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World End Syndrome Review (for Nintendo Switch) + other visual novel reviews

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Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Arc System Works
Release: May 21, 2019
Price: $60 USD

So soon after I just reviewed Our World is Ended, another visual novel comes out for the Switch, this time one from the Guilty Gear/Blazblue Devs. 

So just for the record here’s my verdict of some past visual novels that I didn’t write a blog post on:

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VA11-HALL-A (PS Vita, 2017) – one of my all time favorite games ever. You get to be a bartender in a cyberpunk setting (which I love) and the stories and characters you meet are utterly fascinating and interesting. The main character Jill actually has a personality unlike most bland visual novel protags. 10/10 highly recommended

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Steins;Gate (PS Vita, 2015) – another one of my all time favorite visual novels and games. Time travel, IBM 5100s, CERN (SERN in the game), Kerr Black Holes, internet conspiracy theories and everything is involved. Any lover of Sci-Fi will definitely love Steins;Gate. 10/10 highly recommended. 

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Steins;Gate 0 (PS Vita, 2016) – it’s not *quite* as refreshing as Steins;Gate but its almost as good. More of the same, more sci-fi conspiracy theories, time travelling, and the stakes are arguably even higher because this time the world ends in WWIII (instead of just being taken over by SERN). 9/10 highly recommended, but you need to play the first one first.

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XBlaze: Code Embyro (PS Vita, 2014) – this is actually the first visual novel I played. It’s based off of the Blazblue franchise. The story is mildly interesting, but it’s also slightly confusing in the way that Blazblue tends to just throw out some lore without fully explaining it to you kind of way. 6/10 it’s ok for a visual novel but there’s much better ones out there.

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Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS Vita, 2017) – this is part of the long running Danganronpa series, and its more focused on mystery solving than other visual novels. I don’t know, I’m more into sci-fi stuff generally, but the visuals are on a step above other visual novels. If you are familiar with the Danganronpa series you know what to expect here. 8/10 – potentially higher but I’m not *too* into the series.

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Root Letter (PS Vita, 2016) – This is another mystery oriented visual novel. It’s slightly bland – I mean yes it has a core mystery and there’s people to investigate and places to go but I felt Danganronpa and other visual novels already did it better. It’s alright though, and if you like the mystery genre you might be intrigued. 7/10 a good choice for mystery lovers, otherwise pass

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Our World is Ended (Switch, 2019) – see here. I gave it a 7/10. It’s a solid Steins Gate derived title, and the colorful artwork is great but I wish there was more interaction.

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Muv-Luv Extra, Unlimited & Alternative (Vita, 2018) – These visual novels actually came out in the early 2000s and the graphics show. It’s just been recently ported to the Vita and PC. There’s also a patch that allows you to see some of the more R rated stuff although its not really that much to begin with. There’s three parts to this game. Muv-Luv Extra is a standard slice of life dating sim type game where you choose a girl and you end up with that girl. Ok cool. 8/10 – I enjoyed it, but that’s because I’m a dating sim type of guy. The dated mechanics might turn off some though.
Muv-Luv Unlimited is a different take, with the world being invaded by aliens and everything. There’s mechs, aliens but it stays fairly light and its a good middle ground between the lighthearted Extra and the dark Alternative. it’s a solid 7/10 – I enjoyed it but not as much as Extra. 
Muv-Luv Alternative is a very dark take and much more mature than the other two. The story is much more grim and there are lots of graphic scenes in it (the violent kind). It’s a solid 9/10 because the story is a tearjerker and really makes you feel for every character. Some people might prefer the more lighthearted stories though. 

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Ok, so now that I got that out of the way… how’s World End Syndrome (with a very similar name to Our World is Ended)? It’s not bad. It’s half dating sim, half mystery, kind of like a cross between Muv-Luv Extra and Root Letter.

The characters are the standard tropes, you have a rich spoiled girl, a ‘mysterious quiet’ girl, a ‘girl next door’ girl, a ‘mature’ girl, an ‘out of your league’ girl, etc and a very annoying guy sidekick. 

The first part is a prologue and non interactive. This was like half of the game, and honestly I felt the second interactive half could have been longer. If you choose the wrong choice – its an automatic game over and you gotta start over again. The second interactive half is just you going to various spots around town, trying to find a girl you will eventually be attracted to, while trying to uncover the mysteries of the town. 

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I only got two endings Saya, and Maimi (IMO the best girl) – I think you have to go through each one to get the true ending or whatever, but I didn’t have the patience. I’m just going to say if you liked Muv Luv Extra’s slice of life dating sim type stuff, and Root Letter’s underlying mystery then you’ll like this game. I also like the fact that some scenes are fully animated – but its usually the background only and these scenes are in the minority.

I wish it was longer, I wish the side guy character wasn’t such an annoying creeper, and I wish the characters weren’t so stereotypical.  7/10 from me. Recommended for fans of visual novels, otherwise it’s not anything that will suck non fans in. Not on the same level as Steins; Gate or VA11-HALL-A.

 

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Why is the Nintendo Switch successful but the Sony Vita failed? In many ways the Vita was really good on graphics, quality of hardware and battery life.

Nintendo is king when it comes to portables

Sony is king when it comes to home consoles

Looking at the track record, Nintendo’s Game Boy wiped Sega’s Game Gear off the map. The Game Boy Advance did the same to the Bandai Wonderswan. The Nintendo DS did the same to the PSP, and the 3DS did the same to the Vita.

On the other hand, Sony’s Playstation consoles (PS1, PS2, PS4) were the best selling consoles of their generation while the PS3 tied with the Xbox 360 for second place. Sony has a pretty good track record at home.

So Nintendo already has a good grasp on what makes handheld portables succeed. But on top of that, Sony basically shot themselves in the foot with the Vita as well because they made several mistakes:

  1. Sony is terrible at marketing. It seems that for everything outside of the PS4, it sucks at it. Sony’s headphones? Way better than Bose and Beats. Sony’s AIBO robot? really cool. Sony’s Xperia phones? Really nice devices. Sony’s alpha cameras? blows away Nikon and Canon. Sony’s OLED TVs? much better than LGs. Sony’s Walkman DAPs? Competes with audiophile companies. Their Blu-Ray players? Class leading. But Sony sucks at marketing all their devices. They need to take some tips from Samsung. They have great stylish devices but high premiums and don’t market well. Consumers look at them, scoff at their prices, and move on.
  2. The PS Vita memory cards were proprietary. Big problem. A 64GB Vita card costs $100. Do you know how much a 64GB microSD card costs? $10. a TENTH of the price.
  3. Sony stopped supporting the Vita game library sometime after 2012. The Vita was mostly propped up by Japanese RPG makers + indie developers. Once the Switch came on the market, they all moved to the Switch. The Vita was basically on life support already because the first party (Sony) abandoned them 2 years after release. After the Switch, the Vita’s days were numbered. Nintendo on the other hand? STILL releasing first party games for the 3DS (2 years after Switch was released)
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New May 2016 Gadget Update

Here’s my tech gadgets as of present (May 2016):

Computers

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga (2016) – replaced my 2015 Thinkpad Yoga 14

This is my main / entertainment laptop now. I’ve ditched my X240 and Yoga 14 for this basically. A light, convertible laptop, weighs only 2.8lbs (substantially lighter than the Yoga 14 which I previously had), docks with a one link dock connector and wireless dock, has that traditional Thinkpad robust build quality and great trackpoint keyboard, and is convertible which means I can watch movies in 4 different modes, and comes with a gorgeous 1440p OLED screen to boot. Just perfect. It replaces my Thinkpad Yoga 14.

Asus ROG G751 (2015) – replaced my 2011 HP Envy Beats, 2015 Thinkpad Yoga 14

This is my main gaming laptop since August 2015. I hook it up to my Creative T4W speakers, Shure MV51 mic, Asus ROG Gladius mouse and Aorus K1 mechanical keyboard to do some serious gaming and video editing work. The GTX 970M graphics card just screams and it has GSync and cool afterburner LED lights in the back as well courtesy of XoticPC. It is quite heavy though, being a 17 inch gaming laptop, so it basically stays on my desk unless I have to move out.

Vaio S (2016) – replaced my ThinkPad X240
My main travel laptop now, it has everything you want. Only 2.3lbs, 13″ screen, 9 hr+ battery life, VGA, Ethernet, HDMI, 3 usb ports in such a slim and light package, etc the businessman’s laptop for traveling. It replaces my Thinkpad X240.

Mac Mini (2012)replaced my 2012 MacBook Pro 13
My main multimedia / programming computer.

Tablets/Phones
iPad Air (2013)

The iPad Air is my go to tablet for surfing, gaming, music or reading.

iPhone SE (2016) – replaced my 2013 iPhone 5S

The iPhone SE is my main camera and video recorder. No other smartphones can beat the combination of its camera + shutter speed. Plus love the small size which is what cameraphones should be! light and small. It replaces my aging iPhone 5S.

Sony Xperia Z3C (2014)

The Sony Xperia Z3C is my main Korea phone, mp3 player and messenger device as it has been since late 2014.

Blackberry Priv (2015)

The Blackberry Priv is the phone I use in Canada/US and its a great phone for web browsing/surfing, and document editing as well. It replaces my Blackberry Passport.

Gaming

Vulcan Flipstart
For playing retro Windows games

OpenPandora
For playing DOS games

New Nintendo 3DS

For playing Nintendo Games

Sony PS Vita

For playing JRPGs

Nvidia Shield Portable

The Nvidia Shield is my emulator console and also doubles as a game stream capable tablet for my Asus! Video here:

Music

Master & Dynamic ME03 (2015) – replaced 2014 Klipsch X12i, 2014 Bose Quietcomfort 25

Master & Dynamic ME03

These have replaced my old earphones (Klipsch X12i, broken) and my now broken Bose Quietcomfort 25s (warranty expired) as my travel headphones. Because they are in-ear headphones they are also easier to carry, and block out some noise passively which is nice.

Denon Music Master MM400 (2016) – replaced 2014 Sennheiser Momentum

Absolutely the best over ear headphones I’ve ever had, these now have replaced my Sennheiser Momentums which were falling apart as well.

Creative Soundblaster Roar 2 (2015) – replaced 2013 Bose Soundlink Mini

These have replaced my Bose Soundlink Mini as my new portable speaker, sounds great and comes with a variety of features like mp3 player, voice recorder, USB DAC etc

Creative T4W (2015)

Its my 2.1 speaker system I use to connect to my Asus, but can also be used for bluetooth, PS4, Mac Mini, record player etc alot of things it has traditional RCA analog input as well as optical in.

Cameras

Nikon D5100 (2013)
My DSLR camera for serious video making. I usually pair it with my Samyang T1.5 24mm cinema prime lens.

Sony Music Video Recorder (2014)
This camera is mainly used for casual recording video blogs, music videos and video reviews. Basically my youtube camera now.

GoPro Hero3+ Silver (2014)
My camera for action shots like biking, scooter, hiking, swimming, etc

DJI OSMO (2015)
My go to camera for taking cinematic walking shots, party shots, basically it simulates having a DSLR + stabilizer + tripod + glider which is amazing

DJI Phantom 3 (2015)
My drone which is useful for taking aerial footage, personal cameraman, and hooks up to the autopilot app for more modes like orbit, cable cam and follow me.

All of this equipment can be seen in my camera equipment video here:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtzPo8qwzLE

25 most awesome gadgets I own:
1. Sharp Zaurus C1000 (2004) – Clamshell Linux PDA
2. Sony Clie UX50 (2004) – Clamshell Palm OS PDA
3. Sony Vaio UX (2006) – Slider UMPC
4. Vulcan Flipstart (2007) – Clamshell UMPC
5. Nokia N95 (2007) – Dual slider Symbian smartphone
6. Archos 7 (2008) – Linux based PMP
7. HP iPAQ 210 (2008) – One of the last Windows Mobile Pocket PC
8. Nokia N810 (2008) – Linux based internet device
9. Sharp Netwalker (2009) – Pocket Smartbook
10. MS Zune HD (2010) – Touch controlled MP3 Player
11. Fujitsu UH900 (2010) – Pocket Netbook
12. Onkyo DX (2010) – Dual screen Netbook
13. Toshiba Libretto W100 (2010) – Dual touch screen Netbook
14. Sony Tablet P (2011) – Dual touch screen tablet
15. Blackberry Porsche (2011) – Ltd Edition Blackberry
16. HP Pre 3 (2011) – Last Palm & WebOS smartphone
17. Open Pandora (2012) – Linux based gaming console / umpc
18. Nvidia Shield Portable (2013) – Android gaming handheld
19. Apple iPhone 5S (2013) – the last great small Apple phone
20. Razer Edge Pro (2013) – most powerful standalone gaming tablet
21. Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013) – 41mp Windows smartphone
22. Sony PS Vita Slim (2014) – current gen Sony handheld
23. Neptune Pine (2014) – Smallest Android device
24. Blackberry Priv (2015) – Touchscreen / Slider Android smartphone
25. Lenovo X1 Yoga (2016) – First OLED Convertible laptop