nohman reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Rose Guns Days
First, I want to say thank you to those who patiently listened as I whined and complained about this VN as I played it. I should also explain what I was complaining about first, so that people don't get the impression that this is an awful VN, just because I have complaints about it. I'll place this in spoilers for people who don't care about my whining.
Second, I should say that I have a firm belief that Ryukishi's VNs make better anime than they do VNs, because his scenario design is far better than his writing (not to mention his art). His love for torturing and killing his own characters is very similar to that of George Martin or Glen Cook, but he mixes it up with that peculiar disconnect from reality and surrealism that is unique to Japanese writers, especially when it comes to violence or sex, lol.
The first part of this story looks like it comes out from a Japanese-colored version of our own film noir. To be honest, I found it pretty amusing and an overall fun ride. I cried and laughed with the characters, and I got to like the various people Rose and her crew met. The second part is somewhat less amusing, as it is mixed in with hope followed by a quick fall into despair, as things take a turn for the worse that never quite gets better. The third and last arc (there are four seasons but only three arcs, really) is devastatingly emotional and full of a despair far surpassing that of the first two. Friends die, others betray, and characters you have come to love suffer. In other words, it has all the ingredients you need for a good trilogy (which is what it feels like).
The themes involved will probably confuse about fifty percent of those who read this who aren't from Asia. I'm not kidding. Simply put, it requires the ability to appreciate the character, weaknesses and strengths of the Chinese, Americans, and Japanese at the same time. As such, the learning curve for fully appreciating this VN is a bit steep. In fact, in some ways it is more steep than I/O because the matters it deals with aren't matters of science but of culture and people.
I suggest anyone who wants to fully understand a lot of what they say - especially the exchanges between the Chinese mafia and Rose's people - read up on current events in the relations between Japan and China, because this story has been heavily influenced by the recent mess in diplomatic relations between the two. A lot of it is mixed up with the usual emotionalism that defines Japanese writing, but the core arguments are based in current events, rather than just ones of the distant past.
Is this a good VN? That's an excellent question, me. To be honest, it is hard to say. There are a ridiculous number of flaws to the setting, and the writing, while much better than Ryuukishi07's past efforts, is still less than poetic (and his event descriptions are still as weak as ever). However, if you just look at the fun factor...? This is a fairly enjoyable experience. Oh, for those who hate to see characters they like suffer or die off or who can't deal with concepts like prostitution, organized crime, or corruption as a matter of daily life this would be a hard VN to read. In some ways, this is far darker than his past VNs, because the actual daily events include no sense of fantasy, save for the setting itself. As a result, people who could enjoy Higurashi, Umineko, and Higanbana with no problems might very well show signs of rejection with this one. At the same time, people who despised the others might very well like this one, because - while it does share all of Ryuukishi's usual habits - both bad and good - it is outside of his usual ballpark in the subject matter.
Edit2: Whoops, the last edit was a bit too... sharp. To avoid controversy I have sealed it behind a spoiler tag. Read at your own risk.
nohman reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, "For sale in Japan only": A Japanese developer's perspective on the eroge embargo
I wrote previously about a display bug in Dual Tail's strategy eroge Venus Blood -Hypno- that prevented interface text from displaying correctly in non-Japanese Windows. Fan hacker binaryfail generously donated a patch that fixes the issue. I sent this patch to Ninetail (parent company of Dual Tail) via Twitter, requesting that they include the fix on their official support page. Project manager and game designer Keimaru responded to me in broken English. His response, edited by me, is as follows.
I thanked him and went my way. A commentator on Reddit later informed me that Keimaru had posted a much longer comment in Japanese. This comment showed such sincere and thoughtful consideration of the issue, from a Japanese developer's standpoint, that I decided it needed to be relayed to the English audience.
Japanese eroge developers are well known for their reluctance to get involved with the Western market. Packaging and splash screens prominently declare "For sale in Japan only". Westerners tend to dismiss this policy as apathy for foreign fans, even regarding the practice with contempt as just another manifestation of Japanese isolationism and xenophobia. When eroge companies block foreign IPs, they automatically assume that the company has closed its doors to Western release (despite abundant evidence to the contrary). "The companies are just being xenophobic," they say with bitter contempt. "Might as well just fan translate their titles, since they'll never officially release their games in English. They don't want dirty gaijin playing their games."
It's about time that we get the other side of this story. And who better to deliver it than a prominent and well-loved Japanese developer--one puzzling over how to respond to a bug that prevents foreign fans from playing his games? I provide my translation of Keimaru's Twitter comments below. I regret that my translation skills could not fully convey the honest simplicity of the original message, but I did my best to at least get across the ideas and intent.
I don't know about you, but Ninetail just earned one new (very loud) fan. For an example of one of Ninetail's outstanding games, see my Venus Blood -Gaia- review! (NSFW version, SFW mirror)
Special thanks to those of the Fuwanovel community who provided feedback on the translation, especially Majikoi fan translator dowolf.
nohman reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Venus Blood Series, In order from Abyss to Hypno
A Universal Issue
Tentacle sex and rape are the two big downers to this series. For a series with such good writing, it is amazing how quickly it becomes repetitive once h-scenes get into the picture. On the bright side, corrupting the heroines in Empire, Frontier, and Hypno almost always has immensely hilarious results after the mindbreak. It is kind of irritating that you pretty much have to mindbreak them to get the really good strategic skills, though.
To be honest, this is the game in the series I liked the least. First, it is the first one that introduces the tentacle impregnation=new troops system that was the recruitment system for this and Gaia. Second, it has the weakest set of heroines and protagonist in the entire series. Third - and last - it uses a dungeon-defense gameplay model, which I despise. To be honest, the Law route of this game is incredibly boring, story-wise, with a huge amount of cliched jrpg knock-off plot twists. While this isn't unexpected, the main heroine's personality is the worst part of it... her idealism wears on you after a while, and both the protagonist and the antagonist are both weak enough not to be able to make up for it. The Chaos route suffers from 'we just stuck an evil route on it for mad science self-indulgence' syndrome, and the ending is, if anything, even more pathetic than the Law ending (think a bad ending in a chuunige with the positions reversed). While the story is actually mildly enjoyable while it is going on, the aftermath is singularly disappointing and dissatisfying.
I'll just come out and say it... this would have been the perfect story if the main antagonist wasn't such a straight-out 'Me Dark Lord, Destroy world because me bored!' Kefka knock-off. Oh, the details are mildly interesting, but the last chapter is almost unforgivable. If it wasn't for the overwhelmingly good cast on the protagonist's side of things, as well as the game's excellent story as a whole (if you cut out the ending sections) this would probably be an eminently forgettable game. The protagonist's motivations, his background, and his abilities as a general and a warrior make him a really attractive main character, and the fact that he isn't just a mass of endless ambition and sadism (unlike many VNs along the same lines) is a huge attraction for this game. The actual gameplay is somewhat improved from Empire (the previous strategy-conquest game in the series) but the game balance is kind of broken at points (think sharp spikes in difficulty, especially at the beginning and end).
... you almost have to be impressed about how completely they integrated the monster-birth recruitment system into this game. It isn't nearly as annoying as it was in Abyss, where it made the actual process of recruitment a matter of extreme annoyance (especially if you wanted to constantly alter the makeup of your forces). However, you do spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the little calendar part of the UI and checking to see how it will effect the power of the units you intend to birth. Again, like all the previous games in this series, it suffers from a lack of a good antagonist. There is nothing really sympathetic about the final antagonist (too faceless). The actual base story is much, much more interesting than Abyss... and the main heroine of the Law route is undeniably adorable, as well. lol (out of character for this company is that there are no h-scenes for this heroine, hahaha)
They also added a dungeon-raid event battle system where you send your troops through an enemy's dungeon, in addition to the dungeon-defense and construction that makes up ninety percent of the game. This is a definite improvement, and the actual dungeon-construction and defense is a lot more refined (though I still thought it was inferior to Demonion's).
This is undeniably the best game in the entire series, from all angles but one - heroine development. Individual heroine development - usually done through a combination of sex events and conversational events - is a lot less deep than it was in the previous games (yes, it is somewhat weird to say that there is character development when it comes to mindbreak and tentacle-H, but it happens to be true). It also departs from the previous games' style in that you pick your path early on and have to stick to it (basically, you either decide to break Sylvia or become her friend by either continuing with the sex-training or picking her regular conversational events after the required initial scene).
This is perhaps the only game in the series where I actually found the chaos route worth playing, though the ending was perhaps less interesting than the actual antagonist and the process of going through the route. The Law route feels very much like a route to redemption from the hell his life has been for Leon and the world in general.
However, as anyone who plays this game from the beginning will notice, the true flower of this game's story is the relationship between Leon and Anora. The mutual interdependence, absolute trust, and unstinting love they give one another from the very beginning is touching, even though Anora is pretty much a neutral evil character and Leon a true neutral one, lol.
The Law route antagonist, as per the course in all the other games by this company, is a bit of a yawner, though the actual fight against him is pretty good.
In terms of the gameplay... it is undeniably improved far and above all the previous games in the series. Being able to invest resources in increasing your income of the four resources (food, ether, magical energy, and coin) as well as war (experience gained every turn automatically by all recruits) and medical (automatic healing on every turn) allows you to do something other than conquer to build up your base of power. The conquest itself is done in stage format rather than in continental conquest format, which has its downsides in terms of gameplay flexibility but has the advantage of not kidding you about how much freedom you have (both Empire and Frontier basically did the same thing but gave you the illusion you were freely conquering the world). The actual recruitment system, which has been evolving since Empire, reaches its peak in this one, where character customization is the most advanced so far, without the unnecessary complications of heroine impregnation in Gaia.
Overall, as a series... it makes you hate tentacles after a while, if you didn't already. It also makes some great protagonists (Empire, Frontier, and Hypno in particular). It also has very flat antagonists and gameplay that tends to be somewhat disappointing. Nonetheless, if you can slog through the H scenes (or just ignore them) Hypno - at the very least - is worth trying. Unfortunately, this series will destroy anyone who hates rape or tentacle sex, so I can't recommend it for the uninitiated... or for those who prefer soft H. To be honest, I started turning off my emotions after the first tentacles appeared and if it weren't for the fact that the moment the heroines' broke in Hypno was so deliciously evil, I probably wouldn't have bothered to read any of them. I'll never replay any of the games in this series, but I'll probably at least try the new ones in the series, if only out of curiosity to see whether they've improved the storytelling to fit my standards completely.
nohman reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Venus Blood Gaia: Taking strategy eroge to the next level (non-adult mirror)
Venus Blood Gaia is a turn-based strategy erogame with deep gameplay, a surprisingly engaging story, and a healthy serving of tentacle ero and corruption.
[Review] Venus Blood Gaia: Taking Strategy Eroge to the Next Level
nohman reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Venus Blood Empire
Yes, I went and played a game in this series, mostly because Sanahtlig is an old friend and I didn't want to keep brushing him off. In fact, I'm marathonning this series starting with this game.
First, an initial umbrella statement... this would have been a first-class story (though flawed) if it weren't for the massive amounts of tentacle rape and choukyou. Am I serious? Yeah. Despite everything, the base story is actually really good.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the gameplay. It takes the form of a conquest-strategy VN where you use six-soldier units to attack cities that are defended by up to six soldiers. Unfortunately, there is nothing resembling actual strategy to the entire thing. Oh sure, you have to manage your resources and keep your soldiers healthy... but that's the closest you get to it (there are some strategic elements to the management of the power gauge and the use of skills, but those are minor). Basically, it is a 'make your units more powerful than the enemy's, then stuff them down his throat through brute force' approach. It has its moments, but they are few and far in between.
The biggest upside of the story is the protagonist - for all that he is a ruthless pragmatist and schemer - and his closest subordinates, and the biggest downside is the final antagonist... I mean, you just don't get any more cookie-cutter than the last boss. I will say that the actual last battle in the Law route was pretty cool, but I was thoroughly bored by the boss's motives within ten minutes of its appearance. The ending also felt generic and truncated, which is sad after the richness of the actual story leading up to the end.
nohman reacted to Mr. Meogii for a blog entry, Fuwa's Lovely Ms. Suikashoujo
Mr. Meogii's First Recognition Post.
Hello Guys ! Meogii here, bringing you your ever so loved members' highlight. Today we will be zoning in on Suikashoujo. She has been a member of our community for almost a year now and it pains me to see that the majority of us do not yet know what she's been up to. She enjoys singing, so much so that she has taken it upon herself to make song covers to go along with her music. I don't know about you, but I don't think I'd ever find enough courage to allow other people to listen to me sing. Be it in real life or over the Internet, such a feat requires confidence - something I'm sure Suikashoujo has in her great and pleasurable singing. Down below you'll find her latest video so if you like it, be sure to check out her channel for more awesomeness. From the community and myself, we wish you all the best regarding your future works.
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube....GMm-XabSB6VXgrA
nohman reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Venus Blood Hypno requires a font patch to display correctly in non-Japanese Windows
Edit: Easy fix for this problem provided by binaryfail (scroll to Edit 1)!
After writing up my review for Venus Blood Gaia, I decided to launch into the next and most recent title in the series, Venus Blood Hypno. To my chagrin, upon starting the game I was greeted with a screen similar to the one above. Notice how the Japanese interface text is cut off?
English players of Japanese-language PC games will be familiar with the various locale hoops that need to be cleared to get these games to work right. Pretty much all titles require the user to set the system locale for non-Unicode programs to Japanese; this has the side-effect of causing a few installed programs to change from an English interface to a Japanese interface. This is annoying, but usually remedied by locating the language setting in the program's preferences and changing it from system default to English. A few especially irksome games, like some of Debonosu's titles, display gibberish instead of Japanese unless the time format is also set to Japanese. Eushully titles spawn periodic error popups unless the game is installed with the time format set to Japanese.
I'm used to dealing with these issues, so I figured there would be a similar easy workaround to get this title working. I did find a workaround... and it's not pretty. As it turns out, this game requires the Japanese multilingual user interface (MUI) to be installed (also known as changing the display language). What does that mean? It means all the interface elements in Windows become Japanese (including the start menu and control panel). That's shockingly bad if you've been relying on machine translators to stumble through VNs until now. But wait, it gets better. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, the ability to switch MUIs isn't included with the retail version for end-users! Only the Ultimate and Enterprise editions have this functionality! And here's the kicker: Microsoft isn't even selling Windows 7 Ultimate Edition upgrades anymore!
Fortunately a 3rd party has come up with an unofficial solution: Vistalizator. This 3rd party tool allows the user to bypass Microsoft's version protections and directly install and switch between MUIs. I've tested it and it works.
It's somewhat cumbersome to set up because you have to download several different files, one of which is specific to your version of Windows, and you're also forced to install several Windows updates. At the end of all that work, you'll be able to switch between English and Japanese interfaces with a simple Windows restart, just like you'd switch system locale (but with the caveat that a future Windows update could break the tool, with unknown effects on your system). Switching my MUI to Japanese caused some web pages in Chrome to display English text in an odd font (English Wikipedia was almost unreadable), so I had to manually reconfigure Chrome to use English as the display language.
I'm a big fan of the Venus Blood franchise, so this incompatibility really disappointed me.
3rd party tool to fix the corrupted interface display by switching to the Japanese multilingual user interface (Windows Vista and Windows 7, Home and Professional editions): Vistalizator
Users with qualifying versions of Windows can instead use the built-in Windows solution (Windows 8 [all versions], Windows 10 [probably all versions?], Windows Vista and Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions): Changing the display language
Locale Emulator has also been recommended as a general solution that works with this title.
Solution originally reported in the HongFire Venus Blood Hypno thread by Berries82 and Hopeful Death
Edit 1: Fan hacker binaryfail has identified the underlying issue and provided an easy fix that doesn't require changing the display language / MUI! Simply download this .dll file and add it to your Venus Blood Hypno install directory.
Venus Blood Hypno font fix
See my followup post for a response by Keimaru of Ninetail, the developer of Venus Blood Hypno!
"For sale in Japan only": A Japanese developer's perspective on the eroge embargo
nohman reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Kagura Douchuuki, censorship, and apathy towards the English market
I wrote this response to a thoughtful commenter on Reddit.
I would not support a non-adult only English release of Kagura Douchuuki, with a purchase or otherwise. I would also encourage other eroge fans not to support whitewashing of titles where sexual content was an integral part of the original concept (i.e., this title and MoeNovel's If My Heart Had Wings).
Just because a story can be told without sex doesn't mean it should. Just because it's easier to promote a game without sexual content doesn't mean that sexual content should be removed for the sake of convenience. This isn't merely a matter of supply and demand. It's about faithfulness to the original concept of the work. As a developer, it's lazy and disingenuous to cut content just to maximize sales in a given territory, while leaving fans with no option to restore the content and enjoy the original experience. It's callous to turn one's back on fans who have been supporting the market all along so companies like Debonosu could have the opportunity to release games like Kagura Douchuuki on Steam.
I wrote my Kaguara Douchuuki article to notify fans of the path Debonosu has embarked on, and hopefully to persuade Debonosu to change their minds. According to dovac (CEO of Sekai Project) our earnest pleas will fall on deaf ears (in his words, "They don't care"). But at least we'll have tried.
Should we support developers that "don't care"? I would say that, no, we shouldn't. And if Debonosu truly "doesn't care", then I would argue they don't deserve the support of you, me, or anyone else. And when a company truly doesn't care, that'll likely manifest in more than just needless content cuts; you'll see it in the slipshod way the localization is handled. Notice how the Greenlight campaign was started without any English description (which Sekai Project rushed to donate because they didn't want the black eye of a campaign for a prominent VN failing). Notice how Debonosu's single English comment was in broken English. Does that indicate to you that Debonosu is invested in making this release a success? Does that give you confidence that the final product will be professional quality?
I think if Debonosu doesn't start caring more pretty quick, this release will likely be a trainwreck that will cause gameplay VN fans to cringe for years to come (not unlike what's happened with MoeNovel's release of If My Heart Had Wings).
[Feature image: Thomas the trainwreck]
nohman reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Kagura Douchuuki gets Greenlight for Censorship (Op-Ed for LewdGamer.com) and Reader Poll
Fans of my previous safe-for-work blog post, Rogue-like H-RPG Kagura Douchuuki hits Steam Greenlight + First Impression, will be interested to know that I've just released a new and improved NSFW version on ero-gaming news and reviews site LewdGamer.com.
H-RPG Kagura Douchuuki gets Greenlight for Censorship (Op-Ed) [NSFW]
The new version includes a completely new section "Steam: An opportunity and a threat to lewd gaming" that demonstrates how Steam is changing the face of professional eroge localization. HCG from the original Japanese title are also displayed (purely to decry the lamentful squandering of art assets, of course).
It was a pleasure to work with the staff of LewdGamer to bring my article to a wider audience than I could achieve here on my personal blog, and hopefully we'll have opportunity to work together more in the future. Unique among eroge news and reviews sites, LewdGamer caters explicitly to an adult audience. The staff are very passionate about promoting eroge in the West, and I hope I was able to provide useful feedback on their operations, as well as ideas for future coverage. LewdGamer as a site has exploded in popularity recently despite launching mere months ago, so they're definitely a group to keep an eye on.
Do you prefer safe-for-work or NSFW preview and review articles? Let me know!
nohman reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Love, Vampire Flowers Part 1
Love, Vampire Flowers was one of the VNs I have been looking forward to, if only because Lovesick Puppies (by the same company) was such a hidden gem at the time. I won't say this approaches Lovesick Puppies for impact, because it doesn't. In comparison, it begins much more slowly and the problems tend to be more of the 'classic charage' type (well, the heroines' ones anyway). The big draw of this is that the protagonist is about as psychologically mature as you could hope for from a 'good guy' vampire, lol. Unfortunately, that very maturity is the cause of most of the boring parts of the early part of this VN. Not only that, but the makers of this VN indulged in a rather heroic effort to avoid getting to the point when it came to the common route, lol.
So far, I've played two heroine paths, Chris's and Rie's. About two thirds of the VN is repeated text (since the actual choice to cause a split-off is in the prologue, I'm unsure if it would be called a common route, lol). This is the main reason why I felt like they took forever getting to the point. To be honest, in the two paths I've played so far, the biggest disappointment has been the somewhat hurried nature of the heroine paths in comparison to the overly drawn out common route. There was room in this for a story with a lot more depth and impact, and the protagonist himself would have provided more than enough ingredients for this, even without the heroines' own personal issues.
That said, by charage standards, the heroine paths are quite good... it is just that there is so much potential in the setting that it can't help but be wasted on a 'normal charage'. This VN's setting would have made for a first-class nakige, if they'd gone for a heavier emphasis on emotional drama in general. I also felt that they misused the protagonist's flashbacks to his distant past, as the one in Chris's route would have fit a lot more in with Rie, considering her background. There were points where a clash of wills and ways of thinking should have occurred, logically speaking, but didn't, even though Haruto himself isn't exactly a weak-willed person.
Basically, it was my impression that they started out trying to create a truly dynamic protagonist to drive a more in-depth plot... but probably had to downsize everything except the common route, most likely due to budget constraints. There are hints all over the place that they meant to create a much deeper plot but for some reason didn't do so, and that is immensely frustrating for me, given my fondness for a good story.