• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Bluebird of Improvement

  • Frogge
  • 02/09/2019 02:16 PM
  • 271 views

Toraware no Shoujou - Bluebird of Happiness by Uma Tenshi
Length: ~1 hour (but I stopped to write down every grammar issue)


When you say reboot, most people will roll their eyes at you. A movie from the 80s getting a reboot? Fuck that, never been a good one never will. That's pretty much what you'll hear whenever you ask any critic at all. I mean, there have been a few recent exceptions, such as Suspiria and IT, but generally, reboots in the movie community is something extremely hated. Luckily, games are different than movies, and the rpg maker community in particular tends to be surprisingly happy whenever they hear news of a reboot. People go crazy over reboots like the ones for The Witch's House, Mad Father, et cetera, and don't get me wrong, it's exciting to hear about remakes for those games. However, my favorite kind of reboot is not the kind that just adds new content to games that were already really good, it's the kind that fixes games that originally weren't all that great. Enter Toraware no Shoujou a few years back, a game that absolutely bombed. People really hated this game because of how badly it tackled some rather sensitive subjects, alongside the broken english, of course. I personally never found myself finishing that game, but I can safely confirm that I'm one of those people who think the original tackled its subject very poorly.

Now enter Bluebird of Happiness, a remake of the game that claims to fix its big problems. The gamepage itself asks you not to judge the game by its predecessor and even gives a warning that you probably shouldn't play the original. I can definetly get behind this, and it's nice to see that the developers took the criticism to the heart and tried their best to fix this game. Pretty much almost everything is a step up in this version, even the english, which still has its flaws, but is not nearly anywhere as broken as it was in the original. The game also tells you as it starts up that the english hasn't been proofread and you might come across some errors. I think this works pretty well, and it helps to make you less judgemental of the game's english when you see that the developers genuinely tried their best to whatever degree they could take this game, and they're aware it's not perfect, and they encourage you to be productive and help with proofreading instead of bashing it. The developer did actually get a bit mad at me for making fun of some of the english in the original (fair enough, it was a dick move on my end, completely justified) but that's all water under the bridge now (at least I hope so). Anyway, Bluebird of Happiness claims to fix a lot of the issues that the original had, and it definetly does, but is it still any good?

As far as the story goes, this is definetly where the biggest improvement has taken place. Not only is the subject matter actually handled way, way better in this game than the original, but it's also a whole lot more entertaining in general. The original just tackled pedophilia and abuse and not really much else, but this game adds in more mystery and tension to keep you occupied. Some of the revelations here are actually pretty damn good and I enjoyed the flashbacks with Ai's mother. In a way, it also feels a whole lot darker because the father is actually not just a whole lot more manipulative, but also does some real fucked up shit, even moreso than he did in the original, at least from what I played.

In the original, Ai was perfectly aware of her abuse. She was actively chained to the wall and... you get the picture. Dark enough as it is, the reboot actually turns the story even more messed up as you find out the father's been drugging Ai so that she literally does not know she's being abused, and also feels too weak to go inside. I find it hard to care for Ai in the original, because as fucked up as sexual abuse is, it's so common in media that I feel kind of desensitized to it by now. Of course, when this happens to someone in real life, it's a whole other story, and I feel really bad for actual victims. It's a horrible thing, but it just doesn't do a whole lot in a video game for me. This more unique take actually feels a lot more effective and entertaining than your average abuse story. Of course, you might think I'm kind of fucked up for expecting entertainment from a story about sexual abuse, but you gotta remember that a lot of people go into these sort of dark games or horror games expecting it to be really fucked up, and that's why we enjoy it so much. Look at shows like Black Mirror where the enjoyment literally comes from watching how seriously messed up the situations the characters are in can get, and that show goes to great lengths to torture its characters.


The characters have also been improved a lot. Ai, while still much of a generic loli anime protagonist, now at least feels more likeable than she did in the original, and it's much easier to care for her. The introduction of Bosco was a great decision as he's easily the best character in this game. A lot of the new things introduced here actually pretty great, to be fair. I like the idea of Ai using a storybook that's basically her situation in a more fantasized setting, and then seeing the fairy tale she's writing take on a much darker turn in real life. I don't know if the original actually had the mother since I didn't play too far, but having her prominently featured in the flashbacks was also a good decision.

Also, I obviously have to give praise to the developers for keeping things subtle and not spelling things out for you. This is a mistake a lot of beginner developers make, so it's nice to see that they've been able to overcome the issue so quickly into their carreer. This is like, what, their third game I think? Anyway, I appreciate that none of the subject matter stuff is explicity shown on screen for shock value and it's always just implied. I also appreciate that there isn't a specific diary entry that explains why the mother was on the run, but rather she organically fits her reasoning into her diary entries in a way where it's still really easy to figure out but doesn't feel like a stupid exposition dump.

Just one minor thing here, and I know this is probably just an issue with the english, but the doors should probably say they're locked instead of they're closed. Closed doors can be opened, so I was a little confused as to why you couldn't go into them at first.


My favorite thing in these rpg maker horror games is getting the chasers stuck on objects so they can't even actually chase me. It happens in like every single game with chase scenes, and it's never not funny. For the developers, though, here's your solution for that. No need to thank me.


Sadly, while the story is a huge improvement, there's a few issues in the other aspects of the game. For one, the gameplay really can get quite repetitive. Some of the keys are hidden very poorly so it's easy to miss out on them. For example, there's a room filled with boxes all over the place, and one of them actually contains a key. If you're going to do something like this in a game, you'll want to make sure that the box containing the key looks different so that the player can tell that box is special and they should check its contents. If not, a little sparkle to indicate you should check it might help too. One minor thing I appreciate here is that the endings are relatively easy to find on your own. I like that the game gives you the option to stab your father regardless of whether you have the knife or not so that you don't have to go all the way back just to drop the knife. I do sort of wish you had an item menu, and while the lack of it isn't a big issue, it could really come in quite handy. My only other gripe here is how long the splash screens before you can actually get to the title screen takes, and as someone who used F12 a couple times so that I didn't have to rewatch the rather lengthy death scenes, it got really annoying having to wait until I could get back into the game each time. Maybe it would help a lot if you could just press space to skip them. Also, kind of a shame that the dad doesn't at all wander around the house. I actually went looking for him a few times to see if he would chase me down, but he just kinda disappears. I can understand this decision, but maybe the developers could have just put him upstairs and had him calling for you, having Ai say "he's up there so I shouldn't go there."

My biggest issue here actually has to be the visuals. While I really appreciate the effort that went into making custom tiles and sprites and everything, I would say that the game really doesn't look too amazing. The maps in particular have to be the biggest offender here for being really large and overly empty, sometimes even not making any sense in a realist context. There's a lot of use of the autoshadows, but it rarely looks good and the game would benefit from just removing them completely. As it stands, you have everything from round plants, for some reason, casting square shadows directly below them to the same object casting a shadow in multiple directions. Where is the light source even coming from, in this context? The tint is also a little too dark and it's really hard to see, and the sprite animations can also get a little weird. Ai in particular wiggles her arms in some really strange ways when going up and down, and the raincoat also moves in some really weird ways.


These rooms must be real small to be so closely packed to each other in the hallway like this.


There's things about the visuals I can praise, however. The art is actually really nice. It feels very different in style in comparison to the original, and sometimes feels like a bit of a step down (Jugo's art in particular looked a lot better in the original), but it's generally very well done. The CGs are very good and Bosco's art in particular has to be my favorite from the game. He's easily the most well drawn AND well designed character present, alongside being the most well written. He probably has the only design I could see and go "oh, I recognize this character" if I came across fanart on the internet. The windowskin's really nice, as well as the title screen and menu. The animation on the credits is pretty cute too. The mapping and tiles can use some work, but it's not a horrible looking game by any means, it just could be better.

Toraware no Shoujou has definetly seen a huge improvement in this version, and I obviously recommend it over the original, just like probably how anyone else would. It has its fair share of flaws in the gameplay and visuals, but it's not a bad game at all. The developers have definetly shown their true potential with this game a lot more than they did with the original, so I'm happy to see whatever they come up with next.

I give Toraware no Shoujou three and a half horseheads out of five.

Posts

Pages: 1
Finally it happened. It's the first time that one of our games is rated (well, the old TnS WAS rated, but mostly for insulting purpuoses, so it doesn't really count, and Suiren received just a review without stars <.<) and this review make me really happy!

Yep, I agree that regards the gameplay, there's not much. As early concept, we wanted to implement the classic research with unlikely puzzles and situations, but we scrapped the idea at the end. Our objective was improving the story, 'cause from the start TnS is not much more than a walking simulator with an atmosphere of uneasiness. We could put a key like, inside a fruit on the kitchen counter or available after playing the piano, but we really can't imagine Jugo doing something like this, he's crazy not idiotic XD

Thanks for linking the code for improving the chase, the chasing part here is minimal so we won't implement it for TnS (I rather like myself to trap him at the couch just to say "haha, f*ck you!")but it'll be indeed useful for future project.

Sorry for the pixel art, I've tried my best but it's pretty difficult it its semplicity :/ I swear I'll work on it.

Thanks for the review and for the grammar corrections, I'll put the upgraded version soon, there's still the notice for further proofreading, but i've added you in the readme =)

And now, I really need to find a way to change my profile name to Uma Tenshi, or else my programmer will be really offended, haha!
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
10411
author=Kya90
Finally it happened.It's the first time that one of our games is rated (well, the old TnS WAS rated, but mostly for insulting purpuoses, so it doesn't really count, and Suiren received just a review without stars <.<) and this review make me really happy!

I think low ratings still count as ratings, and it's clear that the negative feedback helped you guys improve this game a ton, so I wouldn't look over them even if they were only 1 stars. As for Suiren, RMN generally pushes people to only give unrated reviews on games if the game is a demo, and while it's not against the rules to do otherwise, it's generally frowned upon. It mainly boils down to not wanting to give a game a definitive score without seeing where it's going first.

author=Kya90
Yep, I agree that regards the gameplay, there's not much. As early concept, we wanted to implement the classic research with unlikely puzzles and situations, but we scrapped the idea at the end. Our objective was improving the story, 'cause from the start TnS is not much more than a walking simulator with an atmosphere of uneasiness. We could put a key like, inside a fruit on the kitchen counter or available after playing the piano, but we really can't imagine Jugo doing something like this, he's crazy not idiotic XD

My issue here isn't as much with the walking simulator esque gameplay, especially considering I'm a big fan of walking simulators, but rather how repetitive going through every object in a room for a key can get. I don't know how I would suggest going about improving this, but one solution could be to remap the house in such a way that you naturally go through all the rooms without actually having any need for keys. Or maybe Ai just wants to investigate each room and she automatically goes into rooms and refuses to go outside without checking around first. You could even have Jugo appear in between a few times to shake things up a little bit and add more tension.

author=Kya90
Sorry for the pixel art, I've tried my best but it's pretty difficult it its semplicity :/ I swear I'll work on it.

Don't worry, it's not too bad for what it's worth. I think it's a really good starting point, and while improvements can definetly be made, I think you guys did what you could. As for how I would suggest getting better, I actually highly suggest practicing with smaller pixel sizes (ex: 16x16 tiles are much easier to do than 32x32, so it's probably easier to learn that way) before moving onto larger ones.

author=Kya90
Thanks for the review and for the grammar corrections, I'll put the upgraded version soon, there's still the notice for further proofreading, but i've added you in the readme =)

Thank you! There was absolutely no need, I'm just happy to be of help, but I'm happy to hear you guys are working hard to fix it.

author=Kya90
And now, I really need to find a way to change my profile name to Uma Tenshi, or else my programmer will be really offended, haha!

There's no way to change username on RMN yourself, you'll want to send Kentona a private message about that, and he can do it for you. I'll change the name at the review header, though, so no worries. The alternative could be if your partner makes a seperate account, because RMN lets you add more than one developer for a game.
Pages: 1