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  1. Phenomeno

    It’s a wonder why people love to be scared so much. Maybe the rush of adrenalin in their brain catches their bodies of guard after of which, a great release when we finally see that there’s nothing there, no real danger, and we are in our usual safe environment. Maybe the after laughter brings hope and restores our belief in the culminations and worries of our mind, secreting a form of powerful alembic of pure neural ecstasy. Or maybe it’s just fun to be scared sometimes. Horror films are undeniably the most profited movies in the business. They are very cheap to make and have great high returns, no wonder in a field where emotional excess is the rule the movie studios keep churning horror films, and their remakes, and their reboots, and reimaginings. Visual novels are not strangers to the horror genre and if anything their unique enamoring style, the terrifying bloodcurdling script, the spine chilling ambient sounds, and dark creepy visceral images, make visual novels one of the best mediums for horror stories and experiences in general. Phenomeno is a very short promotional horror kinetic visual novel and an adaptation of a light novel by Hajime Ninomae who partnered with Nitro+ to promote his book. Nitro+ also hired the famous and talented Yoshitoshi Abe as a character designer. He worked on a few games and anime in the past, most famous and most well known of his works is a highly praised and highly regarded as an all time classic anime series Serial Experiment Lain. To be more precise, Phenomeno is a kinetic sound novel and the experience feels very close to the classic Chunsoft’s –the inventors of the genre—sound novels such as the chilling horrors Otogirisou and Imabikisou and the mystery Kamaitachi no Yoru series or 07th Expansion’s Umineko or the more appropriate horror mystery Higurashi. It doesn’t have quite the exact same visual appearance as the Chunsoft’s games but at it’s core Phenomeno is as classic sound novel as they come. Contrary to what you might have heard, sound novels are not visual novels with an emphasis on sound, music, effects, and other audio techniques. Sound novels don’t use audio anymore or any differently from any other visual novel. They were called sound novels to promote the so called new genre of games but visual novels already existed before that. So sound novels are just visual novels only with few careful differences. The first main difference is that they use an NVL style text box that fills the entire screen rather than a small text box at the bottom third of the screen. Another difference people might notice is that they have a differently kind of presentation style than a typical visual novel, so if a visual novel has an NVL style textbox it might still not completely be referred as a sound novel. At the end of the day it all comes down to personal preferences, nuances, and technicalities. The audio in Phenomeno is very minimal, there are only few music tracks, all are good but as the game progresses there is a much bigger reliance on the natural ambient sounds and sound effects to carry the script and once again Nitro+ did a fantastic job here as well. Phenomeno has great sound but also knows when to scale back and, importantly, not afraid to surround the reader in complete silence. The game was directed by a Nitro+ veteran Keichi Ogami who also directed Guilty Crown Lost Christmas and Tokyo Necro. These games, Phenomeno included, show his ability to change styles as appropriate for the project he’s currently working on. And Phenomeno really shows his skills as an excellent horror director. Phenomeno is also one of the best books to visual novel adaptations, and it’s much harder to do than it sounds. After moving away from home and getting a surprisingly cheap offer for a new living apartment, Yamada Nagito, a young university student far away from home, suddenly one quiet night as he was falling as sleep, starts hearing strange noises. Could this just be his imagination, maybe it’s a howls of the wind scratching over the surface of the outside walls and roof, or perhaps a tree branch caressing his house. But the noise is too close, too inside the house, too close. Where is this noise coming from anyway? The game is an adaptation of the first case of the first light novel. The case is divided into two parts and both tell one complete story so essentially one is a direct continuation of another. There’s also a very short prologue in the very beginning. Each part starts quietly and slowly but in no time the tension builds and the horror begins. It is propagated by the strong narrative with a focus on just as strong progression and pacing by keeping the reader constantly engaged with a perpetually increasing layers of fear, tension, and confusion on top of a compelling mystery really bring the story to life. There are genuine scare moments here but surprisingly there is not much here that could be called a jump scare which is quite incredible considering how too easy it is to rely on jump scares. The nightly dark visuals, the interesting script, the scratching sounds, or just someone walking up the stairs or even a sudden revelation make Phenomeno into a really good page turner. There isn’t particularly anything here that will blow your mind on any intellectual or cerebral level. The story doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is and it’s best to take it for what it is and just have fun. Eventually and pretty quickly we discover the strange reason for these ear chilling noises however the source of these noises still alludes us, we’re not even close to discover who or what is making them. What is revealed appears very likely to be a kanji character for the number seven. Yamada admits that in addition he later discovered another number after he heard the very same kind of noise in the night, but that time it was kanji for a number six. If only things were so simple for Yamada but just a week ago he found another number, again it was a kanji for a number five. These numbers appear out of nowhere and always preceded by these strange ghostly scratch noises. What could they really mean, is this some kind of a countdown, is something going to happen when it reaches number one, and will Yamada die. This will be the central mystery throughout this game. It will lead Yamada to meet a mysterious girl with beautiful blue gem like deep eyes, and later he’ll meet a few other friends, people in the occult club. His case will be quite an attractive thing for the club members and they will be on a way to solve this strange and scary mystery. At the conclusion of which, well… You’ll have to play and find out. It won’t blow your mind but for a short length vn, Phenomeno is pretty much phenomenal.
  2. VN of the Month January 1998

    Do whatever you feel like you want to do, it's your blog. You don't want to add links because it takes too much time, you add an image for each vn that you found somewhere on the net, and a link to a youtube video, which takes just as much effort as adding a link to a review. But you don't want to bother downloading and playing these games on an emulator for a few hours at least and give your readers an opinion from a first source experience. You don't want to take screenshots, and if the game has no youtube video you'll never bother to record your own video and upload it. Basically do whatever you feel like. It's just that you update your blog really fast and it shows just how much effort you put and the quality of your work. I think you have a great idea and a lot of heart in what you're doing. But just a little more work can go a long way in making a better user experience.
  3. VN of the Month January 1998

    I see. Then how about at least linking to English information. All it says is, there are two English reviews or something like that. Or there is information in English. At least show links if you don't want to add anything of your own. Just an idea. Because to be honest, I have vndb with the same information, at my fingertips, and it's easier to look up vns there than in a blog. And googling for images and videos on youtube takes no time at all.
  4. VN of the Month January 1998

    I don't get it. Do you actually play all these vns? How is this different from vndb?
  5. Hanachirasu

    It's one of those damned if you do and damned if you don't situations. I might play Muramasa in the future when I'm ready and open to try it. But not at this point in time.
  6. Hanachirasu

    This is going to be a long, +1000 word negative review. It's got profanity and I didn't bother to clean up my language. Sorry, hope you enjoy my rage. This visual novel is a complete total and utter shit. It’s the most horrible visual novel I have ever read in my visual novel reading career. Never have I read a vn that left me with SO much regret that I wasted time reading this pile of shit. It’s terrible. It’s utter shit. I don’t care what anybody says, this is not a story, this is a waste of time. This is the worst Nitro+ vn ever made. The worst vn ever made, period. No, I don’t care that there are much worse vns out there. I don’t care that there are horrible nukige full of rape and fetishes with no story. These vns don’t count as stories, nobody talks about them for their stories. Hanashirasu was supposed to be a story vn. And the story is shit. Writing is shit. Characters are shit. Everything is utter shit. The author has absolutely no idea how to write a compelling story. He doesn’t know how to write good characters. He doesn’t know how to pace the story. Holly shit, the pacing. At every opportunity the author stops the story and goes into long unnecessary tangents and exposits about shit nobody cares about, he keeps doing it at the most inappropriate times. There is time for exposition, and there is time to move the story along. And yet, the writer of this vn has no awareness or any sort of clue, it’s like an alien wrote this garbage. He doesn’t know when to fucking shut up, I was bored out of my skull the first time I read this. And this is coming from someone who loves good info dumps and good exposition. I read hard science fiction books and love reading interesting info dumps, I love a good world building and to learn about the wonders of worlds of fantasy. But you have to do it the right way. Hanachirasu gives you entire history lessons that have nothing do to with the plot, it does nothing but stretch the game time of this horrible horrible vn. Why would I want to read it any longer than necessary, why the author wastes his own reader’s time. It’s a shit vn that’s why. You know what broke me? You really want to know? When one of the main characters kills someone, and then suddenly right in the next scene, it was actually just the NEXT SCREEN, some stranger we don’t even know, never seen until now and will never see again, walks up to our character and exposits about how our character felt and his emotional distress, why he did what he did, his mental and psychological condition that lead to his actions, and recounts what just happened, TO THE SAME PERSON WHO JUST DID IT TWO MINUTES AGO!!!! Do not fucking dare to tell me this is good writing, or that this is a good story. It’s fucking horrible piece of shit, narratively crippled story with an even worse writing. It’s utter shit! I really can’t see how or why can anyone love this vn. The people who love Hanachirasu also love Muramasa. And Muramasa is one of the longest vns out there, I shudder to think how much worse Muramasa can be. I can’t imagine just how much slower is the pacing with even longer shitty expositions about shit that has nothing to do with the plot. I really can’t see myself reading Muramasa now that I had the displeasure reading Hanashirasu. And is it any wonder that Nitro+ never let this guy write anything anymore. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if they retired him from the company, or maybe keep him as an honorary member, meaning they don’t let him do ANYTHING anymore. Well, what about the characters? Good characters can make a bad story still bearable, right? Are you surprised that the characters are utter shit. No one is interesting, no one is sympathetic, no one is likeable. Nobody is developed, grows, or changes in ANY way. You might say, this vn is short so it can’t have a good character development, and that I expect too much from a short visual novel. To that I’ll say sit down and shut up, because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Length has nothing to do with how bad Hanachirasu is. A short vn can have just as a good narrative, and tell an emotionally stirring and powerful story as any other super long vn. First of all, Hanachirasu is NOT that short. It has a hefty enough length to develop characters and have a good plot. Look at Saya no Uta, it’s a perfect example of a short vn that has a beginning, middle, and end. It develops its characters and plot. It perfectly fits into its length, and heck it even has three different endings. The characters in Saya no Uta aren’t likeable either but look how much more we care about them than we do about any of the Hanachirasu’s assholes. You want more examples? Guilty Crown Lost Christmas, an even shorter vn but does an excellent job of telling an interesting story. Sure, the characters aren’t the most developed but at least it tries to do something with them, it makes us care and it has a good paced narrative. And Guilty Crown is even shorter than both Saya no Uta and Hanchirasu. You want more examples? Dra+Koi, is the shortest vn I ever played, it’s really short. But you know what? It perfectly fits into its length. Very quickly we know and care about the characters, the story has beginning, middle and end. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s entertaining, and it’s way more deeper and cool than anything Hanachirasu does. Phenomeno is another great example, short but still tells a compelling and scary story. You want non Nitro+ examples? Sure, look at Dies irae ~Interview with Kaziklu Bey~, this is one hell of an amazing short visual novel. Once again it tells a great story, it has beginning, middle and a freaking end. With few but great characters, the story fits perfectly into its length and it does the job it was supposed to do. I could go on with more examples but I think you get my point. Bottom line, if Hanachirasu didn’t have time to tell a good story and characters then why the the fuck does it waste its already short length on long slow expositions that add nothing to the plot? I’ll tell you why, because Hanachirasu it utter shit. The art in Hanachirasu is actually pretty good. The sketchy style drawings of the characters adds to their maturity. The pencil drawings are filled with great composition of contrasting darker tones of red and blue colors. The dark overlay lends well to the overall theme and atmosphere and do a great job representing both main characters as two extreme sides of the color spectrum. There are also lots of CGs and they are also drawn really well. This is Nitro+ after all so it is not surprising that Hanachirasu looks good. But all of their visual novels look good so that doesn’t say much about the quality of the work. I mean who cares about that when the story and writing are so bad. Besides the good visuals the game has good prose. Yeah, the narrative and the story is are bad but I’ll be the first to admit that the prose flows well. It’s descriptive set of words blend great aesthetic to present images in the reader’s mind. The prose is much closer to a book than a visual novel, even the way it writes the dialogue, is all in a style of an actual book. Prose is the only good thing I can say about the writing here. Good prose does not a good story make. And a good prose does not make a bad story. Good storytelling is not a good prose, it’s all about actively pacing the story and keep the reader’s interest. A writer who fails to accurately pace the story and move it along, has essentially doomed his own creation. I hate Hanachirasu with passion. I hate it so much I almost hate people who love it (I don’t hate you if you love it though, you just don’t have a good taste :P). Because I really can’t understand how can anyone say this is a good vn. It’s not a good visual novel. It’s utter shit.
  7. Dies Irae Questions (SPOILERS)

    Sure. Spoiler free usually means there are NO spoilers. Just remove the 'free' from your topic name so people will that that there are spoilers here.
  8. Dies Irae Questions (SPOILERS)

    Is this really spoiler free? lol.
  9. This is a really through work. Good job on going all this way. I think the game really needs a few more editing passes. But it's not the spelling and grammatical errors that bother me. It's all the incorrect translations and wrong words they used. A patch is probably unlikely.
  10. It's very similar to slowbeef's podcast about Ever17. And the same reasons I can't enjoy listening to it. It's also too noisy, like you guys are in a restaurant or some market. Remember11 is not a good first visual novel for the so called visual novel virgins in my opinion. Anyway good luck.
  11. Libra of the vampire- Review

    And that supposed to be funny.... Becuase... because... Why? Because that's the joke? Oh... ahahahaaha I get it >_>
  12. Libra of the vampire- Review

    This is not a review. Just a rant. And I guess a click bait for your blog. You obviously had nothing to write about besides piss. You say nothing about the story, characters, sound, or anything else. It's all just piss for you.
  13. [curiosity] Errors in VNs

    Well that's fine if you think so but I think it's just distracting. Most people can't look at one thing and read another and form a good image in their minds. Have you ever played Dies irae or Chaos;Head? Come back when you do, lol.
  14. [curiosity] Errors in VNs

    Sure, but that wasn't my point. If the text is describing one thing but the CG shows another it is very distracting and makes the reader too conscious. It's best to stop showing the CG as soon as the text changes to something else.
  15. [curiosity] Errors in VNs

    Most of the time the CGs or the backgrounds don't really reflect what is happening in reality. They are there to give you an idea. In most vns you'll see an image of one thing while the text says something else entirely. Like an image of some people holding hands but the text already moved on to describe how the characters slap each other. It's annoying but every vn does that.