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HapHazred
Group Admin

This is where I'll explain why stories either get my vote, or don't. That way you don't just get rejections without any sort of explanation, and kind of holds me accountable. These won't be in-depth reviews, they're just to give people an idea about what's going through my head when I'm making my decisions. I'll typically go into more detail concerning stories I reject however: this isn't because I like crushing your dreams and stripping your flaws bare for the world to see, but because I have more to lose if I make a mistake and someone gets rejected than if I make a mistake and I let you in, see?

Also, I meant it when I said these aren't in-depth reviews. I know some of them are still pretty damn long, but that's just because I'm incredibly thorough. You don't even want to see what I do when I try to explain every single detail.

What I judge things on:

-Writing quality, grammar, pacing, that sort of stuff.

-How interesting it is, if it got me to keep reading through the entire thing: overall fun factor

-Originality

NOTE: I may ignore all of the above for something that I particularly like. I am partial to a little favouritism.

But HazardPony, does this mean I can convince you to let my story in here? You're so clever and wise, surely if I'm charming enough I can get you to change your mind!

Well, maybe, fake commenter, but I'm a tough guy to please, and you'll have to give me a hell of a reason to change my mind without actually changing the story.

Surely somepony as awesome as you could look at my story if I post it on this thread, right?

Ha! Heck no. Those comments will be deleted.

Oh... okay. I suppose you, in your brilliance, know best.

Damn right I do.

Julia
Group Admin
HapHazred
Group Admin

Currently reading Lyacon's Quoth the Raven story thing. Will have an opinion on it soon.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Okay: Lyacon's Quoth the Raven: Recommended

This was one of the harder stories I've had to review: knowing when a story is substandard is easy, as is when you're completely blown away. This story did neither. I should perhaps have chosen an easier one for my first Olympus review.

This is a story about a mare who dies and is turned into a dark superhero. It's a rather cliché tale of brief heroism rewarded with great power. Confusion follows, and slowly, the mare works from being clumsy to a deadly and powerful knight of justice. We have our traditional day job, our traditional journalist trying to find out her identity, and our traditional 'the cops are out to get her because they think she's a villain'. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out that a lot of cues are being taken from plenty of classic superhero genres.

Because of this, I found myself in a position of rarely being surprised by this story, yet rarely disappointed. It plays the tropes straight, but doesn't do a bad job of them. I'd even say that there is very little for me to find fault with: I stopped counting the number of spelling mistakes when I realized I'd never need more than three fingers. Some odd word choices too, but again, rare, and not distracting.

On the other hand, I rarely got seriously impressed by the story either. Since it was mostly predictable, surprise value went out the window, and it wasn't often that some element of storytelling or narration got more than passing interest. A lot of the characters are rather plain: Swirled (and forgive me if I forget their names at some point: I have a horrible memory) should be the most developed character there, but aside from her being a rather unsuccessful young artist who wants to help people, she doesn't have a lot that holds interest. Neither do a lot of the side characters. Bright is a happy sweet shop owner who is happy Swirled saved her daughter... strangely enough, I felt she was possibly the more complex of the two. Knives and the one with Bras knuckles (sorry, forgot his name) are obviously quite bland, though I suspect they weren't intended to be.

I probably sound very negative at this point. That's because when somebody starts saying that when something doesn't do something, it's bad. This story isn't that. I got from beginning to end. It's a solid story. It's got the sort of level that means nothing is done wrong... but stuff can be done better. And that's a good place to be at, all things considered. More attention could have been given to the characters. Maybe the pacing could be improved: some bits go faster than they should. Transitions are a bit strange from time to time. Finding flaws in this story is difficult: wishing it was better is easy.

That's why I'm recommending this story, because essentially, I'm recommending the author. He's at the level when he's not making mistakes any more: he's just refining what he already knows, and I'm certain he'll produce great stories not far from now. He has skills that are demonstrated in this story: his fight scenes are often good. His dialogue flows naturally, particularly in the case of Nevermore: he talks like a real, tangible... spirit. He introduced his OC Swirled well, giving us her character clearly and concisely, although not as good as he did Mafioso: now that was a great introduction, giving us what he was thinking, what he did, and what his stance was in a few succinct paragraphs. Sure, it could be better, but the same can be said of all of us, and I'm confident we'll see better stories, stories that will blow us away, if we give him a second to practice.

So there you go. Recommended.

PS: I don't expect all of my reviews to be this long. It's just that this one was complicated to explain.

4031541 Thanks for the honest review of Quoth the Raven. We're always thankful for any feedback we get. It honestly lets us know where we need to improve upon and what our strengths are. More chapters and sequels are in the planning stages and we promise there will be many interesting things happening in the future.

Again, thanks for the review. It is appreciated.

HapHazred
Group Admin

4033163 Yours was a hard story to review. I'd certainly recommend it, but I'm not sure to what extent. I've been sort of put in the position of reviewer without really knowing much about how this group operates. I'm not sure the other admins know either: this happens sometimes. I didn't have a standard to judge this story on, so I had to make up my own. Not an easy task for some reason.

I'll be working on a system that will help stories get approved as quickly as I can: if you're familiar with my work in the Harmonists, you should know you won't have to wait long.

And for the record, all future decisions will be based here. It holds me accountable. Too many reviewers don't have to explain their decisions, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Sorry I didn't give you a link earlier: I was unconscious when you asked for it.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewed A Mourning Heart by DarkponyD

Not recommended

This story was much easier to review than my last one. It fails in several areas: it's too short for me to adequately judge, moves far too quickly, fails to properly introduce the crossover elements, and doesn't go into the feelings of the characters enough as far as I'm concerned.

Now, allow me to explain: I don't know the crossover material. I'm not familiar with who this 'Ranma' is, or his previous world. If DarkPony took the time to explain who this guy is and why I should care about him, things may have been different.

Things may also have been different if more had been written: I'd be prepared to overlook a rather sketchy beginning, but frankly the beginning is all there is. How am I supposed to judge any further than what I've got in front of me?

I said the story moved too quickly. Well, that's only half true. The beginning bit I can overlook: it was a small snippet of the character's previous life, and served to introduce where he came from. It kind of worked (but also failed for the same reasons listed above, but I'm not discussing these here) because it added an element of mystery. My real issue was that we went from giving birth to Twilight and Ranma (or is it Aurora?) to her dying, and then they're adopted by Celestia, and then Shiningis observing them, all in around five hundred words, give or take. No, it's not the worst pacing I've seen, but it's not good enough for me. Take more time, Darkpony! Mostly by doing more of the following:

Celestia in particular came off as a plot device. I shall take them in, she says.

"Its the least I can do," the princess replied with a smile. "After all, her husband was a hero to many. It seems only right to be here, if only to show my thanks." Celestia then frowns. "What was that commotion in there earlier? Is everything all right?"

The nurse sighs. "I'm afraid that I have both good news and bad news in relation to what you heard. The good news is that two healthy fillies were born."

The white colt grinned, happy to hear that, but his joy was not to last.

"The bad news," the nurse continued. "Is that Twilight Velvet passed away minutes after the delivery. I'm afraid we must put them up for adoption, unless somepony takes them in."

"I'll take them in," the voice of Princess Celestia cut in before the nurse could continue.

"Are you sure?" the nurse asked skeptically. "Raising two foals is no easy feat. They will need constant attention, and your duties may not permit you to provide the care they will undoubtedly need."

Celestia nodded. "I took care of my sister for seven years after our parents died. This will be no different."

The nurse smiled as she bowed her head. "In that case, feel free to go meet your new family."

Yeah... I'd have loved to see Celestia give some thought to such a life changing event, or at least show some emotion. Shining Armour, at least. What explanation is given that his mother has passed away, and that he's now an orphan? Just that 'his joy did not last'.

These aren't easy fixes: time needs to be taken and effort given to really delve into what these characters are thinking and make me care about them.

That said, this isn't all doom and gloom: grammar and spelling might as well be immaculate. Maybe one error or two in there, but not enough for me to consider noteworthy. A lot of effort was put into this story, and at the very least, I respect that.

If DarkponyD can write more of this so that I have more to judge and take care with his characters more, and more specifically, I'll be glad to give this another look. As it is, I can't recommend this.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewed The Sun Never Rose

Not Recommended

I'm a bit torn here: whilst I've personally toyed with this sort of story for a while and would have enjoyed seeing it in the library, it has too many mechanical flaws for me to recommend it. There are grammar issues and some strange phrasing, some of which I've included below:

A air of nostalgic hung in the air.

and the lactose-intolerance cry in pain

Canterton of the land Equestria

shouted luna

But beyond this, there's also a huge exposition problem: the story starts all right, with Luna and Celestia hiding: we can assume they're not princesses. But their situation is kind of thrown at me, and barely developed at all.

Then the elements come: aside from being described rather clumsily as 'the orange earth pony in a stetson', very little description is given to them. We don't know why they're just like the elements of today, or why they have the same names. Very little is explained, and when it is it's presented in a big block of information, like this:

Twilight looked outside of her window in the Harmonious Tower. She was reading a journal of Star Swirl the Bearded, the first bearer of magic, which only the Bearer of Magic could read. The first hand account of Star Swirl's quest to stop 'Discord' a creature made of pure chaos and his quest to drown the whole world in a nasty storm of chaos had her intrigued about the world long ago. She wish she got to meet Surprise or face Discord head on. They were almost at the tree of Harmony when a small passage stuck out at her:

Now, I'm not one to throw 'rules' at people, but this strikes me as being a classic case of telling. Just describing what she's thinking, or have her flick the pages from time to time might have broken this up a little, made it more palatable, but it wasn't, and it isn't.

If the author could get an editor and clean this up, this could be a really nice story. I personally loved the bit about the mammoths and the cacti, and Iiked the melancholia at the end. I liked the idea of Celestia and Luna stripped of their position, wondering what they could have been. If these problems get fixed, I'd love to see this get approved.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Oh, jeezus, a Dash ship that isn't AppleDash.

I hope you appreciate what I'm going through, Harmonic. Reviewing Her Perfect Rainbow Mane.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewed Her Perfect Rainbow Mane

Not Recommended

Yeah, okay, I know a lot of this could just be dismissed as AppleDash shipper bias, but I have my reasons. I'm a very reasonable bloke, frankly, and I have no problems with (shudder) SoarinDash. Really.

My problem with this story is, as with a lot of stories, a lack of explanation. At the beginning of the story, Soarin and the wonderbolts are at the young fliers contest. I don't mind this choice: it kind of reminded me of the AppleDash project.

But the story didn't explain what they were doing: they might as well have been twiddling their thumbs instead of 'acting'. Discussing the fliers, laughing at their mistakes, pointing out what they did, joking among themselves, heck, at least watching the show. But none of that was described. And that trend kind of continues throughout the whole thing.

Soarin's thoughts as he falls felt really out of place: he's falling, right, almost blacked out, but he's assuming the pony he's saving is called Rarity. If it were me (and okay, I know I'm more than a little unstable mental-wise, but still) I'd be panicking, and more curious about the pony saving me. He could have been thinking about the life he could have led, the friends who'd be dying with him, anything... but no, he's curious about Rarity's identity. It takes away so much more of the impact, which is a big problem, considering that if saving his life had been given more importance, it might explain the next bit more:

Soarin is given no explanation as to why he's in love with Rainbow, and vice-versa. I would have gladly accepted Soarin being grateful that his life was saved and keeps on thinking back to Rainbow, but he isn't shown to be: the previous events are more or less forgotten. It comes out of nowhere, and I get the impression that an explanation was attempted by this magical 'soul-connection' (if you'll accept the term) which popped up more or less as a plot device to give them a reason to be thinking about each other. Frankly, I don't like that one bit.

Call me creepy, but I never needed a soul connection to think about girls I was interested in. Instead of Soarin focusing on Rainbow's qualities (and as a RD fan, I know for a fact she has tons) it's shoved aside by a soul connection that feels dull in comparison.

Think: which shows a deeper romantic connection: Soarin's life being saved, giving him a second chance at his dreams, by a beautiful, determined mare that fascinates him, or having a soul-connection after they just met? The first one, of course!

There's also a few technical errors in there, too: I've listed two examples:

All the times I tried to talk to her,

but I honestly preferred the calmer areas with less activities.

But I would have gladly overlooked them had the story really sold me on the SoarinDash. Sure, it was always going to be an uphill battle due to my bias, but there's not enough reason for me to care about their romance.

Or even Soarin: he's not given much development anywhere. Soarin isn't explained much in the show: he's basically a goofy wonderbolt who likes pies. What extra development does the story give me about him: well, he's a goofy wonderbolt who likes pies... but he's in love with Rainbow now.

And sure, you could say that about all ships, but I for one do my best to give AppleDash a reason to be. They see each other's qualities, they can share their dreams, sometimes I tweak them a little to provide an interesting premise...

Despite all my doom and gloom, I don't believe this story is irredeemable. Give Soarin some background: make me like him. Make him think about what makes Rainbow special: not just write it off as a soul-bond. Show more of what he's doing when you have him in a scene: for example, what, concretely, is the point of this:

Spitfire and Misty went home a while back. I just kinda lunged on a cloud for a while.

I finally settled down and flew home. I tucked myself into bed and kinda just dozed off.

You could have had a whole paragraph dedicated to this. A conversation discussing the days events, showing us more about what they're thinking, their reactions to almost dying. That sort of thing.

This could have been a fine SoarinDash, but it needs to explain more to really gain any traction. It has a fair bit of potential, though.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Jeez, three 'not recommended's in a row. I need to find a cool story, and quickly, or I'll get a reputation for being too hard on people.

HapHazred
Group Admin

I guess it's time to give Draconequus Subspecies Sapiens Sapiens a look: hopefully this will break my killstreak.

Reviewing Sapiens Sapiens. Will finish later today, though.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewed Sapiens Sapiens.

Recommended. Maybe. I dunno.

This quote explains it better than I can:

Twilight, who had seen the whole thing, patted Rainbow with her hoof. "I know. Don't question it."

This is a story about a human who arrives in Equestria. Which would sound like the start of a really boring story, except that this one doesn't seem to have much of a story. Or even tries to make sense.

One one hand, I admire the story for doing something I never could: be random. On the other, I should point out that I never laughed once.

But then again, I hardly ever laugh at anything that doesn't involve some form of tragedy.

The story features a fourth wall break (by Twilight, no less), a nonsensical character, the Human, barely any words at all, and even less plot. Is it a magnificently structured fanfic? No. Does it try to be one? Also no.

Does this mean you'll recommend it, HazardPony?

I... guess, yeah.

It's written well enough: the grammar is good, the pacing works well, the word choices are good... quality wise, it checks out. Unlike other stories, it does have the potential to be funny: sure, I didn't laugh, but I can appreciate when others might. Is it original? Maybe. Probably not.

I think this one ticks enough boxes to be let in, though. It's a story that knows what it's trying to be and let's everybody see it for what it is. Crazy, naked and dancing on a harpsichord.

You win this round, MidnightChaos.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Great. Now all the stories left are the long ones. You know how long this'll take me?

Me neither!

Still, reviewing A Mourning Heart, by Tacitus. OC's making friends with main characters? We'll see how that works out.

I'll let you all know when I'm done.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewed A Mourning Heart by Tacitus. Amount read: first chapter.

Rejecting

I've reviewed a few stories, and a lot of the time I've failed to recommend them because they write too little. This is a different case, but it ends the same: I'm almost drowned in events I don't need to know.

During the first chapter, I was treated to a whole beginning that was about as riveting as buying a house in Skyrim.

“It’ll be 2500 bits. A little more expensive than some of the other homes, but like I said, it’s a little bigger and it’s fully furnished. It’s also right down the street from a very popular bakery called Sugar Cube Corner.”

“The price is fine. Just let me go get my bits from my wagon and I’ll be right back.”

Tacitus left the office and went back outside the building where his wagon was still waiting for him. He used his magic to unlock and open the lid of the wagon, revealing a pile of books, papers, scrolls, tablets, and several large bags of bits. He took one of the bags in his magic before closing and locking the wagon, and headed back inside to the mayor’s office.

After weighing the bag to ensure it was the correct amount, Mayor Mare smiled and handed Tacitus the deed to the house and a quill. “Just sign this and the house is yours.”

Tacitus took the quill in his magic and signed his name on the dotted line. Mayor Mare took the paper in her hooves and looked it over.

“Welcome to Ponyville Mr.….Tacitus. Here’s the key to the house, and here’s a map of Ponyville. I took the liberty of marking the location of your new home on the map. I’m sure you’ll love living in our town."

Okay, okay, that was probably overly snarky. But seriously, I was bored.

Things got interesting when we got to the thick of the story: Tacitus is sad because of something. He breaks down and weeps in front of some pictures... now that is a story.

Unfortunately it was preceded by a block of text three times it's size where he was deciding where to put his office.

It's also forgotten pretty quickly. Finished crying? Time for dinner:

After setting the photo tenderly on the nightstand next to his new bed, his eyes now devoid of tears but still miserable, Tacitus began considering what he should do next. Anything to takes his mind off of them.

“Well, the day’s still young. I might as well see if I can find a job. Can’t live on the bits I have forever.” Just as he was about to leave, a terrible growl came from inside the house. It took him a second to realize that the growl was coming from his stomach. He looked at the clock.

I apologize to Tacitus for the snark. I've had a long day. But what happened to that feeling? You were onto something, man! He was sad... what happened, his immeasurable grief was replaced with a craving for noodles?

He picked up a potato

My bad.

Anyway, a lot of words later we come to what I thought was a very good example of how to illustrate how somebody is feeling without saying so: hats off to Tacitus for being smart here:

“I-I’m so sorry. I shouldn't have yelled like that.” His hoof still didn't leave his hat. “But, please don’t touch the hat, or the scarf for that matter. They’re very important to me.” His eyes betrayed the heartache he was trying so desperately to hide.

Using a hat to betray somepony's feelings and grief? If only the SoarinDash story had done stuff like that. From this, it's pretty obvious that storytelling-wise, Tacitus has some skills: but these moments that characterize Tacitus are so sparse I'd have to skip hundreds of words to get to the meat of the story.

I've been reading lots of words where he's eating potatoes or buying a house in Whiterun Ponyville. There weren't any feelings there: if Tacitus could just extend the sort of clever characterization he used with that hat to the rest of this story, describe how he feels with every small action he does, betray what he's thinking every time he has a conversation, this would have been very interesting to read. As it is, most of it is just... boring.

Well, enough on that. It's a problem that stands against the story, even though I will admit it shows an attention to detail that a lot of other writers are missing. Onto my next problem: how it introduces the mane six.

It felt very much like the first ep of the series to me. But not in a funny way: in the show, each encounter was almost comedic in that it was exactly the opposite of what Twilight was out to do. And even then, the first ep was not my favourite episode. I'm amazed it got me to continue watching the show in the first place.

Sonic Rainboom, however... now that was an episode.

But I digress. It's been a long day, as I mentioned earlier. Forgive me.

Each character is introduced in a very, very mundane way. Tacitus wants food: Applejack is selling apples. How is Applejack introduced, you ask?

'I sell apples!'

(I am very, very sorry. I'm not normally this rude)

It gets a bit better: we get a bit more of how Tacitus is feeling after Rainbow's meeting. He refuses to hang out with her and walks away gloomily: that's fair enough. It shows more of what he's going through. It could have done it better, but it's fair.

Then Fluttershy. My least favorite of the mane six lives up to my opinion of her and doesn't progress the story one bit.

(Oh, come on! At least I'm not being rude to Tacitus now! I'm sorry that I don't like Fluttershy, okay?! It's just that Rainbow is so much better!)

Fluttershy is trying to keep her animals dry. Because they obviously don't live outside enough.

Anyway, all talk of his feelings are gone: Tacitus shows nothing, and may as well be a background pony by this point.

Since I've gone on for quite long enough, I'm going to boil this down to one, short, concise message:

I don't know what Tacitus wants.

I've yammered on about him getting a potato and helping Fluttershy walk home and buying a house quite enough. Not once do we see what Tacitus wants. Fluttershy, amazingly, is more interesting here. She at least wants to get home and help her animals. She wants something. Tacitus arrives for little to no reason we can see, doesn't do anything other than talk to a few strangers, and doesn't ever show any motivation for anything.

I'm sorry for digressing: I'm not a professional reviewer, nor do I claim to be one. I'm trying to explain why I didn't like this story. Nothing happens. Sure, okay, it's just the first chapter, but I'm used to getting to the point in the first few paragraphs. I guess I'm a spoiled brat in that regard. Tacitus (the author) hasn't given me enough reason to care about the story fast enough.

Frankly, this story shouldn't be told from Tacitus's point of view at all: any of the mane six could have had marvelous interactions with the character in a manner similar to Pinkie and Cranky. It keeps the mystery of the character intact and we get to follow characters we already like and already have things they want: characters who have drive.

Imagine Twilight's encounter with a pony she admires from her point of view! The wonder, the amazement! How grateful Fluttershy could have been when a stranger helped her in a difficult spot. The confusion Rainbow goes through as somepony just doesn't give a damn about her. Instead we have Tacitus's point of view: he wants... what? He feels... what? Sad sometimes. His drive appears briefly for milliseconds. I wish we could have seen more.

I won't recommend this until something changes. I'm sorry, Tacitus, for being in a foul-ish mood when I wrote this. I hope you can get something constructive out of it.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Derpy as Batmare? Let's see how that turns out, shall we?

Reviewing Batmare Begins

It's good enough for TL... but is it good enough for me?

Find out after the next beer!

HapHazred
Group Admin

I really, really wanted to reject this.

Reviewed Batmare Begins: recommended: quantity read: first two chapters.

Why did I want to reject this? Because I dislike crossovers. I don't like how they often make both franchises clumsy, I don't like how they're often nonsensical and poorly explained, I don't like how people automatically like them due to their crossover content, regardless of quality.

So why, oh, why, did I spend most of my time feeling that this was an underliked story?!

My arguments against it still stand: it's still a crossover. The story isn't new: it's Batman Begins. The movie. Shocking revelation, I know, stop the presses and all that. It loses most of it's originality by that very fact, and on principle, I disapprove.

Moreover, it chose Derpy to be Batman. What kind of a dumb choice is that?

Well... lets see...

Derpy has no canon personality, does she? Even her adoration for muffins is basically fanon. Her clumsiness is canon, yes... but her personality is up for debate.

Batman also has no personality. (Oh, you know it's true!) I like Batman as much as the next fanboy, but when has he ever shown much personality. If I were to ask Derpy, for example:

Derpy, what do you like best?

Muffins!

Batman, what do you like best?

Justice.

Anything else, you two?

I just don't know what went wrong.

I'm Batman.

So... does justice taste like muffins?

I'm Batman.

Your knowledge on bakery products continues to amaze.

I'm Batman.

Yeah... I'm going to go with Derpy as Batman being an inspired choice. The classical one, in my opinion, would be Applejack. The even better choice would have been Blueblood. Still, nobody's perfect...

The writing is great. At it's worst it's as good as I can manage. At it's best it's better. That alone makes me want to recommend it.

There is one element I disliked... Derpy being a muffin freak.

But wait... chapter two? Are you tying Derpy's love of muffins in with her childhood? And using the batman lore to make that love of muffins taken to extremes?

Stop, chapter two! You're being too clever! Stahp!

It was at this point that I stopped, because I knew I was going to recommend this. Sure, it's a crossover: sure, so far all it's done is followed the plotline for Batman Begins. But it does it so well I'm going to put aside my irrational hatred for crossovers and recommend this.

Well played, Batbrony. Well played.

Black Ultron
Group Contributor

You sir are a pro. Dont let that go to your head.

HapHazred
Group Admin

4043187 I'll try, but I promise nothing.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Next up on my 'to review list': Beyond the Vale by Slip Kid.

Because I love dark stories oh-so much.

Will review tomorrow! Have a good night!

4043155

Well played, Batbrony. Well played.

Yes, my plan's all coming together, hehehe... :trollestia:

More seriously, I cannot thank you enough again for the gracious comments. I completely agree with pretty much every sentiment you shared about crossovers. Heck, as a writer of a crossover I can tell you right now that every reason you listed is exactly why they're so hard to sell to new readers; the stereotypes about them are, all too often, true. Your typical crossover is a hastily slapped together one in the literalest sense of the word, with carbon-copy traits of one or both source materials often popping up in annoying ways, which is only amusing if it's done intentionally as, say, satire or parody.

My philosophy, however, concerning writing a serious crossover is that the author must embrace the fact that it is a crossover while simultaneously doing their darnedest to give it it's own unique, original identity. Elements of both sources will show up, that's a given; fight that too much, and the crossover will fall apart and won't even be one. But embrace it too much and you've just got a carbon copy of the source material. The key is striking a happy balance; embracing only the essential elements of both sources while not worrying about unnecessary, superficial elements that would only clutter the fic and make it unoriginal.

A good example of this is when you mentioned how Applejack is the classic choice for an MLP-Batman crossover. I completely agree, and I'm sure that crossover could work if handled appropriately. However, it'd also be easy to buck it up because the parallels are too obvious. With Derpy, I keep asking myself, "Why would she become a crime-fighting vigilante? Why would she choose the night-motif? Why's she lost in the first place? How could her clumsiness be a much bigger part of her identity than we generally think it is?" Questions like this allow me to explore fleshing out an original character for her which draws from both MLP and Batman; we know she's clumsy in the show, but treating it more dramatically, say, by having her go through an identity crisis similar to Bruce Wayne's at the start of Batman Begins, gives me the opportunity to take on a fun challenge, that being trying to make a story like this work and fit into the MLP universe. Sure, it still demands suspension of disbelief given the nature of the setting, but that's the nature of a crossover, they all demand varying degrees of suspension of disbelief to make them work.

But yeah, that's how I approach crossovers. It's a shame they've got as bad a rep as they do, but again, there's good reasons for that. Just like everyone has a picture in their head of what the typical clop or gore fic is like (and I'm sure there's plenty of good ones of both of those as well), the typical crossover that most people envision when they think of the genre is not very flattering, and generally is thought of as nothing more than fanboyish rubbish. Thanks for giving mine a chance! :scootangel:

HapHazred
Group Admin

4043681 I like you.

Hypocritical though it may be, I had a similar philosophy regarding a HiE I wrote, except instead of playing it straight like you did, I subverted it and made the whole 'goes to Equestria, makes friends with the main characters, fights evil' storyline actually meaningful due to one small change. The story is experimental and a one shot, but it was me exploring how I could make a trope storyline interesting. It kinda worked too.

In any case, as I mentioned, I thought Derpy was an inspired choice for Batman. They have the same levels of personality, but that also means they have the same room to grow. I recommended the story as soon as it became evident you were doing more with her than just making her a clumsy batman, and I knew that after chapter 2.

And don't go calling me a saint, or anything. I may well have never read this is it didn't get put in a submissions folder I'm duty bound to judge. But this kind of thing is why I have this review thread: explaining my choices makes certain I don't make mistakes. But you're welcome anyway.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Okay, yes, I know I said I'd review another story first, but new ones came in and they're so much shorter!

Is it Christmas already?

Depending on how my day goes, I may either stick to my original plan or instead review Fluttershy's Parents instead.

Because I haven't been enough of a hypocrite today.

Speaking of, explaining Fluttershy's shyness using domestic abuse? Yeah, I'm going to say that the odds are stacked against this one. But hey: I let in a crossover yesterday. Anything can happen.

4045000

I like you.

Yay! :yay:

I think my favorite version of HiE would have to be this "Deadpool Comes to Equestria" fic, mostly because it understands meta and 4th wall breaking humor so well. Another which isn't even technically HiE, but kind of a parody of that format, is "Sloth Comes to Equestria". It's just random nonsense, but I love random humor when it works, and that's one of those instances where the title alone earning a fic over half of its likes actually didn't annoy me. :trollestia:

Don't worry, I'll stop posting in this thread now. Wouldn't want to clutter your review thread with my responses. :raritywink:

HapHazred
Group Admin

Yeah, see, this is why I like shorter stories. I can get them out of the way faster so that I can concentrate on the longer stories.

Reviewed Fluttershy's Parents

Not recommended

I took one look at the blurb and asked myself how long it would take for the story to shove the fact that Fluttershy's parents are big old meanies in my face, and how long it would take for the word 'suicide' to come up.

Not long, apparently.

Sure, okay, I have immense deductive abilities but I saw everything coming a mile away. I already knew everything the story had to offer me in the blurb, so my expectations were already pretty low. It starts of in much the same game as a videogame intro, minus the promise of fun to come. A brief bit of narration explaining that Fluttershy's parents are both dicks: the bare minimum of exposition.

Fluttershy having evil parents might have had so much more impact if the story explained why. They're both two-dimensional cut-outs who's sole reason to exist is to be unnecessarily mean to Fluttershy. They're both incredibly bland: one of them doesn't even deign to make an appearance in the story at all, she's so insignificant.

This is a pretty major problem. I wouldn't be whining about it as much if it wasn't. They're the obvious antagonists of this story, but concretely, I have nothing to hate. Just abusiveness in general.

I already hate that. But here, in this story, I need to hate FlutterDad. I know zero about him. It's like me telling you that someone kicked a puppy. You hate the fact that a puppy got kicked, but the guy who kicked it? You don't know him. I've told you nothing about him. You hate that someone would do that, but... that's it.

As the story progresses, Flutter's dad gets almost cartoonish in his antics. He starts beating Fluttershy for getting home late. Okay, okay, I hear those of you with some knowledge of the world getting mad at me already: stuff like this does, in fact, in real life, happen. But the way it was treated here fell flat. If more time was taken with Flutters' feelings, if her situation had been introduced by more than a quick intro, if I had more of her father I could hate, I'd have been able to take that scene very seriously.

Now I'm coming to a problem that I discussed over Tacitus's story, a few reviews up. Fluttershy has nothing she wants.

But it's Fluttershy! I hear you cry. She just wants to be left aloooone!

But the story never really says so. It just has her happy here, sad there, gets abused there. Not much is ever discussed about what she wants from this story, where she wants to be at the end, and no answer is really provided either, once her father is in jail.

The fact that there was no real conclusion was actually one of the better parts of this story: it reminded me a lot more of real life, were things aren't all cut and dry. The story never really ends IRL. But my problem still stands: Fluttershy, as a character, often has this problem, and it's a cunning writer that gives her something she actually strives for.

Because there was a lack of detail in this story, such as why these parents are such arseholes, what Fluttershy wants to achieve, why Rainbow really cares, etcetera, it kind of felt like the story was formulated with a cliche storyline to force me to tears. Want to write a sad story? Fluttershy's parents are abusive. Check. Now show me dem tears! What, you want more? You must be dead inside!

But between having a predictable story and a lack of depth for all the characters, is it really all that bad?

No, of course not. The issues adressed here are valid ones, it's a decent headcanon, the writing is very satisfactory grammar wise, even if it does fail to take it's time to show us what everyone is going through. It's the execution that has failed here, and needs work if I'm going to give it a recommendation.

My advice? Take the time to explain why these parents are dicks. Give them more development than 'they're bad people'. Give Fluttershy something she wants, some hurdle she has to overcome. There's so much you could have done, too! Fluttershy might have wanted to be a vet, help the animals she cares about, and her father might have made fun of her for it. He might have called her friends stupid, make her work to be accepted socially. Something. Anything.

I can overlook predictability if it's done well enough. There's a lot that needs improvement here, but it's not a lost cause.

Bottom line: it takes more than serious subject matter to make a really relatable story. I hate domestic violence too, and I've been shy myself back in the day, and it sucks. But that just heightens the need for this to do the subject justice.

If anything changes, give me a call, Halo. I'll review it again.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Finished enough of Beyond the Vale to figure out what I'm going to do with it.

Recommended

There's not much negativity to be had here. The protagonist is well introduced, and beyond that is a very fun character, at least for me. He kind of reminds me of myself (I may have set myself on fire once to see if I could shoot fireballs (What?! I took precautions.)).He's smart, reckless, and is fine with putting himself in a little danger for curiosity's sake.

I like him. We get to know him well enough through his discussions in the first chapter, too.

We also get to the meat of the story nice and quickly: at the end of the first chapter, dear Firebrand is teleported to the Everfree forest. But wait: something is wrong!

Canterlot is gone. For a second, I was a bit worried that this was going to be a time travel story to explain how the Royal Sisters had their little spat. I'd probably still have recommended this, but with less gusto.

Slip Kid went a bit above and beyond, here, because the next chapter features a different scenario.

Now, I was pretty sure I wanted to let this in then and there, but I kept reading anyway.

We get to meet another pony in the nick of time: there's only so much listening to Firebrand talk to himself we can take. That said, even though we spend a whole chapter of Firebrand on his own, he's not boring. That's not so easy to achieve, in my experience.

The next scenario is even cooler: Canterlot was never built because the sisters never destroyed their first city: a place called Hoofens.

Then I came here to write this. It's quite clear at this stage that this is a good story. It's written well, with just a few tiny punctuation things that could use seeing to, one example of which is below:

Do you really want to know Bright?

There aren't a lot of them. Certainly not enough to put me off this story.

Maybe there's stuff I would have done differently... but this is one cool story, and I don't need to finish it to tell you that it should get in. The pacing is great, the character is fun, the grammar is good minus the odd slip-up... yeah, this meets my standards then surpasses them.

Nicely done, Slip Kid.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Next up on my list of distractions is Boarding School by Halo.

I've already rejected one of this guys stories, so let's see if a tale about the bitchiest of bitchy characters will get me to change my tune.

At least it's not about Fluttershy. (:fluttershbad:)

HapHazred
Group Admin

Finished reading Boarding School. All of it.

I began reading with rather low expectations (as usual). I kind of expected it to be a bit like Fluttershy's Parents, and I had a bit of a bone to pick with that one. I also particularly despise highschool stories. In my experience, they are ridiculously one note: they're about fitting in.

Unless it's a british school: then it's about getting beaten into submission to fit in.

This is the british variety. I'm expecting some St. Trinians stuff as well as... what was the name of the movie? Wild Girl, or something. I don't know, I never liked that movie.

Then we had Tiara as a protagonist. Just like pretty much everyone else I know, I hate that character. It makes reading about her very, very difficult. At least in stories where she's misunderstood, we can generally relate... but this isn't that. It's a redemption story (I bet) and it's going to take Tiara a long time to become halfway likable.

That's a big problem for me. I like being able to... well, like my protagonist. Diamond is famous for being on of the most irredeemable characters on the show. Kind of like Blueblood, except he used Rarity as a shield against flying cake, which was freakin' awesome!

Sure enough, story starts predictably: Diamond is being a bitch, Applebloom is being a doormat, shit hits the fan and for a second, I thought Halo killed Applebloom off.

Instead she's unconscious. Way to fail to remove Applejack's sister. Now how is Rainbow Dash going to swoop in and comfort Applejack at the last minute, resulting in a tumultuous romance that I'd recommend without even reading?!

Ahem. I'm sorry. Wishful thinking, y'know?

This story, despite all this, is much better than Fluttershy's Parents.

This one is longer, for starters. It explains a lot more... not everything, but more. In fact, it even drops a few hints about how Diamond feels about herself, and stuff. I'm not completely satisfied with it (she's just superior 'cause daddy says so) but it's a vast improvement already. There's story being told, here!

Past the first chapter, Diamond is more than just a monodimensional high-school villain I couldn't take seriously for the life of me. We get to see more of her, we get to understand just a little. I'd have loved to see more, though: it would have made her way more palatable to read.

The story itself is predictable, but harmless. It took me a while to figure out that it was Diamond Tiara making my blood boil, not the story. It's an important distinction to make.

The writing is... acceptable, I guess. There are errors here and there: check Diamonds name, and the weird 'in the most absurd areas' bit in the following:

That was the first thing Apple Bloom heard on the Monday after Dimond's Cutecenára. After countless attempts to get her cutie mark in the most absurd areas

And a wonderful callback to my own early writing days: Ahtism:

Ah'm an idiot

This, I'll never blame any author for. I've done it myself. These days, it frustrates me to see it, mostly because it reminds me of when I thought that replacing 'I' with 'Ah' made for a good southern accent. I'd recommend Halo remove it, but no hard feelings on this one: I've fallen into this trap myself.

Some of the bits are wooden:

Rich gasped, previously unaware of such things.

I can just feel the raw emotion and surprise rolling off this sentence (snark for the win)

There still isn't enough thinking for me: we don't know enough about what everyone is thinking, or rather: we don't see enough. There's more than in the previous Halo story: especially concerning Diamond, but the whole conversation with Filthy Rich felt like it could use a lot of work: it's just Cheerilee listing off a whole lot of reasons to expel Diamond. Which begs the question:

Why had he ignored all the terrible things his daughter had done to her classmates?

That's what I want to know! I'm an absolute glutton for knowledge. Tell me, Halo! Tell me everything!

Then there's this weird little thing:

Name's Hamish (1)

large red brick building. (2)

Diamond had ever seen.(3)

Don't like the numbers. I know that books do it: but those notes are often in context. These are authors notes: I don't feel I need them. They're a small thing, but they were distracting.

Then we have our cast of OC characters.

Sure, they've only just been introduced, but they outclass Diamond by far. Periwinkle is an arrogant little twerp, but at least she has the intellect to back it up. Mal is a little Sherclop that I wish was the protagonist of this story.

So, to sum up: the story is bland. But the OC characters are cool, and fun. Diamond is unenjoyable, but shows promise for future chapters. The writing is better than FlutterDad, but still not great in areas.

My recommendation?

I have no idea

Seriously. This one falls into such a grey area I'll have to consult with one of the other admins on this. I was hoping I'd be able to come to a conclusion by the end of the review, but I can't. I'm torn.

I hope you'll be able to hang on for a little while longer, Halo: I need to find another admin. In the meantime, please continue showing the same level of improvement between FlutterDad and this. If you improve by the same amount for next time, I'm almost certain I'll have no choice but to recommend you.

4045218 I have been thinking of making a sequel to Fluttershy's Parents after I get through my other stories. The sequel would explain how the parents met, their relationship and points of view during some of the events, and how and why they broke up. But honestly, I meant Fluttershy's Parents to be only a brief headcanon that explains why Flutters is such an introvert.

HapHazred
Group Admin

4045969 That's all fine: I just review them as I find them. And I have seen some improvement between that one and the other story you submitted, so I have no doubt that with practice you'll get my approval.

4045696 The first few chapters are supposed to be bland. I (or rather Mal) will be going into depth on most of the main characters in the next chapter. Expect to see some action at around chapter 7-8. Trust me, this is going to be a lot more than some petty 'I gotta fit in' highschool story.

HapHazred
Group Admin

4046019 That's one of the reasons why I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it yet. I'm not one-hundred percent convinced the story has reached it's full potential yet, but so far nobody has answered my plea for assistance.

Given the productivity of everybody but myself, the decision may take some time.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Yes! Hello! I lost a fight with Eris. Well, I say lost. I've been made Gatekeeper. But I have to review this: 570K words worth of adventure that I must either review, or die trying to review.

I mean, An Extended Holiday, by American_Brony.

This is a long story, so unless it's so obvious how good it is or how bad it is, this might take me a while.

I may not return alive. Just giving you fair warning.

4046295

Could be worse.

You might be forced to read through the Austraeoh series; It's good, but it's also somewhere around 1.5 million words.

HapHazred
Group Admin

4047847 Because I usually read in short bursts between periods of me doing things, I often avoid long stories. I know I'm missing out, but because of my lifestyle, I can't read them comfortably.

Ah well. I'll survive. I'm hard as nails.

Black Ultron
Group Contributor

4047869 Technically, Im harder than nails but that's a minor detail.

HapHazred
Group Admin

I lied!

I'm actually reviewing Revenge of the Nightmares, also by American_Brony.

I'm already a few chapters through it, but have yet to really decide what to do with it. I guess that's probably a bad sign. I just want to keep going through the story to see how the plot develops.

Stay tuned for the next thrilling installment of 'HazardPony desperately tries to crush dreams'!

HapHazred
Group Admin

Read about six-seven chapters of Revenge of the Nightmares

Rejecting rather sorrowfully.

This is a story that lots of the other stories I reviewed really should take notes from: we begin by introducing Luna, who's on her way to Ponyville. It's a proper introduction, too: the author isn't just assuming we'll know Luna: he goes ahead and gives us some thoughts and shows some of her behavior. It's all interesting, too: her preferences to go to a small town party instead of hanging out with nobles, her making friends with Pinkie and Rainbow... it's all good.

I encountered my first problem when we switched to the Castle in the Everfree Forest. That could really have used a transition, a horizontal rule... something. I had almost missed the change of location entirely. But, I shall continue my explanation:

The first chapter started off well enough, despite this. It had an air of mystery about it which I kind of liked. Sure, the transition from Luna to this ritual was weird and confusing, but I'm a tough guy. I can take one weird transition. And sure, there were some errors, a few blocks of text that were uncomfortable to read, but it was just good enough to make my standards.

The rest of the story got far more confusing, though.

I don't know why, but I felt the grammar really went downhill between chapter one and two. This sentence, for example:

She was good to see her personal guards, dressed with reptilian wings and the eyes were all ready for action.

I don't want to make this an endless stream of editor's work, but 'She was good' is not right. Reptiles don't have wings. You don't say 'eyes all ready for action'.

Things went much faster, too. Luna arrives at Twilight's house in one paragraph. The very next line, we're bludgeoned with the fact that she's in pain all of a sudden. If the story had taken the time to maybe foreshadow this a bit, or not precede this pain with a paragraph where she's fine, this might have worked... but the story didn't, and it didn't work either. Once again, I had to go back and reread this to figure out what had happened exactly. And the grammar errors, like the ones I mentioned above, didn't help me either.

“Return to me Guards.”

We're even missing commas. Just one little comma and maybe reversing Guards and 'Come to me' might have made that so much easier to read. It's not just commas that are missing, though: some are present, but in completely the wrong places:

“Is there a problem? You, do realize that you kind of ruined your surprise scare this year, Pip…”

I fear that something that came long before, has returned and if so,

And since this is pretty important dialogue, dialogue that moves the story forward, each comma in the wrong place butchers my understanding of what's going on.

Huge blocks of text make my job of reading even harder. This trend doesn't let up in the following chapters either:

Actually you are correct, in my world, my name is not that strange, whereas, to you all, names like Luna, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack

I found this sentence very confusing. It was only until I continued reading, after I spent a few seconds dragged from the story, that I found out he had been interrupted. Unfortunately, the continuation was also very hard to read.

Oh yeah, to finish my sentence, your names while common and not very strange for you all, would, well the parents would be looked upon funny for naming a child that.

In all seriousness, read that aloud to yourself. The commas are misplaced, 'would' seems to be in there for no reasons... it hits the ear all wrong. It's not the only sentence that's written weirdly, either:

He sighed and looked around the room and while the others around him moved into conversations Twilight moved once again to stand in front of him, she made a sound of clearing her throat and she had quill and parchment out with what he thought were notes already on it.

.

Across the story, there are some pretty big paragraphs that hit me in huge blocks, containing dozens of actions like this one. Without spacing or breaking the flow of information, this makes the whole story very hard to follow, and I often found myself rereading a passage several times to understand the meaning.

This is where the story fails, and quite spectacularly so: even though the introduction to the characters was well thought out, even though it is an interesting story, and was treated quite intelligently, the grammar and formatting made it so hard for me to follow all this that it might as well not have been: the sequences of events become hard to follow, and I don't really understand what all the characters are doing. If this story had had better grammar and took the time to deliver it's information, this would have been a very easy recommendation.

As it is, I'm simply rather sad to reject it. There's been a lot of thought and effort that's gone into this, but it's not working out. If I were to list off all the different errors and places that were hard to follow, I'd be here all day, and it's a shame because it is quite a well thought out tale, at least so far. It has good characters, it quite obviously can make them interesting to read, as with Luna in the first chapter, and it's not at all boring.

It's just so goddamn hard to read. I really hope that American_Brony gets an editor, or if he already has one, a better one, because the only area this story fails in so far is how it's written, and not at all content or story-telling wise. You could argue that I'm being a bit spoiled here, and that I should be able to look past the grammar, but realistically, when it becomes difficult to read for any reason, something has gone wrong.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Right, with that little distraction out of the way, moving onto that other hugely large story I originally said I'd review. Also adventure, no idea if it'll get in or not: if the previous story by American_Brony was anything to go by, it should have some pretty good story elements, but it's weakness will be grammar.

Will it's strengths overcome it's weaknesses? I don't know yet, but I'm going to find out.

BTW it's 570K words long.

Cue da AMV!

HapHazred
Group Admin

Sorry this is taking so long. I want to be certain I've gotten to the meat of the story before I can make a legitimate decision.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Okay, finished about seven chapters of 'an extended holiday'.

Rejecting

First off, the grammar and pacing is better than in 'Revenge of the Nightmare'. It's easier to follow. Far from perfect, but credit where it's due.

However, the story is a lot more lackluster.

Whereas in Revenge of the Nightmares, we focused on Luna during the first chapters, as well as a bit of mystery, here we're treated to a trio of rather forgettable characters: humans, to be precise. Now, I don't mind the fact that they're humans: it's true I prefer ponies, but that doesn't really matter, when push comes to shove.

But the three guys don't have a lot that makes them special. After seven chapters, I've surmised that one is a bit of a patriot, the other knows stuff, and the third may be a brony. But apart from that, the story doesn't really go and give me much personality to go on: aside from their skill sets, they're pretty interchangeable. And even those sometimes come out of nowhere, like this from chapter two:

“Ever heard of the term Thaumaturgy?” He leaned back in his chair. “It can stand for a couple things really, but there is a certain one I am talking about.”

One of our humans turns out to know 'things' about everything, but didn't really set this up much. This, in particular, came off more as a plot device to explain how they got there, or at least part of that, than an actual character.

They suffer from a problem I've had with a few other protagonists, too: they don't want anything. They've arrived in Equestria, and aside from one of them briefly saying that he wants to go home, they don't do anything to further this quest in seven chapters. Call me a spoiled brat, but I want them to try to move the story forward faster than that. Is their objective to go home? Adapt to this new world? Something else entirely? I don't really know, and I wish the story took more time to elaborate on this.

In fact, after arriving, there hasn't really been any kind of conflict whatsoever.

But HazardPony! They were interrogated! And the changelings! Surely you've hit your head and your incredibly deductive ability is temporarily absent!

Well, yes, I have bumped my head (fell out of bed onto a plate+fork) but my deductive ability is as good as ever. Yes, they're interrogated, but they were really just asked some questions. Not even Luna or Celestia had much to say. They determined that they were humans and basically harmless, then let them do whatever they wanted to. What conflict was there? The humans were confused for a bit, but ultimately one of them nicked a gemstone and talked a bit about how POW were treated.

And the changelings didn't realistically create much conflict either. They're obviously there to create action and plot, but the three humans see through them pretty damn quickly and without much difficulty. Their evidence was sketchy: they get 'suspicious' of Cadence without much foreshadowing and we don't see them investigate much, either.

They meet the mane six, but there was no conflict there, either. They just sort of met, and got along.

Wait a second... humans arrive in Equestria without plausible explanation... they make friends quickly... they're called upon to face great evil...

This is a classical HiE story!

I actually subverted this kind of story myself once. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be a subversion.

That's not to say that the story doesn't have strengths: it has quite a strong first chapter, which got me initially interested. It had an interesting idea that the humans arriving caused Cadence to be replaced by Crysalis. But it's weak point is it's three protagonists. As a group they were introduced well enough, but as individuals I was unable to really pick them apart.

To recommend the story, I would love to see these three characters be made more individual: give them something they want. Spend less time fiddling around with their super-special custom-armour and give them some real conflict much faster. Be more consistent with the characters: a lot of the OC characters weren't really introduced all that well. There was this dragon, and I don't know much about him. There was this blacksmith, or maybe two, but again, I couldn't really pick them apart in a crowd of OC's.

Obviously, the fact that this was quite a straightforward 'human goes to equestria' story didn't help matters either: it is possible to play it straight, but this story doesn't do that well enough for me to overlook that.

Do something that holds my interest! Introduce the characters better, give them an objective nice and early on. Don't waste time on stuff like armor, give me the characters, the conflicts, their feelings, their discussions! There's a fair bit this story could have done to make itself more interesting, but I feel it focused on the wrong elements and failed to elaborate on the right ones. It's far from bad, though.

But it doesn't make the cut for now.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Finished reviewing Canterlot Academy.

Recommended

Okay, so I can't read through 80K words in a few hours. But then again, I don't need to: this is obviously well structured, interesting, with everybody in character.

Much like Quoth the Raven, there isn't much wrong with the story at all, but it even benefits from not taking as many cues from classic superhero movies. I mentioned there that it removed a lot of surprise: not so here. Whilst, yes, I kind-of know the general idea, it's a school like Hogwarts or... what were those books my sister read... Malory Towers or something. But the devil is in the detail: the interest stems from which character is where, how they work and interact, and with a cool story to back it up. We also don't have the same problems with the characters being a bit dull and two-dimensional, because they're characters we already know, and they're handled well.

Maybe it could make itself more interesting at time, and I would have personally liked it to move faster, but like with Quoth, this is written to an obviously confident standard and it easily gets in.

I have barely any negative points to say. I did notice the OC Verbose mentioned, and he does kind of stick out, and could possibly have integrated the story a bit better... but these are all details. Some elements of dialogue felt a bit blunt, but not out of place or anything.

This gets in: it meets my standards. It will hold people's interest and it shouldn't be ignored. Since that's the standard I'm going to hold stories up to around here (until Eris comes and bludgeons me with some new standard) you get in easily.

4054905 Thanks for your honesty. We'll work to improve as the story goes on.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewing Puella Magi Twilight Magica... because obviously I need more anime crossovers in my life, and Verbose won't do it for me :ajbemused:

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewed Puella Magi Twilight Magica

Rejecting

I've mentioned in a former review that I don't like crossovers. This story isn't a prime example of the types of crossover that gave me this bias, but it does tick a lot of the boxes.

The grammar is okay. That's not it's problem. The way it's written could be better, I suppose, but again, that's not the problem.

The problem is the characters.

Ask yourself: would Rainbow Dash, our Rainbow Dash, my favourite pony, ever say this:

Wishing for something so strongly you’d gladly trade your life for it. There must be countless people in the world, who have such wishes in their hearts. It just means the two of us, who can’t even figure out what to wish for, haven’t experienced even a fraction of those ponies’s suffering. We’ve been so blessed, that we’ve become ignorant fools.

The answer is no.

Crossovers do this a lot. They take a character from another show, and replace the characters I know with them, use the names of places from MLP, and call it a day.

Twilight Sparkle is a young eighth grader now. Rainbow Dash is her friend, as is Rarity. They are currently not friends with Pinkie, Applejack, or Fluttershy. Spike is absent so far. Shining Armour is a toddler. Little attempt is made to adapt the crossover material with MLP. I can only assume that this is directly taken from Puella wotsit, but I have never seen that show.

I'm not sure I'd enjoy the show either, if it's like what we see here. Twilight's mother, Velvet, was particularly insufferable, preening Twilight to look good for stallions. Rainbow Dash teases Twilight about wearing a ribbon. The trio of friends seem rather obsessed with boys and love letters.

I really don't know what happened to Rainbow Dash.

“What an enviable problem to have!” said Rainbow

“I mean, she’s gorgeous and a successful businessmare besides!”

Again, this is Rainbow Dash. Brash, puffed up, likes a bit of a fight, sticks by her friends, keeps her words short and simple?

But I won’t allow you to go off and become popular with the boys. You must be my bride, Twilight!

That would be more like her, but she's obviously mistaken Twilight for Applejack. I mean, ahem. No AppleDash here. Move along.

I... don't really like how all the ponies talk about is romantic relationships. I'd understand the issue coming up, maybe... as a shipper, I'm more than okay with that. But in the part of the story where things are supposed to be going normally, it's all they talk about. What happened to Rainbow Dash's practice? Twilight's education? Rarity and fashion? Applejack and her family?

Oh, right. Applejack hasn't made an appearance so far. My bad.

Anyway, time to introduce one of the important OC's of the story:

Her ice blue eyes were cold and uncaring, as if she had stared Death in the face, and found him boring.

her tone of voice indicating otherwise. She also seemed to be scanning the room, trying to find one particular face. Her eyes finally settled on Twilight, something flashing in her eyes.

Wait... hang on, something is wrong...

My name is Fluttershy. Pleased to meet you

Oh dear. Remember the way Rainbow Dash was saying some really weird things earlier? Well, Fluttershy got a similar treatment. She's now a cold, calculating... anime girl. You know the ones.

No, not those ones, you dolt! The ones that have no personality until the flashback episode!

Ugh, anyway, aside from the unfortunate image choice, Fluttershy isn't Fluttershy anymore. So, to recap, all our eighth grader fillies care about is romance, Rainbow Dash has been replaced by (and I can't believe I'm saying this) a girl (gasp) and Fluttershy has been replaced by a robot.

Well, it's off to a bad start.

The story moves on, and it turns out that Twilight has seen... miss Shy... in a dream. Okay, that's actually fine by me. I didn't have a problem with that.

What? Just because it's implausible doesn't mean I'm not okay with it! Magical ponies, remember? Stuff happens.

We continue, and amazingly we come across a small passage that describes how I felt perfectly:

seeing, once again, Fluttershy before her; though this was not the Fluttershy she had met this morning.

Yes, we are still on this! I shall not be silenced!

Okay, I'll stop talking about that problem.

Rainbow and Twilight save something called Kyubey from Flutterbot. Kyubey is a... thing. It's apparently a bit like a cat.

Anyhoo, by rescuing Kyubey, the pair get in Pinkie Pie's good books. Pinkie is a magical filly, and has a few magical powers that go with that title. The whole sequence was very fast paced, and would have benefited from being a lot slower: I had to reread it a few times to figure out what was going on.

Pinkie Pie can summon cannons. A fitting power, considering.

Her lines are off too: again, do you really see Pinkie Pie saying this:

Don’t you think it would be better for both of us not to court needless trouble?

For some reason, Kyubey wants to make Rainbow and Twilight Magical fillies. It comes completely out of the blue. Seeing ponies in dreams? Okay. Pinkie Pie summoning cannons? Okay. But that really came off as far too anime for me. There are days when I just downright disapprove of anime storytelling, and it's stuff like that that gets me every time.

Hello, HazardPony!

Wh-what?

I said hello! Don't be rude!

Of course, sorry. I forgot I was british for a second. Hello, italic text.

Wow! We met completely by accident!

Well, sure looks that way. Do you want a cup of tea, or...

Do you want to have magic powers?

...whut?

Don't. Be. Rude.

Hey, no need to give me the full stop treatment. I'll take the magic powers.

Okay. I need you to shove this sword through your chest.

Excuse me?

Ugh, fine. Maybe eat this devil fruit?

No, thank you. Unless they come pan-fried in grease?

Uh, no. They're supposed to be healthy.

...Get. Off. My. Screen.

Well, now that's over with... anime has some strong points and weak points. This is one of the weak ones. I don't even care if it'll get explained in a flashback episode.

Anyway, I could go on, but this story really doesn't do it for me. The characters aren't loyal to themselves, and this feels like pony-anime. I don't need pony-anime. I already like them perfectly fine when they're separate. They're good separate.

See, when crossovers happen, I often end up with this kind of thing. Neither world works. Characters lose who they really were to start off with, and I can't take the crossover material because they don't work as ponies. The story really isn't worth the sum of it's parts I'm afraid. I miss Fluttershy. I miss them being their own age, and not being obsessed with boys. And I miss my favourite pony, my magnificent, perfect, abrasive, tomboyish, arrogant, loyal, brave, and crazy Rainbow Danger Professionalism Dash.

I miss Equestria. I want to go back home now. If DarkponyD could really try to integrate both the storyline of Puella and the world of MLP seamlessly, I might have let this in. I'd have to: I let in the Batman crossover. It was loyal to both worlds: Derpy had no personality to warp, but even then it was done cleverly enough that, actually, it wasn't warped at all. Just seen in a different light.

The grammar is still good: some things were clever, like Pinkie being able to summon cannons. The pacing was a little fast at times, but on the whole, it wasn't too jarring.

But this is one crossover I won't let in. Sorry, DarkponyD.

4055596
Eh, can't please everyone I guess... No hard feelings. This story has been rejected other places, so I can handle getting rejected here, don't worry. In my defense though on the characters, Fluttershy is trapped in an endless time loop watching her closest friends get killed, if that doesn't turn somepony into a cold and calculating, as you say, robot, I don't know what will. As for Rainbow Dash.... I have no defense for her or Twilight. I am a little surprised that you didn't talk about Apple Jack though, she was in the last couple chapters.

HapHazred
Group Admin

Reviewing An Ancient Threat by Tacitus

I'll be honest, I'm not 100% sure how to handle this one, since it's a sequel. The good news is I'm really good at making stuff up as I go along, so I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Black Ultron
Group Contributor

4057744 Stay strong man.

HapHazred
Group Admin
HapHazred
Group Admin

Finally came to my decision! I was forced to read a lot of this one before I concluded my analysis. That and work got in the way, but more on that later.

Read An Ancient Threat, by Tacitus

Rejecting

Firstly, this one only failed by a rather close margin. It's more interesting than the first one and didn't go overboard on the needless details, unlike the other Tacitus story I reviewed. However, it still had enough problems for me to want an improvement before accepting, I'm afraid.

One of my difficulties reviewing this was that it was a sequel. I decided that unless the original story gets in, I will judge the story here as a standalone story, without knowing what happened in the previous one. I believe that that's the best way to go here.

Anyway, our story starts with Tacitus, a pony (shocker) who's going about town with a big, broad smile on his face. I got a bit spooked at this chapter, because it is without a doubt the weakest of the story. I don't mean this to be rude, but Tacitus dumps all the information from the previous story on us in a very crude manner.

His parents’ deaths had affected him greatly; he had been constantly depressed and had given up hope of ever loving or caring about anypony ever again. That all changed when Tacitus met them. Six ponies of Ponyville had made it their mission to help Tacitus. Although he had initially resisted their attempts, he had finally broken down and told them his story. When they heard his tale, they had all embraced him and comforted him. They told him that they would be there for him and would take away the hurt.

As with the previous story, I would have loved to see this done with a lot more subtlety. It's the difference between me telling you what happened today (I designed fixtures using CAD modelling software and had a lecture on electromechanical devices) and you gauging what happened by watching me. (I strode across the room, still tired from modelling fixtures for hours on end, and dumped my lecture notes on electromechanical devices on the bed with a sorry groan)

It's the 'show' vs 'tell': now I hate throwing that kind of rule at people, but it's best to familiarize yourself with the concept properly. The information is delivered across this chapter without much tact, and almost put me off the story immediately.

However, clumsy though it was, it did do it's job: it did give us the information we needed, explained the character, what point in his life he was at, his relationships, that sort of thing. But I would have loved to see it be done so much better.

I continued reading, however, because this was an adventure story, and I needed to get to the real meat of the story to make a proper decision.

We discover very abruptly that Luna and Celestia are on their way to Ponyville hospital. This was, in fact, foreshadowed: I would have loved to see more of that too, done cleverly.

In fact, the whole beginning sequence with Tacitus going around town could have been handled much smarter. There's a reason that I'd label chapter one the weakest I've read in the story.

He hadn’t walked far before he saw one of his more recently made friends headed in the direction Tacitus knew led to the town’s hospital. She was a zebra who was adorned with strange golden jewelry and an even stranger symbol as her cutie mark, and she carried a saddlebag filled with jars and vials that were themselves filled with different colored liquids. He caught up with her to greet her.

Saying hello to Zecora.

he heard a voice come from behind him.

“Hey Tacitus. How’s it going?”

“It’s going great Spike. Twilight and I were just about to start doing some research on an artifact the museum sent me. You wanna help?”

Saying hello to Spike.

The street was filled with ponies he knew, and he waved to many of them, but he stopped at the sight of two foals running together through the street. One was a tan earth pony filly with curly red hair and pink eyes behind big blue glasses. She had a cutie mark of two candy canes joined together in the shape of a heart. The other was an earth pony colt who was much smaller than the average foal. He had a white coat with brown spots and a brown mane. His flank bore no cutie mark.

Saying hello to Pipsqueak and (shudder) Twist. I'm sorry, but I have a thing against lisps.

I felt like all that could have been shortened down to a really concise, really efficient scene where Tacitus might have been talking with his new friends: meet them all at once, and maybe the subject of him fitting in might come up. Or him being just a bit exhausted after a day saying hello to everyone, beginning the story with him groaning as he got home, before immediately hitting us with the plot. Bam!

As it is, I understand him saying hello to the mane cast, but Pipsqueak? The Cakes? Twist?! They really came off as filler, and if there's one thing I've learned from writing almost nothing but one shots, it's that you never. need. filler.

But anyway, moving on:

It turns out that a virus of some kind is spreading, and a vicious one too. We leave chapter one behind (thankfully) and move onto a much cooler piece of the story.

Another of my problems was Twilight. And before you lynch me, let me explain.

Twilight is obviously Tacitus's favourite pony. Don't deny it, I can see right through you. If she isn't, I will drown myself in whisky.

Almost all of Tacitus's interactions is with Twilight, to the point of making the rest of the gang background ponies. It's a problem I have with the show, too. In an episode focussing on one or two of the cast, other ponies being pushed to the background is okay, even a good thing, but this is an adventure, with all the characters, including Spike, going off to face evil, but the spotlight is well and truly hogged by Tacitus and Twilight. They play cards together, they discuss books together, they discuss stuff like defending the team together...

It made me wonder why the rest of the cast were there in the first place. They don't serve the story... at all. This often happens in the show, too: the mane six are shoved to the side so that Twilight can go do her thing. I never really liked that.

If we maybe jumped to another pony's perspective from time to time, this might work... but we don't, it's always Tacitus. And he's always with Twilight. We're missing out on what Fluttershy brings to the team, what Rarity is thinking, the blossoming romance between Applejack and Rainbow Dash, Pinkie's contributions. Aside from a few comments, they're really just background ponies, and that would have been fine if I felt that was the objective.

Now, time for one of the positive points: in fact one of the most positive things I've had to say about any kind of exposition. Chapter three: History Lessons.

Maybe I'm a nerd or something, but Tacitus really sold me on the whole history of the Roamen Empire. The dialogue worked well. Sure, it wasn't a complex back and forth that needed much management, but take your wins where you find them. Chapter three was what really made me pause as I considered rejecting the story. I thought the exposition was done well.

But afterwards, I came to my final realization, the one that's making me reject the story. I don't think Tacitus should be the protagonist. Last time, I kind of had the same thing to say: the other ponies' reactions towards Tacitus would have been much, much cooler than him running away from everything all the time. Here, it's the same thing, but in a different context.

Tacitus was obviously being set up as the eighth member of the Mane Six: a member I don't think they really needed. As a team, they already have everything covered, and the only thing Tacitus brings to the party is his knowledge of history. But... that's supporting character stuff. He spends most of his time validating his position within the mane six, repeating that he's their friend, or they're his friend, and so on and so forth... but the story never needed him to be the main character.

I dunno... maybe if we got to see things from a few of the other ponies' eyes, it might have worked. Balance out the attention that's focussed solely on Tacitus, reminding me constantly that he's the one who doesn't belong. The odd one out. He's not colourful enough a character to keep up with the rest of the cast... much like Fluttershy, he's not very... explosive, I guess. We don't know a lot about him except that he's friends with all of ponyville, apparently, and that he likes history. His personality is quite bland.

Because we have to keep our attention focussed on him, we see him fail as a character more and more, when again just shifting perspectives a la Tarantino could have avoided this problem, and in much the same manner that friends share burdens, the whole cast could have carried the weight of the story together, instead of forcing Tacitus, a character in dire need of fleshing out, to bear the brunt of the story all on his own.

Then there's the writing: it's not bad, but it could use a lot more flair. But compared to the the rest of what I've said, it's a relatively minor point.

Sorry if that sounds vague, but the bottom line is that Tacitus didn't fit in, the rest of the cast felt redundant, and the introduction was far too brutish to work effectively. It has high points: the history is quite frankly good and the story does hold my attention, but it still needs to do more to really be an OC story worth it's salt.

If Tacitus (the author this time) could be more careful with his first chapter, and pay attention to the rest of the cast, making sure they all contribute, this might stand a good chance of getting in. It only just misses the standard I'm looking for.

A definite improvement, though.

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