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  1. 4 points
    In our obscure EVN market, there are rarely games or events that could be described as major controversies – even the most unfortunate releases or Kickstarter disasters usually don’t involve enough people and money to gather the attention of the community for a longer period of time or spark a mass backlash. Along with Aeon Dream Studios’ k-pop fan game debacle (a really amazing story of incompetence and borderline-fraud, if you care to follow it), No One But You is possibly the most controversial and polarizing EVN ever released. Appearing on the relatively-barren landscape of early 2015 and promising experience similar to the high-budget Japanese VNs, it sparked a lot of interest and hope for the second coming of Katawa Shoujo – an EVN that would not feel overly niche or amateurish, but actually capture the charm of beloved Japanese titles and rival them in its storytelling. The reality, of course, proved much more underwhelming. The unexpected Kickstarter success (the campaign reached over 1200% of the initial, $1200 goal) resulted in a highly upscaled and complex project, developed within just a year by then still-unexperienced Unwonted Studios. Involving a network of over a dozen writers and artists, and a heavily-rushed release (which was never moved from the initial KS campaign claim despite of many major features being added through stretch goals), No One But You was eviscerated by many reviewers, with Fuwanovel notably giving it lowest possible score in two separate articles, and received only a mixed reception from the readers after showing up on Steam on January 2016. In a way, it remains one of the most infamous story-centric EVNs, possibly only beaten by the cheap ecchi titles such as Sakura games in the amount of hate and ridicule it gathered. However, looking at it three years later and with all the fixed and additional content added post-launch, is it really that bad? The opening sequences of No One But You make it look like your typical, cute moege with minor mystery elements, making the whole experience something of a bait-and-switch The first thing worth addressing when looking at No One But You is its production quality, which is both one of its biggest strengths and possibly suffered the most from the rushed release. The character sprites and CGs are of really good quality, with all the characters (including the protagonist, who thankfully isn’t a faceless mannequin) being nicely designed and pleasant to look at. The designs of the heroines are admittedly so standard that you can immediately recognize the archetypes each girl represents just after looking at her for a few moments, but that doesn’t nullify the sheer appeal of the character art. The character art is also, unlike many EVNs from that era, quite consistent both in style and quality – the CGs might not be very numerous or spectacular, but they are good enough to do their job effectively and do not clash with the other assets, while the sprites are pretty and expressive enough to carry the more casual/SoL scenes. Backgrounds, on the other hand, are anything but consistent: while some are absolutely gorgeous, many more, including frequently used ones like the protagonist’s kitchen, look overly-simplistic and undercooked. This might slide if you don’t pay much attention to details, but it’s still a huge shame it spoils the great first impression character art offers. Also, the illustrations are at times clearly mismatched with the game’s text or the scenes that lead up to them, the most striking example being a CG in Yui’s route, in which a long sequence happening on a rainy evening suddenly transfers to broad daylight, with blinding sun rays all over the place. Such obvious mistakes devalue the art and kill the emotional impact of some of those crucial scenes. The soundtrack is another interesting topic, as it consists of an impressive number of 34 instrumental tracks, including character themes and melodies unique to important story sequences. It’s not brilliant by any means, but solid enough to enhance the climate of the game and represents a level of effort few EVN devs are willing to put into this area. There’s also the opening song with Japanese vocals, included in an update some time after the initial release of the game – a decent, but arguably pointless addition, as I imagine most people finished the VN before it was implemented and while they could come back for other content added post-launch, such as afterstories and h-scenes, they had little reason to revisit the beginning of the game. This can also be a general comment on how the launch was handled – pushing the game out in such a bare-bones state and fulfilling most Kickstarter promises months later undoubtedly contributed both to many of its persistent problems and the atrocious initial reception it received. Some major promises, like the English voice acting, manga adaptation and a sequel never even materialized, adding to backers' disappointment, while others were realized in a manner that hardly matched what was promised – this particularly applies to afterstories, presented in the campaign as major extra chapters but which proved to be just brief epilogues. The tropy heroines and predictable twists make even the better elements of the story, like the Chinatsu route written by ebi-hime, quite underwhelming So, what No One But You is actually about? The initial setup is as standard as it goes – a perfectly-generic Japanese high-schooler, Hideaki, moves back to his hometown after many years of living in a bigger city. In the new school he quickly manages to make new (female) friends – a cheerful and strangely clingy student council member Megumi, reclusive beauty Shiro, standoffish redhead Yui and a studious senpai named Chinatsu. He also reluctantly becomes friends with the class clown Ryo and at this point, it looks like nothing will disturb his fun in the new school. Only strange, recurring dreams of drowning suggest an underlying mystery connected to protagonist childhood and the reason his family left the town in the first place. If you thought, however, that this game is a moege with slight drama/mystery elements, you couldn’t be more wrong – in depending on the route it varies between a rather poor attempt at nakige to a full-on utsuge, with over-the-top depressing, edgy plot developments and endings. Past the average and trope-filled, but reasonably enjoyable common route, the game is at its absolute worst in Shiro’s and Megumi’s routes, the former featuring some comically-incompetent yakuza going after heroine’s father, and the latter a paedophile-murderer teacher who apparently managed to stay in the profession after brutally killing a student in broad daylight, with multiple witnesses. To say these scenarios make little sense is an understatement – they are utterly absurd from start to finish and at times plain uncomfortable to read due to the protagonist’s questionable behaviour. Or course, the worst of his actions are usually completely unavoidable (like the extremely messed up h-scene near the conclusion of Megumi’s route, but also the over-the-top cruel rejection he gives her in Shiro’s arc) – this easily kills the last bit of immersion the numerous plot holes and absurdities didn’t already murder. Yui’s route is mostly on the opposite side of the spectrum, being quite down-to-Earth and using a relatable theme of bullying, spoiling it slightly through the inclusion of some anime romance clichés (notably forgotten childhood promise), but being ultimately pretty sweet and satisfying. It also offers one of the two genuinely good endings present in the game, where for once no one dies or get traumatized for life (that's, of course, only if you make the right choices, as her worst ending is also notably over-the-top). The second positive conclusion available in No One But You is a major surprise – it shows up in Ryo’s route, which might at first look like a throaway scenario for those players that didn't manage to get any of the girls, but quickly transforms into a slightly vague, but still easily-readable BL scenario. Storytelling-wise, it’s arguably the best part of the game – it involves Ryo’s toxic family relations and the feelings of rejection and depression he hid under the façade of a cheerful class clown. Not a particularly novel idea, but still way more interesting than what rest of the VN had to offer and I applaud the dev's courage to include this kind of romance in an obviously male-targeted title. The last storyarc I didn’t address is Chinatsu’s route, notably written by ebi-hime (whose pen name was gracefully misspelt as "ebi-himi" in the credits). It’s a fully-linear scenario that is deeply intertwined with the protagonist’s backstory and is overall very competent. However, the main mystery in it is very easy to read, just with the clues offered in the common route and the storyarc itself suffers from the same problem Shiro’s and Chinatsu’s stories did – the overexposure to tragedy and over-the-top plot developments quickly makes you numb and kills the emotional impact the writer was going for. This is also related to the fact that the route, just like all the other ones, felt heavily rushed – with around 10 hours of content No One But You is hardly short for an EVN, but nowhere near long enough to handle five dramatic, complex storyarcs, or develop its cast of characters properly. In a way, it feels like one of those overly-condensed anime adaptations that cut and modify massive source material to fit it into tight screen time, to the point it loses any semblance of coherence or depth. The one, crucial difference being that Unwonted Studios have no excuse for why they let it happen, apart from chasing the unreasonable deadline they set out for themselves. No One But You’s visuals, and its production quality in general are rather good for an EVN of that era, but can only do that much to compensate for often dreadful writing past the common route One of the common complaints about No One But You is connected to its extremely shameless copying of JVN storytelling tropes and stylistics, to the point that even its language looks a bit like a fan translation of a Japanese game. To some extent, however, I think this criticism was overblown – while the game’s setup is indeed extremely iterative, adherence to tropes is not really a major problem past the common route. Also, some “inconsistencies”, like the use of honorifics, seem pretty deliberate – Japanese mannerisms show up mostly in really fun sequences of characters texting to each other, which emulate the style of writing teens would use in that context. While the game definitely struggles with its identity and writers had a hard time restraining their otaku sensibilities, I think even most reviewers would easily look past this if the core story wasn’t so kitsch and, well, plain stupid much of the time. One last thing that I should probably mention are the h-scenes – there’s one for Megumi, Shiro and Yui, but I’ll be completely honest that knowing in what context Megumi's scene happens and seeing one still of it on VNDB, I wanted nothing to do with any of it. All scenes were added to the game after release, along some other promised features such as the afterstories (those, BTW, in many cases added very little to the respective routes or even attached a new layer of stupidity and inconsistency to them, particularly in Shiro’s case), being more of a minor bonus then a selling point. Other illustrations might be less broken than the one I was referring to, but it’s still probably not something you should seriously take into consideration when deciding whether to give this game a try. And staying on this topic, I'm not sure I consider No One But You worth buying as anything more than a curiosity – it has its moments and won’t bore you the way the recently-reviewed Sakura MMO would, but reading most of it is still akin to watching a burning trainwreck, rather than genuine entertainment. If that’s what you’re looking for, or are interested in it because of its unique place in EVN history, feel free to give it a try, but… You’ve been warned. PS On the final note, No One But You proved extremely difficult for me to rate. Above all, it's extremely inconsistent and its most off-putting elements are mostly confined to just two out of five routes. On the other hand, even at its best it's only decent (I'd probably rate Ryo's route, my favourite in the game, at a 3 or 3,5), while at its worst it comes very close to the absolute rock-bottom of awful storytelling available in plot-oriented VNs. If judged by Megumi's and Shiro's routes alone, it would indeed be a clear 1/5, just as Decay and Tyrael claimed in their Fuwanovel reviews. Thus, on the very limited scale I use here, I had no other choice but to give No One But You a 2/5. At the same time, I want to make clear that its actual entertainment value is slightly above other VNs I've rated this low, especially if you skip the cursed routes or read them just for laughs, fully aware of what you're getting into. Final Score: 2/5 Pros: + Good character art + Decent common route + Yui’s and Ryo’s routes Cons: - Poor pacing in heroine routes - Unconvincing, over-the-top plot twists - Mostly unsatisfying or illogical endings - Frequent mistakes both in writing and visual assets - Cliched as f*** VNDB Page Buy No One But You on Steam
  2. 3 points
    I’ll be completely honest: I didn’t have a good opinion of NTT Solmare even before approaching the game this review is about. After exploring their sole non-otome visual novel, Moe! Ninja Girls, I was absolutely stunned with the predatory monetisation and poor quality of that title. I was still curious about their otome projects though and decided to check out one featuring the theme I personally enjoy a lot: vampires. Thus, I ended up playing Blood in Roses+, one of the over 20(!) games in the Shall We Date? series and what I found there was an extension of my Moe! Ninja Girl experience, along with some interesting surprises (which doesn’t mean any of them were particularly pleasant). First, however, a bit of context is required. NTT Solmare is a Japanese company producing e-books and mobile games primarily for the Western market. Shall We Date? Otome games are their flagship product and can be split into two categories: paid apps, which are mostly Android/iOS, English-localized ports of Idea Factory otome VNs and free apps which are produced by NTT Solmare themselves. Since 2011, they’ve released literally dozens of cheaply-made, but aggressively monetized games, particularly in the free-to-play segment. This is also the category where Blood in Roses+ fits in, being a fully free-to-play mobile VN, in which you can theoretically experience an impressive and constantly-expanding pool of content without paying anything. There’s a catch though… Or a dozen, which are all worth discussing in detail due to the unbelievable abuse of the VN format they represent. The consistent setting and a cast of characters shared between the many alternative-universe scenarios are among the game’s few redeeming qualities Before I get to ripping the game to pieces for its business model, what is Blood in Roses about? At its core, it’s a supernatural romance featuring a human protagonist becoming involved with a group of powerful vampires and other fantasy creatures – nearly all of them in the form of ridiculously-attractive ikemen, of course. Every one of the 25(!) hero routes (there’s a token yuri one too) revolves around the Hotel Libra Sincera, a castle built at the crossroads between the human and magical world, and a core cast of characters, including Alfred and Rupert, the vampire twins in charge of the hotel. There’s also the mystical rose garden present within the Libra Sincera's walls, which the game takes its title from and which usually proves to be of crucial importance for the heroine. Every arc can be considered an alternative-universe scenario, telling a self-contained, conclusive intrigue and romance scenario. While there are some recommended “beginner routes” that works best as introduction to game’s lore, the only thing you probably shouldn’t do is starting with one of the arcs featuring the “hunter” protagonist – the second version of the lead character, added in one of the later updated to the game, original one being the “witch”. Those play a lot on the previously-established lore and will be more fun to experience if you know the “core” stories like Alfred’s and Rupert’s. While, in general, the game’s writing is generic and sometimes quite uninspired, most routes have their interesting moments and the ability to see so many version of the story and different perspectives is quite fun, making the game more enjoyable the more you play it. The protagonists (they’re explicitly two versions of the same person from different timelines, but are also different enough in their skillsets and behaviour to be considered separate characters) are also rather fine, with a major caveat that I mostly enjoyed them when choosing “moonlight” dialogue options. This is part of the game’s karma system, determining the ending you get: moonlight choices usually involve the protagonist being more decisive, aggressive and openly affectionate towards the hero, while the opposite “sunlight” route basically means her being a bag of wet noodles (or in other words, a stereotypical otome protagonist). Especially in the case of the witch, who starts her story as a prisoner of the vampire brothers, sunlight choices are rather jarring to observe and often lead to submissive endings that rubbed me the wrong way. The avatar system and all the gameplay mechanics of Shall We Date? games are more roadblocks preventing you from experiencing the story, than actual sources of fun Thus far, it doesn’t sound so bad, right? What’s the issue then? Well, the first problem is that you read the story in tiny, 1-2 minute bits (scenes), each of them costing a story ticket. You can get up to 6 free story tickets per day (with up to 5 stored at once), but if you want to read faster, you have to buy premium tickets at an insane price of $2 apiece. This already creates an extremely stilted reading experience, exasperated by the Blood in Roses’ clunky UI and very high input lag – the client acts pretty much as a web browser, with all the nasty implications you might be familiar with if you played old browser games in the early 2000s. If you think, however, that you’d be able to just buy $200 worth of story tickets and read a full route in one go, you’re sorely mistaken. The game also forces you to participate in the crude minigame called “Miss Rose Contest”, where you compete with other players to farm two in-game currencies: Tokens and Lady Level. You require both to bypass “Love Challenges”, literal roadblocks that prevent you from reading the story any further until you buy a specific avatar item for Tokens or reach high-enough Lady Level. This is, of course, another way to extort money from you, although bypassing these challenges with cash is so expensive that you should probably forget about doing so unless you’re a Saudi sheikh. There’s another layer of scummy to Love Challenges: using premium currency to buy special items in some of the challenges will reward you with premium version of the story, with special dialogue and an extra CG that will save to your library (quite often for a price of a full route or two in a much better game). The Love Challenges are also designed to show up often enough and with so high Token prices required to bypass them, that you’re likely to get stuck for literal days farming currency to just continue reading (no matter how many story tickets you might have). And if you wondered there was some aspect of the VN experience that wasn’t monetized yet, the aforementioned moonlight/sunlight endings also have a trick to them. You cannot go back on your choices without resetting the whole route (each consists of ten chapters, or around 170 scenes total) and losing all the story tickets you used and Lady Level you farmed (it always resets after finishing or switching a route). This means that if you mess up the dialogue too many times and don’t get enough points in either alignment, you’ll end up being stuck with a short, bad “Farewell Ending” – that is, unless you use the premium currency to boost your points. What makes all this even worse than Moe! Ninja Girls is that while that game also represented shocking levels of greed, it at least had the decency of consistently awarding you premium currency through events and rewards for finishing story chapters. Here, you can only rely on your wallet to get you any of the game’s premium features. Speaking of events, as you can imagine, those are pretty impossible to complete in without going full pay-to-win – in my first experience, even using up all the very significant starting bonuses (around 70 premium story tickets and other expensive item you get for free in the first two weeks of playing) I could just barely keep myself in the top 1000 ranking and earn some worthwhile rewards. Interestingly enough, after I already invested a lot into said event (they work in 20-day cycles), the game sabotaged me in a way by starting a new character’s launch bonus, giving five times the diamonds for reading chapters in his story, which I had no interest in (and would have to abandon the route I was two-thirds into and actually enjoying). The sudden need for choosing between reading something I had little interest in and shooting myself in the foot gameplay-wise was not something I enjoyed. Some of these heroes might look like abusing assholes at first, but ACTUALLY, they are abusive assholes with minor redeeming qualities, which magically make everything they do acceptable...? Of course, the are minor prices in the events that you can get to just by playing consistently and one of the Blood in Roses’ features I actually like comes into play here too – you can get a lot of minor bonuses, like extra diamonds for events, extra energy for Miss Rose Contest and faster story ticket recovery by watching ads. This is something I consider a much more reasonable option that just asking you to pay up, but it hardly changes the predatory nature of all the game’s core features. In this topic, I should probably quickly go through the avatar system, which lets you equip items you get from mandatory Love Challenge purchases, the events, the "Make a Date” gacha (another thing that is fuelled mostly by the Miss Rose Contest, as every 5-win streak will award you tokens for the gacha machine) and unreasonably-expensive premium gachas. For a non-paying player this is another source of frustration, as while there’s a number of cool items you can buy for Tokens, if you also want to read the story consistently, you’ll pretty much never have any extra ones to buy an item you actually want, rather than the ones you need to progress through the roadblocks. Also, there’s a pretty strict limit on how many avatar items you can own, possible to expand through pricey consumables – another limitation that seems to have little purpose other than making you pay up If you’re not lucky enough to earn those from events or gacha and you run out of space. In the end, literally everything in Blood in Roses is an aggressive, meticulously-crafted scheme to extort money from the player. The depth of predatory monetisation is so severe that I have a hard time to consider it a game, or especially a visual novel – it’s a scam disguised as one. It might look and sound decent-enough at first, but quickly shows its ugly face of a cynical money-making machine that puts manipulating the played into spending money over any kind of fun or creative integrity. While the daily routine of interacting with the game might not be wholly-unenjoyable, I find what it truly represents nothing short of disgusting, mostly because it’s not an isolated case, but simply an iteration of NTT Solmare’s utterly corrupt business model. This is mobile gaming at its absolute worst and a gross bastardisation of the visual novel formula – if you care about our niche at all, otome and beyond, please don’t support this company and other ones utilizing similar practices. They don’t deserve it. Final Rating: 1,5/5 Pros: + The art isn’t bad + Most routes have their moments Cons: - All-around despicable business model - Overly simplistic, tacked-on gameplay mechanics - Clunky UI that makes daily tasks an absolute chore - Ultimately shallow storytelling VNDB Page (Please don’t) play Shall We Date? Blood in Roses+ for free on Android or iOS
  3. 2 points
    Clephas

    Kokorone Pendulum

    This is the latest game by Clochette, a company known mostly for four things: It's decent stories, it's excellent characters, a tendency toward fantasy and sci-fi settings, and the forest of oppai heroines that spring up in its wake. lol Clochette is straight out my favorite plotge/charage hybrid company, mostly because they understand what they do well and don't try to do anything but develop from that perspective. The result is that I can depend on their games being enjoyable. Some people will probably go 'eh? Isn't that a matter of course?', but most companies that always produce the same genre never manage Clochette's level of consistency in quality and type. To be straight, this is the only charage company whose games I can still enjoy without reservation, even after my burnout. Kokorone is based in a setting where mysterious out of place objects, in the form of underground black pyramids surrounded by unnatural foliage, began granting people mysterious powers about thirty years before. The protagonist, Komachiya Soushirou, has one such ability that he defines as an affliction. His ability is indiscriminate telepathic reception (under the theory that people 'project' their emotions and thoughts constantly if they don't try to shut it off). He suffers from headaches and having to hear people spill their thoughts and emotions into his mind wherever he goes, and he can't shut it off. That said, seeing as this is a Clochette game, this 'constant suffering' stage only lasts about five minutes (Clochette games have dark moments, but none of them have an overbearing atmosphere). It is soon relieved by his experience of the mind of Kamishiro Sumika, one of the game's heroines, and he finds himself drawn into helping out with her club, which tries to build bridges between Magia Saucers (yes, that is the name for them, lol) and normal people. They are joined by the iai mistress and Sumika's best friend, Tatewaki Chihaya; the genius Magia researcher Tsumuri; her cat-like best friend Leeruxu; and (eventually) the protagonist's senpai-imouto Nazuna (yes, she is both his little sister and his senpai). The common route is pretty straightforward Clochette, with ecchi happenings that never cross the line, mild humor, and a few serious story/plot points that serve to properly introduce you to the setting and characters (and give you an idea of what the heroines will be like). The protagonist does deal with his personal issues in the common route just well enough to provide a baseline for them possibly becoming less important in the heroine routes (or become important again, depending on the path), which was definitely intentional and typical of heroine routes... but I never really thought Clochette would pursue the production of a game with a constantly gloomy protagonist, anyway. Chii-chan (Chihaya) Because of this route, Chihaya will forever be Chii-chan to me. I mean, Chii-chan is so adorable that you can totally see why Sumika adores her... and the route is extremely lovey-dovey, even at its darkest moments. Part of that is helped by Chihaya being a complete open book to the protagonist for much of the path, resulting in an endless cycle of ichaicha that is oddly non-annoying (probably because the ability to see into her head makes it less fake-seeming). Anyway, Chihaya's route focuses, unsurprisingly, on the personal issues for her that surround her Magia and her relationship with her father... as well as the problems Magia can cause for athletes and competitive martial artists (by law, they can't participate). This route gets highly emotional at times, especially toward the end, but it stays light and cute for the most part. Leeruxu The obligatory catgirl of this VN, a young woman who possesses a Magia that grants her incredible physical abilities and the visual traits of a cat-person. She is a friendly and whimsical heroine, closing in suddenly and vanishing on a whim. She eats a lot (think food-fighter levels), and she can generally be trusted to be smiling or encourage a warm atmosphere wherever she goes. Her path circles around her abandonment issues and the protagonist's reaction to them, and as a result, it has less focus on the characters' powers than in Chii-chan's path. There are some strong emotional moments in this path, as Leeruxu's issues have a very strong basis in her past that isn't easy go leave behind. That said, it mostly comes off as a moe-focused sort-of nakige route... especially since everything about Leeruxu is built to be moe or ero, right down to her voice. Nazuna Nazuna is the protagonist's imouto (little sister for the uninitiated) and she is pretty typical of Clochette imouto characters. How so? Every single Clochette imouto shares two major qualities... they are a total brocon and they are extremely erotically designed (all Clochette heroines manage to be ero in a good way, despite being oppai monsters). Nazuna shares this quality with standard-issue tsundere piled on top, in the way of old-style tsundere (right down to the classic tone of voice when denying her affection). Also typical of routes for these heroines, the incest issue is mostly minor to the heroine and protagonist, though there is a short period of thinking over the difficulties involved. (incidentally, Nazuna is only #4 on my Clochette imouto list, with Konoka from Prism Recollection being the top so far, mostly because they did so good a job combining her quirks, her high intelligence, and fundamentally tragic innocence... oh yeah, and her perversion) As a clarification, one reason why most Clochette sister heroine routes go more smoothly than most is because there is usually at least one other person who is supportive of the relationship, if not the entire group of heroines and sub-characters. While drama often pops up later on in the path, the initial transition is usually fast and easy, in comparison to blood-related imouto characters in other companies' games. In exchange for not being overly focused on incest drama, this path tends to focus on the issues with their deceased parents and their relationship to the school they are attending... and the dreams they left behind for the relationship between Magia Saucers and normies (lol). Note: I'm doing this VN really slowly, doing a path whenever I feel like it, but one thing I'm noticing is that there is a great reduction in drama from previous games by this company. While the issues of the prejudice between Magia Saucers and normal people are present in each path, in the ones I've done so far, it has been mostly mild. Sumika Unusually for Clochette, Sumika is the main/true heroine of this game, though you can play her path from the beginning. Sumika is a kind-hearted, innocent young woman who desires nothing more than to see others happy. Her goal is to see Magia Saucers and normal people get along, and she works hard as the club leader to make it happen (while baking cakes and other snacks for her friends). She is an 'open book', as her spoken words and inner 'voice' don't vary from one another very often, and she is the 'voice' that heals the protagonist of his growing misanthropy early on in the story. Her path, atypically for Clochette, is by far the most extensive in terms of dealing with Magia-related issues, the protagonist's past, and his problems with his ability. As a result, this path feels the most like a normal Clochette path, though it is also the only path that doesn't have an epilogue. It is an excellent path, but, having read it, I have absolutely no desire to be disappointed by Tsumuri's path, so I'll stop my play here. Conclusion As a charage, this is a top-class game, with all the best elements of a charage (ichaicha romance, SOL, mild comedy, etc) involved without most of the flaws (average/weak protagonist, lack of origin for romantic feelings, excessive dating). As a Clochette game, however, it falls somewhere below the midline, being just a bit better than Amatsu Misora Ni while falling below all their other works. That said, even a below-average Clochette game is still much better than the common ruck of charage, so I can honestly recommend it to those who love oppai and charage, lol.
  4. 2 points
    Winged Cloud, creators of the infamous Sakura series, are visibly past their prime, which shows not only in their diminishing Patreon support and smaller interest in their games in general, but also the lack of marketing effort and innovation. For two and a half year now their VNs are only becoming shorter, simpler and more iterative, making the already not-particularly-impressive projects from the peak of studio’s popularity, such as Sakura Nova or Sakura Fantasy, look like absolute heights of quality and ambition. At the same time, the company seems heavily disinterested in actively promoting their work or opening new niches, even nearly dropping the production of straight eroge for the sake of pushing out more yuri games, feeding of this niche's popularity with Western audience. And few things symbolise this sorry state of affairs quite like the Sakura MMO trilogy, the latest three entries in the mainline Sakura franchise, this time tackling the grossly overused theme of gameworld isekai. Coming out between October 2018 and June 2019, with little fanfare (the second and third game pretty much appeared out of nowhere, with no communication from Winged Cloud’s social media accounts before the releases) and to a rather lukewarm reception from players, Sakura MMO games still stand out in some ways from Winged Clouds usual output. Particularly, it was the first time since Sakura Beach that a game in the series received a direct sequel, and the only instance one received two. This, at first glance, makes it look like one of most ambitious projects Winged Cloud ever attempted, but one thing should be said in advance: all three Sakura MMO games are very short (3-4 hours) and heavily overpriced, with each costing $10. For the amount of content you’d usually find in one 10-15 dollars VN, you’re asked to pay 30, while also having to deal with issues that wouldn’t be there if it was all released as a single product or a well-constructed episodic game, like your choices not transferring between parts and somewhat shoddy continuity. But aside from it being a shameless cash-grab, is there something worthwhile within this trashy sub-franchise? Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  5. 2 points
    Clephas

    Book Series: The House War

    The House War series is one of three co-existing (to some extent, each of the series co-exists in time, often with the same characters) series written in the same universe by Michelle West, a half-Japanese, half-Canadian writer who first came to my attention when I was stunned by the first book of the Sun Sword series. The universe created in the three series (the Sacred Hunt duology, the Sun Sword series, and the House War series) extend across over thirty years of time in-series and involve as many varied perspectives, people, and desires as the more infamous large-scale high fantasy book series out there (the Wheel of Time, the Game of Thrones, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, etc). However, it is distinct in every way from them in style. While the world West puts together is often as harsh or more so than the Game of Thrones series, it manages a degree of mystique that Martin never achieves, at least partly because the focus is more on the people and setting then making as many dirty deeds as possible occur in the shortest time possible (incidentally, that is my assessment of Martin's works). A typically Japanese flavor exists in the writing, mixed with flavors of Celtic and even Middle Eastern tones at times. Depending on which characters form the core of an individual book, the atmosphere differs dramatically. The House War series is centered around Jewel Markess ATerafin and the people that surround her. Jewel is a key character in all three series, though in different ways. In the Sacred Hunt, she is the desperate leader of a den (think street gang) of orphans whose existences are only considered relevant relative to her. As such, little focus or spotlight is put on the den, except to give them some minimal color and give you a vague idea of how they matter to Jewel. Jewel is seer-born, a rare form of 'talent' that causes her to see potential futures in dreams and instinctively (knee-jerk, gut-level) know when her own life is in danger and avoid it reflexively. Other talents, such as mage-born, healer-born, god-born, bard-born, and maker-born are all present in the series, but explanations for each are generally only presented as aspects of their existence become relevant to the story at large. She lives in Averaalan, the capital city of an Empire ruled by the Kings, two god-born children born of the gods of Wisdom and Justice. The complex society of the Empire nonetheless has only a very limited privileged class, made up of a wealthy but not feudal 'patrician' nobility, the commons, and the Ten. The Ten are one of the constructs I like most, besides the Kings, in this particular setting. They are a group of ten aristocratic clans that are granted almost complete internal autonomy and are not hereditary. Instead, the Ten increase their numbers by merit-based adoption, wherein individuals that have talents and skills desired or needed by the clan as a whole are 'adopted' regardless of origin. The House War series follows Jewel's life from early childhood, details the creation of her den, and further writes in details of the events around the duology solely from the point of view of the den and Jewel herself in the first book. The rest of the books detail her rise after the events of the Sun Sword series to the rank of the Terafin (the ruler of the Terefin, the greatest of the Ten) and the results of her choices until she meets her destiny. Of the three series, the House War series most deeply details the aspects that are left oblique and unexplained in the previous books, regarding the nature of human talent-born, the nature of power in that universe, and the nature of the immortals and gods. Jewel is, other than her power, merely a fiercely compassionate woman who cares far too deeply for someone who rules. Her immortal companions are frequently frustrated by her (mostly because they only understand the power she wields and what it will become), and her mortal companions fear for her as her power grows and she struggles against the necessity to change in order to master it. The over-arching antagonist of all three series is Allasakar, the Lord of the Hells, a being that is deliberately demonized (lol) in the Sacred Hunt, given some perspective through the eyes of Kiriel, his half-human daughter, in the Sun Sword, and given a third and more complete relative perspective based on the truths revealed in the House War series. I won't go into detail about this, but Allasakar is presented as being inimical to all mortal life... and this is true in every way. However, one thing that gets revealed in a rather stark manner in the House War is just how inimical ALL immortals in this series are to mortals. The world Jewel and the other characters live in is one that is asleep, the gods having withdrawn to another realm for reasons of their own, the Firstborn (their 'children) confined to the mystic wilds, and many of the other immortal existences in a thousands of years long sleep. Because of this, a marked difference between the early books and the later ones is the stripping away of the gentle human 'myths' that gloss over just how terrible the immortals, regardless of alignment, were. If the Duology was a simple good vs evil play and the Sun Sword was an interwoven tapestry of demons an politics, the House War is the mortal coming into contact with and struggling against the immortal. Michelle West's concepts of the immortal are very Japanese, for someone familiar with Japanese Buddhism and Shinto. Indeed, I can say that while there is a strong Celtic influence on the aesthetic, the essence is almost entirely Japanese when it comes to immortals in the story (it becomes even more so later on). For those with an interest on why I said there is a strong Middle-eastern influence, I recommend you read the Sun Sword series. Following the events in the lands of the Dominion, in particular the first book of the series which almost exclusively centers around that region with few outside influences, brings that influence out in full. Serra Diora, one of my favorite characters in the series, is someone I can honestly describe as one of the most admirable characters in the series as a whole, while being one of the weakest relatively (Edit: In terms of power, not personality). It gave me a much better perspective on Middle Eastern culture, and it is one of the reasons I actually began reading some literature from that part of the world.
  6. 1 point
    kivandopulus

    Dear My Friend [light]

    Foreword: This is going to a slightly unusual review, because I'm going to totally ignore main three heroines and focus solely on two side heroines because of Masada scenario writing and uniqueness of these two heroines compared to conventional ones. Title: Dear My Friend Developer: light Date: 2004-07-09 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v519 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvEtF1Nh89A&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv-vEHq8MQwNWKJi9NyRbYch Synopsis: This light-hearted, high school eroge surrounds the exploits of a soon-to-be non-average student named Kyoichi Morikawa. The son of the odd paring of a nurse and a poorly-selling novelist, he’s been living his life in mind-numbing virtuosity. One auspicious day his father returns home after running errands with a girl (about Kyoichi’s age) claiming to be orphaned. Being the good Samaritan, our hero’s father adopts the hapless girl. Now Kyoichi must explain the extraordinary circumstances to his one and only friend. Furthermore, seeing the main character with a girl has caused several of the female student body to take notice of him... Game type: Charage Character Design rating: 9/10 Protagonist rating: 8/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 8/10 Overall rating: 8/10 Rating comments: I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the game. The two heroine routes I saw were unique and charming, protagonist contributed to gags a lot, and side characters really shined in here. A firm masterpiece, I say. Protagonist: Kyouichi is not really our usual nobody. He has a face and a strong personality. He does not have piety towards girls and plays jokes on them a lot. He's almost as fun as Taichi from Cross†Channel, just less pervy. Characters: There are five heroines. Kushiro Mai is our main heroine. And - according to To Heart tradition - the most boring one. She's blushing at every second line and is extremely shy overall. But even she has something fun about her - she leans to Kyouichi all the time despite the environment. That becomes the source of some nice joyful moments. She's the only naive heroine in the game. Kurihara Tsukuyo is the second heroine that's available from the start. She's our traditional ojou-sama, polite and kind. It's good that she's serious and not naive, but all the other heroines look more interesting to me. Kitazawa Miyako is the last of three heroines available from the start. She's a genki heroine, but really intelligent at the same time, kind of Ayaka from To Heart. She would be my natural first choice if not for the other two heroines... Kurosaki Komugi is our crazy alien or so she's introduced in the game. The cute girl with bunny ears swears like a sailor and picks up on everyone. She makes every scene whirl around her. By To Heart analogy she's definitely Multi. Nagamura Saeka is kind of joker of this game. She looks like a serious sempai, but she turns out to be of mischievous kind. Masada went a long way to invent all kinds of plot twists for her route. The one fact is that in her route Kyouichi dates.... drums-drums... Mai! And Saeka kind of tries to support them. Finishing with To Heart analogies, she's definitely Shiho. Story: Don't think there is integral story. Mai just starts living in Kyouichi family and attending the same class. Game starts with the choice between heroines, but if we start following Mai route there's later branching to Komugi and Saeka routes. I especially want to take notice of Kyouichi parents - they're marvelous and really funny. Guess now it's time say a few words about my attitude towards heroines. Both Komugi and Saeka routes were really good for the comedy part and quite good for the drama. Not really should game would make it to the masterpiece status for me without these two brilliant routes written by Masada. Overall comments: I'll be brief since it's not a plotge. I never really cared for charage and grew a disgust towards the titles with great evaluation like Mashiro Iro Symphony or White Album 2 (I hope to bitch about it some day too). I got assured that I can appreciate a charage only in conjunction with some great story like in SubaHibi or Cross†Channel. So Dear My Friend really took me by surprise. There's no great depth or drama in here, but it's an absolutely enjoyable cozy read. And it's not all Masada's praise as Kyouichi's parents written by main author are equally enjoyable. Guess Dear My Friend produced a little revolution in me, and I've yet to know how to live with this thought.
  7. 1 point
    3days ~Michiteyuku Toki no Kanata de~ is VN of the Month. I'm intrigued by positive reviews of MinDeaD BlooD ~Shihaisha no Tame no Kyoushikyoku~ . I'm going to review it and develop an opinion on it. 1. Cosple Tea Party こすぷれ☆ティーパーティー [040604] Softhouse Dew Main character gets drag, ged to an alumni assotiation meeting by his two friends who wish to temporarily revive high school cosplay club consisting of six pretty girls. Protagonist gets attracted by their charm, especially by "rabbit" girl Yuka. A moege with dozens of spontaneous events rather than an integrative story. 2. Dice-ki! ~Koi wa Un Makase~ ダイス・き!~恋は運任せ~ [040604] Studio B-Room Main character advances to a new school and falls in love with a woman at first sight. However, childhood friend and classmates notice the change and are eager to change his view on women. Is love just a dice throw or it's possible to shake off annoying love candidates? A really bad board SIM game. 3. Koyuki no Aka 小雪の朱-コユキノアカ- [040604] Discovery School is closed due to raging snowstorm. Main character manages to get there due to a promise given to his girlfriend. But weather deteriorates rapidly, and there is no way back anymore. A group of students and a teacher get trapped at this empty building in the sea of snow. There is not much to do, so students organize to pursue legendary school wonders. It's not mystery that they find, but something totally unexpected... Love story in hindered conditions won't get old, not after those KID games. Transformation of characters is depicted well even though sometimes it feels that some text is missing to describe motivations - actions feel sudden at times. There is fantasy element, but it feels natural in the school wonders setting. It is a nice change from the usual school romance games. 4. Majipuri -Wonder Cradle- まじぷり -Wonder Cradle- [040604] Purple Software One day, the protagonist Makoto Himekawa was going to his school, Shiroha Academy, when he came upon a girl going crazy by a vending machine. He went to help her, but ended up drenching her in soda instead. After a light argument, the protagonist christened this girl "Trouble Woman". Due to this he was late for school, and barely made it to homeroom. And there, it seemed that there was an exchange student. But that exchange student was ... the "Trouble Woman"! Thus, with the appearance of the exchange student Yuuri Ashitaba, Makoto's ordinary school life took a sudden turn for the decidedly non-boring, and through the athletic festival, the cultural festival, and even the autumn leaf festival, the chaos of his life quickly increased. And then, he was swallowed up in an unexpected incident ... Kind of onii-chan game. Someone counted that onii-chan is pronounced 997 times here. Quality varies from one root to another. Game's definitely not for scenario-oriented people. 5. Natsu no Tomoshibi 夏の燈火 [040606] 1 One day a young boy arrived at this village, holding a letter in one hand and his sister's hand in the other. They had no place left to go but the address written in the letter he was holding. Since they traveled with one-way tickets, there was no way back. In the end, they were accepted as a part of the family living at the address written in the message, and started their new life in the village. A village full of spirits and protected by gods summoned into mirrors... It's a doujin game, but since it's first Looseboy scenario I won't block it. It's a straight nakige with only two heroines for capture, about 6-7 hours per heroine. There is just one H event for each heroine. Game has to do with sickness and is not really interesting per se, especially with the rural monster introduction. But game text is really good. Only length actually reminds that it's still a doujin game. 6. MinDeaD BlooD ~Shihaisha no Tame no Kyoushikyoku~ MinDeaD BlooD ~支配者の為の狂死曲~ [040611] Black Cyc 1 2 3 4 Just off the coast of mainland Japan is the island of Chisakura, home to a city of the same name, where the heralds of darkness are slowly gathering. Host to a prosperous economy, with a nationally renowned academic institution for young women and an equally upstanding medical research facility, the community has unwittingly attracted the attentions of dreaded supernatural creatures with few equals: vampires. Yet even these immortal predators have daring individuals who hunt them, and a secret war between the two powers is quickly racing to an apocalyptic conclusion. At the center of this nightmarish struggle is a man who has the potential to tip the scales in favor of one side or the other. His choice of allies - the hunters, the vampires, or none at all - may very well determine the fate of humanity and the undead. There are English reviews. 7. Oratorio ~Umi yori Aoi Natsu no Kanata de~ ORATORIO~海より青い夏の彼方で~ [040611] Unchain Main character studies at geophysics faculty. He receives a report mentioning his native island being in danger of volcano eruption this summer. He arrives to his native town and meets a lot of relatives and childhood acquaintances there. Strangely, volcano shows no signs of activity yet besides slight shakes... Game shines for its directorship and animation. Both protagonist and heroines are depicted very realistically, but there's not much in the story department, to be honest. There is unique charm and fresh ideas in this game which alone qualifies for a masterpiece. 8. Tantei Jinguuji Saburou Series No.03: Kiken na Futari 探偵 神宮寺三郎 Series No.03 危険な二人 [040623] WorkJam 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Detective Hunter and his assistant Yulia have been invited to watch Yulia's friend Sabin participate in a motorcycle race. It doesn't all go too well when he crashes in the race, but when the racing team checks up on him it turns out to be Thomas, Sabin's apprentice, under the helmet. The mystery deepens as another friend of Yulia is found murdered in a hotel room. There are English reviews. 9. DearS ディアーズ [040624] Vridge Inc. 1 A visual novel based on the manga and anime series "DearS". A "game original" character, not seen in the manga or anime, makes an appearance. Takeya Ikuhara is a temperamental seventeen-year-old Japanese student attending the fictitious Koharu High School with a strong prejudice against the DearS. Due to a childhood scare, he believes that the aliens are fake, worthless beings that have generated nationwide overhype and are secretly plotting to take control of Earth. On his way home from school he discovers a homeless DearS who, after fainting and much to his annoyance, he feeds and shelters in his apartment. The girl, who he nicknames Ren, is infantile and friendly, and grows obsequious and dependent upon Takeya, a responsibility he tries to disassociate himself from. Her oblivious tenacity keeps her around, however, and over time, realizing Ren's genuine care and empathy for him, Takeya has a change of heart. Unfortunately, because Ren is deemed defective, DearS headquarters orders her arrested. SIM games are just no go for me. 10. Memories Off ~Sorekara~ Memories Off ~それから~ [040624] KID 1 2 3 Inori was looking forward to go to the annual Ashikajima Fireworks Display with Isshu this summer. They had made a promise to always go to the fireworks festival together, since that was the place that they orginally became a couple. But Isshu said he wouldn't able to go because of his part time job. That day would fall on their two year anniversary. Inori went alone to their memorable place, the church... and she began to recall the previous two years. Fourth game in the Memories Off series (subtitled "Kakeganai Omoi wo Norikoete"). It takes place one year and a half after Omoide ni Kawaru Kimi ~Memories Off~ (Omoide ni Kawaru Kimi ~Memories Off~) There are English reviews. 11. 3days ~Michiteyuku Toki no Kanata de~ 3days~満ちてゆく刻の彼方で~ [040625] Lass 1 2 The game revolves around the main character's 3 days repeating over and over again, where he is constantly being killed in the third day of the story (in various ways) but magically being brought back to life in the first day to repeat his 3 days. Your goal here is to solve the mystery behind the death of your senpai and also to find the identity of the murderer. There is an English review. 12. Angel Egg [040625] You & I You're a high school student who's secretly an accomplished writer. All the upperclassmen of the drama club suddenly decide to quit due to a conflict, and the remains of the club need to do a play for the upcoming school festival. You end up being responsible for the script. Everything is painful about this game. Text depictions, boring characters, inconsistencies... It's a light work, but can't really be recommended. 13. Doko e Iku no, Ano Hi 何処へ行くの、あの日 [040625] Moonstone 1 2 I killed a girl. Who was she...? The protagonist, Kunimi Kyousuke can't remember the memories of his distant past. Even the details are vague, merely appearing as flashes in his heart. "I am certainly the one who with this hand did that to the lone girl", he keeps thinking, but can't even remember the time or place it happened. But the memories are slowly entering his mind. He remembers the corpse... How will Kyousuke deal with his supposed sin? There are English reviews. 14. Innocence pain ~Michiru Yami Kakeru Tsuki~ Innocence pain~満ちる闇 欠ける月~ [040625] Ankh Main character is a new teacher at girls academy where witch legend is popular. He pays little attention to this story, but one day occult-looking events lead to student injury. Similar incidents continue while the culprit remains unknown. Protagonist starts his own investigation. Game is described as a suspense story, but it's mostly normal SOL in girls school. There is very short story involved, so they have to pour lots of water and insert insult scenes at random. Game produces rather weak impression. 15. Miko-san Hosoude Hanjouki 巫女さん細腕繁盛記 [040625] Studio Ryokucha Main character receives priest education and returns from Tokyo to his home town. But the local shrine is on the verge of bankruptcy. Protagonist needs to work hard alongside cute shrine maidens and childhood friends. Who will be his girlfriend during the festival? Light comedy game, but of mediocre quality. First half is somewhat saved by gags, but there is no charm of the heroines. The hinted conflict with the enemy has thin presence. 16. Night Wizard Mahou Taisen ~The Peace Plan to Save the World~ ナイトウィザード 魔法大戦~The Peace Plan to Save the World~ [040625] Rune Peaceful school life is interrupted by a transfer student arrival. Newcomer vows to kill main character who has his abilities awakened shortly afterwards. With the power of science and magic protagonist needs to defeat demons and save the world in card battles. You need only wins, so upon losing in battle game just restarts the card battle. World is based on tabletop RPG Night Wizard released in 2002, so is rather rich in detail. Each route takes some 10 hours, but it's impossible to skip battles, so it get bothersome from the second lap. Each heroine has two H events, plus there's a number of sub-heroines. There's nothing that stands out here. 17. Rakuen ~Ai Kawarazu na Boku no Baai~ らくえん~あいかわらずなぼく。の場合~ [040625] TerraLunar 1 2 3 4 The player takes the role of a nameless protagonist that the script refers to as Boku. Boku is a ronin that moves to Tokyo in hopes of being able to study and prepare himself for the university entrance exams. His hobbies as an artist and the myriad of temptations of the big city have kind of caused him to waste his time away, playing games and watching anime instead of focusing on studying. His need for a job eventually landed him a job at MoonEarth, an eroge studio that at the time was needing a character designer. The studio's fate takes a turn for the worse when the scenario writer decides to entirely drop out just as the crew is producing their first title. Seeing as the fledgeling studio is under a lot of scrutiny from its parent companies, this turn of events places MoonEarth in a very sticky situation. As such, the story focuses on MoonEarth's budget problems (the project director likes gambling budget money away by playing pachinko), scheduling issues (the lack of a scenario writer means EVERYTHING from character designs to CGs to BGMs and Voice Actor casting is delayed as well), and eventual crunch-time (since as of the game's start, MoonEarth has one month to create a game from scratch) as they trudge their way to releasing their first title, a game called Ai kawarazu na boku. There are English reviews. 18. Sora no Iro, Mizu no Iro そらのいろ、みずのいろ [040625] Ciel 1 Asa & Natsume are both in love with Hajime Saisho. Instead of fighting over him, they both promised to share him equally. However, both girls have to leave him by the end of the summer. As the summer days go by, they each spend their precious time with Hajime, while the day of their fated departure draws near. Game was in many people's wish-lists, but upon release it could not really boast something more than just another Tony's works graphics borderline nukige. It failed to please pure love fans because of its NTR tilt. It could not please nukige fans because of long exhausting monotonous routes without letting any steam out. 19. Suzukuri Dragon 巣作りドラゴン [040625] SofthouseChara 1 2 3 4 The setting is Middle Ages Europe style. A dragon male (the protagonist) must, in order to marry, amass a lot of treasures and wealth in his dungeon. For that reason, the protagonist went alone and lived in an area where human lives, constructed a huge nest and started amassing treasures. However, soon after the nest got built, gallant heroes wanting to exterminate dragons, townspeople that see the dragon as a nuisance and adventurers and thief out to get the dragon's treasure came. With this, he couldn't gather treasures at ease. Therefore, the protagonist hired monsters, added traps and threatened the neighboring area to not approach his nest. With his nest's defense strengthened, the protagonist started amassing wealth. He searched for a gold mine all over the place, started farming, deforested the forest to build drawers out of it. Of course, the foolish invaders that's successfully repulsed are stripped of all their possessions. Incidentally the women are used as sparring partner to gain experience for the honeymoon. Will he succeed in amassing treasures and marry his fiancée? Or would he meet some other woman...? There are English reviews. 20. Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito Typing Traveller ヤミと帽子と本の旅人 タイピングトラベラー [040625] Livedoor Main character's librarian sister got sucked into some book. Protagonist dives into different book worlds in order to rescue his sister. Typing episodic game, not in my interest league. BLOCKED 1. Kokuin Waltz. 刻淫ワルツ。 [040601] Sponge Teikoku I had a childhood girl friend Rinka, who I always stayed together. One day her cousin got killed in a car crash. She told me that she'd been in love with him but trained as a sex slave..... Hot sizzling 10 days with her!! Adventure game with voice. Doujin Nukige 2. Lo-Devi ~Koakumateki Hen'airon~ ろーでび ~小悪魔的偏愛論~ [040604] Black Light Main character is a lower class demon who comes to this town to store human arousal power. However, she gets compelled to sex acts herself which is bad for her as she can not gain energy this way. Can she become a high-level demon? Nukige 3. Mirai Daughter Musuemon 未来ドーター ムスえもん [040604] ZyX There are four stories about main character's daughters coming from future to live and laugh with him. Lolicon 4. Moteasobing ~Moteasobaretai~ 弄ing~もてあそばれたい~ [040604] Yamikumo-Communications A mistake put Nagase Izumi, a boy and the protagonist of the story, to the girls dormitory. Head of the dormitory, Ayame, acknowledged her mistake and decided to let him live there. She even made a move on him and they had sex right there. But on the next day, she gave him a videotape of them having sex; which was edited to make it look like Izumi raped Ayame. As it turned out, Ayame had a hobby of peeping on her tenants and there were secret cameras in every room of the dormitory. In return for not spreading videotape all over, Ayame told Izumi to have sex with the tenants and sexually train them, including her own daughter. Nukige 5. Yume Shokushu! 夢触手! [040609] BANANA BLUE SOFT A package was sent to me one day, a panties was in. With the "dream" panties on in bed, anyone can have a dream whatever it is. A glasses girl tries to see the effect, but... Doujin Nukige 6. Houkago no Love Beat 放課後のLove Beat [040610] HuneX The main character is a high school girl trained in classical piano who has just transferred to a new high school, Aobadai Gakuen. On her first day, she gets lost and meets 4 boys there who are secretly practising as a band. She eventually becomes the songwriter for the band, using her classical background to create fresh melodies for the band to build on. Otomege 7. Hanazono no Musume 花園の娘 [040611] Dark Side Main character breaks up with his girlfriend and goes to the sea thinking about suicide. He calms down a little and turns back when his leg slips dragging him in the den below the cliff. He wakes up in a Western-style mansion inhabited by three young women and one housekeeper. He has to stay there till he recovers. What secret is hidden inside the building? Nukige 8. Haruiro Toiki ~Kinroku Suimitsu Momo no Shimai-tachi~ 春色吐息~禁録・水蜜桃の姉妹たち~ [040611] EXtry Main character wants to be seen as a man, but childhood nurtured the girly side of him. His parents' business partners insisted on protagonist staying at the house with only women bullying him every day. The harassment continued till the day he broke the seal during shrine visit and gained great physical and mental power over women. Nukige 9. Moekasu モエカす [040611] KeroQ Among other goodies there are two stories based on the extended world of Moekan's Kirishima route and Tsui no Sora. Fandisc 10. Marukon まるコン [040611] Danco Main character leads a normal life until the day he picks an object from the devil world off the road. He starts to have mischief with the girls around him, and bizarre incidents start to happen one after another. Fate makes him travel to the devil world with different girls. Nukige 11. Bishoku 美喰 [040618] Gage Kenji Asama has returned to his home city to exact revenge on Douzan Kanzaki, his hated father. And all the girls somehow involved with Douzan will become the instrument of Kenji's revenge, willing or not... Nukige 12. Oshikake Mahou Shoujo Yui おしかけ魔法少女ユイ [040619] Lilith Soft Shacking up with a puni magical girl! The source of her magic is energy of men!! Inject sperm into her pussy without hesitation! Nukige 13. Azazel アザゼル [040620] Akabei Soft Main character loses after an accident two years ago. Life goes on peacefully till he notices a shadow of a woman with a gun followed by receiving an injection. All his senses improve immensely, but so do his desires. Standing in a pool of blood he hears her say: "Finally your powers have been unsealed". Doujin 14. Ane Ore Imouto ~Kyoushi, Doukyuusei, Kouhai no Kankei~ 姉・オレ・妹~教師、同級生、後輩のカンケイ~ [040625] MBS Truth -The protagonist Kousuke attends school while living with his 3 stepsisters. The oldest sister is his homeroom teacher, the second sister is his classmate and the youngest sister attends the neighboring girls school. Kousuke starts developing certain emotions towards the sisters... Mixing in a childhood friend and a student council president an exciting school life is about to begin. Nukige 15. Boku to 4nin no Onna Kyoushi 僕と4人の女教師 [040625] Take Out Shun is a high school student. He has a regular head but looks weak and he is prissy. That is why he is sometimes teased by other students. However, he is living a peaceful life at school. But his peaceful life is destroyed by a new teacher Kasumi, beautiful and pure. He gets stiff when she is around and can't move even his tongue. When he knows Kasumi is engaged to Yoshio who is the worst teacher at school, the story starts to .... Nukige 16. Chijoku no Gakuen ~Toukou Sareru Onna Kyoushi~ 恥辱の学園~投稿される女教師~ [040625] Euros Main character gains pleasure from putting women in shameful exposing positions. But girls get used to it with time. Then he makes up his mind to spend shameful sessions outdoors... Nukige 17. Crime Rhyme クライミライ CrimeRhyme [040625] FlyingShine Black Aida Masaki, the leader of the newspaper club, has been investigating the rumor of ghosts with Kaede and Hinoki. Meanwhile, Shion, who lives with Masahi, is invited to the psychic treatment club's anniversary party by her classmate. However, the psychic treatment club is actually a group of rapists. Nukige 18. Hanamaru 3 Shimai はなまる3姉妹 [040625] Honey Soft Main character is a university student living alone in Tokyo. As he returns to his home town, he reunites with three neighbor girls. However, these girls aren't same innocent girls anymore - they are well aware of men as opposite sex. They suggest having relations with them simultaneously at the same time. So starts their secret. Nukige 19. Immoral [040625] Blue Gale A school doctor comes in possession of a sexual hypnotic spray that inhibits girls to succumb to sexual desires. One after another, high school girls fall prey to the school doctor's sex schemes turning them into sex slaves. Nukige 20. Inran Byoutou 24 Ji 淫乱病棟24時 [040625] Tryset The protagonist is a horny young guy involved in a motorcycle accident whose stay in the hospital is spiced by 4 nurses, a female doctor and 2 female patients just as horny as he is turning his stay in the hospital to every day a 24 hour sexathon. Nukige 21. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ~Special Fan Disc~ 君が望む永遠 ~special FanDisk~ [040625] Age 1 "What would have happened if that accident never took place?" Kimi ga Nozomu Eien Special Fan Disc explores this concept by retelling the first chapter of the original game. Also includes radio shows, puzzles, wallpapers and other fan materials. Fandisc 22. Kuro Ai ~Ichiya Saikan Inkou Rannyuuroku~ 黒愛 一夜妻館・淫口乱乳録 [040625] Clock Up Gojo Testsuya visited his distant related aunt, Kojin Rikka, to borrow money for the operation of Utsumi Ayaka. She is his childhood friend, and she took care of him like his sister. However, in return for lending money, Rikka ordered him to take beautiful women into the house to train them as prostitutes. Assaulting maids and female students, his hidden power was awakening. Nukige 23. Love Fetish ~Ashi Fetish Ashikoki Hen~ らぶフェチ ~脚フェチ・足コキ編~ [040625] Erogos After an accident Kouji bumps into the local school idol and ends up with his head stuck between her legs. This triggers a fascination and Kouji starts on his newest fetish conquest. Nukige 24. Nee, Chanto Shiyou Yo! 2 姉、ちゃんとしようよっ!2 [040625] Candy Soft Sequel to the first game. One year after the events of the first game, Kuuya Hiiragi finally finished his training at some distant relative's house, the Inugami family. After so much time, he is finally allowed to go back to the Hiiragi house and live together with his six older adopted sisters who love and dote him. But little he knew, his two adopted sisters at the Inugami house where he was training himself also loved him, and came after him. Now Kuuya has eight adopted sisters fighting for him. Nukige 25. Ryoujoku Hitozuma Onsen 凌辱人妻温泉 [040625] Strikes This is a historic Japanese style hotel, but after Yuji began to work part-time, everything has gone wrong. First, the young landlady and a waitress fell victims to him. Not being satisfied with them, the next games he aims at are three young married women staying at the hotel. Nukige 26. Tsui no Yakata ~Ningyou~ 終の館 ~人形~ [040625] Circus Fetish 1 Released under the Circus brand division 'Circus Fetish', the Tsui no Yakata series mainly focuses on maids. It's a winter's day and a second-hand dealer by the name of Akihiro pursues a clue he hopes will help him find a valuable doll by the little-known but skillful doll-maker Holst. The clue leads him to a certain European-style mansion, currently used as a brothel. Akihiro, meeting the mansion's mistress and the maid Melissa, decides to search the house in order to find the missing doll... Nukige 27. X Change 3 [040625] Crowd 1 2 You are Takuya Aihara, the hero/heroine of the story. You've been blessed with a very interesting life: several years ago you were changed a girl through bizarre chemistry accidents, not once but twice. Now as you approach your final year of university with faithful girlfriend Asuka at your side, you almost get nostalgic thinking about those crazy days you spent as a girl. Until it happens again, that is: that troublesome Kouji, still madly in love with your female persona, secretly gets Asami-senpai to whip up some of the sex-change potion and tricks you into drinking it! It'll be harder than ever for you to change back into your male self this time, but you've got no choice: you have to find a way to return to normal before your female body becomes permanent. Although Asuka is one of the most understanding women in the world, there's no way she'll stay with you as a girl -- that's just not her thing. As you start another round of bizarre sexual adventures in your female body, virtually all the characters from the past X-Change games are back: your twisted sister Natsumi, who loves to tease you; the ingenius Asami-senpai; the endlessly experimenting Chisato; and a host of others from the first two games. With an even richer and more complex game story than last time, you'll have loads of fun exploring college life in your new female body, with many rewarding story lines to discover. Where will it all end? Nukige 28. Erogeteki ni Imouto Suki! エロゲ的に妹好き! [040626] Sansai Soft Brother continues playing eroge while staying numb towards feelings of his real sister. One day his friend confesses his feelings to the sister. What should brother do in this situation? Doujin Nukige 29. My Pet Alchemist マイペットアルケミスト [040627] MOON GODDESS Alchemist Michelle sells illegal glaze to a shady merchant. How is it possible to stop her? One option is to drawn Michelle into the abyss of insult ... Doujin Nukige 30. Have Relations With... ~Maho to Kataho~ have relations with… ~真帆と片帆~ [040630] Soft Circle Courreges I have a strong desire that I have never told anyone before...... I want to be humiliated and used like a slave by men...... Maho is a submissive woman indeed, while her younger sister Kataho is free-spirited and sexually active. Doujin Nukige 31. Milkyway 2.5 [040630] Witch Game observes the process of coupling and producing the new generation of heroines to come in Milkyway 3. Fandisc 32. Departures Second Engine [0406] Ochanomizu Electronic Manufacturing With dream and courage main character sets off for an adventure. He has to come over numerous trials to discover the secret behind the maritime Empire. Doujin
  8. 1 point
    Foreword: There are a lot of praising reviews of this untranslated game (1 2 3), which was a great surprise for me. Are we really observing a great mistreated masterpiece in this case? Title: MinDeaD BlooD ~Shihaisha no Tame no Kyoushikyoku~ Developer: Black Cyc Date: 2004-06-11 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v1060 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr5YBK4CASw&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv8DxlQByl9ojtAByJ-gdpN6 Synopsis: Just off the coast of mainland Japan is the island of Chisakura, home to a city of the same name, where the heralds of darkness are slowly gathering. Host to a prosperous economy, with a nationally renowned academic institution for young women and an equally upstanding medical research facility, the community has unwittingly attracted the attentions of dreaded supernatural creatures with few equals: vampires. Yet even these immortal predators have daring individuals who hunt them, and a secret war between the two powers is quickly racing to an apocalyptic conclusion. At the center of this nightmarish struggle is a man who has the potential to tip the scales in favor of one side or the other. His choice of allies - the hunters, the vampires, or none at all - may very well determine the fate of humanity and the undead. Game type: Vampire amnesia action nukige Character Design rating: 6/10 Protagonist rating: 7/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 6/10 Overall rating: 6/10 Since there are other reviews, just some personal impressions are enough. NO. This game is NOT a masterpiece. It was a huge mistake on my part to even launch this game without checking it out properly. Let's try to observe some of its elements. MinDeaD BlooD does have an ok story, but it's not a great one. The only "events" of the story is getting closer to different heroines and together triggering some kind of ending, often with action scenes. The "events" of bonding are dozens of H scenes with each heroine, over a hundred of events overall. Is there anything worthy about this game - action scenes / heroine stories / amnesia information recovery ? Nope. So why do all these people praise the story? Just one reason - because this game is a nukige. If nukige has some kind of plot involved, it's already treated as a great feat. And if there are complex routes and multiple different endings to contain mystery elements - it's fresh, it's new. Compared to Yami no Koe and Mushitsukai this game really has a good story. But compare it to any normal plotge - and MinDeaD BlooD becomes just an average nukige. Game has over a hundred of H events, many have the same CG or slightly different CG. Those events are absolutely devaluated. They become mundane means of communication that repeat over and over during the 60 days course of the game. More than that, they are drawn in absolutely disgusting way, so it's no wonder reader gets an immunity over those and just skips them. When real heroines have their final bonding event, there's no emotion left for it, it gets skipped as well. Nukige nature of the game leaves a stamp of disgust on all its elements and really hinders evaluation of the story. The only way to get game and story interesting is to introduce really interesting characters that start to live on their own creating meanings. I absolutely can't see serious heroines behind these chunks of meat. Protagonist Shizuru with his cool attitude is ok, but basically he is a serial rapist, and I don't have the slightest desire to get to know his psychology. Game composition is absolutely horrible. For each of 60 days we get to choose where to go both for Shizuru and vampire twins Mana and Mayu. It's absolutely impossible to do anything without a walkthrough here. Even with walkthrough it's very easy to screw something up. There are some 27 endings (don't cite me on that) with some 15 being named ones. But among those named ones most are still bad endings. Some endings only take couple minutes. Some are only accessible through normal mode (not easy mode) and only prior to clearing the rest of the endings. It's really a mess. There aren't heroine endings, just some named ones. Gameplay is such a torture. Hopefully, I covered all the big branches in my video. I really wanted to see all the meaningful branches to be able to evaluate the story properly, but this game does not care about readers at all. In the raw outcome, MinDeaD BlooD can't be compared to normal plotge like 3days ~Michiteyuku Toki no Kanata de~. It has such gross nature, that it can be compared only to fellow nukige games, and these review scores of 7/10, 8/10, 9/10 should be treated as 7/10, 8/10, 9/10 among nukige games where having any kind of plot is already a boon. Vampire theme got a boost after Tsukihime, but none of the vampire visual novels were able come close to it. I call it Tsukihime curse.
  9. 1 point
    Dergonu

    Aojiru verse post #2: In'Youchuu

    Aojiru verse introduction #2: In'Youchuu In the last post I listed the current games in the Aojiru verse, (I'm probably the only person on earth calling it this, but it must become a thing!), and I introduced the game that started it all; Hanamaru! Today I will dig deeper into what exactly you should expect from Aojiru games, and introduce In'Youchuu, the most iconic Aojiru-game to date. Introduction: Let us begin with a general introduction to Aojiru's games. These games are all fairly dark, both in general writing and story, as well as the H content. That being said there is also usually a decent amount of sol moments in each game, with a proper good ending that can be reached by avoiding a minefield of bad endings scattered throughout the games. For games like In'Youchuu with several sequels, this good ending will be the default canon that will continue to the next installment. Exceptions of this rule would be the standalone horror games, such as Fuka no Jugoku, which is a story of pure madness, with no real "good" outcome. There is just very little room for sol content in a game like that. But, the majority of Aojiru's games will feature at least some of it. What's interesting about Aojiru games is that the sol moments are actually very enjoyable, and it really feels like they belong, despite of the dark themes these games have. They really nailed it with having just the right amount of "feelgood" content before shit goes bad, so you have time to get to know the characters before shit hits the fan. You get invested in both the story and the characters. Well I do, anyways. I never get tired of seeing Yamato and Mikoto, two characters from In'Youchuu, shouting insults at each other like an old married couple. The games also have some pretty adorable chibi art: Many might brand the Aojiru games as mere nukige with no substance or plot, but this is inaccurate. Sure, the games have a lot of H-content and I can see a case being made for them being branded as nukige. But, they are absolutely not mindless nukige without any story. In fact, I find most of the stories told in Aojiru games legitimately interesting, and get very invested in the worlds and the characters introduced in them. Of course, I have to admit I am a fan of the dark H content that there is an abundance of in these games, but I also love the stories, and think games where the two elements can be combined are very cool. If you think the same, these are basically made for you. In'Youchuu Normally Aojiru games will feature some kind of supernatural entity, such as Nightmare from In'Youchuu-we will talk more about him in a second-or Kudan from Kowaku no Toki. (That dude scared the shit out of me when I first played Kowaku.) These two are very different beings, but both get classified as some kind of "youma", which is a monster born from negative emotions. Some are mindless creatures driven by primal urges, while others are incredibly intelligent beings with god-like powers. In In'youchuu we follow a group of monster hunters-The Monster Subjugation Division: The Black Cats- who can use different kinds of spiritual and magical powers to destroy these creatures. (Let's make it simple and call them "The Black Cats.") The four members of The Black Cats are Yamato, our protagonist, a half-demon who mainly relies on brute force when fighting. He's a big pervert, and is definitely not the brains of the operation. Then there is Mikoto, the oldest of the Shiratori twins, Mikoto and Takeru Shiratori. She might be the "oldest" of the two, but she is also the most immature of the girls. She always gets in arguments with Yamato, and gets scolded by her little sister, Takeru, for not thinking before she acts on a frequent basis. She hates doing paperwork and will do anything to get out of it. While she is not as well-versed in magic as her sister, she wields a powerful weapon, The Spirit Blade Raikou, and likes to fight in close combat like Yamato. Takeru, the youngest twin, is a cool and collected fighter who always analyzes the situation before charging in, unlike the other two. If not for her, Yamato and Mikoto would surely have gotten themselves killed already. Finally there is Yoru, the leader of the Black Cats and the reason for the group's name. He is a nekotama, a cat spirit. I said Yamato is not the brains of the operation due to his pervertendess and well, Yoru is... the same. He might be the leader, but Takeru is the one making the calls when it counts. Meanwhile, Yoru is off doing... this. (Told you there was some goofy content in these games ) From left to right we have Yoru, Mikoto and Takeru And here is Yamato In'Youchuu starts off with Takeru being sent to a school up in the mountains where there have been reports of monsters popping up at night. However, she never reports back to The Black Cats, and goes silent. Concerned about what could have happened, Yoru sends Mikoto and Yamato to the school to investigate Takeru's disappearance, and the nightmare begins. Yamato and Mikoto start investigating the school, though find no signs of Takeru on the first night. She simply seems to have vanished. Meanwhile, there are clear signs of monsters hiding somewhere in the school, and the duo heads there at night when monsters are most active. At this point, you are given choices rather frequently, usually with each fight. One wrong choice and you will be sent off to a bad ending, where horrible things will usually happen to the characters. Trying to avoid these bad endings is in my opinion part of the excitment in playing these games. Make a wrong turn and you get "punished", as the characters fails, (though you could see this as a reward depending on how you look at it,) and if you make the right choice the story continues. Though, this does of course not mean you are guaranteed to be victorious. There are times where things just goes south, which is to be expected in games these dark. A standard group of youma that you will encounter a lot. These are the mindless sort, that feeds off human organs and are driven solely by primal urges: hunger and the need to breed. At the school we are introduced to some familiar faces, like Momono Momo and Sumire from Hanamaru! And also get introduced to a new face, Sui, a childhood friend of Yamato who gets pulled into the chaos that is unfolding at the shcool. Eventually you start to figure out what is going on, and meet the first big bad of the Aojiru games: Nightmare. He is a humanoid youma with horse features, that feasts on the wombs of women and aims to create an army of monsters by making the women he eat into breeding machines. Needless to say, he is not a nice guy. Some of the bad endings with this guy... phew. Erhem, anyways. In'Youchuu offers some pretty cool fight scenes, with everything from chuuni chants to epic battle CGs. Of course, I don't want to hype this part of the games up too much. Like, you shouldn't go into these games expecting Dies Irae level fight scenes. But, they are definitely enjoyable, and there is often at least one big climax at the end with some pretty cool stuff. There's tons of fight scenes, but the one big one towards the end often uses a lot more budget in the CG department, heh. Nightmare. He looks both hilarious and terrifying if you ask me, heh. Yamato in his transformed state, during a battle. Being a half-demon, he is capable of transforming himself into a demon for a short time, though it takes a huge toll on his mind and body. Yoru, after going into combat mode. Yes, he is a badass. I obviously have not linked too many NSFW images in this blog post. There is a lot of that in In'Youchuu, naturally. A lot. But, you can find them yourselves, I'm sure. What I wanted to do with this post was introduce more of the serious side of In'Youchuu, and in turn, Aojiru games as a whole. These games aren't just tentacle nukige with some dark scenes. Sure, there's lots of that, but there's much more to them. There's actual stories here, with well developed worlds and characters. I fell in love with these games because of the mix of seriousness and dark H. I am also just a huge fan of Aojiru's art in general. I really hope an Aojiru game gets picked up for localization one day. Heck, maybe I'll be able to translate one myself down the line. That would be pretty exciting. Anyways, if you do speak Japanese, I recommend giving one of these games a try. Who knows, maybe you'll enjoy the ride more than you expected. A lot of people see "nukige" and brush the games off as bad right off the bat, which is why I'm not overly fond of that branding. Yes, with the amount of H in these, it probably does fit to call them nukige, but there's also so much more to them. That is it for my post on In'Youchuu 1. Next blog post will either be about the sequel, Shoku, or Kowaku no Toki, one of my favorites. I still haven't decided which one to go with yet. Either way, see you again then.
  10. 1 point
    The Aojiru verse: Entry #1: An introduction This is the first in a series of blog posts I will be making about the "Aojiru verse", referring to a series of Tinkerbell games drawn by Aojiru, which includes popular games such as Kowaku no Toki, In'Youchuu etc. Tinkerbell has quickly become one of my favorite VN devs ever, specifically because of the games drawn by Aojiru. I have bought all of the games in the Aojiru verse, and have slowly but surely made my way through them. While I am not done with every single game yet, I have played enough to start making these blog posts. I will be doing a few specific game spotlights of my favorites later on, though this entry will mainly introduce the Aojiru verse in general. The next entry will talk more specifics about what to expect from Aojiru games in general, as well as a game spotlight of the first major title in the series, In'Youchuu 1. The "Aojiru verse" started in 2004 with Hanamaru! While Aojiru drew two other games for Tinkerbell before this, Okite no Shima and Hidamari no Kage de, these do not share any characters or story with the games that followed, so Hanamaru! becomes the game that basically started the "Aojiru verse". Hanamaru! Is interesting in that it is a completely vanilla game, without any real dark content at all, though it's still set in the Aojiru verse, which mainly consists of very dark stories. Very dark stories. Aojiru has drawn a few more games similar to Okite no Shima/ Hidamari no Kage de that are not counted in the Aojiru verse due to being done by different writing staff, and generally not fitting the tone of the Aojiru verse games at all. (The creative team behind most of his games have been the same, which has probably been one of the main reasons why they were turned into this one big universe.) Though, while most of the games in the Aojiru verse share characters and stories, there are some that do not, but that are still counted in the Aojiru verse. I have a list of all of them below. Games colored in green are important to understanding the overall plot in future games, and are considered "must reads." Yellow means they share characters/ plotlines with other games to some extent, and are recommended, but not needed. Red means they have little or no connection to the rest of the universe. They are still a part of the universe, though can be skipped completely if you want. This also means you can START with these games if you want, as they are standalone. The current Aojiru verse: 2004-2009 The beginning of the Aojiru verse, consisting of games all tied together in some way Hanamaru! (2004) - Introduces characters and story elements relevant in later stories such as In'Youchuu, Kowaku no Toki etc - Chou no Yume (2005) - Happens before the other stories in the current Aojiru verse, but is confirmed to be a part of the story in Hanamru! 2, and simply happens way earlier, in the 1600s - In'youchuu ~Ryoujoku Gakuen Taimaroku~ (2005) - Shares characters, story and a setting with Hanamaru! + introduces many new, important characters to the Aojiru verse. It is considered one of the, if not the best Aojiru game. It is definitely the most iconic - In'youchuu Shoku ~Ryoushokutou Taimaroku~ (2006) - A direct sequel to Gakuen, introduces Ouka and Kikuka - Kowaku no Toki (2007) - Somewhat standalone, though does use both Ouka and Kikuka, showing what they do after Shoku. Also shares a general setting with In'Youchuu, and introduces youma with different appearances and abilities from the ones found In'Youchuu games - Hanamaru! 2 (2008) - Shares characters from ALL of the previous games, and introduces the idea of a multiverse. No, I am not kidding, this is marvel cinematic level shit. The game is mainly pure comedy, though it has dark scenarios for each heroine available in a side menu, so fans of the standard Aojiru games won't be disappointed - In'youchuu Etsu ~Kairaku Henka Taimaroku~ (2009) - Introduces new characters relevant in future In'Youchuu games, teaches you more about the origin of youma - 2010-2014 The following period took a step back from the previous style of crossovers, introducing new stories and characters to the Aojiru verse, without needing knowledge of previous works Mouryou no Nie (2010), Kuraibito (2012), Kagome no Mayu (2013): - All confirmed to be in the same universe as In'Youchuu, introducing other sides of the world. No shared characters - Fuka no Jugoku ~Ugomeku Moushuu no Rensa... Owari no Nai Kyouen~ (2014)... - A standalone game seemingly unrelated to the rest of the universe, though based on the content and staff working on it, it's in one of the universes introduced in Hanamru 2 not related to In'Youchuu. It's an extremely dark thriller / horror game not for the faint of heart - 2014-2019 Releasing only games without any shared characters seemingly did not pay off too well, as the following period goes back to creating several new games int he In'Youchuu series, whilst also creating some new stories (Since I have not had the time to play each one of these titles yet, some of them will lack detailed information) In'youchuu Gaiden (2014) - Side stories setting up for the new In'Youchuu game, Kyou. Can be skipped since it's a side story, though I recommend reading it - In'youchuu Kyou ~Ryoujoku Byoutou Taimaroku~ (2014) - Introduces a whole new set of characters. While they have been mentioned in passing during previous games, they have not showed up yet- In'youchuu Kyou ~Kuon no Hime Miko~ (2015) - Side story to Kyou - Sarai no Me (2015) - Standalone horror game - In'youchuu Rei ~Ryoujoku Shiro Taima Emaki~ (2016) - Sequel to Kyou - In'youchuu Goku ~Ryoujoku Jigoku Taimaroku~ (2016) - Squel to Goku - Shin'yaku In'youchuu (2017) - A remake of the original In'Youchuu, mixing in the new characters from Kyou/ Rei/ Goku. It has a new artstyle, and some parts of the story has been re-done. It is considered canon in the In'Youchuu game, and basically works as both a reboot and a sequel to Goku. In short, it's basically just a modernized re-telling of the first In'youchuu story with the new characters mixed in - Shin'yaku In'youchuu - Shiro Neko Honpo Hen & Tsukishiro ... (2017) - Side story, can be skipped, shows what other chars not in Goku were doing during those events - Grand Guignol no Yoru (2018) - Standalone horror game - Mugen no Sakura ~Hitsuya-hime Injoku Youshokutan~ (2019) - Standalone fantasy game where elves from another world flee into ours for sanctuary, as they are hunted by a mad sorcerer. No standard youma are present, and there are no shared characters or lore to the previous games, so it's considered completely standalone - Hanamaru: With the general introduction to the Aojiru verse out of the way, let us quickly talk about Hanamaru. There really is not all that much to say, so I'll make it quick. (The next game spotlights will be much more detailed, of course.) It is honestly a fairly average moege. It's cute, it's fun, but that's about it. As someone who likes the Aojiru verse for its dark content, I wasn't really that interested in this game. But, it does set up the world that In'Youchuu is built on, so it's definitely still important. It's clear in the small details of the writing that the creative team were going to take this to a dark place. They just did not do it in Hanamaru itself. There are magical beings in our world, some good and some evil. Hanamru only really shows us the good ones, but introduces the idea of evil ones existing. You don't really get many answers to where these beings come from or why they are the way they are. These answers come later in the In'Youchuu games. But, this helps create a mysterious atmosphere to the game, which will be picked up again when the main characters of In'Youchuu travel to the school where Hanamaru is set to solve a case of a large amount of youma, (monsters, I'll get into details about them in the next entry,) have invaded the school. You are also introduced to Momono Momo, who is actually a monster hunter herself. Though, she does work actively anymore, and rarely shows her skills on screen. She is also the character with the most cameos in all of Aojiru's games, and has become the games' mascot. Anyways, the tl;dr of Hanamaru is: cute moe with a bit of a dark undertone that is picked up again in the games that follows it. Here is the game's opening. Personally I find the song incredibly catchy. That is it for this entry. In the next entry I will explain more in detail what to expect of the Aojiru verse games in general, as well as introduce the first big entry in the universe, In'Youchuu.
  11. 1 point
    VNDB DLSite (NSFW) Official site I came across this Japanese-language title while scrounging around for gameplay titles with defeat rape. I found the concept of defeat NTR intriguing, so I gave the game a spin. The game's "prologue" spans almost half the game's length (~20hrs total) , and manages to tell a reasonably interesting tale of a broken nation's struggle against a brutal and militaristic empire. It starts off with a cliched love story between a knight commander (the protagonist) and his foster father's daughter, but it's spiced by twists and turns and political intrigue. The protagonist is cliche to the extreme, but it works because fate isn't always on his side, and his naivety often works to his disadvantage. The characters are mostly standard cookie cutter stereotypes. The plot twists are believable despite the shallow setting and characterization, and these are what keep the story interesting. The prologue also serves as a tutorial for the battle system. Once the prologue is over, the map opens up and the player is free to begin conquest, with the eventual goal of toppling the empire. Movement takes place in real time, but combat consists of turn-based one-on-one battles. The combat is fairly simple: the force with a larger army and higher base stats wins. The general can use skills that can affect the course of battle, but simply speaking the side with the most resources to buy soldiers wins (I played on Platinum difficulty). As such, the best strategy is to quickly zerg resources and upgrade your units. For the most part enemies play by the same resource rules, so depriving them of resources early on makes the mid game a bit easier. Clearing the map took me between 10-15 hours. If you play your cards right, the hero prevails and ends up with his favored heroine. Let your heroines fall into the hands of the empire, and after a period of time they'll get NTR'd. There's also mini-events sprinkled about like landmines that can get a heroine or two NTR'd if you take a wrong step. The story and gameplay are simple but entertaining. For a doujin group, the quality is impressive, but the production values don't match up to heavy hitters like Eushully and Alicesoft. This is a basically a niche title for those who are tickled by the defeat NTR gimmick, and that's the audience this game should satisfy. If you subtract out the abundant avoidable NTR content, the ratio of sexual content is actually quite low. The developer Makura Cover Soft is working on a sequel that should be coming out this year, and looks like more of the same but on a bigger scale: more nations, more heroines, and some added systems. I liked how this game took a cliche JRPG plot and mellowed the sickly sweet moe with the threat of bitter NTR, so I'll probably check it out when it's released. Score: 7/10 (Good) Recommended for fans of simple strategy gameplay who are interested in defeat NTR.
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