Foreword: I've wanted to play this game for a long time. I've always considered it to be the grandfather of all adventure visual novels, but only found time for it while doing year 1990 coverage. So this is Elf's first grand work and the first Elf work to have Hiruda as story writer. Game is amazing but at the same time there aren't that many japanese reviews and as many as zero English ones. How can that even be possible?! I've no answers. My best guess is that work is prior to internet era and Multi-pack (2004) only brought contemporary systems and graphics, so japanese didn't really bother to discuss a remake. Let's start already.
Original Title: デ・ジャ
Release Date: 1990-06-15
Summary: You are Ryuusuke, archaeologist in pursuit of adventures and legendary treasure. One day you dream of finding a secret compartment in a pyramid filled with piles of treasures. That's going to be the discovery of the century! A naked woman appears and tells you not to take out the treasures. When you try to touch breasts, she turns into a monster. You wake up by the telephone ringing. A client brings you an antique cane with engravings on it. Those who possess this cane see the same dream every night with a golden hair girl. You take the cane to try to translate the symbols carved on it and end up in a real adventure yourself.
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v2338
Game Type: Adventure Interactive novel / Chuunige
Story Length: Took me some 8 hours or so.
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Tricky! I'd even say difficult.
Comments of Difficulty: First half of the game was steamrolled while after that you first get into situation where you need to use game manual shipped with the game to pass through puzzle, next there's an abyssal difficulty puzzle where you need to understand which symbol signifies which planet and then place them in a special order. It took me four days (1h per day) to solve that puzzle and in order to do that I had to load old save twice and go through all the dialogues VERY attentively writing down every detail and both walkthroughs that I found gave no real answer what to do. At some point I was able to find 3rd walkthrough that finally clarified things. So here is my 5 ring puzzle clarification for all the poor souls like me: 1) you need to talk to everyone and click everywhere till you get in a state when you can't exit the puzzle screen - only then the right answer will be accepted 2) Initially planet signs are set (and reset to this state after each bad try) this way: "Sun" · "Mercury" · "Venus" · "Earth" · "Mars" 3) You need to get signs to this state "Earth", "Sun", "Venus", "Mars", "Mercury" 「太陽」・「水星」・「金星」・「地球」・「火星」 4) The fastest way to do that is this: №1-up*2, №2-up*1, №3-intact, №4-down*1, №5-down*2. That's it! And it took 4 hours of my life.
Character Design Rating: 9/10.
Story Rating: 10/10.
Protagonist Rating: 10/10
Game Quality: 10/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
Rating Comments: Isn't it obvious? Game is a masterpiece and the only flaw I can invent is that characters lack depth. But they don't need it in the first place. It's light adventure novel and not a charage/nakige. The overall rating is 9/10 just because it's an I-ADV and you need to click the same stuff and revisit the same places over and over - repetitiveness sometimes makes you miss really important info.
Structure: Game is one piece but you always see how % of story progress after each significant event.
Story: Story is not too big since it's an I-ADV and most of the time you need to click at everything some three times to advance the story. Mild spoilers may arise. So you get the cane for research. You see the dreams of blonde hair woman each time you sleep. You track down cane's seller and little by little find out that archaeological society is somehow connected. At the same time the backstory unfolds that recently archaeological society head was found dead and new one is keen on kicking you out. Once you get back to office only to find it turned upside down and cane missing. Your friend Gachako's house got rampaged as well. Since everything keeps pointing at archaeological society, you find a way to infiltrate it and eventually get into underground cellar with your cane and adjusting crystal ball. After that you're being threatened frequently by new archaeology boss Hyuga. Anyway, you get to translate the signs on the cane and set out to the airport. You wait for Gachako there and after a while you're being approached by man in black who passes a video tape. Kidnapped strangled Gachako is on it so you the rest of the game you search for her whereabouts, discover the site of mysterious blonde girl temple and set on a trip there to finally find out the inter-planetary inter-dimensional mystery concealed.
Characters summary: It's not a charage and thus girls exist there mostly to get info from. I actually referred to Gachako as just one of such girls. I only found it a bit odd that after each piece discovery you usually need to go to her place, think it over together and set further actions.
Gachako: Gachako is an easy-going cheerful girl that either always helps you with advice or just makes fun of you and gives her comments. She's fun and doesn't really have strict morals. She is a daughter of the murdered archaeology head and thus really interested in finding the truth behind it. But she actually shined only when at some point she joined you for a small time in your constant jogging around that town. Since Ryuusuke is constantly sexually harassing everything that has a skirt, it was real fun to watch the very same scenes but now with her intrusion and commentaries. Then she gets kidnapped and thus comes the recognition of her as main heroine. And she's going to be main heroine of De-Ja 2, so we'll sure see her soon again. I really loved that time when Gachako kept Ryuusuke a company since it really reminded Lipstick ADV, Hiruda's previous game.
Protagonist: Ryuusuke is awesome! Actually, that's totally my favorite type of main hero. Grown-up who constantly harasses girls and makes fun of everyone else. So far my favorite one was Taichi from Cross Channel, but this time it's even more fun. What's more to aspire of protagonist?
Sexual Content: Low. There's one desperate housewife in the middle, couple illusions and just a bit more in the final. But those are are very short ones and a way to push even more jokes through.
Affection for the Characters: Sky high. Characters are most beautiful and charming. Sub-characters are mostly fun cartoonish faces. It's an adventure light story so don't expect any depth from characters, but oh my they are great. Here's a little example of mass scene.
CG Score: 10/10, naturally. Every single CG is a masterpiece
H-scenes: Since it's quite an old game (and remake of it), there weren't real sex scenes. Just girl naked. And that's much more fun. Or ojiisan naked. Don't ask. See for yourself.
Sound Score: There are only 11 compositions. But none is irrelevant or irritating. 8/10
Addictiveness: If only not I-ADV mechanics. I'm addicted, for sure. Can't wait for playing De-Ja 2 already.
Conclusion: Game that I enjoyed a lot. Good adventure story, awesome characters and lots of wild talk with loads of laughs. If you can bear I-ADV system clumsiness, a great experience is almost assuredly guaranteed.