Room 208

Elaborate Burn

Posts from March 2012

A whole slew of new anime previews just came out:

I’m trying really, really hard not to set my expectations too high, but right now I’m failing pretty badly at doing so.

“Why won’t this stupid thing let me tab-complete commands, dammit? It’s not seriously expecting me to type them all out, is it?”

One of the things I enjoy about Christine Love’s visual novels is that they expand the interface beyond the usual “click through pages of text and occasionally make a choice” paradigm. The command line above, for instance, is the way you first interact with a new game of Analogue, while the main story itself is explored (with the assistance of some AI helpers) through a graphical document browser that can be launched from the initial text-mode shell. Even if what you’re doing is in some sense essentially the same as with a regular VN – reading long stretches of words on a screen – it feels like you’re making some effort to discover the story on your own, rather than having it just presented to you.

The layering of two different interfaces does an interesting job of both distancing you from and bringing you further into the game’s plot. On the one hand, the presence of another environment external to the main archive reinforces your position as an outsider looking in on the characters’ past; appropriate, as you play the role of someone sent in to merely salvage the documents, not read them. On the other, though, it also makes the game seem more real – this is how you’d actually be interacting with the story if you were in the player character’s shoes, remotely interfacing with the computers of a starship floating dead in space. Analogue even explains why you can only give the AIs information in the form of binary choices. It’s all impressively thought out.

I’m also a fan of the soundtrack, which plays a big role in setting the atmosphere: isolated, minimalistic, but not devoid of humanity.

Analogue is, as with Love’s other visual novels, fairly short; out of the five available endings, I’ve already finished one, and that in just two and a half hours to boot. I’ll probably come back here later with more detailed thoughts on the story proper once I’ve tackled the other four. My initial impressions, though, are already very positive.

I literally just (as in, within the past hour or so) bought myself a copy of Analogue: A Hate Story, Christine Love’s latest visual novel. I loved Digital and thought don’t take it personally, babe was… well, at least an admirable effort, insert nervous laugh here, so I figured $15 wasn’t too much to ask for another round at the table.

Lest you think I’m a total capitalist sell-out, I will note that I blatantly ignored the instructions you see above and installed it in my own personal games folder instead of /Applications. Take that, spiffy-looking disk image background!

More thoughts later when I actually start, you know, playing the game.

Sentence first, verdict afterwards

I thought about writing a long post excoriating Guilty Crown for having a plot with the strength of wet tissue and characterization that takes more 180-degree turns than a mountain highway, but I can’t justify the effort to myself. That’s fine by me, because I think there’s one image from the final episode’s closing credits that adequately represents everything wrong with the series:

Hare. She spends the first half of the series, like pretty much all of the characters, being mostly inconsequential to the plot. She wasn’t fleshed out nearly enough to make her death have any emotional impact, but it still catalyzes Shu’s over-the-top change into an unsubtle tyrant. Then she’s mostly forgotten about until the end of the series, while Shu goes on and on about Inori having been the only person who was “there” for him through thick and thin. Her story gets wrapped up with a single shot of a birthday cake with her name on it, which screams “token gesture from the writers to reassure you that we didn’t forget about her, oh no!” The sad thing is that I actually kind of liked her character. At least she died before she could get dragged through the mud like Arisa. Yes, let’s go and turn our ineffectual but sympathetic leader into a star-struck traitor willing to sleep around for information. That makes total sense.

I was hoping around the midpoint of the series that someone would throw a real wrench into the story and turn it into something less generic. After all, Hiroyuki Yoshino did the screenplay for Mai-HiME, too, and that started off as a mostly unremarkable show before it pulled off a masterful twist into dark character drama halfway through. I realize now that I should have been more specific in my wishes – while Guilty Crown’s second half certainly isn’t generic, that’s only because it’s its very own brand of terrible.

(The animation was pretty. I’ll give it that.)

Ryuuko practices her man-to-man defense.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko episode 13, which I finally got around to watching just yesterday. It’s been a while!

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