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SeniorBlitz

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  1. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, My Magical Demon Lover (Yaoi VN Review)   
    Yaoi VNs, and yaoi media in general, are something I know quite a bit about “in theory” – even beyond the discussions in the VN community, you can’t get far into fan studies academic literature without seeing substantial mentions of both Western slash fan-fiction and Japanese yaoi doujin in every other article. Still, in practice, BL VNs were something I was always hesitant to pick up, not really because of being “scared” of male gay romance, but simply because of it having lower appeal to me than both traditional het romance, and, especially, yuri. When I can choose between similarly high-quality games from various genres (and my backlog is full of those), yaoi simply doesn’t have many appeal-points to climb at the top of my to-read list.
                Thankfully, where my straight male sensibilities didn’t lead me, Steam Curator Connect came into action, in the form of Y Press Games sending me their debut visual novel My Magical Demon Lover. Released in May 2018, this little BL game promises a pretty interesting formula – a highly-comedic erotic VN, borderline nukige when it goes to the amount of sexual content, but kept in a strictly softcore formula (with no genitals visible in any of the scenes). Being a much bigger fan of softcore porn than I am of normal hentai, this already made me much less reluctant to explore this game, but still left me definitely outside of its target audience. Thankfully, porn wasn’t the only thing it had on offer...
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogpost.com
  2. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, EVN Developer Spotlight: NewWestGames (interview)   
    A while ago I’ve made a Shovelware Adventures episode about NewWestGames, a one-person studio from Canada creating primarily erotic yuri titles. For the first time since I’ve started doing my semi-serious (and borderline mockery) short reviews, I was actually approached by the developer and had an opportunity to discuss my criticism of their games, in a respectful and constructive manner, that was probably way more forgiving than the tone of my original post would warrant. After a brief exchange, I proposed to take this discussion public, giving Katie, the person behind the NewWestGames label, a chance to respond to my commentary on her work and talk a bit about the general ideas behind her VNs. I also decided it was a good moment to take a look at the NWG titles I haven’t reviewed before, completing my coverage of the studio’s catalogue and giving Katie the ability to comment on it in full. So, without further ado, I hope you’ll all enjoy my reviews and the conversation that comes after them!
     
    Frequent Flyer: A Long Distance Love Story

    Frequent Flyer, released on Steam in March 2018, went unnoticed by most EVN readers and received mixed reviews, mostly due to its simplistic visuals and a relatively brief, linear storyline. It is, however, arguably one of the most interesting NewWestGames titles, telling a story about a toxic relationship between two girls with some apparently autobiographical elements. The protagonist, Emi, is an average-looking girl, living in a large American city and working as a freelance journalist. Rejected by her family due to her sexual orientation, depressed because of her failed ambitions of becoming a writer and recovering from another failed relationship, she decides to go for a trip to Scotland, hoping that a change of scenery and an opportunity to meet a close online friend can invigorate her. There, while watching an evening stand-up comedy show at a local bar, she meets Isobel, a gorgeous and charismatic young Scotswoman. The two quickly forms a connection, leading to an affair that first restores Emi’s happiness and then crushes it in the most disturbing ways.
                Those that experienced a toxic relationship with a mentally-unstable person themselves or know stories of such couples, will find many elements in Frequent Flyer familiar – all the lies, manipulation and emotional blackmail involved, along with Emi’s reactions to more and more obvious betrayal from the person she loves, are portrayed in a believable and properly heart-wrenching manner. The minimalistic & inconsistent presentation might take away from the overall impact of the story, and many of the events are pretty easy to predict, at times making the whole experience feel a bit like a PSA, rather than a “proper” piece of fiction. Still, it is a game with an important story to tell and an underlying message that is worth hearing out, and despite all the gripes I had with its execution, I couldn’t help but appreciate it.
    Final Score: Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  3. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: fanservice Sakura games, part 1   
    Welcome back to the Shovelware Adventures, the series that most likely no one was missing, but it came back regardless! It's been a while since I last delved into the Sakura series, so with only a few of those games still not reviewed, and staying true to my grossly counter-chronological coverage of the Winged Cloud’s trashy catalogue, let’s finish it where everything started. When Sakura Spirit appeared on Steam in mid-2014, on what was still a fairly barren EVN landscape, it quickly became something akin to a viral sensation – achieving not only sale numbers that most likely no one ever expected, but also popping up frequently on YouTube and becoming popular enough on Twitch to quickly get officially banned. It also established a peculiar variant of ecchi formula, which took the fanservice usual for eroge and trashy anime, and dedicated every CG and the whole plot to showing it off, without ever going into actual porn to stay within Steam’s, at the time, strict adult content policy. Before Winged Cloud made a transition into actual hentai games, this model spawned an impromptu franchise that turned "sakura" into a dirty word for most Western VN fans, with a total of six "all ages" fanservice VNs released within it. Today, I’ll take a look at first three of those not-quite-porn Sakura games – in a distastefully biased manner, considering my relative taste for fanservice and cliched romance, and dislike for hentai.
    Sakura Spirit

    Sakura Spirit has been ridiculed countless times, but apart from the immense amount of typos and terribly implemented popcultural references, it’s actually not the worst thing Winged Cloud has even created (even not counting the obviously-trash-tier free games like Sakura Clicker). It offers both a semi-coherent, low-fantasy isekai story (although, of course, a poorly executed one with a highly anticlimactic ending), and a somewhat appealing cast of heroines (two fox spirits, who helps the protagonist after his accidental travel to a parallel world, and two human girls acting as village guards) which could all work as a decent basis for an enjoyable ecchi VN. However, it strangely doesn’t utilize the biggest strength of visual novels as a medium, offering pretty much no meaningful choices, very little romance and an inconclusive harem ending straight out of a shitty fanservice anime.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  4. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Why I still haven't given up on VNs.   
    After ten years playing VNs, you would think I would have completely lost faith in them by now, especially considering just how many I've played (744 not counting most of the nukige, replays and incomplete/dropped ones).  Most VNs that aren't nukige are SOL-fests that exist solely to promote nostalgic fantasies about life in high school and getting into bishoujos' pants... not that that is an entirely horrible goal, but it isn't something I want to see five hundred times over.
    The romance is usually puerile and has no relation to reality, the characters have all their hard edges filed away by the needs of the archetype, and drama is used solely to add 'spice' (like one sprinkle of pumpkin spice, not cracked red pepper) to an otherwise endlessly sweet and bland recipe. 
    So how is it that someone who has experienced that much essentially boring and pointless repetition of the same scenarios able to continue to enjoy VNs, even if he can't stand meaningless SOL anymore?
    At one time, it was a sense of duty, a belief that I was doing the community good by digging gems out of the piles of crap that are the SOL genre.  I also had a sense of pride that I made an effort of objectivity that I have literally seen no one else attempt.  I played games no one else bothered with because they didn't have the time or patience, and I did it because I thought someone looking at the games would want to know what they were getting into.
    I paid a price in a growing sense of bitterness, of boredom, and of a sense that I was forgetting the reason why I began to read fiction in the first place.  I paid a price in people continually being trolls and trying to draw me into fights over my opinions on these games.  I had people start reddits and send me pms being sympathetic about the very conversations they'd started (yes that happens). 
    I also had people who respected what I was doing, and I knew there were people in the community who benefited from the fact that I was doing it.  I watched VNs I had pushed get localizations and fantls (usually to my surprise), and I saw others that I had labeled as mediocre get hyped to a ridiculous degree.   I tried to get other people to help with what I was doing, only to find that, without a reading speed similar to mine, it was too much of a burden on their lives and ate up the time to read the VNs they wanted to read. 
    The bad generally outweighed the good immensely while I was doing VN of the Month, and even after, I found that the after-effects of my years of playing games I wasn't interested in personally had left me with scars I was unable to feel while my sense of duty was keeping me going. 
    However, I can say that I still haven't given up on VNs.
    Why? 
    The reason is ridiculously simple and at the same time profound (at least to me).  I love the medium.  For someone who likes an experience that combines the reading, visual input, and music without the need for a lot of input from the one experiencing it, VNs provide a unique storytelling experience.  Books are great for the imagination and can send our souls exploring across landscapes that exist only in our own minds, but VNs provide a more filled-out framework for those who don't necessarily have the imagination to fill in all the gaps on their own, without rotting the imagination to the degree manga and anime do.  I've been able to get people who had trouble reading books into VNs, then led them straight back to books and opened the world of imagination to them.  I've seen people who had begun to feel the otaku community offered nothing more to them come alive again after playing a chuunige or a charage.  I've picked up a random moe-looking VN and found a deep and compelling story that remains within me dozens of times.
    In the end, it is moments, experiences like that that keep me coming back, believing in the possibilities of VNs even now.  It is the desire to find more such experiences that keeps me looking at new releases each month, and it is the belief that those experiences will never entirely vanish that keeps me from condemning the industry as a whole for the way it sabotages itself at times. 
  5. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Kaori After Story (Western VN Review)   
    A short while ago I’ve reviewed PixelFade’s Crystalline, expressing my disappointment at what was a visually brilliant, but rather hollow experience, in many ways inferior to that studio's first project, Ace Academy. While AA, a mecha-themed game set in near future’s Japan, mixed convincing drama, a cast of archetypical, but compelling heroines and great SoL sections, providing a fairly balanced and enjoyable game, Crystalline focused much more on comedy and despite the fantasy adventure framework, failed to produce an engaging plot or characters interesting enough to make the whole experience satisfying. The genuine chemistry between Ace Academy’s characters and its compelling atmosphere let me even forgive its anticlimactic ending – PixelFade struggled heavily with that game's development, being forced to cut a large portion of the plot and rush the conclusion, infuriating many fans. The cuts and omissions were definitely visible, for me however, what was already there was simply too good to disregard and I still consider AA as one of the best EVNs I’ve ever read.
                As you can imagine, it was hard for me not to get excited when, shortly after Crystalline’s release, the studio announced Kaori After Story – a spin-off to Ace Academy, continuing the romance arc of Kaori, arguably the primary heroine of the first game. Using the Live 2D engine and animations from Crystalline, it promised to be another eye-candy, this time directed to the fans of PixelFade's debut title. What worried me, however, was that it was also described by the devs as primarily a comedy, most likely ignoring the bitter-sweet climate of the original and its somewhat ambivalent ending. Thankfully, as much as some might be disappointed with this game’s obvious disinterest in continuing Ace Academy’s main intrigue, connected to protagonist’s father’s scientific research and tragic death, there are many things here they should find highly satisfying – and even I, as reserved as I was when approaching KAS, couldn’t help but to enjoy it quite a lot.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  6. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, 2018 Curator Connect Clean-up, part 2   
    Welcome to the second and last part of my 2018 Curator Connect Clean-up (if you missed the first half, check it out here)! The horror themes were strong in the VNs sent to me this year and while it will be less explicit in this part, they’re not completely gone either, mostly represented by Perseverance – an episodic, postapocalyptic game which strives to prove that story-driven experience featuring zombies is still not passée in 2018 (and, possibly, that the Telltale storytelling formula is not as dead as the studio that created it). Other than that, we’ll get to experience an ominous sci-fi mystery Event-D and two low-budget, simple romance VNs, all of them holding some surprises… Not always positive ones, though.
     
    The Wilting Amaranth

    I have pretty complicated feelings about Reine Works’ visual novels – on one hand, they show genuine effort, have decent visuals and are not cynically exploitative even when implementing sexual content. On the other, they always struggle when it goes writing and characterisation, to the point they always short of being genuinely good and compelling. The Wilting Amaranth showcases these problems especially well – while the set-up protagonist’s personality and her backstory are all simple (a lesbian-in-denial princess, pressured by her parents into an arranged marriage, is accidentally summoned by a witch to her remote tower), they’re interesting enough to carry a simple, romantic plot.
                Where it pretty much falls apart is the heroines and how their characters are developed: the witch is shy and stuttering to the point she’s barely able to hold a conversation at any point of the plot and her quirks grow tiring very fast. The other possible love interest, a prisoner of the witch who tried to assassinate her for a bounty, is a first-class sociopath who can do all kinds of despicable things if it makes her some money, but switching her attitude in certain scenarios for no clear reason. Even with how short the game is (around 3-4 hours of reading) there’s no real justification for how these characters are developed and sadly, it takes away quite a lot of fun from the experience, with contains not-awful production values and some fairly cool ideas. While reading it is not a complete waste of time, it’s also not something I would ever strongly recommend, even for yuri fans.
    Final rating: (Cautiously) Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  7. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas' 2018 VN recommendations   
    This is a list of VNs I think are worthy of playing, regardless of my vndb vote (no VN of the Year, since I don't do VN of the Month anymore).  While I haven't been playing much since September, the fact remains that I still played a large number of VNs this year.  Feel free to object, but I have no obligation to listen anymore *whistles cheerfully as he juggles the flaming skulls of those who have opposed him in the past).
    Fuukan no Grasesta
    Mirai Radio no Jinkou-bato
    Haru to Yuki (if I could say I'd played most of the games this year, this would be my VN of the Year choice)
    Shin Koihime Musou Kakumei Son Go no Ketsumyaku
    Maoten
    Curio Dealer
    Kimi to Hajimeru Dasantekina Love Come
    Kimi to Mezameru Ikutsuka no Houhou
    Butterfly Seeker
    A.I. Love
    Unjou no Fairy Tale
    Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteiru: Trinkle Stars
    Hataraku Otona no Ren'ai Jijou 2
    Shogun-sama wa Otoshigoro
    Hello, Lady Superior Entelecheia
    I might add the new Venus Blood, depending on whether I come out on the other end feeling it was good, lol.
  8. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, A Winter’s Daydream (Western VN Review)   
    The New Year is just a few days away, so why not take a look today at another appropriately-themed VN? Ebi-hime is probably best known for both yuri romances and horror VNs, but in reality created a huge variety of slice-of-life and mystery titles, both borrowing from different formulas and simultaneously breaking their rules, ultimately escaping any kind of easy classification. Games like Empty Horizons or Asphyxia are clearly identified with common labels such as “otome” or “yuri”, but they pretty much never cater to the reader’s expectations taken from reading other visual novels within those genres.
                There are also certain elements extremely common for ebi’s work, regardless of topics or conventions she’s trying to tackle. Deeply flawed, painfully realistic characters, extensive internal monologues of the protagonists and a nostalgic aura are almost constant elements of her writing, making most of her stories fairly easily recognizable and differentiating them from the typical Western-produced VNs. Ebi’s latest release, A Winter’s Daydream, while at first glance might look like a silly comedy, can be accurately described in only one way. It’s an ebi-hime VN through and through: slow-paced, introspective and handling serious, existential topics despite any humorous elements and the wacky premise. And, as you can easily expect from this particular author, it does all those things in a thoroughly satisfying way. 
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  9. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Highway Blossoms: Remastered (Western VN Review)   
    Since being published by Alienworks in mid-2016, Highway Blossoms earned its place as one of the highest-rated yuri VNs on VNDB and could easily be considered as one of the most successful Western visual novels to date. The game from the very beginning stood out through its unusual setting, plot structure and high production qualities, seemingly appealing even to the more demanding or JP-focused yuri fans. It wasn’t a great surprise then that Highway Blossoms’ authors, despite their second title, The Human Reignition Project, being stuck in a development hell, decided to further capitalize on their previous success and create an updated version of HB, with features such as partially reworked art and full voice acting (the initial release had none). The Remastered edition was released on May 18th 2018, two years after the game’s premiere, with quite a lot of fanfare and became available as a free update for both existing and potential owners of the game. So, how that does the enhanced version of everyone’s favourite yuri EVN presents itself, and does it live up top the hype? Spoiler: it does. Kind of...
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  10. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, 2018 Curator Connect Clean-up, part 1   
    Since I’ve established my Steam Curator profile last winter I’ve been sent a number of games, some of which received full reviews on the site (ex. Sable’s Grimoire or Crystalline), while others, for various reasons, did not get covered at all. In most cases, the games I didn’t write posts about were small or low-budget titles, hardly giving enough material for an in-depth review – still, as I don’t like the idea of ignoring people that were generous enough to offer me their work for free, I’ve decided to dedicate this and next week’s posts to giving a short overview of things that were given to me through Curator Connect in 2018, but didn’t get to appear on the blog. Just as in the mini-reviews series, every entry will be concluded with a simple rating on a scale from “Highly Recommended” to “Not Recommended”. So, let’s get this party started!
     
    Silenced: The House

    If someone asked me to define “wasted potential”, showing them this game would be an easy way to thoroughly explore the concept. Silenced starts with a slightly edgy, but appealing and unusual concept. You play as a villain (although to a large extent manipulated rather than plain evil) – a girl adept in the occult, who lures a group of some particularly obnoxious teenager to a secluded mansion, as a sacrifice to a malevolent spirit. There, things quickly goe out of control and our protagonist has to struggle both to satisfy the demon she’s forced to serve and keep her life while fighting off against vengeful ghosts that come after her “companions” and uncover the sins from their pasts.
                The general set up and the simplistic, but well-stylized art are fairly promising, but that impression quickly falls apart as you experience the game’s clunky and often cringe-worthy writing style – to some extent a victim of the less-than-perfect translation from Russian, but having problems that go far beyond what poor localization could explain. The unnatural English, overly-contrived metaphors and edgy internal monologues of the protagonist quickly makes the whole thing unpleasant to read and while the storyline has its moments (the backstories and hidden motivations of the characters are kind of fun to explore, especially after the intrigue picks up), it’s just ultimately not enjoyable to go through. The game is also technically clunky, adding to the cheap feel of the whole experience – even the large number of CGs and effective use of gore can’t save it from being a poor VN.
                Unless you’re able to read the original, Russian version, this one is simply not worth buying – but I also hope that the devs behind it will try creating something similar in the future and improve on the formula, because as disappointing as this game was, it was also not very far from becoming something genuinely interesting. Time will tell.
    Final rating: Not Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  11. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Yuri Game Jam 2018 VNs, part 1   
    Yuri Game Jam, having few limitations on what can enter the event outside of including some form of yuri or LGBT themes, was always a good arena for various devs to show off demos or prototypes and gain visibility or feedback for their projects. At the same time, it consistently attracted many complete projects, often surprisingly solid when it goes to their quality and the amount of content they offered. This year this was no different, with over 20 full games entering the event, including 11 original VNs, ranging from extremely short and basic, to a few-hours-long and artistically impressive ones. In the last month, after the end-of-October YGJ deadline has been reached, I was going through all these titles and today I'm offering you a full overview of what a VN fan might find in this year's event's roster. Or, well, at least the first half of it...
              In my coverage, I will, for the most part, ignore all the in-development titles – the production cycles of indie games are always a bit unpredictable and I’m highly distrustful whether some of the demos we can find in YGJ will turn into actual, finished products in foreseeable future. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the fully-released visual novels in the event and providing a short overview of each of them, along with a simple rating on a scale of “not recommended/recommended/highly recommended”. I will also, obviously, skip on the games from other genres that took part in the Jam (although if you value story-driven yurige, I encourage you to still give them a chance). So, I hope you’ll join me on the journey through this interesting collection of queer, freeware VNs and uncover all the surprises this year’s edition of YGJ holds for us. As always, all the games mentioned below are completely free to play, so if you click the Itch.io links in their titles, you can try them out right away with no charge. Let's get to it!
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Valentine Disaster

    We’ll start things off with what could be described as another quintessential YGJ VN – a piece of cute, visually pleasant and utterly heartwarming GxG romance with some minor, cool spins to it. In this case, the story of tomboyish Selene trying to bake a perfect Valentines Day's gift for her girlfriend after they had a falling out, is spiced up by brief point-and-click gameplay elements, requiring you to buy and select the right ingredients for the dessert of your choosing. If you follow the subtle clues the game provide you with along the way, you can easily find the best combination or home-made delicacies and bought presents to quickly salvage the threatened holiday. But if you mess up, there will be consequences… A very brief (up to an hour for 100% completion), but fun and lovely-looking experience.
    Final Rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  12. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Episicava Vol. 1 (Western VN Review)   
    Chuunige is one of the visual novel genres that are barely present in OELVN scene, at least to any “serious” capacity – among the more popular and high-quality releases there’s very few that would even loosely fit the “fighting VN” formula, or especially effectively replicate the unique feel of this particular current in Japanese fiction. Recently, however, a fledgeling studio under the name of Epic Works decided to remedy this sorry state of affairs by creating a content-rich, Fate-inspired EVN called Episicava. The first volume, of what was apparently planned to become a longer series, was released on Steam in April 2018, in a slightly disastrous state – full of graphical bugs and various technical issues, the game made a rather poor first impression. However, since those problems were mostly fixed with patches in the months after launch, it’s a good moment to look at Episicava and ask the most important question – did it manage, in its improved state, to capture some of the magic of Fate/Stay Night or Dies Irae in a downscaled, low-budget form of an EVN?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  13. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, JRPG: Growlanser IV   
    The Growlanser series is one of those weird, hardly known jrpg series that died out after the ps2 era (mostly because its gameplay was too traditional, but also because the transition to 2.5D sprites failed so miserably in V and VI, along with the derivative, predictable story).  However, before its death, it produced four first-class games, three of them linked in a single chronology.  IV, also known as Wayfarer of Time, is the exception in the series as a whole, being the only entirely standalone game.
    Growlanser IV's Western release was on the PSP (also playable on the Vita and PSTV) with a modified main route and an 'evil' route that you could access on NG+.  The first four Growlanser games can be said to be very attractive to those who like player agency.  This is because, depending on how you fight, how you play, and what conversation choices you make (three of the four protagonists are silent ones whose) you could not only alter your own perceptions of the main character, but you could also alter the ending and even the game flow as a whole dramatically. 
    Growlanser IV isn't an exception to this, but in a way it is easier.  One reason is that you aren't required to get the highest rating on  all story missions to get access to the 'true' ending.  Rather, it uses a 'fate alteration' system which allows you to take on sidequests, take various actions in combat, and make choices in conversations that alter how the game ends, who lives, and who dies.  The 'Modified Route', which is pretty much the 'good' route, pretty much requires you to alter every possible character's fate in order to create the result of ten major characters still being alive past the turning point of the story and the end.   With some of these characters, it is as simple as saving them in a certain story battle, with others it requires making the right choices in conversations with them in order to change how they act, thus preventing their deaths.
    In this way, I came out of Growlanser IV feeling that, for the first time in a long time, that player agency actually mattered.  Hell, I never thought scolding a girl about throwing things then showing her kindness would give me an opportunity to save her soul later.
    The main story itself is heavy on war politics, much like all the other games in the series.  In this case, it is a war story spread across about four years (my estimate) that ends up involving the whole of the known world.  The protagonist, raised in a mercenary outfit, ends up getting involved with saving the world and the nations in it... but you rarely see him being treated like a 'chosen one' outside of a few of his own companions.  Rather, most reactions are based in that person's standpoint and affiliation, which made both the enemies and allies feel real to me in a way few jrpgs ever manage. 
    This game manages to avoid the traditional pitfalls of the average jrpg.  What do I mean?  I mean that tendency toward hot-blooded idealism and dew-eyed innocence about human nature that ruin 90% of JRPGs storywise.  I mean, a king isn't interested in saving the world... he is interested in enriching his country.  Good people in the wrong position will do bad things, and bad people who can benefit from it will do good things.  The characters feel like people, and I don't feel like I'm talking to carbon copies of characters from a thousand other jrpgs like I do with most mainline jrpgs.
    The battle system in this game is a combination of turn-based and real-time strategy.  Generally speaking, you start out at a certain point of the map, and your characters move in real time when you aren't making choices about their next action.  It is possible to alter their course, and you can block enemies' routes with your warriors' bodies.  Knacks (non-magic activation skills) can be used to strike hard, slow enemies' turns,or slow their chanting of magic.  Magic takes a while to chant, but in exchange you can take normal actions immediately afterward, and spells can be canceled at any time just by pressing the triangle button and going to the character in question.
    Perhaps the game's biggest overt weak point gameplay-wise is the way you learn skills (passives), Knacks (instant-use attack/support/debuff/buffs), and magic.  They are learned by attaching spellstones to the characters' ring weapons (three to a weapon, with the level of the stone you can attach limited by the ring's slots) and killing enemies in battle.  The reason why this is a problem is simple... only the character who deals the fatal blow to an enemy gains ability points for their... abilities.  A warrior who can take out five enemies at once with the use of the circle strike knack is going to find it easier to learn abilities than a mage or archer that can only strike one enemy at a time (synchronize spells later on to cast area spells utilizing multiple characters... but it still can't beat the quickness of AOE knacks). 
    The greatest help to the player is the fact that you can buff before going into battle using spells, thus eliminating the need to tie up magic users in buffing for the first part of a battle.  Considering that most story battles have time limits, this is an issue.  This game rewards clever use of the systems like the arena and buff spells and will seriously sodomize you if you go through the game without thinking or preparing.
    Overall, Growlanser IV was the series' peak, and it saddens me greatly that the series was killed in the PS2 era.  This game is about sixty hours long for the first playthrough (successive playthroughs are easier), and it is one of the better rpg stories I've ever played, being somewhat reminiscent of Suikoden, which is funny, considering they rose to cult popularity around the same time.
     
  14. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Notable Yuri Game Jam VNs (2015-2017), Part 2   
    Two weeks ago we’ve started our journey through the world of Yuri Game Jam visual novels and today we’re gonna conclude its “historic” part, with another 6 games from the 2015-2017 period. As before, the order in which the games are presented is semi-random, but I’ve tried to mix commonly known and widely appreciated titles – ones you might be familiar with even if you never followed the event itself – with some lesser known entries, which are still worth a closer look. While even the list is obviously not exhaustive (and of course don’t cover the huge library of non-VN YGJ releases), it covers most of the entries I’ve personally found interesting. While I might still cover more of them in the future, it will most likely be in a different format and above all, I hope to focus on giving an overview of the latest event every year. But, that's in the future – for now, I hope you’ll enjoy this one last look at the GxG visual novel glory of YGJs past!
     
    Once on a Windswept Night

    Once on a Windswept Night by ebi-hime is definitely among the most ambitious Yuri Game Jam VNs, with an intricate meta-narrative and multiple layers of mystery for the player to uncover (starting with an element as basic as the identity of the protagonist). Featuring two touching, tragic love stories, up to three hours of content and very solid writing, it delivers much more than you would normally expect from a free game. The visual side of things suffered slightly from the relatively short development cycle, but it doesn’t change the fact that its a very creative and in many ways unique experience – and, for a game jam entry, an impressive artistic achievement, in many ways on par with ebi's commercial projects.
    Final Rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  15. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, An Opinion: Grittiness vs Humanity   
    This is an opinion that has been a long time in forming, but I am coming around to an opinion that the more simplistic viewpoints I've possessed on the differences between American approaches to storytelling and Japanese ones are somewhat off the mark. Note:  This is a rant, it should be treated as a rant, and if it doesn't make sense to you, that is because it is my brain leaking into text on this blog.
    First, my original opinion:
    To put it simply, it was my belief that the Japanese had a tendency to go for emotional surrealism (in other words, emotional bombardment) and visual excess (exaggeration) to tell their stories.  In opposition, Americans tend to go for the 'gritty and realistic', with straight out bullet to the head realism.  This was a generalization that, while based on my experiences with Japanese video games that told a story (both VNs and jrpgs) and Western games that more or less tried to do the same (Isometric RPGs, Bethesda-style games, etc), was never meant to be an absolute statement but just a general opinion of the tendencies I'd encountered.
    Second, my new opinion: 
    First, I've come to the conclusion that American gaming companies don't know how to tell a story anymore (since Bioware has gone crappy, Obsidian is about to get absorbed/has been absorbed by a company that has no idea of what it is doing, and the Witcher was made by Polish people).  Second, the Japanese seem to suffer from a similar malaise... and the source is, quite ironically, fairly similar in the cases of mainstream games.
    It is the disease I call the 'MMO virus'.  Yes, you who actually read my blog know my opinion on online multiplayer games and what they have done to erode storytelling games in general, but my recent conclusion is that this erosion has actually reached a critical point in the last five years.  Rebellions against the progression of this disease have occurred (Tales of Berseria, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Nier: Automata come to mind for the Japanese, and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire for America), but these have been relatively minor upthrusts against the toxins released by the cloud of mission-based 'stories' you see in games nowadays.  Bethesda has also contributed to this plague (fetch quests and hunt the monster quests  being a common plague for them as well), and it seems like every time I turn around, I see another game trying to tell its story through an obvious mission or quest system is sitting right there.  Sure, the systems had their roots in D&D games, but the way they've developed is the result of the plague that infected the world using games like WoW as its vector.
    I first began to see signs of this disease back in the PS2 era, though it was mostly limited to 'high end' games at the time, like Final Fantasy (XII having essentially repurposed and altered XI's MMO battle system for a single-player model), I was honestly horrified to see how easy it was to let myself get led around by the nose from objective to objective in hopes that I'd find the story in there somewhere.  The problem was, once the objectives became my reason for playing (as was inevitable, because that is the tactic they use to draw you in), I increasingly realized that I couldn't enjoy what story was being told, because I was impatient to get to the next objective, even though I didn't find any of that searching for objectives to be fun in the least.
    VNs suffer from a different set of problems.  While jrpgs and western games suffer from the simple fact that the current generation of makers grew up obsessing over pathetic attempts to graft stories onto multiplayer games, VNs suffer from the fact that the best and brightest of their creators are... getting old.  Hell, some of them even died in between projects.  Worse, no one of equal capability has replaced them, leading to an unfortunate confluence of near-universal incompetence and corporate inability to grasp the reasons for failure and fix it. 
    No, I'm not saying that all new VNs suck.  Hell, if they all sucked, I wouldn't still be trying to go back and play them, like the burnt-out junkie I am.  No, my issue is that there is a sudden dearth of developed talent within the world of VNs that has gotten horrible in the last five years.  Most of the major names are retired, have moved on to 'greater' things, or are dead.  Shumon Yuu is silent, Hino Wataru seems to have gone underground, Masada is probably off in his own little world, Fujisaki Ryuuta is circling in place, Kurashiki Tatsuya is off indulging his inner sadist with half-assed games, Kazuki Fumi can't seem to stick with one thing long enough to make it great since Akeiro Kaikitan, and Agobarrier is three years dead.  That isn't even mentioning all the formerly major names that have just decided to retire without telling anyone or got hired away by mainstream video game companies. 
    What is replacing them are primarily LN writers... who, unfortunately, tend to write like middle school street kids on crack (and not in a good way).  They often have great ideas, but they are fuzzy about execution and lacking in technique.  As a result, you get a bunch of third-rate one-off VNs that no one really likes.
    Artists aren't a problem.  There will always be plenty of skilled otaku artists who can draw h-scenes.  The issue is and always will be writers... because it is the writer that decides whether a VN will become remembered for years to come or be dropped back into the dung at the bottom of the latrine.
  16. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Crystalline (Western VN Review)   
    Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this game by the developer. All opinion presented here are solely my own.
    PixelFade is a studio that from the very beginning showed an unusually ambitious approach to EVN development. Their first project, Ace Academy, offered some features rarely seen in Western VN of similar scale (~10h of content), such as good-quality, full voice acting and lots of impressive-looking, stylistically consistent artwork. It was also pretty atypical in its storytelling, featuring a mostly college-age cast, choosing a very tame approach to romance and avoiding the fanservice endemic to this kind of lighthearted, SoL-focused VNs. Initially funded on Kickstarter as Kendo Crush, it went through a curious evolution from a generic-looking, sports-themed game into a futuristic story about mecha battles but regardless of all the tribulations, the end effect was a highly refreshing, all-ages experience with a satisfying mix of light drama, non-violent action and mystery. In my opinion, it’s still one of the best EVNs ever released, with few real issues beyond the somewhat abrupt, anticlimactic ending and the overly simplistic "gameplay" elements.
                Considering the relative success of Ace Academy, it was obvious that there would be high expectations connected to PixelFade’s second project, Crystalline – a lighthearted fantasy tale with a single romanceable heroine, which promised a longer story and even higher production qualities than their debut. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2017, with gathered over 60k CAD (an amount pretty much unseen when it goes to original EVN projects), the game fairly quickly entered Steam on early access and was fully released in late August 2018 – the much anticipated final product offering truly impressive sound and visual design... And, in my opinion, a truly disappointing lack of compelling story content. But why is that exactly?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  17. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Notable Yuri Game Jam VNs (2015-2017), Part 1   
    Close to a year ago, I’ve published a top-list of my 5 favourites Juri Game Jam visual novels – a post that, in hindsight, was rather poorly thought-out and based on my, at the time, not-that-great knowledge on the event in question and the games that came out of it. While my appreciation for the game listed there didn’t change (just as my love for indie yuri games in general), I realized that both the “Top X” formula and the small selection of VNs presented there could not give justice to the quite impressive roster of titles produced for the YGJ over the years. While the Yuri Game Jam 2018 has recently ended and I’m (slowly) preparing my own summary of this year's edition of the event, it’s also a good moment to look back at the most popular and interesting titles that came out of previous ones – from highly-appreciated classics such as ebi-hime’s entries, all the way to various significantly less fortunate projects, which nonetheless played their parts in the history of yuri EVNs. Let's get started! 
     
    The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns

    The Victorian drama by ebi-hime is the best know and probably most-appreciated Yuri Game Jam entry – and not without good reasons. While short and, as a kinetic novel, following a purely linear formula, this tragic story offers excellent writing, emotionally impactful storytelling (with a "story within a story" structure) and a great aesthetic, all way above the levels you would normally see in an event like this. It also doesn't rely on shock value or leave the reader with a depressing conclusion – with all the titular sadness still in place, it's a relatively hopeful, touching story of love cut short by fate and a great reading experience – one which might have yuri romance as its main theme, but offers much more than just that.
    Final Rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  18. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, SoulSet (Western VN Review)   
    Note: I was provided with a free review copy of this game by the developer. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.
    The multi-route mystery VN is not a format easy to pull off properly and for that reason not many EVN developers even attempt to tackle it. It requires creating a number of paths and characters, all interesting on their own and complementary to each other, while also keeping the overall quality high enough to motivate the reader to go through all of it in order to piece together the overarching story. This is both a challenge from the writing perspective and requires a fairly substantial amount of content to communicate the mystery effectively – usually, more than an average Western visual novel can provide with the humble resources at its creators' disposal. 
                Still, all this makes exploring the few examples of such games done right by Western devs that more interesting. SoulSet, developed by NoBreadStudio and released on Steam in late 2016 is a particularly “orthodox” implementation of the formula, with every route and ending (including bad ones) adding to your understanding of the story and culminating in an unlockable “true route”, which resolves the crucial mysteries and tie all the previous paths together. It’s also, as I will try to argue, a damn fine game that positively stands out in the EVN market, in a few ways.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  19. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, CharaBration! ~Otome wa Koi shite Charabureru~   
    Let's be clear... I have no reason to try to be fair to charage anymore.  This might sound like a terrible statement to make, but the fact is, I've been a lot nicer than I wanted to be for years when it came to charage.  I went out of my way to look for positive aspects, and when I found one, I deliberately put it in as positive a light I could without overdoing it.  This was because the sensation I got coming out of most charage was fatigue.  SOL, in small doses, is enjoyable and even relaxing... in the kind of doses I experienced over the last five years, it is downright toxic.
    Now, down to the game... CharaBration is what is termed a 'thematic charage'.  This is a type of VN with a preset theme that all the heroines and possibly the protagonist all adhere to to one degree or another.  In this case, it is the duality of the heroines/protagonist's character types.  Each of the characters presents one face to the world and another in private... and in the case of this game, the gap between them is massive.  
    The heroine who starts as the initial focus is Hai, the protagonist's cousin whom he thought was a sickly ojousama that he had to take care of... and is really the kind of tomboy who dominates all the males around her, with a coarse manner and foul language.  Yukia, who is pretending to be her sister Mirei, presents herself normally as an arrogant leader who always dominates the room, but in private, she is shy and has trouble talking at all.  Himeme is normally acts in a false male role, but she really prefers to act like the girl she really is.  All the heroines are like this to one degree or another, and Rikka (the protagonist) ends up splitting his life between pretending to be a maid and attending school in his male form.
    Now... this is a game with a lot of potentially fun elements, and it would have been great if the 'hidden' character traits for Hai, who was presented as the main heroine at first, weren't so grating.  Starting out with a positive hatred for Hai that never really faded even after I got into the heroine routes (her ojousama act just made me more irritated, due to that fake cough) was a huge drag on the experience for me, and it is the reason why I took so long to finish even the paths I did.  Hai is annoying, to be straight about it.  While her presence is necessary to create the situation going in, her persona (both of them) drove me up the wall. 
    The fact that I actually liked the other heroines only made it worse, because whenever she came onto the scene, I just wanted to delete her character.  I'm sure some will love her (there is someone for everyone, supposedly), but she isn't for me.
    Common Route
    Tbh, the common route spent so much time on Hai and stuff related to her that I'm tempted to erase it from my brain.  However, it needs to be said that it does a good job of introducing the heroines and creating their relationships with Yuki/Rikka.  Rikka is a standard 'I protest dressing up like a girl but I subconsciously am coming to love it' trap protagonist, and that creates a few moderately amusing scenes... However, I can't really said this did a good job of anything but introducing the heroines and creating those basic relationships.  It is a pretty short common route, and the heroine routes afterward aren't long either, so it feels like more time and effort could have been spent deepening the relationships before they headed off into the romantic wilds. 
    Yukia
    Yukia is easy to like, at least for me.  Her helpful, kind nature is prevalent throughout much of the VN, and her other persona is mostly amusing (some of the ways she strings together lines to hold a conversation together make me laugh).  Her relationship with her sister, Mirei, which comes out in her path, is amusing on several levels, and I like the way she grows as a character during the course of her path.  That said, her ending is somewhat disappointing, as I would have liked to see what she and Rikka were like after graduation.
    Corona
    I chose Corona as the second heroine mostly because she is Yukia's opposite in so many ways...  and because I rolled a pair of dice to decide which would be the second and final heroine I would play (I can't bring myself to play all the heroines in this type of game anymore).   Umm... I really like her character, if only because it makes me laugh (an easily-embarrassed prime personality and a secondary personality that strips without a hint of hesitation and is obsessed with other women's breasts... definitely worth a laugh).   In fact, this path is nicely weird, especially because of how those twin personalities interact with the romance.  If Yukia's path was par for the course (predictable and staid as trap protagonist and ojousama heroines go), Corona's went pretty far out there.  The epilogue and after story was also too close to the ending in chronology though, *sighs*.
     
    Conclusions
    Despite some high points, this game is pretty average as charage go.  Like a lot of thematic charage, it makes the mistake of assuming that the theme is all-powerful, and, as a result, it falls short on a lot of minor points.  I was particularly irritated at the way they handled the endings/epilogues, and I felt that the writer didn't really do Corona or Yukia justice, when it came down to it.  Given more detail and time spent deepening character relationships in a believable fashion, it would have been much easier to engross myself in the setting.  Unfortunately, that never happened here (the good parts of Yukia's and Corona's paths stand out so much precisely because they are the best parts of the VN by far).  It felt like the writer wrote his favorite scenes first then sort of created a bare-bones framework to support it using the theme.
  20. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Silver Cow Studios’ Ecchi VNs (non-Time Tenshi edition)   
    While Time Tenshi, which I covered two weeks ago, is definitely the flagship franchise for Silver Cow Studios, the company never settled for only producing new iterations of their breast-expansion/time-travel formula, releasing two other ecchi VNs since their debut in 2015. Those games, while they didn’t abandon the giant boobs and over-the-top storytelling that could be considered Silver Cow’s staple, offered their own twists to the fanservice-filled and trashy, but hentai-free format. The first one, Burokku Girls, appeared just three months after the first Time Tenshi game and… The lack of reasonable development time definitely showed, in a few ways. The second, Battleship Bishojo came out in early 2017, after Time Tenshi 2’s Special Edition and proved that the devs had their formula figured out much better by this point in time. Still, what exactly are these games about, besides exclusively-kyonyuu heroines and are they as good serviceable as Time Tenshi proved to be?
     
    Burokku Girls

    Burokku Girls (the first part of the title apparently represents the Japanese pronunciation of the word „block”) is quite possibly the most bizarre VN I’ve seen since Legends of Talia: Arcadia. Although it’s not as devoid of humour as the Winged Cloud’s unfortunate “dark fantasy adventure”, it still manages to mix incredibly trashy fanservice and character designs with a rather grimdark story about a last bastion of light in the world besieged by darkness – a conflict so hopeless that the people of the last town standing are pretty much just waiting for their final battle and inevitable demise. Our generic protagonist enters this world-ending scenario through a full-immersion VN machine, constructed by his father. The virtual reality set goes haywire in an inexplicable way and transports him to a reality built with the titular Blocks – voxel-like elements, which were used in past immemorial to create an artificial paradise for people to live in, but was since invaded by the “Underworlders”, exiles trapped in the dark chasms beneath the “Overworld” and sealed away with the Blocks.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  21. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Kemono Musume no Sodatekata   
    This is the newest game by Sweet & Tea, the makers of the near-kamige (kamige in my heart) Karenai Sekai to Owaru Hana.  This has a different set of writers, with Ban'ya of Kuroinu and Mugen Renkan handling the sweaty H-scenes and NYAON, the writer of Moshimo Ashita ga Harenaraba (and a few charage and nakige besides that) as the main writer. 
    Now, this is a kinetic 3P lovey-dovey nakige about a girl named Iroha who, after spending ten years trapped in a divine realm by accident with a wolf god, is returned to that realm... with wolf-ears!  (lol)  I say it is about Iroha mostly because of my fetish, but it is really about her, the protagonist Shuuji, his girlfriend Kana, and the people around them. 
    Now, a few things to get out of the way before I put down my own feelings and impressions... for those who don't like cheater protagonists, I'm going to come out with it straight up.  He cheats on Kana with Iroha.  The fact that this is mostly a comedic element is because of Iroha's animalistic/innocent manner (she's actually just aggressive about what she wants and more knowledgeable than her speech patterns indicate), and the fact that Kana has pretty much been the seducer/brainwasher side of the relationship with Shuuji, who tends to be the type to give in to the girls he cares about in just about everything.
    Now, this game never goes really dark.  It has some bad moments for the characters emotionally (the protagonist has his own issues and ten years is a LONG time), but that is all properly resolved in a cathartic way, as is the way with nakige.  Unlike Karenai Hana, there is no aura of terrible suffering and despair, and the protagonist is mostly about compassion and love rather than self-sacrificing love and guilt. 
    While this game is pretty short (think about four hours for me, six to seven hours for the average reader), it doesn't feel unsatisfying for what it is.  I did want a more extensive epilogue, but the one I got was hilariously H, so I came out of this feeling mostly satisfied. 
    Perhaps my sole real reservation is the fact that this didn't become a 4P with Chihiro, who is obviously interested in Shuuji (even moreso by the end). I'm thinking that they will eventually make a followup, sequel, or fandisc to advance the whole story more.  However, with the immediate issues all resolved, the game doesn't feel as truncated as I usually feel with games setting up for sequels or fandiscs from the beginning.
     
  22. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to onorub for a blog entry, Was 2011-2016 the "golden age" of otome games?   
    (making it a blog post because i don't think this would get any activity as a thread)
    I think this time period from 2011 to 2016 might have been the "golden age" of otome games because those were the years where a lot of the most notable otomeges were released. Just looking at high-rated otomes on VNDB:
    2011: Amnesia Memories, Shinigami to Shoujo, Chou no Doku Hana no Kusari, Arcana Famiglia
    2012: Black Wolves Saga (both parts), Dandelion, Koezaru wa Akai Hana, Cinders
    2013: Ken ga Kimi, Nameless, Norn9, Arcana Famiglia 2, Getsuei no Kusari (and fandisc)
    2014: Code Realize, Ayakashi Gohan
    2015: Taishou x Alice, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, Re Birthday Song, Yoshiwara Higanbana
    2016: Collar x Malice, Mystic Messenger, Nightshade, Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk, Code Realize Future Blessings
    I can only attest to the quality of a few of these VNs but for those that are more into this genre, i would like to raise this discussion.
  23. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Ebi-Hime's free VNs - part 2 (Western VN mini-reviews)   
    Today, we’ll be continuing our agon… I mean, out adventure through the world of free VNs by ebi-hime. While the earliest games we’ve covered, like Dejection and Is This the Life? were very visibly ebi’s early works, simple on the technical side of things and featuring minimalistic artwork, today we’re jumping straight into very recent projects, all released not earlier than 2017. Mostly staying true to the general climate of heavy, existential topics and endings that are never the typical happy, wish-fulfilment scenarios, these games are once more not far detached from ebi’s commercial projects and while smaller, could easily have a modest price tag attached to them, with few people being able to claim they didn’t get their money’s worth (especially in the cases of Lynne and Six Days of Snow). But what are they exactly about?
     
    Where the Sun Always Shines

    Where the Sun Always Shines is another bittersweet story, although in a wholly different climate than Lucky Me, Lucky You. Featuring a 32-years old writer, suffering from a deep depression after losing his wife, and a teenage girl from his neighbourhood with whom he forms an unlikely friendship with, the game explores themes of grief, inspiration and moving on after losing one’s feeling of purpose, but is also maybe the only title on this list that provides a truly positive, hopeful conclusion. Before it gets to that point however, it presents to the reader rather convincing descriptions of writer’s block, anxiety and self-pity of the leading character, along with interesting interaction with Sunny, the aforementioned teenager, who first visits him out of pity, but then forms a bond of sorts over their mutual interest in musical – all that accompanied by very decent artwork. In a way though, it’s maybe the least impactful of the ebi’s stories, being overall solid and enjoyable to read, but lacking any interesting twists or highly emotional moments from the previous games. Definitely a worthwhile VN, but not necessarily a must-read.
    Final Rating: Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  24. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Time Tenshi series   
    While not nearly as famous as Winged Cloud’s Sakura games, Silver Cow Studio’s Time Tenshi is one of the longest-running EVN series, following a single storyline and consistent cast of characters since late 2015. So far, its developers published three, fairly substantial entries in the franchise: Time Tenshi, Time Tenshi 2 (released in mid-2016 and later expanded significantly in the Special Edition version) and Time Tenshi Paradox – an episodic game, with two parts already available and most likely more coming in the near future. All of them, unusually at this day and age, follow a relatively tame, ecchi formula with no actual hentai scenes – a choice Silver Cow seems to be quite dedicated to, despite the general trend of inserting 18+ patches into everything that can even remotely justify the full-on adult content. But, enough of history lessons – how’s the story of busty time travellers and sexy side effects of temporal dislocation holding up in the current, competitive market of anime boob slideshows? Surprisingly well, I’d say! Or at least, to a certain point...
     
    Time Tenshi

    Time Tenshi starts with a bang and soon after, follows it up with a few extra ones. The first scene features our male lead, Kenji (the usual faceless, high-schooler protagonist-kun), witnessing his house burning down along with his parents. After being hospitalized for a few months because of the shock, he’s picked up by his only close relative – maternal grandfather, an elusive scientist who was barely present in his family’s life. He invites Kenji to live in his laboratory complex, where he hides… A time machine, obviously! And while this might be quite predictable, there’s another important twist, which will be a leading theme in the Time Tenshi games from this moment forward: time travel has a fairly peculiar side effect when used by women, making their hormones go out of control, their boobs and butts grow enormously (until they return to their time) and turning them… Eager, for a brief time after they come back from the past (that’s the one direction in which the time machine works). And the professor’s assistants happen to be three gorgeous women in overly-revealing uniforms! Who would’ve thought!
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogpost.com
  25. Like
    SeniorBlitz reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Dharker Studio’s yuri games   
    Dharker Studio is one of the better-known development teams on the EVN scene, active since early 2015, but also one that quickly became rather infamous due to their low-quality, fanservice-filled titles. Games such as Sword of Asumi or Divine Slice of Life gathered a lot of attention, as they were released on then still quite barren EVN market and quickly found their way to Steam, but were also quite harshly rejected by reviewers and poorly received by many VN fans. Later down the line, the company focused on purely erotic titles, with much-telling titles such as Army Gals or Battle Girls – admittedly with slightly more artistic(?) success. While most of those games followed a very standard formula, with faceless self-insert protagonists and number of females to “date”, there are also two notable yuri eroge by Dharker: Negligee, released in late 2016 and Galaxy Girls, published a year after that. Today, as the appreciator of yuri that I am, I’ll take a closer look at those two girls’ love-themed games, both of them quite curious examples of commercial success despite many, many problems they suffered from. As a "bonus", I'll include the Negligee's prequel, Love Stories, in the article – the game that earned the unexpected honour of being the first uncensored, fully explicit eroge accepted by Valve for Steam release. While this game's content is mostly straight hentai, it has one notable yuri subplot and features all the girls from Negligee, being worth a closer look from everyone that enjoyed the first title in the series. So, let's get this thing started!
     
    Negligee

    While writing the two dozens of shovelware reviews over the last 6 months I've noticed that ecchi EVNs seem to work better with casual, more or less realistic settings – there are few things more painful than mediocre-at-best writer trying to create a fantasy or sci-fi setting with the use of kitsch, exaggerated characters and all the most overdone cliches, just to give an excuse for persistent close-ups on anime boobs and a few hentai scenes. The game we're talking about now, thankfully, chose a rather simple and straightforward premise and made a pretty decent use of it. As the player, you control the actions of an assistant manager in a lingerie shop (titular Negligee), that is suddenly forced to take over for her boss (who runs away in mysterious circumstances) and find some new employees. Soon, three candidates show up and as they all seem reasonably fit for the job, we have to take our female protagonist (who is, by the way, a quite gorgeously-designed, busty redhead) through a week-long trial with the girls and decide which one of them she should hire. And, as I probably don’t have to explain, the store’s sexy merchandise will find many, many uses throughout the whole experience. And also quite often it will be falling on the floor...
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
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