Leon's Microblog – June 2022

Thinking about how Higurashi has had 99+ ports and remakes, each of which has its own complex matrix of added and removed features, but if you want to ever play Embodiment Of Scarlet Devil, your literal only choice is the original 2002 .exe and a few hacked DLLs tossed in.
*loads up the Games Done Quick schedule and checks what's airing now* Hmmm… understood.
Sometimes I'd wonder if I'd post more insightfully about my favourite media if Twitter had a spoiler tag feature. But no, the truth is, I'd be too fixated on the hypothetical person who thinks they "aren't gonna play THIS game" and just clicks through anyway.
Higurashi is also not as concerned about trying to be "solvable" as Umineko is – unlike the latter, the most it asks of you is to simply conjecture, rather than find a complete solution (which is one great reason to play this before the "harder"/more demanding Umineko).
Seeing the artifice also kind of works against the spirit of the story… it's funny, really, that Higurashi is about seeing the overall mystery as a kind of imprisoning structure to be escaped and rejected, whereas Umineko is basically the exact opposite.
Having this beloved story (Higurashi) decompose into an intricate system of clues and timings is… well, I can, of course, appreciate the artifice of it, but… I guess it hits me that there's some magic you can't ever go back to, you know?
Now, you're thinking of Umineko, right? Actually, replaying Umineko isn't like this at all. Umineko explicitly states that "this story is constructed" and asks you to find the game rules off the bat. When you get the truth at the end, a second playthrough is almost unnecessary.
Rather than being small points of light, I now see how each clue has a strong utilitarian purpose in sculpting discussion about the mystery, adding and removing avenues of discussion at key points. It feels like… I'm seeing the story turn into game pieces and rules.
How to describe the experience of replaying this… it's actually kind of melancholic. Hmm… In a normal story (that isn't a full "mystery") with plot twists, typically a second read reveals the foreshadowing as little authorial winks and nods. This… is only sort of like that.
I always felt this even before my first playthrough, but Rena's "default" school design is so hilariously at odds with the strength of her character. It's so utterly generic. Like she fell out of a no-budget anime that got 1 season in 1997. Government PSA mascot of a design.
I didn't notice this at all the first playthrough, but the sheer amount of times Rika's theme is reused for random unrelated characters absolutely humiliating themselves is a much bigger burn on her character than any insult I could possibly concoct.
The MangaGamer translators made a minor yet telling change to the end of episode 1 in order to work around a Japanese homonym thing… I won't give any details, but it's kind of brilliant even though I don't quite like it and think it makes it harder to understand the mystery.
AND from here I could rattle on about how this relates to Umineko and how its episode 3 devotes multiple chapters to discussing how to interpret excessively cartoonish scenes within its own story…​ but I won't.
To be clear, I do think there's a good handful of stuff that Higurashi does that is insensitive or painfully clichéd and which isn't offset by the rest of the text. But the slapstick violence gags aren't as painful as they would be alone, because of this interesting interaction.
This kind of unspoken trust isn't something I'd expect to see in a late-10s or 20s work – NOT because I think audiences are less media-literate, but because authors are more cautious of their own limitations and of the dire cost of getting it wrong and squandering that trust.
What feels clever is how Higurashi confidently (but, again, foolishly) trusts the audience to understand this hierarchy just from context. A pointed example is the differences between the Satoko sprite used for slapstick bullying (left) vs that used for serious trauma (right).
making it clear (more or less) that Higurashi's world is one where abuse exists and is taken seriously, and that the violence in the slapstick "doesn't matter". Like how fourth-wall jokes legibly "don't matter" when a story is sufficiently internally consistent.
That leads to this point: left as-is, this slapstick violence would come across as dated and insensitive. However, Higurashi's very contextually-different serious depiction of traumatic violence ends up "neutralising" the slapstick by clarifying the authorial intent of it –
I mean, the obvious problem from a 20s perspective is that it assumes the audience is removed enough from traumatic violence that they can read slapstick without invoking the image of trauma – which is BY NO MEANS SAFE TO ASSUME. Some people simply do not have that luxury!
My mind is stewing over how Higurashi simultaneously presents slapstick cartoon violence (of the giant mallet or Homer-choking-Bart variety) prior to serious, grounded depictions of abuse and cruelty, and how that paradoxically feels both really dated and clever before its time.
http://k2works.com/nerve/midi/player/med1.html – This royalty-free MIDI used by Higurashi is still available online (among others from the same source) and what's more, it sounds REALLY impressive using the Musyng Kite soundfont (dramatically different to how it sounds in-game).
The super blown-out outdoor photobackgrounds work surprisingly well in episode 3's horror chapters – just the kind of sunlight that turns oppressive with the right context surrounding it.
*points at screen millennially*
Even in these early episodes before Rena gets really fleshed out, I like that she's already shown to be the bravest one in the group, getting a couple of especially powerful moments.
Episode 3 is just as brilliant as I remember. That being said, I can't help but think putting the Japanese legal definition of child abuse as an auxiliary document in your story about child abuse (so people know it's about child abuse) is a tad on the nose.
Me rereading Higurashi knowing that the puppetry before me is an ornate cuckoo clock filled with rotting flesh shaped into gears and springs, and that the contents will soon be emptied directly into my hungry, salivating tongue garage: "What a gift of a game."
Higurashi is one of my most beloved games, and one I feel deeply blessed to have played in my lifetime. Pic unrelated
Me every single time I sense that the translators are in pain
One cool VN technique I've noticed both here and in Umineko is this: having two physically opposite backgrounds for a location, and flipping between them to indicate a camera cut, thus giving a basic (but stunningly effective) sense of the characters' spatial relation to another.
Episode 1's limited musical palette is rather rough on the second play… it's fine the first time for introducing the lovable main themes, but afterward, you can't help but notice its shallow range compared to everything coming… Almost like a BGM tutorial stage…
Uncle Mion……………………
Higurashi (the visual novel) second playthrough thread!! I'm playing all 8 episodes again, in preparation for "that little bit extra" that wasn't available for me the first time around.
Even if millennials by-and-large don't read TVTropes anymore, simply knowing that it exists frees their minds from pursuing those kinds of media daydreams. It has become a solved problem.
Been looking back on some mid-00's forum threads and remembering how so many of these threads were furtive attempts to invent TVTropes from twigs and pebbles. When TVTropes actually was invented, a vast weight was finally lifted from the collective millennial psyche.
Best thing about this game is how it both focuses and rewards your observation. The heavy visual emphasis on what is and isn't energised at any given moment lets you naturally discover a lot of interactions before you need to.
#iplayed ElecHead (https://namatakahashi.itch.io/elechead). Really smooth, gentle Game Maker puzzle platformer. Feels like it came out of the mid-00s in a good way.
*finally reaches MU from MIU* Damn, am I glad I solved this myself… No way am I ever gonna spoil anyone on this doozy of a puzzle. This one's going to the grave with me. *closes fifteen Notepad windows without saving even one of them*
*tries unsuccessfully to remember B3313's name* XYZZY
Silent protagonist-type characters do exist in Gensokyo. For instance, there's Momiji, Shizuha, and Soga no Tojiko.
*suddenly starts imagining if Reimu had been a silent protagonist-type character for the past 26 years* MMMMMISERY
Ever think about how there's not one but two web browsers named after inside-baseball programmer jargon, neither of which even refers to Internet communication in particular
*someone informs me that there's already a Touhou game where you constantly clear the screen for free and it's called Hidden Star In Four Seasons* Shhhhh
I like how older Touhou games like Lotus Land Story gave you screen-clears for arbitrary game events like "getting full power" or "getting a 1UP". I'd like a whole game like that. Screen clear for getting 100 graze. Screen clear for getting 20 items with the Item Get Border Line.
These panels only have like two-and-a-half kinds of line-art shading (none, solid black, and a few scratches of hatching) and about six flat colours total, but each afford just enough depth and clarity that they both have room to delve into the expressionistic, here and there.
Another comic I read recently and loved: "Are You Listening?" Tense ongoing dialogue across an impromptu road trip. I always liked Tillie Walden's economical-yet-organic art style, with a lot of simple techniques amplifying each other. Great comic for Kentucky Route Zero fans.
Higurashi fanmod that reinserts the original Ice Cap Zone music
Znyravn, Goddess of Rot13. Is this anything
Installing a pair of 80s rabbit-ears TV antennae over my flatscreen monitor so that I can dramatically grab and waggle them whenever the stream quality goes down
If I ever rise from the dead, I'm going to keep quiet and only start moving halfway through the educational dissection I donated my body to. When the lecturer asks for questions, BAM, my arm's the first one going up.
The serious Higurashi fan replays Higurashi every mid-June. The truly devoted Higurashi fan replays Higurashi every 1983.
"I think I'm doin' well for my age… Never smoked… My back's fine… Well, except when I do THIS…" *inadvertently does a perfect dab despite not knowing what that is* "Then I'm just stuck like this for the next 10 minutes."
Most interesting to me was the gradual promotion of Hilda's unnamed mother to a full deuteragonist, where she deals with the increasing encroachment of the childhood fantasy world not by challenging or rejecting it, but just meeting it on blunt grownup terms.
Just read the six "Hilda" comics… I loved them a lot!! Very nicely-plotted adventures with interesting mysteries and a lot of incidental worldbuilding that's just to my taste. Feels right in the tradition of Adventure Time or Bone on a smaller scale.
This is going to make the barest mockery of sense, but AAA game objective prompts that express the current plot beat as an action to perform are isomorphic with Golden Age comic narration boxes that express the current plot beat as an action the characters are performing.
Actually I'm glad WebP exists and is causing unbridled mayhem, so that when it inevitably gets superseded by a more optimal format like AVIF, the public's spirits will already be too broken to complain about it.
I watched some preview videos for B3313 1.0 and even though they've added more cringe-inducing dialogue, I want to see the new areas so bad…
"Teeth – halfway between bone and flesh. They sparkle in life, and yet, they sparkle in death. Part of the face, part of the skull, they are a tiny seam between worlds, one peeking through to the other."
You think everything will be fine by letting an Agent Of Pure Order stay the night, but then you wake up the next morning and find that they unmixed the mixed herbs. They confiscated your herb entropy. They confiscated your herb entropy.
Initiating a podcast that only talks about NES visual novels and PC98 platformers instead of vice-versa
D&D Alignment Grid of nouns for Super Mario levels level | stage | zone area | map | world course | board | chapter
Me (eyes closed, surrounded by a glowing golden light and a constant high-pitched humming noise that drowns out whatever intolerable garbage I'm about to say): "Actually, in Elden Ring, drawing aggro with summons is just a different, superior form of dodging."
It all may sound a little strange, but the English adjective ordering thing is absolutely real. Listen to this: Treasure Muppet Island. It just inexplicably sounds wrong.
Uncursed Amulet of GIF Pronunciation
I love it when the final episode of a show makes a reference to some throwaway garbage line in the first episode, putting an unexpected sentimental spin on it. And by "love", I mean one show I liked did it once, thus forcing me to give all other instances a pass.
*starts calling Chopin "eurojank"*
"I've been bimbozled!" ← phrase to be used when a bimbo bamboozles you
Elden Ring players only care about getting grace, but Touhou players only care about getting graze. RT if you think this is heartwarming enough to melt all the snowmen in America
Touhou using this specific sound effect for its volume slider is way funnier than it ought to be.
Anyway, the game isn't that, and its cosmology is ultimately much simpler in a disappointingly predictable way, but I still think about this idea sometimes.
And that the game was going to be about these parallel worlds somehow helping each other bond and heal – that each world, despite being tonally different to the point of near-alienation, was the one where "it had been me, not them" that the other longed for.
OK, this is kind of a spoiler-by-omission for Omori, but I'll say it anyway. For the first 70% of the game I was honestly hoping the game was about two parallel worlds where a different character died in each one, and which are tonally very different but still equally "real".
https://gilvasunner.bandcamp.com/track/the-marriage-of-celadon – OK, so, like, I'm pretty sure the reason it sounds… like this… is because it's trying to keep to actual GB sound channel limits. But, for THIS kind of thing, I think it could've stood to be way less accuracy. [Pokémon Red, Mozart]
On one level I understand Patches well-represents the rascally game design philosophy of From Software games and is ideal as From's mascot character, but a part of me still wishes that it was Oswald of Carim instead.
"Physician, hire this man." – Luke 4:23
All original content on this site, except where noted, is property of Leon, all rights reserved.