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Yesterday I finished Rikka's route in HoshiOri

It was indeed quite different from the previous four routes when it comes to the structure and style, and it was great :)

Rikka's school arc was amazing - both the first part, where she gradually opened up to Ryousuke and the rest of the girls, and the second, where she confronts her inner conflict. Meguru was also very welcome side character :) BTW the story of two pianist sisters reminded me about Yui and Rea from Parfait - the stories are different, but for some reason I immediately thought about them.

After story was also very nice and heartwarming. BTW - I'm a sucker for marriage endings, so this VN so far was truly a feast for me ❤️ It's also worth noting, that console edition got vastly extended post-credits epilogue. In the original PC version it was just single scene of

Spoiler

Rikka and her twin daughters sitting at the piano.

and the game ends there. In console version we get another arc after that - basically an after-after-story, and it was great

Spoiler

The whole Shionagi-friends group gets together once again and prepare a special guest performance for school festival. It was great to see the whole group doing something together again ❤️ It ends with Rikka and Ryousuke going on the night date on the beach, talking about their plans for the future - among the other things, Rikka suggests going to the love hotel, and speaks about having a third baby  ;)

So now, with 102 hours under my belt, my feelings towards this VN are similar to @Seraphim's - my top routes are definitely Rikka and Sora, although I'm not sure which one wins. While Rikka's route was definitely of "highest quality", Sora's route had a bit higher emotional impact on me. Maybe it was because I read it first?

Now let's see, what Touko's route has for me :) I honestly have no idea what to expect, since Touko remains rather mysterious character, but I'm eager to find out :)

The only hint I can go by is that some people say that there's minor spoiler for Touko's route in Rikka's route. The only thing that comes to mind is

Spoiler

When Ryousuke walks near the park with Rikka and they observe children (and among those, one girl) playing soccer, he mentions that when he was little, there was also a girl that used to play with them. Rikka asks if that was Marika, but Ryousuke replies that no, since during that time she wasn't leaving the house much due to her illness. Could this girl be Touko - making the route's setup a bit like Sora's? Let's see :)

 

Edited by adamstan
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Edited by Nemesis
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Today I fininished Touko's route, and with it - after whopping 123 hours - I have completed console version of HoshiOri :)

Touko's route is even more "odd one" than Rikka's - but that doesn't have to be bad thing. It has rather slow start, but once it gained traction, it was pretty enjoyable. Touko's cat-like personality was quite amusing, and the character development she undergoes is great. The thing it was missing the most (IMO) was the presence of other friends in after-story. On the other hand, there were few really nice thoughts about love and commitment weaved into it. Also, the school arc of Touko's route further cemented my love for Sora ;)❤️

Additionally, in console edition, similarly to Rikka's route, Touko also got very nice and heartwarming post-credits epilogue.

Spoiler

The went for their honeymoon trip to the Australia, had some fun in the sea, and the story ends with them watching the stars in the mountains, and talking about future - including planning the names for their kids. I absolutely loved the part, when Ryousuke saw the falling star, and came up with the name "Hikari" for their second child ❤️

So now, I guess it's time for some summary.

It's very good moege, but only for die-hard slice-of-life lovers ;) I'm one of those so I enjoyed it - although due to the sheer length it can get a bit tedious. However, as I said in my previous post, the formula worked for me, even if it wasn't the best moege I played - that title still belongs to Mashiro Iro Symphony ;)

The main highlight of this title for me is that it's oozing with heartwarming wholesomeness - which is especially pronounced in console version ❤️

As for ranking of routes and girls... while I fully acknowledge the very high quality of Rikka's route, my personal favorite after all was Sora :)

I actually liked all the routes (with different intensity), so it's a little difficult for me to rank them, but I think that going from top to bottom it would be something like Sora = Rikka > Touko = Marika = Natsuki > Misa - but they're all very close to each other.

The VN looks beautiful, and I especially like the art style of sprites - I just wish there were more of them for side characters too.

Considering all of this - it's a solid 8/10 for me :)

******************************************************************************************************************

Now let's take a moment to talk about differences between console edition and original +18 PC version. The console edition is rated at +17, and it takes similar approach to Princess Evangile - the sex happens off-screen, but it's fully acknowledged that it happens. Additionally, there some added story events (according to credits, it was done by original scenario writers). It's actually pretty bold for the console version at times - including the use of nude sprites if there's only close-up used in the scene (so the nipples aren't visible).

The additional and replacement scenes actually enhanced the experience for me - the writers did pretty good job to convey the intimacy between characters, and added epilogues for Rikka and Touko are simply great.

I skimmed through original adult version, but I found the amount and length of H-scenes to be overwhelming, and also some of those felt rather out-of-character, adhering too tightly to the porn cliches and tropes. OTOH, the lack of some additional scenes from console edition also was painful, since they felt really natural.

Below I'll list the most significant changed/new CGs for each route.

The common thing is, that each girl received additional pillow talk/sleeping together CG, if it wasn't there before.

1. Sora

Spoiler

New event CGs: Hamburger date and planetarium date ;)
Screenshot-01.pngScreenshot-02.png

Pillow-talk CG:
Screenshot-03.png

I was quite suprised to see that naked-apron and bunny-girl CGs were kept, although they've been cropped to hide naughty bits ;)
Screenshot-04.pngScreenshot-06.png

Hot springs CG got the usual "nipple hiding" treatment.
Screenshot-05.png

 

2. Marika

Spoiler

First bath CG from common route - it's there, just the water was made less transparent to hide the nipples:
Screenshot-07.png

Super-sweet pillow-talk CG:
Screenshot-08.png

Two foreplay / making-out CGs - cropped, but kept:
Screenshot-09.pngScreenshot-10.png

With bunny-girl outfit we got additional birthday-party scene with a CG (and with sex implied afterwards)
Screenshot-11.png

And then the two ultra-wholesome pregnancy scenes I mentioned in my post about Marika's route ❤️
Screenshot-12.pngScreenshot-13.png

3. Natsuki

Spoiler

Additional summer-festival date CG
Screenshot-14.png

Natsuki already had together-in-bed CG, but there she was naked and fully exposed, so they made soft version of this, covering her up with bedsheets ;)
Screenshot-15.png

Additional bath scene(s) and beach date CG I mentioned in the post about Natsuki's route:
Screenshot-16.pngScreenshot-18.png

The scene with the two browsing the photos while lying naked together has been kept, just slightly cropped:
Screenshot-17.png

4. Misa

Spoiler

New in-bed CG:
Screenshot-19.png

Additional story event (during the typhoon night)
Screenshot-20.png

Lotion-spreading CGs during the vacation:
Screenshot-21.pngScreenshot-22.png

5. Rikka

Spoiler

New making out on the bed scene with two main variants - for school arc and after story
Screenshot-23.pngScreenshot-24.png

The pillow-talk CG got nipple-hiding treatment ;)
Screenshot-25.png

New bath scene(s) in the after-story:
Screenshot-26.png

Final CG from the added epilogue:
Screenshot-27.png

6. Touko

Spoiler

The CG of them sitting together in the unused classroom got cropped to hide panties - I actually found it strange, since there were already pantyshots and even bolder scenes in this edition as well:
Screenshot-28.png

New together-in-bed scenes - with many versions:
Screenshot-29.pngScreenshot-30.png

The CG that leads to the H-scene after the school festival has been kept - it just stays with Touko's yukata intact, with the main act happening off-screen:
Screenshot-31.png

And finally the scenes from additiona epilogue - Touko riding floating banana, and stargazing in the mountains:
Screenshot-32.pngScreenshot-33.png

And that's it. I know I'm the weird one, but I wholeheartedly recommend the console version. If the additional scenes have been indeed ported over to PC for Perfect Edition, then that might be also worth checking out for h-scene lovers ;) Although I've seen some reviews complaining that the merging was done sloppily in some places.

Now I have to take a break - and in the meantime choose the next title to read. I'm leaning towards Hatsuyuki Sakura (PSV) that I bought together with HoshiOri.

Edited by adamstan
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It should be mentioned that both 18+ and Perfect Edition here have been translated, so you can enjoy both benefit if you can't read Japanese, which to say is definitely an improvement compared to Damekoi where Mangagamer didn't translate the new all age scenes. That said though, the Complete Edition took around 12 GB HDD (For comparison 18+ Hoshiori took 7.2 GB HDD), so maybe it's not quite worth it if you prefer to save some HDD space.

Edited by littleshogun
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The +18 version I was using for comparisons was actually English fan-tl. I checked it out only briefly, but I have to say I was disappointed with how the translation reads. While I haven't spotted any obvious errors, it felt very stiff and "translationese". Either my standards have changed, or the editing was insufficient. I had much better impression of Hatsukoi 1/1 and Tsujidou-san translations by the same team. But it might be just me.

(I used the older release of English patch - I didn't have 2.0 version - I hope they improved the flow of the text, although it's hard to judge by description alone)

43 minutes ago, littleshogun said:

It should be mentioned that both 18+ and Perfect Edition here have been translated, so you can enjoy both benefit if you can't read Japanese

Yeah, but the experience might be a bit rough, since additional scenes have been done by different team and apparently in different style.

Well, still better than nothing I guess ;)

Edited by adamstan
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Finished Our World Is Ended. ....It was the worst Visual Novel I read for a long time (writing, pace, characters)😨I finished the Normal/Bad Ends but I stopped after my second character ending. Too much effort for a so ridiculous reward (a few scenes and a very, very short chapter after the epilogue).

After all these sufferings, I'm cleaning my soul with Ima Sugu Onii-chan ni Imouto da tte Iitai!🥰I'm in love with the Character Design and the change of setting/atmosphere is so refreshing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finished Little Busters! : It was a pretty cool ride, but something about the ending had me feeling like something is missing.

Started ef - a fairy tale of the two. : I'm around 7 hours in and it's pretty underwhelming and generic for now.

I drop VNs very rare, but I'm thinking of dropping it if something interesing doesn't happen by the end of the first road.

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I'm currently playing Amnesia Later x Crowd. I'm stilll at the beginning of Later to be precise.

The game starts with a scenario about the entire cast wanting to find fireflies and going on an outing together to watch them. All this is still set while the protagonist lost her memories (in a more peaceful world it seems) so she is still mostly silent at this point.

Then you can choose who to talk to which opens their actual Later scenario. In addition to the five guys you also get a scenario with the three girls and Waka, the manager. Shout out to Mine for being very cute in her little talk with the protag! Looking forward to the actual girls night out scenario I was promised💕

I remember again why I love group dynamics with the love interests so much. There is just something very lovely about waching a bunch of adult men go ham playing at a little river. They different ways these guys managed to entertain themself is just so child-like it's wonderful!

Especially the progression of how they each got tangled up in playing!

 

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I'm switching back and forth between The Rainsdowne Players and Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark. The former is a pretty chill sandbox game, and the latter is a tactical RPG about a society that grew corrupted.

I'm also playing River City Girls for the second time, now with a friend and going for the true ending. And I'm finding it far more enjoyable with couch co-op. ^_^

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10 hours ago, Mago Ivo said:

Finished Little Busters! : It was a pretty cool ride, but something about the ending had me feeling like something is missing.

Started ef - a fairy tale of the two. : I'm around 7 hours in and it's pretty underwhelming and generic for now.

I drop VNs very rare, but I'm thinking of dropping it if something interesing doesn't happen by the end of the first road.

I feel like ef gets more interesting after the first "episode", so I understand why you are thinking it's underwhelming

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BLACK SHEEP TOWN

It's unvoiced, but I don't really care too much for that. The story seems to have a somewhat similar atmosphere to Rose Guns Days with main characters being mafia related. There are people with mutations divided into different types: Type A - Psychic powers which comes with physical deformation and Type B - physical augmentation with degrading minds. There are 7 great holes in the world with the setting being in a city built near one of them. This reads more like a traditional novel written for literature than entertainment.

 

Spoiler

We start off with a wedding of one of the daughter of a big shot in mafia. They introduce the biggest mob boss in a wheelchair, and about to kick the bucket from illness.

Chris Tsue or however you spell his name is a rather interesting character.

Spoiler

After being offered immortality at the cost of his sanity, he replies: 生きたいさ。でもそれをすれば、命より大事なものを失う。- I do want to live. But if I take your offer, I would lose something more important than my life.

 

They show things from the perspective of many different characters, but there are cases where the same scenes does not have the same dialogues. I'm not sure if that's intentional or just a writing miss. An example is when the former detective talked to the doctor and the doctor reacted to his talk about Chris Tsue's dying, but from the doctor's perspective he heard about him dying from rumours coming from a nurse.

The writing is engaging and nihilistic. It feels very realistic, if not a bit dry and he does not sugarcoat anything. Majority of it is about finding your own meaning in life.

Edited by Nemesis
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Started Princess Waltz about an hour ago and have been playing Cafe Enchante for a week or two.

Princess Waltz: 

I bought this one a good few years ago, but I've always been vaguely aware of it's existence because of a old TvTropes article. I still remember some details from that article, which is why I must ask:

Spoiler

Fellas, when a protagonist basically gushes and daydreams about a prince but the prince is a girl but he doesn't know the prince is a girl, is there just a hint of bisexual undertones? Just a little bit? I'm sure there has to be. Even the other characters seem to be thinking that.

Anyway, regarding the characters, they're all chaotic.  Their classmates are exhausting, but in the good way. Kinda has an old school shounen manga vibe to it. Love that for this game.

Cafe Enchante:

You ever take a short, short break to play another game and come back to a game like "what route was i on? What route was I on?!"--because I love everyone in this game, which means there's a good chance that I chose any of the love interests to start off with. It has to be the headless fairy, though. He's too funny not to be the character I choose first. But I'm not sure, which is why I'm hoping I won't end up on a bad end because I didn't follow the guide properly.

I will say, one part in this game that I'm really enjoying is how much grief is involved. It's a funny, cute, wholesome otome game so far. Probably gonna kick me on my ass later on for saying that, as is tradition of otome games. But every now and then, everyone just genuinely bonds over their appreciation for the protagonist's grandfather and the cafe and what it represents to them. They're all a unique cast, none of them make sense together, but once you add in the grandfather it's like "Ah, yes, no wonder this demon king is friends with a feral beastman, an angel, a headless fairy, and a 30 year old human man."---though it's positively hilarious when they're reminiscing about him and grandpa turns out to be a bit of a jerk. Not in a bad way, but in that way where he's making them pay 5x marketplace rent in the form of gold because they have no idea what they got in their pocket. Something something, capitalism, ho!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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BLACK SHEEP TOWN

Generational change, huh. That's a pretty interesting topic in itself. The old passes away or retires and passes their hopes and dreams to their children. It's a reality that one cannot get away from as a mortal, and pretty much becomes the raison d'être of the older generations.

It's interesting how they show how different humans choose to live based on nature vs nurture. Those born as mutants tend to be more influenced by nature, while the more normal people are more influenced by nurture. But I think the point is that those two things both greatly influence a person's life. Ryou just wants to live a normal life as a student, but his circumstances around him won't permit it and turned him into a cold ruthless leader of a mafia.

All the characters are interesting as fuck. Tachigawa Ryouma, the doctor decided to stop living smartly and live as he pleases after getting involved with Chris Tsue. Chris Tsue is so fucking badass: 「おれが思うに、人間の命そのものには何の価値もない。命の価値というものは、その人間がどう考え、どう行動したかによってはじめて生まれる。……つまり作り出すものなんだ。」- "I think that there's no intrinsic value in people's life. A life's value is created from how people think and act...meaning we have to create it ourselves." 「人間は所詮土くれだ。誇りをなくし、心を濁らせれば糞と変われねえのさ 。」- "Humans are in the end the same as dirt. Those who lose their dignity, and have their minds tainted are no different from shit." Humans who live like cattle have no value. In real life, this refers to people who sell their dignity for money. They then use that money to buy safety for a stable empty life.

I think that his logic jump is too big here, but it's still an interesting thing to think about. I think it all depends on the personal goal of the person involved. For example, someone might join the sex industry to earn some money to pay for education, and then quit after a year. Is having that option truly bad? Systematically, it probably is as it can make poor people over-reliant on it. But for the individual involved, it's not necessarily bad. I guess I have similar ideas to Ryaochimin, which is money is just a tool.

There's lots of great quotes in this game. Saiki:

Spoiler

「アタシは色んな人を見たけど、本当に強い人なんか世界に一人もいないわ。みんなやせ我慢をしてるだけよ。」 - "I've seen all sorts of people, but I've never seen a truly strong person. Everyone is just persevering."Is he gay or is he just acting feminine to comfort Rita? I do agree that all this people dying, because they refuse to throw away their pride is just fucking sad.

The main theme here seems to essentially be: life is meaningless, so you should at least live freely and make your own choices on how to live your life so that you can die satisfied no matter the result. The other part is that humans are no different from beasts. They can be extremely cruel, or be extremely nice depending on their mood and the situation. 「優しさと残酷さは似ているんだろうか?」- "Do kindness and cruelty resemble each other?" It's pretty much a 善悪相殺 situation.

Setoguchi seems more negative about life compared to Sca-ji. Well I do agree with him to a certain extent. Life is indeed pointless: your parents were horny and made you, end of story, what other meaning is there? But that shouldn't really stop you from pursuing happiness and valuing life. I've read a couple of reviews mention that it's Setoguchi's best work so far. It's hard to confirm that from my end as this is the first time I'm reading his work, but I will say that this is definitely a great game worth reading.

Edited by Nemesis
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