believe her Mother, she manages to help Waltz with his curse, etc.

    And yet things still go wrong sometimes. Still, I wasn't a fan. Despite being supposedly weaker, Lucette's mother in the route was just as troublesome and killed just about as much as when she had her full power in Fritz's route. Unfair.

    I also didn't buy into Waltz's and Lucette's relationship. I'm all for they being friends, though.

    But the story is good enough to circumvent that, and finding out the final pieces of the puzzle is pretty interesting.

     

    Cinderella Phenomenon's greatest feat is perhaps how the story forms a coherent whole. It is a story of stories, and in each of those stories different characters are given the spotlight. This makes it so that, by the end of the entire experience, you have had an opportunity to know everyone, and bond with everyone. Each route is as if a chessboard were laid out with only slightly a different arrangement of the pieces, and we, once again, watch the game slowly play out. At the start, we don't know anything about the other pieces or the board. But as we play through the routes we start learning where the other pieces are, and what they are. We become capable of telling in which direction the game is going, but we have precious little control over it. Lucette may be the protagonist, but we do not truly command her.

    It's precisely this feeling of wanting to unravel the mysteries that could become a weakness. I failed to follow the recommended route order and started with Rumpel. Unfortunately for me, Rumpel's route reveals far more of the setting than the other two routes available at the start. While this made Rumpel's route extremely satisfying as my initial experience, it is now hard for me to tell if starting with Rod's route would have made the overall experience more satisfying.
    As I said, though, each route tries to tackle different characters and turns of events, meaning that even if you know a lot about the overall mystery, there's always little mysteries and backstory to find in each route that you'll come across in no other.

    But I'll be honest. The main reason I read this story, as with most others I read, was for the romance. This game delivered.
    Because Lucette is a Tsundere, these are some of my favourite romance stories: melting the ice queen. With cute and kissing CGs to go with them, each romantic interest had a dynamic with our protagonist. I felt some had more chemistry with her, but that is likely just me and others would think differently. The romance is not always the focus, but it is there, and it makes me happy.

    And so, by mixing all of the events together, by knowing everybody's stories and ambitions we can choose the perfect story for ourselves. Who did she end up with? With whom did she interact? None of the events is necessarily stuck to any one route, and the possibilities are limitless. If you're willing to, you can imagine your own perfect world, in which you decide what Lucette and those around her did, and how the events unfolded.

    If I were to come up with a negative, then it'd be that the choices have no rhyme or reason to them. I didn't even notice I had made the wrong choices until suddenly everything was dead and I got an achievement for it. Thankfully, they have a system specifically for preventing this, so you don't have to consult external guides to get a good ending, and it can even be quite interesting to see how dialogue changes depending on your choice.
    Speaking of negatives, the Common Route is an essential component of the story. What this means is that your first route will be better specifically because you can better judge the main character's character growth. Once you finish the first route, if you skip the common route, you'll have 'forgotten' how Lucette was at the start of story, and her growth as a character won't be as vivid and heart-warming in future routes.

     

    P.S. I've had this post sitting as a blog Draft for over a week. Only know did I get to finish leaving a few spoiler comments (You can probably tell which ones by how much I don't remember any more).

  13. There are a lot of ways to start a written piece that would have been more stylish than starting by complaining you couldn't find a way to be stylish enough, but this will have to do for now.

    After all, this is the third or fourth time I've attempted to write this -- and I'm not even really sure why I'm doing it, since this isn't really needed or welcome. It's gone through the stages of an apology letter, a comeback statement, a continuation of something (like the pursuit of Western genres for visual novels) as if nothing had happened and now it's even past the stage of a dismissal of itself, although it may not seem so for its first two paragraphs but should seem so due to the fact that it's being published here at all.

    Well, I'm convalescing, I think. This is probably a sign.

    I vanished from this website and from the internet at large last year. I crumbled too hard, too fast, and left everyone behind. Didn't leave everything -- you can't stop, after all -- but I did leave Fuwanovel in general and the reviews team in particular. During a tough time and in a position where I should be doing things, even. So, to the reviews team, yes -- I should be apologizing. So, I'm sorry. At the very least, for not writing reviews in the past months. Also, for still be using dashes instead of parentheses after all this time if I can help it. I can still help it.

    The visual novel I'm making broke me down. I was not, and still am not prepared for a project this large. However, all aspects of my life became entangled with it - it's my final project for University, I have a contract with the government that legally forces me to finish it and make it a source of income both for me and for my team so that we're revealed as the city's new gamedev talents and I put so much personal stuff in it that making it is now both the one place I run to when I have something personal to talk about and the only place I have to run to. Which, as you maybe can spot as a positive feedback cycle, has made me consume myself using it. So there you have it. Visual novels finally brought me down, because I wasn't prepared for them.

    Not that I'd ever give up on it -- rather, it's the one thing making me give up on everything else, including friends and other things I like, including -- which is ironic, considering -- Fuwanovel. I won't talk about the process here, this is not an ad. I'd just like to tell you I'm convalescing, I'd like to apologize to the Reviews Team and if any of you every wondered where I was, it was the place furthest away from visual novels I could: the innards of one.

    As I still am.

  14. 2018, A Year of Possibility in Visual Novels

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    [source]

    ~ Leaving Behind the Old Year ~

    Let's face it. 2017 was not an impressive year for Japanese visual novels.

    Sure, the OELVN scene had a breakout hit in the form of Doki Doki Literature Club.

    Sure, the VN localization industry amazed everyone with prominent official releases of super-popular titles like Muv-Luv Alternative, Little Busters, and the never-before-translated Subarashiki Hibi, Dies irae, and Chaos;Child, to name a few.

    But the heart of the visual novel industry remains in Japan. And this year has been fairly mediocre for it.

    I mean, if you take a look at the numbers on Erogamescape (also known as EGS, it's Japan's equivalent of VNDB), you'll find that Hikari no Umi no Apeiria [vndb], and Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart 2 [vndb] were the only VNs with a median around the mid-80's or higher and more than a hundred votes [EGS source data]. For reference, 2016 had 6 titles at that level: Island, Chaos;Child, Akeiro Kaikitan, Utawarerumono 3, Tokyo Necro, and Baldr Heart.

    Of course, that data point doesn't tell the full story. EGS is geared toward eroge players; in terms of pure adventure games (also known as ADV, the common way Japanese players refer to visual novels) New Danganronpa V3 [vndb] was very well-received. (V3 is also the only 2017 VN among VNDB's top 100.) The very recently released Kiniro Loveriche's [vndb] reception has been extremely positive, and though it hasn't had time to accumulate votes yet, I'm optimistic it will stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Apeiria. It's not like there aren't an assortment of noteworthy VNs that merely fall short of the top tier statistically, such as Ouka Sabaki [vndb] and ChronoBox [vndb]. Fans of particular studios like SMEE [vndb], Purple software [vndb], and Moonstone [vndb] were also able to get their fix this year. The VN industry is far from dead; if anything, it's evolving to fill various niches.

    But that's a whole other topic. The bottom line is I'm ready to move on from 2017. And once you see what's in store for us in 2018, I'm sure you will be, too.

     

     

    ~ Ringing in the New Year, Along with Potential Kamige ~

    Every year has promising titles. Unfortunately, they often don't live up to their promise. Still, some titles are so promising--the studios behind them so reputable, the staff working on them so consistent, so little room for error--that it's hard not to get excited.

    There are, in my opinion, 5 such confirmed titles for 2018.

     

    ~ Summer Pockets (Key) - June 29, Delay Likely ~

    TnKZZ3p.jpg

    Let's start with this one, because it's the one I'm personally most hyped for.

    To state the obvious, Summer Pocket is a major ADV from Key. No matter who the staff behind it is, you'd be foolish to underestimate it. Key's complete major titles are Kanon, Air, Clannad, Little Busters, and Rewrite. (I skipped Angel Beats because it's not complete.) Every one of these VNs is resoundingly famous.

    But let's pretend we don't know that Key, with its reputation for ambitious works that are patiently crafted rather than quickly pumped out, is behind Summer Pockets. Instead, let's take a look at the staff.

    The heart of Summer Pockets is Niijima Yuu. He's the mastermind behind Hatsuyuki Sakura, a massive hit from 2012. His prose is hilarious, fresh, and really endears you to the characters. With his tendency toward fanservice and lewd humor, and the way it's always hard to discern the supernatural from the metaphorical in his narratives, he has a lot in common with Maeda Jun. ...Hopefully you already knew this because you've read Hatsusaku. Nobody should miss out on that one, whether they're a romance fan, an action fan, a mystery fan, or a FEELS fan.

    Anyway, the problem with Niijima Yuu is that he can't be allowed too much creative control. If he is, you end up with the likes of his later works Majo Koi Nikki and Koi x Shin Ai Kanojo, where he made creative decisions that alienated many players. When he was with Saga Planets, they reined him in well. When he was with Amuse Craft, they obviously didn't. But he announced a period of self-reflection in response to Koikake's criticisms. And he adopted a very humble attitude in the first Summer Pockets interview from back in December 2016. Furthermore, Key is a company incredibly concerned about its brand identity, and on top of that, Summer Pocket is constrained by Maeda's outline. So I'm confident that Niijima's strengths will truly shine through, like they haven't since Hatsusaku.

    And my optimism has been boosted further by all the Summer Pockets info released this past week. Not only are the character designs and backgrounds beautiful, but the excerpts of scenes with each heroine are charming and demonstrate that yes, this is Niijima at his finest.

    On a final note, it's very possible that Summer Pockets will be delayed--hopefully not past 2018--because Niijima's recent tweet indicated that he's not at all confident he'll be done with the scenario in time for a June 29 release.

     

    ~ Kimi to Mezameru Ikutsuka no Houhou (Navel) - April 27 ~

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    I won't say a lot about this one. I'm not a Navel expert; I've watched the Shuffle anime, and read Oretsuba and Tsuriotsu, but that's it.

    One reason I'm so optimistic about Kimimeza is rooted in the way Navel handles their creative works. A cynical way to look at it is that they squeeze all their works dry with at least one or two fandiscs, often way more than that. A better way to look at it is that they rarely put out a title that doesn't deserve fandiscs. Navel has finally moved on from Tsuriotsu, and I believe they haven't done so casually.

    The real question, to me, is how much of a creative role Jackson will play. A fair amount of what made Tsuriotsu so special to me came from Jackson (yes, I'm aware of what interviews and such say, and I believe it's deceptive). We know Jackson does miscellaneous work for Navel, but will he involve himself in this new VN? Or will Navel just let Kazuki Fumi do what he wants within a particular framework, and hope for a decent reception?

    Even if Kazumi Fumi doesn't receive any support from Jackson, Kimimeza could still wildly succeed. He's a talented writer who wrote Gun Knight Girl and Akeiro Kaikitan, among others, and the constraints of Navel's brand identity could help refine the finished product into one that's broadly appreciated. The premise of Kimimeza feels really interesting, not overly generic but not silly or half-assed either--it's the premise of Chobits where a guy finds an abandoned android, except the girl isn't an android, she's disguised as an android but actually a victim of human organ trafficking, plus there are apparently assassins.

    Although the story seems like it'll be exciting, the fact that there are only 3 main heroines makes me wonder if Kimimeza will be smaller-scale than Tsuriotsu. Still, there are plenty of reasons to pay attention.

     

    ~ Rance 10 (Alice Soft) - February 23 ~

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    Rance needs no introduction, and doesn't lack proponents. The Rance games are always above average in quality, and they always sell well.

    In case you hadn't heard about Rance 10 in particular, it will be the final one in the series. As the concluding chapter, the big question is whether fans will consider this a fitting end that wraps everything up the way they hope it will. My gut is telling me that it will be.

    What's also awesome about Rance 10 is that once it's out and the series is over, people like me who aren't into the series will no longer have to feel jealous that they can't join in on the hype.

     

    ~ Minikui Mojika no Ko (Nitroplus) - Summer ~

    CHDpYRu.jpg

    The literary core of the current Nitroplus, and the brain behind many ambitious and unique titles, Shimokura Vio, is making a new eroge.

    I haven't researched this much, and not a lot has been announced either (maybe more has been mentioned in interviews that I'm just not aware of). The tagline is "I (僕) know your ugliness (醜さ)" and the title is a play on "The Ugly Duckling". "Mojika" is probably a reference to 文字禍 (lit. "letter calamity"), Nakajima Atsushi's 1942 short story about a fatal curse upon an Assyrian king, which originated from a spirit (霊) of written language (文字). I'm not someone who reads classic Japanese literature, so I don't know more than that. In any case, my impression is that it will be another deconstructive work by Shimokura.

     

    ~ Sakura no Toki (Makura) - TBA ~

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    Is it stupid of me to assume that the sequel to Sakura no Uta, of all VNs, will actually come out within a mere year, rather than suffer delay after delay? Probably, but it's being steadily developed and Sca-ji initially aimed to release it in 2017, so the whole of 2018 should be enough time, unless... well, unless history repeats itself.

    Again, this will be the sequel to Sakura no Uta, the best VN in the last half a decade. And it'll be done by the same writer, and probably mostly the same audiovisual staff (too lazy to check). Although it's possible that it won't be as ambitious as Sakura no Uta, it will naturally feature Sca-ji's writing and have some excellent parts, and probably be rated highly too.

    I don't have much to say about Rance 10, Minikui Mojika no Ko, and Sakura no Toki, because their staff situations aren't as complicated as Summer Pockets and Kimimeza, as far as I can tell.

     

    ~ Other Notable Titles~

    Many other VNs will be both announced and released in 2018, so this is far from a representative portion, but here a few other titles that caught my eye. Sorry if I missed your favorites, hypothetical reader.

    • Kieta Sekai to Tsuki no Shoujo on January 26: A collaboration between La'cryma and Hiyoko Soft. I love Kamiya (writer of fortissimo), but although he's involved with the scenario, it doesn't seem like he's personally writing it. The developers announced they'd be deliberately concealing the staff who work on this. I'm also a little afraid it may repeat the mistakes of Lass with an overly dark scenario. But it's worth paying attention to.
    • Butterfly Seeker on March 30: Another Silky's Plus VN, this one is from Unabara Nozomu, writer of Fairytale Requiem and Shinsou Noise. (The writer of Apeiria doesn't have any announced VNs in the works, if you were wondering.)
    • Riddle Joker on March 30: The new Yuzusoft VN. Many moege fans swear by Yuzusoft, and although their VNs usually aren't rated very high, they sell very well. Toishi Hiroki (an apparently decent writer) will also be taking part in this one.

     

    ~ Other Predictions for 2018 ~

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    My wild prediction is that 2018 will be the year that people accept that the eroge industry won't be pumping out kamige like Fate/stay night or Muv-Luv Alternative reliably any more, and won't be standing at the cutting edge of moe again anytime soon, but still has unique worth as a medium and will continue to steadily produce awesome works that rival any popular anime or manga. The big investors and talented writers are mostly gone, but in exchange, studios are getting smarter and playing to the medium's strengths. Maybe we'll also see people categorize less in terms of eroge versus console ADV, and more in terms of (doujin) eroge versus commercial ADV.

     

  15. Shirogane no Soleil -Successor of Wyrd- <<Unmei no Keishousha>>

    ( "The soliel of silvery-white" - Successor of Wyrd << The Fated successor >> )

     

    This is the first game in Skyfish's epic norse mythology series. I had never even heard of this game before Clephas made a blog post about it a little earlier this year, and that might be the case for many. Having finally played the game myself, I have to ask... how is this possible? Why is such a great game not more well known? This VN truly deserves more exposure than it currently has.

    Introduction:

    Shirogane starts off with our main character, Ryuuhei, and his sister Tamako on their way to a set of ancient ruins in Iceland. Ryuuhei is not an archaeologist like his sister, but was dragged along by her on the pretense of being her "bodyguard." Ironically, that is exactly what he ends up being. Ryuuhei's group gets pulled into an encounter with a strange creature called "Berserk", a monster made up by the broken soul of an ancient warrior, which fell in battle ages ago. Powerless against this incredibly dangerous foe, Ryuuhei prays for help, asking for power-- the power to protect the people he loves. His call is answered by a slumbering Valkyrie, Sol, who makes a contract with Ryuuhei. She will fight for him, in exhange for his life force. Every time she uses her powers, she drains some of Ryuuhei's life force out of his body, shortening his life. They fight off the Berserk together, but this is merely the beginning of their tale. This seemingly random encounter might not have been as random as they thought. One might even call it... fate.

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    Story

    The story in Shirogane is fantastic. It's told in two parts, "Valkyrie in love", and "Successor of Wyrd." Some of the story takes place in the present, while certain other parts takes place in the past. Shirogane contains tons of refrences to norse mythology, though the descriptions of characters and events from norse mythology in the VN are not necessarily identical to the "real thing". Therefore, while familiarity with norse mythology helps with appreciating certain aspects of the game's story, it is not at all needed. What matters in terms of refrences are all explained well enough in game, and seeing as they usually put a unique spin on things, it is not at all needed to know everything there is to know about norse mythology before reading this. (That being said, knowing some of the general concepts about who is who, and what is what will certainly make it an even more enjoyable read.)

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    Although Shirogane is a very serious story, with tragic themes riddled all over it, just like normal stories from norse mythology, the game contains a good number of humoristic slice of life moments as well. That being said, all of these moments fits very well into the flow of the story. We are seeing things from Ryuuhei's point of view, as he deals with the fact that his own life span is constantly being drained because of his contract with his Valkyrie. As a result, you feel a little more attatched to these everyday moments, since they are seen through the eyes of someone who only has so much time left to enjoy them. In addition, the comedy is pure gold most of the time. The slice of life moments very rarely feels out of place, and never gets in the way of the story. The humor in the game had me literally laughing out loud so many times, I lost count.

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    Characters:

    One of the biggest strengths of this game is without a doubt the characters. Each character feels unique and is well fleshed out. They all add something to the story in their own ways, and it's hard not to grow attatched to them, be it heroes, anti-heroes or straight up villains at times. The interactions between the characters truly pulls out all sorts of emotions from the reader, making the story feel like one hell of a roller coaster ride. (In a good way. Prepare your tickets to the feel train, folks.) While the "good guys" are all very well done, my favorite characters were honestly the villains / anti-heroes that are introduced throughout the game.
    On top of making fantastic "villains", the "duos" in the game are brilliant. Essentially every single character is paired up with another in some way, and they all complement each other greatly. These "duos" were without a doubt one of the best parts about the game in my opinion. Be it heartbreaking moments or hilarious ones; nearly all the most impactful moments in the story stems from one of these duos' interactions.

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    Art, Music and Writing:

    As shown in the screenshots above, the art is nicely detailed. Considering this game was released in 2007, the art is very impressive. The amount of special effects, cut-scenes and CGs is no joke either. Sadly, things aren't as good in the music department. The music is by no means bad, but it does feel a little bland at times. Certain tracks do work very well with the tone of the story, and are straight up beautiful to listen to, but others feel repetitive and aren't that impactful. So, my complaint with the music would be the inconsistent quality of the tracks. That being said, this is hardly a big issue, as the writing, art and story makes slightly repetitive music matter very little in the end.

    Overall, I have very few complaints about this game. It was a fantastic read from beginning to end, and I strongly recommend reading it. I don't use the term kamige a lot, but this definitely qualifies in my personal opinion.

    You can buy all the Soleil games on DMM. (NSFW LINK!!!)

  16. The VN reading community likes to argue over the relative merits of so-called "literal" and "liberal" translation, with most people tending to perceive everyone else as being a hardline supporter of one or the other. While I'm sure everybody who knows my views would classify me as a proponent of liberal translation, I tend to think I'm more a proponent of being accurate to the intent of the original text. This blog post is going to outline a couple of specific uses of language which I believe show some of the weaknesses of attempting "literal translation." This isn't going to be anything like an attempt to provide an exhaustive argument against literal translation, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least trying to be a little bit convincing. Still, regardless of your position on that particular argument, you might at least find the examples enlightening. Broadly, I'm going to be talking about figurative language. That's a fancy phrase encompassing a lot of common expressions and classes of expression which exist in every natural human language, as far as I know, and certainly in both Japanese and English. Idioms, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, symbolism: all of these are classes of figurative language.

    For starters, let's talk about idioms. The relevant definition of "idiom", per wiktionary, is, "An expression peculiar to or characteristic of a particular language, especially when the meaning is illogical or separate from the meanings of its component words." The argument pretty much writes itself, right? By definition, if you try to literally translate the words in an idiom, you're going to end up with something at best inaccurate, and at worst completely illogical. Just googling "Japanese idioms" and reading what you see is going to find you dozens of examples of cases where you have to either avoid literal translation or end up with a translation that doesn't make sense. For instance, translating 十人十色 as "ten men, ten colors" isn't going to be comprehensible to an English reader, but the venerable English idiom "different strokes for different folks," which is equivalent in meaning if not exactly in tone, is probably going to fit the bill. Idioms offer pretty much a slam dunk argument in favor of liberal translation*. That said, idioms are not that common an occurrence. However, there are also lesser examples: cases where literal translation yields something meaningful and accurate, but still less accurate than a liberal translation could manage.

    My personal favorite example of a Japanese expression which is not an idiom, but which still benefits massively from a "liberal" translation, is the combination of the noun 背中 (back) and the adjective 大きい (large, big). These two words are often put together in Japanese when praising men, as a way to say a man has a certain, protoypically masculine, attractive physical characteristic. The phrase also carries a subtextual metaphor of reliability: a big back can bear a lot of weight, presumably. Once you start looking for "big backs", you'll see them popping up in literal JP->EN translations all over the place, from Little Busters! to HoshiMemo. The problem is, there's a common English expression which means exactly the same thing as that Japanese expression: "broad shoulders." Now, no dictionary is going to tell you that you can correctly translate 背中, in isolation, as "shoulders." But what's amazing about this pair of Japanese and English expressions is that they not only have the same denotation, but also the same connotation. Both expressions describe the same physical trait, and they both also imply the same personality trait of reliability: a broad pair of shoulders, also, can be trusted to carry your burden.

    The expression "broad shoulders", like its Japanese cousin, sits somewhere between simple non-figurative use of language and an idiom: just knowing the definition of the individual words gets you to the correct meaning of the expression, and even the connotation of implied reliability, when present, is usually obvious. So, by definition, they aren't idioms. But even so, if translated literally in either direction, the original phrase will end up as a pale shadow of what it should be. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be described as broad-shouldered than as big-backed.

     

    *Unless you believe the purpose of a translation is to teach you Japanese idioms, in which case there isn't enough common ground to even have an argument. I personally like to read translated fiction for the same reason I like to read fiction originally written in English: to enjoy a well-crafted story.

  17. Warning: this post contains screenshots and (very) minor spoilers from the trial version. If you completely don't want to spoil yourself, or haven't played the trial yet, I'd highly advise to postpone reading until you finish the game first.

    If you did not yet stumble upon one of those TIME TO LEARN JAPANESE reminders, you have a damn good reason to finally consider studying moon runes.

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    Title: 眠れぬ羊と孤独な狼-A Tale of Love, and Cutthroat- (trial ver.)

    (eng. Sleepless Sheep and Lonesome Wolf - A Tale of Love, and Cutthroat / Yourou for short)

    Developer: ClockUp

    Genre: Psychological thriller

    Rating: AO/18+ as f*ck

    VNDB

    Official website

     

    I always had a mixed opinion about ClockUp and their games. It's one of those studios, you will either love or hate with a profound passion and one that's going to be blocked by many game news outlets, websites and forums. Gods forbid you from even talking about their games, unless you're a member of some obscure corner of the internet (like this one) or a member of the perverted sect, known as filthy eroge players. Why? Because their blockbuster games are not only addictive, but often delve into topics, that are - to be blunt - plain repulsive and/or very uncomfortable for most average people to tackle. When they aren't working on their next serious game, they typically tend to churn out low budget porn games, that borderline on rape and mind corruption, with occasional gems in-between (yes, I am looking at you, Zwei Vorter). Joyful, right?

    Yourou is their latest addition to that wonderful lineup, best described as a "thrilling crime tale". In comparison to their previous games, Tatsuya dropped fantasy based concepts in favor of a more down-to-earth setting. Yourou seems to focus more broadly on the environment itself, rather than portraying the lives of single characters or a particular group. In that manner, main characters play more of a central role, rather than just being forced into hero/heroine roles. This makes the whole game feel more akin to an actual digital story, rather than a classic visual novel, where everything is told mostly from protagonist's perspective. In all honesty, this was a perfect choice, as the world presented within becomes much more colourful, playing an important role itself, instead of being just a backdrop for the characters to play on.

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    Heavy filtered, neon-like photographic backgrounds with an added touch of grunge stylistics remind of the reality within - coarse, twisted and brutal, yet insanely vivid. It's a world of prostitutes, carnal pleasures, yakuza and bustling nightlife.

    Yourou tells a tale of Takeo - a young man, living in your typical, run-of-the-mill love hotel in Kabukicho district, commonly known as the biggest entertainment zone of Tokyo, Japan. Takeo suffers from chronic insomnia, which turned his whole life upside down. His life is filled with nearly endless days that span across the weeks, while he earns his living as a janitor, cleaning up after guests. We quickly learn of his problems. His daily job is nothing but a cover for his true rason d'etre. In order to survive his disability, Takeo takes upon the offer of one of the leading gang's Bosses and works as an assassin during the nights; killing is the only way he can actually experience sleep.

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    For both Takeo and Azami - back then still complete strangers, this was ought to be a night like any other. Little did they knew, the following events will make their paths cross again.

    This changes, after he meets Azami - a mysterious girl, he spots one day upon leaving to work, as usual. A pretty, young call girl, en-route to her client. Takeo didn't put much thought into it, until the next day his group discovers a dead body in the same exact room, she was supposedly to meet up; A pretty gruesome discovery too boot. upon finding out the man was actually an important member of the neighbourhooding group, Takeo's boss - Mamoru - orders him to find the culprit at all costs and bring her alive to prevent a potential gang war. At this point, Takeo couldn't care less about that, since he already had a reason of his own. Until now, Takeo considered himself a killer sheep - because he only killed upon a direct order. The sole fact of another killer like him, capable to bring down and gut a man of this size, regardless of consequences - an indicator of free will - makes Takeo boil with anger. For him, the mysterious girl becomes an actual wolf, which directly puts his life on the line. Unable to rest in peace, he vouches to find the girl himself at all costs and bloody murder her, so he can finally get a good night's sleep.

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    Whoopsie~

    Takeo's personal investigation takes him across the streets of Kabukicho. Soon, he discovers the girl he chased after sports nearly inhuman strength and reflexes far beyond his own capabilities; he's forced to run for his own life. As it turns out, this was just the beginning of a wild road, that will inevitably bring an end to his current, peaceful existence.

    The trial version covers exactly, what could be considered a prologue to the whole story. It's incredibly well paced, drawing you into a vividly painted image of Kabukicho's underworld - back alleys, host clubs, brothels and many of it's criminal groups, fighting for supremacy in this world filled to the brim with human dreams and desires. I was honestly surprised with the amount of detail, that went into every single aspect of the game. Tatsuya is well known for his prose, that often shifts more into psychological side of things and Yourou uses it surprisingly well to create a colourful cast of characters teeming with life. It's one of those rare stories, that make you feel emotionally invested with heroes of the story and you'll often find yourself cheering for them, even though you know they aren't necessarily good people. In fact, the world of Yourou is painted with grey and greyer shades, while it's characters aren't some superfluous paper dolls, but plain people with their own dreams and goals. This is especially prevalent for both Takeo and Azami, as they aren't guided by some invisible hand, but act entirely based on their own assumptions, choices and more than often - emotions - which in turn makes for some really interesting situations. Things don't "just happen"; if they happen, they do happen for a reason.

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    Each criminal group within the story is given a proper introduction, without sparing any details. This kind of intricate world-building greatly enriches the game and makes you emotionally invested with characters, no matter who they are.

    Nemurenu Hitsuji to Kodoku na Ookami convinces me there are still studios capable of creating original, adult-oriented, purely story driven experiences, instead of this uninspired trash relying on commonly found otaku tropes. I have high expectations of this game and - of course - can't wait for the release. No matter if you're a fan of ClockUp, or someone who's looking for a more mature story - one without highly-pitched animu gals, fawning over protag's virtually infinite manhood - Yourou might be what you're looking for.

    As of now, Yourou is scheduled for release on 22th of December. I couldn't ask for a better Christmas present.

     

     

    PS. Azami is a fantastic heroine. Read the game and you'll understand why :holo:

    Spoiler

    I wouldn't be surprised, if she turns out to be a werewolf... but this is probably not >>>that<<< kind of a story, right? :leecher:

  18. HMN stuffz

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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

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    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

    battle zebra!

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    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.

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    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!

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     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.

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    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. :(

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    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

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    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!

  19. Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia

    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.

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  20. 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    After she contributes jack shizzle to our protagonist's plight, we move on and meet a guy who looks suspiciously similar.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    While at school, Noble Works meets the next heroin. Well, first we meet her grampa, this guy:

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    Then we see the confused, alien-looking chick.

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    Later on, Zoltron Glocknork approaches Noble Works to ask for help.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Oh, and then there's pee.

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    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.

    aMrkRBt.png

    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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