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This is my first ever review, so I would love feedback on this or even general advice on review writing!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
Well explored characters
Fun investigations/Large World to explore
Court System/ Case Arguments
Pink fake blood/gore
Some plot points left unexplained
Court System/Bullet Time Battle (This had no purpose but to infuriate anyone playing the game)
Verdict – 9/10
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.
Summer Pockets Review
Before I begin, I'd like to point out that the Frontline Japan review is excellent. The only part I didn't like is that they indirectly reference one of the most important hidden elements of the story (but it's possible some people won't notice or think too hard about it) and that they say it's too short.
Edit - Just to re-emphasize, this is an atypical style of VN review. If you want a more normal review, check out the Frontline one.
This is intended to be a spoiler-free review. I never reveal anything concrete about the story itself or its themes, that isn't clearly evident from the first hour, or assumed if you know anything about Key (like the fact their games are nakige).
Key's Creative Intent
In Key's promotional interview back in December of last year (translation), the director and writer Kai revealed that Key staff tried to have a "fresh approach" and come up with ideas for the next Key title internally, but didn't like any of the proposals. Then Maeda Jun spoke up and said, "Uh, I have this one idea..." And they said, "This is Maeda Jun!" and went with it. That's the core of Summer Pockets.
Maeda was unable to write for Summer Pockets due to medical problems. Key had already hired Niijima Yuu by then, and Kai worked with Niijima to flesh out the story. Hasama and Imashina Rio also wrote part of the scenario.
How Summer Pockets Actually Turned Out, Overall
Niijima's influence definitely stands out; he was responsible for many of the most important parts of the scenario, and from what I've seen, fans have praised those parts most. However, Kai's role shouldn't be understated, since he was the director and worked closely with Niijima.
Despite some people's fears, Summer Pockets was not turned into a distinctly "Niijima" work like Majo Koi Nikki or Koikake. That was only to be expected, since Niijima didn't come up with the concept behind Summer Pockets, and he wasn't the sole planner either.
Although Niijima is no Maeda, IMO he's the best Maeda they could possibly find, because their overall styles are similar. There was no sense of discord with Niijima as the lead writer.
The parts not written by Niijima weren't problematic in any way, either. At the worst, you could say they were typical Key routes. To me, each route felt very unique, and each heroine had her own charm and appeal, so even if the prose didn't wow me, I always had fun.
The production quality of the rest of Summer Pockets was also extremely solid. They seriously didn't skimp on the CGs this time. Since Angel Beats! -1st beat-, Key's art has been (in my personal opinion as a non-Itaru fan) much more beautiful and expressive. The seiyuu are top-notch too. But it's too bad that the male lead Hairi wasn't voiced. Key always has nice music, too; I've spent hours with the jukebox in the extras menu. Orito's tracks are typically my favorites, and I also like Maeda's "Sea,You Next" and "Pocket o Fukuramasete". Normally I'm a major Mizutsuki Ryou fan, so the fact she's overshadowed by two people just makes me think, "Yep, that's Key for you." My favorite track from her in Summer Pockets is "Yoru wa Mijikaku, Sora wa Tookute".
What It Feels Like to Play Summer Pockets
From here on out, this review will be "less spoiler-free" simply because I'll talk about stuff like... the extent to which the heroines interact with one another in the common route, or the common route's structure. Don't worry, I never reveal anything concrete about the story itself or its themes, that isn't clearly evident from the first hour.
At the story's start, the male lead Hairi arrives on a small island that's located off the coast of his home city. He's ostensibly there to help his aunt dispose of his recently departed grandmother's possessions, but she tells him, "I'm still sorting through everything, and don't need your help yet. Go out and have fun!" So he has no choice but to wander around the island every day.
A major part of the charm of Summer Pockets rests in the island and its inhabitants. As Hairi wanders around, he becomes friends with the handful of locals who are his own age. They already know each other well and have their various humorous character dynamics, so it's wonderful how they accept Hairi into their circle despite the fact he's not from around there. To quote someone on EGS, it's "an island atmosphere filled with kindness and consideration." Many people love this aspect of Summer Pockets. It probably appeals to players even more than the nakige aspect does (judging from the EGS tags).
The fixed part of the common route is very short, and from then on you have to repeatedly choose who you want to spend time with in order to select a route. It's very typical.
In the heroine routes, you'll learn about the hidden sides of the heroines and come into contact with various mysteries. Unless you've never heard of Key before and want zero expectations (don't confuse "intended to be spoiler-free" with "completely blind"!), I don't think it is a spoiler to say that you should expect to deal with drama that arises from supernatural plot devices.
The Bottom Line: How Good Summer Pockets Is
Just look at the numbers. Summer Pockets has an extremely robust score on EGS, a median of 89 with 200+ votes. For comparison, the only clearly better-received VNs in the past 5 years are Sakura no Uta, Rance 10, and ChuSinGura 46+1. It's similarly well-rated on VNDB.
What appeals to people most is, as you'd expect, that this VN successfully nails the Key formula: comedy, lovable characters, and of course, tears. As one person put it, "Key isn't dead. I've been convinced."
And like I said earlier, the production values are excellent. Key's VNs used to be known to skimp on art (of course, the music was always solid) but they've broken away from that limitation. There are so many nice CGs in Summer Pockets, as well as sprites. It seriously improves the experience. Summer Pockets is truly a modern VN.
There were other improvements over previous Key VNs, too. Kai probably deserves credit for them. He mentioned in the December interview that for Summer Pockets, they tried to make the heroines interact with each other more, and they also added handsome male side characters. Key pulled this off well; while the level of inter-heroine interaction still wasn't at the level I hoped for (I know I'm crazy to want harem love comedy situations in a Key VN...) it was still solid. The two boys, Tenzen and Ryouichi, resembled Kengo and Masato (from Little Busters) respectively. Although they clowned around a lot, and rarely seemed as reliable as the Little Busters boys. Not that they didn't have their cool sides. But if you're Kyousuke-sexual, you probably won't find what you want in Summer Pockets. If anyone, perhaps Ao was the "Kyousuke" of Summer Pockets, socially. Despite being a heroine, she's a friendly person who's easy to talk to and well-connected on the island, so there were plenty of roles for her to play in every route of Summer Pockets.
I would say that Summer Pockets has 2 notable "flaws". The first is that some routes are better (worse) than others. Frankly, this should surprise no one who has read Key VNs--or VNs at all. Not all writers are equal, and Key often has multiple writers work on the same VN. But as I said before, none of the routes are especially bad in any way. I personally enjoyed every one of them. Only 1 of them felt fairly predictable. To offer you an idea of what my tastes are like, I was decently entertained by every route of Little Busters aside from the ones Tonokawa did (Komari and Kurugaya). So if you're someone who would say that every route but Refrain and maybe [some other route] was terrible, then maybe you actually will think that ~2 of the routes in Summer Pockets are terrible... Tastes vary.
The second "flaw" is that it's fairly derivative of other Key VNs. Maybe now you see why at the start of this post, I related the little anecdote from the interview. It shows how Key attempted to innovative, but in the end, they went the safe route with a very Maeda-esque story. Since I read this interview before I played Summer Pockets, I didn't expect a revolution... Anyway, I personally don't think it makes Summer Pockets any less excellent, except to the extent that it doesn't blow anyone's mind because they've played VNs like this before. A lot of people realize that Clannad copied from a certain other classic VN, but that doesn't make Clannad any less of a masterpiece which achieved success beyond that classic. Even if Maeda recycled some themes or plot devices when he came up with Summer Pockets, the fact of the matter is that Summer Pockets delivers them in an unpredictable way, with plenty of red herrings. You can tell from the impressions people left on EGS that few people care about the parts that are derivative. And for the record, it's not completely derivative thematically. For example, the themes about summer and summer vacation are potent and unique to Summer Pockets. The final title drop especially wowed me.
Niijima VS Maeda
I want to talk about Niijima's style. A lot of people assumed that a Key VN wouldn't feel like a Key VN without Maeda Jun, with comparisons to Rewrite.
But a Key miracle happened. Summer Pockets has been just as successful (I mean, when you adjust for the fact that the industry is smaller than it used to be) as many of Key's past titles, like Air. Credit where credit due: Niijima Yuu, the same person who wrote the hit Hatsuyuki Sakura (#1 VN of the year 2012, as voted by 2ch), who has been praised by many writers in the industry, did for Key what I presume someone hoped he would when they hired him: he utilized his Maeda-like style to capture the sort of atmosphere that they'd previously relied on Maeda to deliver.
For the record, I'm not denying that there are still many people (even those who loved Summer Pockets) who, after they played it, still think, "I miss Maeda." Niijima and Maeda are not exactly the same. I personally love them both. From an objective standpoint, Maeda is probably better. However, Niijima has his own strengths.
Both Niijima and Maeda like to write comedy that involves eccentric side characters, with male leads who tends to wander around like a loner. They both write scenarios that make the player cry at climactic moments. They both lean toward narratives with unlockable routes and true ends. They both tend to incorporate the supernatural into their plots, yet at the same time don't completely rely on it, or employ it as a kind of metaphor.
A major part of what I feel is Maeda's charm is that there is a deep sense of intimacy, or camaraderie, between his characters. The characters don't subconsciously keep each other at a distance--they form a unique bond almost immediately which deepens as they come to know each other, in a way that every reader loves to see, especially more socially isolated Japanese readers. Niijima's flaw is that he can't quite do this--it wasn't until some of the scenes toward the latter part of Summer Pockets (perhaps not written by Niijima) that I really felt I could sense a heartfelt connection between Hairi and the side characters. There were many parts of Summer Pockets where a character would have some sort of comic reaction, where they became really upset or passionate, but then 2 sentences later when another character switched the subject to move on with the conversation, that upset character suddenly was calm and matched the pace of the conversation, as if they'd instantly quelled their emotions with zero explanation, or as if their previous reaction had been totally fake. I'm sure that Maeda would have depicted more smooth conversational transitions. Niijima's humor has its own brilliance, but often it feels like the characters just relate to one other with humorously eccentric behavior at a superficial level, without the sense of closeness of Maeda's character dynamics.
On the other hand, Niijima's text appeals to me a lot more as a fan of eroge. His humor may not be quite as... hmm, "creative" and "unprecedented" as the weird situations Maeda comes up with, but it feels less childish too. One very Niijima-esque technique is to have a set of ~3 side characters who talk back and forth to each other about the male lead in the male lead's presence for comic effect. In other words, he pokes fun at misinformed attitudes and social expectations. Compared to Maeda, Niijima's humor is a bit more, hmm... "mean-spirited"? It feels like the humor often revolves around one character who teases another based on a misconception. Connected to that, it often feels like there's more of a flirty atmosphere. Well, honestly, Summer Pockets was still a lot less lewd than I expected from Niijima. The lewdest parts of the VN weren't even written by him. So the overall more "eroge-like" atmosphere of Summer Pockets may owe itself to the director Kai more than Niijima. But I think that Niijima's style is what enabled this. Anyway, this is the first Key VN I've read where I actually really wished it had ero.
Still, as a Niijima fan, I wished I'd seen a little more of his style in the fabric of Summer Pockets. While it's true that the text definitely felt Niijima-like, and one of the routes that Niijima wrote deeply resembled a route he wrote in a certain other VN... Part of what I had really hoped to see Niijima introduce to Summer Pockets are elements of action. It's not like I expected the amount of combat to match Hatsusaku, but at least once or twice, I would've liked to see a few short battles. The nature of the way Niijima writes such clashes, as half-metaphors which emphasize differences in perspective, leaves the story's atmosphere intact, so it wouldn't have hurt. But I'm afraid that Kai may have wanted to avoid any Rewrite-like action, as Key attempted to return to their foundation with Summer Pockets. In any case, without this, Summer Pockets suffered from a deficiency of 盛り上がる要素 (excitement/tension). Despite the fact that in many ways Summer Pockets felt like a modernization of Key's style, it still lacked one of the most prominent elements of modern console ADVs--action.
Kai may have perhaps clamped down on Niijima a little too much, but I'm still very happy with Niijima's role in Summer Pockets. The "summer vacation" that's at the core of the story (adjacent to the parts that Maeda came up with) as it's developed is 100% Niijima thematically, and is also the most memorable part of the story to me, besides just how fond I am of the characters.
Key, After Summer Pockets
Actually, I'd rather ask you, theoretical reader of this post. Do YOU know what Key plans next? Has anyone at Key said how they feel about the positive reception to Summer Pockets? I haven't heard any information yet, but then, Summer Pockets only came out recently.
All I want to say is that Key's future is on my mind. I'm hopeful they will make a fandisk, because they've made a fandisk for every other major Key VN besides their first 2. If so, they will probably keep Niijima around for a little while more. I want Maeda back, but I think Key is an excellent fit for Niijima, and maybe Key can allow him a tiny bit more creative freedom next time to repay him for Summer Pockets. I wouldn't mind if they let him direct a smaller-scale project like Harmonia.
That's all from me. Have a nice day.
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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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Hello guys, I'm Calendula and I'll be reviewing moeakamige.
This is the first of hopefully many little eroge reviews I decided to write, mostly for older and more obscure games since these are the games I find most interesting and like to talk about.
You can use these reviews to find something for you to read (I will try to avoid spoiler as much as possible) but since I know that most people probably aren't interested in actually playing these games and might only be interested in reading about them, I will also add a spoiler section at the end of each review where I talk about the themes and endings of the games in depth and tell you about my personal feelings and impressions that can't be talked about without giving away the meat of the story.
Hajimari no Kisetsu ~Izakaya Fuyu Monogatari~ (do not look at the tags or the screenshots on its entry because they are all spoilers) is the second visual novel by R.A.N.Software, a little eroge company which was active in 1997 till 2000 and you probably never have heard of.
It's written by someone who never has written any other eroge again (at least not under this pseudonym) and drawn by people who either vanished like the writer or continued to work on eroge but never used the same art style again.
All in all, Hajimari no Kisetsu seems like a pretty unique game, so why don't we take the time to look at this strange little eroge in detail?
Our nameable protagonist is in his last year of his university life. His girlfriend Kaori already graduated and works now as an office lady for a very big company. Because of her work he doesn't see her as often anymore and when she finds the time to meet with him for a few hours, they don't know what to talk about since their lives are so different now.
The protagonist remembers the happy memories he had with her, especially when they went skiing a year ago and to rekindle their love he wants to go with her to the same ski resort again.
Protagonist meets Kaori for the first time in a flashback
Eroge are escapism. We all know it. What annoys me, especially with eroge in the last few years, is how safe-spacey they became. If you play a feel-good game, you know you will get feel-good scenes ... and nothing else. Erogamer became fragile and eroge companies know that. Drama in most charage is cheap, light and will be resolved in just a few scenes. We don't want to upset the player, he might even think that being in a relationship is not just fun and happy times! Or worse, he might get the impression that his waifu has other things on her mind than him, maybe even has her own life! And if a writer tries to break out of this limitation, it often seems like trolling and the readers are rightfully angry at the game; having a bittersweet resolution at the end of a route that consisted only of sugar and rainbows is neither appropriate nor meaningful; it's just mean-spirited.
But this is also true for different genres; NTR heroines are most of the time unredeemable sluts and you have to wonder why the protagonist married her in the first place. It seems logical that an NTR game consists of only NTR scenes, but without the right buildup and good characterization, it can never be more than simple fetish fuel.
And I really have to wonder why Nakige and Utsuge are oftentimes so painfully obvious labeled as such; how can you be emotionally invested when you already know how it ends?
Well, the answer to this is probably that people want to get their emotional thrills in a safe environment. Being invested in a relationship with problems is only nice, if you know that the relationship can be saved at the end. If you are invested in this situation and the situation ends badly for the characters involved, you will feel bad yourself and that is not the feeling you wanted to have when you decided to read this story.
This leads to a dilemma; do you want to be safe but never really that emotional attached or do you want to experience something surprising and truly thrilling but with the risk that you might get extremely disappointed and depressed by the outcome?
The innkeeper knows that the only solution to problems is drowning them in alcohol.
Hajimari no Kisetsu is certainly not a safe space. Right from the beginning, you notice that something is wrong. Kaori isn't satisfied with the restaurant you choose for your meeting with her, even though it's the same restaurant where you meet her for the first time. She isn't too thrilled about the idea of drinking beer and would instead rather take a glass of wine. And she also doesn't show much interest in your ordinary life and prefers to talk about her new designer handbag. Where did she even get this thing from? Looks expensive... mhm...
Chances are you have experienced this kind of human interaction in your own real life, too. This steady process of people changing and slowly drifting apart. It's irritating, but you can't do anything against it. When the protagonist tries to invoke nostalgia in her, hoping that she shows signs that the old Kaori is still somewhere in her, she reacts coldly. A career woman like her has no interest in the past.
Someone here seems a little out of place...
Hajimari's greatest achievement is that the game portraits its characters so humanly. Kaori is not a bad woman for having different goals in life than the protagonist. It's also not necessary a bad thing that she changed over time. It's a human thing to do. Maybe it's even the protagonist who stays a child and simply can't keep up with her? ... but also, is it so wrong to not change and being happy with who you are?
This winter, our protagonist will find the answers to these questions. He will find out what he wants to do with his life and, even more importantly, what kind of human being he wants to be.
I like the protagonist of this story. He speaks in Kansai-ben which makes the game a little bit harder to read, but really helps to bring the point across that he has more in common with a country bumpkin than a well-spoken member of the high society even though he is by no means stupid. He is not very strong or confident, but also not useless or weak-minded. He is just a normal guy, who wants to do the right thing, but is seldom in the position to actually act on it. In fact, even though he always wants to do something, he rarely is able to actual do anything. Not because the game does not give the player the choice to do, but because it's simply impossible for him.
This is not a story, where the protagonist solves every problem the heroine has. This is a story, where the protagonist gives the heroine the strength by being on her side, so she can overcome the problems herself. And to be honest, there are really far too few eroge like this.
One of my favorite endings is actually a bad end you can get rather quickly by simply saying "I don't want that, I go home." The protagonist proves his worth by standing up to himself, and even though the bad ending credits roll, the usual bad end BGM is replaced by a more hopeful tune, emphasizing that the protagonist grew up a little and might have a better future in front of him now. Because somehow, this is more important than bedding your waifu.
A side-character has to rescue the protagonist who wanted to rescue a woman...
Speaking of endings, there are 24 "bad ends" and 4 "good ends". They are all interesting and one of the reasons (the other being spoilers) you shouldn't use a guide (there doesn't exist one anyway) to go straight to one of the good ends. Sadly, there are many choices that are badly designed because there is no indication that some of them are a hard route fork (like "going to the first floor" or "second floor"). But there are also some quite interesting choices which help forming the story in a meaningful way. For example, there is a choice during your already achieved happy end where you can choose between uncovering the secrets of your heroine's past or decide not to do it. You will get your happy end either way, but your choice does make difference in how you approach your eventual relationship with her.
When you get a bad end, there is some hint for you telling you what you should have done differently, but it's really not important since in most cases it comes simply down to changing the decision of your last choice.
I found everything the game has to offer easily on my own except for one good end which is a little bit non-obvious but makes sense in hindsight. I even had to use the Waybackmachine and read some random Japanese comment on a random Japanese website to get the necessary hint to unlock it. I will not spoil it here, so you can feel the same despair I felt.
Choose wisely how to approach her, if at all. Emotional women are dangerous.
Hajimari no Kisetsu is not a long game and every route can easily be finished in one reading session. The game tells short, romantic stories. They are a little bit cliché'd, but very nice and well-intentioned. There are scenes that make you feel good and some that make you feel depressed, but there is always a nice balance between the two extremes. And it's well earned. Even if you forget some of the details of the story a few months after you read it, you probably wont forget some of the scenes. At least for me that was the case. I did not regret spending my time with this game.
Sound and Art:
Let's talk about some technical aspects. This game was released in 1998 and sadly it shows.
The biggest misstep is to not have any voices. Especially the kind of seiyuu work of the late 90s would have been perfect for this kind of game. There are many dramatic scenes which would be even better with some passionate dubbing.
The soundtrack is very nice. Every character has its own theme, themes have several variations and the melodies are pleasant to listen to. You can choose between CD-Audio and MIDI, but the MIDI version, depending on your MIDI configuration of course, is not much worse. Seems to me the CD-Tracks are simple MIDI recordings. That could have been better.
The game has no backlog and no "already read" skip function which is really a problem when you try to find all the different endings. You might think that you are on a known path because you skipped over slight text variations when in fact it's the beginning of a new route.
The game has an old school omake room, where you can check CGs, endings and music by talking with the characters.
Hentai scenes are short, tastefully written and quite romantic.
Aside from the nice story, the art is the best feature of this eroge. Your mileage may vary, but to me it captures perfectly the whimsical, romantic and melancholic mood of the winter days. Sadly the artists never worked on another game, or at least not with this art style.
Speaking of the staff, the writer also was never read again. What a shame.
This makes this game even more unique though. Heh.
Don't get the impression that this game is a masterpiece. It's not. It's just a nice little gem. It's not mind-blowing, but certainly thought-provoking. Not flashy, but pleasant ... except when it isn't.
If you are alone on a cold, rainy evening and want to read something appropriate you can immerse yourself in for a short time, this is a good recommendation. This will not be the best thing you've ever read, but it will become a bittersweet memory you'll remember fondly.
Now onto the spoiler discussion. Read this only if you've played the game or you don't care and just want to know what it's about:Spoiler
The thing you want to know the most is probably: Is Kaori cheating on you? The answer is: pretty much yes. I say "pretty much" because, you see, in her route, she is not. To get into her route, you must not go to the hotel with her which is the place where you normally see her cheating on you. By not going there and not seeing this happening with your own eyes, the game simply chooses to not let this actually happen in Kaori's route at all, even suggesting that she never had any intentions to do this. I was really disappointed with this cheap trick.
Kaori is obviously my favorite character, but sadly her route really was the worst of all, simply because the writer chose to not explore the complicated relationship with the protagonist she has in all the other routes any further and instead decided to give the reader a simple happy end. The ending is actually not bad, it's nice to see how she changed, how she learned to embrace the simple but beautiful things in life and stopped being a career woman... but it's not really earned. Maybe earned for the player, who had to watch her cheat on the main character in the other routes, but not earned in this particular time line.
The new Kaori likes beer more than wine.
Her best scene was actually in the innkeeper's route. During the happy ending, when the protagonist is already in a happy relationship with the innkeeper, she visits him, apologizes for being a bitch and asks him to make a new start with her. It's a beautiful, bittersweetly sad scene. There is no hate, no grudge, only regret, on both sides. The protagonist never badmouths Kaori by the way, even if his friends might do it, he never starts to hate her, he is just sad and disappointed. This is why this visual novel feels so much more mature than most other eroge. I wish the Kaori route would have been spawned from this scene, it would have been so much more meaningful.
Kaori is also the reason for most of the awesome scenes in the other routes. Going on a date with your new waifu and meeting your ex-girlfriend with the guy she cheated on you is thrillingly awkward and makes for perfect human drama. The novel captures perfectly the anxiety you feel in this situation. There is also a scene where your new waifu wants to go to a restaurant you visited with Kaori before and while your waifu has fun and doesn't know what's up with you, you feel depressed and uneasy and just want to leave as soon as possible because the memories are killing you. Beautiful.
I would have accepted her proposal, if I had the choice, to be honest...
I liked the other routes too. We have the innkeeper route, a route for her little sister and one for her friend.
The innkeeper was once the concubine of the father of Kaori's boss, but after he didn't want her anymore, he pushed her aside and she opened her little inn. Her friend is still a hostess and has problems with some yakuza clients of her. Her sister helps at the inn, but actually wants to study abroad. All the routes deal with financial problems which our protagonist, who, disappointed with life after seeing Kaori cheating on him literally next door, decided to stay for a few days at the inn where he made memories with Kaori one year earlier, can not help with, but he bonds with the women which helps them to turn their life around, even just slightly. Sometimes the correct choice is to not do anything and trust the person (meddling leads to a bad end), which I found to be a refreshing take on relationships.
In my review, I mentioned a choice during one of the good ends. When you get together with the hostess and she chooses to start a new life with you, you have the choice to look at some pictures, evidence of her former life. I choose to not to look and the protagonists burned the pictures without looking at them. Somehow this really left a strong impression with me, particularly because you had the chance to look and could still get your happy end, but you didn't. It wasn't something the writer decided but you. Just a small thing but it makes a story so much more engaging. And perfectly reflects the theme of the novel; coming of age, in its truest sense.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, suggestions or something else on your mind, feel free to comment.
The next time, I will talk about the sickest eroge I have ever read and explain why it's not as sick as you expected but far more sick than you thought.
HEY YOU, YES YOU!
Are you sad?
Are you single and isnt likely to get a relationship in the foreseeable future?
Are you sad that you cant pleasure yourself to chinese powerpoints more without getting sore?
Can you look at this picture and think "this is definitely me"?
WELL FEAR NOT MOTHERFUCKER, SUMI-NEE IS HERE.
But now you might ask "but kawasumi-san, my crippling depression is not gonna go away just because you tell me to go out and get a fucking life". But fret not, you can safely read further because this is not what we're going through today. Today its about something different
JUST IMAGINE FOR A SECOND:
CUMMING OVER AND OVER AGAIN WITHOUT GETTING SORE
GO FULL AHEGAO LIKE THE GIRLS IN YOUR FAVORITE PORN GAMES
CUM MORE THAN YAMATO IN MAJIKOI IN JUST ONE SESSION
THIS SOUNDS FUCKING GREAT RIGHT?
It does and if you think otherwise you're lying to yourself
ARE YOU READY FOR THE BIG SECRET?
THE ULTIMATE TIP?
YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT YOU ARE AND ITSSpoiler
ANAL MASTURBATION OF FUCKING COURSE
Now, before I loose you, lets look at some pros and cons!
1. It feels fucking amazing, you will NEVER achieve something like this with just polishing the pole
2. Massaging your prostate actually reduces the risk of cancer
3. Multiple orgasms, youll be able to cum over and over again from the same spot and your thirst will never quench completely, thus the ahegao cycle begins
1. some are not able to obtain an orgasm through this and I feel legit really sorry for you if this is you in this case (and if you havent tried but you somehow "know" then no, no you dont you faggot, go do it)
2. it also takes time, it will feel good but mostly wierd the first time, then it will feel better and better and better. The more you do it, the better it will be
but now you might ask "but sumi-sankunchansama thats fucking gay"
You also know whats fucking gay? PLAYING JAPANESE PORN GAMES.
people also think that its gross, but lets be real here, what about those nachos you have stashed in the corner of your room and havent touched for months? yep, I know.
With that cleared out lets get started shall we?
The prostate is what you wanna aim for here , its a little lump thats located between the bladder and the penis and is about the same size as a walnut (if not, then you should go see a doctor ASAP).
As you might have seen in your filthy hentai doujins, theres a lot of nice toys to massage this little wonder in your anus, BUT.all you need are your hands, you can even wear plastic gloves if you cant get over your bacteria fear (I personally do enema's but its tiresome gotta admit lol).
now for lube, if you're an organic fag like me you wanna use water lube, simply because its just fucking water, but oil based is better if you wanna go at it for hours (also water based lube dries the entrance out if you use it a bit and needs to be put on more frequently so yeah)
Do you remember that little thing you do with your hand? like you're using your middle fingers and grinding them upwards? yes that. just stick your fingers up there and grind away! Massage that damn thing like its the only thing that matters, grab your favorite porn game, play around with your willy a little, whatever works.
YES, ITS ACTUALLY THIS FUCKING SIMPLE.
now go out on your new glorious prostate massaging adventure, you might even like it so much that you're going to end up like me
if you end up liking it too much you might also end up like this guy, but lets face it, youll never get a gf anyway so you dont have anything to loose anyway
Now go out and make your onee-san proud and fap with your ass to your hearts content!
*This post contains no spoilers!
Before starting this post, I suppose that I should give a brief introduction and summary for Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai (Our Wonderful Everyday ~Discontinuous Existence). However, Asceai in his review of the VN probably gave the best and most condensed summary for this fairly complicated story. So I will borrow his words:
“Subarashiki Hibi is a story told in six chapters. The chapters are of varying lengths and structure, but for the most part, they cover the month of July 2012 from a number of different perspectives.
The story begins in chapter #1, 'Down the Rabbit-Hole" on July 12, 2012. The protagonist; Minakami Yuki; lives a peaceful everyday life with Tsukasa and Kagami; her childhood friends; when one day she meets a mysterious girl, Takashima Zakuro (a girl in another class in Yuki's school, who seems to have met Yuki before but Yuki does not remember this).
The next day, she learns that Takashima Zakuro has killed herself. Rumors in school are abuzz about predictions of the end of the world in 2012 - one of which is a Web site called the "Web Bot Project", a network of crawlers designed to harness the 'collective unconsciousness' to make predictions.
A boy in Yuki's class named Mamiya Takuji stands up and makes an apocalyptic prediction, stating that the world will end on the 20th, and that Zakuro's death was the first sign. He speaks of an event he dubs "the Last Sky", where the world will be destroyed and reborn.
The clock is ticking and more people die as the prophesied date draws closer and closer while Yuki attempts to get to the bottom of the identity of Mamiya Takuji, the Web Bot Project and the Last Sky.”
Although this is a highly accurate plot summary of Suba Hibi that avoids spoilers, what a prospective reader of Suba Hibi should also know, is that the story is divided into two parts. The two parts are fundamentally interlinked, but are also kept separate. And it is this aspect of the visual novel that really defines it as a masterpiece. There is the part of the work that is a story, and then there is the part that is a philosophical work. Both parts are handled excellently well, and mix together in a fascinating and integral way. Simply, these chapters: Down the Rabbit Hole 2, It's My Own Invention, Looking-Glass Insects, Jabberwocky, Which Dreamed it, Jabberwocky 2, and the first two epilogues are a complete story. The VN very well could have been just these parts, and it would have been a damn good work of art. And yet, the visual novel is not just these parts. Down the Rabbit Hole 1, End Sky 2, and all the scenes with Ayana throughout all the chapters are included as well. And by virtue of just being there, it forces the reader to question why? These parts add nothing to the actual narrative of the story, and yet it is these parts that mark the very start and the very end of the story. With a mysterious girl named Ayana showing up periodically throughout the story to remind us not to get too caught up in the events of the story. That while the narrative part of the story is fascinating, and very easy to get lost in. There is a whole deeper layer to everything going on that we will only get a clue of at the very end.
Down the Rabbit-Hole 1, which I will refer to as Chapter 0, gets a lot of flak for being considered a weak start to an otherwise excellent story. And although Down the Rabbit-Hole 1 does have a fair bit of fluff, it is an absolutely integral part of the story. As an introduction, Chapter 0 has the role of establishing what kind of mind set the reader should approach this story with. And it is for this reason that Chapter 0 is so important. Suba Hibi is a philosophical work above all else. Upon finishing this story, you get the feeling that Sca-ji (the primary creator) wanted to write a philosophical thesis of his own, but then decided to create a whole visual novel instead. And I'm so glad he chose that route. By using fiction to express these concepts, and forcing the reader to see the story not as a story but as a world of its own, it gets us to see the relevance of said philosophies. The whole story is essentially there to create a conversation about various philosophical topics, with solipsism being one of the big ones. This is what Chapter 0 exists for, to get the reader to understand that the events we will see unfold as the actual story progresses is not meant to be just mere entertainment (and oh boy is it a thrill ride), but to keep in mind that there is even deeper subtext to everything going on.
Takashima Zakuro, the girl whose suicide is the triggering point, or perhaps even the direct cause of all the events that follow, plays an entirely different role in Chapter 0. With the exclusion of this chapter, she is a normal character and even the primary protagonist of the Looking Glass-Insect chapter. But in Chapter 0, she has the role of being a character that knows what is going on. A role that she shares only with Otonashi Ayana (except that Ayana retains that role throughout the entire duration of the story, not just in Chapter 0 as is Zakuro's case). When reading Chapter 0, we are told and even see some interesting and cryptic things, but have no way of piecing those things together. Thereby giving you enough information to be curious about the under workings of everything that is going on, but with no means of figuring that out yourself without continuing into the proverbial “Rabbit Hole”.
It is for that reason that Suba Hibi is first and foremost a philosophical work, because above all else our purpose is to try to figure out what is going on. And once the story really gets rolling in Down the Rabbit-Hole 2, we experience the main events from a myriad of unreliable perspectives. Meaning that trying to figure out what is going on is less like a puzzle as would be in a typical mystery, but more about determining what makes the most sense from the scrambled information we get. In fact, without giving any major spoilers, it is made quite clear at the very end of the story that interpreting the story is the only solution we have, meaning that everything isn't laid out clearly by the end. Which once again, adds significance to Chapter 0.
Upon finishing Suba Hibi (meaning reading End Sky 2), you will want to reread Chapter 0 since now we as readers will no longer be in Minakami Yuki's shoes as we were the first time. Throughout the whole first reading of the story, Chapter 0 was nothing but a source of questions. Upon the second time, it is our source for answers. We have the necessary knowledge to be sharing the table with Takashima Zakuro and Ayana, since this time around, like them we will also know what is going on. When Zakuro and Ayana spoke to Yuki in our first reading, it felt like the two characters with any sort knowledge of what was really going on were keeping us in the dark. They would give subtle clues, but those clues were useless at that time. In the second reading of chapter 0, as readers we are equals in knowledge to Ayana and Zakuro and can finally make use of those clues. And the VN understands this. In fact, Ayana first introduces herself in Chapter 0 by saying “It's been a while”, addressing herself not to Yuki, but to the audience. The true meaning of this remark is very apparent to a second time reader, and instantly reminds you of the conversation you had with Ayana in End Sky 2.Although in a first reading, you probably will easily disregarded this, thinking that Ayana and Yuki briefly met before, and that Yuki simply doesn't remember. And it is here where the role that Ayana and Zakuro play differ in Chapter 0.
(Here is an upload of that entire first encounter with Ayana in Down the Rabbit Hole 1, English subtitles are available)
When Zakuro speaks, she is speaking to Yuki the character, not us the audience. Ayana however, really speaks directly to us, the audience (in all the chapters of this story), and that “it's been a while” (久しぶり) is essentially proof of that. As you progress in the story and work through the other chapters, Takashima's role is quite different from Chapter 0's, and she is much more ignorant compared to her chapter 0 self. Ayana however, no matter what chapter you read (and therefore which character's perspective you are seeing), is the exact same. In a story so filled with inconsistency, she is always the one consistent factor. Which goes back to my first point, just as Chapter 0 and End Sky2 are separate from the main story, so is Otonashi Ayana.
Suba Hibi is not a simple story, and it is not meant to be only enjoyed for its emotional highs and lows; it's strange beginning makes that clear. Furthermore, during the process of reading, in case you ever forget that, Ayana is always there to remind you of that fact. Especially with the appearances she makes near the climax of the story in various chapters.
But perhaps what I love most is the use of perspective. Returning to a previous point, in your first reading of Chapter 0 you will naturally orient your own perspective with Yuki's since all the information we receive in that chapter is from her. In fact, the whole story is told from the first person perspective of various unreliable narrators. And in every chapter we will identify our understanding of things from that character's point of view.
But by the second reading of the story, because we have a complete picture of everything, there is a dichotomy between the reader, and the protagonist's narration. An artificial feeling that we are in a third perspective emerges. Because at this point we can balance what the protagonist perceives, with an objective understanding. Which causes us to identify with out own (third person) perspective of the story, rather than submitting to the protagonist's point of view. The more the reader develops their own personal perspective of things, the more they can relate to Ayana. The one character whose role is simply to be an objective observer.
In a first reading, conversations with Ayana seem like she is teasing the reader for how little they actually know of what is going on. But this is because in a first reading, we identify with whichever protagonist's perspective we are seeing. Ayana is teasing us the reader by teasing the character she is talking to. The more we identify with the character's point of view, the more annoying and weird Ayana seems. But the more we identify with our own perspective (meaning by having read everything already), the more Ayana feels like an equal talking to us. Since just like the reader, she is the only other objective perspective on everything.
In fact, this brings us back to the fact that unlike a book, where a first person narrative is without dispute a first person narrative. This is a visual novel, with choices. Even with all the information presented to us is in first person, it is by nature of its medium a third person experience since we dictate the story at certain key points. And Ayana is there to remind us that we like her, are experiencing things from an objective point of view.
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On May 11th, 2017 (ie, Thursday last week) the parody visual novel "Stay! Stay! Democratic People's Republic of Korea" was released. Most people probably know that I wrote it. Well, 90% or so of it, there were some humor changes and a couple last-minute changes to make some things make sense, those were done by the Project Leader. But for the vast majority of it, it's my handiwork.
I actually got picked for the project because the developer advertised here on the boards. I submitted a sample, they liked it and brought me in. So without the boards, I wouldn't have had the chance to do the project. For that I'm extremely grateful.
I'm actually really grateful because, in a sense, it's a comeback for me. A long time ago I wrote sports articles for newspapers. You may not think it's relevant, but the sports section is actually one of the places you're supposed to expect some creativity when it comes to writing. The last year I had done it, I was in New Hampshire at a weekly start-up in its infancy - The Connecticut Valley Spectator (it was owned by The Eagles Times, but they went kaput years ago during the first couple death waves to newspapers). They pretty much turned over most of the staff after about 8-9 months, including myself. To be fair, I was doing everything for the section then - stories, page layout, even photography. I was pretty burned out, and trying to get people on board for a new local weekly isn't easy. Once I was let go with the others, I hadn't really done a job in professional writing since.
No, this isn't me trying to influence the forthcoming review. It is what it is and if the reviewer here loves it great, if not, I'm willing to listen to what they think would have been better. But the initial Steam reviews, both "real" and "shitposting real" have been really good.
But it also just feels really nice to have written something that people are reading once again. And without the boards here, it wouldn't have happened. So this place - it's alright.
And yes, you can tell me how much you loved or hated it if you read it. I don't bite. I'm actually super nice. WAIT WRONG ICON!!!
Most probably you have already heard about this game before. Therefore, I don't feel the need to introduce the story and the characters. I simply wanted to recognize this game for being the best VN I have read so far, beating G-senjou no Maou in terms of emotional impact I received. I’m going to share my thoughts on the game, which can be very subjective. Please don’t comment spoilers.
There are a lot of emotional scenes in the game, rooting from the protagonist's background and from the extreme situation the characters are facing. I had a lot of questions when I started reading. Most of them are basic ones which are usually given right away in the introduction of a setting. However, this VN slowly answered those questions, oftentimes in the form of flashbacks. Is this a good thing? It felt quite mysterious and new to me, so if you'll ask me I'd say it's good.
Some argue that Oumonbyou is vaguely described and it needed more information. I beg to differ. For readers like me who find infodumping mendoukusai, the writer of this game did a perfect job. If they go more scientific and specific, I might get bored and go with another VN like what I usually do. For me, the background of Oumonbyou is just about right, enough to make the readers realize that it's one heck of a fucking disease.
Why do I love this game? There are three main reasons. First, it managed to hook me from start to finish by giving a serious premise and ending the game the way I wanted to. Second, I love the cast specially the protagonist. Third, it made me cry which is rare in my case. Personally, the best thing in this game would be the family theme because it was able to move me even more than the romance. Ryuuji's relationship with his parents and brother, the heroine's relationship with her sister and parents, and the relationship of Ryuuji with the heroine's family. It feels like, the world is unfair but is kind at the same time --- a good balance of frustrating and heartwarming moments.
Character development is excellent particularly in the romance theme. The progression of the relationship felt natural given the situation. This was even more emphasized in the last 5 hours of the game, where various emotions are presented in a way that gradually created huge tension, and eventually "snapped" on the ending leaving a strong impression. The ending of the game is my ideal ending, and the epilogue would be my favorite part. 何故でしょうかね！
This VN is not for everybody. From the time you start the game, you'll immediately get an idea if you can take it or not. If you have enjoyed Kara no Shoujo series which is another awesome utsuge, you might like this game too. I love the background music that reinforces drama, suffering and the light/heartwarming scenes. The standing CGs are great but there are problems with some CGs (ie. body proportions). There are tons of hscenes and I skipped through most of them but some actually contributed to the plot. This is an easy read, for those wondering about the language difficulty.
The OP is as good as the story. The musical arrangement, the lyrics and of course the vocals accurately portray the feels of the game. When I first heard the song last year, I have played it again and again up until now. For those who don't know, Shimotsuki Haruka did OPs of Innocent Grey games and tons of other great VN songs like "Sketchbook" in Tokisoku, "Stellar dream" in Hoshimemo, Hakoniwa Logic, etc. She's one of my favorite artists. めっちゃええわ～ 声ホンマ天使やで～
Four days have passed since I finished this but I still find it difficult to get up and pick my next VN. All I did was to sing Liblume over and over. Inochi no Spare will remain vivid in my memory for a long time.
"This is a story, about doing something for the sake of a love one." That original line sums up Inochi no Spare pretty well, but I'm not confident with my translation. tehe
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Often when people talk about OELVNS, they fail to mention the otome games. I don't know if this is because the majority of VN readers are males who don't follow the OELVN otome scene, but either way, it's quite a shame. Many talk about how OELVNS follow Japanese tropes and try to be too Japanese. With otome games, I can sometimes see this due to the anime-inspired art, but there are really a lot of notable differences.
For example, OELVN otome MCs tend to be more distinct. They certainly have distinct personalities and a lot of character- something I prefer since I don't self-insert. The MC of the recently released free otoge Cinderella Phenomenon for example, Lucette, is a cold-hearted, mean-spirited person. She is someone who is certainly very flawed but is also interesting as a person and a character. Throughout the story, it is evident that it is her story and a lot about her background is revealed. The characters do adhere to certain tropes but I didn't find that to be detrimental to the overall experience. Cinderella Phenomenon has a decent length and story, making it ideal for anyone who wants to try an indie otome game in English. It is also relatively high-quality compared to most indies.
Another free indie otome is Lads in Distress. It has a finished NaNoRenO version with 170000+ words and three routes. It will have a more full-fleshed out version with longer routes and an additional 3 routes. The premise is centered on genderbent fairytale princesses with problems which the MC, Princess Charming, must work on. It has pretty decent art and story but it's really the characters who shine in this game. I loved how Princess Charming interacts with her love interests and her antics are amusing and fun to read. It is pretty lighthearted, although I suspect it won't be so when the full game comes out.
Mystic Destinies: Serendipity of Aeons is a commercial otome game available on Steam. It follows the pay-per-route format one sees in mobile otome games. Normally, I wouldn't touch it until it's complete and everything is available at once, but I caved in the end. My decision did not disappoint me as the writing, art, CGs, and music are of a higher quality than those mobile otoges I used to purchase. It's even more astounding when those mobages are produced by well-established companies while MD:SOA is produced by an indie team. I would recommend this to those who play mobages and are just getting into PC otome. Mystic destinies has a decent-length for its price, a well-written story, a good cast of characters, and excellent art. The music is also great. The money also goes towards developing the game as the routes are released after it's developed. The writing itself is quite good in contrast to many indies.
A cursory glance at the Lemmasoft forums will reveal a lot of otome games in development which is why I believe that it's a shame that it's so often overlooked. Two otome games in development I want to highlight are Changeling and The Pirate Mermaid. Changeling, developed by Steamberry studios is an otome game focused on the supernatural. It has a cast of characters based on folklore and mythology. From what I can see from the demo, the lore is also well-thought of. It has recently been funded through kickstarter and the dev regularly updates through tumblr. The artstyle is also very western and might turn off some people. I don't mind the art, however, as I am more drawn to the story. It follows Nora who due to some strange events in her childhood ends up being estranged with her twin brother. She moves back to a small town and meets the love interests who are all connected to the supernatural world in one way or another. The writing in this game, as with MD:SOA is rather well-done.
What I'm really excited about however, is The Pirate Mermaid. I played the demo a long time ago and then forgot about it. However, I started checking out their blog again recently and they have a Steam Greenlight campaign going on. The MC is a pirate captain whose crew abandons her and turns into a mermaid in search of mermaid treasure. I love her character design personally, it's rare to see an otome MC who looks like me. I don't self-insert but to me (and I believe, some otoge fans out there), the representation means a lot. That aside, I'm impressed with the production values so far. It seems that it will feature a Ren'Py 3d camera and something incredibly rare: English and Japanese VAs. I will probably play the game with Japanese voice acting as I like it more based on what I've heard so far. The art is also done well and it has a story I'm interested in.
In conclusion, a big part of the OELVN scene are otome games and I think they deserve to be more represented when it comes to EVN discussions. The indie otome scene has been continuously growing these past few years and I'm excited to see the direction they're going. It seems that as time goes on, the writing does get better as the developers gain experience. The art may be subjective but I enjoy seeing both western-style art and anime-style art. I don't think EVN devs should be criticized for drawing what they can and want to draw. In the end, as the community grows, more EVN developers will get serious and release quality VNs. I'm excited as I've been watching it for two years now and I can see more groups starting to be serious and working on commercial titles that shows serious effort.
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Well, I guess it’s time to show something.
Don’t worry, dearest follower of this site, I’m not dead, I’ve just been incredibly busy. I’ve had exams left and right, and thus, I’ve felt a little demotivated. But, I’ve never given up on this project, there’s no way I can. I mean, it’s been over a year since I started this “passion project”, and I still intend to finish it with all of my power.
I won’t give up, there’s no way I’ll allow myself that. This project is important to me, way more than you think. And yes, for a while, I’ve been incredibly dead, I’ve still answered every question coming my way on Twitter, and I’m still active as ever on my Discord server. There’s no need to worry, Biman -1- will see the light of day.
As for a “beta” patch some people have been asking, I will be looking for two beta-testers after proofreading is done, and after the testing, I will ship the translation out to the masses, and then focus on Biman -2.5- that I’ve neglected, and then onto bigger things.
I’ve been pretty horrible with my way of keeping all of you above water, but all I can do at this point is to ask for all of you to wait patiently and to have faith in me.
Well then, this’ll be another sporadic update that won’t become the norm for a while, but the next planned update is the recruitment of those before mentioned beta-testers.
Until then, everyone!
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Well, he was right. This is not a route, but a mini-route. That can be finished in 15 minutes tops.
The content is itself not bad, just standard charage stuff. Don't expect anything great.
On hindsight, I might not have needed to split the whole VN into so many posts. But I thought of writing them as soon as I finished them, so it ended up being that format.
Anyway, I'll just list down my complaints first:
1. The central plot device could have been explained better. Especially why the routes are ordered like they are. I understand they have tried to put forward a world lines theory of sorts, but that doesn't hold candle in terms of clarity and usage when compared to a certain other famous VN with world lines as its genre.
2. Was there really a need for a Michiru route, at all? She plays a brilliant support character in the other routes, so was it needed?
All that being said, I enjoyed almost all the routes, each in their own ways. Misaki's route had me grinning like anything, Makoto's route was really exciting, and Cro's route was an awesome ride and the best of the lot.
And I really liked the different route format, i.e. the climax is almost always about the confession, enabling ichaicha to be kept to a bare minimum (*glares at Senren Banka*).
So yeah, apart from Cro's route, this is your average charage I guess, with a more classic galge-type route structure. That's it.
Maybe I'll resume Rena's route in Senren Banka next. Aka long flurry of posts should calm down for a while, lol.
So, as the poll doesn't seem to give me an answer any time soon, I decided to start with this one.
For those who don't know, ableist means prejudice against those with disabilities. As most people in society are able-bodied, disabled people, as a minority, have to cope with toxic words and expressions that hurt them. By saying this words in a negative way, you are basically saying that disabled people are inferior. It's the same as using 'gay' as an insult. As those expressions are by no means necessary, we all can police ourselves in order to avoid them.
Also, when I say 'ableist expressions', I'm not saying those who use them are ableist. Most people aren't even aware of the ableist connotations, so they aren't the ones to fault, society is.
Here are some of the expressions and why they are ableist:
1. Blinded by ignorance, fear, etc. (offends blind people)
2. Crazy (offends people with mental diseases)
3. Cripple (a very offensive word for people with physical disabilities)
4. Dumb (refers to deaf people, or individuals with communication disorders)
5. Idiot (intellectual disabilities)
6. Imbecile (same as 5)
7. Lame (offends people who have mobility disabilities)
8. Stupid (same as 5)
9. Moron (same as 5)
10. Nuts (same as 5)
11. Psycho (same as 5)
12. Retarded (same as 5)
13. Special needs (an euphemism that is actually offensive. It's better to use the word "disabled")
There are, of course, many other offensive expressions, unfortunately. But this list is just to give you an idea in hope to convince you be more careful with your words from now on.
Hello again Fuwanovel, it's Dfbreezy (now named Kotario). This new entry is going to talk about the problems when motivating team members to work and to commune.
There are alot of problems with development. The ones that are most known, are funding, recruitment and meeting deadlines. Yes, those exist and are very well known because Devs highlight that very frequently. But one other element that is largely overlooked is team motivation or involvement. How is this a problem? Read further to find out.
Picture you have a nice concept. In fact you've completed the first draft of the said concept. You then go into recruitment based on the summary of the concept... not the concept itself. Of course the recruitee does a passover of the summary, checks whether the genres fit with him, and inquire about their all important pay.
This process is done and repeated over and over again in the EVN sector. It's basic practice to some extent. But that is where the problem begins friends. After the payment is settled, almost every team member (minus writers) never actually takes the time to assess the content of the project until it's over and done with. All the ask is for what you need and References.
That is the problem. You, in reading the content, should know what is needed based on the description of the scenes in the concept material. But most of that is waived based on "I'm working on multiple projects".
I myself have had this problem with my team, with only 50% of the team actually reading the content. Luckily my character artist falls in that category. Because of that, i feel we have a distinctive disadvantage against other studios whose members actively take part in shaping the story itself, not just the VN aspect.
It may just be my assumption and speculation at this point, but what if team immersion could affect the final product positively and make it far better than it normally is? Some good food for thought, i'd say.
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Disclaimer: At the end of this post I get pretty salty, so be aware of that. This post endorses MY and MY OPINION ONLY. The numbers about the costs of a translation team were researched before putting them here.
Hello guys. Aizen-Sama here with another spicy rant. Although I haven’t been around the forums as long as other users who have spent their time here several years (I have spent around 7 months more or less at the present time being) I have seen that there’s a huge problem that I’ve mostly seen here, in Fuwanovel, more than any other site that congregates VN fans. In fact, I think that this doesn’t happen anywhere but here, but again, what do I know? I don’t really visit Reddit nor 4chan that much, let alone interact there.
Anyways, what I want to address is a problem that has been going on since the beginning stages of this site, and that problem is the Translation Requests, or what I like to call “e-beggars” (yes, I know this term has been invented already).
First and foremost, the majority of people that make these Translation Request posts are usually new users and I’m fully aware of that. But this has been blowing up lately. I know that 4 posts in the last month and a half doesn’t sound like that much, but the proposals are getting so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe sometimes if the guys asking these things are for real or if they’re straight out trolling.
Let’s take this post as a quick example. You’re scrolling through the forums and see this post, and then the thought comes to mind “Another typical Request Post. Sigh. Let’s see what this guy’s asking for…” and then you see this:
These posts show nothing more than ignorance and arrogance, as well as no interest towards these groups they are begging to translate something for them. Do these people even understand what it takes to translate a medium length VN? A medium length, around the 35-40k line mark in my opinion, could easily take a year. And the guy in this post begged for 5 medium and long length VN’s to be translated, one of them being >50 hours long.
But don’t be mistaken, the worst part about that post wasn’t the amount of VN’s he was begging for nor their length. It was the last statement: “Thanks in advance”. Although it sounds stupid, that’s what triggered me the most. A shitty “thanks in advance” is not something that motivates people to do these things. People have to put themselves in a translators’ shoes sometimes. Not only him, but also the people who aren’t translating, but the ones who edit the text, proofread it, the image editors, the quality checkers, etc… Do they think that the task can be easily done if the guy in question knows Japanese? Not even close.
The secret of a translation project.
I know this is hard to believe for the e-beggars, but the translation of a game requires an enormous amount of time, and one year to finish the TRANSLATION, not editing, of a medium length VN is a very decent deadline. And I’m talking about a medium length game, not a long one. Majo Koi has around 47k lines. Supposing it had one sole translator and the translator in question did 100 lines a day, the game would be finished in around 470 days approximately, this taking into account he diligently does 100 lines a day, no skipping, no nothing. Let’s convert that into hours spent in total, since that tends to shock people more; 470 days doing 100 lines a day, if the translator is an experienced one, meaning that he has done this before or is a professional in the field, he could get rid of that task in about an hour. But an amateur translator, basically the bulk of the community in itself when it comes to fan translations, could take around 1,5 or 2 hours to do the exact same number of lines. That could mean than in total, just translating could take from 470 hours for the experienced translator, which means around 20 full days translating something, to 705-940 hours for the amateur translator, which is around 30-40 days translating nonstop. And this would be just translation, I’m purposely taking out the other processes such as editing and QC’ing. Do you e-beggars understand the amount of work is being put in these projects? This is why Translation Request posts should be completely banned off this site and instantly deleted. Then again, where would I put my insulting memes towards the op’s to gain likes for no reason?
Let’s throw in another question now that we’re shifting towards that matter: Is fan-translating Visual Novels even worth it in the first place?
Before I answer (although it’s probably known what I’m going to say, given my tone) let me address this: I by no means think that fan-translation is bad, in fact, it has been the reason why we’re getting official localizations now and I think that no amount of praise of thanks can equate the amount of work the translators of these projects did in order for this genre to be known better in the Western community.
But, as sad as it sounds, fan translating at this moment is not worth it. Why? I’ll put in some of the reasons:
- - Although some members of the vocal community throw in the occasional thanks once the patch is out that’s all the team who translated the game gets. Nothing more, nothing less. Some people might say that recognition counts as some sort of reward as well, but personally I don’t think that’s the case.
- - No reviews of the translated VN’s are usually made (this is what in my opinion spreads the awareness of these games), only discussion threads are made, which is pretty sad in my opinion.
- - I’m going to quote something that Clephas said in one of my posts, that sums up this next point: “Another thing is that most people in the community will never even try to experience fantl from the other side of things... they don't realize how much time it eats up, that emptiness you feel when you realize you've used dozens of hours of your personal time only to put out a patch that people bash left and right for 'errors' and other shit.”
- - The work put in to translate the game itself is not worth, meaning that the compensation that the translator/team worked for it is not even close enough to what they should be getting.
Lastly, I want to address the problem that comes with donations, awareness of localization costs/translation costs, and ignorance.
I’ll cut to the chase; for the people that think that with donations alone you can “pay” a translator to do some kind of game, you’re WRONG. Let’s put an example of what could a medium VN translation cost: let’s suppose that the team consists of three persons, to translate a 1.5 million jp character VN (equating to a 45k line count approximately). The translator gets 1 cent per Japanese character, the editor gets 1 cent per English word and the QC gets a quarter of a cent for each English word. In total, the final price equates to 33k dollars JUST FOR THE TEAM TO TRANSLATE A SINGLE VN. And these prices are apparently pretty shitty for a translator, so yeah, there you go. Besides, why donating a random group of guys, who could easily run away with the money and machine translate the game, or not even translate the game at all, when you can just support the official localizers? Contrary to what some people think they are actually releasing more games than ever and the 18+ industry in the scene has never seen so many official releases ever.
Summing up this 3 page-long essay of frustration:
- 1. Please for the love of god don’t e-beg or Request for translations. Just no, it triggers people off and it only shows how ignorant you are about what happens behind the scenes.
- 2. Fan Translating in this actual moment is NOT WORTH, only people who are very commited and have a strong resolution will be able to start one, and very few out of those will actually finish the project.
- 3. Donations are NOT a solution to encourage Fan Translation, it ruins the very concept of it and it’s also ILLEGAL. Don’t support an already illegal activity by paying it.
- 4. Before posting retarded shit on the forums please look for other posts similar to what you might want to post. Maybe looking at the responses could enlighten you and help the other users not waste their time by reading the same shit over and over again.
- 5. Before criticizing Translations and patches for “errors” and “typos” and being a little whining bitch how about you try to show interest on how much effort people put on the translation of these games behind the scenes? (This goes solely to the people that haven't experienced working on a fan translation and whine non-stop about "how bad the translation of this is" and blah blah blah.)
Anyways, I think that’s all the rage out. For those of you who haven’t dozed off already have a nice day and all of that stuff.
And if you smash that like button you will get your very own… DIES IRAE MACHINE TRANSLATED PATCH. Yes! This is not a scam at all, your own personal Dies Irae Machine Translated patch. If you leave a like you can choose between a Google, Bing, or a Skype translated patch. I’ve invested so many hours on them, it was totally worth though ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).
so, since im the lazy sidekick for the TL, it was only fitting that I finished this fucking amazing gory mess of a vn after everybody else was done lol. So here is my review, in super lazy edition
+/- great BGM, short loops (around a minute each) (favorite bgm track: https://clyp.it/epwzo4pz )
+ the voice acting is amazing
- the main antagonist wasnt voiced
+ great suspense all around
+well constructed scenario with great characters
+lots of nice scenes for guro fanatics (they even fuck you over with surprise feels in the middle of over the top guro scenes, thats quite impressive tbh)
- Mia as a protag is really nice, but her character doesnt stand out as much as the others. But shes fucking moe in a good way, also banya is amazing at writing female characters thats just plain awesome in general, so its not because shes a pushover or the regular danzel in distress (im looking at you grisaia writers) but because her personality can feel kinda dull at times
- can be kinda predictable for some, but to its defense, it feels like the writer accounted for this and had different theory "traps" set all over the plot that was there to confuse you
this gets a solid 9/10 from me, it made me feel the same way that saya no uta did and its only a very very small portion of vns that does this. good job banya. Cant wait to read extravaganza now for sure.
Damn. It's September. Everyone's going back to school/university/work and I'm just drowning in research papers and work assignments. I have been playing the same visual novels since the last time I posted. It's Red Spider Vengeance and I also picked up The House in Fata Morgana. I'm kind of getting tired of Red Spider Vengeance? It has a bangn' OST that matches with it's Noir concept, but damn it's kind of slow for being Noir and it's all dialogue. Yes, I get it, VNs are about dialogue. But there's nothing stylish about the writing. It's just plain old talk. And I usually like minimalist prose. But there's no...no... punch to it? No vivid descriptions, very little emotional expression, and I'm not saying that because the character models look like Slenderman, but the writing is kind of basic and there's no color to it. Just like my blog post.
While The House in Fata Morgana is a wonderful experience, I've always been a sucker for gothic victorian stuff. The music just gives me chills, the bleakness, and the elegant English prose, it's great. It reminds me of classics with a bit of a modern twist. Which yes, some of the prose is a little too modern for the time period, but what can you do? It's a visual novel? There has to be a balance where it isn't too wordy for the reader to get tired, but enough to fill in the box and make it opulent, especially for this genre, where it's all about that fancy. And I also know that this VN is pretty popular, so I don't think I will say much since it won't be different from anyone else. Although, this Bestia part is kind of a drag, not as suspenseful as the first chapter, and it's killing me. Maybe, the school work is giving me a funk?
The other VNs I haven't touched in a long time. So I guess this is the end of my post.
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As someone with a lot of experience playing old games, I've realized that two types of obscure games exist: the type which were never recognized, and complete garbage that should never have been created. I was really hoping that this game would be the former, but it's the latter. (This is why I'm never playing a free VN ever again, by the way.)
I first encountered Mukou no Yume on a VNDB random title binge I was doing. The game looked interesting, and it had an English translation, so I downloaded the torrent file and loaded it up in Deluge. Of course, I've got zero peers. Looking back on it, this was the first red flag.
But back then, I figured that it was an obscure title, so I just found a mirror online and downloaded it.
The second red flag was the title screen music. I've heard the default Windows GM soundfont enough times to recognize it anywhere, and it's generally not an indicator of quality. On the other hand, a lot of older visual novels used MIDI files for their soundtrack because space was much more limited than nowadays, so this isn't necessarily bad on its own.
As far as I know, the soundtrack for this game was taken from an online MIDI library. I'm not entirely sure, but it seems to be the simplest answer, and I honestly don't want to spend any longer looking this stuff up than I absolutely have to. Loading the MIDI files into the Arachno soundfont actually creates generally listenable results, so I recommend it if you absolutely need to play this game and don't want to suffer through default MIDI hell.
I'll admit it, one of the main draws for this game is its art. It's by far the best part of the game, and deserving of a far better scenario than this one. At one or two points, I could've sworn the art was ripped from somewhere else, for just how unfitting the script is. I'd honestly play through an entire game with this type of art.
So far, with everything I've talked about, Mukou no Yume looks outright decent, if not good.
Unfortunately, it all goes to crap as soon as we start talking about the story.
First things first: this game is SHORT. I beat it in around 10-15 minutes.
Now, there are good games that are this short. But I'd like you to examine this chart from VNStat:
Longer games are usually higher rated on VNDB. There are a lot of reasons for this, but suffice it to say that things are not looking up for shorter VNs such as this one.
The story of Mukou no Yume is impossible to explain without giving spoilers, due to the length, so...
A miko commits suicide for unclear reasons, her sister joining her soon after. A fish man is sent to find the girls by their mother, he finds them, then the mother comes down and reunites with her daughters. This is followed by an ending scene where the main character addresses the player for summoning her, then the game ends.
There's nothing more to the story than that. The prose, or at least the translation, is sloppy at best and cheesy at worst. Generally, even in the worst translation, some of the original text comes through. In the case of this game, I can't tell whether it wants to be taken seriously or lightly. On one hand, the miko's sister is heavily toted as comic relief, but on the other she kills herself just to see her sister again.
The ending...oh boy. It just stops in the middle, without ever climaxing or resolving. The story builds up to literally nothing.
In the end, I can't recommend Mukou no Yume to anyone. It's one of the worst games I've ever played, and the presentation can't save the god-awful story.
Don't play this. Please.
Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete
We are trying to get this game translated, and had a somewhat functioning team back in December, where we had enough people to make decent progress. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I'm the only translator left and the group, out of the two members we're left with, and am quite busy for the year, so I'm going really slow with the translations.
What's been done?
Most of the TL progress has gone to Airi, with the other routes having practically no progress. Minimal editing has been done, but is not recorded.
- Kaori 556/8159 6.81%
- Airi 4837/7236 65.6%
- Nagisa 0/7356 0%
- Yui 120/8334 1.44%
- Others 0/3839 0%
Total Progress: 4282/35056 (15.7%)
What we need:
In order of decreasing importance,
- Translation checkers
I'd be happy with even one new translator, because it will mean that the project would not be stagnating as much as it is now. What we need you to be is someone who will stick around to the end. Our last translator just disappeared on us, so I hope whoever comes next won't leave without saying anything. Hopefully, you'd have enough free time to make up for my really slow pace, to give this project some bit of progress. Joining us, you have a choice on any of the routes that isn't Airi. You'll be starting from scratch with the route, for better or for worse. Now if you're interested in this position, simply PM me.
Our plan now, is to finish up the translation route by route, followed by a round of editing, and finally a TLC/QC. One plan of action we are considering is for us to release a partial patch for each of the routes, because they do mostly make sense on their own (with the exception of Yui's route). However, this is not confirmed, and might change in the future.
I hope we can get the support necessary to finish this translation. If not, we'd have to put this project on hiatus until November or when we get another translator, whichever comes first. If you'd like to help, simply PM me, or even just leave a post in our thread.