Lux-Pain (DS) – #MaybeinMarch

Lux-Pain? More like Major-Pain, am I right?

Released: March 24, 2009
Available on: Nintendo DS
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Killaware
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment

Last month, I did my post for #LoveYourBacklog, hosted by LaterLevels, where you reflect on your backlog and answer some questions. That was just the first part though, as the second part has you play the game that has been in your backlog the most. This second half is #MaybeinMarch, which I’m doing now. Three years ago, I did Resident Evil 4 (2005). Last year, I did Final Fantasy 10. This year, I’m doing Lux-Pain. A visual novel that came out in 2009 on the Nintendo DS, a game I have no idea why I have it, and where I honestly guessed was the game that has been in my backlog the longest.

Like I said last month, I have no idea why I had Lux-Pain, when I got it, or even any memory of even playing it. Though, I did have some come back when I was playing the game. It looks like I never got past the prologue, or Chapter 00, as I do remember some of the aspects that stand out. Like I remember the gameplay of uncovering Shinen, I remember the unique way the Shinen thoughts are presented, and I remember Nami and Melody. I don’t know why past-me quit playing Lux-Pain, never even finishing Chapter 00, but maybe I should have heeded my past self’s actions.

If my hint wasn’t good enough, I didn’t finish Lux-Pain.

Lux-Pain’s story is a bit confusing, but our protagonist is a teenage boy named Atsuki Saijo. He’s a part of a secret organization called FORT which was founded to eliminate Silent. You do get hints at Atsuki’s backstory, but it isn’t fully revealed until later. Aside from him, there’s also Nola who acts as support by giving information and assisting from far away, Natsuki who uses her Sigma (or power) to check Shinen or places from far away, and Lui Yee who can use his Sigma to destroy Silent. Atsuki’s Sigma allows him to read Shinen (or Worms?) by cutting away space to remove them. Shinen are basically strong thoughts or emotions people feel at that moment or at the time when it’s left. At the beginning of the game, Atsuki arrives at Yuhigaoka Apartments in Kisaragi City as FORT believes their target is there. What’s their target? The “Original”, which you’ll later learn means the original Silent infectee, who caused the Shangai Incident where 10,000 people were infected in a couple months. Resulting in thoughts of crimes and suicides to happen. Sadly, the Shinen you found in the apartments didn’t belong to the Original, but you did get a lead through the fact that they were emailing someone at a school and infectees have been getting together to do group suicides. Well, that’s better than having no leads.

Well, maybe, depends on your thoughts on high school. Atsuki gets enrolled in Kisargi High School, under the cover of being a transfer student, so he can search for Original and any information that may be related. Honestly, he may have only been selected since he was the only teenage FORT member in the area. Through his time at the high school, and Kisargi in general, he meets a lot of people that you’ll be interacting with for the whole game and getting to know them. Don’t worry, as Atsuki gets straight into investigative mode when the time calls for it. However, it seems this investigation turns out to be a lot more complicated than they originally suspected in the three weeks this game takes place.

While Lux-Pain is a visual novel, it is one with some gameplay elements. When you’re still in visual novel mode, you do get the occasional dialogue choice, where you choose between two lines, or emotion choice, where you choose between a handful of emotions, to respond to another character. These mainly goes towards the game’s affection mechanic that determines whether you get some extras like emails from them, ringtones, and extra scenes. No hidden dating sim mechanic here (though I have heard characters does weirdly dip into that vibe). There’s also another subset of interactive conversations where I’d call investigation mode due to it popping up when you’re digging for information. This gives you “Talk”, “Memory” where you implant a memory from a Shinen you previously read, and “Info” where you specify what you want to ask. The goal is to gain new information or uncover their Shinen and you know you selected the right option in this investigation conversation when it ends.

Oh, and the cool thing is that you can actually see the emotion that wells up in characters when you talk to them. You don’t see what these colors mean unless it’s when you had Natsuki do a Psycho Viewing to see who’s at the location and what they’re feeling, but it’s still cool.

You’ll find yourself on the game’s map as well, or part of the map as it’s divided into sections. You don’t get to wander anywhere other than where the game wants you to, but you do get to choose what order you do events in. Sometimes, these are timed where the event will only stay for a limited time or a character you need to talk to is actively moving. Normally, you won’t know anything other than info on the place selected, but Natsuki comes in with her Psycho Viewing ability. Natsuki, when the game allows you to, can let you see who’s at a location, what emotion they’re feeling and how strongly, and how long that event will be there. A part of me also wonders why Natsuki doesn’t do her Psycho Viewing automatically, especially since it tells you who’s there and if there’s a time limit to the event, but a part of me also understands that there has to be someone that wants that to be a mystery.

There is an element that goes more into being actual gameplay and that’s when Atsuki’s Sigma gets activated. This is where you’ll be cutting away space to access and read Shinen. This is greatly helped with Atsuki’s eyes as one sees the world as it is and the other eye lets him she this shadow-y alternate version. Both versions are represented with the DS’ dual screens. There are two types of Shinen. Residual Shinen which happens when a living being leaves a strong thought (and they can still leave one upon death) and Shinen that characters are still carrying due to them feeling it at that moment. Shinen are also called Ether and possibly Worms, but I’m not too sure about that. Shinen are characterized by glowing orbs you can see on the top screen (which shows you the shadow-y alternate version of the world) and your goal is to uncover their location on the bottom screen where they’re revealed to be a group of small circles that you can say looks like a worm.

For Residual Shinen, it’s pretty easy as their location is always visible and they won’t move around, but the ones still attached to the character it belongs to are more active. These active Shinen will fade into the top screen to give you their location every so often and they’ll move, giving you a hard time as you not only have to erase the “real world” to get to the layer they’re on, but they move making it harder to extract them. There is a Search function, but by the time you switch back they’ll already be in a different place. A lot of Shinen are even timed and you have limited amount of erasing and searching you can do. Once you get all the Shinen, you can then read the thoughts which are represented in an unique way. It’s hard to explain, by it’s like how you’d think a stream of thoughts would look like if you could see it.

There are also boss fights when you encounter a Silent, no matter if it’s the Original or not. It seems there are some variation, but generally you’ll be tapping the screen at the spots the Silent’s attacks are coming through. It’ll glow when you’ll be able to tap, which is generally a couple seconds before it would hurt you. These Silent also talk during the fight, but it’s pretty easy to miss as you’re focusing on trying to deal damage to it and avoid damage yourself.

Nothing really is explained to you and you don’t get the luxury of having tutorials. I did hear things are explained in the manual, but I never had Lux-Pain’s manual. You just have to figure it out yourself and kind of go along with all the terms thrown at you until you can access the game’s FORT database. For me, I didn’t have a hard time figuring out how to uncover Shinen and take care of Silents, but I had no idea what the purpose of the “FIX” option, when finding Worms, was. You also often won’t get a reason why you’ll be going to the various locations you’ll be visiting. The game does imply that Atsuki is wandering around, which I do go along with, but there were a few instances that made me question why I would go there.

I know I haven’t really mentioned how I determine whether a translation is good or bad in my reviews, but generally it’s based on if I noticed anything. I get annoyed at poor grammar, but I’m not particularly eagle-eyed about it. I’m sure I probably missed some small mistakes, but I like to think that I do notice the bigger mistakes or mistakes that pop out more. If I notice just a couple, I still consider it good as some mistakes can make it through the cracks. With Lux-Pain’s translation, it’s teeters on being bad. You can still understand what it’s conveying, but there are a lot of mistakes. Grammar mistakes, misspellings, missing words, and pointless abbreviations galore. A part of this seems to be due to the character limit in text boxes. In addition, there is a big disparity between the text and the voice lines. The first half of the prologue is good to where you think that people were just overexaggerating, but it starts once Lui Yee comes in. And then you see that everyone talking about it was right.

There are levels to this disparity between the text and the voice lines:

  • 1. The text and voice lines are the same.
  • 2. The text and voice lines’ only difference is one word, like excluding a word or replacing a word that ultimately doesn’t matter since the meaning will remain the same. Like “Oh man,…” to “Man,…” or “Sadly…” to “Unfortunately…”. Both versions convey the same meaning and I found it fine with this small different between the text and the voice.
  • 2.a. Though, there is a subset of a word being changed that is more annoying. That is, changing locations in Japan to locations in America. I have also heard this happened with food. Makes it pretty confusing, especially since nothing else is Americanized.
  • 3. Some words are changed, which changes the meaning of the sentence, but does fit more contextually and with the character that said it. This is a bit annoying and distracting.
  • 3.a. For example, there’s an early interaction with two characters who you learn are detectives, but when you encounter them they’re drunk. Or at least the one that gets spoken lines (yes, it’s very weird that one of them gets a VA while the other doesn’t). The whole interaction has a lot of disparity between the text and the voice lines, but the one that stands out the most to me is when the text says “We’re gonna be in trouble for staying on this late” (yes I’m going to keep the mistake in), but the voice line has “We’re gonna arrest youuu for being out so late, you got it?”. The thing is, the police station they work at isn’t mentioned in this encounter in the text, but she does mention it at the beginning where she’s talking about her relationship woes. Not to mention the meaning is completely changed to them risking getting in trouble (and possibly having you think they’re college students with a dorm curfew) to you being in trouble with an authority figure because you’re playing a teenager out at 1 am. I also have to say, I love the drunk acting the VA did.
  • 4. The sentence is reorganized, but otherwise the words are either unchanged or barely changed. Still distractingly annoying, especially since the speed the text comes in is uneven and pressing to reveal the whole dialogue box stops the voice lines, but the meaning is still the same.
  • 4.a. The sentence is reorganized and some words are changed. From the lines I’ve seen, this made the sentences flow better and make more sense. Still distracting.
  • 5. The whole sentence is different. The most annoying and distracting disparity.

All in all, the voice lines are very often better than the text in the dialogue boxes. Giving us better sounding sentences, sentences that make more sense, and gives more context with what’s going on in the scene, previous dialogue, and even the character that’s saying it. However, it was very distracting having the voice lines be different from the text (aside from when only one word is changed, like at the beginning of a sentence).

I did try to see who did the localization and it seems the text and voice lines were done by two different entities. The text was translated internally and the voice acting may have been handled by Ignition Entertainment. I say this since the localization manager has been either a localization director or manager for recent(-ish) games such as both Octopath Travelers, Triangle Strategy, Bravely Default/Second, Deadly Premonition, and Final Fantasy 12. I have no doubt that she probably went over the script for the voiced lines and tweaked it so it flowed better, or made more sense contextually, before the voice actors did their lines. We don’t know whether or not those tweaks were forwarded to Killaware/Marvelous so they could change the text to actually fit the voice lines, but considering a ton of issues with grammar, misspellings, and missing words passed through…I don’t think they would have been changed anyway.

I gave Lux-Pain six hours, which put me at the end of Chapter 4, before I called it quits. I went in intending to finish it, but after being pretty “meh” on the game after the prologue, dozing off every time I play, and dreading having to play it to where I constantly put it off, I decided to drop Lux-Pain. I did like the artwork and characters, the concept is interesting, and the voice acting is good, but it’s just so boring and the state of the localization and voice lines often being different from the text lines doesn’t help. I did look at the CGs (this game was bought secondhand where the original owner finished the game) and skimmed story events after I decided to drop it. Lux-Pain does look like it goes places that seem interesting eventually, and man is Atsuki’s backstory crazy, but I don’t think it’s worth it personally. Maybe I would have stayed playing if the voice lines and text was the same, as I can deal with poor translation, but that doesn’t change how the story is still a slog to get through.

Well, that’s that. I gave Lux-Pain the good ‘ole college try and while I hate my #MaybeinMarch post to be on a game that I ended up dropping…I don’t think what I did see of the game is worth pushing myself to get through it. Plus, I have been working on not feeling guilty about dropping games that I’m not enjoying. I hate that Lux-Pain turned out to be a stinker, but the silver lining is that it’s off my backlog and this was bought so long ago that the guilt of dropping it isn’t coming from how much it costed.


♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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1 Response

  1. Kim says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that Lux-Pain was a bit of a disappointment! It’s all part of the backlog experience: you never quite know what you’re going to find when looking into its furthest corners.

    There’s no point in spending time on a game you’re not enjoying though, especially when our free time is so precious. At least Lux-Pain off the list now and you can forget about it. 🙂

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