Rundown (7/16/2023) Falling Down The Helly Tree!

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:44 mins read
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This Week’s Topics:

  • Natalie’s latest file hoarding excursion and post-2027 plans
  • A legal update on the biggest video game acquisition of all time
  • Tencent’s expansion continues unimpeded
  • The straight dope on how BAD game preservation is
  • The Limited Run Games’ summer showcase
  • Delays of all July reviews

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
Falling Down The Helly Tree!

This past week I remembered that Helly Tree is a person who existed. A musician who I first learned about via the soundtrack of Crystal City. An interesting, underdeveloped, and shoddily translated Russian male-to-male body swap visual novel that I reviewed back in 2018. It was delisted on Steam, but now it’s available for free on I liked the music enough that I downloaded her album, Medical Card, a few years back, and the fact that I have only listened to it 18 times is a crime. It’s beautiful, slightly unsettling, and there is a 25% chance that I will think of “we are all sexual addicted” whenever I read through something with a succubus.

So, I decided that I would try to download her entire discography and enjoy it. …But then I encountered a problem. Like a lot of great modern music creators, Helly Tree does not really make albums per se, and she mostly hosts her works on SoundCloud, which is not a good platform for anything other than music streaming. And I’ve got 15.6 days of music on my PC, so you can imagine my thoughts on that. Furthermore, she spread her stuff over aboutthreeaccounts, because musicians just be like that.

So, how do I most effectively go about pulling all of her music from this site and arranging it? Well, I realized she wrote music for other 7DOTS visual novels, and I was able to pull their full soundtracks via Unren. Then I downloaded what tracks I could before renaming the files to more readable names. Then I manually made a 51 track playlist that I used this downloader utility to download as raw files. What did I wind up with? Over 100 different tracks. Now what am I gonna do with them? Create two ‘albums.’ HELLY TREE – Ambiance and HELLY TREE – Vocal.

Then what am I gonna do with them? …Listen to them a bunch and hopefully develop a strong enough connection with them to use them in something. What kind of something? Well… I plan to start development on a visual novel in 2027, visual novels need music, and while you can get a LOT of great stuff from and, I want some extra SPICE! Typically, you are supposed to pay for new music… but why not just license old music? It’s free money for the composer, after all! (Also, I intend to reach out to other TBD music makers.)

What am I gonna do regarding art assets though? Well, production is not going to START for 3.5 years, so I don’t want to make ANY promises, but my plans are currently to use less conventional tools. For sprites, I plan on using pre-rendered 3D character models— Koikatsu’s Chara Studio, or another anime-esque character poser and designer tool. While for backgrounds, I’m thinking of using heavily filtered photographs and royalty free DLSite backgrounds. You know how Higurashi and Umineko use photo backgrounds but gussy them up so they look anime-like? Yeah, basically that. 

Also, I am considering— and this depends on a LOT of legal and cultural factors— using AI art to create background images that will then be heavily filtered. You might be asking why I would use AI images when I could— and should— commission someone. And my answer is… the image will be filtered to hell and back anyway. I could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars commissioning an artist for something detailed and gorgeous. But would the artist even want to do that if the commissioner wants the end result to look like this? If I can find something that fits what I want, then sure, I’ll buy a royalty-free perpetual license for it. But the imagery of my stories can get pretty wildLike when I had two anthropomorphic suns have sex

And if you are curious where this… bizarre inspiration came from, it’s mostly just because I really liked the look of Magic Phone and Happy Family by Loggerzed. I know I could do a more traditional route… but then I think about the HELL that CaptainCaption goes through with image editing and art commissioning. They want their game to look dope, and that’s dope. But I’m a dope and want to make something that looks like it was made by a dope! Will that alienate people? Yes! But I write novels that less than twenty people read, so IDGAF.

Microsoft Beat the FTC!
(Judge Denies FTC Injunction Against Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard)

After a weeks-long court proceeding, the FTC v. Microsoft case has come to a close and the winner is… Microsoft! Last week, I was uncertain about who would win, as this is all well beyond me, but now… it looks like the acquisition will go through. However, there is still one more barrier preventing the acquisition from being finalized. Or, rather, two.

First, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority has not approved this acquisition, and their ruling will be appealed on July 28, 2023. Based on absolutely nothing, I’m expecting the CMA to lose, because Microsoft is Microsoft, and CMA’s issues are more with cloud gaming. Something that I seriously doubt will take off, due to how transferring data costs money. Video streaming is not viable, so game streaming definitely won’t be viable either.

Second, there is a termination date of July 18, 2023 on the initial agreement between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. I’m not sure how these things are usually extended, but I’m sure it will be, because that would be a downright stupid reason for an acquisition of this scale to go through.

Tencent Continues to Consume!
(Tencent Bought Western Support Studio Lucid Games)

Because of the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard deal, acquisitions have been fairly cold this year. But Tencent’s hunger for power still managed to eke out another acquisition, this time targeting Lucid Games. A British developer best known for Destruction AllStars, a multiplayer vehicular combat title that Sony was positioning as a major PS5 exclusive. 

However, Destruction AllStars was swiftly forgotten shortly after launch, and for various reasons. It came out when the PS5 install base was only a few million people (three months after launch). It was originally distributed as a freebie via PlayStation Plus, meaning people were not as attached to the title. And by the time it was available as a paid digital title 1.5 months after release, people already moved on from the title to the myriad other live services hitting the market.

After this, Lucid Games started entering ‘keep the lights on mode’ and began working as a support studio for various titles. Such as Apex Legends, EA Sports PGA Tour, Nightingale, Sea of Thieves, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. While support studios are needed now more than ever, their position is always a fickle one, as contracts tend to be shorter, deadlines are tighter, and you need to hustle more to find new work. As such, there is some comfort in being owned by a bigger company who can, theoretically, if push comes to shove, take care of the 150+ workers.

…It’s just that I don’t think Tencent will do that, and will trash studios when things start getting bad for them. But even if they were a generous owner, I still would not trust them, because they are too big and too closely associated with the Chinese government.

Unsurprising But Sad, Official Game Preservation SUCKS!
(87% of Games Released Before 2010 are Not Reasonably Available)

This past week, The Video Game History Foundation posted a study into how well the games industry has been preserving its legacy and the results were… better than I thought, to be honest. I have been beating the angry drum of preservation for a long, long while now, as the games industry has done an utterly dreadful job of preserving its history. So many games from decades past simply cannot be readily purchased, and that downright disgusts me. To the point where I openly encourage people to download unauthorized digital copies of games not readily available for purchase on modern platforms. 

The findings of the study were that 87% of games released prior to 2010 are critically endangered. Meaning that these titles are not represented in the current marketplace, cannot be purchased or otherwise played, and are not reasonably available. Not on a digital storefront, not on a subscription service, and not available for streaming.

So, what exactly is the solution to this? Well, that’s where things get tricky. The first step would be for the games industry to acknowledge this problem and for various companies to take serious action, or else risk history being completely lost. 

The second step would be to give libraries and archives, who have been preserving games for years at this point, better tools and permissions to give people access to games that are not readily available through legal means. Because while libraries and archives can give researchers access to games, they can only do so on-premises. 

Since 2012, there has been an effort by libraries and archives to receive exemptions from the US Copyright Office to better share games to researchers, but they still have not gone through. Why is that? Because the industry does not want exemptions to be granted, or more specifically, the press doxing masterminds behind E3, the Entertainment Software Association. Despite supposedly representing the industry, the ESA has been asserting that preservation in gaming is fine, when it never was.

While the nebulous third step, which is well beyond the scope of this study, would deal with all the other issues that come with preserving games. There are commercial issues, as only a niche is interested in re-issues of decade old games. Porting games to new hardware can quickly become an expensive process. There is still a stigma against emulation throughout the industry, mostly due to unfounded fears and misinformation. Rights issues are rampant, as game rights were often spread between various different companies, a lot of which no longer exist. And console-specific digital storefronts are not eternal.

In fact, the study is pretty convinced that the PS3 and Xbox 360 storefronts will be shut down soon and… they’re probably right on that front. Same with highlighting the problem with how, if you only re-release games for a single platform, you’re just kicking the can down the street and merely delaying the problem. 

As I said above, I am a huge supporter of the unauthorized distribution and emulation of older titles not reasonably available. But that is a stance I hold largely out of necessity. I would personally be elated if games are preserved by professional librarians and archivists rather than devout enthusiasts. Like I said last week, the internet is not eternal, and things on it will eventually be decayed and tossed aside. 

As such, they are the most obvious, and probably best, choice to preserve the history of gaming. …However, the problem with relying on libraries and archives is always the same. Funding and permissions. Organizations like this must adhere to the law and legal systems in order to get funding or maintain a tax-exempt status. If the government stops letting a library or archive do something, then it can not do that. And if an archive is shut down, then you risk losing a massive amount of human history. 

Libraries and archives should be forever, but as the political climate in the United States continues to grow more unstable and radical, the less faith I have in them. Book bans are back in fashion, and depending on how things go the next election cycle, I might have serious worries about libraries across the country losing most, if not all, Federal funding. 

…I want to trust the world, but the world keeps telling me that the only one I can trust is myself. And that fucking sucks.

Physical Games Are Not True Preservation + A Limited Run Games Summary
(Limited Run Games’ Announcement Showcase Rundown Intro)

…Also, I think it is important to reiterate that physical games are not a solution to the issues positioned by VGHF’s findings. They acknowledge the retro games and physical market, and the fact that people can assemble collections. But they do not position it as a reasonable solution to the growing preservation issue. They deliberately do not give a solution, as that is beyond the scope of the study. However, there is reason to believe that a solution would be via digital distribution of some matter, as… it’s just easier. 

Physical games are harder to produce and replicate, harder to transport, and need to be inserted into the appropriate hardware in order to be read and played. It is great that physical media is available as an option for people, but there is a reason why archivists are so dedicated to digitizing media. Because it makes it more accessible, easier to preserve, easier to back up in case of, say, a fire, easier to distribute, and… should last longer than anything physical.

Also, most physical games are just files saved on a disc or cartridge, so the difference between them and ROM or ISO files is a matter of compatibility/readability/copy-protection. See Rundown (6/11/2023) for more details.  

Anyway, now that I have discussed that, let’s talk about the biggest proponent of physical games in the modern industry! Limited Run Games! A company that made a name for itself by doing physical releases limited to a few thousand copies, and has even released games for older retro consoles. They’re a nifty boutique distributor, but they are also home to some bad blood on behalf of collectors and enthusiasts. Why? Because they released hundreds of titles in super limited quantities, creating a culture of FOMO, and don’t have the best customer support or shipping practices. Which, in all fairness, are things common to a lot of companies like Limited Run.

FOMO drives sales, shipping things is expensive, every company likes to think they can minimize this necessary expense, and quality customer support does not mesh with aggressive growth. I’m not defending them when I say that, I’m just saying that companies like them are more the rule than the exception. And it worked for them, as Limited Run was acquired by Embracer last year.

I would not really care about them if they just did physical releases and re-releases, as they are just satiating a market that openly craves limited run products. However, Limited Run has also made the transition into being a full-on game publisher over the past few years, which isn’t too surprising, and helps diversify their product line to include digital games. …The reason for this little history lesson is because Limited Run held their own showcase this past week and announced FIVE oddball titles that I simply could not gloss over.

Shantae’s Lost Chapter Has Been Revived!
(After 19 Years, WayFroward is Finishing An Abandoned GBA Game!)

It’s incredibly rare for a canceled game to be revived and brought back in its original form. And it’s even rarer when a company cancels a game, and is then approached to resume work on it twenty years later, for the same platform. …Meaning that I think it might have happened once or twice, but brain is brain and brain is just like hamburger— exactly like hamburger— and likes to rot.

From 2002 to 2004, WayForward was working on a GameBoy Advance successor to the 2002 action platformer Shantae. A GameBoy Color swansong that reviewed wonderfully and sold terribly, but WayForward had a strong affinity for the title, so they developed a prototype to pitch to publishers. None of them took on the project, the game was shelved, and the only public footage of the title shown was from a livestream several years ago. …And this clip I found while searching for said livestream.

After the game was shelved, the studio moved on to develop 2010’s Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. A self-published DSiWare exclusive that was later ported to most major platforms, and was a pretty great little bite-sized Metroidvania. This led to a proper revival of the series that continued with The Pirate’s Curse in 2014, Half-Genie Hero in 2016, and The Seven Sirens in 2019. 

However, for all the growth the series has seen, there was some desire to go back to the GBA prototype, to Shantae 2: Risky’s Revolution. And Limited Run was crazy enough to fund that game, positioning it as a lost chapter in the Shantae series. Except instead of doing this a full reboot that builds off of the last two games in the series, it’s an actual GBA title, dubbed Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution.

The game is being developed by (presumably just some of) the same staff who worked on the prototype, using the same development tools, and targeting the same hardware. All of which sounds completely insane and unnecessary, but is also such an immense novelty that I cannot help but admire due to the gumption and can-do spirit of it all.

Now, I would question the market viability of a project like this, but I think it is pretty clear what Limited Run is going for here. They want this game to be positioned as a novelty, as a collector’s item and a one-of-a-kind thing. And by making it a physical exclusive, they are bound to get… far more sales than they usually would. But eventually, they will just release this game for regular consoles, possibly as a tongue in cheek ‘remaster’ of the original. Or alternatively… dudes will just need to dust off the GBA ROM dumper. Because that’s what happens when you release something only for physical media!

Shantae Advance: Risky’s Revolution is coming to GameBoy Advance in 2024.

Natalie Rambles About Clock Tower
(Clock Tower (1995) is Getting Localized)

Clock Tower is one of the more bizarre and fun to talk about horror series in the world of gaming, as even though it is only home to four games, every title offered something very different. 

The first title, Clock Tower (1995) for the Super Famicom was one of the earliest pioneers of the console horror game genre. Despite having never received an official English release, fan translations, horror fans, and 16-bit game enthusiasts were quick to pull this title out of obscurity, where it earned a grand reputation. Partially due to its decadent atmosphere for a SNES game, partially for its nerve-wracking point and click controls, and partially for how it conveys horror through mechanics. It’s tricky to control because the situation is tricky to navigate. It seems simple, but it’s actually pretty smart.

The second title, Clock Tower 2 (1996), was localized as Clock Tower in 1997, and was one of the first PS1 horror titles to hit after Resident Evil revolutionized the genre. This caused a bit of contention among critics of the time, highlighting the game’s lack of action and combat, but it retained just about everything great about its predecessor. Dripping atmosphere, an impressive presentation, especially for an early PS1 title, and a compelling story with a variety of different endings. Shame is only got an ASCII budget marketing push…

The third title, Clock Tower: Ghost Head (1998), localized as Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, is widely considered to be ‘the bad one.’ Just from skimming around a playthrough, I can tell the atmosphere is just not what it used to be, so that’s a big mark against it. And apparently the puzzle design and story were… just not very good. So it is the one that Clock Tower fans typically don’t want to talk about, as I can only imagine the disappointment of playing this game after Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill.

While the final title, Clock Tower 3 (2002), is… kind of a sequel in name only, but also freaking DOPE! The title is part of that magical PS2 era of horror games, where semi–fixed camera angles were still fashionable, but environments were fully 3D and filled with all manner of Emotion Engine effects. So it gets an A for environments. 

Its cutscenes and animation are impressively vibrant and vivid, capturing a sense of motion and panic that you typically need an acclaimed film director to capture… which is what they did. Its story is a bonkers time traveling adventure where the protagonist becomes a magical girl. And the gameplay was largely fixated on small puzzles and frantic chase sequences, which is a pretty good formula for horror in general. 

All in all, the series really should get a high-quality pristine-as-hell collection, as these games only really got the reception they deserved once back in 1997. However, horror is niche— or at least that’s what I keep being told—most of all creative-types I encounter are big into horror— so a collection is a big ask. Especially because Clock Tower 3 was a Capcom joint. 

So, instead, Clock Tower (1995) is getting a port/remaster hybrid, known as a “Port+”… I hate this industry’s lack of uniform terminology. It’s basically the game Super Famicom game, but with a professional translation, animated opening, motion comic cutscenes, and a new vocal theme song, save states, an art gallery, etc. I would just call this a port with some extras. Kind of like what WayForward did with Shin Nekketsu Koha Kunio-tachi no Banka when they, and Limited Run, localized the title as River City Girls Zero. In fact, WayForward is actually handling this project too, which is a bit strange… but also makes some sense, because they have done this before. 

The Lean, Green, Meme Machine is Back, Bay-Bee!
(Gex Trilogy Announced)

Trying to understand memes is a futile and frustrating experience that you either die trying to understand, or live long enough to stop caring. So I’m not even going to attempt to understand why there has been so much memeing over Gex. I guess it is due to how the character was one in the sea of cartoon animal mascots who starred in platforming games during the mid to late 90s and then fell into obscurity. Except this one made pop culture references.

The first game, 1995’s Gex, was one of the best selling games for the 3DO and the titular protagonist briefly acted as the system’s mascot. But the game was ported over to the Saturn and PS1 8 months later, where it quickly fell into relative obscurity. The title was just a 2D platformer that took advantage of CD storage space and improved processing power to deliver, for the time, a pretty attractive title. It had highly detailed 2D backgrounds, a pre-rendered main character, cartoon-like enemy sprites, and a large amount of CD quality quips to convey the character’s personality. The game had some nifty elements, such as a fixation on wall climbing and a TV-inspired aesthetic that sometimes results in appealing backgrounds, but nothing too unique.

The first game did well enough to warrant a sequel, which took the form of 1998’s Gex: Enter the Gecko. A 3D platformer that came out on PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and PC, so it was a staple game of a lot of kids’ childhood. Was it good? Well, just from a few minutes of skimming through a longplay (which I do a LOT for these Rundowns), I can tell it’s far from a bad game. It is a lot more crude (in multiple ways), rough, and intelligent from more widely beloved contemporary titles like Banjo-Kazooie or Crash Bandicoot 2. But it’s close enough that I doubt a 9-year-old could really tell the difference. The title clearly has a lot of imagination behind it, and it seems like it would be plenty fun once you adapt to the 90s platformer jank.

Then there was Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko in 1999, which was… more of the same. It was an iterative sequel building off of the success of the second game, and recycling a lot from it, which is where things always get tricky. Sometimes they polish up the rough edges and remove the bullcrap, like with Crash 2 and Spyro 2, other times the developers are scraping for new ideas. Still, it seems like a good platformer, at least based on the standards of the era, and probably a great time if you approach it with the right perspective.

…Also, there were GameBoy Color ‘versions’ of both games, but those were for poor people who couldn’t afford a real games system. …I’m just kidding, but nobody gives a CRAP about that era of GameBoy games of the late 90s.

Overall, the series wasn’t really bad, far from it, and at worst, the games were products of their time. So, why are these games such a popular meme? Because the main character says dated pop culture references constantly, and is basically a 7-year-old’s Sonic-inspired OC circa 1996. However, sometimes a meme game is worth making just so people can buy it as a joke or play it as a goof, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Gex Trilogy is a thing. 

No details or gameplay footage was shown, but the game will likely just be an emulated compilation of the PS1 versions of all three Gex console games, with some extras thrown in for good measure. No release window was mentioned, and this trailer answers the pressing question of who owns the rights to Gex… and the answer is Square Enix, bizarrely enough. Even though I thought they rights were sent to Embracer following the sale of Crystal Dynamics. Weird… 

Anyway, Gex Trilogy is coming to all viable modern platforms, namely PS4, PS5, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC via Steam. 

Get Pink, Toss Pigs, Help Dwarves!
(Tomba! Is Coming to Modern Platforms)

Moving from one single-generation platforming here to another, we have a 2.5D platformer that I feel does not get the respect it would have gotten if it came out on a Nintendo console. Tomba! is a 1997 PlayStation exploration-driven platformer with RPG elements with gorgeous 2.5D visuals and a catchy soundtrack that I have heard in many a video game video essay over the years. 

It’s one of those well-regarded PS1 games that gets lost in the shuffle of other great PS1 games, and was somewhat overlooked for being a 2D game on a 3D system. However, it is considered a great platformer, even though I am baffled by how the game works when skimming through a longplay. I somehow thought this was a stage-based affair, but instead it’s got a freaking quest system. Video games are wild, yo!

Also, it got a sequel that I have NEVER heard anything about, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. Which trades in the ‘semi-pre-rendered’ (sprites from this era were weird) for full on 3D models, adds corny voice acting, and makes far better use of its 3D world, including some perspective shifts. It looks like an ambitious and wild game that PS1 platformer enthusiasts should have discussed at length… but if they have, I can’t really find it. 

As such, I am simultaneously not surprised and disappointed that Limited Run games is working with the dissolved Whoopee Camp to bring back Tomba! via their emulation engine, but not Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. It’s an odd decision, as I would imagine that they could charge basically twice as much by calling this a two-pack, and when factoring in shipping and production costs, that’s just more money for them. 

Regardless, Limited Run Games is working with the original director on porting the game over… and they are also planning on adding a new soundtrack from the original composer, Harumi Fujita. I would ask why they would want to improve on perfection, but this is likely more of a remix soundtrack than anything else.

Also, much like with Gex Trilogy, no release date was given for Tomba!, nor was any gameplay footage shown. Instead, it was merely confirmed for PS4, PS5, Switch, and PC via Steam.

Shitposters Extraordinaire Are Making a Zelda CD-i Spiritual Successor
(Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore Announced)

Hopping back to memes… the Zelda CD-i cutscenes! …Do I need to explain this? Well, Cassie probably doesn’t know about this, so I might as well.

Back when Nintendo was lenient with their IP, they gave the rights to Mario and Zelda to Philips to make their own games for their interactive multimedia player, the CD-i. This resulted in four games, Hotel Mario, Link and the Faces of Evil, Zelda and the Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda’s Adventure. When these games came out, barely anybody knew they existed, because nobody knew what a CD-i was supposed to be. But with the early internet, people started uncovering these games, playing them, and compiling footage of them onto YouTube. They were heavily criticized for their design, difficulty, controls, and most especially their low budget Russian animated cutscenes. Cutscenes that became a cornerstone of internet meme culture for over a decade, especially the era of YouTube Poop.

However… some people also weirdly like these games. Or, at least, the Zelda games. An insane person remastered both Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon back in 2020. And there was a GameBoy demake of Zelda’s Adventure released a few months ago that… looks and plays better than the CD-i game. Because it’s a lowkey Link’s Awakening mod.

Point is, there is a… following that could maybe be capitalized upon with a new game. And Limited Run decided to make this a reality with a game known as Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore. A title directed by the psychopath who did remasters of Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon, and one that features… at least three people who worked on the original games. 

…My first impression is that this game is an elaborate shitpost that grew and developed well beyond anything it should have been and is also trying to replicate something that I don’t think can be replicated. Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon were not developed as a joke. They were developed by people with little experience and resources trying to make the best game they could. The cutscenes were not meant to be funny. The maps were meant to be like interactive paintings, because it was a multimedia system. And the sprites looked that way because they had a big graphics budget, and wanted to make them look as detailed as they could. 

These games are something you can’t really do again, and every part of this reveal trailer struck me as… off. The combination of sprites and painted backgrounds just looks wrong in a way it didn’t in the games that inspired this. Because the original’s backgrounds were so low resolution they were basically sprite art. The animated cutscenes are about 75% homage to the original cutscenes, and 25% Newgrounds flash cartoons from 2006. Which is just enough for them to feel inauthentic. And I kind of doubt the game, as a game, will hold up to the glutton of side-scrolling action RPGs that have been released over the past decade.

That being said… go for it, you crazy-ass motherfuckers. If this game is good, I will be stunned. And if the game sucks on its own merits… at least you tried. Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore will be released in 2023 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC via Steam.

The Koikatsu Devs Are Gonna Die!
(Illusion Adult Games, Developers of Koikatsu, Are Shutting Down)

…FUCK! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! 


Literally a DAY after I wrote the opening for this Rundown, I learned that Illusion Adult Games, developers of Koikatsu (and various rape simulators from the 00s) are shutting their doors. Meaning that while Koikatsu will still be available, it will no longer be officially supported, and any issues that exist with the software will remain as is. 

I think the universe just hates me. It saw that I was actually committing to this concept and said:
“Not only are we going to make it harder to achieve your dream, we are fucking over some of your favorite TSF comic creators. Oh, you like Kawaii Tsun’aho, Maideneir, MassManic, Moonlly, Shiyin, SigmaGal, and more? You like how CharaStudio and Koikatsu enabled so many great creators? Well, now the software they use will be left to rot. Fuck you Natalie!”

So, now I’m worried, and going through the process of installing this software and the essential torrent-exclusive HF Patch while I still can! I would say that I will start learning it now, but I ain’t got time for that right now! I still need to write Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp!

Also, I am officially down to less than 320 GB of storage space after downloading all of this stuff, so… Screw it, time to buy an NVMe! …And is that a 4 TB Gen4 Crucial NVMe SSD for $177? Don’t mind if I do! That’s cheaper than a single enrolled agent test! And I can write it off as a business expense! And I can fill it up with Switch game ROMs!

…But seriously though, it is sad that a studio with such a long pedigree and strong place in eroge history is going away like this. Ambitious eroge studios are notoriously short-lived, with only folks like Alicesoft standing the test of time. And for as much as you can dog on Illusion for making RapeLay or whatever, you cannot deny they were an innovator in their field and brought a lot of people a lot of joy these past 22 years.

Review Delays!!!
(But I’ll Have Something Else Instead)

Before ending this Rundown, I just want to say that I am delaying my two reviews scheduled for July.

The early access first impressions of Dragonspire, a Dragalia Lost like live service, has been delayed indefinitely. I bought the early access version that came out Friday evening, but the game… just is not very fun. It is a more multiplayer-centric title that I assumed, and in order to get anywhere, players need to partake in a lot of grinding and boss battles that feel at odds with the game’s more limited mechanics. Also, I straight up dislike any game that urges players to go long stretches without ready access to healing. Either give me potions or have enemies drop health like in Metroid. I don’t like it as it is, and I’m not going to publish a negative first impression for such a niche game. Also… it’s less of an action RPG and more of a co-op only MOBA with raid bosses.

My Student Transfer scenario review for Eman Looc’s Possession Scroll review will now come out in late August. Why? Because I misread the length of the scenario, and because I’ve been having issues getting invested in its story. It has some great ideas and moments, but I’ve been getting distracted while playing it, and I know that does not lead to a good review.

So, instead I will get something else out this July. Not a Student Transfer thing, but something that Clavietika— who’s also going by Linelinara, Sheramine, and Sherrisharade nowadays— kept pestering me to play back in 2021. Saying that if I was trans and a White Supremacist gamer, I needed to play this game.

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  1. Cassandra Wright

    I’ll have you know I WAS aware of those CD-I games. While I never watched them, I frequently saw GameGrumps animateds based on them, as well as various clips in the larger compliations. So yeah.

    RIP Koikatsu Devs, I had seen a small share of TG/TSF media made using them and they were pretty good. At least I think it was Koikatsu. Recently it seems like TSF stuff has shifted more and more toward premium paid services or AI-art TG caps type thing. Sadly of which neither do anything for me due to inaccessibility of the former and my desire for more than the typical caption can provide nowadays.


    1. Natalie Neumann

      Ey, Cassie is using the comments again!
      When I said that people weren’t aware of the CD-i games, I meant they weren’t aware of them during the 1990s. “When these games came out, barely anybody knew they existed, because nobody knew what a CD-i was supposed to be.”
      If it was an anime style 3D model comic, then it was probably Koikatsu. That’s kind of its thing.
      TSF has been shifting more toward premium subscriptions, yes, but that is part of a larger move from creators to trying to get some money from their creations. People create things for a living, and they need money to pay for rent and groceries. Would it be nice for them to be free? Yes. But you need capital to live, and that also means you need capital to create art. That sucks, but that’s capitalism, bay-bee!
      The shift toward AI generated stuff was kind of inevitable, and I know it has made certain platforms, specifically DeviantArt, a pain to navigate, as people just flood it with low effort and low quality AI creations, and low substance works like captions. (I say that as a former TG Caption creator.)