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Thread: Visual Novel Cafe

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by pingtoryan View Post
    The process of turning into SMEE...will SMEE eventually turns into what Hooksoft used to be one day?

    ...something to look forward to...even though my call is for it to be more gimmick. And bring on the pubic hair, you don't see it often in this sorta media, it's supposedly to make sex feel more "real"...
    What does turning into SMEE mean? Skin-deep relationships? Endless torrent of jokes? Endless quick savings & loadings?

    As for the pubic hair issue, well, it's better than lousily drawn genitals or patches of mosaics so no complaints here.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by amaimono View Post
    What does turning into SMEE mean? Skin-deep relationships? Endless torrent of jokes? Endless quick savings & loadings?
    Yeah. IMO the last time Hooksoft games feels like...HOOK(soft), was Amenity's Life. I wasn't expecting manzai comedy routines for ISuki, and Houkago Cinderalla be like Kanojo Step in big town. IxSheTell is forgettable and E-School Life goes into world of two mode SMEE-style...IIRC, which is also the case with Houkago Cinderalla.

    Prior, Hooksoft games don't normally waste characters. They are usually given some roles throughout the story across every route and there is actualy common route story, bonding you with the cast as a whole...something like that.

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  4. #4223
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Well I happen to like (old) SMEE's style, with its large amount of jokes (hopefully not too focused on shimoneta), its good amount of non-trivial (not just choose a character) choices that keep you invested and not completely passive (side note : nothing is gained from aiming for perfection and save/load at every turn, in fact it misses out stuff by progressing too quickly), and I don't think their relationships are any shallower than other studios, Hooksoft first and foremost. So I welcome Hooksoft's transition into something more akin to (again, old) SMEE, since current SMEE is heading off in a different direction, even more so with the permanent departure of Hayase Yuu (or did he? seems he's credited for the Harem Kingdom fandisk still).

    Anyway, I don't feel games should strive to give each and every character a place in every route, I'm fine with a character getting a focus on their own route and not being too present in the others. Having other potential love interests show up often but 'forget' their all-too-obvious feelings the moment the protagonist's mind is made up on someone isn't that amazing either and between the two, I'll take the former any day.

    As for the pubic hair option, just like Hooksoft's clothed/naked sex before I really don't care either way, especially given the censoring. It's not going to change much for me but I suppose it's an argument for some kind of audience.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by kzel View Post
    ...I don't think their relationships are any shallower than other studios....
    I suppose it was unfair to blanket check SMEE's titles as featuring shallow relationships. Still, Harem Kingdom was really awful in regard to chemistries between the protagonist and the heroines (political marriage, forced friend to lover progress, etc.). The fan discs are supposedly there to fix that, but I'm not so sure. As for SMEE's jokes, I dunno, they're just too random? Otaku-ish?

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    I haven't played Harem Kingdom (being, you know, harem and all), but if I remember the pitch right : one of the selling points was being able to have sex with the heroines right from the start, so I would guess that implies some rushed relationship progress, especially for new acquaintances. Still, I'd say this lack of chemisty has been a problem that has been showing up in recent SMEE productions, Sugar*Style on top. The jokes may be hit-and-miss, and as the years passed the more focused on shimoneta they got, but the magic of SMEE games for me was the way they balanced the joking moments with the emotional ones. The protagonist is always a bit of a moron, but he redeems himself immensely when he has these rare but meaningful moments of brilliance (Fureraba especially Rina's route, Lover Able's Kaho, Pure x Connect's Moemi, Kanojo * Step's Kuon and of course Tomiko, and in Making * Lovers across the board). That's what was crucially missing from Sugar*Style for me, and I would have forgiven its other issues if it had at least that. I always figured it was thanks to Hayase Yuu's influence, but if he's in the main writing staff of Harem Kingdom and it's still bad in that regard then maybe he lost his touch, or maybe that's not what the studio wants to do anymore and may be one of many reasons why he wanted to leave and become independent.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by kzel View Post
    Well I happen to like (old) SMEE's style, with its large amount of jokes (hopefully not too focused on shimoneta), its good amount of non-trivial (not just choose a character) choices that keep you invested and not completely passive (side note : nothing is gained from aiming for perfection and save/load at every turn, in fact it misses out stuff by progressing too quickly), and I don't think their relationships are any shallower than other studios, Hooksoft first and foremost. So I welcome Hooksoft's transition into something more akin to (again, old) SMEE, since current SMEE is heading off in a different direction, even more so with the permanent departure of Hayase Yuu (or did he? seems he's credited for the Harem Kingdom fandisk still).

    Anyway, I don't feel games should strive to give each and every character a place in every route, I'm fine with a character getting a focus on their own route and not being too present in the others. Having other potential love interests show up often but 'forget' their all-too-obvious feelings the moment the protagonist's mind is made up on someone isn't that amazing either and between the two, I'll take the former any day.

    As for the pubic hair option, just like Hooksoft's clothed/naked sex before I really don't care either way, especially given the censoring. It's not going to change much for me but I suppose it's an argument for some kind of audience.
    A character distant enough to seldom to never re-appear is fine...A classmate simply ceasing to exist entirely after a certain period is another thing.

    The "old" Hooksoft style is just that...the cast share a closer bond in general due to the settings so they are more or less justified in staying a bit relevant throughout and it continued for so long. That's why I said the recent Hooksoft games just don't feel "Hook".
    I still don't agree to blatant disappearance of the kind that Houkago Cinderalla pulled, in any case.


    Wonder if the clothed/naked will come along or the pubic hair merely replaces it...

    Quote Originally Posted by amaimono View Post
    As for SMEE's jokes, I dunno, they're just too random? Otaku-ish?
    The comedy feels like routines after some time and may cease to be funny...I don't know about HaremKingdom but elsewhere it can get overwhelming at times. A rather common theme of SMEE MC trolling the heroines is also something I can't tolerate too much of. I think Pure x Connect was relatively tame in that regard...

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by pingtoryan View Post
    A character distant enough to seldom to never re-appear is fine...A classmate simply ceasing to exist entirely after a certain period is another thing.

    The "old" Hooksoft style is just that...the cast share a closer bond in general due to the settings so they are more or less justified in staying a bit relevant throughout and it continued for so long. That's why I said the recent Hooksoft games just don't feel "Hook".
    I still don't agree to blatant disappearance of the kind that Houkago Cinderalla pulled, in any case.
    If the classmate is not on too friendly terms and isn't directly related to the current story, I don't mind them disappearing. Would you rather have them occasionally say "Hi" for two seconds of screen-time, or have them forcefully included in a story that may involve a character they don't even know? Old Hooksoft game characters are usually all mutually friends so I will agree it would seem odd for some of them to simply disappear, but in Houkago Cinderella or Docchi no I ga Suki it's not really the case, it wasn't either in Amenity's Life if I remember right.

    Actually I forgot one pattern when I talked about former love interest's treatment in heroine's routes, and that's when they DO remember their feelings and still continue to show up frequently. This is something that does happen in some Hooksoft as well (more recent that comes to mind is Strawberry Nauts, but also in Priministar if I remember right), where you have the occasional scene cut to the girls' side in which the rejected ones gather and console each other. Worse yet is the cursed fate of the misunderstood childhood friend, having to live with one-sided feelings while also being usually recruited, by none other than the protagonist (so cruel), for advice and help in his relationship with someone else. Honestly if the price to pay to forgo these feel-bad moments is a disappearance of character that's not a bargain I'm unwilling to make. You can also go the Asa Project route and have the other love interests ineffectually try to sabotage the protagonist's current relationship. That can be nice, if only Asa Project's protagonists where worth a modicum of the attention they get, but they often aren't and it's not as nice when it feels like the girls are fighting tooth and nail for a piece of garbage.

    Quote Originally Posted by pingtoryan View Post
    Wonder if the clothed/naked will come along or the pubic hair merely replaces it...
    The CG variation between pubic hair or not is rather minimal compared to the CG variation between clothed and naked so I would assume both options will be present to be coherent with the studio's past. If it replaces it's more of a step-back to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by pingtoryan View Post
    The comedy feels like routines after some time and may cease to be funny...I don't know about HaremKingdom but elsewhere it can get overwhelming at times. A rather common theme of SMEE MC trolling the heroines is also something I can't tolerate too much of. I think Pure x Connect was relatively tame in that regard...
    Yes, you're absolutely right here, later SMEE protagonists focus so much on trolling the heroine for comic relief that not only does it get old pretty fast, but it also doesn't help paint the characters in a good image. Much of Sugar*Style's humor was indeed just the MC trolling a heroine, said heroine overreacting and screaming causing general chaos, followed by the MC apologizing and heroines forgiving him despite being a constant pain in everyone's ass. Everybody loses here, the protagonist looks like a selfish idiot abusing people's trust for his amusement, and heroines appear gullible and overreacting, followed by overly forgiving. I think SMEE took this direction starting from Kanojo*Step with Noe and has been expanding the idea ever since. Older games are not really too much into that style of jokes.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Quote Originally Posted by pingtoryan View Post
    The comedy feels like routines after some time and may cease to be funny...I don't know about HaremKingdom but elsewhere it can get overwhelming at times. A rather common theme of SMEE MC trolling the heroines is also something I can't tolerate too much of. I think Pure x Connect was relatively tame in that regard...
    Quote Originally Posted by kzel View Post
    Yes, you're absolutely right here, later SMEE protagonists focus so much on trolling the heroine for comic relief that not only does it get old pretty fast, but it also doesn't help paint the characters in a good image. Much of Sugar*Style's humor was indeed just the MC trolling a heroine, said heroine overreacting and screaming causing general chaos, followed by the MC apologizing and heroines forgiving him despite being a constant pain in everyone's ass. Everybody loses here, the protagonist looks like a selfish idiot abusing people's trust for his amusement, and heroines appear gullible and overreacting, followed by overly forgiving. I think SMEE took this direction starting from Kanojo*Step with Noe and has been expanding the idea ever since. Older games are not really too much into that style of jokes.
    Is the trolling/bullying that bad? It actually was kind of cute in Fureraba. In Harem Kingdom's case, the troll/bully role was delegated to some of the heroines. The trolling/bullying did drag on for too long at times, but so did the other type of jokes, so it wasn't that noticeable. In the end, I guess I just don't get SMEE's type of jokes.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    In Fureraba it's not too bad, it's mostly cute and only goes a little overboard in Himari's case and then again the protagonist does make up for it in other ways than just apologizing. In Kanojo * Step it starts to ramp up to the point I kinda felt bad for the heroines at times, and in Sugar * Style it's mostly this pattern which made it all the more suffering to watch, especially given that the protagonist never really redeems himself. It's typical Manzai humor (with protagonist as Tsukkomi and heroines as Boke) except you replace the usual slapstick with screaming and chaos. It gets tiring very quickly for me and I usually feel bad for the participants but it's all over Japanese TV shows so it's just culture difference I think.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    November games quick review time! At least for the couple I have tried so far, not sure if I'm going to try others or continue the one I still haven't removed from the computer and (hopefully soon) my memory. I'll maybe spend some time at least with Asa Project's Renai x Royal to get a feel for it, usually I figure out pretty quickly if I'm going to like or hate it. Also maybe give Ai Kiss 2 a quick glance, since I did complete one route of the original? Who knows, but for the time being, let's talk about what I have already gone through:

    響野さん家はエロゲ屋さん! (Yui, Yukari): Given the theme, I was a bit cautious but contrary to what one would think it's actually very safe. In fact there's probably less lucky sukebe in this (I think there's like, one?, in the common route) than in standard school-life style games. The eroge-shop theme indeed focuses more on the back-end of things rather than the games' actual content, and so it's all about organizing the shop, setting up supply lines, handling the customer rushes, etc... Overall I liked that but also given the particular product they're selling I think it's treated way too "normally" : shop opened during standard hours, in plain sight, in an area with barely anything of the sort near, I'd think that the shop would stand out a lot. Imagine a sex shop in the very middle of a food court and you'll get the idea. But it doesn't matter here, everyone is polite, there are no pervert customers, no-one cares about the nearly all-female underage staff, the shop is quickly enjoying tons of customers. I appreciated the open and very blunt references to other games in the same publisher family (I guess?), some of them I actually played and maybe enjoyed (Yosuga no Sora, Ninki Seiyuu no Tsukurikata come to mind), as well as the somewhat believable business side of things (last Friday rush, explanation as to why some people still use brick-and-mortar and don't just download). All of it does remain pretty shallow and as usual with eroge this year, there's not even a hint or mention of the actual crisis that shops are suffering from everywhere around the world. You'd think about a year after it started the theme would have cropped in somewhere but I have yet to see it in any production, maybe in doujin circles?

    Anyway, romance-wise it's actually not too terrible. It's, as the rest of the game, pretty shallow, but at least and that's important for me : it doesn't stem from perversion or only physical desire (unlike some other game *frowns and looks below*). Things progress very quickly and lead to ecchi rather fast, usually minutes after the confession, but the ecchi scenes themselves are pretty meaty so eh, fine. They remain in mostly vanilla flavor despite some eroge themes being mentioned in the game otherwise (no SM, humiliation, NTR that I could see). The game steers away from romance rather fast to embrace a creative pursuit sort of thing for both the routes I played, and I image the same will be true for the other routes. These pursuits are also rather shallow and any issue is solved pretty quickly and apparently effortlessly (it's not enough to just say "We worded hard, it worked, yay!"), but at least they don't overstay their welcome unlike a certain Hamidashi Creative in recent memory. I may continue on to the others routes at some point, I haven't decided yet.

    水蓮と紫苑 (Shion) : Sometimes I hate being right. Some posts ago, and also when the game was announced, I made a few predictions considering the pitch and writer and I'm sad to report that these were spot-on. The protagonist is a spineless sexual monster who only has one thing in his mind : sex. This is also his one way of communication. Apart from sex scenes, about half of his lines are like "... Uguuu", or "...Errr", along with endless monologue about observing the girls' bodies. Never does he actually make a stand for what he thinks and he keeps getting led around by the two heroines, all too happy to provide him with all the sexual relief he could ever need, because it's tough to live with two beauties and not masturbate, you know? While you do as the player get the choice to pick a route relatively early (but not before some ecchi with both girls because gotta try the goods first I guess), the protagonist remains indecisive till the end and the best you can do is hold off on the 3P scenes until later, never does he fully commit to one girl or the other. I hated that. Of course, to allay any guilty feelings the current love sex interest tells you she's fine if you cheat with her sister, but even if you refuse said sister when she conveniently offers herself few minutes after, the protagonist just tells her to wait a while for things to settle down, and in the rest of the game makes it clear he loves them both and doesn't have the willpower to refuse the other indefinitely. Sigh.

    So it's down to the heroines then to actually drive the story, and are they all too eager to do that. I could not stand the big sister Shiren from the start, the way she tries to seduces by acting innocently (but is it? if she's that way with everyone she'd be taken by now, and she fakes sleeping and secretly watches seemingly everything). She multiplies completely out-of-the-question proposals (let's bathe together, let's sleep together, let me take care of your sexuality...) that are out even for a little brother. She kinda reminds me of Maya from Onee-chan no Yuuwaku, and in fact the game describes her as displaying the very same behavior in Shion route: she's willing to fulfill any of the protagonist sexual requests, except she has no real desire for it on her own. She's all too happy to just be a sex doll as long as she keeps the protagonist close. Shion mostly plays the silent tsundere in her route and keeps throwing signs the protagonist can't understand, resulting in a lot of random sex with no feelings behind it. Even after feelings have been spelled out it's still pretty awful in that regard, with acts and actions that don't reflect any emotion but physical lust and not much else. Communication failure if you ask me. As with the previous collaboration between Iizuki and Taira Norimitsu, the art is good but the text and story is so awful and angering that I just couldn't enjoy any of it, and the game has now been deleted out of spite after playing one route, I don't even care about checking out the rest of the CGs since I know I won't use any of them. I'd rather go back to Lovely X Cation 2 and play Wakoto or Hime and not pollute my mind with these soul-less lookalikes.

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