Month: April 2019

One Night, Hot Spring – Game Review

I’ve played many games over the years, but none has so perfectly captured the human experience as poignantly as the short visual novel One Night, Hot Spring. This thought provoking title, gives players the opportunity to step into the shoes of Haru, a 19 year old transgender Japanese woman who has just been invited for an overnight trip to a local hot spring by her oldest friend Manami. While Haru is initially reluctant to attend, she eventually give in to the request. But, what would normally be a simple night out with friends is made much more difficult for Haru, who is still legally male must contend with the rigid gender structures of the Japanese hot spring. As the night wears on and Haru’s anxieties rise the player must decide how Haru reacts to the various obstacles she encounters. 

One Night Hot Spring 4.jpg

npckc‘s short visual novel One Night, Hot Spring does that and more, by giving players the unique opportunity to experience life through the eyes of a transgender woman in Japan. I originally included the game in a list of ten LGBTQ positive visual novels in celebration of Pride Month and of all the titles on that list, One Night, Hot Spring was by far my favorite. The game was developed by indie developer npckc for the 2018 Trans Gal Jam.

Game Basics

  • Available for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android
  • Gameplay Length: 30 mins – 1 hour
  • 7 unique endings
  • Cost: FREE

Continue reading “One Night, Hot Spring – Game Review”

Sexy Mermen, Political Intrigue, and Magic – Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure – Game Review

Originally developed by Seven Submarines in 2018 for the annual game jam NaNoRenO, Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure is a short fantasy visual novel that takes us on a journey into the deep. Gabrielle Freedman embarks on a journey into the sea to find Nauticus, Crown Prince of Atlas in hopes of securing his aid in an ongoing political struggle on the surface. Unbeknownst to her, Nauticus has his hands full with an ongoing civil war over control of the throne. Exiled alongside his royal guard, Zeppelin, Nauticus is desperate to reclaim his throne and reluctantly agrees to a tenuous alliance with Gabrielle. Together the trio devise a plan that could be mutually beneficial to both their causes, but, it involves confronting an evil sea witch. With everything on the line Gabrielle, Nauticus, and Zeppelin gear up for fight that will determine the fate of their very different worlds.

Game Details

  • Genre: Adventure, Romance
  • Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux)
  • 7 Endings
  • Gameplay Lengh: ≈45 mins – 1 hr
  • Cost: Free
  • Partial Voice Acting
  • RPG Style Battle System
  • Similar Games: The Blind Griffin, A Foretold Affair 

Continue reading “Sexy Mermen, Political Intrigue, and Magic – Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure – Game Review”

Thrifty Gaming: Games That Won’t Blow Your Budget #25

 

Hello all you wonderful Heroes and Travelers, it’s Thrifty Thursday and that means another Thrifty Gaming post, the weekly post series where I spotlight three games/visual novels for gamers on a budget. Whatever your financial situation, I’m here to bring you affordable games that won’t break the bank!! All of the games on this list are $10 or less (does not include limited time offers and sale items), so no more weepy wallets!

shut_up_and_take_my_money

This week’s post will include links to the games and a brief synopsis, but let me stress that these are not reviews, but recommendations… so your mileage may vary! Now that that’s out of the way lets get on to this week’s list!!

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Let’s Show Our Support for The Divine Speaker!!

Hey hey Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, here we are with another Kickstarter support post! For those of you new, here, Let’s Show Our Support posts highlight current crowdfunding campaigns for indie games (usually VNs and OELVNs). I give you guys the basic rundown of the game and the perks of supporting the game’s campaign, as well as links to all the relevant game related pages and sites.

This time around, I’m covering Two and a Half Studio’s upcoming fantasy BL visual novel The Divine Speaker! We’ve been getting quite a few BL games in recent years and this debut title from Two and a Half Studios checks off quite a few boxes for me. With its gorgeous visuals and unique fantasy premise, The Divine Speaker promises to be a fun addition to the genre.

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[Melanin Monday] Diversity in Otome Games

Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and NPCs, out there it’s Monday, and that means another Melanin Monday post!! I know its been awhile since my last Melanin Monday post (I’ve been slacking off), but, for those of you just joining the party, here’s a little refresher. Melanin Monday is a bi-weekly post series that I started for Black History Month, where I talk about Black and Brown skinned characters in anime, manga, video games, etc., but you guys loved it so much I decided to continue it! This week, I’m looking at diversity in otome games!

Otome games promise a player driven gaming experience, giving players the opportunity to romance a diverse group of characters. But, really how diverse are otome games? Sure they feature characters from a wide range of character archetypes, but when it comes to their appearance, they all seem to fall into the same generic bishounen category. What’s more, mainstream otome games tend to have a distinct lack of racial diversity among their romance options. Western otome games have been more successful at integrating more diverse romance options in their games, with characters from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicity, but, Japanese otome games are much more restrictive in the types of romance options they offer. But, given that otome games are created with a Japanese audience in mind, this is not wholly unexpected.

However, with an increasing number of Western gamers playing otome games, this lack of diversity could alienate individuals looking for games featuring characters that share similar characteristics to themselves. In recent years, Western otome games and Original English Language Visual Novels (OELVNs) have stepped up to provide a solution by offering games with more diverse romance options that are more reflective of their target audiences. As a woman of color, I appreciate the efforts of Western developers to incorporate diverse characters into their narratives, because it creates an opportunity for representation that may have otherwise not existed.

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[OWLS Blog Tour] Real Men Spread Love: Masculinity in Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!

Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, it’s April and with it comes another OWLS Blog Tour! Last month during our Feminine Blog Tour we looked at the meaning of the term while also celebrating the amazing accomplishments of women. This month we’re looking at the other end of the spectrum with our April Masculinity Blog Tour!

Last month, we explored the meanings behind the terms, “feminine” and “feminism.” This month the OWLS bloggers will explore the concept of masculinity. We each have our own definition of what it means to be masculine and we will explore our definitions using “masculine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “masculine” or show signs of a masculine persona. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing men that supported us in our lives as well as sharing some of our experiences growing up as a man or knowing men who struggled with the masculine identity.

April 2019 Blog Tour Prompt

Websters defines masculinity as ‘having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man’, but what does it mean to be “a man”? Is it physical strength? Fortitude? Having the anatomy of a man? With shifting gender norms, it’s difficult to ascribe a one size fits all definition to terms like masculinity and femininity, because there is no singular way to embody these terms. Roles that were traditionally held exclusively by men are now being taken up by women and visa versa. There simply isn’t a case for traditional masculinity or femininity in today’s evolving world, because what it means to be a man or a woman has changed. But, as a society we still adhere to a ridged gender coded system. Items associated with women and girls tend to have a pink, purple, or pastel color scheme, while items intended for men and boys tend to favor a darker color pallet. We have been conditioned to see associate masculinity with dominance, power, and strength, and femininity with beauty, grace, and poise.

The same exists in anime, shounen series like My Hero Academia, Black Clover, and Dragonball Z, with their action heavy storylines and characters, focus on more “masculine” topics, like overcoming adversity or proving one’s worth (usually through brute strength). Relationships are forged through combat or intense training, and feelings when featured are merely used to bolster a character’s drive to complete some predetermined goal. Shounen anime tend to focus on a character (or group of characters) striving to be the best at whatever it is they do, either through brute strength, dogged determination, or just plain old dumb luck. On the other side of things, you have shojo anime which tends to focus on more traditionally “feminine” topics, like romance and friendship. There usually isn’t a predetermined goal or even a “bad guy”, with the majority of these stories tackling more internal conflicts like self-doubt, finding love, or fostering relationships (romantic/platonic) with others.

But, even within these clearly gender specific genres, there is some crossover. There are plenty of shounen anime that focus on romance and dealing with more internal personal conflicts, just like there are shoujo anime that feature action and adventure storylines. These series challenge the status quo, giving us more relatable stories that speak to who we are as individuals and not so much what we are expected to be. So for this month’s Blog Tour, I went with a series that subverts the idea of masculinity, by parodying a traditionally ‘feminine’ magical girl anime genre. This time around, I’m looking at the magical boy anime, Cute High Earth Defense Club Love! and how despite it’s adherence to traditional magical girl anime tropes and overtly “feminine” themes, helps define a “new” masculine ideal.


Continue reading “[OWLS Blog Tour] Real Men Spread Love: Masculinity in Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!”

Big Hair and Even Bigger Cases: Ghosts of Miami – Game Review

Pillow Fight adds a truly outrageous detective visual novel to their portfolio, big hair and even bigger cases will keep you captivated in Ghosts of Miami. I covered the demo back in the early stages of production and now that the full game is out, I just had to sit down and give this title a spin and it did not disappoint! Follow Chelo, an up and coming private investigator as she explores the beaches and back alleys of sunny Miami. Her stomping grounds, Dade County, is ground zero for the drug cartels and scores of undocumented immigrants all looking for a place to call home. With so much activity, it’s easy for a few lost souls to slip through the cracks… and when they do, you can count on Chelo to find the ghosts of Miami.

Game Details

  • Genre: Mystery, Adventure, Detective, Romance
  • Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux) and Steam
  • 5 love interests (2 female, 1 non-binary, and 2 male)
  • Gameplay Lengh: ≈30 hours
  • Cost: $14.99
  • Similar Games: Ace Attorney, Love Ritual, and The Blind Griffin 

Continue reading “Big Hair and Even Bigger Cases: Ghosts of Miami – Game Review”

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