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

Review of [Our World Is Ended] (for Nintendo Switch)

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Red Entertainment
Release: Apr 18, 2019
Price: $60 USD

I just finished playing Our World is Ended and I would like to give my ending impressions of it.

The main members of Judgment 7 enjoying a BBQ

Plot

First off, there’s about 16 chapters and the total game takes around 20 hours to finish. The plot is sci-fi / mystery and deals with AR and VR, so it takes a lot of inspiration from The Matrix and Steins Gate. When you first start up this game, the perverted humor might turn off some. This game makes endless comparisons of breasts, breasts and more breasts. Just be aware of that. Yes it gets annoying, but if you throw that aside there’s actually a pretty interesting story behind here. The first half of the game is much more focused on this perverted humor, while the second half really picks up the pace on the plot so don’t feel discouraged about the humor. Also keep in mind that in Japan, the age of consent is 13 (not that this game has any really erotic scenes).

The main characters are game developers for a game company called Judgment 7. Pretty soon you find out that you, Reiji Gozen, are an assistant director for the company to replace a former director of the company called Reina Ichinose. The company’s next game called World End Heaven has been announced, but the main programmer Sekai Owari has developed an AR device that eventually thrusts everyone into a VR world dubbed the ‘New World Experience’. These VR adventures, along with the relationship between you and the six other characters of the company, as well as the mystery behind who Reina is and what happened to her, are central plot points.  There are a few notable plot twists in the story, and I’m going to spoil anything, but I will just say that I thought I got a ‘game over’ several times in the story but actually didn’t so make sure you keep going on no matter what.


Characters

The main characters of the game are the 7 main members of Judgment 7, and each of them fits an anime trope: the protagonist and assistant director Reiji Gozen is your typical ‘light novel’ plain everyday guy who tries too hard to be a nice guy, the airheaded Yuno who is an assistant script writer seems to be a cheerful outgoing girl (but is hiding a dark secret), her hot headed sister Asano is a tomboy and BGM composer who is inexplicably tone deaf and ‘unfortunate’ in many other ways, the dark brooding Natsumi who is the graphics designer and who is initially unfriendly and cold, Iruka is the delusional ‘man-pig’ who is an obese perverted script writer and has a tendency to yell crazy phrases, Owari is the main genius programmer of the group and an unbashed pervert, and finally the childish Tatiana who is a child prodigy and secondary programmer of the group. All of these characters, although stereotypical, have their own arcs in the plot and each of them are distinctly unique. I have to say that I am quite pleased with how the game distinctly separates them, even if they are unoriginal tropes

the Main members of Judgement 7


Gameplay

This is a visual novel so there’s minimal interaction. There’s specific points in the game where you will either have to pick an option from among several (less common), or choose a line to say to a character as it flashes by the screen (more common); if you miss a line or choose the wrong line it could affect who your character gets close with, although the only meaningful thing you get from that are different scenes and graphics for the gallery; this is also the main incentive for replay value. There’s nothing especially interactive like in Root Letter or Danganronpa. I have not come across any ‘game overs’ like I did in other visual novels – but there are several points where I thought I did – and thats why its important to keep going no matter what. This isn’t a dating sim so there’s no R rated stuff happening and besides the lewd jokes and a certain NPC at the beginning of the game, nothing too erotic. There is one particular violent scene that happens that shocked me, so watch out for that.


Presentation

The game is really colorful and makes use of lots of bright colors. Those of you who have been to Asakusa in Tokyo will see lots of familiar scenery. Some of the enemy designs are quite unique and disturbing even. The graphics are presented well here.

One of several lighthearted scenes in the game

Audio

The BGM is quite decent, and you’ll hear happy cheerful music, as well as tense music and sad music during the appropriate scenes. It’s not to dissimilar to what I heard on Steins Gate, so I’m satisfied with that. The voice acting is actually quite superb, especially Iruka and his crazy phrases.


Conclusion

Pros: Nice graphics, nice audio/voice acting, plot twists(!), characters all have their own arc and are distinct

Cons: Plot is a little derivative of Matrix/Steins Gate, characters follow typical anime tropes, perverted jokes/character traits seem very out of place sometimes and may turn off some , I wish there was more interaction.

I’d give it a solid 7/10 – its worth checking out if you are into sci-fi visual novels, but don’t expect anything that will blow your mind

Categories
General School/Work

BitTorrent and Korea

I have two major updates that happened to my life recently:

I changed companies
I’m currently working for BitTorrent Inc as a Front End Engineer. Yes, though my old company (Switchfly Inc) was a pretty good company to work for, I’ve decided to take up new opportunities… BitTorrent’s stack consists of Python, MongoDB, BackboneJS and NodeJS, which gives me enough of a change from Coldfusion, PrototypeJS, EmberJS, Freemarker and Java. Its a new experience, with a strong recognizable company who are headquartered in downtown SOMA, and I’ve been enjoying working there so far.

Edit: if you want to check out my submission for BitTorrent’s coding exercise, check out the TEDx Feedreader application I made using Backbone + Bootstrap, all done in 8 hours: http://www.blueisme.com/feedreader

I went to Korea
I just came back from 2 weeks in Seoul, Korea and I loved it. As expected, I enjoyed every moment of that trip, and I still miss Korea already. There are several things I like about Korea more than USA such as:

1) Food/Drinks are amazing
Forget Korean food in USA. Korea has much better food than USA, much healthier with more organic ingredients, cheaper to buy, and tastes better. Forget Pizza Hut, Mr.Pizza is amazing. Forget Bulgogi and Bibimbap, Dalkgalbi (chicken ribs) and Jimm Dalk (steamed chicken) and Chi maek (fried chicken and beer) is much more amazing. Forget Soju and Korean Beer, try the many flavors of Makgeolli (rice wine), Paekseju (flavorful, weaker version of Soju), Cheongha (tastes like a mix of soju and sprite), Bokbunja (raspberry wine), and Maehwasu (plum wine). All amazing.

Oh and by the way, all the stores close later than in America, usually around 2am. The bars/clubs usually close around 6am, and some of the cafes and restaurants are 24/7 as well. Just amazing. Oh and did I mention? There’s no tip or taxes in Korea, and there’s a button you can use to call the waiter in restaurants. And fast food has delivery, like McDonalds and Burger King have guys on scooters that deliver burgers to you. Double amazing.

2) Technology is widely adopted there
Wifi is ultra super fast in Korea. You can use Wifi in the Subway, even in the mountains, pretty much everywhere, as long as you have a Wifi card. EVERYONE in the subway is on their phone, and when you can watch TV on your phone and use super fast Wifi, why not. There’s Google Maps touch screens in the subway. Everything has a dispenser or a machine for convenience. Even the toilets have controls on them. Alot of the designs in Korea are just amazing. Its hard to believe the smartphone only came in 2009 in Korea, yet now everyone from schoolgirls to old men use them there.

3) Transportation is amazing
The transportation system is probably the best I’ve experienced, ahead of NYC and Shanghai. The Seoul subway takes you all around Seoul and the Metro area, and is cheap on top of that. There’s apps to calculate the exact time it takes from one station to another, since trains are always on time. In addition, the places where you can’t go using subway, you can take buses or taxi, both of them much cheaper than in America.

4) Clothes are better
Korean clothes are a much better fit for me, being more suited to Asian bodies. People there are skinnier in general, and I’m skinny so it really fits me. In addition, they have much better styles than boring American clothing and are cheaper as well, as long as you haggle. Ironically, Koreans mostly buy foreign brands, not knowing that foreign brands (which are made in Southeast Asia) are actually lower quality than their own Korean brands (which are made in Korea). Shopping Malls as high as skyscrapers and numerous cosmetics stores are everywhere in Korea.

5) Everyone dresses up and looks good
Ever wonder why Koreans get so much plastic surgery?? Because its societal pressure!! Korean girls feel pressured to get plastic surgery because everyone competes to get a job, and since you have to submit a photo with your resume, the prettier girl gets the better job!! In addition, everyone dresses up everyday, regardless of situation. Korean girls wear makeup, contacts, high heels, nail polish, dresses/skirts/short shorts whereever they go, and Korean men often wear blazers, khakis, tight jeans, nice fitted shirts too. Its the society norm. Clubbing clothes in America are everyday outfits in Korea. As a result, a large majority of the girls there can be considered very beautiful by any standard. Trust me, its so weird to see model-looking women eating at McDonalds, or reading books at the public library wearing stilletos, but its normal.

6) Everything is clean and organized
Everything is clean and organized in Korea. This isn’t China with smoggy skies or littered streets. All the streets are clean, all the clothes people wear are immaculate, and even the bathrooms will be as clean as you can find them. There is even a machine in the public library to sanitize books. Everyone gets an apron when they eat barbecue. Towels to wash your hands are offered at different places. There are rarely any homeless people, and buskers only play in one place: Hongdae. Next time I will carry a pocket stain remover wherever I go.

7) Korea has a strong sense of community
I learned that Koreans have a sense of 정/jeong, which is this unique korean sense of feeling kindred with others. As a result most Koreans are very polite and nice to others when they have a chance. Normally Koreans are very different than Americans in that they are mostly quiet, reserved people who go about their days almost too predictably. Koreans have a very rigid mindset, and are almost robotic in the way they conform to society. This means you are probably very safe in Korea, as no one has the cultural mindset to steal, mug, rob, rape, loot, plunder, kill, or anything like that. You can leave your phone on the table and be safe about it. Girls can walk home alone at night without worry.

8) Korea loves couples
On the other hand, Koreans really love couple culture. Americans often have to think about where to go when they date, most likely a restaurant or a theater. But in Korea, alot of places are meant for dating. You have many options to go when you are with your significant other. Seoul Tower is a popular spot, as is Cheonggyecheon (river flowing downtown), or Lotte World, or a Korean village, or a beach, or a theater with a love seat, or an arcade, or a shooting range, or a sticker/photo booth, or one of the many bangs (rooms) set up in Korea, like Noraebang (karaoke), DVD-bang (DVD-room), Jjimchilbang (spa/sauna for couples), Soju-bang, PS/PC-bang (for gaming). There are even shops that sell couple accessories like matching bracelets, t-shirts, charms, everything. Korea is a great place for couples, and can be lonely if you go by yourself.


All in all, I had an amazing time in Korea, especially visiting my friends and experiencing the unique culture… and I really think that out of all the places I’ve been to, I belong the most there. My quiet, unassuming, conformist personality fits right in. So I got a little sad when I realized I’ll never get to experience those memories; I never had a gf when I was in high school or college, never had those kinds of couple culture going on, and of course never experienced a long term relationship with a Korean girl. (FYI I have good reasons for the lack of relationships; I grew up in a small white town with no asians, and was busy with CS in university, a major with very few women). This worries me, as I don’t like long distance relationships, yet I feel Korean culture fits me best. Unfortunately, Korean work culture is very competitive; they have to work long hours, for little pay, and little time for recreation. I would live in Korea, if not for the work aspect. Working at BitTorrent is miles ahead of anything a Korean company could offer me, but maybe someday I’ll have a chance to experience a good work culture, and live in Korea as well. I just hope I can do that while I’m still young.

At a peaceful Korean village
At a peaceful Korean village

At the top of Bukhan Mountain
At the top of Bukhan Mountain

Me and my friend at Gyeongbuk Palace
Me and my friend at Gyeongbuk Palace

Lotte World
Lotte World

CheonggyeCheon in Gwanghwamun
CheonggyeCheon in Gwanghwamun

Lovers Locks at Seoul Tower
Lovers Locks at Seoul Tower

Edit: Something ironic and sad that I’ve noticed…
If Americans had to be obsessed with Korean the way Koreans are obsessed with English, this would happen:

Everyone is required to learn Korean in primary school.
Everyone has to go to private academies after school to learn additional Korean.
Everyone has to know Korean and pass a Korean test to get a job.
You will see Korean words mixed in with English wherever you go.
You will see Korean movies with English subtitles, Korean actors, Korean singers, and they will be popular amongst your friends.
All English songs will contain some Korean in it.
Your companies try to copy Korean brands and Korean technology.
Korean clothing is more popular than American clothing.
A lot of your advertisements contain Korean models.
Parents will make their kids have tongue surgery to speak Korean better.
You will have a lot of makeup and plastic surgery to make yourself look more Korean.
You have Korean armies on your land.
Many American girls will fall in love with Korean guys.
Many Americans want to marry Koreans so they can live in Korea.
There is a special district for Koreans that many Americans go to mingle with them.
A Korean education means a lot more than an American education.
Many Americans want to be Korean teachers and make a lot of money.
You often go to eat Korean fast food or drink Korean coffee.
Speaking Korean makes you look more cool and helps you advance in life.
You rely on Korea to protect you from Canada.

…sad but this is all true, but reversed for Korea.