Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

Overview:

Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.

The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Review:

Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)

Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)

 

Production: Bejing Enlight Media

Geeky:  5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.

Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Concept:

Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.

I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.

Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.

So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.

Story:

Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.

In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.

Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.

Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.

1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.

2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?

This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Characters

Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.

Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.

Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.

The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.

I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Production Value:

Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.

Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.

Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Are the Relationships in Scum’s Wish Really So Bad?

I recently discovered Scum’s Wish from an article describing the relationship between Mugi and Hanabi as abusive. While the anime begins with Mugi and Hanabi both in love with other people and only using each other to satisfy their physical desires, is there really anything inherently wrong with this? People have casual relationships all the time. Not all relationships are built around love.

Not only that, but, I think that love is a feeling that can grow over time. Hanabi and Mugi may not be in love just yet; but that doesn’t mean they won’t fall in love by the end of the anime or manga. There has been much foreshadowing already hinting at this possibility.

Could Hanabi and Mugi ever fall in love or have a happy ending?

Here are some clues that hint that they may be falling for eachother:

In Episode 1: Hanabi tells Mugi not to fall in love with her. Mugi tells her don’t worry, you’re not my type. And she tells him “Me Either” (you’re not my type either). This just seems to be setting a stage for them to fall in love by the end.

In Episode 2: Mugi tells Hanabi “Not all happy things have a happy ending, but you still wouldn’t want to erase them from your memory, and that how should I say, makes you even more unhappy.” — Perhaps Mugi and Hanabi will not have their happy ending, but they will look back not with hatred for eachother, but fondness instead.

In Episode 3, Hanabi starts crying and says that she wants to try to love Mugi

In Episode 2, she gets very aggressive and possessive of Mugi when Moca tries to get close to him.

In Episode 2, Mugi encourages Hanabi to go make friends and gently strokes her hair. Hanabi thinks this is strange and comments that it’s almost like he’s her boyfriend.

In Episode 3, when being naughty together, she thinks Mugi and the act of pleasing Mugi is cute. Mugi also reluctantly here gives in to Hanabi. He feels guilty for thinking (dreaming in this case) of the other girls. He tries to avoid Hanabi’s advances at first. In the end he laments that he is just “destined to be used as a plaything for adolescents”. He doesn’t sound very happy about this. He is hurting too and wants a more affectionate and loving relationship – Granted at this point he still wants it with Akane. He even says he can’t believe he’s satisfied by Hanabi and wishes Akane would “punish” him for it.

In all of the episodes, Hanabi is concerned not only with her own pleasure, but also worried if she’s good enough for Mugi and concerned with pleasing him as well.

The lyrics to the opening song seem to be more about Hanabi X Mugi than Hanabi X Oniichan.

“If Fate existed, I’d like to say, “You’re the one I’m destined to be with”, But I feel those words will destroy what we have right now… so I can’t say them. Even when you’re near you seem so distant. This feeling goes in and out like the tide. I’ll give up. I’ll never give up. An endless game of flower fortune telling. If I’ve lost the key to my treasure box, I’ll embrace my brightest emotions, Hiding their faintly colored remains behind my sighs. When our eyes meet, don’t look away! See through this lie hidden within them. I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now. I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.”

If we analyze those lyrics…

“I feel those words will destroy what we have right now so I can’t say them.” This could refer to either Mugi or Oniichan. With Oniichan and Hanabi they’ve been such good friends for so long that she’s afraid of ruining their friendship. With Mugi and Hanabi, she’s afraid of losing their relationship, even if it is purely physical.

“Even when you’re near you seem so distant” – Once again this line could apply to either Mugi or Oniichan. But I think it applies more to Mugi. Oniichan still comes over to have dinner and hang out as a friend with Hanabi, and they’re close, perhaps even inappropriately so, having to remind each other that he is now her teacher and she’s his student, so they don’t really seem distant at all. Mugi on the other hand keeps his emotions and thoughts hidden away from Hanabi, and they are close physically, but he always imagines Hanabi to be Mei or Akane. He doesn’t embrace Hanabi as Hanabi. He therefore in my opinion is always distant, even when they’re intimately close.

But the most telling is the line at the end: “When our eyes meet, don’t look away!” (Don’t think about Akane or Mei) See through this lie. (Her lie that she doesn’t love Mugi). “I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now” (Don’t tell me you love me, because I don’t know who I love / I love both of them, hence being a “playgirl” or “confused.) (Also “playgirl” would apply directly to how naughty she is with Mugi. With Oniichan she doesn’t have that type of physical relationship).  And “I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.” This could apply to both Mugi or Oniichan, but when you watch the anime, who or what always makes Hanabi cry… It’s Mugi most of the time. Her relationship with Mugi is painful to her… in the beginning, it’s painful to her because she feels like she’s “cheating” on Oniichan… but as time goes on, and at the end of the most recent episode, she’s crying and says she wants to try to love Mugi.

For Hanabi, the chances of ever having a relationship with Oniichan are small because he is her teacher now, and it would create a scandal. For Mugi, although Akane does fool around secretly with her students, this would not be much better already than his relationship with Hanabi or his past with Mei. Akane isn’t ready to be serious about anyone, and yes, she does inappropriate things with the other students, but this is not love either.

At what point (if any) should you give up on someone that you love, knowing that it just can never work out? What if you began seeking comfort from someone else to help fill that loneliness? In the 2nd Episode of Scum’s Wish it’s hinted at what exactly will happen. Hanabi goes out with some girls from her class. One of the girls is dating 2 boys at once. Now she can’t choose because she loves both of them. Hanabi tells her if she doesn’t choose, she will end up alone. This very likely will be in parallel to what will happen to Hanabi. If she can’t give up her crush on Oniichan, but continues to keep dating Mugi, at some point, she will be in love with both of them. She will become stuck and unable to choose either of them, so she will be left alone.

So what do you think? Can Mugi and Hanabi ever fall in love? Will Hanabi or Mugi let go of their crush and find happiness with one another? Is their relationship really that wrong? I don’t feel that they will regret their relationship either way even if they don’t end up together in the end. I think that they will build enough fond memories together that the overall experience of the relationship will have more happy memories than sad ones despite how it may end.

The other article that I read points out that they could find comfort in other things/people. Which may be true, but I still don’t think that comforting each other through their hard time is really that bad. The original article that I read made it sound as if Hanabi and Mugi turn their backs on their friends and family and only turn to each other. This is not true. Mugi has Moca, Hanabi has Oniichan, her mom, and Ecchan. You also see both of them with other classmates, and it’s even stated in the description of the anime that they are both “Popular” and “well liked” at school. So I don’t think that if the relationship were to end that either of them would fall into a hopeless depression.

Are the Relationships in Scum’s Wish Really So Bad? was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review

This past week I finally marathoned the anime that everyone’s been talking about. Yuri!!! On Ice won a ton of awards recently in Crunchyroll’s 2016 Anime awards. And not only that, but it’s been gaining unprecedented attention even from people who would not identify as Otaku or Anime fans, including actual real professional Olympic and Competitive Ice Skaters. The series is herald for its beautiful intricate artwork that perfectly captures the movements and expressions of professional ice skaters, as well as a fantastic musical score, and touching love story which stands apart from the rest since it features 2 LGBT males. It handles the relationship in a sweet and innocent and tasteful way, and shows a lot of depth and heart combined with suspense and drama as you watch and learn more about the characters inner most thoughts both on and off the ice.

Title: Yuri!!! On Ice

Release Date: October 2016

Genre: Slice of Life, Sports, Comedy, Romance

Length: Season 1 is 12 episodes. Season 2 has been announced but no date set yet

Studio: MAPPA and Funimation

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 5/5 – The level of difficulty in animating this show is mind blowing. The characters’ movements on the ice feel so lifelike. The soundtrack is also amazing with very memorable opening and ending themes.

Sweetie: 4/5 – There is a lot of comedy, as well as a very heartwarming love story between the main character and his coach. There’s also a cute doggie ❤ However, at times, especially later in the series the story can move a lttle too slowly.

Overall: 42/45 93% A “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 8/10 Yuri has just returned home to Japan after several years of training abroad as a professional Ice Skater. He finished last place in last year’s “Grand Prix” (although he fails to realize that even placing among these 6 finalists is a feat worthy of being proud of.). He returns to Japan unable to face his fans, friends, or family, until a mysterious guest arrives!! It’s Yuri’s life-long idol, Viktor, a famous Russian Figure Skater whom Yuri has always looked up to. Viktor announces that he has taken time off from his professional skating career in order to become Yuri’s coach. During this time he will live side by side with Yuri and things begin to heat up both on and off the ice. I deducted a few points as there are some pacing issues at times and the large amount of “skater jargon” can distract (although it does add realism which is a big plus!)

Characters: 10/10 There are a number of rival figure skaters from around the world. When they hear news of Viktor’s semi-retirement in order to coach Yuri, they have mixed reactions of anger, jealousy, intrigue, disappointment, or amusement.

Viktor’s former coach takes a new skater on to train in Viktor’s absense, who just also happens to named Yuri. This “other” Yuri had been friends with Viktor and Viktor had promised to choregraph his senior skating debut performance. Viktor is rather forgetful however about promises… leaving Yuri to travel to Japan to confront Japanese Yuri and the forgetful Viktor which sets off a heated rivalry which will last all season.

The story follows both Yuris and several other side characters, along with their coaches, as they travel and perform and perfect their skating, leading up to a face off in yet another Grand Prix.

Not only does it focus on the excitement of watching who will advance to the tournament finale, but also on their life, friends, family, and personal relationships both on and off the ice.

Animation: 5/5 – The animation in this series is insane. It seems as if you’re watching real people, real professional figure skaters.

Music: 5/5 – Each skater’s performances are highlighted with unique music scores, just like a real figure skater. Most of these tracks are super catchy, and watching them skate to each track is almost like some weird “Fantasia on Ice” anime. Not only that, but the opening theme and ending theme are both catchy AF and super memorable, both because of the songs and also the animations. The ending theme uses an instagram or snapchat style photo feed and totally brought back feels of Prompto’s Photography skill in FFXV making it very timely and relevant. Both Yuri on Ice and also FFXV also focus on strong male-centric relationships/friendships. The opening theme of Yuri on Ice is in English which is a rare and nice touch, and the animation is done in a sketch-book style of the anime opening.

Voice Acting: 5/5 The Voice Acting is also nearly flawless. Yuri’s sweet innocent voice, Christopher and Viktor’s more sultry/mature voices, Yurio’s rough and aggressive voice, or JJ’s high energy and confident voice, they each highlight the characters’ emotions and energy levels.

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Tsukihime Visual Novel Review and Details about the Remake

Tsukihime was my very first visual novel, and still one of my favorites. While looking up images to use in this post, I also came across news that there’s a remake in the works. This is old news I guess as it was first announced clear back in 2012. However, a post from Siliconera indicates that yes, it’s still in development as of July 2015, so that’s a good sign. You can see more updates about this remake over on Siliconera here.

I’m not going to cover those details here, because this review is actually for the original Tsukihime visual novel from 2001. Also, I’ve never watched the anime, I’ve been told by many people that the Tsukihime anime sucked. Please don’t ignore this visual novel, even if you really hated the anime. This is a must play for any visual novel fan.

PS: You can grab the fan translation here.  I couldn’t find a link for you guys to buy the game as it is now out of print, but Yahoo Japan Auctions or Ebay may be a good place to look. This game has never officially been released in English; but maybe now with the remake, we’ll finally see a commercial release.

P.P.S: This game is set in the same universe as Fate/Extra which is available in English. Instead of being a visual novel though, it’s an RPG that plays EXTREMELY similar to the Persona series. It’s a great game, and it’s getting older, and may become harder to find. If you like persona, or like Tsukihime, then you need to get this game. You can get Fate/Extra on Amazon for $44.95 here.

Also, Please Note: This is a Hentai Game, which means that it has adult scenes. — However, those scenes are very few in nature. This game is very long with an excellent story, and the hentai is near the end of each route. For example, I estimate it’ll take you at least 60 hours to complete all the routes in this game. The amount of hentai scenes in the game accounts for less than 2 hours from that total. You can always skip past those scenes if it makes you uncomfortable. Also one of the routes is with the main character’s sister, so if that makes you uncomfortable, you may either not want to play that route, or skip this game entirely. This is an adult game, and should not be played by children. Not only does it have a few sex scenes, but it has a TON of gore. It’s a very violent game.

Title: Tsukihime – Blue, Blue Glass Moon, Under the Crimson Sky

Platform: PC

Release Date: 2001 (Japan only)

Developer: Type-Moon

Genre: Visual Novel

Geeky: 2/5 

Sweetie: 2/5 

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Tsukihime is a visual novel with a dark, sad, and super natural story. It’s a very violent game. It’s also a hentai game. The writing in Tsukihime is exceptional. The characters are really unique and detailed. The writing is almost TOO detailed at times. I was really cringing in some of the scenes with Ciel near the end. It still makes my finger nails hurt just thinking about it haha. Overall it’s a great game. It has kinda amateurish artwork. It’s actually a Doujin game – which I guess is the equivalent to what we western folk call “Indie Games” – that is, Type-Moon began as a group of fans working on a game together, and not a big corporation. Given that – I think the artwork is acceptable since they didn’t necessarily have the budget or skill and experience as more established studios.

Gameplay: 3/10 Like most visual novels, there’s nothing to do except read, and click, and read, and click ad nauseam. The choices presented to you are also pretty dang spread out and few in number. The choices do matter and determine which route you get on. If you’re stuck, also there’s a tips section that’s set up in a really unique and humorous way. There’s also of course the option to skip previously read text. But it’s pretty basic visual novel style gameplay here. You don’t really play this game for gameplay, you play it for story, but I’m scoring story separately below. so Gameplay wise, it’s about a 3.

Story: 10/10 The reason I love this visual novel so much is because of the story. It’s a long tale with some surprising twists especially regarding Shiki (the player character) and the two maid twins. It’s been a few years since I played, but I think one of the maid’s routes only unlocks after completing all other good and true endings – and her route really will close the loop nicely on all the questions from the previous routes, bringing the game a good sense of closure.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but the bare bones is as follows (may spoil the first hour or so of the game for you): You play as Shiki; he has been hospitalized and sick for a long time. Shiki has a memory of a girl who disappeared from his life who was very kind to him and encouraged him greatly. The other girls throughout the game will remind him of his mystery girl in his memories. Somewhere along the way while hospitalized, he discovered he could see the “life line” in all things – living or even inanimate objects. Because he was bored and stuck in a hospital bed, he discovered one day that just by idly tracing his finger over this “life line” he could erase whatever that object was from existence. Not just “killing” whatever it was, but making it so it never “was” to begin with. Finally now he’s going home from the hospital. He gets notice that his father died and that he is being requested to move back to his childhood home. He has not been home in many years. Shiki becomes reacquainted with his sister and the maids of the mansion where he used to play as a child. He also begins going back to school. On his way to school one day he passes by a beautiful woman. He doesn’t know why, but he feels compelled to follow her. He waits until she enters her apartment, and he can’t resist the urge to murder her. Shiki is not a violent person; he’s never hurt anyone before, but he feels disgusted by this woman. He cannot control himself and completely destroys her, chopping her to bits with a knife and brutally attacking her. Much to Shiki’s surprise, as he’s leaving school the next day, the woman is there again in the same place where they met the day before. It turns out that she is a vampire, and that’s why Shiki could not kill her. It’s also explained why he felt so compelled to kill her (and about his strange power to see life lines) later on in the story – but I won’t spoil that for you just now. Needless to say, the vampire is pissed, and she also has a mission she’s on, so she forces Shiki to basically become her slave and help her by using his power of being able to see life lines to obliterate anyone or anything from existence.

Characters: 10/10 Each of the characters has a different super natural secret. Also all characters have a “good” ending and a “true” ending which is much sadder. The character interaction is really high. The characters are unique, and as the mystery plays out you do see them evolve and change. You also are drawn to the characters and begin to feel their pain and saddness. Most of their pasts are very sad.

Graphics: 3/10 Sorry to say, but these graphics are bad. They’re ugly, the proportions are weird, and they just look very amateurish. The picture I’ve attached is from the 2001 visual novel. You can see how her head almost seems to be detached from her neck and at a funny angle – and this one of the more “pretty” pictures that I could find. (Not counting the anime or fanart or etc) Luckily, in the new remake the artwork is much higher quality, while still having the same character designs and appearance, just being redrawn and recolored in a more modern style.  These graphics are no where nearly as bad as the original Higurashi – but still bad lol. By that, if Higurashi is like a 1 on a 10 scale, Tsukihime is maybe a 3. A slight improvement, but still not even “average” looking.

Music: 7/10 I like the music and sound effects used in Tsukihime. It fits the mood perfectly and gives it a nice dark and mysterious feeling. However, ultimately, none of the tracks really stand out in a memorable way.

Replay Value: 10/10 The game is long in and of itself. Each route will probably take 6-10 hours to complete. When you factor in the multiple endings for each character, that extends that time to 12-20 hours per character with 4 dateable characters – you’re looking around 60-80 hours of gameplay time. And it’s well worth it. The story and each of the routes are really interesting. The stories do start a bit slow, but you learn more and more about Shiki, his powers, his past, and just why he was sent away from his childhood home in the first place. Really great story, worth playing all routes to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. The new remake is adding more characters and routes, so I’m really looking forward to it. I just hope they don’t change the story too much as it’s so good already as it is!

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Tsukihime Visual Novel Review and Details about the Remake was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review

Ever17 is probably my all time favorite visual novel. It was one of the first that I had played, and the story is so good. It’s not your typical “dating” or “romance” novel. It’s a very thrilling and suspenseful tale about a group of young people trapped in an underwater theme park. They are running out of oxygen, and worse yet, the computer systems are failing which is causing the pressure inside the ship to build, causing leaks. They’re also running out of fresh food and water. Strange things also begin happening aboard the ship. Some characters resign themselves to their doomed fates, while others will do whatever it takes to survive.

I’ve referenced this game in many of my other reviews, most notably, my review of Stein’s Gate (which you can check out here.) The reason for that is because after Kid, the developers of Ever17 and the rest of the series which includes Never7 and Remember 11 (both have been fan-translated) and 12Riven and Code_18,  which to my knowledge have not been translated closed down, many of the staff members joined 5PB (developers of Stein’s Gate).

There are numerous similarities between the two games – both games deal with time travel, both games have the same interface (more or less, Stein’s Gate has the cellphone thing, but other than that, the menu design and especially the Tips section is really similar). But the biggest impression both games leave is a strong scifi mystery regarding time travel which uses true life events, people, theories, and science to create a great sense of immersion. Schrodinger’s Cat, John Titor, Black Holes, etc. I doubt I’m the only person who googled some of these things while playing and became interested in them because of these games.

The same author of Ever17 (and etc.) also wrote the script for 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors, and Zero Escape, Virtue’s Last Reward (and the sequels).

So if you like any of those “newer” games – please play Ever17 – in my opinion it’s STILL the best out of all of those – in terms especially of story, mystery, and suspense.

If You’re wondering what order to play these games in. This is the proper order: Never7 –> Ever17 –> Remember11 –> 12Riven –> Code18 // Stein’s Gate –> Stein’s Gate 2 (still in development) // 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors –> Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward –> Zero Time Dilemma (still in development).

Stein’s Gate and 999 are not directly related to Ever17, but they do have spoilers that might deter your enjoyment of Ever17 – especially 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which are very similar to Ever17. They’re great games, but Ever17 is still better :).

Title: Ever17 The Out of Infinity

Developer: Kid

Publisher: Hirameki International (who are now sadly out of business)

Genre: Visual Novel

Release Date: 2005

Platform: PC (There are numerous other versions, including a 3D version on the Xbox360 – however, none of these ports or remakes have ever made it to North America, despite the surprising success of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which you think would cause them to consider bringing this title over. It could perhaps have to do with licensing issues now that Kid and Hirameki are both dissolved. )

Where to Buy: MY GOD!! It’s going for almost $1,000 on Amazon LOL. Or for about $400-600 from other resellers. Now I’m really tempted to sell my copy. But I worry I will want to play it again some day. — Anyways, needless to say, with both KID and Hirameki being out of business, this game is EXTREMELY rare and highly sought after (because it’s awesome). You can keep an eye on this amazon page and see if there are any new listings. http://www.amazon.com/EVER-17 Ebay might also be a good option, it looks like a few recent auctions have gone for around $100-200 (Example from last month: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ever-17)

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Like most visual novels, you progress through the game by reading an interactive story, choosing how to respond at different points which in turn determine what parts of the story you see or which endings you receive. After completing each character ending, a new option will open up when you next start a new game at the title screen which will let you see the true ending – which is a huge mind fuck in this case – in a good way, but it’s very well worth the effort in doing all the endings and being rewarded by finally being told wtf is going on here – and it’s definitely NOT what you think it is. Really surprising / twist ending – I enjoyed it very much. It ties up every single question you have and is just so satisfying. Unlike the next game in the series, Remember11, which up until the true ending, I was liking it even more than Ever17, and then it just kinda ends with an open ending and you feel ripped off lol. Ever17’s routes are all really well fleshed out and tinged with sadness and mystery. But they resolve all of that mystery with the true ending. It’s awesome.

Gameplay: 6/10 The nature of visual novel games makes gameplay always a bit dull. The gameplay here is spiced up a little bit as you will switch between two different characters (which is a concept they also use in Remember11). And like any good visual novel (but sadly not all visual novels) there is a skip function to bypass previously read text to make multiple playthroughs much easier. There’s no minigames or anything of that nature to break up the “monotonous” gameplay of clicking and reading large blocks of text. However, compared to most novels, Ever17 has a ton of choices, and those choices carry a lot of meaning. As mentioned above, the true ending is also really satisfying, making all of that reading well worth it in the end.

Story: 9/10 I deducted one point because of the notoriously bad translation. It’s not really THAT bad where it detracts from the story or my enjoyment of the game – but it really needed another set of eyes to proofread this thing before it went commercial. There’s fan translations that are higher quality than this (I dunno, there might even be a fan patch for this game, I never looked, because like I said, the translation didn’t bother me that much.)

More importantly, this game’s story is amazing. I’ve mentioned a few times, but it uses real world theories and scientific principles which really helps build immersion and buy-in from the audience. The main theme is time travel – although that’s not readily apparent at first. And I won’t comment on how that comes into play, because that’d be a huge spoiler. All I can say is, if you like time travel games like Stein’s Gate – check this game out.

But at the heart of the story, is humanity struggling against their fate, people’s will to survive, and people’s determination to save their friends, family, and loved ones.

It also has an interesting juxtaposition of a childlike setting (a huge themepark), and the impending doom and oppressive feeling and urgency throughout the game.

Of course, the true ending is really satisfying, you’re left without any burning questions or confusion. It ties everything up into a neat little package with a bow on top for you to unwrap.

Characters: 10/10 The characters begin their “vacation” with such innocence and enthusiasm until they realize their sad fates. The characters slowly begin to change (which is a key sign of character development). Some who were anti-social before and independent, become weak and fearful, others who were innocent and bright become reclusive, almost all of the characters become neurotic, and a few become desperate enough to do anything to survive. It’s interesting to watch their struggle, their cooperation, how they begin to organize and band together to ration their food, lift eachother’s spirits, and search for a way to contact the outside to send help.

There’s also numerous mysteries within the main mystery, ghosts, artificial intelligence, children searching for their parents, amnesia, and more.

Graphics: 8/10 For the time, the graphics are quite beautiful. Keep in mind, this game is now 14 years old (the original Japanese version debuted in 2002). For that, the character style, the backgrounds, and even the 3d animation  (in the opening video) are all very well done. Of course, by today’s standards, with technology like Live 2D and fully fluid moving character sprites (such as those in Ensemble Stars or NekoPara), the artwork, especially of the sprites, is stiff and dated. It’s still quite lovely though. — Interestingly enough, the Xbox360 remake features 3D character art – however, fans have often criticized the new art and prefer the original art of the PC version.

Music: 8/10 I loved the soundtrack in this game – it really helped add to the mystery and suspense, and even desperation that the characters were experiencing.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The voice acting is also another highlight of the game. I hear that they re-recorded all of the voice acting for the 360 version – rather this was to improve it, or due to licensing fees I’m not sure. – But in my opinion, the voice acting within the original PC version was excellent.

Replay Value: 10/10 The true ending is worth all of the work – and each of the routes are really well done. Many times a visual novel will have some routes that are not fleshed out well. But that’s not the case here. I tremendously enjoyed each route, making it almost impossible to pick a favorite. Also even though I’ve beaten it to completion and completed the true ending – I’d still play this game again – because it’s so good. Seriously, just go play this game if you’ve never experienced it.

Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”

Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lovely Complex | LoveCom | Love*Com | Anime Review

Title: Lovely Complex (Also commonly referred to as Love*Com)

Release Date: 2007

Episodes: 24

Based on: Manga by Aya Nakahara – There’s also a live action movie but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a die hard fan of this series – definitely read the manga or watch the anime first at least. The movie tries to fit 24 episodes into an hour or 2 hour format. It just doesn’t work. Too much has to be cut. It kinda just felt like watching a recap or highlight reel. There’s also a videogame but to my knowledge it has not been translated. The manga also has a sequel focusing on Risa’s little brother.

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life, Drama

Where to Buy: Amazon has it for $32 for the Complete Series on DVD http://www.amazon.com/Lovely…

Geeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 34 / 40 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 10/10 The story of Love*Com follows Risa and Otani, two youths who happen to be good friends in the same class. What’s unusual about them is that Risa is taller than even the boys in her class, and Otani is shorter even than the girls! They are teased often, but also both quite popular, and even more so popular when they are together and do “comedy skits” for their classmates. They have a good sense of humor and don’t mind being the running jokes of the classroom. They also have a lot of friends. Otani is exceptionally good at sports despite his tiny size.

This is a slice of life anime which focuses on how feelings of friendship gradually change to love. However, there are many obstacles in front of the new couple, most notably, worrying about further teasing from their classmates, but also worrying about wrecking their friendship.

I think this is one of the only anime to feature mismatched couples based on height and the pacing and balance of both romance and comedy feel right on spot.

Characters: 9/10 Risa is a lot stronger than Otani, emotionally, and probably physically as well given her size compared to him. Otani has a lot of insecurities which make him hold back more throughout the series. At times it is almost painful to watch him reject Risa repeatedly. But Risa is determined and doesn’t give up. It’s also painful at times to see the strain it puts on their friendship and watching them try to pretend the feelings for eachother aren’t there. They put themselves through a lot of pain before coming to accept their feelings. Watching them struggle and fail kinda makes me want to reach through the screen and shake them at times – but that’s also where the majority of the show’s suspense and drama comes into play so it’s a good thing really in the end. As mentioned above, the character dynamics are unique and not your typical pairing.

Art: 3/5 I like the art, but the main female is just not very attractive. Her top knot hairstyle is really not kawaii (not cute). It is unique though. The way it’s parted right down the middle, and her large round forehead without bangs and how thin and “stringy” and “flat to her head” the hair looks – I just find her utterly unattractive. Other than that though, the art is colorful and clean :)

Music: 4/5  – I really like the opening theme – but it’s a bit weird the song is sung from Otani’s perspective “I won’t tell you I like you” is one of the lyrics –  and it’s sung by a male vocalist. — The anime on the other hand focuses more on and seems to be from more of Risa’s perspective. It’s still a really kawaii and catchy song!! The rest of the music throughout the series is less memorable but fits with the theme well.

Overall: 34 / 40 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Lovely Complex | LoveCom | Love*Com | Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

School Days Visual Novel PC Game Review

I was asked by a reader that I met on crunchyroll’s forums today if I would please review the School Days visual novel, from which the popular yandere anime is based. I actually picked this game up a few months ago in Groupee’s Visual Novel 2 Bundle sale. And I’m glad I did.

Now before we go on, this is an adult game, or hentai game as they call it. I won’t be putting any adult screenshots or going into too much detail about these scenes. There is a lot of REAL story elements and it’s more than just all about sex, but you should know that there is still a fair amount of Hentai in this game.

With that out of the way, the single coolest thing is that unlike visual novels that you click and read, Playing School Days is more like watching an anime. You only have precious few seconds to make a decision when prompted to do so or the story makes one for you lol.

Everything is animated, everything moves, everything’s fully voiced (in Japanese with English subtitles of course), and all of this creates a game in which everything feels so alive. And everything is happening in real time. That’s my favorite thing about School Days.

It’s even presented like an anime, divided into chapters (don’t worry all included in one game) that are separated by opening and ending theme songs and credits rolling. The opening changes too depending on whose route you’re on at the time. A nice touch to help further create the illusion that you’re watching an anime, instead of playing a game.

With the initial thoughts out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the mechanics of the game below:

Title: School Days

Genre: Visual Novel

Developer: 0verflow

Publisher: Jast USA

Platform: PC (there’s many console versions too but none of them were released in English)

Where to Buy: JAST USA

Geeky:

Sweetie:

Overall Score: 85/90 ‘A’ 94% Excellent Game for Girls

Concept 10/10: School Days is a fully animated “real time” experience which is quite different from most Visual Novel styled games. While watching the game, you’ll be presented brief, but numerous, choices, which will impact the game in a huge number of ways.

School Days has such a widely branching plot that there are still scenes I have not seen despite getting 2 good endings; and at least 1 or 2 more good endings that I know of. I first got the Christmas Eve Kotonoha ending and then got the Ending for Sekai in which she brings me Pastries.

I actually just looked it up; and there’s a total of 20 different endings; and apparently 2 more dateable girls – I thought you could only date Sekai or Kotonoha – but you can also apparently date Hikari and Setsuna as well. Which means I need to play more lol.

There’s also Harem endings and even an Otome ending (not sure what that is? Typically an Otome game is where you date guys (but you usually play a girl) Maybe it’s a Yaoi or Boy’s Love ending since you always play as Makoto.)

Despite how the anime ends – the game is not that hard, at all. All you need to do is treat the girl you like well and sometimes that means being cruel or mean to the other girls. I did not reach a bad end on either of my first play throughs while trying to obtain either Kotonoha or Sekai. And out of the 20 endings, only 3 of them are “bad endings”

Here is some more info about all the endings. NOTE: THIS LINK HAS SPOILERS AND IS NOT RELATED TO MY BLOG. YOU’VE BEEN WARNEDhttp://overflow.wikia.com/wiki/Endings

Gameplay: 10/10 As mentioned a few times above; Everything happens in real time, the game doesn’t even need input from you to move on to the next scene, and sometimes saying nothing at all is a valid, or even correct, choice in the game. Everything is fully animated, fully voiced, and there are hundreds of scenes and 20 endings. You won’t have to watch for too long before you’re being prompted to make another important decision. There’s also a nifty skip feature to skip scenes you’ve already seen.

Story 10/10: The main premise is there’s a girl that you like, but you’ve never confessed to her before. Then one day, a classmate and friend of yours find that you have your crush’s picture on your cellphone. They suggest that since they are a girl, they could talk to them for you and help introduce you. The three of you become best friends, but the girl that helped fix you up is suddenly realizing she has romantic feelings for you too. Your friendships and relationships begin to change as you are forced to decide where your priorities lie.

Characters 10/10: You play the role of Makoto, a shy, quiet young man with a crush on a beautiful stranger which he observes from afar. Your best friend at school is a girl named Sekai who discovers your crush and wants to help you out. At first, Sekai feels it’d be fun, like a game. Her personality is very fun and you feel relaxed and comfortable around her. But you still can’t forget the beautiful girl (Kotonoha) who has now become your girlfriend thanks to Sekai’s intervention. Kotonoha is very reserved. She’s afraid especially of men because she’s been harassed due to her very mature figure. Despite how beautiful she is, you’re her first boyfriend, and she is very distant and hard to get close to. You feel you’re always watching what you say or do so that you don’t upset her; and you begin to wonder if this is really what a relationship is supposed to be like.

I really liked Sekai’s route a lot better than Kotonoha… I feel like Makoto and Kotonoha just don’t have anything in common and are in a purely lustful sexual relationship (at least from Makoto’s standpoint; I think from Kotonoha’s standpoint it’s more just, she’s lonely, and has become dependent on Makoto which she has translated to feelings of love.) Whereas, with Sekai, there’s a lot more tender, emotional scenes, at least with my experience; now I have not played 100%; but I did get 2 of the good endings, so I’ve seen quite a bit. My fave scene is the bonfire festival with Sekai. 🙂

I thought I’d like Kotonoha best; but in the end I’m much more fond of Sekai.

I didn’t realize at time of this review that you could date Hikari and Setsuna – I thought that was only in Shiny Days (a spinoff of School Days). So I can’t comment too much on their characters yet until I play back through it again.

The characters do feel very real though thanks to everything being fully animated; just like watching an anime.

Music: 10/10 I know I keep giving everything 10/10 it’s so unlike me lol. (most of my “favorite” games end up scoring 60-70% and getting a C.) But the Music here is another great point. Since everything plays out like you’re watching an anime, the music, as well as voice acting (scored seperately below) are all really important elements. I love love love the Opening theme. It’s so catchy, that I listened to it every time a new “episode” began.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – Can’t complain here either. It is fully voiced. In fact, if you can understand Japanese you can play without the subtitles on and then it’s even more like watching a movie, which is how it would be in it’s native format for Japanese gamers. The production values are just sky high.

Graphics: 8/10 – Alright I’m going to finally pick on one TEENY TINY thing. The way the eyes, especially the eyelids are drawn/animated really bothers me for some reason. But hell, that’s hardly anything to complain about at all! The whole game is animated. This is huge. Why don’t other visual novels do this? I wish every visual novel was presented this way. It’s so much more dynamic and engaging. But yes, I’m guessing that this is 3d, instead of 2d, although cell shaded to look like anime – there’s a few awkward things (like the eyes) which just don’t look right on the 3d models. Sometimes a hand-drawn art is more lovely. But I don’t mind losing some “finesse” in this case, to be treated to a game that literally plays like an anime series.

Replay Value 10/10: With 20 different endings and different scenes/routes/paths to take to get to said endings, the combinations are almost endless. This is a huge project, where every single replay is truly unique. Where most novels don’t branch until the end, School Days branches right away and continues to twist and turn, as you play each game. There’s also the nice skip feature, which makes subsequent playthroughs much easier. Therefore, there’s really no reason to not want to keep playing to see all the different endings, including the rather iconic “bad endings” as well.

Overall Score: 85/90 ‘A’ 94% Excellent Game for Girls

(or lets face it, with all the Hentai content, it’s an Excellent game for guys too hehe. But I really do think that girls who are not offended by the large amount of Hentai content will find this to be one of their favorite visual novels)

School Days Visual Novel PC Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Always Sometimes Monsters Review

This game is one that you either love, or you hate. I love it; but there are a lot of people who give this game low and negative reviews. Your mileage may vary. It is not a happy sunshiney game. And since it is a visual novel, you’re not going to do much besides read, play a few mini games, and make some choices to reach a few different endings. It’s a very personal game, and you come to care a lot about the characters, which makes some (most) of the endings pretty gut-wrenching which enrages a lot of people.

The one thing I would like to point out, 99% of the negative reviews on steam, mention the scene where you’re moving boxes from conveyor belts and into a truck. YOU CAN STOP AT ANY TIME. People get bored here, and never play the game any further, or they bitch about this one particular scene (there are a few other similar scenes) and ignore the other more emotionally engaging scenes when writing their review. The game is only as “boring” and “repetitive” as you want to make it lol.

Title: Always Sometimes Monsters

Platform: PC

Publisher: Vagabond Dog

Genre: Visual Novel (I guess? or RPG without any combat. Visual Novel’s probably the closest description, but you get to wander around rpg-maker style maps and play a lot of minigames.) (Actually it played kinda similar to To the Moon; but is more about making choices, instead of just reading one story. There’s several stories within this story.)

Where to Buy: Steam for the PC version $9.99.

And apparently there are cheaper IOS and Android versions? Interesting.

Pick up the Android version on amazon here: $4.99 http://www.amazon.com/Devolver-Digital-Always-Sometimes-Monsters/dp/B00QXF3B7A

Pick up the IOS version here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/always-sometimes-monsters/id968827222?mt=8 also $4.99

Geeky: geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: sweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 70 / 90 78% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This is a game with a lot of personalization and customization. It allows you to select the gender, appearance, and name of your main character (as well as your significant other) and then throughout the game, you are presented with moral dilemmas which impact the ending you receive.

Story 10/10: I won’t spoil much here. But the main overarching story is that your ex invites you accidentally to their wedding. This makes you realize that you still love them and that you intend to go to the wedding to confess your love or try to stop the couple from getting married. You have no job, no car, no money, and you need to get half way across the country. In order to do this, you do favors for people and little by little get rides in return that help you reach your destination. Often you have to sleep outside, eat out of garbage cans, and wonder if you’re making the right decisions. There are numerous setbacks and lots of plot twists as well. As mentioned, because it is a visual novel styled game, your story will be slightly different from any one else’s, and you can replay it to get different outcomes.

Characters 10/10: The script is written in a very “down to earth” way; and it makes the characters seem very real. There are some really strong emotions in this game. From anger, jealousy, resentment, fear, sadness, guilt, empathy, forgiveness, redemption, etc. Most all of the characters have flaws, from stealing, to infidelity, to jealousy, selfishness, indulgence, even addictions (gambling, drugs, sex, etc). This makes the cast very real and really helps with immersion.

Gameplay: 8/10 As mentioned, it plays a lot like To the Moon, an RPG-maker style game in which you do have free reign to explore the map and environment, but in which there is no combat. It also features numerous choices and decision points with branching plots and multiple endings, similar to a visual novel game. There are also numerous Mini-Games sprinkled in which help to break up the sometimes slow gameplay.

The game is often criticized for only giving the illusion of choice, but actually there are different outcomes in the end. Most of the endings are “imperfect” with some part of the game, some character, or some circumstance, always being unhappy in the end. This is also often criticized; but that’s the point of the game, which it tries to stress. Humans become victims of the choices they make.

For me, the ending I got was quite satisfactory. I won back my love, and the person that had done wrong to me over and over, the person that had been just moments ago in a position to redeem themselves but had chosen to continue to be a “bad person” well karma kicked their ass – one way or another, there’s a couple of different endings and ways in which they can be punished. I found it immensely satisfying that the tables had been turned so to speak.

The one caveat in the gameplay, and the reason I can’t in good faith give it a perfect 10, is that there are some (or at least one for sure) choices that if you don’t pick the “right” answer, you get a pretty shitty ending. I picked the “correct” choice because I wanted to “be the better person”. Despite what this other person had done to me, I wasn’t going to be a “monster” to them. There’s a lot of weight on this one choice at the very end of the game, which then it kinda makes me feel like the other choices in the game do not matter. No matter how good or bad you are up until then, it feels like if you do or don’t do this one thing, which then leads to another similar do or don’t do this one thing, then you get or don’t get the good ending. I don’t like that one choice being so weighted. But such is the nature of visual novel games; it is totally possible to get on/off of a certain branch in the plot just from one bad/good choice. Therefore, its not necessarily a fault of Always Sometimes Monsters, but perhaps a fault of this genre of games in general.

There are also SOME moments which are slow and bogged down in this game. Such as the box moving scenario which I mentioned at the beginning of my review. Some people exaggerate this element though. As I prefaced my review by saying, the gameplay is only as boring as YOU make it. You can quit these scenes at any time; you might not realize it at first, but it’s all about “free choice”. Move 10 boxes, or 100, or 1,000. Your call. But yeah, I will agree, some parts of the game are not terribly interesting; but, no where NEAR as bad as the negative reviews make this seem.

The other odd thing in gameplay is, does eating have any impact on the game? I don’t think it does, yet you have a hunger gage and you have in game currency and must eat and buy food. They say if you don’t eat and try to go to bed something bad might happen? Does anything bad really happen if you don’t eat? I don’t know.

Music 6/10: The music had a fun and funky retro vibe to it, which I really enjoyed. Ultimately though, it’s not very memorable. Just kinda average. It’s been about a year since I played the game now, and I can’t really recall any specific tracks from the game.

Graphics 7/10: The graphics also went for a retro feeling. I like RPG-Maker games and 16 bit games, so this is fine with me. But a lot of gamers may not really dig the retro style. I gotta give high marks for allowing you to customize your and your ex’s appearance and I feel the character art/portraits are quite good. The sprites themselves and the tile sets used in the world are sorta reminiscent of games such as pokemon, earthbound, or other 90s era RPGs. The sprites have a cutesy feel with big heads and very large eyes. The game environment is nice and colorful too. The area in which I feel it loses some points is that there are no what I call “CG” or “Event” scenes. Which are pretty common in almost all visual novels. These scenes are usually high quality still or panning camera shots, which show key moments with a more detailed and stylistic art style to help highlight certain scenes and events. This game doesn’t have any of those.

Customization 8/10: This game allows you to have same sex relationships if you would like. It also allows you to choose your race and gender and appearance of yourself, and your ex. Most of all, it gives you freedom to play the game the way you want, and make the choices you want to make; you just might have to live with the consequences of those choices later on.

Replay Value 5/10: This is a long, and sometimes slowly paced game, and the only time the plot branches significantly is at the end. This makes replaying not as much fun if you’ve already reached a satisfactory ending. However, I enjoyed this game and would say, it’s a title I could see myself replaying at some point, just because, I had fun. I mean, I have replayed completely linnear games with only one ending before lots of times too if I like the game. And Always Sometimes Monsters is a game I like.

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Overall: 70 / 90 78% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Always Sometimes Monsters Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Girlish Love Revolution | Otometeki Koi Kakumei * Love Revo!! | Nintendo DS | Love Revo | Girlish Love Revo | Weight Loss | Anime | Dating Sim | Review | Editorial | English Translation

This review and editorial is for Girlish Love Revo (Otometeki Koi Kakumei * Love Revo!!), a dating sim, otome, and weight loss management simulation game on the Nintendo DS.

Note: This game has never been released “officially” in English, but it has been fan translated. You can grab the fan translation patch AND the handy walkthru from this site here: https://sites.google.com/site/loverevoguide/translation-project/download They also tell you how to patch your copy of the game.

The game can be purchased from sites like Yes! Asia or Play Asia or occasionally found on Amazon It’s currently only $8 bucks on amazon with 34 copies available, so that’s the one I recommend buying from (at time of this review).

For $8 bucks PLEASE help support the industry and send a message LOUD AND CLEAR that English speaking gamers WANT otome games like this by choosing to BUY the game instead of downloading a rom of it online. (You know, especially since Idea Factory right now IS listening to us American fans and bringing us many of their Otome games, because, this is in fact, also an Idea Factory game too! So chances are good, if they hear us say we want it, they’ll release an official English version.)

Here’s the linkhttp://www.amazon.com/Otometeki-Kakumei-DS-Japan-Import-Nintendo/dp/B0013D98Q0

So the past few days I’ve been playing this game again. I had tried to play the game a few years ago when the fan translation came out. But it kinda offended me. I’m overweight myself. And the message that it sends to young girls just sucks to be honest. The main problem I have is that all of the characters except for one of them, treat the girl (that’s you by the way) like sheer crap. Like she’s less than human. But the main character is so dumb that she wants their love and affection anyways and so she decides to lose weight to impress these assholes. Okay, fine, if you want to lose weight, that’s cool. I want to lose weight too; but you know, for the right reasons, like not getting diabetes, and being able to keep up with more fit friends and family when they want to go outdoors and be active and well to look and feel better for myself. I mean fuck everyone else. My weight has never been an issue for any of the guys I dated, except for one, and he was an abusive asshole and not worth all the time and effort I put into things. BUT enough about me — Let’s get back to discussing Love Revo.

I began again, because, man there’s a lot of people online who LOVE this game…. I think I must be missing something here…. and I kinda was…. I think when I first played it a few years ago I was confused about how large the girl actually was. The measurements are in Kilograms. I’m like what the fuck she’s only 100 lbs. But no, actually she’s 220 lbs because she’s 100 KG when the game starts, about the same or close to my weight, so yeah, my bad. She is obese. (and so am I) And actually… once you get your weight down to 89 KG or less, the guys begin to be nice to you… which is still PRETTY DAMN BIG…. ESPECIALLY… considering the fact that this game is ONLY available for sale in asian markets — 89 KG is 196 lbs…. Which is HUGE for an asian. Now before you get all mad and butthurt, I’m not trying to stereotype (or body shame anyone for that matter), I’m just saying that over there, with body shaming and stuff, and the peer pressure to fit in, o they would typically be a laughing stock at that weight because you know, that’s just how their society rolls over there. That’s all. Everyone is like a size 2. And if you aren’t a size 2, you’re ostracized by your students, peers, and even your family. SOOOOOO On that note…. Well this game isn’t that bad. Hell. 196 lbs is still Obese by a doctor’s definition, even in America, land of the fat. But it’s a lot healthier than 220 lbs. I’d like to lose 30 lbs like that too LOL. So on that note… This game is not REALLY about body shaming, but about just being healthier. But it’s STILL about losing weight for the WRONG reasons. which upsets me. :(

That said, as I continued to play the game, I began to think about losing weight myself. I hate exercise, like most geeky gamer girls probably out there. And I already don’t eat much and eat clean and healthy, lots of veg, etc, so I know for me, the whole obstacle, is I need to exercise dammit. I’m sedentary at work and in my leisure time. Playing this game made me feel like I should start exercising, and that exercising might be fun, and that wow look at her weight drop off, I want to lose weight like that too! I got kinda motivated by it I guess is what I’m trying to say. There are better games out there, that actually you know, help you to burn calories, such as “Walk it Off” or “Dance Dance Revolution” or “Just Dance!”; but still, any game that can make a fat girl want to exercise, has some merit I guess.

There’s also a new recently released, unrelated but similar Otome IOS Iphone Ipad game that helps you work out. I think I might download it (and review it at some point). Which is called, Burn your fat with me girls! which you can grab here for IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/burn-your-fat-me!!-for-girls/id657192163?mt=8 and here for android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.funsolution.nensho_eng&hl=en

Actually the news of the release of the above Otome weight loss IOS app is what prompted me to want to replay Love Revo.

I spent 3 days with Love Revo this week and this is what I discovered:

1.) It’s not as “bad” as I thought in terms of body shaming and making the character “throw herself” at these men.

2.) Not all of the characters are assholes. (Though some of them are and I still don’t like that they only get “nicer” when you lose weight.)

3.) It’s actually really educational and fairly accurate

a. It focuses on weight loss from different core muscle groups such as arms, legs, abs, face, whole body, etc.

b. There are a huge number of different exercises that target the different muscle groups and you get better results by mixing up your workout routine

c. You have to cheat occasionally on your diet, like when going out with guys, or friends and family, food is part of social interaction. Also, when you’re alone, if you’re stressed, you can lower your stress by eating snacks, but if you do this too much, you will gain weight. There are numerous snacks available and you can minimize your weight gain by choosing highly filling foods with lower calories. (Also just like in real life, eating healthy costs more money. Oh and also the food expires and you have to buy new food.) When you do go off your diet by overeating you can correct it by working out harder and eating better the next day(s)

d. You have to keep your studies up and also devote time to developing relationships so you have to be “well rounded” not just “smoking hot”

4.) This game is hard as balls. I have yet, either this time, or years ago, to ever get a guy’s ending!!! I have all of the stats at the right level (circle within a circle in the “dear sister” report and “You make my heart throb” when asking what they think of me… but they have NEVER once asked me out on Christmas OR accepted my Valentines Day chocolate. FOREVER ALONE LOL. I think I failed to go on enough dates with them. But to be fair a lot of times when I asked, they turned me down or were busy, and UNLIKE Tokimeki Memorial, the times they will turn you down are RANDOM in Girlish Love Revolution. Where in Tokimeki you’ll only get turned down if they have club or work and you can memorize their schedules to maximize use of your time. In Girlish Love Revo, if they turn you down it’s just pure coincidence. They recommend that you save before you ask the guy out and reload until he says yes. I’m too lazy to save/reload that often though.

5.) There’s a “good ending” in which you can fail to get any of the guys but just decide that you’re happy with yourself and decide to focus on your career instead of dating. I like this ending because it sorta addresses my main complaint with the game having a rather negative message for young girls.

6.) The game is actually pretty fun. But not as good in terms of story and character development as some other Otome games out there, but perhaps more fun than them in terms of gameplay and variety of things to do within the game.

With my thoughts on this game out of the way, let’s move on to the review!

Title: Otometeki Koi Kakumei * Love Revo!! (Girlish Love Revolution)

Genre: Otome Stat Raising Sim with Visual Novel and Dating Sim elements

Publisher: Idea Factory

Release Date: January 2006 (Japan only)

Platform: Nintendo DS (It was also later ported to windows PCs but there’s no english translation patch for that version)

Where to Buy$8 bucks on Amazon at time of this review. Click here to Buy on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Otometeki-Kakumei-DS-Japan-Import-Nintendo/dp/B0013D98Q0

Geeky: geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 

Overall: 53 / 80 66% D. Average Game for Girls.

Concept: 7/10 The concept of the game rubs me the wrong way a bit, as mentioned; most of the guys are assholes and only treat you like an actual human being when you begin to lose weight. However, despite the sort of “bad message” that this sends to girls, this is still an entertaining, fun, and very unique concept with cute anime art and quirky characters. The game is basically a weight loss “simulation”. You have to juggle losing weight with studying, and dating boys, and keep your stress low. It uses realistic workouts which target different muscle groups and offers a large variety of things to do including mini-games, dating the guys, studying, shopping, and working out.

Gameplay 10/10: Gameplay is actually really fun in this game. You can workout at home, or go to the sports center, beauty salon, or buy new equipment to help with your workouts. In addition to working out, you can go play mini games in the arcade to win really helpful premium items and break up some of the gameplay a bit with games like whack a mole and concentration. There are certain events that occur such as sports festivals and field trips or holidays, in which you need to have your stats at a certain amount to trigger certain scenes. And of course, there’s dating. Lots and lots of dating. There are numerous dateable guys (most of which I don’t think I’ve unlocked yet, cuz why are there all these empty apartment rooms?) which means of course, high replay value to get all the different endings. I will say, that I miss the skinship and dressup type of elements found in similar games such as Konami’s Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side series. But I understand this is a different game by a different publisher, Idea Factory, and so I’m not going to deduct any points for that. Plus it makes up for what it lacks by what new elements it brings to the table, such as the weight loss and work outs. :)

Story: 3/10 There just isn’t much story here. To be fair, similar games such as Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side, also don’t have much story. HOWEVER…. TMGS presents the story in a more “compelling” way… The downfall here in Girlish Love Revo is that there’s only one or two “scenes” for each date spot; and not many questions to ask when walking guys home, and only one answer, and no new questions unlock etc as you grow closer to the guys. The events and scenes within the game also seem fewer and far-er in between compared to TMGS. For example, the club scenes, field trips, etc, all feel flat. I had a spirit of 99 in the drama club and they still put me backstage?! Is there even a scene in which I get a role in the play? I dunno, haven’t found it. Doubt that 1 point of spirit would have made a difference. In TMGS by contrast (it’s so hard not to compare because the games are so damn similar), there’s a lot of different scenes and events you can unlock during the festivals and trips. It’s not always “the same every time” like it is in Love Revo. There’s more to discover about each guy in TMGS, and it feels more natural through the conversations, and also, the fact that there’s more dating spots and more questions etc in TMGS. Love Revo gets VERY boring on dates. And as I mentioned above, the fact that if a guy accepts your date or not, is totally random, this also makes it hard to even get dates in the first place, and its ultimately not very rewarding. I still don’t feel like I really know the characters, even though, some things are revealed about them, etc, it just still feels like they’re not very well fleshed out. The story is just lacking. It makes up for it in Gameplay, but I would have liked to have seen more effort go into this with more scenes and more choices on the dates, and an actual schedule that made sense for when the guys worked or had club meetings.

Characters: 3/10 I covered a lot of this above under story, about the guys feeling kinda flat and robotic. There are only 2 or 3 different “scenes” at each date spot and so you hear the same things over, and over, and over. This doesn’t make the characters very likable to me. Also the fact that most of the guys are assholes (which I know I keep saying over and over) is really a huge turn off to me. The only one I liked was Souta-kun. He was nice right from the beginning. I also like Toru and Oniichan who accept me (the playable character) no matter how large she is. Each of the characters do have their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses, from clumsy characters, to elegant “princes”, to athletic stars, to lonely and childlike characters. But none of the characters are terribly original; we’ve seen them all before in other otome games, and in games where they spend more time making the characters feel “alive”.

Graphics: 8/10 I really like the graphics in this game, they are very colorful, and cute. The main character looks like she weighs 500 lbs instead of 220, but well, it’s anime, and anime has a tendency to over exaggerate these sorts of things. There are a number of different graphics that are used while training and studying and they are quite cute, especially when her workouts don’t go quite so well. The guys are cute too. hehe. I will say, for some reason, the character art doesn’t feel as “clean” to me as it should. It feels almost pixelated at times? Or not as detailed as I’d like it to be, especially their faces. However, this is only for the “standees” or “standing character art” not sure what you call it, I call it a “sprite” but I don’t think that’s right. Anyways, the special event scenes, and other artwork, are very nicely detailed which show better character art than the normal “portrait” type art when speaking to the guys in the game. But the sometimes “pixelly” looking artwork is still a distraction when other Otome games also on the Nintendo DS have very crisp “clean” art at all times.

Music: 7/10 I like the soundtrack to this game, especially the ending theme. The other tracks aren’t too memorable, but they do provide some nice background noise when focusing on repetitive tasks such as planning your schedule.

Replay Value 9/10: It lacks any kind of skip function for previously read text, however, like all otome visual novel styled games, the multiple endings and branching plot make replay value very high and rewarding.

Overall: 53 / 80 66% D. Average Game for Girls.

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Girlish Love Revolution | Otometeki Koi Kakumei * Love Revo!! | Nintendo DS | Love Revo | Girlish Love Revo | Weight Loss | Anime | Dating Sim | Review | Editorial | English Translation was originally published on Geeky Sweetie