Amaterasu Blog

7Dec/0995

MuvLuv Alternative Review

Best mech anything ever.
That should suffice for an intro.

First, MuvLuv Alternative's most obvious and consistent way of amazing you is its unparalleled production values. Normally, when you read a VN, there are always a handful of moments where you think "they really should have used another sprite for this line/character" or "that would've been just a bit awesomer if they'd used another event cg there." In MLA, you will never find such a moment, no matter how hard you might look.

Of course, graphics mean nothing if the plot can't match them, but MLA's plot is no less amazing. The first 5-10 hours are effectively just more of Unlimited, but once the coup d'etat arc begins it rapidly gets awesome, and barring a few short lapses it never stops being awesome. Though the initial premise of fighting off aliens with mechs to save the world is nothing new, there is plenty of detail put into the aliens, the mechs, the history of the war, each of the Alternative plans, the relevant theories on multiverse physics, and all of humanity's backroom politics on those subjects, not to mention the dozens of genuinely moving speeches about what everyone is fighting for. As a result, every single plot twist is immensely plausible, and often potentially heartbreaking.

While the graphics and plot detail work together to produce a great sense of scale and build up to a sublime conclusion, there are some flaws. First, some scenes (especially protag monologues) are needlessly lengthy or redundant. Second, although the biggest reveals are impossible to predict, a lot of the death scenes and smaller twists can be easily seen coming if you're paying attention. Third, as you probably know, you have to play through Extra, Unlimited, and the early part of Alternative in order to get the full experience.

Score: 9.5/10

Polarization: Low (+/-1)

Although the extreme detail is great, some may feel that watching the characters talk about stuff for hours on end takes too much time away from actual combat and plot development. But that's the only subjective issue. I really don't think it's possible to dislike this VN.

Routes/Endings Played: Linear

See this post for my opinions of some of the fandiscs.

Comments (95) Trackbacks (0)
  1. No mentions of the OST? That makes me sad, unless the ‘incredibly high production values’ comment also implied the soundtrack is amazing.

  2. 10.5 over 10?

    Ixrec, d00d, are you high on cats or something?

  3. Ixrec, in the event that you do decide to translate this, how much of Muv Luv Extra and Unlimited do you feel that you would need to translate so that one could get the full experience of Alternative.

  4. @kViN: I like short reviews, so I stick to the stuff that really set the game apart or prevented it from being a 10. Yes, it’s very fair to say the ‘incredibly high production values’ I refer to do include the OST, since it was excellent, but to me the music didn’t make anywhere near as big a difference in terms of the game’s overall quality as did the things I chose to write about.

  5. @DrmChsr0: You’ll find similar scores all over this blog. I generally assume a cap at 10 so I don’t really bother writing (+0.5/-1) when (+/-1) gets exactly the same message across.

    Of course, if scores above 10 exist for you, then perhaps it would be correct to say this might be 10.5 for you. I wouldn’t know, tell me if you figure it out.

  6. @Anon: I would say Sumika’s route in Extra and Meiya’s in Unlimited are all you really need, but I’d probably just translate the entire thing because even if you are aware the other routes exist, some people will definitely want to see all the cgs from them before they reappear in Alternative. Not to mention in Unlimited everyone’s routes are over 90% identical.

    Oh right, just because no one ever mentions this possibility, I would personally prefer to have played Alternative without any of the Extra side routes or “surprise” endings, because then when those little details came up in Alternative they’d have been surprises instead of “yep, seen it,” but it’s still an exceedingly minor issue.

  7. “…but I’d probably just translate the entire thing because even if you are aware the other routes exist…”
    Don’t troll me, bro. Don’t troll me. ;_;

  8. You all know I never actually troll.

  9. “You all know I never actually troll.”

    That’s why Ammy is great. You leave the trolling up to the fans. ^_^

    If all of MuvLuv will get translated, then I now can confirm it as my second choice after KimiNozo. (though I would definitely prefer KGNE, obviously =P) Both games would be wonderful to see translated and would appeal to a wide range of people.

    Do you really plan on playing all of the games that were in the poll before making a decision? It will take a while, but at least you get a break from translating out of this. :)

  10. Hey, Ixrec, just wanted to let you know that I love you from the bottom of my heart.
    That is all.

  11. Not funny. MLA do not deserve any attention it have. I thought there cannot be something worser and uglier than F/SN, guess I was wrong.

  12. @KnD: Well the translation break doesn’t officially start until we FINALLY release that complete patch for Inganock. Odds are I won’t play all of them, especially since a number have been taken since the poll (in fact someone emailed a staff member of mine claiming to want to tl MLA, but since he failed to contact us after being told how, we’re assuming it’s a troll), but I’ll prolly play around 3-5. And no, I have no idea what I’ll play after RuiTomo.

    Finally, good trolling, keep it up.

  13. MLA is so awesome that it can be rated 10.5.

  14. *coughcough*I suggest KimiNozo after RuiTomo. :P It shares the prettiness of MLA. And it may actually be prettier anyway. KGNE ~LE~ seems to have much better animated characters than MLA from the videos I’ve seen. (Probably because it was released after MLA)

    But that would be hilarious if RuiTomo ended up winning after all the drama. From what I’ve heard, it does have extremely good writing.

  15. Well, after reading this, I am relatively sure that MLA is going to win Ixrec’s translation. After all, a 9.5 is going to be pretty hard to match, let alone beat.
    And speaking of that, what will you do if you find another 9.5 Ixrec? How will you choose which to translate?

  16. Assuming two 9.5s, the other criteria I’d look at would be which is more demanded by the community (MLA almost certainly wins) and which one would be the easy project I want next quarter (Extra fits this nicely, RuiTomo does not). So based on those, MLA just got even more likely.

  17. I is Happiful
    IXREC BANZAI, BANZAI, BANZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIII!!

  18. I assumed MLA would win at the beginning of the poll. That will be great to finally see an age game translated. (unless something else beats it in epicness)

  19. That is something I will agree with Koi on ^

  20. You just made my day less shit after reading this, thanks Ixrec.

    Now if I could find somewhere to buy it…

  21. Its good that you’ve finished a game already that was pretty fast. One question though are you going to play Baldry Sky Dive2 as well before you make your descision?

    Also make sure one of the VNs you read before pickig MuvLuv as yuor choice is 11eyes <____<

    Have fun on your break.

  22. I’m curious how no one noticed Baldr Sky’s been taken.

    So no, there’s no need for me to play it anytime soon, but since Dive 1 was great and Dive 2 is very likely awesome I’m almost certainly going to read it at some point anyway.

    Yes 11eyes is likely going to be one of the other ones I read. From what I’ve heard, it feels like one of those I need to give a 6 or 7/10 asap so it can be put to rest, like GSS.

  23. Why not do something that you’ve already read, like narcissu or something, since it’s short and all, and you’ve read it, it could be like a side project

  24. I can’t tell if you’re trolling or not, but that exact idea has been on the table since before the poll started.

  25. “Yes 11eyes is likely going to be one of the other ones I read. From what I’ve heard, it feels like one of those I need to give a 6 or 7/10 asap so it can be put to rest, like GSS.”

    Wow, harsh. I’m sure the 11eyes fans are really depressed now. D:

  26. shikatanai kedo, that’s what those who’ve read it have told me.

  27. I do have to admit that I had a feeling 11eyes would be mediocre compared to the other games. I guess it’s just my “eroge ESP” talking. For the most part, I can have a feel for whether I’ll like an eroge or not even without playing any of it or reading much about the plot. (like how I knew Crescendo would be so-so when everyone praised it, and I’m a fan of dramas..) Werid, ne? =P

    I guess all that’s needed is to play KimiNozo so you can give it a 20/10 and make “BEST GAME EVAAARR!!!” comments. ;)

  28. Just like to say I’m glad to see other ppl appreciating MLA. Its a very smooth game that takes the elements make western sci-fi novels good ( *cough* Starship troopers, Aliens, Parallaraties, The Thing from Outerspace, *cough*) and combines it with what makes jap anime\manga good (mecha, dating sims). I do hope that it gets translated, having waited 5 yrs for a full english trans. Using AGH and atlas gets me only 90% of the story, so it would be nice to have a full one.

    Some of the lengthy monologs may well be a page from western novels, being an explanation of the charas feelings that led up to their actions. Not sure if thats what you are referring to Ixrec, but ya, it doesn’t fit well sometimes in a VN. I get quite a rise from the scientific explanations they use more or less straight out of the afore mentioned novels though.

    Koi, I agree that kiminozo is a good game, and MLA works for me too by having charas from KGNE appearing as plot chars. Interesting to see how their chars are different in a mature setting, in a different scenario. I totally fell in love with Mitsuki and Haruka again in MLA, with their mature chars, its like KGNE the way its suppose to end, up to a point.

    Well, enough of a long post, I’ll just leave a note of thanks again and best wishes for the translation team!

  29. The mature character designs in MLA are actually heavily based on the character designs in the third chapter (After Story) of the Latest Edition version of KGNE.

    What I’m hoping is that Ixrec translates either KGNE or MLA, and then translates the other afterwards. That would be amazing. Both of age’s most famous games all at once! :D

  30. @Ixrec: I’m not sure how what I’ve said could be constituted as trolling ^^ Despite the minor results from the poll, I’m sure many have eagerly waited for the sequel of narcissu for ages. I thought it would be a good idea to do a little side project of something you’re already sure of, while considering your options for the next big project. I think despite the different opinions people have on which VN should get translated next, there’s nothing bad about having more VN translated out there, regardless of what it is…

    This is all, of course, if you think that you are capable of handling a side project while considering the next project, and your life business and all

  31. Hey Chass, do you want to know a secret? Ammy will do a side project if the winner is something large. But don’t go telling anyone, it really is confidential information. It’s not like Ixrec himself has said so a dozen times.

    PS: KND, I hope KimiNozo doesn’t ever get translated and you die alone.

  32. thanks for the info, although I do wonder the confidentiality aspect of it with you posting them in an open blog and all ^^

  33. “Some of the lengthy monologs may well be a page from western novels, being an explanation of the charas feelings that led up to their actions. Not sure if thats what you are referring to Ixrec, but ya, it doesn’t fit well sometimes in a VN.”

    Lengthy monologues are no problem, I liked the majority of them. The problem is when they say absolutely nothing except for stuff that’s already been said, in which case they have no reason to exist and are just getting in the way.

    “I’m not sure how what I’ve said could be constituted as trolling ^^ Despite the minor results from the poll, I’m sure many have eagerly waited for the sequel of narcissu for ages.”

    Like I said, that exact possibility has been on the table for ages (in fact it might’ve been around since before I finished CC), so introducing it like a new idea now makes it sound like you’re being sarcastic, that’s all. Not to mention pretty much everything you just said has been discussed ad nauseum before. To summarize: a side project would not be done alongside the main one like I think you’re envisioning, but between portions of the main one, as a kind of mid-project break. And as kViN said, it’s pretty much guaranteed we’ll do one if something as long as MLA is selected. At the moment, Narcissu and eden* are the only significant candidates I know of for the side project role, so we’ll see what happens.

  34. I still think the ideal scenario is Muv Luv Extra -> Narcissu 2 -> Muv Luv Unlimited -> Narcissu 3 -> Muv Luv Alternative.

  35. @Ixrec: ah, Ic, forgive my ignorance…I had no idea that it has been considered ^^

    And it’s definitely a good news that you’re considering Narcissu and Eden*, as those are two of the three that I voted for XD

  36. @kVin: Don’t worry, it will get translated. If it doesn’t get translated in a few years, I’ll start my own project once I know enough kanji.

    And I will always have my NozoKimi with me. I can’t die alone with my waifu! :D

  37. @kViN: Hidoi! There are other people who want to see KimiNozo translated, too. Leave your personal vendetta out of this. :P

  38. @Ixrec
    “I’m curious how no one noticed Baldr Sky’s been taken.”

    Please tell me you’re not talking about the trollslation project. Or has that other translator strato decided to do it?

  39. Yes, I’m referring to strato. While I never saw his public statement on the matter (wherever it is, gemot I guess) I’ve seen it brought up in #Ammy a few times by very trustworthy people.

  40. @DawningBlue: Blame kViN’s pure EVILNESS for that. =P

    But I seriously would translate KGNE in a few years if I stick with my studies.

  41. @Ixrec
    I see, in that case it’s good news and I now have a ridiculously silly smile on my face.
    Just for clarification; is the strato working on Baldr Sky the same strato as the one from the fansubbing goup afk, as in the one man army strato, or someone else? I heard that mentioned on the internets, but that’s an unverified claim at present.

  42. I was told by aforementioned reliable sources that strato = a.f.k.

    I know no details beyond that.

  43. A question:
    I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how much the protagonist in MLA pissed them off. I was wondering why they would say this. Basically, what about him made people angry?

  44. In Extra/Unlimited he’s your standard doormat character type with no real will of his own. In Alternative he starts trying to improve on this very early on, with mixed success, and the end result imo was some very believable character development. Of course, being believable, he never can get completely past it during the mere two months that elapse over the course of the game, so bits of immaturity and weakness are still visible all the way to the finale. Again, this was a plus for me, for many it likely wasn’t (see Shirou in FSN for an arguably similar issue).

  45. Hmmm… Well, considering that I actually LIKED Shirou, this may be a plus for me too.

  46. Oh, and BTW, isn’t he a soldier at the beginning of Alternative? I read that he went back in time or something and had soldier skillz at the beggining and knowledge of the BETA. And if so, why would he be feeling intense self-doubt.
    Oh, and about the Senjutsuki, are they like Nadesico, where everyone piloted the same model of mecha or is it like Gundam where everyone has their own, unique kickass mech?

  47. What you said about Alternative is correct, except that “being a soldier” is not the same has “having soldier skillz,” but that’s prolly just nitpicking.

    As for the senjutsuki, they’re actually somewhere in-between because every government has a number of mass produced models (realism! =o), so in general the arrangement is something like you’re all piloting the same kind, they’re all piloting a different kind, and your backup is all piloting a third kind.

  48. So he’s NOT a soldier? As in he’s never been on a battlefield before at the beginning?

  49. Oh, and sorry for asking so many questions so here’s the last one:
    Is it ever explained why and how he was sent back in time?

  50. @AQZT

    Because PHYSICS happened, essentially. Muv Luv takes the Many Worlds interpretation over Copenhagen.

  51. Though the questions themselves don’t bother me, the rather obvious fact that you’ve delved into spoiler territory does. I can’t answer any of that.

    And no, while all fiction loves the many worlds theory, MuvLuv has its own variation of it just like everyone else.

  52. Well, guess I can understand that, but thanks anyways :D.

  53. AQZT: From what I understand, he did have combat experience from the previous world (Ultimate). Thats why he was pushing in Alt, to prevent things from turning out that way.

    Why he was sent back in time or parallel world is a main part of the plot, and truly removes the feeling if spoiled.

    For the mechs, its more of like fighter aircraft of the world, except in humanoid form, planes being unusable. So there are a few customized types, like the purple one, but they are not poweroverwhelming/iddqd. More like a tuned up GM in gundam terms. Then again, i always likened them to the GP03s in design. There is a super unit though… again like the GP03d…

  54. Incidentally, Happy Birthday to Meiya and Yuhi!
    http://www.age-soft.co.jp/index_Main.shtml

  55. Well, thanks for answering my questions. Actually, I was not asking WHY he was sent back, but rather, whether it was actually a PART of the plot (i.e. Is it even discussed?). So I wasn’t asking for spoilers actually.

    And thx for the link gabgrave, I had completely forgotten.

  56. lol, you can check wiki for a mostly spoiler free info. Has info on the mechs and stuff too.

  57. Well, there’s basically no way in hell the game would get a score as high as 9.5 if it didn’t justify that in some sort of awesome way, and it’s not so much a part of the plot as the entire reason the plot even exists in the first place.

  58. Errrrrrrr… Who modified my post with that little “thanks for the link statement”?

  59. That would be me clicking the wrong button.

    I will pretend I was working on Inganock when that happened to give myself an excuse.

  60. Well that explains it.

  61. lol. Ixrec: no problem. I got a list of Muvluv links in my fav, mostly for the goods though. As for the plot reason, I believe the op song says it all :The ultimate power of humans is love…

  62. Btw, Ixrec, I forgot to ask, which version of MLA are you going to translate? The normal or all age? Not that it makes a diff for MLA, but for MUU there’s some text diff.

  63. I asked someone with All Ages to upload it at some point, and he never did, so I sorta forgot about it. I’ll try finding it again once it’s made official (or shock and awe I pick something else) and see what the diffs are for Alternative. I was unaware Unlimited would differ, but I must admit I have trouble caring about that in the slightest.

  64. Well, to save you some trouble, the differences in MLA allage is they used the engine from Alt Fab, so the animations flow are better, they had a pic change in some scenes, specifically the Marimo part and the Sumika echi part, to make it more toned down. There was also more voice over on the part of takeru at the point of the base attack, when he left the commander and flew up. Other then that there are no text changes.

    Unlimited was changed in that there was more after action bed talk for the prof I think (other then some pic changes). Dint want to play through all so not much to say for the others…

  65. I can’t read the first sentence of your second paragraph, but thx for the detail on the Alt diffs, that’s little enough I can simply not care which version.

  66. lol, I prefered the normal ver myself.
    Unlimited, its just less HCG and more talk, lol.

  67. Storywise, is this game as good as Xenogears? Better, and if so how?

  68. [22:31:28] < ~Ixrec|RwTwY> apparently this guy thinks I’ve played Xenogears
    [22:31:36] < ~Ixrec|RwTwY> what do I do?
    [22:31:44] < Staff Member A> tell him xenogears sucks
    [22:31:46] < @Staff Member B> say ‘I don’t know, I’ve never played it’
    [22:31:49] < Staff Member A> and that mla is epic

    Sorry, best I could do.

  69. I just realized that though Ixrec liked C+C and YU-NO more than this game and Sharin, MLA and Sharin are the ones with the highest range of scores with polarization taken into account.
    Pretty cool :).

  70. Yep, those subscores actually mean something.

    I’m still debating whether I should go compare my ranges against actual vndb or EGS scores to see how they stack up. If I ever have the time I probably will.

  71. Ixrec, most of your reviews are scarily close to the actual range of scores on vndb…
    I wonder what that says about you as a person :D

  72. Very good question. It’s probably best I don’t give an answer myself.

    Though I can make the related comment that it means my polarization ranges are actually very useful, so once I’ve played a ton more games and reviewed them this blog could become an invaluable reference. That would be nice.

  73. I think it already is a pretty good resource. But, as you said, it needs MOAR games.
    Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, you’re playing Ruitomo right now, right?

  74. Oh, and I don’t think it says anything about you as a person, but it DOES make you a really damn good reviewer.

  75. Yes I’m playing RuiTomo. I finished Rui’s route a couple of days ago, and now that I’ve found where the routes diverge it’s clear this game is a lot longer than I thought (thank you vndb for your incredible fail of an estimate) so I’ll try to pick up the pace soonish.

  76. BTW Ixrec, do you post your scores for games on vndb?

  77. I do not post my scores on any other website. Originally this was because I hadn’t played anywhere near enough games to feel my opinion would mean much on such sites, though even now I’m probably just not going to bother because everyone who cares what I think already knows about this blog, and there’s WAY more information here than I could put in vndb.

    Still, considering it’d take all of ten minutes to go make an account, add all my scores and then link to this blog, I’d be perfectly willing to do it if anyone seems to care.

  78. I care. Please do it :-).
    Honestly, I think it would be good for all of those amateur eroge players out there to have one more way to discover Amaterasu.

  79. Okay, brb.

  80. Okay I think I’m done filling it all out.

    Gonna be amusing when people rage over the different priorities in the wishlist.

  81. Koi is going to love you. I am not so happy, but hey, my game still made it on the wishlist.

  82. Something tells me he won’t be as happy when Ixrec rates the game, but who cares.

  83. Excellent you did play this while I was gone for those two months. Awesome though, you liked it just as much as I thought you would. I didn’t think you’d give it a 10/10 like I said, I was expecting 9/10. So 9.5 makes me rather happy, and good review too.

  84. Welcome back, nice to see you liked it.

  85. Anyone knows what this international conference for MLA is about? http://kiminozo-radio.jp/event/event_talklive.htm

  86. Skimmed the page and whatever it was looked very ordinary to me.

  87. Ah, I see, was hoping it was a chance for non-local fans to join in.

  88. Were you to translate this, would you also translate ML:E and ML:U or are they not necessary for ML:A?

  89. I believe the review states that E and U are necessary, and yes I would tl both. If ML is our project, expect further details when it is formally announced.

  90. You like this VN a lot, so I played it. I cried significantly more than I expected to looking at the cover art, and none of them were tears of shame.

    A couple things bothered me though, the first being FLASHBACKS. For a game with a huge amount of foreshadowing in a previous installment, it’s a little silly that it can’t trust the player to remember something that happened a few hours ago. Takeru also shouldn’t need to reference the flashback we’ve just seen twice.

    The second one is the ending. It wasn’t nearly as climactic as it should have been considering the standard set by earlier conflicts, and the entire battle was broken up by long speeches displaying (retread) character growth and Takeru being boring in a mech by himself.

    Still, I’m glad it came so highly recommended because I’m very happy to have played it. Thanks for translating the whole thing and not leaving us with a standalone title. It wouldn’t have nearly the impact without the buildup.

  91. Came here to express my eternal gratitude for translating Muv-Luv. Thank you for delivering this awesomeness to our humble minds. It was definately a heart taking experience.

  92. This was a really good visual novel, I liked it a lot. I would like to see a continuation of the last episode “MuvLuv”. That seems like a breath of fresh air and it would fill my craving for more Muv Luv. Like Fate/Stay Night did (those 3 routes).. Sadly, MuvLuv Altered Fable is only 65% translated for months.. I bet I’ll have to wait an eternity for it to be completed xD. Good review!


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.