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Chronopolis

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  1. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Dergonu for a blog entry, Shirogane no Soleil Review   
    Shirogane no Soleil -Successor of Wyrd- <<Unmei no Keishousha>>
    ( "The soliel of silvery-white" - Successor of Wyrd << The Fated successor >> )
     
    This is the first game in Skyfish's epic norse mythology series. I had never even heard of this game before Clephas made a blog post about it a little earlier this year, and that might be the case for many. Having finally played the game myself, I have to ask... how is this possible? Why is such a great game not more well known? This VN truly deserves more exposure than it currently has.
    Introduction:
    Shirogane starts off with our main character, Ryuuhei, and his sister Tamako on their way to a set of ancient ruins in Iceland. Ryuuhei is not an archaeologist like his sister, but was dragged along by her on the pretense of being her "bodyguard." Ironically, that is exactly what he ends up being. Ryuuhei's group gets pulled into an encounter with a strange creature called "Berserk", a monster made up by the broken soul of an ancient warrior, which fell in battle ages ago. Powerless against this incredibly dangerous foe, Ryuuhei prays for help, asking for power-- the power to protect the people he loves. His call is answered by a slumbering Valkyrie, Sol, who makes a contract with Ryuuhei. She will fight for him, in exhange for his life force. Every time she uses her powers, she drains some of Ryuuhei's life force out of his body, shortening his life. They fight off the Berserk together, but this is merely the beginning of their tale. This seemingly random encounter might not have been as random as they thought. One might even call it... fate.

    Story
    The story in Shirogane is fantastic. It's told in two parts, "Valkyrie in love", and "Successor of Wyrd." Some of the story takes place in the present, while certain other parts takes place in the past. Shirogane contains tons of refrences to norse mythology, though the descriptions of characters and events from norse mythology in the VN are not necessarily identical to the "real thing". Therefore, while familiarity with norse mythology helps with appreciating certain aspects of the game's story, it is not at all needed. What matters in terms of refrences are all explained well enough in game, and seeing as they usually put a unique spin on things, it is not at all needed to know everything there is to know about norse mythology before reading this. (That being said, knowing some of the general concepts about who is who, and what is what will certainly make it an even more enjoyable read.)

     
    Although Shirogane is a very serious story, with tragic themes riddled all over it, just like normal stories from norse mythology, the game contains a good number of humoristic slice of life moments as well. That being said, all of these moments fits very well into the flow of the story. We are seeing things from Ryuuhei's point of view, as he deals with the fact that his own life span is constantly being drained because of his contract with his Valkyrie. As a result, you feel a little more attatched to these everyday moments, since they are seen through the eyes of someone who only has so much time left to enjoy them. In addition, the comedy is pure gold most of the time. The slice of life moments very rarely feels out of place, and never gets in the way of the story. The humor in the game had me literally laughing out loud so many times, I lost count.

    Characters:
    One of the biggest strengths of this game is without a doubt the characters. Each character feels unique and is well fleshed out. They all add something to the story in their own ways, and it's hard not to grow attatched to them, be it heroes, anti-heroes or straight up villains at times. The interactions between the characters truly pulls out all sorts of emotions from the reader, making the story feel like one hell of a roller coaster ride. (In a good way. Prepare your tickets to the feel train, folks.) While the "good guys" are all very well done, my favorite characters were honestly the villains / anti-heroes that are introduced throughout the game.
    On top of making fantastic "villains", the "duos" in the game are brilliant. Essentially every single character is paired up with another in some way, and they all complement each other greatly. These "duos" were without a doubt one of the best parts about the game in my opinion. Be it heartbreaking moments or hilarious ones; nearly all the most impactful moments in the story stems from one of these duos' interactions.


    Art, Music and Writing:
    As shown in the screenshots above, the art is nicely detailed. Considering this game was released in 2007, the art is very impressive. The amount of special effects, cut-scenes and CGs is no joke either. Sadly, things aren't as good in the music department. The music is by no means bad, but it does feel a little bland at times. Certain tracks do work very well with the tone of the story, and are straight up beautiful to listen to, but others feel repetitive and aren't that impactful. So, my complaint with the music would be the inconsistent quality of the tracks. That being said, this is hardly a big issue, as the writing, art and story makes slightly repetitive music matter very little in the end.
    Overall, I have very few complaints about this game. It was a fantastic read from beginning to end, and I strongly recommend reading it. I don't use the term kamige a lot, but this definitely qualifies in my personal opinion.
    You can buy all the Soleil games on DMM. (NSFW LINK!!!)
  2. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Mr Poltroon for a blog entry, Playing Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai   
    I've been seeing people wondering about Daitoshokan's translation, so I'm making this compilation of screenshots just to show what the experience is like in English.
    The further down you go, the further into the game you are. But these screenshots are all from the first half of the common route and earlier, so I wouldn't worry terribly.
    I think the VN is super fun, and really, that's all I care about, to be honest.
  3. Thanks
    Chronopolis reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Kusarihime 腐り姫 ~Euthanasia~ [Liar-soft]   
    Foreword: I already chose another game for review in February... but in the end just could not ignore this huge pillar of today's visual novels. Without Kusarihime there would not be Saya no Uta, Cross Channel, Fate/stay night and Higurashi, so it's significance for the history can not be overerestimated.
    Title: Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~
    Developer: Liar-soft
    Date: 2002-02-08
    VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v37
    Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J_joeqKri0&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv9h7u5e_7ePpWZ28i2PWbxd

    Synopsis: After the mysterious death of his father and his younger sister Juri, Itsuki, now suffering from amnesia, moves back to his hometown with his stepmother. There he meets an enigmatic young girl dressed in a crimson red kimono named Kurame, and the two soon become friends. The strange thing is, Kurame looks exactly like his younger sister Juri...
    On the surface, Itsuki's family and friends all appear to be rooting for his full recovery. However, deep inside, they also seem to be burdened with secrets and guilt about the past. In the span of four days, Itsuki's memories will slowly return as he struggles between his loss and his fear of the truth, until the fourth night, when the whole world becomes blanketed under a red sheet of snow and wrapped up in the silence of death....

    Structure: 10 cycles x 4 days
    Length: 10 hours
    Game type: Mythology rural human drama mystery.
    Difficulty: It's easy to get some ending, but not so easy to get the desired ending
    Character Design rating: 10/10
    Protagonist rating: 10/10
    Story rating: 10/10
    Game quality: 10/10
    Overall rating: 10/10
    There are as many as 5 reviews, plus reddit impressions, plus very curious spoiler theory-crafting thread (1 2 3 4 5 6 7), so pretty much everything is said there already. So what I intend to is to tell you without spoilers what this visual novel is about and why you must read it. And it's very difficult to talk about Kusarihime without spoilers. Let me present an imaginary dialogue of my consciousness after reading Kusarihime trying to persuade my skeptical other self reluctant to try it.

    - So, first of all, Kusarihime is neither a horror nor a nakige. It's a rural story about a boy who looses memory and comes to his home town to try to regain his memories.
    - How convenient! We've seen dozens of such stories by 2002 already! What's special in it this time?
    - One thing is that game is looped over the same four August days
    - That's not exactly a new thing. I remember at least three games with loops before 2002.
    - But the second thing is that it's not a game about chasing girls. No heroine gets her separate end.
    - That's weird. Is it some all ages game or something? What is there if there aren't heroine routes?
    - Each heroine actually gets one of those 10 time loops to focus attention almost exclusively on her. That provides ample opportunities for presenting H scenes.

    - So there ARE actually heroines routes, they are just hidden inside some of the loops. What makes it different from usual nukige or charage?
    - Heroines here are not isolated inside their stories. They pierce all the loops, and each heroine story only helps to reveal the mystery behind the protagonist past.
    - Oh, the "mystery". Something about the promise made 10 years ago?
    - Absolutely not. First tier of mystery is about stray girl Kurame who looks just like protagonist's deceased sister Juri. Second tier of mystery is about protagonist's family overall - he had a father, a mother, a sister and a dog - all dead by now. The third tier of mystery is about the loop itself that ends with red snow falling, usually after some impactful violent events.

    - Oh, so people die in here? Any guro as well?
    - Thanks to loop concept it's possible to introduce any number of deaths here and then rewrite everything with another loop cycle. There is no guro.
    - Pff, so even deaths happen not in the real world. Why should I bother reading 10 imaginary stories?
    - Well, deaths actually affect same characters in next loops greatly. And count the characters - only half of the stories are loosely focused on some character. The rest of loops are focused on past or give hints to the listed mysteries.
    - Oh, the "mysteries" again. Btw, what does this weird title Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~ mean?
    - Kusarihime is translated as "rotting princess", it's the local legend about a girl in red kimono that causes certain people die. That girl's name is Kagame. And the stray girl that's found in the forest is given name Kagame by protagonist, but he can not explain why. As for "euthanasia", it's also a mystery. Here's dictionary definition: "Euthanasia is the termination of a very sick person's life in order to relieve them of their suffering".

    - I know what it means, thank you. So I get the concept of the game more or less. But what makes this game so special?
    - Soundtrack, unique graphics style, great directing with lots of flashbacks and insertion of sudden scenes from other times, use of frequently moving figures on the screen instead of sprites, stunning stories of each girl, mystery plot loopholes as basis for replay-ability or theory-crafting.
    - Ok, enough! Might give it a look if I find the time in my busy schedule. No promises, though.
    Overall comments: I consider Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~ to be the first intellectual visual novel in history. It attracts not thanks to thrilling plot, great characters or superb visuals. It creates a multiple layer mystery where different parts move in their own pace cross-referencing each till sudden resolution. Reader is required to remember or re-read early scenes to fill some parts of the puzzle and make his own guess about the rest. In that way it can also be called the first interactive visual novel.

     
  4. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The Schools of Charage/Moege harems   
    First, I'm going to state that all charage/moege are harem-ge (with the exception of kinetic novels with only a single heroine).  In all these cases, you have a bevy of heroines that are, at the very least, friendly with or somehow attached to the protagonist.  There are a three standard types of harem that I consider to be general umbrella types.  These harems do not include nukige sex-only harems or the type of harems that pop up in gameplay hybrid VNs, as these often have distinctive story-exclusive reasons for harem formation.
    The Disconnected Harem
    This is the standard-issue harem for modern charage/moege.  In this harem situation, the protagonist is independently connected to most of the heroines, with very little or no interaction between the members of his harem of latent deredere troopers.  The reason this has become the dominant harem in the charage genre in the last seven years or so is because it is the one that is the most 'tasteful' to monogamists and traditionalists.  In this case, the heroines either have no real connection with one another or only weak connections that become tenuous the second the heroine path begins.  Games that have these harems tend to have extremely weak casts of characters in general, and there is usually very little or no real conflict between the characters (low incidence of love triangles, few jealousy attacks, etc).  As a result, games with this type of harem tend to have weak or nonexistent plots, lackluster SOL outside of ichaicha dating, and 'convenient' drama that is resolved so quickly it might as well not even exist.  These harems generally disband at the end of the common route, as the protagonist seems to completely forget any attraction he had to the other girls and they fade into the background.
    The Dominant-Sharing Harem
    The Dominant-sharing Harem is defined by the members of the harem being at least somewhat familiar with each other (often friends, family, or members of a group or club) and able to be cooperative to an extent while competing for the protagonist's love and attention.  Girls in this kind of harem situation (Shuffle is a prime example of it) are ok with the idea of sharing the protagonist in the abstract, but in practice they want to be the 'first wife' or the 'wife' and relegate the other heroines to the mistress or concubine status (though it isn't always stated this bluntly).  This is perhaps the most realistic harem situation, as, historically, real harems - other than royal ones - have usually been structured with a head or first wife and a number of secondary wives, often married with the permission of or by the choice of the first wife, lol. 
    The Everybody's Equal Harem
    The Everybody's Equal Harem is, just as the name indicates, a harem where the protagonist essentially loves and treats all the heroines equally and the heroines accept this situation, albeit often with a tacit understanding between one another that they won't stop aiming for a Dominant-Sharing type situation.  As such, this can often be considered a prelude to a Dominant-Sharing Harem result in practical terms.  A classic example of this would be the end of the Grisaia series or the ending of Strawberry Feels, where the protagonist himself never forms a preference, even if the heroines do build a sort of pecking order based on dominance of personality or circumstance.  Tiny Dungeon's Endless Dungeon ending can also be considered this kind of ending, whereas the individual routes represented by the first three games would be considered Dominant-Sharing harems. 
    Why I bothered with this post
    Anyone who has been an otaku as long as I have been has to accept that harem-thinking is essential to SOL otaku-ism.  As early as Love Hina and Tenchi Muyo, rom-coms have been creating wacky harems and weird situations that result.   This is because romantic comedy is the easiest type of comedy for anyone to get into, and the easiest one to empathize with... and comedy used to be the dominant genre in otaku media (though romance always came a close second). 
    The evolution from that type of loose harem (though in later incarnations, the Tenchi universe threw off all pretense of not being harem-ist) to the current situation took decades, but it was a natural evolution in visual novels in particular, due to the fact that most visual novels are multi-route, heroine-focused affairs.  Charage in particular, with their focus on SOL, inevitably give off a sense that the protagonist is the center of a harem, even if it is only  in the common route.  Since this kind of situation appeals to the more primitive parts of the male psyche (males are genetically predisposed to seeking multiple mates, though socialization and emotional attachment overwhelm this in modern settings), eroge tend to abuse this flagrantly. 
    Oh yeah, if you haven't figured it out, I like harem endings that aren't sex-heavy... but that isn't so much because I have a thing for 'collecting' bishoujos.  Rather, I like the various situations that result in VNs, as they are often intellectually interesting, heart-warming, or hilarious (or all three).  Nukige-style harem endings are boring and make me roll my eyes, mostly because I question whether anyone has that kind of stamina, and because ignoring the emotional and practical aspects entirely like that makes it hard to suspend disbelief.  If a plotge can make me think a harem would work, I want to see it work, lol.
  5. Like
    Chronopolis got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, On Writing: Creating a World vs Telling a Story   
    On my journey to try and write a complete story, I found it incredibly satisfying creating my story's universe. Mostly characters, relevant parties, and cause and effect. So after a few months of creating, I end up with a decent amount of details and a fair chunk of my story plot filled in.   But I haven't written a story. In fact, I haven't even completed a single scene in it's entirety. Strange.   These "details", feel so integral to the story. I feel like I'm creating the story. And yet when I google "how to writing", everything is dead focused on the scene: making the perfect scene, the build-up of scenes, scene dialogue, etc.   It seems like our focuses are different.   Anyways, without going into how modern writing is too presentation focused, let me lay out these two contrasting features which constitute a story.   A World   The world of a story is its own characters, and their thoughts, interactions, histories, and details. And a timeline of events with explanation of cause and effect.   To me as a writer, a world is already the story. Creating the locations, characters, and happenings. Just like how facts and forensic evidence can tell a story, the existence of this separate world, it's characters and events makes it a story to me.   Telling a Story
    However, there is another huge element in stories. That is, how we convey them.
    When we talk about a good writer, we often applaud their gripping text, captivating storylines. A good part of that is the art of presentation. The first implication of presentation is that of selection. Not every fact and character's thought reaches the reader's eyes, and certainly not every cause and effect is layed out.   A story consists of a series of scenes which convey the journey, and also bring the reader through the build-up and through the climax of the story.   Beyond that, a story has description, which helps the reader to imagine the scene and put them there.    A scene can have a mood, which immerses the player. It's possible to like a scene just for it's mood. Note this mood is a very subjective thing which is both conveyed and imagined. A mood might also might suggest something about the character's lines of thoughts, or it might connect to the punch line of the scene.   A narrator can use different tones, which achieve similar effect to a mood. For example, the ironic tone in the narration of the post apocalyptic world SukaSuka encourages us to grin painfully as we hear about curious history and the downfall of foolish parties, deserving and tragic alike. A caustic tone in another post-apocalyptic story could be emphasizing to the reader that human lives matters little here. Of course, the writer could offer up these ideas directly, but a tone or mood simply hints at them.   Mostly what these things contribute to is to bestow an experience to the player. This is a subjective experience which is distinct from the world that the author created. Before you think I'm saying "objective rulz", I note that it is possible for a story's universe to have certain emotions or ideas that permeate through it, which the author was trying to convey in the first place.   I guess this is why they talk about stories often having an over-arching message. I personally am not a big fan of stories having a primary message, though that it is definitely something which can be done. However, even without having a message, stories usually end up effectively talking about something. This is because they inspire us to think about the phenomena/conflict that they depict.     In closing, my fellow VN readers, I leave you with this. Think about a story you've read or are writing.   Does the world exist for the sake of the telling, or does the telling exist on behalf of conveying the world? 
  6. Like
    Chronopolis got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, On Writing: Creating a World vs Telling a Story   
    On my journey to try and write a complete story, I found it incredibly satisfying creating my story's universe. Mostly characters, relevant parties, and cause and effect. So after a few months of creating, I end up with a decent amount of details and a fair chunk of my story plot filled in.   But I haven't written a story. In fact, I haven't even completed a single scene in it's entirety. Strange.   These "details", feel so integral to the story. I feel like I'm creating the story. And yet when I google "how to writing", everything is dead focused on the scene: making the perfect scene, the build-up of scenes, scene dialogue, etc.   It seems like our focuses are different.   Anyways, without going into how modern writing is too presentation focused, let me lay out these two contrasting features which constitute a story.   A World   The world of a story is its own characters, and their thoughts, interactions, histories, and details. And a timeline of events with explanation of cause and effect.   To me as a writer, a world is already the story. Creating the locations, characters, and happenings. Just like how facts and forensic evidence can tell a story, the existence of this separate world, it's characters and events makes it a story to me.   Telling a Story
    However, there is another huge element in stories. That is, how we convey them.
    When we talk about a good writer, we often applaud their gripping text, captivating storylines. A good part of that is the art of presentation. The first implication of presentation is that of selection. Not every fact and character's thought reaches the reader's eyes, and certainly not every cause and effect is layed out.   A story consists of a series of scenes which convey the journey, and also bring the reader through the build-up and through the climax of the story.   Beyond that, a story has description, which helps the reader to imagine the scene and put them there.    A scene can have a mood, which immerses the player. It's possible to like a scene just for it's mood. Note this mood is a very subjective thing which is both conveyed and imagined. A mood might also might suggest something about the character's lines of thoughts, or it might connect to the punch line of the scene.   A narrator can use different tones, which achieve similar effect to a mood. For example, the ironic tone in the narration of the post apocalyptic world SukaSuka encourages us to grin painfully as we hear about curious history and the downfall of foolish parties, deserving and tragic alike. A caustic tone in another post-apocalyptic story could be emphasizing to the reader that human lives matters little here. Of course, the writer could offer up these ideas directly, but a tone or mood simply hints at them.   Mostly what these things contribute to is to bestow an experience to the player. This is a subjective experience which is distinct from the world that the author created. Before you think I'm saying "objective rulz", I note that it is possible for a story's universe to have certain emotions or ideas that permeate through it, which the author was trying to convey in the first place.   I guess this is why they talk about stories often having an over-arching message. I personally am not a big fan of stories having a primary message, though that it is definitely something which can be done. However, even without having a message, stories usually end up effectively talking about something. This is because they inspire us to think about the phenomena/conflict that they depict.     In closing, my fellow VN readers, I leave you with this. Think about a story you've read or are writing.   Does the world exist for the sake of the telling, or does the telling exist on behalf of conveying the world? 
  7. Like
    Chronopolis got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, On Writing: Creating a World vs Telling a Story   
    On my journey to try and write a complete story, I found it incredibly satisfying creating my story's universe. Mostly characters, relevant parties, and cause and effect. So after a few months of creating, I end up with a decent amount of details and a fair chunk of my story plot filled in.   But I haven't written a story. In fact, I haven't even completed a single scene in it's entirety. Strange.   These "details", feel so integral to the story. I feel like I'm creating the story. And yet when I google "how to writing", everything is dead focused on the scene: making the perfect scene, the build-up of scenes, scene dialogue, etc.   It seems like our focuses are different.   Anyways, without going into how modern writing is too presentation focused, let me lay out these two contrasting features which constitute a story.   A World   The world of a story is its own characters, and their thoughts, interactions, histories, and details. And a timeline of events with explanation of cause and effect.   To me as a writer, a world is already the story. Creating the locations, characters, and happenings. Just like how facts and forensic evidence can tell a story, the existence of this separate world, it's characters and events makes it a story to me.   Telling a Story
    However, there is another huge element in stories. That is, how we convey them.
    When we talk about a good writer, we often applaud their gripping text, captivating storylines. A good part of that is the art of presentation. The first implication of presentation is that of selection. Not every fact and character's thought reaches the reader's eyes, and certainly not every cause and effect is layed out.   A story consists of a series of scenes which convey the journey, and also bring the reader through the build-up and through the climax of the story.   Beyond that, a story has description, which helps the reader to imagine the scene and put them there.    A scene can have a mood, which immerses the player. It's possible to like a scene just for it's mood. Note this mood is a very subjective thing which is both conveyed and imagined. A mood might also might suggest something about the character's lines of thoughts, or it might connect to the punch line of the scene.   A narrator can use different tones, which achieve similar effect to a mood. For example, the ironic tone in the narration of the post apocalyptic world SukaSuka encourages us to grin painfully as we hear about curious history and the downfall of foolish parties, deserving and tragic alike. A caustic tone in another post-apocalyptic story could be emphasizing to the reader that human lives matters little here. Of course, the writer could offer up these ideas directly, but a tone or mood simply hints at them.   Mostly what these things contribute to is to bestow an experience to the player. This is a subjective experience which is distinct from the world that the author created. Before you think I'm saying "objective rulz", I note that it is possible for a story's universe to have certain emotions or ideas that permeate through it, which the author was trying to convey in the first place.   I guess this is why they talk about stories often having an over-arching message. I personally am not a big fan of stories having a primary message, though that it is definitely something which can be done. However, even without having a message, stories usually end up effectively talking about something. This is because they inspire us to think about the phenomena/conflict that they depict.     In closing, my fellow VN readers, I leave you with this. Think about a story you've read or are writing.   Does the world exist for the sake of the telling, or does the telling exist on behalf of conveying the world? 
  8. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, My Little Pony fan VNs, part 1   
    While probably few people following my VN-related writing know that, for quite a long time I had a peculiar relationship with the brony fandom. Being brought into the community by my RL friend, a popular fan-artist working under the pseudonym Pony-Berserker, I’ve written a few dozens of My Little Pony comic scripts and, more importantly, based my master’s thesis on researching the fandom – more specifically, exploring the bizarre world of MLP fan erotica. While my current involvement with Bronies is minor at best, I’ve decided to commemorate both my previous and current hobbies by reviewing the humble catalogue of My Little Pony visual novels – in this post, and the one two weeks from now, I will go through pretty much all VN-style fan games made by bronies that are currently available in English, which is just around a dozen titles, including large demos and trials. So, if you have the courage, please join me in this bizarre adventure through the world of shipping, bad fanfiction and, maybe, some genuinely interesting, imaginative VN project within the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic universe!
     
    Welcome to Ponyville (demo)

    The MLP visual novel scene seems to be a hell of demos, dropped projects and never-ending development limbos. Some of the most notable games in this niche suffered from perpetual delays or straight-up died halfway through the production cycle, and Welcome to Ponyville might be the best-known among the latter. After releasing a substantial demo in mid-2012, the team behind quickly started becoming more and more silent, and after two years with no meaningful updates, the chances of the project being finished were clearly gone. The already available first episode, however, is still quite an interesting piece of content that is arguably worth experiencing on its own. Telling the story of a pony arriving to Ponyville to settle within the town (you can choose the protagonist’s gender and the breed of pony they represent), it showcases some of the most notable achievements of the brony fandom: art that very closely resembles that of the show, both in style and quality, and full voice acting that faithfully mimics the original voice cast of Friendship is Magic.
                The 1,5h-long demo is mostly composed of casual, amusing SoL scenes in which the protagonist organizes his stay in Ponyville and takes odd jobs, while meeting the Mane 6 (brony term for the 6 main characters of the show: Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Fluttershy), along with various other inhabitants of the town. At the same time, the game introduces Silent Hill-like, disturbing dream sequences, suggesting there’s something sinister hiding underneath the fluffy surface… While we’ll never know in which direction this project would go exactly and I would normally not recommend wasting time on approaching unfinished games, Welcome to Ponyville shows the creativity of the MLP fandom at its finest and give a taste of what we could’ve got if more of its energy went into projects of this kind.
    Final Rating: Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  9. Like
    Chronopolis 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.
  10. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VNs: Draculius   
    NSFW?
     
    I'll say it straight out... in my mind, Draculius is one of the top two vampire VNs in existence... with the other one being Vermilion by Light.  Meromero Cute was a company that had a tendency toward making... eccentric works.  Mahou Shoujo no Taisetsu na koto is particularly memorable for the cross-dressing protagonist who spends a ridiculous amount of time being reverse-raped in a magical girl costume...  It used the fact that nobody expects mahou shoujo stories and settings to be consistent to go a bit crazy...
    Draculius is a bit different... the protagonist, Jun, is the kind of guy who would be a hero in an otome game.  While he isn't voiced (a mistake in my mind, but one that is common) his narration and lines have so much personality that you never see him as a 'standard' protagonist.  There are precisely two paths in this VN... a 'joke' path where Jun doesn't make the full transition to a vampire during the story (focused on Rian and Zeno), and a true path, where Jun confronts the people hiding behind the curtains in the course of building his vampiric harem of a trigger-happy tsundere vampire-hunting nun, an ancient vampire who was once his father's vassal and lover, a vampire 'ojousama' whom everyone takes joy in teasing, and a loyal werewolf maid who makes  a hobby out of tricking her mistress into making a fool of herself.
    The action in this VN is actually a bit above the standard for chuunige of the era, though it doesn't match works by Light.  At times there are battles of wits, and there is enough comedy to make a lot of modern charage seem boring.  To this day, I've never met a loli in a VN that matches Belche for characterization (yes, I include stuff by Favorite).  The multitude of roles she takes on and the layers to her personality and viewpoint on life make her one of the few 'ancient heroines' who doesn't seem in the least bit fake. 
    One of the things that is most important in a vampire story of any type is the perspective... to be blunt, a vampire setting where the vampires don't drink blood or are fundamentally harmless is... boring, to say the least.  Vampires in Draculius are nothing of the sort... in particular 'Seconds', vampires made from humans, can only turn humans into zombie-like Roams (and can potentially do so just by biting someone), so vampirism is actually a legitimate threat.  Firsts, like the protagonist and Rian (also called Shiso, like the True Ancestors in the Tsukihime world), don't have any of the vulnerabilities of their servant vampires... and they can make vampires that are sane.  However, most Firsts perspectives are... warped, to say the least.  There is nothing worse than a justified sense of superiority to make people insanely arrogant, lol.
    The actual story of this tilts back and forth between the more absurd slice-of-life and the more serious parts, but this is one of those rare VNs that manages the balance nearly perfectly.  People die, the protagonist kills, and the enemy is ruthless (as is Belche, lol).  However, the slice of life in this VN tends to serve as a bright and amusing contrast to the darker elements, keeping it from becoming a purely serious VN. 
    Overall, replaying this VN has confirmed to me something that I had more or less guessed over the last few years... they don't make ones like this one anymore, lol.
    Edit: The pic is Belche just after she became a vampire.
    Edit2: ... for those who wonder, the h-scenes in this VN... are pretty unique.  Most of them switch between Jun's and the girls' perspectives...
  11. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Eushully's fantasy world   
    I love Eushully's unique fantasy world, Dir Lifyna.  Most of Eushully's games, save for a few oddball ones by the subsidiary Anastasia and Fortune Arterial, are based in this world, which began with the original Ikusa Megami (if this gets translated, somebody please smash the skull of anyone who translates the title, because they'll probably pick the worst permutation of it).  The first thing that anyone going into this setting should know, if only for giggles, is that this was never intended to be an expansive setting containing ten or more games.  Ikusa Megami was intended as a one-off game and was competing with Venus Blood, of all things. 
    However, to the people who played the game, the setting was incredibly attractive, and they sold well enough to justify a sequel, which was even more well-received (if only because the dungeon-crawler elements were toned down to normal jrpg levels). 
    The basic setting of the world is that, far in the past, a technologically-advanced human world created a gate/tunnel linking a world full of magic and demihumans, for reasons that pretty much boil down to boredom and stagnation as a species due to excessive technological development.  Unfortunately, this accidentally caused the two worlds to begin to merge, causing a conflict between their denizens and their gods.
    An important common element to note between the two worlds is that gods existed in both worlds, but the gods of the human world had mostly ceased intervening in mortal affairs openly long before, causing the near death of faith.  Since faith/belief is the source of all deities' power, the humans found themselves at a surprising disadvantage in the war, because their belief in their deities was almost nonexistent.  Worse, magic was quite capable of countering most of the advantages of human tech based on pure physics.
    A faction of humanity chose to pursue the amalgamation of magic and tech, creating wonders and horrors (including artificial demons and gods), but over time (the war apparently lasted for generations), more and more humans switched sides, devoting themselves to gods on the other side, even as humanity's old gods were destroyed, sealed, or enslaved one by one.  By the end of the war, humanity was just another race, perhaps more numerous than the others, in the service of the 'Living Gods', and the 'Old Gods' were relegated to dusty legend and actively considered evil by most, if they weren't in the service of a Living God.  Human technology was, for the most part, wiped from the face of the new, merged world, and the only remnants can be found in ruins filled with monsters and/or automatic guardians.
    The dominant deity of the new world is Marsterria, a minor war god who enslaved and killed more Old Gods than any other.  Most of his worshipers are humans, their prolific breeding and generations of faith having given him immense power.  His followers are often at odds with the protagonist of the Ikusa Megami series and nonhuman races, because of their excessive zealotry and broad determination of what species are considered 'dark races'. 
    Conflict between dark gods and their servants and the gods of light and theirs is a normal part of the world of Dir Lifyna, with neutral regions and nations often becoming the battlegrounds for said followers as a result.  This is a world with a massive number of intelligent species, and that, in the end, is what makes it so much fun to look forward to each game, even if the flop ratio is over 50%, lol. 
    Damn, it was hard to do that without spoiling anything.
    Edit: It should be noted that demons, angels, nagas, and a few other races were actually coexisting with humanity but hidden due to their more direct service to deities in the original human world.  The nagas still maintain faith with old gods for the most part, and as a result, they are marginalized to an immense degree.  Most angels 'fell' or serve one of the Living Gods now (or both), and demons are a plague, with more summoned on occasion since demon summoning was one of the few magics that remained to humanity when the worlds met. 
  12. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Dropped Minikui Mojika   
    I have to say I apologize to those who voted for Minikui Mojika no Ko... my original instinct not to play this game at all was correct.  This game feels too much like a dark rape nukige to allow me to play it anymore, so I had to drop it.  Not to mention that I hate all the characters and think they should all be tossed into the nearest garbage dump. 
  13. Thanks
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf (VN-hybrid game review)   

    While Loren: The Amazon Princess, which I reviewed two weeks ago, if fairly well-known among western VN fans and did a lot to establish WinterWolves studio as a respected OELVN developer, the second RPG placed in the fantasy world of Aravorn, Seasons of the Wolf, flew very much below the radar of most gamers and VN fans. Published on Steam in January 2015, this game pushed the series in a slightly different direction, with a smaller cast, more casual story and far fewer romance options, to a very mixed reaction from the players.
                However, Seasons of the Wolf was also the title that made significant improvements to the core gameplay mechanics of the series and refined the whole experience in a way that created a standard for future WinterWolves RPGs to follow and build upon. How then this “less of a dating sim” (citing the developer himself) looks like three years after its initial release and is it worth attention from VN fans, especially those that are more interested in the story, rather than RPG gameplay?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  14. Haha
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Yuri Sakura Games, part 1   
    Yuri as a fully-fledged main theme came a bit late to the Sakura Gaming Universe (they’re all connected, I tell you!), but for the last year, it absolutely dominated Winged Cloud’s production, with their last het hentai game, Sakura Magical Girls, released in early 2017. That transition, however, was a long and inconsistent process, which produced both the absolute best among Sakura games (especially Sakura Dungeon with its never-ending stream of good-quality f/f porn and fanservice CGs) and some… Less fortunate projects. Today and two weeks from now I’ll take a closer look at WC’s iterations of Girls’ Love, without ever hiding my intense bias for the genre – one which makes me that more excited when the formula is applied well and that more furious when it’s desecrated by really crappy, uninspired VNs.
     
    Sakura Fantasy, chapter 1

    Fantasy, one of WC’s most ambitious, but never-finalized projects, proved above anything else the biggest advantage of yuri-themed ecchi VNs – having a protagonist who is more than just a faceless self-insert, given the minimal amount of character development and as few significant traits as possible, to not disturb the player filling this hollow husk with his own fantasies. Realin is not only an actual character, with a sprite and proper personality (and a convenient, voyeuristic gift of “farsight”, mostly used to peek at people in baths), but even gives out traces of interesting backstory and compelling relationships with the other heroines. The game also, as one of the very few entries in the Sakura series, does some effort to build a setting and a linear story of sorts, predictably based on fairly common fantasy tropes, but nonetheless semi-serious and interesting. The biggest problem is, however, that we’re unlikely to ever know what happened with the crumbling Empire, besieged by magical monsters and the quest to retrieve the Fallen Star – as much as anyone can tell, after the first chapter (which is still rather worth reading by itself, but obviously doesn’t conclude the plot in any way), WC buried this series forever.
    Final rating: Golden Poo!
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  15. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, A VN of the Month Announcement   
    I've been considering this for some time, but it has suddenly become a reality.
    To be blunt, I've come to my limit when it comes to playing pure SOL games.  Oh, I can still enjoy many of them, but if you asked me whether I can look at them without my resentment of 'normal' SOL content blinding me, the answer is no.  If I have to read through one more template date scene or see another osananajimi climb through the window from next door, I'm going to start tearing out the last remaining hairs atop my head.
    *coughs* Ahem, now that I've got that out, it needs to be said that I've been doing this since September of 2012... a ridiculous amount of time to be playing roughly 80% of all non-nukige VNs that come out (I'm figuring those I dropped or just couldn't play because they were just that bad into the twenty percent). 
    Just to be clear, I will still continue to play VNs and comment on/review them in this blog.  However, I will no longer play as many outside my tastes, nor will I go out of my way to seek gems from companies I hate reading from. 
    I realized while I was playing Koisaku (Ensemble's latest game), that a few years ago, I would have read this game without any real problems, and I wouldn't even have blinked at the crap that now drives me up the wall.  Oh sure, Ensemble's base quality has fallen massively, but when I took a step back, this is actually one of the better amongst their more recent games, with plenty of indications of real stories for the heroines in the background.  However, I found I just couldn't tolerate it.
    It hit me in the date scene that occurs in the common route... I have no tolerance for date scenes at all anymore.  Scenes like that exist for every heroine in every SOL VN, and they all turn out in almost an identical fashion.  Reading it, even though it was basically a 'friend date', was like dragging my brain through mud.  I just couldn't do it.
    I promised myself that I wouldn't BS myself on this particular matter years ago... and I knew the limit was coming.  I just didn't realize that it would be this soon.
    So, I have to announce that this is the end of my VN of the Month column.  Now, all that remains is my Random VNs and whatever VNs I choose to play each month.
    I will continue to play what I'm interested in, and that will probably include slice-of-life at times.  However, I will no longer play SOL out of a sense of duty to my readers. 
    My original reasons for starting VN of the Month
    When I first started Clephas' VN of the Month, it was because vndb gives nothing to you for info on their games beyond poor tls of the game summary from Getchu, character profiles, and sometimes tags (that might or might not be accurate).  I felt that that didn't do most games justice, and I hated the way I had to go into a game blind on so many occasions.  As such, I started putting up commentaries on just what kind of VN I was playing, with few or no spoilers.  This was a need that, at the time, was not being fulfilled (and as far as I know, still isn't, since most reviewers include major spoilers because they are inconsiderate). 
    Over time, my routine each month started with figuring out which games weren't nukige and which I would play first...  and picking out which one was the best after I played them (the latter of course being entirely a matter of my opinion, informed as it might be). 
    However, it is time to set down my burden.  I tried handing off my work to others, and that worked for a while (thanks to @Dergonu@fun2novel@BookwormOtaku@Kiriririri for their help over the last year - yes, even you, Kiriririri).  In the end, though, I'm just one man... and one middle-aged man with increasingly bad health isn't going to be able to keep this up any longer.  Heck, I'm amazed i kept going this long.
    I do hope someone else takes up the torch of at least informing people of what to expect in newer games (and not just the ones from popular companies), but that isn't my job anymore. 
    Thanks for reading,
    Clephas
     
  16. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, A few Thoughts on VN Trends   
    Before I go visit my remaining grandparents this weekend (my grandmother on my father's side and grandfather on my mother's side are both in extremely frail condition right now, so we are taking time to show my sister's kid to them), I thought I would give my thoughts on modern VN trends.
    Charage aren't going anywhere
    Though I frequently bash the industry for over-saturating the market with moege/charage/SOL, the fact is that the demand for this type of VN is never going to go away as long as the Japanese eroge VN market exists.  Why?  Because it is the single easiest way to present the formation of relationships of young people into a sexual one.  While the genre isn't that attractive for people in their late teens or early to mid-twenties (incidentally the reason this market is declining), the majority of any older generation is always going to prefer this.  The lesser numbers of young people in Japan compared to my generation and the lower relative amounts of income are the main reasons for the current contraction of the genre.
    Good Writers don't go into VNs anymore
    This is a truth that few of the plotge addicts like me want to admit.  Most of the best writers in the VN industry are getting into middle age or later now (or have already left it), and the new and upcoming writers are mostly up and coming LN writers who have a far looser grasp on how to write/narrate and (more importantly) complete a story.  This doesn't mean they won't evolve their styles to match the new medium eventually, but whenever I've read a VN written by one of these newbies, the plot holes and poor handling of the endings of their games stand out painfully.
    Chuunige are in decline
    I absolutely hate to say this.  However, it needs to be said.  Trends in the last nine years in chuunige have tended to result in far too much side-story exploitation and sequelitis.  There is also a distinct lack of innovation, and when innovation does come, it tends to come with a huge drop in quality in the final product (Sora no Baroque).   Fans of the genre are getting older, and some companies (such as Light) have been putting their games in non-ero form on consoles to try to grasp the hearts of younger VN lovers (this has actually succeeded to an extent), but the fact is that it takes a much longer time for a chuunige company to  make back its investment after a release.  This is exacerbated by economic issues in Japan, and the fact that these companies mostly suck at advertising (like many niche genre companies, they only put it up in places where those already 'in the know' will find them).
    VN Trends are always years behind the rest of Otaku-dom
    VN communities in Japan are insular.  Even moreso than they are in the US.  When rom-com anime vanished for the most part at the end of the last decade, it was replaced with cheap action-fantasy (shallow, weaker stories for the most part, with more emphasis put on 'cool' elements) and moeblob.  The glut of such anime is reaching its peak right now... and that influence is starting to overflow (interpreted through the lens of the hyper-conservative VN community, of course) into our side of things.  That said, this is a trend that is unlikely to take hold, because it requires a modicum of writing skill that doesn't involve dialogue, and most VN writers just don't have that.  Instead, VN companies that have been around for a while have been 'testing the waters' by making games that step out of their usual niches, hoping to diversify to deal with the changing trends.  Light went with going down a much darker path than usual with its most recent game, and Navel actually put up a half-assed plotge last month.  These, along with many other incidences in the last two years, make me wonder just what the market will look like five years from now. 
  17. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, Revised rating system and the eroge food chain or "why certain genres can't attain enlightment"   
    I've been meaning to do this for a longer while now, but various circumstances always prevented me from making it.
    Before we start, let me make this clear. I dislike value-based rating systems, where numbers are supposed to be an estimate on how "good" something is, or how much quality there is to it. In my opinion, those systems are all fair and square but don't really work the way we'd like them to, not to mention a simple number is vague as hell and doesn't really provide anything except a scale between "good", "bad" and "mediocre" in-between. Why is that? Because vns don't work that way, sadly. You can't really rate a visual novel in the same exact manner as a standard Hollywood movie, plastering a number on top of it; it's because vns are insanely diversified works with many unique sub-genres, built with particular audiences in mind. It's a world, where one fan's treasures are another fan's trash, often within the same genre trees. The same can be said about almost every other work medium belonging to japanese pop culture. Discarding this tiny nuance might actually have a pretty detrimental result in terms of ratings, that are either too vague, unfair or way too hedonist, without actually trying to get the gist of what the game actually is and to whom it is addressed. I'd rather want to think of actual ratings as something that helps in deciding how much a game is in line with one's personal interests and how high that goes. Different groups of players have different needs, therefore it's probably easier to explain the whole thing in form of a diagram:

    Don't think of it as "things consuming things", but more as "things supporting other things". Moege aren't particularly worse than high-rated vns, they simply have a completely different target audience, with completely different set of tastes and demands. Obviously, certain genres are more common - because there's a much higher demand for those, but at the same time it means lowering standards to match tastes of a far wider audience, which uniquely leads to genre blandness (this happened to moege and majority of charage already). The games higher on the list in terms of complexity are more streamlined and niche, requiring more refined tastes and greater knowledge in a variety of topics, which leads to them being far less approachable by majority of players. This by default leads to subsequent categorization and further alienation which is one of the major reasons why it's so hard to get into those games and communities that surround them.
    Those tiers are permanent and games belonging to them remain forever bound to their respective positions within the chain. It can't be changed, nor affected in any way, as accessibility by ease of understanding is the sole factor that decides about their fate. This also lead me to believe, that a proper rating system should actually take this into consideration. As much as you play a high-tier chuunige for it's cool story and characters, you play a simple charage not for the plot, but for character interactions and protagonist finally connecting with one of the heroines; you want to see where their relationships will lead to and it's the only actual thing you will care about. It's not really possible to compare both through the same exact value-based rating system.
    Obviously, we could argue about this forever, so without further ado - I present my new rating system, I'll be using onwards for my vn reviews.
     
    Basic ratings go as follows:
    Awful - When things get so bad, you might as well ask yourself what kind of wrong have you committed to end up with such game in your hands. Somehow, you ended up picking it along the way - maybe because it had a cute maid on the cover or a synopsis, which looked particularly interesting; who knows. The point is - the more you play, the less impressed you are and by the time you reach the end, you might be banging your head against the desk in utter disappointment and resentment you ever got yourself into vns. Looks can be deceiving, after all. Avoid whenever possible, since there's probably a thousand things more worth wasting your time on, than crap in p(r)etty disguise.
    Hopefully, I won't ever stumble upon a game, that will prompt me to give it a lower score.
    Imperfect - Games that strive to be good, but fail somewhere along the way - in one or more aspects. Typically a result of many problems piling up on the dev side of things, including lack of proper knowledge, skills, financial aspects, neglect, and/or faggotry. Those titles might (and prolly will) be enjoyable, but often most, the amount of issues outweighs positive aspects, successfully lowering the enjoyment factor to a large degree. They range from being mildly obnoxious in their issues to outright annoying and might be even riddled with bugs. Needless to say, they should be played in moderation to avoid salt overdose and in most cases, only the most devoted fans are arguably able to look past their flaws. For every imperfect game, you will find at least few similar titles that don't suck as badly.
    Mediocre - Games considered a widely accepted quality norm, stuck at their designated level. Mediocre titles tend to be far simpler in nature and typically offer fair value from a consumer standpoint, but lack in soul and technical aspects, making them cheap in comparison with anything above their tier. They tend to be mostly forgettable and don't leave a long-lasting impression (exceptions happen), but remain enjoyable while they last, giving you something to do for a bunch of cozy afternoons. In overall, they tend to leave players with hunger for more and unfulfilled dreams. Expect whatever being mass-produced at current moment to fall under this group, including majority of moege. At times, I tend to leave them with a tiny +, to indicate devs at least tried.
    Impressive - A game, which elevates itself above norm and skilfully uses tropes, settings and standards along with various medium-related mechanics to create memorable experiences. Those are typically good games by default, albeit not devoid of flaws, often times being a part of their very nature. They still tend to be far from perfect, but you'll love them regardless of those tiny mistakes and bumps, which remain an indicator of hand-crafted approach. Titles as such aren't uncommon, but more than often - they will leave you thirsty for more and that thirst is something, they aren't really capable to quench; after many of those, you will most probably want to delve deeper. They will purposefully tingle your ego, but don't expect them to give you clear answers, nor solutions to problems they create. They are more often about the voyage itself - asking questions and leaving their readers in a state of bewilderment - rather than the end result. Nonetheless, they are almost always a truly enjoyable ride till the very end. This group tends to attract simpler story-heavy games, as well as more ambitious charage titles.
    Outstanding - Very few games reach this sort of artistry, that could be only matched with writers' attention to detail and cleverness in which they build their settings and play with commonly found tropes, much to everyone's surprise and delight of their more hardcore fanbase. In those, the definition of up and down doesn't really exist and any sort of distinctions between what's considered widely accepted moral norms blur to the point of being almost indistinguishable. They rarely give a damn about normalfaggotry conceptions of the perceived genres. Such games will often have great heroes and even greater antagonists - actual people made of flesh and blood, driven by most primal human desires and emotions that will defy physics, bend time and space, obliterate entire armies and cause nations to fall. Such characters often find themselves fighting no less with their enemies, as much as themselves - their flaws, imperfections, inner demons hidden somewhere between the folds of their souls and enjoying to peek outside at times. In those tales, people will die and things get destroyed, with certain fates becoming far worse than a visit to the nearest afterworld. Don't expect your favourite characters getting selective treatment; in realm of outstanding stories, characters considered to be "redeeming" or "favourable" often go through even bigger hell than defeated antagonists - at most if they win - with worst possible cases including moral event horizon induced insanity, gruesome deaths or eternal suffering (preferably all in a never-ending cycle). Those stories will make you laugh, they will make you cry, they are frequently emotionally draining - and boy oh boy - entertaining as hell, provided you're capable to grasp concepts behind their inner workings.
    Considered a desired habitable zone by many aspiring and skilful writers, simply because it allows badassery to exist without hurting immersion in the process.
    Brilliant - Games that ultimately defy laws and conventions of genres they belong to, written by literate geniuses, capable to mould words into whatever the hell they want. Plot no longer functions like in normal space and characters are akin to visitors on a vast plane of  reader's subconsciousness. Those games are typically considered difficult to grasp for most people and with a good reason, because you're expected to deal with creators themselves and whatever personal issues, grudges, hate and passions they throw at you, while you're trying to make sense of everything. They are extremely rare and as such, prone to complete subjectiveness, becoming battlefronts for fan-based warfare. They always attain a cult following and grow endless forests of epileptic trees, which serve as fuel for discussions, that will go on for years - AND YEARS, if not decades after release.
    Masterpiece - This, my ladies and gentlemen - is what any fan could consider a holy grail of eroge... if one would only exist. I doubt I'll ever come across a visual novel as good, to be able to freely - and without doubts - give it such a high rating. It didn't happen yet, perhaps I'm yet to read them, who knows. Most of the really good games I know fall somewhere between outstanding and brilliant, to give an example. This rating is more of a gimmick to keep myself at bay there are no perfect games.
     
    In addition, I use the following special tags as well:
    Highly recommended - Games I consider being capable of showing "how things should be done", both in terms of writing as well as genre standards and rules they operate under. Such works, are - more or less - exemplary and at the same time - provide both content and enjoyment in a way, that's easy to grasp even for novices and people unaccustomed with their tropes or elements.
    Guilty pleasure - You DON'T question why certain games get this tag. Period.
    This is something I typically reserve for titles, that might not really be the best or most worthy of attention or general context (I could quite possibly not play them under most circumstances), but definitely deliver elsewhere. Where the former doesn't apply, they simply have things I have a strong and particular fixation about and approach them in such an excellent way - including fetishes I can't really live without anymore - I'm able to forgive those games any other flaws. I don't really play them because of their depth or plot, I play them for my personal enjoyment on a very carnal level and you might find them of equal interest.
    Wicked - A game that breaks any contrived norms or standards and does it in a fashion, that's definitely worth praising. I use this tag specifically for games that are a cherry on the top amongst the more morally ambiguous titles, often scaling between "cute", "awful" and outright "disgusting". Those games usually throw players into a vortex of extreme emotions, crushing their hopes and uplifting them seconds after, only to cast them into despair once again; The sort of games, that leave you both with sense of a profound disapproval and an almighty grin on your face. TL&DR Games that are literally a blast to plough through, provided you are both physically and emotionally strong enough (lol).
     
    For those of you, who ever wondered how do I rate the games I play, or what's my perception of vns in general this hopefully clears things up, even if a little bit.
  18. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Ruler by Default (western VN review)   

    Disclaimer: I was provided with a free review copy of this game by the developer. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.
    OELVN scene is, for many years now, heavily reliant on crowdfunding, with many small and high-profile projects made possible through Kickstarter and, more and more often, regular contributions of fans on Patreon. While these methods of financing VN development created opportunities that wouldn’t be available to the developers in the past and brought us many memorable titles, they go with their share if risk and problems – weak safeguards guaranteeing the final product delivering on its promises or even being completed at all, being the most crucial one. Crowdfunded projects disappointing their audience, getting stuck in development hell or simply never coming to fruition are at least just as much a reality as they are in the “normal” game development scene. However, in these cases, the consequences are falling mostly on the average backer, who took the double role of the consumer and the investor, hoping for nothing more than a compelling piece of entertainment in return.
               For this reasons, I very much enjoy seeing crowdfunded projects overcoming extreme difficulties and delivering even when everyone pretty much forgot about them or stopped hoping for a positive resolution. Lately, we’ve seen the release and warm reception of AIdol – a game that spent more than half a decade in development, went through both a failed Kickstarter campaign and changes in staff, eventually being claimed by Ebi-Hime, originally only the writer for the project, and released under her name. Today, I’ll look at another long-forgotten project, Pistachi Studio’s Ruler by Default, successfully crowdfunded in 2014 and released on Steam on May 4th this year, exactly 3 years after the initial goal.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  19. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Shuumatsu Shoujo Gensou Alicematic   
    This was one of the group of about forty VNs I played in my first year after I began playing untranslated VNs.  It was also the fourth chuunige I played that was untranslated.  For those who are interested, this game was written by Takaya Aya (the writer of several kamige, including Komorebi no Nostalgica and Otoboku 2).  He is a writer who can handle just about any genre, including nakige, chuunige, charage, serious drama, and deep science fiction. 
    Alicematic is his first chuunige, written in 2006, during the 'golden age of VNs'.  It is based in a version of our world where the dimensions that comprise reality are collapsing, and as a result entire swathes of the world are becoming unlivable, the survivors driven mad.  The protagonist, Marume Kuroudo, is summoned to an experimental facility based on an artificial island in the Tokyo Bay in order to participate in an experiment to alter the currently unavoidable extinction of humanity and the end of the world as we know it. 
    He and the others summoned, are told that they must fight to the virtual death (pain and sensation included) in a virtual realm to supply the mental energy to alter the fate of the world.  
    Now, this game has a pretty diverse cast.  The protagonist, Kuroudo, is a wild, pure-hearted type who knows his own limitations as a person and devotes himself to the things he feels are important without hesitation (he uses the odachi).  Sayane, a young woman constantly dressed in the goth-loli style, is a master swordswoman with a passionate heart and an iron will (she uses the standard katana).  Kuroe and Shiroe are twins, with the older sister Shiroe being hesitant and gentle and her younger sister Kuroe being an overprotective siscon (their weapons are kodachi).  Iori is an unsociable young woman whose hobby is observing people (her weapon is an executioner's sword).  Rikka is a cheerful, talkative, and active young woman (and the most normal of the heroines) who wields a crescent-spear.  Fuyume is a blind and innocent miko who is also a talented onmyouji and can see the souls of people and objects.  Nobotsuna is a seemingly light-hearted womanizer who quickly befriends Kuroudo and the others, his surprising wisdom coming out at just the right moments.  Kei is a cross-dressing young woman who is also a master of western sorcery (also a confirmed lesbian).
    Common Route
    This game's common route changes depending on what choices you make throughout it leading up to the heroine branch-off, the events occurring after the prologue changing the most dramatically.  While there is a lot of repeated text, it can mostly be skipped using the skip function on subsequent playthroughs.  This is a technique used a lot in early chuunige, because events tend to accelerate rapidly in chuunige once you get into the heroine paths.  The differences mostly lie in which heroines you interact with the most and the fate of a certain antagonist that appears early on... as her fate is usually related to how things turn out in the heroine paths, somehow.
    Route Order Suggestion
    I honestly suggest that you use the exact route order found in the Foolmaker walkthrough: http://sagaoz.net/foolmaker/game/s/alice.html
    The reason is fairly simple... despite not restricting any of the paths but Fuyume's, there are assumptions made about your preexisting knowledge for each path. 
    Sayane
    Nine out of ten people who play this game through the end of the prologue without picking a heroine will choose to do Sayane's path first.  Why?  Because she is the heroine who leaves the most vivid impression in the prologue, by far.  As a result, for the second time around... I ended up picking her again (it was a toss-up between her and the twins).  Sayane's rather twisted value system is the basis for why the actual buildup to relationship formation is so... long.  However, the reasons make sense, given the events of the prologue, and the romance is... beautiful in a sense that is rare in visual novel romance in general. 
    The battles in this path are first-class (really all the battles in this game are), and the last battle is just... superb.  I laughed, I cried (a lot), and I felt my heart wrench with empathy for Sayane and Kuroudo.  This is an excellent path, and, even if you play none of the other paths, this one would make the game worth playing (though I might end up saying the same for some of the others as well, lol).
    Kuroe and Shiroe
    I just ignored my own advice... but I don't like Rikka, so that was inevitable (her type of heroine is my least favorite, because they are so common).  Kuroe and Shiroe are a pair of twins that are one year younger than Kuroudo.  Shiroe is the older sister, a gentle-mannered girl with a tendency to view her own motivations negatively, particularly when it comes to Kuroe.  She is rather obviously in love with Kuroudo almost from the start (the incident that brings it on is fairly obvious).  Kuroe is the younger sister, and the dependent half of the pair (most otaku media twins operate on the theory that one is dependent and the other dominant).  She loves her sister first, second, and last, lol.  She is also an aggressive violent tsundere with a fondness for jump kicks and a generalized dislike of men.
    Kuroe and Shiroe's path has a much different focus than Sayane's... the swordsmanship aspect is far less important (the fights in this path are mostly short ones), and it is very much about the twisted psychology of the twins' dependent relationship, their past, and how it effects the experiments when Kuroudo gets mixed up with them (hint: the results tend to be mixed).  Generally speaking, the path itself can probably be called one of the weaker ones in the VN from a chuunige perspective, but it is emotionally rich and generally enjoyable to read.
    Rikka
    I'll say it right out.  Rikka is the heroine I like the least in this game.  She is mostly a comedy relief character.  She is genki, she eats a lot, she makes random sexual jokes, and she is in a deep manzai relationship with the protagonist and other characters. 
    That said, her path is of even quality to the others so far.  This path... will probably be hard on people who like Sayane (I won't go into details), and I had to wince at some of the things that happen to the characters here.  However, in exchange you get a series of three first-class swordfights, a bunch of lesser fights, some seriously crazy turns of events, and a nice ending.
    Iori
    Iori... by the time you get to this path (I recommend doing it last amongst the initially-available paths for reasons I'll mention in a moment), you'll have some idea of her personality.  On the surface, she is calm and collected, but underneath, she is very much like a lonely child who desperately wants the love she never received from her parents.  However, she also has a tendency to instantly make decisions others would procrastinate on, and there is little in the way of hesitation to her personality.
    Her path... is split into two parts.  The first part, which is treated pretty much the same as the other heroine paths, is a sad ending (almost like a Tsukihime-style normal ending), that feels bittersweet.  It is also fairly revealing about Iori's personality and her limitations as an individual.  The second part has you start from the beginning of the game from a slightly different point, and it dramatically alters events when it comes to how Iori, Fuyume, and Kuroudo interact with one another and eliminates a major story element common to all the other paths, including Iori's first path.  How it differs most radically from the first version, however, is in how Iori deals with her personal issue that pops up in almost every path of the game.  Let's just say that the issue is confronted much earlier, at least in part because Iori held close contacts with the others at a much earlier point.  This is also the most revealing path so far for the Cthulhu Mythos elements in the story.
    Fuyume
    Because of Fuyume's tendency to refer to herself in the third person, whenever she talks, I get the feeling she is putting herself down (my backbrain keeps interpreting her name as Fuyu and 'me' as that deliberately servile appellation some retainers to wealthy or socially high-ranking individuals use for themselves).   However, her personality is fundamentally kind-hearted and gentle with a strong flavor of curiosity about new things and a tendency to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.
    This path... is very emotional, both in the romantic and in the story/drama parts.  While this path doesn't have any superlative fights, the flow of the story is the most 'complete', and I honestly loved the way the relationship between Fuyume and Iori strengthens throughout the path.  I smiled, I laughed, and I cried... and in the end, I was left with a sense of completeness, as this path put an end to the story as a whole. 
    Overall
    This game is one of those that was hard to appreciate fully on the first playthrough.  Part of it is that, when I first played it, I was unfamiliar with much of the terminology (occult, scientific, and swordsmanship) involved.  However, the largest part was that I simply didn't have the understanding of the concepts involved necessary to fully appreciate how this story plays out.  Most who read this game will be satisfied entirely by the sword-fights and the story, but, later on, if you have a wider understanding of the concepts involved in this game, it becomes a much richer/deeper read. 
  20. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Lesbian Visibility Day rant   
    Hello there! It's not Friday, so it has to be an unusual post and it definitely is one...
    It will be a bit chaotic too - only now, late in the evening, after taking a day off and pursuing the only lesbian romance route in Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf for most of it, I've realized that today is Lesbian Visibility Day. For me, both as a fan of yuri and as an appreciator of OELVNs it probably should be one important holiday - definitely worthy of a few moments/words of reflection.
    Visibility as something inherently positive is a curious idea. It's based on a very important and reasonable assumption, that to make something a public issue and fight for social change, you have to make people aware of that phenonenon's existence, scale and the consequences it might have for those most affected by it. To fight for the acceptance of gay people and systemic change that will give them equality before the law (and, hopefully, equality of opportunities), you cannot accept the conservative argument that sets sexual orientation as a purely "private" matter - the long-lived stance that wants people to visibly adhere to social "norm" and not "bother" others with the fact they're different. Most often, if you want your rights to be respected as a member of a minority group, you have to be loud, you have to be bold to the point of possibly being obnoxious and offensive to some people. You have to fight tooth-and-nail to make sure you won't be trampled by the majority's concepts of what's "normal" and "proper". In many Western countries, for lesbians that fight is to a large extent already "won" - the majority of people see them as a legitimate group worth respecting. Not everywhere though and it's not clear to what degree these gains are permanent. 

    Hopefully?
    But is all visibility a good thing? Paraphrasing painfully accurate thought by @Fiddle, we don't really praise Adolf Hitler for bringing attention to Jewish issues in Mein Kampf. Yuri, is, obviously, not nazism. It's not in any inherent way a negative phenomenon for the lesbian cause. But it's also not automatically an ally of any progressive agenda. Japanese media is full of depictions of lesbian romance, which reaches a society that ignores LGBT issues in a way more persistent than pretty much any other highly developed country. For me, it's not especially surprising - just like the saturation of Pornhub with lesbian porn probably doesn't lead to people watching it going to their local Pride parade, fetishized, male-oriented yuri themes in anime and VNs do not have to translate into any kind of educated attitude towards RL queer women. And Japanese yuri, at least until recently, didn't really have an ambition of grounding its narrative into any kind of reality of homosexual romance. SonoHana series is the perfect example of completely isolated, imaginary "yuritopia" (to borrow a handy term from Yurirei), where a huge number of young females live in a world where males exists only in passing references, pretty much everyone's gay by default and there's no prejudice or social stigma connected to that fact - which, of course, make possible a gigantic number of voyeuristic porn scenes. Is it a bad thing by itself? Not really. Does it make people more aware of the situation of sexual minorities as a social issue? Hell no.

    Admittedly, some Japanese depictions of yuri romance are probably too lovely and heartwarming to say anything bad about them...
    Obviously, there's a lot of issues with representation of women in anime and VNs and I don't want to write a book here. I want to make a slightly different point and this goes to yuri romance in English VNs. This is also not a black and white picture - many EOLVNs directly copy the Japanese formula or give slight twists to it, while still keeping the "lesbian porn for guys" premise. However, for every Negligee and Sakura Fantasy our VN scene produces maybe even a couple of projects that are genuine expressions and/or appreciations of lesbian identity and realities of lesbian relationships. Throughout the various editions of Yuri Game Jam, NaNoRenO and in many commercial titles, I've seen lovely, touching, thought-provoking depictions of f/f romance that gave me huge pleasure as a reader, but also made me empathise with people different than me. Christine Love's work I think holds a special place here, with powerful and persuasive depictions of discrimination and her courage in exploring themes that commercial games rarely dare to go anywhere close to, from Analogue to Ladykiller in a Bind. Lately, Brianna Mei's Butterfly Soup gained similar notoriety, also through a genuine message and creative passion involved. But even small, cute and silly games such as those by Nami can have a genuinely positive role to play, confronting people with diversity in an approachable and lovely way.

    One other thing that OELVNs regularly prove to me is that some small, indie games can have more soul in them than many giant, high-budget productions...
    I, in all of this, have a pretty questionable position of a straight guy that finds lesbian romance lovely and, to a certain extent, hot. The more genuine the romance depicted is, the more I'm probably a bit of a creepy voyeur getting a high out of something that for other people is part of their identity. But no matter how we see that problem, this genuineness depicted above is something I absolutely love many yuri OELVNs for and a thing to be shared and appreciated. And that's my message for this day.
    Thank you for reading!
  21. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, A Little Lily Princess (western VN review)   

    Note: This game was already reviewed on Fuwa by Valmore, I encourage you to check out his review as well
    Those that follow this blog for a while might have noticed that I like to complain about the lack of identity that many Western-made VNs suffer from. As a medium utilized pretty much exclusively by the fans of original Japanese visual novels, EVNs far too often borrow extensively from those when it goes to setting and story elements, to the point of replicating various tiring anime clichés and kitsch tropes. They also frequently copy elements that really have no interest being in a game created by someone living in the USA or Europe, more often than not having only very superficial knowledge of Japanese culture and reality of life in Japan. 
                A Little Lily Princess, developed by Hanako Games and published on Steam in May 2016 (under the "Hanabira" label, signifying an outside scriptwriter), is a game that I like bringing up as an example of a Western VN that was able to differentiate itself from the crowd and create unique experience exactly because of the ability to not be completely defined its “weeb” roots, creating a setting and a story far detached from typical anime tropes. Paradoxically, the classic English novel A Little Princess, that this game adapted into the VN/dating sim format, is not a title unknown to anime fans, thanks to the highly-rated series from the 1980’s, Little Princess Sara (it even inspired a few less known projects, such as the slightly outlandish Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry). Hanako’s version tries to differentiate itself from those other adaptations mostly by giving a yuri spin to the story – still, as I will try to show in this review, calling it a yuri romance is rather misleading and says little about the true appeal of this game.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  22. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to littleshogun for a blog entry, A Peace Loving Yakuza Review   
    Visual Novel Translation Status (04/14/2018)
    Finally we have on time VNTS for this week, although in turn this time my VNTS review is quite late. As for the title, you may find it quite strange, although in fact it's just another role association from me here because the seiyuu for the image header girl was also voicing Makoto back in Chrono Clock, who as we knew is the yakuza. For peace loving part, it's to adapt with another name of Supipara Chapter 2 in which it was called Peace Story, and especially it was because the 'Pi' part from Supipara is stand for Peace. It's pretty ironic though that the girl in image header (Hotaru) was supposed to the main girl of Peace Story, and yet she's quite a tsundere who managed to say 'kill' five times in a conversation with MC lol. With that done, welcome to this week VNTS Review which is to be very frank still quite anemic although at least we have two major updates from Mangagamer (One release and one planned release), so at least this week it's slightly more active. Let's see what I can write for this week as well.
    As for Sekai, no notable update will be very appropriate for them. For the update, we have Loveduction was fully translated and need some engine work. Other than the only update, we have Sekai revealed three additional secret projects. What I know is that we still didn't have info for that project, so I guess we better just wait and see later. However, the most probable guess would be those three projects would be another lesser known VNs considering that those three VNs were almost ready for release, and more if we knew that it's just revealed today. But even so, I will be happy though if those three secret projects turn out to be very well known VNs, almost impossible as it is. For secret projects progress roundup, the 1st project was in QA, 2nd project was fully translated and 99% translated, and 3rd project was still waiting for the third party (According to the tracker it's almost ready for release).
    As for fan translation once again it's only just regular updates, although this time we have Pure Pure have a break though because the translator was busy at the university. For the roundup we have Musumaker was at 52% translated, Eustia was reached 40% mark (40.06%) translated along with at 24.82% TLC-ed, Harugi's prologue was at halfway translated along with 28% TLC-ed and 16% edited (The overall progress was still at around 1%), Higurashi Tsukiotoshi was almost completely translated (At 99% translated), Shin Koihime Musou was at 26% edited, and Witch Garden was at 44% translated. Still no news from Tsurezure yet although perhaps they're quite busy lately, so that's all for fan translation section.
    Other
    This week we also have Punchline VN release news for both of PS4 and PSV at this summer later, although seeing that at the same time we'll gonna have the probable release for both of Island and Shibuya Scramble - by the way we already have another Island anime PV and apparently it'll be released as a part of summer 2018 season, so it mean that there's a chance that we'll get Island VN release at summer later. Back to Punchline, for the info it was created as anime first by Uchikoshi (Ever17, Zero Escape) and the anime have some infamy for showing too much fan service. So the bottom line here is that Punchline announcement was not interesting to me because it was overshadowed, and it was only available for console. 
    We also have change from Sol Press in which they decided to announced another VN from the same company as Sakusakura (Yotsunoha), and it was quite an old VN from 2000's. From the first look, I just think it was just an average moege but at least it was good looking - also it have OVA as well. As for the translation progress, it was already at the middle and right now it was at 42% translated, 30% edited, and 8% QA-ed. Other than Yotsuhana announcement, we also finally have Sol Press made a new website in which it looks neat. They also made the progress for their two remaining VNs project is easier to navigate, especially in regard of Newton VN in which it was at 85% translated along with 70% edited and 40% QA-ed (At least we didn't need to take not which route was in translation and in editing). As for the release date for those three VNs, they're quite confident to announced the exact release date although keep in mind that they may have delay in regard of the release - for the date, Newton VN will be released at May 25th, Sakusakura at 30th later, and Yotsunoha at July 27th.
    Mangagamer
    From Mangagamer, we have one planned release with the exact date ready. As for the release, it was Fata Morgana fandisc in which it'll be released at May 17th later. Although it could be said as the fandisc, actually it also depict the past of certain characters who said to be the catalyst of Fata Morgana story (I can't say it freely because it was a major spoiler). Go preorder that if you want to see more Fata Morgana.
    Other than Fata Morgana fandisc release date announcement, we also have Supipara Chapter 2 (Peace Story) in which it's also the currently last chapter for Supipara. I said currently because Supipara itself was pretty ambitious project that was planned to have five chapters, only for minori to face the financial danger before barely saved (That's why their heroines in VNs after Supipara release have big breast). For Peace Story itself, our focus will be on Hotaru in which once again is a quite tsundere and her connection with Alice the Witch. There's also interesting fact that there's an opening that depict the heroines for the remaining two unavailable chapters, in which it should be a hint that minori did intend to continue their ambitious project, because if not I think there would be no new opening for Supipara even with the reduced cost for that (The new opening is till better animated compared to usual VN opening though). As for my opinion here while the opening itself sounds exciting (I like it), I still have some doubt that we'll be able to see this complete because it'll be need a lot of money so more or less I'm pretty wary about this. In the end, I hope taht I'll be able to see Supipara released with all of five chapters completed, although it might take very long time to achieve that.
    I think that's all for this week, and see you next week.
  23. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Blackberry Honey (yuri VN review)   

    Ebi-hime is one of the very few OELVN developers who managed to establish themselves as reliable and respected creators even among the JP-centric visual novel fans. Having released over 20 titles since 2013, both freeware and commercial, she is probably best-known for her yuri titles, such as Asphyxia and The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns, and memorable horror stories, such as Sweetest Monster and The Way We All Go. Most of her work stands out through uncommon, Western settings, a deep connection to English culture and literature, and artwork that diverge in various ways from generic, anime-style illustrations you can find in most EVNs. Blackberry Honey, ebi-hime’s latest commercial VN, is both a very typical title for her – with its yuri themes, Victorian England setting and interesting stylization – and an unusual one, as it the first project of hers to include explicit sexual content, through an optional 18+ patch. So, how did this venture into the world of eroge turned out for the OELVN scene’s star creator?

    The game has its share of interesting and surprising moments, but the overall pacing is painfully slow and predictable, even for a romance
    Blackberry Honey follows the story of Lorina Waugh, a young, poor maid that starts working in a rural residence of Bly, after being sent off in disgrace from her previous job, in unclear circumstances. Being mistreated by some of the older maids in the estate and Lady Constance, the young daughter of the owners, she struggles desperately to hold on to her position, so she can financially support her mother and sisters. After being hurt while performing a pointless chore for Constance, she stumbles upon the Bly’s unusual, foreign-looking parlour maid, Taohua, sparking a relationship that will completely change her life.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  24. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Tojita Sekai no Tori Colony   
    This VN is an odd duck on my long list of recommended VNs.  While its existence as a time loop story is a trope, the way the game's story handles it is pretty interesting. 
    I went ahead and revealed this as a loop story because you find it out so early on that hiding it as a spoiler is meaningless.  The game's story begins with the protagonist meeting (and helping out) Nodoka, one of the four heroines, and her confessing her love to him on the next day when she transfers into the class.  While he is at first somewhat bothered by this, he eventually falls for her, loves her... and then suddenly wakes up on the second day of the month, the day after he first met her.
    Now, you will go through a lot of route loops before the game is over (you have to see all four heroine loops, plus a bunch of side loops, to get access to the endings), and a lot of these have seriously crazy outcomes.  The protagonist, being a young idiot, goes off and tests everything he can find (often to hilarious results), and his 'morality' tends to be rather fragile when it comes to having fun (in one loop he ends up gambling so hard he gets sold to an organ broker, lol).  To be honest, the journey through the non-heroine loops is probably the most attractive part of this VN.  The music is slightly below the average quality of the industry, as is the art (though that is comparison to the present day), but the game as a whole has a lot of laughs and good moments.
    The protagonist, Minato, is essentially your average (slightly baka but not totally stupid) harem protagonist who is kind to everyone and as dense as the lead plating protecting a fission reactor's core.  Minato has solid reasons for being dense about the three heroines other than Nodoka (Nodoka being very open), based in his past relationships with the others (Inori being his abusive childhood friend, Korone being his little sister, and Yuuki being so friendly to everyone it is difficult for a harem protagonist to see it in her, lol).  That said, that is perhaps the most annoying part of his character, though it gets relieved over time.
    Explaining the heroines to this game is counterproductive.  I'm not being mean, but if I were to start explaining the heroines, I would probably ruin the experience for you.  I really advise you not to read the character profiles (both because they are deliberately inaccurate and because forming your own impressions of the heroines is important to getting into this VN. 
    There are five endings to this game.  One for each of the heroines and the true (harem, no H) ending.  The heroine endings are mostly kind of bittersweet, because there are solid reasons why things aren't going to end perfectly, but the true/harem ending is pretty hilarious.  Other than the true ending, I liked Korone's ending the best, both because I liked the outcome and because it was the happiest one other than the true one. 
    Edit: Incidentally, Inori is probably the only case I've ever heard of where they handled the tsundere osananajimi realistically (rather than just using the sides as a contrast). 
  25. Like
    Chronopolis reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Butterfly Seeker   
    This is Unobara Nozomu's second attempt at the mystery genre (for those who are interested, he also wrote Yurirei, Teito Hiten Daisakusen, and Fairytale Requiem) after the dramatic failure of Shinsou Noise last year. 
    To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this game, despite its interesting concept.  This game, like many detective mystery type VNs, possesses a deduction system... but thankfully, it also lets you skip that portion at the click of a button (thus avoiding the story disruption that is the norm for games with deduction gameplay). 
    The story takes place in Shiraori City, a small city that has a massive murder rate, with most of them being carried out by serial killers, who seem to bloom like poisonous flowers by the handful in the city (incidentally, the manslaughter and incidental killing rates are much lower compared to the population than in the rest of the country, apparently).  In this city, due to the sheer workload of all those murder cases, is a system whereby young people with unusual talents are taken on and trained as student investigators.
    The protagonist, Tohno Keisuke is one of these, a young man with the ability to see the factor that made a victim's fate certain when he touches their corpse (or their ashes, hair, etc.).  This ability has, with the help of his fellow investigators, allowed him to find several serial killers.  His school's 'team' of student investigators works under the label of 'mushikui' (a club supposedly devoted to finding better ways to eat bugs).
    The members of the club are Tendou Yui, a girl with an extremely strong sense of empathy that allows her to read the emotions and thought patterns of others from the most minor clues; Himuro Chitose, an almost autistic girl with an excellent memory and capacity for rational thought that has her training to be a profiler; Saotome Haya, an aggressive girl with immense physical abilities who hates criminals and loves nothing more than beating the shit out of them; and Kiryuu Azusa, the club's overseer, a teacher who is also a trained detective. 
    The game consists of three heroine paths and one true path.  There are eight endings other than the true one (five of which are bad or dead endings). 
    The heroine paths in this game are about of equal quality, each adding pieces to the greater puzzle of the strange city the characters live in and bringing each heroine to life in turn.  The protagonist, Keisuke, is something of a fractured spirit, constantly stabbed with pain left from his past (I'm not going to spoil you about it, even though it is revealed relatively early in the common route why this is), and how the heroines bring him out of this differs radically from path to path. 
    ... trying to avoid spoilers in a mystery game is a serious pain in the butt.  I can't really say anything in particular about the heroine paths without spoiling things, so I'll restrict myself to saying that each heroine path covers an individual case (a series of serial killings), and the mysteries themselves are relatively interesting on their own.  Chitose's perp is probably the most obvious, whereas Haya's perp is the most obscure (clues are more subtle).  There is a lot of psychopathy and disturbed minds in this game, and that includes the heroines and the protagonist (they all have issues, though  not as bad as the killers they chase, lol). 
    The true path follows the mystery of the 'why' and 'what' of what happened six years ago (the events that resulted in Keisuke gaining the Butterfly Seeker ability and becoming obsessed with saving as many lives as possible).  It reveals, piece by piece (drawing on the 'pieces' revealed in each heroine's path in part) the full truth of both the events six years previous and the events still occurring in Shiraori City.   The ending of the true path is a bittersweet one, and - unlike most such paths - it isn't a heroine ending.  While there are some things to be optimistic about for the characters, the fact remains that theirs is a life surrounded by tragedy (oh and watching Yui during a certain scene was scarier than any of the serial killers in this VN, lol). 
    I left this VN feeling relatively good about it... which is rare for me, when it comes to mystery VNs.  A lot of it was that I liked the characters, the music, and how they handled the actual cases.  Another part of it was that Keisuke was a surprisingly good protagonist.  Overall, this was a good VN, though I'm not likely to pick it for VN of the Month this time around (this month is waaay too packed). 
    For those who are interested, Dergonu is handling Akumade, Kore wa ~ no Monogatari and fun2novel is handling Etatoto.  The simple reason is that there are just too many March releases for one man to handle, and they were interested in those two games.
    Edit: In retrospect, I do have one big complaint about this VN... there is no Azusa path.  Azusa would make an excellent heroine, and it seemed a bit forced to make all the heroines around the protagonist's own age, considering how mature he is, in general. 
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