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Showing most liked content since 08/18/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. 7 points
    Anyone who has read one of my reviews knows I'm something of a cynic and a pessimist. I try to think the best about every VN I go into, but my first impulse is to see what is wrong, rather than what is right. Whether it is optimism and rose-colored glasses or pessimism and cynicism, and excess of either is often a negative influence on the quality of a review. Generally speaking, I usually make an effort to find something I like about a VN's concept before going in, then I start the VN trying to enjoy it as an outgrowth of that. By the end, this usually results in me having experienced both the negative and positive aspects of the VN... the problem is, when reviewing, it is all too easy to forget what is good about the VN. As a result, when I'm writing up a review, the first thing I do is write up a list of the good points I found, ignoring the mitigating negative factors. I then build the review around these and include the negative points in with the rest... but you can probably tell that being positive just doesn't come naturally to me, since I tend to be pretty harsh. However, by using this system, I've found dozens of VN gems over the years that I probably would have discarded for perceived negative qualities if I didn't use this process. Indeed, early on in my reading of untranslated VNs, I dropped numerous ones simply because they had a negative aspect that I got obsessed with. I would later go back and replay them, only to find that the negative aspect wasn't as big a deal as I thought at the time, since I made the effort to go back with a differing perspective. A poor quality in a reviewer is the tendency to ignore the negatives about something you like. Another one is to rate things entirely based on aspects you only have a vague grasp or focus on (in my case, due to my eye problems, I'm not the best judge of artwork, and my musical sense is entirely based on how it enhances the atmosphere, rather than raw quality comprehension). I'm a story reviewer. I review almost exclusively based on the story, characters, and presentation. As such, art and sound rarely have a place in my reviews, since I don't think I'm qualified to evaluate them except in the most general of terms. I can tell when a VA did an exceptional job, because it stands out enough for me to notice. I will even mention this in the review, since it takes a lot for a performance to stand out to me. However, I never pretend to know the ins and outs of specific aspects of VA or musical quality. I simply don't have the right kind of ear for that kind of thing, not being musically inclined. One thing I've noticed in some reviewers who prefer niche genres (such as myself) is to display a tendency I refer to as PGRD (or Popular Game Reactionary Disorder). It is a fictional mental disease that many of us who have a distinct preference for a niche genre display that causes us to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to popular works, simply because they are mainstream. This is a problem that is particularly common in Western otakus of around my age, who became fanboys during a time when watching anime, playing Japanese video games, and reading manga had a rather strong stigma that left us feeling isolated and defensive. However, it is also present in people who prefer niche genres (I get the double whammy, being both). That sense of isolation leads to a tendency to over-praise our favorite materials and bash anything that we see as being too popular. In reverse, there are those who automatically dismiss anything that isn't mainstream. Both types are reactionary in nature and have little to do with the quality of the materials in question. Being a long-time sci-fi addict, I can't understand why anyone would enjoy Avatar (the movie). However, if I make the mistake of saying that in front of a fanboy of the movie, I will inevitably get a vociferous lecture on how misunderstood the movie is by science fiction fans... There are many such examples of such behavior I have experienced over the years, both in myself and in others. As such, a reviewer has to be willing to examine his own motives for liking or hating something. Are you being cynical for the sake of being cynical? Are you over-praising something to the point of overlooking the obvious problems with it? Are you making excuses while thinking you are making a reasoned argument? On the other side, are you ignoring the voice of reason to give you an excuse to dislike something? In the end, bias is unavoidable... but it is a reviewer's duty to do their best to cast aside as much of it as possible, because people use our reviews as reference points when they pick what they want to play/read/watch.
  2. 3 points
    Perceptions of the Dead 2, released on Steam on June 2018, is a light-horror visual novel by Ithaqua Labs, a team whose titles stand out from the usual output of Western VN studios through their unique, vibrant artstyle and full voice acting. Soon after the game’s initial release, I’ve reviewed its then-available first chapter, Misty Mournings. It was an hour and a half piece of content tying together all the stories and characters from the first, freeware Perception of the Dead, with the main storyline revolving around nulls – mysterious ghost-devouring creatures that pose a mortal threat to both spirits and human mediums. This, however, was meant to be only the beginning of the game’s story, with three more chapters promised in the Kickstarter campaign and scheduled for release over the next year. With the fourth story, House Haunting, now available and Perceptions of the Dead 2 experience complete, I’ve decided to revisit the game and take a closer look at all that additional content. Did it maintain the positive impression I’ve got from the first chapter? Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  3. 2 points
    Check out my interview with Georgina Bensley, the founder of Hanako Games, published recently on Fuwanovel Welcome back to another one of my seasonal (yup, I get enough things sent my way for that to be a thing now) summary of games given to me for review through the EVN Chronicles Steam Curator page. Once more, I’ll be focusing on the shorter titles, that would most likely be hard to write a full-length review about or had to give up their spots for games I really wanted to cover in detail. This, of course, doesn’t mean there are no really interesting VNs among them. In today's list, the title standing out the most is undoubtedly Jack-In-A-Castle, a whimsical tale about a world populated by living toys and a marionette investigating the disappearance of its king. This extended version of a free NaNoRenO 2019 VN proved to be an unusual and twisted experience that caught me completely by surprise. While the other three games I’ll cover this time didn’t offer similar levels of quality, all of them proved interesting in their own ways – even if they didn’t subvert my expectation quite like they wanted to... Jack-In-A-Castle Every once in awhile, I stumble upon small VNs so unusual and creative that they’re hard to categorize. Jack-In-A-Castle is, by its own admission, a rather cute, cartoonish boy’s love story happening in a fantastic world populated by animated toys. However, there are a few caveats to it: the BL label feels somewhat irrelevant considering the androgynous designs of the main characters (particularly the protagonist, Marion) and the relatively tame relationships they develop. Between all those cute living toys and minimalistic love stories they’re involved in, gender barely seems to hold any meaning. At the same time, the cartoonish art can be misleading in its own way – the game features some mature themes and the characters, Marion in particular, can be quite devious and even violent (although such things are mostly presented off-screen). The three hero routes all develop in pretty unpredictable directions, leading Marion to resolve the mystery of the missing king and the tenuous regency of his right-hand-man, Jack, in vastly different ways (or not at all). This makes for a surprisingly engaging and fun experience – varied, cleverly written and executed with a lot of attention to detail. The game’s environments change to reflect the plot progression (mainly through the constant spread of mysterious vines infecting the titular castle). What seems like throwaway choices can lead to some drastic consequences, completely subverting your expectations. Everything is presented in a distinctly stylish manner, with the simplicity of character and background designs being outweighed by their expressiveness and the quirky atmosphere they create. The overall impression I’ve got from Jack-In-A-Castle was extremely positive and I highly recommend checking it out – unless you’re hoping for traditional VN romance, it definitely won’t disappoint you. Final Rating: Highly Recommended Elf Enchanter: Arousing Anima Belgerum is a developer of small hentai games that combine VN-style storytelling and simple, RPG-like battle mechanics. After his surprise hit from 2018 NaNoRen0 contest, Demon King Domination, he capitalised on it with an extended, commercial version that reached decent popularity on Steam. Later he also created a follow-up game, Magebuster, once more featuring a supernatural, villainous protagonist and an antagonistic heroine he has to dominate. His third title, Elf Enchanter, was meant to partially break away from this formula, being a “pure” visual novel and not focusing so much on dark themes. Featuring a support mage that accidentally casts a taming spell on his dark elf companion, making her incapable of opposing his commands, it sounded quite intriguing in theory: I usually find games where you’re given complete power over other people, and can use it for either good or bad, very compelling. Elf Enchanter, however, does very little with this setup: featuring only a few choices and three possible endings, it’s too short and basic to really engage you in its narrative, while the 5 h-scenes (two unavoidable one and one extra per each ending) are average in quality and only one of them stands out with some unusual elements. It’s quite adequate as a $1 nukige (that’s how much it costs on Steam), but ultimately very forgettable – and that’s a shame, as with just a bit more content and complexity, it could’ve been a really cool experience worthy of a much more serious price tag. Maybe another time… Final Rating: Cautiously Recommended Kingdom of Lies The fact that Visual Novels are somewhat easy to put-together, even without any programming prowess or high-quality assets involved, makes it quite common for extremely low-effort ones, or straight-up troll games in VN form, to reach Steam. Kingdom of Lies looks like one of the latter, a cynical attempt at trolling and getting attention with edgy content, but is actually something a bit different – a confusing, broken and ultimately unplayable mess, that still quite a lot of work and thought went into. It features a really strange story about a maniacal-murderer protagonist, guided by a demon (represented by gradually-decaying rat corpse) into a killing spree in a modern-fantasy setting. It then combines it with some literally-impossible Hotline Miami-style gameplay sections and minigames that will make your head hurt (although the combination of shogi, go and chess on a three-dimensional board and with a possibility to modify rules was pretty hilarious). All of that coupled with MS Paint-grade visuals, tons of anti-SJW memes and high levels of randomness. It’s quite possible that I haven’t seen this much effort going into something so overwhelmingly bad since Sonic Boom and if the game was just a battle bit less broken, I could’ve even suggested checking it out for its hypnotizing trainwreck-like qualities. It also involves a few genuinely cool ideas: for example, the rat corpse/demon you communicate with before every mission is quite disturbing, with the constant decay and disease it seems to spread all around it being well-portrayed despite the simplistic graphics. In reality, though, the experience of playing Kingdom of Lies is just too confusing and frustrating to be worth it. Final Rating: Not Recommended Caladria Chronicles Caladria Chronicles is a debut VN by a small studio called Starlight Visual, one which was meant to launch a whole saga set in the titular modern-fantasy world of Caladria. It’s also, by most measures, a rather spectacular trainwreck: overly ambitious, unfocused and grossly unpolished in its execution. The full voice acting is a mixed bag at best, with some characters being hard to listen to and whole lines misplaced or missing. The narrative lacks clear protagonists, and introduces way too many character and subplots within its 3-hours reading time. The humour is very much hit-and-miss, with two rather unbearable chuuni characters at the center of most of the gags. The anime clichés are everywhere and their presence, along with many explicit references to Japan, are utterly confusing unless you took your time and read the game’s encyclopaedia, explaining many crucial lore details that are never properly communicated in the story. An encyclopaedia which, BTW, is also full of errors and clunky writing. Why do I leave this game with a positive recommendation then? Not because I necessarily advice reading it, but because of a huge potential I see in its setting and some of its characters. Caladria is a copycat world – a planet whose people used the help of mystical being known as angels to gain knowledge of Earth’s history, technology and culture. They then proceeded to copy and expand on all of it, boosting their own development in incredible ways. In the process, Caladria lost most of its own identity, with whole nations mimicking Earth’s civilizations and identifying with these artificially-imported, second-hand cultures. With a few forms of magic and a tumulous political situation added to the mix, the setting itself offers great promise, even if the first game only briefly touches on its most interesting aspects. While for now, Caladria Chronicles can be only worth experiencing as an unfortunate curiosity, if its authors manage to learn from their mistakes, they have a good basis to create something really memorable and compelling. Skip on this VN, but keep Starlight Visual on your radar – personally, I’m extremely curious where the Caladria project goes next. Final Rating: Cautiously Recommended And this would be it for this season’s Steam Curator summary! I hoped to include at least one more game in it, but the real-life responsibilities forced me to move it to the fall update – that one will hopefully be more substantial, including some more notable games and ones that were waiting particularly long to get covered. Still, I hope you all enjoyed this small update and as always, my huge thanks go to the developers that decided to share their work with me. I hope this feedback, even if not always positive, will be of use to them and maybe even inspire (even) better VNs in the future. Until the next time!
  4. 2 points

    Ryuusei World Actor

    Ryuusei World Actor is the latest VN by the up-and-coming plotge and chuunige specialist company, Digination, under its subsidiary Heliodor. This company's games so far have been somewhat unpredictable and unbalanced in my experience, with a great deal of ambition and not quite enough talent to pull things through completely. I say this from the point of view of a long-time chuunige/plotge addict, and from the perspective of a person that has played two of their games to the end and sampled two others. Moreover, this is a Kinugasa Shougo game... his first since the second Reminiscence game (which is probably why Tonari no Shoujo never got released, the whimsical jackass that he is). The bits and pieces of Kaito's worst qualities seen in Ruka (the protagonist of this game) make it pretty obvious who wrote this game, as do the way the endings are handled. This game is based in a world where dozens (literally) of sapient species coexist (in the sense that they are alive, though their countries war against one another constantly) in the only nation that accepts all races, as well as the only nation that has achieved a high-tech civilization, The Seventh Federation. The protagonist, Ruka, is a low-ranking detective with a lot of bad habits who gets on just about everyone's nerves (including the readers' at times). He rarely admits when he is wrong, complains when things don't go perfectly his way, uses numerous illegal sources, and generally makes every other cop look good in comparison (even the ones who take bribes). That said, when he wants to be, he is quite capable... even ingenious. Unfortunately, that is coupled with a lack of motivation except when cornered, a tendency to get involved with incidents his superiors don't want investigated, and a fundamentally amoral ethos to getting things done. In other words, except during a few moments when he shows his true colors, he can be a constant irritant to vicariously experience, simply because the reactions of those around him are almost entirely negative and his attitude is bad enough that you can't blame them. This game is not ladder-style, unlike many of the previous games by this company. Rather, it utilizes a classic (though I don't necessarily consider classic a compliment) structure where you must experience the three sub-heroine routes before you can see the true route (Claris's route). The heroines in this game include Claris, the protagonist's naive rookie elven partner; Chiffon, a Seguit (think inhumanly strong barbarian race) with a strong sense of honor who is living on a shoestring budget because of her easy-to-fool goody-goody personality; Mel, the princess of a primitive human nation of powerful warrior-mages who is in hiding; and Komachi, a female traffic cop who is constantly going to mixers in hope of finding the perfect guy. Common The common route, as is common in most VNs, serves as an intro to the characters, their personalities, and their circumstances. It is often humorous (well, I found it so), though there are just as many serious moments due to the nature of Ruka's job... and his bad habits. To be honest, I found the common route serviceable, but it also shares a complaint I had throughout the VN, from beginning to end... despite the fact that the protagonist is actually very capable, he almost never shows it. While Ruka can be depended on to bring cases to a conclusion, his lack of an interest in credit for his work (mostly because he knows he won't benefit even if he does get credit), his need to hide his true abilities (he has good reasons, but I honestly felt that this aspect was perhaps something they should have cut out), and his tendency to bring things to a conclusion in the worst way possible while solving the case (for him) is often frustrating. Worse is the lack of lateral connections between the heroines, with most of their connection being through the protagonist and momentary, rather than being a near-constant. The combat scenes in the common route are decent... even good. However, they are frustratingly short considering the sheer number of abilities and powers apparently present throughout the Seventh Republic and its races. The common route also fails to really bring the Seventh Republic's peoples to life, which i found irritating, since the setting has such potential. Chiffon Chiffon's path is the earliest branch (the only early branch) and is really a sub-heroine path in structure. Chiffon is perhaps the most pure-hearted person in the VN (mostly competing with Mel, though I give Chiffon the pure-pure prize due to Mel's surprising familiarity with things that made me wince). Her innocence, naivete, and strong code of honor also make me tentatively name her as one of only two people in the VN I consider to be 'true good' alignment characters (the other is Melissa, the fairy the protagonist rescues fairly early on). Chiffon's path is the weakest and (oddly considering she is probably the strongest fighter amongst the heroines) the most SOL-centric. I liked the relationship, but that was despite how it developed rather than because of how it developed. This path showed off one of the major reasons I am so wary of this company's games... the inconsistent pacing. This path is also the one that is most completely disconnected from the others, and that is more than a little irritating. The epilogue in this path is good in the sense that it is based more than 'next week' and it reflects the results of the events that occurred in the more dramatic ending parts. However, I felt it could have been more extensive, to compensate for the shortness of the main path... Komachi Komachi is my least favorite heroine. She is also a Victim A type heroine (the nosy investigative type with no ability to protect herself), which I constantly scream at whenever they get included in an action story game. This is in comparison to Mel, who is a Victim B type heroine (the virtually helpless sheltered girl who is caught up in circumstances beyond her control), and the choice to plop a heroine like this into the story is questionable at best. I honestly think she should have been position as an occasional sex-friend who dies partway through (hence the Victim A label) or a side-character rather than a heroine, considering the type of story this game is. Her path's value lies in what it reveals about certain members of the Cult, rather than in Komachi's circumstances themselves. This path is a rather obvious 'revelation preparation for the true path' path, and it seems to exist solely for providing the information that comes out in it. The romance feels a bit forced and the way the two get together just doesn't sit right with me, after reading it. Mel I'll say this straight out... Mel's path needed a 'five years later' after story. For better or worse, the core conflict is left only partially resolved (Mel's issues), and, in classic Kinugasa Shougo faction, nothing is concluded. This is the thing I hate most about Kinugasa Shougo... and the part that he seems to insist on unless the company he works for forces him to act otherwise. Mel's path itself has some excellent action scenes (several levels above either Chiffon's or Komachi's), but it feels like they only scratched the surface of the potential for this path. As such, I felt more than a little irritated about how it was handled. Unlike Komachi's and Chiffon's paths, where the romantic elements felt forced, it is rather obvious that Mel had a crush on Ruka from early on, so I wasn't bothered by the romantic shift. True/Claris Aaah... I'm going to be clear about this. This path reveals the truth of Ruka's past, which is hinted at repeatedly throughout the VN, but is mostly shoved to the side in the other paths. It also clarifies his relationship to Claris, who turns out to be a halfway decent heroine... ... unfortunately, this suffers from what I'm tempted to call 'Kinugasa Syndrome'... in other words, Kinugasa Shougo's absolute hatred of concluding his own stories (extrapolated from his writing habits). For better or worse, Claris's path suffers from this disease. Actually, in some ways it is worse, since it cuts off just when things were getting interesting, probably to let them set up a sequel. Claris's path occurs chronologically after a non-romantic version of the other heroines' paths (predictably so, since that is one of Kinugasa's standard storytelling techniques, as was seen by how he handled the transition to Akagoei 3). It is actually written quite well, and its paced about as good or better than Mel's path... but somehow, there is even less action (disappointing, considering the case they are chasing). I honestly was frustrated with how this path ended... especially since it really doesn't go anywhere beyond handling the protagonist's past and a number of h-scenes. I was deeply disappointed by how this was handled, and I'm more than a little angry about the way it cut off... It is hard to describe just how sharply this story gets cut short... literally nothing gets concluded, obviously setting things up for a sequel... but without even the minimal effort to throw the readers a bone that Shougo usually makes. Epilogue This game concludes with an epilogue that becomes available after finishing the four heroine paths. It is mostly a short get-together of the four formerly-young detectives that joined at the same time as Ruka, and it rather blatantly sets things up for a sequel... which made me want to pull out the few strands of hair still remaining on the top of my head. I hate it when no attempt is made to at least tie off a few strands of the storyline. Even in the original Akagoei, at least some of the conflicts were resolved (though he deliberately overturned most of them in Akagoei 3, with Kaoru's path being the storyline that heads into Akagoei 3). Conclusion A game whose setting possesses enormous potential, ruined by Kinugasa Shougo being allowed to indulge all of his worst habits without restraint... and with none of his good ones really surfacing at any point of the VN. Edit: When writing the above review, I tended to focus on what was wrong with the VN... and that was perhaps inevitable since I wrote each part after the conclusion of a path, and the conclusions to each path are singularly unsatisfying, even for something by this writer. What was good about this VN? First is the setting... the Seventh Federation is an interesting country, a nation enveloped in permanent darkness with numerous races coexisting within. Second? The characters. The characters are all well-defined and stand out well (except the heroines, who oddly are some of the weakest characters... well, other than Claris), and I smiled frequently at the kind of BS Ruka spewed whenever things weren't going to his advantage. The detective action is sometimes hit and miss... but Ruka really is intelligent and experienced as a detective... he is just apathetic when he doesn't have something or someone prodding him to do his job. Honestly, the only thing I can say to anyone considering reading this VN is wait for a potential sequel to come out. Until one does, this game will be nothing but frustrating to most people.
  5. 2 points
    Heya, people! It's such a long time I don't see you guys, I almost forgot my password to this forum. Guess Fuwa is still alive and kicking just like me, huh. First of all, sorry I disappeared from the face of the Earth and if I disappointed any fans I might had in this site (silly me). Since last time I posted back in February, a lot of things happened so if anyone's curious (maybe the aforementioned imaginary fans of mine) about what the hell's been happening with me, do keep reading. I talk about VNs, anime, and other disgusting weeb things, but it does include some personal shit. Well, a blog is a blog. 1) Maybe I mentioned this a huge while ago at some point, but I'm pursuing a master's degree in the structural engineering field. All was going well and good, but now it came the time for me to write my thesis. Oof. So yeah, that's the main reason I became a ghost as my weekday free times went down the drain along with my hopes and dreams. It doesn't help my thesis requires some programming knowledge that may be more than what I can chew, sasuga me (whining aside, it's coming along fine as of now, let's hope I can keep it up). 2) Not only my free time evaporated but also my attention spam. I'm honestly having a hard time staying focused for more than 40 minutes in the same task. When that happens, I usually take a short break to relax before going back. Except I move on to something else, oops. 3) Related to the problem mentioned in 2, I fearfully discovered a new wonderful world that's now high in my interests list: gacha games. Their content is usually bite sized (except in events, but I don't play all that seriously... I think), I can auto play to grind, and I can play on the train going to uni. No huge time investment at once required, so what can possibly go wrong (dramatic zoom on my face)? Fortunately, I'm still keeping my two accounts (yep) free-to-play and I feel that I grew a lot on the self control department because of this www. Seriously though, never invite me to a casino trip, I may have an undiscovered gamble addiction and I don't want to open that door. But yeah, if anyone else plays Opera Omnia or Shining Live send me a friend inviteeeeeeeeeeeeee! 4) Even with all that going on, I still find time to at least watch my anime and read my VNs, surprisingly. Thank God for weekend. Guess cutting yourself off of social media truly does wonders too, huh. Not that I check Twitter on occasion to look at art or anything... Soooo about that weeb shit... 4.1) La Squadra was right all along 4.2) I'm still a proud BL trash. From what I recently finished, the highlights are Sweet Pool and Nie no Machi. Both are really really amazing games, both scored higher than 9 in my book, and I definitely want to write a review for them at some point. Spread that love, Maggie! 4.3) I'm actually a bit slow on the otomege department, sorry >.< I did get Steam Prison and read both of the Prisoner Routes, but I'm not in the right mindset to keep going with it. I wouldn't enjoy it if I force myself through it. Eltcreed and Ulrik were striking my fancy, so I want to savor them. ......Okay, that came out wrong. 4.4) EVN ftw, I always find some time to read them. Nanoreno gave me some nice short experiences, the highlight being Monochrome Blues despite the ending kek. Oh, and read Heart of the Woods, people. It's an order. High quality shit right there. 4.5) Also I keep stumbling upon horror games and I'm okay with this. Recently I played Death Mark. As usual, I went without a walkthrough, solving every mystery by myself. Totally worth it. And it also have very good sound design. Mashita best boi. 4.6) It does sounds like a lot, but there's nothing much more than what I mentioned wwwwww 4.7) Did I mentioned La Squadra? (<-- edit that bit out, I totally did, as I should) 5) Now, about my Fuwa life. I'll probably remain on indefinite hiatus, but every time I find the file I wrote some ideas for Dank a Ronpa, I feel sad. "How could I write such a shit story?" Jokes aside, I can try to maybe finish it at some point when Derg finished his battle royale. Such a rude, I gave him such a brutal death in my story and I didn't even debut on his smh. But yeah, I accept suggestion of what to do with it? Give it a Berserk treatment and finish it soon TM? Write all the bad ideas I had for it and let you guys fill the blanks yourselves in a very lazy way? Make each one of you write a chapter, put everything together, approve it as canon and call it a day? Decisions, decisions. Actually, I'm actually paying a homage to it in this post, as I'm not proof reading anything, hope you spot the reference. Aaaaaaaaaaaand that's it, I guess. For all of you that reach this line without pressing page down 3 times in less than 3 seconds, a big thank you. Please smash that like button and subscribe to someone's channel that's more active than me. Love, peace, and hope to see you all eventually when I get my degree! Until them!
  6. 1 point
    Finally got around to publishing this after letting it sit in the oven for four months. Life happened, I guess. Anyway, instead of doing what I usually do and copy-pasting my article here on fuwa, I thought I'd just leave the link to my blog. Feel free to make use of the comment section below, however, as we're still working on setting up Disqus. I tried to make the article as spoiler-free as possible, so that those who haven't yet played the game can enjoy it nonetheless. https://j-addicts.de/great-ace-attorney-impressions/ This article was written on May 3rd. There's a chance that some of the information might be outdated regarding the fan translation group Scarlet Study. However, this should not affect the content of the article itself. Also, a huge shoutout to @Tyrosyn for working tirelessly on the new website design and making everything look nice, as well as his countless suggestions to improve my work. I'd also like to thank @Zander for giving my article a quick editing pass, that which finally forced me to finally getting around to publish it. Although I call it an impressions article, it grew wild beyond my expectations. With that out of the way, please do enjoy reading my review.
  7. 1 point

    Random VN: Concerto Note

    Concerto Note is a game I bought years ago and stuck in a small box containing my 'rainy day classics' without playing it. Recommended to me over eight years ago as a classic kamige, I essentially forgot about it until I saw that Cross Concerto was coming out soon. This game uses a 'parallel story' system with a flowchart, where obtaining items on the non-true paths is required to complete the true path successfully. This particular type of system is fairly rare, but it occasionally pops up in 'true heroine/path' games. I'm going to be straightforward on the heroines... the heroines don't really stand out as being unusual, except for Rito. Wakana is your standard optimistic genkikko, Shirayuki is your standard frail ojousama, Seika is your standard 'is liked by girls more than men' type (fights, talks and acts like a man by Japanese standards, etc), and Sayori is your standard gentle-mannered oneesan type (with maid as an extra element). Rito, on the other hand, doesn't quite fit into any of the standard archetypes. On the surface, her interactions with Shinya make them seem like standard-issue 'husband/wife childhood friends' who practically finish one another's sentences, but their relationship is much more peculiar than it seems on the surface. Moreover, Rito is an excessively rational person who can figure out just about any situation from the smallest number of clues. I say 'excessively rational' because, as is noted in the story, she mostly separates her emotional state completely from her actual course of action, and she doesn't make knee-jerk reactions to others (except Seika and Shinya). She also possesses eidetic memory. The story in this game focuses on the protagonist and friends (which people become friends varies based on whether you are on Route 1 or Route 2 of the common route, with Route 1 having Wakana, Shirayuki and Rito's paths; and Route 2 containing Sayori's and Seika's paths) as they try to combat the unnatural bad luck (or rather lack of fortune as Tama puts it) that is befalling them. This is mostly done by stealing other people's luck through Tama (directly in Shinya's case, and in a contagion-style manner with the others) to counter the fatal misfortune waiting ten days in the future from the beginning of the story. To be blunt, the weakest point of Concerto Note's story is the really short period of time in which the story occurs. Forming a strong romantic relationship between the characters feels very unnatural in Seika's and Shirayuki's cases due to the time constraints and lack of previous connection. Wakana's path (which is the one you are supposed to play first) suffers from Wakana being one of the game's two weakest heroines along with Shirayuki. Where this path stumbles is in the central conflict... or rather its source. While it is the sort of conflict that would be believable in a charage (where details are generally vague in any case), in a plotge with as many precisely-used plot devices as this one, it felt forced. Shirayuki's path also suffers due to the heroine's weakness... but it also suffers because Shirayuki's connection to the protagonist and friends is so weak. In a VN that covered a longer span of time, the events in the path would have been more believable, but the kind of actions both Shirayuki and Shinya take in this path came very close to breaking the suspension of disbelief at times. Emotionally, the path is more touching than Wakana's, and the central conflict is much more believable. However, the romantic aspects were forced/hurried. Seika has a similar problem to Shirayuki but to a lesser extent. The extreme nature of the situation where Seika gets involved with the group in Route 2 of the common route and the common elements to both her and Shinya's personalities and backgrounds made her path less problematic to believe. This path also manages to have a more believable conflict than Wakana's (which is the least believable conflict in the game) while matching Shirayuki's path for emotional impact. Sayori's path is my favorite other than Rito's. While Sayori is a secondary character in most of the paths, a strong effort is made to fill out her character in this path... and it succeeds. Moreover, the romance in this path is cute and believable, and the emotional connections feel the most real of the paths so far. Rito's path... is extremely heavy, both story-wise and atmosphere-wise. It tackles the darkness behind Kannagi that is only hinted at in the other paths, as well as revealing just how Shinya and Rito became friends (specifically rather than in general terms). It also tackles the truth of Tama and the reason why the characters suffered from such extreme misfortune. Compared to the often comedic nature of the other paths, this path is often grim or sad... but it also feels like a culmination of all the scraps found in the others. In other words, it is a standard true path, with perhaps a steeper gap in atmosphere than is the norm. However, this was familiar to me from other Applique games, as many of them have similar shifts in atmosphere between paths. Conclusion It is easy to understand why this game became a classic. While it lacks the sheer impact that Tasogare no Sinsemilla had, the relationship between Rito and Shinya quickly became one of my favorite parts of the story. For anyone who wants a good plotge and isn't an art bigot (as in, absolutely hates anything made more than five years ago), this is a good choice.
  8. 1 point

    random top 100, one year later

    (original: https://forums.fuwanovel.net/blogs/entry/2488-random-top-100/) I played so many VNs over the past year that i've managed to replace over a fourth of the list, so it felt adequate to post a updated version. Like before, "not a be-all-end-all list by any means and i care about choice-making gameplay a lot more than other VN fans do, so if some of my placements look ridiculous, that's why." youtube playlist version: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYFP5FO6EHdqvR4S0KWZDMllPXy3hZjaY (will be updated if i make yet another version of the list) New entries are underlined. VNs i consider “close to great”: 100) Lamento Beyond the Void (great atmosphere and art) 99) EoSD for Busy Person + Extra (entertaining characters and endings) 98) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (great characters, good mystery-solving and story) 97) Comyu (good story, entertaining fight scenes) 96) Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome (entertaining story and endings, amazing common route) 95) Ar Tonelico II (good characters, great story and soundtrack) 94) Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia (entertaining story and fight scenes) 93) Danganronpa 2 (entertaining characters, good mystery-solving, good finale) 92) Danganronpa V3 (entertaining characters, great mystery-solving, good finale) 91) MajiKoi A1&A2 (entertaining characters and story) Vns i consider “borderline great”: 90) Fatal Twelve (entertaining story and characters, fun choice-making) 89) Evenicle (fun characters and gameplay) 88) Eve: Burst Error (entertaining story, great female protagonist) 87) Dangan Ronpa (entertaining characters, great story, great finale) 86) ChuSinGura 46+1 (entertaining characters, great fight scenes) 85) Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth (good story and characters, great finale) 84) Kikokugai The Cyber Slayer (great atmosphere, good fight scenes) 83) Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni + 2nd night (good characters, entertaining story) 82) Hapymaher (interesting story, good atmosphere) 81) Flowers: Volume sur Été (great art, charming characters) 80) Eden* (good story and art) 79) Utawarerumono (entertaining characters, good story) 78) Shikkoku no Sharnoth (good protagonist, great atmosphere, great finale) 77) Rance VI (entertaining characters, good story) 76) Paradise Lost (interesting story, entertaining fight scenes) 75) Kizuato (fun characters, great introductory route, great set of joke endings) 74) Hello, world (overall fun story, great set of normal endings) 73) Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk (great world building and plot twists, good characters) 72) Flowers: Volume sur Printemps (great art, charming characters, good use of mystery-solving) 71) Dies Irae: Interview with Kaziklu Bey (great art and fight scenes) 70) Ayakashi Gohan (amazing protagonist customization, fun common route) 69) Air (good story and characters, good soundtrack) 68) The Letter (favorite branch system for a linear story) 67) Symphonic Rain [1/5 routes done] (charming art and soundtrack, great at subverting expectations) 66) SeaBed (amazing atmosphere, interesting story) 65) Narcissu (good story and ending buildup) 64) Dengeki Stryker (entertaining story, great middle route) 63) Collar x Malice (entertaining story, good set of villains) 62) Chaos;Head (entertaining characters and choice-making, great plot twist, good world building) 61) Remember11 (good characters, great ending system, interesting ending) 60) Ourai no Gahkthun (good atmosphere and characters) 59) Nijuuei (fun story, good atmosphere) 58) Monster Girl Quest Trilogy (amazing gameplay, good story and characters) 57) Kusarihime (amazing atmosphere and background usage, good characters and endings) 56) Battle Goddess Verita (good story, great RPG gameplay) VNs i consider “near-classics”: 55) The House in Fata Morgana: A Requiem for Innocence (good story and characters, amazing art) 54) Eiyuu*Senki (great gameplay, fun characters) 53) Ayakashibito (good world building, entertaining fight scenes and characters) 52) Akaya Akashiya Ayakashino (great atmosphere and endings, entertaining characters) 51) Akai Ito (entertaining protagonist, good atmosphere, favorite OP song) 50) 11eyes (good characters and fight scenes, great atmosphere) 49) Tsujidou-san no Jun’ai Road (entertaining characters, good choice-making) 48) Sekien no Inganock (great art, great atmosphere, good characters) 47) Planetarian (good pairing, great dialogue) 46) 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (entertaining characters, good true ending) 45) Kira Kira [1/4 routes done] (good characters, great common route, great ending) 44) ef a fairy tale of the two (great story in the second half, good characters) 43) Chaos;Child (good choice-making system, good characters, good story) 42) 428: Shibuya Scramble (fun characters and story, amazing choice-making, greatest production values in the genre) 41) Sharin no Kuni (favorite single villain, great story, great plot twist) 40) Root Double (amazing choice-making system, good true ending) 39) Virtue’s Last Reward (great ending system, great multiple route mystery) 38) Kara no Shoujo (great atmosphere, good mystery-solving) 37) Aselia The Eternal (great world-building and New Game+ content) 36) Chou no Doku Hana no Kusari [1/5 routes done] (great atmosphere and protagonist) 35) Cartagra (great art, entertaining characters, great endings) 34) Aoishiro (great choice-making, entertaining bad ending branches on some routes) 33) White Album 2: Introductory and Closing Chapters [3/6 routes done] (fascinating characters, good story and atmosphere) 32) The Fruit of Grisaia (entertaining characters, great endings) 31) Code: Realize (amazing common route, entertaining story and characters) VNs i consider “classics”: 30) Rose Guns Days (great story and characters, charming art) 29) Mahoutsukai no Yoru (amazing production values, good story) 28) Kamidori Alchemy Meister (great RPG gameplay, amazing New Game+ content) 27) Battle Goddess Zero (favorite story in a VN-RPG hybrid) 26) Cross Channel (fun characters, great choice-making and ending) 25) Taishou Mebiusline (great route variety, good ending system, favorite vocal song) 24) Swan Song (amazing atmosphere, good story and characters) 23) Steins;Gate 0 (good story and characters, great use of true ending) 22) Sengoku Rance (entertaining characters, most replayable work in the genre due to amazing gameplay) 21) Rewrite (entertaining characters, good story) 20) Phantom of Inferno (entertaining story and characters, great atmosphere, great action scenes) 19) Yumina The Ethereal (entertaining story, amazing use of multiple routes for a VN-RPG hybrid, great true ending) 18) Kichikuou Rance (amazing gameplay and world-building) 17) Kara no Shoujo 2 (great mystery, entertaining characters, great true ending, favorite ED song) 16) G-Senjou no Maou (great true route, great soundtrack, favorite set of villains) 15) Song of Saya (favorite atmosphere, amazing use of endings, fascinating characters) 14) Muv Luv Alternative (great action scenes, great sci-fi atmosphere) 13) YU-NO (amazing route system, good story and characters) 12) Higurashi When They Cry + Kai (amazing story, great characters and soundtrack) 11) Dies Irae (favorite fight scenes, entertaining characters and story) VNs i consider “classics among classics”: 10) Umineko When They Cry + Chiru (favorite story, favorite soundtrack, great characters) 9) Wonderful Everyday (great story, good mystery, good characters, great alternate endings, favorite monologues) 8. The House in Fata Morgana (amazing story, favorite CG and character art, good choice-making, great soundtrack) 7) Tsukihime (amazing choice-making, amazing atmosphere, great characters) 6) MajiKoi (favorite overall character cast, most consistently entertaining work in the genre) 5) Little Busters (favorite common route, great true route, favorite post-true end content) 4) Ever17 (great story, favorite multiple route mystery, great true ending) VNs i consider “all-time greatests” 3) Steins;Gate (great story, entertaining characters, favorite protagonist, favorite pairing, favorite ending) 2) Fate/Stay Night (great story, favorite ending system, favorite route, favorite single choice) 1) Clannad (favorite route system, high amount of optional scenes, amazing After Story, fully explores choice-making in a school drama setting) Top VNs i didn’t read (raw VNDB ratings, 35 votes minimum): Rance 10 Flowers: Volume sur Automne & Hiver Baldr Sky Dive1&2 Soukou Akki Muramasa Ken ga Kimi Sakura no Uta Shingakkou Noli me tangere Shinigami to Shoujo Sengoku Koihime Schwarzesmarken Closing thoughts: After Aselia and Ayakashibito, i've read pretty much every translated VN i really wanted to. Also, after Hello world and Kusarihime, i feel i've read pretty much all older VNs with no chances of being translated i wanted to. Now i plan to be a little more laidback with my reading, making this kinda of the end of a chapter for me.
  9. 1 point
    Bethly After many...many...many hours of reading I finally finished one route which I think is enough since one route in this VN feels like finishing a long VN on itself, also picking a different girl feels incorrect at this point, like I'm cheating someone... (forgive me Bethly ) Giniro is a pure love story, slice of life with some very mild drama(almost non existent), most of it consist on developing the bonds between the main character and his group of friends(only females) and later on the girl you chose from that group. This VN shows you that each one of the girls has a great potential inside of them but they wont be able to use it on their own, they are like rough diamonds, with the help of the main character will "unleash" they full potential(it sounds like an action vn xD), is not like they will turn out to be unhappy or anything like that but each one of them wont fully accomplish their respective dreams or reach their full potential on their own. This might be a little spoilerish but Yuzuki wont become a great chef, Mizuka wont reach the first place in the figure skating thing she does, Bethly wont become a famous illustrator, Hinata wont even be able to realize what her true dream is in the first place, finally Momiji won't become a great actress. Another thing to point out is that while all the girls hang around the main character they actually dont love him in secret or anything, in fact it's a long process for each one of them, the only exception to this is your non blood related sister, which is kind of sad since she starts tearing up every time she realizes that she wont be able to be with the person she loves. The first part, which is the common route is really long and from there you go into the heroine route which is again really long. It's so freaking long that the vn itself thinks that you are an idiot without memory and re-introduces you the characters like 3 times at some different points... There are 5 heroines to chose from: *Yuzuki, your non-blood related sister, she is really shy and probably the "loli" of the group but she works very hard and even though I admit I hate the imouto heroine type this one didn't feel that bad. *Mizuha, your childhood friend, again the VN surprisingly didn't go for the cliche thing of the "childhood promise" or anything like that (well, it did but it was pretty subtle and it was also resolved very early in the game without forcing you to pick her just out of pity) she is some kind of figure skating star, to be fair I found her to be the most boring character, specially because I have 0 interest in what she does, so meh. *Hinata, the best friend of your sister, she is amazing and really charming, has this quirk way of speaking and expressing herself, most of the users on the internet hate her and her voice acting for some reason, she loves everything about girl stuff (like clothing, hair, how a girl should act etc etc) very sharp and lively, a true energetic type of character. *Momiji, she goes to the same class as the MC and thus they become friends, she loves acting and has a very normal character overall, still I found her to be one of the most interesting character... I almost do her route but at the last moment I went for... *Bethly, she is probably the character that most of us will chose because she is the foreign girl, she is from Canada and at first she doesn't speak any Japanese so it's kinda of funny to see how she struggles in every situation (the vn doesn't really do a good job portraying this...just a decent job.) She likes to draw, has a really calm personally and a great sense of morality, she is also very stubborn, finally she is the girl I picked. *Finally the MC (Yukito or whatever name you used for him, I recommend to leave his default name), he is for my taste.... a bit too perfect, he is a perfect student, friend, son, boyfriend, husband, father..you name something and he is perfect in that, not because he does everything in a perfect way but because he doesn't have a glimpse of malice or egoism in him, which is hard to believe. He has a very strong sense of duty and morality and wants to help anyone that needs it, very proactive, he is not naive and doesn't behave like a retard in front of the opposite sex... he is... yep perfect, which was a bit of a let down for me.. because him being that way takes away many opportunities from the novel thus the drama in the VN it's almost non existent or very predictable.There is a reason why he is like that but still I didn't like it. The pace in this vn is slow, really slow, for example you won't kiss the heroine until much much later on into the story(let's not even talk about having sex xD), if you don't enjoy slice of life then you will hate this vn because that's pretty much what it is. It's hard to compare anything with this or find some equivalents but the closest thing that I can think of is nagisa's route in Clannad (if you take out the funny parts with sunohara and pretty much everything else) and all the heavy drama. It does have some funny parts here and there (most of them are generated either from Hinata or an school teacher that you find later on and occasionally from the MC's biological mother.) I chose Bethly and later on I regret it, I really wanted to pick momiji or hinata but at that point it was too late... Bethly's route was ok, but her inability to speak Japanese was what it kinda ruined it for me, I came to hate the words うれ fucking しい and おいしいい, you will hear those words probably more than 500 times in the novel (or more and no I'm not joking), yes, it's tasty and yes you are happy "I got it" I really do but just stooooooooooooooooooooooooop, this again is something that makes sense in the context of what it's going on but it just pissed me off really bad. On the other side, it's really interesting to see how the characters grow(mentally and physically too) and how your relation with the main heroine gets stronger by the passage of time, it reminded me a lot of my own experience with my ex lol so in that sense it's pretty realistic and also maybe boring for some readers. Now I will force myself to finish momiji's route even though I'm not very sure if I will be able to do so What I liked it: The music. Very rich characters development. Amazing art. Some really good and interesting characters that I won't be able to enjoy xD at least not right now. Amazing voice acting. What I didn't like: A bit slow. Too long for its own good. The main character. What I hated: Repetition, specially of some words. Not enough strong drama. One awkward and very unfitting scene in the story. How difficult is it to read? Really easy, you can read this as as your first vn without any doubt, I wouldn't recommend Hinata's route for someone new because of the way she talks (not hard at all but still be careful) I rate this vn: Snowman out of 納得. EDIT: a little spoiler part to actually point out what was really boring, unfitting and what was actually pretty good. Hinata Since I don't want to create another topic about hinata's route I will keep adding info here, So Hinata's route has a really different dynamic and it has a lot more of comedy than bethly's, the combination between hina and yuzuki is amazing. I won't say that bethly's route was bad but so far hinata's is overall way more enjoyable.
  10. 1 point

    Ren'ai, Karichaimashita

    To be honest, I wasn't intending to read this game... then I happened to catch a Japanese review and immediately purchased a copy (that arrived two days ago). This game has surprised me by being the first comedy SOL VN to make me laugh this year (comedy VNs being small in number in the first place making this worse), so just starting this game up was enough to satisfy me that I hadn't wasted my money. ASa Project is a company that has long produced standard charage of various levels of quality, but their last few games have been only just barely reaching levels I consider acceptable. Like their last game, Karigurashi Ren'ai, this game picks a somewhat eccentric approach to SOL comedy. In this case, the protagonist essentially takes on a part-time job that is on the border between legitimate work and enjoukousai, where he gets hired to play a role (boyfriend, boytoy, big brother, friend, etc) for his clients. This causes a lot of weird antics that are generally amusing (at least to me), and it is helped along by a cast of sub-heroines that are several levels above the two main ones in quality (yes, i'm bashing Emi and Hasumi) or general amusement factor. Tsubaki, the teacher heroine, is easily my favorite of them all, with an adorable gap between her gamer self, her teacher self, and her lonely homebody self that was very pleasing on many levels. The twins, Chinatsu and Konatsu (both total perverts, if with slightly differences in degree and vector) had a path that was full of shimoneta and didn't really have anything but humor and H (which was fine, since I never thought to see anything deep out of that relationship). After the split-off point for Tsubaki and the KonoChina twins' paths, a second arc begins, following the love triangle that forms between Hasumi, the protagonist, and Emi. It also has two short (think fifteen minutes of reading) paths for their friends, Momoko and Saki. Saki's path... is not so much a path as a bad/normal ending (with two fairly hot h-scenes). It's worth laughing about, but there is none of the intimacy of Tsubaki's path or the absolute perverted hilarity of the twins' path. Momoko's path is almost the opposite... it is more of a 'comfort sex' ending, which is good in and of itself, because it steps outside of what is normal for the SOL genre. Too bad that Momoko wasn't a main heroine, since she would be an interesting main heroine. Now I get to Hasumi... I don't care if she is one of the two main heroines. I disliked her from the beginning. I hated everything about her characterization, save for the hints of loneliness they drop here and there throughout the common path. The unnatural-feeling characterization for her just made me want to break something... and while she could be amusing at times, her interjections into the early sub-heroine paths often fell flat, at least in my estimation. Her personality comes out more after the break between the first and second arcs of the common route (first arc includes the split for the twins and Tsubaki's routes), and she makes a bit more sense... but her characterization still grates on my nerves. What really gets to me is that if it weren't for the aesthetics of her characterization, I probably would have liked her character background... that laugh just drove me nuts. I did like her half-yandere qualities, but the fact that I have to plow through that weird laugh and annoying mannerisms to get through it kind of ruins things... Her path itself is as amusing as the rest of the VN... except that her annoying mannerisms become a constant rather than an occasional annoyance. Emi makes a much better best friend than a lover. To be honest, I just found it hard to take her seriously as a heroine (fake lovers to real lovers always does this to me). The way the relationship (the business/acquaintance level relationship, not lovers) with the protagonist begins (fake boyfriend bought with money) is an amusing variation on one of my most hated VN tropes, and her personality makes for great comedy relief. However, her as a lover... sorry, I couldn't see it. It was much more amusing when she was getting verbally abused by the protagonist for her bad habits. As the butt of a joke, she is a great character, but as a heroine? Not so much, in my estimation. That said, she does a much better job as a heroine than Hasumi, at least to my mind... though the nature of the relationship between the three (the love triangle doesn't break up regardless of which one he chooses, which means the antics continue right up to the end) meant that I had to deal with Hasumi's personality even throughout this path. Conclusion One of ASa Project's better games, though it suffers from a poor choice of main heroines. Tsubaki is by far my favorite heroine in this VN, and I would have liked to see a more detailed version of her path (meeting her family, general antics, lol). This VN's standout element is its comedy, as it uses slapstick, sit-com, and manzai as needed to amuse the reader. As far as romance goes... the comedy element is far stronger than the romance element, so it is hard/impossible to take seriously, but that was this VN's salvation when it came down to it.
  11. 1 point
    Are you the kind of guy that loves stews but hates having to prep all the shit going into them? If so you’re uncomfortably close to being me holy shit stop. Anyway if you try to google up recipes for a pork stew using wine you inevitably get something that could be much simpler. Here’s my attempt at such a thing; I’ve cooked this twice and IMO it’s excellent. INGREDIENTS (serves 2 if you’re me and my dad) ~500g pork meat cut into medium pieces 1 bouillon cube ~200ml red wine ~100ml water 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped chili flakes to taste LITERALLY THREE PLUS ONE FUCKING STEPS BECAUSE I PUT THE PREPARATION STEPS IN THE INGREDIENTS PART 1. Brown the meat in your fat of choice on high heat in a saute pan. Salt and pepper those shits for good measure, though honestly idk if it matters so I cba to put them in the list. 2. Turn down to low heat and add wine, water, onion, garlic, chili flakes, and crumble in the bouillon cube. I usually mix it all together but who knows if this is even needed? Not le watakushi. 3. Let stew w/ lid on for as long as it takes for the meat to be nice and tender. 4. Serve with magically appearing rice I didn’t tell you about. QUESTIONS How do I know how long the meat will take to cook? Since this is a general recipe I can’t tell you, but pork chops took ~1h 15m and store-tenderized pork chop meat took like an hour. Tougher cuts made for stewing might take as much as 2 hours 45 minutes or more. I also recommend the “google it” and “ask your mum” options if available. On your first time using a new kind of meat, I recommend sampling the meat at likely points. This will fuck with your rice timing which sucks, but so does life so nothing new there really. How do I make this efficiently timewise? The main timewaster is the slow boiling process, so the goal should be to get that started as soon as possible. Start by cutting the meat into pieces unless it is already. After that use any downtime, for example when the fat’s warming in the pan or when you’ve just put the meat in and are letting it rest for some surface, to chop the onion / garlic. It’s not particularly important to add the garlic or onion or really anything to the stew at the same time as you add the wine, just get them in once you finish processing them. Ok but I have beef not pork Then do the exact same things and it will probably still work lol. Ok but I have chicken not pork Then make this high effort recipe instead. Or just try anyway. Cooking time will be much shorter though. Ok but I have <other kind of meat> We live in a society, dear reader. I’m sure you can figure it out. That’s still too many ingredients Fair enough. I don’t think the garlic is essential and chopping it is annoying so take it out if you wish. The chili flakes are also a bit of a flourish and you might not even like them so omit them if you want. I would not omit the onion but if you’re a hater it probably won’t kill the dish entirely to take that out too, I’m never actually going to try that myself though so good luck. Ok but I don’t have a bouillon cube I will assume you have liquid broth then, use that. Otherwise supply your goddamn kitchen. Since broth will increase the total amount of liquid you probably want to cut down on or use no water at all. I have not tried this at home but like it’s a stew it’ll work out. Actually I think a few more ingredients would be ok I would suggest looking up more traditional recipes at this point but here are some things I have not tried: mushrooms seem like they’d fit in well. Carrots are also often mentioned though idk if I like the idea as much. I can also see bell pepper but I have a bell pepper fetish. As for spices you could try grated fresh ginger (obviously ditch some or all of the chili then I’m not responsible if you kill yourself with this) or maybe szechuan pepper. Where’s the obligatory shitty picture? View the full article