A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

Posts tagged ‘summer’

Icha-icha at a Beachside Cafe: Review of [110225]Lover Able

Foreword: Another game by SMEE, that caught my attention with the great experience I had with Fureraba. Lover Able is a title that has similar elements as Fureraba, but was ultimately inferior for missing some very crucial elements. Despite this, I also have compliments for this game, which had a relatively higher character affection, and quite importantly, more of what I call “drama” that is missing in Fureraba.

With games being finished gradually, I hope to move onto the older games, but please keep in mind there’s a new wave of releases in 7 days, which I suspect will swamp me again. On the bright side, my summer classes are almost over…

Obviously, this is from its sequel, “Dousei” LoverAble.

Title: ラブラブル (Lover Able)
Producers: SMEE
Release Date: February 25, 2011
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v5734
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=708075
Game Type: Pure-Love Comedy Dating Simulation

Summary: Haruki and his sister Kaho are liberated from their parents as they move to an apartment of their own after they finally became tired of them moving around so much. In return for being taken care of by their Uncle (…which he doesn’t really do, nor is seemingly capable of doing), they work at his store, called Frutia. Meeting staff like Nanako and Tsugumi, the siblings will also attend school, and meet more friends as well.

Story Length: Moderate (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Very Easy
Comments: Considerably easier than Fureraba, the main split doesn’t occur until Haruki comes out of his apartment due to being unable to sleep. After that, it dives right into the heroine’s route.

A scene where previously, Kaho would actively feed Haruki with the parfait, but this time around, as lovers, Kaho feels embarrassed to perform such an act. (Aka, omg so cute <333)

Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 6/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: Considerably inferior ratings make this game a worse one than Fureraba. While it’s true that this game is a predecessor, it does have  a fandisk; which got my hopes up for it. The “common route” which I think is the main dish of any game, was relatively poorly designed, and was too short with very little story elements. The mere fact that each character “falls in love” so quickly for the smallest things was rather annoying as it was repeated 5 times.

Despite this, I can’t say too many bad things about each route, because unlike Fureraba, each route had a small, but definite conflict that the two characters solve together. In addition, the other heroines don’t really “poof” like they do in Fureraba, which was also another bonus.

One BAD thing, I saw, was that there was a constant theme of “jealousy” for each heroine, where Haruki may seem close with another girl, and the heroine exhibits dissatisfaction. I feel like this element could’ve been utilized to create more drama, but SMEE just ignored all of it, and kept this as a comical element.

Character Summary: Right onto the summaries! As with Fureraba, there’s really nothing much to say about the characters themselves, but let’s take a crack at this! *rolls up sleeves*

Let’s start with Chinatsu. This girl, that Haruki randomly meets one day, is trying to retrieve the straw hat that got caught up in a tree when kids were throwing it around (why would you do that? O_O).

Despite getting the hat successfully, Chinatsu falls in the process, and Haruki does his little protagonist-like things and saves her. Thanking him, Chinatsu leaves when someone calls her, but the two meet again in the same class; apparently, she’s a transfer student too! Perhaps because of the fact that they’re both transfer students, the two become friends from the very first day.

Nonetheless, as Haruki is forced the role of recruiting new staff members for Frutia, Chinatsu is one of the first people he consults about this problem. While she is rather poor in her cooking skills, Chinatsu is very diligent and is the moodmaker for any kind of situations. However, this kind of personality also makes this character not stand out much…

Chinatsu has a younger sister who is completely different from her in terms of personality, but still loves dearly. This younger sister, Mifuyu, also soon becomes one of the staff members at Frutia, and close to Haruki after a certain event when Haruki helps the sisters by using a “technique” called “Silver Plate Beam”. (LOL)

Chinatsu is a very lonely character; because of her environment similar to Haruki’s, she also has very few friends, let alone someone who she loves dearly. At the end of her route, Haruki confronts her father and makes his desperate attempt to keep Chinatsu in this town.

Kaho is Haruki’s biological younger sister, and is arguably my favorite character.

Many of the scenes involve her being aggressively approaching her brother in a sexual manner, but the reader can also see that this is a regular joke of hers. It is also hinted in other routes that she also has experience with “eroge”, since she has a friend who continuously sends her some, which explains her desensitization towards such taboo topics.

Despite being my favorite character, Kaho’s route was also arguably the crappiest. There WAS the taboo of siblings in such a relationship, but most of the time, it was thrown over the shoulder with a joke (when a store keeper inquires them about this, Haruki suggests that his own son/daughter may be in such a relationship as well). However, this doesn’t really last long, and the siblings are faced with two subcharacters; the swimming club ace and manager. The manager is in love with the ace, but the ace only has his eyes on Kaho. This kind of relationship ends up with each side insulting each other, and finally a contest to see “who is better”.

Naturally, Kaho wins the beauty contest, but now, Haruki wants to win the triathlon that’s being held, because it would be the winner of the beauty contest who would hand the trophy and even a kiss to the champion of the triathlon.

What I really appreciate about Kaho’s route, is that she speaks my very thought about “love, romance, and relationships” in general.  As she stands at the stage, she asks for the meaning of a “good woman”, and says the following:

What defines a “good woman”? I don’t think being physically attractive is the only quality of a good woman. I believe a woman is made beautiful by a man who loves her unconditionally, to tell her that she doesn’t need to force herself to do anything…

Man, I SOOO agree with you on there, Kaho.

Tsugumi is next. Despite Kaho being the youngest, Tsugumi seems to be the one to fill in the “loli” role of the game. A year younger than Haruki, their first encounter was when she handed Haruki a flyer inviting the students to a volunteer program to clean up the beach. It wouldn’t be long until Haruki would realize that this underclassman would become his “senpai” in the workplace.

Tsugumi has a case of androphobia, which isn’t the correct term, because it is her past trauma that delivered this status. While it is revealed in her route, most of Tsugumi’s attitude males comes from her uncertainty and inability to trust them. While being diligent in the workplace, Tsugumi is rather reluctant to become the trainer for Haruki, but soon accept him anyway. In return, Haruki often refers to Tsugumi as “sensei”.

Tsugumi’s attitude towards Haruki changes drastically during that same event that she invited him to; the volunteer event involving the cleaning of the beach. After their work is done, some of the girls rent a float to play in the waters, but due to a prank, Tsugumi ends up falling into the water. Being unable to swim, Haruki immediately runs out and rescues her. From then, Tsugumi acts slightly closer to Haruki, and is often implied that she has feelings for the protagonist even in the other routes.

Tsugumi’s route is one of those that I could definitely consider to have “great potential for a story”. The two exchange addresses, and it’s not for long until Tsugumi accidentally sends a text that explicitly states her feelings for “a certain senpai” to her friend, Nao, who she was trying to consult. After Haruki receives such a text, he acts awkwardly towards this underclassman until she admits to him that the text was referring to a different “senpai”. She then asks him to “practice” with her, because she is afraid that she’ll be rejected immediately if she doesn’t.

With mixed feelings, Haruki agrees to act as the lover for Tsugumi. According to the manager, the senpai that Tsugumi has feelings for is rather popular, and Haruki wouldn’t be able to win against him…

In reality, the “other senpai” does not exist, and is actually Tsugumi and the manager’s lie. This was because the manager suggested this make-up story to see how Haruki would react, and as the manager predicted, this ended up stimulating the relationship between them.

However, I ideally want to see more than this. I had my hopes up that Haruki would help Tsugumi with this “practice”, but have someone confess to him instead, of which Tsugumi sees herself. This would create an extremely dramatic love triangle, where Tsugumi’s “lie” to learn Haruki’s true feelings work 180 degrees against her.

Say hi to Satsuki. As soon as Haruki transferred, Satsuki was one of the first ones to greet him, mainly because they were in neighboring seats. Without a textbook on the first day, the two became close after they drew small sketches in the textbook that Satsuki offers to share, and as Haruki is placed in the recruitment position, Satsuki is one of the girls he invites to work at the cafe.

Quiet and reserved, this girl is unlike the other girls in the sense she loves chocolate chip mint ice cream, and has a pig named “tonkatsu” (pork cutlet). It’s absolutely hilarious to see that tonkatsu is biologically a female, and the term “mesu-buta” (female pig) is used as a double entendre, since this animal seems to be a hardcore masochist.

Nonetheless, Satsuki’s route is very short, and its only drama arises from the fact that Satsuki’s phone is destroyed after a car runs over it. It’s the first phone that Satsuki has ever gotten, (and also shared a lot of texts with Haruki), and the reason why Satsuki is sad is not because of the phone, but because the texts and pictures she took with Haruki could not be recovered. With the little help from Satsuki’s mother, Haruki realizes that what Satsuki really wanted was the two-shot that they took when she first got the phone, and agrees to send the exact picture to her.

Last is Nanako! Beautiful and kind, this character is pretty much the second-in-command of the entire restaurant, because of her diligence and ability to make quick decisions. As a running-gag, she stuffs the manager’s nose with all sorts of spicy things (including wasabi O_O) when he’s fooling around and not working.

Nanako is very stern to both Kaho and Haruki when they start working, but do her best to help them get used to the environment, and cover up for their mistakes without hesitation. From a first glance, Nanako is a very reliable character.

However, it is implied that Nanako is past the age of marriage, but is still weak with anything sexual; it is a habit of hers to run away screaming when someone brings up such a topic, and this trait is equivalent to her reaction when a cockroach appears in her apartment.

Nanako’s route involves her extremely popular background, where her family was trying to set up an arranged marriage for her. Leaving the house because she did not want to marry the opponent, Nanako admits that she also has a dream. It is not until later that Haruki learns that her dream was to create a restaurant similar to Frutia.

However, her parents are not so pleased with this idea, and as if to rub salt on the wound, even her arranged partner tries to talk Nanako out of her own dream. Haruki finally snaps and yells at them,

…If you love her even one bit, don’t tell her to give up on her dream. Have you, for once, told her to “do your best”?!

Her route ends with the couple successfully building their own restaurant.

Bishoujo in swimsuits *nosebleed*

Sexual Content: Moderate

Comments: An inferior game to Fureraba, but still a good game nonetheless. There’s more drama than its successor, but I would’ve honestly wanted to see more plot for Satsuki and for the common story. As with Fureraba, there is character customization to a certain extent, (note that the fandisk offers even more customization) but I found the Original Artwork to be better for Fureraba than Lover Able.

With two great games behind me, I’m going to be looking forward to the future SMEE games. It’s not the absolute best games, but it’s very superior compared to other games in terms of character design, affection for the characters, and addictiveness.

A comical scene, where Chinatsu insists that she won’t be bothered of Mifuyu and Haruki went on a date, but follows them anyway. The signpost reads “jealousy”, which is very corresponding to the emotion she probably feels right now.

Affection for the Characters: Moderate

CG Quality: Low
Music Quality: Good

Addictiveness: Low

Conclusion: A “lower-quality” version of Fureraba would be what I would call it. Despite this, I strongly encourage readers to not give up on this title, because it’s also filled to the brim with high-quality comedy, and while not as much, character affection.

Review of [090925]Natsu no Ame

Foreword: Wow. All I can say. This game was flat out perfect. Great story, character design, scenario was unpredictable and exciting, and throughout the game, I continuously forgot to finish Sakura Strasse, that I vowed to finish before completing this game. Before I get onto the review, let me take the time to STRONGLY RECOMMEND this game to you, dear readers. I will explain myself below.

Additionally, this game, for being approximately moderate in length, was finished in merely 4 days: my personal record for finishing games. While the fact that I was on Winter Vacation played a slight role in this record, it still does not subtract from the fact that the storyline is ABSOLUTELY ADDICTING!!

Title: 夏ノ雨 (Natsu no Ame, lit trans. Rain of Summer)
Producers: Cube
Release Date: September 25th, 2009
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v1898
Game Type: Novel

Summary: Sousuke reminiscences back to his childhood, when he fell in love with a girl: a love at first sight. As a young child, he had teased the poor girl into crying, and became sad as he did so. While he laughs at how dumb he was, he sees a beautiful girl coming towards him. However, before they can even greet each other, Sousuke sees a motorcycle about to crash into the girl, and saves the girl from being hit. As a sacrifice, the girl’s cellphone is dropped into the river, and through some trouble, Sousuke and the girl ends up soaking wet.

Nonetheless, he escorts the girl to her destination, and returns home, thinking about how pretty the girl was. However, he will be surprised to find out that the girl he was daydreaming about was at his house! According to his mother, she was his half-sister that was to live in the same house from now on.

Sousuke manages to drop a pretty girl into the river just as he meets her… Not bad!

Story Length: Moderate (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderately easy
Comments: Even as I played the game, I felt raging at Rikako. However, neglecting her throws you into a bad end. The real split comes at the night BBQ, so make sure to save there and properly choose the heroines to capture.

Rikako, Sousuke’s half-older sister. I’ll leave it to your imagination to why she’s crying.

Character Design Rating: 9/10
Story Rating: 11/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 10/10
Rating Comments: WOWZORS!! This was a really nice game. I had it saved for about a year now, and I’m so mad I haven’t gotten to playing it until now. Starting with character design, it is simply perfect. I had thought of an idealized character design for a story. You could tell I was delightfully surprised when I found this game; exactly what I had in mind of the “perfect” game. In addition, you’ll realize that EVERY CHARACTER has a role in one way or another, despite the fact that subcharacters are not given too much role in other games. In this sense, the subcharcters felt as if they were main characters as well. Additionally, there are also many dynamic characters that will leave you smiling pleasantly as you finish the game, and genuinely leave a warm feeling in your heart.

As for story, I cannot say anything more. Connecting plotline and flashbacks (even across different routes too!!), solid theme, intimate character interaction, and combined with the character design in general, the story was pulling out so many emotions from me. I was literally laughing in the comical scenes, and crying in the tragic scenes. Dear Readers, THIS, I tell you, is the pinnacle of any form of game: To Drag out the Emotions from the Player.

Do note that this game, in general, is more on the serious side than comedy. If you want laughs, this is not the game for you. If you want a heartwarming story with a great plotline and design, you will love this game.

Wait, who’s this?! O_O;; (Make sure you get to her route too!)

Sexual Content: Moderately Low

Comments: Despite all the compliments I have for this game, the game does have its bad points as well; it starts extremely slow. I believe this is why there are not many plays: the reader simply gets bored with the story before it gets any good. However, I ask all my readers to have an open mind and heart as you play this game, and sooner or later, it will captivate your very soul.

Another factor that was actually a double-edged sword (It was both good and bad), was the sexual content. If you look slightly below, you’ll find that the affection created for the characters are extremely high, meaning you won’t be skipping through the H-scenes like I do for most games. However, the H-scenes were unnecessary. H-scenes in general, should be utilized as a “proof to the reader” that the characters are feeling genuine affection towards the protagonist. However, some (Not all) H-scenes were poorly plastered on the end of the route, much to my discontent. Even with this complaint, I still give the story rating a 10/10 because each story has a very nice and satisfying conclusion.

Dear Readers, how many games have you experienced, that has this kind of plotline?

Characters Meet -> Events -> Split -> Characters Fall in Love -> CRISIS -> Resolution (Climax) -> Conclusion

Oh the cliche plotline; don’t you think? Instead, Natsu no Ame seems to follow this pattern:

Characters Meet -> Events -> CRISIS -> Resolution -> Split -> Events -> Characters Fall in Love -> CRISIS -> Resolution -> Events -> CRISIS -> Resolution (Climax) -> Conclusion.

As you can probably see, EVEN THE PLOTLINE IS OF HIGHER QUALITY THAN OTHER GAMES, due to the sheer number of elements that this game contains. Again generally speaking, “CRISIS -> Resolution” can be considered the main story of the game, and this game has three places where that happens. Meaning that there was much thought and effort put into this game.

Affection for the Characters: Extremely High

Whoa, Midori! Two people riding on a bicycle is dangerous!

CG Quality: Beautiful. Don’t be fooled by the sprites; the CG is actually very well drawn and detailed, despite being a game from 2009. Let the screenshots help you decide.
Music Quality: Stunningly Amazing. I’m not sure about you, dear reader, but I’m an absolute fan of string music. Even if you don’t like string music, you’ll find that the synthetic beats and tunes in this game is completely appropriate for where it is used in the story, and even contains a “fantasy” theme that is completely unrelated! Despite this difference, it will not be belittled, as it becomes complimentary to the “fantastic” plotline!

Addictiveness: High

I actually had this wallpaper for a while, but it was after I started playing this game that I realized this was Midori.

Conclusion: Great game that I highly recommend even to non-Japanese players, as each difficult kanji is presented with how to read it right above it. While this got in the way of hooking, it’s a simple enough game that everyone should try.

Character Design and Story Rating are highly superior, and despite that the humor in this game will be inferior to other comedy games, it is similar to series by Key, in the sense that all the comedy stacks up and will be the reason why you’re crying in that one sad scene, or feeling satisfied by the conclusion.

As I enjoy the great soundtracks and beautiful CGs, I hope you can enjoy the following screenshots, and become encouraged to play the game itself.

*pfffttt* Rikako engaging in Customer Service?

Let’s not forget our cute and innocent senpai: Hinako! Here’s a small spoiler though; she becomes a succubus in her route. Haha.

I’m sure everyone has seen this screenshot from somewhere ^^

Review of [111125]Mashiro Summer (9/10)

Foreword: A game with lots of impact. The game proudly stands superior to its peers, mainly because of its well-designed characters and story. In a great sense, this game was very similar to the Visual Novel — Clannad. However, don’t expect Clannad’s static sprites or CG. You will find much more here.


Title: ましろサマー (Mashiro Summer, lit trans. Pure White Summer)
Producers: mana
Release Date: November 25th, 2011
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v7722
Game Type: Novel

Summary: 10 years ago, there was a time when snow fell during mid-summer. This event was in everyone’s minds, as it was so unreasonable. What could this event represent?

Keiji was abandoned by his parents, and was grown in the care of his grandfather on his mother’s side. In his grandfather’s house, he met his cousin, whose name was Chihiro, and they became like blood-related siblings. After their grandfather died, the two had to support each other.

Keiji, however, has good friends, including Masataka and Haruki. As he attends 2nd year of high school, he meets many other people as well. They are lead together by some force, but what could it be…?

As Keiji interacts with his friends and the people of the “Mystery Research Club”, he will find out the truth about the quiet, but gentle snow that covered the town on that summer day.

Story Length: Moderate (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Comments: I had to use a walkthrough for this, because I couldn’t waste anymore time after I met the bad end. The choices are actually pretty hard to recognize as well, so if you decide not to use walkthroughs, good luck!

Character Design Rating: 9/10
Story Rating: 9/10
Game Quality: Moderately High
Overall Rating: 9/10
Rating Comments: Stated above, you will be greeted with bursts of laughter from the first hour of playing this game. Each character has a trait that was very attractive in their own way. In addition to heartwarming but unpredictable plot, it will not be surprising to find readers genuinely feeling affection for certain characters.

Sexual Content: Low. This actually gave room to more practical CGs, which was a big plus.

Comments: Great story. A large portion of it, even as a romance story, was completely unpredictable. In addition to the countless laughter you’ll express with this story, the heartwarming stories and attractive characters will surely steal your mind. Even for the most flamboyant characters, you will find that at some point in time, they will play an extremely important role in the stories.

Affection for the Characters: High

CG Quality: Moderate. The artist has a unique drawing style that I couldn’t judge very well. I still have to say that the characters themselves are pretty cute ;)
Music Quality: Highly Superior. From the Opening, you can see the great design of the melody of the entire game itself, and throughout the game, the reader will find that many of the tracks are very calming.

Addictiveness: Moderate.

My Personal Thoughts (INCLUDES SMALL SPOILERS): 

Mashiro Summer was definitely a good story, but it was bad in the sense that it allowed me to realize some of the biggest flaws in Visual Novels, contradiction of character personality.

Characters in such entertainment is always idealized. This trait in Visual novels and anime is what makes the general Asian Entertainment much more appealing than others.

However, as I’ve stated, these ideal traits are often contradictory. In a simpler sense, it can be rephrased as such: “If the character has personality A, they cannot have personality B”.

This is represented best through the character “Aki”, whose problem consists mainly of the fact that she fears being hated by people, and aims to treat everyone equally. This is the additional reason why she breaks up with the main character in her route, making an excuse that she is “scared that his love might fluctuate”.

In psychology, this kind of scenario is completely impossible to obtain, as anyone who is “unsure about others’ emotions” like Aki, do not allow people to enter their “comfort zone” in the first place. As a conclusion, Aki should NOT have fallen in love with Keiji in the first place, because her personality would have prevented him from being too close with her.

However, there’s always the exception. The only exception that could probably work is if Aki was flamboyant with her feelings when she went out with him, and lost her feelings for Keiji later on in the story. The possibility of this scenario is eliminated by the statement that Aki still loves him (Of course, this can be argued, but in either sense, the scenario still applies).

How do I know this? This is mainly because my own personality is like Aki’s, and I know how my mind works.

This is my suggestion to readers that you should enjoy Visual Novels and Anime, but NEVER. I repeat myself, NEVER aim to make it a part of your daily life.

1) It’s impossible.
2) Such people would be considered “weeaboos” (it has a negative viewpoint)