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Showing content with the highest reputation since 09/25/2020 in Blog Entries

  1. 6 points
    Hey there all! I will start with saying that I really treasure my time spent writing this blog and interacting with various people involved in the EVN community. You guys were awesome company in this journey and despite the obscurity of this project, I feel like it benefited me personally in many ways and maybe even helped people appreciate the value within the non-JP visual novel scene. I'm really thankful to all the people that read my blog, the devs that offered me their time and gave me their games for review – they all made these 2+ years into something special. When I started this project, there were two main things that motivated me. The first one was the frustration over dismissal of EVNs which is still common sense in the large parts of the VN fan community – belittling of the very games that made me fall in love with the visual novel formula. I wanted to create a space that is fully dedicated to discussion and promotion of EVNs as worthwhile and significant part of the genre. The second part was even more personal – my personal struggles with video game addiction and other issues, my ambition to shift my focus into a more challenging and creative activity. In many ways, I consider both my goals relative successes. While slowly, the perception of EVNs is changing and the scene evolving in interesting ways – while it shares pretty much all the suffering of other indie niches, with PC gaming in general being oversaturated and hard to navigate, I feel that it at least established itself as a significant formula that is attractive for story-oriented devs and appreciated by a significant audience. In other words, EVNs are here to stay and in time fewer and fewer people will be able to easily dismiss them as poor imitations of Japanese games. Whether my work had any impact in this regard? Apart from a bunch of people on Fuwanovel that I know I influenced in personal interactions, I honestly have no idea. I want to think there was some minor impact, but I had enough fun in the process and learned enough that I don't mind either way. I did my best and changed a few things about myself, which was the most important part for me. Of course, I'm in no way saying that I'm putting the blog on hiatus because my job here is done. The real reason is much more prosaic – I just can't keep up with it. The last month was particularly devastating in this regard, with very little time for me to either read or write. And while an obvious answer would be to just work at my own pace and publish stuff whenever I'm able to, it's not really something that would work out for me. Missing deadlines, thinking about future projects, it all became a source of stress rather than a source of fun, and I feel it would only get worse with time. While I really wanted to keep the project alive, I don't want to do so at any cost. I feel burned out. I barely read VNs for fun. I don't watch anime for a few months now. I need a change of pace and ability to rediscover my love for these hobbies. The blog, sadly, became a prime obstacle in this. So, what's going to happen now? The blog will cease to get updates, unless something special happens. I might still do game jam summaries, as those are something I massively enjoy. I might also publish something on Fuwanovel from time to time – I'm theoretically still an editor there. The one part of the project that's definitely here to stay is the Steam Curator account. The devs that sent me their games deserve to at least get a Steam review and, generally, an evaluation of their work. I will also use my Twitter to publish updates about new games listed on the Curator account. The Steam reviews themselves will likely be a bit more polished – not that much though, I don't want to jump straight into the same burnout-inducing rabbit whole. So, once more, thank you for sticking around and I hope my project gave you some amusement. And, of course, see you around – I'm not giving up on EVNs and the community around them any time soon.
  2. 3 points
    If I had to summarize the experience I had when reading the first half of Umineko for the first time, it would go something like this: At least for the first three episodes I mainly tried to identify the culprit with a typical mystery reader mindset. Even when it became obvious the game told its story from a fantasy standpoint, my focus was on discerning which parts could be taken at face value and which were made up by Beatrice. Even as I was able to see how this approach was getting deconstructed, I was still waiting for Battler to come up with the one logic argument able to solve it all. Even as Beatrice kept repeating "without love it cannot be seen" (or WLICBS, as I am going to call it for the rest of this post)) I took this mainly as an incentive to look at all the romantic and fantastical scenes from the "detective" angle and tried to spot if anyone had unintentionally slipped up. I dismissed the scenes where "real" characters chatted with fantastical ones as merely character building because to me they weren't actually happening. If the discussions of Umineko on this forum and especially in the "What are playing" thread are anything to go by, most readers have a somewhat similar experience. Even the ones whose theories get quite close to the truth usually base them on secondary clues like character designs. Recently I started rereading Umineko, and well, now I know what the "it" in WLICBS is about. The scene where Maria is searching for the wilting rose isn't primarily setup for the first mini-mystery, namely who gave her the umbrella, it's a tale about a small girl who, being overwhelmed by the loss something precious to her and getting abused by the one who should console her, gets saved by love. The first hour or so of episode 2 isn't just Shannon and Kanon bonding with their love interests and a witch, it is important context for establishing the culprit's motive. Which is way more helpful when trying to figure out who is behind the Rokkenjima killings than guessing how the culprit could have killed someone inside a room locked with a key chain. Thinking about why Shannon and Kanon don't see themselves as full humans deserving of love brings you closer to the truth than pondering on some howdunnit. So why do most readers seem to not pick up on this the first time, even when it is right in front of them? Why is everyone reading Umineko the wrong way at first? Yeah I know, it is a polemic question. There is no objective right or wrong way to read something. However, more or less every piece of media contains some form of message or subtext, either explicitely stated or at least implied by its author, often intentionally although it doesn't have to be, and which can be read into.* Depending on your own view of the handled topics and which motive you assume the author to have, your interpretation can change (as well as your overall enjoyment of the work). To name one example and shamelessly plug one my other blog posts**, in my analysis about Steins;Gate I argue the common interpretation of its message that fate can't be changed doesn't really get at the core of S;G but that rather it's a story about growing up and learning to make your own fortune. I came to this conclusion based on the true ending contradicting the former reading. If you assume it wasn't included for some deeper reason, but rather the writers feeling like that is also valid, keeping the "inescapable fate" interpretation as the most reasonable one (although a message definitely becomes weaker when it gets contradicted by the story itself).*** Of course that doesn't mean all interpretations of pieces of media are created equal. They should be somewhat rooted in the plot, characters, themes and so on.**** If your main takeaway from Steins;Gate is that microwave radiation is evil, you are either a troll or should seriously work on your reading comprehension skills.***** So is there even one "correct" reading of Umineko? Not really, though luckily the game more or less directly states that it wants you to read "with love" for lack of a better term, and not just Umineko but in general. The concept is pretty complex and it takes Ryukishi07 the whole 60+ hours of Chiru to explain it. The basic idea is to base your mindset while reading on the motivations of the characters and the author. Umineko is not even secretive about this or makes it some unexpected twist. Beatrice says WLICBS for the first time at the beginning of episode 2, and over the course of the VN this sentence gets repeated many, many times. So why does it often take readers so long to adapt this mindset, besides it seeming somewhat abstract at first? I would say it is because Umineko intentionally tricks you into reading it as a mystery story at first. It deliberately frames itself as a murder mystery. This begins with its setting where a rich family fights over an inheritance while at a remote mansion with a mysterious backstory and then people start dying under strange circumstances. Of course you would want to know what is going on there and the seemingly easiest and most logical way to do so is to look for inconsistencies in the alibis and shown series of events. If Umineko wanted to be read as a story about love from the beginning it would have built up the interpersonal drama first and then culminated in the serial killings. Also each episode has a new set of murder mysteries, constantly giving your inner detective more fodder. After the first game board the battle of wits between Battler and Beatrice gets presented as the central conflict. The latter is a witch claiming to be the culprit and killing people in the most ridiculous and unrealistic fashion possible, so of course you would take the viewpoint of her opponent who tries to explain the killings as "real" murder mysteries and try to solve everything his way******. Umineko's structure caused me (and presumably others too) to not really think about what all the scenes of characters talking about the nature of love and miracles and such are trying to convey, but rather search them for clues for the whodunnits and howdunnits, which made me miss the core of the story. Which is the point of telling it this way: "Mystery literature" thought patterns don't just not help you to solve Umineko. In fact they get you further away from being able to see the truth, even though it is right in front of you the whole time. Umineko basically forces you into adopting the "mystery" mindset to make its deconstruction hit you harder. By gently, but decisively shoving you into taking a certain perspective you start to have a personal stake in the story, which makes the takedown of said viewpoint so much more effective.******* Only by utterly defeating your own seemingly logical default approach it becomes apparent why the alternative Umineko proposes is superior.******** There is one huge downside to this approach though: Most readers wont get even half of what is going on in Umineko on the first reading. Which is a big deal when your VN is so long most people won't bother going through it a second time. Those that do though get rewarded with an experience that is even better than the first readthrough. Or as Kinzo would put it: The bigger the sacrifice, the greater the magic that results.********* * This topic does a great job exposing (probably, hopefully) unintentional subtext in a certain subgenre of VNs. Not to say this only happens in trashy media, whenever something is considered to "not have aged well" it usually has to do with some its implicit assumptions about how the world works not being considered acceptable anymore in today's society. ** Originally I thought about naming my blog "Paca Plugs" which would have been an amazing pun, if I dare say so myself. I decided against it because I didn't actually plan on doing any plugging. I don't orgle on here either though so maybe I should have gone with my original idea… *** I have to admit that after having read Steins;Gate 0 and Chaos;Child, both of which seem very confused about what they want to communicate, I've become much more inclined to accept this admittedly more cynical interpretation, and have started to see Steins;Gate as more of a case of a broken clock showing the right time twice a day within the SciAdv series. I hope Robotics;Notes manages to prove me wrong… **** I mention this mainly for the sake of completeness, to preemptively invalidate the "if any interpretation is possible, no interpretation can be true, thus interpretation is pointless" argument, not because it ties into where this post is going. ***** Here, have another footnote where I apologize for the length of the sentences in this paragraph and for adding so many footnotes. There's just too many possible ways to get sidetracked with this topic. I thought about adding another one later on where I would rant about Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi and why I thought the way it forces the reader into becoming complicit doesn't work, especially when compared to how clever Umineko achieves this, but then decided not to. ****** One of the greatest ironies in Umineko is that the "real" murder mysteries in the games are just as made up by Beatrice as her fantasy explanations. And just like she keeps adding characters to a closed circle, I keep adding footnotes to a post that would work just as well without them. Without my boredom during proofreading "it" cannot be seen. ******* So about why Totono doesn't work in comparison: Where Umineko lets you make the choice how you want to read it in your head, Totono literally forces you to take the approach to its choice system it is trying to deconstruct if you want to progress beyond its first few hours. Because of this it is easy for you to divorce yourself from your in-game decisions. So when the game scolds you for picking them, you can rightfully shrug it off because your only alternative would have been dropping the VN. I can't imagine Nitroplus praising you for asking for a refund in that case though. ******** The more I think about Umineko's concept of love, the more I find myself actually disagreeing with it. No, I won't go into more detail here because it would take me another blog post of this length to properly explain why. Weirdly enough despite this my enjoyment of the VN hasn't suffered at all. ********* Oh my, this post has gotten really really long. Thanks a lot to everyone who actually bothered to read through all of it! Yes, all three of you!
  3. 3 points
    I took my first steps onto the road of the otaku in 1992, when I watched the poorly dubbed (all dubs were godawful back then) Record of Lodoss War Volume 1 OVA VCR tape. Now, I was already a heavy fantasy addict, having been introduced to the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in 1990, and my obsession was at its peak at the time. When I watched Record of Lodoss War, I saw the typical 'elven maiden with human hero' romance in a new way (incidentally, this is a pretty typical romantic theme in those days, less so nowadays). I also saw oddities that stood out as odd to me precisely because of the oddly black and white point of view enforced on one by the various D&D universes. Of course, I was a chuunibyou brat by that time, already, so it should surprise no one that I got obsessed. It got ten times worse, however, when I encountered Chrono Trigger as it was played on my cousin's SNES. Chrono Trigger is still, to this day, one of the single best rpgs ever made. Looking back, considering all that has been done since then, it is almost TERRIFYING that someone was able to do what was done with Chrono Trigger with the limitations placed by using the SNES system. The story, the world, and the various layers of time were put together into such a subtly complex experience that, to this day, I've yet to see any other rpg manage it. Chrono Cross would manage to imitate some elements of this with its parallel world jumping, but Chrono Trigger's jumping around in time gave you impetus to explore how every aspect of the world could change based on how and when you did certain things. Rumors constantly abounded that there were secret endings (such as the infamous 'vampire Chrono' or 'Save Schala' fake rumors, which some believe led to the way the Chrono Cross storyline was handled), and people - such as me - would play the game repeatedly, using all the meager saves allowed by the cartridge limitations of the time, in hopes that they might trigger those endings or find a way to discover something new. In all honesty, Chrono Trigger being the game that got me into jrpgs probably ruined me for life. It set my standards to a ridiculously high level on a subconscious plane, resulting in me comparing every single jrpg experience since then to it. Aesthetically, musically, and structurally, it was a true jrpg kamige. It was also the game that turned jrpgs into my second otaku obsession. During the SNES-PS2 eras, I literally bought and played EVERY jrpg that came out. I still own them, in fact. I played most of the PS1 and SNES era games multiple times. However, it was also in the PS2 era (often called the 'dawn of the mainstream jrpg') that jrpg quality began to fall off drastically. The kind of genius and artistic flair using minimal resources you saw in previous eras was lost entirely within a few years of the release of FFX (FFX being a good game that also turned VO from a curiosity to a mainstream 'thing'). Musical direction, a role differing from composition, where someone was assigned to decide the timing of using a musical score and which ones fit which dungeons, which story scenes, disappeared in the middle of the PS2 era, as VO was used to fill the gaps of emotionality. However, this also meant that the subtlety of previous eras was lost with a swiftness that left me bewildered at the time. By the time the PS3 era came around, jrpgs were slowing down, due to what I now call 'flashy kusoge fatigue'. Oh, a few sub-genres, such as the Atelier series' alchemy obsessed SOL titles and the more action-based titles continued to be prolific, but what were called 'console-style rpgs' started to vanish. MMO elements were introduced into normal jrpgs, making progression and gameplay less interesting as a result (mostly because it seemed to have been done primarily to draw the WoW crowds into solo rpgs). Storytelling was dying a surprisingly swift death, as tedious gameplay elements (for loot and level-obsessed completionists) began to devour higher and higher proportions of each game's overall playtime. There is a very good reason why people go back and play so-called 'retro' jrpgs so much. There simply aren't that many more recent jrpgs that have that kind of flair and subtle genius. I know for a fact that one of the best ways to get people addicted to jrpgs is still just to let them play Chrono Trigger. Ironically, it was VNs that saved my soul. This was back in 2008, four years before I joined Fuwa. I was introduced to Tsukihime by a fellow anime fansubber, and, for the first time in over three years, I had something interesting enough (story-wise) that I was given a perspective on the nature of my growing irritation and fatigue with jrpgs in general. At the time, the JVN industry was still as vital and full of genius as the jrpg industry was in the PS1 era. Tsukihime and a few other major classics put out near the turn of the century had created the potential for a market of story-focused VNs that had allowed more and more creative people to get into the medium. Masada was releasing his latest version of Dies Irae, and there were literally hundreds of potentially interesting VNs for me to try. Needless to say, I lost my mind almost as badly as when I first played Chrono Trigger. I must have blown four grand of my meager savings on VNs within the first year, and I didn't regret a penny of it. Yes, roughly two-thirds of what I bought was pure crap. However, the gems I discovered gave me a taste of the potential of the medium in a way that was horribly addictive. Moreover, after a few years of being starved of any decent new stories, even the worst VNs had something that I could find I liked about them. In retrospect, I have an addictive personality. I get addicted to things easily, especially when they scratch my story bug. People have said to me, when it came to my jrpg obsession 'if you want a good story, why don't you read a book?', to which I usually gave them a blank stare and said 'I'm already reading good books. I just want stories in my games too.' Interestingly enough, there were a few bursts of true creativity in jrpgs in the years since, like Tales of Berseria and Nier: Automata, but they partially stand out due to the sheer bleakness of the genre landscape. People praise Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest XI with intensity, and they practically worship Bravely Default. However, I have been shocked at how low-quality the presentation of these stories has been. It's like an entire generation has gotten used to ineptness in presentation to the point where they can be charmed by backhanded efforts at retro-nostalgia. Octopath has all the grind of the old SaGa Frontier games with none of the charm, the best part of each of the paths being at the beginning. Dragon Quest XI retains the horribly grindy nature of Dragon Quest games without improving on the formula in any real way. Moreover, locking so much content into the post-game annoys the hell out of me (I prefer new game +, obviously). JVNs have suffered their own decline, which is ironically due to the same demographics that inflated the medium in the first place (the dominance of the moe/charage lovers). VNs were always destined to be a niche medium, but the over-specialization of the industry has led to an inability to adapt to changing spending habits and demographics. Even if they wanted to regear for a new generation of consumers, most companies no longer have the access to the necessary talent to do so. I'm fairly sure that jrpgs suffer from a similar lack. Yes, there are some excellent composers and graphic designers in the jrpg industry, as well as access to the solid voice-acting industry of Japan and the growing one here in the US. However, there is a severe lack of writers capable of bringing a story to life, and there is no point in a top-tier OST that has no one to properly coordinate its use. The very fact that something like Undertale could bury so much of the commercial rpg industry, in the eyes of rpg fans, says everything about how far the industry has fallen. So what am I getting at? Not really anything, in truth. I just needed to blow off some steam. Thank you for reading.
  4. 2 points
    Hello everyone. My name is Jardic and I just thought of something that I got me thinking tonight. I was looking around the internet and I was reading Reddit and here on Fuwanovel and I was wondering what the deal is with people saying that they like a visual novel and it is always the same visual novels time and time again. I know people like the medium for different reasons, but when I look up a list of VNs people like, it is the same ones as another person I saw. I also know that it is a niche market for people to like these games but come on. If I was wanting to know what VN to play, chances are I already have that game on my hard drive. No one talks about the obscure visual novels and I was wondering why that was? It just bugs me to see the same the same VNs on someone’s list and I don’t see a person to give me a reason to purchase more visual novels. I know the previous paragraph was a little harsh, but it’s the truth with some of the things this genre of games gives me. I wish that there were more visual novels compared to video games so that people can recommend me a visual novel that can raise my interest a little more. I wish more people could be more interested in VNs so that there would be more games to offer. Sadly, I wish I could see that happening, but I know it will remain a niche market. I remember when I got into this medium of games three years ago and I thought it was a million times better than what I was playing at the time. Most of the games I played before visual novels were your typical action games like GTA or shooters like Call of Duty, but I digress. All I am saying is that I wished the visual novel community was more diverse in what they play. I’m not trying to say that everyone’s list is a bad list, I’m just saying that putting some games on a pedestal is not a good thing sometimes. I come to these communities to find out when some VNs are being released and to see if there is another visual novel to raise my interest. Sorry for saying stuff that might trigger some people, but I thought this blog would be a good idea to vent a little bit. Let me know what you think, and I will see you guys next time.
  5. 2 points
    Hello everyone, Jardic again. I told myself that I wasn’t going to post something so soon after my last one, but I was going through my old computer and I found some old stories I have written over the years and forgot I have written. Most of them were either fanfics or stuff I have written about and scrapped. It was probably sophomore year in high school that I have started writing that I started writing stories and thought about taking it seriously. I never took anything so seriously before and I didn’t have the drive to do anything until my English teacher taught me about not limiting myself. I was an outcast and didn’t like anything I was reading at the time, so I took up writing so I could read what I have written. I found it fun and a lot of people told me that I was good at my craft and I thought about doing this for a living. Then in 2015 or 2016, I found VNs for the first time through a flash game I found on the internet. I was looking for an escape since I lost my job a few months earlier and I was looking for something to play. I think was a crappy game made by Dharker Studios. I forgot the name of the game, but I remember the maker. I didn’t get into VNs honestly until I started buying games from Mangagamer, Sekai and Jast more frequently. I used to be a massive fan of anime when I was a kid and I never had a reason to go back until then. I didn’t grow up with people who watched the same stuff I did, I felt alone in that sense. But I’m getting off topic. Those stories made me a better writer in the process and I felt like I have found my purpose in life. I felt like the world was against me since I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was told that I was never going to be normal and I accepted that. I knew I was different, but I didn’t let that stop me. I wouldn’t be talking to you all if I was scared of what people would say. I don’t want people telling me that I’m not good enough to be a writer and throw it down the drain for nothing. My entire family thinks I’m crazy anyway, so I spent most of the time with my thoughts alone. Eventually, I will do something that they will accept me, but right now, they can just hate me for all I care. I’m writing all of this because I am fixing to do something I may regret, or it may turn out awesome. I’m working on my first VN. It’s called Kazoku No Watashi No Sentaku or My Family of Choice. I’m working on it for a while and I am currently working on the script for the VN and I will post it when it is finished. If anyone is an artist or a musician or knows someone who is, let me know. I can’t draw at all due to my motor skills and I’m looking for some music anyway. I’m currently working on the script and trying to work some things out on Ren’Py. If you want to get in touch with me, look for me on discord. Hopefully, I can get this done and into your hands in the future. Until then, I’ll do what I can with what I got. Take care and I will see you next time.
  6. 2 points
    Since I'm still messing around with Cabbit's new game, I thought I'd drop a short review of a litrpg series I just finished reading. Project Crysalis is based in a future where Earth has been abandoned (not because it is ruined anymore, but because the first non-Terrestrial human nation forced people to leave) in favor of living in colonies all across our solar system. The main political and scientific power in the first three books is Lunar, a nation built on the Moon that began when a private corporation morphed into its own nation-state and managed to completely defeat the Terrestrial nations when they tried to challenge their independence. That said, it is still a solar system of many nations, with Lunar essentially being the mammoth whale in the room that everyone pretends not to be scared by. The protagonist of the story, known for most of the story by his preferred game handle of Sagie, was one of many orphans that were presented with their first parents - in a virtual realm - at the age of twelve, when he was first allowed the use of a full immersion pod. While he experiences a brief period of blissful happiness (mostly due to how good of a fit he is with his new family), a horrid betrayal by someone he trusts ends up with him exiled to the in-game Hell, where he is subject to the kind of suffering (and the pain is real) that is really, really hard to picture, even with vivid descriptions from the author, John Gold. As for how he handles it... well, Sagie isn't exactly a fragile sort. Rather than rerolling, like most would expect, his desire to return to his virtual (but realer than life) family drives him to climb his way up through a very horribly realistic Hell, inuring himself to suffering and gaining power along the way. For those with a weak stomach, most of the ways he gains power are pretty morbid. He uses blood rituals, necromancy, eats demons, and deliberately goes out of his way to strengthen his resistance to the various types of damage and pain Hell can dish out. Sagie, while he was extremely focused even before his fall into Hell, becomes focused to the point that it is almost painful to read his story at times. The first four books basically focus on his adventures in Project Crysalis, as the virtual world essentially shits on him at every turn (Shield Hero had it easy in comparison). He tries to help people, he's seen as a monster. He tries to defend himself, he is seen as a monster. To be honest, I cried more than once for him, just because it was so godawful. The last two books are... a different animal entirely. To be honest, in order to avoid spoiling it, I'll only say that those who came to love Sagie in the first three books will be frustrated for large portions of the second three. I know I was. That's not to say it wasn't interesting, it was immensely so. However, I often felt cheated, because I loved following that manic little demon while looking over his shoulder in fascination to see what crazy idea he will come up with next (and many of his ideas really are insane). The last two books are full of conspiracy, horror, and self-sacrifice on a grand scale. Even just taken on their own, they would be first-class books. There just isn't that much of Sagie there until the final entry, where you get to see him up to his usual craziness, albeit in a way that is quite different from before. Overall, it is an excellent book series. It has its bumpy parts and can be frequently frustrating or emotionally painful to read, but for those willing to delve into it, it is completely worth it.
  7. 1 point
    A few weeks ago, I picked up the Steam versions of Silverio Vendetta and Silverio Trinity. My reasons in the latter case were pretty self-explanatory... I wanted to read the append after story that Light so cavalierly and cruelly only included with the all-ages version previously only available on the Vita. Considering that the after story append serves as a bridge between Trinity and Ragnarok, as well as giving you what amounts to a four to five hour extension to the true route... I can say it was worth paying for, even though I essentially skipped through the entire game to unlock it. There are two new append stories included. The aforementioned after-story is one, and the other is Ashley Horizon's origin story. For those who haven't read the main game, this will contain major spoilers. The after-story append could have easily become the core of a fandisc for most games. It is extensive (about four-fifths to two-thirds as long as one of the heroine paths) and is action-packed, as well as being chock-full of content of the sort fanboys like me can't help but scream with glee about. (More spoilers below) Say what you want about Light, but their tradition of extensive append stories and gaiden stories is one I think more plotge companies should consider imitating. Too bad they went down with Masada's delusions of glory. Edit: I should note that there is currently no text hooks for the Steam versions of either game, so if you want to use a text-hooker, you'll have to either create an h-code for yourself or beg someone who already knows how. I had a huge headache from the usual Light 'I've got to gather all the rare kanji into a single sentence!' when I was done. If nothing else, it is worth it to see this.
  8. 1 point

    Riddle Clover Review

    Visual Novel Translation Status (09/27/2020) Welcome to this week VNTS Review, and as for the title I just combined both of Riddle from Riddle Joker and Clover from Clover Day's so that we have Riddle Clover for this week VNTS Review title. The reason for the title is because this week we have Nekonyan did their monthly update, and those two did have the updates. By the way I did a bit of searching about Riddle Clover, and find out that it's one of the fabric product that was available here. As for this week, we have Frontwing release Loca Love Volume 3 with English language support and that we have a news about fault after several years of waiting. Other than those two notable news, we have several usual updates from fan translation and also the aforementioned Nekonyan monthly update. Overall I can say that this week is not too bad even though it's quite plain, and let's see what I can write for this week as well. JAST did release Kanosen which tell us the story about a student on how naughty his girlfriend is, and said girlfriend is also his homeroom teacher. As for the teacher heroine herself while the MC said that she's kind and beautiful, I'll just say that after I saw the design I'm no longer thinking that Wagahigh heroines chest size is too big anymore or rather their chest are very flat compared to the teacher heroine lol. At least I didn't need to comment about on how her design is too old for the setting like back at Shoujo Dominance. Well go get Kanosen if you like to see the kind and beautiful teacher taking care of the MC's raging libido so that he can enjoy his school life, and have fun. Speaking about JAST, we also have them acknowledged that they still working Majikoi at their tweet (The link to the tweet), so at least it should be good enough confirmation for now to anyone else who still waiting for JAST to release it. After several years of waiting, we finally have a news about fault side below release estimation and as for the release plan it'll be at spring 2021. While I know that if they finished it at side below would mean that they'll rush the ending, personally I prefer them to finish it now if we need to wait for a long time for each of the sequel. But if you tell me that the cause for the long wait is because a lot of factor such as engine factor and their separation from Sekai, I can only say that I hope the developer can pick up the pace for the next part release if they still want to develop more parts before the finale. As expected Frontwing did release Loca Love Volume 3 with English language support, and they also released download version at both of JAST and Fakku as well (Also not at Steam for obvious reason). The premise is that this time we have out MC getting closer to his childhood friend who actually his upperclassman only that she's shorter than the MC, and that she's working as shrine maiden. What I can say is that just expect this like previous Loca Love in that the MC will gradually getting closer to the heroine, which in this case it's the aforementioned shrine maiden childhood friend. Go get Loca Love Volume 3 if you want to read it, and have fun. Irru did announce that Trip decided to take some time to do hiatus because of burnout, so don't expect Ginharu update for some time. I don't know when Trip will recover from the burnout so that he can continue Ginharu translation, but hopefully he'll be able to recover at some time in the future. For other updates from fan translation, we have 16,661 lines from Pure x Connect are translated, Loverable was at 91.26% edited, Harugi was at 63% translated with Branch was at 94% translated, Reflection Blue was at 43.3% edited, and Eustia was at 97.78% translated with side routes was at 85.59% translated along with the editing was once again caught up at 97.61% edited. That's all for fan translation updates at this week. As for Nekonyan's update, finally we have them started the editing progress for Clover Days with the current progress was at 15% edited. For other updates, we finally have Aokana EXTRA 1 was approved for Steam (Which mean it shouldn't have any more trouble to be on Steam considering that Valve is pretty much quite unpredictable when it come to the censorship) and currently it's been at halfway in QA, Kirikoi was at 95% translated along with 70% translated, Riddle Joker was fully edited along with past halfway (55%) in QA, and their secret project was at halfway translated. Speaking about secret project, Nekonyan decided to add one more of it and currently it's been at a quarter translated. As for what their new project is obviously I don't know because it's dubbed as secret project (Duh), although if I may suggest something it could be either Harem Kingdom or Cafe Stella with the latter did have the 4-koma video was translated by Nekonyan (Either way I would like it if turned out the secret project was one of two VNs that I suggested). That's all for this week VNTS Review, and see you next week. PS - There's another new VN announced for the release at December 17th later, and the name of the VN is Abyss of the Sacrifice. Apparently the VN itself will depict five girls trapped in a dangerous place and they must do their best to survive, just like Zero Escape trilogy or Root Double. I'll try to comment more on that later. PPS - For a certain reason, I decided to update my best rated VNs translated list in 2018 by changing Flowers Summer with Maitetsu.
  9. 1 point
    Foreword: I guess Concerto Note won the poll for extra review, because of partial English release that turned out to be a total scam covering literally only the first three minutes of the game where absolutely nothing is told, and no introductions are made. A lot of years ago I took this bait as well. Now it's time to satisfy that curiosity. Synopsis: Shinya is stuck! He is forced to leave school when he comes back to school after long hospitalization. But one day, he meets his childhood friend, Rito, and she tells him about a new school and an western-style old house. Like this, he comes back to his hometown and meets Wakana, Shirayuki, Seika, and Sayori there. Kind people and new house... One night, a strange girl appears in front of him and says, "You'll die in ten days..." Her name is Tama and she kindly gives him the power to prevent it. However, this means he borrows luck from her in advance. From that day, various mishaps happen to Shinya and his friends. To stop it, they will need to get rid of other people's misfortunes... Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv9VENhmo_xhRdI9BEcFEP8I Game type: PlotgeCharacter Design rating: 8/10Protagonist rating: 6/10Story rating: 6/10Game quality: 7/10Overall rating: 7/10 As usual, if game has review coverage, I'm happy to present it (1 2 3 4). I did not pick this game on my free will earlier, because I'm strongly prejudiced against games revolving around luck concept. It's just so unrealistic that it makes me want to facepalm. Concept is rather simple and it's all in the synopsis. Tama prevents death and that eats up all protagonist's luck. Concerto Note is called a game for Rito and Tama for a serious reason. Other four main heroines have rather simple personalities and routes composition. In those routes H events are piled at the end, and luck mystery is resolved half-heartedly or even susbstitured with love, so protagonist can't see Tama anymore. Rito route on the other hand only has short H scenes in the middle, but the focus is on resolving the mystery up to the end of the route. Basically, only Rito route makes Concerto Note a plotge. Rito also has outstanding personality being an excessively rational genius and a childhood friend. But if you think that game revolutionarry breaks with tradition starting from ToHeart to present childhood friends as boring vegetables, you're only half right, because Wakana plays this role here just fine. Don't have much to say about this game, so let's see its downsides. Graphics is rough in many CG. Flowchart is pretty much useless as its only meaning is to present routes in forced order. Game has little humor in it. True End reminds me of Air too much, and I hate Air. Main character produces positive impression in SOL scenes, but suddenly becomes abuser in H events. Other four main heroines did not impress me, even Seika failed to meet expectations. I evaluate the whole luck concept really low. After Rui wa Tomo o Yobu approach to dealing with the curse is much weaker in Concerto Note. Basically, Rito is the only element that makes game memorable and outstanding. Interaction with her is always interesting, so I'll let the game slip as girigiri masterpiece. But there are other good features as well. Three male sub-characters are actually depicted rather well, not like usual placeholders for classmates. But what allows to keep reader's attention is good tempo and absence of forced scenes. Flow feels natural. So I'd say that text is skillfully written as it manages to advance story painlessly without tilt into humor or parody. I'd say that Concerto Note is a good game for beginners or those who can accept such concept. I could not suppress irritation during the read.
  10. 1 point

    Umineko's opening scene

    The recent discussions about Umineko here on the forum made me want to pick up the whole damn thing again. Only this time I'm going spend even more time on it because I'm taking notes. I'll take the game's advice though and not focus on the howdunnits (which it argues are trivial and unimportant), but rather on what meaning is hidden inbetween. I'm doing this mostly for myself, though every now and then I might feel like turning my thoughts and interpretations into a blog post like this one. The German realist author Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) once said "the first chapter is always the main point, and within the first chapter the first page, almost the first line." While I think he is exaggerating a little bit and tbh I only opened with a quote of his to get a chance to mention how much I hate his writing (some of his novels are required reading in high-school in parts of Germany), it is true that the opening to a novel or any piece of fictional media can be a more important part of the work than it is often given credit for. Which brings us to Umineko's first scene. While it might not be the most spectacular example out there, I think it does what it sets out to do so well that it is worth taking a look at it from an analytical standpoint. I'm going to mention one or two twists that happen at later points in the VN, so you might not want read any further if you do not want to get spoiled. The scene takes place at an unspecified point in time in Kinzo's study with him, Nanjo (his doctor) and Genji (his head servant) present. It starts out with Nanjo telling Kinzo to lay off the alcohol as the medicine he prescribed to keep him alive won't work otherwise. Kinzo responds by saying the liquor (which has a sweet scent and a venomous green colour) has been with him longer than Nanjo, and that it is what is actually keeping him alive, not the medicine. Then he orders Genji to serve him another glass, but water it down a bit. Kinzo asks Nanjo how much time he has left, to which the doctor replies by comparing it to their chess match which is apparently entering its final stages and where Kinzo managed to corner Nanjo's king. The physician suggests Kinzo should write a will, which the latter one heavily objects to: "...And what is a will, Nanjo? Handwritten instructions to the vultures on how to devour and scatter my corpse?" He wants to leave nothing behind and insists everything he built up during his life shall disappear with him, as it is part of the deal he made. He goes on to speak about his only regret, which is not being able to see the smile of the witch Beatrice once more, resulting in him screaming at thin air offering his remaining life to her for her to appear before him one last time. Opening Credits roll. The main thread running through the scene is a lingering conflict between what is "real" and what isn't, already introducing one of the main themes of the VN. This starts with the setting and props: There is no real indication if what you see takes place in the real world or some fantasy realm nor does it properly fit into any specific timeframe. The occult study, Kinzo's gown and the venomous green liquor all make the whole scene look surreal, but then there is also a real world physician doing standard medical examinations. In this sense the whole dialogue between Nanjo and Kanzo can be read as a conflict between material reality and fantasy, with Nanjo and his medicine or science representing the former and Kinzo having completely embraced the latter. Nanjo tries to bring Kinzo to care about his own physical wellbeing and his remains (stand-ins for material reality), both of which the latter one doesn't care at all about. The liquor in this context is basically a metaphor for fantasy. It has an inviting scent but looks like venom. It poisons Kinzo and according to him is what actually keeps him alive at the same time. His addiction turns his health and life miserable (as well as those of his children), while it is also what keeps him going. The booze or rather fantasy keeping him alive is also rather funny imo considering we later learn that, while he is part of all the "non-real" scenarios, in "real life" he has already been dead for quite a while. [It has been some time since I read the VN the first time so I don't really remember if the booze motif gets used at other points but it is one of the things I am going to keep an eye on this time around.] One of the main and more obvious purposes of an opening scene is to make the audience want to read on, usually by using a narrative hook. In this case it is the question about Beatrice's existence. You immediately ask yourself what the deal is with a witch that might or might not be real and that some weird and menacing old man is apparently trying to summon. Her (non-)presence is one of the main threads running through the whole VN and it gets established in the very first scene. This hook also ties right back into the overarching uncertainty of the scene about what is "real" and thus one of the main themes of the VN. The whole scene imo exemplifies pretty well what Umineko excels at, namely tying its separate narrative layers together. From the outset, characterization, plot, horror, fantasy, metaphor and theme are never truly separable but form a coherent and interwoven whole. I only implicitely talked about characterization and didn't even talk about why Genji is present in the scene at all or about the introduction of the chess motif (or the Kinzo being dead before the end of the game part). But since I already spent too much time writing this I'll keep it with one of Umineko's core messages and let you figure out how these things tie into the rest yourselves.
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