Written By: JP
Developers: Metal Orphans & Co.
Platforms: PC, Mac and Linux
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Adaptation may be one of the toughest jobs anyone can undertake and, more often than note, falters in the shadow of its inspiration. In the two years and change I've been over this website, I have seen many aspiring writers and artists try to adapt their favorite anime, manga, novel, etc with varied success. However, those that do succeed not only elevates themselves but the piece of fiction that inspired them in the first place. So, while it is a gamble it is a worthwhile one.
The Buried Moon is a loose adaptation of a popular English fairy tale: The Buried Moon. The fairy tale is straightforward with the Moon, being curious about tales of danger when she didn't shine at night, travels into the swamp lands and is captured by the 'evil things' she had been warned about. After a time, a man and woman who remembered the Moon spirit found and freed her.
Straightforward indeed. So, how does the game fair against the original? Only a proper review will answer that question!
What a crazy week this has been in many ways! If everyone is broke now courtesy of holiday sales and shopping, then I have good news. There is a plethora of free releases waiting for you as well as the WIP of the Week. Before starting on the releases there is just a minor bit of housekeeping. Remember those auditions for Backstage Pass? Well, they closed on Tuesday with over 500 submissions. There were a lot of hopefuls out there; a truly impressive turnout. Due to the large volume, Sakevisual will only be contacting those they wish to start recording with. Recording is this month so if your vocal prowess was sufficient you will know soon enough. Good luck to all who submitted auditions!
Now to play some serious catch up on releases! Many of them were released on December 4th for some reason, not sure why! In order to speed up the browsing of these titles they will be presented in a list format. They are as follows:
Romance Urban Second Edition - Is an updated release of the original Romance Urban with a variety of improved elements and a scoring system. It is an otome game with the protagonist working in a major media company. Created by ibr-remote.
Mirage Noir Prologue - Is the first of a multi-part release. It is the story of a witch who stumbles upon a severely wounded man and decides to care for him. Her life is going to change dramatically from this event. Created by Noire.
-A verbose argument about the usefulness of reviews and the intractable nature of bias by Will and only Will. Do not blame anyone else for this mess!
I have been wanting to write something about the nature of reviews and the many ways to use and consider them as a consumer for some time. I really want to get at the heart of the matter when it comes to opinions, biases, and how perceptions are absolutely vital in both the act of reviewing and the act of reading a review. I know already that this about to get very messy so bear with me as I dig into firstly, whether or not a review is good or bad.
Whether or not a review is good or bad is already a problematic construction. It works, but 'good' and 'bad' automatically create certain ideas or feelings. We see this in the response to reviews. People are happily able to call a review they agree with good, while the folks that disagree with a review are very likely to make the claim that it was a bad review, especially if it does not fall into line with other reviews on the same product. I am going to argue that whether or not a review is good or bad is completely divorced from how people agree or disagree with a review. The useful potential of a review is key. I say potential because the failure to find use in a review is not necessarily the fault of the review.
So what does that really mean? I believe that certain factors make a review useful or have the potential to be useful. A review should contain some factual information about the product. These are the things removed from opinion such as the outline of the story, the gameplay mechanics, price, errors, UI layout, and so on. A review that does not contain this information is going to be less useful and may have trouble establishing some of its own context.
A useful review will communicate the facts, ideas, and opinions held within in a competent manner. A review that is difficult to understand is not going to be very useful. This is a point that is perhaps so obvious that I should not even bring it up. But this is breaking down what makes a review useful, and if someone were to present a review with complete disregard for how language is used to communicate ideas, then you have a very useless review. Hurrah, the easy parts of this discussion are now over. The tricky point in dealing with reviews is that the bulk of a review is an argument.
Well we were going to get into this at some point. So before I get into why I like the boys of Backstage Pass, let me get into way I mock most romance targets: male or female.
Certain stereotypes and clichés are going to be a part of every fictional genre; it just comes with the territory. But in romance breaking out of those clichés is like climbing K2 without an oxygen mask, Sherpas and in your underwear. The roads of romantic attraction are well-worn and deviating from that path is dark and uncertain: which leaves many writers with one option – stay the course. This leads to the same bland, underdeveloped cast regardless of their target audience. Like I joked about in the teaser for the AMG Reviews, when you cut down to the marrow, there really isn’t a lot of difference between Exhibit A and Exhibit B: it all comes to your POV.
So what does this have to do with Backstage Pass? Remember in Pt. 1 when I talked about Sian being detached from romance? That comes into play hard with the different guys because, except for maybe Matthew, the guys aren’t introduced in an attractive light. Don’t get me wrong, none of them are shown to be offensive people. But…hm…let me try using a visual aid.
Keeping in mind my contention that clichés are clichés regardless of the target audience, and that said clichés makes up the backbone of the bulk of romance-centered fiction, let’s do a test case using a classic anime series that I have yet to kick about: Inuyasha! Hold the cutlery people: this is for science! Now let’s show how this particular series show introduces a love interest to our protagonist. Don’t worry; you only need to watch about 15 seconds of this. THEN we will resume our discussion!
Everyone caught up? Good. Now, do you see what I meant about the whole ‘attractive light’ thing? It is quite literal in romance fiction. It is done to show the audience the spark between said characters caught in said light. That doesn’t happen in Backstage Pass; at least not in the demo.
What we get instead is far more interesting and it brings out the actual theme of this game: the price of talent and fame. But I have drawn the argument out a bit long so I could knock Inuyasha. Let’s me make my case starting with my favorite male character in the game, and for your long time readers this won’t come as a surprise.
For the better part of this year, I have been arguing that the EVN community needed to begin discussing the concept of ‘Mario’. If you haven’t read anything on that, allow me to suggest you do so or be branded a traitor. But, for the benefit of time, the short version is that I believe that within the next year or so the genre of visual novels, at least in the West, will begin a sort of ‘golden age’. Why? Because it costs nearly nothing (in corporate terms) to create a high-end visual novel, which means there really isn’t a reason not to exploit the medium by creating the highest quality on the cheap and marketing them to fans of the Telltale line of games.
SO, my argument is that the medium needs to define itself before said exploitation happens. This is done through a game that unites the hardcore and casual fans, as well as be a standard for what the genre is capable of. In other words Mario. Again, to keep a long story short, some thought I was insane. The regulars of this site know any question of my sanity is old news, but it was actually a debate for a while with me still ringing the bell on it until recently.
Why? Because after talking about it all year, I think the launch of the EVN Mario is upon us…and of course it would be spawned from otome.
Yes folks. For all of you who cowered in fear of my purported hatred of otome, you heard me correctly; it’s going to be an otome VN that will, for all intents and purposes, be the face of this genre for an entire generation of otaku and gamers. Pick up your jaws and calm yourselves people; I will make my case and what better arena than Otome Week, the Maiden’s Kokorocalypse (thanks again KitKat!), to make said case? But first, what is this game of which I speak? What otome game could have possible made it through the rotting wasteland that is my heart?
Sakevisual isn’t new to any of us here and Ayu Sakata’s motley crew has earned every accolade anyone’s ever given them. From the manic fun of games like My Magical Cosplay Café and RE:Alistair++ to the entire Jisei series, Sakata has developed a catalog many AAA studios would punch their own Mother to have. And now they are on the final stretch of the most ambitious project yet: Backstage Pass. After turning many of the characters into a dart board, and Mattie into my personal heavy bag, for most of the year, I was legitimately surprised when the demo was left in an unmarked package at my doorstep. And I will not lie to you guys; what I expected was a saccharine love story with colors that detached my eyes from their sockets. What I got was so much more and during the course of this feature, I hope to cover as much of the themes and characters as I can…without spoiling anything.
Trust me; you don’t want me to dig too deep into the story. Everything we’ve gotten on Backstage Pass from the CGs to the voice clips is just window dressing. But even without digging into the story, the characters themselves along with the gameplay and overall themes of the story are a full course meal. And what better place to start than with the most controversial character of any otome game, the heroine herself?
As you can see, we're in the midst of a redesign. I believe we'll be staying put for the immediate future, so I'll be tweaking some things around here in a continued effort to bring you guys a better gaming site. The absolute basic things you need to know is that the Media page is now bigger, since it now houses the 'Fiction' section of the site. This is due to me accidentally deleting the Fiction page and being too lazy to recreate it. I apologize for nothing.
Also the carousel doesn't work with this particular theme, so now everything is kind of married into one blog. The sidebar will keep track of the latest updates and what not and will serve the same basic function, but with me just not updating the thing as constantly as necessary, especially now in the final weeks of the year, I figured it would be a great time to experiment with the format. If things get too messy, we can always switch back and something tells me the current theme will be updated soon enough to include a carousel menu system so I'm happy to sit back and wait on that one for now.
Otome Week is FINALLY upon us! After several delays, we are pretty much ready to get started in what will be a journey NO ONE will get until the final chapter is written and closed. We roll out with a very special First Impression of SakeVisual's Backstage Pass and will end with the debut of something that I have had a lot of fun writing and taping: The AMG Reviews. Hopefully you will laugh along with me and learn a little something about the genre that you may not have known, thanks to the thought coming from the mind of a relatively average gamer. We'll see this coming week.
And it will most likely barely dent the mad rush to finish as many reviews as I possibly can before Christmas. I still have one hell of a backlog to go but progress is being made. Just keep an eye on Twitter as a whittle down the list!
And finally, December means it's nominating time for the 2013 Best Ofs! Can you believe it's been nearly a year since we last came together on Twitter to celebrate the insanity that is EVNs? This year we are just finishing up mapping out the last few categories, but the rules remain the same! The clock starts NOW for everyone to catch up on this year's releases (including me) and we all have until December 31st (New Year's Eve) to make nominations. In that same vein, developers have until that time to release a project for it to be considered for nomination. The full list of rules and regs can be digested over on the Best Ofs section of the site along with previous winners and categories.
This way, everything in the year will be covered without any potential negative fallout. But, along with putting up the Christmas Tree, there is a tradition on the site for December that will not be ignored. For those of you new to this little corner of the internet, I make the first nomination for the top prize, English Visual Novel of the Year, at the beginning of December. Last year it was Katawa Shoujo and before that it was Kansei. So my first nomination is pretty vital to the entire process...like the first ant to find food in the frozen tundra.
So, who's the first nominee? Well, if you've followed this site this year, it won't be too much of a surprise. The reveal is under the cut!
Here we are at day two of the sale frenzy! WinterWolves has begun their Thanksgiving Sale, which will end on Sunday, December 1st. The entire catalog is 50% off with the exception of Nicole, which is 30% off. Note that unlike the coupon codes used in the past, these discounts are applied automatically at checkout. Be mindful of the bundles however because they have a different pre-existing discount so you will want to purchase the items separately to ensure the full 50% discount on those items.
From the desk of Will at VNs Now!
Many are preparing to spend the day with their family and friends, eat a little turkey, go crazy on some Call of Duty and maybe drag themselves out to a chain store because something they want may be on sale. And I'm not going to lie, most of those things I'm going to do today. But while I have the time, allow me to fully realize the purpose of this holiday.
This has been an amazing year for this small corner of the internet. We have grown in ways I could've only imagined when I first started. But as much as we've grown, this community of gaming has grown. A new generation is coming of age and bringing their own unique stories to the genre while the old guard is stepping up to bring bigger and better titles than what we've ever seen before. And all of it is because of the support of this gaming community to encourages talent and a little weirdness from time to time.
So this Thanksgiving I want to thank all of you for your friendship and support of this website. I also want to thank all of the developers of English Visual Novels who are all working to get their vision out to the masses. Thank you all and I am looking forward to see what comes next!
Fall sales are now upon us folks, and I shall keep you all updated on the situation. I will do the digging on Steam, Desura, Developer Sites, and more to make VNs Now! a one stop nexus for your sale frenzy! As you can see by the banner the Steam sale will be running through the 3rd, but a variety of sales will be going on with different durations so my coverage will continue until all sales are finished. Keep in mind that Steam runs daily deals, so some stuff is on sale for one price for the duration, and some stuff will be cheaper on certain days. Do not fret, I will let you know the duration of a price if I know it and will highlight daily specials and where possible, Flash Sales (these change every eight hours, so be mindful of that!).
Analogue: A Hate Story is 50% off for the duration of the sale.
Hate Plus is 33% off for the duration of the sale.
Hateful Days combo pack is 50% off for the duration of the sale, great buy right there!
Magical Diary is 75% off for the duration of the sale.
Long Live the Queen is 10% off for the duration of the sale.
On Desura we have a few sales that may or may not be fall related...it is difficult to tell but since now is the time for people to be buying, I will not ignore them!
1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum is on sale 50% off for...114 Days apparently!
Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is on sale 40% off until Midnight Pacific Standard Time (UTC -8) today. Note it is currently in alpha.
So that is what I have so far today. If anything is missing from this list, please, feel free to contact me via comment or twitter and I will be sure to add to the list.
From the desk of Will at VNs Now!