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Clephas' VN of the month


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http://vndb.org/v13046 

 

OK.  First, I'm going to say that I had absolutely no intention of playing this game through now, as I mentioned above, and I did indeed regret playing it once it was done.  That isn't to say it is an awful game.  I've played and left comments in this thread on far worse games, that didn't leave me feeling this annoyed.  I was specifically requested by an off-site, rl friend to play this and give him my opinion of it, otherwise I would have delayed going through with this, probably until years later.

 

My main reason for disliking this game is that it is fairly obvious that whoever wrote it was being very conscious of this game (http://vndb.org/v604) which is by the same company and incidentally leagues above this one in quality.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem... except that Uruwashi no is a masterpiece and a kamige, and imitating a kamige usually just means the imitation gets compared unfavorably with the real thing.

 

The reasons I say this is an imitation is because of several elements:

 

First: The setting.  An isolated location, with oddly few people for the amount of money obviously put into it.

 

Second:  The heroines.  ALL of the main heroines in this game are either psychologically damaged and/or have circumstances that make it difficult for them on the outside.

 

Third: The protagonist, except in the case of the sub-heroine, Nagisa, is always the more mature and more experienced half of the pair, leading the girl to solving her problems (or at least dealing with them) while dealing with his own. 

 

Fourth: The attempt to make the story emotionally heavy for each of the heroines and create a strong empathic bond between the player and the characters... (in the case of Last Resort this is the point where it frequently failed)

 

This game suffers from an enormous problem for the emotional part of the story... it develops too fast.  The main story only covers a month, and both the common route and the heroine routes fail to give the sense of intimacy and personal attachment that is necessary to draw in experienced readers.  While a needlessly long common or heroine route is nothing but an annoyance, an unrealistically short one, either in-game or in actual length, tends to lead to shallow character attachment from the reader.

 

What is frustrating is that this game just screams 'I have POTENTIAL!!!' as loudly as it possibly could.  It is obvious what the writer wanted to do was at odds with what he actually did do, which was create a regular charage that aspires but fails to enter the ranks more involved VN stories (understand, I don't know who wrote this, and I generally don't care, as long as the story is good... following any single writer in VNs only leads to disappointment, in my experience).  I would have been perfectly happy to play a VN imitating Uruwashi no, if they'd just managed to create something approaching the depth of character development and plot in that game. 

 

Nonetheless, if you go into this without looking at it from an experienced VN player's point of view, this is a perfectly adequate charage (albeit one that can be matched by dozens to a hundred others in quality) that people that like skimpy outfits, weird extras (the append disc and patches), and emotionally-scarred heroines will probably take pleasure in reading.  I am absolutely sure someone who hasn't read some of Pulltop's better games (such as Uruwashi no) will probably like this game for itself, so I won't scream that my disappointment with it makes it a bad game.  I simply felt that I would rather have played something else, lol. 

 

PS: Incidentally, if you take issue with my bashing this game in the first part of my post, I won't be offended if you counter my thoughts on this one.  I was actually shocked at how I felt once I started playing the game and realizing where it was going.  I could see that this game possesses the baseline quality that Pulltop's games are known for, but after I'd played it for a few hours, all I could see was how thoroughly the game parallels one of my favorites... and how it fails miserably to match it (sort of like the difference between grocery store pound cake and fresh cake from a famous patisserie )

 

Edit: Incidentally, I do intend to play one more game from March before making my decision on Game of the Month.  However, as I'm unsure of which I'll play as of yet, I'd appreciate patience from those who are reading the thread, lol

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Currently playing Clover Days, as Doko no Donata sucks donkey shit (ok, all the heroines are annoying, which was enough to get me drop it then and there... and it has that 'everyone loves the protagonist for no real reason from the start' setting that I despise).  It will be my last game from last month, other than fandiscs.  It is pretty decent so far, though all the heroines are either osananajimi or imouto.  Too many lolis in this game though... retro, lol

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Currently playing Clover Days, as Doko no Donata sucks donkey shit (ok, all the heroines are annoying, which was enough to get me drop it then and there... and it has that 'everyone loves the protagonist for no real reason from the start' setting that I despise).  It will be my last game from last month, other than fandiscs.  It is pretty decent so far, though all the heroines are either osananajimi or imouto.  Too many lolis in this game though... retro, lol

Did you ever play Clover Hearts? I'm curious as to how closely those two games are related.

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I just finished Clover Days... (I really sped through it).  The paths split off really early, so you get a lot of each heroine, but it is mostly romance-related, though there is generally at least a little drama toward the end of each path.  The exception is Hekiru and Hikaru's path, which goes pretty predictably, if you've ever read a path for a set of twins. 

 

For people who love the cuteness, this game is great... but if you aren't interested in being moe'ed to death, this VN is kind of painful.  That isn't to say that it doesn't have it's good points... but if it wasn't Alcot, this game probably would have made me want to puke, lol.  This game has Alcot's usual humorous character interactions, which fans of their other games will probably recognize.  I can honestly recommend this to someone who wants some light VN reading, with plenty of heroine character development. 

 

I guess the main reason I couldn't get into this was because the protagonist/heroine relationships were all established at the beginning, as all of the heroines are either his imouto or osananajimi.  Since I despise the osananajimi trope when it is overused, I couldn't help but get irritated at this.  If I have to deal with a romance, I prefer situations where the heroine and the protagonist are finding out about each other at the same time I am, as it makes it easier for me to get into things. 

 

For those who want a moe-charage, this is a great choice... but for those who want something focused around a great story, I don't think that can really be provided from this.  The story isn't bad... it is just all young romance between people who already know one another and don't really make any new discoveries about one another beyond the usual tropes for this kind of situation. 

 

 

Game of the Month Announcement: March

 

The winner for non-action is: Hikoukigumo no Mukougawa

 

My main reason for choosing Hikoukigumo was the enormous effort put into Eiri's path, which is worth a VN in and of itself.  While both of the other paths had their down and dirty drama moments, Eiri's was a work of art, and for once I didn't feel something lacking from a game made by Flat.  I also considered Alia's Carnival, but it just didn't possess the level of depth and thought that went into Hikoukigumo. 

 

Clephas Choice: Hello, Lady

 

My reason for choosing this over Endless Dungeon (despite how hilarious and cool that addendum to the Tiny Dungeon series was), was simply the usual Akatsuki Works genius.  Hello, Lady did for me what even the chuuni games of the last few months didn't quite manage... it made me have hope for the future of story-focused VNs.  The incredible decrease in the number of quality titles over the past two years has been depressing, quite frankly, so I was happy to run across so many in such a short period of time in the last few months.  Hello, Lady proved to me that a VN could still end without the story turning into just another moral lesson, where the bad guys are somehow forgiven for everything in the end.  Shinri's unapologetic pursuit of his own goals, regardless of the cost to those around him and his determination to retain his humanity while doing it made him a singularly compelling protagonist.  The fact that his everyday actions were hilarious was just a nice bit of topping to the cake.

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where the bad guys are somehow forgiven for everything in the end.

Well, you cannot really call anyone here "bad guy". Except Sorako's father, perhaps, but he's just small fish. All main antagonists had their reasons to act like they did and MC isn't better than them, especially considering end result (which has hilarious, after all these efforts of Narita).
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  • 2 weeks later...

April's releases that are worth playing are relatively few, due to some being delayed and the fact that there weren't many in the first place.  I'll be playing the new Eushully game (remake of the original Ikusa Megami), the new game by AXL, and one or two other games.  There aren't any others available, so this isn't going to be that exciting of a month, unless you are a fan of Eushully's games.  AXL does good work on the stories, but they mix and match all of their characters' features and tachie so obviously a five year old used to playing Where's Waldo? could figure it out. 

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Just finished Racial Merge by AXL. 

 

A few thoughts:  This game uses the same visuals as most AXL games, mostly because AXL basically just interchanges certain features of the heroines and their tachie and their style is easily recognizable.  Because of that, if you've played any of their other games, you will instantly feel a sense of nostalgia if you liked them, lol. 

 

Pros:  A decent charage with decent individual heroine stories based in a fantasy setting.

Protagonist is like the ultimate nice guy, but he is also capable at just about anything and everything, save for understanding common sense.

Interesting setting.

 

Cons: Reused visuals and music.

Lack of any really exciting fighting, despite the protagonist being a good fighter.

Basic heroine plots are reused from similar games, with only mild twists on the basic themes.

Drama never goes beyond the point of no return (for those who want serious action/drama)

 

Overall:  A decent charage, with a protagonist who is likeable, if even more donkan than the average VN protagonist.  The setting would be better used in a more serious VN, but those who want something relatively but not too light will find this to be nice and tasty.

 

 

Edit: A few things.  I'll be delaying the new Ikusa Megami until I can replay Zero and Verita, because I want to get a feel for how they linked the stories.  This means that it won't make it for the April game of the month, but I'll give a full report on the overall story flow and gameplay for all three games in my random VN thread sometime in early June.

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Game of the Month Announcement: March

 

The winner for non-action is: Hikoukigumo no Mukougawa

 

My main reason for choosing Hikoukigumo was the enormous effort put into Eiri's path, which is worth a VN in and of itself.  While both of the other paths had their down and dirty drama moments, Eiri's was a work of art, and for once I didn't feel something lacking from a game made by Flat.  I also considered Alia's Carnival, but it just didn't possess the level of depth and thought that went into Hikoukigumo. 

 

Clephas Choice: Hello, Lady

 

My reason for choosing this over Endless Dungeon (despite how hilarious and cool that addendum to the Tiny Dungeon series was), was simply the usual Akatsuki Works genius.  Hello, Lady did for me what even the chuuni games of the last few months didn't quite manage... it made me have hope for the future of story-focused VNs.  The incredible decrease in the number of quality titles over the past two years has been depressing, quite frankly, so I was happy to run across so many in such a short period of time in the last few months.  Hello, Lady proved to me that a VN could still end without the story turning into just another moral lesson, where the bad guys are somehow forgiven for everything in the end.  Shinri's unapologetic pursuit of his own goals, regardless of the cost to those around him and his determination to retain his humanity while doing it made him a singularly compelling protagonist.  The fact that his everyday actions were hilarious was just a nice bit of topping to the cake.

 

Time to start reading these two vns; I already had a feeling these two vns were the best releases for March. XD

Thank you for putting the time on writing this up!

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http://vndb.org/v14061

 

Just finished this.  For various reasons, this game probably deserves a better rating than I feel like giving it.  Technically, it is quite a good charage/almost nakige.  It has the usual moege flaws (longer common route, relatively short heroine routes), but the heroine routes managed to make me cry... the only problem was that they all made me cry for exactly the same reasons, lol. 

 

All I could think when I finished this game was 'What?  They couldn't think up more varied ways for things to end?  Why does every heroine route in this game have exactly the same way of ending, even if the details differ?' 

 

I'm going to be blunt... I had trouble getting into this game because the protagonist, for all that he is supposedly capable and talented, has a distinctly bad habit in the form of blinding himself to his situation and the consequences of his actions.  This kept jerking me out of my attempts to get emotionally involved with the characters and was my greatest complaint with the story.

 

On the upside, this game has some great heroines... even it doesn't even approach same level of quality as Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou and its sequel (the most recent games before this one by Navel). If I were to assess the enjoyment value for those who like moege and romance, this is a fairly high quality game. 

 

This reminds me more of Shuffle than Navel's more serious efforts, and fans of the Shuffle series will probably enjoy it, though the heroines are all humans. 

 

Now, it is time for Umizora no Fragments... which, to be honest, I have absolutely no hopes for whatsoever.  To be honest, it has been quite some time since I've seen a month with so few prospects for even decent play, so there might not be a Game of the Month for April's releases (neither of the games so far has the level of quality necessary).  

 

Yes, I do know about Love Sweets and Natsukoi High Pressure, but both show all the signs of being exactly what I can't stand at this moment (honey-sweet renai ichaicha raburabu).  Two games in a row where the protagonist getting lovey-dovey with the heroines is the sole purpose is about my limit.  If this one revives me, I might do Love Sweets, but Rootnuko produces really weird games sometimes, so I can't help but feel some trepidation. 

 

Edit: I stated this in a previous post, but I intend to marathon the Ikusa Megami series chronologically from Zero until the original's remake (which got released in April), but it will be assessed in my random VN thread, rather than in this one.  For one thing, IM games take a long time to play, and for another gameplay can't be sped up the way reading a story can, lol.

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Just finished Umisora no Fragments... and there is just one emotion this game consistently provides to me... nostalgia. 

 

I don't know if Rootnuko does it on purpose or not, but to a greater or lesser extent, all of their games I've played so far have felt nostalgic.  In Umisora... it comes out in the most obvious fashion in the story structure, as most ren'ai games these days don't have bad endings with story... and this one does.  Not only that, the existence of a classic-style stalker-yandere girl as a heroine and a loli with psychological problems add to this.  Making this sensation more intense is the art is so obviously not done by any of the usual suspects or in the usual style you see in a non-nukige. 

 

Is this good?  Yes and no.  The actual progression of the story is excellently written... but in exchange, the endings - including the true ending - are somewhat lacking in my opinion.  Not only that, but the true ending felt really, really forced.  I felt more connected to the heroines in the other paths than I did to Haruka in the true ending.  This is mostly because there is a significant genre-shift between the regular game and the true path, and the results were far less interesting. 

 

On the positive side, the actual paths - other than the true path - are actually pretty good, outside of the truncated epilogues (even moreso than your average moege).  Functionally, building up to the true end, it makes sense for the epilogues of this game to be truncated, but that doesn't get around the fact that they didn't do the other heroines justice.

 

So, for those who are wondering about the VN of the Month for this month... none of these so far are even in the running.  Umisora's true path knocks it off the list of candidates, Racial Merge... is too bland, and Sora wo Tobu Hitsuji just didn't quite get to where I'd be willing to consider it.  None of these are kusoge... but none are good enough to consider, so I have to try one more game in hopes that it will be good enough to consider.  http://vndb.org/v14269

 

I was honestly hoping to avoid playing Love Sweets, as Moonstone's games tend to REALLY miss when they miss.  I've had some great and many awful experiences with this company's games, so I'm always wary when a new one comes out, though I try them if they don't show nukige-signs.

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*Clephas sighs sadly* It looks like there won't be a VN of the Month this month.  Love Sweets turned out to be a rather straightforward romance-moege with not even strong enough character development to deserve the charage label.  The protagonist is yet another 'average guy' protag, and while the heroines aren't bland... they don't really stand out, either.  For people with imouto-fetishes, Iori will appeal, as a little sister who is rather obvious about her love from the beginning.  For the rest... none of the heroines really struck a chord with me, even after playing their routes.  Kanae is sort of pushed forth as the primary, but her character development is weak because she has difficulty speaking and because the protagonist lacks the kind of perceptiveness that would add depth to her character through a resonance/echo effect. 

 

To be blunt... my impressions on first sight about this game were absolutely right.  I knew I wasn't going to like it, but I tried to give it a chance because Moonstone surprises me sometimes... 

 

This closes the April edition of Clephas' VN of the Month, with no winners.

 

Edit:  One of the reasons I really, really couldn't get into this game was because there is too little character interaction before the path splits, and if you are going for one heroine, there is so little group interaction to give you a strong impression of the character dynamics.  For that reason, I wasn't able to develop an attachment to the heroines beforehand, and because the individual routes are only moege-strong... getting attached to the heroines there wasn't a possibility either.

 

Edit2: A few clarifications... my main complaint was that almost all the character development of the heroines happens after the actual heroine paths begin, and while that is not terribly unusual in and of itself, most decent games at least give you a strong hint of what the heroines are like under the surface before the heroine paths.  One of the great points of a good charage is the before-after for heroines.  Post-dere and pre-dere.  Because this game's common route is so short and lacking in detail, most of the reader's impressions of the heroines come from 'after', preventing the formation of a good 'gap moe' sensation (yes, I do like well-used moe at times). 

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http://vndb.org/v14264

http://vndb.org/v14062

http://vndb.org/v13904

http://vndb.org/v13630

http://vndb.org/v13628

 

This is the lineup for next month.  The ones I definitely am going to play are the one by NostalgicChord, Sakigake, the one by Ensemble, and the Majo one.  I may or may not play the last, as that company has yet to satisfy me with any of its games.

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http://vndb.org/v14264

http://vndb.org/v14062

http://vndb.org/v13904

http://vndb.org/v13630

http://vndb.org/v13628

 

This is the lineup for next month.  The ones I definitely am going to play are the one by NostalgicChord, Sakigake, the one by Ensemble, and the Majo one.  I may or may not play the last, as that company has yet to satisfy me with any of its games.

The cover for Houkago no Futekikakusha and it's mystery tag piques my interest. That's terribly little to go by, so I'll guess I'll wait for screenshots/verdicts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The cover for Houkago no Futekikakusha and it's mystery tag piques my interest. That's terribly little to go by, so I'll guess I'll wait for screenshots/verdicts.

Houkago is definetly not what I was expecting...I say that in a good way

 

that has to be the most emotionally powerful prologue I've ever seen

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http://vndb.org/v13630 I just finished this VN (sorry to those who wanted me to play Futekikakusha first, but I'd already started this).  First, like all Clochette games, this is a story-heavy charage with fantasy elements.  This is based in the same world as Suzunone Seven, albeit a long time before the time in which that was based (as evidenced by the presence of a certain, much younger version of one of the sub characters from Suzunone Seven). 

 

To be honest... I spent most of this game either grinning or rofling.  Yes, there are emotional moments to each of the heroines' stories, but most of the game is either heart-warming or just generally so hilarious you can't help but grin.  The main reason I like Clochette was because of that ability to balance a reasonably interesting story with great character dynamics and humor.  Like all charage, the story isn't spectacularly awesome, but it is definitely at the top of what you'll see out of this type of game.  The protagonist, who is a total siscon gamer, is not an idiot (one of the prime blessings of Clochette games is that the protagonist is actually a person rather than a cipher) and the girls actually have a legitimate reason for falling for him (he has qualities that make it possible).  If you've played as many games of this type as I have, you'll see this for the blessing it is.

 

Last, my recommendations... this game is not for lolifans, as Clochette pulls its usual cast of oppaikko out of its hat, with a single normal/almost-loli heroine.  However, if you do like to laugh and have a fondness for general fun and groups of friends, this is a good choice.  Definitely a candidate for VN of the Month, though I'll reserve judgment until I've played Futekikakusha and at least one other game from May.

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Just finished Houkago no Futekikakusha... two things.  One, if you don't cry within the first hour, you are heartless... and you'll probably end up crying throughout the entire VN, if you are even a little vulnerable to tragic scenes.  Another is that the writer seems to have done his best to create a setting/situation that is unbelievably cruel to the characters involved.  Itsuka, the protagonist, is the worst off of the entire group, and the writer does a wonderful job of portraying his suffering (making me wonder if he is a sadist). 

 

There is no rape or snuff in this game, despite what Erogamescape says (though you shouldn't trust the tags there anyway).  However, because of the rather brutal scenes that are unavoidable in each path, it is understandable that they would see it that way.  This game has some really horribly violent scenes in it, and for that reason, it would hit someone not used to that sort of thing far too hard.  This game is an utsuge, for all but the final path, so the lack of hope to the characters' situation will probably sink someone that goes in expecting chuuni or a moege.

 

Two huge problems with this game, from a lover of a good story.  Too many issues with the setting in general go unexplained, and though they are explained in a sort of off-hand manner at the end of the final path, it isn't in detail or with any real explanation of the deepest underlying issues.  Another is that, while the final path's ending provides a conclusion, it also leaves the reader feeling uneasy, because it seems like something else is behind what caused all the tragedies, based on the words from the antagonist that appears in the final path.  For those reasons, I had to rate this game a bit below what I would have preferred.  While I enjoyed this game emotionally and feel an immense amount of stress relief after the end, those issues prevented it from entering my permanent favorites list.

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