Deskimus P. Presents: Awesome Games With Stupid Names Part 2: Muv-Luv Alternative


Muv-Luv Alternative

Giant robots, alien invasions, badass girls and time travel. What part of that sentence isn't awesome?

This is a considerable step up from the previous title screen, neh?
Oh hell yes.

Part 1 is here.

Alternative is the 2006 sequel to Muv-Luv (I'm gonna try and use that title as little as physically possible), a visual novel in two parts by Japanese developer âge. It's currently the highest-rated visual novel on vndb by a sizeable margin, and has been found to contain the largest non-lethal dosage of your recommended yearly intake of mind-blowing awesome. A not entirely inaccurate description would be if Japan took the military/hard(ish) sci-fi bughunting action of Starship Troopers, added large sections of the plot of Donnie Darko, threw in giant robots, political intrigue, more cute/badass girls than you can shake your a stick at, and one of the better-handled occurrences of post-traumatic stress disorder. Finishing it put me into a state of "amazingness withdrawal" wherein I couldn't bring myself to properly enjoy anything else for a full week.

Let me explain. It's like...it's like... No! It is too much! Let me sum up. Alternative is not to be compared to any particular awesome thing. Awesome things are to be compared to Alternative. It's the benchmark by which all great things are judged.


Pictured: Actual tactics. Using dud shells filled with shrapnel dust to block/reflect laser fire.
Who the fuck thought it'd be a good idea to give the Zerg lasers?

I tried to make this a reasonable length, I swear.

SECTION 1: WHEREIN I DESCRIBE THE PLOT

Can't even talk about the good parts; virtually everything is a spoiler.

Without spoiling too much, to say the end of Unlimited was an unhappy one is like saying that the end of Requiem for a Dream is "a bit of a downer," or the end of End of Evangelion was "a bit weird." I don't know how people who followed the game when it was released dealt with it; it was a long 3 years between Extra/Unlimited and Alternative, and another 5 years for the English translation. I'd have scratched my throat out and blamed it on brain parasites if I had to wait that long after that kind of ending.

Three years have passed since the beginning of Unlimited, and with the failure of Project Alternative IV comes Alternative V, a miserably shitty last-ditch effort to save humanity. While it may or may not have worked, Takeru was very much displeased with the outcome, and I was screaming obscenities at the cold, unfeeling computer screen.


But eventually technology creates diapers to deal with that sort of thing.
War. War never changes.

PLAY IT

Alternative opens with a suspiciously familiar scene: Takeru wakes up once again in his bed in the middle of October three years before; only this time he's still in the world of Unlimited. And this time, he remembers everything that happened. After tightening his resolve even more than my pants watching the intro cinematic, he sets out to Set Right What Once Went Wrong: make Alternative IV succeed, defeat the BETA, save the world, and go back to his original world with his head held high. Armed with the knowledge, training and experience of the last 3 years, Takeru works his way back into his old squad, where he both impresses and inspires them to levels far beyond his previous self's efforts.

Soon enough, the squad graduates, and from there on out unforeseen events start pouring in, the stakes are raised high enough to scare Dracula shitless, and the proverbial fan is buried under an avalanche of shit. The events that follow take both Takeru and the player on an adrenaline-rushing, fist-pumping, manly-tear-jerking, hilarity-inducing and just downright fucking epic adventure as he fights against time, the BETA, and himself to complete Alternative IV. Along the way, he'll meet new friends, lose old ones, scream like a girl, cry buckets, man the hell up, kick copious amounts of ugly alien ass, and generally be a big damn hero.


He wins.
He also challenges the BETA to a friendly game of paintball.

PLAY IT

SECTION 2: WHEREIN I DESCRIBE THE GAMEPLAY

PLAY IT

I use the term "gameplay" fairly loosely here: it is a single-ending visual novel after all. You'll be given choices at surprisingly few places, they don't really affect much beyond additional scenes/dialogue and in fact the choices virtually disappear towards the second half of the game. One of my few and minor complaints about the game is that since it's a single-ending game, it means you're railroaded into one particular girl. Not that that's a bad thing; it's very well justified and explained, plus she's an excellent choice to boot. I'm just peeved I don't have the option - even if it'd probably cause the end of the world. You do get to pick your "second place girl," though.

As for how it looks? Like a $4 million stripper: gorgeous, classy, and more than willing to show off what it's got. Backgrounds are varied, detailed and fantastic to look at; jaw-dropping quality CGs are a dime a dozen, and the character sprites themselves are like 50 ccs of pure joy injected directly into the eyeballs. One thing especially I'd like to point out is that Alternative actually uses depth, unlike virtually every other visual novel. Characters can be positioned near or far, at varying distances from the screen, and can turn from side to side or even show their backs to the player. Yeah, it might not sound all that impressive on paper, but just to see attention paid to little details like this adds that extra bit of FUCK YEAH. Oh, and one more thing. Widescreen. Glorious widescreen.


...and it burns, burns, burns...the ring of mechs.
Gah! What the hell is that thing on the left?! Oh wait, it's a guy. We don't see too many of them around anymore.

PLAY IT

Aw hell, I can't pick just 4 or 5 pictures. Have an image dump. This one's on the house.

Designs are another high point. On the human side, you've got your color-coded cast of impossibly spiky-haired beauties who can easily be identified despite the fact there's at least 12 of them. They didn't slouch with the robots either, the ordinary grunt mechas are cool enough, but the upgraded Takemikazuchi are impressive as all hell. The BETA's appearances are very well handled: though Unlimited takes place entirely in a BETA-overrun Earth, the player doesn't see a single one until a good ways through Alternative. This turns out to be excellent planning on the writers' part; like a good horror movie monster, they work best out of sight where the imagination is allowed to run free. Then shortly after their first appearance, there's a, well, mildly traumatizing scene that will make damn well sure you remember how ugly these sons-of-bitches are.

Now if you'll allow me to gush talk about the music, I shall introduce you to JAM Project (yes, all caps). JAM Project is what happened when Japan heard about Iron Maiden, but decided they weren't nearly hot-blooded or hammy enough, so they added two more singers and set fire to the audience's faces. These guys do both the opening song, "Asu e no Houkou" (translator's note: this means "awesome"), and two more insert songs, the most notable of which is "Carry on". That last one deserves special mention for being played during a "preparing for suicide mission" montage, all whilst the glorious voice of NORIO WAKAMOTO makes sweet love to your ear canal delivers a dramatic inspirational speech. So...yeah. It's...very, very good; is what I'm getting at here. Oh, and the rest of the background music is stellar as well, with some great adrenaline-pumping pieces like this one and this one and (I'll stop now) this one.


Taste the rainbow, motherfuckers!
Japan's take on The Expendables, deemed too manly to contain actual men.

PLAY IT

SECTION 3: WHEREIN I ATTEMPT TO GIVE UNBIASED FEEDBACK...AND FAIL

PLAY IT

I've mentioned before that nothing gives me quite the raging stiffie like good character development, and sweet zombie Jesus Alternative made me tip over my laptop several times from the sheer force of my excitement. To put it bluntly, our hero Shirogane Takeru starts off in Extra as a spastic, unlikeable, entitled twat dense enough to acquire his own personal gravitational field. (That's the only explanation I can give for his harem being attracted to him) He matures a fair bit in Unlimited, but this is nothing compared to what he goes through in Alternative. We the player fully experience his transformation from manchild, to stubborn teenager, to a fully-grown man capable of making decisions and dealing with the consequences. His dialogue is a major indicator: Extra has him mouthing off, making stupid noises, and generally not shutting up; Alternative has him stopping to think before speaking so often people think he's just spacing out.

One might compare his development to Emiya Shirou in Fate Stay/Night's three routes: in the first, a young, naive protagonist pursues his ideals uncompromised by reality. The second shows him struggling against the world as he realizes his ideals are merely unattainable dreams; but stands by them nevertheless. The third and final act shows his ideals crushed before the weight of reality, as he forgoes his dreams and desperately tries to save what he holds dear. Takeru follows this almost to the letter from Extra, through Unlimited, and on to Alternative. I wanted to reach through the screen and snap his twiggy little neck all throughout Extra, but when Alternative reached its peak I couldn't do anything but sit there, saluting the screen, manly tears running down my face like an idiot.

The girls are impressive in their own right. Like Takeru, we've seen them mature from flavor-of-the-week harem leads, to compent soldiers, to outright war heroes. Even the new batch (imported from some of the sidequels/spinoff games) holds their own despite much less screentime. It says something when you've been thinking of them more as comrades-in-arms than sex objects/moeblobs for the last 2 games. No one gets left out, either. Every character gets their time in the spotlight. Some do more than others with it.


This scene, man. This fucking scene.
Ayamine, for instance.

PLAY IT

I suppose I should probably nitpick a few things to keep this from being entirely one-sided. For starters, âge has an atrocious grasp of the English language. The opening scene features some English-speaking Americans infiltrating a Hive...and it requires English subtitles in order to understand what the hell they're saying. Several warnings on the cockpit HUD are flat-out gibberish as well. Fortunately the fan-translation picks up the slack and does an excellent job of making an already stellar game even more so. There's also a particular scene about 2/3rds of the way through the game that struck me as wholly unnecessary (and unwanted), but it was thankfully short and had little to no impact. Trust me, you'll know it when you see it.

The only other flaw is the entry barrier. As I repeated endlessly in my review of Extra/Unlimited, in order to get this kind of life-changing, transcendental experience from Alternative, you have to play the first 2. You can't really skip through them, either. That's like fast-forwarding through Fellowship and the Two Towers and then expecting Return of the King to be as good as it should be. Just...don't. Unfortunately, that means a fair chunk of people lacking patience (or taste) are turned off by Extra's fluffy harem antics or the sheer length of the two combined, and never even get to feel the joy of Alternative. Poor bastards.


Apparently they didn't.
C'mon you apes! You wanna live forever?

PLAY IT

The writing itself might be a point of contention. Alternative has a tendency to fully explore Takeru's train of thought, making sure the player knows almost exactly what he's thinking and how he arrives to his various conclusions. I thought this was a fantastic respite from the usual poorly handled 180-degree mood swings of lesser characters, and was absolutely engrossed by his mental breakdown and subsequent recovery. Seeing that through the mind of the sufferer, instead of 30 minutes of watching a sad guy mope around looking sad, was an infinitely superior experience. Then again, some people might find it boring or that it drags on too long. To those people I say: "Your opinion is different than mine, but I respect that" Boo, you whores.

So you've probably already figured out my general opinion about this game: if Alternative was a person, I would hand it this review after school, blush furiously, and ask it to accept my feelings. I make no apologies for this kind of blatant tongue-glued-firmly-to-ass flattery: this is not a triple-A big-budget EA game or even a cult classic by most standards. It's a criminally unknown game in a niche genre of a niche medium, buried under an avalanche of other weird shit that gets churned out yearly by Japan. It deserves every bit of the sloppy oral sex I've been writing, and more. It's the kind of experience where you finish, bask in the afterglow, eat some pie and think about it, then race to the internet to babble excitedly about everything you loved...and then it turns out there's no one to talk to. Which is essentially the point of this review: to convert people.

And there you have it. Muv-Luv Alternative: a lesser known Japanese visual novel, and a goddamn great game that deserves so much more love than it's given. You owe it to yourself to try it out; I myself can now die safe with the knowledge I lived a fulfilling life.

That has been your host Deskimus Prime's inner raging fanboy with yet another visual novel review. Noticing a pattern here? Stay tuned for next time, when hopefully my rationality comes back from its extended lunch break.

well that was good, well written and full of humor.
Might look into getting the three of them.

...

...dammit. Fine, after Snow Sakura and Family Project, I'll get to these. I'll put off Clannad, I'll put off Higurashi, I'll put off Umineko, etc. I could get some structure in my list, and Fred's been getting too sure of himself anyway. Besides, I kind of owe you for helping me get through Symphonic Rain still sane. >_>

I'd wonder if it's probably only the glorious speech of Wakamoto-sensei himself (or maybe the lyrics redeem it) that makes that "Carry On" song good, though. To me, it sounds like L'Arc en Ciel decided to write a song directly after a Gurren Lagann binge. I admit, it's better than Manowar's "Carry On," and about as good as Angra's "Carry On," but nothing on my favorite "Carry On."

...though the way you describe it, it's probably similar in theme.

...yeah, that looks like a worthwhile pay-off for the cutesy torment that is Muv-Luv Extra.

So given my feelings on Extra - and the character Emiya Shirou well before it - ultimately a very persuasive review I'd say. Like with the resident Yume Miru Kusuri one the barely restrained yet eloquent enthusiasm is quite the selling point. Extra credit for the Higurashi reference.

...Unfortunately, that means a fair chunk of people lacking patience (or taste) are turned off by Extra's fluffy harem antics...

How could anyone with some semblance of taste not be turned off by Extra's inane harem antics?

What is needed is the ability to stomach it - no small feat I'd say - until something worth tasting apparently comes along in Unlimited, and the feast is then served in Alternative.

...so hungry by now.

I will defenitly check it out after reading this. Just need to finsih the Sharin fandisk, Which is kinda hard because I can only have my PC on for like an hour before my room reaches Critical core temprature tempratures that are inhuman.

And a good review and read as always.

NeutralDrow:
I'd wonder if it's probably only the glorious speech of Wakamoto-sensei himself (or maybe the lyrics redeem it) that makes that "Carry On" song good, though. To me, it sounds like L'Arc en Ciel decided to write a song directly after a Gurren Lagann binge. I admit, it's better than Manowar's "Carry On," and about as good as Angra's "Carry On," but nothing on my favorite "Carry On."

...though the way you describe it, it's probably similar in theme.

I suspect it's mostly due to NORIO WAKAMOTO and the scene itself; also, because it's kinda muted in the background for a bit, I thought for a few glorious seconds JAM Project was doing a cover of "Carry On My Wayward Son," and I was halfway through belting out the chorus before I realized my mistake...

Sooo...Symphonic Rain review soon? I'm actually kinda sad I finished all the routes in one go; I never do that, and it means I don't get to revisit it later and still have new stuff.

Imperator_DK:
...yeah, that looks like a worthwhile pay-off for the cutesy torment that is Muv-Luv Extra.

What is needed is the ability to stomach it - no small feat I'd say - until something worth tasting apparently comes along in Unlimited, and the feast is then served in Alternative.

...so hungry by now.

Hang in there man, it gets better. Just think of it as the cost of entry for Alternative. And Unlimited doesn't waste any time getting excellent; like I said, it's wonderfully satisfying to watch an idiot harem protag trying to run 10k with a 50 pound pack whilst pointy-haired lolis chew him out for being a failure of a man.

Deskimus Prime:
Sooo...Symphonic Rain review soon? I'm actually kinda sad I finished all the routes in one go; I never do that, and it means I don't get to revisit it later and still have new stuff.

Heh. Then we're opposites in both review-writing and playing. I don't mind writing my reviews piecemeal and on inspiration, but I don't like leaving things hanging in my games. It's pretty damn unusual that I moved on to another game without completing another, let alone having three unfinished games in my queue. I blame stress, and not having anything Tsukihime-level to counteract it until now.

As for the review, I'm trying. I think I'm about half-done; intro, gameplay, and ero sections are all completed. I'm trying to jackhammer away my writer's block on the story and characters...

...well, technically I'm finished with one character. A character I was certainly able to praise and talk about without worrying too much on spoilers, but...I'm worried it might come off as a little excessive.

How excessive? Originally, that caption and the alt text were switched. I'm sure you understand why.

Just a shame I couldn't make it flow like I wanted, that way. Same with the prospective comment about hearing the Sith Order and the Red Lantern Corps battling for my soul outside the window.

snip

I wonder...if I, unlike you, actually enjoy the cutesy aspects of Unlimited...will I wind up liking the whole thing more than you? Or less?

NeutralDrow:
Heh. Then we're opposites in both review-writing and playing. I don't mind writing my reviews piecemeal and on inspiration, but I don't like leaving things hanging in my games. It's pretty damn unusual that I moved on to another game without completing another, let alone having three unfinished games in my queue. I blame stress, and not having anything Tsukihime-level to counteract it until now.

If I really liked a game, one playthrough usually does it for me. If there aren't major differences in the routes, I prefer to wait a while and come back to it after I've forgotten a fair bit of the plot, so it at least feels newish/fresher. Unless it's one of those "clear all routes to unlock true end," and the normal end is some awful, awful bad ending. Symphonic Rain was different in that I just plowed right through the whole thing, no breaks.

NeutralDrow:
Words + Picture

I like it, but...there isn't quite enough Grave hatred for my liking. Perhaps a photo of him nailed to a cross while his face is set on fire? I imagine it's pretty damn hard writing about anyone without stepping into spoiler minefield. I doubt I could talk about Grave for more than 5 seconds without foaming at the mouth and speaking in tongues.

NeutralDrow:
I wonder...if I, unlike you, actually enjoy the cutesy aspects of Unlimited...will I wind up liking the whole thing more than you? Or less?

You'll probably like it even more. See, I actually enjoyed most of the cutesey stuff. It got pretty old the second time through, but it's the sort of nice, comforting cliches that should make you feel right at home...which'll make the genre switch much, much worse better.

Deskimus Prime:

NeutralDrow:
Heh. Then we're opposites in both review-writing and playing. I don't mind writing my reviews piecemeal and on inspiration, but I don't like leaving things hanging in my games. It's pretty damn unusual that I moved on to another game without completing another, let alone having three unfinished games in my queue. I blame stress, and not having anything Tsukihime-level to counteract it until now.

If I really liked a game, one playthrough usually does it for me. If there aren't major differences in the routes, I prefer to wait a while and come back to it after I've forgotten a fair bit of the plot, so it at least feels newish/fresher. Unless it's one of those "clear all routes to unlock true end," and the normal end is some awful, awful bad ending. Symphonic Rain was different in that I just plowed right through the whole thing, no breaks.

I like playing through in one sitting, even with similar routes. I remember more of the game that way, and can connect everything better when it's fresh.

The only thing that will make me stop a game is if either I'm having an awful time (only happened twice that I recall...Do You Like Horny Bunnies? 2 and Rapelay) and want to stop entirely, or if I suddenly get the urge to play something drastically different (also only twice...Family Project and The Sagara Family).

NeutralDrow:
Words + Picture

I like it, but...there isn't quite enough Grave hatred for my liking. Perhaps a photo of him nailed to a cross while his face is set on fire? I imagine it's pretty damn hard writing about anyone without stepping into spoiler minefield. I doubt I could talk about Grave for more than 5 seconds without foaming at the mouth and speaking in tongues.

I still kinda want people to take me seriously. I think what I have is enough; no need to bring up what I mentioned on the GameFAQs Kana board (that I would grout my floor tiles with his blood, keep small objects in his skull, and burn his personal possessions to keep me warm), or note the fact that these days I taste bile and blood when listening to "Master Passion Greed." Let alone the occasional vivid fantasies wondering whether it's possible to strangle someone with your teeth...though that particular fantasy started around the time I was playing A Drug That Makes You Dream.

Besides, I can't draw worth crap, and I don't think I could top my, er...slight freakout during Crescendo. Mainly because in SR I was initially too livid to think coherently, and when I regained sanity, there something very, very important distracting me. Nothing would have been worth losing her, even immediate, visceral revenge.

NeutralDrow:
I wonder...if I, unlike you, actually enjoy the cutesy aspects of Unlimited...will I wind up liking the whole thing more than you? Or less?

You'll probably like it even more. See, I actually enjoyed most of the cutesey stuff. It got pretty old the second time through, but it's the sort of nice, comforting cliches that should make you feel right at home...which'll make the genre switch much, much worse better.

Sounds good.

Damn, I'm happy to have this new job, but it's getting harder to plan playing time around it, especially if I want more than five hours of sleep.

I just finished Alternative recently and it was a life changing experience. I've experienced good stories in my time and all of them have left me with a nostalgia upon finishing them, the feeling that it was over, no more of it. But with Alternative, it was so good that the only thing I felt after finishing it was a fondness, like the story had become a part of my very soul.

I know that sounds pretty poetic, but that's exactly how I felt. The next thing I wanted to do was to share my feelings and opinions on this with my best friend. We have recommended great things to each other over the years, things like Xenogears, Xenosaga, Orson Scott Card, David Lynch, Wheel of Time, Mass Effect. Somehow I just had to get him to experience this wonderful story, I had to get him play it. He works a full shift, unlike me, so he doesn't have much free time. Even so I know 100% without a doubt that it is worth investing his time to play through especially Extra and Unlimited to get to Alternative. He likes war stories and good sci-fi, I mean damn good sci-fi. Alternative is both.

I had never heard of Everett before playing Alternative, oddly enough, as I was finishing it I found a book at a relative's that talked about the concepts in Alternative like a Quantum Computer and Everett's theory of parallel worlds.

The reviewer said something like Alternative being a life transcendental experience, he wasn't wrong.

My opinion on the Beta:

It's no joke, but now I actually fear that something like the BETA could be out there, that's how realistically they were presented. I haven't felt like that since I was 8 and was afraid the Aliens from Aliens could descend at any time.

My thoughts on the parallel worlds stuff:

My thoughts on the ending:

Now I just hope my friend reads this story because I know he will feel something similar to what I do about it.

Well that was probably the most entertaining review I've ever read on the Escapist.

And after reading it I have to say that I am very intrigued.

So let me guess; this is another one of those VNs that in order to acquire it I have to meet a shady character in a dark alley?

EDIT: Oh crap I didn't even see the date that this was posted :/

My god I am only like 1/3 into this game and I am loving everything about it.

It combines so many odd things and makes it all work. Got cute girls, slice of life, giant robots, aliens, politics, quantum physics, philosophy, great visuals, good writing, and catchy music.

I have never experienced something like this before and I highly recommend this to everyone.

I finally managed to convince a good friend to read this. He'll thank me when he reaches Unlimited and he'll be in awe at Alternative, there's no doubt in my mind.

It's such an emotional roller coaster, wait until you reach the ending!

Interesting review, but i've got a side question. The rating system you posted that praised MuvLuv also sang high praise for Clannad. Is the visual novel really that much better than the anime or is it like the praise sung for Final Fantasy X where it's disingenuous but they dare not challenge the rabid fanbase?

Pyramid Head:
Interesting review, but i've got a side question. The rating system you posted that praised MuvLuv also sang high praise for Clannad. Is the visual novel really that much better than the anime or is it like the praise sung for Final Fantasy X where it's disingenuous but they dare not challenge the rabid fanbase?

I have mixed feelings on Clannad. Yes, the VN is better than the first season of the anime; I think they're about on par in terms of After Story vs. the second season.

First season of Clannad cuts out a huge amount from almost everyone's arcs as it tries to juggle the harem thing, despite giving away pretty much from 30 seconds in that Nagisa is going to win. Plus it adds about 4 other arcs that don't even get mentioned in the anime. So definitely better there.

The thing about Clannad is, if you really like Nagisa, you're gonna fucking love it, and it'll probably be the greatest love story ever told. If you don't, like me, you're going to get really pissed off really quickly, and end up with a serious case of catharsis blue balls. Also, your tolerance for deus ex machina levels of magic will be tested to the utmost.

Deskimus Prime:

Pyramid Head:
Interesting review, but i've got a side question. The rating system you posted that praised MuvLuv also sang high praise for Clannad. Is the visual novel really that much better than the anime or is it like the praise sung for Final Fantasy X where it's disingenuous but they dare not challenge the rabid fanbase?

I have mixed feelings on Clannad. Yes, the VN is better than the first season of the anime; I think they're about on par in terms of After Story vs. the second season.

First season of Clannad cuts out a huge amount from almost everyone's arcs as it tries to juggle the harem thing, despite giving away pretty much from 30 seconds in that Nagisa is going to win. Plus it adds about 4 other arcs that don't even get mentioned in the anime. So definitely better there.

The thing about Clannad is, if you really like Nagisa, you're gonna fucking love it, and it'll probably be the greatest love story ever told. If you don't, like me, you're going to get really pissed off really quickly, and end up with a serious case of catharsis blue balls. Also, your tolerance for deus ex machina levels of magic will be tested to the utmost.

...i think i'll stick with Katawa Shoujo thank you very much. I personally loathed Nagisa with every fiber of my being and thought the magic element was bullshit. Still, at least i can dismiss the visual novel as a difference of opinion with what i do know about it. I'm not backing down on one thing though: the resurrection element of the After Stories anime was stupid and the series as a whole would have been better off as a black comedy since Key just can't make characters good enough to be in a drama. And Nagisa is just frankly stupid. Her maintaining that childish demeanor despite being surrounded by so much misery and possessing some terminal illness stemming from the writers knowing fuck all about biology doesn't paint her as charming, it paints her as being mentally ill. That's why i like Hanako, she has a childish side to her but is also misanthropic and cynical due in part to the fact that she's not blind to the way people treat her and knows things cannot end well with some "Romantic" relationship of a male who protects her from everything. Or to put it another way, i think Nagisa would like Twilight while Hanako would want to bitch slap Bella Swan, and a woman with no delusions of romance but a cynic trying to find joy in life is far more attractive to me, burnt to a crisp or not.

Or maybe i'm overthinking things. Either way, thanks for the prompt answer.

With regards to Clannad, the Tomoyo arc and the genius girl(forgot her name), were pretty awesome. Clannad is such an emotional rollercoaster, like everything else from Key, like Planetarian. It takes some getting used to, but in the end Nagisa's story in After Story was one of the most original slice of life's that I've ever read. It's written so that you CARE what happens. And when life treats Tomoya-kun unfairly, you really feel it.

VNs are good at playing with your emotions, guess that's why we read them. Personally, after Alternative, I would rate 999 as second-best for the amazing true ending that delivers fully, and then some. Yes, even more so than Ever 17.

For most depressive I'd rate Cross Channel by a long, long margin.

Lother

 

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