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Thread: Visual Novel Cafe

  1. #4301
    Senior Member pingtoryan's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    No one comes around this part anymore except the few of us I guess...

    Makes sense...looking back that's the same pattern in 2019 for E-School Life and ISuki too.

    Only one scenario writer, Sakuraki Nao...involved in several previous games including PriministAr, TravelingStars, Amenity's Life and IxSheTell...wonder how this will turn out...
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  2. #4302
    Senior Member kzel's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    I would hope for a standard, non ultra-popular protagonist for 思い出抱えてアイにコイ!! but given the track record of the writer you mention, that seems pretty unlikely. We'll see.

    In other news, Tech Gian, the eroge magazine that has been publishing for around 25 years, will stop with its September issue. End of an era for sure, I remember quite a lot of scoops and early game info from that magazine. I know the written press has been in pretty bad shape for a while so that's not really a surprise for a magazine that doesn't really have any online presence otherwise, but still it's kinda sad to see another veteran of the eroge golden age going away.

    It does feel kinda lonely in here, there's never been too many participants but it looks like we lost some of our regulars as well. I wonder what happened to @Mahou, I imagine @Kri is still too busy to play anything, and @amaimono made a comeback a few months ago but not much since. Not that I can fault anyone, looking back at my recent comments I've been lazy too compared to what I've written in the past, or maybe there just aren't that many games worth talking about any more. This month should be a little better with ハジラブ -Making*Lovers- (return of SMEE to goodness?), 星織ユメミライ Perfect Edition (an already huge game with even more content?), and 年下彼女 (porori + Azarashi, quite a mismatch in styles but could work).
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  3. #4303
    Senior Member kzel's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    I can't think of anything to write as a prelude so let's get right to it:

    ハジラブ -Making*Lovers- (Hatsuho) : Where even to begin... a small description I guess? This was sold as a remake of Making*Lovers, one of SMEE biggest successes of late, with similar concept and environment but in a high-school setting this time. Making*Lovers concept and main appeal was two-fold : young adult characters, and a relationship that develops while the characters are dating, eschewing the typical clumsy and sudden eroge transition that switches heroines from normal to "in love" after the confession. On the environment part, this is definitely reminiscent of Making*Lovers, mostly thanks to a recycling of most of the background CGs and locations. Unfortunately, we don't get to meet a single reoccurring character, even while visiting iconic locations like the flower shop (Karen) or boat restaurant (Mashiro). As far as concept goes... it's pretty much all gone. Characters are back in typical high-school, and one excepted, are all fairly stereotypical to boot. Relationships don't really progress gradually, but suddenly as the heroines fall completely in love with the protagonist early (if they don't start the game in love already), for rather shallow reasons, and the only one to have a transition of sorts is the protagonist.

    Speaking of the protagonist, he shall not be named because... he actually has no name! It's not rare for eroge to offer the choice to name the main character, but I think it's the first time a default name was not even an option, just random ones. I think this speak loudly about his own character development, which is rather limited. Our guy is good looking, pretty smart and quick on the retort, but other than that he's just a pretty normal random dude, except for his views on romantic relationships. While he's oblivious to the affection directed toward him by his childhood friend (cooking for him every day) and kouhai (despite aggressive skinship), he's not averse to getting a girlfriend but wants his romance to be "grand" and feel "real" and "fateful". For that reason, he hasn't been interested in getting in a relationship but a series of happening during a festival makes him re-evaluate his views somewhat, although he's still looking for his "fated one". Now, Making*Lovers's protagonist also starts like that, but the game is quick to demonstrate how dumb that is, and he changed his mind rather quickly. In this one our dude doesn't, at least in the one route of it I played.

    Going further into the structure of the game, we have a quick prologue/common route (about 2 hours) that is constituted of one scene per heroine serving as introductions, then another scene per heroine where we get to know a bit more about them (including random useless lucky sukebe...) and get introduced to this game's "hajirai moment" gimmick. Basically, during some scenes a special effect will play out and the heroine's will blush and be embarrassed about whatever the protagonist is doing/saying, culminating into a heart meter overflowing to signify an increase in affection... or so it would seem, but as a player you have no control at all on these scenes so what's even the point of a meter, and the only thing this gimmick managed to achieve for me is completely detach myself emotionnaly from the moment as soon as the marker appeared. Anyway, it's then time to decide the heroine of the day, which is followed by a few quick "progress" chapters (3 in Hatsuho, around one hour) ending in first ecchi and the start of the "lovers" chapters (9 chapters + epilogue) which make up most of the game. Do note that the heroine was already won over at the beginning of the "progress" part and the only one hesitating was the protagonist. Wasn't the concept to "Fall in love as they spend time together, date and get to know each other better"? I just don't see it. The lovers chapters are spent with the occasional date and lots of icha-icha, tons of sex scenes (8) although most only use one CG, and some rather questionable plot developments for a SMEE game.

    It's pretty obvious the writing staff is mostly entirely new to the company (not to eroge writing but in other genres), and Hayase Yuu, the only veteran still on board, is mostly in a supervisory role and not too directly involved. Did you like the typical joking idiot but likeable protagonist? He's not really here anymore, replaced by a standard tsukkomi machine. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's definitely not feeling like a SMEE game. The humor is also seriously toned down, especially when comparing similar heroines and situations (Kouta and Moemin from Pure x Connect), in favor of more icha-icha and hajirai times, but as often with games that rush the early parts of a relationship I just couldn't get any feeling out of it. Maybe it's the painkillers numbing my emotions also... Finally, most of SMEE games tend to be anchored in a somewhat close-to-reality setting, while here we're messing with some more supernatural elements that feel completely out of place. That last point is maybe only true for Hatsuho, I can only hope so because it actually managed to pique my interest (Kitami Rikka!), making me rush the stagnant lovey-dovey days (skipping all the pointless sex scenes), only to fail to even deliver a proper answer in the end. Disappointing.

    Yes, disappointing, I think that sums up my feelings about the game so far. Maybe things are better in the other routes, but given the remaining heroines I'm not sure I'm up for it. We have a childhood friend that cooks for him every day (except she disappears completely in Hatsuho's route...), a kouhai all over him playing the gyaru of the day because that's selling I guess (I had enough with Yubisaki Connection), and a rehash of Moemi in a younger, clumsy, much more clueless version (spoon feeding in open all-ok, getting in bath together no problem), complete with associated family of younger brother and sister that want her to find a boyfriend (but much less funny). I'll probably err onto another route just to confirm that the structure is the same for all, as in that the relationship doesn't actually develop during the dating but is already set in stone at the beginning, but I really don't know who I'd pick without wishing to close the game and do something else entirely pretty quickly, considering this was already happening during the short prologue... We'll see.
    Last edited by kzel; June 27th, 2021 at 11:18 PM. Reason: Can't even count chapters properly...
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  4. #4304
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Parallel Universe or same city nothing ever happened hunh? Well, Kouta's VA did voiced Saki the weather lady...Recycling of towns and stuff happens so often there's no point in doing so I suppose...If I'm not mistaken, the school looks so familiar it'd make a good surprise if the chairwoman appears with her Lovely Smile hijinks.................

    Don't miko/shrine maidens and the supernatural come hand-in-hand? I can't seem to remember any time that the supernatural do not seep in under the presence of such a heroine...(heck, often said supernatural elements are central to the entire plot) If the stories are self-contained I wouldn't expect such thing elsewhere...

    Bizarre disappearance striking again hunh, and this time more bizarre than ever? Hmmmm.............

  5. #4305
    Senior Member kzel's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    The school's inside does look kinda familiar indeed. Let's compare a bit shall we? Can you tell which is which?



    I suppose it's pretty standard for a miko heroine route to also feature some supernatural elements, but not necessarily, there's no such thing in Sayuki's route in Amakano for example. I wouldn't say the supernatural are central to her plot, at least certainly not so in terms of screen time, but there is a bit of a mystery surrounding her and the protagonist. More below if you don't mind being spoiled.

      Spoiler: Hajirabu Supernatural Elements 
    -A mysterious clearing/waterfall that can only be reached by people "chosen by fate", granting the wishes of people if they pray together while jumping on stepping stones
    -Hatsuho disappeared for around a year at age 10 and came back completely changed with no memory of her past. While the protagonist helps her overcome her trauma surrounding this ("am I really me?" kind of thing) there is no explanation as to what happened
    -Hatsuho's mother has a strange condition that makes her body weaken the further she goes from the shrine. Since her husband is an internationally renown magician (performer) constantly on tour that leads to some family issues.
    -The protagonist sees someone looking like Hatsuho in his dream, an apparent childhood memory of his first love (with dramatic encounter) which explains why he's so stuck up on his ideals. Except the person in his dream isn't Hatsuho but is apparently his and Hatsuho's daughter (according to the ending/epilogue), who somehow is jealous of Hatsuho and wants her daddy's love (and dick for some reason..?). I can't even begin to understand what this even means, if even I understood it correctly, all I can say is that was distracting enough to completely overshadow the otherwise bland slice-of-life.

    The childhood friend actually shows up twice in Hatsuho's route, so it's not a total disappearance, but the fact that she cooks for him, wakes him up in the morning, does housework for him is never mentioned again. Stories seem fairly self-contained, Yui (Natsuho v2) never showed up again, and Kouta (Moemi v2) only briefly if her restaurant is chosen during one of the dates.
    Last edited by kzel; June 28th, 2021 at 12:57 PM.

  6. #4306
    Senior Member kzel's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Second game of the month, and once again another look into Azarashi Soft's low-price offerings, let's talk this time about :

    年下彼女 : I was both anxious and eager to try this game out, and the mean reason for this being that it is written by none other than porori. porori, to quickly recap, is the sole writer behind the 夜のひつじ circle, well-known in particular for its Lolita series, but also other games that I tend to prefer. His writing is quite particular, I would say rather difficult to get used to due to its difference with most other writers, but is well constructed, often philosophical and poetic, and it's clear he's well versed in literature. He, to my knowledge, rarely writes for other brands which makes this game quite a rarity among the Azarashi Soft offering. When he does, it can turn out pretty strange even for a standard relationship, and even for a nukige. Now, I'll note that I only read the first game of the Lolita series, having mixed feelings about it, which is stopping me from delving too deep or too fast into his work, but he's certainly one of the few writers I take notice of. Nevertheless, one thing can be said for sure: porori is well versed in and has matured the topic of romance with a large age-gap, which is what this current game is about.

    The age-gap is actually not that big, or rather not as big as previous porori works. Ayane, the heroine of the game, is in her last year of high school, while our protagonist Yuusuku is a newly appointed literature/japanese teacher returning home after a few years of teaching in the capital. This makes the age difference about 7 to 8 years, but more importantly, both characters are adults, well past age-of-consent, which is something that has always bothered me about the Lolita series. The difference in status is still a pretty big part of the game, amplified by the fact that it so happens that our protagonist was appointed to Ayane's school and so is her teacher. For the most part, the story is about how Ayane, who has loved him for a long time now, even since their meeting in family gatherings, slowly crawls her way into his life and makes him fall completely and totally for her. She is quite good at this, with a mix of provocations, forcing out the man (beast?) hiding behind the suit, sometimes teasing, playing with his feelings only for him to notice and confirm them, and never fails to make use of the weapons at her disposal (her cuteness, her talent with cooking, etc...) to make sure he keeps noticing her. It doesn't take long for Yuusuke to fall for her, but for a game in a low-price format, it actually takes a decent amount of time for her to completely break any restraint or hesitation he may have towards getting into a relationship with her.

    Some would say she is quite manipulative, and I would agree, but this is all in the service of her one and only goal, fulfilling her one and only wish. And this is where the game starts to feel a little strange, as it often does with other games written by porori. Ayane's goal is to marry and have a life with the protagonist, and that's pretty much it. She's clearly brilliant, a very good actress, is very friendly to others, but to see her dedicate her life and efforts so utterly towards the protagonist seems a little much. I won't deny that there's actually some grounds for her feelings, most of it expressed in a quickly skimmed-about past but not only, but it seems to lack that special something that would push her towards this edge. This is something that I had also noticed about most other porori works, in which many heroine just live for, and only find satisfaction in fulfilling the protagonist desires. The ideal of the "good wife", supporting and loving in everything her husband does, but never overbearing or demanding, which seems to appeal to many but feels rather artificial to me.

    Anyway, I think I've said enough about the writing already, but as a last comment I find porori's ecchi scenes to be both disturbing and fascinating at the same time. There is a strange disconnect between the acts and the internal monologue, as the protagonist feels the appeals and temptations of his inner, dark thoughts while being mostly gentle in action. Unfortunately for him, Ayane is always quick to notice and push him over the edge with a few chosen words, and make him do acts he would later regrets (but never learns as he repeats them again...). It's nothing violent, nor that dark or anything, at least given eroge standards, but still something to keep in mind. It's not a style for everyone, and certainly not the style Azarashi Soft is used to in either its main or low-price series, but it's something to experience I think.

    I feel bad spending so long on the text and so little on the rest of the game, but both the art and the voice-acting serve very well to enhance the experience, especially given how relatively questionable these can be in porori's other works. The art is generally pretty good, with 18 CGs, 7 actually dedicated to the story and 11 for the ecchi scenes, of which there are 6. There are some odd body proportions here and there, mostly in the exaggeration of Ayane's chest, and with the size and pose of her legs, but I particularly appreciated her facial expressions. The voice-acting is very good, Yanagi Hitomi doesn't do many roles but I tend to always like her performances, and her tone matches perfectly the kind of heroine Ayane is trying to be: young, playful, provocative and teasing. The music is rather generic but doesn't get in the way of the rest which is good enough for me.

    TLDR : as expected, quite different from the standard Azarashi Soft offering, but very familiar for a porori work, and an association that actually works pretty well overall. I'm hoping there will be more cooperation between the two in the future, as the game is far and wide above most of what Azarashi Soft's low-price brand has offered so far.
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  7. #4307
    Senior Member Veshurik's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    >only find satisfaction in fulfilling the protagonist desires
    Oh geez, I thought most of eroge releasing nowadays shares the same vision.

    Still thanks to you who are writing here every month and saying opinion about new games (because I don't have a time to play them at all, even in English). I am checking for new eroge every month and often browsering Getchu site, official game sites etc, but usually it's enough with my free time, uh...

    But I'm still interested with this, so many years passed, and I'm still here. Eroge industry is still alive, still enough games releasing each month, but of course, most of them are low-price or "partial" full-price eroge.

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  9. #4308
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Did anyone read Hoshi Ori Perfect Edition? How good is the Vita ported content?

    The frequent yet unpredictable swings between super busy days and super dull days in these Covid times are killing me. Hardly had any time to devour eroges.

    Some impressions of the titles I had a brief look at:
    • Sex Underworld: Introduce common sense to a world unbound by logic and things start to fall apart. It does have a lot more kissing during scenes, which I really like. Exploration is still very limited and half-assed, as if the writer is teasing for another sequel.

    • Bokuone: Gotta say, jumping straight to sex from the start wasn't that good of an idea after all, but the real deal breaker was the shotacon (tbf, I was dumb enough to not notice the implied meaning of the word "boku"). Very special titles could make me read something I'm not a fan of. This isn't one of them.

    • Yubisaki Connection: Effectively a SMEE title with toned down humour, which is actually nice. The heroine I was looking forward to (the bartender) has the wrong VA. Haven't touched it since. Maybe when things aren't as chaotic as now.
    Last edited by amaimono; July 12th, 2021 at 12:31 PM.
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  10. #4309
    Senior Member kzel's Avatar
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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Good to see you back! Hopefully things will calm down on your end and you'll have more time for some games.

    Quote Originally Posted by amaimono View Post
    Did anyone read Hoshi Ori Perfect Edition? How good is the Vita ported content?
    I have played one route of it so far, arguably the shortest : Natsuki. I was waiting to do a couple more before writing about it but I can give my overall opinion on it early. I'd say the additional content is pretty nice, 3 more event CGs added compared to the original game. One of these involves an event that clearly was added near the end of the school days, but still pretty nice. The latter two I honestly couldn't have told you they weren't in the original game if I hadn't opened the original to compare. Length-wise it doesn't add too much I think, so the new CGs in the adult days are more here to strengthen the already-in events rather than add completely new ones. It's nothing overwhelming though, which explains why I'm not rushing to play the other routes, but it can be a nice motivation to replay the game, especially for characters you liked.

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    Re: Visual Novel Cafe

    Aww, so the adult part have shorter added scenes than the school part? That's a bit unfortunate since I think the adult part is where most of Hoshi Ori's heroines truly shine.

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