Serendipity Next Door: Jinpachi Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: Two neighbors get to know one another while dealing with every-day life.

IMG_0161Well, I don’t necessarily want him, but I do want this story.

I cannot fully recommend it to everyone, but what this story gets right, it really gets right.

  • Stock elements are used. The main character’s often naive and acts before reflecting, the leading man must physically rescue her more than once, and convenient set-ups are utilized. Yet how all the characters react and speak are unique and consistent while still evolving.
  • The difference in personalities, experience levels, and ages all come through in all the characters without smacking the reader over the head.
  • The word choice and humor just work for me. Several times I faintly noted that intellectually something should bother me, but I was too busy snickering to actually care…

IMG_0154

IMG_0155Hee.

Bottom Line: Recommended to those who wish to see basic ideas become unique through good writing and localization.  Or to those who just need a good laugh.

Voltage’s Serendipity Next Door is available on iOS and Android.

Metro PD: Close to You Yutaka Tennoji Sequel Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Okay, this review will need a bit of context. While I always enjoyed Tennoji in all the other Metro PD routes I played, his unprofessional and disrespectful attitude in his own route’s first three chapters kept me from purchasing it. I therefore may have missed some references.

Basic Premise: The MC and Tennoji track a criminal to New York City and attempt to prevent another murder.

Positives

  • The translation, pacing, word choice, and comedic timing work beautifully.
  • The grayness of the world creates real tension during the mystery and suspense plot. I really didn’t know how it would resolve, and there are no perfect “makes it easy” answers.
  • The MC is funny, intelligent, and fair without being perfect.
  • Tennoji is driven, rash, and funny with just the right balance of sincerity and dismissiveness.
  • The banter between these two made me laugh every chapter. Have a quote:

  • Tennoji and the MC are good detectives, good friends, and such good romantic partners while still being believable. I didn’t even play the main route, and I want to see these two married and in their sixties and still kickin’ butt professionally and teasing their grandchildren during Japanese holiday get-togethers. I would say “send help,” but I’m enjoying these two too much.

Negatives

  • I wish more of the secondary characters had sprites.

Everything Else

  • A couple of “well, isn’t that convenient” moments happen in service to the plot but are so nimbly executed that I can’t mark it as a negative.

Bottom Line: Highly recommended. I love these two.

Voltage’s Metro PD: Close to You is available on iOS and Android.

Sword Daughter Impressions and Review

“Well, I enjoyed Hanako’s Long Live the Queen and The Royal Trap. I’ll give Sword Daughter a chance.”

Positives

  • Kim Sokol’s and Iacocca Khen’s art has a soft, oil-painting quality that fits the setting and is easily the best Hanako has used. I hope they continue to illustrate future titles.
  • The music fits.

Main Negative (or Positive of a Different Sort)

  • The base plot concept is sound: The protagonist’s traveling party is attacked by orcs, her father dies, and her fellow travelers are abducted. She’s found by the male lead and now must decide how to proceed.
  • Unfortunately the execution is so bad that at first I felt insulted. Her dad’s still fresh corpse is a yard away and the two leads are arguing – yet the protagonist is focused on how cute the elf is.  What is this?
  • Then I nearly started crying from laughing when the perfectly beautiful, eerily intelligent white horse shows up and somehow magically gives the protagonist the power to win a footrace.
  • Then I started crying from laughing in earnest when I spent the next playthrough doing my best to make the two leads hate each other (and they do express frustration without attraction) only to have them turn right around and snog each other and talk about how concerned they were.
  • The best part of all, however, came during one of the possible endings in which the fellow travelers have been rescued, the male lead has been jarringly mushy, then wanders off. Female lead: “Maybe I’ll see you at the warrior games some time?” Male lead: indifferent shrug.
  • The entire thing is both terrible and glorious.

Bottom Line: This is not a good story, but for $6.95 I definitely got my money’s worth. If you enjoy picking apart books or games MST3K-style, give it a try. It’s now on Steam so you might nab it at a good discount in the future.

Hanako Games, Hanabira, and Rhondi Vilott’s Sword Daughter is available on PC, Mac, and Linux from Hanako Games’ official site and Steam.

Our Two Bedroom Story Tsumugu Kido Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The MC moves into her new stepfather’s house at the same time her stepfather’s nephew, Kido, arrives claiming sole rights. She also receives a promotion to Seasonelle magazine and teams up with a new hire. Named Kido.

Positives

  • The word choice and localization that provide characterization are fantastic. All the characters’ commentary and interactions are good and click with the other routes. Watching Chiaki pine for Kaoru never gets old.
  • The MC is priceless. While she comes across as more everyday than, say, Metro PD‘s or Queen’s Gambit‘s protagonists, her snarky observations and measured decisions about what behaviors to let slide and what needs to be called out give her an intelligence and agency I adore. When the MC starts mockingly imitating Kido’s regional accent I shrieked in glee. She also sticks to her plan to move into a new apartment despite Kido’s half-hearted offer to let her stay in the house.
  • Kido is such an odd duck. As the MC says, he’s “a slob, and a cheapskate, and mean,” he falls into none of the archetype categories, and I couldn’t predict what his back story or actions would be. He was confusing and layered and I HAD TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. Also, his unimpressed face is my favorite sprite ever.
  • The relationship between these two veers between open hostility and friends who like to prod each other for most of the story. It never felt unhealthy or abusive to me though. Yes, Kido tries to bulldoze the MC into doing what he wants at times and lists what he thinks are flaws to her face. But she pushes back, gives him a frank assessment of his faults, and – importantly – does not blame herself for his behavior. In the end, these two only agree to start dating; they’re not swearing grandiose oaths of undying devotion. Good grief, I love whoever did this story and localization.

Negatives

  • Having such believable interactions backfires in one case. Kido repeatedly tells the MC to butt out of his business. I too hate having nosy people poking in my affairs so my natural reaction would be to choose “you got it – call if you need anything” options and leave him alone. The MC never does anything too meddlesome, but it is a little annoying.

Bottom Line: Recommended. While not very romantic, the unique characters and funny repartee make this a great read.

Voltage’s Our Two Bedroom Story is available on iOS and Android.

Metro PD: Close to You Kimura Main Route Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: A young policewoman transfers to a large city’s detective unit, investigates a string of crimes, and falls for a fellow investigator.

Positives

  • The dialog, comedic timing, and tone work beautifully. Many of the tropes and plot elements could have been eye-rollers , but the execution is fantastic.
  • The MC, as in Kirisawa‘s and Nomura‘s routes, is awesome. She’s good at her job, clicks well with the other detectives, and acts like a reasonable, multifaceted individual. I can’t recall one instance that I thought “Who DOES that?!”
  • Kimura feels like a person despite all the stock elements used.
  • The mystery plot ties in nicely with the characters.
  • The localization and proofreading are nearly perfect.
  • Both endings are adorable.

Negatives

  • The 1st Unit Detectives are so incompetent that it may break your suspension of disbelief. It didn’t particularly bother me because the tone is snappy and they’re called out on it, but YMMV.

Bottom Line: Highly recommended. I’m off to play it again.

Voltage’s Metro PD: Close to You is available on iOS and Android.

True Love Sweet Lies Sakuya Main Route Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The MC helps a group of detectives solve a mystery in exchange for their protection.

Positives

  • I ❤ the MC during the prolog and, for the most part, during the main story. She’s funny and smart without being perfect.
  • The translation is well done and keeps the proper comedic timing.  I laughed several times.

Negatives

  • The entire route is incredibly random: characters, plot points, scenes, emotions, and motivations just appear without buildup or transitioning to the next. Why do the two main leads ditch their undercover post? Why does the MC care about Sakuya and his brother? Why don’t they investigate further into Why does our previously non-nonsense MC meekly submit to such unreasonable demands? Why does she decide to keep living with the group? Why is the goat getting aroused at the modeling session?  Your guess is as good mine.
  • This randomness can make the plot and characters distant and forgettable; I had to play the route a second time before I could even start my review. I genuinely could not remember anything distinct about the route besides the goat and that one picture shows the MC’s eyes. I couldn’t even remember Sakuya’s name.

Everything Else

  • Rather than receiving a “normal” and “better” ending at the route’s end, in this app the choices net you a “sweet” or “bitter” ending. I was disappointed to find that “bitter” does not mean a relationship blow-up or rivalry romance (why, yes, I do miss Dragon Age II‘s companion system), but a different nice ending. Once you unlock both endings, there’s a short video. But, for just $2.99 extra, you can skip straight to the other ending and unlock the video AND get an extra ending. Yeah… no.

Bottom Line: Give it a try if what you want is a fun MC and a few snort-worthy moments. Skip it if you want something with a little more substance.

Voltage’s True Love Sweet Lies is available on iOS and Android.

So Excited!

Bioware According to Mom is not dead!  For the uninitiated, the blog records the gaming commentary of a retired dental hygienist to her daughter.  If you’ve played any of the recent Bioware titles, it’s hysterical.  Seriously.  Go read and spend the next three hours in fits of giggles.

I think I’m looking forward to her commentary on Dragon Age: Inquisition as much as the actual game.