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Mr Poltroon

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  1. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Cursed Lands (RPG/VN Hybrid Game Review)   
    Note: To learn more about this series of games, check out my reviews of Loren: The Amazon Princess and Tales of Aravorn: Season of the Wolf
    Winter Wolves’ series of RPGs set in the fantasy world of Aravorn, starting with the highly-appreciated Loren: The Amazon Princess, have a long and rich history, with three “mainline” games released over six years and many visual novel and dating sim spin-offs, and a direct sequel to The Amazon Princess, Reigns of War currently in development. Combining expansive, turn-based RPG adventure with compelling VN-style storytelling and multiple romance options (including sex-same ones), they were a particularly ambitious and notable additions to the EVN market – especially in 2012, where the first title appeared and the Western visual novels were still at their infancy, they had few serious competitors within the niche and gathered enough attention to establish Winter Wolves as a major brand within the niche.
                  Still, while many VN fans have been charmed by the epic story of Loren, a lot of them also expressed their disappointment towards the different tone and smaller cast of its immediate successor, Season of the Wolf. While I personally found that game much more competent when it goes to RPG mechanics and having a different, but very interesting appeal story-wise – rather than a grand adventure, it was a very personal story of two elves twins living on the fringes of the world of Aravorn and overcoming hardships with a small band of companions – it undeniably underperformed both when it goes to sales and reception by the players. The third game in the series, Cursed Lands, was released in may 2018 and quite visibly aimed to return the series closer to its roots, at least when it goes to scale and climate of the story. With a main intrigue that can decide the fate of whole kingdoms, a set of locales already well-known from Loren and the player leading a team of up to 9 companion (5 of them romanceable), it looked like a project that could recapture the magic of the first game and convince the previously-disappointed fans to give the Aravorn RPGs another try. And considering the developer’s claims about its sales and my impressions, they might’ve actually pulled it off.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  2. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Sable Grimoire – Tix’s Route (VN DLC Review)   
    Sable’s Grimoire was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and enjoyable OELVN releases of 2018 – the expansive, story-driven VN with a very unusual approach to the theme of monster girls impressed me both with the sheer amount of content and the stories it told. Featuring various mature themes but essentially devoid of sexual fanservice (if you didn’t read my original review, check it out here – it also includes a lengthy interview with the game’s developer, Zetsubou), it was a rare kind of uncompromising project, which didn’t really cater to the reader’s expectations or insert elements that would help it become commercially successful, but rather followed its creator’s particular vision, to a very compelling and fresh-feeling effect. Even with the basic premise – a human student entering a magic academy dominated by demi-humans – sounding relatively standard, the VN itself was, in many ways, unlike anything I’ve read within the EVN scene.
                Another significant detail about the Sable’s Grimoire, signifying its relatively non-commercial nature, was the promise of free updates from the developer, which would expand significantly on what was already an impressively-sized VN (over 20 hours of content) with additional story routes. First of these was meant to be the story of Tix, a short-tempered, but cheerful pixie, who because of an administrative mistake becomes the protagonist’s roommate – a route originally planned for the main game, but cut out because of the already-prolonged development cycle. In January 2019, 8 months after the game’s initial release, the promised update was finally made available, adding around 4 hours of new content and full heroine arc for Tix. So, how does it compare to the rest of the game and how much does it add to the already awesome value-proposition of Sable’s Grimoire?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  3. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, An attempt at classifying protagonists   
    Protagonists perceived as weak seem to be something a lot of people reading VNs complain about, and as this is an interesting topic imo, I've been spending some time trying to organise my thoughts on it and write them up in a way that's not completely incoherent. In the process I started reflecting on main characters and their role in fiction on a more fundamental level and came up with a very basic way to categorise main characters, by comparing their personalities to how much it advances the plot in their respective stories. I even made a very professional looking diagram to explain my thinking:

    As you can see, the y-axis is supposed to be a measure for the MC's personality, while the x-axis shows how much they actively influence the plot. As each quadrant marks a certain general category of protagonist, I also named those in a way I found fitting (in italic) and added a few examples from VNs I read.
    The measure for personality I chose is a mixture of a protagonist's general determination to face problems head on and to which degree they are actually able to solve the ones the plot poses. I know this is kind of a soft category but this whole thing isn't supposed to be a scientific essay and I couldn't come up with anything better so it will have to do. On the top end of this scale you would have someone like Superman, on the bottom end probably Bella Swan.
    The question about how proactive a protagonist is at least in this metric boils down to if they mainly react to plot points happening or if they themselves make plot points happen. This category also isn't perfect though. For example almost any character arc involving a protagonist in the "weak" category is about them turning stronger. In my opinion this doesn't make a character more proactive though as this is usually driven by plot necessity.
    In this metric you can define four broader types of protagonists. The weak protagonist is someone who usually stumbled into his situation and mainly goes with the flow. The strong protagonist makes his own destiny. The observer is someone who isn't getting too actively involved in the things going on around him, either by their own choice or some external reason. As for the fourth category, I don't know if there actually are protagonists that combine being incapable or weak willed with being proactive. I used Phoenix Wright as an example as you could at least argue that he's only getting by through luck while he always keeps fighting till the end, but that should also move him further up on the personality scale.
    You will probably also disagree with other choices I made about where to put certain characters. So as you can see, this is more of an orientation to think about characters and their roles in fictional media than an objective measure. It also doesn't tell us anything about how well a character is written. There are bland action heroes as well as super well developed wimps. I still thought this self-made graphic might be an interesting thing to share. It might also turn out to be a good place for me to reference whenever I might think about writing something about an MC. At least until someone comes along and completely destroys all of my personal theories I based this on.
    edit: I thought I'd add and explain a few examples for each category (except the useful idiot as I can't confidently name any) from other media so people who don't know any of the guys in the chart or find my explanations too abstract or incomprehensible can get a grasp on what I mean. But first to give an example of what I mean by proactive vs. passive, because just doing a lot of things is not the same as being proactive: Imagine a story where someone dear to the protagonist gets murdered. If this turns into them killing everyone responsible, the MC is extremely proactive. they could just wait for the judicial system to prosecute the bad guys and testify as a witness, but his thirst for revenge drives everything happening from then on. A passive protagonist in such a scenario might be someone who struggles with the loss and is overwhelmed by everyone else not caring and instead fighting over the inheritance. But now for the protagonist types:
    Weak protagonist: Harry Potter - Although everyone in universe talks about how special he is Harry Potter doesn't have that much of a personality, does he? The Sorting Hat talking about how he would be a good fit for any house is true (except for Slytherin as that's basically the Hat telling you you're a bigot) as he shows reasonable degrees of bravery, intelligence and blandness. He doesn't have the magical skills to beat the most powerful wizards either and more often than not gets bailed out by his mother's love or whatever. His personal struggles are always pretty similar to what any kid his age goes through and rarely impact the plot in any major way. In most books he either ends up as a part of the main either through witnessing certain events by chance or because the bad guy plots to get him killed. And most times he gets a "becoming a stronger person and beating the bad guy" arc without him actually groing as a person that much. Harry Potter is also a good example of why a weak protagonist isn't necessarily a bad thing. When the world around the main character or the plot are the actual star of the story, a too strong protagonist could take away from that. The role the protagonist fills is basically to  go through the world with the same sense of wonder the audience would while providing an "everyday person becoming a hero" arc. Which is probably the reason why people who don't like the Harry Potter franchise in general are usually the ones complaining about its protagonist. Frodo would be another example for this kind of protagonist. As mentioned above I'm going to write another blog post about why I think weak protagonists are very common in certain types of VN and why they often seem more annoying than in other fictional media.
    Strong protagonist: James Bond - While his stories always start out with him getting a mission he certainly approaches them in a very unique fashion. I don't know if I have to write a lot more about him. Most iconic action heroes fall into this category.
    Observer: This type of protagonist seems to be more common in Japanese than in western media. Stories with this kind of protagonist usually have them coming in contact with the plot through either coincidence or their line of work and often involve them providing some kind of service while the narrative focus is on the ones the MC comes into contact with and these side characters tend to have the biggest arc. To name an example in western media Mad Max (at least from the second movie on) is pretty good at surviving in the post-apocalypse but he doesn't have some higher goal beyond that. In Fury Road he might be the main character, but the plot is driven by Furiosa's goals and he just happens to help out as it aligns with him trying to flee from the same people. He still helps out a lot, but technically it's just not his story. Which is why he just leaves at the end. As for Japanese Media Gingko in Mushi-Shi might be the prime example. The anime has more than 40 episodes and three specials, still we learn next to nothing about him. Every time he walks into someone else's story, helps them realise their respective arcs without ever getting too personally involved, and leaves again. Violet Evergarden also fits the description for the major part of the anime. She is a killing machine and apparently quickly becomes very good at her new job as well, yet, while there are episodes focusing on her, in most of them she just helps someone else come to terms with their emotions through providing them the service of writing a letter. Violet Evergarden also shows that it's possible to develop protagonists in episodes not focusing on them.
    edit 2: So I managed to come up with an example for  a"useful idiot" (although I don't really like that name, I couldn't think of a better one): many characters in movies by the Coen brothers fit this category. While the protagonists themselves usually are straight man characters, the plots (especially in Fargo and Burn after Reading) often revolve around how bad decisions by incompetent characters lead to catastrophies.
  4. Like
    Mr Poltroon got a reaction from Chronopolis 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.
  5. Thanks
    Mr Poltroon got a reaction from phantomJS 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.
  6. Like
    Mr Poltroon got a reaction from Fiddle 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.
  7. Like
    Mr Poltroon got a reaction from Ramaladni for a blog entry, Mr. Poltroon's Romance Manga   
    I was just about to do something productive. Thank god I thought to do this instead.
    Please feel free to recommend me romance manga, or ask for recommendations. I'd be happy to provide, or be provided with.

    This thread is to form a couple with this one, for I am somewhat well-versed in both areas:
    To begin with, it is important to highlight a few tags, which I'll be using for organisational purposes.
    Be fairly warned. I do not know what constitutes as a spoiler to you, so if you find things like whether or not there is a confession scene or how far the couple goes to be a spoiler, please avoid reading my comments.
    Kare Kano - Shoujo, Drama
    When somebody thinks "Romance Manga" the first thing that comes into their minds is a teenage relationship. Meeting someone, falling in love and fulfilling your teenage dream. Kare Kano is one of the first things anybody recommends when you ask for a romance. Whilst that speaks for itself, allow me to corroborate it: Kare Kano is actually fantastic. It is the typical story of two teenagers falling in love with a lot of twists and turns in the middle, wonderfully comedic too. I could not have asked for more. If I were to complain about anything at all, I wasn't too keen on a particular facet of the main guy. I will mention that the protagonist is the female, I'm pretty positive. You can probably tell the story wasn't memorable enough for me to remember details, though...
    Bonnouji - Josei, H-Scenes
    Is my go to recommendation for a relaxing romance. That is all it is, literally. The female protagonist broke up with her boyfriend and is left somewhat broken. It is at this point she meets somebody who lives in the same building, and they become friends. Eventually, they fall in love. And that is it. Most if not all of the story is spent inside the flat of one of the two, and they relax, converse, play with packages they receive from a man they know and fall in love. Both of them are adults, sometimes they act like adults, their time is spent relaxing, playing and talking. You could say basically nothing happens in this manga and you'd be mostly right, and that's totally fine. When two people love each other there isn't much more to develop, truth be told. Wholehearted recommendation (although it's so short you may cry as a consequence).
    Orange Yane no Chiisana Ie - Other
    A divorced man with two male children and a divorced woman with two female children get conned and end up living in the same house. If you can somehow believe that both parties would accept living together for more than a few days, then you'll find a brilliant story of family bonding and love. Both families cooperate with each other, and then feud with each other, and then cooperate again. You can see the period of adaptation they go through, and I thought it was well done. Eventually they establish bonds, whether or not they admit it. Familial bonds and even love bonds. The manga could not possibly be better, mostly because I'm a sucker, pardon the expression, for family.
    Living Game - Other
    Where Orange is about two half-families living together, Living game is about two individuals, with a perceptible age gap, living together... sometimes. It's... complicated. A lot of stuff happens and sometimes they live together, and as should be predicted they fall in love and one's an adult and the other a teenager, yada yada. Sometimes it's even hard to guess who's the most infantile. Through all hoops and difficulties I ended up loving the two of them, they ended up loving each other, and I loved the manga. Here's to a romance about living together, which I'm also weak to!
    Boku ni Natta Watashi - Shoujo, Gender-Bending
    Here's another thing I'm weak to. Cross-dressing. Ok, I may not be weak to it per say, but I have to admit, I really loved this one for some reason. It's about a girl who is forced to enrol in a boy's only high school, with dormitories! I'll be completely honest. I don't remember much beyond the fact that I loved it. So, if my word is worth anything to you, go read it! Otherwise, next!
    HajiOtsu - Shoujo
    What if the very first scene of your manga was a confession scene? It wasn't the first time I'd seen such a premise, but it's certainly one of the better executions. The culmination of the shy girl trope, this story's protagonist, is deathly afraid of the male gender. However, she ends up confessing to a boy who lives nearby, and he accepted! Boyfriend acquired. Now all she needs is the courage to look at him. And speak to him, too -- I heard couples do that kind of stuff, right? There's nothing quite so cute as watching a couple slowly get used to one another, especially when both are ridiculously conscientious, and shy. Read as they warm up to one another and are supported by an excellent supporting cast that, just when it looked like they'd get some real development, were left to dry as the story abruptly ended. Indeed, this may very well leave you wanting for more, especially if you liked the main protagonists. Unfortunately, no more for you. The art is terribly clear and, consequently, very pretty.
    Last Game - Shoujo
    This manga is one of the best examples of "Melting the Ice Queen". It shows us the story of a rich man pursuing his crush all through his childhood, finally catching up with him in the present day, when both him and her are students in the same university. Indeed, for once it's a Shoujo not set in high-school, although the setting does not wildly diverge from it, either... As for Ms. Ice Queen herself, she is not so in the traditional sense, as she simply sucks at interacting with other people. This is the story of how she slowly realises how truly complicated human relationships are, and how she has been taking her "childhood friend" for granted. This story's main strength is, once again, the cuteness of our main heroine, and the pitiable existence of her crush, who has decided to make his advances very, very slowly, since he has all the time in the world. It dragged on a little at the end, as they tend to, but it was otherwise extremely cute, and the main couple is fantastic.
    Could be compared to the likes Kimi ni Todoke, assuming it ended after the confession, or Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, assuming the characters were way cuter and the drama was a tad less (Both of which I'd heartily recommend for the same reasons. Check my anime recommendations for more information. The manga version is even better).
    Eensy Weensy Monster - Shoujo
    This title asks you: "Do you have a little monster inside of you? A little, dark creature that makes you spill your innermost thoughts, even when you shouldn't?". This is exactly what this story is about. Our protagonist is an average, gentle soul who everybody regards as cheerful, never getting mad or sad; until one day, she came across a super popular guy. A pampered guy who has a beautiful face, good grades, is great at sports, and loved by all the girls, with little to no effort. And so, she blew up. Spitting vitriol in his face, she tells him exactly what nobody's bothered to tell him before, how much of a spoilt, pampered child he is. And so, the lives of our protagonists begin to change, with a girl that's just a little to honest, and a boy that never before knew the taste of harshness.
    One of its main draws is, without a doubt, how unexpected the developments are. I won't say it subverts all clichés, but it certainly threw me for a loop with the direction they went for. I expected something else entirely. Instead, just keep in mind that this is a comedy, and throws drama out the window at every turn.
    Kimi wa Pet - Josei, H-Scenes, Nudity
    Imagine keeping a human as a pet. A younger lad, in his early twenties. You also need to imagine that you're a woman, in case you aren't.
    The female protagonist in this story is no weak lady. We follow her as she lives her life with her "pet". A lot of the manga is dedicated to her stressful daily life, due to work or romance, and to her interactions with her "pet" -- her means of relaxation. Maybe you could claim that there's a love triangle. Maybe you can't. I wish I could say more, but I can't, for I just surmised it. Be prepared for excellent interaction and romance; both with her lover and her pet. Speaking of the pet, make no mistake. He is not some super horny male who keeps making advances on his owner or any such thing. He is very much an animal in bed.
    Angel Densetsu - Other
    This is the story of a man who looks so evil that everyone submits to his apparent strength. It is a story of misunderstandings.  When how good a person you are is proportional only to how evil you look, and you look really damn evil, hilarity ensues. It is one hell of a comedy. Read on as the nicest highscool boy you've ever met becomes the leader of the delinquents and makes any average person on the street run over in the opposite direction or turn over their wallet.
    The romance? Oh, yeah, that. There's this girl who actually figured out you're a nice guy. You can see how it goes. Just beware, it takes its time, but neither is it the focus, so I pardon it.
    And I feel you should be aware that the first many chapters have art that looks like the artist used the wrong hand and had his eyes closed while drawing. If you can put up with it, it gets better.
    Karakuri Odette - Shoujo, Nudity????
    Did you like Chobits? Excellent. This is even better. Maybe.
    Welcome to the story of a girl android. One of the better executed ones I've ever seen. Not in the sense that she feels like an android -- there's plenty of dubious technology and mechanics and ideas, as with any story containing a humanoid android -- but in the sense that it truly, really, feels like somebody learning to be human. From her earlier curious stoic self she develops into something with feelings and thoughts, opinions and who makes decisions. This is even better when contrasted with her earlier self or with any other androids present. The character development feels incredibly smooth, with no one chapter sticking out as personality changing, or her acting drastically to the point where it seems out of character. The side cast is also fantastic.
    I imagine the ending will be divisive. It is very much the kind of ending I'd typically hate -- not particularly conclusive, and with a thread left hanging -- but what happens next is implied to the point where I had no issues. It's also the kind of ending that'd make me revoke its "Romance" tag, but I'll be keeping it since she develops important bonds with many people, and that is romance in and of itself.
    Warau Kanoko-sama - Shoujo
    Finalizing the trilogy of pretty much not romances, this title introduces one of my favourite characters of all time: Kanoko Naedoko.
    The best thing about this manga is that the main character doesn't really change. wat is dis no character development wat wat arghdteggd,shs!!!!1!! Understand, the title in English would likely be something similar to "Laughing Kanoko-sama", and for good reason. Kanoko is someone who is primarily concerned with watching other people, and analysing/noting how the act and comport themselves. Understanding their feelings and rationale -- chuckling at their hypocrisy or interactions all the while. To achieve this, she must remain impartial and objective, and therefore, avoid befriending or interacting with anyone. And she does. Almost. She ends up 'befriending' a couple of people at her first school, and these people lead her to somewhat develop her beliefs, without intrinsically changing her personality, like many other manga tend to do.
    The story almost takes upon the format of a bunch of short stories that occur as Kanoko changes schools due to family circumstances. At each school, she ends up invariably interacting with people, though not through her desire in particular, and, through her coldness, bluntness, frankness, and analytical prowess, helping them. Even then, the majority of the time is spent looking at other people and their stories.
    Over the course of this manga the romance does not develop much, but that isn't the important part. For that there's a sequel, one I didn't like much, but fairly decent in its own right. Also, that one also takes a slowwwwww approach to romance. In general, this series just isn't the best in that particular department.
    Love Celeb - Shoujo, Nudity, H-Scenes, Smut
    Here's the story of a girl who aspires to be an artist. As it happens, she has the bad luck that her talent isn't extraordinary enough to attract the important people's attention, and that everyone else seems to be employing dirty tactics to get gigs and jobs. Oh, I do mean dirty very literally. In this depiction of the entertainment world, just about anybody looking to move up in the ranks does so by sleeping with the important people who decide if they get them or not. In this world, our pure hearted protagonist stands no chance. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for her, she happens to catch the eye of a super important guy, who proposes to buy her. Protagonist-chan is not amused.
    If you're reading this, you're reading it for the smut and/or "romance". I thought this was fairly racy, and really liked it as a result. There's little else of any worth, so far as I recall.
    Renai Shijou Shugi - Shoujo, Nudity, H-Scenes, Smut
    Much like the above, you won't find much in the way of coherent plot or logical progression. In fact, I am willing to bet you will find a lot of what goes on to be not only improbable and ridiculous, but also degrading. Regardless, something within it sparked something within me. The story goes from evil guy who almost rapes our protagonist to evil guy who almost/pretty much rapes our protagonist, where she ends up being saved by the male hero every time -- said hero also frequently has sex with her. Seeing a pattern yet?
    This is a story whose focus is on sex and love. Love buried by all the sex, but love nonetheless -- you can even see glimpses of it every now and then. The finale was also good. Once they were done with all the almost rape/pretty much rape/actual rape.
    Mint na Bokura - Shoujo, Gender-Bending
    There once were two twins who were very close to each other; a boy and a girl. One day, the girl fell for the coach of another school's basketball team, and decided to secretly transfer to said boarding school without telling her brother, who was very attached to her. Once she did, and he found out, he tried to transfer too, but there were no places left for boys! Well then, the solution is simple: transfer as a girl. And so he did. His main objective being, as the siscon he is, getting in the way of his sister's relationships.
    What makes this good? It feels like Josei. The characters aren't stupid or dense, and there's no 'one true love', characters pursuing multiple relationships, establishing bonds, and understanding when something doesn't work. It's also not only one couple and both the siblings are protagonists, to an extent. Essentially, the rivalries and relationships of highschool characters seem to be well represented without delving into unnecessary drama. There's also some good comedy.
    Difficult to explain, nevertheless a definite recommendation.
    Ultra Maniac - Shoujo
    By the same author as the above, this is a similar sort of story with a different premise. Expect multiple couples, good comedy, excellent characters and no melodrama. Things make sense and characters are neither dumb, nor do they act out of porportion with the issues they face. Other than that, it's a manga about a little witch who transfers into a human school and makes friends with a human girl, and her quest to be helpful with her magic despite being bad at magic.
    Spicy Pink - Josei
    Finally, my last recommendation by this author (though I'd actually recommend everything; for drama, Cappuccino). A depiction of a mangaka and her love life. Same traits as the previous: Wonderful characters, no melodrama, nice comedy. All three of these last recommendations are wondrous romances I'd recommend to anyone.
    Yeah, I know these are getting kinda short. That's mostly because they apply to all three and I'd like these to be more than just a rewrite of the manga synopsis. I'm just finding it difficult to better explain other than how much of a romance it is.
    Skill of Lure - Other
    Is this cheating? It probably is. This isn't actually a manga. Doesn't matter. It's still the best thing since the previous best thing.
    This is a story about your typical protagonist, who, by his panic-induced illogical actions, has a propensity to act as if he were a pervert, causing women to label him as such. But there's more. There's also his best friend, who you could label as a playboy, but a special kind of playboy -- one who thinks of the women first. His friend, then, decides to teach him how to interact with women, and how to pursue his love. And it's awesome. Putting aside how much of these life lessons are applicable in real life, it's fantastic to see him growing over the course of the story, and seeing his crush recognise him for who he really is. Other plotpoints and side stories are brought up, but those unrelated to our protagonists mostly end up dead in the water. And that's still fine, because the real story is about the protagonist and his friend, as well as the protagonist and his love interest, and how they sweet they are and such and such. You know, romance. The romance bit's well done, and the friendship bit is also well done, and that's what this list focuses on.
    Hapi Mari: Happy Marriage!? - Josei
    The premise is such that you are likely to have heard of it before. A woman whose family is buried in debt becomes engaged to the owner of a huge company. Even if you have heard of it before, though, that does not mean that the story goes on to be bad. Its main themes are learning to become a 'family', or, more specifically, learning to love each other, and it is in that way that it's very comparable to the Orange Yane no Chiisana Ie manga I mentioned way above. Which is also why it really appealed to me. It is not a story about following your passions and crushes, but about developing bonds and learning to love.
    Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji - Shoujo
    To truly appreciate this story you may need to thicken your skin a bit. The protagonist is, for the first fifth of the story, rather cold to the heroine, using her as his personal gopher and tricking her so as to make her think that he likes her. Whilst the transition from when he was tricking her to when he started just teasing, having fallen in love with her without realising it, is unclear, after they officially begun dating it became a story much to my taste. The focus was not always on the couple, but one the issues either one of them tackled, and how they supported each other to overcome them. They also had intimate moments aplenty, and strain the relationship, which they attempted to overcome. How lovely.
    Kanojo ni Naru Hi - Other, Gender-Bending, H-Scenes
    Be careful. This manga tackles the issues of changing gender and gender-specific urges/problems somewhat crudely, which may cause offence to some. If you're not bothered by any such things, you may find one of the greatest manga you have seen. Do you like couples fawning on each other? Do you like flirting and open displays of affection? Do you like the idea of lovers living together? Do you like to have each of them work toward their own goals, but support each other all the while? Perhaps this manga pushed my very particular buttons, but the vast majority of it represents a... peculiar relationship, due to the circumstances, but a real relationship nevertheless. If you've made it thus far, you know what I like: A couple working together to overcome their obstacles in life, establishing bonds and an open relationship and learning to love one another. And this title delivers that in spades.
    ...I would go on, but I fear I'd be here all year. Literally. This post was started on February of last year.
  8. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Serment – Contract with a Devil (Dungeon Crawler Review)   
    EVN releases often come apparently out of nowhere, with games either flying under the radar during their entire development process or simply being forgotten due to delays and inconsistent promotional efforts on the part of their authors. This lack of proper buildup can easily spell a commercial disaster for such titles, especially considering today’s overcrowded indie market and the Steam storefront so full of shovelware that browsing recent releases stopped having any functional meaning. Thankfully, at least some of these games can still break out of total obscurity thanks to their particular merits, or even having the help of someone with a particularly big megaphone (which, in the realities of the VN market, means one of the very few established publishers interested in Japanese-styled games).
                 One of the recent titles that apparently got away with its extremely-prolonged development and a long period of obscurity is Serment – Contract with a Devil. This lighthearted, yuri themed dungeon crawler by Nkt Studio was released on Steam by Sekai Project in early February 2019, nearly three years since the reveal of the first demo and after significant changes to the game, including a drastic visual makeover. Thanks to its beautiful promotional art, appealing premise and the developers quickly responding to players’ feedback, it managed to gather a decent amount of attention and positive response. But what exactly this “dungeon crawler/visual novel hybrid” has to offer?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  9. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Flutterz for a blog entry, Reading Ginharu Very Slowly #18   
    Been busy for a while, but this time I only stopped for a few months rather than a few years
  10. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, My Litte Pony fan VNs, part 2   
    Welcome again to my short series on the My Little Pony fan visual novels! In the last part (if you missed it, check it out here!), we’ve looked at six games of vastly variable quality, climate and state of completion, and this trend will definitely continue today. Also, this post will include a (un)healthy portion of fandom cringe, although mostly connected to embarrassing fan fiction tropes, common in the creative output of many online communities, rather than the sheer fact the stories are about ponies. On the other hand, today's list features one of the very few, if not the only MLP VN project that could be seriously interesting to people that are not avid fans of the show – the still-in-development Starswirl Academy, with its impressive (humanized) reimagining of the Friendship is Magic setting and characters. So, let's get this party started! *the Party Cannon rolls in*
    Starswirl Academy (demo)

    Most people agree that, apart from the randomness of internet memes, some of the main sources of Friendship is Magic’s success are its memorable leading characters – the six ponies that fuel the show with their memorable visual designs and vivid personalities. The people from Rosin Entertainment made a pretty obvious conclusion that this general characterisation, if transferred into a humanized, semi-realistic setting, would make a great basis for a moege, and started turning that idea into a reality. Thus, Starswirl Academy was born – an MLP fan game that, while still borrowing a lot from its source material, for an unassuming reader could easily pass as a normal, lighthearted romance VN. And, most importantly, quite a lovely and enjoyable one at that.
                Unlike many other “human versions” of MLP, including the official Equestria Girls, Rosin’s project is a total reimagining of Friendship is Magic's fictional world, including details like normal, human names for all of the characters and a modern-day, boarding school setting that makes logical sense. Game’s reinterpretations of the Mane 6 are cute and well-designed (with Twilight as an Asian over-achiever and protagonist’s childhood friend is my personal favourite), both catching the appeal points of their original versions and adjusting them to the context of a "normal" romance story. The dialogue is genuinely fun and while the game seems to focus exclusively on SoL content, it does so in a way that made me seriously excited for the full release. Even the protagonist (named Tom Stone – those familiar with the show should easily catch the reference), while rather average, it not a faceless hunk of meat, with especially his teasing of Tai (the already mentioned, humanized version of Twilight) being extremely fun to read.
                Of course, this wouldn’t be an MLP VN without its own development problems, although the team behind this game made a wise decision to not give any kind of timeline or dump frequent updates, but rather working on it at their own pace, with an explicitly stated “when it’s done” approach. For this reason, it’s rather hard to predict anything, although a 2019 release does not seem completely out of question – and if it happens, it quite likely be the one My Little Pony visual novel that I’ll be able to recommend even to those that normally would want nothing to do with the whole franchise. If they don't also hate moege, that is…
    Final rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  11. Like
    Mr Poltroon 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.
  12. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Eldritch Academy (Yuri VN Review)   
    Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the game by the developer. All opinions presented are solely my own.
    One of the interesting differences between yuri in Japanese and Western VNs is that while in Japan it’s mostly limited to a very specific niches, with either nukige or fluffy high-school romance dominating the genre (meaningful exceptions can literally be counted on two hands), among EVNs the theme is prevalent enough to frequently find its place in all kinds of stories. Eldritch Academy, a low-budget project by a single developer using the label Jackkel Dragon and the topic of today’s review, is among dozens of examples of this trend, mixing tame yuri romance with horror and chuunige elements – while it uses many tropes typical for Japanese media, they're all set in a configuration you would be unlikely to actually find in any of them.
                    Released in early January 2019, the game promised a fairly impressive amount of content (over 10 hours of reading) and a tense thriller story, starring a group of high school students put against a supernatural threat none of them even suspect to exist. Directly referencing magical girl stories and various other types of otaku media, while also being set in a Japanese all-ages school, it’s definitely one of those distinctly “weeb” projects, but one that avoids pointless fanservice or forced sexual content and dedicates itself to telling a compelling story, with mystery and romance subplots being of more or less equal significance. Does it manage, however, with it’s obviously limited resources, to make this concept actually enjoyable to read?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  13. Like
    Mr Poltroon 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.
  14. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Doki Doki Literature Club Purist Mod (VN fan modification review)   
    Warning: Major spoilers for the original Doki Doki Literature Club ahead!
    The viral success of Doki Doki Literature Club in late 2017 sent shockwaves throughout the visual novel world, sparking some highly polarized reactions. While many hardcore VN fans dismissed the game as shallow and expressed irritation towards the over-the-top praise it received, Team Salvato’s project had a lot going for it and quickly gathered an enormous fanbase. Excellent use of visual and sound gimmicks and brilliant subversion of the basic visual novel/dating sim gameplay conventions made it an extremely effective, creepy horror game. While in no way an in-depth critique of the genre and having very little replayability because of its reliance on gimmicky plot twists, I still see it as a masterfully-crafted and enjoyable experience, having relatively few contenders on the EVN scene when it goes to memorability and attention to detail. While it might be hard to see past the overwhelming meme culture and misconceptions around it, on its own, DDLC defends itself perfectly well and I consider it a solid 4/5 title – not a masterpiece, but something I would be willing to recommend to pretty much anyone with interest in VNs as a genre.
                A part of DDLC that many people casually ignore is the moege-like first act, which is, in my opinion, a great piece of lighthearted, SoL-focused storytelling. While it was on purpose fluffy and generic, Salvato’s writing, designs of the heroines, the ingenious “poem writing” route selection mechanic and the romance progression were actually very enjoyable and engaging – after all, the first twist would never be even close as effective if the game wasn’t able to immerse you in its faux dating sim climate. I’ve myself many times expressed the thought that I’d be very interested in playing a “normal”, lighthearted version of DDLC, especially because how gratifying it would be to see happy endings for the heroines, with whom I've developed a bit of emotional connection, after how harsh the main game treated them. And it was after sharing this thought that someone pointed me towards DDLC Purist Mod, an ambitious fan project based on exactly that premise – transforming Salvato’s game into a proper romance story and giving a chance for happiness for all the girls of the Literature Club, including its tragic villainess, Monika.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  15. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to solidbatman for a blog entry, Heart of the Woods Review   
    Studio Elan, and I refuse to copy and paste the accent mark like they do on their Twitter account, bursts out onto the EVN scene with their long awaited debut visual novel, Heart of the Woods. A mix of Ghost Adventurers, fluffy yuri relationships, and a magical elements, Heart of the Woods is an ambitious showcase of talent wrapped up in a tightly woven tale of love and sacrifice.
    From the very beginning of this roughly 4-6 hour long VN, Heart of the Woods sets a tense tone that persists throughout the entire run time. Tara and Maddie, the team behind the viral paranormal internet show, Taranormal, are on their way an isolated town located in the woods at the behest of Morgan, a fan of the show who tips them off at paranormal activities within her town. Conflict is bubbling, though, as this is the final episode that Maddie will be working on, and this month long trip to produce the episode has pushed their now strained friendship to the breaking point. What follows is a series of rapidly escalating events where the very lives of the characters hang in the balance.
    The story itself is generally solid with a few hiccups due in large part to how the passage of time is handled in this VN. Events progress at a whiplash pace in the VN which leads to the relationships between characters feeling more than a little contrived. This is something many VNs suffer from, however, and might be the most difficult aspect of writing a romance VN without feeling it completely with fluff pieces to flesh out character relationships for the sake of believability. While normally I despise long periods of fluff, Heart of the Woods would have benefited from a padded run time with more light hearted character interactions without the main conflict looming overhead. One half of our main cast, Maddie and Abigail do get far more of this type of treatment when compared to Tara and Morgan who are relegated more towards the advancement of the plot at the expense of a more evenly paced relationship.
    The light hearted moments that do exist are tender and well done generally. Tara is a magnificent goofball, Abigail is a not so pure cinnamon roll, Morgan (my personal favorite character) features a great amount of excellent character growth, and Maddie is versatile, able to smoothly interact with every character in an interesting way, even when the interactions are less than amiable. More often than not, the interactions between couples, is incredibly cheesy and I feel that once again, the lack of establishing scenes for the relationships is the main cause of this. With that said, just because they are cheesy does not mean that they are poorly done or bad. Perhaps my inexperience in reading yuri VNs is showing here and the purpose is to create a more light, fluffy feel, in which case, the cheesy love dialogue achieves its goal.
    Setting aside the character interactions, the storytelling is an improvement over the standard skeleton that director Josh Kaplan’s previous work, Highway Blossoms, follows. Far more ambitious and fantastical, Heart of the Woods’ story features some unexpected developments that caught me off guard. Aided by a writing style that seamlessly switches from whimsical and comedic to foreboding and brooding the story rarely misses a beat and when it does, its due to the previously mentioned passage of time. Of special note is how the writers successfully pulled off narration perspective changes in seamless fashion. Usually when a VN switches the narration character to tell a different side of the story, I find that one character’s side of the story is far stronger, more engaging than the other character. This is not the case in Heart of the Woods. Each perspective shift is treated with equal amounts of effort and I never found myself wishing I could go back to a different character’s narration/story.  
    The VN features phenomenal artwork from Adirosa and Rosuuri which establishes the magical world that the reader enters and also gives each character a highly unique appearance to match their personality. For example, just what in the hell are Tara’s hair clips? This question will inevitably lead you to “Why can Tara not even cook toast without nearly burning down an entire ecosystem of magical creatures.” Each character’s look matches perfectly with their personality. Once again, I have to show some love to my favorite character, Morgan, who’s sprite work is downright unsettling at times giving her a very mysterious feel which helps establish the magical strange setting for this VN.
    The final piece of the puzzle for establishing this world is the music, which I am pleased to say is top notch. Featuring the talents of Sarah Mancuso and Astartus, the soundtrack is heavy on the use of stringed instruments but never overpowering which gives the reader the same level of comfort, or discomfort as the characters in the VN. When a soundtrack can assist in the world building and storytelling as the soundtrack in this VN does, that is the sign of great composition and direction.
    The characters, art, story, and music all come together magnificently in creating the world of Heart of the Woods and therein a major hindrance to the VN comes into play. It is quite literally too fantastic of a world and story to be told in a VN. The limitations of the VN medium are on full display as despite all of the efforts taken to create this magical world, it never really feels like it is used to its full potential. Technically the VN is sound, utilizing clever camera movement, character positioning, and particle effects to bring this world to life, but I still felt it did not quite reach its full potential because it felt too static. This is in no way a knock on the team behind this work, but rather a criticism of the medium as a whole. This story and world would be far better suited in the form of an animated movie to allow the environment to truly come to life. I want Studio Elan to take this as a compliment, rather than a criticism. The work they did was too good to be trapped within the VN medium.

    Heart of the Woods is a welcome entry to the EVN scene injecting a strong dose of professionalism into the market. While it does feature a couple of flaws, the overall package is an well polished work that is well worth the time to read if you want to spend a few hours in a world of yuri and magic. This is a fantastic debut work and leaves me excited to see just what Studio Elan has in store for the future.

    Rating: 4.5/5
  16. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, So I finished a tl and shit   
    …And you probably know about it already if you know me, but anyway, my own #brand is Memeshii Translations apparently. Since you’re here, have some information on the experience of working with the paltry tools available:
    *The linecount had to be the exact same or the insertion tool would crash with an unhandled exception.
    *Some lines had a linebreak in the original; these were joined together engine wise so they had to be line broken no matter what. Usually this wasn’t a problem, but some lines ended up short in english but still needed a linebreak so they look wonky, and the second line in-game had two lines that wanted to be long and couldn’t be split so it was kind of hell to fit.
    *Weeb quotes 「」 had to be used or the engine wouldn’t read it as a spoken line.
    *One line was turned from speech to narration for flow reasons (it was like suu haa or some shit) by removing the speechtag annotation in front.
    *There was no manual linebreak code I could use (mandated ones were just CRLF linebreak, and could only been used for that specific line). However, the engine does automatically line-break on a character level, and seems to be more or less monospace. So I ended up doing some of the line-breaking in this truly kami manner, checking it manually ingame over like 5 iterations:
    す@ is Sumire; あ@ is Azami
    *The extracted yscfg.ybn file had the window title at the end in plaintext. But the title seemed to be read in 2 char blocks or something which meant the title ended up as either “The world ends tomorrowA” or “The world ends tomorrowb” after insertion. I fixed this by adding a space after the name.
    *The nametags were in a different script than the scenario but they were just text strings, so I could just edit them
    *Same for the exit message when pressing the cross at the top right
    *Since we used the “spoken line” format I had to convert this to the japanese quotation brackets. Kotlin code for you to meme at:
    oh, java strings are immutable, fuck… fiiine I’ll your it your goddamn way
    This is probably half the reason why any in-line quotes ingame are single quotes; I actually edited a pair of doubles because I couldn’t be arsed to clean up the script after the fixer code worked on it… or something.
    Okay since you read this far some stats; I used Mediafire for the release because it gives download counts. It seems to update daily or something. First update was 63 downloads. Second was 89. I had 66 pageviews the blog release post on feb 14 and have 178 so far for feb 15. 89/244 gives us a ~36% download rate per view, not too bad. The About page seems to have gotten like, 8 views. The dedicated asuowa tl page has 7.
    So uhh I guess I have to tl more shinimasu now.

    View the full article
  17. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Free Yuri EVNs – non-Yuri Game Jam edition   
    Welcome back to EVN Chronicles, your prime source of romantic fluff reviews and recommendations! Today, I present you a post that will either capitalize on the post-Valentine's Day atmosphere by providing you even more positive feels, or help mend your lonely heart with quality love stories! Romance, as we all know, is one of the driving elements of visual novels in general, and maybe especially within the niche that is particularly close to my heart – and that is, of course, yuri. Recently, I've spent quite a lot of time going through and writing about Yuri Game Jam VNs and with that coverage finished, for the time being, it's an excellent day to look beyond this particular event to satisfy our freeware yuri needs.
              The Western visual novel scene is, if you take a closer look, surprisingly full of f/f romantic stories and freeware titles containing such themes show up pretty regularly, both thanks to other game jams, such as NaNoRen0 and various “random” releases, mostly by hobbyist developers. Today, I’ll go through some of the most notable, free EVNs with yuri elements – both those purely focused on girls’ love and those that include it as a significant part of the experience, but not its primary theme. As usual with this kind of lists, I’ll focus on short, casual VNs most fitting the mini-review format – some games that would fit the theme, like Christine Love’s Don’t Take it Personally, Babe, it Just ain’t Your Story, deserve a more detailed review and they will receive just that… SoonTM.
    Butterfly Soup

    Brianna Lei's story about a group of lesbian teenagers has gathered a significant amount of mainstream attention thank to its unique subject matter (focusing on minority queer women and their experience), but it’s definitely more than just a piece of social commentary. It offers a well-written, charming story that tackles its main themes with a lot of subtlety and attention to detail. It also doesn't overstate the sexuality of its characters, saying more about the universal challenges of growing up than just minority issues. And while it definitely attempts to create a more realistic representation of homosexual relationships, straying away from the typical, idealized yuri romance, it's a fun and light-hearted read that should be appropriate for anyone not allergic to close-to-reality LGBT stories.
    Final Score: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogpost.com
  18. Like
    Mr Poltroon got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Playing Wargroove   
    Just a video of me playing the puzzle mode of this game. I plan to do more of them, but I won't make a blog post for each one. Instead, they'll be replies on this one, probably.
    That said, I do plan to make something in this game involving the Fuwa community at a later date.
  19. Like
    Mr Poltroon got a reaction from MaggieROBOT for a blog entry, Playing Wargroove   
    Just a video of me playing the puzzle mode of this game. I plan to do more of them, but I won't make a blog post for each one. Instead, they'll be replies on this one, probably.
    That said, I do plan to make something in this game involving the Fuwa community at a later date.
  20. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: fanservice Sakura games, part 2   
    While two weeks ago we’ve mostly covered the beginnings of Winged Cloud’s presence on the EVN market (well, ignoring the "otome period", but Pyrite Heart might be worth a separate look, along with The Guardian’s Spell crowdfunding debacle), this time we’re taking look at a transitional period – one in which Inma still didn’t make explicit art, acting as the sole “all-ages” artist for the company, while Wanaca was already focusing exclusively on hentai titles, including the 100+ CG behemoth that is Sakura Dungeon. It’s also a time that brought something we could describe as a pretty obvious drop in quality – the new non-porn titles definitely looked like low-effort cash-ins, with mostly linear storytelling, no voice-acting and underwhelming CG counts. Sakura Beach 2, put together in only a few months and obviously reusing a lot of visual assets from the first game, was especially emblematic, foreshadowing the switch to mass-production of cheaper, shorter titles, that fully dominated the studios output a year later, after the release of Sakura Nova, the last arguably ambitious Sakura game. But, ignoring for a moment our knowledge of what the future held for the franchise, how these late Sakura ecchi VNs hold out today?
    Sakura Beach 1 & Sakura Beach 2

    It might be just my personal taste, but I can somewhat accept a harem scenario if the protagonist earns it in some way – by being a really good person that helps the heroines in a substantial manner, or even being a shitty one but defying expectations and doing something exceptional when it truly mattered. Starting with a harem, however, feels like the laziest setup imaginable and I pretty much abhorred every instance when it showed up its ugly head in the Sakura series (of course, in short nukige such as Sakura Christmas Party the only thing that mattered was giving a justification for inserting a variety of porn scenes, so complaining about dumb plot is a bit of superficial – thankfully, I’m also making a series all about pointless nit-picking :3). Inma’s debut as a Winged Cloud’s character artist, Sakura Beach and its sequel, Sakura Beach 2 already had a pretty rough start with me because of this "storytelling technique", while the apparently short development cycle for both games also did little to encourage any kind of optimism from me when I decided to approach them.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  21. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Flutterz for a blog entry, Reading Ginharu Very Slowly #17   
    Shoutout to littleshogun for being the only person who commented on my previous entry 
  22. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: fanservice Sakura games, part 1   
    Welcome back to the Shovelware Adventures, the series that most likely no one was missing, but it came back regardless! It's been a while since I last delved into the Sakura series, so with only a few of those games still not reviewed, and staying true to my grossly counter-chronological coverage of the Winged Cloud’s trashy catalogue, let’s finish it where everything started. When Sakura Spirit appeared on Steam in mid-2014, on what was still a fairly barren EVN landscape, it quickly became something akin to a viral sensation – achieving not only sale numbers that most likely no one ever expected, but also popping up frequently on YouTube and becoming popular enough on Twitch to quickly get officially banned. It also established a peculiar variant of ecchi formula, which took the fanservice usual for eroge and trashy anime, and dedicated every CG and the whole plot to showing it off, without ever going into actual porn to stay within Steam’s, at the time, strict adult content policy. Before Winged Cloud made a transition into actual hentai games, this model spawned an impromptu franchise that turned "sakura" into a dirty word for most Western VN fans, with a total of six "all ages" fanservice VNs released within it. Today, I’ll take a look at first three of those not-quite-porn Sakura games – in a distastefully biased manner, considering my relative taste for fanservice and cliched romance, and dislike for hentai.
    Sakura Spirit

    Sakura Spirit has been ridiculed countless times, but apart from the immense amount of typos and terribly implemented popcultural references, it’s actually not the worst thing Winged Cloud has even created (even not counting the obviously-trash-tier free games like Sakura Clicker). It offers both a semi-coherent, low-fantasy isekai story (although, of course, a poorly executed one with a highly anticlimactic ending), and a somewhat appealing cast of heroines (two fox spirits, who helps the protagonist after his accidental travel to a parallel world, and two human girls acting as village guards) which could all work as a decent basis for an enjoyable ecchi VN. However, it strangely doesn’t utilize the biggest strength of visual novels as a medium, offering pretty much no meaningful choices, very little romance and an inconclusive harem ending straight out of a shitty fanservice anime.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  23. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Flutterz for a blog entry, Reading Ginharu Very Slowly #16   
    Screw you Derg, I'm going to read at whatever speed I damn well please.
  24. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Kaori After Story (Western VN Review)   
    A short while ago I’ve reviewed PixelFade’s Crystalline, expressing my disappointment at what was a visually brilliant, but rather hollow experience, in many ways inferior to that studio's first project, Ace Academy. While AA, a mecha-themed game set in near future’s Japan, mixed convincing drama, a cast of archetypical, but compelling heroines and great SoL sections, providing a fairly balanced and enjoyable game, Crystalline focused much more on comedy and despite the fantasy adventure framework, failed to produce an engaging plot or characters interesting enough to make the whole experience satisfying. The genuine chemistry between Ace Academy’s characters and its compelling atmosphere let me even forgive its anticlimactic ending – PixelFade struggled heavily with that game's development, being forced to cut a large portion of the plot and rush the conclusion, infuriating many fans. The cuts and omissions were definitely visible, for me however, what was already there was simply too good to disregard and I still consider AA as one of the best EVNs I’ve ever read.
                As you can imagine, it was hard for me not to get excited when, shortly after Crystalline’s release, the studio announced Kaori After Story – a spin-off to Ace Academy, continuing the romance arc of Kaori, arguably the primary heroine of the first game. Using the Live 2D engine and animations from Crystalline, it promised to be another eye-candy, this time directed to the fans of PixelFade's debut title. What worried me, however, was that it was also described by the devs as primarily a comedy, most likely ignoring the bitter-sweet climate of the original and its somewhat ambivalent ending. Thankfully, as much as some might be disappointed with this game’s obvious disinterest in continuing Ace Academy’s main intrigue, connected to protagonist’s father’s scientific research and tragic death, there are many things here they should find highly satisfying – and even I, as reserved as I was when approaching KAS, couldn’t help but to enjoy it quite a lot.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  25. Like
    Mr Poltroon reacted to Flutterz for a blog entry, Reading Ginharu Very Slowly #15   
    Wow, I actually made another entry. Nobody saw that coming.
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