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Komorebi no Nostalgica

 

I decided to replay this VN for a number of reasons... perhaps the largest one is that I just needed a truly awesome VN to satisfy my lust for such...  This was runner up for my choice of VN of the Year 2013, and it only just barely lost to Hapymaher. 

 

Common Route

The common route is split into episodes, with small previews and variations on the same musical theme.  The protagonist is generally voiced only for the first and last scenes of a given episode, with no voice for the rest.  Considering that the writer, artist, and programmer basically made this VN on their own buck with a few loans... that's very impressive.  Anyway, the story for the common route mostly focuses on Cinema, the android they find hidden in the school during the prologue.  The setting is based in the late twenty-fifth century, around fifty years after the war between humanity and the rebellious humanoid AIs that came to be known as Metosera and the peace treaty was signed (really, it was a treaty of surrender, since the Metosera managed to defeat humanity without killing anyone on purpose, lol).  Since then, society has been rebuilt with Metosera serving as a central part of its structure, rather than as a slave labor force.  Cinema is supposedly a fourth-generation android (the fifth-generation ones are the ones who gained self-awareness and eventually became the Metosera), but her mannerisms and speech patterns are more 'human' than the Metosera themselves... though she apparently doesn't possess an actual autonomous 'self'.  The common route focuses on the protagonist and his friends' interactions with her and attempts to repair the damage done by more than fifty years in storage.  It is frequently touching emotionally and interesting intellectually, especially as you have a comparison with the Metosera heroine, Flow (Fluorite Alvega) as part of the group. 

 

Fluorite Alvega

Flow is a Metosera who is also the protagonist's childhood friend.  Like most Metosera, she has a tendency toward excessively logical thought and has difficulty making mental leaps between concepts.  However, she is earnest and learns by considering the details of even the smallest daily interactions.  Since she and her people were built on 'emulating' humans, understanding humans and the differences between them is a vital part of her learning process.  I truly enjoyed the way she and Shouta (the protagonist) slowly felt their way toward love, forming a deep relationship despite the wide gaps between their views of the world.  Moreover, I especially liked the way this path attacks the ideas of the sense of self, emotions, and imagination, as well as how they relate to AIs.  In many ways, this is the path that touches most deeply upon the story's central theme, which is why it became my favorite amongst the heroine routes.

 

Edit:  Oh, I should have mentioned this before.  Flow's path also has some really good drama, ranging from the simple renai (love) drama to action-packed conflicts between Metosera and those still stained by the hatred of fifty years before.

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Sawatari Itsuki

Itsuki is the intellectual of the group, a bit stiff-necked, and something of a bookworm.  At the same time, she is the third-best programmer in the group (Akira being an insane genius and Flow an AI), as well as a romantic at heart.  Her path focuses partly - but only peripherally - on her family relationships, but it is mostly focused on the brief and awkward steps she and the protagonist take to become lovers, followed by some really good dramatic action and a confrontation with the human side of the aftermath of the war with the Metosera fifty years before.  Like all the paths in this VN, the epilogue also touches upon a time significantly after the ending, when the paths the protagonist and Itsuki were set on by the events in her path and the common route have come somewhere close to fruition (one of the biggest plus elements of this VN). 

 

Edit: The Itsuki-path common route alters certain ways in which the problems in the common route are solved, as well as how the protagonist spends the first part of his summer vacation (Akira and Flow share the same common route 'flow', whereas Kaya and Itsuki both have unique common route aspects).

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Kaya

Kaya is a bit closer to what you'd call 'the classic osananajimi'.  She is so close to the protagonist that they can practically read each other's thoughts, and of course, when they attach to one another things are... awkward, to say the least.  Her path differs from Flow's and Itsuki's in that it is less action-focused and more a personal drama.  That's not to say it is a charage path... like all the other paths, it explores AI issues.  This time it is a more technical issue (I won't go into too much detail) that has come up in a number of sci-fi and academic circles (oddly, the two tend to be similar a lot of the time *smiles dryly*).  While this is my least favorite path in this game, it doesn't change the fact that it is a first-rate path, in any case.  One thing that some people might have issues with is that most of the issues related to Kaya and the protagonist's pre-existing relationship are explored in Kaya's unique common-path scenes rather than in the actual heroine path.  This is the main reason, so I think, that her path is somewhat shorter than Flow's or Itsuki's.  In Flow's case, most of the most important issues are actually explored after the path split, and to a lesser extent the same can be said for Itsuki. 

 

Extra Comments:  This is a VN whose value lies in how it explores the world it is based in, in many ways.  Because AIs (their variations, their nature, their limitations, and their potential) are the focus of the VN's primary theme, with a bit of exploration of 'what it is to be human' in a non-Nietzschian fashion, the writers used repetition of certain themes (in particular Cinema's emphasis that she is not capable of autonomous self-consciousness) to keep that understanding of the focus fresh in the readers' minds.  People who go into Komorebi just expecting a charage will probably be taken a bit aback by the level of sophistication in the actual writing and scenario design... if they know what to look for, that is. 

 

Emotionally, this VN is also very good at touching the heart with sorrow, a sense of vicarious nostalgia, wonder, and even awe at times.  A lot of this is because the writer was unabashed in his decision to explore his own ruminations on AIs, humanity, and a number of other side issues. 

There is no sense that he is making fun of his own tendency to use his characters to express his own thoughts, and he does it with such skill that a lot of his efforts can only be noticed with conscious attention.  To be honest, while I absolutely adore chuuni (I mention this because chuunige are my favorite VN genre), it is anything but subtle most of the time... and this is definitely subtle.  I find, as I replay this VN, that I'm noticing things I absolutely did not notice on the first playthrough, and there are new aspects of the same scenes that I pick up as I read.  

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Shimazu Akira

Akira is probably the most immediately recognizable personality for those who have played this VN, other than Cinema.  She's a whimsical, lazy, hedonistic hacker and programmer who also happens to be the protagonist's stepsister.  Her path does have a 'we are siblings' aspect to the romantic part that has predictable results.  However the focus is on a particular aspect of IT that will be quite familiar with those who are aware of how 'hackers' began.  Like all the paths, Cinema is used as a reason for this, with the protagonist and heroines' actions shaped by their emotions toward Cinema as well as the events in the story.  Similar to Kaya's path, this one doesn't have a focus on action along with the drama at the end, though its drama is interesting. 

 

True

The true path of this VN can come out from any of the individual heroine paths (you choose which heroine you prefer before actually going into it), but the essential nature of the true ending doesn't change.  This covers the past, especially Cinema's designer, as well as his vision of the world post-war, his love for his 'daughter', and his hopes for the future.  This true path is one of those rare ones that truly does come into its own solely with the knowledge, philosophy, and emotions born of the heroine paths.  As well, the final scene is one that you can't help but cry for, having known Cinema through four great routes.

 

A few comments

This VN is easy to underestimate on face value, and it has a degree of balance that Hapymaher lacks (Hapymaher is heavy on the emotionality and uses its music mercilessly to enhance that aspect).  I hope that some of the other readers of untranslated VNs here will take the time to read this through, if only because it is just worth it to do so, for people who like AI's as a theme.

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Gunjou no Sora wo Koete  (https://vndb.org/v1069)

 

Common Route

This is a wartime drama VN about a future where Kantou (the province that makes up most of Tokyo) has declared independence and is in the midst of a civil war with the JSDF.  The protagonist and his friends are all 'extra students', teenagers who have basically volunteered to fight for the Kantou military.  The school they are attending is centered around a nearby airbase, and the protagonist is a 'first-rank student', meaning he is essentially already a part of the actual military establishment, versus the second and third-rank students, who are basically well-trained ROTC units who might be tossed in as reserves when things get desperate.  He is a fighter pilot student, and the common route covers the time from when he goes through the hardest part of the training to the point where he has flown several missions and the school cultural festival occurs.  The beginning is somewhat poorly-paced, but things pick up relatively quickly.  I was impressed from the very beginning by how realistically the emotions of those involved are portrayed, and how well they described how bad the situation is.  Some moments were very shocking, and there are definite jabs at America's foreign policy here and there.

 

Wakana route

After having played two routes of this VN, I first need to say that Yashiro, the protagonist, is something of a hetare in his personal life.  He isn't dense, but he is all-too-aware of his mortality.  Thus, the formation of his relationship with Wakana... is troubled, to say the least.  Wakana's path is a bit shocking, especially in how certain people die (this VN is really merciless to its characters).  I cried for the ending, as it really was touching, having experienced the intimate sense of loss and the fear of meaningless death through Yashiro's eyes.

 

Kanako route

tbh, I wasn't expecting the game's loli heroine's route to be the more horrifying of the first two I played, but it was.  The political and military situation in this path is a lot worse than in Wakana's route, and the end result is downright... sad.  I also thought the formation of the relationship between Yashiro and Kanako was a bit forced, though a lot of the reasons why it was so awkward made sense.  My biggest complaint is the epilogue... because it lacks the detail and sense of melancholy mixed with joy that characterizes Wakana's.

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Miki route

Miki's route has the most 'peaceful' outcome on a general level.  In terms of interpersonal relationships, it is also the most intricate and mature of the three main routes of the core story.  Miki is the protagonist's flight instructor and a veteran pilot.  If I have a complaint, it is with the inconclusive ending, which is actually typical of the story as a whole.  Like in all of the routes, the writer is particularly unforgiving of self-deception in his characters, and it feels almost like he is 'punishing' them for their foolishness at times.

 

Yuuki and Keiko

Yuuki and Keiko's routes are side-heroine routes that serve to introduce two different perspectives on the war that aren't covered in the other three routes.  In terms of emotional impact, they are definitely lacking in comparison to the three main heroine routes, but they set the stage for...

 

The Grand Route

Probably the best word for this path is... that it is unforgiving.  The way the author creates story developments that strip the main characters of their illusions, their defensive mechanisms is.. brutal even by Light's standards.  There is a great deal of economic, political, and military philosophy built in, but the true focus is simply on the simple question 'Why were we fighting in the first place?'  To be honest, I was a bit stunned by the abruptness of the ending.  The writer obviously leaves it be on purpose, in order to not give you the 'convenient' outcome you tend to expect from a good story.  However, I was more than a little pissed at how this ended, lol.

 

Overall

What did I think of this VN?  It engaged my intellect more than my emotions, for the most part.  To be blunt, for someone who hasn't fought in a war, the state of mind that the 'reserve students' in this VN describe is incredibly difficult to grasp at times.  The sheer amount of infodumps will probably be the biggest problem for most people playing this VN.  This is full of military terms, especially aviation ones.  As such, it is a bit difficult to grasp, and the whole origin of the war will be hard for most people to grasp, given the frequently sparse and fragmentary explanations given.  Yashiro can be really cool at times, but it is his humanity rather than his coolness that makes him an interesting protagonist. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Hello, World"

 

"Hello, World" is one of the few early (pre-Sumaga) Nitroplus games I hadn't played... and not for lack of trying.  It is really, really hard to get this VN to work on a modern system.  However, I finally got it to work the other day (Sieg Heil Victoria!), and thus I finally got to enjoy Nitroplus's signature AI/robot sci-fi VN.

 

The protagonist of this story is, as is noted in the summaries available, a robot named Tomonaga Kazuki, who was constructed for the purpose of analyzing human emotions.  While there are heroines in this story, and which one you choose alters your perspective on the story, the actual endgame of the story itself doesn't change that much in the True Ending for each heroine, save for Haruka.  The Normal Endings are basically similar to Akiha's Normal Ending from Tsukihime... which means bittersweet (with a heavy dose of bitter). 

 

The highlight of this game is experiencing the protagonist's progression from an emotionless robot on a mission to an individual with emotions, motives, and desires as intense as any human's.  There is some action in this VN, but it is generally not of the 'super-powered' variety on the protagonist's side.  The endgame is on a grand scale, though I won't spoil it for you by spelling it out. 

 

Overall

Needless to say, this is a VN tailor-made for people who like sci-fi stories about AI robots, the possibilities of emotional development in machines, and robot-human romance.  Despite the dated visuals and audio (though oddly, the audio wasn't as dated as some of the games that came later from this company), it is rather easy to get emotionally involved with the characters and story, and the protagonist's advancement from your classic robot to a near-human level of emotionality is one of the major highlights of the story. 

 

Unfortunately, this story's language is something of a barrier... making it not something you'd want to choose for your first untranslated VN.  I'd say it hovers around a 5-8.7 most of the time, which will make it somewhat hard for most people to handle. 

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Tapestry You Will Meet Yourself  part 1: Common Route and Narumi

 

 

This VN was made by Light about the same time as they released the Acta Est Fabula edition (the first 'complete' edition of the game) of Dies Irae.  To be blunt, this game is somewhere in between an utsuge and a nakige.  The protagonist, Hajime, is dying from a form of collagen disease that is never named properly (this is stated in the summary on vndb).  However, rather than telling his friends and making everyone cry, he chooses to conceal this, so he can continue enjoying life as much as he can.

 

Hajime is your classic 'a little stupid but surprisingly good at creating a happy and cheerful atmosphere' protagonist.  The big difference between him and the average member of this long and honorable line of protagonists is that he is dying and his reaction to it.  He rarely drops that smile of his, and the obvious joy he takes in living is lacking the overt desperation or despair that characterizes a lot of protagonists of this type.  This joy in living, even in the face of death, is one of the reasons I declined to call this a full utsuge.  It pulls too many punches (in a good way) to be called one... which is probably just as well for those who are going looking for something that will make them cry.

 

Common

 

The common route of this game is generally humorous, except for the points where each heroine finds out what is going on.  You won't find yourself crying much during the common route, because Hajime himself lacks the consciousness of his disease that would make you so.  This is more to help you get to know the characters and get into the general dynamics of the group, allowing you to form an emotional attachment to them.  This is done extremely well, aided by the 'unique' (I use this term in the context of the setting rather than in the sense that I found them unique, lol) people that surround him.  The occasional breaks in Hajime's armor and the conversations of those who are 'in the know' behind the scenes when Hajime isn't around aid in keeping the story's central conflict near the front of your mind, thus adding a flavor of anticipation to the whole thing.

 

Narumi

Narumi is the 'free-spirited club president' and hidden genius girl of the story.  She is also Hajime's senpai, which makes her the only 'older woman' in the story.  Narumi has a tendency to vanish randomly, going on trips around the world and skipping school for no apparent reason.  Not only that, her personality is that of someone who will do anything as long as it is interesting.  An 面白ければ何でもいい-type in other words.  The formation of the relationship between her and Hajime is... untraditional, to say the least.  This leads to some heavy drama, though it is mostly because of the lack of understanding between the two that it occurs (differences in their way of thinking).  The ending is a serious tear-jerker, and I cried until my nose ran and my eyes went completely dry and red during the last half hour. 

 

Well, that's it for now.  Look forward to the rest in the next few days!

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Part 2: Sakurai Saki

 

Saki

 

Saki is... well the 'spirited and active kouhai' of the group.  She is the type of kouhai who tackles her senpai upon seeing him, and she is always smiling.  So... I wasn't quite expecting what I got from this, in a good way.  I'm glad they tailored the routes to fit their individual heroines so completely, because it made the impact so much more intense.  I cried and cried and cried (again) for Hajime, Saki, and everyone else... and I felt as smashed to the floor by how it ended as I had with Narumi.  Another great route, though if this keeps up I'm going to be a withered husk, dehydrated by tears by the time this is over...

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Part 3: Kayano Mina

 

Mina is the overly serious tsundere of the group (though her personality alters even more drastically than you'd expect from a VN tsundere in her path). 

To be blunt, Mina is also the hidden yandere of the group (though not in the stab-stab kind of way, more like the 'I can't live without your love!!!' kind of way). 

This path does make you weep as much as the previous two paths... but if you don't fall over laughing during the epilogue, I would be seriously surprised.  Similar to the previous two paths, there is a definite sense of hope buried in the sorrow that touches upon the entire story, though it is a hope born of despair.  This path focuses more narrowly upon the heroine and her individual problems, rather than upon the entire situation (though the situation is inescapable by its very nature).  As such, this one would probably be easier for people used to charage paths.  At the same time, like all the other paths, this one shows off the heroine's hidden aspects, which are concealed for the most part if you don't go on this path. 

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"Hello, World"

 

"Hello, World" is one of the few early (pre-Sumaga) Nitroplus games I hadn't played... and not for lack of trying.  It is really, really hard to get this VN to work on a modern system.  However, I finally got it to work the other day (Sieg Heil Victoria!), and thus I finally got to enjoy Nitroplus's signature AI/robot sci-fi VN.

 

The protagonist of this story is, as is noted in the summaries available, a robot named Tomonaga Kazuki, who was constructed for the purpose of analyzing human emotions.  While there are heroines in this story, and which one you choose alters your perspective on the story, the actual endgame of the story itself doesn't change that much in the True Ending for each heroine, save for Haruka.  The Normal Endings are basically similar to Akiha's Normal Ending from Tsukihime... which means bittersweet (with a heavy dose of bitter). 

 

The highlight of this game is experiencing the protagonist's progression from an emotionless robot on a mission to an individual with emotions, motives, and desires as intense as any human's.  There is some action in this VN, but it is generally not of the 'super-powered' variety on the protagonist's side.  The endgame is on a grand scale, though I won't spoil it for you by spelling it out. 

 

Overall

Needless to say, this is a VN tailor-made for people who like sci-fi stories about AI robots, the possibilities of emotional development in machines, and robot-human romance.  Despite the dated visuals and audio (though oddly, the audio wasn't as dated as some of the games that came later from this company), it is rather easy to get emotionally involved with the characters and story, and the protagonist's advancement from your classic robot to a near-human level of emotionality is one of the major highlights of the story. 

 

Unfortunately, this story's language is something of a barrier... making it not something you'd want to choose for your first untranslated VN.  I'd say it hovers around a 5-8.7 most of the time, which will make it somewhat hard for most people to handle. 

 

Clephas is this VN a Utsuge?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Steel

This is an ancient VN (from 2005) without voices and with really dated visuals... however, it is worth taking a look at, if you like some violence, with a lot of deliberately obscure plot twists.  In other words, this VN is going to be over the heads of just about ninety percent of the people who tried to read it, and those who can understand it are going to be 'uuuh... was it really worth it to read through the entire thing?'  in most cases.  To be honest, there were times I enjoyed this VN, other times I was immensely frustrated by it, and yet other times when it did manage to touch me.  The biggest downer to this VN is that it is so gloomy.  I mean, the way horrible things happen to everyone in this VN is worse in a way because the way it is written encourages a certain degree of emotional detachment.  This unbalanced narrative is the biggest weakness of the story.

 

On the upside, mindfuck lovers will probably adore this VN.  This VN basically confuses you right to the very end, all of the first-person views come from people that are deeply delusional (seriously, I don't think I've ever run into a VN with so many people that go delusional for long periods of time), and the protagonist is more than a little loony.

 

Last of all... the epilogue.  Seven hours.  It took me seven hours to finish the epilogue (as long as a charage common route).  I liked that there was so much detail put into the after-story, but it ends on a vaguely dissatisfying note anyway.  I wanted to tear what little hair I have left out at the end. 

 

Overall... this is a VN that will definitely pick its readers.  It doesn't help that the story as a whole is geared toward people who like mindfucks or that there are no voices (unlike in Tsukihime or Abyss, the lack is really felt here).  I can see why certain people rated it so highly, because it is well-written from a technical perspective, and it is obvious that the person who wrote the scenario is good at managing a lot of varied threads in a story... unfortunately, those varied threads make it difficult to emotionally engage with most of the story, because the protagonist spends most of the VN being the most ignorant person in the game, lol.

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Vanitas no Hitsuji

 

This is a VN by the defunct Rococo Works.  It is based in a fantasy world where people are sometimes born with the capability to use a single power that is called 'sorcery' (each person having an individual ability that will sometimes evolve or mutate).  It begins with the protagonist Claude and the main heroine Teresa as children in Teresa's hometown, where he saves her from some would-be kidnappers using his 'sorcery', which allows him to alter the colors other people see.

 

This is not a kamige, by any stretch off the imagination, and I wouldn't have chosen this as a VN of the Month candidate either.  Nonetheless, it is one of the few otherworld fantasy VNs that managed to escape the usual tropes that have absorbed that genre  (it is either a chuuni-battle type or a 'peaceful fantasy that feels like a pacifist's idea of traditional fantasy').  To be honest, after playing all four heroine routes, I can't help but wonder why they bothered with any other route but Teresa's, considering the overall low quality and horrible pacing in those.  In comparison, Teresa's route, while not being godly by any means, would have served more than adequately as the main story thread of a decent kinetic novel. 

 

This VN isn't really a hidden gem... nor is it a kusoge.  It falls into that huge fissure that sits between them... but if you want something based in a fantasy setting... it might be a good choice, if you've exhausted the really good choices.

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http://forums.fuwanovel.net/index.php?/blog/blog-46/cat-18-sakura-sakimashita

 

Here is the link to my blog posts for Sakura, Sakimashita.  Because I did these as blog posts, they are somewhat more comprehensive than my normal comments, and it ran to six posts... so have fun with it, yall.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

For those who haven't read these already, this will probably come as something of a shock... but I just finished the entire gameplay-VN section of the Venus Blood series in a two-week long marathon that has left me completely disinterested in seeing anything ero-related for the foreseeable future.  I did this mostly out of friendship towards Sanahtlig, who is an old friend.  I did find some good points and a lot of bad points.  This series isn't the picture of glory he sometimes speaks of it as, but it does have enough good in it that if you extracted ninety-percent of the H content, you'd have a bunch of reasonably popular games (outside of tentacle fans). 

 

http://forums.fuwanovel.net/blog/46/entry-625-venus-blood-series-in-order-from-abyss-to-hypno/

 

http://forums.fuwanovel.net/blog/46/entry-607-venus-blood-empire/

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The Venus Blood series encompasses some of the better gameplay eroge currently available--and it was one of the few franchises you'd overlooked.  I stand by my recommendation, though I think you're insane for marathoning 5 of them in 2 weeks.  I space out Venus Blood titles with several months between playthroughs, as even one playthrough is enough to temporarily burn me out on the series.  These are huge games that usually keep me busy for 50-100hrs, which is why I can't help but be amazed how fast you burned through them.

 

I harp on the Venus Blood series purely because it's often overlooked, especially by people who don't play games in Japanese.  The games aren't necessarily exceptional, but they're solid gameplay eroge that deserve just as much attention as games from Alicesoft and Eushully that aren't part of the Rance and Ikusa Megami main series.  It simply annoys me that they're not getting the level of recognition I feel they deserve.  If you look past the fetish elements they're quality gameplay titles with wide appeal, and certainly in a tier above lesser titles like the Sengoku Hime series (which suffers from tedious gameplay and patchwork storylines that fail to tell a satisfying overarching story).

 

To give you an idea of how underappreciated the Venus Blood series is, I had to personally write synposes for Abyss, Frontier, and Gaia because there weren't any in English on VNDB.  That's how little known these titles are in the West.  That sort of apathy is usually reserved only for crappy nukige and doujin titles.

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I'm not saying they aren't good compared to other gameplay-VNs... but understand, my standards for gameplay are based off of more than twenty years of experience with jrpgs, strategy games, and strategy-conquest games.  When it comes to strategy conquest, my baseline is Dragon Force, which is pretty hard to match.  My baseline for turn-based rpg battle systems is the ATB battle system (though Grandia has the best turn-based battle system of all time... which will probably never be replicated).  These are both examples of systems with no unnecessary gimmicks which were nonetheless immensely enjoyable.  My primary complaint is that there is a tendency in companies that make gameplay-VNs to create lopsided systems with a few gimmicks and very limited gameplay.  The best ones are the ones that carbon-copy existing gameplay systems, and even those have their problems.  The stat and passive skill based combat system used as the basis for the Venus Blood games has a lot of problems, not the least of which is that the player is too passive outside of the actual creation of combat units when it comes to battle, at least from my experience.  While creating the ultimate unit to your tastes is enjoyable at first, it begins to wear on you by the end of each game.  It reminds me of some of the worst excesses of the Disgaea series at times, where the customization become the object rather than actually playing the game.

 

In many ways, despite repeated elements, I really did treat each game as its own individual standalone, and I rated them as such.  Empire's conquest map was its great weakness, for instance.  Abyss's is the recruitment system's clunkiness.  Frontier is solid for what it is, but it lacks the legion system seen in Gaia, which would have made for much more interesting gameplay on that world map.  Gaia suffers from an inability to change the shape of each level as you create it inside the dungeon (a function I actually missed from Abyss).  The use of tactical skills is a bit clunkier in Hypno, mostly because they sought to let you make them available to units in the encounter phase.

 

Understand, while a marathon like this one saps my stamina, it is nowhere near as bad as a moege marathon.  The characters are interesting enough in most of the games in the series that I actually cared about what was going on, so I never fell asleep while playing (if anything, I suffered from sleep deprivation), but there was more than one time while playing them when I felt the gameplay was actually in the way, rather than adding something to the game.  Needless to say, I know very well that these games probably wouldn't be nearly as good without the gameplay, but it does point to the fact that there are some severe problems with that gameplay that could be ironed out simply by the makers doing more effective research on game systems in general... or doing more effective brainstorming on how the changes they propose might effect the ease of use and enjoyment of use of the battle systems. 

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Understand, my critiques of games that have elements I love are always much harsher than ones that don't.  The Venus Blood games have a lot of stuff I like in them... it is just that for every element I like, there is something that prevents me from liking the whole.  Like many VNs, the Venus Blood games have a tendency to crap out near the end.  In particular, I dislike the tendency that they have to turn every one of the heroine endings into an H-scene, which makes me roll my eyes in disgust after the excess in the rest of the game.  Moreover, what explanations of how the heroine/protagonist duo developed their relationships after the game ends are hidden in between graphic descriptions of the sex they are having.  For a sex freak, it would be a reward.  For me, it is a downer... a severe one.  The antagonist issue is just the biggest one with all the Venus Blood games (other than the excessive H), not the only one.  While I more or less expected an h-scene in the heroine endings... I didn't expect all but a very few of them to be all h-scene (Titi's in Gaia being an ironic exception, considering the rest of the game).

 

Edit: I played these games to the end, so yes I am aware of just how much H there is in them... but there is also plenty (most of it) of story outside of the H.  So, it does bother me that they felt the need to define the last moments with each heroine with a meaningless h-scene (though it makes sense for chaos/mindbroken endings).  I was kind of looking forward to stories of active repression and butchery by mindbroken heroines in the individual endings, which would have been kind of fun (I mean, I delight in non-sexual evil as much as the next chuunige-lover).

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