Categories
General

2019: Year in Review

Every year, I do a year in review, with highlights and lowlights and a summary so this is my year in review for 2019.

Highlights

-I found a great job at a great company with great co-workers at Kong
-Had a great time in Korea this year, met all my friends again, made a Korean gf
-Went on a nice cruise with my family this year

Lowlights

-Still recovering from all the financial issues I suffered last year mainly losing the majority of my life savings because of the QuadrigaCX crypto exchange collapse
-More difficult to make new friends in Vancouver than I expected

Summary

I don’t have a whole lot of updates for this year, because this year was pretty much a recovery year from the disaster that was last year. Last year took away my San Francisco apartment, my life savings, and most of my best friends away from me. I started out this year with almost no savings, no house, unemployed and with no friends in Vancouver.

The start to this year was really rough. I was told that the exchange that I used last year to transfer my savings over to Canada, QuadrigaCX had gone under with over $215M CAD owing to creditors once the CEO died under mysterious circumstances in India. The rest of this year was basically waiting for updates from the ongoing lawsuit – Ernst&Young being the bankruptcy trustee and Miller Thomson being the lawyers.

So far they are still processing claims, and have been doing so for the last 4 months with no updates to us creditors so far. They have roughly $33M + $12M (the CEO and his widow enriched themselves by purchasing Nova Scotia property so there’s extra assets here) for us but roughly $7M I estimate will be in legal fees paid to EY and MT. After that there’s roughly $38M left in the pot for us creditors, depending on how much people claim. There’s $215M in total claims outstanding but me and several other creditors theorize that at least half of those claims are not real or left on the exchange by money launderers. And then there’s the CRA (Canada’s IRS) waiting to take even more money from us.
So I calculated it and I think roughly we’ll get back anywhere from 15% (worst case scenario) to 40% (best case)  with 25-30% being the most likely percentage we’ll get back. I have no idea how long this process will take but hopefully sometime next year we’ll get it back.

So that being the backdrop, a hammer that was dropped on me at the beginning of the year, you can see the rest of the year takes a backseat to this whole lawsuit thing.
I did manage to luck out finding a great SF company to work for (Kong Inc) that I could work remotely for, and everything about that company I liked better than my previous company. My manager, coworkers, the type of work I was doing etc I learned way more in 6 months than I did in a whole 1.5years at my previous company.
And I did manage to have some time to travel to Korea for a bit and that was a really great experience, much better than last year (God really had it in for me last year), got to meet all my friends again and dated a bunch of girls, etc it really transported me back to the days when I lived there (2015-2016). I also got a chance to go on a cruise with my family (to the Bahamas) which I haven’t traveled with since late 2013 and especially getting to see my brother again is nice since he’s usually busy and very isolated since he lives in Winnipeg.

But once I got back to Vancouver, it became lonely again, and I think it might be just because its hard in general to make friends once you’re out of school but even harder when you work from home and have no co-workers to really talk to. At least in San Francisco I still have one really good friend to hang out with. In Vancouver I didn’t know anyone. I tried going to some language exchange meetups but the people I meet there are always very transient, they change every time so its hard to meet someone stable.
I did get into a relationship with a girl I met in Korea but its long distance and that’s always really difficult to maintain. I hope I can though, because she seems much more stable than my ex gf was, and much more mature (she’s 3 years older than me). On top of that, I don’t really like my landlord and am looking to find a new place to move to next year. He is incredibly strict with his house rules and seems always ready to fine me since he blames me for  everything that happens around the house (I have 6-7 housemates) and raised my rent by $100 because he said I ‘stayed at home too much thus using more electricity’ which is ridiculous. 

So yeah this year is mostly a recovery year, but after the initial shock that happened early this year and lucking out into finding a good company to work for, the rest of the year went reasonably smoothly. Let’s hope that next year will continue to go smoothly and hopefully I’ll have some luck finally with crypto (I still have some reserves but its down a whopping 80% and I missed a good chance to sell it in the summer, hopefully it will go back up next year), and with the lawsuit as well (oh please don’t let that $215M in claims be a real number, hopefully most of those big claims are fake).

Otherwise I’m just slowly saving up money again trying to afford a place in Vancouver eventually. This process might be considerably faster or slower depending on how much crypto goes up/down next year and how much/when money I get back from the QuadrigaCX lawsuit…

 

Categories
General

Yu-No – a girl who chants love at the bound of this world Review (for Nintendo Switch)

Image result for yuno a girl who chants love

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: ELF Corporation (original) / 5pb (remake)
Release: Dec 26, 1996 (original) / Oct 1, 2019 (remake)
Price: $60 USD

So I guess I’m now a regular reviewer of visual novels. Heh, well I just got another good one to add to my review collection. 

Yu-No: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world (unwieldy title, I know) is a classic game that originally came out for the beloved NEC PC-98 in Japan back in the mid 90s. It was originally an Eroge game that got the sex scenes removed and re-released as a just a regular visual novel with a lot of perverted dialogue and scenes still intact. Yeah, similar to how Muv-Luv also turned from an Eroge into a beloved visual novel series I guess. This game has now been remade and released in Japan in 2015 and now released here in the West this year 2019.

But man, there are still alot of perverted scenes left in. I don’t mind it too much – but some people might take offense to it. It’s literally just the sex scenes removed and the rest of the Eroge dialogue remains intact – and yes the boobs/skirt/legs are almost always clickable on a woman.

One such perverted scene still in the game
One such perverted scene still in the game

But other than that, it’s a great game. A pioneering time travel / sci-fi visual novel that must have been the inspiration for Steins;Gate and so many others. 

Plot: So the plot is that your father Koudai Arima is reported dead – but you, Takuya Arima ‘the walking libido’, soon receive a package containing a time travel device called the Reflector. You suspect that your father is not really dead at all and he’s somewhere – but you must find him. 

The main goal of the game is to collect 6 different jewels in different timelines – you already start out with 4 jewels in the device – making 10 total. Each jewel can be used at any point to essentially ‘save’ the game so that you can come back to it later. But you have to make sure you don’t use up all the jewels – if all jewels are used then you are stuck and you can’t power the Reflector device anymore. Loading up a jewel frees up that jewel so that you can use it again. So there’s essentially a limited number of save slots and you have to be careful with where you save. Using the Reflector device was a little confusing at first but then I figured out how to use it and man it must have been pretty revolutionary at the time for visual novels to have such a feature. 

Similar to Steins;Gate you can essentially time travel between different parallel worlds – there’s a certain time limit that you have before you get ‘chaos corrected’ back to the beginning of the game – but you retain your items from each timeline – this is essential because there are parts in one timeline that might require items from another timeline. There are multiple endings within each route. You need to go through all the endings in order to get all the items you need to get all the jewels which are hidden within each route. Once you get all 10 jewels – you are transported to the Epilogue – which is another lengthy playthrough in itself but its quite a different experience from the main game – so this game definitely has a lot of replay value to it.

Gameplay: It’s a point and click adventure style game, similar to Root Letter and other mystery / investigation type games, so its more interactive than the typical visual novel.

One such interactive scene
One such interactive scene

Characters: Well, similar to Muv-Luv this was originally an Eroge – so obviously its full of women wearing short skirts and school uniforms. But you knew that right? There’s also your obligatory annoying ‘best friend’ guy character that’s there as well. The girls are your typical tropes: a tsundere, a ‘mysterious’ girl, a ‘hot’ teacher, a ‘hot’ stepmom, etc but that’s expected given this genre. 

A nice candid moment
A nice candid moment

Graphics: I’m torn. The original graphics from 1996 just scream 80s/90s Japan. the NEC PC-98 is famous for these kinds of graphics. I am a 90s anime lover so naturally I prefer the old look better. It has such a nostalgic charm to it. But the remake isn’t bad either – it’s done in a more modern style and you can take a look side by side to see which you prefer. I wish there was an option to use the old graphics though.

the original PC98 graphics compared to the remake
the original PC98 graphics compared to the remake

Music: Amazing. You can choose between the remade soundtrack and the original soundtrack from 1996. I prefer the original – but the remake is done pretty well. It perfectly fits with the mystery / sci-fi style of the game. 

Conclusion: This game is a 10/10 from me. I literally could not put it down since I started it. I am a sci-fi visual novel lover and a big fan of Steins;Gate so its obvious that this game would peak my interest as well. This was the original sci-fi visual novel that was very influential on subsequent visual novels. I wish there was an option to use the original graphics but the remake does pretty well recreating all the characters and scenes, the music is awesome, the gameplay has a lot of replay value and the characters – while not super original – you have to remember it was originally an eroge title – are ok for what they are which is bringing the story together. There’s a lot of perverted dialogue and scenes – but if you are comfortable with that, it’s not that bad. A solid game that will take you a while to reach 100% completion (and a bonus if you do!).

 

 

Categories
General

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

Image result for world end syndrome

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:

Image result for VA11-HALL-A

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

Image result for steins gate

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. 

Image result for steins gate 0

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.

Image result for xblaze code embryo

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.

Image result for danganronpa v3

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.

Image result for root letter

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

Image result for our world is ended

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.

Image result for muv luv

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. 

Image result for world end syndrome

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. 

Related image

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.