May 18th, 2012
Well, more like "steal my time."
Crystals began appearing in the world of Esteras 3,000 years ago along with a mysterious race of elementals which looked the same as humans except for their brightly colored hair. It was soon discovered that anybody with elemental blood could use magic by channeling it through a Crystal. As time passed, elemental blood spread into humanity until almost everybody was able to use magic and a prosperous civilization grew out of it. However, there was one Crystal that nobody could ever use; Black Crystal. Even approaching it caused people to lose complete control of their magic. 3,000 years after magic appeared in Esteras, Black Crystal is beginning to grow everywhere and is threatening to destroy the world.
This is real payoff for working on TWilight INSanity a little while back. TWilight refrAIN is a step up in every single way. Better art, better music, better game design, a far deeper engine with even some hidden spellcard stuff, a less obtuse route system, the works. I don’t know what happened between TWINS and TWAIN, but they stepped up their game here immensely. Hell, even the story’s more cohesive and less repetetive between routes, although make no mistake about it, it’s still just a SHMUP story. If you squint though, it’s almost identical to the digest version of a Tales game’s story, requisite racism subplot and magical technobabble and all. It even has an integrated replay/score uploading system. It was also only through working on this that I realized you could start games from partway through replay data too. Neat. TWAIN’s also the game that AQLoop’s oft-delayed upcoming RPG is based on, although as I’ve mentioned, that needs a lot of work yet before it’s ready for release/being good.
The only real thing of note that was different here in terms of working on it from TWINS is that the images were a surprising nightmare, not made any better by a whole lot of Engrish that had to be redone or more often, just outright erased. "Brothers" is not the gender neutral word for "siblings", AQLoop. They were also super efficient about reusing as much as possible which made it a nightmare for me since they did things like have BGM and Vol as two separate parts of the sprite sheet and things that were left aligned in one menu ended up being center aligned when reused elsewhere and… yeah. There was also the ever-fun issue of one character’s name. Trying to fit "Shizukuishi" into the same space as "雫石" is a special brand of fun that I thought I was finished with after dealing with Galaxy Angel’s 烏丸/Karasuma.
In any case, TWAIN’s one of my favorite SHMUPs in recent years, even over most of the recent Touhou stuff, so I’d definitely say check it out if you have even a passing interest in the genre. Also to not let my work go to waste too, I guess. Thanks to everybody who helped and the like as well.
As for the last in AQLoop’s trilogy, Alternative Sphere (prequel to TWINS), I do plan on doing it, but it may be a little while. I’ve gotten distracted by a new longish project. I do still need some help hacking for it, so drop me a line if you’ve got any expertise there and can lend a hand. I have enough to disassemble and reassemble the scripts and images, but the game relies heavily on inline commands which means that handling linebreaking within the scripts is a nightmare. There’s also some random minor stuff (tooltip popups and the like) that I haven’t quite been able to extract yet plus other things that’d be fun to disassemble and mess around with if possible. Anyway, maybe once I finish the common segments and some of the character-specific stuff there, I’ll start work on AltS, but more likely, I’ll just power on with that to the end and handle AltS afterward.
And yes, poor Narumi is supposedly male.