Site-Wide Activity

  • Last time, Kyrie’s backstory and three more deaths.

    Back in the guest house, it’s become obvious that something has gone wrong. Krauss and Natsuhi are trying to keep their compure when Eva bursts out of her […]

    • It’s interesting. Eva is very obviously the culprit of the nonmagic killings this time, with EVA as a metaphor for the part of herself that could do such a thing. Given that, though: was Eva also responsible in the other routes? And who will be responsible going forward? Will EVA be the new villain, with Eva the culprit on every route? Or will things continue to juggle around?

      Well, the question in this context is, who’s Beatrice? Is she a metaphor for a culprit unknown? Or for a specific person? Could Eva had been the culprit without EVA being around or not?

      The gameboard and the metaworld are intertwined, but not necessarily in obvious ways.

    • This really reminded me of how the nonmagic version of this one is absolute bonkers bananas

  • The Talos Principle is a first-person puzzler. You play as a robot who awakens to the voice of someone claiming to be your creator, who tasks you with completing puzzles. He promises you eternal life for your […]

    • That comic is me, frustrated, in every single philosophy course I’ve ever taken.

  • Last time, a break between Battler, Bea, and the audience.

    Ron steps forward. It’s time to start the game again.

    Bat takes a deep breath and says, okay, maybe Rosa and Maria’s deaths were […]

    • LOL, WTF

      Never thought I’d miss the Stakes’ designs.

      Don’t know what you mean. Fetish bunny girls assassins with a pseudo-military theme are a perfectly reasonable addition to the cast.

      BTW, do they get their character profile now or later? There is some interesting stuff in there if you click through them all.

      Very curious to know what the Cyrillic says.

      It’s not Cyrillic. Looks Greek to me.

      • It’s clearly Greek and I’m an idiot.

        • TBF, anime sorta has a weird fascination with Russian (not as prevalent as using random English words, but I do encounter it here and there occasionally, even in anime where you wouldn’t expect it), so it’s not an unreasonable conclusion to make when faced with an unfamiliar alphabet.

      • Fetish bunny girls assassins with a pseudo-military theme are a perfectly reasonable addition to the cast.

        You joke, but actually think the absurdity of that combination is part of the point. They aren’t suppose to feel “reasonable”. The nonsense of military bunny girl assassins serves to highlight even more the wedge between the mundane and the magical. The “fetish” part is probably too much.

        • I mean, I’ve read Umineko in full back in the day, I know what’s up with the design (though it kinda makes the fetish-y elements stand out even more). They’re ridiculous, but in a way appropriate for the story.

          Part of it is that, yeah, magic doesn’t need to be constrained by reason and logic and, in fact, can be said to stand in defiance to them, rejecting mundane problems and mundane solutions in favor of, well, a fantasy.

          Another part would be spoilers.

          They’re still pure WTF when you encounter them for the first time, though.

    • Never thought I’d miss the Stakes’ designs.

      Heh, I sorta prefer the Chiester sister design more, actually. Not by much, though.

      These designs are such a shame, really. I truly love Umineko and wish recommend to everyone. But stuff like this make it really hard to. The worst thing is that I don’t think their design is pure shameless pandering with no thought to it. I think there is a point to some of the choices made that serve to enhance the story. But they probably could have worked something out that didn’t include leotards…

      • For some reason, it looks like more of a hodgepodge than the Stakes to me.

        • I find them somewhat more coherent in their motif, at least. Like, they are military bunnygirls. So they wear playboy bunny outfit with a military outfit over it. Like, it is a weird arbitrary combination but I can see the themes at least. With the Stakes I don’t even know what they are supposed to be dressed as. What are they supposed to look like?

          Take the leotard, for example. Like, it is “fanservice”, obvious, but the concept of “playboy bunnies” is so integrated it is not that weird that you would put a bunny girl in a leotard. With the Stakes it just feels random.

          Like, neither outfit is “good”. I just appreciate the Chiesters more for theme consistency, I guess.

          • I’m still peeved that Umineko didn’t use actual Ars Goetia demon designs. Like, it has an owl on very long legs. How the fuck do you learn about this and not use it in your game?

            • Case in point:

              Everyone who doesn’t depict their demons like that is a COWARD.

    • “If anything, you’re witch of the kitchen!” Oof what a way to prove her point

  • Like many websites and blogs, we will participating in the blackout. This is not a time to say nothing, but instead to put aside things that can wait and focus energy on helping those in need. To that end, I have […]

    • A crosspost from my FB page:

      Since a lot of people are looking for resources right now, I thought I’d do something I don’t normally do and share some recs, in this case for books by and about black women. There’s no hierarchy here; they’re just among what I’ve happened to have read in the past six months or so. Feel free to share or add one.

      NONFICTION – SOCIOLOGY AND ACADEMIC

      Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris
      Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror by Kinitra D. Brooks
      Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
      Afro-Future Females: Black Writers Chart Science Fiction’s Newest New-Wave Trajectory ed. Marleen Barr
      “Introduction” to Othello, Arden Third Edition, by Ayanna Thompson

      NONFICTION – MEMOIR

      You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
      Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

      FICTION – NOVELS

      Everfair by Nisi Shawl
      Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
      There Is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset
      The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

      FICTION – SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

      How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
      What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

      • Fiction – Novels

        The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. It’s been rec’d here before and must be rec’d again.

      • Just to reinforce Act’s rec: the Arden Shakespeare series is excellent, and Dr. Thompson’s introduction to its revised edition of Othello is particularly good.

    • ActBlue has put together a page for those looking to donate to some of the major funds:

      https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ab_mn

    • A countrywide list of bail funds

  • No Umineko this week because I’ve been huddled in a ball weeping finishing up my final papers, but y’all are apparently more interested in dry books about other books than I thought, so here’s some of my favorite […]

    • “Speaking of nothing ever changing, this book is utterly fascinating. It’s a study of the different portrayals of industrialization in the writing of men and women in the Victorian era.”

      It is. At least, the main body is – I really don’t agree with her commentary on the present state of my country in the introduction, or her remarks re Thatcher, and I suppose it’s probably best we leave it at that – I’m half-way through the first chapter at present, and it’s an enjoyable read. I’m not sure yto what extent I agree or disagree yet.

      “Basically, Zlotnik argues very persuasively that men’s fiction was characterized by the valorization of a bygone era that actually sucked for everyone but the very privileged (HA HA HA)

      I’d been noticing a very gendered “cyberpunk good, steampunk bad” trend in the SF stuff I’d been reading, which rang all kinds of “this is actually because so many women write steampunk” bells, and this book left me with a lot of interesting thoughts on why steampunk seems to draw women writers. Basically, my working thesis is that women are driven to return to the industrial revolution because it was the last time positive social change seemed inevitable, and by returning to that time women and POC can rewrite a history wherein industry’s promise of freedom is fulfilled. If, as Zlotnik argues, men saw industry not as a site of promise but of sexual and economic threat, it makes sense they can only dismiss it and instead go to a future in which all the ladies are fuckbots and all the men are noir.”

      So, from the sound of it, you’ve read much better steampunk than I have. The only steampunk I’ve read that isn’t “valorization of a bygone era that actually sucked for everyone but the very privileged” and just generally bourgeoise as all hell is China Mieville’s Bas-Lag trilogy, and obviously he’s a man (and a communist, hence the interest in the industrial period).

      Hence, if you told me steampunk is dominated by women – which I also haven’t noticed, but I’ve read little of it – I’d probably guess that it was more an outgrowth of the gender imbalance in readership for Austen-style period pieces. If you’ve read something that’s actually got a bit of punk in it, or anything which is more than a fetishised version of Empire (like Gibson’s bizarre venture into the genre) or the courtship dances of Victorian Britain, I’d be quite interested.

  • sandcycliti became a registered member 1 month, 1 week ago

  • Bit of a content warning for discussion of rape and violence against women.

    Here is your BG music for this post.

    Back in fall of 2018, I wrote what Mr. Act and I have been referring to as “the rape […]

    • There’s a degree to which I’m glad Nora Roberts used a pseudonym for her In Death series; I’m not 100% sure I’d have picked them up at 13 otherwise. They were pretty formative in how I look at adult fiction. One can only imagine the horror I’d be if I found John Green first.

    • Like, if it is a villain, I enjoy watching them being defeated, not punished, if that makes sense.

      It does! Pratchett brought some of that up in The Fifth Elephant, when Vimes kills the werewolf Wolfgang. The narration mentions how a bunch of dog-related one-liners pop up in his mind when he does the deed, but he says none of them: just because Wolfgang had to be taken down for good, it didn’t mean it was a clean or fun act, certainly not something to be turned into a spectacle.

    • Thanks for this… article(?), I think it puts to word some things I always had a problem with in media. I still not sure if I fully realize the extend that all of this apply to women, but the idea of violence as punishment, of suffering as something we are meant to enjoy being inflicted at someone, is something that is very weird to me and, yet, crops up all the time. Like, even if it is a villain, I enjoy watching them being defeated, not punished, if that makes sense. But I know many other people want to see characters being punished, and enjoy watching them suffer in some way. And considering the deed the character is punished for often is “being a woman who had sex once” or something like that, it becomes unconformable really fast.

       

      Come to think of it, I think this is part the reason I enjoyed Higurashi so much. I have some issues about its last chapter, but the explicit and deliberate lack of overt punishment for Miyo is not one of them. I think Higurashi promoted a kind of radical empathy that it is related to that. Even if you think, without a doubt, that a character is bad, it doesn’t mean you need to enjoy their suffering.

      And that might be part of the reason I disliked the animes, even though at least Higurashi’s are rather popular. I feel it revealed into the violence much more than the novels. As if the violence was part of the fun, not part of the drama.

    • Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an interesting case. It definitely broke the mold with regards to the genre in that there’s almost no gore in it, it’s a horror movie which is more about the tension than the shock. And yet, it does veer toward torture porn at the end (more psychological torture than physical, but of course the victim of choice is a woman), and even before that, the most brutal deaths are those of the other female character and the one disabled character. It’s positively subdued by the standards of the genre (some of it more by serendipity than design*), but even then, its violence is unequal.

      * It has no exploitation or sexualisation of women, for instance, but apparently that’s more because the actress refused than any actual intent on the part of the creators.

      ETA: Also, there are apparently some horror stories from behind the scenes…

  • I don’t typically talk about all the academic books I read here (though… is that something people want?), but I bought this for a research project a month ago and I’m still irritated about it so I’m unloading on […]

    • (though… is that something people want?)

      Yes. :-)

    • proposals rely on using preexisting research to show you’re not just making things up

      But then what is that research based on? There has to be initial research somewhere… And literary academia loves to just make shit up!

      Not just as though they’re by undergrads, but like, if my COMP101 students gave me some of these I’d give them a B. 

      What is it about undergrads that makes them seem stupider than high school sophomores, though? Now that’s a research proposal. Maybe not in your field, but hey.

      The two essays that are actually on topic are “Tipping the Fantastic,” by Cheryl Morgan, the only actually useful essay in the bunch, a survey piece about trans representation in speculative fiction, and a piece called “Badass Bisexual Babes.”

      “Badass Bisexual Babes.”

      This is an essay in an academic book. Amazing. You can’t just throw that in there as an aside and not expect someone to wonder “wait, what?”

      “Gender, Identity and Sexuality,”

      A lack of Oxford commas instantly turns me into a prescriptivist.

      This is why editors of these anthologies are always major academics in the field

      I mean, I dunno. I agree with you that this would definitely improve the quality of these sorts of books, but on the other hand… this seems like such a major mistake that even a moderate academic in a field shouldn’t have made it. Hell, I wouldn’t have made it, and I know shit about the topic.

      That the editor could publish one essay about trans issues in a “gender identity” anthology and feel like they’d done their job signifies that this person wasn’t thinking about who the marginalized people were in this context, and that’s a recipe for a collection full of all kinds of -isms and -phobias.

      … So I’m guessing the other essays weren’t even about LGB women/feminism? Sheesh, I really could’ve done a better job.

      • Act replied 1 month ago

        But then what is that research based on? There has to be initial research somewhere… 

        Yes, usually in long-term projects that are well outside the purview of a single seminar structured by someone else.

        What is it about undergrads that makes them seem stupider than high school sophomores, though?

        Different expectations. High schoolers are expected to regurgitate information in a predefined structured format. College students are expected to give their own ideas in a format they believe is best suited to expressing them. Transferring from one to the other is absurdly difficult. We don’t prepare students to think on their own in the US.

  • Inside: SteamWorld Heist, Kynseed, AER

    SteamWorld Heist
    Roguelike/TRPG

    This series is just so fun! It has such lovely graphics, sense of humor, music, and gameplay. This is also the rare game here that […]

    • I’ve grown more curious about the Steamworld games, but damn, a combo tRPG and roguelike sounds pretty kickass. I may have to try it. I have no comment on farm sims, but AER also sounds pretty cool. 100% in 5 hours for $3 reminds me of that other game you rec’d once, uhhhhhh Pale Echoes, there we go. Damn, I kind of miss that game.

  • Hacknet is a game I picked up on Steam for cheap. Its premise is that it’s a “hacking simulator”: A prominent hacker has been murdered, and his deadman switch contacts you and gives you a copy of his hacking […]

  • Last time, a new witch is crowned.

    We get a new profile:

    If there’s not crossover EVA-Umineko fanart out there fandom will have disappointed me.

    Rosa and Eva have rejoined the group. No one is […]

    • Eva having a fever while EVA is killing people is really reminiscent of the Heaven’s Feel route to me.

      Also, Jesus Christ Hideyoshi for that comment when you just saw Rosa friggin slap her child. That was one of the moment that really threw me off him, cuz I generally think he’s a pretty likeable character. It sucks that the cousins are the only ones who speak out about it and try to help Maria, but given the generational divide and authoritarian atmosphere of the Ushiromiya household, it makes sense.

      It’s also kind of interesting that Bea is so upset to see Battler genuinely angry with her, considering her initial premise of making him suffer as much as possible. Like, girl, what did you even expect here LOL

      • Also, Jesus Christ Hideyoshi for that comment when you just saw Rosa friggin slap her child. That was one of the moment that really threw me off him, cuz I generally think he’s a pretty likeable character.

        It makes sense with how George turned out, though. Hide doesn’t seem the type to distribute abuse, but he is the type to stand by it. Though Eva is probably more into verbal than physical abuse.

        Like, girl, what did you even expect here LOL

        She thought Battler was into some kinky shit from the opposite end of her.

      • Also, Jesus Christ Hideyoshi for that comment when you just saw Rosa friggin slap her child. That was one of the moment that really threw me off him, cuz I generally think he’s a pretty likeable character. It sucks that the cousins are the only ones who speak out about it and try to help Maria, but given the generational divide and authoritarian atmosphere of the Ushiromiya household, it makes sense.

        The true message of Umineko is that all adults are assholes. =p

    • EVA Beatrice’s seen with Rosa is terribly uncomfortable but also fascinating to me for soem reason. If I am not mistaken, the music used there is the same as during the “coronation”, right? As I said before, I really liked that scene, and the use of music was a big reason why. To see the track that evoked happiness in the previous scene being used so brutally here is very interesting, specially because it is still appropriate for EVA’s mood.

  • Tulip became a registered member 1 month, 3 weeks ago

  • I had a few games this time that weren’t really bad, but I also couldn’t really rec. Under the right conditions, someone might be interested, but they’d have to be kind of specific conditions.

    Inside: World […]

  • Another year, another crop. I put this off for a while because I was hoping to be able to rejigger a few games that had trouble playing on my computer, but no such luck. You’ll have to wait for reviews of […]

    • Almost all the characters were women, but I genuinely couldn’t tell if that was supposed to be a fetish thing or not. Most of them don’t raise any red flags, but there’s a recurring boss whose weak point is her boobs.

      It’s odd to me that this is a thing that you reflexively think about when encountering a mostly-female cast.

      On consideration, I guess there are two main points where it seems odd. First, that the possibility of fetishiness is prominent enough in your mind, based purely on the cast’s gender ratio, for your connector of choice to be ‘but’ rather than ‘and’. (And, for that matter, for your mind to have gone there in the first place). Second, the implicit premise that fetishiness is bad, judging by the ‘red flags’ descriptor.

      Neither of those matches my own experience of stories with mostly-female casts, wherein fetishiness is (a) relatively rare and (b) not inherently bad. Possibly the two points are connected to some extent, where because I don’t find its presence bothersome I’m less inclined to notice it, or something to that effect? But even given that unifying hypothesis there’s still the open question of why we differ in how bothersome we find it, and I’m not sure how to answer that one.

      Any chance you could explain your own experience of those two points, for purposes of helping me to improve my theory-of-mind on this front?

      • Second, the implicit premise that fetishiness is bad

        Uh, yes, objectifying a minority is bad. It’s doubly bad when the game is not explicitly a porn game. I would like to play action adventure games without getting boobs shoved in my face, please.

        The reason I’m so uncharitable here is because video games in particular have this problem. There have been far, far too many times when I say, “Oh cool, an action game with a female protagonist!” only to find that what they actually mean is “Hey, we made a sexy lady for you to stare at while you’re playing!” I think I’m justified in being suspicious.

        • Thanks! That’s helpful for me, in terms of grasping your viewpoint. With that said, though, I think I disagree with a couple of the premises you’re running on.

          Uh, yes, objectifying a minority is bad.

          There’s a big difference between emphasizing characters’ sexual traits due to personal appeal and objectification. Objectification is about ignoring the traits characters have which aren’t relevantly appealing (reducing the characters to Objects of Hotness from a baseline where they normally have more characteristics than that, in other words), not about giving them traits which are relevantly appealing, and the latter in no way implies the former.

          It would be ridiculous to claim that I’m objectifying myself when I dress in ways I know my girlfriend finds attractive, even though my doing so is pretty clearly fetishy. The same holds when I dress in ways I find attractive; that’s still not objectifying myself, just making it more pleasant to look at myself in the mirror. I don’t see fetishy character design as any different from those, unless it’s done in concurrence with removal of previously-existent non-fetishy elements from a character.

          It’s doubly bad when the game is not explicitly a porn game. I would like to play action adventure games without getting boobs shoved in my face, please.

          It is, indeed, good for people to be able to avoid media they’d rather not consume, and to have access to plenty of media they do like to consume. If the full substance of your objection here is ‘I personally dislike overly-prominent boobs in games and would prefer that they not pop up in games I otherwise enjoy’, I apologize preemptively for misinterpreting you and wish you the best of luck finding more boob-free action-adventure games. (Speaking of which, Hollow Knight: Silksong is on its way! I’m excited.)

          But, with that said: it sounds like you’re trying to make a deeper moral objection than that, to the effect that it’s somehow inherently bad to put porn-adjacent elements in non-porn games. And that seems as ridiculous to me as it would be if someone were to claim that it’s inherently bad to put action-adventure-adjacent elements into porn games. Genre-blending, and inclusion of minor elements from non-primary genres, are well-established traditions that frequently produce excellent media.

          If someone dislikes horror sufficiently intensely that they don’t want to play any games which contain horror elements, they shouldn’t play Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines; but that doesn’t make it bad that VTM:B has the horror elements it has. Those elements make it better, even, for those of us who enjoy horror. And most non-porn-centric games, even the relatively fetishy ones, still have far less in the way of porn-derived tonal influence than VTM:B has horror-derived tonal influence.

          So, unless the claim here is that porn as a genre is somehow inherently bad and objectifying (which, once again: my girlfriend and I acting sexually in one another’s directions doesn’t mean we’re objectifying ourselves—we’re still whole people while doing so, not flattened out into purely our most appealing elements—and fictional characters acting sexually in each other’s directions strike me as essentially analogous), I don’t think the case against cross-genre inclusion of porn elements is any stronger than the case against cross-genre inclusion of action-adventure elements or horror elements.

          The point about third-person seductresses is fair enough, though. I don’t particularly associate those with primarily-female casts, admittedly—I usually encounter them in relatively gender-mixed stories—but they are definitely relatively prevalent in the industry as a whole.

          (I mean, I don’t share your dislike of them—a female protagonist being sexy doesn’t make her not a female protagonist, and I lack your apparent distaste for boobs in action-adventure games—but it’s nonetheless true that they’re a well of fetishiness in video games which I was forgetting about when I wrote my initial comment.)

          • There’s a big difference between emphasizing characters’ sexual traits due to personal appeal and objectification.

            Not when the characters are fictional. This is the age-old “But the character (who I, a gynophile, made) chose to dress exactly to my fetishes, so it’s okay!” argument. If a real person did that, sure. But no, you made that choice to make her appeal to your fetishes. Even if she does have personality on top of that, it’s still an uncomfortable reminder to a lot of women about how society views them.

            (Like with many things, this can be helped by making a lot of female characters and only having some “choose” to dress sexily — The Logomancer did this well, I think. But when all your female characters look suspiciously fetishy, as in this game, that’s worse.)

            And that seems as ridiculous to me as it would be if someone were to claim that it’s inherently bad to put action-adventure-adjacent elements into porn games.

            That is a false comparison. Porn is a very sensitive topic that upsets a lot of people, action-adventure isn’t. I would say the same things about gore in video games like Bioshock, which I often feel is similarly excessive, unnecessary, and unwanted. If devs want to do this, they should state clearly up-front that this is a porn “crossover”, just as I would expect them to advertise if a game includes gameplay elements from a different genre. If you must include surprise sexytimes in your action adventure game, I think it is reasonable to at least request I not be surprised by it.

            your apparent distaste for boobs

            Yes, I am asexual. Our media is, by and large, extremely oversexualized, and that is something that bothers me and which I will comment on when I see it.

            • Not when the characters are fictional. This is the age-old “But the character (who I, a gynophile, made) chose to dress exactly to my fetishes, so it’s okay!” argument. If a real person did that, sure. But no, you made that choice to make her appeal to your fetishes.

              But I (who I, a gynophile, am) chose to dress exactly to my fetishes, so it’s okay!

              Or, put less glibly: I’m not at all convinced that this is a relevant distinction. Why is it objectification when someone like me dresses a fictional character to fit her tastes, but not objectification when someone like me dresses herself to fit her tastes?

              (If the latter is objectification too, under your preferred definition of ‘objectification’, then it’s not obvious to me that that sort of objectification is a bad thing at all. I, for one, am very happy to ‘objectify’ myself in that particular way, and my life would be the worse for it if I were for whatever reason impeded from doing so.)

              If you must include surprise sexytimes in your action adventure game, I think it is reasonable to at least request I not be surprised by it.

              Agreed wholeheartedly. Everything should be tagged to arbitrary degrees of detail to make sure people are as well-enabled as possible to decide whether a given thing is for them.

              (Said enabling, of course, includes people having the option to not look at the tags so as to avoid spoilers. I, for one, place great value on that option, because tag-induced spoilers hurt me far more than unexpected-and-unpleasant story-content does. But nonetheless having the tags be available for those who would benefit from them would be a big improvement over the status quo.)

              Yes, I am asexual. Our media is, by and large, extremely oversexualized, and that is something that bothers me and which I will comment on when I see it.

              So am I, although I’m not bothered by sexualized media any more. (I was for a while, when I was a teenager, but that ultimately turned out to be more about dysphoria than about asexuality and went away given sufficient application of antiandrogens.) It’s perfectly reasonable to be bothered by that sort of thing. It just seems odd to frame that botheration in terms of media being oversexualized, rather than in terms of you having unusual tastes.

              It’d be good if more media were made which complied with your tastes, of course. But it’s also good that there’s plenty of sexualized media out there for those people who do enjoy it.

              • Why is it objectification when someone like me dresses a fictional character to fit her tastes, but not objectification when someone like me dresses herself to fit her tastes?

                Because you are a person who makes your own decisions and is in control of your own body. A character made by an artist is not.

                There can be gray areas, especially when it’s say, a woman drawing a woman, but overwhelmingly when this happens, it’s men designing women for other men to leer at. And I do consider that objectifying.

                Agreed wholeheartedly. Everything should be tagged to arbitrary degrees of detail to make sure people are as well-enabled as possible to decide whether a given thing is for them.

                Mmhm but my point is that it wasn’t tagged here, and rarely is. Softcore porn in T-rated games is just seen as par for the course nowadays, and oh the hue and cry you’ll get if you ever dare object to it. That is a problem.

                It just seems odd to frame that botheration in terms of media being oversexualized, rather than in terms of you having unusual tastes.

                Because this is a media criticism blog and we look at overall trends. Media is incredibly oversexualized on the whole, and in particular tends to cater to straight male sexuality, and I believe that’s a problem.

              • There can be gray areas, especially when it’s say, a woman drawing a woman, but overwhelmingly when this happens, it’s men designing women for other men to leer at. And I do consider that objectifying.

                So women drawing women for other women (and a side demographic of men) to leer at isn’t objectifying, but men drawing women for other men (and a side demographic of women) to leer at is? That’s where we disagree, I think. The same character drawn the same way for the same purpose isn’t sometimes objectified and sometimes not depending on the gender of the artist, as far as I’m concerned; they’re just either objectified or not, depending on whether or not the non-sexy parts of their characterization suffer as a result of the increased focus on sexiness.

                Media is incredibly oversexualized on the whole, and in particular tends to cater to straight male sexuality, and I believe that’s a problem.

                I agree with the second half of this. There should be more sexualized media designed to cater to straight women and various permutations of gay people, to balance things out. But the idea that the problem is too much sexualization, rather than media focusing disproportionately on appeal to a single non-majority demographic, strikes me as wrong. There should be plenty of non-sexualized media for those who dislike it, and there should also be plenty of sexualized media appealing to the various different groups to whom it appeals.

                To the extent oversexualization is a problem, the problem is only that there’s not enough non-sexualized stuff, not that there’s too much sexualized stuff.

              • You keep framing this in terms of personal tastes, but that’s not really what this is about. People should find the porn they want. The beauty of the internet is that by and large they can. This should continue to get even easier as more and more people and communities make the content they want to see.

                We’re talking about the very separate issue of what happens when popular media only portrays women and young girls in a sexualized way, which has very well-documented deleterious psychosocial effects. The solution to this is not to also cause these problems in men and boys, it’s to stop causing them in women, girls, and nonbinary people.

              • We’re talking about the very separate issue of what happens when popular media only portrays women and young girls in a sexualized way, which has very well-documented deleterious psychosocial effects.

                I probably won’t have much more to say in this conversation in that case, since I don’t recall having previously heard of these effects and if they’re heavily informing your viewpoints then we’re unlikely to end up getting anywhere. If you have the energy to link to the relevant documentation, though, I’d appreciate that; I might want to read through it at some point in order to improve my picture of the topic.

                (Especially if you can point at a good meta-analysis; meta-analyses are trustworthy in a way that individual studies aren’t so much, in my experience, for all that they still sometimes get things wrong.)

              • This is one of the rare topics my own personal experiences preclude me from reading too closely about, so I don’t have as many recs on hand as I do for some other things.

                That said, I highly recommend Beauty Sick by Renee Engeln as an examination that media portrayals of women have on women. There’s also Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, which is a look at how the pressure to be pretty and feminine affects young girls.

                I would also just rec plugging “narrativeology” into like JSTOR or something, because “how does fiction affect us (spoiler: a lot)” is an entire area of literary study. Though honestly at that point just googling “social psychology” might not be a bad idea.

    • Momodora always made me uncomfortable in the same way as Touhou, where despite there not being a hugely over sexualized element the all-girl cast feels squicky in a way I can’t quite articulate. It’s all women, but it’s clearly by and for men, and that comes through enough that it makes me feel on edge.

      I’m not sure what it is that my brain finds so suspicious and distressing, but this is definitely part of a subgenre that is very much not about representation.

      • Also, I really loved OVIVO. There are so many artsy puzzle-platformers out there and it’s the only one I’ve played that I’ve thought was really successful.

  • Last time, we learn a lot about the epitaph.

    We return to real life, as it were, with Eva, where her childhood self is berating her for not putting everything she has into solving the epitaph.

    Even […]

    • Eva’s “coronation” is one of my favorite scenes in this episode. I really like the atmosphere of it. It did a good job of using narration, music and visuals to paint the cheerful and magical scenario. Even without the pretty CG, the flowing golden butterflies work very well.

      That is one thing I really like about When They Cry. Ryuukishi knows how to utilize the limited tools he has. The art in particular are always kinda simple, if not ugly, and don’t have much variation, but he draws the most out of it. A visual novel is, after all, still a novel, you don’t actually need a prettily drawn image even for the most important moments. A well timed splash of blood or eerie butterfly can do wanders by itself.

  • Last time, Battler gets his groove back!

    This is where I picked up again after a big break, so if it seems like I’ve forgotten some details… I have.

    We open with George sobbing over Shannon. Fuck. This […]

    • I’m not sure what’s up with Bat’s bolding.

      He’s jealous of Beatrice’s red text and compensates as he can.

      I can’t wait for you to get to the end of the next episode. No reason.

    • Act replied 2 months ago

      Oh, thought it would be worth linking this again for anyone following along: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17OGg7CnMNSCBquJeJLfF5vrU1i0QX5BH4mNYgrbe52E/edit?usp=sharing

      That’s the spreadsheet where I’ve been keeping track of deaths and red text across the routes.

    • I really commend you for trying to figure out the epitaph. I don’t even remember the solution to it because it was all too much for me LOL.

      • Act replied 2 months ago

        I am a bit relieved to find out it’s all Japanese kanji wordplay; it’s like I’m free of any real obligation to get at the solution from this point forward, lol

        • I hope it is not spoiler to say this is not entirely the case. There are parts of the riddle that are solvable without a lick of knowledge of Japanese or kanji. If I remember correctly, partial solutions were showing up at the English fandom back in the day.

          Not that I think you should bother. For the most part, I think trying to solve the puzzles of a When they Cry story is part of the fun of reading them. Even if you are completely off the mark, the act of thinking about it gives more insight about the story. The Epitaph, however, so so uniquely obtuse I honestly think it wasn’t meant to be solved by a single reader, but by the fandom itself, as a community.

    • I should say that the Japanese absolutely fucking love puns even more so than Westerners. I think that was largely just Krauss hearing fucking nonsense from Kinzo there.

      • I heard that back in the day the puns were indeed considered an intelectual thing, as it showcased your mastery on the language. So it does make sense for something Kinzo would tell Krauss. But, yeah, pretty sure that wasn’t the case anymore by the 80s.

  • Sacred Stones, FE8, is the third and final GBA Fire Emblem. It’s one of those games where, while I didn’t dislike it, I’m also not sure the circumstances under which I’d recommend it. Maybe like if someone said, […]

    • Innes was basically a royal Gary who was allowed to be Ash’s legitimate equal because there’s no mechanical reason for him to continuously lose to Ephraim. I liked a lot of his supports; the devs wisely gave him supports with similarly strong-willed and competitive people so you could see their amusing clashes. One thing I will say, though, is that I wasn’t a big fan of his and Tana’s supports with Ephraim and Eirika. Seriously, when you add in Lyon, that was far too much ‘I’ve loved you all my life and felt like a third wheel because of your incest subtext with your twin’ in this game.

      Big same about the game not being as emotionally rewarding as FE7. Lyon was nothing to me, worse than nothing, though Eirika’s route not having a bigger stake in the plot being partly because he spent all of their story moments being jilted was darkly humorous. Boys fight demon lords and girls fend off jealous nice guys. Thanks, game. The rest of it was just, yeah whatever. FE empire invades other kingdoms after centuries of peace. I remember a FE7 LP praising Lyn’s Prologue and imagining that you could make a lot of good FE stories like it, which nominally deal with the fates of kingdoms but are ultimately very personal struggles. That basically sums up my feelings on FE7 vs. FE8. Basically none of the struggle felt personal.

      Now, Act, you must weep, for Fire Emblem will never again return to the gloriously crafted spritework of the GBA games.

      • The weird thing about the twincest was that I kept waiting for some plot thing to explain that the two of them were expected to marry each other for bloodline reasons which was why everyone acted like it was a foregone conclusion, but then that never happened, so it just came across as Ephraim being fanatically protective and controlling of Eirika to the point that she couldn’t have suitors. I honestly wouldn’t have minded a thing about them being expected to marry each other for political reasons because it’s a thing that happened, but I was ultimately left with the impression the game didn’t even realize that was what it was implying. I do wonder about the original Japanese; perhaps it was editing out of their ended during loc.

         Boys fight demon lords and girls fend off jealous nice guys. 

        Right??

        Lyon was the shittiest villain. IDK if this was different in Ephraim’s route, but in Eirika’s it was like he couldn’t even decide on his own motivation. Like I think the story they wanted to tell was he had this magic vision of destruction and in desperation got convinced only the evil could help him? But instead all he ever talks about is how he luuuuurved Eirika, so it seems like he actually didn’t give a fuck about Grado and just decided to destroy the world because he was too big a chicken to ask her out. Which is it’s own kind of realistic storyline, but that’s perhaps not what they were going for.

        I will miss the GBA art, it’s really phenomenal. IDK who the art director was for these games but they have my respect.

        • Yeah, I think Ephraim’s route is the one that leans more into the ‘massive earthquake is going to hit Grado post-game’ plotline. Also Lyon acts more self-assured, as if he’s actually in control of the demon, until he isn’t. He’s also acting out a personal grudge against Ephraim, because jealousy. I think it was very close to what the game really wanted him to be, which is basically just a kid who got in over his head and desperately wants to pretend otherwise. It’s not enough to salvage him; I played Ephraim’s first and I still wasn’t impressed. They really needed to do something else with those sepia-toned flashbacks making him so pathetic.

          I’m like 100% sure they toned the twincest down, but also possibly the original writers just didn’t feel the need to lean into it. The end result is almost funny, where instead everyone is looking at these super-hot anime twins and just giving up because clearly that’s aiming too high.

          • everyone is looking at these super-hot anime twins and just giving up because clearly that’s aiming too high.

            This is the best headcanon tbh

    • Fire Emblem 8 is the first actually really good game mechanically in the Fire Emblem series and it’s a real shame that they basically abandon all of these really good QoL upgrades for quite a while. I think it wasn’t  until Awakening that any of it returned.

       

      The rest of the series really suffers until Awakening. Though the first game with a decent story AND great mechanics is probably Three Houses. So you have a while yet.

      • Act replied 2 months ago

        The rest of the series really suffers until Awakening.

        I read recently that the series was considered almost dead when Awakening came out, which I didn’t know. I guess I just assumed it was a big institution because it’d been around so long, but the next few were apparently flops.

        Which does explain why finding them secondhand is so hard.

        • Interestingly, despite essentially saving the franchise, many old school fans actually dislike Awakening. I have some mixed feelings myself. I get the impression that, since it was a lass hurrah of sorts, the developers kinda threw it in everything they could think of into the game, for better and for worse. The result is interesting, I look forward seeing your impression on it

          • Act replied 2 months ago

            My brother has been into FE for a long time and really hated the direction Awakening took the series. I’ve basically only heard bad things about it from fans. I guess it brought in new casual players?

            • It brought in a lot of casual fans, yes. I am surprised you heard only negative things, in my experience it is more polarizing, but I guess it depends where you heard these fans from. Older fans tend to hate it while newer fans view it more positively. Often the discussion devolves into ‘casual vs hardcore gamers’, but I think that is generally a limiting way to look at how the game influenced the franchise.

              • My brother’s irritation with it was in no small part, and I quote, that it turned the series into a “waifu simulator” and he essentially thought the game became less about meaningful character interaction and more about shoving tits in your face.

                He’d apparently been trying to get his friends into FE and then when Awakening came out they were like ah ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) now we see and he was apparently struggling to convince them of the story and strategy value.

                The costuming was always dimorphic, but as with most games, it did get suddenly much much worse when graphics made a leap. Looking at some of Awakening’s designs having just played Sacred Stones, they don’t even look like the same franchise.

              • It’s weird because Awakening was just going back to one of the West’s favorite Fire Emblems, Genealogy of the Holy War, which is about pairing people up even more-so than Awakening or Fates is. I haven’t played Awakening so I can’t say how it is on the costuming front but Fates surprisingly doesn’t seem too bad. The Dancer of the games is less scantily clad than the old game’s dancers.

                I actually much prefer the new artist for faces and the like, costumes aside. I just feel there’s a lot more variety.

                 

                 

                Which reminds me, Tearring Saga’s (Which is a Fire Emblem knockoff made by the creator after he left IntSys) quest to get a dancer was some of the skeeviest stuff ever.

              • To be honest the complaints of “waifu simulation” is the sort of hyperbolic complaint I dislike from the old guard of Fire Emblem fans. It over reduces things and plaster over many of the other flaws as well as the reasons many people liked it. For example “waifu simulation” implies it is solely aimed at male players, but Awakening got a sizeable female fanbase, if I am not mistaken.  A friend of mine loved the game, and she dislikes otaku pandering anime/manga.

                That said, he is not entirelly wrong. There is a lot of bullshit pandering and these often were the direct cause of bad writting, specially on support converstations. Tharja is possible the worst example, every so often she is an actual characters with compeling motivations, but most often she si the creepy girl with boobs and that is it. It is like there was one good writer who was interested in writing interesting characters while everyone else was in charge of writing charicatures and fanservice.

                Certainly didn’t help the DLC and extra material doubled down on the fanservice (there is a beach DLC and an onsen DLC).

              • I actually much prefer the new artist for faces and the like, costumes aside. I just feel there’s a lot more variety.

                Oh, yeah, that is another thing where fanservice mascareded some of the Awakening positives. I too like the character desings overal, fi we ignore how ridiculosu the female costumes are.

                This is also another area taht maes me think there are multiple people with conflicitng opinions working against each otehr and, again, Tharja is my go to example. She is the pimary fanservice character, her costume is transparent, her concept art is sultry looking as are all her outside game appearances. But her in-game portrait is awkward looking and holding a huge book in front of her self, obscuring everything that everry other part of the franchise seems to want to flaunt. Iti is a weird contrast.

              • Honestly the games do tend to suffer from having multiple writers, split between support conversations and actual story. So you’ll get this odd split between story depiction and support convo depictions and even between support confo depictions.

                I think the only game not to do this is Three Houses, which makes the characters a lot more consistent overall.

                 

                Also Fates fixes Tharja with Rhajat, who is literally just Tharja but with a new costume. So there is that.

                 

                Anyways Three Houses is the best because it has Bernie.

              • I should add on another thing I feel Three Houses does that’s good: Archers are fantastic now. They were pretty good in Echoes where they had high range and solid damage but bad accuracy, and Three Houses changes them to solid damage, high range, and high damage.

                 

                In pretty much all the previous games they had been frankly awful since their one advantage, being able to attack at range, was not only not unique to them but most everyone in the game had a better way of being ranged. Magic was 1-2 and could hit Resistance which few had high amounts of. Every axe-user and spear-user got hand axes and javelins which were 1-2 and wielded by classes with high Strength. Swords got Kodachis in Fates which are 1-2 physical swords, but also got Levin Swords since always which are magic 1-2 swords.

                 

                So being largely 2-2 or 1-2/2-3 with super rare weapons is pretty crappy.

                 

              • Honestly the games do tend to suffer from having multiple writers, split between support conversations and actual story. So you’ll get this odd split between story depiction and support convo depictions and even between support confo depictions.

                The thing is Awakening has inconsistency between support and other support. Tharja is not an important enough character to have many story momments after all.

                Also Fates fixes Tharja with Rhajat, who is literally just Tharja but with a new costume. So there is that

                I don’t think I ever got Rhajat actually, but her clothes aren’t much better. That said, I don’t remember much extra material thrusting Rhajat’s boobs into my face (they got Camilla for that) so they probably made the character better by focusing on her actual character instead. That said, Rhajat is a kid character and the kids are the worst part in Fates, I feel. Terribly integrated and very immersion breaking. They took a concept subutilized in Awakening and somehow did even less with it.

                I should add on another thing I feel Three Houses does that’s good: Archers are fantastic now. They were pretty good in Echoes where they had high range and solid damage but bad accuracy, and Three Houses changes them to solid damage, high range, and high damage.

                That is neat, assuming they are not overpowered, of course. I always like to utilize every character, so I always used the archers, no matter how terrible they are, but it is good they finally realized they needed more than just being good against flying.

              • Oh I was saying that a general problem with FE is that characters are inconsistent within supports, too. Though the translation of Fates had a big issue that the translators just… plain did stupid things sometimes and rewrote things without any real rhyme or reason.

                 

                You aren’t wrong about kid characters. You could go the entire game without even knowing the exist. And they only have two gay characters. You can only have a gay guy on one route, or a gay girl on the other. (or either on the Revelations route) so you pretty much only have one choice.

                 

                Three Houses did it better by having a bunch of gay characters for each route.

                 

                And they’re not over-powered in Three Houses at all. They ARE actually the best at physical ranged fighting, at least. Unlike older games where classes that picked up Archery as a side thing were all universally better at arching than an actual archer.

              • I’m not sure what half-hearted means in this context. They work basically like every other support in the game. I guess it’s because there’s no exclusively gay characters, everyone is bi. There’s some characters like Dorothea who are pretty much gay outside of a support with a male Byleth – I dunno what she’s like as I haven’t attempted that romance.

                 

                It is less half-hearted as it seems, as I discovered that there’s some characters who can have romantic same-sex relationships with other characters, just not the protagonist. Petra married Dorothea in my endings, for example. I had been very surprised by that.

            • Ack! Report Comment is not Reply To Comment! I’m sorry Act!

               

              Also, I never played Awakening. Fates… it has solid gameplay but the plot sucks, because of how they parsed it out on three routes that oyu must buy as seperate games and only one actually HAS the plot.

              Echoes has good gameplay but it’s a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden so plot isn’t the biggest thing.

               

              Three Houses actually has a pretty good plot, characters, and gameplay combined into easily the best game in the series.

              • Fates… it has solid gameplay but the plot sucks

                Fates is such a weird mess! I really like the gameplay innovations, and I like the idea of the plot, but the execution is so hilariously bad. Corrin is the worst part, I feel main character deeply involved with the plot, but also terribly bland. I would say it is a function of having the player avatar being the protagonist, but apparently 3 Houses did the same thing and it worked so I don’t know.

              • Yeah, I agree pretty much entirely. Three Houses basically did the same exact thing except they executed it lot more competently. Three Houses was also made by a completely different team from… some other company, so that might be why.

        • In America Fire Emblem’s popularity was 100% driven by Smash Brothers, so any game that didn’t have Smash Brothers representation basically died.

           

          In Japan 11 and 12 were actually decently liked, but Japan despised 9 and 10 and they were the lowest selling games in the series. It’s why they pivoted to doing remakes since the early games were the most popular.

          • Oh, I never knew Fire Emblem 9 and 10 were disliked by the Japanese. These are the Ike games, right? They are held in high regard by the English speaking fandom, if I am not mistaken. Never played it myself, though.

            • Yeah it was the Ike games. I was surprised too when I found that out, since as you said, the Western fandom loves them.

               

              But the Eastern fandom loves Marth and his games instead and regard the Ike games as inferior clones basically. It’s why they immediately went to remaking the Marth games and why Marth’s still very important in Awakening.

              • I guess that make sense. Although everything I know about the Marth games make them sound dreadfully boring. Specially Marth himself.

              • Yeah I don’t disagree, though to be fair, Ike is just as boring and is pretty much the same character except not initially royalty, and doesn’t even get the benefit of being in a game with serious limitations on how much text could be written.

              • Really? Wow. Years of being around in the English fandom conditioned me to assume Ike must be an actual interesting character.

              • He’s a fairly standard Fire Emblem-style protagonist. He was just the first one to be in a game where he could get a ton of dialogue with a good translation, so he comes off better for that. Aside from his initial class being Mercenary instead of Lord, he isn’t particularly note-worthy.

                 

                I mean I guess he’s super over-powered and pretty much always remains so where-as Fire Emblem lords have a tendency to be underwhelming gameplay-wise probably earns him a lot of fans.

              • I mean I guess he’s super over-powered and pretty much always remains so where-as Fire Emblem lords have a tendency to be underwhelming gameplay-wise probably earns him a lot of fans.

                That make sense. If you have a character with you every missio, they better not be useless (looking at you, Roy).

                Still, it is a bit surprising. One common criticism from the post Awakening games, in my experience, is that they are too easy. And one source of the easiness the the strenght of the main character. So I didn’t imagine this trend started with the pet lord of the fandom.

              • The two games are noticably much easier when you play as him. In 10 you have another character who is MUCH less popular despite being, in my opinion, a lot more interesting as the initial protagonist and uhh, she’s a Light Mage whose special ability is acting as a healing item – she can heal others by taking their damage and giving it to her. She runs a Resistance group that hasn’t had a ton of success but her special power has given her some fame.

                 

                Of course Ike shows up a third through the game and she’s demoted to a minor character and he takes over as protagonist.

              • Also stat-wise he learns Aether basically by default and will basically autokill any enemy you want to fight him with to the point that the literally invincible Black Knight can only be defeated by him because he’s so strong.

              • Of course Ike shows up a third through the game and she’s demoted to a minor character and he takes over as protagonist.

                Can’t have a female full blown protagonist of course. Similar fate to Eirika and Celica, I suppose.

                Is 3 houses better in that regard? I mean, aside the Avatar, I think there are a couple of female lords, right? Are they more o main characters on their own routes?

              • Yeah, Edelgard is the full protagonist of her route from beginning to end without anything like a guy butting in to take over.

                It’s really annoying in Radiant Dawn because it’s suppose to be trying to show how there’s multiple sides since initially she and Ike are on different sides but basically the moment it switches to show Ike’s side it never actually switches back and despite the fact that the actual final boss and all is much more related to the female protagonist, she’s never actually important. The plot is basically about her and she’s not allowed to be important. It’s all swept aside so Ike can have more accolades and be Lord Badass.

    • Also if you’re playing this you should just actually go play Namco X Capcom/Project X Zone/Endless Frontiers/Super Robot Wars. They all have better stories and characters and mechanics.

      • Act replied 2 months ago

        Fire Emblem won the last poll (it completely whomped FF), so as we know I am now contractually obligated to play them in order in their entirety.

        If it helps I can do a new poll for the next jRPG series? I know you’ve been waiting forever!

    • Sure. I’ll be the only one to vote, and thus will win, maybe. (Probably FF will win because of FF7 Remake, which is fair, FF7 Remake is amazing.

    • I wasn’t a big fan of 9 but 10 was way worse if only because the quality of writing dropped immensely and they got rid of support conversations almost entirely.

      The remakes… I felt the remake of Fire Emblem 2 was pretty good, whereas 1’s suffered from being too Fire Emblem 1. And then that was it for remakes until Gaiden’s, and Echoes is a fine game as far as I’ve played. Very different, but well, Gaiden was very different too.

       

      Anyways, Act get to playing SRW T so I can see your reaction to playing as the Lesbian Mercenary Death Squad team that is the protagonist and her friends. It rules.

    • yeah while I had my issues with Fates, the gameplay is where it shines. Characters actually feel mechanically interesting thanks to everyone having a unique skill. Also weapons all have tradeoffs and niches, like Ninja and Butler/Maid weapons debuffing enemy stats depending on which Shuriken/Dagger you use, or some weapons getting a bonus to effective Speed for doubling.

    • I can’t really think of any reason to strongly dislike Awakening

      The plot is unfocused, the main gimmick of the children is underused in the plot, the characters are caricatures and most of their supports are weak, the fanservice and overwhelming and Nowi is gross.

      For everything I said above, I could list a positive, but it is like people are completely irrational in their distaste for Awakening. I think a lot of the vitriol is exaggerated and hyperbolic, but there is still plenty to dislike.

      Also, a lot of the stuff people disliked about Awakening, namely the otaku pandering (waifu/husbando baiting, fanservice, etc), came back in force for Fates and Fire Emblem Heroes, and these were the only truly new entries in the franchise until 3 Houses. It was just recently that old school fans could be sure this wasn’t the route the franchise would go on forever.

    • I will say one thing: Echoes is more or less an entirely new game. It’s a remake of Gaiden, yeah, but it’s one of those complete rebuilds that really changes things. It’s not like Shadow Dragon or Shadow Hero that is just the original games with a little more content and better graphics.

    • I will say one thing: Echoes is more or less an entirely new game. It’s a remake of Gaiden, yeah, but it’s one of those complete rebuilds that really changes things. It’s not like Shadow Dragon or Shadow Hero that is just the original games with a little more content and better graphics.

      Still a remake, though, and thus not a terribly good indication at the direction the franchise is going, in the context of the previous 2 main games and also the new spin-off. Around the release of Echoes I remember multiple people thinking the franchise had been essentially split in 2. One for the remakes and one for the Awakening style main games.

      @Y, yeah, when compared to Fates Awakening comes around much stronger. I think that is a popular opinion among old fans as well, Fates is really not beloved (except, for some people, the Conquest route, which is liked for tis difficuty). People still blame Awakening for setting the trends, though.
       
      I will say though, I kinda prefer Fate’s story myself. Yeah, it is a complete mess and certainly worse written, but I at least was compelled by what it was going for, I guess? Not that Awakening was devoid of good ideas also. I like the stuff surrounding Lucina and Grima (which is technically the main plot, but largely overshadowed by the otehr 2 boring vilains or underutilized), but I like the idea of the Fates plot more, I suppose. You are right Awakening’s is better executed, though, for all that this is worth.

    • I’d like Fates’s story a lot more if it wasn’t split up the way it is. Needing to pay extra for 2/3rds of the game on release was quite annoying.

    • Yeah, that is fair. Am I wrong to think the problem might be Revelations? I never actually finished any route of Fates, to be honest, I played most of Birthright and then got distracted but I remember thinking it felt like a complete story so far, and it does have about the same number of chapters as Awakening. If both Conquest and Birthrightfelt like complete stories on its own right I don’t think this would be much of a problem.

      But with Revelation it is clear that is not the case. There is a “true” route, which, to get the most out of, you need to have played the two baseline routes first. With that extra route neither game feels compete and you are compealed to buy everything to have the true ending.

    • This is a digression, but I have been wondering — would I have to play both Fates games to really do a review of them? Or is it like a Pokemon thing where there’s just slight differences but they’re functionally the same game?

    • Not quite either – only one of the two games has an actual story and explains the full plot. The catch is that I don’t know which one it is.

    • but… but why

    • One of the three. Revelations is the only one with the true plot, while the other two have self-contained plots they basically… just have none of the ACTUAL plot. Like five seconds into Revelations’s route you get told that basically everything you learned about in COnquest and Birthright isn’t what’s really going on and no one can actually just straight up say the truth because the real bad guy has cursed the ability to speak anything about him and if you tell someone about him outside of his personal kingdom where you can basically only go if you already know it exists, you just die on the spot.

       

      Which is admittedly a pretty good way to remain secret, but still.

       

      Like the only consolation is you don’t have to pay full price for the other two routes but it’s pretty annoying that whatever you don’t buy is DLC. They all are probably about the same length and I guess they’re largely individually about the size of a standard Fire Emblem game.

       

      But it’s not like Super Robot Wars where the DLC is basically cut content that couldn’t make it into the game due to the game already being 60 stages long with multiple route splits and thus it’s an extra thing you can purchase for bonus stuff.

    • This is a digression, but I have been wondering — would I have to play both Fates games to really do a review of them? Or is it like a Pokemon thing where there’s just slight differences but they’re functionally the same game?

      Y’s explanation is probably enough but, to be clear, Conquest and Birthright are different games. They start the same, but then after chapter 6 you chose a side in the war and so, from then on, they story is different from game to game, with complete different maps and mostly different characters in your army. They are mechanically different as well, with different classes and different style of progression. They are, essentially, two different complete games on their own right. Except not quite because of the 3rd route, which is the true plot and thus render the other two incomplete.

      At any rate, I would say that, for a proper full review, you would need to play the game 3 times over.

    • And my “Y’s explanation” I clearly meant “Nerem’s”. Sorry. (There isn’t an edit button, is there?)

    • Yeah this is correct. I had thought of it and decided it’s more of an annoyance than any kind of ripoff thing. They’re more seperate games than two Pokemon versions are, I guess is the proper way to put it.  The whole gimmick is that you join a completely different side in the war and stay on that side for the rest of the game.

      Revelations has you decide not to join either side and end up being brought to the secret villian kingdom and basically decide to reveal the truth somehow and end the war without having to fight for either side. It’s not a bad idea, to be honest.

    • Again, I haven’t played, but I do recent Revelations a bit. I think it retractivelly cheapens the previous games and make them not feel standalone anymore. It is not even that it is a pseudo sequel, but a pseudo sequel of both games, meaning that you go from needing just one route for a complete story, but to needing all three.

      But, yeah, it does feel less like a ripoff thanks to each route being fairly long and completely different. It is not like the Hector’s route.

    • but… but why

      Because Nintendo is just as bad as every other big name video game company, they just get away with it because everyone loves Mario and Pokemon.

    • Nintendo doesn’t make Fire Emblem.

    • …or Pokemon…

    • Also looking it up you could get all three routes, which admittedly is like the size of three Fire Emblem games, for the price of 70 bux on launch, or 80 for the special edition with art book and pouch, so it’s only somewhat more expensive than just buying a single game, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.

    • Well, it is not quite 3 full games, as the first 6 chapters are shared and the 3rd game recicles almost all characters as well as the majority of the paralogues. So, 2 and a half games more or less?

      At any rate, it is a very different deal from Pokémon, it is closer to the Oracle of Ages/Seasons games of Zelda. Which, funnily enough, is also not developed by Nintendo. The company is famous for these split games but technically all of them are 2nd party.

    • Yeah I guess so. And that’s true. Atlus did it too with Demikids (AKA Shin Megami Tensei Devil Kids) though that was also more of a Fates thing and also on the Gameboy Advance.

    • I’ve been playing Banner of the Maid which is basically a Fire Emblem game set in French Revolution and it is quite good.

       

      It also introduces two archer-type classes, Artillery and snipers. Artillery has 2-4 range but has weaker accuracy and attack if they do it on the move, while snipers just have 1-2 range always and get stronger if the enemy can counterattack.

       

      Also, is a very good game.

  • Flawed Crystal is a Steven Universe fangame made by our very own member of the hivemind, Guest Reviewer Roarke Mini-Farla St. Elmo’s Fire. You can find it here. I finally got around to playing the game, and […]

    • Also, some minor flaws:

      – Room-Peridot is called Room-Lapis when you pick her. There are some other typos which I don’t remember at the moment, but you may wish to comb through the text one more time.

      – The invisible ellipses are still present when you return to an already cleared location. Honestly, replacing them with “Continue” or something would probably be better than a box.

      – Feelgood Tea Set doesn’t work. It gives the following error:

      Error: <<for>>: bad range expression: State.variables.B.target is null

      Now, on another note, I do wish to talk about the ending a bit. Those who wish to experience the game first, please skip it.

      So, I gave up on SU after the Twist and didn’t watch it. I’ve gathered what happened next from osmosis, and suffice it to say, it didn’t revive my interest.

      As such, the visions of canon ending in the Room were the first time I was directly confronted with what went down.

      And, man, it’s a lot worse than I imagined. What even the fuck happened there.

      Your version of events really feels like the only way to make sense of it, self-indulgent as it is.

      • Feelgood Tea Set

        Derp, I copied the code for Feelgood Tea without making the necessary adaptations. Should be fixed in the next update.

        typo

        *shakes fist at Farla* What am I not paying you for?!

        Fixed, thanks. I’ll fix the ellipses links, too, but be warned that switching them to a button macro can potentially lead to issues with the redirection.

        What even the fuck happened there.

        Indeed.

    • Wow, I didn’t expect this! Thank you very much.

      Re: Garnet, guilty as charged. I mentioned in the artist’s statement that I intended to get more into her leadership issues, but couldn’t find a good way to fit it in. I feel like her home chat is an acceptable substitute, though.

      Re: Jasper, I definitely would have liked to have more interactions with her (and everyone), but just couldn’t come up with any more ideas than I did. Jasper does actually have a lot of interaction options compared to the others, but you can run through all of them on your first conversation.  Maybe I should have spaced them out, and introduced more as time went on? But again, I couldn’t think of anything, and Stevonnie has good reason to want to avoid talking with Jasper too much.

      I also felt the ending was rushed, but, eh, at a certain point I felt I had to make a concession to the format. It’s hard to effectively build tension towards a single point in a non-linear narrative.

      Some kind of simple map with a marker of your location would be very much appreciated.

      I initially planned to have something like this, actually… but that would have required drawing graphics, which was never gonna happen. I am artistically illiterate. (That’s why I went text-based in the first place XD) Maybe I can revisit the concept if I ever make another game.

      Re: monsters taking too long, fair criticism. I think I already went over my thoughts on this in the postmortem; basically, I believe it was lack of long-term resource management that screwed me here. Because you always go into battles with full strength, all the battles have to be about the same difficulty and last about the same length. I definitely agree it gets easier as time goes on just because you’re smart enough to focus fire and the enemies aren’t, necessarily. The hit-to-kill ratios remain mostly constant throughout the game (I didn’t want to make battles even longer!), but with more party members that usually means you can end up poofing one enemy per turn, while they can’t really do the same to you unless they get lucky with their targeting rolls. I tried rebalancing several times, but I just don’t think it’s possible to strike a perfect balance given the setup of unlimited healing and no lasting consequences.

      Re: boss difficulty, Pearl is actually supposed to be a lot harder at low levels. Emotionally, it makes sense for her to be a late recruit, so I enforced that with the structure of her battle making it harder with fewer characters. I’m glad you thought the other bosses worked, though! (Peridot actually does have a gimmick — in addition to the charged attack, she revives her flunkies periodically at later stages.) I’m surprised you found Bismuth trivial — I’ve consistently gotten feedback that she was pretty tough.

      • Re: Bismuth, at this point my party was mostly immune or at least resistant to Interference/Disharmony, leaving Bismuth with raw attacks and occasional insta-kill which could be countered by items. Since she was the last pre-endgame boss I fought, it was also easy to build up Star Points, which allowed me to semi-reliably pull off the ultimate shield (in the endgame fight with her, I was actually able to keep the shield up for several turns in a row). Stat layout might have played a part in it too: I went all out on defense for the front-liners. Jasper basically never received more than a single-digit damage.

        So it was basically a prolonged endurance test where the most important thing was not doing anything stupid or too expensive, heal up gems when they were near death and keep chipping away at Bismuth.

        Re: other issues, yeah, those are understandable reasons. I think the game could be better than it is, but it’s still pretty good, and I’ve enjoyed the experience.

        Thanks for your effort.

        • Stat layout might have played a part in it too: I went all out on defense for the front-liners. Jasper basically never received more than a single-digit damage.

          LOL yeah, that was another problem. It’s hard to effectively balance things when the player has control over the build and there’s a lot of potential variation. Oh well, if it was still playable, I count it as a win.

    • Oh, also:

      Before I begin, it should be noted that this is very much a fangame in a sense that it doesn’t explain concepts or introduce characters featured in the show.

      Definitely the weirdest reaction I received was from the Twine community, who played it without any knowledge of SU and then acted like it was my fault they didn’t know what was going on. I’m like…??? What did you expect?

      • I’d attribute it to a cultural barrier. As I understand it, most of Twine stuff is original, so it could be jarring to come into an unabashedly fan work. But yeah, kind of their problem.

  • Last time, SERVANT BATTLE

    We join Gohda, who is doing his nighttime rounds. As he’s wandering around meditating on the witch, he hears something from the kitchen. When we goes to inspect, he finds a single […]

    • It’s just one of her Noble Phantasm, they get pretty crazy and numerous in Nasu EU.

      Yeah, sword lasers, a floating war fortress full of dragonbone soldiers, the ten rings of Solomon, evil alter-egos…

      … An overcharged battery, a beautiful garden, an author’s deadline, the savage pounce of an earnest catgirl maid…

    • Wait… what?

      It’s just one of her Noble Phantasms, they get pretty crazy and numerous in Nasu EU.

      I like the idea of perspective here, that when Bea is in control of the game we’re just seeing things as they were to her, not necessarily as they were. A woman name Beatrice may have just walked out, found her old teacher Kumasawa, and had an argument or physical confrontation with her that, to Beatrice, had the gravity of a magical battle. Hell, Bea may even have murdered Kuma.

      This is a very important concept that applies to all games, past and future. Numerous scenes did not literally happen the way they are depicted. All of them contain glimpses of the truth, but that truth often doesn’t match literal events of the scene.

      • It’s just one of her Noble Phantasms, they get pretty crazy and numerous in Nasu EU.

        I suppose I brought this one myself, but I didn’t realize until you said this that I accidentally punned on “Servant”.

        • Beatrice is a Rider, of course. Battler is her pony.

          • She’s probably closer to a Foreigner, honestly.

            • My religion does not observe these New Testament servant classes.

              • What’s funny to me is that even with expanded list of classes, there still isn’t one for dedicated martial artists. Which means that if you really want to summon someone with the power to punch people in the face, your best bet is actually Caster (or Assassin, I guess, if you want to be boring), given how in Nasuverse powerful martial arts are connected to magecraft.

                I’m not really big on Nasu EU, so idk how they actually handle it, but really, they should embrace Casters being split between squishy wizards and burly dudes with attitude if they didn’t already.

              • Assassin is probably your best bet. Jing Ke is summoned as an Assassin.

    • <333 I’ll write up a full response eventually, but just wanted to say it’s so good to hear from you!!

    • The Rokkenjima cast is honestly terribly unreliable. The servants either believe in magic or are literally magic, the siblings want the family fortune to themselves, and everyone’s freaking out because of the situation they’re in. The cousins are probably the most reliable you get here.

      • At this point in my experience with the When They Cry series I’ve stopped believing anything. I’ve accepted that I am hopelessly inadequate and will never know what actually happens until I am explicitly told. I largely enjoy this experience.

        • At this point in my experience with the When They Cry series I’ve stopped believing anything.

          Spoilers: The When They Cry series doesn’t actually exist. It’s all in your head.

  • Yes, this is the proper spelling.

    Anyway, this is a cute little horror pastiche. You should play it. That’s my take.

    As it is a horror game, I should start with content warning. The game contains a […]

    • This seems amazingly cool! Is it a fangame, or something more… I suppose “professional” would be the word?

      • It was done by like one guy working in MS Paint, but the result is a fairly professional. It can probably be compared to Undertale in that it’s primary a passion project of one person resulting in a fully commercial game.

        You can find a demo on itch.io if you want to check it out, though it’s not actually particularly representative of the finished game in terms of gameplay: aside from updated mechanics, it presents you with one mystery at a time, which makes Doom toothless.

    • Not all spells cost Reason, actually! There’s some with other requirements, and honestly spending some Reason or Doom for permanent stat boosts is a pretty good trade.

      • Yeah, permabonuses is about the best thing you can get out of magic. And yeah, some spells cost Stamina instead, and at least one takes all three counters for 8 damage.

        I just kinda dislike that magic is pretty situational and not something you should make a major part of your strategy despite one character revolving around it and having one of the best outfit (the trenchcoat brigade one). I enjoy playing as a mighty wizard.

  • Load More
Skip to toolbar