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starlessn1ght

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  1. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Ryuukishi Bloody†Saga   
    Ryuukishi is the sequel to Ryakudatsusha no In'en, which was released last month... or rather, Ryakudatsusha is a prelude/prequel to this game.  However, the fundamental nature of the game has changed greatly.  For one thing, this VN lacks the constant rape and mutilation scenes that were so a part of Ryakudatsusha...
    ... well not entirely.  There is only one rape scene, and there are a few guro scenes.  However, those scenes are not nearly as dominant as the ones in Ryakudatsusha.  For those who liked the prelude, this game might be a bit of a shock to the system.
    Anyway, this VN is based some time after the events in Ryakudatsusha, and Roy's manner and appearance have changed greatly.  The grim adolescent of the first game has become a smiling young wandering apothecary, and his sword is now no longer in evidence.  The setting is in a walled city at the foot of a mountain where a fire dragon lairs.  Despite attacks by the dragon at irregular intervals, the city has thrived for several centuries, and its knights have systematized the process of sacrificing their lives to draw the dragon away from the civilians, knowing they can do nothing else. 
    The tone of this game, despite its frequently bloody/gory events, is far milder than Ryakudatsusha.  There is some slice-of-life, which is mostly used for deepening the connection to the setting and heroines, as well as progressing the story.  There are also some seriously good fights in this game, as Roy sometimes is forced to show his old skills in order to protect the four female knights who serve as the harem/heroines for the game (yes, it is a harem, lol). 
    The actual progression of the game is kinetic, with all the choices merely creating changes in individual scenes, rather than the story itself.  The setting itself retains the darkness of Ryakudatsusha, while leavening the blood-soaked dough that is this particular fantasy world with lighter and gentler moments.
  2. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Karenai Sekai to Owaru Hana and VN of the Month Announcement   
    ... I'm going to be blunt about this... I can't  believe this was written by the same guy who wrote Nekopara, Sakura Bitmap, and Strawberry Nauts.  This VN has an overwhelming degree of impact compared to his other works, to the point where I'm even willing to consider it a kamige.  Music, music-usage, story, presentation, art, and art usage are all at their highest levels, combining to create a nakige whose impact is far out of proportion to its length (which is only about seven hours, for me). 
    I honestly wasn't expecting the emotional impact of this VN.  In terms of this quality, it approaches Houkago no Futekikakusha, without being an utsuge... I literally cried throughout the entire game, to the point where my sinuses are swollen and my eyes bloodshot.  From the very beginning, this game makes no pretense at being anything other than what it is... a cathartic trip full of love, despair, sorrow, and loss with a drop of hope. 
    I won't spoil you as to the central concept, even though it is tempting.  Based on the fact that no details of the setting other than the characters are revealed in any detail on either the official website or the Getchu page, in addition to my own experience, I can say straight out that this is a VN best enjoyed without someone giving you details to the setting or situation.  I will say that it is a fantasy setting, based in a world that has early nineteenth-century tech (no guns that I saw though), based on the presence of an ice box and ice sellers in the game.  This is also based on the fact that matches exist but electric lights apparently don't, since the characters are using candles and oil lamps. 
    This game is pretty short, mostly due to its structure, where heroine 'paths' only come into existence after the main story is over, as epilogues for each of the four individual heroines (Haru, Yuki, Kotose, and Ren).  There is no 'true' heroine in this game, for those are wondering.  All the heroines are quite literally equal, though the protagonist is a bit more intimate with Ren and Haru, which is probably more of a reflection of the writer's preferences than anything else.
    This game is 100% 'business', including the slice-of-life scenes.  Not one scene in this VN is wasted on something other than portraying the characters' suffering and joy or progressing the story.  To be blunt, if this game weren't so perfectly designed, I'd probably be calling it 'bare-bones' in that aspect.  That lack of wasted time is actually of immense help, as it prevents the phenomenon of 'contempt due to familiarity' that tends to occur when a VN has an excess of 'meaningless' slice-of-life scenes. 
    This VN isn't humor-centric, so don't expect a lot of laughs out of it.  The heroines have serious issues, and even in everyday life, those issues peek out from beneath the surface on a regular basis.  As a result, humorous situations are relatively limited after the setting's central issue gets introduced to you and you come to understand the protagonist's objective.
    Unfortunately, there is little more I can say about this VN without ruining it for you.  I can say it is a first-class nakige, and I can say it is a cry-fest designed to suck the tears out of you with a virtual vacuum cleaner.  However, that is just a repeat of what I said above.  I do advise that anyone who goes into this VN should do so without excessive prior knowledge, as it is a VN that is best enjoyed with a 'clean slate' the first time around.
    VN of the month November 2016
    Karenai Sekai to Owaru Hana
  3. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN plans   
    Now... as I said in the nostalgia post, I've been replaying a lot of games lately.  The reason is fairly simple... my backlog of VNs is almost nonexistent now.  I've played roughly 85% of the ones I purchased during the first days, including all but a few of those that I've purchased in the last few years.  That isn't to say that there are no VNs of interest that I haven't played yet... but many of them just aren't available to purchase by download and are too expensive to obtain a physical copy of (one in particular is two hundred for an open package).  What is left are some 'rainy day' VNs and a bunch of third-rate moege/charage.  Well, that and a few horrible-looking gameplay VNs.
    So... the games I'll be playing after this month's releases are naturally going to be replays as well.  However, I'm not willing to replay any more charage, so these are my random VN plans for next month.
    1.  Evolimit - I've been asked to make a full assessment of this VN and blog on it by several dozen people over the last year.
    2.  Muramasa- Muramasa is a VN it takes a lot of energy to play, simply because it is so gloomy.  As a result, I keep putting it off, even though I like it.
    3.  Ruitomo FD- This is a fairly low priority, simply because I found that after playing the main game, I needed a rest from that cast of characters, lol.
    4.  Gleam Garden no Shoujo - I really, really need to replay this.  I loved it at the time, but the memory is starting to fade.
    5.  Sinclient- similar to the above.
    6.  Itsuka, Todoku, Ano Sora ni - In this case, I've long considered this to be the game I judged the most wrongly, based on my inexperience with Japanese VNs at the time.  So, I feel that I need to go back and reassess this one.
    7.  Akatsuki no Goei series and Reminiscence series - I just love this stuff and it is great for stress relief
    8.  Imouto Spiral - you ask me why?  it is because, while the story is... pathetic, the VN is hilarious.
    9. Bradyon Veda- It is about time that my memories of the details faded enough that I'll probably be able to enjoy a full second playthrough.
    10.  Akeiro Kaikitan- 'Already?!' you say?  I'm currently replaying Nanairo Reincarnation, so I feel a need to replay this one too.
    11.  Gensou no Avatar- It is wasteful that this particular doujin game has been forgotten, lol.
    12.  Futagoza no Paradox and Owaru Sekai to birthday- Because they don't make them like this anymore.
    13.  Natsu no Owari no Nirvana
    14.  Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide
    15. Boku ga Tenshi natta Wake
     
  4. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to john 'mr. customer' smith for a blog entry, I don't care about writing   
    Tell me, how does this image make you feel?

    This was the first thing I ever saw when hearing about Planetarian. I still vividly remember that moment, and how it made me feel. It made me feel like the world was at its literal and figurative end, civilization just a memory. A cold, empty, dangerous world. And somehow, at the peak of it all, this being, standing there. at once a tangible remnant of that civilization, stuck in a warm, cozy world of her own, and at the same time something much older, much wiser than that civilization. No work of fiction has ever drawn me in as strongly as this. Then, I read it.
    TL;DR Planetarian is the best VN
    The fact that this is a written article about why I don't care about writing should tell you that it's not going to be very well-written, just keep that in mind.
    I was inspired to write this by this video by Digibro. I suggest you watch it (up to about 12:13), but to summarize, he says that most media critics value writing above all else, and treat aesthetic elements as secondary. He then claims that, since nearly all critics are also writers, that is not surprising, and then goes on to explain how aesthetic elements can indeed tell a story that no words will ever be able to.
    And this made me realize: I simply don't care about writing and prose. I'm not saying that I can't appreciate it, or that I've never enjoyed purely written media, but when it comes to all the works of fiction that I truly love, aesthetic has always been the primary reason for that love.
    To me, writing in a VN is just string. It's there to hold the story together (and doing it well is certainly important), but all of the emotion has to be conveyed through the visuals and music. Nearly all VN critics are writers, and therefore not likely to fully acknowledge the value of art and sound direction. Art, in this community, is seen as something that should be pretty (BiMan) and music as something that should sound good (Little Busters) and almost nothing more. Frankly, I think that's bullshit. Neither art nor sound should just be there to make everything feel right, or to 'fit the mood'. They should be there to create a mood of their own, tell a story of their own.
    Now, let's look at Planetarian, and how I believe it still works well without a script. May contain vague rambling

    This is a panning shot of a pre-apocalyptic street. I'm a big fan of imagery like this. There's something beautifully immersive about the lighting. Personally, whenever I feel stressed, there's nothing I like to do more than walk outside on a rainy evening, breathing deeply, letting my mind clear. It's a wonderful world. Shame it all had to end.
    Now let's add music to it, shall we?
    Just listen to this while looking at the next one.

    To me, this is like a massive, fluffy bed of nostalgia. while Yumemi is talking about absolutely nothing, I am somehow right there, in that dusty old planetarium, and she is just sitting there, calmly. An artifact from a bygone age, something that could not be repaired or even maintained by anyone alive right now. When I read Planetarian, these scenes make it feel like Yumemi was part of some strange ritual, somehow kept in a perfect equilibrium all that time, despite everything that has happened, and the protagonist has brutally interrupted that ritual.
    Now listen to this.

    In the projection scenes, you are the audience and Yumemi will be your guide for the evening. This is where she really shines. This is exactly what she was made for, what all that (now pointless) chatter was intended for. All she wants is to show you and the protagonist the most beautiful thing she knows, and personally, I was just as moved by the whole thing as the Junker was, and was basically crying sweating from my eyes throughout both parts of the projection.
    I think I'll stop here. I'm obviously not claiming writing isn't important, it clearly is, I'm just trying to illustrate (pun intended) that visuals and sound can tell (parts of) a good story all by themselves.
    Be sure to look out for any AESTHETICS  you can find, will you?
  5. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Revised VN of the Month April Plans   
    After trying both of them, I dropped Anata o Otoko ni Shiteageru and Sankai, for similar reasons.  However, this leaves me with two VNs that have varying levels of interest from the community to play... Island by Frontwing and Wagamama High Spec by Madosoft.
    Madosoft... produces thematic VNs, rather than your standard charage.  They pick a theme and unify all the heroines into that type.  This tends to have pretty awful results so far (both Yakimochi and Namaiki were kusoge, though they were fairly popular with the fans of older-style moege), so I'm honestly not hopeful for the VN. 
    Island... I plan to give it a chance, and I'm honestly hopeful for it, after reading up on it.
  6. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Toki ga Tsumugu Yakusoku part 2: Based on a few routes   
    I'm definitely going to have really, seriously mixed feelings on this VN when it is done.  The problems with the common route still apply, but some of the heroine routes make up for the problem.  I'm not going to say this is going to be another Tasogare no Sinsemilla... that possibility never even really existed.   For better or worse, this VN has serious pacing issues near the beginning (yes, the heroine routes are longer than the common route), and the difference between even the non-true heroine routes is a bit sharp, based on my experience with Yui's, Honoka's, and Koharu's routes. 
    First, Honoka's route is straight-out the best of the non-Misaki routes.  I say it is 'the best', but that is mostly because it strikes the best balance between the heroine and the protagonist and their problems.  Unlike in the average charage (it is questionable after playing this route whether this can be seriously considered a charage), there are multiple points of drama, and the actual story (non-ichaicha/H) is fairly extended.  I was actually impressed by this route in the sense that I haven't encountered one like it in a while, but that just emphasizes how 'patchwork' this VN feels as a whole so far.
    Second, Koharu's route... for better or worse, this is a lot closer to a charage route than Honoka's, in the sense that the drama is very self-contained, mild, and it is over relatively quickly (in the larger perspective of the route as a whole).  Unfortunately, this just points out how much better Honoka's route was, both in detail and in general.  This is what I mean by the VN feeling 'patchwork'.  There are seriously good points to this experience, but then there will be long stretches of mediocrity or intermittent moments of brilliance with the same.  It feels like it was written by three separate writers at times, lol.
    Third... Yui's route.  Yui's route is a lot closer to Honoka's, in that the conflicts involved are more serious/have more serious consequences.  Again, this tends to contrast with Koharu's route, which felt bland and drama-less in comparison.
    So far, the biggest common point between the three paths is that the protagonist is a bit clingy and if the girls didn't already love him, he'd probably be stalking them (seriously, this was my thought as I played).  That said, I liked how natural (in terms of the plot) the relationship-formation stage was in all three paths, though the paths themselves tended to feel a bit drawn-out. 
    Now, on to Misaki's path... and the wrap-up.
  7. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Toki ga Tsumugu Yakusoku part 1: Some thoughts based on the common route EDITED   
    First, I should say that this starts out like a first-class nakige in classic non-Key style (which means no loli heroines with weird speech patterns and less than six heroines total, lol).  I generally am fond of Applique for giving me Tasogare no Sinsemilla and the Arcology series, but when they screw up, it is usually in a way that should have been blatantly obvious as they were doing it.
    The protagonist and his daughter (yes, his daughter) are a great combo, and their past is one of one bit of tragedy and despair after another.  The protagonist's personality is one I can definitely enjoy vicariously, and Millia (his daughter) strikes a perfect balance between 'genki' and 'emotionally scarred'.  The choice of an 'onsen town' as the main setting was excellent, and things were really looking hopeful...
    ...until the common route ended immediately after you dig into the protagonist's past.  Now, I'm all for tearful revelations and the like... but someone with the protagonist's past doesn't just come out and spill the beans only a few weeks after getting to know a bunch of people.  That was unrealistic based on his personal setting, to say the least.  Worse, the other characters' reaction to it was... weak.   Making it worse is that, while you've gotten to know Misaki (the supposed true heroine) a little bit when the split occurs, you've barely scratched the surface with the other heroines.  In other words... I went into my first path not caring one bit about the heroine I was supposedly going after. 
    It was like seeing someone setting up a beautiful stained-glass mosaic... and then filling the last few pieces with concrete.  To be honest, the haste with which they progressed the last third of the common route is game-breaking for me precisely because the protagonist and his past are looming in the background.  Based on this alone, I can say this isn't going to beat Akeiro, though I thought it might compete for VN of the Month when I first started it. 
    I might just update this post if I decide to drop this one...  I'm going to finish the path I'm on, and if I don't feel satisfied, I'm dropping it.
    Edit: Based on my experiences in Honoka's path, I'm going to continue playing, but the problems with the common route and its pacing still apply.
  8. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Otome ga Irodoru Koi no Essence   
    I'm going to be blunt... for some reason, the 'Otome' series of trap-protagonist ojousama-ge by Ensemble seems to be incapable of fulfilling the promise of Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas in any of its follow-up games.  Koi no Canvas was, for better or worse, one of the single best charage I've ever played, with strong characterizations for all of the characters (including the protagonist) full voices for all characters (later Otome series games all had voiced protagonists, though), and superlative individual paths with an actual story tailor-made to match both the protagonist and the individual heroines.  
    Unfortunately, none of the Otome series games since has gotten anywhere close to doing what Koi no Canvas managed, and this one isn't an exception.  I will say that it starts out really well... the protagonist is fully-voiced and capable in his own field (in this case cooking), and his actions throughout the VN show him to be competent... but the romantic portions, the characterization of the heroines, and the actual development of the heroine paths are all... second-rate.  The few good points in this VN stand out so well precisely because the rest is so poorly-done. 
    As an example, the humor is actually pretty good, and the protagonist's reactions to most situations are either funny or ones that leave you with a positive impression of him.
    Unfortunately, there are certain aspects that absolutely drive me insane reading this VN.  The heroine routes are truncated and devoid of drama (seriously, you can't have ojousama-ge without a controlling parent or a character with major personal issues, but none of that really exists here).  The romance is sudden and makes little sense.  Worse, it is pretty much impossible to develop an emotional connection even to the protagonist, because every time it seems like they might sadden you with his past (he is an orphan, for instance), they deliberately cut it short or interject the protagonist's general lack of care for the issue in question.
    After Koi no Canvas, this series has continually sabotaged itself with this kind of BS, and I'm actually crying right now at the sheer wasted potential of the characters in this story.  It is obvious the writer wanted to do more, as well... because there are a lot of signs throughout the heroine routes of cut scenes or abrupt story movements that seem awkward/amateurish.  Considering the experience of this team, even aside from this series, it seems a bit ridiculous that they would have tripped so many landmines in a single game (I mean, one of the writers worked on Sakura, Sakimashita... and that game is very, very good), and I honestly think that if Will wants to stop hemorrhaging cash, it needs to stop breaking up its best teams (the Evolimit team) or letting total incompetents get involved with story and characterization (referring to the Imouto Paradise writer who was also involved with this and the other Otome series games after Koi no Canvas).
  9. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Akeiro Kaikitan   
    For those of you who didn’t already know, this VN is based in the same setting as Nanairo Reincarnation and by the same company.  Nanairo Reincarnation was my VN of the Year 2014, and it is a VN that has remained strong in memory ever since.

    This VN has a much stronger ‘horror’ influence than Nanairo, which tended to be more of a nakige for much of its length.  The protagonist, Yashiro, is a young guy who was born particularly vulnerable to spiritual influences while not having the ability to see ghosts or spirits… meaning he is basically a walking target for stuff like that.  At the beginning of the story, he finds out he is cursed by the ‘Ghost of the Old School Building’, one of the ‘seven mysteries’ of his school.  This curse is fairly simple… it tries to get him to kill himself by jumping off the roof of the school building.

    A lot of the common parts of this VN focus around dealing with the mysteries and trying to discover a way to put the ghosts to rest, and in that sense it is almost identical to Nanairo… except that the protagonist, while central to the story, is essentially a ‘normal guy’ who got caught up in the mess involving ghosts and spirits.  The protagonist from Nanairo makes several appearances in the VN, as do his ‘family’ members, and it is based about two years after the original story.  There is definitely enough influence from the original that I have to recommend you play Nanairo first.

    This VN… tends toward an aura of sorrow, for much of its length.  The moments of fear are there, but they tend to be less common than ones of sorrow/grief.  There are a total of six heroines in the VN (five if you count Riri and Ruka as a single heroine), with three major arcs…

    The first arc is the Velvet Arc, which has the twin kami (Riri and Ruka) path splitting off midway.  Riri and Ruka’s ending… leaves a really strong impression, to say the least.   Technically, they are sub-heroines, but their ending is in no way neglected, either for detail or emotional value.  If there is a significant difference from the main part of the arc (Velvet’s path), it is that it is somewhat shorter and less dramatic.  Still, I cried for a half hour after it was over.  Those who liked the red-head from Hikoukigumo no Mukougawa’s ending will like this one.  Velvet’s ending… is closer to what I would call a ‘bittersweet romance’ path.  Velvet has serious psychological problems, all wrapped up in her past (I won’t spoil it), and dealing with those issues is the main focus of her path.

    The second arc is the Older Women Arc, which contains Misato’s and Youko’s path.  I’ll be straight… play Youko’s path first.  If you play Misato’s path before Youko’s, it will destroy you utterly, whereas it is merely saddening when you play Youko’s first.  Honestly, since I like that type of ending, I really did like how Youko’s path turned out, but it isn’t really a romance path (neither was Ruka’s and Riri’s).  Misato and Youko’s paths branch off from one another dramatically very late on (from a story perspective), and Misato’s path follows a far less dramatic and painful road to the end, one that is closer to what romance fans would like. 

    The third and last arc is the True Arc.  This path contains Kana’s and the True ending.  Kana’s path… is probably the most normal of all the paths, at least until the endgame.  To be honest, Kana’s path is the reason why I won’t be calling this one a kamige, though it isn’t horrible.  It is just… difficult to empathize with Kana (by the time I got to her path, I just considered her Idiot Friend #2, so I couldn’t see her as a romantic partner, even through the protagonist’s eyes).  Nonetheless, as paths go in a general sense, it was still pretty high quality. However, where this arc shines is, of course, the True path.  The True ending is… really heart-breaking.  What you might or might not have figured out from the clues about the mysteries behind what is going on at the school are brought to light in full form, and the issues that were generally laid to rest outside of the protagonist’s control or in a way that didn’t reveal the whole mystery were brought to a head in the protagonist’s personal viewpoint.  I cried for the True path.  I seriously cried.  If you don’t cry after you see what there is to see in this path, you probably should go to a psychologist.

    A few other comments before I go to my overall wrap-up.  My favorite heroine in this VN was undeniably Velvet, both because of my tastes in heroines (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you know her secrets), and because I just really, really liked her ending.  The protagonist’s degree of personal growth – and even his personality or outlook on life – will often be changed dramatically during the course of the paths, and this is one of the reasons I would love to give the kamige stamp to this one, despite the fact that it doesn’t quite reach Nanairo’s level. 

    Overall, this is definitely one of those VNs I’ll still be recommending to people five years from now, along with Nanairo.  It is a bit guro at times (at about the same level as Nanairo there), and the protagonist is a bit too typical of protagonists in the kind of situation he ends up in at times.  However, as long as you can get past these issues (or actively enjoy them) this is a great VN to play.  I will say that I really wished they would have done another adult protagonist, like Makoto from Nanairo.  I don’t really see the need to go back to student protagonists, but I guess that is just an inevitability when companies are under the kind of pressure of tradition these are.  I am seriously looking forward to more works from this company and this writer in the future, and this one is a solid (almost inevitable) VN of the Month candidate.

  10. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Hapymaher Character Special: Talking about the Protagonist   
    Naitou Tohru is the protagonist of Hapymaher and the character whose viewpoint you share for about 85% of the VN.  He is a character whose personality and situation are defined by a sense of loss and guilt so painful, it has literally driven him to the brink of insanity.  Oddly enough, the thing I find most admirable about him is the fact that is self-aware enough to actually rely on someone (most of the time) when he is at his limits and outside his specialty (which is altering/controlling his own dreams).
    A few words about his situation without giving away anything that would ruin the story.  If you know the concept of a 'lucid dream', you also know that it is a dream where you are aware you are dreaming (this often leads to you remembering more of it).  In Tohru's case, he sees nothing but lucid dreams... which means that the barriers between reality and dreams in his consciousness are extremely blurry and he is incapable of 'resting' psychologically when he sleeps.  He rarely, if ever receives what we would call 'restful sleep' without the aid of drugs that send him into utter insensibility, and in his dreams, he is capable of doing practically whatever he wants, in many cases. 
    Tohru's character can sometimes be seen as a symbol of self-control - as I said in my post on Maia - because he really does have a ridiculous level of self-control for someone still in his teens.  He is not really that dense, though he often pretends to be out of self-defense.  However, he has a lot of psychological hangups even in real life that have reinforced his somewhat blurry view of reality... ones he actually needs to maintain his mental and emotional balance, even if he realizes they are ridiculous.
    Tohru's clear-eyed view of dreams can be seen as a contrast to his somewhat blurry view of reality, as he is almost always the first to realize when he and the other characters are dreaming and when they aren't... and what the nature of the dream is.  To him, nightmares are everyday stuff, and he is so inured to the pain that accompanies them by experience that it would be tempting to see him as nerve-dead from the outside.
    He does have his weaknesses, even in dreams, though... and their names are Saki and Maia.  He is heavily dependent on Saki (self-evident within seconds of encountering her) and... holds other emotions towards Maia. 
    So what can I say?  In another VN, I might seriously dislike him, because he is too aware of those around him to be your standard harem protagonist, but he does have some seriously admirable elements... such as a sense of compassion and good Samaritan-ism (limited to women most of the time) or his willingness to endure pain for the sake of others.  However, he is also more than a little clumsy when it comes to handling those close to him and he frequently makes a wild boar look mild and easily moved. 
  11. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Hapymaher Character Special: Talking about Maia   
    Now, anyone who has seen pictures or videos from Hapymaher will have noticed the VN's resident loli, Maia.

    For various reasons, Maia is easily the character who leaves the strongest impression in the VN, hands-down.  She is the center of the VN's obvious conflict, and she easily has the greatest variety of character poses and non-H CGs.  If there is drama of some sort throughout the common route, Saki's route, Keiko's route, or Yayoi's route, she is somehow involved or the cause of it.  In a game that is focused around dreams, she is the devil's whisper, always giving people that last push they need to cross a line or jump off a cliff.  If Tohru, the protagonist, is the picture of the human capacity for self-control, she is apparently a representative of the part of the human psyche that denies that same control.
    However, that is only a small part of who she is.  In fact, that surface appearance and her symbolic role are actually less important than what lies at the core... a person who's motivations are neither inscrutable or incomprehensible (though she lies like a rug when it suits her).  In fact, she repeats her motivation verbally throughout the VN, mixed in with the lies and half-truths she tells habitually just to see the look on other people's faces.  She hides nothing of her nature or personality, but she is quite capable of using that truth to deceive.  In fact, in a regular chuunige, she really would be the ideal antagonist, as that combination of lies, half-truths, and truth that defines her makes for precisely the kind of antagonist chuunige-makers love.
    Heck, just listen to her theme song.
     
    That is precisely the kind of music they'd normally give to the last-boss type protagonist in another game... 
    Nonetheless, at the core of her is a deep and abiding love and devotion that surpasses all barriers, allows her to bear anything... except that emotion itself.  To be honest, she even makes the yandere-ish Saki (she really seems like it sometimes) seem mild in terms of her degree of emotion.  That love contains everything that love should contain, including the fundamental duality of human nature... what we want for ourselves and what we want for others (I'm not saying anymore on this, as going any farther would be a  real spoiler). 

     
  12. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, VN of the Month Feb 2016 and March titles   
    First, VN of the Month 2016 basically comes down to a competition between two titles, World Election and Tsumi no Hikari Rendezvous.  The other stuff from February was mostly... disappointing.  Shugotate 2 is great... but one of my rules is that direct sequels and continuances of previous games can't compete if they require knowledge of the original to enjoy (and in this case that is true). 

     

     
    Both games in the posts above are solid VN of the Month candidates... and if they were in separate months, it is likely they'd both end up being the rulers of their individual months.  However, looking at it objectively, Tsumi no Hikari Rendezvous edges World Election by a hair (actually, either one could be named VN of the Month, but I had to give Tsumi extra points for my bias). 
    That aside, lets move on to talking about what titles I'll be playing from this month.
    March Releases
    Might or might not play the VN below.
    https://vndb.org/v18237
    Giving Lose the benefit of the doubt, despite the ridiculous look of the VN below.
    https://vndb.org/v18131
    I avoided the anime so I could read the VN below without bias, so I'll be playing it.
    https://vndb.org/v14303
    I wouldn't be Clephas if I didn't play the VN below.  However, since it is a side-story, it isn't eligible for VN of the Month.
    https://vndb.org/v18685
    I'll definitely play the VN below... but if it is as bad as its related VN (Koi no Aria) I'll probably drop it.
    https://vndb.org/v18635
    Almost certainly won't play the one below, unless I get extremely bored.  Astronauts sometimes does really good work with fantasy rpgs, but most of them are straight rape-tentacle things.
    https://vndb.org/v18761
    Edit: Almost forgot these two, even though they were on my list of to-play VNs at the beginning of the year... March has a few too many releases though, lol.
    https://vndb.org/v18651
    https://vndb.org/v18495
     
  13. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Tsumi no Hikari Rendezvous   
    Since I finished getting the acidic, poisonous, and unreasoning emotions out of my system - see this post:

    I was able to get through this VN without a lot of pain and twisted emotion such as I experienced with Soreyori no Prologue. 
    First, this is a VN that people who prefer moege/charage will not like.  I say this because, despite the high-quality visuals, this is - like most of Minori's more recent VNs - just a few steps too far in the direction of 'down in the mud romance drama' for the tastes of those who like the sappy, mindless romance that defines most VNs of the type. 
    Also, I will say that the best heroine in this VN is Fuuka (for reasons involving my personal tastes that I won't spoil).  Tsubura is just too... weak-willed for my tastes.  Ai is the central heroine, but she is typical of some of my least-favorite Minori heroines in being a bit too... attached to her own metaphors. 
    Having said that, this VN starts out in a way that I really didn't like (sparking the previous rave post that I used to lance that particular boil of toxic emotion), so I honestly can say that while the events in the common route were ones I didn't enjoy reading, they don't detract from the overall quality of the game.  In fact, for people who like this kind of 'afternoon drama romance story', this will be a perfect treat.  The simple fact that I don't enjoy that type of thing outside of a few specific scenarios is irrelevant to this fact, so remember that my personal distaste is pure bias, not a statement on the technical quality of the scenario.
    I honestly can't find a way to describe this story in any way without spoiling it.  This VN is so dependent on its specific methodology of revelation in order for the reader to enjoy it that any spoilers here - even minor ones - would be criminal on my part, so I'm going to decline to do an in-detail analysis of what I read, outside of a few generalized statements.  Tsubura, for better or worse, is a personality that will seriously split those who read this.  Her path has some seriously good points emotionally, but as a character, she will drive some people insane, because she can be seriously pathetic as a person sometimes.  Ai's path... is dependent on the common route, and the revelation of certain personality traits (and hiding others) is integral to telling her story, so I'll refrain from any further comment except to say that it feels like a 'typical Minori star-crossed, twisted into a pretzel romance, for better or worse'.  Fuuka... is Tsubura's opposite.  She is strong-willed, bad-mouthed, and pretty capable overall.  She is my favorite of the three  heroines (as I mentioned above) and her path stimulates one of my tertiary fetishes.  However, her path will also split those who read it, though for different reasons from the other two paths.
    I have to mention this issue, despite it being one that most Minori readers are already familiar with... the unbelievably long h-scenes.  For some reason, Minori seems to adore making h-scenes that last forever, have a ridiculous number of CGs, and are so intrusive into the story at some points that they actually make it hard to keep up interest in the story in general (there are some that aren't intrusive - and are even necessary to the story flow - but some are seriously...). 
    Visually and audio-wise, this VN is of average Minori quality (which is higher quality than the average VN ), but there are definitely issues with the graphic system, such as stuttering in the animations and occasional random freezes (usually lasting only a few seconds).  The random freezes stop if you turn off the animation, and I actually enjoyed the story more once they were gone... so I can honestly say the animation doesn't add anything to the experience one way or the other.
    In terms of raw scenario design and writing quality... the scenario design is pretty high quality, but the writing is somewhat spotty at times (daily life scenes are somewhat shoddier at times, whereas the quality jumps suddenly in the most vital scenes... not really noticeable unless writing is really an issue for you like it is for me). 
    Overall, this VN wasn't a bad experience once I got past my own issues... but I think that VN readers in the community will be split based on personal tastes when it comes to the game in general.  It isn't a kamige by any standard, and it is an unabashed soap opera type story (though without endless seasons of meaningless twists).  However, whether that is a good or bad thing is entirely up to you.  As I said before, some people will actually have more trouble than I did, particularly people who like the relatively simple romance that is the common fare of charage, nakige, and others of the type.  There are some seriously strong emotional moments in this VN... but it is not really a VN that will stimulate the intellect, as it is basically an adolescent romance story.
  14. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Boku wa Tomodachi - I am not Sweetheart   
    This is the first of August's releases I'm playing, and to be honest, I didn't really have any hopes for this VN... in a good way, my belief that it would suck was betrayed, though this is a very problematic VN, in a number of ways.

    1. It is LONG. This VN is way too long for a story that is almost entirely slice-of-life (though it is an extremely abnormal life) and considering how self-abusing the protagonist tends to be.

    2. The music cuts out at irregular intervals, and frequently it doesn't make sense when it does.

    Those are the obvious flaws, and I'll just leave it at that. For a doujin VN, the art is about as good as it gets (outside of a few miraculous works of art that pop up once or twice a year). The match of characterization to art is pretty good in this case (in other words, the characters' personalities are properly matched to the expressions and poses of the tachie), though there is very little in the way of pose variances in comparison to a commercial VN.

    Most of the music in this VN is generic (though the opening and ending songs are decent unique ones), but it is used properly - where it doesn't cut out and leave you hanging - so there isn't a lot to complain about.

    Story-wise... the concept is interesting. The basic idea of the protagonist is that he is cursed to be the 'idiot friend' (think Sunohara from Clannad) who exists entirely to help the protagonist get together with a heroine or to kick him out of his mood and save the heroine. The thing is... he has at least forty groups of such 'osananajimi' characters, each with a 'protagonist' of its own that he has to help. The basic impression is that it is like a full time job... a job he really, really hates.

    To be honest, I was kind of amazed they went with a primarily serious story (yes, it is serious) despite the seemingly humor-focused idea of the story. Oh, there is indeed a ton of laughable points... in fact, it is impossible to avoid them even if you try. However, the baseline of the story is serious, to the point where you have to wonder just why they had to lay it on so heavy in the latter part of each heroine route. (incidentally, I'm half-sure there is a hidden heroine route in here somewhere, but because this is a doujin VN, there are no walkthroughs to help me find it, lol)

    Well, my conclusion after having played the obvious heroine routes is that this is a decent VN... but only decent. It doesn't get beyond that, primarily because its flaws are glaring enough that they offset most of the good points. This VN could definitely have done with a bit of cutting the fat, especially when it came to the repetitious gags and constant foreshadowing with no progression (it took way too long to get to the point) in Nanami's route.
  15. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Kikaijikake no Eve: Better than its concept   
    I'll start out saying this. The primary reason I hadn't played this up until now was because the concept just sounded so silly on paper, no matter how many times I read it. I mean, making sex toys as a gameplay element? Seriously? However, I don't regret playing this game in any sense of the word, and it escapes being a nukige despite the concept.

    First, the gameplay... There are two major aspects to the gameplay, a phase where you research and make sex toys as well as other daily activities (such as expanding facilities or conducting general research with a heroine) and a battle phase that pops up at irregular times. The battle phase is a card-based system (with random draws) based off of rock-paper-scissors where you deal damage to an enemy based on your character's stats plus the number on the cards. You can combine the three types of cards in a combo that both increases hits and damage, and the first card in the combo decides whether it is rock, paper, or scissors. To an extent, the battles are based on luck, so you shouldn't expect to be able to win at all times. The 'daily life' gameplay focuses on the creation of sex toys and the handing over of lost technology to your company's partner/parent company in order to increase their share of the market. The basic objective is to put together 500,000,000 yen in earnings (put together from bonuses for handing over tech and the sales of sex toys you researched and put into production) and gain a total of a 70% share of the market so you can do a hostile takeover of the SHE corporation.

    The story is so intimately connected to the gameplay that I couldn't help but be impressed at how they supplemented one another. I had to rofl at the sex toy H-scenes (they range from the bizarre to the psychotic), and there was just enough slice-of-life to give you a strong impression of all the characters (and heroines) without becoming tedious. The story itself was fairly awesome, with the nature and future of artificial intelligence and scientific ethics as major themes. I honestly enjoyed both the main story and the ideas behind it, and I didn't manage to get bored at any time during the course of the game (I pulled an all-nighter to finish it and I just woke up after two hours of sleep). To be honest, I don't have anything significant to complain about, storywise, with this game, though I could have wished for a non-bad Kuon ending (I got all the Teria and Fam endings - non-human heroines banzai!!!).

    This is a good VN for someone who wants a good balance between the comedic and the serious in a gameplay-based VN that is relatively easy to master. There are a few too many H-scenes, but considering the concept, there were actually a lot fewer than I expected.
  16. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Sorcery Jokers: It surprised Clephas, will it surprise you?   
    First, I'll give you a quick run-down on this game... it is a game by 3rd Eye, a company known mostly for producing chuunige that are more moe-influenced than is the norm. This game is actually more of a mystery/chuuni/action/conspiracy type than a 'pure' chuunige. The world in which it is based is a future where, ten years before the story began, magic appeared on the scene. Large numbers of people became capable of using magic, and a new branch of science was built up solely for the purpose of utilizing magic as new energy source. The result of this is a society that is somewhat divided between the magical 'haves' and 'have-nots', though that isn't the focus of the story, despite what you might otherwise anticipate.

    The protagonists

    Senri


    Senri is your classic 'bad-ass antihero protagonist'. He is clever, intelligent, and overall highly capable, with a razor-sharp mind and battle instincts that would put a Navy Seal to shame and make Golgo 13 look incompetent. His cold-blooded pursuit of his own interests, which are very opaque through most of the VN, is his primary defining feature... Oh, and he lies... a lot. He makes the protagonist of Sharin no Kuni seem honest.

    Haruto

    Haruto is a somewhat less beloved type of protagonist in chuunige... basically a 'justice freak' combined with being 'a young man driven against his will by the tides of fate'. He is a natural optimist and a believer in fairness above all. Unfortunately, he also has that bad habit a lot of similar chuunige protagonists have... of sticking his nose into situations he doesn't really need to get involved in. He grows a great deal during the course of the VN (as is typical of this type, if the writers don't suck), and by the end his viewpoint on the world has... been sharpened a great deal by experience. He is more likeable than a lot of similar protagonists, but it still isn't a type I prefer.

    The Heroines

    Fiona


    Fiona, at first glance, seems to be your classic clutzy/innocent nun-type heroine. She works as a nun at a run-down church in the city's... less reputable area and is well-loved by the delinquents who frequent the church. However, she, like most of the characters in this game, is hiding a lot of secrets... She is one of Senri's two heroines.

    Noa

    An innocent, pure-hearted girl who is seen mostly as a ghost throughout the first part of the game. She has a really unique way of speaking, born partially from Senri's half-hearted efforts at education (mostly through handing her magazines and letting her watch AVs). To be honest, in the reading of this VN, interpreting her weird speech patterns was a bit difficult at first (she cuts apart words and puts them together in weird ways). She is the second of Senri's two heroines.

    Asahi

    Asahi is... a bit weird. Her personality itself is quite straightforward and honest, and she hates lies and general dishonesty with a passion. However, she is also compassionate to a fault and unwavering in the pursuit of her goals. Unfortunately - at least so it seems at first - there are a few loose screws rolling around in that head of hers. Even more so than Haruto, she is an eternal an unrepentant optimist and probably the single most trustworthy individual in the entire VN.

    Riku


    Riku is, throughout the VN, perhaps the least expressive individual other than Senri himself. She almost never displays her emotions on her face, and she has an almost unnatural tendency to think objectively about anything and everything, including herself. That the writer managed to grant her so much depth without making her a protagonist was an impressive feat in and of itself... and one of the reasons why her interactions with Haruto and Asahi are so amusing. She really is almost as detached as she seems most of the time, which is one of the reasons it hits so hard when she does become emotional.

    The VN

    Sorcery Jokers is definitely VN of the Month material. I'll say that right off the bat. The depth of the story and characters is incomparable with previous games by this company, and while it falls slightly short of a kamige, it is nonetheless something worth taking note of. Normally, I can't stand dual protagonists, as many have heard me mention. I hated Subahibi for that, amongst a number of other sins, and one of the biggest reasons it took me so long to play I/O was because I don't like going into VNs with multiple protags.

    Fortunately, I managed to get past that, simply because the differing approaches to the story were the only thing that made it possible to grasp something even approaching the whole of the story as it happened. A single perspective wouldn't have done a bit of good as an approach to this VN's story, simply because there are too many things happening at too many different points for a single perspective to handle.

    The VN's structure is basically that of a kinetic novel, with the illusion of choice through a flow chart (for the first chapter, at least) where you pick and choose which events you want to see next (though you have to see them all anyway). To be honest, I could have done without the flow chart entirely... flow charts in general are an irritation more than a help, especially if they are made a central part of progressing the story. That said, as the actual switching around mostly ends after the first chapter, it isn't really a big deal (though it does make me wonder why they had a flow chart at all).

    The story's mystery and conspiracy elements feel a lot like peeling an onion, as there are layers within layers within layers. What you thought was the root of things turns out to be just another layer, more than once. As things come together near the end, the knowledge you've gained through the character perspectives deepens the experience nicely, making this one of the few part-mystery VNs I've played in recent years that I didn't immediately have 'read' relatively early on.

    That isn't to say there aren't points where the VN stumbles. Haruto, because of his role as the 'kid chuunige protag', is the game's Achilles Heel, as all protagonists of the type with his kind of temperament tend to be. However, his growth is enough to offset the cookie-cutter aspects of his character enough that I approved of his role... in the end. Asahi also threatens to tilt the balance of the VN into the realm of the silly a lot early on, simply because of her 'weirdness'. However, because that silliness is a vital ingredient in her growth as a character, it can't really said to be a true weakness, though it can be irritating at times.

    The endings are all branches off of the true end, one for each heroine (Noa or Fiona with Senri, and Asahi or Riku with Haruto). I had no problems with the epilogues for Noa or Fiona... but I thought that Haruto had devolved a lot in his heroine epilogues, which kind of brought me back to why I didn't like him in the first place.

    Overall, I felt that this VN is one of the more solid chuunige made in the last few years, especially in the sense of 'balance'. Silverio Vendetta, while it is a lot more exhilarating, also had the difficulty of disproportionately focusing the writer's attention on Vendetta, which weakened the other two paths greatly. Bansenjin suffers from reusing an uninspiring cast and being relatively boring throughout most of its length. In terms of a constant sense of tension and in terms of pacing of events, this VN definitely is the winner of Chuunige VN of the Year so far, though it isn't chuuni-crack in the sense that Silverio was. I'm actually quite proud of the fact that this company has evolved so much since its somewhat... unimpressive beginnings (Bloody Rondo), and I'm glad I stuck with the company. It is always nice to be surprised pleasantly by a VN.
  17. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Maboroshi no Dystopia Part 1: First Impressions and Ruriko's path   
    For various reasons, I had high hopes for this VN. For one thing, it is by the same company that did Reminiscence and for another, I just liked the basic concept. However, there is one issue that is more than a little irritating... they used an entirely new main staff (new writer, new artist) and tried to maintain an aura of similarity to the Akagoei series without the heart and soul that made that series interesting.

    First, the protagonist is obviously a knock-off version of Kaito, with all the same basic qualities... except intelligence. They deliberately made him something of a bird-brain, and the combination with Kaito's free-spirited behavior and a 'spoiled brat' image doesn't really work very well. The fact that he really is exactly the way he appears most of the time makes this all the more irritating.

    There are serious hidden elements to the story, but a big problem with that is that the most important one is easy to figure out because of the first scene of the VN. In addition, while they maintained a similar theme about the stratification of society due to inequality of wealth and adding on a caste system, there is no explanation given so far about how things ended up like that. I'm unsure of whether it was deliberate or not, but there are some really big holes in the setting so far.

    Making it worse is that the protagonist is legitimately disliked by three out of the four heroines... heck, Yoshiko says from the beginning that she hates him and the only one that is actively friendly is Akari, who is nice to everyone. This is a bit hard on the stomach, as the protagonist is undeservedly arrogant.

    Ruriko

    Ruriko is the protagonist's maid, the girl in the pic above. She is the only one of the heroines who doesn't attend the school, and her personality is caustic, especially toward the protagonist. Her path is really lackadaisically designed, though it is both amusing and interesting in the sense of filling in some of the details. Unfortunately, the drama, which should have had a great deal more impact, was weakly presented and solved far too easily. Given a choice, I would have advised them to completely rewrite this path, giving it more intensity and a nicely tragic feel. Unfortunately, they failed in the attempt to fuse the serious with the funny in this path, and it shows.
  18. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Kitto Sumiwataru Asairo Yori mo   
    First, I should probably address those who questioned why I never played this VN before... the answer is that I did try this VN 'way back when' and couldn't get past the prologue. To be frank, the prologue of this VN is pretty... unimpressive. However, once you get past that prologue, you are put into what probably amounts to the best nakige I've ever played.

    This VN is a kinetic novel, with only a single ending. It combines elements of mythology, mystery, fantasy, and psychological horror (relatively mild) into a single whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. For those who love Araragi (to be honest, I think all of those who read this VN love Araragi) more than Hiyo... my condolences. There is only one path and it is Hiyo's.

    The child-version of Hiyo in the pic above is part of one of my favorite early scenes in the VN and the scene that pretty much locked in my love of the characters as a whole. I'm a sucker for appeals to emotions like the ones in this VN, and there is very little in this VN that doesn't appeal to your emotions on some level. The warmth and kindness of the three girls closest to the protagonist and the dynamic between the four of them is central to most of the story. While Hiyo-love indeed has a big impact on the story, romance in this VN is ultimately merely one of many themes, ranging from the obvious 'love of art' and 'autumn', to 'the nature of kindness'.

    For those who have seen the opening song on youtube... you should probably be aware that the entire OST for this VN is on that level or better. Like many of the best VNs out there, the musical direction and the choice of music in general is superb... a work of art. There are many Chinese-classical and hybrid Japanese-classical themes mixed in with various other types, and this adds to the atmosphere created by the 'old Japan' design of the school and dorms where all the events of the story take place. These aspects, combined with the plentiful expressions and poses given to the characters' tachie, are used effectively to create the 'personality' of the VN as a whole.

    The most important way to evaluate VNs that fall into the 'nakige' category is how much they made you love the characters, thus giving you a reason to cry for them. In that sense, I can honestly say that it leaves almost every nakige I've played in the dust (including all of Key's). The lack of massive casts of heroines and multiple paths serves to make every occurrence in this VN feel 'real', adding more impact to the sorrow, joy, hope, and pride that continually break your heart. I can honestly say that I feel Propeller used the 'kinetic novel' format to its fullest, succeeding in creating a story with an impact far in excess of what it would have possessed if it had been a multi-path story.

    Now... I feel it is about time I stopped praising this VN and spoke about the one issue that bothered me, even after I finished it...

    ... it truly amazed me how bad the VN is during the initial stages. It feels awkward and forced, and that sense of 'eh, what were they trying to do here?!' is so strong at first that it was enough to make me drop this five years ago without a second thought. Of course, back then I hadn't been as thoroughly 'trained' by years of playing moege that are far worse than this... but it is still a flaw in an otherwise awesome VN. That said, once it gets started, this VN is really, really hard to put down.

    Overall, the only people I can't recommend this to are the extreme moe and dark fantasy fans. For all that the designs are most definitely moe, the degree to which the characters suffer in this VN will be a bit much for the soft-moe addicts. For the dark fantasy fans... you'll probably be a bit put off by a lack of action and murder. This VN has precisely one action scene that would interest that type... and it isn't that long (though it is important to the story in general). Everyone else? If you can make it past the prologue, I can guarantee you'll fall in love with the characters, even if other aspects bother you.
  19. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Flutterz for a blog entry, Moe Repository #26   
    Attention Fuwanovel! This is a very important announcement!
    MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE MOE



  20. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Neyuki no Genei and VN of the Month announcement   
    From the beginning I'm going to be blunt and say this VN is going to be a bit of a hard sell for most readers. There are several reasons for this.

    1. Rapid genre shifts (this thing jumps through hoops for at least four genres and shifts rapidly from serious, to sad, to scary... so rapidly most people will probably lose track of what's going on)
    2. There is a surprisingly large amount of rape and H in general for a VN that is only about five to six hours long for me (and about twelve to fourteen for slower people).
    3. The rapid-fire pacing and sheer number of meaningless choices

    Ok, first of all, this doesn't really function very well as a mystery, save for the first path. On the first path, you have no idea whatsoever is going on, and at the end of it, anyone with a brain will have figured out at least some of what happened. Second, this VN frequently slips into comedic turns (particularly because the protagonist is a perverted skirt-chaser who is utterly incapable of lying) that are often followed up by sad or mildly scary ones.

    There are a lot of points where this feels like haunted house horror (without the murder), and there are even more points where it feels like everything is just put there so the protagonist can make you laugh. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if most people feel the way I did when it ended... that the entire thing was a joke, collectively speaking.

    I can't really say who this would appeal to, because for every person that this hits the sweet spot, there is bound to be eight or nine who can't stand it. That is because it is so frenetic and weirdly structured. The true ending is fairly hilarious and actually quite pleasant... but people who go into this expecting straight-out mystery/horror will probably come out dissatisfied. If there were more VNs like this out there, I'd probably be able to define a new genre with this, because everything it pretends to be it doesn't quite match, hahaha.

    VN of the Month Announcement

    VN of the Month, June 2015 is: Love Rec by Alcot
  21. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Ojou-sama to Himitsu no Otome   
    Well, you'll be disappointed to know that I am disappointed with this VN, even though I didn't have high hopes for it.

    First, I should explain the theory/template for a good trap protagonist VN.

    1. Protagonist is voiced (voicing the protagonist in these VNs with a sex-neutral-sounding VA generally gives you what you want)
    2. Protagonist is something of a submissive personality, when it comes to minor issues, but when it comes to anything major is proactive.
    3. Protagonist at some point stops being bothered by the fact that they are dressing up as a girl. (along with occasional sighs when they realize they are thinking completely like a woman)
    4. Protagonist is generally capable, earning the positive emotions he gets from the girls honestly.
    5. The discovery of the protagonist's sex by the heroine is in a suitably dramatic manner, thus generally overwriting the shock of the discovery of his lie (most of the time).
    6. The actual issue of his true sex is an object of humor to those who know the truth.

    I should say that 1, 2, 4, and 5 are violated by this VN (though 5 isn't violated by all the routes). To those who have played Tsuriotsu since it got the voice patch or Koi no Canvas, you will know what I am talking about with 1. A protagonist that is on the verge of being a non-entity without a voice will become a real person the second they start talking, and the lack of a voice actually feels weird when everyone considers the protagonist to be a girl. In 2's case, the protagonist is a near-complete submissive with a side of hetare. This is a downside in any VN, but it was particularly bad in this one... With 4... the protagonist is basically a nonentity, shy and generally hopeless. Again, this is a downer for any VN, but this also means it feels like he didn't 'earn' the heroines' affections, which is pretty much unforgivable in this type of VN.

    Now, for some general conclusions about the VN... this one only barely stops short of nukige territory when it comes to the h-scenes. The number per route (somewhere around seven or eight) is ridiculous, and - sadly - a large amount of the final parts of each heroine's story are a part of the h-scenes, thus making it almost a necessity to read them all. Making it worse is that the common route is ridiculously short and the heroine routes are of similar length, meaning character development is minimal at best.

    While I generally don't expect much of Moonstone, this was a particularly disastrous entry, in my opinion.
  22. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Venus Blood Series, In order from Abyss to Hypno   
    A Universal Issue

    Tentacle sex and rape are the two big downers to this series. For a series with such good writing, it is amazing how quickly it becomes repetitive once h-scenes get into the picture. On the bright side, corrupting the heroines in Empire, Frontier, and Hypno almost always has immensely hilarious results after the mindbreak. It is kind of irritating that you pretty much have to mindbreak them to get the really good strategic skills, though.

    Abyss

    To be honest, this is the game in the series I liked the least. First, it is the first one that introduces the tentacle impregnation=new troops system that was the recruitment system for this and Gaia. Second, it has the weakest set of heroines and protagonist in the entire series. Third - and last - it uses a dungeon-defense gameplay model, which I despise. To be honest, the Law route of this game is incredibly boring, story-wise, with a huge amount of cliched jrpg knock-off plot twists. While this isn't unexpected, the main heroine's personality is the worst part of it... her idealism wears on you after a while, and both the protagonist and the antagonist are both weak enough not to be able to make up for it. The Chaos route suffers from 'we just stuck an evil route on it for mad science self-indulgence' syndrome, and the ending is, if anything, even more pathetic than the Law ending (think a bad ending in a chuunige with the positions reversed). While the story is actually mildly enjoyable while it is going on, the aftermath is singularly disappointing and dissatisfying.

    Frontier

    I'll just come out and say it... this would have been the perfect story if the main antagonist wasn't such a straight-out 'Me Dark Lord, Destroy world because me bored!' Kefka knock-off. Oh, the details are mildly interesting, but the last chapter is almost unforgivable. If it wasn't for the overwhelmingly good cast on the protagonist's side of things, as well as the game's excellent story as a whole (if you cut out the ending sections) this would probably be an eminently forgettable game. The protagonist's motivations, his background, and his abilities as a general and a warrior make him a really attractive main character, and the fact that he isn't just a mass of endless ambition and sadism (unlike many VNs along the same lines) is a huge attraction for this game. The actual gameplay is somewhat improved from Empire (the previous strategy-conquest game in the series) but the game balance is kind of broken at points (think sharp spikes in difficulty, especially at the beginning and end).

    Gaia

    ... you almost have to be impressed about how completely they integrated the monster-birth recruitment system into this game. It isn't nearly as annoying as it was in Abyss, where it made the actual process of recruitment a matter of extreme annoyance (especially if you wanted to constantly alter the makeup of your forces). However, you do spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the little calendar part of the UI and checking to see how it will effect the power of the units you intend to birth. Again, like all the previous games in this series, it suffers from a lack of a good antagonist. There is nothing really sympathetic about the final antagonist (too faceless). The actual base story is much, much more interesting than Abyss... and the main heroine of the Law route is undeniably adorable, as well. lol (out of character for this company is that there are no h-scenes for this heroine, hahaha)

    They also added a dungeon-raid event battle system where you send your troops through an enemy's dungeon, in addition to the dungeon-defense and construction that makes up ninety percent of the game. This is a definite improvement, and the actual dungeon-construction and defense is a lot more refined (though I still thought it was inferior to Demonion's).

    Hypno

    This is undeniably the best game in the entire series, from all angles but one - heroine development. Individual heroine development - usually done through a combination of sex events and conversational events - is a lot less deep than it was in the previous games (yes, it is somewhat weird to say that there is character development when it comes to mindbreak and tentacle-H, but it happens to be true). It also departs from the previous games' style in that you pick your path early on and have to stick to it (basically, you either decide to break Sylvia or become her friend by either continuing with the sex-training or picking her regular conversational events after the required initial scene).

    This is perhaps the only game in the series where I actually found the chaos route worth playing, though the ending was perhaps less interesting than the actual antagonist and the process of going through the route. The Law route feels very much like a route to redemption from the hell his life has been for Leon and the world in general.

    However, as anyone who plays this game from the beginning will notice, the true flower of this game's story is the relationship between Leon and Anora. The mutual interdependence, absolute trust, and unstinting love they give one another from the very beginning is touching, even though Anora is pretty much a neutral evil character and Leon a true neutral one, lol.

    The Law route antagonist, as per the course in all the other games by this company, is a bit of a yawner, though the actual fight against him is pretty good.

    In terms of the gameplay... it is undeniably improved far and above all the previous games in the series. Being able to invest resources in increasing your income of the four resources (food, ether, magical energy, and coin) as well as war (experience gained every turn automatically by all recruits) and medical (automatic healing on every turn) allows you to do something other than conquer to build up your base of power. The conquest itself is done in stage format rather than in continental conquest format, which has its downsides in terms of gameplay flexibility but has the advantage of not kidding you about how much freedom you have (both Empire and Frontier basically did the same thing but gave you the illusion you were freely conquering the world). The actual recruitment system, which has been evolving since Empire, reaches its peak in this one, where character customization is the most advanced so far, without the unnecessary complications of heroine impregnation in Gaia.

    Overall

    Overall, as a series... it makes you hate tentacles after a while, if you didn't already. It also makes some great protagonists (Empire, Frontier, and Hypno in particular). It also has very flat antagonists and gameplay that tends to be somewhat disappointing. Nonetheless, if you can slog through the H scenes (or just ignore them) Hypno - at the very least - is worth trying. Unfortunately, this series will destroy anyone who hates rape or tentacle sex, so I can't recommend it for the uninitiated... or for those who prefer soft H. To be honest, I started turning off my emotions after the first tentacles appeared and if it weren't for the fact that the moment the heroines' broke in Hypno was so deliciously evil, I probably wouldn't have bothered to read any of them. I'll never replay any of the games in this series, but I'll probably at least try the new ones in the series, if only out of curiosity to see whether they've improved the storytelling to fit my standards completely.
  23. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Mr. Meogii for a blog entry, Fuwa's Lovely Ms. Suikashoujo   
    Mr. Meogii's First Recognition Post.


    Hello Guys ! Meogii here, bringing you your ever so loved members' highlight. Today we will be zoning in on Suikashoujo. She has been a member of our community for almost a year now and it pains me to see that the majority of us do not yet know what she's been up to. She enjoys singing, so much so that she has taken it upon herself to make song covers to go along with her music. I don't know about you, but I don't think I'd ever find enough courage to allow other people to listen to me sing. Be it in real life or over the Internet, such a feat requires confidence - something I'm sure Suikashoujo has in her great and pleasurable singing. Down below you'll find her latest video so if you like it, be sure to check out her channel for more awesomeness. From the community and myself, we wish you all the best regarding your future works.

    Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube....GMm-XabSB6VXgrA

    Latest Video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ9RxxZPm1c
  24. Like
    starlessn1ght got a reaction from Loco15 for a blog entry, Nosebleed/whore AU: Forbidden love Part I   
    Nosebleed guided whore by his hand. It was dark; they were walking among some trees.
    "Are you alright?" , Nosebleed turned his head back, slowly, trying to see whore's face through the darkness. Whore nodded.

    They reached a glade. The moon allowed them to see each other's faces. Nosebleed had a different wig: still Nico's black hair, but he wasn't using twintails. Princess whore had a passionate, yet afraid, gleam in her eyes.

    Whore got near the river flowing down there. She saw her reflection. She trembled.

    "Are you feeling cold?", asked Nosebleed. He came behind her, with his right hand on her shoulder, and the other hand holding a bottle. Looking at his reflection on the water, whore blushed. "I brought hot chocolate with me." he continued.

    "...?" Whore turned back, staring at the bottle and then, at his eyes. She smiled, accepting the offer. "Thank you."
    As whore opened the bottle, Nosebleed lost his balance.

    "Ah..." He fell on the top of her. "Oops." The hot chocolate was all spilled on their faces.

    "It's hot! Hot!" Whore screamed.

    "I-I'm sorry!", Nosebleed also felt the heat. He tried to hide his embarrassment, as he tried to find a way to clean her face. But then, he felt something soft on his chin running through his cheeks, until his forehead. He widened his eyes, surprised. Whore smiled at him happily, holding his chin, and then licking his lips.

    "It has... Good taste... Very... Good taste.", she said, blushing.

    "The chocolate? Or my...?"

    "Both."

    "Can I... taste it too?"

    Whore nodded in agreement. Nosebleed licked the princess' cheeks, smoothly, feeling every single flavor there was to be felt. She asked him with her eyes: "Did it taste good?"

    "Amazing." Both of them smiled. They advanced on each other, Nosebleed pushing the princess on the ground. They didn't even feel pain anymore, instead of it, they licked each other as fast as they could, so the chocolate wouldn't freeze.
    Their faces were finally clean.
    "Guess it's time to sleep, nyan~", said the princess. "Can I... Sleep on the top of you?"
    "Uh? Why?"
    "I want to hear your heartbeats. It will give me good dreams."
    "Princess... You do know... What we have won't last long, don't you?"
    "Hm." , she nodded. "That's why I want..." , whore comfortably set herself on the top of Nosebleed, with her ear on his heart. "... To enjoy every single moment of it."

    Next morning, Nosebleed was lazily still sleeping, while whore had already waken up. She looked at Nosebleed's cute face, passing her hands through his dark Nico wig.
    "Nico Nico nii." , she tried to imitate him.

    And then, there was another voice.
    "Who's there?" It was a male voice. Whore got scared. Some people knew her identity before she became a troll. What to do? What to do? Before she could think of anything, two soldiers came out of some trees.

    "Oh." one of them blushed. "Sorry to interrupt your moment, ojou-sama!"
    "Cute girls? Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng. The black-haired maiden is cosplaying my waifu..." the other screamed, excited.

    "Hm. ~" Whore's fears seemed to be unreasonable. "There's no problem. Now please we need to rest alone..."
    They were already leaving, however, another soldier came up. A general.
    "Guys, what you're... Uh?" His eyes met whore's. He identified her the moment he saw her. "You!"
    "Master, what's the problem?"
    "That girl is the one who was transformed into the troll! She's whore! She's a criminal!"
    Whore shook desperately.
    "Sir, you must be mistaken." a soldier replied.
    "I am not! How dare you?!"

    While they were arguing, Nosebleed woke up. "Uh... What's happening here?"

    "Nosebleed!" the general recognized him. "What are you doing with this criminal?!"

    "General Eclipsy! I... " he looked at whore, shaking of fear. "I don't know what this person is doing here." He sighed.

    "What?!", whore was wordless. She was taken by her arm by Eclipsy.
    "Come on, whore! I will take you to your place."

    "Where are you taking her?" asked Nosebleed.
    "She is going to be executed."
    "What?! No... I forbid you! Don't do that."
    "Free me!", whore screamed.
    "She is going to jail first. The execution will just happen tomorrow. Talk with the nobles first, then." The general and his men went away, leaving Nosebleed alone.

    "Oh God, what have I done?" Everything was fine. He was so happy. She was happy. But everything was messed up now. And even if he annulled her sentence, she perhaps would never forgive him.

    "I don't understand. Are you asking us to free her?", prince Marie asked. "Also, nice dress, Nosebleed."
    "Thank you. I mean, she's done nothing wrong , so I don't think she should be..."
    "Nothing wrong?!" General Usagi exclaimed. "Did you forget that she invaded our country, disrespected our laws, used a false identity, offended the majors, and above all things, claimed YOU were a loli kidnapper?"
    "I didn't but..."
    "Have you weakened yourself, Nosebleed?" Marie instigated him. "I remember the times you punished every single traitor with your own sword! But now, just look at you, is that related to the beauty of that whore?"
    "No, not at all. I'm not biased."
    "Well then, give that whore the right prize, so that she will never appear here again!"
    "Right... I'll... Do that..."

    Midnight. Steps echoed in a dark corridor. Whore couldn't sleep: the hour of the execution was approaching. Someone opened the door of the end of the corridor. The person came closer and closer, until whore could see his face. She looked the other way.

    "Princess..." Nosebleed wore a hopeless expression.
    "I don't... Want to talk to you."
    "I'm truly sorry."

    Whore turned to face him. Her green eyes were illuminated by the stars, out of the window.
    "Traitor." She slapped him in the face. Nosebleed couldn't look at her directly.
    "You said you loved me!", she screamed at him, ferociously. "And then you let me in this jail, waiting for my death! Is that what you call love?! You lied to protect yourself! You didn't care about me! I know I did bad things, but..." she pulled Nosebleed by his dress, sealing his lips with an intense, but bitter kiss. "I... Don't want to die." Tears started pouring from her eyes. "Please... Save me."

    Nosebleed felt an intense pain in his heart. He left the jail, running, breathlessly. He sang a song, then. A song that would survive centuries after his death.

    "By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
    Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
    Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
    In the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.


    O ye'll take the high road, and I'll take the low road,
    And I'll be in Scotland afore ye,
    Where me and my true love will never meet again,
    On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond."

    A tear came down from Nosebleed's eyes.




    To be continued...
  25. Like
    starlessn1ght reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Venus Blood Empire   
    Yes, I went and played a game in this series, mostly because Sanahtlig is an old friend and I didn't want to keep brushing him off. In fact, I'm marathonning this series starting with this game.

    First, an initial umbrella statement... this would have been a first-class story (though flawed) if it weren't for the massive amounts of tentacle rape and choukyou. Am I serious? Yeah. Despite everything, the base story is actually really good.

    Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the gameplay. It takes the form of a conquest-strategy VN where you use six-soldier units to attack cities that are defended by up to six soldiers. Unfortunately, there is nothing resembling actual strategy to the entire thing. Oh sure, you have to manage your resources and keep your soldiers healthy... but that's the closest you get to it (there are some strategic elements to the management of the power gauge and the use of skills, but those are minor). Basically, it is a 'make your units more powerful than the enemy's, then stuff them down his throat through brute force' approach. It has its moments, but they are few and far in between.

    The biggest upside of the story is the protagonist - for all that he is a ruthless pragmatist and schemer - and his closest subordinates, and the biggest downside is the final antagonist... I mean, you just don't get any more cookie-cutter than the last boss. I will say that the actual last battle in the Law route was pretty cool, but I was thoroughly bored by the boss's motives within ten minutes of its appearance. The ending also felt generic and truncated, which is sad after the richness of the actual story leading up to the end.
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