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  1. 11 points
    It has been almost six months since I ceased VN of the Month. I can say now that while I do, surprisingly, miss some aspects of that particular column, the freedom giving it up has granted me is far greater compensation. When I was doing VN of the Month, I was literally the only person commenting on most of the non-nukige VNs in a given month. I was driven by a sense of obligation to those who read my blog to continue regardless of what it was doing to me and my life, and I can say now that that wasn't a healthy situation for me. I am still a VN addict. I probably always will be, just as I am a heavy reader in general and a lover of role-playing games. However, I still think the role I put it on myself to play was a necessary one. How many people who play untranslated VNs give honest opinions devoid of spoilers? For that matter, how many of them are honest about their biases when they feel they can't give a particular VN a fair chance? I made myself abide by a pretty strict set of rules when I was doing VN of the Month. One was that I would primarily evaluate VNs based on story, character development, and setting, while only mentioning visual and audio elements when they were obviously exceptional. My reason for this is that I lack the background to properly evaluate the technical aspects of audio-visual materials, whereas I have extensive experience with all sorts of reading material in general and fiction in particular. Another was that I would, on a regular basis, restate my particular biases, reminding people of the limitations of my objectivity. This was because I was writing on all VNs I played for the first time, and it would have been unfair for me to fail to state my biases beforehand when playing something that was outside my tastes or something that hit them spot on. The third was a resolve to avoid excessive spoilers. My standard was the Getchu page. If information was released on the Getchu page or the official site, I didn't consider it to be a spoiler, but I was to avoid spoiling things beyond that, except when absolutely necessary. The fourth and final rule was to strive for objectivity inasmuch as possible and be honest with myself and my readers when it wasn't possible. These rules were my guide posts for the years I did VN of the Month, and they served me well, generally... but I reached my limit. To be blunt, VN of the Month was only made possible because of my high reading speed and my willingness to structure my life solely around playing VNs and making money to buy more. Naturally, this way of doing things was doomed to failure eventually, but I got so caught up in actually doing it that I didn't notice it really at the time. Now, I play only what I want to play, and that makes me a much happier person, despite a few wistful moments where I wonder if I couldn't have done it a little while longer.
  2. 4 points
    First, I'm going to state that all charage/moege are harem-ge (with the exception of kinetic novels with only a single heroine). In all these cases, you have a bevy of heroines that are, at the very least, friendly with or somehow attached to the protagonist. There are a three standard types of harem that I consider to be general umbrella types. These harems do not include nukige sex-only harems or the type of harems that pop up in gameplay hybrid VNs, as these often have distinctive story-exclusive reasons for harem formation. The Disconnected Harem This is the standard-issue harem for modern charage/moege. In this harem situation, the protagonist is independently connected to most of the heroines, with very little or no interaction between the members of his harem of latent deredere troopers. The reason this has become the dominant harem in the charage genre in the last seven years or so is because it is the one that is the most 'tasteful' to monogamists and traditionalists. In this case, the heroines either have no real connection with one another or only weak connections that become tenuous the second the heroine path begins. Games that have these harems tend to have extremely weak casts of characters in general, and there is usually very little or no real conflict between the characters (low incidence of love triangles, few jealousy attacks, etc). As a result, games with this type of harem tend to have weak or nonexistent plots, lackluster SOL outside of ichaicha dating, and 'convenient' drama that is resolved so quickly it might as well not even exist. These harems generally disband at the end of the common route, as the protagonist seems to completely forget any attraction he had to the other girls and they fade into the background. The Dominant-Sharing Harem The Dominant-sharing Harem is defined by the members of the harem being at least somewhat familiar with each other (often friends, family, or members of a group or club) and able to be cooperative to an extent while competing for the protagonist's love and attention. Girls in this kind of harem situation (Shuffle is a prime example of it) are ok with the idea of sharing the protagonist in the abstract, but in practice they want to be the 'first wife' or the 'wife' and relegate the other heroines to the mistress or concubine status (though it isn't always stated this bluntly). This is perhaps the most realistic harem situation, as, historically, real harems - other than royal ones - have usually been structured with a head or first wife and a number of secondary wives, often married with the permission of or by the choice of the first wife, lol. The Everybody's Equal Harem The Everybody's Equal Harem is, just as the name indicates, a harem where the protagonist essentially loves and treats all the heroines equally and the heroines accept this situation, albeit often with a tacit understanding between one another that they won't stop aiming for a Dominant-Sharing type situation. As such, this can often be considered a prelude to a Dominant-Sharing Harem result in practical terms. A classic example of this would be the end of the Grisaia series or the ending of Strawberry Feels, where the protagonist himself never forms a preference, even if the heroines do build a sort of pecking order based on dominance of personality or circumstance. Tiny Dungeon's Endless Dungeon ending can also be considered this kind of ending, whereas the individual routes represented by the first three games would be considered Dominant-Sharing harems. Why I bothered with this post Anyone who has been an otaku as long as I have been has to accept that harem-thinking is essential to SOL otaku-ism. As early as Love Hina and Tenchi Muyo, rom-coms have been creating wacky harems and weird situations that result. This is because romantic comedy is the easiest type of comedy for anyone to get into, and the easiest one to empathize with... and comedy used to be the dominant genre in otaku media (though romance always came a close second). The evolution from that type of loose harem (though in later incarnations, the Tenchi universe threw off all pretense of not being harem-ist) to the current situation took decades, but it was a natural evolution in visual novels in particular, due to the fact that most visual novels are multi-route, heroine-focused affairs. Charage in particular, with their focus on SOL, inevitably give off a sense that the protagonist is the center of a harem, even if it is only in the common route. Since this kind of situation appeals to the more primitive parts of the male psyche (males are genetically predisposed to seeking multiple mates, though socialization and emotional attachment overwhelm this in modern settings), eroge tend to abuse this flagrantly. Oh yeah, if you haven't figured it out, I like harem endings that aren't sex-heavy... but that isn't so much because I have a thing for 'collecting' bishoujos. Rather, I like the various situations that result in VNs, as they are often intellectually interesting, heart-warming, or hilarious (or all three). Nukige-style harem endings are boring and make me roll my eyes, mostly because I question whether anyone has that kind of stamina, and because ignoring the emotional and practical aspects entirely like that makes it hard to suspend disbelief. If a plotge can make me think a harem would work, I want to see it work, lol.
  3. 3 points

    Little Busters: The Apology

    Hello. I am the guy who wrote that review of Little Busters that everyone hated because I did not like the game. Those poor people are doing just fine, however, even with my evil, vile, disgusting review out there still. I, on the other hand, have never been worse off. You see, I've been overwhelmed with guilt. I feel bad for what I did. I took a beloved visual novel, one that has changed the lives of many people, and slandered it with my negative review. Then I continued to ride that infamy I gained into relevancy allowing my hatred of Little Busters! to manifest itself as a false representation of my true opinion of it, much like I am doing right this moment. The truth about my time with Little Busters! is that I enjoyed the VN. It had some bad routes (like all of them) and had a really unremarkable ending. But can I say I did not enjoy my time reading it? Not really. The 24 hour stream was a blast, and subsequent streams were a lot of fun, especially when people were involved in the jokes and discussion of the routes as I read them. For example, Lewycool's Sexy Seagull Legs during Mio's route was light in an otherwise forgettable, boring route (protip: a character with no personality other than "I like books" is not a recipe for a fun route) and allowed me to actually have fun with the route. Likewise, discussions of Kurugaya's Balloon Tits carrying me off into the sky made her Bill Murray wannabe route more enjoyable. Refrain was a blast to read right up until the ending. I didn't hate Rin and simply wished we saw far more development from her than what we got. She was a fun character. The experience of reading Little Busters! was good. I had a good time. While my opinions on Little Busters! remain the same, that it is a bad VN (not horrid at least), I do not regret the time I spent on it and I sometimes wish I could read it over again on stream with everyone like I did before. So, I owe everyone an apology. I'm sorry your favorite VN is so shit I had to bring in friends to enjoy it instead. I can't wait to get my hands on the official Rewrite release in 600 years. Also, a review of an InvertMouse VN is coming very soon to this blog near you, assuming I'm not blocked first.
  4. 3 points
    While probably few people following my VN-related writing know that, for quite a long time I had a peculiar relationship with the brony fandom. Being brought into the community by my RL friend, a popular fan-artist working under the pseudonym Pony-Berserker, I’ve written a few dozens of My Little Pony comic scripts and, more importantly, based my master’s thesis on researching the fandom – more specifically, exploring the bizarre world of MLP fan erotica. While my current involvement with Bronies is minor at best, I’ve decided to commemorate both my previous and current hobbies by reviewing the humble catalogue of My Little Pony visual novels – in this post, and the one two weeks from now, I will go through pretty much all VN-style fan games made by bronies that are currently available in English, which is just around a dozen titles, including large demos and trials. So, if you have the courage, please join me in this bizarre adventure through the world of shipping, bad fanfiction and, maybe, some genuinely interesting, imaginative VN project within the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic universe! Welcome to Ponyville (demo) The MLP visual novel scene seems to be a hell of demos, dropped projects and never-ending development limbos. Some of the most notable games in this niche suffered from perpetual delays or straight-up died halfway through the production cycle, and Welcome to Ponyville might be the best-known among the latter. After releasing a substantial demo in mid-2012, the team behind quickly started becoming more and more silent, and after two years with no meaningful updates, the chances of the project being finished were clearly gone. The already available first episode, however, is still quite an interesting piece of content that is arguably worth experiencing on its own. Telling the story of a pony arriving to Ponyville to settle within the town (you can choose the protagonist’s gender and the breed of pony they represent), it showcases some of the most notable achievements of the brony fandom: art that very closely resembles that of the show, both in style and quality, and full voice acting that faithfully mimics the original voice cast of Friendship is Magic. The 1,5h-long demo is mostly composed of casual, amusing SoL scenes in which the protagonist organizes his stay in Ponyville and takes odd jobs, while meeting the Mane 6 (brony term for the 6 main characters of the show: Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Fluttershy), along with various other inhabitants of the town. At the same time, the game introduces Silent Hill-like, disturbing dream sequences, suggesting there’s something sinister hiding underneath the fluffy surface… While we’ll never know in which direction this project would go exactly and I would normally not recommend wasting time on approaching unfinished games, Welcome to Ponyville shows the creativity of the MLP fandom at its finest and give a taste of what we could’ve got if more of its energy went into projects of this kind. Final Rating: Recommended Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  5. 3 points
    On my journey to try and write a complete story, I found it incredibly satisfying creating my story's universe. Mostly characters, relevant parties, and cause and effect. So after a few months of creating, I end up with a decent amount of details and a fair chunk of my story plot filled in. But I haven't written a story. In fact, I haven't even completed a single scene in it's entirety. Strange. These "details", feel so integral to the story. I feel like I'm creating the story. And yet when I google "how to writing", everything is dead focused on the scene: making the perfect scene, the build-up of scenes, scene dialogue, etc. It seems like our focuses are different. Anyways, without going into how modern writing is too presentation focused, let me lay out these two contrasting features which constitute a story. A World The world of a story is its own characters, and their thoughts, interactions, histories, and details. And a timeline of events with explanation cause and effect. To me as a writer, a world is already the story. Creating the locations, characters, and happenings. Just like how facts and forensic evidence can tell a story, the existence of this separate world, it's characters and events makes it a story to me. Telling a Story However, there is another huge element in stories. That is, how we convey them. When we talk about a good writer, we often applaud their gripping text, captivating storylines. A good part of that is the art of presentation. The first implication of presentation is that of selection. Not every fact and character's thought reaches the reader's eyes, and certainly not every cause and effect is layed out. A story consists of a series of scenes which convey the journey, and also bring the reader through the build-up and through the climax of the story. Beyond that, a story has description, which helps the reader to imagine the scene and put them there. A scene can have a mood, which immerses the player. It's possible to like a scene just for it's mood. Note this mood is a very subjective thing which is both conveyed and imagined. A mood might also might suggest something about the character's lines of thoughts, or it might connect to the punch line of the scene. A narrator can use different tones, which achieve similar effect to a mood. For example, the ironic tone in the narration of the post apocalyptic world SukaSuka encourages us to grin painfully as we hear about curious history and the downfall of foolish parties, deserving and tragic alike. A caustic tone in another post-apocalyptic story could be emphasizing to the reader that human lives matters little here. Of course, the writer could offer up these ideas directly, but a tone or mood simply hints at them. Mostly what these things contribute to is to bestow an experience to the player. This is a subjective experience which is distinct from the world that the author created. Before you think I'm saying "objective rulz", I note that it is possible for a story's universe to have certain emotions or ideas that permeate through it, which the author was trying to convey in the first place. I guess this is why they talk about stories often having an over-arching message. I personally am not a big fan of stories having a primary message, though that it is definitely something which can be done. However, even without having a message, stories usually end up effectively talking about something. This is because they inspire us to think about the phenomena/conflict that they depict. In closing, my fellow VN readers, I leave you with this. Think about a story you've read or are writing. Does the world exist for the sake of the telling, or does the telling exist on behalf of conveying the world?
  6. 3 points
    Studio Elan, and I refuse to copy and paste the accent mark like they do on their Twitter account, bursts out onto the EVN scene with their long awaited debut visual novel, Heart of the Woods. A mix of Ghost Adventurers, fluffy yuri relationships, and a magical elements, Heart of the Woods is an ambitious showcase of talent wrapped up in a tightly woven tale of love and sacrifice. From the very beginning of this roughly 4-6 hour long VN, Heart of the Woods sets a tense tone that persists throughout the entire run time. Tara and Maddie, the team behind the viral paranormal internet show, Taranormal, are on their way an isolated town located in the woods at the behest of Morgan, a fan of the show who tips them off at paranormal activities within her town. Conflict is bubbling, though, as this is the final episode that Maddie will be working on, and this month long trip to produce the episode has pushed their now strained friendship to the breaking point. What follows is a series of rapidly escalating events where the very lives of the characters hang in the balance. The story itself is generally solid with a few hiccups due in large part to how the passage of time is handled in this VN. Events progress at a whiplash pace in the VN which leads to the relationships between characters feeling more than a little contrived. This is something many VNs suffer from, however, and might be the most difficult aspect of writing a romance VN without feeling it completely with fluff pieces to flesh out character relationships for the sake of believability. While normally I despise long periods of fluff, Heart of the Woods would have benefited from a padded run time with more light hearted character interactions without the main conflict looming overhead. One half of our main cast, Maddie and Abigail do get far more of this type of treatment when compared to Tara and Morgan who are relegated more towards the advancement of the plot at the expense of a more evenly paced relationship. The light hearted moments that do exist are tender and well done generally. Tara is a magnificent goofball, Abigail is a not so pure cinnamon roll, Morgan (my personal favorite character) features a great amount of excellent character growth, and Maddie is versatile, able to smoothly interact with every character in an interesting way, even when the interactions are less than amiable. More often than not, the interactions between couples, is incredibly cheesy and I feel that once again, the lack of establishing scenes for the relationships is the main cause of this. With that said, just because they are cheesy does not mean that they are poorly done or bad. Perhaps my inexperience in reading yuri VNs is showing here and the purpose is to create a more light, fluffy feel, in which case, the cheesy love dialogue achieves its goal. Setting aside the character interactions, the storytelling is an improvement over the standard skeleton that director Josh Kaplan’s previous work, Highway Blossoms, follows. Far more ambitious and fantastical, Heart of the Woods’ story features some unexpected developments that caught me off guard. Aided by a writing style that seamlessly switches from whimsical and comedic to foreboding and brooding the story rarely misses a beat and when it does, its due to the previously mentioned passage of time. Of special note is how the writers successfully pulled off narration perspective changes in seamless fashion. Usually when a VN switches the narration character to tell a different side of the story, I find that one character’s side of the story is far stronger, more engaging than the other character. This is not the case in Heart of the Woods. Each perspective shift is treated with equal amounts of effort and I never found myself wishing I could go back to a different character’s narration/story. The VN features phenomenal artwork from Adirosa and Rosuuri which establishes the magical world that the reader enters and also gives each character a highly unique appearance to match their personality. For example, just what in the hell are Tara’s hair clips? This question will inevitably lead you to “Why can Tara not even cook toast without nearly burning down an entire ecosystem of magical creatures.” Each character’s look matches perfectly with their personality. Once again, I have to show some love to my favorite character, Morgan, who’s sprite work is downright unsettling at times giving her a very mysterious feel which helps establish the magical strange setting for this VN. The final piece of the puzzle for establishing this world is the music, which I am pleased to say is top notch. Featuring the talents of Sarah Mancuso and Astartus, the soundtrack is heavy on the use of stringed instruments but never overpowering which gives the reader the same level of comfort, or discomfort as the characters in the VN. When a soundtrack can assist in the world building and storytelling as the soundtrack in this VN does, that is the sign of great composition and direction. The characters, art, story, and music all come together magnificently in creating the world of Heart of the Woods and therein a major hindrance to the VN comes into play. It is quite literally too fantastic of a world and story to be told in a VN. The limitations of the VN medium are on full display as despite all of the efforts taken to create this magical world, it never really feels like it is used to its full potential. Technically the VN is sound, utilizing clever camera movement, character positioning, and particle effects to bring this world to life, but I still felt it did not quite reach its full potential because it felt too static. This is in no way a knock on the team behind this work, but rather a criticism of the medium as a whole. This story and world would be far better suited in the form of an animated movie to allow the environment to truly come to life. I want Studio Elan to take this as a compliment, rather than a criticism. The work they did was too good to be trapped within the VN medium. Heart of the Woods is a welcome entry to the EVN scene injecting a strong dose of professionalism into the market. While it does feature a couple of flaws, the overall package is an well polished work that is well worth the time to read if you want to spend a few hours in a world of yuri and magic. This is a fantastic debut work and leaves me excited to see just what Studio Elan has in store for the future. Rating: 4.5/5
  7. 2 points

    Nekomiko in a nutshell

    [inaudible meowing] jk Expect a new review soon™.
  8. 2 points
    Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the game by the developer. All opinions presented are solely my own. One of the interesting differences between yuri in Japanese and Western VNs is that while in Japan it’s mostly limited to a very specific niches, with either nukige or fluffy high-school romance dominating the genre (meaningful exceptions can literally be counted on two hands), among EVNs the theme is prevalent enough to frequently find its place in all kinds of stories. Eldritch Academy, a low-budget project by a single developer using the label Jackkel Dragon and the topic of today’s review, is among dozens of examples of this trend, mixing tame yuri romance with horror and chuunige elements – while it uses many tropes typical for Japanese media, they're all set in a configuration you would be unlikely to actually find in any of them. Released in early January 2019, the game promised a fairly impressive amount of content (over 10 hours of reading) and a tense thriller story, starring a group of high school students put against a supernatural threat none of them even suspect to exist. Directly referencing magical girl stories and various other types of otaku media, while also being set in a Japanese all-ages school, it’s definitely one of those distinctly “weeb” projects, but one that avoids pointless fanservice or forced sexual content and dedicates itself to telling a compelling story, with mystery and romance subplots being of more or less equal significance. Does it manage, however, with it’s obviously limited resources, to make this concept actually enjoyable to read? Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  9. 1 point
    Welcome again to my short series on the My Little Pony fan visual novels! In the last part (if you missed it, check it out here!), we’ve looked at six games of vastly variable quality, climate and state of completion, and this trend will definitely continue today. Also, this post will include a (un)healthy portion of fandom cringe, although mostly connected to embarrassing fan fiction tropes, common in the creative output of many online communities, rather than the sheer fact the stories are about ponies. On the other hand, today's list features one of the very few, if not the only MLP VN project that could be seriously interesting to people that are not avid fans of the show – the still-in-development Starswirl Academy, with its impressive (humanized) reimagining of the Friendship is Magic setting and characters. So, let's get this party started! *the Party Cannon rolls in* Starswirl Academy (demo) Most people agree that, apart from the randomness of internet memes, some of the main sources of Friendship is Magic’s success are its memorable leading characters – the six ponies that fuel the show with their memorable visual designs and vivid personalities. The people from Rosin Entertainment made a pretty obvious conclusion that this general characterisation, if transferred into a humanized, semi-realistic setting, would make a great basis for a moege, and started turning that idea into a reality. Thus, Starswirl Academy was born – an MLP fan game that, while still borrowing a lot from its source material, for an unassuming reader could easily pass as a normal, lighthearted romance VN. And, most importantly, quite a lovely and enjoyable one at that. Unlike many other “human versions” of MLP, including the official Equestria Girls, Rosin’s project is a total reimagining of Friendship is Magic's fictional world, including details like normal, human names for all of the characters and a modern-day, boarding school setting that makes logical sense. Game’s reinterpretations of the Mane 6 are cute and well-designed (with Twilight as an Asian over-achiever and protagonist’s childhood friend is my personal favourite), both catching the appeal points of their original versions and adjusting them to the context of a "normal" romance story. The dialogue is genuinely fun and while the game seems to focus exclusively on SoL content, it does so in a way that made me seriously excited for the full release. Even the protagonist (named Tom Stone – those familiar with the show should easily catch the reference), while rather average, it not a faceless hunk of meat, with especially his teasing of Tai (the already mentioned, humanized version of Twilight) being extremely fun to read. Of course, this wouldn’t be an MLP VN without its own development problems, although the team behind this game made a wise decision to not give any kind of timeline or dump frequent updates, but rather working on it at their own pace, with an explicitly stated “when it’s done” approach. For this reason, it’s rather hard to predict anything, although a 2019 release does not seem completely out of question – and if it happens, it quite likely be the one My Little Pony visual novel that I’ll be able to recommend even to those that normally would want nothing to do with the whole franchise. If they don't also hate moege, that is… Final rating: Highly Recommended My Little Dashie: The Visual Novel My Little Dashie is one of the most famous MLP fanfics, in which a depressed, lonely brony, living in pauperised industrial neighbourhood finds a box with filly Rainbow Dash, so young she’s unable to speak. Deciding to take care of the pony before any harm comes her way, he ends up becoming her surrogate father in this foreign world. Over the years, he guides her through crucial developmental moments and creates a parent/child bond, while anticipating that whatever magic brought her to Earth will one day come back to reclaim her. It’s a tear-jerker in pure form, combined with the questionable wish-fulfilment of self-insert fan fiction, but executed well enough to gain a widespread appreciation from the community (and regardless of what you might be imagining, the brony fan-writing sphere is neither small, nor is its work of particularly low-quality). It’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was this MLP fic that became one of the very few pieces of fan literature to receive a visual novel adaptation. Produced by Daily Oat Studios and released in early 2015 after a long development, My Little Dashie: The Visual Novel is a faithful, although slightly simplified adaptation of the source story, presented through an hour-long chain of CGs and narration, with very little dialogue and no interactivity – very much an “illustrated book with music” kind of VN. With relatively simple, but pleasing visuals and music, all this makes it possibly the most enjoyable way of experiencing the My Little Dashie story. However, if you would expect anything beyond a direct adaptation, you’ll be sorely disappointed, Also, the story itself definitely caters to the brony sensibilities, to the point where it would probably be pretty hard to digest for anyone at least not familiar with the show and the fan culture around it. It has no romance plot, so it’s not anywhere as creepy as the numerous Human x Pony shipping or porn stories, but will work best for those that, at least at times, would genuinely like to have a pastel-coloured, cartoon horse in their life. Final rating: Recommended My Sexy Anthro: Fluttertime! & My Sexy Anthro 2: RainbowRound! Newgrounds has a long tradition of flash hentai games and animations parodying various pieces of media, and MLP is no exception to that trend. My Sexy Anthro “series” is a bit of a peculiar example, as it doesn't have much in common with its source material, outside of names and general characteristics of the girls. With as little as the game does when it goes to story (the first one pretty much only includes a minor introduction before the h-scene, with only the second going a bit more into “proper VN” territories), the scenario presented seems to have a bit more in common with Nekopara than MLP, with the hypersexualized “anthros” living among humans and an average-guy protagonist who just happens to catch the attention of a whole harem of those busty, horny creatures. The visuals and dialogues are also distinctly porny, so while designs and personalities of the heroines hold some resemblance to their Friendship is Magic sources, every piece of characterisation is dedicated to making them into walking sex dolls. Interestingly enough, the anthropomorphic designs are definitely inspired by furry artwork, but look rather distinct and a bit more on the “human” side of things. The h-scenes are of similar quality as in other flash games of this kind, that is not bad, but relatively low on detail and far below professionally-made nukige that you can easily find on the market nowadays. Because of all this, I really don’t see much of any kind of appeal in these games, as they only very superficially cater to either of its potential audiences (that is, either bronies or furries) and aren’t particularly attractive by themselves. Still, if you’re looking really hard for some highly-interactive MLP fap material, My Sexy Anthro is probably among the better option available to you (for whatever that's worth). Final rating: Not Recommended My Little Sweet Heart: The Story of Double Diamond One of the notable organizers of the Thai MLP fandom, Parnkung, is also among the most persistent brony game developers, for many years now working on his series of pony dating VNs. While his most ambitious project, My Little Sweet Heart: Story of the Mane 6, is still being produced, in late 2015 he released the Story of Double Diamond – a romance tale with a human, female protagonist, featuring the titular Double Diamond, a mascot of sorts of the Thai brony community, as the main love interest. All these elements are placed in the setting of season 5 opening episodes – the village of brainwashed ponies, fixated on “equality” brought through nullifying their cutie marks and led by manipulative Starlight Glimmer. With partial (Thai) voice acting and a fairly substantial story, Parnkung’s VN is arguably one of the more ambitious brony fan games in general, but falls into some typical pitfalls of MLP fan fiction. Above all, the Pony x Human romance is immediately weird and the protagonist falling at first sight for a pastel-coloured, talking horse feels unbelievably awkward. It truly is an unholy union of the most embarrassing otome tropes and ponies, with cringe-worthy scenes of the MC getting bashful or disbelieving in her attraction to a non-human. While the game develops the main intrigue quite nicely and even gives a proper justification to the protagonist’s creepy, zoosexual urges, it definitely requires a bit of tolerance and patience to get into. And if you can get past the steep entry barrier, you’re rewarded with a decently-produced and competently-written piece of romance, that can obviously be enhanced heavily by reader’s knowledge of the show, but could possibly even stand on its own. Final rating: Recommended I Can’t Believe These Ponies Are So Terrible! With how easy basic VNs are to put together, the EVN scene always spawned its fair share of plain troll games. ICBTPAST is definitely in this category, being a sequel to a similarly obnoxious collection of ugly doodles, copyrighted music, ear-exploding sounds effects etc. There are a few, minor fun things here, which include the premise (the protagonist goes around insulting every character he meets in creative ways, and composing those insults is the main “gameplay mechanic” offered to the player, at times giving some slightly amusing results) and some fandom-specific jokes (like the horrible “princess” OC that plays a crucial role in the story), but generally, we can only be glad that this project was dropped after the first episode and will most likely never be finished. For once, the curse of MLP VNs did something good for humanity. Final rating: Not Recommended Pony Waifu Sim (Alpha 3.0) One of the newest MLP VN projects is a full-blown, erotic dating sim that promises to feature a vast number of romance options, unique character arcs for all of them and explicit Human/Pony sex scenes. All that within a parodistic, but surprisingly faithful adaptation of the FiM setting (basically, everything outside of the everpresent sexual humour feels quite "right"). The art and dialogue, wherever they’re complete and not placeholders, are actually among the better ones I’ve seen in the MLP fan games, making this a surprisingly promising trial, which actually made me want to see more, despite how creeped out I am by the erotic content it might offer later down the line. The main problem is, that while the Alpha version launched with quite a lot of fanfare last September, even half a year later, there’s actually very little content in the available build, with only Mane 6 having any meaningful interactions and one story scene for each pony, outside of the short prologue. Of course, if the production quality and humour I’ve seen in finished parts of the trial are indicative of what’s to come, it should be worth waiting for. That is, if it ever gets finished – while the decent Patreon support for the team behind it makes this more likely than with many fully-noncommercial projects, there's still a very long way before this game gets even close to being complete. Only time will tell... Final Rating: Not (Yet) Recommended And that’s it for now every… Body! What these two posts presented to you is pretty much a complete list of MLP visual novel fan projects, the only exceptions being ones that were never released in English, like the Russian fan games Equestria Flower Day & Hearth's Warming Day. With the last season of Friendship is Magic cartoon coming and the fandom itself shrinking rapidly, I wouldn’t expect many new ones showing up, but if the already-in-development games such as Starswirl Academy and the second My Little Sweet Heart title come to fruition, they might be something worth taking a separate, more detailed look at. For now, I free you all from this den of overly-colourful weirdness and for the foreseeable future, go back to my usual EVN routine. Thanks for following me on this little, bizarre adventure and see you next Friday!
  10. 1 point
    Warning: Major spoilers for the original Doki Doki Literature Club ahead! The viral success of Doki Doki Literature Club in late 2017 sent shockwaves throughout the visual novel world, sparking some highly polarized reactions. While many hardcore VN fans dismissed the game as shallow and expressed irritation towards the over-the-top praise it received, Team Salvato’s project had a lot going for it and quickly gathered an enormous fanbase. Excellent use of visual and sound gimmicks and brilliant subversion of the basic visual novel/dating sim gameplay conventions made it an extremely effective, creepy horror game. While in no way an in-depth critique of the genre and having very little replayability because of its reliance on gimmicky plot twists, I still see it as a masterfully-crafted and enjoyable experience, having relatively few contenders on the EVN scene when it goes to memorability and attention to detail. While it might be hard to see past the overwhelming meme culture and misconceptions around it, on its own, DDLC defends itself perfectly well and I consider it a solid 4/5 title – not a masterpiece, but something I would be willing to recommend to pretty much anyone with interest in VNs as a genre. A part of DDLC that many people casually ignore is the moege-like first act, which is, in my opinion, a great piece of lighthearted, SoL-focused storytelling. While it was on purpose fluffy and generic, Salvato’s writing, designs of the heroines, the ingenious “poem writing” route selection mechanic and the romance progression were actually very enjoyable and engaging – after all, the first twist would never be even close as effective if the game wasn’t able to immerse you in its faux dating sim climate. I’ve myself many times expressed the thought that I’d be very interested in playing a “normal”, lighthearted version of DDLC, especially because how gratifying it would be to see happy endings for the heroines, with whom I've developed a bit of emotional connection, after how harsh the main game treated them. And it was after sharing this thought that someone pointed me towards DDLC Purist Mod, an ambitious fan project based on exactly that premise – transforming Salvato’s game into a proper romance story and giving a chance for happiness for all the girls of the Literature Club, including its tragic villainess, Monika. Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  11. 1 point
    I knew that I'd already made this post a year ago here, but seeing that I did make some significant change in here (Not much though) I decided to remake this. So here's my second take on 'Top 10 Best Rated VNs Translated at 2017', and since Pulltop decided to censor Miagete overseas I'd remove it because I decided to not add censored VNs here unless the censorship is very small like Subahibi. Oh and for the rules as usual there's no yaoi, nukige, BL, and MTL-ed VN (ie no Your Diary and Fortissimo back at my 2018 list, which is a shame considering that those two were quite good). Anyway, here's the new list and keep in mind that the scores may be fluctuate in the future (The scoring based on today (2019/02/14) for the info). 10. Hatsukoi 1/1 (VNDB 7.44, Erogamescape 70) The first tone work's that was translated by Tsurezure, and it's also the first work for Tsurezure here in regard of VN Translation. The premise was obviously still the same with our MC Yuuma who decided to form cafetaria club with other five girls, and that the cafetaria club was abut to be disbanded because lack of member problem. While the story is sounds simple, unfortunately the writing on Yuuma's character was quite bad so much that it's enraged the player and the staff decided to post an apology video on Niconico (Youtube equivalent on Japan). While their first product ended up getting bad reception, I see that tone work's did really work hard to improve their next work Hoshiori (Currently translated by Tsurezure as well) with the writing and including after stories as well (Without FD). Of course there's some good point in HatsuKoi though namely that we got multiple vocal songs that was sang by different singer (Repeated in Hoshiori and Ginharu), and that we can see more than one variation of the background in some places (They remove background variation in Hoshiori and Ginharu though). 9. Chrono Clock (VNDB 7.44, Erogamescape 71) The first Purplesoft VN that was localized, and let's just say that the translation choice for this is quite divisive (Either like it, dislike it, or just neutral). The premise is that our rich MC Rei did have a pocket watch from his grandfather, and with the pocket watch he's been able to turn back the time by five minutes. Even though the power is quite powerful, our Rei was mostly use the clock to search his girlfriend by confessing and then turned back the time. One day, he met Miu who was saved by Rei turning back the time after she did fall down and dead, and our Rei did impressed by seeing Miu's determination to confess to his best friend. From there Rei decided to help Miu while at the same time fall in love with her. While at first glance the man heroine is Miu, actually the true main heroine in here is Cro who is the goddess that reside inside Rei's clock and thus the reason of why Rei's clock did have power. Also while I did say prologue here, I felt that it's not the case because we see Miu's development in the prologue and that Miu's route is more like her ending, so we can say that Miu's route here is the prologue (I did call it Miu's arc) and her ending. 8. Koi ga Saku Koro Sakura Doki aka Saku Saku Love Blooms with the Cherry Blossom (VNDB 7.53, Erogamescape 70) I still remember that this VN was started as the translation project for Shinku TL with some steady progress back at 2014. At first I expected that they'll release the patch quickly, but then suddenly the updates was stopped at QC progress until one day Akerou did announce that he'll go to vacation in order to have some rest. Little we knew that back then Akerou already asked some help from Sekai in order to do the QC (Sell it to Sekai), and that they announced that they help Saku Saku QC (Announced the license) back at AX 2016 in which it shocked me very hard. Even then, Sekai still have delayed the release twice back at August 2017 end (Mismanagement on the release date) before finally manage to release it back at October 2017. As for Saku Saku here, I guess we can say that technically it's the first work for Nekonyan because Nekonyan was came from Shinku Translation that was headed by Akerou. The premise was that our MC got a bounty of 21,000 yen to anyone else who managed to make him fall in love, because the MC was known as romance consultant and yet he himself is unable to fall in love. The MC's problem is increasing when he meet a shinigami (Tina) who remind him of his childhood when he saw a shinigami, and Tina herself did insist that she's a love fairy (A lousy one though seeing that she use dramatic romance manga as the reference). As for the graphic, it's very beautiful so at least you can enjoy the graphic there if the story is no good for you. 7. Wagamama High Spec (VNDB 7.54, Erogamescape 75) My first impression is still the same though that at first I didn't find the design is very appealing because of the big breast, and moreso if people recognize the same face that the heroines have (I tried to not bothered with it though). Same face and big breast aside, actually this VN is not a big breast nukige even though the design would surely gave you that impression lol. That said, this VN got some comedy and more importantly each girl did have their own development in each of their route, which is something that we wouldn't expect from the design alone and the company past work (Yakimochi Stream, which is dubbed as nukige like VN for having a lot of sex scenes). As for the premise, we have our MC Kouki who is a mangaka that must keep his secrets at school. At least until a certain things happen when the student council president find out the secrets and decided to rope Kouki into joining student council. After joining, Kouki did find out that the president was secretly his partner at his mangaka work and after that both of them start to work together in student council along with other heroines including Kouki's little sister. 6. Da Capo 3 (VNDB 7.65, Erogamescape 76 (R X-Rated version)) This one VN have some history with our Fuwanovel here, namely that there's first attempt of translating this by our founder Aaeru. Her method is quite divisive though because she'd use VNR which could be amounted as MTL to most of the people. Even so Aaeru keep working on this until she managed to release the prologue patch, only for Mangagamer to C&D her after they got the wind on this. After that she was disappear from the forum and nowadays nobody knew where she is. Anyway, what's done is done and we finally get the release back at 2017 January (By Mangagamer obviously). For the premise, it was set at 2072 after Everlasting Sakura was wither after Da Capo 2 event (The reason of why at 2072 is spoiler though), only to have that tree mysteriously blooming again. So more or less it's just usual Da Capo, and as for play order I would suggest you to play the first side route before going to common route because it's the real prologue for Da Capo 3 (Note that the Prologue and Common Route in Da Capo 3 did have VERY different setting). As for the opening here, there's too much opening for this so I'll just use the prologue opening in which it's very misleading because it only depict the situation at the Prologue (At least it did have 2D drawing). 5. SeaBed (VNDB 7.95, Erogamescape 78) As for the scoring, since the number of votes was still very few this VN will be the most fluctuative one (At 134 votes on 2019/01/28). As for the premise, it was very simple in which we got a woman (Sachiko) who has her lover disappear and from there she'll try to recover from the heartbreak that caused by the disappearance by the help of her childhood friend (Narasaki) who is also a psychiatrist. By the way Sachiko's lover (Takako) here was the woman as well, so we'll gonna get some yuri VN from the first glance although there'll be no explicit sex scenes though seeing that it's all age VN. Seeing that Sachiko seek some psychiatrist, there'll be some talk in regard of psychology in which it may confusing for some people out there. From there we'll going to see what's going on in Seabed through three POV (Sachiko, Takako, and Narasaki). The VN itself is a doujin one and didn't have voice, although seeing that we have example the good doujin VN that didn't have voice (ie Umineko and Fata Morgana before being ported to the consoles) I would say that you should try Seabed here to see it by yourself, and if anything at least the art is better than Umineko default art. 4. Grisaia no Rakuen aka The Eden of Grisaia (VNDB 8.13, Erogamescape 80) I'm still think of this as fandisc, seeing that it's developed along with Meikyuu after Frontwing managed to dodge their bankruptcy thanks to Kajitsu's successful sales. While at the first glance there's no problem with it, the thing is that Kajitsu itself is an almost standalone that was intended as Frontwing Swan Song and they set it as charage. While Frontwing already have ambitious plan to make Grisaia as trilogy before Kajitsu's development, the continuity between of Kajitsu and Meikyuu main story (Rakuen is Meikyuu main route's continuation) is almost zero because Kajitsu is a charage. So in the end Frontwing can only 'made' unseen route from Kajitsu that was supposed to tell us that Meikyuu main route was the continuation from that route, although we can only see that route in Kajitsu's anime (It was rushed though because it only have 13 episodes). Anyway what I can say is that Rakuen should be good for Grisaia fans because it did have a lot of fan services Yuuji and the girls did some action, the characters are live happily ever after, and a reunion with certain character (It was destroyed by one of Kajitsu's ending though). In then end, while I did think of this as fandisc, it's okay though if you think of this as Kajitsu's sequel along with Meikyuu. 3. Dies Irae (VNDB 8.30, Erogamescape 81) I did read that there's no characters development in this VN, although I think it's more like that the characters were already find something to hold on so there's no need on character development. Then again we shouldn't focused on character development in Dies Irae (Just play charage if you want that), but instead we should focused on the battle which is a lot (Chuunige and all). The premise is very cliche with some Germany soldiers were did some ritual to destroy the world and disappeared back at WW2, and somehow reappeared in 2006. The only one who can fight the soldiers is Ren (The MC) who can kill the soldiers who normally impossible to kill with his mysterious power. Another thing to note is the prose, in which it's very roundabout and could be boring for some people, while at the same time we can say that the prose did make the reader more immersive in read Dies Irae. We also have the gods in Dies Irae, in which the gods themselves like to talk in cryptic while at the same time are pretty charismatic. I'll post the all age version opening, because all age version is the best one with side stories available and most people would prefer it over 18+ version (I also recommend that you should play all age version instead of 18+ version here, even though the latter did have 'passionate Hitomi Nabatame-voiced love-making' scene). 2. Chaos Child (VNDB 8.47, Erogamescape 83 (PC Version)) At first it's for console only (At PS4 and PSV), and then we have Committee of Zero released the PC patch that imported the translation into PC version along with Steam release of this, so we can play Chaos Child at PC if you didn't have the consoles. Anyway, the premise was we have another serial murder in Shibuya which eerily resembled the one back at Chaos Head (The prequel) by looking at the date, which of course would be quite graphic considering that in the past Nitroplus was involved with Chaos Head. From there, we have our MC Takuru who took abnormal interest to the case and then he decided to investigate the murder cases while at the same time being frightened, and hopefully would be able to calm down some anxiety in Shibuya. From what I read apparently the girls route was not quite satisfying (The girls good as eye candy though if that's the case lol), so at least it could be interpreted that the writing was more focused on the main story which is full of sci-fi. If anything, at least we can learn the additional contents from the girls route. Oh, and actually this is more in line with Steins Gate instead of original Chaos Head, simply because both of Steins Gate and Chaos Child did have routes (Original Chaos Head is linear VN, and they remake it as NoaH with the addition of the routes). As for the opening, I'll post both of XBOX One version above and PS4 version below because we can play both opening in the English version, and by the way personally I'd prefer PS4 version opening (Singularity) here. 1. Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~ aka Wonderful Everyday ~Diskontinuierliches Dasein~ (VNDB 8.70, Erogamescape 86) We already knew that this VN did suffered translation hell back at TLWiki since back at 2012, in which back then there's almost no hope of this being released before finally saw some progress back at 2015. Long story short, the awaited release was never happened until Frontwing suddenly announced this back at February 2017. I would say that they did the good job for localized this, even with the fact that the overseas release was censored although compared to Pulltop's overseas release it's still far more better though because only the picture that was censored (And disturbing at that for some people). As for the premise, it was in regard of the world which about to face the apocalypse at July 20th 2012 (Even though the in-game year should be at 2009), and from there we can see the events from several POV in order to get the full picture. While this VN was lauded as the best VN because it could change people's life, I would say that there's some flaw inside Subahibi here but even so I would say that you should try it anyway to seeing that by yourself. As for the subtitle, just like French at Grisaia Frontwing also add another language for the subtitle and this time it's Germany. That's all for the remake of my list here, and I hope you enjoyed this even though once again my list was mostly still the same as Conjueror's. PS - As for the title, once again I'd just combine Chaos Child (Chaotic) with Subahibi (Everyday), so we got 'Chaotic Everyday' here. The v2 mean that this is my second version of my top ten list here, even though I'm belated a year to make this.
  12. 1 point

    February 2019 Releases

    Wow, there are a lot of VNs being released for February this year that aren't nukige... this happens occasionally, but usually it is four or five games. A few major names got concentrated into this month, as well as a bunch of games by new companies or new subsidiaries. To be honest, from my point of view, despite the fact that this is my birth month, there isn't much to look forward to. There is a new VN in the Shuffle universe here, but with Agobarrier, the universe's father, deceased, I can't say that I have a lot of interest in its continuance... https://vndb.org/v24748 Spiral is the aforementioned new game in the Shuffle universe, focused on a young spy from the god race who is ordered by his boss to attend a human school the princess is thinking of going to as a spy (and a trap). Given that this is the Shuffle universe, it is probably going to be standard rom-com fare, with some fantasy antics and drama. https://vndb.org/v23205 To be honest, since this is made by a subsidiary of More, which is famous for its impressively mundane SOL romance games... I can't say it looks interesting. Based on the summary, maybe some potential NTR/love triangle action...? https://vndb.org/v24717 The fandisc for Kin'iro Loveriche. Definitely going to play this, if only for the extra path for the snooty ojousama (who should have had a route anyway, since hse had more of a connection to the protagonist's group than Akane). https://vndb.org/v24564 This is made by the makers of Karenai Sekai to Owaru Hana, which is one of the few kamige made in the last four years. As such, I'm going to play it... well, with a cat ear heroine, I'd play it anyway, lol. https://vndb.org/v23742 Evenicle II... to be honest, do you really think I'd play this? I barely got through the original, and Alice Soft's sequels tend to be iffy, in my experience. https://vndb.org/v23600 What looks to be an SLG sex fest from Astronauts' gameplay hybrid division. No interesting heroines (at least to me), so I probably won't play this. https://vndb.org/v24275 Made by the new subsidiary of a company famous for anything from standard moege to harem-ge, I might try it eventually, but probably not in the next month. https://vndb.org/v16516 To be honest, the premise of this game gives me a headache. Feng tends to use any excuse to produce third-rate rom-com SOL games... so it is hard for me to take them seriously.
  13. 1 point
    While Japanese VNs are the prime source of inspiration for most EVN developers, some Western games, such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, also have a significant influence on the Western VN scene. This inspiration is pretty obvious when we look at the stylistic choices and main themes of Perseverance: Part 1, a debut title by the Polish studio Tap It Games, released on Steam in late July 2018. As you can imagine, this episodic release involves surviving an outbreak of a mysterious disease which turns people into cannibalistic monsters, with personal drama and conflict between the major characters a least as important as the apocalyptic events happening in the background. And while the short first act, which I’ll be writing about today, leaves us at the precipice of disaster, focusing mostly on presenting the backstory of the protagonist and establishing the setting, it does so in a promising manner which will most likely left you wanting for more – even though, just as the adventure games by the now-defunct Telltale, it has its distinct share of problems. The first episode ends rather abruptly and leaves us with very little knowledge about the outbreak and the conspiracy behind it – it feels like the first, tiny bit of a rather grand story Perseverance follows the story of Jack – a painfully average and unfulfilled guy, living in a secluded, small town somewhere in the US interior (a place pretty much only kept alive by being in close proximity of a large military base), struggling with lack of purpose and trying to cope with his failing marriage. After leaving college to take care of his severely-ill father, he ends up without education and stable job, while his attractive wife, who also shortened her medical studies to join him in his hometown, works as a nurse at the local hospital. Together, they raise a young teenage daughter and the game opens with a rather vicious argument between Jack and his wife, centred around his ambition to teach their child how to hunt. After saying a few words too many, he leaves for his late father’s forest cabin to think things through, while, in his absence, the intrigue that might lead to humanity’s downfall unfolds in the usually-sleepy town. One lesson that Tap It Games definitely took from The Walking Dead is that compelling characters can, or maybe even should be deeply flawed and a survival story benefits from showing their shortcoming and exploring how they can overcome those in the moment of truth. Jack and his family are at times borderline unlikeable, but above all else feel like ordinary people, struggling with the challenges of everyday life and in no way prepared for the disaster coming for them. Most of Part 1 is dedicated to establishing them as characters and making the player invested in their story. From my perspective it worked pretty well, as both the main cast and the supporting characters (very few at this point) were interesting enough for me to want to learn more about them and, at least to some extent, care about what might happen to them. My only complaint in that respect is that devs overdid it with foreshadowing and minor “spoilers” in Jack’s narration – I would very much prefer to be left in the dark about some future developments within the story, like fate of certain crucial characters or the scale of the outbreak, but you can easily deduce much of it from the opening monologue and Part 1’s ending. Many of the game’s choices feel “off”, making little sense unless you enjoy playing your VNs as an over-the-top asshole One other problem I had with the game at this point is connected to the choices – most of them only seemed to serve a purpose of choosing whether Jack is a somewhat decent human being, or a complete asshole, with options in the latter category often feeling forced and insulting to common sense. Should you apologize to your wife after hurting her feelings in a horrible way, or is it a better idea to persist with emotional abuse? Is it better to calm her down while she’s hurt and most likely in shock, or to shout at her with anger? What makes these choices really bad is that they’re not about choosing between selfishness and altruism, or between the others and your personal safety, like it would be the case in The Walking Dead – it’s just about being a horrible human being for the sake of it and unless that’s your personal kink in regards to choice-based games, there’s no added value in that. The choices, also, don’t seem to have any real impact on the story at this point. While they might, in rare cases, lead you to an abrupt game over scene, they generally don’t affect anything beyond the immediate dialogue lines and it’s unclear at this point to what extent they might influence the storyline further down the line. If I was to guess, I’d say not that much, considering how near-impossible it is to create a genuine branching story in an episodic game, especially with the, most likely, very limited resources the devs of Perseverance have available. I personally don’t mind an illusion of choice, if it helps your immersion in the story, but it’s still something to keep in mind and downscale your expectations appropriately. A riddle – what do you use to cut a rope? Thankfully, it’s not one that you can fail – the choices, apart from one or two dead ends, don’t seem to matter at this point The visuals are definitely one of the strongest aspects of the game, with a distinct artstyle that feels inspired by Western comic books more than anime (and by that virtue once again resembling Telltale adventure games more than the typical, Japanese-style VNs). While it’s not super-heavy on details, the sprites are distinct in their designs and expressive, while the backgrounds and CGs are simply nice to look at and feel very consistent with the overall aesthetic. The sound and music are minimalistic and support the general, eerie vibe of the story without standing out much. What stands out, unfortunately, is the technical aspect of the game. Perseverance was made in unity rather than a dedicated VN engine and lacks some typical quality-of-life features, like the skip option, possibility to roll back the text, easily switch auto-mode on and off, or even convenient access to the backlog. For someone like me, used to EVNs made in Ren’Py, these omissions were quite painful at times and made replaying the game to check out alternative choices a chore. In the end though, what mattered the most – the story and production quality of the game – did deliver and from this point of view, I’d consider reading Perseverance: Part 1 a positive experience. It’s a really solid first act, which might develop into something truly exceptional if Tap It Games directs it well. I just hope that the future episodes will be at least a little bit longer – reading a story in hour-long bits every few months is never a great formula and if the Part 2 doesn’t offer a more substantial piece of storytelling, it might damn the whole project into obscurity. That is, if the future episodes ever happen – the radio silence from the studio is worrying and I would not recommend buying this as long as we don’t know whether it will receive at least some continuation. Without that, Part 1 is only an extensive demo – a good one, but not really something worth investing your time in, if we’re never getting a full story. Time will tell. Final Score: 3/5 Pros: + Solid, well-stylized visuals + Interesting, realistically flawed characters Cons: - Unconvincing and inconsequential choices - Clunky interface - Very short VNDB Page Buy Perseverance, Part 1 on Steam
  14. 1 point
    The Uso series is the original series of kinetic novels made by Campus based in a school campus where magic and mundane exist in parallel. The protagonist of the Uso series, Sakurai Souichirou, is the head of the Cat's Hand Club, which is a jack-of-all-trades club that will take on just about any request, as long as the individual is willing to pay the price. However, that is merely the open face of the club, which has the purpose of gathering magical energy from the emotions of those whose requests he fulfills in order to power the magical artifact implanted in his body. This magical artifact is the Redline, a powerful tool that lets the person who is melded with it see the lies of others (portrayed as red text in the game's text boxes). Despite this ability, Souichi isn't cynical and is generally a good and straightforward person, though, in his own words, that is only because he met the right people. The main Uso series is made up of four kinetic novels, each following the path of an individual heroine (a similar setup to Tiny Dungeon, though the details differ). It begins in 'Spring', continues with 'Summer' and 'Fall', and concludes with 'Winter'. Haru Uso The spring-themed game of the Uso series follows the serial liar and school idol Himeno Satsuki as she essentially pushes Souichi into forming a relationship with her. This game is a bit heavier on the H content than the three games that come after, though some of that is because Satsuki has a pretty forceful personality under her pleasant atmosphere. The conflict in this story begins when Satsuki confesses her love for Souichirou (in the first scene) and moves on from there. The formation of their romantic relationship is sweet and frequently amusing, though it is mostly ecchi because of how it begins. While I normally don't like the trope used here, it is used in the least awkward fashion I've ever encountered in an SOL VN, so I was willing to overlook it. There is some serious drama, but this is immediately after Souichi starts to realize his feelings for Satsuki are real... and the drama will definitely come as a surprise if you haven't been paying close attention with an eye for mild mindfucks. It all comes to a happy end in the end, but it can be a bit wrenching emotionally at a few points if you've gotten to like the couple in question along the way (which I did). After Story 1 After Story 1 was present with the original game and is pretty extensive for an after story, mostly focusing on a much milder set of trials and tribulations that you'd see in any charage. That said, since you already saw the more dramatic scenes immediately before, it comes off as cute rather than boring, since it is impossible to shake the feeling that 'they'll be all right no matter what' after the ending of the main path. After Story 2 Drawn from Full Uso, this is based a few months after the end of the story, when the two have begun to live together and have settled in. Satsuki is starting to come into her own and has grown as a person, and Souichirou is feeling his way out of some of his more extreme donkan habits (yes, he is donkan). As in the previous after story, this one comes across as cute in comparison to the main story, and it mostly leaves you smiling at the lovers as they survive the trials any established couple is prone to. Natsu Uso Natsu Uso focuses on Izumi Aoi, a member of the student council who, even in Haru Uso, is rather obviously a deredere heroine hiding under a tsundere mask. That said, as is indicated from certain scenes in the previous game, the past between her and Souichirou is complicated and painful for them both, and it becomes central to the background conflict of her story. Aoi is pretty much the perfect tsundere heroine, but this is not because of her personality alone. More, this is because of how Souichirou's Redline underlines precisely when she's telling the truth and when she's lying. It's an experience worth having even if you aren't particularly into tsunderes, lol. Anyway, due to a certain event, Souichirou and Aoi end up forced together by circumstance and Souichi's inability to be dishonest. While both of them have serious hangups about the past, the fact is that Aoi is rather blatantly in love with him from the start, so don't expect this to be so much about relationship development as untangling the complex emotions the two hold for another and growing beyond them. The ending is pretty touching, and worth a smile or two. After story 1 Natsu Uso's After Story 1 is a lot more focused on ichaicha than Haru Uso's in the first half... not to mention having some really heavy h-scenes. Basically, for those accustomed to the tangled emotions that made up the atmosphere between the two in the path itself, this is a time when they are more open with each other. Aoi adorable-ness is more extreme here (which looks impossible until you've actually experienced it), and she gets really clingy (which is part of the adorable-ness). However, if you've come to know Souichirou by this point, you know he always puts what is best for others first. This is what causes the minor tribulations that make up the second half, though these aren't relationship troubles but rather troubles relating to Aoi growing as a person. After Story 2 Similar to Haru Uso's second after story, this one occurs in the school year after the original game. Aoi has taken up a place of responsibility, with Souichirou by her side. Settling in to their new rhythm, one of the issues that has plagued Aoi since before she met Souicirou rears its head once again. The resolution is pretty quick and not dramatic, but it is nice to see Aoi still following her chosen path. Aki Uso To be frank, the heroine of this story, Eris R Renford, has a wildly different story from the other heroines. As such, the path's drama is a bit more serious than in the first two games and her issues are mostly on her side, rather than involving her personal relationship with Souichirou exclusively (though that does come into play). Since it is treated as a spoiler and not stated in the previous two games, I won't reveal the core reasons for the conflict in this story. Eris is a heavy gamer, a wannabe NEET, and a generally lazy person on all levels. If Sou didn't kick her out of bed she would sleep all day; if Sou didn't feed her real food, she'd probably eat nothing but ramen and takeout; and if Sou didn't teach her, she probably would have dropped out of school long ago. In other words, she is completely dependent on Souichirou, which makes her the butt of numerous jokes both in her own path and in the other games. Her path/game is worth going through twice, if only to use a certain function that pops up on the second playthrough to lead you through the mindfuck hidden inside the dialogue. After Story 1 The first after story covers the growth of Eris after the turning point of the main game, along with a number of humorous and H scenes. Since there is pretty much nothing I can say about this without spoiling the main game, I'll just say that it was this after story that made me want a second after story for Eris, lol. After Story 2 For anyone who was expecting this after story to be full of drama based on the ending of the previous one, I have to inform you that, unfortunately, the events that followed the end of the after story 1 were spoken about in a short summary at the beginning (from the sound of it, they could have made a whole new VN out of them), and instead this is just another bit of SOL, which I found somewhat disappointing... though the Uso series characters are generally fun to read about. Still, it does close out Eris's story, even if it didn't fulfill my desires, lol. Fuyu Uso Fuyu Uso follows Teidou Setsuka, the daughter of a powerful (not just wealthy) family and the Student Council President of the mammoth school they are attending. She is beautiful, brilliant, and incisive. From the very beginning (Haru Uso) she has been openly pursuing Souichirou, though Souichirou is perpetually suspicious of her reasons and wary of her in general. This is, by far, the darkest of the four paths. Teidou Setsuka's personality is the hardest to read from surface cues of all the heroines (even Satsuki, who is a mistress of lies), and she is so capable she doesn't even really provide an opening to read her. I'm going to say that, like Aki Uso and Haru Uso, there is a mindfuck built into this story, though it is one (just like those) that you can figure out if you pay close attention to what is going on and the various cues you should have learned to pick up in the previous games. However, this story is, as I said, much darker than the others, which were essentially straight-out romances involving simple deredere heroines with various issues. Setsuka is... scary. I say this from the point of view of a guy who likes his VN heroines scary. I'd say that she is on my list of top 5 scariest heroines that aren't yangire (yangire heroines being scary because they are unpredictably homicidal). Damn, it is hard not to spoil this one, lol. Thankfully, this isn't the main company (Light) so this isn't a bad end path, hahaha. After Story 1 I'm going to start this by saying that, of the after-stories so far, this one shows the heroine's personal growth the most. For better or worse, Setsuka is pretty twisted up inside, and this covers her growth after the dramatic end of the main path (along with a number of really hot h-scenes). In a way, Setsuka's growth in this after story is as dramatic as the other heroines' growth in their own paths, and in a crappy charage, this would probably have been enough for a path on its own, hahaha. After Story 2 This is the shortest of the second after stories by far, probably because Setsuka's issues were resolved so completely in the original path and the first after story. It follows Setsuka and Souichirou after she has graduated, and it lightly touches on the aftermath of the original path (considering what happened, that isn't surprising). There really isn't much to it, but it was nice to see a less yandere-ish Setsuka, lol. Hare Uso Hare Uso is the harem story added for those who bought each of the original four games separately before this month. Essentially, all the events (including the sex) happened in each of the games, but Souichirou never chose any of them as his lover. Just to be clear, given that Souichirou ends up forced into the sexual situations in all four games (through different means), this is not as unrealistic as it might sound. Moreover, I was laughing throughout much of its hour long length. Harem paths with serious protagonists are always hilarious... Overall Overall, playing the Uso series altogether is like playing the best of the best of plotge/charage hybrids. It is amusing at times, heart-warming at others, and it brings tears out at the right times. The heroines are interesting and unique, presented in a first-class fashion, and generally given a depth of character development that has been lacking in recent years. By handling each path as a separate game with an intensive focus, Campus made the heroines feel like real people, rather than props or sex dolls (which is what most charage heroines end up being). While the series has its flaws, it is definitely worth playing as a whole.
  15. 1 point

    So I finished a tl and shit

    …And you probably know about it already if you know me, but anyway, my own #brand is Memeshii Translations apparently. Since you’re here, have some information on the experience of working with the paltry tools available: *The linecount had to be the exact same or the insertion tool would crash with an unhandled exception. *Some lines had a linebreak in the original; these were joined together engine wise so they had to be line broken no matter what. Usually this wasn’t a problem, but some lines ended up short in english but still needed a linebreak so they look wonky, and the second line in-game had two lines that wanted to be long and couldn’t be split so it was kind of hell to fit. *Weeb quotes 「」 had to be used or the engine wouldn’t read it as a spoken line. *One line was turned from speech to narration for flow reasons (it was like suu haa or some shit) by removing the speechtag annotation in front. *There was no manual linebreak code I could use (mandated ones were just CRLF linebreak, and could only been used for that specific line). However, the engine does automatically line-break on a character level, and seems to be more or less monospace. So I ended up doing some of the line-breaking in this truly kami manner, checking it manually ingame over like 5 iterations: す@ is Sumire; あ@ is Azami *The extracted yscfg.ybn file had the window title at the end in plaintext. But the title seemed to be read in 2 char blocks or something which meant the title ended up as either “The world ends tomorrowA” or “The world ends tomorrowb” after insertion. I fixed this by adding a space after the name. *The nametags were in a different script than the scenario but they were just text strings, so I could just edit them *Same for the exit message when pressing the cross at the top right *Since we used the “spoken line” format I had to convert this to the japanese quotation brackets. Kotlin code for you to meme at: oh, java strings are immutable, fuck… fiiine I’ll your it your goddamn way This is probably half the reason why any in-line quotes ingame are single quotes; I actually edited a pair of doubles because I couldn’t be arsed to clean up the script after the fixer code worked on it… or something. Okay since you read this far some stats; I used Mediafire for the release because it gives download counts. It seems to update daily or something. First update was 63 downloads. Second was 89. I had 66 pageviews the blog release post on feb 14 and have 178 so far for feb 15. 89/244 gives us a ~36% download rate per view, not too bad. The About page seems to have gotten like, 8 views. The dedicated asuowa tl page has 7. So uhh I guess I have to tl more shinimasu now. fuck View the full article
  16. 0 points
    Sayonara o Oshiete has a good number of English reviews (1 2 3), plus reddit comments (4), but what strikes me is that all of them are positive despite some noticed flaws. But as a plotge fetishist and pragmatist to the bones, I demand demolition of fake idols. This bastion shall fall today. Video playthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvPm3uYd90o 1) Sayonara o Oshiete has a synopsis, but does not have a story. Deal with it. Nothing happens, like absolutely. Protagonist just visits three students out of five after school before going home. He sees some delusions involving the students. Getting into heroine route only tells us about each heroine specific theme. Just as theme starts to uncover there's the same abrupt end for each heroine. Credits. 2) Heroines totally lack charm. Sugamo Mutsuki is presented as a pure angel and supposedly main heroine. But pretty much the first H scene almost made me throw up. There's no realism or depth in the heroines, just specific theme and some cleverly written dialogues paired up with actually eminent voicing. 3) Protagonist is no good. He can be renamed and is an abstract mass of destruction delusions. He's impossible to sympathize with. 4) H scenes. Roughly only half of them are shocking, but the rest are quite conventional. And that's a huge problem for me. It looks like game bears some idea half of the time, but also wants to appeal to as many players as possible and becomes a plain nukige. From idea point of view For Elise ~Elise no Tame ni~ was perfect. H events in delusions were 100% appalling. Sayonara o Oshiete is basically about same horrible delusions, but with very sexy heroines sprites and often appealing H events. There's not enough real trash in H events. 5) Loli abuse. Can't deny - all loli scenes are drawn in a very traumatic way here. But I just detest any loli H events, especially such hardcore ones. I've seen transformation of nukige genres since the 80s. There has been shift to museum type vns, then to training SIMs, then to devil games, and currently I cautiously try to grasp when the shift to corruption visual novels happened. And Sayonara o Oshiete is the first candidate so far to be grandfather of all corruption games. With the half-measures Craftwork actually managed to depict sexy destruction, and that's no way a compliment considered that I detest corruption games the most. Horrible as it may sound, I'm relieved to see game translation project stalled, because completion would cause an outrageous reaction and backlash at Japanese developers due to very troubling content involving loli characters. The only definite strong sides of Sayonara o Oshiete are first-class voicing and great song theme. Visual and textual decisions are questionable. But for me the number of negative elements outweighs it all. The only lingering taste after the game is nausea, and I hope to forget it as a nightmare asap.