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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!).

 

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

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.

 

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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