Visual Novel Book Club // Now reading: ISLAND

If the VN is accessible on phones/tablets, there are programs, such as Bluestacks, that let you run the phone apps on your PC. I’m not sure how it would play along with texthookers, though, to be fair.

5 Likes

I’ve tried to use a texthook with a few games on Bluestacks but it has never worked for me. I’ve tried using a switch emulator as well but no luck there either. Although I’ve read if you are able to extract the script files from the game you can do something so the texthook will work while you’re reading (people did that for the newest Fate VN) but that is way over my head to try such a thing

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My personal opinion is that it should be fine to throw in as long as it’s clear during nominations/voting that there’s no PC version. If that’s a dealbreaker let it show in the votes.

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I’m fine with versions for consoles that have emulators for PC (like Switch or PlayStation up to Vita) :wink: But phone versions are no go for me.

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Emulated Switch versions are hit and miss when it comes to text hooking. If memory serves (using ryujinx emulator) I was able to set up hooking for Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai (I haven’t read it yet, and I’m definitely not nominating it - it’s waaaay too long :stuck_out_tongue: ) but that seems to be the only lucky hit so far - with other games I cannot even find readable text in game’s memory with Cheat Engine, so it’s impossible to even start to look for hook. I guess lot of those games must use some custom text encoding internally? Or there’s some emulation issue?

I had much more luck with Vita - if a game works at all (the emulator is still at very early stage) it’s usually hookable. And what’s more - I have found out that many of the Vita VNs that I have, store their scripts in plain text files :open_mouth:

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I debated a few other things, almost considered even skipping this round because I like a lot of the choices already up, but ehh, let’s go with 9-nine. I recall @AzusaChan and maybe someone else already expressing some amount of interest? I wanted to go for something with a bit less of the standard VN vibe (so like, unusual settings/adult protagonists/less “anime” artstyles/not looking like it might dip into fanservicey stuff/etc) but my ideas for that were very lengthy reads or otherwise not a good fit for various reasons.


9-nine-ここのつここのかここのいろ

Developer: Palette
VNDB Play Time: 8 hours
VNDB Link: 9-nine- Kokonotsu Kokonoka Kokonoiro | vndb

Summary

9-nine- Episode 1 is the first volume in a series of supernatural mystery games, with Episode 1 telling a story centered around Miyako Kujo. The entries in the the 9-nine- series share the same setting and world, but each entry focuses on a different heroine. 9-nine- is a tale of the town of Shiromitsugawa, host to mysterious Artifacts and the superpowers they bestow on their Users. A tale of growing trust and budding romance between the protagonist and the heroine, and also a murder mystery where they hunt down the culprit behind a series of supernatural murders. Each game has an independent story that can be enjoyed on its own.

Availability

Steam, PC
Switch (unfortunately only available, as far as I can tell, as a somewhat pricey bundle of all 4 episodes)
PS4 (unfortunately only available, as far as I can tell, as a somewhat pricey bundle of all 4 episodes)
DLSite (also PC but, if you prefer, the larger all-in-one version)

PS4 seems to have a demo, but I don’t see it on other platforms.

All of these are all-ages versions with sexual content removed. Said content does exist elsewhere for the PC version if that’s your thing.

Personal Opinion

I’ve been meaning to read this myself, so it’s not at all a pick just for club suitability, but I think it has that too. Seems to hit a good balance of most things the club needs, with just a few drawbacks. I find the art very eye-catching, nice colors, and it’s fairly well rated everywhere (though ratings get higher for later episodes, not sure if the story improves as it develops or if that’s a case of the people who didn’t like it dropping out).

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Seems to be an easy read (4/10 on JPDB, low average sentence length)
  • Short
  • Mysteries are fun to speculate about
  • Voice acted
  • Texthookable
  • Decent availability, though console players are forced to commit to large purchases of the whole series so it’s kinda good and bad.
  • I think there’s like 1 bad end? It’s not totally linear but it’s easy to work around.
  • adamstan seal of approval

Cons

  • (Thanks to adamstan for helping me more clearly understand this --) The devs say each of the 4 VNs (plus an epilogue) can be enjoyed on their own, though it functions much more like separate routes of 1 story. While I think there’s some value in the main club being able to move on for those who don’t care enough to continue, each part ends on a cliffhanger, and those who are sufficiently invested are probably actually signing up for ~40 hours of offshoot club.
  • One of the Steam pictures looks fanservice-y enough it made me consider not nominating this despite not being explicit (and I mean it is a game with sexual content chopped from some versions), and there seems to be a “guy surrounded by girls” thing, so I hope it doesn’t feel offputtingly made for teenage boys. Certainly a risk of the medium despite plenty of VNs not like that. The plot itself is supposed to be enjoyable but there may be a lot or a little of that stuff, I don’t know.
  • I’m not certain about the presence of chapters for scheduling, but jpdb doesn’t list them while it sometimes does (to be fair, it doesn’t seem to for Loopers either)

Pictures

Screenshots





Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this VN?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

8 Likes

I actually finished reading Caucasus the other day and decided to start reading 9-nine as my new VN last night funny enough :sweat_smile: I only read a couple thousand characters so far so not sure if I should pause it in case it wins but I can at least verify you can texthook it on Steam.

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Oops! This either makes it a very good or very bad choice from me, haha. Well thanks for the info, will update the post :sweat_smile:

(Did you like Caucasus by the way?)

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I definitely have interest so I’d say its a good choice haha. I was deciding between a few different VNs to start reading yesterday, so I might just put 9-nine on hold until our voting is over and read something else in the meantime since it seems like it’d be a fun VN to read in the club.

Caucasus thoughts

I’d say mostly yes. The detective stuff and solving the mystery was really fun, there were some parts I was able to solve by myself before they explained it in game and other stuff where I was like how did I miss that!. I’ve read a few mystery VNs where the ending felt very unsatisfying but they delivered in this. The end was my favorite part by far.
The VN ended up being surprisingly easy to read too after getting used to some of the characters heavy 敬語. The lack of slang made a lot of the reading pretty straightforward. I thought the setting would make it be a harder read but I don’t think its harder than something like Loopers (although the speech styles are definitely different between those two games).

My main complaint with the game is the pacing in the middle due to the heavy amount of h-scenes they put in it. I know older VNs tend to have more fan-servicey stuff like that but I was not prepared for this (literally 5 out of the 8 CG pages are all h stuff). I ended up skipping most those scenes but it was very annoying having to deal with them in between all of the murder and mystery stuff. I don’t mind 18+ stuff but I think this game would have benefited a lot from not having those scenes

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I already read 9-nine - it was great, I wholeheartedly recommend it :heart:

Be aware though, that indeed it isn’t series of four VNs, but four chapters of one VN released separately. I actually bought all-ages Japanese physical edition, where all episodes (plus the “New Episode”, being the additional epilogue) were all made into single game, as it should have been from the start :wink:

Here’s the official page for this edition:

(Personally I bought it on amazon.jp)

This all-ages complete edition is also available as a download from DLSite:

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Caucasus

Nice! Yeah I know what you mean, a lot of them just go absolutely wild at the end. Sometimes I love the freedom being a niche medium grants to kinda do whatever they want in the writing… sometimes you get the end of Raging Loop (fantastic VN til then though) :wink: .

I’ll probably keep it in mind to give a shot one day! I’m not fundamentally opposed to h-scenes or anything adjacent either, it is what it is. I don’t read VNs specifically for them but I can live with them. I know what you mean about pace breaking though; you can often tell when they were just kinda shoved in the middle of a story.

Love to hear it. I’ll add the DLSite link as another option, thanks!

Despite it being a piece of a whole, I don’t think the proposed method of just doing 1 in the club is too bad? It’s essentially how the manga clubs (and any other series-based club reading) happens and I’d be fine with doing an offshoot if the demand is there, which could probably be taken pretty leisurely to not interfere too hard with the main one.

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Well, it might be fine. It’s just that every episode except the fourth ends with an obvious cliffhanger :wink: So even if the bookclub does just first chapter, I’d encourage everyone to get the complete edition I mentioned above :slight_smile:

Also, the first episode treated as a standalone work is a bit weak - at least my impression when reading 9-nine was that each episode was better than the previous one :wink:

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Well I figured it being released this way was a strength in that people could buy in at a lower price in case they decide it hasn’t hooked them sufficiently after part 1. Taken as a whole does seem like you save a bit, particularly factoring in the “new episode” part. But I guess which is advisable will come down to how confident or unconfident someone feels going in, heh. In all likelihood I will indeed grab it as a whole myself, whether it wins here or just eventually to read on my own.

Point taken on it functioning much better as a complete work though. I just think it gets less attractive at its full length as a pick for this club. I truly am interested in reading it but if I was willing to nominate a 40+ hour VN at this stage others would take priority, though in my mind the calculation changes if we offload the back 3/4 (honestly more since later parts seem a little longer) to a separate continuation. I can see how the potential of 2 VN clubs or choosing between would also be problematic for some people, but like I said we’d almost definitely keep the spinoff club laid back and otherwise it’s just a good thing to keep in mind for considering votes. Unless more people think I’m wrong about just chapter 1 being the way to go. I love this club but it’s also sometimes a nightmare to organize for :sweat_smile:

With your feedback I’ll at least reword the con about the structure a bit more strongly for now.

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Those screenshots makes the game seem super easy to read. I’m wary. :joy:


Also, I guess I need to put together a nomination post. Gah, probably won’t have time 'til tomorrow.

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Yeah I had the same reaction haha. They’re all that was on vndb unfortunately. Maybe I can look around later for more, maybe YouTube videos to screenshot on my own or something.

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Ok, grabbed a couple narration screenshots straight from a Youtube video and added them to make it a bit more representative hopefully :slightly_smiling_face:

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終のステラ

image

Developer: Key
VNDB Play Time: 12h.
VNDB Link: Tsui no Stella
Character count: 165k.
Number of weeks to finish: 8.

Summary

If I make it to the other side of the sky, I can become human…

Earth has been taken over by a group of machines that created a “singularity.”
Humanity is forced to live hidden in the shadows.

One day a transporter receives an odd request.
Their cargo this time will be a girl android developed as a family member substitute.
She is unaffected by the Singularity Machines.

Despite being put off by the girl’s naive behavior, the transporter sets out on the journey.
Sometimes it’s human bandits they must evade, other times it’s the machines they run from.
Undeterred by such dangerous situations, they press on to make the delivery.

The girl often talks about wanting to become human.
Their destination is a space elevator, so tall it appears to pierce the sky.
The rumor is that androids who make it to the top can be made human, but is it true?

Availability

DLSite , DMM Games

Personal Opinion

Recently released, I discovered it by chance when aimlessly browsing DLsite. I liked the setting, tried the demo for a few minutes and I actually liked it quite a bit. The text goes from top to bottom instead of text windows, and it seemed like a description-heavy game so there’s probably a fair amount of language processing to do overall. I think the Sci-Fi themes could generate a lot of theories and discussion, hopefully it maintains the mystery until the end. It’s still quite early and there aren’t enough votes yet, but from the ~100 votes in VNDB it seemed very nicely rated so that also makes me curious. Nice music, sfx and art.

I’ve purposefully included a couple screenshots that I found more challenging from the demo so they hopefully give an idea of the difficulty when it gets harder, and the ones from VNDB. From what I could experience it’s not constantly like that and it often has easier vocabulary. However I wholeheartedly recommend using Textractor.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Works with Textractor with no issues.
  • Divided into 16 chapters, allows easier weekly organisation.
  • Reasonably priced (1980 円).
  • Voice acting including protagonist.

Cons

  • No other versions available outside of PC.
  • Because of the theme of the VN, there’s a chance the vocabulary and understanding of the story could potentially get challenging.

Pictures

Screenshots

The text is fully expanded in the pictures but it starts from top, line by line, until it reaches about half of the screen and it clears to start again, often with a picture change.

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this VN?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

12 Likes

As I thought, many more unknown words, bumping my vote up to moderate effort. xD

Thanks for taking the time. :smiley:

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I think my nomination presents as the harder option so far this round. I couldn’t really choose between moderate and significant effort because, while several of the screenshots I’ve posted can be challenging, I didn’t think playing the game would be unachievable when trying the demo, and obviously it’s much easier to read using Textractor than it is from a screenshot. I’m going with significant effort just to be completely safe. It felt mostly fine with sudden spikes of difficulty, it didn’t feel overwhelmingly constant. Now of course this is all personal and it depends on everyone’s own vocabulary range so I’m only speaking for myself (which is definitely not that wide honestly, many of you have read much harder things than I have). At the same time I feel like I can’t really assure anything because I only played the demo for like 30 minutes before I closed it, so it might as well get much harder later on or on the contrary much easier. The percentage of unique words that appear only once is practically the same as Loopers (46%). I suspect it would be much harder in the beginning while we get used to the vocabulary than from a few chapters in until the end. I suppose it wouldn’t be too different from reading something like Stein’s;Gate, which is actually harder with a 6 on JPDB (I’ve learnt super fast not to trust these numbers though :joy: ).

I was feeling a bit discouraged from nominating it as a club pick because of the potential difficulty spikes, but I’m going for it anyways because I think it’s a super cool VN regardless. As you said, in the end the club will decide for itself through the voting. Besides if things get hard we have the club to discuss and work together.

I also haven’t voted the difficulty of the other nominations yet but I will soon. How does the voting usually go, do we get a max number of votes? Honestly I’d read anything that has been proposed so far, but I guess if we all vote everything then nothing will win :joy: . What do you think, do other clubs limit it in any way or are they free to vote as much as they want?

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In the book clubs, we usually limit it to no more than 3 votes per person.

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