Visual Novel review: Muv-Luv Alternative

Muv-Luv Alternative

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Muv-Luv Alternative (MLA) is an eroge, visual novel, VN, chinese cartoon porn game, or whatever you want to call it made by the Japanese company âge in 2006. It's a sequel to Muv-Luv, a slice-of-life lacrosse simulator that involved conversations about food. It was shit. So why is its sequel the highest rated VN on vndb, the largest English site for visual novels? With thousands of other VNs to choose from, what makes this the benchmark for the thousands of people who voted on it to which all other eroge are compared? Find out after the jump.

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Story

The original Muv-Luv is separated into two parts, Extra and Unlimited. Extra was a slice of life harem comedy shit-stain, while Unlimited involved our protaganist, Takeru, waking up in a world where his town is completely destroyed and his school has become a military training base. There are also aliens called the BETA attacking earth, and are damaged mecha litter the devastated landscape. Humanity has become desperate enough to conscript teenage girls into fighting, the same girls that Takeru was having his harem antics with in Extra. To be frank, Unlimited doesn't end all that well for Takeru and company. MLA is sold as a separate game and a sequel to the original Muv-Luv, sending us to the very beginning of Unlimited. Takeru retains all of his memories of Unlimited, and he's not too pleased with the way that ended. He decides to join the war effort to fight the BETA, and thus begins Alternative.

Alternative can be shoehorned into genres; mecha, sci-fi, etc..., but it's really not about that. Alternative isn't about its setting or its awe-inspiring mecha fights. You'll certainly find those elements, but that's really just scratching at the surface of what Alternative has to offer. Alternative is a story about its characters and how said characters choose to live and die. Development for Takeru himself is really impressive. Takeru evolves from the idiotic goon (who apparently excretes sexyness. Seriously, every female just throws herself at him) that he was in Extra into a fully grown man. You get to see every step he takes towards becoming a man in Alternative. The side characters aren't bad either. Their development wouldn't have been nearly as impressive if you hadn't had to slog through Extra, where the color of their hair was more defined than their personality.

Alternative isn't an escapist (ha!) piece of fiction. People die and people blame themselves for the deaths of others. Takeru has a severe mental breakdown and is diagnosed with PTSD. There's a pretty faceless gore scene midway into it too. Even though I never expected an ending with enough sunshine and bunnies to make a playboy mag jealous, the ending is still pretty bleak, and the notion of a happy ending is laughed at several times throughout the story. Besides all this, Alternative has some genuinely inspirational things to say. It's a real human drama that drips with effective pathos when it's in its stride.

Unfortunately, MLA takes a while to get into its stride. Muv-Luv slog through 20+ hours of your time, and MLA doesn't get really interesting until about 15 hours into it. Part of the problem is that almost half of the entire VNs text is Takeru's internal monologues. You read his entire thought process when about everything that occurs to and around him throughout the entire story. It's to the point that a character will speak a sentence and then Takeru will write a paragraph on what was just said internally. I'll admit that it allows you to get behind the protagonist and really feel for him when tragedy strikes, but I wish it didn't have to come as a wrecking ball to the pacing of the plot. MLA also looooves giving lectures, and some of them can get awful preachy. This isn't really a problem within itself, but it's a major problem in Chapter 8. Nearly the entire chapter is briefings and lectures, and this comes right after a juicy cliffhanger. Fortunately, chapters 9 and 10 rebound with feral tenacity, and are the highlights of the VN.

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Art & Music

Frankly, no other eroge comes close to MLA in terms of presentation. They may come close and even exceed in artistic and musical quality, but there's nothing quite like the battles that take place in Alternative. They have to been seen to be believed. The widescreen presentation is a nice touch and the designs of the mecha are also exquisitely polished. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about the character designs. They're quite...colorful, and the new ones that they made for Alternative stick out more than Barney Frank in a Chick-fil-A.

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Voice acting is pretty solid, and there's not much to comment on. The soundtrack is pretty much spotless. It fits excellently with the scenes it was composed for. JAM project also did 2 insert songs and the OP, which is fairly pants-tightening.


The orchestral pieces are also great

How does it compare to Muv-Luv Alternative?

You'll have to excuse me for this. Being #1 on vndb, I'd say it's the visual novel to which all other visual novels should be compared. In subsequent reviews, I'll compare the two VNs and give my opinion on which is superior.

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Closing statement

Muv-Luv Alternative has many clear problems. It's terribly paced and you have to go through another mediocre VN to really appreciate it. However, it's strong points are so strong that it's difficult to dislike the VN. Do I think it's the best VN ever made? No. Do I think it's amazing? Certainly. A triumph of story-telling and character development, highly recommended.

A review of MLA? Now there's something you don't see everyday.

As for the review, you didn't really explain the story or characters very much. The only character you mention is Takeru and you don't really explain MLA's connection to Extra and Unlimited. You also should have included at least one picture of the TSFs in action to demonstrate the art of the game and talk about them a bit more.

Spoonfeeder:
It's to the point that a character will speak a sentence and then Takeru will write a paragraph on what was just said internally. I'll admit that it allows you to get behind the protagonist and really feel for him when tragedy strikes, but I wish it didn't have to come as a wrecking ball to the pacing of the plot.

Oh man that was one huge gripe I had on the game. They would say something that you would get, but then they would just add unnecessary dialogue. They started to repeat things that were said like 5 minutes ago, to make sure you didn't have ADD or something.

Also the girls are purposely made to look bad. Its taking super kawaii uguu girls in a dark sci fi world, which is something you don't see everyday.

I would compare Alternative with the Metal Gear Solid games, in that it has a lot of interesting characters, cool ideas, great world building, but the conversations could have been trimmed a lot and could be said in a couple of sentences.

Needs more burn scars before I'll be interested in it, I dare say.

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Spoonfeeder:

There's a pretty faceless gore scene midway into it too.

I see what you did there, I had to stop reading after that scene because I swear it gave me mild PTSD for a bit, such an unexpected and emotional scene.

ChupathingyX:
A review of MLA? Now there's something you don't see everyday.

As for the review, you didn't really explain the story or characters very much. The only character you mention is Takeru and you don't really explain MLA's connection to Extra and Unlimited. You also should have included at least one picture of the TSFs in action to demonstrate the art of the game and talk about them a bit more.

Yeah I agree, you only really mentioned the other characters very briefly when they are a major part of the VN.

 

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