Friday, 5 October 2018

Plk_Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Silver Cow Studios’ Ecchi VNs (non-Time Tenshi edition)

While Time Tenshi, which I covered two weeks ago, is definitely the flagship franchise for Silver Cow Studios, the company never settled for only producing new iterations of their breast-expansion/time-travel formula, releasing two other ecchi VNs since their debut in 2015. Those games, while they didn’t abandon the giant boobs and over-the-top storytelling that could be considered Silver Cow’s staple, offered their own twists to the fanservice-filled and trashy, but hentai-free format. The first one, Burokku Girls, appeared just three months after the first Time Tenshi game and… The lack of reasonable development time definitely showed, in a few ways. The second, Battleship Bishojo came out in early 2017, after Time Tenshi 2’s Special Edition and proved that the devs had their formula figured out much better by this point in time. Still, what exactly are these games about, besides exclusively-kyonyuu heroines and are they as good serviceable as Time Tenshi proved to be?

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Burokku Girls (the first part of the title apparently represents the Japanese pronunciation of the word „block”) is quite possibly the most bizarre VN I’ve seen since Legends of Talia: Arcadia. Although it’s not as devoid of humour as the Winged Cloud’s unfortunate “dark fantasy adventure”, it still manages to mix incredibly trashy fanservice and character designs with a rather grimdark story about a last bastion of light in the world besieged by darkness – a conflict so hopeless that the people of the last town standing are pretty much just waiting for their final battle and inevitable demise. Our generic protagonist enters this world-ending scenario through a full-immersion VR machine, constructed by his father. The virtual reality set goes haywire in an inexplicable way and transports him to a reality built with the titular Blocks – voxel-like elements, which were used in past immemorial to create an artificial paradise for people to live in, but was since invaded by the “Underworlders”, exiles trapped in the dark chasms beneath the “Overworld” and sealed away with the Blocks.
            This fairly elaborate, even if the cliched setup is coupled with a few other decent ideas. The execution of the story, however, is… Less than ideal. The first sin is the writing, which reaches the absolute highs of repetition and absurdity, clashing constantly with the brutal story playing out in the background – the authors’ borderline-unhealthy obsession with boobs and limited vocabulary to describe those get pretty mind-boggling, with awkward phrases such as like “feminine flesh” repeating in every other sentence. The second major issue is the heroines, which are just as uninteresting as their designs are trashy – the only borderline interesting characters were the villains, but they, on the other hand, received very little screen time and development. With typos, some poorly-drawn CGs and no real humour, Burokku Girls ended up being one dreadful VN, pretty much from start to finish – and it really didn’t have to be that way, considering the fairly interesting aesthetic (voxel-based backgrounds) and the general outline of its isekai setting. Sadly, as we’ve seen so many times before, you need more than an idea to produce a decent game after all…
 
Final Rating: Smelly Poo 
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Possibly taught by their previous experiences, Silver Cow approached their second non-Time Tenshi VN in a very different manner, creating something similarly dumb, but much, much more enjoyable than Burokku Girls. Battleship Bishojo starts with our protagonist, a navy sailor named Daiki, drinking away his last day of leave with a friend and falling into the water. Soon after, he wakes up on a strange ship, sailed by four women with giant boobs (after all, some things never change in the Silver Cow universe – and probably shouldn’t change), quickly realizing he was transported to another world, full of mythical creatures. Having no obvious way of returning home, he teams up with the crew that saved his life in a borderline-insane hunt for rare, legendary specimen.
            While the story only becomes more absurd later on, with elements like giant monster-girls (it seems that giantesses are a primary theme here, along with the usual kyonyuus) or borderline-mentally-challenged rival of the main crew, there are a few things that make it work. The first one is the protagonist, who’s a bit of a smartass, never getting flustered by the women surrounding him and constantly poking fun at the craziness of everything that happens. He also rarely loses his cool in the more intense situations, making for a fun lead character, much less bland than other protagonists in Silver Cow titles. The game also focuses on humour, never trying to take itself seriously or overdoing it with the dark undertones within the story – while it has a bit of a plot and some rare touchy-feely moments, its main purpose is definitely silly fun and it succeeds in delivering exactly that. Also unlike Burokku Girls, it has an actual conclusion, rather than baiting a pointless sequel – and a pretty adequate one at that. So, if you’re looking for an ecchi VN that is simply pleasant to go through, look no further – Battleship Bishojo have you covered with its whole, unapologetically dumb glory!
 
Final Rating: Golden Poo! 
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Going through the Silver Cow’s catalogue was quite a wild ride, both similar and different from the other ecchi developers I’ve tackled so far. The absurdity and trashiness of their VNs are coupled with a surprising amount of restraint when it goes to implementing overused harem tropes and fanservice – elements which make many similar titles, such as Sakura games, quite obnoxious after a bit of reading. The lack of h-scenes and toned down romance elements are also very unusual, going pretty much against all the common conceptions of what really sells on Steam. For me personally, all this contributed to a quite satisfying experience, with the sole exception of Burokku Girls – a game simply poorly put together and poorly thought-out, but thankfully being an outlier in this respect. I wonder, however, if there’s even a market for this kind of “softcore” VNs anymore? Time will tell. Personally, I will definitely continue to observe this studio’s work and hopefully, take just as much trashy amusement out of their upcoming titles as I did while making these two posts.
 
And once again, my special thanks go to Bosskwar, whose videos are the light of my miserable existence of a VN-trash-eater. ^^

2 comments:

  1. While it's obviously a typo, I'd like to express how much I love the phrase "full-immersion VN machine".

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    1. Hah, that's a fun slip indeed. :D Although if I ever buy another piece of VR hardware it will quite likely end up being just that, a particularly immersive VN reader. ;)

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