I Play Porn Games for the Story (and Porn) // 17.02.2012

No Caption Provided

Naked chicks in wheelchairs, man.

(You know what that means: I Play Porn Games for the Story (and Porn).) Yes, your one-stop blog for all things video games, anime, mash-ups and boobies. This time, we're covering the one visual novel I've actually heard of: Katawa Shoujo. (Technically, that should be Katawa Na Shoujo, but I'm in no position to lecture others on their shit Japanese.) How did I come about this game? Well, one day, (pictured here) decided to make a thread about how this game came out, and I decided to give the visual novel a try and jump into the awesome world of Katawa Shoujo.

So after a loading screen populated with incognito Chickenheads, the story proper begins. We see our protagonist Hisao Nakai waiting outside for no reason. At this point, the game creates a reason for him in the form of a girl. She asks him out, and he responds the only way he knows how: by having a heart attack. Unfortunately, it turns out that girls aren't too fond of near-death experiences they're not a part of, so Hisao spends a few months in the hospital before being sent off to Yamaku School (for the Katawa'd). It is here that Hisao is at his assholeiest. Now I could write a lot about why he's such an unlikable protagonist, but let's start things off slowly. First off, the guy is way too ready to invade the life of anything with a vagina in his school. Oh, it starts off innocent enough, as it's just him joining some club or activity or whatever to pass the time (even if that intrusive thing I mentioned earlier is more obvious with Rin (he has no interest in art, but ends up joining the art club, anyway) and Hanako (I have quite a few words about this one)), but give it a while. By the second act or so, he's gonna jam his way into whatever emotional problem he finds in a girl. What's that? Girl X (let's just say that it's Emi, because she seems the most prone to a Mega Man X situation) understandably wants to keep her emotional barriers? That's when Hisao tells the girl, "Fuck that! You tell me about the source of your emotional problems right now, you stuck up bitch!" (OK, the words aren't accurate, but the tone definitely is.) It gets especially bad with Leela look-alike Hanako, mainly because she usually feels obligated to up about her past, like Hisao is ready to punch her the moment she refuses. I know that part of this may be because it's a dating sim and all, but I still found myself yelling at him way too often for prying into their lives.

You know, the strange thing is that this looks a helluva lot like me. All you need to do is add a beard somewhere between
You know, the strange thing is that this looks a helluva lot like me. All you need to do is add a beard somewhere between "medieval-ass lord" and "19th century anarchist leader", and you have a pretty good idea of what I look like.

I guess the other problem I have with the guy is his stubborn inability to get over these girls' various disabilities. I'd recommend a drinking game based on how many times Hisao points out a girl's disability, but I think that would result in something very similar to the Kenji route (yes, the only other guy in the game gets his own route, and it isn't this). Regardless, Hisao just can't get past the various disabilities these girls have. I know what you're going to say: he's going to a new school, so it's gonna take time for him to adjust. I grant you that, but remember that I'm adjusting to all this, too, but I managed to do it better than him. It took me all of five seconds to stop thinking of Rin as "the girl with no arms" and move onto her as "the girl whose lungs are made of weed", and that was before I actually got to know her on her own damn route. (More on that later, though.) Hisao, on the other hand, still gets hung up on shit like this. At least early on, he spends a lot of time worrying about things like what words to use (probably shouldn't mention hearing around Shizune) or whether or not to ask the various girls about their disabilities. Do I even need to say anything? Yes? OK then: I found myself saying, "Jesus Christ. I'm absolute shit at talking to other people*,and I could do a better job of socializing with these girls than you." *(Combine Hanako's silence and isolation with Rin's "what the fuck" thought patterns and you have me.) But even ignoring that, he can't resist thinking dickish thoughts about these girls. Perfect example: at some random point in Scottish giant Lilly's route, Hisao finds himself amazed at how effortlessly she navigates the empty halls of Yamaku. Gee, what a goddamn surprise! Who would have thought that a girl who's been attending this school for longer than you would have little trouble finding her way around the damn place? But no. I guess her blindness trumps all. Dick.

But as much as I malign Hisao, I do love me the girls in this game. You see, unlike the judgmental prick that is Hisao, Katawa Shoujo doesn't really make a big deal about the Katawa part. It just introduces a girl's disability very briefly (well, as briefly as possible when Hisao's the narrator) before moving into some type of characterization, like bitch or 19th century girl or energetic slightly-less-bitch. Yes, I know, shallow (at least how I describe it), but give it time, because once you get into a girl's route, holy shit do things get dark. Is emotional baggage necessary for enrollment at Yamaku? Because every girl seems to have some. In fact, there's only one girl I can name who doesn't have severe psychological issues of any kind, and that's because she barely gets any development in the first place. (Granted, most girls don't get a lot of characterization outside their own route, but this girl in particular gets shafted the hardest. (Damn it, guys.)) Not that I can fault it too much for this approach; after all, how else would they make these characters so great in the first place? I don't know how they did it, but Four Leaf Studios managed to turn a girl with no arms into an actual person whom you can have feelings for. Do you understand how immensely important that is t the game? I doubt it. Not only does it make the story ultra powerful, but it contributes so much to the plot thematically. After all, what better way to show that these girls are actual people who aren't defined by their disabilities (despite what Hisao might think about it...asshole) than by convincing you of such? (Admittedly vague, but it works.) Hell, the story even managed to make a convincing case as to why Hanako deserves to be the developer's pet, even if she wasn't my favorite. Which girl did I like the most, you probably didn't ask? I'd say that my favorite route would have to be Rin's, for two reasons: she has a lot of room for legitimate growth as a character, and her problems aren't as cliched or contrived or fucking nonexistent as the other girls' are. Man, I loved that r-

Oh, and I should probably mention Miki. She's a strange character, to say the least. She has her own unique portrait, but you can't date her and she only gets a few scenes' worth of actual characterization. Shame, too, because look at how awesome she is.
Oh, and I should probably mention Miki. She's a strange character, to say the least. She has her own unique portrait, but you can't date her and she only gets a few scenes' worth of actual characterization. Shame, too, because look at how awesome she is.

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT! I don't love them in that way, you guys. Honest. In fact, the sex scenes can be kinda awkward. Usually, I'd say that it has something to do with it being a video game (what am I supposed to do with a boner when I'm trying to make the text move forward?), but this time, it's a story thing. Think about it: you've been developing these emotional attachments to these characters for three or four acts (the pattern seems to be "one or two sex scenes in the third act, another in the fourth to round things out"), so it's hard to get horny when the sex finally comes, especially if you were unlucky enough to get stuck with Misha. It's sort of like watching your friends fuck: it's weird enough as it is, and jerking off in the middle of things wouldn't improve it. Oh, and need I remind you that these are high school girls? If you're just playing this for the tits (hopefully mature ones), there are far more efficient ways to get nipples, like Google or YouTube or (those hentai game pics had to go somewhere. Just sayin'.). Although that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the sex scenes; I just didn't enjoy them as some type of masturbatory aid. I mean, it's pretty hard to masturbate to a picture of just some titties or whatever. Yet that's what I like so much about the sex scenes: they only show what's necessary. This isn't some pander-y bullshit that the developers threw in because they felt like it (except for Misha's sex scene, which kinda comes out of nowhere). There are some actual plot reasons behind Hisao fucking a girl in a wheelchair (it's to show that he's an inconsiderate asshole) or Hanako taking her clothes off for the protagonist (now that I've got the context out of the way...). OK, not all of the sex scenes are this important to the plot (again, Misha's is just there for whatever strange person wanted to see her naked), but my point is that some actual thought was put into these things.

As for the gameplay....what the shitting hell do you want me to say? There's not exactly a lot for me to comment on. You read a ton of text (which can oddly vary between something out of a novel and something out of a high school student's mouth), accidentally click a girl's boobs for two minutes, and occasionally make a choice. Is that what you want me to comment on? There's still not a lot to say about them. You click your choice and then move on with the story until another choice presents itself. Your early choices affect which girl you get to see naked (obviously), but it's not exactly clear how your choices are gonna play out, if you're trying to go after a specific girl. For example, how am I supposed to know that taking the offensive in a game of Risk allows me to go out with Shizune? I guess that missing scenes in the library are meant to give you that vague sense of direction, but it could be a little clearer. Eventually, though, you find yourself dating a girl, helping her overcome her emotional problems (I probably should have mentioned earlier that this is something else I don't like about Hisao, but I'm willing to put up with it for the sake of character development), and then moving onto another girl, abandoning that girl and her emotional baggage. I guess that's where the "game" part comes in, because I can't imagine this being a problem in any other medium. Again, it feels really insensitive to start a new route, knowing that, say, Emi's still gonna cry herself to sleep at night, or that Shizune will probably lead on OK life without many serious issues, all because you wanted to see Rin's boobs. Then again, I guess the only reason this would make you feel like an asshole (and it will) is because of how good it is at making these girls feel like actual people. You know what? After you've finished reading this, and after you've left a comment, go out and play this game. I don't care if you've already played it; go out and play it again, damn it.

Review Synopsis

  • I don't know who I hate more: Hisao Nakai, or Steve Burnside. OK, it's Steve. It wasn't even fucking close.
  • Regardless, I love the shit out of these girls...
  • ...but not in that way, you effing perverts.

Wait, there's one last thing I have to address before closing this portion of the blog: all 277 images I've taken of this game (not counting the Chickenhead thing from before, of course), spread across 182.67 MB. That definitely sounds like a lot, but to put things in perspective, I've only taken 183 images of Temple of Elemental Evil, a game whose progress I pain-stakingly transcribed over the course of eight blogs. But are there any patterns to be found in my insane image taking habits? Let's examine as I rank the girls (and Kenji, oddly enough) by how many pictures they got:

  • Oddly enough, there's a tie for first place between Shizune and Hanako with 68 images each. I spent most of my Hanako pictures simply yelling at Hisao for being the intrusive asshole that he is toward the one girl who SHOULDN'T be intruded upon, but my Shizune pictures are spread out a bit more evenly. Yes, I still yell at Hisao for his cuntly ways (quite literally), but I also indulged in some deaf jokes (can somebody explain how you laugh without making noise?), Shizune's funny faces, and the weird characters to be found in her route.
  • Next up is a girl between Shizune and Hanako, in a way (that's not at all sexual, you goddamn pervert): Lilly, with 65 images. Like Shizune, a lot of it is Hisao being an asshole, blind....OK, not jokes, but Hisao being an asshole about Lilly being blind (or disabled, really), and some truly odd gender issues. (You thought it was Akira, didn't you? Turns out Scottish girls all wish they had dicks.)
  • After these three girls, we see a sharp decline in the number of pictures. Emi lags far behind the competition with only 28 images to her name. I don't know if I've mentioned this before (I had to type this part up first, because there's no way you can drop about 300 images on a site and not explain yourself), but Emi was my first route, so I wasn't exactly used to the "capture every goddamn thing" mentality that I adopted in my final routes. (See if you can guess which ones those were.) Because of this, I mostly took reaction shot pictures that I could use in the forums. However, this was where I discovered how many pictures I was taking, so I decided to turn it into a game, of sorts: for each picture, write the title in all caps to highlight how much of a stalker Hiaso is when in a relationship. It didn't take long for that stalker mentality to convert itself into pure anger.
  • Wait, Act 1? That's not a girl. Regardless, the nebulous period between never having played the game and choosing which teenage girl you want to fuck managed to net 20 images. Again, I had not gotten into the rhythm of hitting Print Screen every time (did you think JPEGs could really eat up that much memory?), so most of these are simple reaction shots and forum weapons. Don't ever make me use this.
  • Rin, sadly, only got 20 pictures, but surprisingly, none of them used the word "fuck" (Effing A doesn't count). (This will make sense in a bit.) I abstained from doing so because I don't want to know what Nomiya does when he hears that word. (It's not uncommon for his pictures to end with scared shock.)
  • Kenji comes in at dead last with only six images to his name. Then again, that's limited to about a fifth of an act, because any more Kenji would be too much Kenji. Can you handle that much Kenji? Can anybody?
  • Finally, in the titles of my images, 39.5 of them were in all caps (here's the .5), and 22 of them used the word "fuck" in some fashion. Never before have I been so angry at a game I genuinely love so damn much. Unsurprisingly, Hanako takes the majority in both categories, because FUCK YOU HISAO, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU TO TREAT HER THE WAY YOU TREATED HER YOU FUCKING INVASIVE, FUCKING DEMEANING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!!!!! *calms down* And that's Katawa Shoujo, ladies and gents.

Of course, this couldn't be I Play Porn Games for the Story (and Porn) without a random mash-up!

Sometimes, I play games without anime titties.

(It's not often, though.) In fact, there's a good chance that while you're reading this sentence, I'm playing Skyward Sword or Tear Ring Saga or something else. But this blog isn't about those; instead, it's about random indie platformer LIMBO. Wait, I thought I couldn't run this game. What the hell gives? Well, through the magic power of magic, I was able to beat the hell out of the game, seeing the part of the game that comes after the middle. At some point, though, I should probably mention that the game is pretty decent.

Although damn if it takes its sweet-ass time getting there. Hell, it takes about all of the game alone to figure out just what you're supposed to do, and even then, it's not very clear. Apparently, the game's about a boy-shaped shadow trying to find a girl....or humanity...or something. It doesn't really go into detail, mainly because it's a silent game. Combine this with the stark black and white footage, and it's like a silent movie. The only difference is that instead of Alfred E. Moonman getting a rocket to the eye, LIMBO focuses more on a bleak atmosphere. Unfortunately, at least in the beginning, "bleak" tends to mean "ungodly boring." I don't even know how to describe such a nondescript feeling. It just is. I'd say something especially nasty about it, but it's not even the type of atmosphere that teases out an emotional response...at first. Trust me, though: stick through it. Stick through those first few boring levels (probably not the best way to say that, given that the game doesn't really tell you where levels cut off), because things eventually become entertaining. Wait, did I say "entertaining"? I meant "cartoonishly dark." I don't know how to explain it, but just about everything around you looks like it wants to kill you as soon as possible. (More on that in a minute, though.) Maybe it's the black and white thing from before, or how half the objects in the game are sharp, twisted monsters, but holy hell, does it work. I struggle to think of anything that gets away with anything as sick as this, but that may be because I'm incredibly lazy.

Wait, is this Saira all over again? Am I gonna have to hop from planet to planet just to find my boyfriend or whatever? (I wanted a picture of the brain slug portions, but it seems that there aren't any on the site, possibly because they suck so hard that nobody wanted to capture them.)
Wait, is this Saira all over again? Am I gonna have to hop from planet to planet just to find my boyfriend or whatever? (I wanted a picture of the brain slug portions, but it seems that there aren't any on the site, possibly because they suck so hard that nobody wanted to capture them.)

You know what helps this dark, malevolent atmosphere? Death. Tons and tons of death over the course of the game (assuming that you're not the type of person who can predict the future and somehow avert it simultaneously). Oddly enough, though, it actually gets really creative with just how many ways you'll die. Push a button (or don't)? Dead. Fail to climb off a rope in time? Impaled on a spike (which usually results in death). Succeed in climbing a rope? Bear trap. Finish the game? Dead. I wouldn't be surprised if you jumped around each part of the game like an asshole just searching for all the cool ways to die. Granted, that would destroy any semblance of atmosphere the game once had, but I'm willing to overlook that, given how much the deaths add to the atmosphere. After all, the world wouldn't feel so threatening if things couldn't kill you. It forces you to be suspicious of every little goddamn thing, since even the floor can kill you. It's like I Wanna Be the Guy, only more purposeful and enjoyable. Unfortunately, going all I Wanna Be the Guy throughout the game does have its downsides, like it being I Wanna Be the Guy for much of the game. I know that I said that I love how creative it can be with the deaths and everything, but sometimes, I want to progress through the goddamn game, and dying a ton doesn't exactly help that. It only gets worse when a lot of the deaths are trial-and-error shit you have no way of knowing about until it kills you (I'd call it a double-edged blade, but I'm afraid that sword would kill me as soon as I finish this line), or when you discover that you can't skip a death ani-

Fuck. I suddenly remembered something. I forgot to explain what type of game this is (I seem to have a problem with this). Like every goddamn indie game in existence (I think Johnathan Blow decreed it law of the land), it's a puzzle platformer. However, unlike a lot of indie games (Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, I guess Plok (I think), etc.), LIMBO's platforming isn't very good, and there's only one reason for it: the controls. I'd say that I've never seen anything so sluggish, but that would be forgetting my last blog. Regardless, there does seem to be a delay in the controls, which wouldn't be so bad if timing wasn't so damn important. I know that I said that I like the deaths in this game, but there's a limit to how many times a person can die. Fortunately, there's another part to this puzzle platformer that makes up for all the mean things I said before, and it doesn't involve platforming: puzzles! Turns out that these are actually pretty cool. Now remember earlier, when I said that you have to observe the hell out of the world to figure out how to survive? Well, that leads to some awesome puzzles. I could go off on a tangent about all the things I like about the puzzles, such as their creativity or how few of them involve brain slugs, but for brevity's sake, I'll just limit it to how contained all the puzzles are. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out: the solution to just about every single riddle can be found in the world itself. No need to yell at the game for making you hunt down a walkthrough on the first day; just you looking at black & white stuff and using your tiny brain to figure things out. Granted, there are those stupid trial-and-error puzzles I mentioned before, but the other puzzles are cool enough to make up for that crap. Besides, quite a few of those are the types of puzzles that thrive on you being a speed freak who wants to blast through the game, so it's hard to hold that against the game.

Review Synopsis

  • Man, this is a dark game, and yes, I mean it both ways.
  • You cannot escape death, nor can you skip it if you've seen it already.
  • Something something puzzles are awesome.
  • Wait, why is this blog so mean-spirited, again?
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