Sweet Pool Review: Pool Runnings

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This review contains both extensive discussion on the topic of sexual assault as it relates to both plot progression, character interaction and an untypical increase in profanity for this writer. If such topics are considered unpleasant, please consider sitting this one out, dear reader.

I have a love/hate relationship with visual novels, and while I have a ton of games I like, visual novels as a whole can leave me lacking. Visual novels as a medium have this cool way of letting the player reside inside the characters’ heads and shared experiences. But they often feel narratively padded or suffer, as I like to call it, Otome game cover boy syndrome, a pushed canon relationship. In other words, any visual novel with a dating factor really has a steep hill to climb with me. That hill is even steeper when it comes to the relationships in Nitro+chiral’s Sweet Pool.

High school second year Youji Sakiyama has spent years in and out of the hospital. He doesn’t eat much, has a sleep problem, and if it wasn’t for the fact that all the character designs make every character marble white, Youji’s also looking awfully pale. Plot summaries in visual novel reviews feel like giving boss tips in the middle of a review of a character-action game, so I will keep it brief with things aren’t going great for Youji in his super Christian Japanese high school besides is failing health. Youji’s currently lives alone in an apartment he use to share with his adult sister, because his parents are dead because plot. This provides appeal alone/kidnap time with Youji’s lovely classmates/love interests: wholesome hungry boy Makoto Mita, quite to a genuinely annoying fault Tetsuo Shironuma, and beer can licker and shit head son of a Yakuza Zenya Okinaga. What fun merriment will befall these boys?

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Really strange how this game got the license to play Duran Duran’s Hungry like the Wolf just for this burger shop scene.

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IA/VT Colorful review: Black and White and Pink All Over

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Riding off the tailcoats of Francisco’s recent article, one of the more import-friendly genres for curious gaijin is rhythm games. There are the occasional titles that do require knowledge of Japanese, like Uta Kumi 575, but most can be played easily enough after you’ve learned to fumble through menus. On this note, I decided to take my first plunge into import gaming with IA/VT Colorful.

IA/VT Colorful was released in 2015 for the PS Vita after experiencing delays for nearly a year. The game was directed by Kenichiro Takaki, best known for directing the Senran Kagura titles, and published by Marvelous. As the title suggests, the game’s songs were composed using 1st Place Co.’s Vocaloid IA, whose voicebank is provided by Japanese singer Lia.

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SeleP could make a song about a yandere knitting club & I’d probably still love it.

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Contact review: Ground Control to Major Terry

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My personal experience with RPGs isn’t a particularly complicated history. It started when I played Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the Game Boy Color in elementary school. At the time, I was pretty clueless about how exactly the game worked, which unintentionally made the game harder as a result, but I wasn’t deterred away from the genre. I’ve indulged in many different RPG titles since then and I’ve found it interesting how certain games manage to keep their mechanics distinctive. For example, both Dragon Quest VI and Final Fantasy VI have the core of turn-based RPGs, but manage to play out in completely different ways. Final Fantasy VI emphasizes using magic and characters’ special abilities in fights while Dragon Quest VI encourages players to keep a balanced party with the usage of job classes. On this topic of game mechanics, I took a look at Contact, a lesser-known RPG awash in its own variety of mechanics.

Contact was developed by Grasshopper Manufactures, best known for their action titles such as No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned and Killer is Dead, for the Nintendo DS in 2006.  However, Contact was not directed by Grasshopper Manufacture’s iconic CEO Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) but instead directed by Akira Ueda, who had previously worked on games such as Secret of Mana and Shining Soul.

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Not like you’re gonna give me another choice…

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Fate/Extra review: Absolute Destiny Apocalypse

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Fate/stay night and its associated franchise seem to be pretty iconic among anime and Japanese video game fans. I’ve known about the series for quite some time, but didn’t engage with it until late 2011, when I watched the godawful 2006 anime adaptation. My interest in Fate waned for some time after until I watched the Fate/Zero anime adaptation, which rekindled my attention to the series. A year later, I noticed that fellow writer Franklin Raines had gotten his hands on a copy of the PSP game Fate/Extra; he expressed little interest in playing it at the time, but allowed me to borrow it in his stead. I was intrigued by this ditty of a PSP game, but how did it unfold in the end? We’ll see.

Fate/Extra was developed by Type-Moon and Imageepoch, and was originally released in North America in late 2011. Type-Moon is known for the visual novels and games they produce, including Tsukihime and Melty Blood. Imageepoch developed several RPG series since 2005, such as Luminous Arc and 7th Dragon, before filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.

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…isn’t that what I’ve already been doing, though?

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Hateful Days Pair Review: It’s Such a Strong Word

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I have a system when it comes to playing video games in my personal backlog wherein I break up playing long games with shorter games. This system helps me to recover from potential burnout after playing lengthy games, and lets me pace myself. After recently finishing two Ace Attorney games back-to-back, I was in desperate need for a short “buffer” game, so I could later transition to something else. Luckily, fortune smiled upon me, and Steam  put the Hateful Days pair of games on sale. Were the games actually as good I hoped? Today, we’re going to find out.

The Hateful Days pair of games were written and developed from 2012 to 2013 by Christine Love, an indie developer from Canada. Love has created multiple visual novel games since 2007, including Digital: A Love Story (which is considered a spiritual predecessor to the Hateful Days games), don’t take it personally babe, it just ain’t your story, and her (as of this writing) currently in-progress work Ladykiller in Love.

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By ‘assistance’ she means giving you the archive files to actually read. That’s really it.

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Freedom Wars Review: Like 1984 But With Giant Mech Monsters

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I haven’t had too much experience with the ‘hunter’ type of action games which pit the player against large monsters to kill in a certain amount of time. I dabbled briefly with Monster Hunter Freedom‘s PSP demo some years back and also enjoyed God(s) Eater Burst, but that’s about the extent of my involvement with such games. While twiddling my thumbs impatiently for news of a God Eater 2 Vita localization, I was gifted the game Freedom Wars by Francisco Fuentes for Christmas. I had some vague interest in the game beforehand, especially when I found out the God Eater team was involved in the production. But how does the game hold up in the end? Let’s take a look.

Freedom Wars was developed by SCE Japan Studio, who have produced a variety of PlayStation games over the years including Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and Gravity Rush. The game was also co-developed by studio Dimps (who worked on the Sonic Advance and Dragon Ball Z Budokai games) and Shift (who worked on the God Eater franchise).

I love my healing Thorn but that green has a nasty contrast with the rest of my Sinner's outfit.

I love my healing Thorn but that green has a nasty contrast with the rest of my Sinner’s outfit.

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DRAMAtical Murder Review: Pretty Dudes In Ugly Shoes

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When I first became acquainted with Francisco Garcia, he suggested that I play a certain visual novel/boys’ love dating simulator known as DRAMAtical Murder. At the time, I was more preoccupied with pestering Francisco for advice on how to set up a good team to fight the final boss in Persona 3 Portable, so I put his recommendation on the backburner. Now, after nearly two years and a rather tedious period of downloading and extracting various files to get the game to run, I can finally talk about this game in detail.

DRAMAtical Murder was developed and published in 2012 by Nitro+Chiral, the boy’s love- branch of visual novel production company Nitroplus.  Nitro+Chiral was also responsible for such games as Togainu no Chi and Lamento -BEYOND THE VOID-. DRAMAtical Murder proved popular enough to warrant a sequel, re:connect, that follows up the individual character routes, anime and manga adaptations, and will get a future PS Vita port that removes the game’s sexual content.

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Let’s play a game called “find the women in the CG backgrounds”.

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