Monday, January 25, 2016


I have an extra announcement I wasn't expecting to have, and it isn't a good one.

I recently learned that my grandfather passed away. So that may mess with productivity for a little while. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Yumi-chan's Wonderful Cake Shop artwork is progressing nicely, and I'm also working on a collaboration with a relative/artist, which I will formally announce once we have more of the details hashed out.

I don't feel a whole lot right now. Just wanted to keep you guys informed. Thanks.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Circus Reviews - Strawberry Vinegar

Having fixed the previously mentioned, mildly frustrating debit card issues, I immediately went to Steam and bought this game. As you may recall, I don't generally do excessively cute games, but every now and then one manages to draw me in and I make an exception, Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet being the last time this happened. I've been watching for this game's release for a little while now, and was quite excited to dive into a game that, at first glance, appears to have quite a lot of cuteness and food porn. Which is always fun.

Strawberry Vinegar stars nine-year-old Rie Sakuraba, a girl who is both more intelligent and more cynical than most others her age. She leads a relatively solitary existence, preferring not to bother herself with other people. Her world gets thrown out of balance when she walks into her kitchen one day and finds a young demon girl eating a tray of freshly baked cookies. The demon girl, Licia, threatens Rie, saying that if she isn't fed at least one delicious thing every day, Rie's soul will be forfeit.

Our protagonist, Rie, is an odd one among visual novel characters. She actively pushes people away, isn't afraid to tear down her father's occasional emotional outbursts, and looks to such works as The Communist Manifesto to explain the actions of others. She kind of grows on you, though. And she serves as a great contrast to Licia, who is silly and ditzy and loudmouthed but ultimately innocent and well-meaning. It's a far better pair than Rie's parents, Kazuki and Yukine, who have a rather disturbing relationship that, quite frankly, worries me. Kazuki cooks and cleans and takes the majority of responsibility for Rie's care, and Yukine cheerfully abuses him every chance she gets. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be cute or what, but it throws up a ton of red flags for me. Granted, it does get better; there's a scene with Yukine later wherein she elaborates on how she and Kazuki met and fell in love, and it gives Yukine some humanization that she desperately needed earlier in the story.

The writing is quite good. Perhaps sometimes a bit too wordy for a nine-year-old, but then again, it is repeatedly established that Rie is smarter than the average nine-year-old, so it's not completely out of place. The artwork really shines here, particularly in the CGs. SillySelly has done work on a few of ebi-hime's visual novels now, but I feel her best work is here. There are lots of CGs of food and few CGs of people, and more food porn abounds here than in the Game of Thrones books. And it's pretty sweet.

There are six endings, ranging from you screwing things up royally to you and Licia becoming best friends forever (or maybe something more...?). There are some light yuri elements, but it remains age appropriate for the very young main characters involved.

All in all, it's a good addition to ebi-hime's portfolio, with a sweet story and a charming lead couple. My only major issue, as mentioned before, is Yukine's character and her treatment of Kazuki, but that does end up being addressed (if only in one path). Even so, it's a strong VN, and very possibly the one with the most food porn. Which, again, is always fun.

Strawberry Vinegar is available on Steam or

Final verdict: A troubling mother character aside, Strawberry Vinegar is just as sticky sweet as it looks, and a bunch of charming moments with the two leads combined with a genuinely heartfelt story make this worth a read.

Strawberry Vinegar is developed by ebi-hime and published by Sekai Project. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Circus Reviews - Pangs (you are hungry.)

Thanks to my debit card expiring and the bank taking its time getting me a new one, I am unable to purchase games for the time being. In my bored search for new games to play in the meantime, I stumbled upon this one, which looked black and white and dark enough to satisfy the current black and white and dark mood I'm in.

You start off alone in an alley with no memory of who you are or how you got there, but preoccupied with the thought that you're very hungry. Who are you? How did you get there?

I know that my above description of the plot is extremely lacking. But I'm loathe to spoil the game for anyone. It starts you off with little information and then gradually reveals what's going on in a way that really got to me. There are multiple plot twists within and they all took me off guard, in a way that hasn't happened in a while. Maybe it's obvious to you what will happen, but I'm not going to ruin it either way.

Unlike most visual novels, this game has no sprites; it relies on its background art and its story to move things along, putting it slightly closer to traditional interactive fiction games. The art has the look of glitchy photography and fits the atmosphere quite well. While there are plenty of sound effects, the background music is almost non-existent. It's an unusual choice, but it didn't detract from my experience; it almost made things...creepier.

This isn't a long game; there are five different endings and you can probably get through them all in about half an hour. There are a few flaws to be found: some of the decision points have typos, and the sound effects when moving your cursor over a button can be distracting. But overall, this has been put together very well. This is the studio's first game, and I'm interested to see what else they come up with.

I feel like I haven't said as much as I normally would, but that's out of my desire to give you the same experience I had: one untainted by knowledge. I had no idea what to expect going in, and I had a good experience for it. The game is short enough, it won't take you long to play, and it's enjoyable and intriguing. I guess that I can't really say much more than "give it a shot."

Pangs (you are hungry.) is available on

Final verdict: A few minor flaws here and there, but nothing that takes away from an atmospheric game with a story full of plot twists that will take you by surprise.

Pangs (you are hungry.) is developed by stardust★soda. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet - Questions and Answers

Blogger's comment system confuses me and there are things I need to answer but I can't tell if I've answered them or not. SO YAH.

To the commenter asking about the "worst" end: I did in fact mix up the "frozen" end and the "worst" end when answering previously, and I apologize. Another commenter pointed out that the "worst" end actually requires being nice to Gumdrop and mean to everyone else. Thanks, Anonymous commenter, whoever you are, for correcting my mistake.

To the commenter asking about a Pastille end: There is a Pastille end. I don't feel comfortable giving out the exact choices here, since I got my walkthrough from the developer's guidebook, which wasn't free. But it exists!

Sorry that I had to make a separate post for this. I made an incorrect comment and now I can't seem to view it on the blog for some reason, so I figured this was the quickest way to address things. I do think I've figured out what the issue is, though. Yay.