“Higurashi: When They Cry” Sound Novel Impressions

MINOR UPDATE: A lot of people come here looking for patches. You can find them here:
http://higurashifix.wikia.com/wiki/Tweaking_Higurashi_Wiki

The link is embedded in the post below, but most people leave without clicking it. I’ve made it easier for those of you who arrive here from search engines looking for it.

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Well, I finished reading it. Took me about a week and a halfish of really buckling down. Not having much to do this week in the way of real life obligations helped, too. So now that I’m done with it, let’s discuss this a bit, shall we? I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible.

So MangaGamer released the entired first half of the Higurashi visual novels (or, as the author, Ryukishi07 calls them, “sound novels”) in mid-December, so I’d like to touch on that for a bit before I get to the VN itself.

Higurashi was released for the hefty price tag of €36.95 (53.26 USD by current exchange rate) as a pure digital download. No physical copy. Needless to say, I was quite put off by this decision and as a result, I simply played a friend’s copy. (MG allows multiple, though limited, installations with a single registration code.) Also, due to some licensing issues with the original license holder, MG was unable to release the title with all of the original sound effects and music intact. Additionally, while I’ve grown to like Ryukishi’s Umineko art, the Higurashi art is… well, it’s terrible. So needless to say, I patched the bejesus out of this thing. I added the original music tracks back in (the full soundtrack featuring several great artists from the later Umineko tracks) and patched in graphics from the PS2 release of Higurashi, “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri.” As a comparison, here are the original graphics followed by the PS2 graphics.

Pretty sexy improvement. The patch is a bit buggy, though. It’s missing some of the CGs from the PS2 game, but those are more like a bonus thing anyway. I did find them, at least, if they’re of interest to anyone reading this. You can get them here (RS) or here (MU), but beware that they include some spoiler pictures from Higurashi Kai. Additionally, a nude sprite of Satoko, one of the youngest characters, is not available in the PS2 patch. This is a slightly controversial sprite and due to the nature of console-release VNs, nudity is always removed when possible. However, I found that it wasn’t an issue as it wasn’t entirely plot relevant and when replaced with the towel-covered sprite, which is used most of the time anyway (the nude sprite appears for probably 5 minutes at best), it’s not really a big issue. The PS2 towel sprite was better in my opinion because it showed something plot-relevant that the original sprites failed to show and drove home a certain point a little better. Those that have read the VN in Japanese or watched the anime may know what I’m talking about, though I haven’t seen the anime myself, so I dunno how similarly it plays out and what got cut.

Anyway, the biggest remaining problem with the release was something I had no control over: The text. The translation to English was pretty good and included several American slang phrases. It also managed to stay pretty faithful to the original script, keeping in nicknames, honorifics, and speech patterns used by the characters. The problem is that it was extremely poorly edited. Half the time, it seemed like they just carelessly used spell check and it replaced certain words with similarly spelled but incorrect words. The other half of the time, the words were just completely wrong and it looked like there wasn’t any spell checking at all. I wish it were an infrequent enough occurrence to just write it off, but it happened all the time. It was difficult to make it through even a single chapter without running into some kind of error with spelling, grammar, or word choice. It’s a shame, but it’s not a deal breaker. This is still the only fully translated Higurashi available, so you kind of have to settle.

Now as for Higurashi itself, it’s awesome. It’s fantastic. The first two arcs are great stories, but ultimately lacking in that Ryukishi07 flair I’ve come to expect after playing Umineko. The third arc brings that on in full force, adding in several new sprites for existing characters, two new sprite sets for other characters (one of which was new and one of which had no sprites before), and a ton of character development, plot twists, epic music, general craziness, and, as someone pointed out on a forum I frequent, Ryukishi’s first argument scene. (Quoting that person: “Daaaaaw.”) The last arc was incredibly short (I was able to finish the third arc and read the entirity of the fourth arc, including review sessions for both, in a short 6-7 hours or so today) but it was really good. You can tell Ryukishi put what he learned from the third arc into practice here and really made it count despite its short length.

The characters are great as well. I’ve really enjoyed Rika throughout all arcs and Satoko was a great character in my mind during the third arc when she received a ton of character development. Any of the early parts of the arcs with silly school-life focus were also really entertaining. You find yourself connecting with the characters, almost wishing you could join them in their club activities.

The soundtrack is… well, it’s alright. I wish I could say it was as good as the Umineko soundtrack, but I can’t. It has several of the same artists, but the track selection is much smaller and there are a lot of replayed tracks. The first two arcs in particular are somewhat unimpressive. The third arc, however, really brings in the quality. I’d say that the soundtrack was amazing if every arc had the music quality of the third. It’s varied, fits scenes very well, and really helps drive the emotion of the story.

The main thing worth noting, to those who are familiar with VNs but haven’t played one by Ryukishi07, is that these are kinetic novels. You have no choices or interaction. All you do is read. The interaction with the novels comes in creating theories with the information you’re provided and, if done in a timely manner before everyone else is done reading them, discussing them with other people. That’s the only real game element of a When They Cry story.

So anyway, those are my general impressions on everything. I’d definitely recommend giving the VN a shot, regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the anime or read the manga. It’s a great place to start for Higurashi and it’s not only the source material for the series, but the most fleshed out experience available. Highly recommended. As a parting gift, I’ll leave this neat New Year’s Umineko/Higurashi crossover I found.

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11 Responses to ““Higurashi: When They Cry” Sound Novel Impressions”

  1. xamlsora Says:

    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask but I didn’t get any answers everywhere else. I got this error when I put the graphic patch in

    Thread No. [ 1 ] , Program [ scrgrp._bp ]

    IP [ Thread : $0001A3DC / Program : $0000087C ] , Instruction No. [ $9010 ] , SP [ $0000081C ]

    指定されたファイル [ data02xxx.arc : white ] はBGではない、もしくはサポート外の形式のデータです

    Can you help me fix this please ?

    • Daverost Says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t really know much about the errors. Is it something you got while playing like a black screen? If that’s the case, the game usually keeps playing and you can often (but not always) get it to load properly by going back to your save and skipping up to that point again. It could also just as easily be a missing file, as there have been instances of left out files in some of the earlier patches.

      If it’s something that’s keeping you from playing the game, I don’t think I can do anything for you. If there’s an option to try another patch (I assume you’re playing the question arcs so there should be), try that one out instead.

    • Kiria Says:

      The same thing is happening to me. Did you find a solution? ANY help would be welcome. I’ve been trying to fix it with other patches for days but nothing will work.

  2. Ryan Says:

    Wow that patch is a huge improvement lol just how’d you do it? Can’t be too buggy can it? lol

    • Daverost Says:

      The link at the top has all of the patches in it. The graphics patches are basically just replacing the data02000.arc file in the game files. The data02000.arc file contains all of the sprites and backgrounds for the game, so it’s really simple to patch it. You just extract and replace the file. Make sure you keep a backup of the original data02000.arc, just in case.

      As for how buggy it is, I think they’ve made a few tweaks to it to make it more stable since I used it, but there were only two times where I got a pop-up error in the middle of reading. I think it just failed to load a background both times as the background was black. If I had reloaded the game and gotten to that point again, it probably would have worked fine, so it wasn’t very buggy at all and it’s probably less buggy now with newer versions.

  3. takashi42 Says:

    Hello, I’ve been looking for the original soundtrack used in the MG version of the game. I know its free songs and that 07th expansion just put them into the game, but i can’t find them anywhere, and i want to listen to them. I’m sorry for necroing this but if you could help me, i’d be really grateful.

    • Daverost Says:

      There really wasn’t a Higurashi soundtrack until Kai, as far as I’m aware, precisely because it consisted of doujin tracks before then. You could always find the Japanese version and I think the tracks may be in their own folder.

  4. shlogme Says:

    Hey, the link you you made with all the event and bg images how do you get it to work and if you still have your patched version could you please upload it because all the site are down with all the sopa stuff.
    Thanks

    • Daverost Says:

      There’s not really anything I can do for you anymore, but the RS link for the event/BG images still works and the music and SFX patches at the wiki still work (which are the main ones you want). Not all of the sprite patches are still up, but you really don’t need to focus on them too much. The last arc doesn’t really patch well because the PS2 version is missing several sprites of one of the characters since the final arc was different in it. I read it without the patch for that reason.

  5. Mido Says:

    I whish I never watched the anime… What a piece of crap of an adaptation, seriously. The Umineko one is even worse. Stupid Deen.

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