Operation Backlog Completion 2017
May 242017

A Kickstarter is currently running for the translation of a visual novel called Chuusotsu – 1st Graduation: Time After Time. They released a demo, so I decided to give it a try.

It was… really weird. But interesting!

In this visual novel, everyone gets an “Authorization Seal” that determines their job, strength, intelligence, etc.

When the main character, a girl named Arue, is unable to meet the requirements for her Authorization Seal after middle school, she becomes a “chuusotsu,” a person with the lowest possible power level.

Determined to gain a seal, Arue signs up for a program where she will need to room with two other chuusotsu, and… work on philosophy?

It’s hard to explain how weird this demo was. The basic premise for the setting is so bizarre. As a chuusotsu, Arue is weaker than even children. She can’t read maps or do addition anymore. I’ve never seen a world setup quite like it, and it made me interested in learning more.

Arue also loves anime and manga, and she has a tendency to start talking strangely and referencing RPGs when she gets really nervous. The other characters in the demo were also strange, especially Ahara, who rambles about saving the world from dark forces.

Even Chuusotsu’s narration was odd, with occasional commentary from the narrator outside of Arue’s own descriptions.

Before I played the demo, I saw the Kickstarter, but I couldn’t get a good grasp on what the visual novel really was. Three girls who didn’t get past middle school sharing an apartment and asking existential questions? What? Why is it so well-regarded?

Now that I have played the demo, I’m still not entirely sure how to describe what this visual novel is, but it left me intrigued by its premise and the characters. So take a look at the Kickstarter and try the demo, and let me know your own thoughts on Chuusotsu – 1st Graduation: Time After Time.

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May 222017

Over the weekend, I finished reading Thrawn by Timothy Zahn.

When I first heard about Thrawn’s return to Star Wars canon, my excitement nearly overwhelmed me. That feeling returned as I read Thrawn, the first novel featuring Thrawn outside of the old Expanded Universe.

It is a rather slow-paced novel, but it’s worth it for its fantastic look at Mitth’raw’nuruodo, better known as Thrawn.

In the old novels, Thrawn was an oddity, a nonhuman Grand Admiral in the human-centric Empire, and it gave the impression that the Empire couldn’t ignore his skill but wished they could forget about him. Here, we see that in action, as Thrawn encounters the political machinations of xenophobic Imperials determined to see him fall.

But while Thrawn might not be used to such politics (and it’s interesting to see a Thrawn who isn’t good at everything), he’s the brilliant tactician he always was. The book is filled with scenes of Thrawn in his glory as he analyzes, strategizes, and out-maneuvers everyone around him.

In fact, Thrawn lets us get into the character’s head more than ever before. Each chapter begins with a short entry from his journal, and several chapters are told from his point of view. In these point of view sections, other characters’ reactions and physical changes are written in the present tense, and while that was jarring at first, it does demonstrate the way Thrawn reads people–and how he just thinks differently.

He isn’t the only viewpoint character, and while I wasn’t terribly fond of Arihnda Pryce (especially once she got ruthless), I loved Eli Vanto, who works alongside Thrawn as his aide.

While Eli is human, he faces his own struggles (he’s from Wild Space, and people from the core of the galaxy look down on him), and his growing bond with Thrawn was just as enjoyable as getting to watch Thrawn’s brilliance at work through Eli’s eyes.

It was so enjoyable, I was a significant way through the book before I remembered that I shouldn’t be rooting for these guys! They’re with the Empire! They’re the bad guys!

I think it’s part of what makes Thrawn so fascinating. He’s not like the typical Star Wars villain. He’s fair. He does everything he can to avoid the unnecessary loss of life. He’s… a good person? He’s one of the “bad guys,” and he’s incredibly dangerous, but it’s difficult to really dislike him.

Click for Thrawn spoilers

If you’re a fan of Grand Admiral Thrawn, you’ll probably love Thrawn… and if you’re unfamiliar with the character, this is a good chance to see why he’s so popular.

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May 192017

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy might have a different structure than past Layton games, but the latest details and screenshots confirm it’s still the series we know and love.

The game is split into multiple mysteries, each with its own episode. Episode 01, “Clockwork Streets,” follows Katrielle on an investigation into the theft of Big Ben’s clock hand.

Level-5 introduced two supporting characters involved in this first episode, twin brothers Marc and Reggie Yanchatta. While they’re connected to the first mystery, we also got to see two characters who might be involved in the game’s overarching plot.

The “Seven Millionaires of London” are important to the game, and among them are Ridley Fremens, the mayor of London, and Clerk Gospec, a multi-millionaire who wants Katrielle to investigate an incident at his theater.

From its original title, I assume there is also a millionaire named Ariadone. Since they’re referenced in the game’s title, the seven millionaires will likely play a large role in the game.

As you investigate, you’ll use a magnifying glass to investigate areas on the screen and find puzzles, collectibles, and “Insight Coins.” Insight Coins reveal puzzle hints, and right now it’s unclear if there’s any difference between them and the typical hint coins.

You’ll also need to find a certain number of “investigation points” to advance the story.

Finally, just like every other game in the series, Layton’s Mystery Journey will have mini-games. The first announced is “The Ideal Diner,” where you must listen to a client’s request and create their ideal dinner.

While I’ve been excited for Layton’s Mystery Journey ever since it was first announced as Lady Layton, I was a little concerned that the new structure might dramatically change the gameplay. These screenshots have reassured me. I see plenty of familiar Layton gameplay here, and I’m more excited than ever for Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy.

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