Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Explicit Instruction [Digital Manga]

  • Title - Explicit Instruction
  • Author - Kuroi Games
  • Style - Enhanced Digital Comic (Manga+)
  • Rating - Not for sale to minors, 18+
  • Trial - Yes
  • Engine - Ren'Py
  • Price - 2.99$
  • Website - Offical Website
  • Get - Kuroi (Download) (Can be ordered on a CD if desired)
Explicit Instruction is hard to rate because it basically makes a genre of its own. Digital comic distribution is something many have tried; from Tokyopop's attempts to pull anime fans in with music and limited animation to simple e-books packaged as iPod apps or released on the Kindle (but with no color). Kuroi is the first I've seen that sells a standalone computer application (made from the well supported multi-system Ren'Py engine) This is likely the best way to go for small press adult material which cannot make it into stores or the more famous digital distribution channels.

Enough on the format, as for the work itself, it's a spinoff of Explicit Proposal, Kuroi's debut work. I reviewed Explicit Proposal here . Like its predecessor, EI is a short sex-focused story.

Graphics - For better or for worse, the art is absolutely put-on-a-coffee-mug adorable (This does NOT mean they look lolicon!). The disadvantage of this style is that it is a bit awkward for some of the more explicit pages. I highly recommend the trial version to anyone considering purchase. While only the first few pages are colored (following the traditions of manga) the color work is well done with pastels and same detail and style carries over in to grey work. The line work needs a bit of polishing for consistency and smoothness but I have no particular complaints. Background art is smooth and matches well (I didn't notice it was a different artist until viewing the credits.) 8/10

Sound/Voice - Since this is a manga, and therefore fairly short, music plays a much lesser role than in a game. (and no role in page mode). Voice is the primary auditory component of EI, every line is voiced, and the recording quality is good. The voice actors are convincing and quickly set the tone both our characters. Music is standard Creative Commons fare, certainly appropriate and well written but has that vague feeling you probably heard is somewhere else. Page sound effects are a nice touch in page mode. 7/10

Story - While not completely implausible to reader's not familiar with Explicit Proposal, EI is a direct spin-off and references the preceding title. While EP was not "serious" in premise, the characters acted in a serious manner. EI is much more humorous. Mika's absolute adoration of Rei is charming and Rei's willingness to exploit it gets us straight into the action. Mika seems to go along with this all surprisingly easily. Much like the original this is the sort of title I would pick up when stressed or pissed because it is pure entertainment for entertainment's purpose. No moral queries or long monologues to click though in hopes of getting a panty shot some time next week; EI is like candy corn: not illustrious but cheap, tasty and bite-sized. 8/10

System/Extras - If Explicit Proposal was a manga book, Explicit Instruction is a doujinshi/fan comic with the added benefit of sound. The length (20 pages) and price are the same as comic book singles. There are two mode of play, Frame Mode which uses panel by panel zoom and pans and Page Mode which lets the user scroll around each page freely. Sadly one cannot zoom in and out of page mode. Oddly, (since English reads left to right) the pages were made in a right to left orientation. This seems to be a common quirk among OEL manga artists (and preferred by some readers) so I won't debate the merits here. This only becomes a usability issue in page mode because buttons are orientated so one clicks on the right button to advance to the next page (which in a book would be to the left hand side). Luckily a flipped option was added to Page Mode though it would be ideal to have the buttons move as necessary between the two modes. Cute menus with lots of extra art but no standalone extras. 4/5

Overall - The price point makes this a worthwhile purchase for anyone who enjoyed Explicit Proposal but I highly recommend playing that work first. If you were interested in EP but turned off by the art style give EI a try. A low-risk price for an experimental format, there isn't much to lose.

Score - 27/35 - 77% - Average

I altered review format to put less emphasis on sound (therefore more on story/visual) since this is marketed to the manga crowd.

Thanks to Kuroi Games for providing a review copy!


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