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22 hours ago, alpacaman said:

So after having finished almost every long VN on my must-read list, I decided to go for a change of pace and purchased a total of 14 promising looking short EVNs (plus one JVN) for a total of ~33€ in the recent VN-sale on Steam and which I'm probably going to read all over next few weeks.

Do you mind sharing the titles? I'm looking for short VNs to read after Summer Pockets.

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evnsljjez.png

+ Scar of the Doll. I only picked The Agony because of reviews saying it was hilariously bad and it only being 0,49€ though, so that might be the one on the list you probably shouldn't check out.

Edited by alpacaman

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Muv Luv Alternative spoileryish

The first few chapters are Unlimited-recap-but-I-know-teh-futures-and-am-more-mature-and-buff

It was nice to see Takeru be considered a natural talent this time around rather than the wimpy holding everyone back loser he was in Unlimited

Then 12-5 happens and it was kinda draggy but a good outlook on the world political dramas going on and Meiya's philosophies (Yuuhi's hawt btw)

XM3 trials were nice, always liked how Takeru's Valgern-On expertise in Extra pays off for the TSFs

Then the CHOMP happens and you're like whoa whoa WHOAAA HOLD UP!!!!! THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN!!!

Really disappointed that Sumika and her diaries actually failed in Return to Extra, I mean Extra BEGAN with her diary excerpts, they're just so damn iconic, and then you get blasted with "Good morning Shirogane-kun" and you're like WHAT.THE. SOME CHILDHOOD FRIEND YOU ARE.

Isumi's Valkyries... Despite being introduced pretty damn late in the trilogy I was still able to grow fairly attached to them. Michiru+Mitsuki+Haruka ranting about their love lives at first felt kind of out of place, it's like huh I know there's no way we're ever gonna get to see the people they're talking about, then you learn that Kimi ga Nozomu Eien / Rumbling Hearts exists and it's like dammit, y'all told me to read extra/unlimited so I could be attached to the main cast, but you forgot about these for the secondary cast!@#$#(Jk they're not even TLed sadface)

00Unit and Causality Conductor jargon was quite interesting, it's the meat of the Sci-Fi content comparable to other VNs involving time travel / multiverses. Topics concerning the BETAs behaviorals and objectives were always worthwhile to read. Military debriefing sections were cool but often difficult to keep up with; actual combat scenes were very well done.

Would've liked some more Takeru x Sumika dialogue, it actually feels like they didn't get to interact that much all things considered.

Mass Effect 2 Final suicide mission... If I red MLA back in 2006 I probably would've loved it, but now in 2020 overall it felt pretty meh and average to have an outcome like that. Or maybe at that point I was so battle hardened and so it didn't phase me. Or maybe I'm just still in denial to the reality that THAT is the ultimate fate of all of those beloved characters in this world.

Superordinate encounter was a real climax-y moment, but writers fell short by having to wrap up the story at this point. I would've preferred this encounter being at like the halfway point and then having a whole half to explore the rest but oh well. Biggest whamline: "The superordinate will display the newest specimen designated for recycling as Soldier Class". Fking Christ the CHILLS I got.

The final letter I got was from Class Rep, admittedly shedded some tears.

Extra Alternate ending was some good feels. Overall this trilogy really does the whole "don't take peaceful everyday life for granted" theme justice. As much as Muv Luv Extra was super super basic, at the end of the day after going through the monster that is Alternative it just made me so nostalgic and really appreciative of the simpler times. 9/10

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So, today I finished Tenohira o, Tayou ni.

I liked it, but there were also some drawbacks. My main gripe is about route structure. But first, let's do small introduction. (I'll try to avoid any major spoilers, most of the things I write below are from the very beginning of common route).

The game is divided into two parts. Main (first) part, called "Tenohira o", consists of three routes. The protagonist of this part, Akio, is living pretty dull and lonely life. He's initial state reminded me a bit about Kouhei from YMK. For some unknown reasons, he got completely estranged from his two childhood friends, Minoru and Mika. His memory is pretty hazy, like somebody painted it over with a gray paint. Also, he keeps seeing a strange dream about huge hibiscus tree on a nearby hill. Then, one day, on the way to school he meets strange girl. Towa, who turns out to be new transfer student in Akio's class, claims that she knows him from the past (as well as Minoru and Mika), and that she really missed them. However Akio, Minoru and Mika cannot remember her at all. To make matters worse, class ojousama, Hasumi, seems to hold some grudge against Akio, and keeps harrasing/bullying him and any one he's connected to - especially Towa. Really, there are moments when she's almost as bad as Antoinette.

So, the first part is pretty good story about friendship. Thanks to Towa's influence, Akio, Minoru and Mika slowly regain their memories and their friendship.

Spoiler

And discover town's dark secret.

There's also town's legend of mind-reading entity called Satori looming in the background.

And right there we have first problem with route structure. Towa is clearly main heroine, and whole story is centered around her. Also, on first playthrough we are locked onto her route, but only onto the "normal ending". Or rather, the story gets just abruptly cut. Then we have to complete Mika's and Minoru's routes. Both girls are cute, and it is nice to observe their relationship with Akio. Also, each route provides additional background bits for the main story. However, they clearly feel as side routes - they are just brief branches from main story, but ultimately lead to the same cliffhanger ending.

Spoiler

In which Towa suddenly disappears.

After that, true route gets unlocked. But we have to replay Towa's route, which is exactly the same as during first playthrough, so it can be just skipped right to the end, and then the rest of the story unfolds. That true route was really great, and I loved it. There were twists, reveals, and lots of intense and emotional moments. But I still think the route system itself is pretty flawed.

After completing Towa's true route, second part, called "Taiyou ni" gets unlocked. The protagonist of this part is Jun'ya, Akio's one year older childhood friend, who makes brief appearance in main story.

His arc features two heroines, Sarasa and Rin. It provides different point of view and additional background for the main story.

Jun'ya and Sarasa also keep seeing dreams about the tree on a hill, and Sarasa decides to investigate legends and traditions concerning it (and town's shrine) as their summer assignment. Jun'ya, their classmate Koujiro and Rin decide to join her. Their investigation also leads them towards the legend of Satori.

Rin's route is rather brief, and I feel like it was there mostly to provide some background, but at the same time I think it relied too much on the assumed reader's knowledge of the main story - I felt like some jumps were too broad, and wished for more direct explanations. Still, it had very good parts.

Sarasa's route can be considered "second side" of the true route, and it is good to play it as the final one.

Now, onto the other aspects. I really liked the art - it has some very nice looking backgrounds (apart from two or three odd ones), and I loved character design. Music was also good.

I played +18 version, and I actually liked h-scenes, especially in the Towa's route. There's only one scene per heroine. What I liked the most about the scenes (especially in the Akio's arc) was that they were brief and, how to say it, discreet, not too explicit. They were focused mostly on feelings, and spared most of the "mechanical" details ;) Also, there were some pretty nice dialogues. However, scene in Mika's route had probably one of the worst introductions ever :P

Spoiler

Akio: "Shall we have sex?" (エッチしおうか?)

It felt rather disappointing, when compared with his attitude in other routes - I facepalmed pretty hard after seeing that line - but somehow they managed to save it, treating it half-way comedically ;)

Scenes in Jun'ya's arc were more "standard eroge" fare (probably due to different writer) but still not bad.

Another complaint is the lack of the longer epilogues. But maybe they are in the fandisc - I have to check it out. It definitely has some after-stories, and prologue which retells the legend of Satori.

So, to sum it up... The main story was great. Like with Amber Quartz, I expected "just" a charage with osananajimi heroines, but got good nakige about friendship instead, and loved it. For that alone I'd rate it at 8. However I have to detract some points for the flawed route structure. So the final score is 7.5/10.

Now I'll either check out the fandisc, or try something translated for a breather. Summer Pockets maybe?

Edited by adamstan

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8 hours ago, Silvz said:

Yes, do it! You won't regret it!

Since I hate to leave things unfinished, for now finally I went with Tenotai fandisc, but I think I'll indeed read Summer Pockets afterwards. Is there any recommended route order or other such things?

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1 hour ago, adamstan said:

Since I hate to leave things unfinished, for now finally I went with Tenotai fandisc, but I think I'll indeed read Summer Pockets afterwards. Is there any recommended route order or other such things?

Not exactly, but I found a site that suggests Shiroha > Ao (for they complement each other this way) > Kamome > Tsumugi

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So, I just finished Tenohira o, Tayou ni AB - fandisc for Tenohira o, Tayou ni.

It's rather unusual for a fandisc, because it doesn't have almost any fanservice :P

The "AFTER" part is a short epilogue for main story - a party happening few weeks after the ending of true route. It has six "routes" - for Towa, Minoru and Mika, and then also for some side characters. However it isn't focused on romance - instead it builds up on a "group of friends" theme from the main story. The "rotues" are just a bunch of different dialogues depending on choices. And there are no h-scenes in this part (not that I'm complaining :P ). It was short, and while still not entirely satisfying, quite funny. It was nice to see some conclusion, and spend a bit more time with the characters.

The "BEFORE" part retells the legend of Satori from few hundred years ago that is mentioned in the main game. It was pretty decent nakige (and complete mood change compared with the aforementioned epilogue).

After completing those two main parts, "EXTRA 1" and "EXTRA 2" sections get unlocked. They are just two very brief half-comedic scenes. First one is kind of alternate "what-if" ending for the true route, while second one is small extension for Rin's route.

Overally, it was nice, if short, experience. I rate it the same as the main VN - 7.5/10

I think that, if nothing distracts me ;) , the next VN to read will be Summer Pockets

Edited by adamstan

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So, it's Summer Pockets time :D

I just finished the prologue, and I'm liking it very much so far. Beautiful art and music, and it definitely has KEY mood :)

Also, that table tennis minigame is strangely addictive. However, I'd love if it was possible to play it with keyboard (like, using separate keys for each "racket") - but I guess it'd be too easy then ;)

Edited by adamstan

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Finished a few VNs since my last post here, so here are some impressions!

True Remembrance

The music and overall ambience of the game reminded me a lot of Symphonic Rain, which is one of my favorite VNs. Also, while it might not matter much to most people, I'm a sucker for movies, games, etc taking place during winter, so that was a big plus for me.
All in all, it was a solid read.

Our Lovely Escape

This one was a bit of a mess. Everyone seems pretty normal at first glance, but then they just randomly start acting really strange out of nowhere. (Like when

Spoiler

the protagonist pushes one of the girls down on his bed and says that he loves her, despite there being no earlier indications of that, or when the boss at work decides that the protagonist needs to die just because a coworker quit, or when two of the coworkers stab the protagonist to death in the middle of the street in broad daylight after he refused to do a live sex show on cam with 20000 people watching, or... Well, you get it.)
It's hard to buy that someone would coincidentally associate with not just one, but three people who happen to have no qualms about downright murdering others just because they feel angry/sad/whatever.

It's clear that the developer was going for some sort of shock value, but it just comes off as desperate and feels really stupid.

A few other complaints:

- The character sprites and CG art don't match very well. They kinda seem like different people. For example, at one moment a character looks like this and the next, they look like this.
- There are a bunch of CGs that are animated for no reason (the characters aren't actually moving in the scene) and a bunch of CGs that would make sense to animate (the h-scenes, mainly) are not.
- Choices are completely nonsensical. For example, which girl the protagonist ends up sleeping with and falling in love with is literally determined based on what you decide to eat for lunch.
- Some of the endings are extremely sudden. Just when things start heading in a somewhat interesting direction; BOOM, the game just abruptly ends and you're thrown back to the title menu.

The Way We All Go

I think it's a decent VN at its core, but there are three things that lower my overall impression.

1. The dialogue and narration is way too bloated and repetitive. They could easily cut like 30% of the text from the game without having it negatively affecting the story.

2. "Atcchan" is one of the most spineless and pathetic excuses for a protagonist I've ever seen. He never speaks his mind and he's constantly cowering/apologizing to avoid conflict even when people are being rude to him for no valid reason or insulting his friends. Add to that how he treated his so called "best friend" like shit (by moving to another city without even mentioning it, as well as not contacting her even once for two years, although he kept in touch with his other friend that entire time) and you've got yourself one utterly unlikable SOB.

3. The fact that

Spoiler

Noelle murders both the protagonist and Amu in cold blood in several of the endings. I can understand that she feels horrible, since her school life was awful and the one person she considered a true friend abandoned her, but to then decide that the solution is to do some good ol' slice & dice with a box cutter, is taking it a few steps too far.

It makes it hard to truly sympathize with her and what she's gone through, even though that is obviously what we're expected to do. I'm sure this could have been handled in a better way; one that doesn't render Sad Backstory™ irrelevant.

Chemically Bonded

I've seen several people claim this is a "brilliant" visual novel with a "great story", but I simply can't agree. Yes, it sounds compelling on paper (the synopsis on the Steam page was what initially caught my attention), but in reality, it ended up being one of the most boring VNs I've ever read.

The story revolves around a friendship that has crumbled, and you, as the protagonist, get involved to try to make them reconcile. Mending a broken relationship seems like a promising premise, but it turned out to all be caused by a dumb misunderstanding that took like 10 seconds to clear up once they finally got around to doing it. Everything leading up to that point was basically just a lot of beating around the bush, repeating similar scenes and dialogue over and over again with little to no actual development in the story. The same goes for afterwards. It felt like they were just going through motions and doing this and that as filler to extend the playtime. I would much rather have had a more focused story that ended in 2-3 hours.

In addition, there's the issue of one of the girls, who's also a love interest for the protagonist, being a major annoyance. She's supposed to be a tsundere, but she's leaning so heavily towards the tsun side, constantly berating and throwing completely uncalled for verbal abuse at the protagonist, that it's impossible for me to find her endearing on the few occasions she starts acting dere. The fact that they're repeatedly referring to Naomi as a "tsundere" even in the narration makes it really obvious that the developer was going for that specifically, and that also solidifies her status as just a fictional stereotype rather than give her actual depth and resemblance to a real person.
The same goes for the protagonist, who has one of the most hollow personalities I've ever seen in a visual novel. We know next to nothing about him (I mean, he doesn't even have a name); he's basically just an empty shell with the sole purpose of acting as some kind of middleman in Naomi's and Kiyoko's relationship.
The only character that can be considered somewhat normal is Kiyoko, but she becomes more or less irrelevant due to how the other two are. A story about a relationship between three people doesn't work very well when two of those three seem like artificial constructs.

As for other complaints, there's English voice acting, but it's mediocre at best and the voices don't suit the characters very well. Also, the sound quality is noticeably worse than that of the music, with interference caused by what I can only assume is a lack of pop filter on the microphone during recording.
Furthermore, the characters keep stuttering all the time, and the voice actors articulate every stutter, making the dialogue sound forced and unnatural.

Sweetest Monster

I successfully predicted the plot twist early on and must say that I think there was a little too much foreshadowing.
Nevertheless, the dialogue was well written and the narration built a great horror/mystery atmosphere along with the music. It's too bad though that none of the characters were very likeable, because that sort of lessened the impact of everything that happened to them.

Edited by Seraphim88

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I just finished Summer Pockets.

What can I say... it's definitely classic Key nakige - wheter it's good or bad thing depends on the reader's attitude. I liked it.

When it comes to "normal" routes, I liked them all. Shiroha's had some pacing issues, but other than that, I don't have many complaints. My favourite heroine from that part is Ao I think. Somebody somewhere said that she's a character taken out straight from Mashiro Iro Symphony - perhaps this impression is strengthened by the fact that she's drawn by Palette's Izumi Tsubasu ;) - but I also had those impressions. She reminded me of Airi a bit.

Interactions with side characters (Ryouichi, Tenzen, Nomiki, Shizuku) were also fun. 

True Route is split into two parts. It was highly emotional for me, even though it takes a lot from previous Key titles - there are bits of Clannad and AIR clearly visible. But I don't mind it. I really like family themes.

Art is great - it's definitely the best looking Key VN, and it just looks good on its own as well. I also loved the music - it was definitely enhancing the scenes' mood.

To sum it up - while I feel like it doesn't exactly reach the greatness of Clannad, AIR or LB, it's still prety close - very solid work. Therefore I'd rate it at 8.5/10 (the same as Kanon)

Also, while I finished the story, I might still spend some more time with it, this time having fun with mini games :D

Edited by adamstan

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Started reading Princess Evangile, and man, this must be the worst VN I've played since School/Shiny Days, from a technical standpoint. I've had to lower my resolution to the point where I can clearly distinguish individual pixels from over two meters away, and it's still stuttering whenever there's some sort of movement.

Just out of curiousity, is the fact that one person's portrait stays next to the chat box while others are speaking intentional or is it some glitch caused by the godawful game engine? It seems a bit odd.
An example:

MZ6mfQ.png

The girl with the pink hair isn't the one speaking here, but her portrait's still showing.

This one's even more confusing:

DeMWHb.png

There's one person centered on-screen while another one's portrait is shown and yet another one is actually speaking.

Edited by Seraphim88

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Weird, I didn't have any such technical problems with it :o And I played it twice ;) But yeah - what happens in your screenshots is clearly a glitch/bug (but I have never encountered it during my playthroughs).

On a side note - damn, those mini-games in Summer Pockets are addictive!

Edited by adamstan

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Are all the characters with sprites supposed to have portraits by the chat box if everything works properly? Rise (the pink-haired girl) is actually the only one that has been showing for me so far.

EDIT: I checked some screenshots (was hesistant about doing that, since I've been spoiled that way before) and it seems there usually aren't any portraits by the chat box; not even for other heroines. Not sure what the point of having one for Rise is then, especially if there's the risk of it glitching out like this.

Edited by Seraphim88

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8 minutes ago, Seraphim88 said:

Are all the characters with sprites supposed to have portraits by the chat box if everything works properly?

I just checked how it behaves for me. It seems that side-images appear if the character is speaking, but their sprite isn't shown at the moment. If there is a sprite shown, there's no side image.

The only bug/glitch that I remember from my playing were random crashes if I skipped for too long (likie during second and subsequent playthroughs). For that reason I took care to stop skipping and make a save one in a while.

I also noticed, that it starts to run much more smoothly if you switch it to the Direct3D display mode in advanced display options (even though the label says it's not recommended).

Edited by adamstan

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Tried changing to Direct3D and that did wonders for the framerate, but it also made everything extremely pixelated; even more so than when I lowered the native resolution of my monitor. This game just doesn't seem to mesh well with my computer.

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13 hours ago, Seraphim88 said:

This game just doesn't seem to mesh well with my computer.

That's a pity :( But indeed it isn't technically the greatest... I have played it in full-screen mode on 15" laptop with native resolution of 1366x768, and it seemed a good fit. My main PC has 27" screen with 1920x1080 resolution, and it is playable both fullscreen and windowed. I haven't noticed any extraordinary pixellation. But I actually prefer to play VNs in windowed mode on that bigger screen, since when they're fullscreen I have trouble with seeing full picture at once - I need to focus either on textbox or images. I have no experience with higher-resoultion systems.

 

Returning to main topic of this thread, I once again have trouble deciding what to read next... I have a bunch of recently bought untranslated JVNs waiting - like Sukimazakura to Uso no Machi, Natsu no Ame (Konno Asta's VN), Sorairo (from the makers of Amber Quartz), or the older ones like Hoshizora Planet (from Tanaka Romeo, the writer of YMK and Kazoku Keikaku) or Uminomichi (shares setting with Yukizakura's fandisc)... but then, which one?

Or maybe I should finally tackle Grisaia that has been sitting on my Steam account for almost two years instead?

Or, since I seem to read mostly various kinds of nakige recently, maybe Toradora! Portable for a change of pace? (I loved the anime)

Tough decision...

Edited by adamstan

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I'm playing Magical Eyes - Red is for Anguish.

 

Bit of a wonky start, and I think the translation/writing is over-done at times, but it's enjoyable thus far. 

Is it bad translation if a scene is like: "Exposition/description that makes sense followed by stupidly obvious 'in other words'; 'summing up of exactly what was just said'" ?

Surely, good writing would make sense in the first description and wouldn't feel the need to treat the reader like an idiot with a follow up tl:dr.

Well, whatever the case I quite like it, I'm at the part where the two kids were introduced and they were brilliant characters thus far. 

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Try a bit of Magic and Slash with full save, and I find that the sex scenes with the monsters are a bit of lacking. I guess that's what happen when I already used to read the sex scenes from both of Haruka and Frontier, in that I'd half expected that it'll be going like that especially with female MC there. Also there's absolutely no reason to lose here seeing that you can get the monster sex scenes by beat the game there, which is more or less like Monster Girl Quest (Granted the graphic of the sex scenes in Magic and Slash is not that bad, but still).

Edited by littleshogun

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Almost done with the common route in Princess Evangile. I heard that W Happiness includes part of it as some sort of recap. Is it just a copy+paste or is there some new content mixed in? I'm hoping it's the former, so I can just safely skip past all of it to reach the after stories and whatnot.

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Today, I claimed this tag for myself, "un" part included.

It all started out well enough. I was reading Princess Evangile for a few hours and then took a break to do some grocery shopping. While I was out on the town, I thought to myself "Hey, maybe it's time I bought that extra hard drive so I can make those backups I've been putting off for too long". Said and done; I got one, went back home and got started.
I had finished backing up my first drive and went to make some tea while the backup for the second one was being finalized. I came back, intending to get started on the last one, but no such luck. Out of the blue, that drive had suddenly become completely inaccessible. I hadn't done anything to it yet, so it's not like it was being pushed too hard or anything; it just randomly died on me literally moments before I was going to make the backup, after having worked flawlessly since 2015.
I've tried a whole bunch of recovery programs, different cables and hooking it up to another computer, but it's all futile.
Coincidentally, it was the drive where all my VNs were stored, along with screenshots and some other stuff. I guess this is what I get for not making backups sooner, but I can't help but feel that fate truly is a cruel mistress, considering the fact that the drive died at the worst possible moment.

oTaEiL.png

(sorry about going kinda off-topic)

Edited by Seraphim88

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6 hours ago, Seraphim88 said:

Almost done with the common route in Princess Evangile. I heard that W Happiness includes part of it as some sort of recap. Is it just a copy+paste or is there some new content mixed in? I'm hoping it's the former, so I can just safely skip past all of it to reach the after stories and whatnot.

Yes, it's just the repeat of original common route without any changes, so if you have read the main game, and remember it, you can safely skip that part in W Happiness.

3 hours ago, Seraphim88 said:

Coincidentally, it was the drive where all my VNs were stored, along with screenshots and some other stuff. I guess this is what I get for not making backups sooner, but I can't help but feel that fate truly is a cruel mistress, considering the fact that the drive died at the worst possible moment.


Ack, that hurts :(

Edited by adamstan

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I think, that for my next VN I'll try Pure Love! - I found it discounted to 999円 on DLSite ;) It seems to be "pure" fluffy moege. I'm genuinely curious if I'll like it. Art seems nice, and in the OP I spotted lots of SD CGs. It might be fun - or horribly boring. Let's check :)

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7 hours ago, Seraphim88 said:

I had finished backing up my first drive and went to make some tea while the backup for the second one was being finalized. I came back, intending to get started on the last one, but no such luck. Out of the blue, that drive had suddenly become completely inaccessible. I hadn't done anything to it yet, so it's not like it was being pushed too hard or anything; it just randomly died on me literally moments before I was going to make the backup, after having worked flawlessly since 2015.
I've tried a whole bunch of recovery programs, different cables and hooking it up to another computer, but it's all futile.
Coincidentally, it was the drive where all my VNs were stored, along with screenshots and some other stuff. I guess this is what I get for not making backups sooner, but I can't help but feel that fate truly is a cruel mistress, considering the fact that the drive died at the worst possible moment.

This sucks, but, in case you don't know, there are some companies that specialize in restoring data from broken hard drives. This might get pretty expensive though, depending on what exactly stopped working, and of course there's no guarantee that they will manage to restore everything. For example, they may not be able to restore the names of the files, which will make VNs unplayable. I tried to apply for their services once, but there was nothing really important on my broken hard drive, so the price just wasn't worth it.

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1 hour ago, Dreamysyu said:

This sucks, but, in case you don't know, there are some companies that specialize in restoring data from broken hard drives.

The problem in this case is that it's an SSD. From the information I've gathered, once an SSD stops responding, it's dead for good (unlike an HDD, where you can usually recover some of the data).

Having to download and reinstall all my VNs elsewhere is a bit bothersome, but the worst part is definitely losing screenshots, saves and all the other files I had stored there (like a manga I was in the process of translating as part of my Japanese studies).
The saying "you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone" really rings true in this case. :<

Edited by Seraphim88

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