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Optimistic;Nihlist

Noble Works: Is This VN Overrated Or Is There Something I'm Not Getting?

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    I kept seeing reference to Noble Works as a good entry VN, as well as seeing it towards the top on VNDB's rating lists, so I decided to try it out and I have to say: I'm not all that impressed.

 

    First of all, the title-screen music was a bit of a red flag to me. I feel like it may not be thought as much in other mediums of art, but maybe visual novel fans might get where I'm coming from here when I say that music in VNs are very important, and personally, while they won't outright make-or-break a game for me, it definitely can color my perception on just how much the composer either cared about the story; or if the composer even was able to feel anything for the story -which, which the latter is the case, colors a poor impression on the story as well. I can tell the difference, and even games like Lucy: the eternity she wished for which has a majority of it's tracks being either bought or used for free from other sources feels like it has 5 times a stronger soundtrack to it's story than Noble Works.

Definitely sticking a background track as the main title theme was a red-flag for me.

    The cover art for the title and the sprites for the game are fine, I'll admit; although they do feel a little character-less. The H-scenes however I think suffer worse in this department to the extent of being just absolutely lacking in dynamicism, and it doesn't help the already kind of bland writing to pair with it. Ignoring the H-scenes however ( I understand everyone has their own taste ) the pacing on the VN was atrocious for some routes.

 I looked into some of the minds behind it, and it looks like a skilled and experienced writer handled the overall planning and main-story writing, but was stuck with many sub-par scenarists who just couldn't stick a cohesive theme into the whole story. Like, I could tell at what points in the common route and what points in the specific routes were directly introduced by the planner because they were the only scenes that actually held any cohesion between the main-characters subplot and everything else happening around him. Meanwhile, most of the writers for the individual routes seemed to have so much space to wander around with the broadness and openness of the setting the Planner set them up with, but so little direction from continuous events or over-hanging story that the planner didn't  set them up with, that they just kind of meandered around with their own sand castles away from everyone else, and took forever to actually do something. Maybe it has something to do with the fact the common route also felt somewhat long, as even the common route --while it did have tighter writing while still maintaining a sort of slice-of-life aesthetic, did have large plots of territory it wandered in where characters didn't really do anything. This wouldn't be so bad if it also neglected to give the characters more.. well, character: thus shunting that work to the scenarists to pad out their already long routes.

 

In summary: the whole visual novel did feel like safe, tame product with some interesting plot-hooks, the overall execution was overwhelmingly bland and totally failed to effectively and efficiently capitalize on its premise.

 

I can't be the only one, right? I am curious to see a take on this by a NobleWorks fan though too.

 

Edited by Optimistic;Nihlist
Fixing a typo... Again

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Just now, Optimistic;Nihlist said:

Damn. That's pretty intense. Tell me your story translating that, I'm kind of curious now.

Well, I'll spare you from too much detail, since the full story would be a book (and, like Noble☆Works, it might be a book with a higher word count than Ulysses).

But allow me to validate your point about the scenarists: I had some early inklings that the producers lazily divided routes among different writers, but this fact became all too clear once I embarked upon Shizuru's route. I quickly noticed an obscene overuse of em dashes, and had to force myself to diverge from the Japanese text's style and use alternative forms of syntax—but this soon became the least of our team's problems, as every aspect of the Shizuru route writer's prose was simply aberrant. I'm sure you've noticed that the route's story itself is strange compared to the others, but more importantly from my perspective, the text's grammatical structure, word choice, flow, etc. were all a mess. This might be all well and good for somebody willing to take great liberties in translation; unfortunately, having been influenced by the chorus of translation puritans that characterized that era, I was not willing to take those much-needed liberties. As such, the translation surely ended up unnecessarily stilted and lacked the flow that a dialogue-heavy work so badly wants, and for that I apologize.

Now, my comment above was actually half-sarcastic. The thing is, I can barely finish a single medium-length visual novel before undergoing an acute sense of repetition. You might imagine, then, that I—somebody who's almost certainly "played" (as in, had open while paying some attention to) Noble☆Works longer than any other human—would become a bit sick of the game. Indeed, I myself cannot say to what degree my opinion of the game should be untethered from the trauma it wreaks upon my mind.

But regardless, I'm pretty sure it kind of sucks.

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Why translate a bad vn? I just don't get this. I see sometimes that translators pick what people call "the studios worst VN" and i just wonder why didn't they pick a better one when they're doing community work anyway. It's quite a lot of work and it must suck to hear about how trash a vn is after all that hard work. 

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Shizuru's route is the worst in the entire VN, by several degrees... and not just writing.  She was the most memorable heroine not because I liked her, but because her path was so wince-worthy that it felt like it didn't belong in the game.

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Noble Works isn't bad per se, but it isn't very good either. It never reaches any extreme, but rather manages to stay somewhere at the line inbetween, ultimately ending up as quite a forgettable experience. The premise for the story sounded more interesting than the VN itself turned out to be, so I think there was some missed potential here.

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From the title looks like you expect something like story driven VN, so let me say it straight that you shouldn't that kind of writing in Yuzusoft VNs because when it comes down to that they specialized in charage/moege, and Noble Works here is their VN before Dracu Riot. Granted that their recent VNs did have some overaching stories (Please remember that it's still mostly in charage territory), but remember that they just started the trend at Dracu Riot so you can't exactly expect that it'll be the story driven here. So if you ask me what's your not getting, probably it would be the affection to the heroines in which usually it was the charage creator goal.

About the semantic underrated here, just like Ittaku said it should be overrated because it clearly describe the OP situation well in that he trapped because of good rating at VNDB. For the clarification overrated mean that the work that get too much praise when it turn out that it's not up to the supposed praise, while underrated here mean that a less known work that receive less praise and turned out that it's pretty good (You can see this link for clearer understanding). Of course to determined whether the work is underrated or overrated it's up to each of their own (ie subjective matter), but in this case it's pretty clear that the you find Noble Works is overrated.

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Noble Works is your standard comedy charage.  The reason I generally recommended it before it got translated was because I found it amusing and it was one of the few charage I'd read that actually felt 'resolved' when it was over (a standard bad habit of the umbrella genre of charage is leaving things undone to make room for fandiscs).  

Another bad habit, shared by VNs in general, is having multiple writers.  In fact, most VNs have at least two, often three or four writers.  The main writer is usually an established name (though not always) and the others are often newbies or specialized assistants (such as an h-scene writer for writers that suck at h-scenes, lol).  While this sometimes works fine (Light's second team generally works together well, though if you let Kurashiki out without Takahama, you get unpredictable results), it can backfire massively if you get a team that doesn't work together well or where the base writing skills and style vary wildly.

A prime example of a game where the differences in quality between paths are glaringly obvious is Haruuru (Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no) where the difference in quality between the Branch School and Main School paths is... horribly obvious.  

As I mentioned above, there is also the fact that Noble Works abuses its setting sometimes.  This is particularly true in the case of Shizuru's path, where 

Spoiler

he basically gets into a sexual relationship with her under false pretenses.

 

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I think that Noble Works is completely average and ordinary as a moege. It's also the Yuzusoft game I've least enjoyed. I played Sanoba Witch nearly to 100%, the majority of Dracu-riot, and was getting started with Amairo Islenauts -which looks like the most enjoyable, probably. But this? I could barely play two routes straight.

So, Noble Works is a solid 5/10 work, I guess? Maybe even 4/10.

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I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I might have overrated it a bit, since it was maybe 7th or 8th VN I've ever read ;)

Certainly teacher's side route was complete waste of time, but when it comes to the main routes, from what I remember, I enjoyed them all back then.

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