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Everything posted by alpacaman

  1. Who is your favorite protagonist?

    My personal favourites are probably Tomoya from Clannad, Rintarou from Steins;Gate, Jill from VA-11 HALL-A and Takuji from SubaHibi.
  2. What are you playing?

    So I finished MYTH a few days ago. It's kind of hard to talk about since it's one of those VNs that don't really lend themselves to being discussed in terms of superficial production values or plot consistency, kind of like SubaHibi or The Silver Case. Personally I think I liked it despite still not being able to pinpoint what it actually wants to tell its audience. I'll probably need to read it again at some point to get a better understanding.
  3. What is your least favorite type of route plot?

    I can't stand childhood abuse plots where the abuser gets a redemption arc, usually a parent. They get bonus hate points when it's about a single parent and when the rationalization is something like "they only wanted the best for their children".
  4. Madosoft is one big joke.

    I wish someone wrote this same basic rant about how every single AC/DC song is the same.
  5. Visual Novels are a Hot Medium

    At the same time he says cold media are the ones that are higher in audience participation (at least in every explanation I read, e.g. 1 2 3). Hot media are the ones you can passively consume. Or to quote the man himself: The immersion of actual VN reading vs. watching a playthrough in a youtube video is imo a perfect example of why VNs are a cooler medium than a youtube-video. The video dictates the pace and sequence of consumption for the audience, forcing them into a more passive role and making the experience more streamlined. The interaction with the medium becomes more superficial. From what I get, the terms hot and cold refer more to the effect a medium has on a society, not how immersive they are, which is admittedly pretty counterintuitive. Btw I would categorize VNs as somewhat lukewarm.
  6. Visual Novels are a Hot Medium

    I actually disagree with VNs being a hot medium. As far as I understand the concept of hot vs. cold media, it refers to density of information a medium provides. Thus hotter media require less "abstraction" on the consumer's part to construct meaning, not even in some metaphorical sense but like "what am looking at / hearing". For example a photograph is a hot medium, as it contains a lot of precise visual information, a sketch a cold one, as it's mostly lines and things are not portrayed in photorealistic detail. So compared to a live-action movie or even an anime visual novels are relatively cold. They are usually drawn in a stylized fashion, with the location of a sprite not even being the same as where the character is supposed to be in the room, only depict movement in a simplified way and the background sound tends to not be that authentic either. VNs are hotter than most manga or novels, but other than that I'd say VNs are closer towards the colder end of visual storytelling media. Which isn't a bad thing in itself.
  7. What are you playing?

    Found myself in the mood for something kind of artsy and weird, so I picked up Myth. Right now I'm at the point where they plan for Shimon's birthday party and so far despite its slow start it seems quite promising. I already have some theories about what is going on although I don't really know yet the Norse mythology motif and the game hinting at are supposed to fit in.
  8. I can think of one memorable scene you missed...
  9. Spoilers for Steins;Gate ahead! As far as I'm aware, most deeper discussions of Steins;Gate revolve around one of two of its more obvious central aspects. On one hand its time travel mechanics tend to get picked apart a lot, with arguments about whether they make sense, if Rintarou basically destroying whole timelines renders the plot meaningless, and so on. On the other hand its theme of the dangers of humans playing god gets brought up a lot, pointing to how you cannot create an outcome where everyone is happy. While both of these things are among what makes S;G special, I think they are only part of its larger theme of fate and how we as humans learn to deal with it as we grow up. Did you notice how there is no actual main villain in Steins;Gate? The Committee? The threat it poses always remains somewhat abstract. Mayuri dies regardless of whether they intervene or not. Even once they get a face in the form of Moeka and Mr. Tennouji, they turn out not to be some super-villains but an emotionally vulnerable woman tricked into doing bad things and a single-father trying to make ends meet for his daughter. Thus there is no real sense of victory in beating them, there are just two more people to feel sorry about getting wound up in the larger scheme of things. Also, once Rintarou beats the Committee, they immediately get replaced by a new menace, namely the threat of World War III. Both these threats are, on a metaphorical level, manifestations of the greater hardships life has in store for you. You can never achieve total victory in life, there will always be threats beyond your control, and the only thing you can do is try to find the best trade-off for yourself and everyone else. But more often than not there is going to be someone who gets hurt by these decisions (this point actually gets brought up rather often in discussions about the “Changing your Past” theme, but I think this also plays into my argument, so I thought I'd mention it here). Then what about Doctor Nakabachi? He also is just a clog in the machine. He doesn't have some great agenda or even the ability to foresee the consequences of his actions. He is just some scientist with an ego hurt so deeply he would even murder his own daughter if it meant he could get recognized by his peers. Consequently the final showdown isn't about Rintarou beating him in a fight (which would have been easy, considering Rintarou is probably physically more capable and having the advantage of the element of surprise), but about tricking fate. I'll come back to both Nakabachi and the true ending later. First I want to talk about how the character arcs in S;G tie into its overarching theme of learning to grow up in the face of calamity. All side heroines who send messages to the past have somewhat parallel arcs (except maybe Moeka, who I already talked about). They revolve around them learning to come to terms with some great misfortune, usually after being shown what life would have been like without it ever befalling them. The story even shows how they live happier lives after accepting their fates. Suzuha has to give up on her time with the lab members or the prospect of ever finding her father, but in turn she achieves her goal of securing the IBN 5100 and lives a happy adult life instead of losing her memories and committing suicide once she remembers her failure. Faris losing her father turns her from a princess waiting to be saved by a white knight into a responsible adult who basically rebuilds a whole part of Tokyo the way she wants. Luka learns her happiness is not tied to her physical sex and that her friends are more important than what her genitals look like (yeah, S;G doesn't handle her character all that well). Their setbacks actually make them grow as human beings. One important aspect about this growth is that they don't just keep part of their inner child intact, it also propels said growth. Suzuha sees her younger self in the adolescent Mr. Tennouji when she takes him in. Faris keeps her love for otaku culture and uses it to transform Akihabara. And in Luka's case, her swordfight roleplay with Rintarou gives her the power to carry on. Which brings us to Rintarou's character arc. At the beginning of the story, he is basically still a child refusing to grow up. His childish side manifesting as a chuuni alter ego, the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma, seems fitting, seeing how chuunibyou translates to “eighth-grader-syndrome”. Hououin Kyouma is self-absorbed, stupid, careless, and in his own way pretty naive. In the first half, Rintarou is scared of what it means to be an adult, and whenever he feels insecure because of this, he delegates control to his alter ego. Then, when Mayuri dies, he is forced to acknowledge how useless this approach is once confronted with real calamity, but doesn't know what to do instead, so he tries to just turn things back to the way they were before, turning to Kurisu, the most adult and cool-headed of the characters, for help most of the time. The realization that there is no going back as it would mean letting Kurisu die forces him to finally accept the reality of having to become an adult. He sees it as his responsibility to try to save Kurisu, but fails. He only succeeds once he embraces Hououin Kyouma again. This time though, Hououin Kyouma isn't his shield for whenever he doesn't want to confront his anxieties, but rather the spark of positivity and creativity that helps him overcome the seemingly insurmountable adversity in front of him. I guess the name Houou(Phoenix)-in Kyouma (unspeakable truth) becomes pretty self-explanatory foreshadowing once you look at it this way. From this point of view, it also makes total sense that Rintarou's final showdown is against Doctor Nakabachi, who is also a mad scientist, but whose joy for his fringe science got turned into mediocrity through bitterness and pettiness, and is thus the antithesis to the reborn Hououin Kyouma. Mayuri and Kurisu as characters are also built around the theme of growing up. Mayuri is basically childlike naivete turned to flesh and a symbol for Rintarou's childhood days. Thus his attempt to save her is an attempt to recreate their innocent past. Him distancing himself further from her the longer his journey to save her takes is also a signifier for how this goal is getting further away from him. Her slapping him once he fails to save Kurisu is the culmination of this, showing that there is no going back to the carefree days back at the lab (I still don't like how she gets fridged and turned into a macguffin simultaneously, but whatever). As for Kurisu, her status as a child prodigy caused her to only be around adults from a very young age, forcing her to grow up very quickly and suppress her more childish personality traits. Thus the general carefree atmosphere of the lab draws her in and over the course of the VN she learns to feel more comfortable with her more youthful character traits. The true ending also makes a little more sense from this angle than with the “don't play god” interpretation. The latter telling you there are no objectively perfect choices and playing with fate tends to make things worse rather than better gets rejected by the true ending as Rintarou gets his total victory by finding a loophole in the rules of the universe and basically cheats fate. But if you look at it as a story about embracing your inner child, it makes some sense. “Of course you can't escape fate” and “there are no perfect endings” is the way a grown-up without imagination thinks. But who can prove them wrong if not Hououin Kyouma, the ultimate adolescent?
  10. Can't you pick scenes from the menu?
  11. Non Otaku Interests/Hobbies

    Nah, I mean separately
  12. Non Otaku Interests/Hobbies

    I used to collect music CDs (I own around 300 albums) but kind of stopped after buying new headphones and getting a Tidal subscription including lossless audio files. Other than that I always have some food-related obsessions going on for a while. A few years back, I really was into craft-beer, olive oil, Italian and (authentic) Chinese cooking, at the moment it's cheese and whisk(e)y. I'm also a big football fan, although my favourite club (Schalke 04) is trying its hardest to make my interest fade.
  13. Do you Categorize VN Recommendations?

    They both to some degree share this kind of late 90s Japan postmodernist asthetic and experimentation with storytelling techniques, there even is at least some overlap in themes. So I'm kind of surprised no one ever makes this comparison. But maybe just too few people know both, as they are rather niche even in their respective genres.
  14. Do you Categorize VN Recommendations?

    I don't have an excel-sheet or anything like that where I stricty categorize every VN I read, but I sometimes do think about who I would recommend a title to. I don't really have strict categories, but there are a few titles you could bunch together. For example the "gateway drugs" are VNs that you can get into easily without any prior knowledge, usually with some broader mainstream appeal (in VN terms) and gameplay, like Danganronpa, Ace Attorney or Zero Escape. You could also put "mocking" titles that only require minimal previous knowledge of the genre to enjoy in there too, like Hatoful Boyfriend, DDLC or Lily's Night Off. For someone feeling a little more adventurous I would also add stuff like Ladykiller in a Bind, VA11-HALL-A, Raging Loop, 428 or Steins;Gate, depending on their taste in other media. What all these titles have in common is they are not eroge, aren't heavy on the tropes that make VNs feel toxic to outsiders and are generally rather accessible when it comes to their general mechanics. As for SubaHibi, I'd put it on my acquired taste stack, together with something like The Silver Case (and to a lesser degree Saya no Uta, Kara no Shoujo or Umineko). VNs I wouldn't recommend even to most VN veterans, but might appeal to someone who likes Lars von Trier's movies or Serial Experiments Lain (in the Case of The Silver Case), even if they haven't had any prior exposure to VNs. Other than that I usually go on a case by case basis. To pick one example, I would recommend Chaos;Child to people who already read a few VNs but also like stuff like Man of Steel, because I hate both for very similar reasons, and I assume this also works the other way round.
  15. It's rare that a story straight up tells you what it's about on a thematical level, but especially sci-fi and horror tend to use their source of conflict (technology/monster) at least to some degree as metaphor. Horror only works if it invokes some deeper fear or anxiety in the audience beyond the monster simply looking menacing. For example, Godzilla isn't just some huge dinosaur, in the original movie he is also a stand-in for the potential effects of the aftermath of the nuclear bombings in post-Hiroshima Japan. As its 5000 sequels show, without this context, he is just some man in a dinosaur-suit walking through Tinytown, which isn't exactly scary. As for DDLC (no actual spoilers for Totono btw),
  16. I'm soo surprised Miyuki is comfortably leading the poll considering picking Aoi is basically an admission that
  17. What are you playing?

    Finished Totono last night.
  18. So I just finished Totono and since buying it I can't get the Totoro theme out of my head. As for the game itself, for me i would rate it towards the better end of "meh". There is an amazing attention to detail and there are quite a few clever moments in it, but when it comes to the main narrative and the points it's trying to make it feels rather inconsistent to me. I don't know if I agree with the general sentiment that you need to go into the experience completely blind as the very first scene (not to mention the screenshots on the JAST store page) sets up that Totono is going to be weird or more precisely
  19. 428 is only 10€ right now (instead of 50€) and it's one of the best VNs on Steam. As for your wishlist, each of the VNs (except maybe Maitetsu, which I haven't read) has some aspects you might consider "long-winded". Grisaia has a very long common route (~40 hours) without an actual plot. G-Senjou no Maou has rather mediocre side routes (which you can skip without missing anything though). Baldr Sky is really long and has a section around the halfway point where you have to re-read several hours of content you already know. Muv Luv takes until the third game to actually get good. And Root Double has a habit of overexplaining its plot points and devices.
  20. AlpacaReviews - Part 2

    Hello again and welcome back to the second part of my series of short reviews of EVNs I picked up. Once again I have a mixed bag regarding both content and quality to get through, so let us dive right in. Eliza (Zachtronics) Eliza follows our protagonist Evelyn Ishino-Aubrey and how her life and those of others change due to the eponymous AI counseling program she developed some years prior. This is the most ambitious game I'm going to talk about today, mostly being a meditation on how people search for meaning in their lives in a highly technologized society rather than a plot-driven story, with some interesting choices when it comes to its storytelling and game mechanics. Most of them work really well (like the implementation of choices), while others turn out to be double-edged swords. Especially the lack of a distinct central conflict both underlines the MC's lack of direction nicely and makes the VN quite boring to read at times. When it comes to presentation though, Eliza is probably as good as it gets with EVNs. The art style and soundtrack are quite unique and really aid the overall atmosphere, and the game is completely voiced, with most VAs doing a really good job. Eliza also contains the best and most challenging Solitaire card game I've probably played so far and on which I might have spent more time than reading the actual VN. Eliza is one of those pieces of media where it is hard to figure out whether you will like it before picking it up. If its themes and atmosphere resonate with you, you will probably really like it. I couldn't really get into it, but I can still acknowledge what it tries to do and where it succeeds. It just isn't for me. The Miskatonic (Rapscallion) Speaking of not being for me, The Miskatonic is a comedy VN with a sense of humor I just can't stand, so I dropped it about one hour in. If I had to describe it, I would say it's Big Bang Theory humor (including its reliance on short skits) in a Lovecraft setting with a good measure of sex jokes (get it, it's funny because everyone looks gross). If that sounds like your thing, go ahead and check The Miskatonic out. For me personally though the short time I spent on it felt like a Lovecraftian nightmare in a very different way then the creators presumably intended. Misadventures of Laura Silver: Chapter One (Studio Attic Salt) The Misadventures of Laura Silver series (assuming there is going to be at least a chapter two) takes place in 1920s Czechoslovakia, following a duo of supernatural investigators. Where this game absolutely shines is its cast. Laura Silver might be one of my favorite detective MCs with her arrogant and quick-tempered personality. There are several instances where you get the choice to pull out your gun just because someone made a mean comment. The other characters have their entertaining quirks as well, making for a lot of funny dialogue. This first entry suffers a little from a few issues opening chapters in serialized stories tend to have, namely some technical problems (none of them game-breaking though), some interesting though a little clunkily executed gameplay features, and unsteady pacing. The first roundabout two thirds revolve around a murder mystery, while the last part consists of a lot of exposition. Overall it's a promising opening, but it definitely feels incomplete. I would say it's one of those VNs where you should wait for reviews of the second chapter when it comes out, but then again if nobody buys the first chapter, there might not be a second one. Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze (Tin Man Games) Another series of short murder mysteries, Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze actually includes two cases. There won't be anymore though as the series has been discontinued due to poor sales (there is only two user ratings on vndb and one of them is mine). Only after starting to read did I find out that it was actually based on an Australian TV show (which in turn is an adaption of a series of crime novels) taking place Down Under in the 1920s, and it shows in how little the game bothers with proper character exposition. This isn't too much of a problem since every recurring character has a personality that is pretty easy to grasp. The cases feel like they would fit right into a pre-primetime serial, which might be one of the reasons the game didn't do so well commercially. It could also have to do with the fact that the Miss Fisher series feels like it is geared towards women 50+, a demographic that isn't exactly famous for buying a lot of PC games.
  21. What are you playing?

    I think Raging Loop is totally fine. It has its issues, but for me none of them had to with the things ChaosRaven mentioned as it does a pretty good job explaining the game, usefulness of the roles and character motivations (and how different setups in the roles completely change the character dynamics) imo.
  22. Rainbow Dreams (Western VN Review)

    Oh boy... Now I'm really curious what their other titles are like.
  23. What are you playing?

    I mostly agree with your opinions on the routes, except for Yukine's route which I found rather boring. Tomoyo might be my favorite heroine in Clannad but what the way they handle her route just feels like such a waste to me. The main reason people love Clannad though is probably the true route, although I personally think its individual heroine routes are on the whole stronger than the ones in LB as well. LB has the better common route though.
  24. What are you playing?

    Depending on the type of VN it could have been any other bodily fluid, so I'm glad they clarified.