Amaterasu Blog

18Sep/091

Introduction to this Blog

This is the official blog of Amaterasu Translations. All posts here are either original content by Ixrec or Nagato, or copies of posts on our forums (which were probably written by Ixrec or Nagato, lol).

At the moment (not counting stuff copied from the forum), Nagato's only post is in the Programming category. Everything else can be safely assumed to be Ixrec's.

The Amaterasu category contains all need-to-know information and announcements from the translation group. Most of these are copied from the forum, though some are or may be modified later. Generally speaking, anything in these posts is something you are expected to know (or be willing to look up without anyone telling you to). Since I try to keep the number of posts in there to a minimum, and there still are very few, this shouldn't be hard.

The Visual Novel Reviews category is, atm, the majority of this blog's content as well as the original reason it was created: for me (Ixrec) to formally review all the VNs I've played. This post is the need-to-know stuff that applies to my reviewing style, and this post has the need-to-know lists of what I have reviewed, what scores they got, what I've played, what I am playing, and what I will play (and I do update it every few days). Aside from those two, every post in the category is an actual VN review.

*on 5/5 I revised all my old reviews, adding the routes/endings I played to each one and rewriting a few minor things*

Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
18Sep/097

Never 7 -the end of infinity- Review

As part of the infinity series, you know more or less what to expect: a group of effectively isolated characters spend about a week doing slice-of-lifey things while some metaphysical mystery surrounding the events is progressively hinted at and then revealed.

First, the good news. The slice-of-life is great. All the characters interact believably and unpredictably, and while none are exceptionally subtle or complex there really isn't any scene where they fail to be entertaining. There is quite an abundance of choices (especially during the first two days), most of which effectively drag you a bit further into those scenes and make the inevitable route selection feel perfectly natural. However, a few scenes employ rather blatant cliches, and not many of the events can really be called original.

Now, the bad news. That overarching mystery plot you probably came here for......well, it exists, but it barely matters. For a while, the hints are actually not bad, and although clearly unoriginal you'll still want to know what's going on. Then the reveal comes and, while satisfying, it feels a tad forced and/or arbitrary in retrospect. But since it remained an effective vehicle for more great character interaction, I didn't mind at all. Then the climax turned out to be a cluster bomb of timey wimey ass pulls, and I was more or less unable to care for the last hour of the story.

Score: 7/10

Polarization: Low to Mild (+1/-2)

If you care only about the slice-of-life and ignore the plot, this could be an 8. If you do the reverse, this could be a 5. That's about it.

Routes/Endings Played: Yuka's route only. I have since been told the last route is the best, so I may go back and play more someday.

16Sep/093

Gore Screaming Show Review

GSS's claim to fame is basically "plot-driven gore." As a fan of Elfen Lied, I was certainly intrigued by the idea of a visual novel stepping into similar territory.

Sadly, most of the game is a complete waste of time. The first three routes are painfully ordinary and boring (each around 6/10). Although the plot tries to do interesting things in the latter half of each route, they often end up being so predictable it hardly counts as an improvement. I was basically ctrl-tapping through over half the game. The fourth route was a bit better, as a few interesting things actually did happen and several hints were made, though most of them were never followed up on, so that's more of a 6.5/10.

On the other hand, the final route (Yuka's, and in many ways Gore's too) is actually very good (7.5/10). Their backstory, while far less epic than I'd hoped, is well-told and makes everything she does surprisingly believable, instead of a mere half-hearted excuse to rape everyone with tentacles. The protag's efforts to undo the damage result in a rather typical but still fairly touching story with a fair number of genuine surprises and clever twists, both in the bad and good ends.

Score: 6.5/10

Polarization: Low (+/-1)

If you play only Yuka's route (or simply wipe the other four from your memory) then the whole game is effectively a 7.5. Thankfully, her route is effectively independent from the others; you'll lose nothing by skipping the first four. However, if you're so sick of the game by the time you get there that you can't even bring yourself to care, then it could fall to a 5.5. There's really nothing else polarizing about this other than the obvious issue of whether you can handle the gore.

Routes/Endings Played: One ending for most routes, all endings of Yuka's route

PS: The ero content in this game is very high quality, so if that's why you care about GSS then you won't be disappointed. If you didn't already know, it includes lots of perfectly consensual sex on top of the bizarre fetishes like masturbation, gangrapes and what I can only describe as "explosive tentacular dismemberment". (for the record, I never felt physically sick, but still, WOW...)

15Sep/090

Amaterasu Translations Side Project #1: KiriKiri Documentation

Copied from Ixrec's post http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/forums/index.php?topic=64.msg1356#new

I've decided to translate at least a portion of the documentation for the visual novel engine KiriKiri2. Anyone who wishes to use the docs translated thus far (I'm working exclusively with xml files) can get them from the assembla page.

However, this is only a side project. If interest is expressed, I will likely complete it at some point, but college and Inganock take priority, so no promises. Still, the majority of the tjs2 docs (tjs2 being the programming language KK is written with) ought to be finished befored I leave on the 19th.

Also, I apologize for not announcing this when I started (on the 11th), but at the time I wasn't sure if my lack of programming experience (I literally can't understand about 30% of what I'm translating) would be debilitating to translation quality or not. I've been told it isn't.

9Sep/090

Amaterasu Translations Timeline

This is simply for personal archival purposes. I'll add more events and organize everything better when I feel like it.
==========
Beginning of my Visual Novel Translation Career
2009-03-30, 18:33
I consider my first post on gemot to be the official beginning of my vn tl career because it was where I publicly declared my desire to translate MOON.

Project #0: MOON.
The announcements list from that site is as follows:

translation started 3/30/2009
TLWiki page created 4/06/2009
First test patch with a full day's worth of map segment translations 4/7/09
First patch with over one-fourth of all text translated 4/13/09
First patch with most images translated and edited 4/16/09
First patch with over half of all text translated 4/19/09
First patch with over three-fourths of all text translated 4/24/09
First patch with over ninety percent of all text translated 4/26/09
First patch with all images edited 4/27/09
Translation Completed 4/29/09
Final Patch 5/21/09

Final results: Translation completed in 30 days, all of which were work days.
==========
First Public Voting Process
My first post there was on 23 Apr 2009 02:31 am

Then the actual poll thread.
The poll lasted from [30 Apr 2009 07:07 am] to [02 May 2009 08:01 am] and the results were as follows:
Devil on the G-String 10% ( 13 )
Sharin no Kuni 4% ( 6 )
Gore Screaming Show 11% ( 14 )
Extravaganza 0% ( 1 )
CROSS CHANNEL 35% ( 44 )
Air 2% ( 3 )
Baldr Sky 4% ( 5 )
Baldr Force EXE 0% ( 0 )
Muv-Luv 30% ( 38 )
==========
Staff Formation and other random events

Note: Due to the nature of my tlwiki page (namely the fact that I deleted much of the discussions to reduce clutter) it'd be far more trouble than its worth to go find dates for when those staff members joined. What's important in the long run is that Shikiller did such an outstanding job of editing MOON that it was basically a given I'd want him on CC afterward, hence no application or public mention of it.

25 April 2009 2:00-3:00 pm
I had a length IRC conversation with LoSs which both informed and convinced me of the then-stunning (from my POV) fact that #ensue had recruited me because of my work on MOON.

26 Apr 2009 08:16 am
VDZ introduces the downvoting concept during nominations for my first poll.

27 Apr 2009 07:03 am
Gatonegro PMs me on the old forum about the possibility of me forming my own translation group, and offers to try recruiting people for it.

28 Apr 2009 02:56 am
Gatonegro PMs me on the old forum about the possibility of recruiting Neko and 3Pies.

02 May 2009
Guesstimated (by Nagato) to be when Nagato began thinking of hacking CC, and thus sorta-kinda when he joined the group.

03 May 2009 02:56 pm
3Pies strongly advocates the idea of me forming my own translation group. At the time I was still under the impression I was part of the #ensue staff, so when I asked people to volunteer I assumed that mostly members of #ensue who were free to work on CC would show up.

12 May 2009 02:53 am
Neko formally applies via PM on the old forum to edit CC.

12 May 2009 12:10 pm
Allan|Gordon applies via PM on the old forum to proofread CC (later decided that meant QC).

13 May 2009 03:38 pm
Sheeta applies via PM on the old forum to edit CC.

15 May 2009 04:18 am
Spin applies via PM on the old forum to edit CC.

17 May 2009 08:40 pm
I publicly announce my intent to tlc G-Senjou no Maou as a side project.

27 May 2009 08:19 am
DarkXGensis (now known as Ragyx) applies via PM on the old forum to do some of the image editing for CC.

28 May 2009 04:23 am
I suggest (among others) using "Amaterasu" as part of the name of my translation group.

29 May 2009 11:55 pm
After deciding that I in no way betrayed #ensue by accidentally forming a separate group, I finally announce that my tl group's name is Amaterasu Translations.

30 May 2009 06:46 pm
Raide applies via a post in the old forum to QC CC.

July 16, 2009, 09:26:53 am
Balcerzak makes the rather jaw-dropping QC post that gets him instantly recruited.

I'm still scouring old forums and chat logs for the dates and times needed to put this together.
==========
Project #1: CROSS†CHANNEL

Translation began on May 9th when I translated the first major scene at a pace which now appears incredibly slow. A teaser patch was released shortly thereafter. I translated a few more scenes the next week and released a longer teaser patch on May 16th. Then on the 25th of May I made the following forum post:

"I have finished reading the entirety of Cross Channel.
Easily the most profound and moving ending I have ever seen to a story in my life.
I shall translate this to the end if it is the last thing I do on this earth.
(only a slight exaggeration)
Tomorrow, I shall begin. Some months thereafter, I shall finish. I pray you can all endure the wait."

Full-time translation began the next day.

June 9th, 2009: Week 1 translation complete.
June 11th, 2009: Week 1 patch released.
June 21st, 2009: Week 2 translation complete.
June 22nd, 2009: Week 2 patch released.
July 16th, 2009: Week 3 translation completed.
July 19th, 2009: Week 3 patch released.
July 27th, 2009: Week 4 translation completed.
July 28th, 2009: Week 4 patch released.
August 2nd, 2009: Week 5 translation completed.
August 4th, 2009: Week 5 patch released.
August 22nd, 2009: Week 6 translation completed.
August 24th, 2009: Cross†Channel translation completed! Working 81 of 106 days.
August 26th, 2009: Cross†Channel full patch released.
September 6th, 2009: Tower of Friends translation completed
==========
Project #2: 赫炎のインガノック Sekien no Inganock -what a beautiful people-

Translation will begin after I get "settled" at college, which is estimated to be a week or two after I move in on September 19th.

9Sep/095

Chaos;Head Review

This is the first mindscrew I ever read, and until I read YU-NO it was my personal favorite. Chaos;Head borrows from just about every established mindscrew trope out there, and takes them all in unpredictable directions. The general feeling that the world before you really could change in an instant in ways beyond your comprehension is one I've yet to feel anywhere else.

The characters are introduced one at a time, with each one interesting and unique enough to almost instantly add to the overall mystery. Though none are exceptionally deep, this is only because the story isn't that character-oriented; they simply don't have time to focus on anything besides the main plot. Part of the reason is that the plot is flawlessly paced. New questions and answers come virtually in tandem. The moment you finished rationalizing an answer with all the little details of the questions it answered, a new mystery is already there to confuse you. Fortunately, if you can keep up (and you probably can, even if you feel otherwise) you'll be rewarded with a genuine sense of confidence and immersion at the couple of major decision tress.

The only major problem I had with the game was that a handful of minor plot points are left largely unexplained even at the end. While I fully appreciate how figuring it out yourself is part of the fun of a mindscrew, if I'm given nothing to work with I can't help but feel everything I come up with is an epileptic tree. Fortunately, this affected only a small portion of the plot.

Score: 9/10

Polarization: Mild (-2)

As mentioned earlier, this game borrows a lot of tropes, so despite their skilled implementation you may get a general sense of unoriginality from this. Also, since the pseudo-quantum physical occurrences and superpowers involved have basically no concrete limitations (although I felt sufficient abstract ones existed), large parts of the story may feel arbitrary and simply fall flat instead of blowing your mind.

Routes/Endings Played: A and AA, never got around to B

8Sep/092

Really? Really! Review

As the sequel to Kaede's route in Shuffle!, you all basically know what to expect from this. Most of what I said in the Shuffle! review applies to this game as well.

RR will definitely not disappoint fans of Shuffle!, as it tells a lot of anecdotes from Kaede and Rin's past, and has a fun system where you have to correct Kaede's memories of those events. If you like all the characters, these events will definitely interest you (even the false ones), if not make you literally rofl and squee a few dozen times. Also the new characters that get added (or get developed further through false subplots) are on par with the rest of the Shuffle! cast. Of course, if you didn't like the original game, this will all feel pointless.

The only huge differences in quality are that: 1) basically nothing happens in the ending (both in the plot sense and the moe sense), which was quite underwhelming, but since I wasn't reading it for plot I got over it pretty fast. 2) some of the false memories are justifiably forced, and some of the less popular characters get developed, so if you don't like the character they're focusing on at any given time it's probably best to ctrl through a scene or two.

Score:  6.5/10

Polarization: Low to Mild (+2/-1.5)

If you're jaded (or in your own words, "have good taste"), this is a 5/10. If you're a moefag like me, this is an 8.5/10. As with Shuffle!, that's probably all you really needed to know.

Routes/Endings Played: All

8Sep/090

Muv-Luv Review

This refers only to the standalone game titled "Muv-Luv," broken into the two parts "Extra" and "Unlimited." If you wanted my Muv-Luv Alternative review, try here.

Muv-Luv Extra is standard harem. That one sentence is basically the core of this review, but there is more to say. There is still a point to reading it because a lot of the humor is great, which is partly due to the characters--despite being basic moe archetypes--being comically exaggerated and executed flawlessly regardless. The production values are also insane (there does in fact seem to be a point to that allegedly "unhackable" engine). Of course, some of the gags are easily predictable and the plot is quite generic. You've seen most of this before.

Muv-Luv Unlimited introduces a new plot. On the off chance you have managed not to be spoiled yet, I won't tell you what it is, but rest assured it is also just as generic as Extra's. To be fair, it is slightly unconventional in some ways, but that's cancelled out by a number of parts being forced. The characters are also all effectively the same.

So basically, Muv-Luv is a chance to see a great presentation of some ordinary moe characters and plotlines, and not much else (except maybe a huge teaser for Alternative).

Score: 7/10

Polarization: Low (+/-1)

In terms of moe, it's nothing revolutionary, so I really can't see anyone liking this more than an 8/10. And despite there being nothing original, there's also nothing done badly, so I can't imagine hating this more than a 6/10.

Routes/Endings Played: Sumika and Meiya routes in Extra, Meiya ending in Unlimited (I've played the other routes since, but if I factored those into this review the score would drop a whole point)

5Sep/094

Swan Song Review

As a deep, realistic human drama, Swan Song's key selling point is its characterization, and that is absolutely rock solid. Although some members of the cast felt archetypal at first glance, they were all interesting at second glance and many eventually became downright heartwrenching. Each of their characters developed in very natural, but generally unpredictable ways. Even the minor characters introduced later are indisputably deep.

The plot starts with a simple premise which, at first, merely provides a backdrop for character interaction (which isn't a bad thing). But after the first act it quickly throws serious and incredibly challenging conflicts at the main characters, leading to choices you'll want to kill yourself for later, reveals so stunning you'll want to scream at someone, and tragedies which will linger in your memory forever. Some plot developments do feel a bit predictable, but only in the sense that you've been desperately praying they wouldn't happen for the past three scenes (well, not literally, but it sure felt like I had been).

Artwork also matches the story perfectly, in that it shows exactly what it needs to show without beautifying a thing. The writing style is also a perfect fit. Rather than being artistic, it tells everything exactly like it is (exceptions for when a more emotional character is narrating, but of course that just adds more to the scene).

There are some minor flaws. Unsurprisingly, some of the sex scenes are superfluous and best left skipped. And a few pieces of background music annoyed me. But the real reason I can't give this a ten was that the ending was both a little more predictable and a little less conclusive than it should have been. Of course, this doesn't change the fact that it was amazing.

Score: 9.5/10

Polarization: Low to Mild (+/-1.5)

You may find the pacing too slow for your tastes. Also, if you've seen too many disaster stories or character-oriented dramas like this, it may be notably more predictable for you. But that's it.

Routes/Endings Played: Normal End

3Sep/091

Sekien no Inganock -What a beautiful people- Review

Inganock impressed me throughout with the heavy stylization of its backstory, setting, artwork, characters, creatures, subplots, and even the writing style to a certain degree. All the major characters range from interesting to downright mysterious; none of them feel the least bit flat or archetypal to me. Most of them I still don't feel I fully understood.

The plot is exactly what you would hope for from a fantasy game like this. The mythos is large, detailed, and original, so there is always a lingering interest in learning another few little tidbits on top of whatever big twists or reveals you just read. The "minigame" in each chapter (where you click on characters to hear their inner monologues) also does a great job of fitting in details and clarifications which don't fit into the plot, as well as giving you previews of stuff several chapters ahead.

Now the handful of flaws. Many of the chapters end with an action scene where the protag defeats someone/something, but a number of these scenes are virtually identical, and can make things seem easier for the protag than they should be, although it was still so cool that I never once considered skipping any of it. There are also a number of loose ends left untied at the end, but with all the details the game does provide it's not that hard to come up with an explanation on your own, so none of them hurt continuity.

Score: 9/10

Polarization: Mild (-2)

The flaws I mentioned above may irritate you more than they did me. Also, there are a handful of shounen epic tropes used in this game which you may not like. Most notably, a number of the chapters are self-contained subplots which vary in their relevance to the main plot.

Routes/Endings Played: Linear, All Bad Endings (also read webnovels)