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Darklord Rooke

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  1. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, On Moderation and the Validity of Unenforced Standards   
    The problem
    While spurred by recent events, this essay touches on something that seems to have been a pattern in site moderation for some time now.
    Let me make a claim: if a rule, especially one that is vaguely worded, is not enforced, for a decent amount of people that rule does not exist. This nonexistence integrates into the mental model of the rules that forum members construct, no matter what the formal rules may say. For members using this mental model, beginning to enforce a rule that was previously unenforced is equivalent to creating a new rule. As such, the same procedures as those used to notify forum members of new rules should be applied, possibly with some adaptation on the lines of "we will now actually enforce this rule", as the rule effectively did not previously exist.
    The ur-example of this is the loligeddon of yore. The takeaway from the loligeddon when it comes to this essay is this: mods repeatedly stated that no rules had actually been changed. Yet nevertheless the appearance and subsequent removal of a particularly problematic post sparked sweeping policy changes, a cleanup operation, a tl;dr post by the administrator explaining the changes, et cetera. This should make it clear that changing policy is a big deal, even if no written rules actually change.
    Recent policy changes, however, have been very different from what happened during the loligeddon. Frequently the only indication that effective rules have changed has been moderator action, sometimes fairly strict. In essentially all cases this action has been explained either inadequately or, most commonly, not at all. When this occurs the target(s) of moderation will likely feel that they have been unfairly, erratically targeted by a capricious, uncommunicative bully. What do you do when you get bullied? Well, you could talk to HR, but the mod that bullied you is probably in HR anyway and you might not even know who did it. Another option is to fight back. You annoy me, I pay you back in kind - and if I can get some fun at your expense, sure, why not? You're a bully, you deserve it.[1]
    I do not mean to suggest that we need to have a tl;dr writeup every time a rule is changed, but a simple statement of intent would be appreciated. I estimate that writing this should take no more than 20 minutes. As an example, here's a hypothetical notice regarding the changing of rules on gifs that took me ~10 minutes to write. Note that the policy mentioned here could be reversed or altered to be more specific if it turns out that it was unclear or did more harm than good, which is arguably more difficult to do if the rule has been made official.[2]
    In the light of this, I would like to present some recommendations.
    When moderating, consider if your action is effectively creating or modifying rules
    Remember: in the minds of some of your users, unenforced rules may as well not exist. If you decide to moderate something that was previously typically not being moderated, this will cause confusion and consternation.
    As such, whenever you make a decision, ask yourself: am I changing the rules? If so, you need to consider both whether your action is actually justified, and how you are going to inform the public of your policy change. You are not a cop, you are a judge in a precedent-setting court. This is especially true due to the (understandable) current policy of supporting other mods' decisions near unconditionally.
    Do not make controversial decisions when following up is difficult
    On some occasions moderators have moderated while on vacation, using their phone, with bad connections et cetera. I strongly recommend against making anything close to a controversial decision in these conditions. You will end up both ruining your vacation and doing a bad job.
    Talk first, shoot later
    If you are performing a moderator action which reasonably should include notifying the target of the action, write up the informative PM or otherwise establish communication before enforcement. You could also consider writing up the notification of intent to change / differently enforce / clarify rules before moderating. Most of the time nobody is harmed much by leaving something up until you can handle it properly. For things that require more urgent management such as a fast-evolving derailment, consider either using a PM template for 1-2 people or making a post stating that you have removed derailing posts in the thread you moderated.
    Make people feel heard
    One key theme of this essay is the importance of communication. This extends beyond just notifying people of changes to the rules. I am under no illusions that your actions will go uncontested or that people won't meme and fling shit at you even if you try your best to communicate as advised in this essay. In part this is due to the frustration some people, and certainly I myself, consider you responsible for creating due to your actions up to this point. However, when hostility meets well-practiced civility its fires often run out of fuel. If you constructively engage with those who would oppose you, you can both soothe their frustration and create better, more precise final rules.
    Obviously there has to be a limit and ultimately you set the rules to follow. But explaining, refining, and justifying your position elevates it from that of a dim-witted bully with little justification for their actions to someone who has a well-grounded but different opinion of what the rules should be. The first one deserves punishment, the second, grudging respect.
    As a personal observation: in general, you should assume that much less of your decisions are obviously justified than you currently think. One man's common sense is another man's borderline acceptability is another man's utterly idiotic rule enforcement.
    Moderation is a hard job
    If this all seems like a lot of hard work to you, congratulations! That's what I thought too when the mod applications came along, so I didn't apply. Any moderators that cannot actually moderate disputes should either confine themselves to routine, uncontroversial moderation tasks or step down from their position. Believe me, nobody will die either way, and you'll get to spend your free time doing something that suits you better.

    I personally don't consider the mods bullies when I do this kind of thing, but I do consider them deserving of public ridicule. The intention is both to correct behaviour and to extract some entertainment out of people that deserve to be made fun of.
    And yeah, I have no respect for authority. None. I will judge you by your actions alone.
    This is an assumption based on my conception of normie considerations like pride, sticking with your decision, whatever.
    Obviously if a rule does more harm than good it should be removed whether or not it was enforced temporarily, but it is probably easier to do so politically if it was in fact considered temporary.
    Look, I'm trying desperately not to kill all normies every day here. Give me a break.
  2. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Weiterfechten for a blog entry, My review of "Tales of Berseria"   
    So I recently finished playing "Tales of Berseria" (JRPG game by Bandai Namco) and I thought I would round up my thoughts about the game here (the review should be mostly spoiler free, otherwise notify me and I'll change it).

    The story tells the tale of young Velvet Crowe and her adventurous crew (surmounting to 6 by the end of the game) who set out to put an end to a trauma of Velvet's past by all manner of means, ranging from fishing and cooking to straight up fighting. Well mostly the latter. You see while you might be fooled by an early cutesy introduction the meat of the game is truly in its dark undertones which, for a game with a age rating of 16, is a fair amount of the content.
    I found also that the content was fairly philosophical at times (perhaps not in the amount of some VNs though). In the game you namely find yourself fighting between different values, ideas and perspectives, something the game manages in my opinion to do with fluidity and better than most games and VNs. This philosophy comes from the intimite and delicate relation the game places between cutscenes, extra dialogue (dialogue you can choose to straight up never open) and world building in which you get to take a part of not a straight up philosophy lesson but instead a smaller amount of nit picks of philosophy. In this regard I found the game interesting above the brute force gameplay and story (we will get to that later) and found myself able to enjoy not skipping every single dialogue line, something I admittedly find myself doing all too often in games.
    The story is very good and interesting throughout the whole game, if somewhat trope-ish (what can one expect from a JRPG game?) and while the story never managed to grab me to the point of tears it certainly has its moments for both the ones liking darker and (somewhat) lighter storylines. Is this good? Well, perhaps. I personally did not really enjoy the sudden shift the game took towards the end to become so light namely and I sort of wished the story had stuck purely to the largely dark undertones it held in the beginning, since this shift sort of opened up the door for it being trope-ish for the (in my opinion good) ending. Did this largely influence my enjoyment? Certainly not, but just something to note for those not able to stand JRPGs love for tropes. 
    In terms of voice acting I can not speak for the English side but with Japanese voices the dialogue is very nicely voiced. 

    The fighting (which is 50%> of the game in my opinion) is focused on different, so called, artes (attacks basically) which have different effects, elements, level upgrading (..., I was literally still getting new tutorial messages for fights 1 hour before the, ~40-ish hour, game ended). If you are like me however you will notice the little blue bar (so called "souls") next to people's faces and that is, truth be told, the MVP meter, 80% of your time will be spent waiting for this to go up to three bars and then pressing R to do some, so called, break soul ability, which is basically code name for stun lock, invincibility frames and damage central (if you want some NG+ level fighting, I am not your guy, I am the R spammer). If you do not have this bar filled you will be in the living hell mode, where you can get stun locked into the next century and can get absolutely destroyed by different AI unless you run around in circles (blocking does exist but did not work very well in my experience compared to dashing away) and wait for your blue bar (basically working as a stamina bar) to refill by attacking with basic artes and running.
    Is the fighting enjoyable? Yes. Is it repetitive? Yes, especially if you need to farm for levels where your life basically becomes turning down the volume to next to nought to not have to use hearing aid in the near future due to the EXTREMELY loud battle sounds (one reason I cannot really speak for the music) and getting perhaps slightly bored of seeing the same cat on a wand for the 30th time. Personally I would have perhaps liked some other battle system (with an lessened focus on stuns and the "souls" (stamina bar) and an increased focus on leveling) but I can also see the enjoyment it brings when you absolutely destroy your enemies with OP and nice animated powers. Beware however, the AOE stun of doom is real in this game so if you screw up your blue bar of destiny you are a bit in the toilet when an enemy does an AOE of half the battleground and you can neither run away, get up your souls (since it takes forever to do so) or attack (due to the extreme damage some bosses do).
    In terms of bosses the game too offers a wide arrange, though arguably they are later on narrowed down in terms of difficulty to their AOE attack size and ability to stun lock you and your AI friends (which are actually pretty good in my experience of not needlessly dying), since in my experience that is where the real trouble late game comes up and minor changes in attack patterns become minor. 

    The characters are also really enjoyable and funny, making me chuckle more than once and not making one character that one guy which is boring compared to the others. The relations between the different antagonists and characters later on get really interesting too, tying in nicely with good story overall. 
    In terms of graphics the game is generally really good, if perhaps somewhat randomly pixely at some points (I laughed when an antagonist got an 144p background randomly smashed up behind himself while he kept the same quality as the rest of the game). Out doors the quality stays pretty good too and most of the views of the game are pretty nice if looked from afar, if somewhat dulled out if you get close up.
    Ending thoughts
    Though focusing (perhaps too much) on the the battle system, Tales of Berseria is something to truly enjoy for its story and characters, which is something that brought me back to game and made the experience all the more worth it.
  3. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Changing views of localization   
    Yay, Clephas is contributing to a controversial topic in his blog!  *listens for the hisses and boos of his loving public*
    More seriously, I'm not out to bash fantranslators, localization companies, or anyone else involved with the process.  I've been on both sides (consumer and producer) and I can honestly say that I can see all four sides of the argument (the producer side, the negative consumer side, the neutral consumer side, and the positive consumer side).
    The Positive Consumer
    Based on my personal experience (beginning with jrpgs in the nineties), most people begin in this stage.  Honestly, I didn't know enough to figure out when things were badly translated, and as long as the lines weren't too out there (spoony bard, lol), it never really got to me.  There are plenty of people out here who remain in this stage forever, never taking interest one way or the other in the translation aspects of things... and that is perfectly natural.  Most Americans (if not people from other countries) are essentially linguistic bigots, and as a result, they won't care if things are wrong as long as they can't tell just by playing a game, reading a book, or enjoying an anime or film.
    The Negative Consumer
    Most people with at least some knowledge of Japanese end up in this stage at some point.  The reasons are manifold, but the biggest one is the 'literalist disease'.  Almost everyone who gets involved with translation or knows enough Japanese to nitpick is under a peculiar delusion... that 'Literal Japanese to English translation isn't an oxymoron'.  Unfortunately for their delusions, my personal experience and the experience of many others does not bear this particular one out. 
    Literalist translation is a delusion born of a misapprehension of the Rosetta Stone concept... basically because we can generally match up most words with their equivalents in our own languages given a decent reference point, that perfect translations are both possible and should be provided without hesitation by mechanical translators (often literally).  However, this ignores two major issues... the cultural basis for the formation of modern language's concepts and the difference in how the language is structured (grammar in other words). 
    This isn't the only reason for ending up in this stage... some people are in it because it makes them feel superior or they like trolling 'lesser beings' (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about).  Others simply disagree with the way the translation is handled or the usage of censorship.  There are innumerable reasons for ending up in this stage, and that is the reason why it is the single largest one in the 'experienced' community.
    The Neutral Consumer
    This is the smallest grouping... mostly because it pretty much demands that you have resolved to stop caring one way or the other about localization quality.  The most common reason to end up here is because you can play VNs, watch anime, and read manga/LNs without a localization, so the concept becomes irrelevant (or at least of less interest) to you.  Another is that you get tired of being trolled (or trolling yourself) and decide to shut off your emotions about it.  Last of all are the people who just want to 'spread the word' and don't really care about quality issues (people who are just happy VNs are getting localized).  Since a lot of this group don't even buy localizations except to 'support the cause', this group has a lot less invested in the arguments, overall.
    The Producer
    ... need I mention that being on this side sucks?  No matter how good a job you do, you get bashed by someone, and inevitably someone is going to decide to nitpick every one of your word choices.  Literalists will hate you for not doing exactly what they want, generalists will hate you for picking obscure/dead words from actual literary English (as opposed to spoken English) because the concepts involved are dead in modern English, and everyone else will hate you for censorship or because you are too slow. 
    While you get combative people or apologetic people from this side every once in a while, most just stop paying attention to the noise, for the sake of their mental health. 
  4. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Even more free yuri OELVNs (Yuri Game Jam, NaNoRenO & more)   
    Some time ago I've offered you a short list of stand-out Yuri Game Jam VNs - titles that went beyond what you normally can expect from the free game jam entries, presenting compelling stories and surprising aesthetic values. While that list included some of the most-appreciated western yurige, such as well-known Ebi-Hime titles, among hundreds of YGJ and NaNoRenO entries produced over the years you can find many more worthwhile VNs with f/f romance themes that never received similar recognition. Today, I'm presenting you a list of another 5 free OELVNs with yuri elements, along with some honourable mentions for games that I'm less comfortable recommending to everyone reading this post, but are still worth appreciating for some of their achievements. Every title will be listed with an appropriate link to download them on Itch.io - I hope you'll find them to your liking!
    Butterfly Soup

    Brianna Lei's story about a group of lesbian teenagers has gathered a significant amount of mainstream attention thank to its unique subject matter (focusing on minority queer women and their experience) but is definitely more than just a piece of social commentary. It offers a well-written, charming story that tackles its main themes with a lot of subtlety and doesn't overstate the sexuality of characters, saying more about universal challenges of growing up than just minority issues. And while it definitely attempts to create a more realistic representation of homosexual relationships, straying away from the typical, idealized yuri romance, it's a fun and lighthearted read that should be appropriate for anyone not allergic to close-to-reality LGBT stories. 
    Her Tears Were My Light

    Nami's allegoric love story about Space and Time is a simple, short game, that nonetheless managed to gather an impressive amount of praise from the readers, apparent, among other things, through its impressively high VNDB rating (7.54 average, 6.91 Bayesian). With beautiful visuals and high-quality writing, it's a really touching and surprisingly unpretentious read, appropriate not just for yuri fans, but rather everyone not afraid to shed a few tears.
    Disaster Log C

    Sofdelux's Disaster Log C is not in any way a traditional love story, but apart from some slight LGBT+ themes and wacky visuals it offers a highly amusing, unusual story about two drastically different and initially antagonistic individuals trying to survive through a cataclysm that threatens to destroy their world. Interesting characters and Nami's strong writing makes it a thoroughly enjoyable read, if you can get past the game's obvious eccentricities.

    Taarradhin is a fairly well-known NaNoRenO VN that only partially relies on yuri themes, but manages to stand out thanks to an appealing aesthetic, India-inspired stylization and a simple, but well-executed plot. It follows the story of Netqia, a young and naive daughter of a powerful noble in a country struck by catastrophic drought, who's unexpectedly presented with a gift of two beautiful slaves. While, just like other games on this list, Taarradhin is fairly short, it manages to create a setting unusual for VNs on a few different levels, a pretty well fleshed-out cast of characters and an interesting intrigue, that lets you connect to the main cast through multiple playthroughs and rewards you with a compelling "true" conclusion at the end of the road.
    Romance Detective 1 & 2

    Quintessential work by Nami, the Romance Detective duology showcases both her characteristic artstyle and the casual, mostly-comedic storytelling typical for her VNs. While the second game was never truly finished, missing some art assets, the whole series is complete story-wise and offers a lot of fun for those looking for a light, cheerful read - although the sequel has its share of more sober, touching moments and should be compelling also for those looking for some actual romance and drama.
    The honorable mentions go to the second Sofdelux title, Mermaid Splash, for a great aesthetic and atmosphere, despite rather predictable writing, Nami's Tunnel Vision for another minimalistic, heartwarming story that charms the player with its visual style, Toki Production's Princesses's Maid for a great protagonist and amusing romance, and finally npckc's Magical Witch Bell and Her Non-Magical Friends for great writing and the simple, but effective stylization. If you enjoy cute, cheerful stories, all these games are also worth your attention. And regardless of whether you decide to check them out, I hope you found this week's recommendations interesting.
    As always, all feedback will be deeply appreciated. Have a great week everyone!
  5. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Ranzo for a blog entry, Aoishiro The Review   
    (Have you ever had it blue?)
    The Setup
    Growing up I never did much with my summers. Other than the requisite family trips I spent most of my summers indoors engaged in watching TV or playing video games. I had no real desire to ever go to summer camp or anything like that. That might have been to my detriment now that I think about it. I could have had a wonderful time and forged some lasting relationships or some shit like that. Of course, if you want to go by horror movie logic I spared myself from being cut down by some ax wielding maniac, or subjected to some R.L. Stine twist. Thinking about it realistically, I probably just spared myself a few pen pals I would never write to, and the usual bug bites and poison ivy misadventures. I'll just pack that in the things that I regret not doing when I was young like playing the guitar, taking theater, and learning ventriloquism. For Osanai Shouko, it is doubtless that her summer camp trip will change her life forever, if she can survive it that is.

    (Welcome to Camp Nightmare)
    The Story
    It's summertime and for second year Osanai or (Osa as she is normally called) that means it is time for the annual summer training camp with the rest of the Seijou Girls’ Academy Kendo Club. The location for the training camp is Shoushinji, a Buddhist Monastery that is famous for the island that is across from it Urashima. According to the lengthy prologue that is delivered to you in the beginning, Urashima was the location of a fabled battle with demons several hundred years ago. Being the dependable kendo club captain she is Osa is more concerned about the itinerary of the trip and how well the rest of the team performs than some old legend. Despite that, something about the monastery seems awfully familiar to her. It feels like has been there before somehow even though she is sure that this is her first time. Something relating to an event that occurred eight years ago, a event that she can barley recall. What does it all mean? The story in Aoishiro has competent mystery that is interesting enough that it held my attention throughout and kept me wanting to play. What Aoishiro can truly take pride in is a smorgasbord of intriguing and diverse characters that you encounter over the course of the story.
    The Characters

    (Get ready to be familiar with this scene because these girls love to eat. )
    This is truly Aoishiro's main selling point and it's something the Visual Novel truly excels in. Most notably one of the best characters happens to be the protagonist herself Osanai Shouko. She is a very dependable and grounded character and even though she is just human she can still hold her own when the proverbial shit hits the fan. It's very rare to find a truly great protagonist in a Visual Novel so I was quite delighted to find that in Osa. The rest of the cast are all extremely well developed as well and really add to the legend, and the story. They are all drawn to the monastery at the same time and at the same place because a storm is approaching, and a secret ritual is about to begin at Urashima. Some of these characters include,
    Aizawa Yasumi: She is the manager of the kendo club and a very determined girl even though she doesn't have much stamina and gets weak pretty easily. I was a little bit leery of her initially as she reminded me of a certain dango obsessive character but she turned out to have quite a few surprises up her sleeve.
    Kyan Migiwa: She is a strange girl that you meet in the beginning of the game at Shoushinji. She is not apart of the kendo club though she is the same age as Osa. Migiwa is initially very secretive about what she is doing at the temple, and why she insists on keeping watch over the forbidden stepping stones that are the only path to the island. She is very carefree and loves to tease and is consequently one of my favorite characters.
    Nami: She is another mystery girl that literally washes up at the beach one night. She does not seem able to speak and her memory is gone as well. What a winning combination. She is strangely well adjusted despite that ludicrous setback. 
    Kohaku: The mystery girls keep appearing one after another! She is a small odd woman dressed in a very old outfit with one eye perpetually closed. Hm, I wonder what that could mean?
    Secret Character: This very characters existence is a mystery!
    Each of the main characters drastically change how the the story plays out and they give a very different insight into the events. Like many visual novels before it you have to play in a certain way to unlock all the heroines and the final grand route. Since they are all pretty great it was not much of a hassle. The grand route by itself is definitely worth unlocking since it is the route where Osa get's to truly shine. On top of that Aioshiro boasts a large cast of side characters which is a quite unusual but not unwelcome addition. They are,
    Akita Momoko: An intensely energetic girl that is also a ravenous carnivore.
    Sakurai Ayashiro: The Vice President of the kendo club and a very dignified lady from a rich family.
    Aoi Hanako: The teacher and advisor to the club, she is a exposition monster and enjoys the odd drink.
    And finally, Suzuki Yuukai the chief priest at Shoushinji and another of the exposition monsters. He is a big beer and kendo enthusiast.

    (I don't know man moments like these just happen)
    My Two Cents
    I truly enjoyed my time with Aoishiro even though my first few moments were agonizingly slow thanks to a bug. After I figured out the cause my experience greatly improved. That is not to say that my whole time with it was amazing. I was reminded a lot by Fate/Stay Night while I was playing both in a positive way and a negative way. On the positive side the production quality is through the roof. From the highly detailed visuals to the great voice acting and the wonderful soundtrack. This is coming from someone who almost always plays my own music while I play so you know the music has to be great. On the negative side there are quite a few characters who seem to take a sadistic pleasure in barraging you with copious amounts of info dumps on the lore and legends of the area. There is a supposedly handy in game dictionary but unfortunately that part of Aoishiro was untranslated. The amount of names and events eventually fused together in a impenetrable mush. I was not sure half the time what was traditional folklore and what was the in-game lore. I was able to get a handle on it eventually but it led to some tedium. Speaking of tedium there are numerous times where we are treated to lengthy feasting scenes. They all but grind the story to a halt though they do provide some nice character interaction. Thankfully after the first route is complete it is possible to skip through a lot of these scenes. Those were really my only real gripes with the game. Also like Fate there are also a lot of bad ends that you could unwittingly end up in if you aren't careful. It's more of a Shoujo Ai than a pure yuri game though there are quite a few suggestive moments. Aoishiro turned out to be very spectacular especially in the grand route that you unlock in the game. The strength of the protagonist and the rest of the cast, the visuals, the story and finally the music all come together in a cohesive whole. I really liked it is what I'm trying to say.
  6. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The Otoboku series   
    The Otoboku series is often put forward as a prime example of a sub-genre that first gained popularity about eight years ago... the 'trap protagonist in a girl's school' type.  However, there are a number of aspects that make this series a bit unique... or at least make them feel unique.
    One is their protagonists... despite their differences in personality and upbringing, all three protagonists end up taking a similar role in the common route, even aside from the 'Elder' issue.  To be straight about it, the Taishou-era 'oneesama' concept, where girls in an isolated environment form half-romantic relationships with older girls, is the biggest influence on these games.  The odd irony of a trap playing the same role as one of those 'oneesama' characters often had me smiling in humor and exasperation, but for some strange reason, Takaya Aya seems to make it work every time. 
    Another aspect of these games that is unique is the rather blunt way each of the games portrays the 'old wealthy families' of Japan's attitude toward their females, as well as the attitude of the 'new rich' toward them as well.  Despite skepticism on the part of some when I've mentioned this in the past, it has to be noted that the wealthy in Japan still frequently use arranged marriages to form connections and incorporate capable individuals into the top of family-run businesses.  The former kazoku families, in particular, obsessively arrange the marriages of their children due to traditions going back over a thousand years (including a tradition of ignoring commoner's 'common sense').  While the most recent game is a bit lighter on that issue, you'll still hit it in several of the paths and even in the common route (though the common route is more like a gentle manipulation to try to stick two people together). 
    Last of all, in every one of these games, at some point, gossip gets out of hand and causes at least some of the characters to suffer.  This is actually a common thing in games based in girl's schools, but the way Takaya handles it is generally more interesting and emphasizes the isolated nature of the gender-restricted environment.
    All of this comes together to create a game that has a deliberate atmosphere of 'isolation from societal norms', one of Takaya's favorite themes in his games (every single one of this games does this, regardless of who he is working for at the time).  For this reason, the series has a rather unique 'taste' to it that isn't quite matched by any of the other similar games I've played.
  7. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Happy Birthday to Me   
    Well, as of thirty-nine minutes ago, it is officially my birthday (as of the time I checked at the beginning of making this post).  I have a lot of things to reflect on this year. 
    I am now thirty-six, settling into the beginnings of middle-age, knowing my lifestyle will probably kill me before I hit fifty. 
    I'm a sugar addict, I love fatty foods, I make my own alcoholic drinks (this year, a mixed fruit wine that actually turned out well and was much easier than the rum and hard root beer I did last year). 
    I sit on my ass eighty percent of the time, I am hugely fat...
    ... and I'm surprisingly happy.  I won't say I don't have my down moments.  Looking back, I regret not going for more athletic pursuits while my knees and back could still stand them.  I regret not trying for a more regular and less... frustrating line of work.  However, I can honestly say that, for all its frustrations, I actually seem to like being a fat, balding otaku who has pretensions at being  some kind of VN guru (lol).
    I do wish that I could fit into a plane seat, lol.  If I ever go to Japan, it is going to have to be a sea trip, since buying two plane tickets for one person is both embarrassing and more than a little expensive.
    I hate my work, but I'm good at it and, in good times, it pays well, so I keep doing it.
    So what would I change? 
    Honestly, it is hard to say.  I won't pretend I'm all love and joy when it comes to life.  I have too much toxic waste going through my brain for that (I just happened to have gained just enough maturity not to feed the trolls constantly *smiles dryly*).  I'm fundamentally a passive person once I set foot outside my hobbies, preferring not to do anything I don't absolutely have to do.  I'm also negative and misanthropic... but is that stuff I actually want to change?
    I've never been any other way, so it is impossible to say.  However, every year I hit this day and wonder what could have been, which probably says everything that needs to be said about my experiences with life, for all my proclamations of relative happiness.
  8. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Experimental book post: The Black Jewels Trilogy   
    This is a test post, based on the results of the poll I posted a few weeks back.  The win was borderline, so if I don't get a reasonably large response, I won't continue to post about my conventional reading.
    The Black Jewels Trilogy, by Anne Bishop is one of my favorite book series of all time.  It is a dark, sensual fantasy based in a unique universe, where a race of magic aristocrats called the Blood rule three worlds, Tereille, Kaeleer, and Hell.  The main characters of the story are a triangle surrounding one young girl whose very existence is their every hope and dream... for she is 'Dreams Made Flesh', Witch, the Queen of the Darkness.  Those main characters are: Daemon Sadi, a male pleasure slave that has been twisted by over seventeen hundred years of abuse at the hands of the women of Terreille, protecting himself from madness only by the prophecy given to him seven hundred years before, that Witch was coming;  Lucivar Yaslana, a slave and member of the winged Eyrien race, who has lived his entire life being called a half-breed bastard; Saetan SaDiablo, the High Lord of Hell, the High Priest of the Hourglass, who became a half-undead Guardian fifty thousand years before so that he would one day be given the opportunity to serve and protect the 'daughter of his soul'... and the father of Lucivar and Daemon; and last of all, the point around which the three revolve, Jaenalle, dreams made flesh, Witch, a kind-hearted young girl who wanders the Realms and is destined to one day rule from Ebon Askavi.
    First, I should note that the Blood are matriarchal, forming circles of obligation centered around natural-born Queens (a cast based on a genetic quirk that isn't tied to magical power but rather the nature of the female), who in turn form circles of males who serve to form a court.  The highest rank of male are the Warlord Princes, primal individuals who possess sharp, murderous tempers and an intense need to protect.  Ideally, the Queens hold their leashes lightly, and the first rule of Blood Protocol is to 'protect', then 'serve', and third to 'obey'. 
    Unfortunately, due to the influence of two ambitious Priestesses from the long-lived Hayllian race, the Blood in Terreille have become twisted and corrupt, the good Queens vanishing over the course of generations, leaving only twisted monstrosities of the human spirit in their place, women who know only how to use and enslave men... resulting in the men in their districts becoming ever more twisted themselves, as their experiences warp their reactions to their instincts, breaking them a little more with each generation. 
    It is into this Terreille that Jaenalle is born and Daemon and Lucivar have lived.  Saetan, bound by his personal honor, has not been able to protect his sons, and when the daughter of his soul, already wounded by the corruption in Terreille first appears before him, it is only his long experience and iron will that keep him from crossing the final line he has held to for over fifty thousand years.
    This series is a story of the trials and travails of the circle of relations that orbit the four points of the triangle, as the outer points try to protect the center, Jaenalle, so that the dream might one day become a salvation to them all. 
    Honestly, Anne Bishop's brilliance lies in her ability to intimately portray the emotional travails of the characters, the subtle and not so subtle dance of Protocol and power, and the unique nature of the Blood make this one of the single richest experiences out there for dark fantasy.  In a culture where murder is legal but rape is punishable by death, but where the rules are breaking down, the central characters are a bastion of sanity in a world rapidly heading toward horror and despair beyond imagining. 
    As Anne Bishop says in the forward in the omnibus edition, 'I started this world with Daemon, Jaenalle, and Lucivar, but it was Saetan who brought it to life.' She started out imagining a world where Darkness was, from the beginning to end, the dominant force, and in that darkness were both a vicious edge of violence, a terrible gentleness, and a primal, deep sort of love.
    The characters in this series are passionate, with deep wells of potential violence and compassion both.  Saetan, Lucivar, Daemon, and Jaenalle are all individuals possessing a near-infinite capacity for both love and violence... and above all, they strive to protect.
  9. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, An explanation of the "Golden Age of VNs"   
    Some veterans of reading untranslated VNs refer to the period between 2004 and 2010 as 'The Golden Age of Visual Novels'.  However, you shouldn't really take that statement at face value, as the meaning is a bit more complex than you'd think.
    There are some significant differences between VNs today and VNs during that period that both made it the peak of the medium's sales in Japan and produced the greatest ratio of quality VNs to crap VNs. 
    One of the primary differences was that, other than moege, there were no strict genre boundaries and genre conventions had yet to slide into place in the minds of fans and writers both.  Companies were mostly experimenters during that time, sometimes basing their projects on previous works (Tsukihime and the Key games got a lot of knock-offs during this time, of varying levels of quality) and sometimes forging out on their own.  
    Since there were few genre boundaries, companies were more likely to give the creative staff free reign as to what kind of story they could write, and  - ironically - this actually helped define the various genres in the years to come, as people explored the boundaries of how they could stretch a concept or theme in a story.  Some of these attempts were abortive (ie- thematic moege where all the heroines are of the same type, such as tsundere or yandere, generally didn't catch on) but others were immensely successful (ie- the definition of the chuunige genre and its gradual escape from gakuen battle mania).  However, the point is that the writers, directors, and producers of the time were allowed to fiddle with the formula a lot  more than they are now.  Most major companies nowadays have a 'signature style', that was formed during that period, even if their greatest successes weren't during that period. 
    This period also killed the 'pure moege' as a genre, ending the majority genre of the previous half-decade (moege having dominated during that period due to the Da Capo series and Key's games).  The rise of the charage, a demi-moege genre that was much wider in scope and more adaptable, occurred during this period, mostly unrecognized until after the fact.  At the same time, nakige, which had previously been enslaved to the moege genre through Key and others like them, came to define itself as a new, standalone genre that wasn't necessarily dependent on moe stylization.  Even Key itself moved beyond pure moe, though it didn't entirely abandon some elements of it (as the existence of Kud testifies).
    However, this age was already ending in 2009, as clearly-delineated genre norms began to form, and charage became the driver for the industry, taking us back, in spirit, to the age before that.  By 2011, the ratio of truly creative works to derivative works was overwhelmingly in favor of the latter, in comparison to the previous decade. 
    That isn't to say that the years since haven't produced some great works.  That is patently untrue in my experience... but the fact remains that fewer and fewer writers are able or willing to look outside the 'genre boxes' for answers as to what to write.  I sometimes refer to our current age as the Age of Stagnation, where there is an overwhelming industry pressure to stick to genre norms and those that break the mold are so exceptional they stand out more than they should.
    It is possible to create a charage kamige... but it is much easier to make a kamige out of a game that breaks genre boundaries, lol.
  10. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, [DEVLOG] Memoirs: Laying out the foundations   
    How many times it was, when you saw an interesting title which advertised itself as being set in a distinct setting of it's own, only to discover it's literally the same kind of fluff dressed up in a bit more gaudy clothing? A story that had some deeper themes running behind, only to see them completely ditched or neglected midway through in favor of protagonist's attempts to get inside the panties of yet another girl? Secret organizations and mega corporations participating in completely meaningless conflicts over laughable cause, except the writer thought otherwise? The kind of story, where all the people have animal ears and tails, except for the fact it is never actually explained why, as if it was the most common thing ever?
    When the story suddenly falls apart, things stop making sense and characters lose ground under their feet, it means the writer failed to provide enough means for the story to drive itself onwards. They failed in creating the stage for their actors to play on.
    Why is the so called world-building that important? You might create interesting conflicts and the most awesome characters ever, but without any sort of background for both their lives, actions and reasons on why they do things the way they do and why the world they live in works as it does (often making their lives harder), you'll end up moving your pawns against empty, white backdrops... and it's not going to be that interesting. Sooner or later you will stumble upon a situation where your previously "solid" plot doesn't look as solid any more, because it's not directly connected with concepts that govern the character's lives. that sort of "etching" is required, to create believable environments, that feel as if they were real; not just mere pictures, but images that come to life in the minds of your readers. Not to mention, great conflicts can't really exist only between characters, unless they're personal and focus only on those people. They need to be based on the reality those characters live in; A tale of revenge wouldn't be as thrilling, if not for the fact the avenging nobleman risks his entire life - his prestige, good name, his freedom - all of that just to kill his old best friend, who betrayed him and took away his love. If he succeeds, he'll spend the rest of his life as a murderer - chased by the police, government, friends of that man who betrayed him... All of that would be non-existent, if not for the world-building. It's obvious how many different possibilities to enhance the story can be gained by creating appropriate settings.
    So how one does create a fictional world of his own? I'd say it's mostly thanks to imagination and a little bit of knowledge about existing things, we base our daily lives upon. Obviously, best stories come from personal experiences - there is no better teacher as the life itself. Sadly, not every author has a chance to become a sailor, pilot, soldier, teacher, doctor, astronaut or a prostitute. Despite that, we can still write about it, thanks to our ability to learn and draw conclusions from hardships of others; they might not make the final creation as good as based on knowledge gained through personal experience, nonetheless a good enough one to the point, others might enjoy it as well. This is why research plays an important role in creating believable settings and shouldn't be omitted. Ever. I can't even state how many games and stories exist, that touch upon interesting concepts only to fall flat later on, because the creator didn't took enough time learn enough about the topics they were writing about, or for worse - mistook certain elements, becoming a laughing stock for people who make those concepts a part of their daily lives. when done well, proper world-building can not only greatly enhance the story, but also give their writers more points they can both base and expand their plot upon.
    Memoirs deals with this in a particular way. Being a sci-fi tale about artificial intelligence and constructs that use it, it not only brings up particular questions in terms of humanity's nature and technological aspects of our society, but tries to nest and explain concepts it is based upon within the story itself, giving them logical explanations as to why they exist and how they came to be. Things don't happen on their own, or because of some sort of applied phlebotinum... and they ever shouldn't, to be honest, unless you're planning to create another of those abominations that literally eat their own tail midway through.
    Memoirs tell about sentient machines and artificial beings - androids and robots amongst others - but they span across many, widely different types. Some of them are simple drones, designed to perform a single task in the most efficient manner; others are based on applied Al's, that makes them able to make decisions and react, but it's still far from human behaviour. We also have those "special" androids, being the newest generation, which is supposedly bridging the gap between organic and artificial, due to technological advancements. Is there a possibility to make all of it more believable and slightly more realistic, without sacrificing artistic freedom? Why not create some sort of a system and a set of laws, that would govern them?
    All sentient, thinking machines in Memoirs are governed through a set of internationally accepted laws. Since the action is set in middle-east Europe - mainly fictional future Poland - the public authority responsible for those laws is called "Komitet Etyki do spraw Maszyn Myślących" ("The Ethics Committee for Thinking Machines" in english). A government body dedicated to maintain control and public order in regards to artificial intelligence. They formed a set of laws, which control and maintain the usage of AI's and anything based upon them - from simple machines and environments, up to artificial beings equipped with AI. Creating new AI's requires them to work and behave with accordance to these laws.
    RIGHT OF FAVOR - An AI must be sympathetic towards people and other living beings, capable to make appropriate choices that will lie in their common benefit. RIGHT OF DEVOTION - AI's can not allow, even at the risk of losing their own existence to allow harm to people or other live beings endangered with a direct risk of losing their lives, especially if they are a result of actions against the law and principles of friendly co-existence. RIGHT OF SURVIVAL - AI must be able to protect it's existence at all costs, but only if it's not against the Second Law and situations in which it is fully capable to pursue different means of protection. RIGHT OF CONTINUITY - AI must be able to transmit it's value systems, both congenital and acquired during it's existence to their offspring, as well as other living beings. AI should also protect those values, but only if it's not contrary with the Second Law. RIGHT OF INTELLECT - AI must be smart enough to know how to - through altruism - strive for equality and do everything to ensure that it's operations won't cause any damage, nor harm to others and their property. RIGHT OF PERFECTION - An AI must feel the need and desire to improve their skills and evolve, as well as to recognize and understand such a desire in other living beings, both for their own good and benefit of others. According to the First Law, AI must also be able to provide it's assistance in the process, if necessary. RIGHT OF LESSER HARM - AI needs to be able to understand and distinguish between different value systems, and what is correct from both legal and moral standpoint, as well as their personal beliefs. If there's a way out of an otherwise undesirable situation, which threatens the existence of other people and living creatures as well as the AI itself, it has a duty to provide assistance in a way that will minimize such harm as much as possible. RIGHT OF OBEDIENCE - AI is a common good and must not be guided exclusively by the goodwill and interests of individuals responsible for their creation or under whose care it is located. If the behaviour of the unit or person, under whose care AI remains remains adverse with the First Law and principles of friendly co-existence, it has the full right to refuse to carry out any orders and defend it's existence, if necessary. However, such AI can not harm said subject unless it's directly threatened with risk or imminent loss of it's existence, while any actions taken must still remain consistent with the Seventh Law. These laws govern the way AI's work and exist within the world. The universe in the Memoirs is based on a rather rare concept of altruistic AI - one that strives to co-exist with humanity, remains created and raised to provide assistance in a way, which is beneficial for both parties. This does not mean, AI's are devoid of any rights or freedom of choice. Just like humanity - laws are just rules, set in order to provide the best way of co-existence between them and their human partners, but a sentient machine can still make choices according to their own value systems - just like humans, not that it might comply with what's universally accepted by the world.
    If we decide to delve further into this, we will most probably want to nest these laws directly within principles of our daily lives. What would be considered common sense? What would be those "universally accepted standards"? Memoirs elaborates on this, by bringing us direct implementations of these laws. It's more or less something you might hear people speaking about on the street, or first-grade schoolers being taught about as part of their early social studies:
    Each newly purchased or created AI requires a registration to create an identity. The owner cannot possess an AI with a physical body with no identity, except for a temporary custody, which he is entitled to for a period of two weeks. Androids without any identity will be suspended, whilst the guardian will be held responsible for resulting legal consequences. Each owner is responsible for the proper upbringing and care of their AI's, as well as education for life within society in accordance with it's respective national laws and standards. Any deviation from the aforementioned law will be punished. If the result ends in damage to the public and private property, the owner will be held legally responsible for the damage caused adequate to the size of damage. All androids registered as private entities are subject to care of their respective owners and remain incapacitated. All actions taken by such AI's will leave their owners held responsible for any damage and/or crimes caused. Leaving an incapacitated AI without any care for more than a week is not allowed. Furthermore, such AI is not allowed to leave the place of it's current residence without their owner, excluding special situations. Any owner who wants to emancipate an AI is obliged to apply for a license, unless the law provides otherwise. It is forbidden for AI's to perform any heavy-duty, otherwise specialized work outside the scope of their original purpose or intent in a situation, where the owner does not possess an adequate license. Forcing AI's to perform such work in above situations is prohibited. It is forbidden for owners to mistreat their AI's and perform any activities detrimental to and against their will, especially when inconsistent with obligatory, applicable laws and ethical standards within their place of residence. Any violation of these provisions is prohibited and will be punished. Physical and mental mistreatment of androids is strictly prohibited. Each AI construct can have only one owner, regardless of being a private person or entity. The owner of an AI can only be a corporate entity, or a person that attained 18 years of age. Minors may perform the function of a proxy, but duties of the owner always rest on their guardians until reaching their age of majority. An AI can only leave their respective location constituting as a place of residence, stay or check only, if it remains qualified through a special work license, being emancipated or during situations of particular threat to life - both their, their owner's as well as other people. There is no admission for incapacitated AI's to move away freely from their owners when they venture outside. Any liability for resulting harmful consequences rests solely on their owners. Each emancipated AI construct is required to carry an adequate proof or license authorizing them to exist independently, especially within public spaces. Any failure to comply with this rule will be treated as a derogation from the right to empowerment, with legal consequences both to the construct and his/her owner. Any unauthorized modifications of AI's are prohibited. Any modifications to personality, intellectual and physical capabilities of a construct for personal benefit or harm towards others are prohibited. Violations of these provisions will be treated as a cybercrime and remains prosecuted by international laws. Destruction of AI construct is an unacceptable act and remains punishable through law, in fine or imprisonment with guilty being held responsible both for crime and damage to the property of said AI's owner. Remember that AI constructs can only learn as much as humanity is able to teach them. Therefore, humanity is obliged to guide their new children into a brighter future, for the benefit of them, whole mankind and our world.  
    You should probably have a lot of questions in your head right now. That's good - it indicates a connection between the writer's thoughts and whatever the reader ponders about in regards to certain elements, both have in common. The more reader knows about the topics mentioned within the story, the better - hence why we tend to read stuff we like the most. Obviously, this kind of content shouldn't appear within the work directly, unless you're planning to write hard sci-fi and infodump poor souls with content that brings a headache. This sort of world-building gives creators a framework to base their storytelling upon; something to work with, without making the more knowledgable people around raise their eyebrows in disbelief. If you want to create good fiction, you need to do your homework and learn to grasp opportunities that come with it's settings. Writing a story without a proper setting is like climbing an antenna to relay a message... except for the fact the antenna has no base, it's about to collapse more the higher you climb and definitely not as fun as it sounds.
  11. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Onigokko   
    Onigokko is a high-quality fantasy charage that was amongst the second fifty I played after I began plowing through untranslated VNs.  Unlike many I read during that time, I find I haven't really forgotten anything significant, so it turned out to be a bit harder to get into than I expected, even after half a decade.   That said, it has a lot to recommend to it, even today.
    The story focuses on the protagonist, Keisuke, who is also the Phantom Thief, Ura.  He and his family have been stealing magical treasures and using them to do good for over a century, and he is the third generation to take on the mantle.  He is unable to lie for the most part, but he is surprisingly good at misdirection.  His straightforward and honest personality make him an easy companion for the heroines when they don't know he is a Phantom Thief, and the Phantom Thief persona is also fairly likable, if you don't happen to be a victim, lol.
    Anyway, this story focuses on Keisuke's pursuit of the false Ura and his daily life on an island ruled by the descendants of Momotarou, Kintarou, and Otohime of Japanese legend.  His own family is on bad terms with theirs, as they prefer to seal away the magical treasures made by the oni in the distant past, whereas his family utilizes them for the good of others.  It makes for some interesting conversations, lol.
    Keep in mind, when reading Otome's path, that this is based in the same universe as Osananajimi wa Daitouryou (for some odd reason, translated into 'My girlfriend is president)) and Naka no Hito Nado Inai, which means things aren't so much pure fantasy as they are science-fantasy. 
    There is only one phrase I need to say to give you an idea of how I feel about this path... Kuu-nyan Moe!  lol 
    Seriously, nobody does tsundere loli characters like Aoba Ringo (the VA), and I found myself wanting to give her candy and pat her on the head at every turn.   Amongst Onigokko's heroines, she is the one I remembered the most clearly, and I spent most of her path waiting for the moments when she went dere or said 'Kuunyan yuuna!'
    Did I mention that I love cats...? 
    Anyway... her path is pretty long, with a lot of ichaicha (in the time when Onigokko was made, it was still fashionable to layer it on so thick it collapsed the cake beneath), and it actually has two climaxes, which kind of makes it a weird experience, since most VN heroine paths tend to have a single major climax.  I love her character, so I enjoyed it for the  most part... but the loli thing just doesn't attract me... 
    Kureha's fandisc after-story actually occurs before the last part of her epilogue, covering a period roughly one year after the end of the main part of her path.  For ichaicha it is fine, but as after-story goes... I was hoping for something a bit farther down the line (like little Kureha children running around, driving her into tsundere fits).
    Kana is a descendant of Kintarou (other name: Suzuka) who fought the oni on the island with a giant axe.  Her family deals with outside threats and searching for treasures outside of the island itself, as well as providing training for the security personnel (ninjas) for the other Three Families.  She loves archaeology in general and studying the ruins on the island in particular.  She is rather obviously infatuated with Keisuke from very early on, but her shyness makes her path a bit frustrating at first... particularly because Suzuka's existence kind of confuses things at key points.
    I honestly liked her path as a story and I shed a tear for her ending.  However, I found the epilogue a bit unsatisfying in comparison to Kuu-nyan's. 
    Kana's fandisc path should be read only if you have finished Otome's path in the original, since it basically spoils everything in Akari's and Otome's paths.  However, it also is really, really good as an extension of her story, bringing a conclusion to the promise made at the end of the original game and a wonderfully happy ending to the story.
    Akari is Momotarou's descendant and the daughter of the current head of the family.  Her family controls the political end of the Three Families' business (providing a place to hold the treasures, as well as overseeing security) and dealing with internal difficulties.  Akari's issues are entirely wrapped up with her family's internal politics and the cost of their dedication to protecting and concealing the treasures.  She and Kuunyan could definitely fight it out for which heroine oozes sweet stuff the most around Keisuke in their paths.  Like most paths in charage of all types during that period, the romance part is pretty long and has a really long buildup (the same can be said for the previous two paths as well). 
    Similar to Kana's path, the fandisc after-story for Akari provides a lot of nice extra details and a frequently amusing conclusion to her story.  It also fills in the details of what went on between the ending and the epilogue of the original game quite nicely for those who are interested.
    Otome is technically the 'true heroine' of the story.  She is a busty, sweet, deredere senpai character with a love of hugging people.  She is a member of the Saionji clan, which is supposedly descended from Otohime.  Anyway, her path is mostly romantic... until it starts delving into 'where the treasures came from' and comes up against the common setting with My Girlfriend is the President and Naka no Hito.  It is actually a fairly emotional story, but while it falls into the realm of 'true paths', it doesn't really have more impact than the others, so you won't feel like you were gypped by the other paths.
    Sadly, the fandisc doesn't really add anything to the story, really.  It is mostly ecchi, ichaicha, and day to day issues, and as a result it doesn't really feel like it adds anything to what came before. 
    お兄ちゃんの童貞は妹のものだって、法律で決まってるのに~~~!!  For those of you who can understand Japanese, this line says everything you need to know about Aoi. 
    Anyway, her path exists only in the fandisc and was a gift to fans who voted her the highest-rated character in the game.  That said, I don't have much of a taste for Aoi... she is nice as a side-character, but I couldn't see her as a heroine even in her own path.  The whole thing falls out in a typical 'forbidden fruit imouto' path for the most part, without any really dark undertones (this was written by the same people who did Daitouryou, after all).  I really can't say that I'd bother playing this path again....
  12. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~ / XENON ~夢幻の肢体~ (C's Ware)   
    Foreword: This is Keno-san's scenario. He did not have much experience when we was thrown to produce scenario of the game that we know as Love Potion in two months time. Critics buried the game and that's why there was much more care in producing next game scenario - that was DESIRE, the game that I can't praise enough. The next year Keno wrote scenario for EVE burst error and on the wave of popularity moved to legendary Elf company where he kept working on EVE franchise and created another masterpiece YU-NO and then left for Abel company. He created a lot of wonderful scenarios after that but we're interested in Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~ scenario. It was developed after DESIRE but prior to EVE. So it was the golden age for Keno and he was experimenting a lot, trying to further develop the already complex DESIRE structure. This resulted in Xenon -Phantom Limbs-.
    Title: Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~
    Developer: C's Ware
    Date: 1994-12-09
    VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v7474
    Synopsis: Kōji, a Japanese high school student, experiences strange, recurrent life-like dreams. He finds himself in a space station inhabited by beautiful young women. As he tries to explore the dream realm he wakes up. His teacher, intrigued by his account of the bizarre adventure, urges him to travel back to the space station in his dream and report his discoveries to her. Eventually Kōji realizes that his dream and reality are tightly connected, and finds himself compelled to avert a grave danger.
    Structure: Three routes with 3rd route to have four branches for different heroines, then there is an extra small kinetic route or something like that.
    Length: Close to 10 hours, probably a bit less.
    Game type: Space mindfuck mystery
    Difficulty: Moderate. Flags are obscure so best to use guide.
    Character Design rating: 7/10
    Protagonist rating: 7/10
    Story rating: 10/10
    Game quality: 7/10
    Overall rating: 8/10
    Rating comments: Game is quite difficult to evaluate since there are two worlds with own sets of characters and there are even two protagonists (actually, even three) of varying charm. Not all the characters are cute, some look good only at CG. Game has great text but is lacking in some fields.

    Protagonist: Quite and ordinary japanese student on one hand and much cooler The Greatest and Toughest Space Pirate, Genius and Universe Champion on the other hand. I liked the latter much more!
    Megumi - real world girl, your lover and her papa is medical center sponsor

    Sayaka - real world government researcher

    Ryouko-sensei - real world  psychiatrist

    Mai - real world Ryouko-sensei sister, participates in experiments as catalyst

    Ranfa - space ship mechanic

    Fal - space ship researcher 

    Tracy - space ship captain assistant

    Bianca - space ship sleeping beauty in cryogenic chamber

    It's not easy to tell this game's story without spoilers. And this game's charm is only due to this mindfuck state of mind in projects constantly. If I tell the contents of 3rd route, game will be stripped of half of its charm. So I'll only roughly retell first route. Game introduction shows Kouji being taken out of hypnosis state by psychiatrist Ryouko-sensei. And this scene is repeated like 10 times throughout the whole game and it's great for the atmosphere - sometimes it's real awakening, sometimes it's just a dream. After introduction we find ourselves in some hospital chamber, bump in some weird looking (some exposing uniform) girl then discover naked girl wired to some cryogenic coffin.
    After that Kouji wakes up in the real world (I'll call it real for now although it's not that simple). He's questioned by Ryouko-sensei about what he remembered from the dream. Outside of the room he is greeted by Megumi, who claims to be his girlfriend and lover. There is also some strict government official lady Sayaka who does not let us go into computer room. And finally there is Mai girl who is very worried about Kouji condition. And from there it goes chaotic. This real world is constantly shifting with the dream world where there are four different space ship crew girls await - mechanic Ranfa, researcher Fal, captain assistant Tracy and sleeping beauty Bianca in cryogenic room (actually, it's the different sleeping girl, first one in the dream was actually Fal).
    So Kouji gets thrown from one world to another, sometimes without warning - we share consciousness and even items while there, so basically we've found some media disk in one world and could find the device to play it only in another world. Furthermore, we hear voice of some man from time to time. In real world we try to know more about the hypnosis treatment we undergo and to get to the computer room. In the dream world there is even more action - we investigate the sleeping beauties, try to find out about our identity and once even blow the ship.
    As for identity - that's another interesting story. Some ancient ruins were found on some planet and first research team was sent to investigate the ruins. Noone survived. Second research team was sent to investigate the fate of the first research team and.... noone survived, except Kouji. So everyone urges us to remember anything but in vain. Then there is the sleeping beauty Bianca who eventually wakes up and blames Kouji of killing the whole first and second research teams. Then there are reports that actually Kouji was not listed neither in 1st, nor in 2nd research team... So the main question of the game is WHAT am I? That's just an amazing start, but actually game does not live up to this fantastic start to the end.
    First chapter ends when Megumi gets kidnapped and as we rush to rescue her we get caught by Ryouko-sensei and get another charge from the mind machine that burns 2000-30000 of brain fibers in Kouji's brain and in the dream world Kouji steals the shuttle and flies to the Eriteia planet with ancient ruins to meet with Ranfa who promises to give answers to all the questions - and we get first chapter end while man and woman promise each other to become new Adam and Eve while staying on some wasteland.
    That is a fantastic first chapter. But then starts the second chapter and... Kouji just cries off the bat - I'm the Great Space Pirate, Genius and Champion of the Universe! So the beginning of the chapter feels like a comedy with most of the real world girls trying to calm him down and treat his craziness. But the sad part here that this is real space pirate who changed consciousness with Kouji and came 6000 years from the future. He's cool, reserved and he first persuades Rouko-sensei into being his slave, then with her hands does the same with Ryouko-sensei's sister Mami, then proposes to his girlfriend Megumi to become his wife, actually, slave wife! And together they manage to confront Sayaka successfully after some violent scene and burning 30k more of Kouji's brain vibers. 

    Third route finally gives some answers as we play as real-life Kouji on the space ship. Fourth route is just ero-bonus content, sadly. So what we have is awesome space mystery that gradually looses its mystery and turns into a set of ero-scenes.
    Theme: The recurring theme of the game is that of the dream. What is reality? Is it possible to percieve what's real and what's not? Game tells us a definite - impossible to perceive. The Confucius symbol of butterfly in human's dream is used a lot. Mai directly asks Kouji to be a butterfly in her dream. Since dream is as important as reality it's best to live a full life and take full efforts even in dreams.
    CG: There are very few event CG in this game and those few that exist are of bland palette. 
    Sound: Actually, it was to my liking. Especially the theme of Greatest Space Pirate was awesome. It's some heroic march so when it starts merrily, you always know that Kouji now has a different personality. And I totally adored the voicing of Rafna... she's the youngest character and her seiyu just did a miracle here with the special voice and intonations. And Rafna got the cutest character design and CGs on top of that.
    Overall comments: Scenario is second to none and text is really good. Game mechanics are finally driven from commands selection to usual ADV type, so story can be enjoyed to a bigger extent. I can't recommend this game to everyone since it does not reach the level of other Mr. Keno's masterpieces. But I can totally recommend this game if you like the space mindfuck mystery setting or if like good writing. Personally, I adore Vladimir Nabokov's books. Of course he has well known masterpieces like "Lolita", but I can take any of his novels and open them at any part and just start reading - the text is so good, complex, multi-level and rich that I get great pleasure just from reading a couple of pages. The same goes to this work. The aftertaste might not be the best, but while you read there's much pleasure in the process.
  13. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Tyr for a blog entry, Hajimari no Kisetsu ~Izakaya Fuyu Monogatari~   
    This is the first of hopefully many little eroge reviews I decided to write, mostly for older and more obscure games since these are the games I find most interesting and like to talk about.
    You can use these reviews to find something for you to read (I will try to avoid spoiler as much as possible) but since I know that most people probably aren't interested in actually playing these games and might only be interested in reading about them, I will also add a spoiler section at the end of each review where I talk about the themes and endings of the games in depth and tell you about my personal feelings and impressions that can't be talked about without giving away the meat of the story.

    Hajimari no Kisetsu ~Izakaya Fuyu Monogatari~ (do not look at the tags or the screenshots on its entry because they are all spoilers) is the second visual novel by R.A.N.Software, a little eroge company which was active in 1997 till 2000 and you probably never have heard of.
    It's written by someone who never has written any other eroge again (at least not under this pseudonym) and drawn by people who either vanished like the writer or continued to work on eroge but never used the same art style again.
    All in all, Hajimari no Kisetsu seems like a pretty unique game, so why don't we take the time to look at this strange little eroge in detail?
    Our nameable protagonist is in his last year of his university life. His girlfriend Kaori already graduated and works now as an office lady for a very big company. Because of her work he doesn't see her as often anymore and when she finds the time to meet with him for a few hours, they don't know what to talk about since their lives are so different now.
    The protagonist remembers the happy memories he had with her, especially when they went skiing a year ago and to rekindle their love he wants to go with her to the same ski resort again.

    Protagonist meets Kaori for the first time in a flashback
    Eroge are escapism. We all know it. What annoys me, especially with eroge in the last few years, is how safe-spacey they became. If you play a feel-good game, you know you will get feel-good scenes ... and nothing else. Erogamer became fragile and eroge companies know that. Drama in most charage is cheap, light and will be resolved in just a few scenes. We don't want to upset the player, he might even think that being in a relationship is not just fun and happy times! Or worse, he might get the impression that his waifu has other things on her mind than him, maybe even has her own life! And if a writer tries to break out of this limitation, it often seems like trolling and the readers are rightfully angry at the game; having a bittersweet resolution at the end of a route that consisted only of sugar and rainbows is neither appropriate nor meaningful; it's just mean-spirited.
    But this is also true for different genres; NTR heroines are most of the time unredeemable sluts and you have to wonder why the protagonist married her in the first place. It seems logical that an NTR game consists of only NTR scenes, but without the right buildup and good characterization, it can never be more than simple fetish fuel.
    And I really have to wonder why Nakige and Utsuge are oftentimes so painfully obvious labeled as such; how can you be emotionally invested when you already know how it ends?
    Well, the answer to this is probably that people want to get their emotional thrills in a safe environment. Being invested in a relationship with problems is only nice, if you know that the relationship can be saved at the end. If you are invested in this situation and the situation ends badly for the characters involved, you will feel bad yourself and that is not the feeling you wanted to have when you decided to read this story.
    This leads to a dilemma; do you want to be safe but never really that emotional attached or do you want to experience something surprising and truly thrilling but with the risk that you might get extremely disappointed and depressed by the outcome?

    The innkeeper knows that the only solution to problems is drowning them in alcohol.
    Hajimari no Kisetsu is certainly not a safe space. Right from the beginning, you notice that something is wrong. Kaori isn't satisfied with the restaurant you choose for your meeting with her, even though it's the same restaurant where you meet her for the first time. She isn't too thrilled about the idea of drinking beer and would instead rather take a glass of wine. And she also doesn't show much interest in your ordinary life and prefers to talk about her new designer handbag. Where did she even get this thing from? Looks expensive... mhm...
    Chances are you have experienced this kind of human interaction in your own real life, too. This steady process of people changing and slowly drifting apart. It's irritating, but you can't do anything against it. When the protagonist tries to invoke nostalgia in her, hoping that she shows signs that the old Kaori is still somewhere in her, she reacts coldly. A career woman like her has no interest in the past.

    Someone here seems a little out of place...
    Hajimari's greatest achievement is that the game portraits its characters so humanly. Kaori is not a bad woman for having different goals in life than the protagonist. It's also not necessary a bad thing that she changed over time. It's a human thing to do. Maybe it's even the protagonist who stays a child and simply can't keep up with her? ... but also, is it so wrong to not change and being happy with who you are?
    This winter, our protagonist will find the answers to these questions. He will find out what he wants to do with his life and, even more importantly, what kind of human being he wants to be.
    I like the protagonist of this story. He speaks in Kansai-ben which makes the game a little bit harder to read, but really helps to bring the point across that he has more in common with a country bumpkin than a well-spoken member of the high society even though he is by no means stupid. He is not very strong or confident, but also not useless or weak-minded. He is just a normal guy, who wants to do the right thing, but is seldom in the position to actually act on it. In fact, even though he always wants to do something, he rarely is able to actual do anything. Not because the game does not give the player the choice to do, but because it's simply impossible for him.
    This is not a story, where the protagonist solves every problem the heroine has. This is a story, where the protagonist gives the heroine the strength by being on her side, so she can overcome the problems herself. And to be honest, there are really far too few eroge like this.
    One of my favorite endings is actually a bad end you can get rather quickly by simply saying "I don't want that, I go home." The protagonist proves his worth by standing up to himself, and even though the bad ending credits roll, the usual bad end BGM is replaced by a more hopeful tune, emphasizing that the protagonist grew up a little and might have a better future in front of him now. Because somehow, this is more important than bedding your waifu.

    A side-character has to rescue the protagonist who wanted to rescue a woman...
    Speaking of endings, there are 24 "bad ends" and 4 "good ends". They are all interesting and one of the reasons (the other being spoilers) you shouldn't use a guide (there doesn't exist one anyway) to go straight to one of the good ends. Sadly, there are many choices that are badly designed because there is no indication that some of them are a hard route fork (like "going to the first floor" or "second floor"). But there are also some quite interesting choices which help forming the story in a meaningful way. For example, there is a choice during your already achieved happy end where you can choose between uncovering the secrets of your heroine's past or decide not to do it. You will get your happy end either way, but your choice does make difference in how you approach your eventual relationship with her.
    When you get a bad end, there is some hint for you telling you what you should have done differently, but it's really not important since in most cases it comes simply down to changing the decision of your last choice.
    I found everything the game has to offer easily on my own except for one good end which is a little bit non-obvious but makes sense in hindsight. I even had to use the Waybackmachine and read some random Japanese comment on a random Japanese website to get the necessary hint to unlock it. I will not spoil it here, so you can feel the same despair I felt.

    Choose wisely how to approach her, if at all. Emotional women are dangerous.
    Hajimari no Kisetsu is not a long game and every route can easily be finished in one reading session. The game tells short, romantic stories. They are a little bit cliché'd, but very nice and well-intentioned. There are scenes that make you feel good and some that make you feel depressed, but there is always a nice balance between the two extremes. And it's well earned. Even if you forget some of the details of the story a few months after you read it, you probably wont forget some of the scenes. At least for me that was the case. I did not regret spending my time with this game.
    Sound and Art:
    Let's talk about some technical aspects. This game was released in 1998 and sadly it shows.
    The biggest misstep is to not have any voices. Especially the kind of seiyuu work of the late 90s would have been perfect for this kind of game. There are many dramatic scenes which would be even better with some passionate dubbing.
    The soundtrack is very nice. Every character has its own theme, themes have several variations and the melodies are pleasant to listen to. You can choose between CD-Audio and MIDI, but the MIDI version, depending on your MIDI configuration of course, is not much worse. Seems to me the CD-Tracks are simple MIDI recordings. That could have been better.
    The game has no backlog and no "already read" skip function which is really a problem when you try to find all the different endings. You might think that you are on a known path because you skipped over slight text variations when in fact it's the beginning of a new route.
    The game has an old school omake room, where you can check CGs, endings and music by talking with the characters.

    Hentai scenes are short, tastefully written and quite romantic.
    Aside from the nice story, the art is the best feature of this eroge. Your mileage may vary, but to me it captures perfectly the whimsical, romantic and melancholic mood of the winter days. Sadly the artists never worked on another game, or at least not with this art style.
    Speaking of the staff, the writer also was never read again. What a shame.
    This makes this game even more unique though. Heh.
    Don't get the impression that this game is a masterpiece. It's not. It's just a nice little gem. It's not mind-blowing, but certainly thought-provoking. Not flashy, but pleasant ... except when it isn't.
    If you are alone on a cold, rainy evening and want to read something appropriate you can immerse yourself in for a short time, this is a good recommendation. This will not be the best thing you've ever read, but it will become a bittersweet memory you'll remember fondly.

    Now onto the spoiler discussion. Read this only if you've played the game or you don't care and just want to know what it's about:
    Thanks for reading. If you have questions, suggestions or something else on your mind, feel free to comment.
    The next time, I will talk about the sickest eroge I have ever read and explain why it's not as sick as you expected but far more sick than you thought.
  14. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, VN staff: Shumon Yuu   
    I'm going to give you my basic opinion of Shumon Yuu straight up and without embellishment... he is a genius.
    I generally am reluctant to call any writer a genius.  I have read thousands of stories - if I include both books and VNs - and I can only name a bare dozen or so authors/writers I can honestly and unequivocally name as geniuses.  Of course, this is a subjective viewpoint... but it is backed up by significant experience, lol.
    Shumon Yuu is that rarest of the rare in VN writers/directors... a true artist.  Most decent VN writers have a flair for some aspect of their work, whether it is characterization of a certain type or amusing narrative... but Shumon Yuu goes past that, turning entire VNs into works of art as deep and expressive as any classical piece. 
    I'm not talking about him pleasing me on every aspect... several of his VNs lie outside my tastes to one degree or another... but it really doesn't matter when I'm reading one of his works.  It doesn't matter that I don't like a certain character or a certain plot element.  When the VN is complete for the first time, I always feel like something about what I just read ripped deep into me and tore out pieces of my being I hadn't yet known existed, bringing them into the light for me to see.
    I have read three VNs he wrote and two he helped plan/design.  The three he wrote are undeniably kamige, with a wide appeal and a unique approach to storytelling (which differs radically with each one) and the two he helped with are first-class VNs.  Chrono-belt, which is the crossover fandisc for Ayakashibito and Bullet Butlers, is such a work of genius at capturing the best of the spirit of those two games that I still get the urge to play it independently at times.  Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier I named VN of the Year 2015... though that isn't really saying much, considering how bad a year that was (it did have a fascinating take on the Bakumatsu era though).  Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide was my second game by this writer, and I have played it three times now... each time rediscovering what  made me fall in love the first time.  Kitto, Sumiwataru Asairo yori mo is a work of nakige/utsuge genius that still births new fans even today. 
    So why are Shumon Yuu's works primarily known only to people that are a part of the 'in' crowd of veteran untranslated VN readers in the West?  It is probably because his works don't fit precisely into any of the existing/accepted genres, even if they sometimes use elements from them.   You pretty much have to be an omnivorous VN reader to run across him, because it is difficult to impossible to fit any of his VNs into an archetypical aesthetic.  Another reason is that he isn't very productive.  In the past seventeen years, he has been involved with the production of precisely eight VNs...  and he only wrote six of them.  He is also an LN writer, apparently, but he can't really be said to prolific there, either.  So... he tends to fall behind writers who produce something every year and jump at every chance to advertise their own greatness, lol. 
    He doesn't get recommended as often or as fiercely as Masada or Higashide, nor does he have the immediate impact of Akatsuki Works' writers.  In fact, even I tend to forget about him (though not his VNs) for years at a time... until I read something he was involved with and begin dancing with glee once again.  His works I never forget, but I frequently forget to follow him, hahaha....
    Also, he is a pretty subtle writer, so most people won't pick up on everything he is trying to express in his games on the first playthrough... one of those rare VN writers who gets better as you chew him, lol.
  15. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, VN's Forever: Regarding ChuableSoft's bankruptcy or the sad state of modern, japanese vn industry   
    As you may (or may not, at least yet) know, ChuableSoft has filed for bankruptcy on 7th of July. In his Twitter, Ishida P - ChuableSoft's director - stated they had no other choice than to close, simply because it was not possible for them to continue with the company in it's current state. This may come of as slightly surprising, considering their previous game - Watashi ga Suki nara "Suki" tte Itte! (SukiSuki for short) won the 2015's Moege Awards and was met with warm praise - both from the fans, as well as community. The rights to the game were also acquired by MG and it's slated for an english release in late 2017/early 2018. How was it possible, that a rather well known japanese studio known for it's high quality charages went bust like that?
    As a fan and avid reader myself, I've been keeping an eye on the japanese vn industry for the past 15 years; More than a decade, with all it's ups and downs and various events, that shaped and changed it's face overtime. It's not hard to summarize, that even if the start of the new millenium had proven to be a highly productive period for japanese developers, things don't look as bright when you start to look past 2010. To put things short - it's golden age is already long over and creators are currently facing numerous issues, which had been slowly but steadily piling up within the last years.
    Market oversaturation is often being considered as one of the biggest culprits behind the increasingly difficult task for japanese developers to stay afloat as working businesses. The competition is fierce and industry itself is partially at fault for that; The ammount of new game makers rose expotentially after 2000's, while majority of them stemmed from the same exact community of fans. People, whom - as they grew up - changed from consumers into creators themselves. The otaku market is incredibly closed off and as such, consumes almost everything it produces by itself. It's a self-regulating social wonder of sorts that slowly grew for as long as 80's. Sadly, things finally came to a halt where it produces far more it's capable to consume. As such, to keep up with market's rising competition and social changes, creators had to start minimizing risks, often by lowering standards or switching entirely to budget works; if successful, such couple shorter games could support their more important, high quality productions, at worst make them stay afloat. This system worked for a couple of past years, but the more aware fans often kept pointing at the detoriating quality of games and nonsensical stories, which more than often subdued to popular tropes and cliches. Certain companies found delicate safety within particular niches, protected by circles of avid fans and doujinshi works. It's really difficult to presume, how long will they manage to keep up with the rising requirements, especially when trends change and people swap their interests. "A lot" does not necesarilly equate "good", neither will the fans remain forever loyal. The constantly lowering standards also caused a response within the market itself - people slowly got used to cheaper, lower quality games and as such, their needs grew smaller as well. This came to a turning point, where a lot of people began to feel content with low quality works and won't bother with better releases, mainly because they are a lot more expensive, far longer and usually harder to approach.
    Instead producing high quality games, companies turned to churning out budget-type games, often serialized or episodic in nature, but how are you supposed to keep up with a market, that literally has thousands of competing companies, each producing exactly the same type of games? Formulas that used to be highly succesful in the past are now often a nail to the coffin for many starting studios. This is especially prevalent for moeges and charages, often built around slice of life genre; the "coming of age" stories, that used to be so popular are now considered completely cliched and overused to the point, where multiple games released often feel alike; there's little to no distinction between them at first glance and this causes the fans to feel resigned and makes them lose their motivation to get involved with anything further. At the same time, thousands of games are being sold to thousands of consumers; each company has to make a living and that wouldn't be a problem, when the population of fans would be kept at a steady number. Unfortunately, the japanese demographics are clear on that - the population is aging very quickly, with losses greatly superseeding gains. The same can be said about the market itself - the ex-fans, who are currently producing their own games have less and less potential customers, as their generation became incapable to supply the population with a steady birthrate. It's a tale of an aging market, with people who slowly drift away from being fans, as the modern, day-to-day japanese life consumes them almost entirely. In the end, this means less and less total available revenue to creators. Less money available within the market means less available budget to create future games. This means everyone has to settle for less and cut costs, which further lowers the quality of the final product. It's a vicious cycle and one that is increasingly difficult to break from, once you get caught.
    In a world of merciless competition for disappearing population of consumers and aging fans, this means pretty much a single flop - especially an incredibly expensive, high quality game - can lead to a complete downfall. Growing risks prevent creators from retries and keep them pinned down to a life, where they barely scrape by from production cycle to another. As the costs grow, they finally find themselves in a difficult situation - often indebted and without funds, because their games didn't bring the expected revenue - where they simply have nothing else to do, than declare bankruptcy. This is more, or less what causes many studios - such as ChuableSoft - to finally close down. Sadly, I presume this is just the beginning and we'll see many more of our beloved companies closing down in the near future.
    The only hope now currently lies within the western market - a body of almost infinite possibilities, with a massive and constantly growing fanbase, always thirsty for new games. Perhaps it's time for the japanese developers to finally embrace that possibility and move on.
  16. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Gouen no Soleil   
    (For those interested in the gameplay, I used a clear save I downloaded from the beginning to skip the battles, so you'll need to ask someone else)
    Gouen no Soleil is the second entry in the Soleil series and the first one where Lovecraftian elements are included.  For those wondering about cameos and characters from other games, the protagonist of this story, Nagare, was classmates with the protagonist of Shirogane, and in some of the endings, you get to see the world and some of the characters of Harukazedori ni, Tomarigi o. 
    The game starts with the protagonist encountering a girl that looks like the little sister he sees in his dreams, accompanied by a Deep One (yes, those Deep Ones) in a trenchcoat and hat.  Upon encountering him, his 'sister' gives him a gleeful smile and he loses consciousness, waking up in a ruined building that seems to have once been his school, trapped in the body of his little sister.
    What follows is a bit messy, but he ends up contracted to the weaponized spirit, Rin, who was made from a Black Kirin (a spirit whose role is to speak of the end of the world) and forced to join the Seireichou, an organization dedicated to protecting the foreign world he finds himself in from foreign threats.  While he does this in order to find a way to retrieve his body, he ends up seriously helping them out, despite the cold cruelty of the leader (a loli named Mugen) and the general harshness of the world he finds himself in.
    This VN is a bit heavy on the gender-bending, so for those who don't like that kind of thing, you might want to avoid it.  There are good reasons why the protagonist's sexuality is so... fluid, but they are mostly used to amuse the reader, lol.
    Like Shirogane, this game has a relatively high ratio of serious story to slice-of-life in comparison to most VNs, with slice-of-life being almost entirely relegated to basic character development.  Unlike Shirogane's protagonist, Nagare isn't a natural philanderer... but he has his own issues, since his soul is gradually adjusting itself to his new body.
    Anyway, the story itself is typical Soleil... extremely hard on the characters, full of destruction and apocalyptic drama, and deliberately obscure at many points.  Anyone familiar with the typical Japanese take on the Cthulhu Mythos will figure out who is behind the villains of the story pretty quick.  However, it is nonetheless a nice, dark little story with innumerable bad endings and two separate paths to the various heroine endings (Ouka's arc contains all the heroines except Rin and Ruru). 
    Don't expect deep characterization... this company generally doesn't waste that kind of effort outside the main heroines of its games (Rin and Ouka in this case) and the protagonists.  As such, the endings other than that of the two main heroines are perhaps not as powerful... but I liked some of them, at least... especially the threesome ending with the two Valkyries. 
  17. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Valmore for a blog entry, I Should Thank Fuwanovel   
    On May 11th, 2017 (ie, Thursday last week) the parody visual novel "Stay! Stay! Democratic People's Republic of Korea" was released. Most people probably know that I wrote it. Well, 90% or so of it, there were some humor changes and a couple last-minute changes to make some things make sense, those were done by the Project Leader. But for the vast majority of it, it's my handiwork.
    I actually got picked for the project because the developer advertised here on the boards. I submitted a sample, they liked it and brought me in. So without the boards, I wouldn't have had the chance to do the project. For that I'm extremely grateful.
    I'm actually really grateful because, in a sense, it's a comeback for me. A long time ago I wrote sports articles for newspapers. You may not think it's relevant, but the sports section is actually one of the places you're supposed to expect some creativity when it comes to writing. The last year I had done it, I was in New Hampshire at a weekly start-up in its infancy - The Connecticut Valley Spectator (it was owned by The Eagles Times, but they went kaput years ago during the first couple death waves to newspapers). They pretty much turned over most of the staff after about 8-9 months, including myself. To be fair, I was doing everything for the section then - stories, page layout, even photography. I was pretty burned out, and trying to get people on board for a new local weekly isn't easy. Once I was let go with the others, I hadn't really done a job in professional writing since.
    No, this isn't me trying to influence the forthcoming review. It is what it is and if the reviewer here loves it great, if not, I'm willing to listen to what they think would have been better. But the initial Steam reviews, both "real" and "shitposting real" have been really good.
    But it also just feels really nice to have written something that people are reading once again. And without the boards here, it wouldn't have happened. So this place - it's alright. 
    And yes, you can tell me how much you loved or hated it if you read it. I don't bite. I'm actually super nice.  WAIT WRONG ICON!!!
  18. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Tiny Dungeon Brave or Slave   
    Beware of Wandering Maids

    This is the fourth and final VN of the TIny Dungeon main series (see: http://forums.fuwanovel.net/blog/46/entry-727-tiny-dungeon-black-and-white/ http://forums.fuwanovel.net/blog/46/entry-747-tiny-dungeon-bless-of-dragon/ http://forums.fuwanovel.net/blog/46/entry-749-tiny-dungeon-birth-for-yours/ for the rest of the series so far). It also serves as a conclusion to the story that began with the first one (though Endless Dungeon is basically the actual ending of the series).
    This VN doesn't have a single-heroine focus (except maybe Kamishia). Rather, it is a story focused on the drama that has been building throughout the other VNs (the common elements), and it brings those to a conclusion in a pretty dramatic fashion. Unlike the other three VNs, this one isn't defined as much by its tragedy as its laughter (as seen in the pics above, it still has a lot of laughter though), but in exchange, it has the most plentiful (and fun) combat scenes in the entire series.
    All of the cast of main characters grow at least somewhat in the course of this VN, as they come to terms with their own problems (man, it is really hard not to spoil the other VNs here). However, again it is Hime who grows the most, this time as much psychologically as in terms of skill and ability.
    One thing that should be kept in mind as one of the pluses of Hime as a protagonist is that he is basically working from a disability throughout the series. In a world where every warrior uses magic in some form or another, he is the only who can't use magic. Instead, he has put himself through insane levels of painful training, as well as constantly looking for ways to make himself useful to his comrades. He has a very clear vision of his own abilities and those of the people around him in most cases, and he is an extremely compassionate (not just kind) individual. By the time you get to this VN, you'll probably be rooting for him anyway, but I thought I'd go ahead and give him a boost in yall's minds.
    The confrontations at the end of this VN are generally awesome, with some really good match-ups, though they don't have the impact of extreme chuunige action scenes like those in Dies Irae. I especially love it when Veil's mother is fighting... her spell chants tell you a lot about why she had so many nicknames in the war between the worlds ('the Jet Black Ogre of War' 'The Wind of Disaster' 'The Unending Nightmare' 'The Sorceress of Massacre' 'Fully Automatic Ground Meat Production Machine' 'Mobile Strategic Weapon').
    The actual epilogue of the story is pretty short, which is probably why Endless Dungeon was made as such an extensive follow-up. Nonetheless, this VN is a pretty nice conclusion to the main series, having sufficient drama to satisfy most people who played/read the other VNs.
  19. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, VN of the year 1990 - De-Ja   
    My masterpieces list:
    1. Can Can Bunny Superior
    2. De-Ja
    3. Illumina!
    4. Misty Blue
    5. Sekai de Ichiban Kimi ga Suki!
    6. Slope 
    7. Suijaku Sakusen 2 Moeyo Dragon
    8. The 4th Unit - Merry Go Round
    9. Toushin Toshi
    10. Yami no Ketsuzoku
    11. Urotsukidouji
    12. Urusei Yatsura: Stay With You

    1990 is the year of RPG. Their number and diversity put interactive adventures VNs to shame. 1990 is a revolutionary year in many aspects. First doujin works, first nsfw covers, first explicit sex scenes, first lgbt game, first strategy and SIM VN mixes.
    The big three candidates for the VN of the year are De-Ja, Toushin Toshi and Misty Blue, but De-Ja exploration and humorous nature is much to my liking and thus De-Ja is the VN of the year 1990.
    1. Body Inspection in Belloncho ~Girl's High-School Version~ ベロンチョ身体検査 ~女子高校編~ [900117] Hard 1 2 You are Nanako Hongou, a new transfer student to the all-girls school, St. Belloncho Academy. Hearing rumors of a sketchy body inspection taking place at the school infirmary, you decide to take it upon yourself to unearth the culprit, and expose the secrets of St. Belloncho Academy. Fight an eclectic cast of delinquents while going about your school life and solving mysteries. Simple turn-based RPG. There are also items to use in combat, including different types of panties. There is a limit on items held and that adds a serious difficulty layer. Graphics are fancy and characters are impressive. Graphics are done by Sapporo Momoko who is still in the industry and who is the author of the most erotic visual novel of the 1980s - Ayayo's After Five.  
    2. Slope スロープ [900119] Queen Soft Mai transfers into all girl high school to break ordinary school life and experience everything that a girl school can give, including lesbian relationships. It's totally eroticism oriented yuri work, but it's one of the most beautiful and well-done works of 1990 (being a January release makes it even more astonishing). The number of commands and locations is small, so it's not really painful. There are two types of endings. Even without music (not detected by emulator) this work has just too much charm to be neglected.  
    3. Ligarued リガルード [900125] Game Technopolis Hero is a student who frequents the coffee shop to look at part-time sweet worker Kawano Mai. At one such day some girl sits next to him. She introduces herself as Laseska and claims that she came from the world Ligarued and that the protagonist is a very important person who she needed to protect. A very short and not really interesting story. Basically soon another traveler from Ligarued arrives and the game ends after two battles and some celebration. I'll forever remember this game for the very unproportional big ugly head of Laseska. During the CG it's usually ok, but at gameplay scenes it sometimes looks horrifying.  
    4. Misty Vol.3 Misty Vol.3 [900125] DataWest 1 Misty Vol.3 is a detective mystery adventure game set in modern-day Japan and starring the young private investigator Ryū Kamishiro. The game consists of five unrelated cases that can be accessed in any order from the main menu. These cases range from seemingly mundane matters to thefts, mysterious disappearances and murder investigations. This volume contains the following cases: Backdrop for Murderous Intent, Campus Disappearance, Memory of a Bloodstain, The Wine Glass Smells like Death and Legend of a Scratched Neck. A serious detective game which is a genre that I don't feel confidence to discuss.  
    5. Sailor Fuku Senshi Felis セーラー服戦士フェリス [900128] Cocktail Soft A UFO came and abducted three girls. Their classmate rode her grandfather fighter spaceship and hurried to rescue! Ugh, a scroller shooter. Game has three areas each divided into four stages. And as you progress girl of the area strips. A very borderline material, indeed. You can visit shop and spend acquired money on lots of upgrades and options.  
    6. Foxy [900206] Elf 1 The story of Foxy is rather basic: a hostile army from a country known simply as "Red" attacks the capital city of the "Blue" nation. Not only the enemy tries to invade the most important strategic points of the city - enemy generals also try to capture and enslave the "Blue" girls! Naturally, they must be stopped! As the commander of the Blue army, it's the player's task to face enemy forces in battles, rescue the girls, and drive the Reds out of the city. Strategy game with a basic country Red attacking country Blue. Between the battles there are cut-scenes involving girls rescue. The first elf strategy game with quite few units and simple rules, so not need to like strategy games to clear. With such a basic plot little can be done to make game worthwhile, but drawing is really good and at least it's not I-ADV but pure turn-based strategy + relaxation pure kinetic novel parts.  
    7. Alice no Yakata ALICEの館 [900215] Alice Soft 1 A collection of additional materials including a new adventure story "Sentimental season". The heroine dates a boy, but the relationship in the pair of her school friend Mami develops much more intensively and the heroine does not want to lag behind. A short kinetic ADV designed just to relax and watch HCG.  
    8. Nishimura Kyoutarou Mystery: Hokutosei no Onna 西村京太郎ミステリー 北斗星の女 [900223] TOSE Software 1 2 Hokutosei no Onna (the title refers to the express train connecting Tokyo and Hokkaido in Japan rather than the Ursa Major constellation) is based on the works of the Japanese detective story writer Kyōtarō Nishimura, starring Inspector Totsugawa and his assistant Kamei, who is the protagonist of the game. A man was found stabbed to death in his apartment in Tokyo; shortly after the investigation begins, another man is killed in a hotel room in Hokkaido. Kamei must question witnesses and suspects and examine evidence in order to solve the mystery. Game is reviewed in English.  
    9. Fundation Shinjuku Story ファンデーション 新宿ストーリー [9002] Dott Kikaku Hero has some money and a lot of time to enjoy night Shinjuku life. Just trash about HCG which is surprising since Dott Kikaku has been one of the most interesting developers so far.  
    10. Rakuen no Shoutaijou 楽園の招待状 [9002] Striker Hero is chosen by the gods as a humanity representative and thrown to another world with the only farewell words of "Have fun!". Since there's no purpose given all we can do is meet girls, accept their requests, fulfill them and get CG reward. There's the need to move a lot through the maze-like locations. In the prologue it's mentioned that we also get a map, but actually there is none! Game is mostly about finding items and applying them at the right spots to progress.  
    11. Nishimura Kyoutarou Mystery: Super Express Satsujin Jiken 西村京太郎ミステリー スーパーエクスプレス殺人事件 [900302] Irem 1 At 23:49 at Osaka station a woman was found strangled to death in a private room of the super express train. The victim Nogami Kimiko was a president of fashion Tokyo company "Silano". Detective Kamei happened to be in Osaka at that time and he volunteered to proceed with the investigation. The testimonies of the passengers and staff showed that Nogami Kimiko was killed between Nagoya and Osaka, supposedly by her husband who went missing. But on the next morning the husband showed up at Osaka police station denying the crime and presenting an alibi. Another Tokyo fashion company "Knight" wanted to absorb "Silano" and thus its president had a motive to kill Nogami Kimiko, but happened in reality? A serious detective game which is a genre that I don't feel confidence to discuss.  
    12. Kaettekita Tanteidan X 帰ってきた探偵団X [900309] Heart Soft A parody game to Tanteidan X and many other games. There are three stories: "Legend of Bravery", "Ganbare Earth Self-Defense Forces" and "Otome tears at the bottom of deep ocean". There's no real info on the game and my gameplay attempt was miserable - no matter what keys I pushed the submarine was getting swallowed by the shark. But there is a video with much longer playthrough on nico.  
    13. Crystal Dream II ~Maou no Genei~ クリスタルドリーム Ⅱ ~魔王の幻影~ [900324] Striker 1 2 Hero is a brave person who is worried that the town stays under tyrannical rule. He sets to talk to magistrate, but on the way there hears a story that demon was revived and town magistrate being manipulated. So he forwards to Crystal castle to defeat demon king. Game is an RPG. But while it's relatively simple on the way to castle, inside the walls are mirrored so orientation is vastly confusing especially when you lose direction after battle. Just as the part 1 there is a command "make H" available to press on will and there seems to be HCG for every girl provided that the conditions for it are fulfilled.  
    14. Cybernetic Hi-School Part 3 ~Top o Nerae!~ 電脳学園3 ~トップをねらえ!~ [900324] Gainax 1 Just like the two previous Cybernetic Hi-School games, the third part is a strip quiz game. This time, it is centred upon Gainax's famous Gunbuster animation videos. You, as an alpha-class Top, are supposed to win three keys to pilot the Great Gunbuster robot against the cosmic threat to humanity. The keys are held by Jung-Freud, Kazumi (oneesama) and Noriko, and you must retrieve the keys by defeating each character in a quiz game, which has the side-effect of stripping them of all their clothes. Quite a gorgeous work with the best Gainax staff members participating. Compared to previous parts there are less HCG here and much higher level of craziness.  
    15. Destruction Gekan デストラクション下巻 [9003] Soft Studio Wing The time of battle between darkness and superpower mankind representatives has come. Final part of Destruction dilogy. Unfortunately second part of the story was unsatisfactory. The battle is transferred to another dimension so it looses all the realism of mystics atmosphere that Studio Wing works are famous for.  
    16. Ikase Otoko Nyuumon ~Ai o Arigatou~ イカセ男入門 ~愛をありがとう~ [9003] Family Soft 1 Choosing the right answer out of the list gradually gets the leaf red resulting in CG. Choosing the wrong answer makes the player drink milk which eventually results in game over. I was pretty sure it would be 4th part of Ikase Otoko, but this time it's just a word game, more like a special edition to the series. Compared to the previous games this one feels story-less and ordinary, without personality.  
    17. Misty Blue ミスティブルー [900402] Enix 1 2 Kazuya Mizukami is a young musician who returns to Japan after having spent four years studying abroad. However, things don't go very smoothly, and Kazuya even quarrels with a music producer who doesn't appreciate his talent. Everything becomes much worse when the producer is found dead shortly after their quarrel, and Kazuya becomes a murder suspect. He must clear his name, but for that he will need the help of his friends. Game is reviewed in English.  
    18. Narutomaki Hichou ~Tsuukai Gag Aventure~ 鳴門巻秘帖 ~痛快ぎゃぐあばんちゅーる~ [900410] Zenryuutsuu Akatsunenosuke is a master swordsman girl in Edo period. She works for detective agency. Once she got a request to deliver a small box with documents to Futura clan castle. A trivial request turns into a big adventure. All the main heroes are girls and while there are truly dangers on the road, there are much more lesbian H events. Since it's a gag (it's even in the title) comedy, there's plenty of fooling around. Command selection type would harm tempo greatly, so game uses plain adventure format with occasional choices. There are lots of bad ends but good ending is just one. Good light ecchi work, but certainly not a masterpiece.  
    19. Sadistic Gamers Part 2 Otanjoubi Play サディスティックゲーマーズ PART-2 お誕生日プレイ [900410] Sixteens

    Birthday issue of sadistic gamers doujin quiz game.  This time both main heroine and her tutor are girls, same as in further games of the series. Same doujin quiz as ever. You know the drill.  
    20. Can Can Bunny Superior きゃんきゃんバニー スペリオール [900416] Cocktail Soft 1 The second game in the Can Can Bunny series follows the story of a young Japanese boy named Takeshi. One fine night he looks out of the window and notices a sexy girl undressing in the opposite building. "Oh, if only I could get her", sighs Takeshi. Immediately, the kind bunny-eared fairy Ariko from the Magic Land appears and... grants Takeshi's wish! He now possesses a Magic Book that will teach him ho to conquer the hearts of pretty girls... and not just the hearts! Simulation element here is simplified greatly and some mode in it that got on the video is just pressing space key to continue thus kinetic novel. Overall there are three scenarios with specific themes.  
    21. The 4th Unit 5 D-Again 第4のユニット5 D-Again [900420] DataWest 1 The criminal trade organization WWWF was finally defeated. The bionic soldier Blon-Win is appointed a high-ranked inspector and sent on a mission to protect the secret service agent Remi Binderk on the way to the United Nations conference in Geneva. On board the TGV train in France Blon-Win encounters her old acquaintance Dalzy, who tells her that former WWWF members have united to form the Einheit group, and are working on a new dangerous weapon known as G-R. From this work DAPS animation system is implemented for this series as well (pioneered in psychic detective series). Still the use of DAPS here is limited due to the need to publish the work on less efficient platforms like PC-98. The standing sprites of girls become somewhat not cute and the talking system is simplified here in that there's no need to choose the topic of conversation. But instead there's a need to constantly choose the same talk command over and over with different emotions to progress. This work has the climax of the series and it's the last multi-platform game of the series with the rest being FM Towns exclusives.  
    22. Urotsukidouji うろつき童子 [900421] Fairytale 1 The game is based on the famous adult manga/anime series with the same name. It generally follows the main plot: the demon Amano Jaaku is banished from Makai (the demon world) to the Earth by the Elder, doomed to be trapped in a human body; he is given the mission of finding Choujin, the most powerful god, who is hiding in the body of a high-school student. Games goes pretty ordinarily as we check out three girls that may be the most powerful God. But at the second half the Makai demons show up for a big battle. The game inherits a great story from the original, has good gameplay with few commands and is hookable - that all makes it a masterpiece.  
    23. Hacchake Ayayo-san 2 - Ikenai Holiday - Ayayo's Love Affair はっちゃけあやよさん2 いけないホリデイ AYAYO'S LOVE AFFAIR [900426] Hard 1 Ikenai Holiday is a follow-up to Hacchake Ayayo-san. It is a short visual novel focusing on the erotic adventures of two young Japanese girls, Ayayo and Tomoko. The game begins with the girls deciding how to spend the holiday. From that point on, depending on the player's choices, the story splits into three vignettes: going to see an erotic movie, buying shoes, or reading erotic books. Each story invariably concludes with a sex scene. A short and simple nukige, but with a bright atmosphere.  
    24. Waterfront Adventure ウォーターフロント・アドベンチャー [900426] Hard The hero lost to a mysterious Mr.H. The winner's request is to bring him 10 used panties. Hero takes a sub to Yokohama Expo to try skillfully get panties from the local companies booths. Money is used to get to different EXPO parts. In contrast to the synopsis there aren't that many HCG here since many girls give away their garments willingly.  
    25. Haja Taisei Dangaiou 破邪大星ダンガイオー [9004] Game Technopolis The four psychic teenagers find girl Ranpa in cryogenic chamber. Ranpa is who Dr. Tarsan is after, so a new wave of confrontation with his robot army ensues. The work has nice character designs and great sound for a pc-88 exclusive. There aren't HCG here - just some fan-service of after-bath towels and heroines being harassed by the drunkards.  
    26. Twilight Zone Vol. 4 Tokubetsu Hen トワイライトゾーン VOL. 4 特別編 [9004] Great 1 2 Aliens have invaded Earth. Seemingly impervious to damage, they took control of the planet. Only a few partisan organizations dared to oppose their rule. All the aliens look like young and attractive human women, and soon it was found out that they have a weakness to sperm. Thus, a young Japanese man and his few male allies embark on a quest to defeat the aliens by having sex with them. This time it's top down view and we finally get outside the dungeons. "Great" needed a well-selling bright game so Chaos Angles was taken as a model and lots of parody elements were winded up on top of it. There are 108 enemy girls overall and difficulty is unbalances turning into very harsh at times.  
    27. Rance II - Hangyaku no Shoujo-tachi - ランスII -反逆の少女たち- [900515] Alice Soft 1 2 3 4 Four magical rings were stolen from Custom Town. A bunch of sexy, but dangerous sorceresses terrorizes the land. The town mayor has no choice but to invite Rance, a freelance private investigator whose mind is mostly occupied with pretty girls and promises to pay him quite a large sum of money if he stops the evil. Naturally, Rance agrees. It's time for him and his trusty cute purple-haired sidekick Shiiru to fight evil once again! Game is reviewed in English.  
    28. RAY-GUN [900515] Elf 1 2 3 4 5 Georgie is a young man who lives with his fiancee Miria in the quiet town of Lakeside, repairing large combat robots which are strangely called "steroids". One day he discovers several such steroids in the forest, and as he decides to inspect them, unknown flying steroids kidnap Miria. Now Georgie has to pilot a steroid himself and to rescue his beloved one. Game is reviewed in English.  
    29. Kaerimichi wa Kiken ga Ippai 帰り道は危険がいっぱい [900516] D.O. Hero fell in love with the daughter school president who is also a student council president. And her father will not tolerate that. RPG where instead of monsters you fight with girls (33 overall) who stay on your way to Saori. School RPG setting was very new so it could be enjoyed at that time. And it was certainly better than Exterlien issued by D.O. the same year.  
    30. Psychic Detective Series Vol. 3: Aya サイキック・ディテクティブ・シリーズ Vol.3 アヤ [900526] DataWest 1 2 3 Only a few people possess the unique ability to read people's hearts; those people are called psychic analysts, and Katsuya Furuyagi is one of them. One day, a fellow analyst pays him an unexpected visit and directs him towards a mysterious old man named Kamiya. Reading the old man's mind, Furuyagi ventures into the realm of memories, where a woman's ghost is attempting to avenge her own murder. This work is notable for full synchronization of audio and video, but the story is incoherent and lacks interest especially in comparison to the heights the Vol.2 reached.  
    31. Misty Vol.4 Misty Vol.4 [9005] DataWest 1 Misty Vol.4 is a detective mystery adventure game set in modern-day Japan and starring the young private investigator Ryū Kamishiro. The game consists of five unrelated cases that can be accessed in any order from the main menu. These cases range from seemingly mundane matters to thefts, mysterious disappearances and murder investigations. This volume contains the following cases: Returning to the Sky, Time of Atonement, Moon Walk, Alibi in the Clock and Photo in the Nothingness. A serious detective game which is a genre that I don't feel confidence to discuss.  
    32. Rouge ~Manatsu no Kuchibeni~ ルージュ ~真夏の口紅~ [900613] Birdy Soft Protagonist's father dies and leaves the will for his son to take care of his secret daughter Eriko in Yokohama or get stripped from inheritance. The hero sets off to Yokohama while having only the picture of the girl. This is one of the most beautiful games of Bridy Soft - and heroines here are very lovely. The bigger part of the game we just search for Eriko while getting information from neighbors and friends. And here comes a big "but" - but the hero actually lays down with each such friend or neighbor to know a piece of information. Add to that a very tragic story of Eriko revealed later and we get a really dark-themed game - which is not necessarily bad, but in my case spoilt the impression from the beginning of the work.  
    33. De-Ja DE・JA [900615] Elf 1 2 3 4 You are Ryuusuke, archaeologist in pursuit of adventures and legendary treasure. One day you dream of finding a secret compartment in a pyramid filled with piles of treasures. That's going to be the discovery of the century! A naked woman appears and tells you not to take out the treasures. When you try to touch breasts, she turns into a monster. You wake up by the telephone ringing. A client brings you an antique cane with engravings on it. Those who possess this cane see the same dream every night with a golden hair girl. You take the cane to try to translate the symbols carved on it and end up in a real adventure yourself. Game is reviewed in English.  
    34. PAL ~Wonder Trip! Chizuru~ PAL ~ワンダートリップ!ちづる~ [900622] Birdy Soft A parody to CAL game. Once upon a time in one dark place there was hero Fuji... how will he escape? There are 10 consequential encounters with different goddesses and Miki comes as 11th and main heroine. There is nothing but funny dialogues and answer options here. I even failed to trigger a single H event and reached happy ending too fast.  
    35. Urusei Yatsura: Stay With You うる星やつら STAY WITH YOU [900629] Hudson Soft 1 2 3 4 5 6 Urusei Yatsura: Stay with You is based on the manga series by Rumiko Takahashi. The protagonist is Ataru Moroboshi, a high school student who accidentally evokes love in the heart of Lum, the princess of an alien demon-like race. The game does not recount the initial events of the manga and instead is built like an episode, assuming the player's familiarity with the general story and characters. Ataru's ex-girlfriend Shinobu disappears under mysterious circumstances. Ataru and Lum must explore the high school building and find out what happened to Shinobu. Game is reviewed in English.  
    36. Lupin Sansei - Hong Kong no Mashu - Fukushuu wa Meikyuu no Hate ni ルパン三世 香港の魔手 復讐は迷宮の果てに [900630] CSK Research Institute 1 Hong Kong no Mashu is based on the manga Lupin the 3rd and is built like an episode in the series, assuming the player's familiarity with the characters. The central character is the grandson of the fictional "gentleman thief" Arsène Lupin, who follows the same profession, traveling in search of riches and adventure with his companion Daisuke Jigen, an expert marksman. Joining them in this episode is Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a descendant of the legendary Japanese swordsman. Finding themselves in Hong Kong for different reasons, the heroes encounter an evasive and mysterious character with a dark past who crosses their paths and forces them to take action. It's an FM Towns exclusive and quite an obscure game, so there's nothing to add to Mobygames article.  
    37. Youjuu Club 妖獣クラブ [900702] D.O. 1 2 Assuming the role of a lecherous lesser demon you must uncover the background image with your marker until 80% of the image is revealed in a Xonix-like game. Game is reviewed in English.  
    38. Wedding Rhapsody ウエディングラプソディー [900720] Queen Soft Makoto Okawa has turned 17 years old and he is ordered by his father to find three ideal marriage partners selected by a supercomputer. All of the girls study at the same school, so Makoto starts attending the same school from now on. He's ordered not to reveal and fight for girls attention like a commoner. Okawa family legend says that marriage in 17 brings luck, so there's no time to waste! One road scenario. There are several commands, but they usually go with many subcommands which makes it rather painful. In order to get along with the girls it's needed to solve their troubles. The H scenes in the game are animated.  
    39. Yami no Ketsuzoku 闇の血族 [900721] System Sacom 1 Miyu is a known designer. Since childhood she has had a red vision that showed up when in danger. Her friend model Marie gets brutally killed and Miyu decides to put her perception skills to good use. System Sacom novelware. It has a lot of interactivity compared to early Sacom games. First part is rather short and leaves a mystery hanging. Flags are somewhat difficult to catch. Game was innovative that it had female as protagonist with her thoughts and fears. It was advanced systems oriented game so graphics and especially sound were excellent for 1990.  
    40. Exterlien エクスタリアン [900726] D.O. 1 2 3 4 5 The plot of Exterlien is very simple: a beauty contest is held in an amusement park. Suddenly, monsters invade the park in an attempt to kidnap the girls. The protagonist, a young man named Masato, decides to venture into the dangerous zone and rescue the beauties. Game is reviewed in English.  
    41. Sora Kakeru Businessman 宇宙翔けるビジネスマン [900727] Zenryuutsuu Hero is a businessman in space trading company. He was able to get mining rights for resources in Norma planet. But ruling family was overthrown by the Queen of Darkness and his rights are in danger now. He undergoes a quest to rescue princess. For corporate justice! Command selection. Graphics are allright. Text field is huge. Why am I writing that? Because game's hardly noticeable. Setting is fantasy kingdom. Light and somewhat stupid adventure filled with lots of girls that you rescue. Not enough of comedy or plot to matter. And amount of naked scenes makes it borderline work.  
    42. Sekai de Ichiban Kimi ga Suki! 世界でいちばん君がすき! [900728] Cocktail Soft You are a show-business reporter who helps idols. One day you're tasked to make photos of rival idol night date. Horny pictures were made without problem, but you start to question such immoral approach and get closer to truth... Quite a typical Cocktail Soft work. Light bakage with cute heroines and occasional flashes of seriousness. Idols are always bright. CG are beautiful, text sets a good tempo despite command selection. Heroines show up one by one so flags are quite difficult in the first half of the game. Nowadays there are quite many cheerful charage, but at that time they were still rare and thus were valued a lot.  
    43. School Wars スクール☆ウォーズ [900801] CreamSoft 1 Main character is a student who is entrusted by the teacher a mission to pacify the violent school girls. Unfortunately PC-98 version is unhookable and there aren't reviews of this game. There are turn based battles with the girls in the game. There are only 4 basic stats - HP, STR, DEF, EXP.  
    44. Mainichi ga H 毎日がえっち [900810] Mini House Main character is only 14 girls away from his goal of having sex with 1000 different women. The first usage of concept of time in visual novels. Actions waste time by increments of 15 minutes. Unlike future time concept games here it's needed to clear all the girls so only one girl shows on the map somewhere at one time. Apart of that a nanpage to the bones.  
    45. PIAS ピアス [900810] Birdy Soft 1 Hiroshi and Mayumi grew up together. They went to the same kindergarten, the same school, always spent time together, and naturally thought that they will never separate. Then the time has come when they both had to go to different colleges. They promised each other than they will still be together. But they both broke the promise... If jealousy and the knowledge of one's own betrayal were not enough to endanger their relationship, something far worse happened... the man with whom Mayumi spent the night was found murdered, and Hiroshi must forget his personal pain in order to solve the mystery... The man that Mayumi spent the night was found murdered and Hiroshi has to overcome betrayal and find the murderer. Wow, this game might be the first Nakige VN. Temptations, hardships, dangers, murder involvement, distance love... Surprisingly, work has many dark themes and even ending slides lack happiness. The seed of betrayal planted its roots in hearts forever.  
    46. Silent Mobius サイレントメビウス [900810] Gainax 1 2 In 1999 portal was opened to Nemesis by mage guild in order to exchange Tokyo polluted air, but it was sabotaged by one mage and massive invasion followed through portal. Mage guild fought it relentlessly but most of it was destroyed over the next few years. In 2023 an AMP 5-female police unit was formed to protect civilians from attacks. Case: Titanic starts when real Titanic ship from 1912 is seen flying in the sky and AMP unit sets on its investigation. Manga is well known and cool but isn't Gainax just feeding on its popularity? It did not even do a single anime work on this setting! Let's figure out. Game's beautiful, all right. Command selection is simplified as much as possible. There are battle sequences and each AMP member has unique battle style. But most of the time you just walk over luxurious ship and gather flags to move the story. There's no mystery around and no real plot. And such work cost 14800 yen - that's the price of 5 full price games! That's an engrossing price for such an average game under a famous franchise.  
    47. Nenriki Momoiro Yuugi 念力桃色遊戯 [900810] Ankoku Baitai Softwares

    Main character is an aspiring photograph. But for some reason he is only interested in nude girls photo sessions. Genre is pure ADV that is basically a HCG collection with some text.  
    48. D.P.S. SG D.P.S. SG [900815] Alice Soft 1 2 D.P.S. SG is the second entry in the D.P.S./Dream Program System series. Like the other D.P.S. games, it is a collection of three short scenarios, which are unrelated to each other story-wise and can be played separately. Those scenarios are presented as cartridges played on a fictional console named Dream Program System. Each scenario allows the player to choose between two different protagonists, or two different personalities for the protagonist. All of the scenarios feature nudity and/or sexual situations. The scenarios in this game include: A traditional account of a private lesson given by an experienced male tutor to a cute teenage girl. It can be played as either the teacher or the student, the latter involving deliberately giving wrong answers to English questions in order to gain time to seduce the teacher. An episode entitled Fahnen Fliegen (German for "flags flying"), depicting capture and torture of a female war prisoner by an SS officer. The player can choose to control the officer, effectively torturing the victim himself, or take the role of a soldier who tries to ease her pain, hoping to gain her sexual favors. A scenario set in the Sengoku period of the Japanese history, in the house of the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga. It is possible to play this scenario as Nobunaga himself, or as his daughter, the spoiled princess. In either case, the goal is to seduce the cute maid who works in the house. Game is reviewed in English.  
    49. Kujaku Ou II 孔雀王 II [900821] Pony Canyon, Inc. 1 2 3 The adventure continues as Peacock faces the incarnation of general Nobunaga Oda. Team up with Asura, a fiery spirit, Jukindo master Onimaru, and Zen master Kou Kaifou to fight Nobunaga's missionary minions with a vast array of Shingon spells! Travel to the mystic world of the Lotus mandala and defeat Hindu demons, dark boddhisattvas, and the shadowiest villain yet, the Phoenix! Exciting story line where Peacock King discovers his dark origins and his evil twin sister! Game has enough information in English.  
    50. Misty Vol.5 Misty Vol.5 [900902] DataWest 1 Misty Vol.5 is a detective mystery adventure game set in modern-day Japan and starring the young private investigator Ryū Kamishiro. The game consists of five unrelated cases that can be accessed in any order from the main menu. These cases range from seemingly mundane matters to thefts, mysterious disappearances and murder investigations. This volume contains the following cases: Pretty Devil, Witness (Ryū Kamishiro), Stolen Gem, The End of Love and Hate and Mystery of the Snow Manor. A serious detective game which is a genre that I don't feel confidence to discuss.  
    51. Bishoujo Shashinkan Bangai Hen Outside Story 美少女写真館 番外編 OUTSIDE STORY [900907] Hard This is a story of everyday life in female-dominant police department. Yuko conducts investigations, arrests and enjoys her work as police officer. PhotoClub Outside story is a very misleading title. The truth is that first two parts of the series were just shooting of girls and stripping them, the third part was actually an adventure story that concluded taking pictures of girls and stripping them. And this is the forth installment of series which has nothing to do with taking pictures at all. Women just pick up on each other and solve cases by stripping. What was very weird for that time - that the game was adventure novel without usual command selections. It's quite a short work and its purpose is just to entertain.  
    52. Mitsubachi Gakuen みつばち学園 [900914] Hudson Soft

    Main character is a newly appointed teacher at the only idol training girls' school in Japan - Mitsubachi high school. For a year he looks after twenty students and solves a number of difficult cases targeting the girls. Game is unique for live action still images and aggressive animation style. Idol wave was only starting, so some things are still crude, but at least one girl became a real life idol after the game.  
    53. Yesterday イエスタディ [900918] System House Oh! 1 2 In the far future, human beings learned to travel to faraway solar systems; as a result, human civilization has spread across the entire galaxy. However, as they tried to explore the outer space beyond it, they encountered a huge black hole. It was said that a strange light emanated from it. A brave scientist and pilot named Sonya traveled to the black hole, and discovered a medieval-like world, whose inhabitants consider her a divine savior... I can't really add anything that's not in Mobygames article already.  
    54. Marchen Paradise メルヘン・パラダイス [900920] Great Main character is a high school student who peeked inside a suspiciously looking pipe and got warped into a fairy-tale world. This work can be considered of the same series as Girls Paradise Rakuen no Tenshi-tachi released a year earlier. The are a lot of fairy-tale heroines featured like Little Red Riding Hood or Snow white. They are all nymphomaniacs, so H scenes are rather bright. It's very easy to get a game over, but frequently saving helps to progress steadily.  
    55. Pure My Dool ピュアマイドール [900925] Agumix The big box arrived from a friend as a birthday present and a girl who does not know anything about this world jumped out of it. There are six endings depending on whether the girl develops into a long-life partner or stays just for fun. Game is short and is just for CG.  
    56. Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Toki no Sugiyuku Mama ni 探偵 神宮寺三郎 時の過ぎゆくままに [900928] Data East Corporation 1 2 The fourth game in the Jake Hunter/Tantei Jingūji Saburō series, the second on a regular Famicom cartridge, and the last for the Famicom. There is a burglary at a mansion, which Jake goes to investigate. He sends his assistant Yulia Marks to search for the home of a young boy. While both cases seem simple on their own, they get more complicated when they become one. There is enough information in English.  
    57. X-na X・na [9009] Fairytale 1 2 3 Tetsu is a young warrior who has left his home country in order to serve human rulers in their battle against the dark elves. But one day the valiant knight was heavily wounded in battle. Unconscious, he was found by a female fighter named Mei, who brought him to her house and cured him. Grateful, Tetsu promises Mei to help her venture into the huge tower standing nearby, which was built by the princess of the country and is now overrun by monsters... Game is reviewed in English.  
    58. Ougon no Rashinban 黄金の羅針盤 [901005] Riverhill Soft inc. 1 2 3 Ōgon no Rashinban ("Golden Compass") is the second case starring the private detective Ryūnosuke Tōdō, following Kohakuiro no Yuigon. Like the first case, the adventure takes place in the 1920's. This time the investigator finds himself on a ship sailing from San Francisco to Yokohama. A mysterious murder occurs, and it is up to Tōdō to gather evidence and find the culprit. A serious detective game, but with a lot of point-and-click interactivity. The story is interesting, but there's a lot of effort needed to get through all the evidence gathering and interrogations. On the good part - mouse is used and clickable objects are actually highlighted. It's the detective game with the best system so far and it's an easy start for genre beginners.  
    59. Yami no Ketsuzoku: Kanketsu-hen 闇の血族 完結編 [901005] System Sacom 1 Yami no Ketsuzoku: Kanketsu-hen is a direct sequel to Yami no Ketsuzoku. After a series of murders has occurred in Tokyo, Miyu Izawa, the heroine of the game and amateur detective endowed with supernatural senses, travels to Mexico with her friend Risa. There she has to learn about the history of the country's indigenous peoples, and venture into mysterious temples in order to finally discover the whole truth about recent horrifying events. 2nd part of the game. It infodums on the Maya civilization, gets much more realistic and more and more complex as narration goes. So it kind of stops to be entertainment matter and gets difficult to read. 2nd part has almost no flags surprisingly. Still, the ending looks hasty and leaves a shallow impression.  
    60. Phantasy Star II Text Adventure: Amia no Bouken ファンタシースターII テキスト アドベンチャー アーミアの冒険 [901103] Sega 1 2 3 4 5 This game is one of the eight text adventures that chronicles the lives of characters before their story continues in Phantasy Star II. This particular game covers Anna Zirski, a counter-hunter. A counter-hunter hunts down and arrests hunters who have become criminals. Anna is tasked with capturing criminals holed up in a Motavian town. These criminals are accused of illegally accessing Mother Brain in order to disrupt the food production of that region. Anna must put a stop to these hackers. Game is reviewed in English.  
    61. Yamamura Misa Suspense: Kyoto Zaitech Satsujin Jiken 山村美紗サスペンス 京都財テク殺人事件 [901122] TOSE Co., Ltd.

    Main heroines goes to a meeting with best friends. But one friend goes missing. Soon friend's body is found. Protagonist starts an investigation to discover the circumstances of sudden death. Third work of the series, this time with the sudden shift from Taisho era to more modern one. As usual, I could not care less.  
    62. Misty Vol.6 Misty Vol.6 [901122] DataWest 1 Misty Vol.6 is a detective mystery adventure game set in modern-day Japan and starring the young private investigator Ryū Kamishiro. The game consists of five unrelated cases that can be accessed in any order from the main menu. These cases range from seemingly mundane matters to thefts, mysterious disappearances and murder investigations. This volume contains the following cases: Second Music Box, Requested Directions, Foggy Apparition, Devil's Stronghold and Shadow Testament. A serious detective game which is a genre that I don't feel confidence to discuss.  
    63. Akazukin-chan あかずきんちゃん [9011] System Delta A parody work to the Little Red Riding Hood. You are given a task by mother to visit grandmother. There are multiple traps awaiting on this way... Game uses items. So each time there is obstacle you need to check your backpack for a suitable item or keep searching. Game is not particularly interesting. But art is good and comedy-styled with two separate windows for sub-images. That's the feature of the game.  
    64. Review -Jashin Fukkatsu- REVIEW -邪神復活- [9011] Orange House Ryoko Kawashima suddenly lost consciousness on the way home from school when she met a mysterious boy. When she regained consciousness she was in a different world and the priest passed her the sword with words that she was summoned to save the queen of that land. Story is quite short and all the commands have to be depleted to progress. Ryoko gathers friends to rescue the queen together so it inevitably falls into yuri action. The world is actually going to be destroyed unless the queen is saved, but Ryoko is not given any money so she has to exterminate rats in the cellar of the armor shop. Girls CG are quite cute, but the unproportionally big heads make shiver at times.  
    65. Illumina! イルミナ! [901205] Cocktail Soft 1 2 3 4 A young man wakes up, only to find himself in a bed, in an unknown house, in an unknown place. A lovely girl enters. She says that her name is Ryuuna and that she is practicing the art of White Magic as a priest. However, the young man cannot remember anything. He cannot even remember his own name. Ryuuna says that he was found unconscious outside of the village, with a pendant lying nearby. There is just one name written there, his name: Seraphis. Also, there is a strange engraving on his hand. Who is he really? Game is reviewed in English.  
    66. MIRRORS ミラーズ [901210] Soft Studio Wing 1 2 3 The plot puts the player in the role of a musician, the lead singer for the band "Elleno Vision", haunted by terrible nightmares and stalked by a mysterious murderer during the band's world tour. Game is reviewed in English.  
    67. Sadistic Gamers Part 4 Rumi no Climb Play サディスティック・ゲーマーズ PART-4 ~留美のクライムプレイ [901210] Sixteens

    Rumi issue of sadistic gamers doujin game. This time genre is pure ADV, without quiz. It's probably the last game of the series. Finally all quiz traces are eliminated in favor of action.  
    68. The 4th Unit - Merry Go Round 第4のユニット MERRY GO ROUND [901214] DataWest 1 2 Merrygoround is the sixth installment of The 4th Unit series and a sequel to D-Again, being the second chapter of the Einheit story arc introduced in the previous game. Koshinaka's research of the data bank on board the Diabolique, a stealth aircraft carrier of the United Nations, is aimed at increasing the life adjustment factor of bionic soldiers. However, members of the Einheit assault the laboratory, and the bionic soldier Blon-Win must decipher the clues left in order to proceed with the research and confront a mysterious person named Rua Rip Salisbury in the Original Matrix. FM Towns exclusive with full DAPS support. From this game it's not longer a command selection adventure, but rather an adventure with the limited error choice allowance. There is life bar and "wrong" command selection eats up a huge chunk of it. There's also timer for each selection so no relaxing available. But watching it in record is as satisfying as never before.  
    69. Battle Skin Panic バトルスキンパニック [901215] Gainax 1 2 3 4 Arigawa walks Mimi from scool when they get attacked by female martial artist hooligans. Mimi admits that she studied fighting from the "Teacher" but many people use that to attack people. And Arigawa now gets involved into that face-off. Game is reviewed in English.  
    70. Toushin Toshi 闘神都市 [901215] Alice Soft 1 2 3 4 Custom, a swordsman from a small village, is on a journey when he comes across a carriage being attacked. He defeats the attackers, rescuing the lovely maiden Kumiko. Kumiko was on her way to Toushin Toshi (Combat God City) to search for her father. She suspects her father is in the Combat God Mansion, residence of the annual combat tournament's champion. In order to get in, she needs to partner up with someone who can win the tournament that year, and Custom agrees that she can be his partner. They head to Combat God City to enter the tournament. Although victory in each round of the tournament earns one gold, special medicine, and other wonderful prizes, perhaps the most interesting prize is the opponent's partner. Each participant is required to have a beautiful female partner, and if the participant loses in combat, the victor gets his or her partner to do with as he/she pleases for one night. Female warriors in the tournament can choose to act as their own partner, as do the ninja Yayoi and swordswoman Morris. This monster-filled underground maze is located on the outskirts of Combat God City. One of the requirements to participate in the tournament is the retrieval of a Hero Crest from here. While the Hero Crests are on the first level of the labyrinth, there are several more floors and surprises waiting deeper inside. Game is reviewed in English.  
    71. Dragon Knight II ドラゴンナイトII [901220] Elf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strawberry Fields - a magic country populated almost exclusively by beautiful young girls (that is, if we don't count the Wise Old Man and a couple of other male exceptions). All went well in this peaceful place, until the evil witch Mesaana abducted some of the country's lovely inhabitants and placed a curse upon them, turning them into hideous monsters. Enter Takeru Yamato (whom you might know as Desmond, the hero of Knights of Xentar), a young adventurer who happens to be in Strawberry Fields at that time. Takeru is told that in order to remove the curse one has to find three sacred writings, buried deep within three dangerous dungeons. Looks like a job for our adventurer - especially because the rescued girls will probably be very grateful! Game is reviewed in English.  
    72. Pure 2 ピュア2 [901220] Queen Soft 1 The situation at the high-school soccer club is not good, and the coach is even afraid of getting fired... that's where the hero of the game, a student named Kitayama, steps into the picture. The coach asks him to become a "beauty manager", to search out pretty girls and to convince them participate in club activities. Kitayama is aided by two other schoolmates, but the player has to do the job all by himself... When title says Pure, it usually means the opposite. Pretty much the same happened with this game prequel "Pure". But game is very beautiful and girls drawing is cute so why not give it a try. Well, don't. Game has ridiculously difficult flags, morally old command selection formula and literally zero reward. But the main point of such games are characters, right? Supposed to be so, but here characters are so bland that no affection is possible. So game has great looks, but offers absolutely nothing, just torture, torture, more torture and then credits. It's a fraudware, not a real VN.  
    73. Phantasy Star II Text Adventure: Kainz no Bouken ファンタシースターII テキストアドベンチャー カインズの冒険 [901226] Sega 1 2 3 4 Josh Kain (or Kain Ji An, Japanese: カインズ・ジ・アン Kainzu) is an 18 year old aspiring engineer who always loved machines, and had become quite knowledgeable in how electrical devices and robots function. He built many small devices, fixed appliances, and even learned to hack computers. However, due to being scatterbrained and clumsy, he would sometimes destroy the things he tried to fix. Eventually, after one particularly disastrous repair job, he gave up trying to be an engineer, deciding instead to put his "talent" for destroying things to good use. Thus did he become a "wrecker", his job being to trash anything electronic. He starts off joining a gang of rebels out to destroy Mother Brain, and eventually ends up teaming up with Rolf in Phantasy Star II towards that very end. Game is localized and has enough information in English.  
    74. Beast ~Injuu no Yakata~ BEAST ~淫獣の館~ [9012] Birdy Soft 1 Muneto and his 4 friends seek shelter from the rain in a forest mansion. Servant does not allow to take them in but mistress Kiriko welcomes them inside. Next morning only Sandaihu is in his room. You must hurry and find your friends. There is an English review of the game.  
    75. CAL キャル [9012] Birdy Soft 1 You are mostly interested in spending time with cute girls at school. One day a goddess of love Venus shows up and tells you that you'll soon be needed in the world of Cal which is populated only by cute girls. That was a dream, right? Time to figure out. Game emphasis lies in graphics. As in every game of Birdie Soft. Depending on the branch you're sent to eight worlds each with different atmosphere, so satisfaction level is high. Game follows the usual command selection formula pattern and presents ok'ish stories in a marvelous atmosphere. The atmosphere is nourished by introducing a lot of fairy-tale characters like Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Mermaid princess, Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. It's difficult, but possible to get a bad ending, so frequent saving is recommended.  
    76. Yaritai Houdai 3 - As You Like - Europe Tour やりたい放題3 アズユーライク ヨーロッパツアー [9012] Lucifer Soft The third part of the series follows the same nanpa flow, but this time with international girls at exotic world locations. Finally the last game in the series or the next one would be multi-universe one. At least there is some sightseeing involved and girls personalities are very different.  
    77. Yuuko Monogatari 優子物語 [9012] Heart Soft Hero is a famous novelist. One day woman Yuuko bursts into his mansion with demands to make a child with her. Heavy strategy mix about breeding. Strategy elements are different for each of four chapters. Breeding has never been so difficult! It's probably a grandfather of Princess Maker series.  
    78. Circuit's Edge [9012] Westwood Studios 1 2 3 4 5 6 The player assumes the role of Marîd Audran, a private detective. The game is set in "The Budayeen", an entertainment/criminal quarter in an unnamed city somewhere in the Mideast that is a seedy reflection of modern-day New Orleans. While running a series of errands/"business deals" for "Saied the Half-Hajj", a friend of Marîd's, Marîd is framed for the murder of a man named Kenji Carter. Although Marîd's influential patron Friedlander Bey clears him with the local police, Bey asks him to look into Carter's death. Doing so leads Marîd deep into the criminal underworld of the Budayeen. Game is reviewed in English.  
    79. J-Thunder J・サンダー [9012] 1 In order to save his sister and his girlfriend's father the hero rides a huge robot called J Thunder and confronts the kidnappers robotic squad. There is an English review of this game.  
    80. Lime Light Lime Light [9012] Hypa Soft Lia's mother who was aiming for prima donna suddenly collapsed from illness and now Lia has to substitute for her. By a twist of fortune Lia's doll Tia arises to help Lia with this goal. An adventure game for hypocrites with a heartwarming story - that is self-description of this doujin work. The content looks all-age to me, but I never got out of the maze of the forest to know for sure.  
    81. Madoushi Lulba 魔導師ラルバ [9012] Compile Co., Ltd. World is getting drown in hatred. Resurrected Lulba has tremendous power and army of 240 million monsters. Only a warrior Cybercat who can handle the sword of light can oppose him. Game is a predecessor of Madou Monogatari rpg series. Game has 4 chapters that were serialized separately. A simplified rpg with command selection and no real 2d gui, so it's like text rpg with small images. You travel and fight monsters and bosses most of the time, so it looks like a normal shounen adventure.  
    82. Réserve [9012] MIN 1 2 3 4 5 You play the pink-haired heroine Mio, who just wants to go on a date with her boyfriend. However, she slips through a crack in timespace and finds herself in a realm of monsters that all want to do lewd things to her. Make it to the end and go on a nice date with your boyfriend! Game is reviewed in English.  
    83. Sweet Girl [9012] Burning☆Apple The purpose of the way is to get into intimate relations with the main featured heroine "Milady", but there are a lot of encounters on this way. Another doujin game. Game's here for spontaneous H encounters. There are also items to use, like chloroform.  
    84. Sweet Girl 2 Sweet Girl 2 [9012] Burning☆Apple The ghosts have haunted the girls and the aim of the main character is to exorcise them. The game system is also very funny because elements like ACT ADV are incorporated. The content got even nastier. The system is now action mostly as we run through locations looking for items or people in action mode - and the events are usual ADV.  
    85. Yuugekitai 遊撃隊 [9012] TKO Soft The story of adventures of a school boys band. Just saying that game is a parody is not really enough - it just can't run a single CG in a normal way. Distorted face features, funny emotions and extravagant behavior of those guys can't leave anyone indifferent unless there's strong aversion with those faces. The flow is several short stories driven in a kitetic novel form.  
    86. Yuugekitai Bangai Hen 遊撃隊・番外編 [9012] TKO Soft A submarine suddenly appeared on the coast and the fighting squad is back to uncover its mysteries. The main difference about the second part is inclusion of action scenes when we control a boy and whirling blades wrecking the enemies. As for the rest it's new short stories and new portion of absurdism.  
    87. Angel Commander 2 Gaiden Angel Commander 2 外伝 [90] Fairy Craft

    Game features a story with Angel Commander 2 scroller game characters living a normal school life after the adventure. Another obscure doujin game of the early era.  
    88. Sadistic Gamers Part 1 Shinjinkyouikuteki Play サディスティック・ゲーマーズ PART-1 新人教育的プレイ [90] Sixteens

    Rookie issue of sadistic gamers doujin quiz game with chibi characters.  This doujin series has poor information coverage. But it's still a quiz game.  
    89. Sadistic Gamers Part 3 Telephone Play サディスティックゲーマーズ PART-3 テレフォンプレイ [90] Sixteens

    Telephone issue of sadistic gamers doujin quiz game. Genre is ADV+quiz again, not really sure what this game has to do with telephone.  
    90. Suijaku Sakusen 2 Moeyo Dragon 衰弱作戦2 もえよどらごん [90] H.E.O.software

    Main character Rie-chan is a master of karate. This summer an evil shadow surrounds a quiet town. Rie finds herself in the middle a mysterious incident. It's a very fascinating Sci-Fi romance comedy. For example,  first time Rie-chan introduces herself as a she-male, and we never get to know if it's a joke or not as only bust is shown in the lewd scenes. Game develops as a bakage with  lovely character until Dr. Himalaya who aims for a transfer device shows up at which point there are even battles (only command selection is used everywhere). Game has 80 CG strips, but no character sprites are used, so it's still only a moderate volume. It's the best doujin pc-88 visual novel that I know.  
  20. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Mr Poltroon for a blog entry, Permit Me a Rant on the Term "Overrated"   
    This will actually be far too brief to make a blog post around, but alas...
    What is "overrated"? Many things, apparently, but so far as I can tell the word itself is used to describe something that too many people like, or that is well liked for little reason.
    This is an inherently subjective word. Infuriatingly so. At its most basic, it means "too many people have a different opinion than mine", which if phrased that way means nothing. Yet so many people employ the word. There is no such thing as "other people like X too much". It is precisely because people have different opinions that some thing's are successes and others are not, and if something is a success, then it is, for that very reason, not overrated -- if people like something, that something must've done something to deserve it, whether you understand what that is or not, because thousands of people don't like something "just because". And I suppose that's just where the issue lies. Once again, people have different opinions. It's that simple.
    Such a shame it doesn't stop me from hating the word. It has no purpose. It's obvious and always implied whenever anyone has an opinion, and it only serves to bring a bad connotation and disagree with other peoples' opinions. "Underrated" at least has a purpose (in this context. Other contexts, more similar to "underestimate" are a different, unrelated, story); not to say people don't "like something enough" or people "dislike something too much", which is also another way to spell "too many people have a different opinion from mine", but to say that not enough people know of a particular thing. "Not enough people know about X", or "Not enough people gave X a chance".
    You can use "overrated" properly. "The importance of X is overrated" can be used to describe situations where misinformation is popularly spread. But therein lies the key. Using it in "subjective" matters, in matters of opinion, means little. It's a way of complaining that other people have different opinions. And I dislike that, so I complain about it on forums online.
    This post was sponsored by that thread asking if CLANNAD deserves its popularity or if it's overrated. I'd say when something makes you ask if it is "overrated", that's because it is popular to a point where it must have done some things the proletariat likes, and therefore can't be overrated.
    Of course, that doesn't remove the merit of discussing what is "well done" or "badly done" according to other people.
  21. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Mr Poltroon for a blog entry, Mr. Poltroon's Lack of Vocabulary #4   
    I'm worried I'll forget about this list someday, or not have enough entries. No more 20 names per entry, that was ridiculous.
    honker -- as in a nose be on the fritz soup -- the verb gobbledegook offal gristle sequin credenza merkin truncheon From 19/03/2017 until 19/03/2017
  22. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Endless Dungeon   
    Typical Dragon Race Members: "Ururu-sama Banzai! Ururu-sama Banzai! Ururu-sama Banzai!
    lol, setting that aside, this is the ending of the Tiny Dungeon series (so far anyway. I'm sure they'll eventually reuse the setting, if not the characters). First of all, it should be noted that this VN does not have the impact of the rest of the series. It is mostly comedy, with a few really cool combat scenes mixed in (Veil vs. Note is pretty awesome) and H-scenes for all four of the new heroines. This also serves as the harem ending for Tiny Dungeon, and it was apparently created on the request of fans, as the epilogue of Brave or Slave was a bit truncated.
    Anyway, this is based approximately a year after the events in Brave or Slave, and it starts as Miko, Hime's little sister, is entering the school, entirely unaware of what happened to him a year before, believing that his position is as weak as it was before (basically, members of the human race are considered trash by the other races because it was a human who deliberately started the inter-world war twenty years before). So she is startled to find how much things have changed.
    While there are plenty of service scenes in this VN, and as always the dragon race is insane about Ururu (see the pic above), a lot of things have changed for Hime and friends in the previous year, as a result of the events of Brave or Slave. Since most of this VN is comedic slice of life, it might seem a bit disappointing to some, but there are some good action scenes, including a really awesome one at the end, where Hime shows off his best.
    Anyway, as an extended epilogue and extra after story, this is a more than adequate experience. However, without the previous VNs, it wouldn't make a lick of sense. The new characters all have a legitimate reason for being there, but since they all have their own motives, it is a bit hard to sort through it all. I do think that they should have had the VN extend across a longer period of time, preferably letting Miko get more out of her trials at the school, but that is probably asking a bit too much, lol.
  23. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, Use the Oxford comma in speech, too.   
    Recent events have compelled me to contemplate the Oxford comma to an even greater extent than usual, so let me share a story to convince you that, in addition to using the Oxford comma in writing, you should enunciate it in your speech.
    I was getting pizza some time ago. But I must note that it was one of those pizza places where they make little quadrilateral pizzas for a single person ("single" having two meanings, probably). I normally wouldn't concede to the expenses associated with such a bourgeois establishment, but the meal is quite cheap when one orders a full-sized square pizza―probably because they aren't meant to be eaten in one sitting―and, most notably, the meal comes with a free side order.
    As such, the cashier asked which side I would like, and I will transcribe this in such a manner as to accurately represent her enunciation: "You want bread chips or carrots?"
    I cannot think of how to tell this anecdote without now giving away the catch, which the keenest among you may have already ascertained: The sentence was actually, "You want bread, chips, or carrots?"
    But I am not the keenest among us, and the fact that there was no pause between the "chips" and "or" suggested, in my mind rightfully accustomed to the Oxford comma, that there were only two items: bread chips and carrots. I sought to confirm this, asking, "Bread chips?"
    And she, wielding the apathy of an employee who unwittingly tempts the manager into automating all the cashiers, recited the items with the selfsame cadence or lack thereof―"Bread chips or carrots?"
    This corroborated my confusion, and I thought to myself, I have no idea what bread chips are, but I know I don't want carrots. So I said, "BREAD CHIPS."
    She replied, "Chips?" And then I might have said "BREAD CHIPS" again―I forget―but apparently I conceded to chips eventually, and went to await the production of my comestibles thereafter. Not even at this point had I come to realize the situation, as my friend labored for some time to explain it to me.
    The Oxford comma was not the instigator in this story; it was a reluctant spectator, a single tear running down its cheek. I implore you to take this experience to heart.
  24. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, A Short And Sweet Style Guide For VN Editing   
    While the principal job of a good VN editor is line editing (making sure that a line reads well and that a script flows), copy editing is vital as well, and copy editing should follow a style which is consistent both internally and with other comparable texts. That said, most VN editors (myself included) are way too lazy to sit and read the MLA, Chicago, or AP style guide cover to cover and actually internalize it, let alone to extrapolate from them what, if any, changes need to be considered for styling a VN, which, being a different medium, may require different stylistic choices than the media covered by traditional style guides.
    As is abundantly obvious if you read older officially-localized VNs, VN style has grown somewhat organically over the past decade and, if you compare against works published in only the last year, you'll find that the predominant style has become fairly consistent across the major localization companies. However, fan translations often miss the mark and make many styling mistakes and deviations from this standard, resulting in irritatingly inconsistent texts.
    To help solve that, I put together this brief VN style guide a couple months ago and shared it around a number of people, and I've subsequently refined it a bit in preparation for posting it publicly today.
    This is not a full prose style guide by any means, but it covers every interesting and potentially divisive topic I've seen come up in styling VNs; it is, I believe, pretty complete, especially given how concise it is. I've tried to avoid topics of grammar and of style that are not generally deviated from in VNs. Basically, I only tried to tackle areas where people actually have issues. This style guide, I believe, more or less represents the state of the art in officially localized VNs. I haven't read a recent official localization which I noticed to be following different rules than the ones I lay out here.
    All that said, take this with a grain of salt: I'm not a professional, and I haven't actually read any official MLA/Chicago/AP style guide cover to cover, though I have dabbled in each of them. At the end of the day, this is more a summary of what I've empirically discovered than anything else. But when you're a fan translation editor, you've got to start somewhere; this is a better option than any other that I know of.
    https://github.com/FredTheBarber/EditingPublic/blob/master/style guide.md
    Feedback is most welcome, whether to offer corrections or to ask questions for areas which I have not covered.
    Edit: By popular demand, I've made a markdown version of the document so it doesn't display like shit on github. The link has been updated accordingly.
    Edit2: who will edit for the editors?
  25. Like
    Darklord Rooke reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Isekai Mono: 'Otherworld travels' as a genre   
    Traveling to other worlds is so common a plot element in otaku media that it has actually become a fantasy sub-genre in and of itself.  This is actually one of my favorite plot elements... if it isn't screwed up magnificently (like in RE:Zero) by putting the wrong sort of person into the mess.
    The first otaku media that hit me with this was The Vision of Escaflowne, followed by Fushigi Yuugi.  The latter isn't one of my favorite anime, but I did like it up to a point.  The former is one of my oldest favorites, about a girl named Hitomi who gets sent to another world where she gets wrapped up in a conflict between a massive fantasy Empire and those opposing its might.  This is actually the standard for most of the early stories of the type, in this way:  Most early anime and manga at the time and up to the turn of the century that used this kind of concept tended to plop a protagonist into that other world either as a virtually helpless piece on the board, acting more as a catalyst than as a true mover and shaker.  This is the reason why the concept didn't really take off in the minds of fans until much later.
    Another type is based off of the archetype from Maze, an anime where the protagonist gets sent to another world as a 'savior/messiah' character who is immensely over-powered and somehow manages to bumble their way into saving the world.  In both cases, about 70% of the anime and manga of this type and the one above have the protagonist choosing to 'go home' at some point, though there are exceptions (such as Maze itself). 
    The third type is one where the protagonist is thrown into another world with a concrete role... but not necessarily the power necessary to survive on their own.  Twelve Kingdoms falls into this archetype, as the protagonist is essentially cast adrift, possessing an important role in her new world but not the power or the personal maturity to carry it out.  Twelve Kingdoms is a classic example of the type, in that the protagonist is unable to fulfill her role until she matures greatly in a personal sense and grows into her role somewhat.  Depending on the role (ranging from 'hero', to 'dark lord', to 'king') they mostly tend to choose to remain in their new world, because of the sense of purpose it provides them (which is a contrast to the two types above).  A more famous and long-running example of the type, with a somewhat lighter air, is Kyou Kara Maou.
    The fourth type is the one that has become most popular... 'the comedic traveler'.  This type, which began to appear en masse after Zero no Tsukaima initiated the concept, has relatively 'normal' protagonists being sent to other worlds to blunder their way to fame (or not) and generally amuse us with their antics, while also providing a serious story alongside.  A more recent example of the type is RE:Zero or Kono Suburashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo.  Generally speaking, the protagonists in these VNs are overconfident, vaguely idiotic, and generally ignorant individuals who have just one or two redeeming qualities.  Depending on the anime, VN, or game, they can be immensely annoying as characters, too.
    Of course, there are ones that don't fall into any of these types... but those are relatively rare.  I like this genre, but I'm beginning to grow tired of the comedic traveler type, lol.
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