Subarashiki Hibi Review

yande.re 147233 sample (1)To say that university life and life in general has made vn reviews a lot priority of mine is something of an understatement, but what is also true is that it’s been a long, long time since any vn really stirred up something inside me without leaving me feeling empty at the end. Looking back on the past year, I certainly enjoyed Baldr sky and Sou Akki Muramasa, but there has just been something missing. Even stories from studios that I really liked, such as Forest and Irotoridori no Sekai, didn’t make things better (as a side note I thought both games were a little disappointing, mainly due to the very high hopes I had for them). Whatever was missing made me kind of sigh and uninstall after I reached the final ending, rather than write up ridiculously long reviews that I used to do. At one point, I came to the conclusion that for a bit over a year, I was using this blog to use up my free time to fill up some kind of hole in my heart, if you’ll pardon this horrendously clichéd expression. And so, as I grew older, there was less of an urge, less of a need to write my shallow teenaged view on life (not that growing physically older necessitated me to leave a teenaged view behind, I’m still quite attached to it).

However.

Holy flying buckets of cheese I really love Subarashiki Hibi.

When I first heard the announcement of this vn, I wasn’t particularly impressed. The biggest impression I had of Sca-ji was getting his artbook and reading H2O -footprints in the sand-, neither of which are all that good. Yuri isn’t something that’s very interesting to me. The art looked pretty good, but the coloring that comes from KeroQ and its related companies always looked kind of blank and cold in my eyes. After the game’s release, I took a look at the CG pack, and some of the h-CGs were… well… really disturbing. The one bestiality scene alone hardened my resolve to never go near this game with a 10ft pole. Then, all these positive, raving reviews came in, and my curiosity was piqued. What on earth is making all of these people say such good things?  This is a seriously long-ass intro, but please read on to find out.

Premise:

Subarashiki Hibi is a story about a small group of people, and their lives as they progress through the first 3 weeks of July, 2012. The story is told through multiple perspectives, and finishing each chunk of the perspectives unlocks the next part.

The beginning of the story is told from the perspectives of Minakami Yuki, a tomboy with a bad memory and a habit of skipping classes, much to the chagrin of her childhood friends, Kagami and Tsukasa (if this sounds somewhat familiar, just bear with it and don’t focus too much). One day, she meets a mysterious girl named Takashima Zakuro, who seems oddly familiar with her. Through some plot twist straight out of an eroge (wait what), all four girls end up living together, and so they lived on in their fun, lovely and misunderstanding filled lives. But there is something missing. There are bits and pieces of the story which seems to be hinting at something more, something ominous. And should Yuki choose to pursue the truth, she will wake up near the end of the chapter, then go to school only to hear that Zakuro has committed suicide. This event propels her to search for the truth of what happened, racing before the prophesied end of the world on July 20th, a little over a week after Zakuro’s death.

Continue reading

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So… I just finished Baldr Sky

And there are SO many things I can say about this series. The music is fantastic, the plot is intricate (not to mention addictive and long as hell), the world view is vast, the characters are likeable, the older characters are VERY likeable, the art is hit or miss but somehow turned more loli-ish as it went on…….. But I can’t go into details.

Why? Because there are battles in this game, and they have tired me out so much that I can’t move my fingers long enough to write a full post anymore.

There are so many battles in the last route. And they make you go through the last route twice JUST to unlock the 2 minute epilogue. And there are SO. MANY. BATTLES. The battles, while fun at the beginning, has traumatized me. At some point when I was fighting off a 40 strong swarm of little green robot things I realized that people who play these sort of games are insane and that after I just get through the battles I am never touching this game ever again.

tl;dr: the visual novel aspects of this game are fantastic. I hate any kind of game with fighting and I still made it through. If you don’t hate fighting and have around 80 hours to spare then for Noi’s sake PLAY THIS GAME.

Natsuzora Kanata review

If I had to name a few games that really piqued my interests in Visual Novels early on, Natsuzora Kanata would definitely be near the top of the list (alongside Toheart 2 and Aster). The moment I saw the promo art I went “WHOAAAAAA I GOTTA SEE MOAR OF THIS”. Serendipitously, a Chinese patch got released JUST as I made myself promise to not open Baldr Sky until my exams are over. So of course, I set out to play it immediately. Overall, I’d say that this is a pretty good game, as far as these types of heroine-centered games go, and at the very least I like it more than Tenshin Ranman (I played Sana’s route, got bored, skipped around a bit, got to the ending, and then deleted the game. Sana’s fans can try to murder me now).  Continue reading

Rewrite mini review

It took me forever to finish Rewrite.

On that, I can blame a couple of things: the sheer length of this thing, unlikeable characters, the lack of communication between the writers leading to inconsistencies all across the story, etc etc, but I’d say that the main reason is that this doesn’t feel like a Key game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it throws you off when something is so different from what you expected. No matter what had happened, all of Key’s previous works fit inside a certain social frame. They didn’t touch upon religion, have high body counts, or have multiple, jarring, changes of setting. The story that Rewrite tries to tell is grand and complex, but the integration is rather badly done and at the end of it I’m really wondering about the point of most of it. If 3/4 of the stories were chopped out and the writers were more organized I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more. Then again, I’ve never really liked VNs that start out in the school setting then shift to another setting half way through (as much as I loved Clannad I had problems with the After Story), so feel free to take what I just said with a grain of salt.

Other things that made Rewrite different from what I expected was the sheer bleakness of the story. Key is known for their tear jerking stories, but other than Kotori’s path, the story mostly just felt depressing. Well, any story that delves into the  morality of human existence is bound to be depressing, but the lack of closure involving the heroine paths really made my wish for something a little happier, even if it was a bit of a cop out.

Production wise there is very little to be picky about. The amount of images that look “off” has decreased from Little Busters, and the coloring team did a fantastic job. The soundtrack is extensive, the effects sleek, and people who have played Key’s games before will appreciate the large number of save slots and their signature reverse to the last option function. One thing of note is the mappie system, which is used for the user to explore the terrain. It really eats up a lot of time if you’re going for completion, and while there is a function which gets rid of most of the hassle, I really wish it could be turned off entirely.

In the end, I don’t really know what to think of Rewrite. Its world is certainly interesting, and various open plot threads invite the readers to draw their own conclusions. I can’t say that I hated it, but I’d certainly hesitate to recommend it to others.

 

Aster review

Technically, summer vacation has started for me. So, unless my summer courses kill me or something, I should be able to post on a more regular basis, maybe even… *gasp, blog anime….

Aster is the latest game released by Rusk, a company which, since then, seems to have disappeared off the radar. Which is rather unfortunate, since Aster isn’t bad at all.

Premise (stolen from VNDB, as always):

Aster tells the story of four young men, which lives are connected by one incident.

It all begins with Hiro Sakaki. He is a high school student, and enjoys his life with his old friends, Saki and Saya, twin sisters.
Under the summer sun, their relationships change little by little… “There is no miracle but hope…”. Continue reading

I thought that my fears had been averted


When I saw the new uniforms for DCIII, as it had seemed like they ditched their old idea of jeweled broaches, and just stuck with the DCII design. 

I also like how they traded the yellow Jacket for a white one, since keeping the yellow jacket would have looked off, what with Ricca having yellow hair and all. 

But it seems like I had spoken too soon. It seems like the uniforms will be traded for a rather unflattering blazer with that horrible, horrible broach again…. Why, circus, WHY? Why would you ever want to ditch the sailor uniform?

And also, I KNOW that it’s for recognition’s sake, but why on earth is Yuzu still wearing that bow? What kind of grown woman wears hair accessories that she’s had since she was six?

Sigh………… At least it’s nice to know what happened to Sakura. The opening is pretty~ And I’m glad to see that unlike the trial, the characters actually have more than one pose. Phew.

Shikkoku no Sharnoth review

If inganock is about sin and redemption, then Sharnoth is about defiance and hope. In a world people continuously utter that they have given up, where the terror and despair are augmented by fantastic creatures crying blood, one girl was given a choice on whether or not to lose hope. Welcome to London, where the endless soot eternally blocks out the sun…

Premise:

It’s 1905 in a steam punk version of London. Engine technology have progressed rapidly (there are hints that Inganock technology have helped), so much so that while generations of people have been born who have never seen the blue sky or true sunlight. Mary Clarissa Christie is a history student at a prestigious college, and she thought that she would live a normal life, until her best friend, Charlotte Bronte, falls into a coma under mysterious circumstances. Eager to do anything, anything at all to make her friend wake up, Mary enters into a contract with a mysterious man, M. And so the girl runs through the dark city, slowly unravelling the mystery and her role behind it all.

Story:

This story is split into five two-part chapters, and each chapter mainly focuses on the circumstances of a few characters who have affected each other deeply.Let it be fortunately or unfortunately, half of these characters disappear from the story right after, are are then either only mentioned in passing or not mentioned at all. The story structure is further divided into certain sections, such as the scene of the engine corridor and the masked man, which repeat themselves every chapter.

Now, the main thing to understand is that this story is to be read for the characters. There isn’t much in terms of character development, per say, but rather large amounts of the narrative is devoted into revealing the motivations behind the characters, most of which are surprisingly similar to each other, despite the hugely varying methods used by the characters to achieve their own ends. The way that the characters, societies, and metaphysical concepts interact with each other are very complex, and even to the end most plot threads are never resolved (such as Mycroft, Mary’s mother, or what exactly is the golden eye and where it came from). That said, there is a very liberal dose of literary references, and most of the character’s motivations can be inferred from what’s given.

I was actually quite surprised at the similarities between Inganock and Sharnoth, not just in the mood and tone, but also plot points. A mysterious young girl, a king in a castle, a person who states that they’re artificial, a character going through severe mental trauma in a shower, a crazy-looking masked man who appears at the edge of the protagonist’s vision, etc etc. Some lines can also be drawn to Utena, and even Evangelion and chaos;head, especially concerning the sword of thorns. I won’t go into detail concerning some of the other parallels for spoiler reasons though.

One odd note is that I’m not sure if this is actually an eroge. I mean, arguments can definitely be made that it IS, but honestly speaking there isn’t an actual h-scene to be found anywhere.

Overall, I wish that there was more of a resolution (that epilogue certainly does not help), but it is an enjoyable read for what it’s worth.

Art:

I love love love love love it~

In typical liarsoft fashion, the character sprites appear on the right hand side of the screen, although sometimes a stoic pose appears of the left. The backgrounds have definitely improved since Inganock, and Akira’s art is just awesomesauce. Some of the character designs can be… a little strange, and I will never understand how Viola Baskerville manages to keep her hair the way it is, but overall it’s really pleasant, especially if you have been looking at moeges for too long.

Sound:

Liar-soft… WHY U NO FULLY VOICE YOUR GAMES?! Another fully voiced version was recently released, but the English patch doesn’t work with that one… Sigh…

The game’s music is rather nice, although they tend to play the same few tracks over and over again. The voices, while being mostly absent, is fantastic when it’s there. They also voice a few monologues, which is something that I absolutely love.

System:

Really, really basic. There isn’t a lot of stuff you can do to affect the settings, although it’s not like you really need any. The main thing that bothered me was the minigame though. They cut it out of the fully voiced version, and to be honest I don’t think that they should have been there in the first place. They can be somewhat challenging, but not in the right way, and so end up feeling like a complete waste of time. Eventually, I was annoyed enough to get a save file to skip them (you can skip the minigame after you have completed the game once). I recommend that others do the same if they don’t like tedious minigames.

Story:7/10

Art: 10/10

Music: 7/10

Programming: 7/10

Gut feelings: 7/10

It’s a good story, and one that seems to get better on hindsight, but the ending is rather unsatisfying and I think that it could have been better if the story was rearranged a bit. If you’re going to read it though, I highly recommend also looking at this list of terms/jargon (which really hammers home the difficulty that the translators must have had).