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Clephas' VN of the month


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http://vndb.org/v12983  Just finished this.  It is a pretty decent cutesy moege by Whirlpool, a prolific moege company that produces ones that range from the cute and average to the adorable and great (though most of their games end up somewhere in between).  It is based in the same world as and at least a little bit later than the events in Magus Tale, and I'm pretty sure it is based on the true end of that one.  The protagonist in this game is a young mage who loves to fly on his broom who finds a talking one in a ruin after crashing.  This creates the basis for a typical Whirlpool story, where an average-quality plot is combined with their typically good visuals and generic music to create a high-quality moege.  For those looking for the comfort food of cute girls, a mild fantasy setting, and a protagonist who is mysteriously popular with bishoujo, this is a good choice.  Though, it is not a contender for game of the month, naturally.

 

Edit: Moving on to Timepiece Ensemble.  I'd like to get Boukoku no Kishidan, but my actual copy of the game won't arrive until sometime in February (my supplier forgot to preorder it, and there were no extra copies at the stores he frequented) and it has yet to be posted anywhere that I've noticed.

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I've mostly been marathoning games by Gesen.  I finished Sangoku Hime 3, Sengoku Hime 4, and Sengoku Hime 5 in the last week and a half.  The former-most was awful, with a horrible game balance, a choppy story (even for a conquest strategy/vn) and lots of really annoying features.  Sengoku Hime 4 was excellent (from a simple and straightforward is best perspective) from a game perspective but had a weak story.  However, Sengoku Hime 5 strikes a good balance between plot and game, providing a real story that is fun to read for all the factions you can start with, as well as the gameplay seen in Sengoku Hime 4.  I played the Oda, Shikoku, and Ashikaga routes for 5... and amongst those Oda had the best story, with Shikoku having the least interesting story (as well as the highest difficulty).  The downside to Oda is that the entire playthrough is scripted in terms of where you can invade and in what order, whereas Shikoku opens up completely after you conquer that island, and Ashikaga pretty much lets you conquer everything except the Oda and Tokugawa lands after a certain point.  However, the upside to Oda is that it is basically a what-if story for if Nobunaga failed to kill Imagawa at Dengaku Hazama, which changes a lot of things to create a really unique and interesting progression of events.

 

(I will say that Cao Cao's ending to Sangoku Hime 3 was cry-worthy, but the sheer lack of story past a certain point, with the ending all of the sudden slammed into your face after fifteen hours of repetitive conquest and leveling up generals - AFTER that cut off point for the story.)

 

Update: Timepiece Ensemble is a pretty high quality romance moege so far.  It has two returning characters from 1/2 Summer by Alcot Honeycomb, both of whom are like walking spoilers for that game.  So, I seriously suggest you consider playing that game before this one.  Boukoku no Kishidan just got a release on Anime-sharing, so I'll be starting that immediately after this, bringing a close to the games I planned on playing from December's releases.

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Sanzen Sekai Yuugi, an otome game I've been keeping an eye on, just got a nice download release (it was low on my purchasing list, so my actual copy isn't scheduled to get here until sometime in May, lol).  So, I'll be adding that to my list of games played from December's releases.  For those interested in otome games, I'll give my usual set of comments on its quality and what audience would be able to appreciate it best.

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Just finished the last - and true - path of Timepiece Ensemble.  This game surprised me, though it probably shouldn't have.  It was significantly better than I had anticipated, though it isn't good enough for me to rate it above Sengoku Koihime.  With the same world-setting as 1/2 Summer, I should have expected that most of the paths would be highly emotional with excellent endings.  I will say that Saori and Towako are pretty much sub-heroines, and as a result their paths are pure romance with no other elements, really.  Sasa and Chiara both have emotional and dramatic paths that were fairly interesting, and the true path (Nanami's) made me cry like a baby.  Two characters from 1/2 Summer are present in the game, and I would suggest against playing this game before you've played that one.  Understanding the role of those two in the previous game enhances the experience of this one in some ways.  This game I recommend to people who are looking for a story-focused VN with mild humor and a decent set of heroines. 

 

Edit:  Incidentally, while the meeting of the protag with the heroines isn't portrayed inside the actual game, they can be viewed as extra scenes using the cg gallery function at the top right portion of the screen.  I suggest watching all those scenes before you go past the prologue scene (there is no title screen, and the story begins the moment you turn the game on).

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http://vndb.org/v13265  Just finished this.  Like most of Debo no Su Seisakusho's games, this one has a fairly simple battle system... but in exchange, the system is oddly hard to use (you can't choose unit actions while the game is paused) and if you fall behind in growing your characters early on, the endgame is enormously hard.  The game's story itself is fairly bland and predictable, and the endings are uninspiring (though Rachel's and Tod's are kind of funny).  To be honest, this game disappointed me enormously, though it still managed to present an 'average' experience.  This is similar to my thoughts on almost all of this company's games (uninspiring stories coupled with mediocre gameplay).  I honestly can't recommend this when there are so many vn/srpgs that are better.

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http://vndb.org/v12096  Just finished this, the last of the games from December worth playing.  It has been a while since I ran across an action/drama otome-ge that doesn't have a 'damsel in distress' type protagonist, and it was a refreshing change from all the weak-willed female protags I run across in otome-ge in general.  The game's story is also pretty good, and overall, I think this would appeal to people who have a preference for female protags and action stories. 

 

The game of the month, probably to no one's surprise, is Sengoku Koihime, the latest Baseson game.  If you want to know my thoughts on it, please check the previous posts, lol.  December had very few releases, but those games that were released were generally high-quality, frequently to my surprise.  There weren't any kamige releases, but there was only one mediocre release in the batch of games I played, so this is a month VN-gamers should mark as a pile of treasure, for the most part.

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Here are January's candidates for Clephas' VN of the Month.  I will post again when I get my hands on the first out of this group.

 

http://vndb.org/v12609

http://vndb.org/v13342

http://vndb.org/v12562

http://vndb.org/v13224

http://vndb.org/v12830

http://vndb.org/v13717

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Well, having finished Bradyon Veda... all I can say is that Akatsuki Works still has the old magic.  This VN is hard sci-fi at its most extreme.  By that, I mean that nine out of ten non-native Japanese speakers (and a lot of those who speak Japanese) would get lost halfway through the game.  This game's linguistic level frequently goes up to 8-9, and even many of the spoken parts hover around 7.  This game infodumps like crazy and is something of a mindfuck, as well.  If you don't know your basic physics concepts you will get lost during every battle scene...

 

... but god was it fun to read.  I eat this kind of thing up, so I can't help but love this game.  However, this is for sci-fi maniacs who like to think of the possibilities of evolution, the nature of time, and the nature of dimensions.  For someone looking for a simple action story, this game would probably sink you within a few hours.  The battle systems are ridiculously well-written... but what Naoto and the others are doing is so complex (and well-described) that most people won't even be able to follow it.  As such... even for science fiction veterans in Japanese, this game is pretty much out of reach. 

 

Nonetheless, this is a great game I can recommend... to someone who has the ability to read it.  Anyway, as I promised in another thread, this game simply gets an honorable mention for hitting all the right buttons for me, and I'll be picking another, more accessible game for game of the month.  My basic reasons for doing so?  Because I have an essential duty to recommend to people games that they can actually read.  I love Kajiri Kamui Kagura, but the game is beyond the reach of most non-native speakers.  As such, I never would have recommended it as a game of the month.  Another reason is that I can never quite be sure I'm assessing a game like this appropriately from the average reader's point of view.  I try my best, but in the end my tastes will always get the better for me.  So, whenever a game so obviously presses all my happy buttons, I will always choose a different VN for the VN of the month, if there is one that is worthy of it.

 

There is literally no way I can describe the story or setting without spoiling things (a great deal of the story is bound up in the setting itself and this game loves to leave you hanging early on).  First, despite the appearance in the trailers, what the characters are using isn't onmyoujutsu or some other kind of mystical power, but rather they are using those motions, words, and the like to activate a particular code in those devices on their arms that has a particular effect on reality using certain particles which can effect but aren't effected by the natural forces of the universe.  So, despite the outer appearance, this game is definitely science-fiction.  Second, this is not 'our' Earth they are playing around on, or at least it is not the Earth of our time frame.  It is at least some time in the future, gauging by the presence of cyborgs, the fact that China apparently became a feudal empire (or never stopped being one) and people have no hesitation whatsoever about using nukes in war.  This game also follows a distinct route order, which is: Kaede>Shion>True.  Kaede and Shion routes are directly linked to the true ending, so it is pretty much required reading to go through both before the True ending. 

 

For those of you who have the courage to play this game... good luck!!!

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I finished Shion and Kaede route. This game is good but yeah it's hard to read even for native japanese. You need to understand the concept of the structure of the universe like Elementary particle, absolute zero and a lot of things like that :o. Well, i'm a SF fan too so it was okay for me, I love those things. 

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They describe doing some pretty interesting things, like transforming base particles into metals or the ingredients for TNT...   If there was one I had trouble with, it was Ryou's secret attack... I had to reread the reveal scene to think it over again.  Most of the others were relatively simple concepts.

 

I thought the coolest ones were Komoe's and Shion's (her ultimate one).  Shion's is pretty horrifying if you think about experiencing being killed that way...

 

The really interesting way about the way they fight is that they are basically constructing their techniques from the ground up, based on physics theory.  It is pretty scary to imagine a brain capable of that (imagine someone with savant syndrome who has no communication deficiency and a near-perfect memory for detail). 

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I figure i might as well add a bit since I'm currently somewhere in chapter 4.

I'm not sure if 'info-dumps like crazy' can really sum up what brady does. It infodumps about literally everything. Anything new whether it's a new ability, new plot point or anything that you can think of Bradyon will talk about it forever. It's so thorough about everything it's honestly amazing how devoted the writer is to make just dump and dump and dump ad naseum. I can see this game wearing people out really fast. You basically have to love hard scifi to get into it. The battle descriptions especially get nuts. The action isn't very fast paced or very 'climactic' but holy shit will you know every chemical property and compound that goes into every ability that they use. And it combines it with crazy buddhist chants and the like too, it's very.. nuts. I'm at a loss at how to describe it.

In general the setting is really grand and with Bradyons massive tendency to do these foreverdumps you will really feel how grand it is. The political structure definitely deserves mention especially, but when it journeys beyond timeframes and the physical and what-not it gets even crazier.

I have a little bit of autism with the Nephilim group (As of yet Viva is the only one who seems to really care about other member(s?) in the group, which is a little jarring)  and I think it's genuinely cool plot, with its characters, sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of all it's near ball crushing text that kinda varies on importance, but apart from that it's been pretty.. interesting, to say the least.

EDIT: I went into this game expecting a really grandoise chuu2 superpowered slamdown too. This was quite the shocker.

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Mmm... for me, the game was a pleasant surprise.  I sometimes dislike infodumping, but Bradyon's choice to infodump as part of the battles was actually interesting.  Mostly, I feel that way because it is immediately relevant information that I can understand relatively easily (though it probably woudn't be so for many).  In my Japanese reading of Hanachirasu, for instance, I found myself disliking the game's infodumping on swordsmanship, because I didn't have the points of reference to understand it. 

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Yeah, like I said, I can't recommend this as my game of the month for that reason.  It is quite simply too much for the average reader, even setting aside mainstream readers and concentrating on sci-fi and chuuni fans.  In its own way, this game has a tendency to create obsession to the same degree Muramasa did (I had dreams about both games while playing them, where I viewed alternative versions made up by my fried psyche).  The difference is that it is a lot harder to access, simply because most people don't know enough physics to follow it, whereas the moral concepts central to Muramasa and the rather careful explanations of swordsmanship in the game made it relatively easy to understand (they learned significantly from the problems with Hanachirasu and applied their solutions to Muramasa). 

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That's why I give at least some info on each of the games I play from each month's releases, even if I don't like them.  In this case, it got a lot of mention from me and others (as seen in the posts above), but I've yet to neglect a game of this type when it came out, though I've only been doing this thread since October. 

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http://vndb.org/v13342  Just finished this.  It looks at first glance like your classic moege, but as you go deeper into it, it becomes apparent that it is really a story-focused VN.  The story is focused around a dueling system where groups of 'knight students' from each of the twelve branch schools in this imaginary town that seems to promise success to all those who come out of it.  In the system, the ones who hold the 'princess' when the 'king's power' awakens gain the right to grant a single wish. 

 

Overall, the story isn't the best I've ever read, but it does reach a high enough level that I feel like I could recommend it to those who want something lighter than a chuuni game but heavier than your average nakige. 

 

If there is an aspect that stands out about this game to me, it is the protagonist.  He is... a strategist/tactician with an incredibly ruthless side that he shows early on (I won't spoil it for you).  Honestly, this type is pretty rare in VNs outside of dark nukige (usually revenge fantasies and the like) except as an antagonist, and so it was quite interesting to have his type as a protag. 

 

The biggest downside to this game is that there were no heroines I felt matched the protagonist.  All the girls (except Vivian, who is too simple to be normal) are fairly archetypical, and I didn't really find a heroine I fell in love with (though I love the antagonist of the true route, which is also an extension of Kei's route). 

 

The true route is defined by a mindfuck twist, so there is a minor treat in there for those who like that kind of thing.

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Just finished Sekai to Sekai no Mannaka de.  I'm glad to see that Lump of Sugar has regained its magic after two disappointing releases in a row.  This is a nakige, with a surreal fantasy story that is centered around the heroines.  Unfortunately, revealing any of the details would ruin it for those who want to play it, so I'll avoid spoilers.  There are four heroines in the story: Kokoro the imouto, Minori the two-faced honor student, Haruka the mimikko mathematician, and Aira, the poker-faced girl with the beautiful singing voice. 

 

Overall, this game feels like a shorter version of a Key game, and each of the routes - except Kokoro's - follows this pattern: split off from the common route>fall in love>ichaicha with occasional foreshadowing>drama and nakige-tears.  This game doesn't really make you laugh, which is the biggest difference from a Key game.  Rather, it is more of a 'chicken soup for the soul' type of game.  As such, if you want to play something that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside at the end, this game is a good choice.

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