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Showing most liked content since 10/17/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. 8 points
    Hello there, all you good people still following my content-starved blog! There will be no regular review post this week (I’ll be catching up next week with one about Reine Work’s Our Lovely Escape, and hopefully a week after that with one of the long-overdue games sent to me for review), but I’ve wanted to take this opportunity to share the reasons behind the recent slowdown on the site and talk a bit my plans for the future. A warning: this will contain a lot of personal musings that most of you are probably not very interested in. However, I kind of need this opportunity to vent and reset. I’ll add a tl;dr version at the end of this post. Outside of my, not-extremely-successful attempt to jumpstart a new wave of activity on Fuwanovel, there have been a few other things happening behind the scenes. The major one was my academic project on visual novel fan translations, which led me to submitting a paper for an international fan studies conference in Cracow. Preparing the speech in English (this was the first time I wasn’t speaking in Polish on such an event), running a survey with people involved in fan translation projects… It all took a lot out of me and gave me little time and energy to actually enjoy VNs as such. It also coincided with a minor health issue, which despite its non-threatening nature made it impossible for me to sit straight for nearly two weeks – a truly infuriating thing when you should be working on your computer and are basically running out of time. This was probably a major factor which destroyed my motivation for working on the project, which in turn made it be the most painful and depressing one to date. I, however, still made my short presentation in the presence of prof. Matt Hills, one of the most influential researchers in my obscure field of study, and learned quite a lot from other speakers. Here’s some photographic proof, courtesy of my girlfriend who once more agreed to help me inflate my ego by documenting my speech. 😉 As you can see, I was asking the Heavens to help me and my listeners to get through those 20+ minutes of my horrible English accent. Not sure to what degree my prayers were heard, but at least there were no fatalities. Oh, and in the lower-left corner, it’s Matt Hills. That was both awesome and terrifying. And here’s a rare moment where my conference ID wasn’t hanging backwards! You can see the fear in my eyes – one would think after nearly 10 similar presentations I’d be a little bit calmer, but it’s apparently in my nature to stress out over everything. And here’s me taking one of two questions that were still possible to ask after I’ve used all the discussion time for my way-too-long PowerPoint slideshow. And yup, I will insert Flowers whenever that's even remotely appropriate. Suou x Rikka forever. You can't stop me! While, in general, my project was fruitful and I’m satisfied with my performance, I also ended up so physically and emotionally drained that I’ve ditched the other two days of the conference, just enjoying my time in Cracow. Even after coming back, I had a day of what could be described as a full-on breakdown before I kind of got my shit together. All this, of course, has some very real consequences for the blog: for quite a while, I didn’t have the time and energy to really read VNs. And, obviously, without any new material to cover, I didn’t write anything either. It’s the first time since establishing the Blogger site that I have no “emergency” posts to use or quick ideas to supplement more involved write-ups with, even despite switching to the biweekly schedule. And honestly, I don’t expect to write much in-advance anymore. The “one post every two weeks” frequency is here to stay and I’m going to be flexible about it, switching content and dates when necessary. The other thing is that I still want to make the blog a little bit more of my personal space. I’ve kept up the regular stream of content both to become a better writer and to prove a few things to myself. I think I’m satisfied with what I’ve achieved, and while I’m definitely not discarding the general profile of the blog and the responsibilities I’ve taken upon myself (like covering the games sent to me), I’m going to have fun with it too. Write silly stuff connected to the weeb culture and my peculiar experience with it. I’ve already hinted at this at the beginning of the summer, but I’m even more determined to make it happen now. No hobby I’ve picked up over the years was this intellectually stimulating and satisfying as this one and I want to do all I can to keep it this way– I can't let things go too stale. And while I’m doing all this weird stuff and overthinking things, I hope you guys will stay and still read my crappy writing. Exploring the creativity and passion of EVN devs is not something I’ll ever get tired of, and I hope we can enjoy their stuff together for years to come. Thank you all for following my work, and until next week! tl;dr I’ve been to a fan studies conference which, together with minor health issues, ate a month and a half of my life. I’ll get back to “serious” posting next week, returning to the bi-weekly schedule. I might sneak in some weird posts about Japanese popculture between “proper” EVN ones. EVNs are love, EVNs are life (still). See you next week for actual content!
  2. 5 points
    Maggot Baits is something of a Holy Grail of dark eroge, highly anticipated guro fans within the Western VN community and often hyped as possibly the greatest achievement of the company that produced it, Clock Up. As one the most gruesome VNs ever produced, and quite likely the most brutal one ever brought to the West, it contains dozens upon dozens of violent sex scenes, all accompanied by intricate CGs, with small variations in them so numerable that they sum to nearly 2500 unique illustrations. All of that placed in a highly-unique, modern-fantasy setting populated by amazingly-crafted characters and tackling interesting philosophical and religious topics. While it’s pretty much the furthest possible thing from what I usually write about on this blog, few games intrigued me as much as this one, particularly after my inconsistent, but extremely interesting experience with Clock Up’s another famous title, euphoria. Everything I’ve heard about Maggot Baits suggested that it was both more extreme and overall better than studio’s other bestseller, and after reading it to completion, I felt the need to share my thoughts about it in detail. Both because it’s a pretty fascinating case of strengths and pitfalls of this breed of eroge, and to warn those interested in it as a piece of storytelling – while in many ways an incredible achievement, this game is extremely hard to recommend for a “normie” reader such as myself. Why is that exactly? Before I go into story details, it’s most important to deal with Maggot Baits’ greatest issue – its structure and general storytelling formula. This game is, at its core, a guro nukige and it’s incredibly dedicated to this template. It throws h-scenes at you at very consistent intervals, disregarding whatever might be going on in the story and sacrificing any sense of pacing or tension so it can constantly offer a new piece of violent hentai. Quite often, the scenes are not important for, or even directly connected to what’s happening in the plot, pretty much pausing the whole narrative to insert a new piece of fanservice. In this, it goes even further than euphoria, which did a much better job intertwining its scenes with the story and had a bit more restraint in the most dramatic and meaningful parts of the plot. Maggot Baits even goes to the length of adding a major side-branch in the first chapter of the story, which is nothing but 3-4 hours of futanari porn leading to a bad ending. All of it narratively empty and pretty much derailing your experience if you expect any kind of interesting reveals or a meaningful conclusion within it. I still don’t understand why it was a part of the main story, and especially inserted so early in the game, before you build any connection to the characters involved or can understand the full implications of what is happening in those scenes. Maggot Baits’ possibly greatest strength lays in its characters – both “heroes” and “villains” have complex motivations and their actions, as cruel as they might be, are hardly ever plain good or evil There’s also one more crucial issue that should be made clear for anyone approaching this game simply looking for a dark, gore-filled story. The fetish-serving character of Maggot Baits means it’s full of a very specific brand of gore – sexualized violence on female characters. The near-immortality of the witches is a useful gimmick allowing the game's creators to push the abuse to its logical boundaries without killing off characters every time (although even this goes with a caveat that rape is way more prevalent in the h-scenes than actual bloody torture). While there’s a bit of general blood and guts, and a bit of chuunige-style fighting, most of it is conveyed in the form of text rather than shown in CGs. The massive focus on porn also means the actual story content is smaller and less developed than both the length of the game (20+ hours) and the incredible amount of visual assets would suggest. I’ve spent hours simply skipping through h-scenes that didn’t seem to have any plot relevance and quickly scanning through those that I felt could offer some bits of worthwhile information or character development, trying to get to the next story bit. While in euphoria one could argue there was some kind of balance between the story and hentai, here all the efforts were ultimately aimed at serving the guro porn, with the narrative being the icing on top of it and never really prioritized. And that’s to the point where even some guro fans might find the experience a bit overindulgent and tedious – there’s only that much stimuli you can take in before going numb. At the same time, it’s absolutely impossible to argue with the game’s production quality. The writing is excellent, including the greatest h-scene text I’ve seen to date. While the visuals left me mostly indifferent after a short while, despite their truly extreme and detailed nature, the gruesome, vivid descriptions accompanying them did a good job at keeping me uneasy. In many ways it surpassed writing of euphoria, really focusing on the psychological dynamic of the torture scenes rather than just absurd lines spewed by the heroines (those are still present, but I’m not sure that part of h-scene dialogue can be done in a way that doesn’t feel absurd to me). All of it is accompanied by extremely unsettling and suggestive voice acting and sounds, both done in a way that is probably hard to find anywhere outside of Clock Up games. Music is properly gritty and dynamic, underlining the brutal and hopeless atmosphere of the whole experience. While the game’s writing is, for the most part, stellar, even if it can’t escape some awkward exposition and over-the-top edginess But, I haven’t even started on what this game is exactly about? Maybe I’m subconsciously avoiding this part, as it’s both not easy to explain and hard to talk about without spoilers. The general outline features Tsunuga Shougo, a former policeman, on an extremely-bloody path of revenge against powers controlling Kantou’s Pandemonium – a lawless city carved out of modern Japan, infested by powerful, supernatural beings known as Disaster’s Witches. Those apparently immortal women, unbeatable through conventional means, are what transformed the Pandemonium into an exterritorial den of vice and murder, populated by the worst scum this world knows – their origins and purpose, however, are a complete mystery to both the outside world and the witches themselves. During the game’s plot Tsunuga’s self-destructive quest, aided by a few of the witches and most closely connected to the one known as Carol, will (accidentally) uncover the meaning behind the existence of Pandemonium and all the insane happenings within it. And all of this happens with the brutal "witch hunts", capturing the seemingly-invincible women and thoroughly testing the limits of their immortal bodies, happening in the background. The setup, despite relying on some tired eroge tropes (primarily “the magic of semen”, which serves as one of the main sources of power for the witches), is pretty awesome and the primary characters in the story are even better. There’s little place for black and white morality in Maggot Baits’ world, with even the protagonist and the three “good” witches allied with him committing various atrocities. At the same time, outside of random, sadistic henchmen and thugs, there’s also no evil for the sake of evil. Shimon, the main antagonist of the story, is a prime example of this, having his hands in some incredibly despicable acts, but doing all of them as part of his work towards a very surprising and arguably noble goal. Even the other memorable villain, the brutal witch Sandy, proves to be much more than just a sadist murdering people and hunting her own kind for sports, despite the first impression she gives. As the story progresses, few things in Pandemonium stay as they first appeared to be and I found most of the twists and reveals the game offered quite fantastic. The love story component of the game is both well done and in line with the dark, tragic nature of its setting, despite a few questionable narrative choices There’s also the romantic subplot between Shougo and Carol, the thing which earned the game its “pure love story” categorisation. This develops between two playthroughs: after you finish the game for the first time and reach the first proper ending (at this point there’s just one choice in the whole game, leading to the aforementioned futanari side-arc), you get a few extra choices unlocked, making it possible to steer Shougo in a slightly different direction. This allows for the troubled romantic subplot to blossom and the game to reach its true ending – not necessarily “better” than the first one when it goes to its overall tone, but more fulfilling from the viewpoint of the protagonist. There’s actually a very interesting dynamic between the two endings, as the first one introduces some extremely intriguing religious and philosophical themes, like various understandings and meanings of love, and concludes the story with a utopia being born out of the hell of Kantou’s Pandemonium. For me, it was absolutely the most engrossing and thought-provoking moment in the game – to the point that the true ending, even though it iterated on the first one's ideas and featured a few interesting twists of its own, felt kind of bland in comparison. And all of this would be truly great, if not cut into tiny pieces by the relentless stream of h-content. The game bends itself at every turn to squeeze additional fanservice and outdo itself in its extreme nature. Sometimes it’s truly unique and disturbing, sometimes plain laughable (my personal favourite being the pig sex scene from the aforementioned futanari arc). Most importantly, though, it’s simply not worth going through for anyone reading VNs for the story and not being specifically interested in guro porn. I don’t regret reading Maggot Baits, as I was simply too curious to not check it out, but it’s quite likely the last game of this type and the last Clock Up title I’ll ever read. And ultimately, I can only suggest avoiding those to the vast majority of VN readers – while euphoria had its share of problems, it compensated for it with the excellent climate and by expertly integrating much of its h-content with the flow and leading themes of its story. This game, on the other hand, is just a dark nukige – a damn good one, but truly worthwhile only for the very specific subset of readers for whom guro is a reward in itself, and the story is just a fun bonus. If that’s you, you can grab this game without a second thought. If not… There are infinitely better ways to spend 45 dollars and 20+ hours of your time. Final Rating: 3/5 Pros: + Awesome quality of the visuals + Tons of CGs + Excellent characters + Great Soundtrack + Serious approach to its main themes Cons: - No consideration for pacing - …like, none at all - A lot of h-scenes feel forced and repetitive VNDB page Buy Maggot Baits on MagngaGamer Store
  3. 4 points
    This scene is the opening of Silverio Vendetta, and the two monologues (one from Zephyr, one from a spoiler character who isn't named in the scene) define the nature of the game's theme. “勝利”とは、何だ? What is victory? “栄光”とは、何だ? What is glory? それを得れば、何も失わずに済むのだろうか I choose that path, will I be able to live without losing anything? 救えるのか。守れるのか。本当に、幸せになれるのだろうか Can I save what is mine? Can I protect it? Can I really find happiness?  問いは切実。なぜなら、勝利というものはとても恐ろしいものだから。それが輝きの内に秘めている毒牙を、俺は誰より痛感している。 I ask this earnestly. For victory is by nature frightening to me. I know the poisoned fangs hidden within its glorious light better than anyone.   身の丈を超えた栄誉、使い切れないほどの大金、人目に付かざるを得ない大成功……そういったものはどうしても過剰摂取してしまった途端、逆に所有者を苦しめにかかる。 Honors that leave capability in the dust, more money than one can spend, success that can't help but be noticed... Those things can't help but cause the holder suffering the moment they overdose upon them.   つまりは反作用。 In other words, it is a reaction.   分かりやすいところでは敗者からの妬みつらみに有名税、人物像の一人歩きに、あらぬ期待や噂話。過激なものでは殺害予告、崇拝脅迫などなどと…… Amongst the more obvious would be jealousy from the defeated, the price of fame, the public's view differing from reality, and unfounded rumors and expectations. The more extreme end can even go to death threats, worship, blackmail, etc...  悪意か、あるいは逆に暴走した善意ゆえか。どちらにしても恐ろしいことには変わりなく。 Whether it is malice or berserk good will, they are both terrifying.   それは時として単純な敗北を上回る激痛と化し、更なる破滅の呼び水となる。 At times, that even becomes a suffering far more terrible than simple defeat, and it can even become the cause of utter ruin.   大きな事業が成功した代償に、愛する家族に累が及べば本末転倒。それと同じだ。 It is the same as losing your family as the cost for succeeding in business. It's counterproductive.   時としてここは負けておくだとか、少し遠慮をしてみせるとか、そういった配慮が必要な瞬間は間違いなく存在している。勝てば官軍とは早々いかない It is an absolute truth that there are times when it is best to consider allowing defeat or showing humility.  無論、だからといって勝利するなと言っているわけでもないのだ。そんなことを真剣に語るやつは心底馬鹿だし、目が曇っていると言う他ない。 Of course, I'm not saying 'don't win'. Anyone who says that is a total idiot and is blind to reality.   人ならば誰しも、いいやどんな生物であろうと例外なく勝利という結果を目指す。それが自然で、当たり前の行動原理だ。そもそも負けてばかりでは生きることさえ難しく、無制限に敗者を許してくれるほど世の中は甘い形に出来てはいない。 Humans... no all living things regardless of origin seek a victorious result. That way of being is perfectly natural and a matter of course. It is truly rare that victory is unadulterated. In the first place, if you are always on the losing side, it is hard to even live, and the world isn't so kind as to infinitely forgive the defeated.   だからそいつの器に見合った勝利と、妥協できる程度の敗北。その一線を見極めて行動するのが充実した人生を送るコツではなかろうかと、思わざるを得ないのだ。 That's why the ideal is to seek victories one is capable of handling and defeats one is capable of accepting. I can't help but believe that the key to living a full life is acting while keeping an eye on that thin line. 大きな夢を目指すことで惨めに敗れるくらいなら、最初から挑戦せずにそこそこの勝負で済ませておくのが最も賢く、傷も浅い……と。 'Rather than suffering a terrible defeat as the result of pursuing a great dream, it is much smarter and less painful to avoid challenging your limits and be satisfied with minor victories and losses...' 反吐の出そうな弱者の論理展開だがこれを口にしているやつは存外多く、かくいう俺もその一人。 That's the nauseating thought process of the weak, but there are a lot of people out there who talk this way... and I am one of them. 卑小? 凡人? そうだな、指摘されてもその通り。自分自身でよく分かっているよ。予め負けた時のために予防線を張っているだけだろうと誹られても、まったく、ぐうの音も出ない Pathetic? Mediocre? Yes, what you are saying is correct. I know that very well. Even if you say I'm just making excuses for the time I lose in advance, I can't refute you. そうだとも、俺は小物だ。 That's right, I'm a pathetic man. 人としても男としても、小さな器しか持っていない。 Whether as a person or a man, I am only capable of so much. 大した理想や信念もなくその日暮らしの金銭さえ手に入れられれば満足という、翻弄される風見鶏。 I live without any real ideals or convictions, an opportunist who is quite satisfied as long as he can make enough money to live day by day. 受動的、かつ厭世的。ただ一言、情けない。 I'm passive as well as pessimistic. To sum me up in a single word... pathetic. けれど── However... それでもただ一つ、言い訳をさせてもらうなら悟ったまでの人生について具申したい。 Still, if you'll let me make one excuse, I would like to report on the life I lived until I came to this realization. 俺は何も負け続けたからこうなったわけではなく、求めてもいない勝利のせいでこうなってしまったのだから。 I didn't end up this way because I kept losing but rather because of an unwanted set of victories. そう──勝てば碌なことにはならない。 That's right... nothing good comes of winning. 必ず、より強大な姿となって次の苦難が訪れる。 Without fail, the next, much larger tribulation follows it up. それは冗談みたいな言葉だが俺にとっては紛うことなく真実だった。 That might seem like some kind of joke... but it was an absolute truth for me. 本当に、ああ本当に、いつもいつも、いつもいつもいつもいつも…… Really, oh really... every time, always, always always... 敵に、任務に、難問に、勝負に、勝ったところで状況が一向に改善されない。それどころか、難易度がアップした状態で似たような事態が連続するという始末。まったく訳が分からない。 Whether an enemy, a mission, a difficult question, or a competition, achieving victory fails to improve the situation. Moreover, I found myself facing similar situations at escalating levels of difficulty. Seriously, what's with that? 身をすり減らして勝った途端、より恐るべき難題が必ず目の前にふりかかる。 The moment I won by running myself ragged, an even worse problem would always, without exception, pop up before me. 血反吐をはいて生き抜いた途端、どこからか容易に超えざる大敵が次は俺の番だと出現してくる。 The moment I came out victorious, puking blood, another great enemy would appear before me. まるで運命という宝箱をぶちまけでもしたかのように。際限なく湧き出てくる次の問題、次の敵、次の次の次の次の──勝者が負わねばならぬ義務。 It was almost as if the contents of fate's treasure box were scattered before me. Problems, enemies, and every tribulation you could possibly imagine welling forth endlessly... the duty a victor must bear. おまえは見事に勝ったのだから、栄光を手にしたのだから、次のステージに進むのは当然でより相応しい争いに身を投じなければならないとでも? Is the world saying that, since I won, since I achieved glory that proceeding to the next stage is a matter of course, and I have to throw myself into a more fitting conflict? それが勝者の宿命だから? ふざけろよ、こんな馬鹿げた話があるか Because that is the duty of a victor? Screw that! Can there be anything more idiotic than this?! 誰しもみな現状をより良くしたいから勝利や栄光を願うのに、なぜか俺に限ってはそれが自らの首を絞めていくのだから、不条理という他ないだろう。 Everyone seeks victory and glory to make their present better, but for some reason, in my case, that just strangles me. You can't call that anything other than absurdity. そして当然、凡人なのだから負けもする。いいやむしろ、何も出来ずに地を這う方が多いくらいだ。 And of course, since I'm just a normal person, I lose as well. No, it was actually more common for me to be crawling the earth, helpless. それが嫌だから研鑽を積み、慣れない努力に手を伸ばしたこともある。 There was a time when, because I didn't like that, I took the unfamiliar path of working hard. けれど勝てば、決まって訪れる次の困難。永遠に脱出不能の蟻地獄。頭がどうにかなりそうだった。 However, if I won, I was doomed to face the next tribulation. It was a hellish existence I was incapable of escaping. I felt like I was going to go mad. そんな状態に置かれて尚不屈の意志を保てるほど、人の心は強くない。 Placed into that kind of situation, the human heart isn't so strong as to be able to maintain an indomitable will. だから、俺はもう十分だと疲れ果てて。 And so, I decided I had enough, exhausted. このまま、ただ流されて生きることを選択し。 I chose to live going with the flow. 自分が塵だということを、嫌になるほど受け入れたのに。 Though I hated it, I even accepted the fact that I was worthless trash. けれど── However... それでも、守らなければならない子が出来たから。 Yest still, I found a girl I had to protect. 彼女を救うために、このちっぽけな命を懸けると誓った。ゆえに後もう一度だけと奮い立たせて、再起する。 I vowed to use this pathetic life to save her. For that reason, I forced myself to stand and go forth once again. 一世一代、最後の博打。そして俺は何の因果か勝ってしまい…… It was a once in a lifetime, final gamble... and for some reason I won... どうしようもなく“勝利”を手にしてしまったのだ。 And I achieved yet another terrible victory. それがすなわち、地獄への片道切符に変貌するということをついぞ甘くみたままに…… I foolishly failed to realize that that was doomed to transform into a one-way trip to hell... (at this point, it changes narrators from Zephyr to another) 死神が呼び寄せられる。手に負えない艱難辛苦が訪れる。 The grim reaper is called forth. Trials and tribulations beyond my ability to handle arrive. 守り抜くなど絶対不可能。勝者へは永遠に至れない。 Protecting her to the end is absolutely impossible. He will never become a true victor. 訪れる次の大敵──次の不幸。次の苦難。次の破滅。 What comes is another enemy, another misfortune, another tribulation, another ruin. 掴み取ったはずの未来は暗黒に蝕まれたまま続行していく。 The future he thought he'd reached continues to move forward, eaten away by darkness. むしろ手にした奇跡を呼び水に、よりおぞましい新たな試練を組み込んで運命を駆動させるのだ。 Rather, the miracle he managed to create becomes fuel for another challenge, turning the wheels of fate. それが“逆襲”と呼ばれるものの本質。 That is the nature of a 'counterattack'. 弱者が強者を滅ぼすからこそ成立する概念は、ゆえ逆説的に、勝利の栄華を手にしてしまえば執行資格を失ってしまう。 As it is a concept that exists through the weak destroying the strong, if the glory of victory is achieved, the right to use it is lost. ……彼は永遠の負け犬、呪われた銀の人狼。 ... He is an eternal loser, the cursed silver werewolf. 常に敗亡の淵で嘆きながらあらゆる敵を巨大な咢門で噛み砕く、痩せさらばえた負の害獣。 The gaunt evil beast who crushes all enemies in its great jaws while howling its despair from the depths of defeat. 次にやって来る狩人が更に凶悪な存在になると分かっていても、自分自身の宿命から逃れられずに足掻いている。 He continues to struggle, even though he knows that the next hunter will be even more terrible than the last, unable to escape his destiny. “勝利”からは逃げられない。 It is impossible to escape from victory. “勝利”からは逃げられない。 It is impossible to escape from victory. “勝利”からは逃げられない。 It is impossible to escape from victory. 「ならば────」 "Then..." ──さあ、どうするか? ... now, what will you do?
  4. 3 points
    First, as I state in the title, I'm coming off my fifth playthrough (all paths and endings) of Tokyo Babel. As such, I am - very obviously - deeply fond of the game. I'm also a fan of the writer Higashide Yuuichirou (for reference, he also wrote Ayakashibito and the scenario for Fate/Apocrypha). However, in this post I wanted to address some of the complaints I get from those who play the game. First, I will address the major complaints I've taken personally from those who read or have read it untranslated, then those who read it translated. Untranslated 1. 'This doesn't feel like a Higashide game/isn't as good as his other games!' For better or worse, Higashide went in a different direction, style, and approach in Tokyo Babel in comparison to his previous works. Ayakashibito is the basis for most untranslated Higashide fanboys' love, but it needs to be said that anyone who has played the two games will barely see any resemblance beyond the writing style. Ayakashibito was about a young man struggling against the world as he tried to carve out a life for himself with his adoptive sister. His emotional struggles with unreasonable and unreasoning prejudice, as well as the active malice of powers both great and small, struck a chord in a lot of the people who read it. Moreover, it is by far the most slice-of-life focused of all Higashide's titles, whereas a huge portion of Tokyo Babel is fighting, preparation for fighting, and dealing with conspiracies. 2. 'I loved Dies Irae and this was recommended to me based on that, but it doesn't match up.' This one makes me laugh. Sorry, I'm not trying to be contemptuous, but, despite some surface resemblances, Tokyo Babel is wildly different from Dies Irae. Higashide is not a poet. Masada is. Higashide is calculating where Masada is impulsive. As such, I can honestly say the only resemblance between the two is that they both have a preference for fantasy and melodrama. Dies Irae is an opera, whereas Tokyo Babel is more straightforward and to the point, in comparison. 3. 'Why is there no ero? All his other games had ero, so why not this one?' I have to wonder if anyone but me was surprised at this one being the third most common complaint I got from those I recommended this game to. Yes, his other games have a mix of good and horrid ero (Ayakashibito is particularly infamous for its side-character scenes), but Tokyo Babel was written from beginning to end as an all-ages novel. Surprisingly, I agree with those who think the lack of ero in Tokyo Babel had a negative effect. To be blunt, I can't see Lilith not finding a way to shove Setsuna into Raziel's futon or failing to trap him in a room alone with Sorami... and that's setting aside several moments in her path that would have made for some great 'desperate and somber H' scenes. Higashide, for all that his ero scenes were sometimes awful (again, Ayakashibito), always made them relevant to the story and used them to enhance its flow... something many chuuni writers who utilize ero content fail to do. 4. 'What the heck is it with this game's weird mix of styles?!' I'm not an art bigot, so I'm not the best person to answer this question. This game's art style differs from previous Propeller games to a significant degree at times. Is that a good or bad thing? Hard to answer... though I do think the decision to make the main characters look younger than in previous games (with some exceptions) was questionable, lol. Translated 1. 'What is with the translation?!!!!'. Aah... this is the idiot argument. Sorry, but I've said this a thousand times before 'Japanese to English translation is an oxymoron'. Conjueror was pretty much the only translator brave enough to jump into translating something like Dies Irae or Tokyo Babel precisely because fans of this type of game are such a-holes when it comes to translations. Yes, it isn't perfect. Yes, it doesn't somehow magically mirror Higashide's brilliance perfectly. However, I would like to make a few major points for those who insist they could do better... Japanese has numerous concepts, sayings, and even casual phrasing that simply don't translate into English without a much larger number of words to fill in the gaps in the language. One reason I always recommend anyone who can read a game in Japanese (even if they have to use a parser and text hooker) do so is because it is impossible to perfectly replicate everything in a localization to English. It is possible to get across many concepts with creative language and a wide vocabulary in English, but that sometimes means spending minutes or even an hour on a single line, trying to create something that can somehow retain the best parts of the original. Chuuni translations tend to be awkward (both anime and games) because the language used requires more of this, and it becomes too easy to fall into the habit of robotically spewing out the translation instead of actually writing it into prose (look at the FGO cell phone game and you'll see what I mean). 2. 'This wasn't as dramatic as I thought it would be!' This one puzzles me... but then, I never played the game all the way through in English (I went up through the Miyako fight in Raziel's route to get an idea of what it was like), so maybe more was lost in the localization toward the middle and end than I thought. 3. 'The subject matter made me uncomfortable'... Ah yes, this one. To be honest, even I felt the remnants of my upbringing pounding on the doors of my psyche at times when I played this game. To be blunt, to anyone brought up in a devout Christian (or even Muslim) household, playing any of the routes can be enormously uncomfortable at times. By the nature of the process of 'suspending disbelief' that occurs when you read something fantasy, your prejudices and upbringing inevitably play into how you see the game. To be blunt, by Christian standards, this game is blasphemous, lol. In Japan, due to the way the divine is seen (impossible to explain if you haven't studied it, so I won't go into this here), this game doesn't feel that way. However, this game can cause some odd reactions in some Westerners. 4. 'I don't get the humor.' Sad to say, but a good portion of humor in Japanese VNs simply doesn't translate very well. The funniest scene in the game (in my opinion) is the drunken party in Sorami's path... but there are several points in this scene that don't translate (think plays on Japanese wording, puns, and phone number styles) that had me cracking up every time. Sad to say, but, for those playing translated JVNs, this is something you'll just have to live with. Conclusion I didn't really refute any of the complaints here... but I did try to address them. Tokyo Babel is one of the few of my favorite games that have been translated (though more of them have been in recent years, including Hapymaher and Dies Irae), but it is also the one of my translated favorites that is most likely not to be mentioned when someone is asking about this type of game.
  5. 2 points
    There were few EVNs in the last few years that I’ve seen seriously hyped up by other VN fans and brought to my attention through multiple recommendations and positive reviews – particularly beyond titles by a handful of relatively well-known and respected creators such as ebi-hime. The game I’ll be writing about today, Soundless -A Modern Salem in Remote Area-, is one of such exceptions, enthusiastic opinions about which intrigued me to a major degree, even though it ended up being two years before I finally picked it up. And this is not where the curious and unusual things about it end: this freeware visual novel was released in late 2017 by a small circle under the name of Milk+ and is heavily influenced by the denpa subgenre of horror – one reliant on distortion of reality and chains of bizarre events, true meaning of which is usually hidden under multiple layers of mystery. It mimics extremely well the visual style and climate of the early 2000s’ Japanese games, offering a now rarely-seen call-back to parts of visual novel history highly nostalgic to many fans. And thankfully, there’s a lot more to it than just the interesting stylisation and riding on memories of the past… Soundless is not an experience for those faint of heart, but is more about psychological abuse and social exclusion than plain violence Soundless offers a multi-layered story and some of its themes are impossible to talk about without major spoilers, which I’ll do my best to avoid. Most of the main plot, however, consistently revolves around Mercy, an ostracized teenage girl living a miserable life in an isolated village led by a strange religious cult. Her apparent mental illness, involving various hallucinations and delusions, led her to being embraced by the community as a mystic, however, when a certain chain of events turned her visions dark and disturbing, she was proclaimed a curse-bearer and started being perceived as a danger. Abused both by the village’s “clergy” and the children in her school, she suffers through incredible pain and loneliness – until a new holy woman, appearing in the village after the tragic death of the previous one, shows her kindness no one was willing to offer for years. All this, however, is just a surface of a very dense story, taking many unpredictable turns and slowly revealing the meaning behind various developments and subplots. Then, the last missing parts of the puzzle are provided through bonus content, uncovering the final set of mysteries connected to the game’s setting and crucial characters. Soundless’ most immediate themes are those of mental illness and social exclusion – we observe the whole story through the distorted lens of Mercy’s mind, which warps the reality around her in a disturbing fashion. She’s not really an unreliable narrator, but one that filters the world through a layer of dark delusions and deeply-internalized identity of a cursed person, who deserves being excluded due to her impurity. It’s an excruciating study of scapegoating, in a way more disturbing than the witch trials the game’s title references through its long-term and systematic nature. It’s not a story of a violent incident, but an ever-growing spiral of abuse targeting a person stripped from their human dignity and protection connected to being part of the community. Mercy is an outcast, but is also necessary as a symbol – a personification of “the other”, a visible threat cementing the unity of other villagers under their religious leader. The game approaches this topic in a detailed and gruesome manner, before it shifts to other, similarly disturbing issues. Soundless doesn’t shy away from using strange visual effects and distorting the story to represent the protagonist’s mental illness, but it's hard to accuse it of prioritizing form over substance Writing in Soundless can be only described as excellent. Above all, the game excels at creating a dense, depressing atmosphere of entrapment and hopelessness that dominate Mercy’s life. Following her struggle was disturbing and captivating at the same time and when I was expecting the story to reach a predictably-grim conclusion, it struck me with a serious of surprises, most of which I didn’t even vaguely anticipate. Other major characters, such as Delilah, the heir of one of the prestigious clergy families, are interesting and believable enough to give the story proper depth. From the title, one could easily expect Soundless to be just a tale of faceless mob prosecuting a defenceless girl, but Mercy’s tragedy is very personalized and reflected in her interactions with crucial members of the community. Most of them also have roles to play in the plot’s sudden turns. If I had to complain about something in the context of Soundless’ story, it would be its final chapter, focusing on what can be described as light yuri romance between the protagonist and Auma, a holy woman newly-arrived in the village and insistent on ignoring Mercy's status as a pariah. While it has its own set of themes, it feels fairly disconnected with the flow and tone of the previous story segments. It’s also where the game's denpa stylisation kicks in the hardest, with whole segments presented through strange collages and child-like drawings, coupled with heavily distorted dialogue. While I don't think it was bad by any definition, it was hard for me to adjust to the new direction of the story and I enjoyed it less than everything that came before it. It also underlines the fact that Soundless is probably not for everyone – between its disturbing moments and sheer weirdness and confusion that occasionally kick in, I can easily imagine some readers finding it pretentious or overbearing. The yuri subplot which develops in the latter half of the game is probably one of its weaker parts and evolves into a really strange and confusing direction Presentation-wise, Soundless truly feels more like an early-2000s Japanese doujin than a modern VN, despite being made in Ren'Py. The photographic backgrounds, the style of the drawings, NVL text display and even the UI just scream “old Japanese VN”, and if someone showed it to me as an obscure fan-translated title, I’d have no reason to doubt their word. This mimicry is not just kitsch imitation though, as Soundless really captures and spirit and thick climate of the better VNs of that era, while telling a really original and impactful story. It’s also far from being stale or unimaginative, mixing various techniques (like full-colour and sepia drawings) and artstyles depending on what fits specific situations. The relative simplicity of the presentation leaves a lot of space for the excellent prose to do its job, while the minimalistic music and creepy sound effects further enhance the overall climate. In this, it reminds me of another title I’ve read recently, Nitroplus’ Phenomeno – just with a much more robust story and many more things to say. As it’s pretty clear by this point, I enjoyed Soundless a lot and consider it easily one of the best horror EVNs I’ve read so far. For such a small (6-8 hours of reading) game, and one so simple from the technical standpoint, it’s an impressive storytelling achievement and stands out from most VNs in its category. It was obviously crafted with a lot of care and the author improved upon his initial work with the 1.2 and 2.0 versions, the latter published a year after the initial release of the game. As a free title, I see little reason for any VN fan to not give it a chance – unless the denpa horror formula is really not your thing. And if it is something you particularly enjoy, this game is an absolute must-read. Final Rating: 4/5 Pros: + Engaging, multi-layered narrative + Great sense of tension + Effective handling of multiple dark themes Cons: - Tiny resolution and (purposefully) clunky feel - Goes slightly off the rails at the end VNDB Page Download Soundless for free on Itch.io
  6. 2 points
    Few EVN studios leave me with such mixed feelings as Reine Works – a small team creating otome and yuri VNs at an impressive pace since 2017, known for titles such as Blossoms Bloom Brightest and Reflection ~Dreams and Reality~. While I enjoy the ideas behind much of their work and there’s usually a visible improvement in quality with each new release, the storytelling in their games always proved lacking, leaving me either bored or weirded out in the end. Still, I was invested enough to still support their increasingly ambitious and interesting-looking projects, including minor Kickstarter pledges. This is how I ended up playing Our Lovely Escape – a small VN with choosable protagonist gender and three female romance interests, which appeared on Steam in late September 2019, after many long delays. Marketed in a way that suggested a dark twist to every heroine arc, hidden under a façade of a cute, New Game!-like story about an all-female game studio, it seemed to mix many elements I personally enjoy. What I got, however, is quite likely the worst Raine Work’s game to date and will stay in my mind as one of the most upsetting VNs I’ve read to date. Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  7. 2 points
    Foreword: This is a formal shameless review just to present a video and give score / personal impression. There is an abundance of reviews of this game in untranslated review sources (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), and I did not even include reviews in the translated review sources. VNDB: https://vndb.org/v646 Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkfbKBF3PZE&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv8HOd7D19oHjX9NAj_dJRkF Synopsis: In face of human technological advancement during the Meiji Restoration, the youkai of Japan were forced to make a hard decision: 1) To remain as youkai and watch over the land 2) To return to the netherworld 3) To give up their power and status as youkai and live amongst humans. While there were some that chose otherwise, the majority of the youkai decided it was best to become human. It was tough, but as time passed these youkai were able to blend in with the human world and live peacefully amongst them. However, blood is thicker than water. The offspring of these youkai displayed the powerful abilities of their ancestors in times of great anxiety, often manifesting in horrible and dangerous ways, and were labeled by society as monsters. Officially their condition was named "Acquired Systemic Special Heredity variety Syndrome", or "ASSHS" for short and treated as a non-contagious illness, but the common people began to refer to them as Jinyous (half-youkai) nevertheless. Of these Jinyous, most were sent to Kamizawa City: an isolated urban area walled off from the rest of Japan to keep all the Jinyous together and away from the human population. However, the ones that were deemed especially dangerous were sent to a medical facility on an uncharted island near the shores of Japan where they would be under constant surveillance. Takabe Ryouichi was one of those who were sent to said island at the age of five. This is a story about him along with the girl called Suzu, his only friend on the island, escaping to Kamizawa city to live a normal life. What they didn’t expect was that Suzu carried a secret that attracted much unwanted attention… Game type: Action chunige with fantasy elements Character Design rating: 9/10 Protagonist rating: 8/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 10/10 Overall rating: 8/10 I won't be original here. Game is a firm masterpiece with great action, funny SOL scenes and just perfect quality overall. But different people find different parts faulty. Some people blame protagonist Soushichi, but I actually like him a lot. He is really funny and human-like in conversations. Heroines are the main flavor of the game. They all are really well developed, and pretty much every one of them has fighting capabilities. Each route has a distinctive individuality. Other people did not like story resolution, but - again - everything felt natural, don't see much of a problem here. My complaint is much more profound. I do not see an interesting story here at all. On a grand scale absolutely nothing happens. There is no intrigue. Basically we get to know from synopsis that Takabe Ryouichi escapes from a clinic for youkai and is searched by the organization controlling this clinic. So what happens during the course of the game? Organization goons finally find Takabe after a few years which is followed by confrontation. That's it. Where the hell is multiple route mystery featured among vndb tags? There is absolutely no need to play different routes to get the whole mystery picture, because there is no mystery. Yes, we have different girls as allies in different routes, and different sources of power are discovered to fight back. But that's not a mystery. There are even no big twists. Ayakashibito is a great game, but its strength is not in depth and mystery. It's in width and details. The story is developed by constantly adding new characters and presenting their backgrounds and sometimes even small stories in great detail. I absolutely like writing, pacing and all. It's an enjoyable reading, but whenever I try to rationalize - why I keep reading - I can't find the answer, and overall evaluation degrades because of that. Ayakashibito remains a game about girls and their magnificent routes. Personally, I hoped for more mystery and twists.
  8. 2 points
    The monotony of school is an oppressive force on a kid's life. Psychologically omnipresent, you don't even need to be within its walls to feel its chains shackling you. Home is just made an extension of its presence with homework. And more then just the boredom of rote memorization and a lobotomizing curriculum, there is a social arena where you must interact with the other prisoners. Regardless of how you feel about them, its important to at least maintain a sociable facade. Unlike College where education is on your own dime, and therefore your own time. The grade school schedule from kindergarten through high school is rigidly compact, and generally you have little say in what you get to study. Regardless of talent, interest, or relevancy, you are stuck in a classroom where most other students are just as unenthused to be there as you. 8th Grade, 13 years old and my last year in junior high. I didn't need to put more than a minimal effort into my studies to attain the reputation as an honor student. Although on a superficial front I got along with everyone, I lacked any true connections that extended beyond the solidarity of being prisoners of the educational system I've just described. Life was dull, but everyone told me the path I was walking down had success and stability at the end of its road. That assumed I would continue playing the honor student role I fell into though. Despite the agency of free-will, I was complacent. Despite my ennui, I had little initiative or courage to stir things up. The irony of attending a Catholic school and passively turning a blind eye to the bullying occurring. The frustration of my sexuality awakening but being too emotionally impotent to do anything about it. This is the context in which I discovered Yume Miru Kusuri: A Drug That Make You Dream. Past midnight, and I had just finished downloading a copy of the VN. I had promised myself to install it then go to bed. Opening the application up as a test, I was greeted with a soothing yet hypnotic track. Three girls with blank expressions were looking up at me amid an infinite expanse of vaguely drawn school desks. For minutes I just listened, utterly mesmerized. It was as though I was experiencing a drug that was making me dream. Winter break started the next day, and I had previously installed another visual novel that I was intending to start first. But as my consciousness was drifting in the dazed state before sleep, the title theme track kept ringing in my head. The next day I decided to start my vacation playing this VN instead, and that has made all the difference. The opening scene, an image of a generic blue sky with soft clouds. The narrator himself falls asleep and soon finds himself in an odd dream. Upon violently waking up, soothing music akin to the title screen track plays, and without even realizing it my own thoughts are absorbed by Kouhei's inner monologues. His thinking was so natural, and familiar. And that's when I noticed, I was Kouhei Kagami. The issues of bullying, interpersonal relationships, and the desire to escape the dullness of reality (albeit not through drugs, for me anime was my escape) were all subject matters I understood, and more importantly related to. The way things play out in the various routes always remain grounded in a firm realism. Which easily allowed me to project myself into the situations. But unlike a generic self-insert protagonist, what made Kouhei so relatable was his distinct voice. He was hesitant to tread towards anything that could shake him off his honor-student trajectory, and yet he was equally tempted and fascinated by such things. Smoking, sex, drugs, standing up to social forces; all things that even the most straight laced of teenagers will probably be tempted by. If not for the things themselves, then to grab control of your own life by actively doing something you shouldn't do. This is how Kouhei and I were kindred spirits. The way the story and Kouhei's perspective completely resonated with me led me to voraciously read something for the first time in my life. Before I always viewed reading as a chore, and I only ever reluctantly did so. Reading this VN however, led me into feeling as though everything was happening was to a slightly older, Japanese version of myself. It was that immersive quality that sucked me into the VN's world. That was my baptism into VNs. I'm 22 now, and rereading this VN I can't help but think back on myself and who I was when I first discovered it. Not only have I long since graduated high school, somewhere amidst my early adulthood I also learned to stop being such a passive participant in life. Yet while I can no longer identify with Kouhei Kagami like I did when I first read his story, I can still understand his thinking and actions so clearly. Almost like reading his perspective brings me back to my perspective when I was in my early teens. In that respect, Yume Miru Kusuri is kind of the Catcher in the Rye of VNs.
  9. 1 point
    Foreword: The reviews we have are pretty vague (1 2 3 4 5 6 7), so the impression of a very difficult work is created. I'm going to put all the dots so that there was not fear to read it. VNDB: https://vndb.org/v1278 Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyO6B82c_GE&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv9G-VbjOXlAvQZqm-u8F497 Synopsis: This game tells the story of seven long-time friends. How they grew closer or further apart as they got older. The story is presented using a blog-like interface. The protagonist, Atemiya Shinobu, who was raised at a certain facility since young, had no one around him that could be called "friend". Being that way, the first thing he started doing after leaving the facility with his sister - Chidori - was to find and make friends. Benio Azusa, a tomboyish girl who lived nearby. Hondou Sayaka, a quiet yet sharp-tongued girl who was in charge of raising the pets at school just like him. Tsukamoto Youko and Itsuki, a pair of siblings who belong to a prestigious family around the area. Higuchi Shouji, a boy he knew by being attracted to by the similarities they both share. Izuki Fueko, a girl he met by chance. Together with Shinobu, they were a group of seven. Just like that, each and every one of them, who had never experienced the joy of having friends, was able to meet each other and become companions. The story begins in a quiet town colored by dusk. Around the seven friends, there were understanding, empathy, conflict, and what's more, fleeting love of adolescence. It was a friendship that could last forever. Such a simple happiness should have... lasted forever. That was until the "enemy" appeared. The "enemy" had disturbed the peaceful relationship of the seven people. Shinobu could not forgive that. He could not forgive the one that injures his companions, nor could he forgive the one that hurts another one's hearts. And when he realized all that, the world they reside in changed, rather then becoming the new world that it should have... they had arrived at the "sanctuary" instead. This is a story that describes the heart. A story that describes the thing located in the farthest end of a heart. Game type: Mindscrew circle of friends story Character Design rating: 10/10 Protagonist rating: 10/10 Story rating: 10/10 Game quality: 10/10 Overall rating: 10/10 I just can't understand how it's possible to give any other score than 10 if game is played to the end. It's the third philosophical visual novel in history after Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~ and Cross†Channel, and it's just a great human story with the magic of Cross†Channel still present, and even on a higher level since childish pranks don't interrupt serious talk this time. But enough vague words. The structure of Saihate no Ima is very simple. There are four girls in the circle of friends - Azusa, Sayaka, Fueko, Youko - and there is a route for each this heroine told in a forced order. In the last Youko route we see a mysterious gothic loli girl Ima who says that Shinobu is not ready yet. And then all the four girl routes repeat again, but with more explanation and depth to the stories as well as the Shinobu mystery. In videos I call this second lap of routes as True heroine routes. After the end of True Youko route there's the True Shinobu route as I call it. It's something absolutely different from the rest of heroines routes. Basically, there are no four main heroines in there, but instead there is a whole new cast of characters. So, there are only nine structural parts in the game. Moreover, True routes generally include all or almost all the scenes from the Normal heroine routes, so I'd advise to skip Normal heroine routes overall and start with True heroine routes if you follow the video. That saves you from the bulk of repetition and allows to have a fresh view. There are actually some scenes in the Normal routes that don't present in True routes. For example, there is a step sister Chidori H scene in Fueko Normal route that does not present in Fueko True route. But it has little influence on the story, so I'd still stronly advise to skip Normal heroine routes or at least watch them after all the heroine routes and Shinobu True routes are finished. Again, the story is simple. Just mind it that heroine routes are not entirely romantic ones as different killer stories often in the core of the routes. Heroines are fleshed out so well that I absolutely adore all four of them. Azusa has a perfect buid-up for her story. Sayaka the sulky ojousama really starts to shine in her route. Fueko has that beautiful a-ha effect upon taking down glasses. Youko is actually my favorite character for her sharp tongue and absolutely enthralling voicing that I can't ever have enough of. All the more difficult parts of this visual novel actually refer to retelling the concepts of modern world philosophy related to the core of the game, namely, the phenomenology of Husserl and Global village concept of McLuhan. Basically, all the spoilers of the True Shinobu route are given in the synopsis. This is a story of the heart, and the main mystery is the identity of the "enemy". Pretty much anything else would be in the spoiler zone already, so I hope you see everything with your own eyes. Basically, Saihate no Ima is an eternal ultimate masterpiece that shares the Olympus of intellectual visual novels alongside Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~ and Cross†Channel. Saihate no Ima deserves dissertations written on it just like George Henry Shaft's 160000-word dissection on Cross Channel. From these dissertations we'd be able to discuss the message of the game, follow all the hints and compare all the additional scenes in Normal and True routes as well as clicked links versions compared to non-clicked versions (since there are couple scenes available only when no links are clicked, actually). But unlike Cross†Channel the other two games are not translated, so we'll see none of those, to my great regret. Let's keep fingers crossed, with Kickstarter miracles are possible like the one with Dies Irae.
  10. 1 point
    Well, this blog is... quite unused lately, but I had to come back to talk about this game. The one that effectively reignited my enthusiasm for VNs that was waning a bit for some months. The one that made me sit and only think about reading it for all weekend when I was reading best boy's route. Yes, the long-awaited psychedelic artsy and moody historical game, the latest BL game by Mangagamer Hashihime of the Old Book Town. From the introduction, you can see it was totally worth my time, but was the entirety of the game such good? Details below. And before anyone asks, Hashihime is a water yokai. Me, writing about my thought on this game in an epic manner This piece by the little developers ADELTA tells us the story of Tamamori, an incredibly lazy and somewhat self-centered aspiring writer, and his two childhood friends, the quiet bookworm that sometimes is a bit too focused on reading Minakami and the completely ruthless and sharp-tongued clean freak Kawase, living in the district of Jinbouchou in 1922, after moving from the countryside to attend the Tokyo Imperial University, a feat that only our poor protagonist failed to do. So he starts to work in a mysterious used bookstore and meet all kinds of weird people, except some of them are all but his delusions as he have the habit to daydream quite a lot. But when things start to get real weird and supernatural and his friends start dying, Tamamori suddenly goes back in time, only three days to be more precise, but it's enough of a chance to undo his friends' deaths. But will someone actually believe his story? The beginning is incredibly strong, doing a great job transporting us to Japan's Taishou Era with a lot of attention to detail. There's a ton of cultural references, most of them highlighted so you can click on them for a glossary explanation to pop up with on-screen on the go (although you can make them highlight only on the first time the word appears or disable it entirely). The world it's trying to build is our own, but it feels actually charming and make you curious about the era rather than a storm of unknown terms and explanations that makes you wonder why the characters are explaning something they should know. It flows really naturally, just the characters talking about what was "in" in their time. The main references, especially in the first few routes, are japanese authors of the era and, while my experience wasn't diminished at all for not having read a single one of those books, I do wonder how I would perceive the story itself, or catch even more subtle references, actually knowing the multiple times quoted Dogra Magra by Yumeno Kyusaku, or some less quoted works by Kuroiwa Ruikou or Ozaki Kouyou. The story is mainly a mystery, so your peaceful historical slice of life will turn into an irrational scenario when you're least expecting, and the mood shifts went all well. You and Tamamori will progress through the story in confusion more often than not, but keeping in check everything you learned until now can offer some fun theory crafting along the way and very satisfying "I knew it!" moments when some answers finally reveals themselves. That worked most on small details for me though, since some twist are very hard to see them coming. The time travel plot is used mostly effectively too, draining poor Tamamori's mental health with each failed loop. That also allowed for several bad ending scenarios to take place even with each route having a single ending, leaving you constantly in the edge of your seat because you never what, how or when things will go south. We have these cutouts instead of regular sprites, but they have quite some variations in clothing and expression There are a lot of good themes explored in this game, but the strongest ones all revolves around our three childhood friends (the group is actually composed by four people, but the fourth one is meh at best). Only after the story takes a weird turn that Tamamori notices but since they moved to the capital they all started growing apart somewhat, and it all may have started way back in the countryside. Their relationship, and most relationship between the main cast, stem from negative emotions such as loneliness, guilty, obsession, pity or even hatred, so Tamamori's journey through time for trust, love and to mend their friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the story, and the hardships he faces along the way were heartbreaking and emotional, turning him into a very memorable protagonist, even if he starts the game as one big good-for-nothing (and he is well aware of that). Let's remember though that the game sells itself as psychedelic so this journey will be full of CGs in weird and vibrant coloring, very magical parts, talking animals, delusion sequences, a lot of insanity overall and some explanations that makes very little sense the first time you read them. While not excessive to turn someone off entirely for being too bizarre, it can make people unsatisfied as some plot points only have weirdly metaphorical explanations... while others I still have to think about where to look at in the game to understand their answers. It's definitely food for thought though, one that can definitely make people who likes rereading things excited as there's several clues and foreshadowing all over the place that are only possible to catch a second time around. The story structure is a very simple one. The game have an enforced playing order and the only choices you have are to get into the routes. First time around you only have chapter 1 (as the game calls it, but it's Minakami's route) unlocked, and it'll look like this is a kinetic novel. After clearing it, the choice to the chapter 2 reveals itself, and after clearing it the choice to chapter 3 appears and so on. There are 5 chapters in total, all of them branching off the "main path", in a "bus stop" like fashion with Minakami's ending as the last stop if you didn't let off before. Each chapter focus on a different hero, and that's where the enforced order makes it annoying. Only 2 heroes interested me at first, and I ultimately only enjoyed 3 routes, but I can't even suggest to others to skip one chapter entirely because it's right in the middle of the game and you need it to unlock the next one. I can see why lock Minakami's route as the first one, as the others works best if you have some knowledge about the supernatural lore, but chapter 2, 3 and 4 could probably be read in any other or even skipped without losing all that much. I think the VN itself says Minakami keeps his eyes open only a few millimeters to read xD On the characters and routes themselves. Minakami is our first boy and, in my opinion, the best route of the game. Yeah, right off the bat to hook you on. According to the scenario writer herself, each route have a literary genre as base and Minakami's is "romance". And indeed, it was one sweet ride to save him. It's the longest route, but you'll find out very soon why this route will make you cry a lot. I can also add there's one good mini arc about a transgender side character here where the fact she is transgender is actually pointed out for once. Chapter 2 is for Tamamori's second friend Kawase. His theme is "mystery". And indeed, this guy is full of them. His abrasive personality, that is downright cruel on occasion, may make people not like him much, but he ended up being my best boy, help. >.< Some of his banter with Tamamori is really funny and the few glimpses of positive emotions he lets through his evil mask are genuine, or even cute if you're a fan of gap moe effect (like me). His route is very nice and its narrative complements quite well Minakami's route, and the support cast here is a really interesting bunch, so I think there's something to enjoy even if you're not the biggest fan of his character. Oh well, he never goes full well nor even a half nor a quarter deredere (romance is Minakami's theme after all), but his rudeness is a spice that's part of his charm ;p Chapter 3's hero is Hanazawa, Tamamori's third childhood friend, one that's 3 years older than him and one that our protagonist doesn't see in 8 years. Yeah, he's the meh guy I mentioned earlier. AND the route you could skip I used as example of why the enforced order is a bad idea. His theme is "adventure", but it's more a character theme than a route theme. His route is so short and thus underwhelming, adding literally nothing to the story nor exploring the character. So I don't even have much to say. The ending will meme you hard though, I warn you. Chapter 4 is for Hikawa Kijuurou aka Professor, the used bookstore faithful costumer and a massive dork. I'm not even fan of the blindly obsessed types, but man is it impossible to hate this guy. His dumb reactions, cute giggles when he "scores" very little with Tamamori like learning his name or his knees failing at the audacious idea of becoming friends with his crush will either leaves you laughing or going aaawww as the guy is a social failure but a very moe one at that. His theme is "sci-fi". The route does takes a weird turn by the end, even by the game standards www, that can considered a bit of a "cheat", but it was pretty nice overall, raising some interesting questions that are often ignored in time travel stories. And then there's chapter 5. Oh boy, chapter 5. Theme is "bizarre thriller" and bizarre is, indeed, the right word for it. It takes a completely different approach to the plot as a whole, moving the story in the totally opposite direction with different themes, lessons and motivations. Unfortunately it's less like Fate Stay Night's Heaven's Feel and more like a glorified bad ending. And the game even forces you to go for it last so you can end it all in a low note, instead of the sweet endings of most of the other routes. It's quite a short route too, far too short to explain most of it, but its main twist have such massive destructive power you'll either just brush it off as "just one of many routes, I will focus on the better ones instead", have the whole VN completely ruined or find it a really smart, shocking and amazing ending, depending how you take it. I can't say more without spoiling, so I'll just say I'm with the brush it off camp, and I would have rated the game higher if not for this one route. Professor reading the next section of this review. Sex scenes are your average VN stuff, just to show their relationship is going to another stage, but are safe to skip without losing much. In fact, I think the all-ages version that supposedly would be released on Steam would be real good for this one VN. It would make recommending it to mystery/historical fiction lovers easier www. And frankly, it would get rid of 2 h-scenes that are really awful context-wise (one is a rape scene and the other is... concerning). Although I must say you'll miss some funny banter that happens during the normal h-scenes if you skip them, like one of the heroes chanting sutras to get rid of his everlasting boner and Tamamori not moving and then demanding another hero to say "please" before simply hoping into a different position. Each hero get one scene, usually in the end of their routes. And if you really must know, Tamamori is always the bottom, but 2 heroes did volunteer to be on the receiving end, but our MC simply didn't agree. Oh man, why. Worth to mention too that the Mangagamer version is fully uncensored, so you can see Tamamori's impressive average size. To be fair, he is a rather short guy (5'3"/160 cm tall), but without looking like a shota, bless, we need more non-shota short boys in VNs. Art is simple but have that "doujin charm" that I love (it's hard to explain what that means wwwwww). This VN have quite an impressive number of CGs, 159 in total not including variations. Characters are mostly really really normal, with normal hair colors and haircuts, it was almost refreshing! Every mob character made just to populate backgrounds is a shadow though, but there's some eeriness to it. Speaking of backgrounds, the game have both gloomy, cool colored ones and bright, vibrant colored ones, that kinda goes well with all the mood shifts the VN goes through. The music also helps to set the mood, be it calm, tense or one of relief, and the jazzy tracks in particular were quite pleasant to listen to. You can also play back the opening/ending songs in the main menu, but sadly only those. Voice acting is well done, there's no big names in the cast or anything, but they conveyed pretty well the characters' personality and emotions. I did have other minor grips with the system in general, like noticing the area where you could click in the system buttons are a loooot smaller than their actual size, some random line breaks in the middle of the text box for no reason mainly on Kawase's route and a handful of lines that advanced by itself, but nothing that renders the game unplayable. I refuse to provide context for this CG In conclusion, Hashihime is one hell of an addition to the small pool of localized BL VNs, a truly unique experience, and a great bizarre and artsy plotge in general (are there other games in this category www? maybe Inganock??? both have a lot of literary references too hmmm). The 3 good routes are very high quality for me, but sadly it gets dragged down by 2 subpar routes when you rate the game as a whole. The last route is highly divisive but you'll definitely have something to appreciate in this adventure, be it the ending route itself or anything else despite the ending route. Well, Minakami would probably like all routes regardless. According to Kawase, "that guy enjoys anything as long as it's written. He would even enjoy reading the diary of a tuberculosis patient" (exact words).
  11. 1 point
    Memories Off #5 Togireta Film , Ayakashi and Heaven's Cage are masterpieces of the month, and I'm reviewing the latter two. The winner is Ayakashi. I refuse to acknowledge any spin-offs or sequels of Fate/Night like Fate/Hollow Ataraxia . 1. Shirogane no Torikago: The Angels with Strange Wings しろがねの鳥籠 The Angels with Strange Wings [051013] Cromwell 1 Shirogane no Torikage takes place in the city of Roddo Town. Two hundred years ago, a great war lead to the near destruction of mankind. The few people that did remain following the war started off with a clean slate, built new towns and connected the towns via steam-powered train. Soon, airplanes were invented and mankind took to the skies. Mysterious children started to be born in this new world, children with strange powers. So strange and feared were these powers that adults sent all the special children to Roddo Town, which is itself separated from the other towns of the world and is surrounded by a great steel wall. The game's main character is Woll, one such special child. Woll and the other kids of Roddo Town have the ability to read the memories of objects and know their pasts. One day, Woll uses his powers to fix the train station manager's television, and he's summoned to the Roddo Town mayor's place. He expects that he will be punished for having used his powers. Instead, the mayor asks him to fix a plane from 200 years ago and make it so that it can fly again. A great floating fortress called Sky Ray was built 200 years ago and is believed to contain the secrets into long lost pre-war technology. Woll, along with Andy, Bibi, Katie, Mini and the other boys and girls of the town start off on an adventure that will change not just their own lives, but the lives of people throughout the world. Visuals and some fun interactions are the only benefits. of the game. Scenario is pretty much a juvenile boy's growth story that's nothing but plain. Second half is especially bad. 2. Kakuu Shoujo 夏空少女 [051014] Mixed Up 1 After the end of the world war in the near future, every human being is managed and controlled by a computer called "Mother". People who could not adapt to such a system were called "irregular", thus they lived in the educational facility "Reclaim Garden". The main character was sent to the garden as a "guardian" to re-educate its irregularities. Therefore, he will experience a world that he couldn't feel so far. There is an English review. 3. Days of Memories ~Boku to Kanojo no Atsui Natsu~ Days of Memories 〜僕と彼女の熱い夏〜 [051017] SNK Playmore 1 2 Beautiful female warriors and other charming girls from SNK games make their appearances in this innovative dating simulation game. The first game depicts the adventures of the male lead (player character) and the the female cast. During the last summer of high school, the player has a premonition that something will happen between himself and the girls he came to know and became friends with. There are English reviews. 4. Kenshuui Tendou Dokuta 2 ~Inochi no Tenbin~ 研修医 天堂独太2~命の天秤~ [051020] Spike 1 2 3 4 LifeSigns: Surgical Unit (研修医 天堂独太2~命の天秤~, Kenshūi Tendō Dokuta 2: Inochi no Tenbin, lit. "Resident Dokuta Tendo 2: The Scales of Life") is an adventure game for the Nintendo DS set in a hospital. This is the second game in a series that redefined the sim genre to make way for other medical games games such as Trauma Center: Under The Knife. Following the success of Trauma Center, LifeSigns was released in North America on November 6, 2007, and is released in Europe on July 25, 2008 under the name LifeSigns: Hospital Affairs. LifeSigns: Surgical Unit is the second game in the Kenshuui Tendo Dokuta series, but its predecessor has not been announced for foreign release. Game is localized and has English reviews. 5. Urusei Yatsura: Endless Summer うる星やつら エンドレスサマー [051020] Marvelous Interactive 1 In here you will basically find a rather usual Japanese dating simulation in which you will be controlling Ataru and move him across the many screens that compose the town you will be playing in. You can enter some houses, talk to people you find around the scenario and even collect some items, all by simply moving your character to the place where the house/person/item is. When you enter a house or you get in touch with a person you will usually spot a small event sequence, in which your character will talk to someone else and sometimes more things may occur, like you having to play a mini-game (which are always really easy to play) and even increasing how much a specific girl likes you. There is an English review. 6. Aozora Enikki 青空絵日記 [051021] H.W.Lab The last summer vacation in the school life. This is the time when main character gets attracted to two younger sisters. The feeling of guilt for forbidden love can not suppress this wonder from a life-size perspective. Heartwarming and shy comedy. The ending is refreshing, but there is no impact. 7. Born Freaks! ぼーん・ふりーくす! [051021] Liar-soft Cell's sister, Uracil, suffers from an unknown disease since she was born. Cell became a successful medical doctor but he still can't find a cure for her. Together with another doctor, who happens to be his ex-girlfriend Fenyl, that works in the same clinic with him, they devise an unconventional method that might save Uracil, where everything else already failed. The plan is to make changes in her DNA so it can fight the pathogens eating her from inside. To do that, they have to try cultivating different strains in Cell's body and inject them into her body in a way that won't be rejected by her immune system. And the only way to do that is by sex... It's primarily a gameplay game, so no use talking about it without understanding mechanics. 8. CROSS WORLD -Mishiranu Sora no Etatia- クロスワールド 〜見知らぬ空のエターティア〜 [051021] Broccoli Enter Kuros, an average high school student who gets sent into another world after getting into a car accident. Losing his memory and forgetting his name, he became known as the Cross Sword hero. In search of a way to open up the Cross Gate to return his own world, Kuros and one of three heroines partner up to travel across the world of Etatia in search of clues. Meanwhile, a mysterious cloaked figure seems intent on disrupting their journey of getting Kuros back to his own world... It can be called a picture-only game. Enemies show up and get defeated through communication with one of three selected girls. Synopsis basically tells everything already, and there is no twist. An absolute failure game. 9. Happiness! はぴねす! [051021] Windmill Oasis Happiness! centers around Yūma Kohinata, who is a high school student attending Mizuhosaka Academy's regular section of the school, along with his close friends Jun Watarase and Hachisuke Takamizo. The other section, aptly named the magic section, was founded in order to train mages in the art of using magic. The story begins with Valentine's Day coming up in just a few days and there's a rush for all the girls to get the chocolate they want in order to give it to the boys they like, in accordance with Japanese custom. Haruhi Kamisaka, a mage in training, is out with her friend Anri Hiiragi, also a mage in training, in order to do just this. While walking outside in the park, after buying the chocolate she wanted to give to a boy she met when she was a child, Haruhi meets Yūma, who stops some younger boys bullying a young girl, and Haruhi thinks that he may be the boy she's been searching for all this time. The next day is Valentine's Day and at school, all the girls are giving their gifts to the boys of their choice. Later that day, Anri challenges Haruhi to a magic battle in order to take the chocolate she has by force for the reason that Haruhi wouldn't tell her who she was going to give it to. Before long, Anri loses control of her magic and it is flown outside, almost falling onto Yūma and his friends. Ultimately, Haruhi gives him the chocolate she had bought, and in turn Anri does the same, which was her plan - to give her chocolate to the same boy as Haruhi and see who would win his favor more. The next day there is a gas explosion at the magic section of the school and all the mages in training must transfer over to the normal section for the time being. Coincidentally, Haruhi and Anri are placed within Yūma's class. Now Haruhi and her friends must adjust to the transfer into the normal section of Mizuhosaka Academy. Extremely orthodox adventure. Overall, it's a normal moege with a slight tilt into magic. And it loses much charm for being overextended. 10. Heaven Strada ヘブンストラーダ [051021] AniSeed Aleph grew up listening about rare artifacts and adventures in the ancient ruins. As he becomes adult, he joins his uncle who got position of ruins caretaker. When he comes to the duel place in the ruins with his childhood friend, Aleph meets a girl in unfamiliar clothes being attacked by inquisition men in black. As enemies are defeated, Aleph takes girl home. She tells that she comes from the world of the blue sky. They decide to guard the ruins together against the men in black and work towards getting to the world of the blue sky. It's a single road RPG. Contradictions begin in the middle of the game, so game is weak story-wise. RPG part is unsatisfactory, but not bad. 11. Memories Off #5 Togireta Film Memories Off #5 とぎれたフィルム [051027] KID 1 2 Haruto Kawai is an aspiring film director, however, upon the death of his best friend, the boy gave up the dream and settled down for a mundane existence until a strange girl pops up in his life. Life is like a movie, when Mahiro Sendou intrudes into his life, the cameras start moving. With touching storylines and endearing characters, make your own film and experience the climaxes and troughs as well as irreplaceable memories in the newest romantic adventure in the Memories Off series. There is an English review 12. Ayakashi AYAKASHI アヤカシ [051028] Apricot 1 Kusaka Yuu is a student that lost his will to live after the death of a dear childhood friend, until the day a mysterious girl, named Yoake Eimu, appears. From that moment on, his life would never be the same again. Hunted by Ayakashi and their hosts, the power within Yuu awakens and a never ending battle begins. I want to play this game blindly and review it myself. 13. Bin★Can Darling BIN★CANダーリン [051028] Actress Our protagonist managed to enter in the school of his dreams, and prepared himself for a sweet school life after a painful past. He might even find a girlfriend! Thus, he starts interacting with the girls around him, trying to succeed in love... Game has nothing to do with Akikan anime, but it does not help much as moege direction is chosen instead. Basically, main character is invited to the art club with only girls as members. Development for each heroine is very thin, and very little effort is required for heroines to fall in love. H element is dominating here, and 3P scenes are frequent, so can't really understand how IOS and Android versions manage to exist with such a weak story and no H scenes. 14. Fate/Hollow Ataraxia [051028] Type-Moon 1 2 3 4 Bazett Fraga McRemitz, a member of the Mages' Association and a master in the 5th Holy Grail War, wakes on the fourth day of the 5th Holy Grail war with a new servant, Avenger, and no memory of what happened to her beforehand. She and Avenger set off to fight and win the Holy Grail War. Meanwhile, Shirou Emiya lives a peaceful life with all his friends, from the 5th Holy Grail War. After her experiment alters the event-horizon changes time and space, Rin Tohsaka leaves for the Mages' Association in England to fix things. The Servants sense a new danger while dark creatures appear soon afterward. Shirou, as a precaution, sets off to ensure nobody is in danger and instead finds himself frequently meeting a mysterious girl, Caren Hortensia. There are English reviews. 15. Heaven's Cage ヘブンズケージ [051028] Art This game is about a group of classmates and an online game called “Heaven’s Cage”. As they go forth and explore the virtual landscape, battling monsters and looting dungeons, they unknowingly start to get to know each other. I appears that the characters can make some interesting online personae in the virtual world; such as seasoned fighters, powerful magicians, mysterious player killers, or a character that hates fighting/killing monsters. It would also appear that this game is more connected to the real world than we’d assume. I would not be me if I skipped a MMORPG setting visual game, so I'm reviewing it. 16. ShiroKuro ~Shiroi Kokoro to Kuroi Tsurugi~ しろクロ~白いこころと黒いツルギ~ [051028] ALTERNA Akira leaves his town to observe the first and last major meteor shower in this century and gets in an accident. He regains consciousness when he is attacked by some black life form "Zyphos". A girl appears and rescues him. This way Akira makes the first contact with the extraterrestrial life forms and gets involved in the species confrontation. Some girls are more human-like, some are rather exotic. Scenario is a single road with frequent gags inclusion. Gameplay is quite monotonous, but game mechanics and moe tilt help a lot here. RPG part is tolerable, so it's a pity game is in oblivion now. BLOCKED 1. Purepuri Niizuma wa Boku no Tannin プレプリ 新妻は僕の担任 [051001] Haikara Kissa Enari Akane, a new teacher at your school, was recently married with you. She is a close friend of yours since you were kids. She is so curious about sex, wanting to explore sexuality more and more! Doujin Nukige 2. Hitozuma Leotard 2 ~Akage no Bijo wa Inran Tsuma~ 人妻レオタード2~赤毛の美女は淫乱妻~ [051003] Studio Ebisu Let's buy various leotards by using the one like a kind of money that is called RP and dress to married women. It buys of course, and the game progresses by the dressed leotard. The thing always changed while playing a game is possible. The dressed leotard can be reflected even in event CG. Not only default (usually) leotard but also a special leotard was prepared. Nukige 3. Happy Class ハッピークラス [051005] Tabun Osoraku Kitto A short and linear horror sound novel. "Hey, do you know about the happy class?" Doujin 4. Aru Atsui Natsu no Hi no Dekigoto. ある暑い夏の日の出来事。 [051006] αPLACE A collection of three mysterious stories about high school girls in summer. Doujin Nukige 5. Sex & Friend ~Osananajimi no Amai Nioi~ セックス&フレンド ~幼馴染の甘い匂い~ [051007] Under Lip Masaki had known Mitsuru Ebina since they were little. The rumor at school was that they were going out. But in reality, they were always at each other's throats. Even so...Mitsuru was getting prettier each year, and Masaki couldn't help but notice. Then one day she came to give him a love letter one of the other girls had asked her to give him. Masaki had mixed feelings, but Mitsuru was as blunt as ever. And then he told her how he felt... Nukige 6. Komachi Koiuta 小町恋歌 [051009] Circle Mebius Main character has been working in an antique shop for ten years since childhood. He believes that there should be only laughter in this world, but no sadness. One day he overhears a story about a girl living in an old temple outside the town. This very evening he approaches this building and finds young girl inside. Doujin 7. Akuratsu ~Chijoku no Yuri Shimai~ あくらつ~恥辱の百合姉妹~ [051014] Marry Bell This time father orders to train six half-sisters to prevent their claims to the conglomerate. This time he will be assisted by the two previously trained half-sisters. Nukige 8. In'youchuu ~Ryoujoku Gakuen Taimaroku~ 淫妖蟲 ~凌触学園退魔録~ [051014] TinkerBell This is the story of a monster hunter squad consisting of three beautiful girls and the "hardships" they face in their endless fight... Nukige 9. Okaa-san to Na-i-sho ~Bijin Oyako, Bessou Kankin 7 Nichikan~ おかあさんとな・い・しょ~美人母娘、別荘監禁7日間~ [051014] Haoh Yosuke, Yukari, his stepmother, and Natsuki, his stepsister, visit their summer house. Yosuke secretly loves Yukari and he plans to tell her that he loves her. However, a group of bank robbers suddenly comes into their house. "Well, you're now our slaves. Just entertain us...." Like this, they are confined in a separate room.... Will Yosuke be able to save Yukari and Natsuki...? Also, will Yosuke tell Yukari that he loves her...? Nukige 10. Ore no Miko-sama ~Ore Miko~ オレの巫女さま~オレ巫女 [051014] Black Package There is a shrine inhabited only by three maiden sisters after their parents' death. But they aren't allowed to continue like that without a proper priest, so main character is appointed to this shrine. Nukige 11. Subete Ubatteyaru! 全て奪ってやる! [051014] Waffle Ryuya's life has changed completely after Atsuko, his mother, got remarried. Tatsuo, his new father, robs him of his position in his family. Konoha, his younger sister, also depends on Tatsuo. He dislikes Serina, his new older sister, too. One night, Ryuya sees Atsuko and Tatsuo having sex and his anger reaches its peak. Several days later, Tatsuo leaves his home for ten days on business. Ryuya makes up his mind that he will get back what used to be while Tatsuo is out.... Nukige 12. Tomona ~Watashi to Furousha no Oji-san no Kouryuu Jikan~ 智奈 ~私と浮浪者のおじさんの交流時間~ [051014] STARWORKS Main heroine leads a normal school life with friends, but she is missing something... On her way to school she goes past homeless bums. She is confused, but also interested... And these guys are happy to make an acquaintance. Doujin Nukige 13. Coupling Cocktail. [051015] Momoto Ichigo.jp Western mansion humiliation training novel featuring big breasted futanari girls. Nukige 14. Sora no Mayoibito 空の迷い人 [051020] Nokka~ The protagonist finds himself wandering in a world of loss, unable to remember exactly what was missing. Through the help of people in his life, he finally starts remembering... Doujin 15. Aigan Iinchou ~Doukyuusei wa Nikudorei~ 愛玩委員長~同級生は肉奴隷~ [051021] Under Lip Yoji is a transfered student. He is attracted by Miyuki, a class president. She shows him around the school after school and suddenly she induces him to have a sex with her. After that his classmates tell him that she is a "sexual slave" and he is appointed as her trainer. Nukige 16. Fami Fami! ファミふぁみ! [051021] Applemint Main character is an ordinary school student in Tokyo. He returns to his home town in Hokkaido for summer vacations and finds his home being reconstructed into a family restaurant. Moreover, there are two cute twin sisters helping out. Doujin 17. Milk Junkie 3 MILK・ジャンキー3 [051021] Blue Gale Yusuke, the protagonist of the first game who loves big tits, is back. After a few years, he ended marrying Mitsuki, the mother of the girl he was tutoring. Besides a beautiful wife with big tits, now he has a new employment opportunity at the company of the cousin of Mitsuki. A well-endowed wife waiting him in home, and a well-endowed boss waiting him at workplace. His new married life is about to begin... Nukige 18. Taimanin Asagi 対魔忍アサギ [051021] Anime Lilith 1 2 The game stars and takes the viewpoint from a female ninja who is said to be one of Japan's greatest warriors. She's part of an elite ninja squad called Anti-Demon Ninja that fights in the name of justice. The main enemy in this story is the OFA (Oboro Forbearance Army) lead by another female ninja who is also said to be one of the finest in the land. These two female ninjas go at it until one of them is captured and trained/transformed against their will into a sex slave. It's important to note here that the game takes place around 2050 in Tokyo, so technology has become relatively advanced. The world itself seems to be VERY grim. It's also slightly fantasy based as it seems many different races inhabit the world, including vampires, orcs, and various types of evil spirits, which are the demons or "evil influenced" people that are making the world so corrupt. The ninjas also have special, beyond human, abilities as well. Nukige 19. Wana ~Hakudaku Mamire no Houkago~ 輪罠 ~白濁まみれの放課後~ [051021] Guilty 1 2 Misaki Raika's brother, a teacher at an all-boys school, has committed suicide. So Raika decides to disguise herself as a male student to enter the school and find out the truth behind his death... Nukige 20. Have Relations With... 3 ~Junko to Nami to Naoyuki to Ore~ have relations with... 3 ~淳子と奈美と直之と俺~ [051022] Soft Circle Courreges This game is an interactive sex simulation game, where the commands you choose influences the attitudes of those you meet and causes different situations to occur. The game spans 14 days, from September 4th to September 17th. The game continues by the selection of commands, having sex and having conversations. The sex part contains two couples that have sex together: the hero and Junko, plus Nami and Naoyuki. Depending on your selection, the attitudes of the people you meet will change, and different situations will occur, so try out a number of things. Doujin Nukige 21. Honki ni Shite wa Ikenai Uranai 本気にしてはいけない占い [051022] Tabun Osoraku Kitto A joke fortune-telling game. Doujin 22. Tsui no Hi -in the latter half of the 90's- 対ノ日 -in the latter half of the 90's- [051023] Inspire 1 Main character goes to Tokyo to enter a college. A woman that lives next door envigorates his fantasies. He is confused by his feelings and tries to listen cautiously to his heart. This summer the two bodies will overlap. But it takes something more for thoughts to overlap as well. Doujin 23. Ryoujoku Shiokinin 陵辱仕置人 [051024] Haoh Main heroine's father remarries a young woman. She gets both company and mansion after father's death. The girl runs away from the mansion after hearing that she is going to be sold to yakuza the next day... Nukige 24. Dorei Seitokai 奴隷生徒会 [051028] Cybele Main character is a rich bonbon attending a prestigious school. His only hobby is personal computer, so he gathers school geeks around him in the computer club. Since all they do is visit adult sites and install illegal software, the club is crushed by the student council president who is also main character's childhood friend. Protagonist decides to revive computer club with his own means. Nukige 25. Hajimete no Otetsudai はじめてのおてつだい [051028] Studio Ring Landlord asks main character to help about the cafe on the first floor of the building. It turns out to be a maid cafe where two cute twins are working already. It's confusing to be called "onii-chan", but promise needs to be fulfilled. Lolicon 26. Houkago Gekisha Club ~Inyoku no Motif~ 放課後激写倶楽部~淫欲のモチーフ~ [051028] Oz Project Shame is art! Girls humiliation can reach the masterpiece level! This is the motto of main character who heads school photo club. All the five girls in club lead an active sex life with the boys of the same club, so protagonist has no difficulty inviting girls to a private shooting session for a solo exhibition. Nukige 27. Kunoichiban! くのいちばんっ! [051028] Crowd There is a world famous shinobu village that produced a huge number of subterfuge experts. Main character returns to his home village for retirement. He is asked to make full-fledged ninja out of failed ninja candidates. It's a colorful bunch of different girls, but pride of his art is on the stake. He starts to live with the girls under one roof and train them. Nukige 28. Kuro no Utahime 黒の歌姫 [051028] Clock Up In a peaceful kingdom, the country is governed by the five royal sisters who are also mystical songstress. The gentle oldest sister - the diva of the earth, the second sister who is also the leader of the knights - the diva of the fire, the third sister - the diva of the light, the fourth sister - the diva of the water, and the fifth and youngest sister - the innocent diva of the wind. From generation to generation the divas sing the song of peace, leading the nation against the power of the devil. But a man resurrected from the grave. And along with him, the shadow of many demons appear at the peaceful kingdom. Against the hord of demons, the diva of light serving as a guardian of the kingdom sings, and all demons disappear in an instant. The revived man who saw that demonstration of power gets startled. "If I get that power... i can dominate everything!" And beside the man, the figure of a succubus arises. And so the man who is the revived demon king began to move in order to dominate and rape them all. Nukige 29. Mahoutsukai no Tamago 魔法使いのタマゴ [051028] Zero Main character is taken by a 300-year-old magician to the forest. There he has to help apprentice girl Miu to become a witch and also comply with the host orders. The way to produce familiars is to place eggs in Miu's body, and he has to help with that as well. He helps to raise a fine demon and hopes to find a way to return home one day. Lolicon 30. Natural Another One 2nd -Belladonna- Natural Another One 2nd -Belladonna- [051028] DreamSoft Belladonna is the name of a flower that is both beautiful and extremely poisonous. But it's also the name of the goddess who cuts the fate threads with scissors. Main character is asked to fulfill a request if he wants to return former lover and get a billion yen. The request is to persuade former lover to abandon all her claims to her dead husband's corporation. Any means are allowed, so he can choose to cultivate love or lust in mansion girls to reach his goal. Nukige 31. Nymphomania [051028] M no Violet Main character is an ordinary student who lives with a step-mother and a step-sister. He has never had relations with girls, but he starts to show interest. There is a childhood friend with the same fascination who attends the same school. The peaceful everyday is transformed suddenly by a single transfer student girl who starts to live in the same house... Nukige 32. Ryouki 2 ~Ayashiku Ugomeku Inbou no Enbukyoku~ 凌姫II~妖しく蠢く淫謀の円舞曲~ [051028] Psy-chs The main character of this h-game is part of the royal guard in service of the king. However, the king has fallen ill, and there is suspicion that witchcraft is the culprit. Soon the kingdom is in a frenzy to capture any woman suspected to be a witch. The 'hero' has taken this opportunity to get his hands on the trio of princess-sisters. Furthermore, his power over them includes their female servants and court members, giving him a total of 10 girls to interrogate/train/humiliate. Perhaps, if he's successful, he may have the entire kingdom for himself! Nukige 33. Slave Police Michiru & Misuzu スレイブポリスみちる&美鈴 [051028] 1 In this game you play as a perverted teacher who happens to find one his students trying to steal a test paper to cheat. He ends up blackmailing her and forcing her to have sex with him. Eventually, he uses her to help him screw all of the hottest girls from the school. Nukige 34. Tenshi no Himegoto 天使のひめごと [051028] Tactics Hideyuki Inori is an exorcist and a member of a secret Catholic order fighting supernatural evil worldwide, but apparently even Holy Ops from the Vatican need a vacation sometimes, because he suddenly asks for a leave from service and returns to his native Japan. His true motives, however, are terribly serious: his dearest childhood friends, the two daughters of his old teacher, have fallen under demonic influence, a power so terrible that maybe only the death of the girls themselves can banish it. Hideyuki is unwilling to report this situation to his superiors, but what can he do? And what are the real nature and objectives of this mysterious, demonic enemy? Nukige 35. Tutorial Summer チュートリアルサマー [051028] Studio Miris Pellet Hyuuga Ippei is a self-supporting university student. He has to work part-time to finance his studies so he does not have spare time to spend for summer sports, Romance, refreshing summer retreat, not even summer festival. "During this summer, I want you to tutor my granddaughters living in the countryside beach," his professor ask along with the promise of good salary and accommodation. It is also a good opportunity to enjoy summer, on top of that, those girls are known to be cute. "I'll do tutoring! Please let me do it!" Nukige 36. Toki, Tsunagu Yume ~Ano Goro no Sunao sa o~ トキ、ツナグユメ ~あの頃の素直さを~ [051029] Crus-Ade First day of the second semester of high school. Main character is unable to reconcile with his girlfriend for a week. He tries to avoid seeing her on the way to school. At this time a mysterious boy stops him. Doujin 37. Inanimate Alice [0510] Chris Joseph Set in the early years of the 21st century and told through text, sound, images, music and games, Inanimate Alice is the story of Alice and her imaginary digital friend Brad. EVN
  12. 1 point
    I figured that it is a bit of a waste to write full reviews of VNs where there are a lot of reviews already by people who are better at writing them than I am, because of this I will now only write a short opinion about a VN I have finished and show the physical edition for titles that has lots of reviews. For VNs where there seem to be a lack of reviews, such as many japanese titles that has never been translated I plan to do longer reviews as well as of course show the pictures of the physical edition. The main thing Grisaia complete box comes with is the Grisaia trilogy and Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru so I will focus on those. The first part of Grisaia is the fruit of Grisaia, this in built up by a common route which focuses on building up the characters and has lots of comedic scenes and then a route for each of the heroines which goes into their backstories and build their relationship with the main character. Fruit of Grisaia is in my opinion the best part of the series, it features a lot of great comedy a fantastic cast of characters and a lot of really good stories and is the only VN I have so far given a 10/10. Labyrinth of Grisaia is split into multiple parts with the main part focusing on the backstory of the main character then there are afterstories for each of the girls routes in Fruit of Grisaia as well as what if sex scenarios and sidestories (random comedic scenes that are non cannonical). The main story is really good, though in my opinion not quite as good as most parts of fruit of Grisaia. The afterstories were really nice as it allowed you to see the relationship with the girls after everything that happened in their route is dealt with and just added something I felt the first VN lacked. The what if sex scenarios and the side stories were generally quite good though not as good as the other parts, I don't feel like they subtracted anything from my opinion of the VN though and instead just made me like it more as it was just some nice additional fanservice. Eden of Grisaia which is the last of the trilogy. The main story here is the harem route which deals with events from the main characters past catching up with him then there is the prologue which tells some events before the start of Fruit of Grisaia and there are also more what if scenarios sex scenes. The main story is a very action packed story with lots of good comedic moments and I think the characters generally shine, while I think it is really good it isn't quite as good as Fruit of Grisaia or Labyrinth of Grisaia in my opinion because of things such as elements of how the story got to this point doesn't make much sence (combining things from routes that wouldn't really be compatible), some retcons and a rather stupid plot twitst close to the end. As for the prologue it is a nice prequal that shows the different girls slightly before they meet the main character. Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru is a spin-off where one of the main girls (Michiru) becomes a magical girl. All of the character have some of their main traits though they are kind of just shoved into different roles. The consept of Michiru becoming a magical girl is really funny and they manage to do fairly well with the comedy, though overall considering the cast of Grisaia it felt rather underwhelming and I think they could have made it a lot more funny and used the cast better. The front of the box The back of the box The sides of the box Outside of the Story collection where the game discs are and the music collection which contains music from the different parts of Grisaia The discs for the VNs and the discs for the music The artbook Inside of the artbook The extra things in the box Size comparison with the complete box, one of them is a regular size did case and the other is a typical japanese physcial edition
  13. 1 point
    異なる世界の話をしよう。 Let us speak of another world.  我々とは森羅万象の法則が異なる世界、 違うものたちが生きる世界のことを。 A world where the laws of creation differ from our own. A world where beings different from us live.  誕生したとき、その世界はただの“無”でしかなかった。 When that world was born, that world contained nothing but the void.  何も存在しないが故に何も起こらず、幾千幾万の時間が経とうとも、その世界は変化することがなかった。 Since nothing existed nothing happened. No matter how many tens of thousands of years passed, that world continued unchanged.  やがて、そんな世界に偶然――“神”と呼ばれるものが生まれた。 Eventually, coincidentally, a being that could be called a 'god' was born there.  神には世界を思うがままに操る力があった。 God had the ability to control the world as he saw fit.  神は何も存在しない世界を嘆き、“無”を“有”にするために、自らの力を行使することにした。 God bewailed that his world was empty and, in order to turn the void into existence, chose to use his power.  神はまず世界を二つに分かつことにした。 God began by splitting the world into two parts.  自らが在るための“天”と、自らが統べる“大地”に。 One part was the 'heavens' he existed in and the other was the 'earth' he ruled over.  神は天に『ブレシグランド』と、大地に『ゴルトロック』と名前を与え、二つの間に空を置いた。 God called the heavens the Land of Blessings and the land Goltrok, and he created the sky to exist between them.  次に神は、ゴルトロックに草木と水と生き物を与えた。 Next, God gave Goltrok foliage, water, and living things.  だが“生”を与えられても“死”を与えられなかった草木は、大地を覆いつくして空に昇り、生き物は増え続けて大地を揺るがし、大地は凄惨なものとなった。 However, since he hadn't given 'death' along with life to them, the foliage filled the land and rose to the skies, living things increased to the point where the earth began to quiver, making the earth a horrible thing to look upon.  神は嘆き、彼らに“死”を与えることにした。 そして死を与えるという重要な役割を負わせるために、神は自らの存在も二つに分かつことにした。 God bewailed this and chose to give them 'death'. And so, in order to give the important role of giving death to life, he split himself into two.  この時、二つとなった神には名前がついた。 At this point, God, split into two beings, came to have a name.  生を司る神エル・アギアス。 死を司る神ヘルダイス。 The god that ruled life became El Agias, the god who ruled death became Helldais.  二柱は、飽くことなく大地に生と死を与え続けた。 The two deities continued to infinitely give the land life and death.  やがて生き物たちの中に知恵が芽生え、二足で歩き、道具を使う人間ヒューマンや亜人デミヒューマンたちが誕生した。 Eventually, there arose those amongst the creatures of the land who had intelligence, walked on two feet, and used tools... it was the birth of humans and demi-humans.  人間や亜人は互いに協力し、大地をより良いものにしようと日々働き続けた。 Humans and demi-humans cooperated to make the world a better place.  だが人間や亜人が生まれて数百年が経つと、死を司る神ヘルダイスは少しずつ狂い始めた。 However, within a few centuries of the rise of the humanoid races, the God of Death, Helldais, slowly began to go mad.  知恵を持つ彼らは、“生”への執着が神の想像を凌駕するほどに強かったのだ。 Due to their intelligence, the humanoids possessed an attachment to 'life' that far surpassed the imagination of the gods.  死を与えるたびに触れる無念の想いにヘルダイスは狂わされ、いつしかそれはエル・アギアスへの憎悪に転化した。 The regrets of the dead he touched every time he gave death drove Helldais mad, and this eventually caused him to hate El Agias.  そしてついに、神と神の戦いが始まった。 And so, finally the war of the gods began.  二人の神は魔法を使い、神の戦器トラブラムを使い、互いの存在を否定せんと果てしのない凄惨な殺し合いを繰り広げた。 The two gods used magic and the divine weapons, Trobrahm to try to deny the other's existence, indulging in an infinite cycle of mutual slaughter.  神たちが戦い始めると同時、人間や亜人たちもそれに感化されたかのように、ゴルトロックの覇権を握るための争いを始めた。 At the moment the gods began to fight, the humans and demihumans, almost as if they were influenced by the godswar, began to fight for control of Goltrok.  それから永劫とも思える年月が流れ――。 A time that seemed infinite in its length passed...  神と神の長きの戦いにも終止符が打たれた。 And the long war between the gods came to an end.  敗北したヘルダイスは『名前』を奪われ、天から追放されて大地へと墜ちた。 The defeated Helldais's name was stripped from him, and he was exiled from the heavens, causing him to fall to the earth.  エル・アギアスはヘルダイスの代わりに『死の黒霊スレイドバズ』という、心を持たずただ大地に死を与え続ける精霊を生んだ。 El Agias created the Death Spirit Slaidbass, a spirit without emotions, to give the earth death.  大地へ堕ちた『神だったもの』は腐乱した頭で考える。 The thing that had once been a god, fallen to the earth, began to think with its rotten brain.  ――生を憎め。 ――生を受けたもの全てを憎め。 ――生を謳歌するもの全てに等しく死を与えんことを。 --- Hate life. ---- Hate all things that live. --- Give death to all things that have life.  ――我は“不死の王ノーライフキング”なり。 --- I am the King of Undeath.  これこそが、“不死の王”の誕生であった。 This was the birth of the 'King of Undeath'.  彼は『屍を操る』術を使い、虚ろな思考のままに自身の眷属――屍兵ゾンビを増やしていった。 He used 'Necromancy', and, obedient to the thoughts of his hollow spirit, created many zombie servants. (Clephas note: Just easier to call it Necromancy rather than saying 'He used techniques that controlled corpses')  村が滅び、町が滅び、国が滅んでいく。 Villages, cities, and countries fell into ruin.  屍兵が大国を滅ぼせば、大国の民たちも屍兵と化した。 屍兵が巨人の集落を襲えば、巨人たちの屍が歩き出した。 When zombies destroyed a great nation, the great nation's citizens became zombies. If zombies destroyed a settlement of Giants, the corpses of the giants strode forth.  大地で争っていた者たちも遅まきながら気付いた。 When it was almost too late, those dwelling upon the earth finally realized what was happening.  不死の王を倒さねば、この世界そのものが死に絶えるのだと。 That if they didn't defeat the Undead King, the world itself would die.  全ての地の民──人と亜人たちは種族の壁を乗り越えて団結し『ゴルトロック軍』として、不死の王の軍勢たちに戦いを挑んだ。 All the people of the world--- humans and demihumans alike, came together to form the Goltrok Army, in order to fight the armies of the Undead King.  だが昼夜の区別なく、頭を破壊されない限り戦い続ける屍兵ゾンビたちに次第にゴルトロック軍も押され始めた。 However, the Goltrok Army quickly began to lose ground to the zombies, for they continued to fight day and night unless their heads were not destroyed.  為す術はないのか。 (at this point, the dialogue shifts to vicariously echoing the people of the time) 'Is there no way?'  不死の王が住む凍りついた城の周囲は無限とも思える数の屍兵ゾンビによって護られ、巨人や変身した竜人種ドラゴニュートですらたどり着くには神の奇跡を乞い願うしかないだろう。 The area around the Undead King's frozen castle is protected by a near-infinite number of zombies, and even Giants and transformed dragonewts would have to beg God for a miracle to arrive at its walls.  偉大なる神エル・アギアスはおられぬのか。 崇高なる存在エル・アギアスは我らを見捨てられたのか。 Is the great god El Agias no longer present in the heavens? Has the divine El Agias abandoned us?  そう大地全ての生物が嘆いていたとき、対屍兵最前線の城砦都市ガーレに、九人の魔法使いが訪れた。 As all that lived upon the earth bewailed their fates, nine mages appeared at the frontline fortress city of Garey.  彼らは不死の王によって最初に攻め滅ぼされた小国の魔法使いの一団だと名乗ると、一つの光明をもたらした。 They called themselves a group of mages from the first country to be destroyed by the Undead King and bestowed upon the people a single hope.  ――我々の魔法さえ使えば、我らの祖国、不死の王の居城の間近まで勇者を送り届けることができるだろう。 'Using our magic, we can send heroes to the foot to our homeland, at the foot of the Undead King's castle.'  だがその魔法は一人の魔法使いにつき、たった一度きり。 即ち、九人の魔法使いによって送ることのできる戦士はわずか九人。 However, that magic could only be used once per mage. In other words, the nine mages could only transport nine heroes.  ゴルトロック軍は相談の末、数多ある種族の中で、特に突出した勢力を誇っていた八種族からそれぞれ勇者を選り抜いた。 After considering for a time, the Goltrok Army selected warriors from eight races that possessed the largest military power at the time.  人間からエイベル・スカイウォーカー。 エルフからフュール・サングマイン。 ドワーフからゴットロープ・ラナチウム。 オークからラッカロコ・ライターン。 From the Humans: Abel Skywalker. From the Elves: Karafyur Sangmainn. From the Dwarves, Goltrope Ranaschium. From the Orcs: Raccaroko Rytan.  ジャイアントからワイズマン。 ゴブリンからサブル・ハブル。 リザードマンからジル・レ・シャドウフィールド。 From the Giants: Wiseman. From the Goblins: Sable Habble. From the Lizardmen, Jil Le Shadowfield.  ドラゴニュートから、 イングリッド・フォルテンマイヤー。 And from the Dragonewts: Ingrid Fortenmeyer.  そして最後に、八人を補佐する役割を担った従者が一人選ばれた。 And, last of all, an attendant, tasked with assisting the Eight, was chosen.  勇者たちは、九人の魔法使いにより、不死の王の居城『ヴァルトラン』の間近まで瞬く速さでの跳躍を果たした。 The heroes were transported in an instant to a spot next to the Undead King's castle, Valtran.  されど。 九人の眼前に立ちはだかるのは、『不死の王を護る』という命令だけに従う、屍兵の軍勢。 However, what stood before the Nine was an army of zombies obeying only a single order... 'Protect the Undead King.'  その数、およそ十万。 Their numbers, around one hundred thousand.  ここにゴルトロックに生きる全種族の命運を賭けた――九対十万の戦争が始まった。 Here began the fight to determine the fates of all of Goltrok's people... a war between nine and one hundred thousand.  腐肉滴る馬を駆る骨だらけの無数の屍兵たちを、勇者たちは恐れず打ち砕いていく。 The heroes fearlessly struck down flesh-less zombies atop rotting horses.  九人は高位の魔法と武器、強靭な胆力と優れた知恵をもって十万の軍勢を突き崩し、長い城塞を抜けて、ついにただの一人も欠けることなく、不死の王に対峙した。 The Nine used powerful weapons, great magics, iron will, and brilliant strategems to break down the army of one hundred thousand, breaking through the fortress walls, and they finally made their way to the foot of the Undead King's throne.  だが無敵に思えた彼らでも、不死の王との戦いは熾烈を極めた。 However, even for the seemingly invincible heroes, the fight with the Undead King reached the peaks of ferocity.  幾度聖剣で斬りつけ、幾度魔法で燃やし、切り刻み、凍り付かせても不死の王は滅ぼせなかった。 No matter how many times they cut at him with holy swords, burned him with magic, sliced him open, or froze his flesh, they could not destroy the Undead King.  元より神であった不死の王は『死』を与える・・・だけの存在で、『死』を与えられる存在ではない・・・・・・・・・・・のだ。 From the beginning, the Undead King was a god who only gave 'death' to others, and he was not a being that could be given 'death' himself.  誰かが神に祈り、 誰かが膝を屈しそうになったその時、 At the moment when one prayed and another was about to fall to his knees...  不死の王の前に一人の男が進み出た。 これまで八人に付き従ってきた従者だった。 A single man walked out before the Undead King. It was the attendant who had, up until this moment, followed the eight heroes.  従者は自身も知らない呪文を導かれるままに詠唱した。 The attendant began to chant the words to a spell he himself did not know.  魔法の名は“神の降臨サモン・ゴッド”。 選ばれし者にしか詠唱できない、屈指の大魔法。 The name of the spell was 'Summon God', a Grand Magic that could only be chanted by one chosen.  従者はその時知った、不死の王は死を与えながら死を知らない故に、どうやっても滅ぼすことなどできないのだと。 At this moment, the attendant was given to know that the Undead King was a being that gave death to others while not knowing it himself. As such, he could not be destroyed by normal means.  滅ぼす方法はただ一つ。 死を知る者の躯の中に不死の王を召喚すること。 There was only one way to kill him. He had to be summoned into the body of one who knew death.  つまり死を知らぬ者に、死を知らしめること。 In other words, forcing the experience of death upon one who knew it not.  そして。 神はそのために九人の中から自分を選んだのだということも。 And he also came to know that it was for that very reason that he had been selected from amongst the Nine.  従者はその事実を本来の主であるイングリッドに伝え、不死の王もろとも自分を滅ぼすように、と願った。 The attendant confessed this reality to his former mistress Ingrid and asked her to destroy him along with the Undead King.  イングリッドは一度はそれを拒んだが、従者の説得に応じ、その身を聖剣で貫いた。 Ingrid refused at first, but, in response to her attendant's please, she thrust her holy sword through his body.  かくして不死の王は『死』を知り、滅び去った。 So it was that the Undead King came to know 'death' and was destroyed.  彼が滅んだ途端、屍兵たちも塵へと還った。 朽ちた大地に再び草木が芽生え、穢れた水は清らかさを、瘴気に病んだ風は生気を取り戻した。 At the moment of his death, the zombies turned to dust, the withered land began to bloom once again, the tainted water was cleansed, and the wind was cleansed of miasma.  大地を再び生者の手に取り戻したのだ。 人々は歓喜し、八人を英雄として褒め称えた。 The land was reclaimed by the living. The people yelled in joy, praising the Eight as heroes.  そして大神エル・アギアスは彼らが人でありながら不死の王を倒した偉業への褒美として『聖紋』を授けた。 And, as a reward for having defeated the Undead King despite their own mortality, the great god El Agias bestowed upon them the Sacred Crest.  ――聖紋は英雄の証明であり、連綿と受け継がれていくもの。 The Sacred Crest is the proof of heroism, to be passed down through the generations.  ――八人の英雄が、未来永劫語り継がれるように。 This is so the Eight Heroes will continue to be told of in stories for eternity.  ――この『聖紋』は我が与える奇跡。生きとし生けるもの全てが、邪悪と戦ったのだという確かな証し。 This Sacred Crest is a miracle I bestow upon you. A proof that all that lives fought against a great evil.  ――それを示すために、この聖紋の継承者には大いなる力を与えよう。 In order to show this, I bestow upon the inheritors of this Sacred Crest an immense power.  かくして、後世の歴史に永遠に刻まれるであろう『八英雄』が誕生した。 And so it was that the story of the Eight Heroes, destined to be carved into history for eternity, was born.
  14. 1 point
    Usually, I focus mostly on the perspective of a consumer when I write in this blog. I do this because I am and always have been primarily a consumer of material rather than a creator. However, that doesn't mean I've never created anything... just that I haven't published anything (well, under my own name... ghost writing doesn't count) since some early fiction on Deviantart over a decade ago. So, since I'm not writing as many reviews, I chose to start a small corner describing the techniques I use when I'm writing fiction (which I still do as a hobby, though I stopped posting it after the last site I posted massively on went under). Today's corner is about the techniques I use when creating a character (usually the protagonist and his immediate surrounding characters, as well as the antagonist) in the brainstorming process. There are two types I use... the flow of thought type and the 'important points' type. The flow of thoughts (similar to flow of consciousness style of writing) involves simply writing out all the qualities, the basic history, and abilities/talents/weaknesses of a character as they occur to you in prose form. This is very similar to the character summaries given on official websites, but in much more detail, with specific important points (to you) described in detail. Immediately after I complete this process, I ink out the setting (I usually create a setting in parallel to the characters) and then I start the 'sculpting' process. The sculpting process involves slowly shaving away or altering parts of the character that don't quite fit with the full setting, are excessive (it is easy to make fantasy protagonists over-powered, for instance), or just don't seem to be internally consistent in retrospect. The final step is to try to write an intro scene for that character that would make sense for that character in the universe you've created, giving you an impression that you can use to form their role in a story. The second method I use is more mechanical. In this case, I write out all the qualities in list form, based on what kind of character I'm interested in making. I usually use this for side-characters, as it is a much 'dryer' approach. Essentially, I create Personality, History, Relationships, and Abilities/Talents/Quirks/Weaknesses categories. Relationships is generally the first category I focus on, connecting their strand of the web to that of the protagonist and/or other characters. The second is usually either History or Personality. The reason is that this defines the nature of the Relationships, giving it a more distinct form. Last is the Abilities/Talents/Quirks/Weaknesses category. To be blunt, while this is important to their role in the story, it is the aspect that is most likely to be subject to change based on what is necessary to keep the plot going. These are the basic techniques I use... to be honest, since I've never been formally educated in creative writing, I don't know how close my methodology is to that which is commonly used, but I find that this works best for me.
  15. 1 point
    Master Magistrate is the murder mystery detective visual novel set in the late years of Japan's Edo Period. Developed by the indie studio Irodori and released in the year of 2017, it quickly attained popularity and became a hit amongst Japanese fans. They praised the great direction sense, well-crafted scenario, immersive atmosphere, and fascinating soundtrack, amongst other aspects. Hobibox have attained publishing rights for the Chinese and English versions of the game, wishing to bring this experience overseas. They have committed themselves to provide a high-quality product, hoping to turn a new leaf and redeem themselves for not so fruitful past endeavors. Read more at https://j-addicts.de/master-magistrate-early-access-review/ - we now have a comment box! (I was initially planning on cross-posting here but the screenshots looked strange, so yeah).
  16. 1 point
    Youjuu Senki -A.D. 2048- is not really a masterpiece at all, but without strong competitors I find it entertaining enough to be called VN of the September 1993. 1. Nurse Yuu no Muma Sensen ナースゆうの夢魔戦線 [930904] Wendy Magazine 1 2 "Nurse Yuu no Mumasensen" is an adventure game with a rather cryptic story. The player controls a young nurse named Yuu, who finds herself near a secluded military hospital, unable to understand whether she is dreaming or not. She then begins to work at the hospital, becoming more and more intrigued by the events happening in it. There is an English review. 2. Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou Vol. 1 大江戸探偵 神谷右京 Vol1 [930908] Altacia Detective Kamiya Ukyo is asked for an investigation, but the client is killed with her head chopped off. There was Ukyo name in the will, so agency took up the case. The series had its fan base, but game was postponed for a long time due to underdeveloped graphical technologies. Author of the script was an active detective at that time and game synopsis based on real events. Still, first two games had about 60% of fiction still involved to give the story more depth. And since the work was written by criminal expert, there is quite much uncommon terminology used. These first two works are still done in anime manner and for pc-98, but later works for Windows platform get much more serious design and reality feeling. First work is not polished enough to be considered a masterpiece, but second work is right in that zone. 3. Tinkle - Zenimusume てぃんくる [930909] Agumix 1 The great evil was prevented by the four legendary heroes, but the threat has awoken again. Elven heroine Narushi and her loyal pet set on a journey to get four crystals that would break the enemy's defense. Each crystal is hidden in a three-layer labyrinth. There is a Polish review available with some machine translation. 4. Houma Hunter Lime Dai 04 Wa 宝魔ハンターライム 第04話 [930910] Silence 1 In this episode Lime and Mizuki work as waitresses in a local cafe in order to detect the presence of a BEM. After having located the monster they become unexpectedly attached to it, which makes it harder for them to recover the jewel. Each episode is very individual. This time Mizuki plays the most important role while our heroes just observe the drama from the side. 5. Mouryou Senki Madara Daikongourin Hen 魍魎戦記MADARA 大金剛輪編 [930910] Kogado Studio 1 2 3 The game is based on the manga series Moryou Senki Madara. The story is set in a mythological era in Japan, and focuses on twin brothers, Madara and Kage-Ou ("Shadow King"), sons of the evil Emperor Miroku. While Kage-Ou follows in the footsteps of his father, Madara fights against him and for the good of mankind. The game begins as Madara is gravely wounded in his fight against Miroku, but is saved by a young warrior named Seishinja, who lives together with his sister Himika. Before Madara is cured, Seishinja has to fight demons himself, with the help of the legendary sword Kusanagi. This is a small part of a big franchise of some five series of manga and supporting content. First you have to fight alone, then Madara awakens and main character shifts. Unless you have the game manual, you wont be able to know chakra (magic) combinations. This VN ending differs from original manga since the main character here is set to destroy the world and recreate it for himself and no happy ending is seen. 6. Night Shifter ナイトシフター [930910] Four-Nine 1 Once upon a time, there was a young boy who loved motorcycles. Riding through the night on his bike was what he enjoyed most - until one night he crashed into a car, and was taken to hospital. There, he wakes up to find out that he'll have to go through some injections and infusions, which scares him so much that he faints... and immediately finds himself mysterious transported to a bizarre magical realm, somewhat inspired by Alice in Wonderland, with well-dressed rabbits, smoking caterpillars, but also plenty of cute girls. It turns out that this Wonderland isn't that bad - but how hard will it be to conquer the hearts of its pretty inhabitants?.. Looks like this game imitated Classmates, but without time dimension and with much lower production values. Lawful and Chaotic personalities only influence some CG and speech. Choices that have to be done from time to time hardly influence anything at all. So there's hardly a plot, just exploration of Wonderland with ultimate aim to get out. 7. Viper-V8 Viper-V8 [930910] Sogna 1 2 The second entry in Sogna's long-running Viper franchise, Viper V-8 has the same format as its predecessor: three separate short stories with minimal interaction and animated sex scenes. The three stories are: Friday the 18th: Obviously, a parody on horror movies, telling the story of three young girls who were sexually assaulted by mysterious masked men when camping near a forest. Demon's Night is set in medieval times and describes a battle of three young heroes against a vicious demon. One of them is killed in battle, while the other (a girl) is captured by the demon; the remaining warrior, a young man named Ryu, has to rescue his friend. Alien Wars takes place in the future. A young space pilot named Sylvie is ambushed and captured by aliens who have nothing else in mind but to have sex with her... There is an English review. 8. Ayumi-chan Monogatari あゆみちゃん物語 [930915] Alice Soft 1 The premise of Ayumi-chan Monogatari is rather simple: the protagonist, a young boy named Kouichi, is in love with the most beautiful girl in his school, Ayumi Kawai. One day she admits that she also loves him, and they begin a relationship. Plot is virtually non-existant and the whole point is to try each intimate date something new to get new CG and eventually get 100% CG. Very few works had CG galleries accessible in game and I don't think any measured completeness of opened CG in percentage. And thanks to graphics and cute character design the game was really popular. The game was made in close partnership with the active bbs fans which is also an impressive model that no other company could pull out. It's an important game for the visual novel history, but apart of all the novelty I only see a nukige here. 9. Custom Mate カスタムメイト [930917] Cocktail Soft 1 A young man finds a mysterious box. Making sure no one is at home, he opens the box and finds a scroll with a magic incantation inside. He chants the magic spell - and immediately a cute female elf appears. She says she can create any girl the hero wants. But once the girl is created, he has to figure out how to win her good graces... An easy seduction SIM which precedes a wave of SIMs in the second half of 1990s. Graphics is quite uneven. 10. Kachou Shima Kousaku: Super Business Adventure 課長 島 耕作 スーパービジネスアドベンチャー [930917] Yutaka 1 2 The game allows the player to play the role as a Japanese salaryman as he goes on his "employment adventure" in order to accomplish negotiations for business deals. Occasionally, the player will have to do stuff with his girlfriend and explore his office building in order to accomplish things from his employer. Game was based on popular manga and it's very realistic - it deals with dirty corporations ethics, racism, pregnancy... so it was scraped for release in the West. Series are closely connected with the original, at times for the bad, at times for the good. For example, letters are presented as in the original with its complexity, but some of the choices player makes won't have effect at all since they weren't reflected in the original. So it might be a nice game to try unless it was japanese famicom only. 11. Youjuu Senki -A.D. 2048- 妖獣戦記 -A.D.2048- [930917] D.O. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 The apocalypse known as "The Third" occured as a result of mankind's tasting the deadly fruit of nuclear technology. The massive radiation released in the holocaust of world war mingled with the genetic fallout from biological weapons, creating horrific mutations that came to be called "Yoju". These beasts bred in the bodies of humans and multiplied, covering the blighted landscape and pushing humanity to the brink of extinction. It is now the year 2048. As mankind's final gamble in the struggle against the Yoju, a squad of genetically engineered cyborgs was created - the Anti Strangebeast Special Police (A.S.S.P.) whose members possess combat ability far beyond that of normal humans. They have been programmed with the complete database of anti-Yoju strategies and tactics researched over years of war. These female biosoldiers have become humanity's last line of defense against total annihilation, and you have been chosen to command them. There are English reviews. 12. Ah! an Ah! an [930922] Wendy Magazine A collection of two short stories: 1) Face of Hakuhaku 2) Yukari laboratory Both of stories have 2 and 3 branches and endings, respectively. Game was ment to be Vol.1 of the series, but never got continuation. Drawing won't be to everyone's liking. H events are the center of the game and those are animated. The stories are too short even considering branches. 13. Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor - Griffon Hen 機動警察パトレイバー グリフォン篇 [930930] Riverhill Soft inc. 1 2 3 4 Digital Comic Patlabor is based on the anime series Patlabor. In the near future, officers of Tokyo Metropolitan Police pilot giant robots called "Labors" to combat criminals. Like most installments of the anime and manga, the game focuses on characters from Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2, and the playable character is Noa Izumi. More specifically, the game follows the so-called "TV timeline", involving the Labor Griffon. There are English reviews. 14. Shangrlia 2 SHANGRLIA2 [930930] Elf 1 2 3 For a while peace was reigning in the magical Kingdom of Hyunckel. However, dark forces have emerged again. Commanding hellish creatures, they managed to capture the top female generals of the Hyunckel army, sealing them in special devices resembling eggs. Only three generals remained free, and they must liberate their companions and re-capture the land. There's little to be said. You either played prequel and don't need review or not played prequel, then it's better to start with that. The complexity of rules increased with sequel significantly.
  17. 1 point
    I’m going to be frank with you about this VN. Maggot Baits is in no way, shape, or form a story with good guys. Everyone in this VN is a monster or scum. This VN has way too much guro, even for a VN focused on the grotesque, and it is actually made worse by the high-quality writing, lol. That said… story-wise, if you skip through 90% of the H-scenes, this VN is actually pretty good. Unfortunately, if you don’t skip those h-scenes, it is very hard not to see this as one big snuff-film turned VN. Horror… it is that. It is definitely horror. Unfortunately, it is pretty obvious that the writers were just being self-indulgent with the sheer number of such h-scenes (was it really necessary to have multiple mind-break scenes for every single Witch introduced, even the ones who weren’t really significant to the main story?) The writing in this VN, ironically, is first-class. The problem is, there is so much torture – sexual and otherwise – that it was pretty hard to maintain my interest through large parts of the early VN, where they kept digressing to look at h-scenes of witches that the protagonist never encounters. To be blunt, this is a failure of scenario design, despite the VN as a whole being very well-written. Visually… the VN is about as high-quality as it gets. Unfortunately, that high-quality just means that those with weak stomachs will spend a lot of time vomiting. The audio in this VN (I’m ignoring the voices, since way too many of them are h-related) is fairly high-quality, with a focus on death metal tunes and dark techno. What’s most ironic about this VN is Ending 2, which is the closest thing you can get to a ‘good’ ending. Ending 1 isn’t a bad ending… but it is very much an Akiha from Tsukihime-style ‘normal’ ending. Well, in the sense that there really isn’t any sweetness and a lot of loss. There is a bad ending early on, but it is more like an ‘oops, you screwed up, time to die’ ending, and it feels kind of tacked on, considering you can only access Ending 2 after completing 1. On the bright side, Ending 2 is actually pretty touching, leaving a definite impression and a sense of salvation Ending 1 didn't have. The protagonist... think of someone who has gone completely over the edge due to his desire for revenge and reduced himself to being a killing machine, willing to use anyone and anything for the sake of his goals, and you will have a decent picture of the guy. In Ending 2, he shows off a softer side, but throughout the path leading to Ending 1, he is a cold-blooded bastard. Overall… what can I say about this VN? It is a party for those who like extreme guro, but for anyone else, this is going to be a high-stress VN that they probably won’t even get halfway through before dropping. This VN is tailor-made for a niche within a niche in the VN community that generally doesn’t see much high-quality work (that isn’t a remake of old stuff) anymore. That said, it didn’t appeal to me, except once I basically excised the h-scenes and thought about it that way. This VN is a major failure though, from a scenario design perspective, simply because too much effort was put into inserting extra gratuitous sexual violence scenes that just made the entire thing seem monotonous after a while.