Happy New Year everyone! I really did get lazy for the end of 2018 with me moving on from graduation and playing more PSO2. My hobby of VN is still intact but quite frankly the lack of depth in recent titles have admittedly been making me turn towards my backlog…
Which is actually shrinking quite rapidly in size! I literally have 5 games from my backlog (remaining ones which I’ve dropped, are nukige and not worth writing about, etc…) which is definitely a “feelsgoodman” moment right there, so I feel like I can go a bit without playing games for a while.
I actually did have a fun post I wanted to do for the end of 2018 (Hint: CVs), but this will have to be published later on because I got lazy with it + it’s actually going to be super detailed and very long, requiring me to actually put in more time into it.
The titles covered today are as follows:
- Gensou no Idea
- Akatsuki no Goei
- Furuiro Meikyuu Rondo
- Natural Vacation
- Damekoi Happiness Emotion
Let’s get started!
Gensou no Idea [Finished]
Oh god where to start with this game.
Honestly, 3rdEye is that company I find so unfortunate since they have such a good concept about creating games but frankly really terrible writers. As with game like Sorcery Jokers, I generally have the same opinions as I did with the more recent title, especially considering this older game seems to have been a precedent for a general set pattern of fantasy elements that 3rdEye creates
Okay so let’s get one thing straight. 3rdEye does at least a good job creating various original and unique characters. While there’s definitely the fact that they’re all placed in a very non-traditional setting which might be the cause for this “illusion” of being unique and original, the game still does well enough to explain the characters well and this is present pretty much in every game they create even if they turn out to be shitty (e.g. Bloody Rondo)
The problem is what they DO with said characters. Meaningless battle scenes, characters being extremely bipolar and plot twists that don’t make any sense at all really boils down to a bad and unplanned scenario. The chuunibyou is okay to a certain extent but the game often takes this feature a bit too far making it almost cringe to read.
Akashi’s route is interesting enough, since you have a character well shrouded in mystery who slowly develops relationships with people he encounter in this sad, depressing world. His side is still not liberated from the bullshit the game throws at times and especially at the end and trust me–the game won’t explain anything so don’t try to understand too much. I generally liked Akashi’s route a lot better than Yuma’s, not because I’m an edge-lord but because the story is objectively better.
Yuma’s route is just… What the fuck. You have both heroines extremely bipolar from the getgo and stuff happens so spontaneously you’re just like “what the fuck just happened” and the game gives you 0 time to think about why shit happened as such as you’re just presented with battle scenes that literally just came out of the blue. It’s almost as if the writer went “fuck it” after writing Akashi’s story and just plastered on some bullshit just to fill in the blanks; similar to Haruto’s route from Sorcery Jokers. You can literally skip the ENTIRE Yuma’s route and not miss anything terribly important; it’s THAT bad. The entire point of Yuma’s route is to just introduce the conflict of the three characters (Yuma, Naru, and Rinon) and their story to resolving it; that’s it. On a story rating it’s deserving of NEGATIVE points purely due to how fucked up the planning was and how it seems like the writer was intentionally trying to create a bad scenario.
The true route titled “Naglfar’s Night” is not AS disappointing, but still really poor in the sense the ONLY connection between the protagonists is the character Himawari and even then said connection is done extremely forcefully (you’ll see what I mean when you read the game). It’s on the level of Yuma’s route when it comes to introducing this calamity that people lose their shit about, additional anticlimactic battle scenes, and a very convenient conclusion.
Basically, the game might be worth playing just for Akashi’s route since some of the scenes in his side of the story is actually pretty funny and climactic. On the other hand, Yuma’s side was really REALLY pathetic, with him being a naive, blumbering idiot who can’t distinguish between reality and fantasy and having his sorry ass be carried by a heroine through the climactic moments (Whaddya know? EXACTLY how it was with Haruto and Riku in Sorcery Jokers)
Honestly I’m sick of this kind of design. I’ve played through all of 3rdEye’s games at this point and besides the decent concept and relatively unique characters, their story has all been average at best and worse than nukige at many points. The two protagonist thing which was present in this title and Sorcery Jokers has only gone to show how stupid/incompetent one of them are while the “dunamis” element which is consistent in all their games is straight-up fantasy bullshit. All this is really present in games like Sorcery Jokers and good god people rating it with 9s and 10s makes me want to punch something.
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 2/10
Protagonist Rating: 4/10
Overall Rating: 4/10
Akatsuki no Goei series [Finished]
Just a disclaimer that I first wrote a short review for it, decided to write a full review, then decided again to just cut it down to a short review. Sorry if it feels like there’s chunks missing because of this.
So a title that’s been on my backlog for some time, I noticed that this game is from Shangrila, a company who is related to the game Koi deha naku (plus their artwork is very similar). I played both the 2008 and 2010 game because they were arguably different games in the same setting, and can be considered one title.
Generally speaking this game was both good and bad. Humor-wise, I appreciated the puns, double-entendre, and the occasional 4th wall breaking which if you like them will definitely give a good laugh or two. It helps that the protagonist (often unexpectedly) also participates in the humor without being “cheap” about it (i.e. it doesn’t just randomly use his sexuality or something as a running gag) so that was a big plus.
One thing I will need to say is that the characters and protagonist, as well as the setting of this game were all very well designed, and I quote myself:
“Bodyguard protagonist who has a very dark background with “ojousama” type heroines is what I consider to be an ideal design when it comes to story. This is because through said pairing both the protagonist and the heroine has something they can learn from each other and thus is a start for their relationship and be that “validity” in romance. If I had to design a story it would definitely be similar to the setting of Akatsuki no Goei.“
However, a good blueprint doesn’t guarantee a good outcome, and that was exactly what happened here–the execution to the actual scenario that got developed is really bad: Heroine traits were hidden until the very end or their trait isn’t even relevant to their route. The lack of transitions is present in both titles, where the game will use simple fades to transition between scenes, and this is even more obvious in the first title where the “episodes” seem so disconnected it feels very clunky. Heck in the first title a couple of these “episodes” was also no more than 10 lines which was just what the fuck, and if at all these “episodes” and poor transitions only made the game feel more repetitive reading, so the skip button became my new best friend.
Conflicts within routes is pathetic at best and it’s even more pitiful trying to see how the game is using its retarded logic into resolving them. I think this is because I enjoyed the common route a lot more, but actual heroine routes and their storylines was just the worst you can possibly do; the game literally introduces the conflict, shows the characters being distressed, and the next scene the conflict is just gone and the route is over. Like what? Did you just resolve the entire route conflict with a single fade-out and 0 explanations? This is even worse than a flat out deus-ex-machina. I can’t even comment on whether it was good or bad because there wasn’t even a route to add commentary about.
The 2010 game does have an additional “Forbidden Area” route where the game turns really dark and depressing and discusses the sociology aspects, and almost acted as another game altogether introducing new characters that didn’t appear before. It’s also here where minor subcharacters also get their own “route” if you will, but that’s only their H-scenes and an ending which is a really pathetic excuse to be calling it a “route”. Heck it’s heavily implied that this “Forbidden Area Route” is canon but it certainly doesn’t feel like one due to how incomplete it feels.
Protagonist is relatively well designed, as someone who obviously seems to have some mystery surrounding him that’s obviously going to be tied to the Forbidden Area, I also appreciated that he was designed as one of the most powerful characters in the story. The fact that his presence and actions are the things that actually make the changes within the story were big plus points and what I consider ideal in a protagonist.
The problem was that he was kept TOO mysterious. Protagonists need to be someone who is relate-able to the reader, for the reader to sympathize with the protagonist at times or share his emotions. The fact that Kaito was just so unique and vague was the factor that actually worked against him to prevent him from receiving that perfect 10/10 score, and in reality that would’ve been very much possible had the writer included more monologue regarding Kaito’s viewpoint on various scenes.
I honestly can’t tell if I liked this game at the time of writing this short review. Like, I really enjoyed the characters and their interactions–I really did. But then again if I reminiscence about the story, I can say it’s one of the worst progression I’ve ever read and it’s almost an insult to call this a novel for being so disorganized at even presenting its environment that the characters were supposed to be residing in.
One of the things which was almost disgusting was the emphasis on sex. It’s on the level of Evenicle where you can’t read a single scene without having something relating back to sex and frankly having that go on and on for 40+ hours (both titles) was extremely tiring. I mean I know this is an eroge and such, but this game was just excessive on it and heck even nukige some doesn’t do that nowadays. Admittedly this also gave a lot of parts in this game that NTR-esque vibes which I know is something people can’t stand, so this contributed extremely negatively on the already poor story design.
Some other things that pissed me about this series includes how the 2nd game has an enforced playing order (with 0 basis) which includes a bad route (note that this is one of my pet peeves in VNs because you’re “forced” to play it instead of you actually making a bad decision), lots of bugs which included text glitches, missing voices, or what the fuck is that rough art of Moai doing there, it just took away from the external quality of the game
Though to be fair these bugs were pretty hilarious
The fact that I even finished both games without wanting to kill myself is probably a good sign that I enjoyed the game for its characters and protagonist, but it’s undoubtedly true that the story in this game is one of the worst I’ve seen and something that would really need reworking to be more detailed or descriptive instead of having it just disappear like it did. Considering Shangrila closed down in 2012 (apparently) I feel like that should give some good ideas about how this game did in the first place though, and there would be no hopes of getting a remake of this title which I have pretty much the same opinions as Seiken Tsukai no Proposition
Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 1/10
Protagonist Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 6/10
Furuiro Meikyuu Rondo [Dropped]
Another backlog title I’ve had for a while, I’m not sure why I had this title backlogged at all.
Generally speaking, this game wasn’t terribly bad that I wanted to drop it. That “1 week before you die” scenario is interesting and characters aren’t terribly designed. It’s just that the gameplay is so mind-destroyingly awful that I got REALLY frustrated at this game.
Basically, you are given various keywords while reading the story, but you have to pay attention to the “Fate Gauge” of all the characters PLUS be on the lookout for the timing to use said keywords on a specific dialogue so characters don’t just fucking die from a depleted Fate Gauge (and that makes total fucking sense. And it’s not like the game shows how they die either). The problem is that you have like 100 different keywords and some of the scenes don’t make sense the first time around PLUS some actions require multiple keywords which was just the purest form of cancer considering the game keeps sending you back to the beginning of the episode if you happen to get the same results.
Don’t forget that the Fate Gauge status carries over to the next episodes so if you fuck up in one episodes, you essentially have to start over. Oh Yukito died? TIME TO FUCKING START FROM THE VERY BEGINNING YOU SHITHEAD, and NO! there are no fucking savepoints because if you fuck up it autosaves over the original save. This is truly one of the worst design that you can reach in a Visual Novel or any game for that matter. It’s not fun, it’s not intuitive, and it’s surely not immersive.
I can definitely say this game has a good concept with its story, but god did its gameplay ruin the entire game. Think of “Really? Really!” by Navel but instead you have x50 more keywords you have to juggle PLUS there being lifebars that drain even if you use the right one.
I’ve only barely touched the story and while I will admit it’s “okay”, I’m not staying to find out if it’s good or turns out bad. If at all I won’t hesitate to bash this game for this god-awful gimmick they use as an excuse for an interactive feature
Also the art is terrible. Definitely something which bothered me when I’m pretty lenient on artstyle critique
Character Design Rating: 6/10
Story Rating: 7/10
Protagonist Rating: 6/10
Gameplay Gimmick: -5
Overall Rating: 1/10
What I would probably consider the better of ensemble’s games, this is where I first heard CVs like Kiritani Hana (which is pretty strange considering she’s mega-popular).
ensemble’s tendency to include ojousama heroines is still present so that’s a big turnoff, it’s at least a saving grace that a trap protagonist didn’t complete ensemble’s stereotypical and generic product plus a large focus on the game was on the economic aspects.
Generally speaking, the game’s not terribly bad. It can become annoying in certain parts but in others you have dynamic characters who grow substantially and change. There are plot twists which also make certain routes hilariously funny which can definitely incite a dry laughter here and there too, so there’s at least some value in that.
The negatives are pretty fucking obvious; the economic aspect has too much focus to the point the game fails to sell the characters, with the exception of maybe Nanami and even then that’s up for debate. It’s not to say said economic aspect is perfect either; it’s just too freaking convenient with Japan being involved in this deflation (economic depression) and it HAS to be the wealthy nobles that need to be sacrificed which is the main “propelling” of the story but we know this is obviously not the thing that happens in real life; it’s the poorer who gets even poorer while the richer get richer.
The game’s division into two “arcs” were fine, except one arc just throws everything else out the window to focus on idols instead and that wasn’t a good transition PLUS the heroines involved in that arc only having minor gimmicks in their route instead of having something more immersive.
The canon arc which has Nanami, Hana, and Shiaya also diverges with Shiaya having a really weird route while Nanami and Hana’s routes dive deeper into the characters’ past… which is frankly quite touching and the general design of character relationships is well foreshadowed. It’s just that like the economic aspect of the game it feels extremely unrealistic and some things like Tsurumi’s betrayal that caused Hajime to hate her originally had some really poor basis and the game just shoves it all down as “it was all a big misunderstanding”.
The overall design of “Ojousama” is really the thing that doesn’t let this game shine above everything else and if at all it should’ve been something like Akatsuki no Goei where Hajime is originally not the butler for Nanami. I guess it’s better than shit like Golden Marriage where the game uses the most pitiful excuses to hook up characters or create conflicts, and god let’s not talk about other ensemble games which has just been a shallow charage for years now.
Play Damamuko. Characters are super pathetic but at least that’s more bearable than most of ensemble’s shit charage
I also think it’s hilarious how a popularity contest was held and Tsurumi (who is the antagonist and a subcharacter) overwhelmed the votes for all the other heroines while Otoha had less votes than even the maid that Shiaya is always with
Character Design Rating: 4/10
Story Rating: 7/10
Protagonist Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 6/10
Natural Vacation [Dropped]
Well this title really caught me by surprise. Generally I’m fine with hibiki works titles (except Pretty Cation series. God those were the worst excuse for a dating sim game), but generally have the opinion that even games I thought were good like Lovely Cation 2 is just plain and simple boring. Sure the reality setting might be nice and might hit it for some people but there’s literally NOTHING to make the game exciting and this is something prevalent in Natural Vacation as well and the main target of my critique.
Natural Vacation seems very similar to Lovely Cation 2 in many ways; including the subcharacters being more of a background support for the scenario, the setting being rather plain with the protagonist nothing too special since he’s supposed to be this self-insert. The “Lovely Call” system is present which I’m honestly less enthusiastic about because it’s just a really pathetic and artificial attempt to create “immersion” for those otaku with low self-esteem (and even if you set up the Lovely Call the heroines don’t actually call you by this name until in their route because screw you)
The fact that there was only two heroines worked against the game considering more heroines in other hibiki works titles allowed for more varying interactions and more topics to be discussed with the target heroine and the protagonist. It was very much needed considering as stated before the protagonist contributes NOTHING to the overall scenario by being self-insert and the heroines almost becoming forced to become this cardboard printout of personality and traits. How there was absolutely no love triangle and little resistance to adding a 3rd member to these two girls (who was supposedly stated to be inseparable and great friends) was something that was most certainly not “natural” despite the game trying to cheese it as “That’s how it works around here”.
Definitely appreciate the E-mote since it seems very refined and smooth, it’s just that this visual enhancement was apparently an excuse to include less event CGs (non HCGs) in the entire game which just screams laziness on top of everything I discussed.
I actually received this title suggestion similar to Maho Roba, with the Akabeisoft Radio since Hanazawa Sakura is one of the hosts for the show. The fact that the writer for Kurikaesu, Inochi no Spare, and Haru to Yuki was also in charge for writing the main story of this game was almost an insult considering it’s not like the game’s bad–the characters were so poorly designed that the writer had to avoid 20,000 “landmines of contradictions” all while trying to write a good story… and it shows too, often including fillers in scenarios where it’s not warranted (though this could potentially just be bad writing)
As it stands, Natural Vacation will only have value as a shallow “charage”. I suppose if you enjoy hibiki works in general then I guess you could enjoy this game, but god if hibiki works is going to get any positive light from me in the future they need to ditch the self-insert protagonist and actually create realistic conflicts (not just settings) between protagonist and heroines so it’s actually worth reading for 10-20 hours.
Character Design Rating: 4/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Protagonist Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating: 4/10
Damekoi Happiness Emotion [Finished]
When this was announced I was pretty excited. I literally said I’d kill for a remake of this version so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to see my #1 top game being given a remake, and I just really kept it in my backlog until I just needed that “good game” to lift me up from the string of bad ones.
Overall though, I was actually quite disappointed–not because the story is bad or anything; oh no, but because said “remake” didn’t really feel like one. The game uses the Emote system for characters with sprites and H-scenes but even then it’s extremely choppy and often not utilized to the fullest extent (basically most of the times the sprites were static and the “movement” happened scarcely) while normal CGs lack it entirely. (Compare the E-mote in this game to the E-mote in Natural Vacation; it’s MUCH more fluid in the latter)
The entire fucking game was literally copy-pasted with 0 new scenario, no change in artwork, and voice lines the exact same from the previous game. There was no “remake” about this game except maybe a better resolution option (and even then it’s limited to a 4:3 ratio and not a 16:9), and the ability to continue voice lines and maybe some command options. In the end, this game will play pretty much the same way as the old one and as someone who wanted at least a bit more than this yeah I really need to criticize Hermit for potentially trying to mooch off this title with the least amount of effort possible.
Story-wise this game works. It can definitely cause some players who want a fast development to feel stressed because most of the conflict is caused by the characters being cowards, but it’s supposed to be set in the realistic setting and the relationships between everyone seem very much real and give that sense of “this kind of scenario can actually be present in real life”. Dynamic characters along with lots of foreshadows, symbolism, and plot twists make this game fun to read
for the 5th time for me, and even if the design of characters isn’t really your cup of tea it’s an objective fact that this game is good–at least superior to the charage we’ve been having for the past few months. So I really recommend playing it especially if you want a story-heavy game.
Character Design Rating: 10/10
Story Rating: 10/10
Protagonist Rating: 10/10
Overall Rating: 10/10
I’ll definitely be taking another break from VNs just to get that time of rest and relax before I resume my hobby again. This might mean the next post might happen in March or April, so I want to use this post to wish everyone a great 2019.
I’ll see you soon!