Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “visual novel”

Delicious: Emily’s New Beginning (Gamehouse.com)

Emily just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and she and Patrick couldn’t be happier.  That is, until Emily goes back to work.  Now she has to learn how to balance running a restaurant with taking care of a child.

You read that right, the plot is about career vs. family.  Emily’s trying to run a restaurant while keeping her baby under control.  Surprisingly, some customers don’t like having a baby bothering them while they’re eating.  This starts to become a plot point in the cafe portion of the game where many of Emily’s regulars don’t like Paige (her baby).  I can’t say I blame them.  When I go out to eat, I don’t really want some stranger’s baby bothering me.  Though it really becomes a plot point when Emily has to work for her competitor, Wu, after her family restaurant burns down due to her father and her uncle competing to be Paige’s favorite relative (I’ll explain later).  Wu doesn’t allow babies in his restaurant, so that means Emily has to sneak Paige in there behind Wu’s back.  Wu also won’t let Emily have any say over the menu, though I do see Wu’s point about having a baby in the restaurant and I’m not sure if pies fit his atmosphere.  However, that doesn’t give Wu the right to treat Emily like his slave.  Therefore, I can’t hold her rebellion against her.  This doesn’t end even when they get a restaurant together, with Emily having no say about how her restaurant’s run, though she does stand up to him and makes it clear that she’s the one in charge of the menu.

Again, Emily’s family is a huge part of the plot and you can always count on them to make the plot fun.  For starters, I mentioned Edward and Antonio competing to be Paige’s favorite relative.  This escalates into them buying similar presents with one of them being better than the other and even buying similar toy cars, then racing them around the restaurant to prove that their toy car is better.  Of course, this results in them accidentally burning down Emily’s restaurant.  This forces her to work for Wu.  Though Edward and Antonio learn their lesson, they still have to one up each other at Christmas by dressing up as Santa.  Truthfully, my favorite family moment includes Jimmy when Emily yells at him for buying Paige (who’s three years old in the Christmas levels) a lighter.

The game play is similar to the previous Delicious games with Emily serving customers who sit down or order from the counter.  After the customers at the table finish eating, you clean up after them.

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In between levels, you can purchase equipment to help run your restaurant including an entertainer that you can send to your seated customers to cheer them up.

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The only problem is that the entertainer takes a little too long doing their job.  The game also has a new feature where you can decide your menu based on what customers will be going to your shop on that very day.

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Choose right and you can get generous tips to help you achieve a three star goal.  Some levels will require you to complete an activity relating to the story.  Another thing that separates this game from previous ones in the series is Paige, who will crawl around exploring the restaurant and bother some of your customers.  Therefore, you have to take her back to her playpen.  This feature still exists in the Christmas levels, when she’s three years old, which makes no sense whatsoever.

This game is simplistic yet fun.  I give it 8 out of 10, a fitting installment for the Delicious series.  Though I do have one question.  If Emily’s so busy with work, then why can’t Patrick take care of the baby?

Marin Umino (Cafe 0: The Drowned Mermaid) *Major Spoilers*

A while back, I reviewed Cafe 0 which is still one of my favorite visual novels due to its Twilight Zone feel.  I also recreated all three versions of the main character, Marin Umino, as best as I could using the Azaleas Dolls game (Snow Queen Scene Maker), which you can check out for yourself on Azaleasdolls.com.  Despite the premise of Marin being a ghost who relives the past seven days of her life, the game is more tragic than it is scary.  For those of you who haven’t played it yet, be sure to check out the game on roseverte.com and be warned that there are major spoilers in what I’m about to say.

To me, what makes the game tragic is Marin and the characters that surround her.  To an outsider, it seems she has the perfect life.  Marin’s the most popular girl in school, she has a nice apartment, she’s the swimming team’s ace, dating the most popular boy in school, boys want her and girls want to be her.  However, just because she’s admired doesn’t mean anyone loves her.  Marin’s best friend, Ami, is only hanging out with her because they’re both popular.  Ami has no issue with stabbing Marin in the back if she benefits.  Marin’s boyfriend, Tooru, is only dating her to further his own ends and blackmailed Shou, her doctor who is also Marin’s secret boyfriend, into making Marin date him.  As for Shou, he’s an adult and Marin is a teenage girl.  So the fact that he’s involved with her in private means he’s basically committing statutory rape and also prostituting his girlfriend to protect his own career because Tooru made it clear that he will expose Marin and Shou together if Shou doesn’t make Marin date Tooru.  Keep in mind that Marin doesn’t even want to date him and is only doing whatever Tooru wants to make Shou happy.  Really think about that for a minute.  To anyone asking, “where’s her parents in all this?”  They’re off in who knows where and leave their kid to fend for herself without even a pet for company.  Even Marin wonders if she’s an unwanted child.  So this girl had no genuine love in her life.  Just people who took advantage of her and used her for their own ends.  Marin dies unloved and no one mourns her death.  I’ll admit, I’ve been used myself and I have trouble telling who my real friends are, but the worst that I ever happened to me was that I got called out on the internet, or I had a pool installed and people I’ve never even talked to suddenly wanted to be my friend.  Even if I was used to such an extent I know that, through it all, I’ll always have my mother and I also have pets that love me unconditionally.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in Marin’s shoes.  I’ll admit, usually, I hate the popular kid is sad trope, like how Smallville portrays Lana Lang, but here it works.  Marin is Lana if the writers of Smallville actually took the time to write her better.

Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! (Steam Store)

After Mairu finally starts her comedy club, a teen idol visits in order to join. Unfortunately, Chitose doesn’t want that to happen and will stop at nothing to destroy Mairu’s club once and for all. To make a bad situation worse, the president of the Classical Comedy Club has it in for Mairu, and wants to bring her club down.

That’s right; Cherry Tree High Comedy Club got a sequel. This game is unusual in one aspect. You know how, in some reviews, I skip the paragraph that explains the plot of the video game because there’s no plot to be found? This game has no game play to be found. It’s purely visual novel without even letting you choose where to take the story. Contrary to what the summary would have you believe, the main conflict isn’t about Mairu. It’s actually between Ai (the pop star) and Hoemi (Mairu’s best friend). Ai wants to be a comedian and replaces Hoemi as Mairu’s partner in a comedic duo due to having better chemistry with her. Hoemi has no desire to be a comedian but is afraid that Ai will replace Hoemi as Mairu’s best friend. Eventually, it leads to an argument between Hoemi and Ai with neither side being right and neither side being wrong. The game also has side episodes that explore the relationships between the other characters, such as Mai and Ravian trying to find a tutor for school subjects they are both hopeless at. That’s actually much better than it sounds. In other words, this is not a video game. It’s a slice of life anime in visual novel form.

This game is entertaining and amusing. I give it 9 out of 10; definitely worth looking at.

Princess of Ruin Preview (Unbrokenhours.com)

This trailer is for the very first commercial game by Unbroken Hours that I was lucky enough to beta test!  When a stranger, Xallaun, saves a young girl, Raissa, from a prison, she has no idea who she is.  With her is Kione, a mysterious fire wizard, and Cyraen, an enigmatic boy with a doll he always carries around.

All they know is that they’re trapped in the ruins of a castle that two of them, Raissa and Kione, feel the urge to protect with their life while Cyraen feels the same urge for his doll.  Can Raissa, Kione and Cyraen get their memories back?  What’s the story behind the mysterious castle?  How does Xallaun fit into all this?  Find out when Unbroken Hours releases Princess of Ruin.

The Walking Dead Game Season 2 Episode 5: No Going Back (Steam Store)


After Rebecca dies, the group now has a baby to take care of. Meanwhile, Kenny goes further and further to the dark side. Can Clementine help take care of a baby and try to keep her old friend from slipping into insanity?

This is the final episode of the season but I don’t think the Walking Dead video game series is over yet. As finales go, this one’s definitely the most heartbreaking. This is also the episode where your choices most affect the outcome of the game. I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say this. Your choices determine where Clementine’s loyalty lies.

This game plays out just like the previous ones. You pick dialogue choices for Clementine during certain parts of the game. Other parts have you take control of Clementine and explore the scene. Like previous games, you will have to make a decision at crucial moments and any decision you make influences the plot big time. One more thing, there are action scenes you’ll be required to take part in where you have to press the right key at the right time. At the end of the game, you’ll see what choices the other game players make.

This game is addictive and tragic. I give it 9 out of 10; it was quite an emotional blow.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Gamefly.com)


When Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney, all he wanted was to help innocent clients. Unfortunately, he lives in a world where it’s guilty until proven innocent. Not only that, but he has to face prosecutors who care more about winning than they do about justice. Can Phoenix beat the odds and prevent innocent people from rotting in a jail cell, or worse?

Despite the Americanization of the game, the legal system is strictly Japanese. In Japan, at the time they released the game, it’s guilty until proven innocent and that leads to complications. Therefore, you can imagine that defense attorneys didn’t achieve many victories. Therefore, the game’s essence is that of a defense attorney fantasy. Phoenix does have a hard time proving his clients’ innocence but, in the end, something always happens that proves his clients innocent. The game takes place 20 minutes in the future with the fantasy element of spirit channeling. It’s also quite serious save for a few ridiculous moments worthy of an anime, such as Phoenix cross-examining a parrot. I am not kidding.

For those of you who don’t want any spoilers, you might want to skip to the very last paragraph of my review. Spirit channeling plays an active role in the game by having Maya contact Mia Fey, her sister and Phoenix’s mentor. Despite the game using Mia for fan service, I absolutely loved the character. She is every bit as capable at her job as Phoenix is and maybe more. All I know is that, without her, Phoenix would have never won. Many people feel that her being used as fan service undermines her, but I feel that the game could have easily portrayed her as a beautiful woman with no intellect whatsoever or a woman hoping to make it big while crying about her beauty because no one takes her seriously. Instead, Mia is a confident person who doesn’t let anyone stand in her way and proves herself to be more than just a pretty face. Plus, to me, it seems more sexist to give all the strong intelligent women small breasts but maybe I’m just being a bad feminist. Speaking of Mia, I do love the game’s portrayal of women. It’s quite common in anime for the women’s main desire to get married, Sailor Moon and Wedding Peach being a couple of examples. In this game, the women have no desire whatsoever to tie the knot. For example, Maya and Ema, Phoenix’s sidekicks in the game, want to be a spirit channeler and a scientific investigator respectfully.

Despite Phoenix being the main character, the game is about the prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth. He starts out as a ruthless man who would do anything to get a guilty verdict. As the game progresses, his worldview starts to change as, little by little, he cares more about finding the truth than he does about his perfect record. In the fourth case, he’s forced to come to terms with all the lives he ruined by being in the defendant’s chair. In the fifth case, he becomes an ally to Phoenix while considering turning in his own resignation.

The game play is quite unique. You travel through different locations collecting evidence and gathering information from as many people you can find.

During the trial, you listen to witnesses testify and use the evidence you gather to point out any contradictions in what they have to say.

If you can’t find any, you can press the witness until you find it. The fifth case is the only one that takes advantage of the Nintendo DS gaming system by also having you spray luminol and dust for fingerprints.

This game is intriguing and addictive. I give it 9 out of 10; I laughed and almost cried during some scenes.

Roommates (Winterwolves.com)

When Anne and Max signed up for dorm living at their college, they had no idea how chaotic it would be.  Can they accomplish their goals while dealing with their crazy roommates?

Remember when I said that this game was a spiritual successor to Summer Session?  Believe me when I say that this one is a huge improvement.  One of the differences is that instead of a shy guy trying to get a girlfriend, you can play as shy girl trying to break out of her shell or a rebel guy trying to make sure his band gets a big break.  Anne and Max both have four romance options with Rakesh and Isabella being romance able for both while Dominic and Sally are only romance able for Anne and Max respectably.  Anne and Max can also romance each other and the story differs depending on whose point of view you play from.  One thing I really like about this game is that the characters are unique in their own ways.  They’re also considered attractive in their own ways instead of following one standard of beauty.  In the games Always Remember Me and the first two Heileen games, Marie and Amy were both considered average looking at best.  Anne is not a case of Hollywood Homely but rather I’m Not Pretty.  The difference between the two is that the former has the other characters agreeing with the character that says she’s not pretty.  The latter has only the character thinking this while everyone around him or her disagrees.  Another thing I like about this game is how characters like Isabella and Sally are portrayed.  Any other writer, such as the writers of That 70s Show, would portray a woman like Isabella as a bitchy slut with no morals or standards.  Instead, she’s portrayed as a woman who acknowledges her sexuality but will not do anyone who asks or do whatever her current significant other wants.  She’s just a sexually active young woman and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Sally is a vegan animal rights activist who would either be portrayed as a nutcase for her beliefs or as in the right all along and everyone should follow her example.  Instead, like Isabella, she’s just different and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The other characters are also different, such as Dominic with his rule upbringing and Rakesh with his art.  The only things that bother the other people about them is that Dominic is too strict while Rakesh has no respect for people’s boundaries when it comes to his art.  Anne and Max also develop throughout the game without changing their core identities.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just leave it at that.  However, I will say that Anne’s a nice change from the female characters that usually star in dating sims, at least the ones made by Winter Wolves.  Many of them, like Nicole, are outgoing and love fashion.  Anne is shy and prefers the comfort of a quiet library to a loud party.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Nicole but it’s nice to have something different and more relatable to me for once.  In addition, there’s this one scene where you find out that Dominic likes video games and Anne admits that she herself has played them.  It’s a welcome change to shows like the Big Bang Theory where even the scientist girls have no interest in video games, D&D, or comic books and makes a big deal about them doing those things for the first time.

The game play is that of your typical dating sim.  You have to plan the schedule of the character you’re playing while trying to romance one of the other characters.  You do have the option of skipping events in order to save energy.  If you want to successfully romance a character, you have to raise your stats high enough for them to take an interest in you.  You can do that through part time jobs or pay to partake in certain activities.  You can also attend class and study in order to keep your grades high.  Max and Anne’s storylines are sold separately in case you would rather just play as one of the characters instead of exploring the game through both of their perspectives.

This game is addictive and hilarious.  I give it 10 out of 10; it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Blue Rose (The-white-cat.com)

After a fierce battle with a dragon, Lena, a templar of the blue rose, finds herself in a peaceful village with no clue what happened to her comrades.  Not only that but the village is under attack and it’s up to her to save it.  Can Lena protect the village and find love?

Templars of the Blue Rose in this universe are special knights that draw on the power of the blue rose to help them fight.  Therefore, it’s like being a Jedi Knight only instead of relying on energy you rely on an incredibly rare flower.  Lena is one of them and that’s the character you play.  Usually when playing otome games, the maker assumes that every woman’s fantasy is be a helpless damsel in distress that relies on a big strong man for everything.  This is one of the few games that understands that some women fantasize about being strong and self-reliant.  Lena can pursue a relationship with four guys and a girl.  Tobias is the arrogant yet caring village leader.  Simon is your loyal comrade.  Gavin is the playful outsider.  Erin is the caring innkeeper.  Last but not least, Aran is the mysterious outsider.  Other than those simple facts, nothing about these characters really stands out.  You can unlock extra details about them but their side-stories only take up space.

The game play is that of your typical visual novel.  You read the story and choose the appropriate dialogue.  During most of the game, you can pick different locations to visit on a map.  You can also collect pictures for your gallery and each time you get a character’s good ending, you unlock an extra story.

This game is intriguing but doesn’t really stand out.  I give it 6 out of 10; more of a casual play than something to really get lost in.

Nicole (Winterwolves.com)

Nicole’s excited about the college life only to discover that it wasn’t all she imagined it to be.  Three girls have been abducted from her campus and messages from the culprit tell her that she’ll be the fourth.  Can Nicole find romance while keeping herself from becoming the next victim?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, I have to warn you that there are spoilers in this review.  This game is not your typical dating sim.  From the very first scene, it’s clear that there is far more going on then hooking up with boys.  You have to solve a mystery while pursuing a guy. 

If you go there alone, you don’t get to solve anything.  I like to think that this is less about a knight in shining armor saving a damsel in distress than it is about saying that there is safety in numbers.  Celso Riva is working on the yuri version of this game so we’ll just have to wait and see.  The guy’s you can pursue are Ted, the hotheaded southerner, Jeff, the eccentric scientist, Darren, the shy computer geek, and Kurt, the social football player.  My personal favorite would have to be Ted because he has a touching storyline about his family and his temper’s not to the point where he gets abusive.  Kurt, on the other hand, had a scene that was used as a joke but it made me feel uncomfortable.  In that scene, he was trying to kiss Nicole even though she was saying no and she had to throw an alarm clock at him to get him to stop.  Maybe they were just playing and I took it the wrong way.  Jeff was also another love interest I had trouble with because he was way too easily forgiven.  True, he never killed anyone but he did experiment on humans like they were guinea pigs and pretty much ruined their lives.  I know that, as the player, I was the one to make the choice, but I think a far more interesting ending for him would be Nicole doubting whether she could trust him.  I like screwed up relationships but I would prefer if the author admitted that they were screwed up.

The game play is similar to Always Remember Me with a few differences.  In that game, you only tried to raise a particular stat if you wanted the special ending for a certain guy.  In Nicole, you have to raise a certain stat for a guy if you want their normal ending.  The only way to get the special ending is if you max out the clues stat and view all of the mystery scenes. 

You visit difference locations and do certain activities in order to raise each stat.  You also have to choose between two responses when having scenes with certain boys.  If you pick the correct one, it will raise their affection level.  Another thing that separates Nicole from Always Remember Me is that you have to buy five gifts for a certain boy if you want any chance of pursuing a relationship with them.  In Always Remember Me, you only had to buy a few stat-raising items and one thing for only one of the guys and even that wasn’t necessary.

This game is romantic with a hint of mystery.  I give it 9 out of 10; some of the suspense scenes had my heart racing.

The Royal Trap (Hanakogames.com)

When Prince Oscar and his companion, Madeleine go to Gwellinor in the hopes of making Oscar the groom of Princess Cassidy, a mysterious kidnapping takes place and Madeleine is the prime suspect.  Now she must clear her name and discover a terrible family secret.

In games like these, you would normally take on the role of Princess Cassidy and pursue each potential suitor.  Instead, you take on the role of Madeleine and choose which character’s route you wish to take between Oscar, Gaston, Nazagi and Callum.  Did I mention that Callum’s route also comes with a secret path? I have to say that playing as Madeleine is a nice change of pace from the usual heroine you play in these types of games.  Not only is she a strong character but the story isn’t all about her.  Madeleine is just a servant who unintentionally got involved in a huge mess.

The game play is your standard visual novel.  You make choices that determine which character route you want to go on.  Each one has a good, bad and normal ending depending on the choices you make.  Not only will playing the game unlock pictures for the CG gallery, it will also unlock songs for you to play on the jukebox.

This game is fun and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; an original take on a common genre.

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