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Narcosis

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  1. Like
    Narcosis reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Volume 7 [RococoWorks]   
    Foreword: Dropped this game a decade ago, but I played all other RococoWorks visual novels, so I have a history with this brand, and I quite like its works.

    Synopsis:
    A lot of invisible walls suddenly appear all around the world. The same phenomenon happens in Nanahama Town, but another phenomenon takes place as well...
    "Landforms and buildings have gone back to the past." People in Nanahama are confused, but they somehow keep on living there.
    Two years later, Kyouka, a TV reporter, and Tomaru, her friend, are sent to the town to investigate the cause of the phenomenon...
    Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv_Q6BpbqxgMITmOnGkbtjir
    Game type: Atmospheric mystery game
    Character Design rating: 7/10
    Protagonist rating: 7/10
    Story rating: 7/10
    Game quality: 9/10
    Overall rating: 7/10
    I dropped this game once, but I still consider it a masterpiece. Nonsense? Not at all, because True Route elevated the score a lot for me. Basically, it's a nice even game with superb graphics and rather intriguing mystery. However, composition and concept are much more ambiguous. 

    So Volume 7 has introduction called "Outer world", three romance routes with three different couples called "Inner world", and finally "True world" which includes all the couples plus new characters as heroes pursue the mystery of Nanahama. First part mainly draws the world, introduces characters and creates a slow-pace calm atmosphere with nice youth story. Romance routes.... well, I don't care about them at all. Romance itself is quite hasty, and I don't really like to see H scenes of these defenseless heroines. First route is with the same protagonists as introduction route - Tomaru and Kyoka - so it's more or less natural transition to romance, but Ryugo and Kotora route is what made me drop this game. It's painted in so boring traditional Japanese colors that it makes me want to sleep. Third Yashiro and Sakura route is kind of weird because of age difference and overwhelming amount of H scenes. So I don't want to see these two last romance routes at all. "True world" is what all those 20+ introductory hours were for - fast-paced chaotic story from some 10 different viewpoints as we're told the many mysteries of this world

    Shortcomings. Such structure is already flawed as different people like different things in games, and introducing alien elements makes them feel that their beloved element is sacrificed. Some want charage while others require plotge, so it's really easy to flame this game. There is little explanation. Setting is too elaborate for Outer and Inner World parts. These parts also have really slow pace while True World has aggressive development. Characters are too childish. Story is too polite and lacks excitement. There is no catharsis in the ending, so final impression gets dulled. There's a lot to look down to.

    But benefits are very similar. Character are childish, but not naive. They are reasonable, charming and defenseless. Atmosphere is really great and warm, so first half is enjoyable and comfortable no matter the pace. True World actually has a genius concept as it shows many old scenes from different viewpoints or with continuation, or with knowing who person is talking to at this moment. Scenes that looked like fillers suddenly acquire meaning. It's not a game about passion or burning, so why expect a catharsis. You get so many mysteries revealed, so what more do you expect? It's an absolutely lovely game, but one word constantly pops up in my head while I think of Volume 7. Refreshing...

  2. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, The Other 4chan VN   
    Lesser known than its more popular sister, The Dandelion Girl is another VN that at least started its development by anonymous users on 4chan. And like Katawa Shoujo it's quite good, although very different. And in fact, I think it contrasts quite nicely with Katawa Shoujo.
    Katawa Shoujo very intentionally strove to conform to the standard visual novel formula. Hence why it takes place in Japan, in a high school, has branching routes with various heroines, and even included H-scenes. I think the goal of Katawa Shoujo was to make a solid entry in the visual novel landscape within the standards commonly set by the High School romance genre it chose.
    The Dandelion Girl on the other hand is not an original story, being an adaptation of a short-story of the same name by Robert F. Young. To me this was a breath of fresh air, as I always welcome VNs that see themselves more as digital books then as games. The early to mid 2000's doujin scene seemed to embrace this mentality a bit with works like Narcissu and True Remembrance, and accordingly the art style of The Dandelion Girl somewhat reminds me of True Remembrance.
    In fact as a whole the Kinetic Novel genre/medium seems to be a weird bastard child of VNs that probably would see more success with print novel readers rather than with it's current target demographic of VN readers. Which is probably at least among the reasons that The Dandelion Girl seems to be languishing in relative obscurity. But it is a solid adaptation which really places the reader in the world of the original short story.
    Its opening scene where the screen fades into a view of a blue sky with a melancholic piano piece playing in the background creates a strong ambiance which contextualizes the writing quite nicely. Overall the music and visuals do a good job supporting the writing. Never interfering with it by being overly flashy, nor contradicting the mood of the prose. It serves its purpose by distracting your eyes and ears, and allowing your mind to effortlessly focus on the story. And before you know it, you'll be finished with the heart warming tale and left with a cozy feeling inside.
    If Katawa Shoujo is nice meal, than The Dandelion Girl is a nice evening snack to accompany your tea.
  3. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Why I haven't posted recently? (a new addiction)   
    Needless to say, when I hit my latest speed bump in the form of another partial burnout on VNs, I was left wondering what to do with all that free time.  For about forty hours of that time, it was Ghost of Tsushima, but when that was over, I accidentally picked up my first litrpg on Kindle Unlimited... and oh god, I almost wish I hadn't.
    The problem, when I analyze it in retrospect, is that my fondness for anime like SAO, Log Horizon, and Overlord had primed me perfectly, my addictive personality instantly latching onto the familiar elements to draw me in beyond retrieval.  While roughly two-thirds of the books I downloaded weren't worth reading, the ones that were left me unable to stop (The Chaos Seeds, in particular).  
    I'm pretty sure anyone who paid attention during the peak of my VN of the Month years can probably guess that I have a tendency to throw myself into my addictions rather than trying to restrain myself.  In this case, it was made worse by the fact that I'd been 'starved' of anything worth my attention (new) for months on end, so when my first litrpg dug its claws into my stimulus-starved brain, I became incapable of stopping.
    In fact, I haven't really stopped even now, despite 70 different books completed from over a dozen authors in just under forty days.  I even ignored last month's releases, despite Phantom Trigger's latest episode having come out.  I don't even remember the VN I was playing at the time anymore, because I've consumed so much content of late between long bouts of stress working with even more stressed out clients who want even more for less than usual.
    I'm mostly writing this post to laugh at myself, since I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of ceasing to indulge in reading the near-endless list of litrpgs available for free with my KU subscription...
  4. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  5. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Shinimasu TL notes: Enhanced Edition #1   
    I wrote earlier about how I thought when translating a few lines in Shinimasu. This series is going to be in that vein, with an eye to explaining translation decisions and highlighting unusual takes. I’m going to try to make it interesting for people not knowing Japanese, but to save effort I’m not going to be providing literal translation equivalents to lines.
    Why am I doing this? Because my brain is a fuck and producing blog posts is an interesting motivation for doing a second pass on my translation.
    Unfortunately for those expecting worthwhile content I feel like digressing a bit into history and methods for this first post, though. This is what my TL setup has looked like for most of the time I’ve worked on the project: 
    I started out doing 64 lines in December 2017, this got Asonn involved, and he introduced me to Porygon, who set up a git repository* and provided the tool you see. My brain swears I tweeted this pastebin, and I know I at least got some comment, but twitter search can’t find it so who the fuck knows? Anyway, I probably did 129 lines just copying from the game or script (can’t remember), then I copied them to the tool and worked there. One of the joys of working with porygon is that he has highly motivating auto-updating progress pages for you to fap to after pushing your new lines. This probably helped me more than I’d really like to admit.
    Either way, apart from being convenient for reinsertion later**, the tool has rudimentary edict-lookup of the (autoparsed) tl lines, which is convenient if you’re extremely fucking lazy. I’m not going to say I never used it (I am extremely fucking lazy), but going j-j definitely was needed more than once. Other than that I guess it’s ok, though it does have a still-unfixed bug where it’ll fuck up and display too few lines of text in a box due to some miscalculation.
    It’s certainly missing some features my dream tool would have, though. Personally I’d love to be able to see the script commands surrounding a line through some UI element to expand, as this could partially substitute for actually having the VN open for visual/scenographic context. It doesn’t have EPWING lookup, but that’s high effort since the format is bullshit apparently. It also doesn’t let you play voiced lines associated with spoken lines, though Shinimasu is unvoiced so I guess it doesn’t really matter for this project.
    Today I had to contact pory since it had stoped working properly; it turned out my build of the tool was old enough that a bug with java 9 (I had recently updated) was making it unusable. He quickly got a fix for the tool, but it took enough time that I lost the energy for revising my tl. Or that’s my excuse, anyway.
    See you next time for actual tl discussion w
    *What’s a git repository? Well the long answer is long and full of programmer-speak, but basically it lets you keep an online backup of your files, preserving older versions each time you decide to add a newer version to the server. You can do this while multiple people are working on the same file sometimes, though it can get hairy. I ended up not needing this much, but it’s been good insurance against data loss (and I have changed laptops at least once during translation, also had to reinstall windows once…). Really if you don’t have a backup for any translation of length, you’re probably doing it wrong (but also I am a CS student so it’s… not as hard for me w)
    **By virtue of saving the line number in the original script where the Japanese line was and associating that with the eventual translated line. I used a simplified version of this myself based on google sheets columns when I did tech for the ichigo & kyuugo tl.

    View the full article
  6. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, A year or so later: My change in outlook   
    Since ceasing VN of the Month, I've been slowly recovering from my years of over-reading VNs, the vast majority of them ones I normally wouldn't have taken an interest in.  While I still play VNs regularly, I do so at a slower pace, reading more conventional literature and playing normal games as much as I do them.
    I recently began to regain some of my VN stamina (though I will never get back to where I was), and I've found that even the SOL VNs I choose to play are far less stressful than before.  It is nice to reconfirm that I truly love VNs, after so many years playing far too many charage threatened to make me hate them. 
    However, I've also noticed that I am far less tolerant of obvious blunders and poor choices on the part of writers, regardless of genre.  When something touches on my pet peeves, I immediately drop the VN, and I lose all urge to play it, often for months after.  This was the case with Sorceress Alive and it is also the case with Raillore to Ryakudatsusha (dameningen protagonists with no interesting or redeeming traits are one of my pet peeves). 
    On the other hand, my stamina for 'sweetness' and 'ichaicha' in a VN has recovered somewhat, and I can play a route in a charage with no troubles... However, I no longer desire to play any routes other than that of my favorite heroine.  I used to mechanically run through all the heroines in a VN without hesitation or slowing down, but now I only go for the one or two heroines that interest me, ignoring the others entirely.
    This change in my own behavior leaves me somewhat bemused, though I can see where it comes from rationally.  I simply got tired of plowing through huge numbers of boring heroines that almost buried the good ones, lol.
  7. Like
    Narcosis reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Abandoner - The Severed Dreams [Unknown]   
    Foreword: Abandoner is the second winner of poll for the extra review in 2004. There are actually two reviews already (1 2), but it does not hurt to give it a fresh look. Clephas recommends not to read this visual novel unless we are really hard masochists, but every visual novel reader is at least a bit of masochist for reading such long stories while normal people can't endure even director's cut movie versions. As for me, such question does not even stand - it's enough to look at the number of visual novels I played without really enjoying them. So let's start.
    VNDB: https://vndb.org/v1182
    Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eGicIWOOlw&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv_qT6p_Y5f1XbwJYUu2TCCe

    Synopsis: A cross between fantasy, science fantasy, and mystery. The protagonist is a former detective who is living in virtual exile in a walled-off city occupied by foreign military forces. It is a lawless city, where just about anything can happen...
    Game type: Superhuman experiments story
    Character Design rating: 6/10
    Protagonist rating: 7/10
    Story rating: 6/10
    Game quality: 7/10
    Overall rating: 6/10

    First of all, let's observe the plot since it's so vaguely drawn in both reviews. The stage is an imaginary city that resembles Italian city of the first third of the 20th century. It's under occupation of Tristian forces for the last 30 years. Main character Neil Fox is a former detective who now works independently and takes bounty hunter jobs. This time he is promised an outstandingly generous payment for rescuing some girl from a kidnapper and protecting her. But kidnapper turns out to be girl's guardian. The place gets ambushed by the military police. What makes this girl so important? That's what'd described in the first 30 minutes of the game. We successfully rescue that Helena girl and conceal her in the hideout. The girl is as if from another world since she has a poor grip on the reality.

    But then the problems start. Or, rather, nothing starts. Instead of returning girl to the request giver, Niel tries to find Helena's father and find out more about her past in the mysterious laboratory. In the meantime he just hangs around mafia bar and participates in some of their activities that COINCIDENTALLY bring him closer to Helena and Abandoner mystery. Even when Helena disappears at some time of the story, nothing really changes. He just continues to do jobs for the mafia. If even feels like he totally forgets about Helena in the second (longest) chapter. Game has neither an aim nor the conflict. Just for that reason I can't consider Abandoner a masterpiece. 

    There is also a problem of main character Neil Fox. He takes a job to rescue the hostage and protect her, but he has absolutely no weapons. He carries some rusty gun just as a means of threat, but that's it. He is unable to win any fight. All he does is run away and hide. And thus he can't really influence the outcome of events which - only by some incredible luck - develop in his favor. That's realistic, but kind of boring for the main character.

    I rated heroines even lower than protagonist, because they aren't loveable. Helena is our out of this world girl who whispers trivial things all the time. There's little of interest in her. Next is mafia daughter Hilda Lutz. To tell the truth, I can't take girls seriously if their single boob is bigger than their head. She's very knowledgeable, but that's it. She hardly plays any important role in the story. The last heroine is military police sergeant Cecilia. Well, she's the most irritating character in this whole game. She's stubborn and pushy as she considers herself to be the only representative of power in this city. She's that character who does not listen to anyone and just tries to force her opinion everywhere. So I see it why Clephas blames this game of characters not listening to each other, but I don't see any other characters with this trait. Cecilia position and personality is to blame, but not everyone else. The mafia guys are all simpletons and can't be judged harshly. The first time we meet them, one 50-year looking guys cries because he's afraid of BOOKSHELVES. Yeah, stupid, but just treat them as comical characters. The poor Tony eventually just goes into reckless rage crying out "I'm Antonio Beltamo!" over and over. Well, I just did not pay much attention to mafia guys who are evidently just cannon fodder.

    I kind of lowered BGM level too much in the video so that music can hardly be heard, but BGM is actually rarely plays in this game. It's the sound of constant rain that plays most of the time instead. Music is nice, but its sudden cut offs irritate.

    What I especially want to point out is that there are NO fantasy elements in the game. All the alterations presented can be addressed to the results of human experiments. Just science is very advanced for the corresponding time period taken. There's no fantasy scenes, no magic, no resurrections - nothing. It's an atmospheric hard boiled realistic story that should not be really compromised with fantasy elements.

    In conclusion, this is a good story for the story's sake. But in order to like it you need to put up with senile mafia characters, not exactly lovable heroines and passive sneaky MC. This game is not about characters, thus each heroine has just one H event that happens kind of spontaneously at any point of the story when it's convenient - not necessarily in the end. Girls don't really have after-stories and actual roues, because it's not a charage. It's a single road story. If you're interested in the Abandoner mystery and can tolerate the cast, then you can enjoy the story even without being a really hard masochist.

  8. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Dead Days   
    On request and because I am a Kurashiki fan, I decided to play this, despite worries about the concept and the characters... and I came out finding my worries perfectly justified.
    First, the protagonist Teru... in a standard chuunige, he would be the jackass that gets killed after begging for his life in the opening act after doing something totally scumbag-like.  Worse, rather than being merely a cold-blooded manipulator (which is how the Getchu page presented him), he is actually an irritable kid who thinks he is a lot smarter than he is. 
    Second, the heroines... first, the punk-like Aira who overdoes her makeup and generally speaks like an airhead but has definite anger issues.  Second is Asami, another man's wife who is generally weak-spirited and only clings to her second life out of a desire not to lose what she has left (her husband and child).  Third is Mao, the protagonist's osananajimi who has a strong sense of justice, is pretty naive in general, and tends to get on the protagonist's nerves constantly (this gets worse after he dies and gets resurrected).  Mao is the true heroine of the game... and also the single most annoying character in the game, even setting aside the protagonist's issues with her.  To be blunt, she is yet another Victim A heroine presented as the true heroine of a serious game with violence...
    Third, the writing... I wanted to cry at how low-quality the writing in this game is compared to Kurashiki's previous two Clock-up games.  Both Okami and Maggot showed off his skills in full, and as a result, they have a cult fanbase even amongst those who don't like the sexual themes involved in the latter or the social ones in the former.  The basic narrative quality is scaled down to the level of the protagonist, which is hugely disappointing. 
    Last, though this is more of a universal complaint for all Clock-up games... too much meaningless h-scenes.  I hate Clock-up's visual style for H-scenes (there aren't any torture rape scenes in this one, outside of the bad endings which I didn't watch), and the presence of loli content made me vomit... twice.  Seriously, was that really necessary? 
    The good points of this VN lie solely in the individual heroine paths, because the common route is just poorly handled and paced.  The heroine paths, on the other hand, are slightly stronger, though only Mao's has a decent epilogue (even by VN standards). 
    Overall, this game felt like a really inept attempt at psychological horror.  Considering how good a job Kurashiki has done previously at this kind of thing, it startled me how huge the gap in quality was between this and his previous works... both for Light and Clock-up.  Even Sora no Baroque was better, and that is saying a lot.
  9. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Stubbornness and Burnout   
    For those familiar with me, you know I spent year after year doing VN of the Month and that I ritualistically complained about how tired I was of this or that trope or bad habit that plagued the industry or games.  I was asked repeatedly why I could still plow through so many VNs, despite the stress?  The simple answer is that I have always been stubborn as hell.  I've experienced 'burnout' numerous times in my life, mostly because I have a naturally obsessive personality.  Once I start obsessing over something, I literally am incapable of ceasing to do so without something jarring me completely away from it for a time, which usually results in me realizing I burned out long ago and have just been hanging out of stubbornness. 
    The same was the case for VNs.  When I first started playing VNs, all VNs were worth at least trying.  However, as time went on, I increasingly lost interest in most nukige and eventually my interest in 'everyday teenaged life SOL romance' (or 'the standard charage') began to fade.  It was probably about 2016 when this reached the critical point, but it took another year and a two-week bout of flu where I couldn't think well enough to play anything to bump me out of my years-long trance. 
    Part of it was that I rarely, if ever, took a break from VNs during those years.  I was always playing at least one, and I had a tendency to barrel through them consecutively without even a short pause to rest, week after week, month after month.  I used  most of my free time to play them, I structured my work schedule and habits around playing them, and I generally existed solely to do so.
    I dunno how many of you can even imagine what living like that is like... but it was the fact that I am no longer driven to play game after game that is letting me sit back and enjoy the few I actually want to play.  I go back and pull stuff out of my attic on a whim, I dig through my collection based on a desire to relive a single scene, and I generally just take pleasure in playing what I want to play.
    Would it be strange for you to hear that this all feels unnatural to me, after all these years?  I've been playing third-rate charage I didn't want to even see, much less play, for years... and now I only play stuff that takes my interest, dropping them if I don't see any hope for the game to break out of the shell of mediocrity.  I don't feel driven to blog about replays beyond when I feel like it or when I think I have something to add to a previous assessment, and I can actually sit back and enjoy the few charage I actually feel like I want to play.
    While I do have regrets, they aren't about the years spent obsessing and over-playing VNs, despite my previous words.  I set out to do VN of the Month because, at the time, there was no way for people to have an idea of what they were getting into with most VNs.  It was a bit startling how few people were seriously trying to let people know what kind of VNs were out there without spoiling everything from beginning to end.  Even today, most reviewers can't seem to keep heavy spoilers out of the text, which saddens me.  However, I no longer feel that it is my mission to 'fix' this.  I've been there, I've done that, and I won't be doing it again.
    I will still play VNs, and I will still review them (on occasion), but don't expect me to be as prolific as I used to be, lol.
  10. Like
    Narcosis reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Rocket no Natsu ロケットの夏 [TerraLunar]   
    Foreword: Absolutely unknown game in the West that has overwhelmingly positive evaluation in Japan. Which side would I take?
    Title: Rocket no Natsu
    Developer: TerraLunar
    Date: 2002-10-11
    VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v4190
    Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_HLI2A5oFE&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv_3lP089VAcjTRvabUf9dJf

    Synopsis: There used to be a season called "Rocket summer"...
    The Earth has become a member of the Galactic Federation and has accepted multiple emissaries from aliens.  Silver rockets are launched from the Earth on daily basis, but one day all inter-galaxy contacts cease and space port doors get shut.
    Main character has dreamt of space travel since childhood. One day he decides to help girl Chise to participate in self-made rocket competition "50 Miles Over". Together with princess from the other star they form a rocket club. Will their dreams come true?
    Structure: Roughly a month from 05.07 till 06.11
    Length: 7 hours for initial route, some 3 hours for each of remaining 4 routes. Plus 3 hours for omake.
    Game type: Space dream youth comedy with aliens
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Character Design rating: 8/10
    Protagonist rating: 7/10
    Story rating: 8/10
    Game quality: 7/10
    Overall rating: 7 or 8/10
    Rating comments: It's 7 if you have sound stuttering like me and are't crazy about the genre like me. It's 8 for everyone else.

    Protagonist: Takashi is pretty cool. He's so knowledgeable of rockets and so patient and attentive that I'd happily have same intelligent protagonist everywhere. 
    Characters: There are five heroines which are very different. Chika route is forced as first - and she's the only normal human among all the heroines. She has the only normal route about passion for rocket building and normal romance. But after that surprises begin. There are two routes for each of aliens - Selen-chan and her guard Berthia. Characters are pretty crazy and so are their routes, but it was really sad for me to see ignorant and vain Selen-chan to have teary face in the end. Tsundere should never cry! Haruhi-sensei is... android teacher. And Akira is our normal childhood friend with a huge secret about her - the most shocking route for sure.

    Story: Main route only covers characters getting together around Chika desire to build a rocket and being joined by aliens. Then each route has its turns.
    CG: No complaints at all.

    Sound: Everyone is voiced, including protagonist. That's absolutely superb. But sound stuttering that I got at Win10 really started to kill the fun around the third route I played. Freezes also got more and more frequent, so I did not record past 3rd route.
    Thoughts:  It's the third rocket club theme visual novel that I play, and it's actually the best one of the three. The reason is the variety of routes and only interesting scenes. There's tension that leaves your interested from beginning to the end. Full voicing, bright atmosphere and colorful characters add up to the feeling. Omake about space adventures fits greatly to the picture as well.

    Overall comments: Game is a masterpiece, no doubt. It's not a breakthrough game to become a pillar of new visual novel world. No, it's just a cosy cool place to visit and have a rest. I guess it's the real reason why it went unnoticed in the West - we need a breakthrough. The Japanese can be jerks about plotge, but they can rarely be wrong about a good calming charage.

  11. Like
    Narcosis reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, D.U.O. ~song for all~ [Panda House]   
    Foreword: A bad-ass cover and cyberpunk setting is all that it took to interest me.
    Title: D.U.O. ~Song for All~
    Developer: Panda House
    Date: 2002-04-26
    VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v2235
    Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttjs7mdDS3Q&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv_0xb07WK6DgqoNosWs_kET

    Synopsis: It happened on December 25, 2001, right after the new century began.
    It was the biggest and worst disaster in human history, "Apoptosis Crisis."
    A virus called "apoptosis" begins to destroy human cells. 80% of the Earth's population is killed and the people who survive try their best to revive civilization.
    A century has passed, and it is now the year 2099 in Tokyo. Something is happening in this big city, where many kinds of ethnic groups reside. The network junkies, called "jugglers," suddenly die an unnatural death. The cause of death is still unclear. However, it is apparent they were all on computer networks when they died.
    Takuya Takahashi, who is a professional investigator, a "Runner," is asked to investigate the case, and he starts investigating this dangerous disease, without even knowing much about it?

    Structure: 12+1 chapters.
    Length: 7 hours for one route, but second route is almost the same.
    Game type: Cyberpunk detective mystery
    Difficulty: Easy, we move on if exhaust all options
    Character Design rating: 9/10
    Protagonist rating: 10/10
    Story rating: 9/10
    Game quality: 10/10
    Overall rating: 9/10
    Rating comments: The only question for me is whether it's 9 or 10. I totally like the game, but story overall and the heroines in particular appear to me with flaws.

    Protagonist: Takuya is great. He has face and hard-boiled personality. At the same time, not everything is clear about his personality that happens to content quite the depth.
    Characters: Hitomi and Itsumi are main heroines of the game. These is also mysterious girl Sophia that exists for plot purposes. Can't say anything bad about Hitomi or Itsumi, it's just sad that the difference in their "routes" is just choice of who to H, not much character development.

    Story: Synopsis actually covers all I could tell. I can only hint that story tackles genetic and cyberspace a lot. I'd really like it to be more focused on actual  virus and deaths, but most of the time we just hang around with girls stumbling upon important events at times, so resolution feels forced.
    CG: Loving CG here. Lots of motion in the interface. I especially appreciate those several animated moments used for underlining charm of the heroines, and NOT in H events.

    Sound: Game is called "song for all" not for nothing. There are a lot of vocal parts in here. Very enjoyable. Everyone but protagonist is voiced, and that includes all the male characters.
    Thoughts:  The title "D.U.O. ~song for all~" contains two spoilers itself, but luckily you only get to know why late in the game, so there is that "a-ha" moment. No idea what "D.U.O" stands for, but the word "duo" already gives an important hint. I really appreciate when title gets to say so many things about the game.

    Overall comments: Absolutely magical game. Great direction and use of interface make an impression of a futuristic world, can't really believe game dates back to 2002. I was treating Cat's Pro quite favorably, and it's joyous for me to see Heart Heat Girls concept being reborn in such way by the successor Panda House. Game's very nice while it lasts, but it's quite gentle-minded and lacks impact, so it gets average or poor scores by the Japanese. I absolutely can't understand how the Japanese manage to bury the best representatives of the genre with their own hands.

  12. Like
    Narcosis got a reaction from nekofuwafuwa for a blog entry, Nekomiko in a nutshell   
    [inaudible meowing]
     
     
     
     
     
     
    jk
    Expect a new review soon™.
  13. Like
    Narcosis reacted to solidbatman for a blog entry, Little Busters: The Apology   
    Hello. I am the guy who wrote that review of Little Busters that everyone hated because I did not like the game. Those poor people are doing just fine, however, even with my evil, vile, disgusting review out there still. I, on the other hand, have never been worse off. You see, I've been overwhelmed with guilt. I feel bad for what I did. I took a beloved visual novel, one that has changed the lives of many people, and slandered it with my negative review. Then I continued to ride that infamy I gained into relevancy allowing my hatred of Little Busters! to manifest itself as a false representation of my true opinion of it, much like I am doing right this moment. 
    The truth about my time with Little Busters! is that I enjoyed the VN. It had some bad routes (like all of them) and had a really unremarkable ending. But can I say I did not enjoy my time reading it? Not really. The 24 hour stream was a blast, and subsequent streams were a lot of fun, especially when people were involved in the jokes and discussion of the routes as I read them. For example, Lewycool's Sexy Seagull Legs during Mio's route was light in an otherwise forgettable, boring route (protip: a character with no personality other than "I like books" is not a recipe for a fun route) and allowed me to actually have fun with the route. Likewise, discussions of Kurugaya's Balloon Tits carrying me off into the sky made her Bill Murray wannabe route more enjoyable. Refrain was a blast to read right up until the ending. I didn't hate Rin and simply wished we saw far more development from her than what we got. She was a fun character. 
     
    The experience of reading Little Busters! was good. I had a good time. While my opinions on Little Busters! remain the same, that it is a bad VN (not horrid at least), I do not regret the time I spent on it and I sometimes wish I could read it over again on stream with everyone like I did before. 
     
    So, I owe everyone an apology. I'm sorry your favorite VN is so shit I had to bring in friends to enjoy it instead. I can't wait to get my hands on the official Rewrite release in 600 years. 

    Also, a review of an InvertMouse VN is coming very soon to this blog near you, assuming I'm not blocked first. 
  14. Like
    Narcosis got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Nekomiko in a nutshell   
    [inaudible meowing]
     
     
     
     
     
     
    jk
    Expect a new review soon™.
  15. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Some thoughts: A few Months later   
    It has been almost six months since I ceased VN of the Month.  I can say now that while I do, surprisingly, miss some aspects of that particular column, the freedom giving it up has granted me is far greater compensation. 
    When I was doing VN of the Month, I was literally the only person commenting on most of the non-nukige VNs in a given month.  I was driven by a sense of obligation to those who read my blog to continue regardless of what it was doing to me and my life, and I can say now that that wasn't a healthy situation for me. 
    I am still a VN addict.  I probably always will be, just as I am a heavy reader in general and a lover of role-playing games.  However, I still think the role I put it on myself to play was a necessary one.
    How many people who play untranslated VNs give honest opinions devoid of spoilers?  For that matter, how many of them are honest about their biases when they feel they can't give a particular VN a fair chance? 
    I made myself abide by a pretty strict set of rules when I was doing VN of the Month.
     One was that I would primarily evaluate VNs based on story, character development, and setting, while only mentioning visual and audio elements when they were obviously exceptional.  My reason for this is that I lack the background to properly evaluate the technical aspects of audio-visual materials, whereas I have extensive experience with all sorts of reading material in general and fiction in particular. 
    Another was that I would, on a regular basis, restate my particular biases, reminding people of the limitations of my objectivity.  This was because I was writing on all VNs I played for the first time, and it would have been unfair for me to fail to state my biases beforehand when playing something that was outside my tastes or something that hit them spot on.
    The third was a resolve to avoid excessive spoilers.  My standard was the Getchu page.  If information was released on the Getchu page or the official site, I didn't consider it to be a spoiler, but I was to avoid spoiling things beyond that, except when absolutely necessary.
    The fourth and final rule was to strive for objectivity inasmuch as possible and be honest with myself and my readers when it wasn't possible. 
    These rules were my guide posts for the years I did VN of the Month, and they served me well, generally... but I reached my limit.  To be blunt, VN of the Month was only made possible because of my high reading speed and my willingness to structure my life solely around playing VNs and making money to buy more.  Naturally, this way of doing things was doomed to failure eventually, but I got so caught up in actually doing it that I didn't notice it really at the time.
    Now, I play only what I want to play, and that makes me a much happier person, despite a few wistful moments where I wonder if I couldn't have done it a little while longer.
  16. Like
    Narcosis 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. 
  17. Like
    Narcosis 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.
  18. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, OELVN Developer Spotlight: ebi-hime (Interview)   
    For the last month, we were going through the impressive catalogue of free VNs by ebi-hime, one of the most celebrated creators within the Western VN scene. As a conclusion to this series, it’s my great pleasure to bring you a short interview with none other than ebi herself. During our conversation, I’ve focused on the dominating themes in ebi’s works and topics directly connected to the freeware titles I was reviewing lately – if you want a more general overview of her inspirations and questions connected to her other work, consider reading the interviews done in the past by The Yuri Nation and Sekai Project. Also, if you’re not familiar with ebi’s free VNs, check out my previous posts about them (Part 1; Part 2) – they should give you the context necessary to understand what we’re talking about in the more context-specific questions. So, here it comes – hope you’ll all enjoy it!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Plk_Lesiak: Thank you for accepting my invitation! I don't think there are many Western VN fans who wouldn't be familiar with your work, but can you share something about the person behind the ebi-hime label?
    ebi-hime: I’m ebi and I like cute things, maids, and magical girl anime... And that’s about it! Honestly, I’m not very interesting.
    PL: As you talked about your inspirations and interests in other interviews, I would like to focus on the dominant themes in your games. You're one of the few EVN authors that frequently set their stories in the West. Do you have a favourite setting to write about?
    ebi: I think England is probably my favourite setting to write about, because it’s the country I live in and I’m reasonably familiar with it (though I don’t know everything about England, of course). It’s easier to place my characters in a setting I know relatively well, as I don’t have to do as much research, and the end result feels more ‘authentic’.
    I also like setting stories in Japan because I got into VNs through reading a lot of Japanese VNs which were (what a surprise!) set in Japan. I also watch a lot of anime, and I went through a period where I exclusively read Japanese crime fiction, so I’m fond of Japanese settings! If I don’t feel like setting my stories in England or Japan, I’ll usually pick a European country I’m somewhat familiar with, like France or Italy.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  19. Like
    Narcosis 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.
     
  20. Like
    Narcosis 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
  21. Like
    Narcosis reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Carbon Knight [Palette]   
    Foreword: I did not have much hopes about the game, but its introduction came upon me as a whirlwind. Mechanical dolls? Knights without soul? Three armored musketeers? Great demon king in person? A parade of deaths? Those were only a few things encountered in first 10 minutes of the game. Game has a very strong start and a strong ending with some nice battles and character development in-between. What's not to like here?
    Title: Carbon Knight
    Developer: Palette
    Date: 1998-09-25
    VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v10914
    Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq_kUzzqmi57545i6p5b_Dwl

    Synopsis: A world devastated by the battle of gods. The surviving people created inanimate "carbon humans" by using the relics of Gods and sealing the soul within. For several hundred years the war lasted. Now carbon knight needs to deter the restoration of the once sealed demon king.
    Structure: 13 short days.
    Length: 4 hours for one playthrough
    Game type: Eschatological fantasy.
    Difficulty: At least moderate, since there are a lot of choices and I only got lonely ending while there are happy endings with a girl as well.
    Character Design rating: 8/10
    Protagonist rating: 5/10
    Story rating: 9/10
    Game quality: 7/10
    Overall rating: 8/10

    Rating comments: Overall score might be even 9 if I got some substantial epilogue that should exist in some girl ending. The lonely ending I got was too abrupt, but actually cool in itself. Characters are funny and cute enough. They look simple at the first glance, but each of main heroines carries a huge secret behind her back, so I like how their personalities played out. Protagonist is very straightforward, but he's probably needed like that for story's sake. Game quality suffers from big loading times between the scenes. Autoskip function is implemented very poorly. Backgrounds are mostly implemented in 3D, but that's rather a feature than a shortcoming here since those look immersive. But as for the story, it seems ordinary fight the demon king tale, but bears much more in it as it goes, so I rate story very high.

    Protagonist: Isaak is shown almost always irritated and/or shouting. He is too straightforward and short-tempered. He's not the most pleasant MC to deal with, but he's not voiced, so he can grimace as much as he wants in silence. 

    Characters: There seem to be two main heroines - long red-hair Sheckly and short violet-hair Fortita. Sheckly is our usual child friend, tender and caring. Fortita is much more mysterious since she's very short and never aging. She's actually a carbon knight, soulless relic created to fight demonic invaders. She serves to Isaak and his father. There is also father Balzak's fighting buddy girl Gina who gets a H scene if willing. Possibly she can also get her ending, but according to very few and very poor CG gallery that exists for the game good ending confirmed only for Sheckly, just don't cite me on it. There are lots of very colorful side-characters as well. Everyone but MC is voiced, so it's never really boring.

    Story: So the game starts in a whirlwind of events. Demon king and his army demolish the city and kill the populace. The three armored musketeers are the only ones who try to oppose the demons. Sheckly, Isaak and Fortita try to escape a group of mechanical dolls. Next we're shown the dialogue between the demon king and the three musketeers and how a mechanical doll comes out with three corpses of Sheckly, Isaak and Fortita pierced. Isaak's father who is one of the musketeers goes berserk and demolishes the demon king... Then Isaak wakes up and those events seem to be a dream on the demon king invasion three years ago. Isaak is dreaming of becoming carbon knight master and goes on a journey with Sheckly and Fortita. There they confront demonic underlings who predict the resurrection of the demon king once all his body parts scattered around the world are collected again. These events take roughly first 15-20 minutes of the game, so I would not consider them a spoiler. As you can imagine, all the demon parts are destined to be collected for a grand confrontation again. But what I especially liked was that the battles of carbon knights and demons started out quite plain, but kept on with more and more increasing numbers of fatalities on both sides nearly wiping all the characters in the game. That was absolutely terrific and unprecedented since the time I saw GANTZ. Just so you know, there's much more to the story than just a series of battles. Every hero has a huge secret and uncovering those secrets make the game really exciting. Ending is surprising as well.

    System: So I decided to devise an optional system section since there are issues that don't fall into other sections well. So here I wanted to rant why I only got lonely ending and not going to pursue true ending with a girl. First of all, I value initial game experience very much - and each consecutive playthrough is a torture for me, especially without a guide. Secondly, I know that I like lonely ending the best since it's so cool, a real mortal combat. Lastly, game has very poor skipping feature that has to be turned on in the menu and you can't really stop it till there's a new choice or till a new scene starts. And each scene loads for some 10-20 seconds. It's really not fun doing it again. There are actually two more issues - big number of selections and very poor save implementation. Each time you load, you're thrown away very far back, so it's hugely inconvenient. 

    CG: Absolutely terrific CG. Just loving it with all my heart. So much detail. Sometimes the blend of 2D and 3D looks weird, but mostly it's in harmony. But the best part in the art is dresses of girls. These dresses show so much skin that they look like the prototypes for all the modern Korean mmorpgs. Truly hilarious and breathtaking.
    Sound: BGM is decent, but not too memorable.

    Title and Themes:  Game does not tell us much about carbon knights from the start apart of the fact that Fortita is one. But carbon knight theme gets a huge development in the last third of the game and finishes with the absolute domination of this theme, so it's a good choice.
    Overall comments: So Carbon Knight has its flaws lying mostly in technical part, but they don't belittle its advantages. I consider it to be the first traditional fantasy chuunige and a huge masterpiece of the time.

  22. Like
    Narcosis reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Strategy H-RPG Venus Blood Frontier Kickstarter: Why you should care   
    Support gameplay eroge, Ninetail and me by backing this on Kickstarter

    With your support, Venus Blood Frontier could drive a desperately-needed renaissance for English gameplay eroge.
    Strategy H-RPG Venus Blood Frontier Kickstarter: Why you should care

  23. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Mirai Radio no Jinkou-Bato   
    First, apologies to those who actually want to read about some of August's releases.  I went on vacation (vacation being a word open to interpretation when it comes to sleeping in unfamiliar beds and helping with my brother's kids), and when I got back, I found I had absolutely no urge whatsoever to pick up a VN.  I guess that taking a true break from VNs for the first time in almost a decade (no VNs for five days straight) was enough to free me from the spell of my obsession.
    That said, Jinkou Bato was pretty amusing, so I had every intention of getting back to it, eventually.
    This game is based fifty years in the future, fifteen years after a disaster caused by technology (deliberately) gone wrong wiped out the global internet and reduced people to using wires and letters to communicate.  This disaster was caused by artificial lifeforms based on the pigeon that originally served as self-replicating flying antennas.  The maker of these 'artificial pigeons' made them begin to 'eat' radio and electromagnetic waves, literally stopping all signals not passed through a wire.  This resulted in innumerable deaths, and it was such a huge economic and technological blow that the characters of the story are quite aware of how they live in a much-reduced world.
    Sora, the protagonist, is an orphan who hates the artificial pigeons more than anyone, as he lost his parents the day of the disaster.  Living with this adopted family, he succeeds in building a set of radios that can communicate with one another without being stopped by the pigeons, and from there the story begins.
    Mmm... I'm going to be straight about my feelings on this game.  First, I like the character dynamics.  There is a lot to laugh about early on, and the intensity of Sora and friends when they make a certain discovery is pleasing to me, as I'm a bit tired of characters living without a sense of purpose in my VNs, lol.  That Sora and the others are college students at a vocational university rather than high schoolers is nice as well... and an adult heroine who is bisexual is also nice, hahaha.
    That said, both Mizuki's and Akina's paths are weaker than the Tsubaki and Kaguya paths due to the fact that only Tsubaki's and Kaguya's paths actually confront the central issues head on.  Mizuki's and Akina's paths both stink of escapism, and while that is fine on its own... it left me feeling a sense of distaste for the characters involved (yes, I want my characters to be better or stronger people than me). 
    Tsubaki and Kaguya's paths are the true path.  No, I'm not saying that they are separately the true path... rather, together they form a single path, in a really weird (if familiar from other otaku media) way.  The path is... extremely emotional, and I honestly felt that Sora, from beginning to end, fulfilled his potential as a character... something that is pretty unusual for VN protagonists in general. 
    Lets be clear, this isn't a kamige or even VN of the Year material.  This is a nakige with a great main path and two so-so side paths.  I say 'great', but the game's pace is really fast after the initial, lighter stages of the story.  That said, there is no sense of choppiness to the pacing, and it feels like the events actually occur in the time you see them happen in the game (less than two months), as there are no excess SOL scenes whatsoever.
    If you want a relatively quick nakige with some amusement early on, this is a good choice.  I honestly can't recommend it for someone who wants a grand and sweeping opera, though.
  24. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Cooking with Zaka: Lazy-ass pork wine stew   
    Are you the kind of guy that loves stews but hates having to prep all the shit going into them? If so you’re uncomfortably close to being me holy shit stop. Anyway if you try to google up recipes for a pork stew using wine you inevitably get something that could be much simpler. Here’s my attempt at such a thing; I’ve cooked this twice and IMO it’s excellent.
    INGREDIENTS (serves 2 if you’re me and my dad)
    ~500g pork meat cut into medium pieces 1 bouillon cube ~200ml red wine ~100ml water 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped chili flakes to taste LITERALLY THREE PLUS ONE FUCKING STEPS BECAUSE I PUT THE PREPARATION STEPS IN THE INGREDIENTS PART
    1. Brown the meat in your fat of choice on high heat in a saute pan. Salt and pepper those shits for good measure, though honestly idk if it matters so I cba to put them in the list.
    2. Turn down to low heat and add wine, water, onion, garlic, chili flakes, and crumble in the bouillon cube. I usually mix it all together but who knows if this is even needed? Not le watakushi.
    3. Let stew w/ lid on for as long as it takes for the meat to be nice and tender.
    4. Serve with magically appearing rice I didn’t tell you about.
    QUESTIONS
    How do I know how long the meat will take to cook?
    Since this is a general recipe I can’t tell you, but pork chops took ~1h 15m and store-tenderized pork chop meat took like an hour. Tougher cuts made for stewing might take as much as 2 hours 45 minutes or more. I also recommend the “google it” and “ask your mum” options if available. On your first time using a new kind of meat, I recommend sampling the meat at likely points. This will fuck with your rice timing which sucks, but so does life so nothing new there really.
    How do I make this efficiently timewise?
    The main timewaster is the slow boiling process, so the goal should be to get that started as soon as possible.
    Start by cutting the meat into pieces unless it is already. After that use any downtime, for example when the fat’s warming in the pan or when you’ve just put the meat in and are letting it rest for some surface, to chop the onion / garlic. It’s not particularly important to add the garlic or onion or really anything to the stew at the same time as you add the wine, just get them in once you finish processing them.
    Ok but I have beef not pork
    Then do the exact same things and it will probably still work lol.
    Ok but I have chicken not pork
    Then make this high effort recipe instead. Or just try anyway. Cooking time will be much shorter though.
    Ok but I have <other kind of meat>
    We live in a society, dear reader. I’m sure you can figure it out.
    That’s still too many ingredients
    Fair enough. I don’t think the garlic is essential and chopping it is annoying so take it out if you wish. The chili flakes are also a bit of a flourish and you might not even like them so omit them if you want.
    I would not omit the onion but if you’re a hater it probably won’t kill the dish entirely to take that out too, I’m never actually going to try that myself though so good luck.
    Ok but I don’t have a bouillon cube
    I will assume you have liquid broth then, use that. Otherwise supply your goddamn kitchen. Since broth will increase the total amount of liquid you probably want to cut down on or use no water at all. I have not tried this at home but like it’s a stew it’ll work out.
    Actually I think a few more ingredients would be ok
    I would suggest looking up more traditional recipes at this point but here are some things I have not tried: mushrooms seem like they’d fit in well. Carrots are also often mentioned though idk if I like the idea as much. I can also see bell pepper but I have a bell pepper fetish. As for spices you could try grated fresh ginger (obviously ditch some or all of the chili then I’m not responsible if you kill yourself with this) or maybe szechuan pepper.
    Where’s the obligatory shitty picture?


    View the full article
  25. Like
    Narcosis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Ebi-Hime's free VNs - part 1 (Western VN mini-reviews)   
    While this situation is changing significantly nowadays, as the Western visual novel market is professionalizing both when it goes to development and publishing, in the past EVN scene was primarily a world of extremely short, freeware titles, created by countless enthusiasts as minor passion projects or game jam entries. While these games, often very simple and minimalistic, rarely deliver sufficient material for full reviews, many of them are still worthwhile and artistically pleasing titles that I would like to cover more consistently. For this reason, I’ve conceived this new format – mini-reviews, that will provide the basic outlook of the VNs in question and rate them on a simple, three-point scale:
    - Highly Recommended: for short VNs that provide an exceptional, memorable experience despite their limitations
    - Recommended: for titles that are enjoyable, but significantly flawed or advisable mostly for people enjoying their specific subgenre/dominant themes they use
    - Not Recommended: for titles that in my opinion simply fell flat or were misguided to the point they’re most likely not worth your time – a rating I expect very rarely to use, considering the games and authors I’m going to cover
    In the next few months, I hope to deliver a few posts in this formula, while I’ll also be redacting the old Yuri Game Jam/Free Yuri EVN lists according to it. As a starting point, however, I’ll take a look at a developer with maybe the most impressive catalogue of short, free VNs, some of which I’ve already covered in the YGJ series. While The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns and Once on a Windswept Night might be ebi-hime’s best-known freeware titles, since late 2014 she released 8 other free games of varied scale and quality (I am skipping the earliest ones, not listed on her Itch.io page – those were mostly humorous experiments with the VN formula rather than legitimate stories).
    Recently, ebi announced abandoning freeware projects for good, as they were draining too much of her time and resources – and while it might be a sad thing to hear, it’s both understandable from the viewpoint of any commercial developer and a good opportunity to look back at her extremely generous contributions to the EVN scene. Today, I’ll cover the first four games from the eight mentioned before, in the chronological order, starting with Dejection: An Ode, released on November 2014 and ending with Round the Mulberry Bush from the mid-2016. In two weeks I will complete this list, starting with Where the Sun Always Shines and ending with the 2018 April Fool’s VN Learning in Love!. I hope you’ll be willing to accompany me on this little journey and enjoy reading my reviews!
    ------------------------------------
    Dejection: An Ode

    Taking its title from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, this VN is a direct predecessor to Asphyxia, taking the same themes of gender-bent romantic era English poets, depression, substance abuse and unrequited love. Samantha, female version of Coleridge is placed here as the protagonist, with an unhealthy obsession about her best friend and fellow poet Lillian (William Wordsworth) and constantly struggling with what we can assume is a bipolar disorder – episodes of extreme agitation and inspiration, followed by extreme depression and inability to work. Her struggle is shown through simple visuals, with just sprites and a few backgrounds, but the dynamic and stylized prose makes it a very enjoyable and convincing read. The abrupt, inconclusive ending felt slightly disappointing, but the story makes it clear that any proper resolution of the plot would be even sadder and harder to accept. While it’s definitely a simple and minimalistic game, visibly from the very early period of ebi’s activity as a developer, it’s still very much a worthwhile read, especially for the fans of her characteristic style of writing and storytelling.
    Final rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
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