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Review Database http://vndb.review and Reviews of god forgotten VNs

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kivandopulus

It's going to be pretty much my first off-topic post, but I feel the need to inform on the matter why all the links are inaccessible.

My free hosting (http://tigrimigri.com/) died on me on November 6th and I've been waiting for it to show up ever since. I can't do monthly overviews without it since I initially fill in data through the wiki.

I don't really have any backups save for very early crude version so I felt reluctant searching for a new home. But it's finally the time and I've tried some free services only to find out that I need a paid hosting.

First my requirements. I needed Semantic Mediawiki with a bandwith over 5gb. Here is my list of free services with evaluation why they did not work for me.

1) http://www.shoutwiki.com - they provide semantic mediawiki extension only on request, but I sent that request over a week ago and there's still no answer and ticket status directs at 404 error since the very beginning so I guess that's it.

2) http://referata.com/ - it returns error on the very basic create template choice so it looks abandoned for some time

3) https://www.gamepedia.com/ - has Semantic Mediawiki in its extensions but hosts only wikis on one certain game, not other around gaming wikis

4) https://byet.host - is actually the only service that I was able to comfortably test semantic mediawiki after the collapse, but it has quite strict policies and my fresh semantic mediawiki has been banned twice already - for load spikes (I ran shell scripts to upload pages from .csv files faster) and for some 2ch/4ch content (I guess links to vndb.org were considered as that since there is literally nothing else on that wiki). There are tonns of noname other free hosts who actually are byet resellers. They are easily identified by unlimited everything for free, the same signup pattern and nameservers actually looking at byet.

5) https://x10hosting.com/ - can't say much about it, since it says right away at signup that signups from my country are not allowed, unwise to try and violate that.

6) https://www.heliohost.org/ - i tried to register on both available servers and it's it's just unmanagable with very slop operating speed on a fresh installed mediawiki

7) https://viewen.com/ - they look legible, but they demand to like and share them every month on facebook and stay constantly in touch. Upon registration they provide a list of eight (!) segments where you need to give out pretty much all your personal data, vow to worship them as facebook god and some other sections that I did not read up to. Can't stand that much intimacy from a hosting. Their TOS is quite strict as well, so such site as vndb on semantic mediawiki could fall under child porn, scripts abuse and copyright infringement.

8 ) https://aws.amazon.com/ - they refused to accept my card information - guess it's because they are USA-centered.

9) https://www.000webhost.com - they're well known for leaking millions of private data records recently but even without noticing that there are some obvious shortcomings. There's an automated script only for wordpress site, otherwise manual uploading the site and configuring database needed. There's a lot of negative feedback about sudden violating the terms of service notices, so Semantic wiki with its background data update services would be in the vanguard of violation.

10) http://www.host-ed.net/ - company is an old one and there are a lot of issues piled up around it - the most pressing one for me is that PHP version is as low as 5.4 and only quite old mediawiki versions would be able to start here.

11) https://www.freewebhostingarea.com/ - php version is only 5.2.6 and most of pages go into 404 redirects

12) https://www.5gbfree.com/ - site's down for last few days, probably dead. In past I tried it and I remember some severe limitations like inability to have own domain name.

13) https://googiehost.com/ - actually a reliable choice, but I had my first Mediawiki there and once a month mediawiki was just dying with pages loading for 5 minutes/initiating an error. Support ticket improved the situation each time, but after several months of such torture I moved out afrom there.

14) https://www.atspace.com/ - has some real limitations on the MySQL database with just 30mb storage and only 15 tables allowed.

That's actually it. All the others are the resellers or/and offer too little disc space (I need at least 300-400mb) or severe limitations on bandwidth/database.

So far I've set up with one of the the cheapest possible web hosting (and I'll be making .xml exports of all pages periodically) and I really hope I would not ever need to make a 1$/month web hostings review after this free hostings review.

kivandopulus

Foreword: It's a C's Ware story game so I'm in. I have not read reviews prior to playing the game. I followed three different walkthroughs though - and still failed to get even a single happy ending. You can read about my torments below.


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Title: Vist

Developer: C's Ware

Date: 1999-12-02

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v6108

Length: 20 hours.

Game type: Map selection ADV.

Difficulty: Pretty insane. Some mazes are ridiculously difficult and twice I failed to find a way within an hour and had to precisely follow walkthrough. Another my huge disappointment is that I failed miserably to get any happy ending. So here how it was. I followed walkthrough accurately for the first time aiming for Rin ending. For some reason I got only a normal one no matter how many times I reloaded the last two battles. Then i dug two more walkthroughs and one said that simultaneous capture was possible so I flagged every heroine twice and saved before the final 3rd flagging... and no matter how many times I followed that choice to the end I still got only same normal ending. So my guess is that

1) simultaneous capturing is impossible and it's needed to strictly not flag any other girl

2) you probably need to make sure you win all the battles (it's very unclear in the game whether you actually got hit or made a successful counter-attack)

3) C's Ware turned into complete sadists after very very torturing Kazeoto, Chirin. There are a lot of choices and hundreds of map and items interaction so even with skipping whole playthrough for the heroines ending scene is going to take at least two hours (more like three). And there are EIGHT heroines! There's just one CG for this final scene so it's a very short one. After a full day of replaying trying to get good ending I just got so sick of the game that I don't the will to keep trying.

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Synopsis: Takuto, the protagonist, is a sickly highschool student with a heart disease. His father is a scientist and researcher who is traveling overseas. Even thought he is alone in home, his neighbor and university student Rin come visit him every day, and every night his father call him and they talk by phone.

But one day, his father stops calling and they lost contact. Takuto wonders if something happened to him and contacts the laboratory where his father works. But the staff members dont' know anything.

Takuto is worried, until one day a strange girl called Eryu appears in his house with a letter from his father.

"I'm sorry ------" - Says the last words of his father.

And something who don't look to be human starts to approach the hero, who little by little get caught in the case of the bizarre murders.

Structure: There are 5 chapters each containing on average 8 days.

Character Design rating: 8/10

Protagonist rating: 8/10

Story rating: 7/10

Game quality: 8/10

Overall rating: 8/10

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Rating comments: I'm biased here since watching all the good endings could melt my heart a bit. But overall characters don't look too likable. Out of 8 heroines I liked Reiko the scientist woman the most and she's pretty much a standard office lady. So there aren't really likable characters. Protagonist is too weak at first and in the second half he fails to control himself repeatedly and looses memory of what happened more than once. Can't really say that he's moving the flow of the story. Game looks and feels quite cheap - mostly thanks to character design and only female cast voicing. Don't get me wrong - CG and interactive part are awesome. Game also has a number of very colorful enemies and side-characters... but they are males and thus not voiced. Story was a firm 9 up to the last fifth chapter where it suddenly changed the location and got too cryptic leaving a lot of loose ends behind.

Protagonist The transformation from a weakling into superhuman was quite well done. He's beaten bloody for the first half of the game by other hooligan students and is only occasionally saved by girls who happen to be around. What differs him from other students is his high metabolism and ability to stay close to the infection fog without being infected. What I like about him is how he takes the beatings by the hooligans. He hardly says a word and just tolerates everything with the thoughts "If I do as they want the beatings will only get worse". Apart of that he hardly knows and does not have his own will - it might be for the best since it's easy to associate oneself with him.

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Characters: As I've mentioned there are a lot of cool bad guys in this game. Later game is based on fights, but there is only one capable of fighting heroine.Apart of the bad guys there is one very impressive "Scarred man" - he's basically of the same source as yourself and thus he just terminates his enemies. You hardly manage to fight one beast and then just walk and see rivers of blood and guts left behind that person. He showed up at different moments in the game and was a great guy to look up to. But again, last chapter prepared a hasty resolution for him as well and this trump card was poorly played. Since there are 8 heroines it's supposed to be a gal game? Well, absolutely not. Every girl has three flags and flagging is basically done by the end of 4th chapter. There are no girls in 5th chapter (well, almost), but after the final battle the girl suddenly appears and you see her ending with just one CG and some phrases. It can hardly be called a "route" and especially an "ending". It's a story game. What's nice in the heroines is that three of them are grown-up ladies in their 30's and the other half are of the same or close age to Takuto. So there is a childhood friend, a meganekko, a hooligan girlfriend, a mysterious girl who is sent to you from your father, a half-native african girl, scientific researcher, news reporter and some superstrong mysterious woman. 

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Story: So for the story. The most stunning fact is that first two chapters last for 18 days and literally nothing happens during that time. You just go to school and go to sleep at home, that's it. What's that - a slice of life? Whenever I got slightly bored with it I just rewatched the cool opening and and kept on waiting. Chapter 3 is where girls start to show up and story finally starts to form. By the end of Chapter 4 the story is over and heroine route is finalized. I would actually prefer finishing the story there with maybe one additional fight. But it goes on in some forgotten African country laboratory. But it's actually Chapter 4 that gives us all the answers. Chapter 5 throws genetics, superhuman entity, clones and superficial myths together and only tells us the story of our father (and mother?). There are only couple locations here, development is hasty and there's little meaning in what's going on anymore, then it gets even more confusing and - bam - battles - battles - the end. Battles are done pretty well so you only choose the part of enemy to attack or the defend action for each turn. Enemy may choose to block one of these three parts and counter-attacks if you choose the same body part. Saving helps, but there are also some tricks involving using special items against special enemies. Some enemies attack animations are pictured clearly, but some can't be seen in advance. Some don't have attack animation and they retaliate every round. It's quite ok as it is. So my greatest complaints are to the story and especially this final chapter. Also the first four chapters were quite lively for the most part with frequent mysterious events happening. Chapter 5 has a totally different, decadent atmosphere - grim music, cold pictures and the hero who does not care about his survival, but needs this last chain to break. Ending is the most important part of the game and here it's just wrecked mercilessly which inevitably hurts the evaluation a lot.

CG: Character designs are not too exciting, but CG truly are. Somehow HCG are especially beautiful.

Sound: Only female voicing. BGM is fine, at times slightly irritating.

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Themes and symbols: As you might have already guessed, the story does not feel integral. There are a lot of actions and cool scenes, but there is not much talk behind them. And there is no afterthought either. The mind is blank and is helplessly trying to put the pieces together rather than think it over.

Overall comments: It's a good C's Ware game and I'm in no way disappointed. The impression reminded me the one after most of Nitro+ earlier games - WTH was that just now? It's not a bad way, but it does not suit C's Ware. Previous games had a satisfying resolution, but here I got only main answers while the fates of the side-characters and even their true nature remained in the dark. A true route would really fit here well. So I'll try to remember Vist and a colorful breathtaking game with a vast amount of beauty and gore.

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kivandopulus

Foreword: If you do not know of EVE:Burst Error, you better stop here right now and go watch video playthrough of that gorgeous game. EVE the Lost One is a direct sequel to that game and there will naturally be spoilers on the prequel content. That being settled - I did not pay much attention to the Lost One right away and did not review it properly while observing year 1998. Japanese reviews failed even to give an outline of the plot and were generally not too favorable. Only after playing it myself I found out the perfect answer "why" and that will be covered below.

Title: EVE: The Lost One

Developer: C's Ware

Date: 1998-03-12

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v2708

Length: 21 hour.

Game type: Command selection ADV.

Difficulty: Easy but command bruteforcing required at times

Synopsis: 3 years after EVE:Burst Error. Prisia is the new queen of Eldia but her rule is challenged by radical nationalists headed by archbishop. Marina retired from investigator duty to become newcomers instructor. Kyoko is the newcomer investigator just after severe course of training and her first task is investigating circumstances of death of a young scientist.. Snake is a mysterious figure who is blackmailed to find "memories" of former Eldia king to bring back to life sleeping EVE/Mayako Mido.  Somehow everyone hunts for the "memories" and the truth lies in Eldia.

Structure: Game takes place from June 2nd to June 6th, then from June 9th to June 10th with an epilogue on June 16th.

Character Design rating: 9/10

Protagonist rating: 9/10

Story rating: 10/10

Game quality: 10/10

Overall rating: 10/10

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Rating comments: I like it when the game is easy to evaluate. I try to find flaws whenever possible and now just can't find anything. It's not a flaw, but my tiny complaint is that protagonists aren't as fun as Kojiro/Marina pair. Those two were just insanely charismatic. Kyoko compared to Marina is quite a plain investigator young woman and her messy hair really hurt her image. Snake does some very ambiguous action, but overall is not a bad guy - still compared to the endlessly funny Kojiro Snake does not stand a chance. But there is one huge BUT. The japanese reviews are mostly based on the initial Sega Saturn version and game evaluation is average. But Sega Saturn and PC version have one HUGE difference - PC version has Marina route crammed in from June 4th to June 6th. This is a huge 3-hour story that gets all the loose ends together and not only that! Marina investigates together with Kojiro, so we're provided with loads of fun scenes and awesome comments. Marina route flips the table and gets the game from just a good straightforward adventure story category to the perfect sequel and eternal masterpiece one.

 

Protagonist:Kyoko I already tackled on protagonists in rating comments so will elaborate a bit. Kyoko is ok, she is normal. She is a diligent investigator, but she does not mind quality girl-time going shopping and relaxing idly all day long.with a cup of coffee au lait. Her first case investigating the death of a young scientist gradually reveals that he was connected with the former Eldia mad king "memories" that everyone started searching. She's does not have that much sex appeal, so there are much less funny jokes and commentaries on the way compared to Marina in Eve:Burst Error. To the left of her is Yuji, a quiet student with a part-time work. He only wants a quiet life, but reluctantly helps her couple times and gets involved into a big game facing charges in crimes himself. For a good half of the game he gets to accompany Kyoko, so her side of the story gets a social boost and feels good.

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Protagonist:SNAKE This picture is the best view we get of him during the opening and I would not like to spoiler his identity which remains unknown up up to the middle of the game. The first minutes of his route show us how he places a bomb and blows up clothes boutique in a big trade center. How can this monster be protagonist?! But almost right after that we get to know that the instructions to create a hand-made bomb that were sent to him were deliberately diminished the effect with the listed amount. It was supposed to break one chair at maximum. So SNAKE was contacted via pc by some ADONIS who showed him the recording of him setting the bomb in the trade center and blackmailed him into getting "memories" of the Eldia former mad king. It's still very difficult to sympathize with this character since he continues to take some 

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Characters: This is not a galge and there aren't character routes so there's little point in talking about characters individually. At first sight I thought they were overall less likable than those from Eve:Burst Error - it has very cute Mayako, libririan girl, young Himura, affectionate Yayoi, mysterious prime-minister Lloyd. Here there are less characters, but they are shown in development and gain lots of appeal as story unfolds - bartender student Mina, alcoholic Monica, Rena and her president mother, turned on dolphins Ayano, ever-young Natsumi - they are all a curious bunch. And of course the game shares a good number of common characters like Chief, Himura, Prisia, EVE, crazy ministry supervisor woman. They create a pretty cozy atmosphere.

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Story: That may be considered a spoiler, but I'm going to draw a very faint structure of the work since I failed to find it in japanese reviews. Game is roughly divided into two storylines. The first half is about finding "memories" and discovering why everyone needs them (there is more than one reason, actually). The second half is three days after first story is over. It's about the sudden spread of biological infection all over the world and the key points here are also Japan and Eldia. Both stories are closely connected and second story relies heavily on the events of the first half. And in PC version there is also Marina story which takes the last two days of the first "memories" story. Marina and Kojiro get to find the real culprit over the caused crimes and even investigate the studies that laid foundation for the events in second story. Without Marina story it would not be really a coherent narration and I can totally understand Japanese reviews based on Saturn version.

CG: I've checked all the CG again and - surprisingly enough - there's ain't much to show since most of those 150 CG are for story related events or items rather than for characters to show off.

Sound: Everything is voiced except for the acting at the moment protagonist. BGM is very good.

Humor:

Actually, there's not so bad humor in here not even counting Kojiro funny streak. Humor is event-based and this type of humor I find the best. So here are the three occasions that come to mind. Oh and I did not find not a single Bill Clinton joke here! That's an accomplishment in itself! (Those who played EVE:Burst Error will get what I mean).

1) At some point of the story Kyoko has to hide, but she's greatly disappointing by the fact that her friends drew a beard over the wanted posters.

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2) There's a small serious meeting discussing the ADD project and how it gets into effect. Yuji who is not strong into genetics adds the bottom drawing and when he's asked what it means, he answers: "anus". It was very unexpected ease of tensions and that's why it was pretty great.

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3) Only the dolphin saw the criminal and it's invented how to transform dolphin thought impulses into an image to the fax (PC-98 game My Eyes! nervously smokes in the back). Now the dolphin lies in the bathtub and here's what we get when he ask him to picture the event he recently seen. Just awesome!

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Themes and symbols: It's more of a straightforward game that tries to explain everything under the question so that there was no afterthought behind.

- One of the strongest motives of the game is that of the sacrifice. Eldia is full of patriots, that's one thing that does not change.

- There's a very nice developed theme of siblings separated in the early childhood.

 

Overall comments: It's a surprisingly interesting game series full of vivid characters, animations and it's just a really twisted story with lots of deaths. If command selection gameplay looks troublesome - just watch my video walkthrough of the game. I'm really weak to good game series, so I'm getting to the bottom of it. The next stop is Eve:The Fatal Attraction.

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kivandopulus

I don't feel eligible to write a full review since I only listened to the voice parts of the game. And the reason for that is that the game is unhookable by any instruments. No threads are found at all. Still I'm confident enough on the grappled content to write my thoughts of it.

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First things first: game has very poor systems.

1) Full-screen only. My try to launch it in window-mode with Dxwnd succeeded, but menu top started to fly separately from the main windows and mouse cursor started being distorted in space so full-screen is the only comfortable way to play.

2) There is no skip function. The closest thing to it is CTRL which draws a full wall of text and you need to press CTRL separately for each such wall of text which amounts to thousands of hits of this key.

3) Sound volume is outrageous. Voice is way too low and sounds and bgm way too loud even when voice maxed up and other sounds minimized. I had to pull sound volume to the limit of speakers to hear voices well, but each time BGM stroke there was a shock feeling. BGM only sounds for one minute and calms down so that minute was the most painful time over and over again. Maybe it was different for win98 but no compatibility helps. By the way, installer only launches with win98 compatibility.

4) CG viewer is one of the worst I ever seen. Out of five heroines it shows CG of two first heroines fairly well and there's the beginning of 3rd heroine and there's no way see the rest with game means.

 

That being covered you can probably guess my irritation with the game even though the game was not  started yet. But there are some positive sides of the game:

1) Full voiced, including protagonist.

2) Beautiful clean graphics.

3) Good structure - 2 girls available from the start, then consecutively three more girls open up and then there's the true route.

4) Longevity - all six routes take about 40 hours of time to read properly.

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Let's touch the story a bit.

Matsunaga Yoshihiro is a young man given the task of watching over a group of students from Touyou School on their summer break to a beach. One of the students, Morisawa Nao, has had sadness in her heart from her past - something Yoshihiro can relate to, having his own issues arrising during the trip.

That's the rough synopsis with the only remark that it's for anime made the next year. Morisawa Nao is the main character only in anime. In the game she's just one of five ordinary heroines. She's one of the two started heroines, so I guess she's chosen for the main part in anime since first two days mostly focus on those two starter heroines in game while the path to the next ones is branched off much further. Morisawa Nao is a much better choice over the other starting heroine Iwasaki Chinatsu since the former one is much more attractive and has the most dramatic story among all the non-true heroines.

 

I don't really feel like covering heroines or even the true route heroine since I like the anime short version much more than those routes.

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Conclusions.

New Elf is different. Old Elf works were challenging and playful. This work is stripped of any playfulness and it's a mere imitation of other successful nakige with true route structure. Heroines routes are vastly meaningless and only true route has some meaning. The locked forced structure makes us play the same story for six times with the branching only done by the middle of it without a good skipping feature. This monotonous flow is extended to excessive 40 hours without any satisfying conclusion.

 

Shizuka is the most bashful heroine, but her route included childhood memories scene of her sitting and covering the head with hands while other children get in a round-play and sing the exact "Kagome" song from Kazeoto, Chirin. I get that it's not C's Ware that invented the song, but it looked just like a shameless plagiarism to me.

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So one more faint question remains - why the hell this crap of a game is VN of the Month November 1999?! Well, with all the flaws of this work it's the modern type work with nice characters and true route. When I look at other November 1999 VNs there are even more irritation factors like SIM, bakage, hetare protagonist, H-focus, shortness or lack of info. Refrain Blue is the only one that's not defiled by those factors. And it's not that bad of a story, just overextended one and lacking in excitement. This is actually the 2nd case after Interlude (2003) where I liked anime version much more than the game. Interlude changed the plot to clear the mess of a setting and Refrain Blue just gathered the most interesting heroine path together with true route, cut everything else and set the table with a nice one hour long work. If you want to taste Refrain Blue, just watch the anime version, really.

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kivandopulus

The VN of the Month November 1999 is Refrain Blue. Why? I'd better tell that in my review of it.

 

1. Essence Lost エッセンスロスト [R.A.N.Software] VNDB

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One week before graduation from school the hero falls asleep at the part and upon waking up gets a feeling that he lost something. A hunger for love rises in him and he won't waste this week.

Period is actually only four real days. Some heroines personify love of the past and some love of today. Hero does not have a personality at all and he changes drastically from one route to another. Game flow is quite usual, as a normal galge. There are devil scenarios as well with dark themes dominating. There are a lot of bugs and flags are just non-identifiable. The events and endings are exactly the same for the heroines, just CG differ. It's quite a short game.


2. Folk Song フォークソング [Rewnoss & Arkham Products] VNDB

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This is a story of three girls and three boys that attend the high school in a rural town. This is no place for emotions, but empathy will open hearts of these three pairs to each other.

Game has a good atmosphere, mostly thanks to the artist Koike Sadaji who did ~The world is drawing to an W/end~ of Abogado Powers just lately. And same as that work there's a lot of charm and uniqueness in this work, but the lack of volume strikes it all out. Full length is just a few hours. Otherwise it's a harmonious, calming and touching story with an atmosphere as if from Miyazaki works.


3. Futari ふたり [Uran] VNDB

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A girl appears before the hero who just proposed to his fiance. She has come from the future as a volunteer in time travel experiment. Time machine gets damaged in the process cutting the way back to future. he time machine got wrecked and the girl lost his way to return to the future. Will the hero successfully marry his fiance or get interested in time traveler? 

Yet another work of Uran - 3rd one in two months already. It's obvious that there are two heroines here. Game is mostly a comedy with many deformed drawings. Engine is written on Visual basic and has no options. Text is not good, but tempo is great and length is sufficient, around 7 hours.


4. Gojuusou 五重奏 [NOCTOVISION] VNDB

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St. Orpheus Institute of Music. The quintet aims to participate in a prestigious music festival and conquer it. For that it's important to refine the hearts to produce impressive melodies as well as get musical techniques and knowledge. The participants are young girls with their troubles, conflicts and reasons. They will need to have their anxieties of mind lifted in order to play in unison. 

Well, it's a SIM, although parameters aren't much emphasized as flags. Schedules on weekdays and free time on weekends. Skipping is difficult to use and one day takes very long, so even one playthrough is painful. Systems are primitive with nothing but save/load. 


5. Hoshi no Pierce 星のピアス [Actress] VNDB

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2100 A.D. Main character studies in the space university on the Earth and comes to Mars' residential dome to prepare for the final exam. He is assigned to a group of the best students to help each other as the exam focuses on the importance of communication. How will this month pass in a company of beautiful girl student fellows?

Every movement takes one hour from 12 hours in each day. There are some obligatory classes so just chasing girls is a no go. There's a distinct minigame for each heroine. Quite an ordinary work that's set in uncommon setting. Oh, and unlike first two works of "Actress" H-content is quite weak - it's a pure love game.


6. Kijin Soushi 鬼神草紙 [Jade] VNDB

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Kazuya Hyodo in Tokyo learns that his father is gruesomely killed. Without much confidence in police he starts looking for the killer himself. 

Kiyoshi Saki in Kyoto finally gets a permission from the boss to investigate a serious case - he is set to follow the series of bizarre murders. 

Two distant incidents get linked in one deadly dance.

There are a lot of choices and wrong choices lead to numerous bad endings. Demons and esoteric rituals are the the main theme. The viewpoint between the characters changes forcibly. Story lacks depth. Voice acting is especially bad.


7. Lovemation ラブメーション [I’s9] VNDB

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Hero recently graduated. He had a job offer waiting, but it was cancelled. He looks through job vacancies magazine and applies for an animation production company since the anime he watched in the past was quite fun. However anime production turns out to be a very severe exhausting process with running over eccentric weirdos all the days and having to rush everyone day and night and constantly being on the verge of deadline. However, there are also people of unique personality here. Whenever he relaxes after work there all kind of situations possible, even serious love development. 

Will animation be completed? Can you get the girl you like? Everything depends on you during these two months. 

Every morning hero goes to a company, receives instructions from seniors and decides the action for that day. The story begins from the state when the original production is almost finished, but there's a a lot of room for animation and production improvement. Girls can be pursued at any time in the story development, but neglecting the job can lead to poor results. There aren't any reviews on the game.


8. Majokko Mariel'n 魔女っ娘マリエルン [Escu:de] VNDB

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Main character is a ronin student. If he fails to enter university this year he'll need to inherit his family ramen shop. 

One day he meet again with his junior high school first love Iori and reunites with her. However, on another day a girl comes down from the sky on a broom and she is followed by another girl. Hero is caught up in a dispute, and turned into a small animal (ferret) by the magic. The first girl escapes and second girl Mariel, remains. Mariel explains the circumstances - he has to live in this form for a while till she finds a way to dispel the magic.

There are three heroines - Mariel, former girlfriend and Elma, another good witch. First half is comical, but second part is serous, so the overall balance is good. There are five chapters and there's a shooting game at the end of each chapter. Text is slow to draw and it contributes to monotonous feeling. There are around 10 flags so it's a bit difficult to grasp the right ones. Elma root is the best, but hardest to flag.


9. Refrain Blue リフレインブルー [Elf] VNDB

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Matsunaga Yoshihiro is a young man given the task of watching over a group of students from Touyou School on their summer break to a beach. One of the students, Morisawa Nao, has had sadness in her heart from her past - something Yoshihiro can relate to, having his own issues arising during the trip.

Elf returned late for the party. I need to blind play and review this game myself in order to evaluate the state of Elf affairs.


10. Ribbon 2 [Bonbee!] VNDB

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As winter changes autumn there is premonition of new changes and new acquaintances in the air.

There are nine heroines and period is one October month. Capture is easy since the maps with the heroines are highlighted with ribbon image. There are some limited choices during conversations with heroines. Protagonist is a lumpy hetare who avoids heroines and in some routes he's just unintelligible. Each route has its own theme and main hero is forces into it. The flow is morning-school trip-lunch-after school-night. There's no real link with the prequel apart of the fact that they're both classic galge. Overall impression is good since routes vary from each other, there's a good atmosphere and there's a strong friendship theme.


11. Ryouki no Ori -Dai 3 Shou- 猟奇の檻 -第3章- [Penguin Works] VNDB

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In one local office of Mirai TV a few problems occurred over several weeks. The female news casters expression is too sexy and nasty during evening news. However the ratings skyrocketed with male viewers looking forward to continuation. Other media filed complaints and a serious investigation was launched. Hero is hired as a newcomer to soften the tension. What is the purpose of the crime?Who is the culprit? Only you can solve it ....

Wow, the return of bizarre cage series after a big pause. Map choice ADV. Compared to previous two titles the colors and the atmosphere got darker as the killings continue. System is inherited from previous parts, but time limit sections are much less demanding. Two mistaken answers are needed for a bad ending spawn and there aren't many bad endings. Difficulty level is high. There are six heroines and they are cute. H content level is the highest in the series. 


12. Soukoku no Nocturne 蒼刻の夜想曲 [PL+US] VNDB

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Modern Tokyo. Hero attends music university and meets a girl  who can neither talk nor remember anything on a street. He calls her Rumi and takes her home. One day vampire Sheri the Nosferatu appears before the hero, but she is driven off by female hunter Aisha. Rumi is linked to those two people and gets involved into conflict between them.

Finally a story work. There are three heroines and Rumi is not seen as a main heroine since she is weak compared to her counterparts and has to rely one someone. Well there is True Ending only for Rumi. Game's very rare.


13. Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Tomoshibi ga Kienu Ma ni 探偵 神宮寺三郎 灯火が消えぬ間に [Data East Corporation] VNDB

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An injured young man suddenly takes refuge at the detective agency. Investigation of two cases becomes complex as they are gradually woven together.

There's an English review of the game.


14. Tina wa Seirei Tsukai ティナは精霊使い [Pinpai] VNDB

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Rahel is a professional swordsman. He takes a job to hunt bandits since it's well paid and takes a female companion with him. He has to cooperate with the female group of bandit hunters "Arabian Knights".

Setting is arabic-like world. There are five heroines. Operation is mouse only. It's a very simple RPG - no parameters, no items, no money, no random encounters. There are from 3 to 5 people in the party in battles, but final battle gets the number to 11. Story is quite fascinating. H element is above average.


15. Tokimeki Memorial 2 ときめきメモリアル2 [Konami & KCET] VNDB

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Tokimeki Memorial 2 takes the basic story of the first game where you are playing a male student through his 3 years of high school but this time when you first play you start out as a kid who then later moves away.

There are many English reviews.


16. Twinkle Revue トゥインクルレビュー [Fairytale] VNDB

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You play the role of a active manager of a production company. One day your boss orders you to go out and find the "star of tomorrow." So you go to a talent development institution called Twinkle Actress School. Your job is to sneak into there undercover and find potential candidates. The only person there who knows your true identity is your ex-trainee Sanae who is now the dorm director. Besides her, there are 5 girls that catch your attention: Nozomi who is Sanae's niece, Mayu who is the sister of a really famous star, Hiziri whose voice can make her a famous singer, Shizuya who has a great potential to be a beautiful model, and Mamiko who is talented in voice acting.

You will stay for 3 weeks, and during your stay you will take lessons with girls and communicate with them and get as much data as possible so you can report to your boss.

There is an English review.


17. Wagamama Calamity わがままカラミティ [Rune] VNDB

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The goddess Karamichi spread chaos over the continent until buddhists from magical kingdom sealed her powers. With the destruction of that kingdom the competition over the Stone of Magic and thus continent hegemony has begun. Glenn gets hired by one of the sides and he leads his employer to the victory.

Tactical strategy. There is a hexagone map with units to move by turns. There is a card minigame during the battles. There are seven countries overall, so six to compete with. Difficulty is easy and length is short. H element is above average due to spoils of war in conquered land.

kivandopulus

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Since there are so many reviews of it, there's no need in full review, so I'm just explaining my choice for this game to be the game of the month October 1999.

The game is painful with a lot of text, characters,  interaction with the scenery, puzzles and seemingly unrelated cases. Up to the middle of it I really struggled through painfully. 


Game is about five cases of a heinous crime unit 1. But what's cool about it is that it's not about finding and catching the culprit. Those are just stories that have a beginning and some resolution, mostly sad resolution, actually - pretty much failing the case. 
Case 1 is about a swat team being massacred by some legendary criminal Kamui and eventually finding this Kamui as a totally emotionless shell of a human. 
Case 2 suddenly shifts the focus to some homeless children who live in the shelters - one of the boys is lost and we discover the story about his disappearance. 
Case 3 is about two syndicates rivalry and kidnapping of one syndicate's director. 
Case 4 is about illegal surveillance and streaming of private moments of life of a pop idol. 
Case 5 returns us to the mystery behind Kamui and all the cases finally get connected into one satisfying resolution. 

The gist of the story is presented in a fairytale told by one of characters and since it has great importance and great charm I'm giving the direct dialogue: 
- You know, recently... some people say fantasy is like brainwashing. Giving kids sweet dreams for the purpose of controlling them.
- When you put it that way, that sounds right.
- Originally they were pretty messed up stories. 
- Like "messed up" how?
- Realistic stories, without all the happy stuff.
- Well, that sure sucks.
- That's why they got turned into happier stories.
- Is that all? 
- No. Here's where it starts. So anyways, when I was a kid, there was this fairytale I heard. It's an old folktale from my hometown, but...
- Hm.
- Once upon a time, there was a princess. A beautiful princess. A terrible giant serpent fell in love with her. The serpent ruled the land ... no, he had taken over the land.
- He invaded it?
- Yeah. The serpent turned the king into stone. The greedy serpent wanted the princess... So he took her away...
- Pretty standard shit. Go on, go on.
- Then came a band of heroes. To rescue the princess they ventured to the huge castle. 
- Well of course. I'd do the same thing.
- The heroes combined their powers and fought the serpent. And then...
- What happened?
- They defeated it.
- Fuck yeah!!!
- Everything was fine and good. 
- Is that the end?
- Well, mostly...
- What the fuck? That's just a normal-ass fairytale. That sucked. 
- You liked it, right?
- No, that's no good. There's no twist.
- It's not over yet. 
- What?
- Think of the story I just told you. It's been tweaked to make it nice. The realistic parts have been obfuscated.
- Well then what the hell happens?
- The princess was dead...
- What the fuck?! What do you mean?
- She was killed by the serpent.
- Man, FUCK that serpent! The fuck kind of story is that?
- And one more thing... There is no serpent.
- No? Why not...? That stuff comes up in stories all the time. 
- Of course there isn't. There's no such thing as a "giant serpent"
- Well. yeah...
- It wasn't a serpent, but a human. The heroes were people, too. Humans killed another human, for revenge. 
- That's just a crime...
- Yeah... Fairytales are crimes. The unrealistic fantasy that happens in real life is crime.

Rereading this dialog after finishing the game actually bears a lot of sense, it's the shortened version of the game's theme and meaning. The game does not really tell much directly and there's still the need to think up the rest of it, just like in this dialogue.

Let's get to the bad points. It's long (over 15 hours), slow-paced, low on events. It does not have voicing. It's mostly in sepia tone. Art is of specific and quite shy style. It's quite hard to guess who's talking since you just get the sentences appearing in one window one by one. It has a lot of interactivity. There's one hundred-questions spree with only 10 seconds for each answer and questions are mostly on history-sciences-media topics. Interface and controls are confusing. Dialogues are dodgy and make no sense. Characters treat each other poorly, trade in homophobic and sexist slurs. There are some puzzles. Game can be repetitive - at one case you need to search 80 separate and identical rooms in order to find five items.

Now to the good ones. Game is great because it has cool charismatic characters each with distinguishing personality. Characters-like it reminds me the Unit from Ghost in the Shell the most. The atmosphere is quite like that as well. Heroes smoke, curse like hell and talk in a cryptic way. The dialogues are just awesome with constant verbal abuse towards each other. But as for the story twists and mystery it resembles Metal Gear Solid series the most, as for me.

What makes a masterpiece for me is being memorable, no matter how many suffering it brings in the process - just need to treat them as trials. And there's no need to get tortured - there are a lot of great video let's plays of it without the commentaries. But in the end we get a mature, rich in details story that leaves much for the afterthought and lots of precious memories to cherish.

kivandopulus

The game of the October 1999 is Silver Jiken. I wanted to write in couple sentences why, but I failed at that miserably and I'd better post a non-structured review of it in order not to overburden this post.

1. Days Innocent [Inspire] VNDB

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Mutsuki and Kaede are girl cousins who were very close at childhood friends but have not met for almost 10 years because Kaede illness and transfer. Now Kaede joins other girls in the study and her heart flies to tender their wounds.

Somehow I feel that this game should stay in the list despite quite a big number of H yuri scenes. It's a game of special atmosphere. There is no main character and the story is told from 3rd person perspective. Well, there isn't a story, but rather a collection of event-stories. Map is show and time goes in real time and from time to time character icons show up and there's an even upon clicking. There are five girls. The main line is how weak and lonely Kaede joins the study with other girls and gets supportive with their problems. It's more of a nakige than a yuri work and can be immersive. One playthrough is about 4 hours.


2. Fifth Fifth ~フィフス~ [Rune] VNDB

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A mage found a magical girl and decided to raise her. He trains her in Earth, Water, Fire and Air magic with some help. She has the potential to become an angel, demon, or even human. How his treats her will determine what she becomes.

Yet another training SIM. Now the loli version. Actually it's much closer to ADV this time. In ten days there's a devil/angel branch and after 25 days game's over. There are a lot of events scattered around. The amount of text is small. There is no voicing. 


3. Gekko 月光 [Uran] VNDB

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Hiroshi and Yukiko were going out at school. After graduation Hiroshi went on to university in Tokyo and found a new girlfriend. They meet again in seven years at alumni gathering can't get enough of each other. However Yukiko gets leukemia and gradually weakens day by day.

The game was quite famous in Japan as some critics put it as the nakige of the year 1999 shamelessly pushing Kanon and Kana out.  So first chapter is about junior school, second chapter is about new love Izumi and third chapter about Yukiko illness. It's a love triangle and medical nakige mix. I don't appreciate nakige, but medical sickness ones are the worst in my opinion. And only this third sickness story is voiced - that's cheap. There are choices, but they are totally ignored and story just goes in linear manner and it goes to quite crazy level - you may refuse to go to the meeting place with Izumi and you may refuse to date her, but game still would associate you as lovers. Hero is just an indecisive failure. It's probably another work that people either love or hate since evaluations vary from kusoge to kamige.

 

4. Heart ni Hi o Tsukete... ハートに火をつけて… [Fairytale] VNDB

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A beautiful female fighter Ayaka Shimada appeared like a comet in the female fighting sports world and got a nickname "Fighting Goddess". She had a legendary trainer whom she owned her success. Two years later she finally stepped down from the pedestal. New stars show up with the feeling "I want to be as strong as Ayaka!" and it's coach job to fulfill those dreams.

This game is quite ero-centered so I struggled a lot whether block it or not. Training is simplified and battles are fightings are done through cards. But there are quite many H-events in each of the six heroines routes. It's closer to the romance game than a raising SIM, to be honest.


5. Kasumi Yuugi かすみ遊戯 [Purple] VNDB

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With the advancing technology, man is able to create realistic man-made humanoids. One variation of such is the virtual brothels, one of which is called Karma. Such places are so expensive that spending one night there costs a month's salary. You as the player of this game, luckily got a freebie guest pass to this virtual brothels. There you meet an overly cute robot called Kasumi, and she is who you will spend your night life with. However, your guest pass can only last for ten visits... Will you be able to stay with Kasumi forever?

There's a good English review on the game.


6. Limit 168 リミット168 [Sweet] VNDB

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You have arrived on a mysterious island with no memories. Searching for something that helps you remember, you meet a group of lonely girls...

There's an English review of this game.


7. Maina ~Haja no Ketsumyaku~ 舞菜 ~破邪の血脈~ [Kappa Dou] VNDB

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Yoichiro comes from an old religious family, but he's unaware of his roots even though he has a potential. His parents worry about the decline of the clan and they decide to marry him on a talented spiritualist Mai even though he already has a fiance Yuko. The demon is aware of Yoichiro potential and he tempts Yoichiro through his classmate Taeko. 

Game is quite dense with H events and story does not really hold much. Even upon choosing an option leading to bad end you can go on from last decision. 


8. Niji-iro Season Sarigenaku 虹色シーズン さりげなく [Peach] VNDB

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This is the world of sword and magic "Paiona". Three races occupy it. 

There is "sword and magic school" in Sao Paolo, the central city of Paonaa. It is a prestigious school where freshmen are only accepted once in three years. At this school "Red Moon Battle" is held every three years when the red moons rise. The winners are recognized as wizards. Four girls participate in the contest to become real witches.

It's something like Sotsugyou ~Graduation~ but in fantasy world. Main hero is actually the teacher that's entrusted with teaching these four heroines. It's a very loose scenario with sudden H events and demon group appearing by the end just to be defeated instantly. The game is actually short and takes one hour to finish. Graphics is the only selling point of the game.


9. Omoide no Photograph 想い出のフォトグラフ [Airyu] VNDB

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Yuichiro Ino is a photographer who does not sell well. This time he has to take a job of photographer assistant to get the views of Kyoto. He rides the Shinkansen and gets to Kyoto where he meets four beautiful girls.

ADV with mini-games. Taking pictures is also organized as a minigame. There's no text skip and message speed is not adjustable, so it's a very painful game. Second half is actually about how the hero gets involved in a murder, but the story is sloppy. Period is only three days so development is forced. Enjoy Kyoto views and the girls, quite average game.

 

10. Prismaticallization プリズマティカリゼーション [Arc System Works] VNDB

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Prismaticallization is a dating sim, whose hero is a highschool senior named Shoji. He finds a strange object when he's invited to a summer resort by his classmate Akemi. The object causes him to repeat a day, but seems slightly different.

The same day repeats over and over, but there are some decisions that you can make which affect the next day like the decision whether to keep or leave an item - somewhat like in YU-NO. It's more of an experimental work, but it has much charm about it. Several mysteries remain unsolved. Very few things are explained and players lack information all the time.


11. Psycho Rhythm [Vision] VNDB

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Five scientists died in the explosion upon conducting an experiment. 

Among them were Samba Hiroshi's parents. He lost parents at the age of 12 and was taken in by the neighboring Imino family. He lost memory and only faintly remembers being in the laboratory just before the tragedy happened. After graduation we started working as assistant detective in the Imino family and the first job is Left Eye case. Over 60 victims were found with their left eye gouged.

Imino family head found the clues to it and was killed while investigating abandoned port warehouse. Samba is set to reveal the conspiracy behind this case and secret ESP's organization that manipulates unknown power with unknown purpose.

Game's based on a very weird engine. The battles in the game are done in turn-based mode with several parameters to take care of - stamina, soul and E.S.P. Each card has attack points, defense points. Upon some condition E.S.P. skills are allowed to use during the attack. As for plot... it's very trashy... I hope the chosen CG alone tells well to what extent. 


12. Pure Mind ~Prelude to Harlemblade~ [Giga] VNDB

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You play the role of Rian, who lost his memory and was taken care of by a mercenary called Will since 3 years ago. Since then Rian joined Will's mercenary group to work and got pretty popular, especially among girls. Now, Will orders Rian to help stop the war between 2 foreign countries, and through this journey Rian will gradually recover his memory. After Will gives you the task, you have the freedom to choose 1 of the 3 main heroines by finding them in your town. Later, a knight (female) who is one of the 2 warring countries will join you.

There's an English review of this Giga game.


13. Refrain Dream リフレイン・ドリーム [Mu] VNDB

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The main character is a graduating high school student. 

On Christmas Eve he confesses his feelings to his childhood friend. She passes him the ring saying that she will come to him when he remembers. In a dream a mysterious girl comes to him saying that he should get the paired ring in order to fulfill his hopes.

Paired ring is divided into many pieces and scattered around the world and some pieces are hidden in the world of books. You can gain access to the world of each book by buying the needed book at the antique shop. Different girls need different books. You start with the ability to read three books overnight and that will increase with time. If you choose wrong books, you may fail to meet the girl. There are 8 heroines. So it's a SIM with multiple girls and endings.


14. Renegade Renegade レニゲード [Uran] VNDB

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Rail has a faint feeling for his childhood friend Tina. 

Tina gets mysterious power and is chosen as chief of the temple because of it. From that day Rail feels that there's impenetrable wall between them. One day Rail meets a woman Luana who is a messenger from the temple and who requests to cooperate to protect Tina against the new king who desires to eradicate the rival in the temple. Rail gathers a team to oppose the king.

Game has no reviews and only after trying it I understood why. No skip. Speed is non-adjustable. Font of previous lines gets blurred all the time. Despite the synopsis there are no RPG elements here. There are a lot of choices, each of 2-3 lines. Battle is shown only to pick which girl to help. So it's an eroge with quite pleasant fantasy story, but horrible system with no options is a huge drawback.


15. Revive... ~Sosei~ REVIVE... ~蘇生~ [Harvest] VNDB

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The protagonist of the game, a high-school student, finds himself and other characters (mostly female high school students) trapped in a marine research facility. Exploring the abandoned building, the hero discovers the research staff died under mysterious circumstances. Was this a murder committed by a human being, or some sort of an unknown evil force? The hero does not have much time to think, since whatever took the lives of the scientists also threatens to murder them...

System is akin to prequel Doukoku Soshite with navigation on an isometric map with traps, puzzles and timed sequences. It's definitely much more difficult and fancy than the prequel. There's not much of the story and gameplay does not have fresh feeling anymore, so overall impression is worse than that of the prequel.


16. Silent Duel [Scramble House] VNDB

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Jinba high school is a prestigious school where political and business elite children study. A small passenger ship "Silent" is a place for a student party. Hero is preparing the party in the course of  his part-time job. The next morning after the party a female teacher is discovered abused and killed. The crew hurried towards the ground, but other incidents happen one by one involving girls assaults. Hero is requested to help the investigation by the teachers.

You move around the boat, get testimonies and investigate. One topic of conversation takes 10 minutes and time is limited. The theme of the work is "fight to protect" and not only against the criminals but also from self. There are five heroines. Graphics is ok and there's a solid feeling from the game, but it has specific content.

 

17. Silver Jiken シルバー事件 [Grasshopper Manufacture & Active Gaming Media Inc.] VNDB

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1999 - the "24 Wards". A string of mysterious serial killings plagues the city. The detectives of the 24 Wards Heinous Crimes Unit have their eyes on one man: Kamui Uehara, legendary serial killer and assassin of a number of government officials 20 years prior in the now-famous "Silver Case". However, nobody knows who - or what - Kamui really is. Has he really returned? Who is this infamous serial killer?

Game is localized and has dozens of reviews.


18. School Quest ~Heroine~ スクール・クエスト ~ヒロイン~ [Hyperspace] VNDB

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Let's fall in love with three heroines at school and around the town. 

School - part-time job and lots of schedule management. Raise the three parameters - money, strength, experience - and go on a date. Girls have two parameters - experience and the level they like you. Moving around town is as if came down from RPGmaker, totally ugly and by squares. There's no story besides making it with the girl, but since it's a SIM, it should stay.


19. Sta★Gra -Star Graduation- スタ★グラ -Star Graduation- [Active Soft] VNDB

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2027. Aliens came to the Earth and for a year a group of them will study as international students for a year. They aren't much different from humans apart of some features like wings and tails - and they have special abilities. Main hero is student council chairman and he needs to help them socialize.

Another SIM. There is a set of parameters like curiosity, intelligence, physical strength. There are five heroines. Hero needs to organize his schedule for each week. On weekends the only option is to rest or to go on a part-time job. There are a lot of fixed events like sports tournaments or national holidays, so it gets repetitive on consequential playthroughs. Basically we only need to raise specific parameter so specific value and one of girls will automatically take the bait. Since heroines are aliens, they follow some archetype - cat, maid, angel, raccoon, fish. Otherwise nothing out of ordinary.


20. The Ren'ai Simulation ~Natsuiro Celebration~ THE 恋愛シュミレーション~夏色セレブレーション~ [HuneX] VNDB

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You're a high school student enyoing summer with your best friend Kimi. One day of August, she receives a call from her father, telling her to go home in 21 days. You then start enjoying those last days together...

There are 10 heroines. And you create them yourself... there are tools for it. Apart of that there are parameters and lots of actions to fill the schedule. So it's a very basic level SIM with ability to create own event situations.


21. Zero Jikan e... ゼロ時間へ・・・ [Easy Mode] VNDB

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A gigantic meteorite will fall on the Earth in 3 days destroying it forever. At this time one amateur astronomer's photo of the comet tail initiated a series of full-scale riots and mayhem. How will you live three last days in such a world?

Another end of the world story. Command selection ADV, but creator tried to make it as user-friendly and speedy as possible. The is some gunpowder in some of heroines stories, but they are too short to have an impact. There are some 20 endings. Well, there is some unique atmosphere of lawless ruined Tokyo, so might be to someone's taste.


22. Zoku Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan ~Kanketsuhen~ 続・御神楽少女探偵団~完結編~ [Nude Maker & Human Club] VNDB

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Zoku Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan - Kanketsuhen is the sequel that finishes the story of Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan. The game features some action sequences in which the player has to press a directional button or an action button to pass it and advance in the game, if the player fails he will have to repeat the action sequence again. 

The only new feature is mentioned in the synopsis. There quite a lot of interesting and fun cases here as well, but the impact is much smaller than that of the prequel. So if you like Taisho era atmospheric detective stories, nothing should stop you from playing it. Opening is pretty much the same as that of the prequel, just some eyes changed.

kivandopulus

Foreword: It's a C's Ware game and these guys have not let me down even once. Unlike Re-Leaf which has quite a clear synopsis and multiple endings, this work is much more mysterious. I thought I'd get just another rural slice of life with some side mystery, but what I got was an ancestor of Cross†Channel with a global anomaly and looped story.bandicam%2B2017-10-22%2B15-22-19-323.jpg

 

Title: Kazeoto, Chirin (I'd translate it as "Sound of bells in the wind")

Developer: C's Ware

Date: 1999-09-10

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v4332

Length: That's tricky. Some 5 hours for first playthrough, plus some 4 hours more to get other routes to the end. It actually took me more that 15 hours due to a complicated walkthrough and confusion of the true routes.

Game type: Global mystery rural story.

Difficulty: Medium when you get  how it's organized. For me it was very high since even choosing locations in wrong order can lead to falling out of heroine route.

Synopsis: Satoshi, the protagonist, and his best friend, are both college students who came back to their old town to spend their summer vacation. But residents suddenly start to disappear without any reason. The most optimistic versions are that people are being spirited away or aliens abduct humans or that an ogre comes down from the mountain or that yakuza sell people into slavery because of debts. Hero does not care till the closest people to him start disappearing as well.

Structure: Game takes place for 8 days from July 31st to August 8th when the Obon festival is held.

Character Design rating: 8/10

Protagonist rating: 7/10

Story rating: 9/10

Game quality: 8/10

Overall rating: 8/10

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Rating comments: It's a good game with great atmosphere, main idea and nice events. But heroines aren't charming enough. Out of six heroines I liked only Ageha, because she's a diligent student, hard-working keeper of a boarding house, loving older sister of Kanako and tsundere-ish at the beginning and very reasonable later on. Protagonist is a university student, but he's quite passive and he does not care about disappearings till his friends get missing, so it's a minus for him. Game quality is high, but I had to undergo through a lot of repetitiveness since heroines don't have their own routes and the difference is mainly just in several choices. If you watch my video walkthrough, you won't see that repetitiveness since it's cut there, so I hope you get to like this game even better.

Protagonist: Satoshi-san is your ordinary megane university student. As he admits himself, he just goes with the flow and never really gives attention to studies. When Ageha asks him to help with the university summer homework on maths, Satoshi says he's in humanitarian division and that he "avoided" math entrance exams to the university somehow. And he has amnesia and is trapped in the eternal loop of 8 days, so he has all kinds of memory flashes all the time which does not help to concentrate on something. To the left is Satoshi and to the right is his brother Bozo (such is name when he's called in game) which i ended up calling Boshi and synopsis writer on VNDB called him Takeshi. Bozo is more of a playful type. He's fast to know the news and always eager to help.

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Characters: I wanted to talk about heroines in bulk, but there's no good joint CG, so let's run through them separately. First of all, there are no separate character roots. Secondly, there are no romantic feelings at all here - all H events happen on August 6 out of desperation of two last people in the world. Six main heroines routs are paired by two: sisters Ageha+Kanako, sisters Satomi+Shihori, nurse Midori+patient Ayane. It's difficult to call even those branched routes separate ones since the flow is the same aside from several events and the people who get to disappear first.

Ageha is a diligent university student, keeper of a boarding house and a kind sister to Kanako. She's depicted as an angry comic person in the beginning of the story since Satoshi has not payed for the stay for quite a long time, but she gets to be the most attractive character for me - responsible, intelligent, kind.

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Kanako is a school student, but she runs the soba dining hall almost by herself. She's cheerful and childlish.

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Ayane is the most mysterious person since unless we follow her route we get to see her just once occasionally. She visits the local doctor since she's having pains, but the doctor claims that those are psychological ones after the death of her husband. She's the oldest of characters and she has a complex about here age - she even calls herself obaasan. Well, but she's the most experienced one and she's actually quite a nymphomaniac.

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Midori is the nurse in the local hospital. Since she's the most typical character, the writer really tried to pull her out of her role giving her lots of very nice events (in the sunset etc) outside of her working clothes, in casual - at those times she's cheerful and likes to set pranks.

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Satomi is Satoshi's cousin. She's always together with Shihori and they have the coolest CG together. Again, the writer tried to give her traits discerning from her sister. So Satomi is cheerful, creative, and workaholic, but she's quite irrational.

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Shihori is Satoshi's cousin. The more rational of the two, but she hates cooking and working - more of a city girl. Together with sister they came for several days to rest and see their cousins and their theme is to get out of the town as soon as politeness allows.

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Hibiki is the joker of the game. She only appears on sunset before the end of the day to say some cryptic stuff about the time, the universe etc. Her route is the true route that opens up after clearing all the six heroines. A lot of questions are getting answered in it, so any additional information would be a spoiler.

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Story: Satoshi and Bozo don't have real plans. They just wander around the town that's very ordinary rural town without any discerning feature. There's an Inn, a Soba shob, a souvenir shop, a marketplace, a river bank, a bridge, a clinic, a shrine, a bus stop, a small square with a bronze statue and that's it. Then their cousin sisters arrive and they get a full-scale investigation of the time once more. Here and there there is information that some people get missing, but it's usually neglected as people might just go to hot springs or somewhere. Then their important person disappears (who - depends on route) and start searching around. Eventually everyone disappears but Satoshi and one girl by the day of the Bon festival and after visiting this spirit festival the world resets. That's the loop that keeps on repeating. Composition-wise Cross†Channel is better since the hero works towards getting out of the loop by trying to remember things or writing them down in the diary. Here Satoshi is the same each time - first he's pulled in some merry adventures and then he's on the brink of despair. Through next five routes it's monotonous gameplay since very few events change and there's a lot of movement on the map, so skipping is not fast. Hibiki route that comes with everyone cleared finally puts some dots and breaks the loop without any active actions from Satoshi side. Thus Cross†Channel wins by all the parameters - the charm of characters, the humor, the protagonist, but it is a perfect 10 by my standards, but it came four very saturated years later and had some predecessors - including this work - to fix its flaws.

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CG: Well, I loved its CG. Heroines are gorgeous there. Best to see for yourself.

HCG: What I appreciated was that every heroine got only one H-event (with some exceptions) - in the end of her branch. Those events are short and involve mostly talking in the beginning and in the end so it's the best type.

Sound: Full voicing except for Satoshi protagonist. Just as in Chiruhana the tunes in the first half of the game are absurdly merry, some sound like parade ones. And C's Ware still can't get sound volumes even since both BGM and Voice for different occasions differ a lot.

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Themes and Symbols:

1) Unfortunately there's nothing deep in the main theme of the game - that's just remembering the truth about his deceased mother and thus breaking the loop. Well, there is some cool twist in it, but I won't spoiler.

2) What's much cooler is the mystic atmosphere that's created. There are sounds of bells heard all of a sudden in this town - some say it's the air, some invent more fancy explanations like plazma. And at some point it gets clear that each time the bell rings a person disappears and then it gets scary. This goes very well wit the Obon festival theme - the most pagan and spiritual festival celebrated. There a lot of impact in spirits roundelay. And when your heroine gets sucked it in it's horrifying.

3) There is a bridge in the town. When Satoshi asks what's on the other side of it - noone can answer. Well, that's weird, but we get to forget about if till the situation with the disappearings gets critical. There's a great scene when Satoshi and Bozo set off through the bridge... and the bridge ends and beyond it there is nothingness. Just insane. What's happening? Is this world not real? AM I ALIVE? That's just a wonderful mindscrew.

4) But the deepest theme is quite unnoticeable. It's when doctor says that he wants this damned rural town to disappear with all of the inhabitants. This hate grew strengthened  in him each day. He wanted to break free of it, but was forced by his parents to return after studying. He even had a girlfriend in Tokyo and they had to divorce because he needed to return to this dump. And this is scary, because it's a social reality. Japanese society in some places remains quite archaic. Oldest son has to inherit the house and even the profession of the father and devote his life to whatever miserable life his father had. Well, in case of this game it was not the Doctor who was the source of the disapperings and notes it himself - at first only outsiders and tourists started to disappear and if it was in his power the whole basis of the town should have rot with its core inhabitants.

Overall comments: This game is very good. It has very nice characters, great global mystery and unique strong atmosphere. It's not an S-class work like Eve:Burst Error, but this little cursed game is definitely a masterpiece for me, something that has an ability create memories.

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kivandopulus

For me the best VN of September 1999 is Kazeoto, Chirin. There's such well known game as Memories Off as well, but a I place a good midscrew over a good slice of life in most of cases.


1. Album no Naka no Hohoemi アルバムの中の微笑み [Curecube] VNDB

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You as male main character returns to japan after completing your Europe ART studies. As a rich man's son you were allowed to travel around to seek education around the globe. Now that you have completed your quest its time to return to japan... and marry Satsuki, your preset bride to be. There is a problem, you have got a maid that's been following you most of your life. She likes you. After arriving in Japan, you soon became the art teacher of an all girls school. Now 3 more girls join the wagon and they all want a piece of you alright. Who would you chose?

There is an English review of this work.

 

2. Berries ~Kagayaku Kisetsu ga Owaru Mae ni...~ Berries ~輝く季節が終わる前に…~ [Pocket] VNDB

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Summer. Yuusuke Sugihara runs with a father a family restaurant "BERRIES". One day Yuusuke wakes up and finds a letter on the desk saying that his father went surfing and that Yuusuke should be store manager in his absence. What kind of memories will he gather by the autumn? 

Pocket tried to get into the pocket of gamers and put such high price for this usual setting game - 9,000 yen - that there is still not a single proper review of the game. What's known is that the game has terrible systems, but quite normal content. Still, it' feels more like a doujinshi in a box rather than a professional work.

 

3. EA Mind エアマイン [LiLiM] VNDB

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Near future. Private Maritime Academy is governed by students and its head is student council which consist only of women. All the male students study in oppression there. Main character deliberately transfers to this school in order to set male dominance there.

Frankly speaking, only first part is about domination since in the second part he chooses one of girls' paths. You move around the map and trigger events and fights. Fighting is led till you embarrass opponent enough winning in hit/block game for five rounds. There are five girls to capture. Atmosphere is light and there are enough funny moments. Game period is 10 days and play time is around 5 hours.


4. Entrance エントランス [TinkerBell] VNDB

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Tomoya Kamijo returns to his hometown after 12 years. He has no clear aim and during university course "Learning ways to create a future" he learns his due course. 

There are four heroines. All the characters are linked to the psychology department and this game was supposed to be as close to reality as possible, it's written in a manner of a book. That's all that's known and I bet the price of 8,800 yen has played an important role in that. Pretty soon Tinkerbell will drop all those psychology movements and will only be making hardcore eroge.


5. Guardian ガーディアン [Aaru] VNDB

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Our guy woke up in a dungeon without his memory. What will you have him do? Live life unknown, or go to town and find out who he is? This may sound like a role playing game, but it is a pick your choice adventure game with 90 different endings.

Oh well this kind of games again. 90 endings and stories are ultrashort (some 5 minutes) and follow some typical pattern. It's enough to entertain, but I'd want smth more.


6. Kazeoto, Chirin かぜおと、ちりん [C's Ware] VNDB

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Satoshi, the protagonist, and Takashi his best friend, are both college students who came back to their old town to spend their summer vacation. In their village, Satoshi came back to his small house that is now an inn since his mother died.

But there was some event going on there.

"People will disappear" - a strange woman says to him.

Residents suddenly start to disappear without any reason.

The most optimistics came with the opinion that many people are being spirited away. And no one can avoid that. The hero decide to look into the matter. 

"Do not try to solve this case without us" - said his friend Takashi to the half-hearted hero.

I've actually already written a full review of this work and will publish it next time.


7. Kimi no Kimochi, Boku no Kokoro 君の気持ち、僕のこころ [JAMP] VNDB

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Main hero is a high school student adept in sorcery. He's got the power to possess other people & even animals bodies. 

You don't really possess others as you can't control them - you just peep from their eyes. There are three main heroines, but you can haunt pretty much anyone at any time, so it's very tiresome to try out all the combinations and see if it works. There was no manual released at that time so it was a game of guesses. Difficulty is skyhigh because of that. There are also some technical questions like a very  long load time. Heroines aren't attractive enough and it's not clear what's the target auditory of the game.


8. L-エル- [TopCat] VNDB

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The story takes place in the two weeks right after the protagonist graduates from university.

There's nothing to add to the synopsis. The guy studied so hard that he never seen the city he was studying at and only after graduation went breaking bad. There are eight characters overall. Capturing one heroine takes some hour while not accustomed to the system and some 20 minutes afterwards, so there is a feeling that the content is thin. 


9. LOE ~Legend of Enomoto~ [Aaru] VNDB

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Our guy received an invitation to enter a contest to win a very rich man's inheritance. The contest consist of quizs and games. Other contestants will compete with him. He can either do it alone or with someone's help.

Forget about the story here. There is more to the synopsis in here, but the story does not lead anywhere. It's puzzles + H events and since it's reported that the quantity of H-events is ordinary, I'll leave it be for now.


10. Little Witch Reinette ~Swan no Namida Rhapsody~ リトル・ウィッチ レネット 〜スワンの涙ラプソディ〜 [Kogado Studio] VNDB

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It starts with a magical competition mentioned in original Little Witch Parfait. Now from Reinette point of view.

It's been just five months since releasing the original. So, did you even wanted to be a magical girl and create wondrous recipes? Well, I did not.


11. Maboroshi Tsukiyo まぼろし月夜 [Sims] VNDB

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The player takes the role of Takashi Tanaka who one summer night meets a ghost of a girl in the park, and this ghost starts living with him in his apartment. The ghost can enter other people's bodies too... 

Usual trigger events on the map system. The period is two months. The appeal point of the game is the background of the ghost heroine. She died in Taisho era and is a typical Yamato Nadeshiko. There's a huge culture gap that's the scene for many jokes. There are a lot of colorful characters who are interested in this ghost for various reasons. You can easily shift to one of them, but you need to exorcise Ayame spirit for that, then it's an ordinary galge. But if you pursue Ayame, there's more of the story and as many as two endings prepared.


12. Megami no Haka 女神の破瓜 [Studio Jikkenshitsu] VNDB

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Goddess of Salvation is spreading chaos, devastation, conspiracy, rebellion in the fantasy world and it's not clear whether it's for destruction or creation. Carmine controlled by the spirit of the goddess is looking for a shrine maiden holding "the beads of gods". 

The player takes role of an inquisition officer who aims to eradicate the rebellion spreading around the country and to suppress those who receive the trust of the heretic Goddess of Salvation.

Game's is noticeable for a heavy dark fantasy atmosphere. There's quite a lot of infodumping. In the first half main character moves the story but later on he just moves with the flow. There is no good ending. It may be quite close to being an eroge, but it's impossible to know since the game's is very rare.


13. Memories Off メモリーズオフ [KID] VNDB

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It's a surprisingly bittersweet tale about a guy named Tomoya Mikami who actually was dating the girl of his dreams, Ayaka Hizuki, for a long time...only to have her die tragically a good while before the game starts. The game even begins with Tomoya having a flashback about Ayaka whilst walking to the train station to get to school. On the train, as usual, is Yue Imasaka - a close friend of Tomoya and Ayaka who pretty much grew up with them. The gist of the story is that Tomoya feels that he's spent enough time grieving over the loss of Ayaka and is ready to try his hand at love again and hopefully find another wonderful girl to make beautiful memories with.

Game has English reviews.

 

14. Snow White [Eden] VNDB

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A small town between the sea and the mountains. The last school year passes by and main hero has time before Christmas to settle his feelings.

Hero suffered from consequences of his parents divorce and only partly recovered from that by the last year of school. There are 8 girls. There's a month of time. Both pure love and devil mode are available for the girls.


15. V.G. MAX ヴァリアブル・ジオ MAX [Giga] VNDB

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A game in which the V.G. waitresses are rendered as super deformed (chibi) style characters. Includes the original six V.G. contestants, as well as Satomi Yajima from Advanced V.G., Tamao Mitsurugi from Advanced V.G. 2, Yumiko Watanuki from V.G. II and new character Masako Houjouin.

It's the franchise that comes from the pre-windows era and it's at least the third title in the V.G. fighting series (not visual novel fighting, but real fighting fighting), but it must the first one with substantial ADV part. It's the first such mix with very active fighting action gameplay. There are H insult scenes present. V.G. MAX is said to be of better quality than the predecessors and holding a new interesting character, but overall a very average passable game.

kivandopulus

There's not much to talk about this month. L no Kisetsu: A piece of memories is the only masterpiece of August 1999.  Alas, it's only for PS1 and its sequel for PS2, so it's difficult to hook.

 

1. Baito e Ikou! バイトへ行こう! [Bags] VNDB

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You as main character, gets a winter vacation that you will not forget. Living somewhere on the world, with your parents on vacation, a period of around 2 weeks of solitude is given to you. During this time you will be able to roam around your area and meet new girls. 

Game has an English review.


2. Hajimete no Otsukai ~first adventure of little witch~ はじめてのおつかい ~first adventure of little witch~ [Force] VNDB

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Main character is a black cat Georges who lives with a witch in the forest house. One day master brought a little human girl Apple. 100 years passed and master decided that Apple should see the world. The cat was sent with her to bodyguard and counsel her. And so they set off.

Cat can not talk to the girl so he uses cries and gestures, but he's perfectly understood. There are five stories that take the period of another 10 years. In one of them prince is met and helped so in a sense it might be called a romance story with the prince. Total length is only about two hours. Story lacks integrity since we just wondering around and then it's the end. The feature of this game is that H-events are seen from a point of view of woman.

 

3. Kaleidoscope ~Bankakyou~ カレイドスコープ ~万華鏡~ [Ange] VNDB

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Shogo decided to spend university summer vacations doing a part-time job. He gets a job in Kodoin family mansion where a doll-like girl with emotions closed to the world lives. Shogo manages to gradually return here to senses and gets involved into a plot to claim family's heritage. At the same time Shogo's girlfriend visits the same mansion as tutor. How will Shogo settle all that?

Multiple endings story (without bad ones). Gameplay is fully decisions driven. And it looks quite stupid that according to the decision events start to happen instantly without any context built up. There is a decadent atmosphere of madness inside the mansion and some disturbing events are happening there. 


4. Kanojo no Kimochi 彼女のキモチ [Wedding Cake] VNDB

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Main character is a high school student who is good at basketball and who has a girlfriend. But as graduation approaches he gets fatigued of his girlfriend. Older memories call him and he is going to pay a visit to his other acquaintances. 

There are three heroines. Hero is difficult to sympathize with. Events are depicted very unrealistically. 


5. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 3: Seiryuu Densetsu Satsujin Jiken 金田一少年の事件簿 3:青龍伝説殺人事件 [Digital Frontier] VNDB

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In this case Kindaichi & Mijuki go to an island and they are in the Seiryu Hotel and when they are in the reception a murdered happened in the elevator, Kindaichi & Mijuri helped police inspector Kenmochi solving the case. The game featured 4 different cases in the Seiryu Hotel.

The third case of our boy detective. After reading that my attention got completely lost.


6. L no Kisetsu: A piece of memories Lの季節 A piece of memories [5pb. Games & Tonkin House] VNDB

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Main character works for school newspaper. One morning a student falls unconscious and after that the number of victims of the strange illness increases. The newspaper staff decide to start own investigation and find out what causes the illness. 

Despite the synopsis it's a fantasy or rather both fantasy and reality since there are two plot lines with different heroes that move separately in each world, but are heavily connected. Somewhat like in Guity Exodus. Difficulty degree is not high, but to reach the best ending it's important to keep affection level of characters high and for that to use proper lines. There are four main heroines and some sub-heroines. There are questions to those sub-heroines routes, but main heroines routs are great. There are multiple endings and first playthrough is going to be a bad end, just accept it. There's a lot of animation and just an awesome opening. So it's a high quality galge with a good plot - that alone makes it a masterpiece since most of its competitors settle with ordinary plots and focus only on relations.


7. Ningyou no Kizuato 人形の傷跡 [Child Dream] VNDB

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It is the end of the year in December.

Asumi has lost complete contact with her elder sister who goes to a graduate school in Tokyo.

Worried for her sister's safety, Asumi travels alone to Tokyo to find her – but no trace of her could be found. Her sister wasn't in the laboratory where she had been assigned to, nor at her apartment.

Asumi is at loss as for what to do…

What has happened to her sister…?

Asumi is determined to find out.

What she doesn't know, however, is that she is in imminent danger… and there are frightening facts awaiting her.

Game is localized and has English reviews.


8. Pinocchia no Miru Yume ピノッチアのみる夢 [Plus&Plus] VNDB

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You can choose between a male and female protagonist, and play as a doll/puppet maker who's about to starve to death on Christmas Eve due to the inability to make a "pinocchia", a doll that looks and acts like a real human being (but isn't truly alive), and make enough money to feed yourself. As you slip into unconsciousness, you plead to any higher being that's listening to grant you a pinocchia, willing to give your life in exchange.... and wake up the next morning, with a "new-born" pinocchia in your hands. 

A raising SIM. Gender is decided at the age of 5 and one of three personality types is determined at the age of 14. Romancing only allowed in the very end if you raise her/him good. There are 12 different endings (6 for each gender, good/bad for each personality). There are some mind-blowing fantasy events and some minigames to diffuse the raising process. 


9. Tatakae! Princess たたかえ!プリンセス [Triangle] VNDB

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Hero is a boy who likes inventing just as his genius parents who live abroad. One day a mysterious capsule with a girl inside it falls from the sky. She is a princess of some star in the Universe. In her royal family there's a habit of practice as a servant on other stars, but she failed the first attempt and came to train to the Earth where invasion level was low. Still doubtful, hero allows her to stay with him in the mansion and he's got no complaints with her cooking and cleaning. She even starts to visit the same school as his cousin. Then one day a shady figure shows up at the mansion...

The number of episodes is 5. Play time is around 5 hours. The system and the flow is totally the same as the earlier two works of Triangle - Angel and Cowboy babe. H element is quite high, but it's a gag bakage comedy first of all.

kivandopulus

Wow, there's a mortal combat between such titans as Team Baldrhead, Alice Soft and Studio e.go this month. Well, Men at Work is the second RPG offspring of Studio e.go and it's just too simplistic to compete yet. Baldrhead is also the first part in the series and suffers from some technical problems and short duration. Mamatoto ~a record of war~ on the other hand is quite a polished rpg that even has English patch and it is the VN of the Month July 1999.


1. 7Days Girl [Pocket] VNDB

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Hero knew girl Hime when he was a child. She had a soft old-fashioned character. Now he meets her in Tokyo and she's totally different. It turns out that Hime suffers from personality disorder and each day of week she's a different person - seven in total. Hero asks gets a permission to look after Hime for a month to try to heal the distortion. Can he change Hime in just 4 weeks of living together? 

All that is left to the hero.

Well, the personality that gets the most favorability wins. The conditions for the True End are very strict. Game systems is bad in the way that the speed is very slow. A well balanced work with a fresh concept.

 

2. Baldrhead ~Busou Kinyuu Gaiden~ BALDRHEAD~武装金融外伝~ [Team Baldrhead] VNDB

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It's the future where the technology is being over-used and at the same time conflicts between countries and religion occur which causes a loss in theory and technology. The world is now in corrupted towns with ruins of ancient technology everywhere. The story takes place in future Japan,and the hero of the game is an ex-mercenary called Bloody Baldy who earns his living by being an armament banker...

Baldrhead is a linear adventure game with 2D action-shooter elements.

There is an English review of this game.


3. Be With! [Jewel] VNDB

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Hero has not had his hair cut for three years due to fear of having ears cut off. When his sister finally managed to cut his hair, girls in the school started to look at him with interest. What kind of future will he choose?

Game is quite short, but it's fully voiced (apart of protagonist) and quite funny. There are five heroines and they are strong willed and quite nicely outlined. Through several choices you choose a girl/several girls and there's an ending. Graphics is quite unusual. But the most disappointment is in the systems. There aren't options at all and BGM is deafening with all those beats. BGM is like 10 times louder than voices so it's quite difficult to discern phrases while it trumpets. 


4. Dearest Vampire ディアレスト・ヴァンパイア [Air Plants] VNDB

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Our guy is 1/8 vampire. His grandfather asked him to take care of a dead friend's family, which include four sisters and one brother. So now, in the first two months, he can chase after those four sisters, his maid, childhood girl, rival's sister or another vampire. The chasing is easy since he can check a location to see who is there before going, one advantage of a vampire I guess. In the later two months, he has to find a way to tell the girl he loves that he is a vampire and has to go through some obstacles to win her.

Game play is not good as it follows the same pattern: Good morning → Map move → Event → Date management screen → repeat from the next day . The whole game period of four months is divided into the first half (until harvest festival dance) and the second half which is actually division into general route and choosing a heroine and heroine routes. There are also mini-games. Clear is difficult since there is a random element in events generation and in order to capture a girl the whole chain of events must be triggered. The work is centered around love obstacles - hero has an evident race difference and girls have their own themed obstacles. There are six main heroines and two sub-heroines.

 

5. Girl Doll Toy 2 ~The Messenger~ Girl Doll Toy 2 ~使者~ [Uran] VNDB

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For five years since the events of the prequel Erica has been living peacefully with Satoru. Satoru left the laboratory shortly after creating Erica. Following his notes the laboratory was able to create Erica Version 2, but the result was poor and director proceeded to illegal means. Meteor shower was launched to mount Fuji and at the same time Erica started to suffer from brain disorder. What caused the illness? Will Satoru be able to find the cure?

Well, there are zero reviews for this game, but it's basically the third game in the franchise with totally the same heroine, so I guess everyone got tired of it by the third game. The suggested mystery is not appealing at all to check it out.


6. Hakanai Omoi ~Anemone~ 儚想 ~あねもね~ [Pearl Soft] VNDB

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The city where the old and the new live together.

Hero lost parents early and last year his grandmother also died. Since then he moved to distant relatives. Occasionally a mysterious memory of a girl crosses his head and the level of confusion gradually rises...

Play time is around 8 hours. Everyday scenes are substitute by the need to say something funny and those pseudo fun sequences last for a very long time, just to eat up players time. Then it gets only more confusing and ends with a fluke. Characters are totally unmemorable. Protagonist is one big hetare with amnesia. Even in the end he can't decide anything ... "because all the friends are precious to me". And it's a linear game with choices only for additional CG, so you can't decide on anything. A surprisingly tiresome story without any appeal points.


7. Heisa Byoutou no Megami-tachi ~Goddess of Close Ward~ 閉鎖病棟の女神たち ~Goddess of Close Ward~ [Archive] VNDB

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Our guy wakes up in a hospital without remembering anything. It seems he fell from a pedestrian overpass to the street. He is now in a hospital ward with 3 nurses and a female doctor. Can he remember his past and does he even want to?

It's a very confusing scenario. The theme is madness. There are many memory pieces flashes, but it does not get into integral story. Even in the ending there is no impact. The degree of H is medium.


8. Heroine ヒロイン [Cherry Soft] VNDB

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Our guy transferred to a new school. He is just in time to save the school theater club from being canceled. He gets to pick his heroine out of 3 girls for their next play. He also has to set schedule for set building, customs making, and practicing. Well, no matter, he still has time to chase the 5 club girls and 2 others.

We need to pass preliminary theatrical competition and then participate in the main event and for that need the right choices. Parameters and schedule are still here, so there's a lot of work to do. Three obligatory parameters must reach 100% by the contest or it's game over. The story is orthodox and very thin. There are a lot of events to try and fix that. There is a huge number of choices - each between three lines - even on the most trivial matters, so clearing is difficult.


9. Hyper Broken ~Tamashii no Chikara~ Hyper Broken ~魂のチカラ~ [Escu:de] VNDB

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The protagonist thinks that he is the strongest fighter around his school, until he got totally trashed by a new rival. If that wasn't bad enough, his sister got murdered and he was left for dead in his burning house. He got saved and found out that he has the potential to become the strongest person on earth. Will his girlfriend and other friends be able to keep him from the revenge-driven dark side of his power?

Poor Escu:de - it started with a very plain romance work and now fills the shoes of another visual novel fighting. What differs it from Crazy Knuckle 2 is very high production values and engaging and moderately difficult battles. Hero is very colorful and is voiced which creates a very solid atmosphere. Game uses songs very efficiently at crucial moments. Considered the limitations of the genre Escu:de managed to produced a paragon visual novel fighting.


10. Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu ~Primary~ 君がいた季節 ~Primary~ [Age] VNDB

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Masaki has 4 childhood friends – Yayoi, Michiru, Marika and Akira who are all sisters, they let him stay in one of their family’s apartments since he doesn’t live with his family. Masaki’s hobby is photography and one day, he meets a famous photographer who lets Masaki become his apprentice. Time passes, and Masaki also gets a girlfriend too and life couldn’t be any happier for him. However, one day he is asked to go to America to work in the huge photography business over there but he thinks that having a long distance relationship would be incredibly hard. He now has a life-changing decision to make – does he follow his dream or does he stay with the person who he loves most in this world?

There is an English review of this game.


11. Koi no Sweet Tart wa Ikaga? 恋のスイートタルトはいかが? [Love Gun] VNDB

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There is a coffee shop "Gerbera" on the bank of a beautiful lake in Tokyo. Cute girls are serving as waitresses and establishment is famous for its homemade cakes. Hero is a university student who works here part-time as a waiter. This summer will be most entertaining!

The biggest difference of this game from other cafe games is that the number of characters is very small - just four heroines. At least it allows to build up a lot of unique events and advancements for each heroine. Branching starts right after welcome party and even dialogues change with increased favorability. Yayoi is the main heroine and she has the longest route of all. There is a good and a bad ending for each heroine as well as a lonely ending.


12. Mamatoto ~a record of war~ ママトト ~a record of war~ [Alice Soft] VNDB

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You (Nanasu) are the prince of Mamatoto. You go out and conquer other nations in order to conquer the world.

There is stability/stalemate, so none of the nations can actually take over the world because if they start a war with another country, a third one might have an advantage. Mamatoto is different it has zero territory to worry about. The problem is, it doesn't have much of a population either. So you don't really have an army, thus for many years, Mamatoto, the moving fortress, has been hiding in the monster lands.

You, Nanasu, who has studied magic really hard has recently invented magic to create these magical soldiers. These soldiers are made via cards which you can obtain via battles. So the more battles you fight, the more cards you collect, and the more troops you have in reserve. So now, Mamatoto, the fastest moving fortress in the world, started its move to conquer the world. Mamatoto's goal isn't to get territory - it's to take out governments.

Game's localized - there's an English and a Polish review.


13. Men at Work! メンアットワーク! [Studio e.go!] VNDB

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The game takes place in a Middle-Age western European town. At the daytime it is a very active and joyous town. However at night it's another story. After sun sets, monsters will lurk all around town which raises concern about the safety of the townspeople. As a result the town has set up a guild of hunters who go around at night and kill these monsters. Most of these hunters are doing so for money, and they rarely reveal their true identity to anyone. The player takes on the role of Wil, who in daytime is a geeky part-time history teacher, but at night is a strong hunter.

There's an English and a Russian review.


14. Sei Inma ~Ijimete Inku-chan~ 聖☆淫魔 ~いじめてインクちゃん~ [Desire] VNDB

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Takahiro is a novice teacher. A demon suddenly appears before him saying that she's half angel and half demon and she does not qualify to enter either faction because of that. The strange cohabitation and rigorous training begins. Will she grow into an angel or a demon?

A raising SIM. Both angle and demon ways are possible. Game's strange that it does not have time limit. Otherwise a normal training SIM with parameters and play time around 3 hours.


15. Sorceress Empire ソーサレス・エンパイア [Blue Bell] VNDB

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The era when magic declines gradually and is about to be replaced by science and technology. But there are still "demon" race monsters living on the outskirts of the empire and organizing skirmishes at border guards. 

Hero is a battle magician responsible for three failure students. They have personal conditions that prevent them from learning normally. You have a year to train them into excellent witches.

There's a good dozen of parameters to track. As girls grow, they can summon a powerful monster that can participate in battles. Difficulty is easy and it's ok to train all three girls simultaneously. Despite the emphasized personal drama of each girl, the training method is almost identical, the difference is only in ADV sequences. It's a very good attempt to revitalize boring raising SIMs.


16. Triangle Heart 2 ~Sazanami Joshiryou~ とらいあんぐるハート2 ~さざなみ女子寮~ [Ivory] VNDB

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Makihara Kosuke works as a substitute janitor of woman dormitory, “Sazanami So”, while the regular janitor, who is his aunt, travels abroad. The contract term is almost over, but he has one thing worried about. Among the member of the dormitory, only Jinnai Mio doesn’t open out to him and doesn’t try to eat his dishes. Then, he makes the former janitor’s favorite dish to let her eat.

Moege. There is map movement to trigger events. Characters are cute and atmosphere is relaxed. But there are 12 heroines and the number of CG for each is small. Period is one year and intervals between the events are quite large. Play time is some 5 hours for first time and about 2 hours with skip for the next ones. The impact is less than the previous work. Nothing really stands out and such games are soon to be forgotten.


17. Utsusemi うつせみ ~空蝉~ [Black Package] VNDB

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Our guy trains with a famous author. As a test for him, he is sent to gather info from a performance group, with the author's daughter tagging alone. There seem to be rumors about how this group gets their donations. If he can chase one girl per chapter, he will find out what this all has to do with a big fire 18 years ago. 

Taisho era. The flow is like this: first movement → lunch break (information exchange with the teacher) → second movement → evening automatic event → night. There are many H scenes with different characters, but romance relations are only possible with one heroine which is set right from the first chapter. One playthrough is less than 10 hours and all the mysteries are only poured in the last chapter that lasts about 30 minutes. There are multiple endings, including a bad one. But generally it's a one-way road with couple opportunities for mistakes. There is no distinguishing feature to call it a masterpiece, but overall a very solid work with beautiful CG centered on Tasho era.

kivandopulus

The VN of June 1999 is Kanon. Not because it's well known - that's irrelevant. But because I've found a route in it that I totally liked. I'm talking about Mai route, the demon hunter. The main funny part coupled with night school hunt were a cool mix. The three-sided friendship of Mai-Sayuri-Yuuichi was just perfect, because the bonds between the girls were so firm and that they understood each other completely compared to Yuuichi who doubted them often. There are night evil spirits fights, lots of swordplay, cool and always right Mai - what's not to like here? I did not notice forced drama or sleazy relations there. Well, the last hour of Mai route was horrible, because nothing happens apart of childhood memories and desperate attempts to squeeze a tear by endless repeats of the same things. I safely ignored the last hour and thus saved only good memories about Mai route. I'm not going to explore other heroines routes since I'm not ok with their personalities and/or mental health. So hip hip hooray to Kanon, the great devil hunter story or at least so I remember it for. I'm absolutely assured that the main power of Key is in creating very enjoyable drama-free general routes and heroines routes and especially endings fall into being forced nakige.


1. Adam: The Double Factor [C's Ware] VNDB

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Marina and Kojiroh have returned!

Kojiroh's Scenario- A woman, who introduces herself as the President's Secretary, appeared in Kojiroh's office as a client. The woman's request was to have Kojiroh as her boss's bodyguard, whose life is in danger. Kojiroh took the case and went to meet President Ando... And the daughters Mika and Miki. Kojiroh asks Ando why his life is in danger, but Ando refuses to answer... Kojiroh has been dragged into the problem without knowing the reason.

Marina's Scenario- Marina, who has been reinstated with the Cabinet of Investigation, took the case of investigating the successive murders in Japan by Chief Kono's request. As the investigation goes along, Marina finds a sole survivor, who is the daughter of one of the victims, and went to see her. Her name is Yuka. Throughout Marina's investigations, the time to decide to help Yuka or not to will come... All the while serving to protect Yuka...

Game is localized and has English reviews. If everything goes ok, I'll prepare reviews for the full series of Eve games except for the original well known Burst error.


2. Amai Kankei 甘い姦計 [Logg] VNDB

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Hero is given an envelope by a mysterious woman in front of school. Inside is a handgun ... He is surprised and hides the gun for the time being. If there is a gun involved, it's destined to shoot sometime...

Basically this is further degraded variation of Heart Work Symphony of Destruction. Same gun involvement, same short scenarios with same multiple ends. The major difference is that Logg work is weaker in H department.


3. Chuu Shite... チューして… [Kur-Mar-Ter] VNDB

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Kiss?

Yup. It means draw one month close to another month.

Why people kiss?

I do not know, but ... I tried it yesterday

Does it tickle?

Yup. My mouth was licked as if it was going to be eaten

Fuwa ...

So, let's try it.

Yup…

- And that girl pulled her lips towards me and closed her eyes.

ADV with map choice. There are five heroines. It's quite ero tilt. Routes scenarios are bad as if they come from a bad Hollywood movie. It's light themed but leaves an irritated feel.


4. Fresh! ~Teens Memory~ Fresh! ~ティーンズ・メモリー~ [Bell-Da] VNDB

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You play the role of Narusawa Daisuke who is now living with your grandfather and just got transferred to a new high school and meets new people. From time to time you will switch perspectives from Daisuke to the girls so you can understand what they are thinking and more importantly how they are feeling deep inside their hearts. This means that not only will you make decisions for Daisuke but occasionally for the girls also. 

There is an English review of the game.


5. Hyakka Ryouran 百花繚乱 [Nihon Plantech] VNDB

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Hero was about to live the last months before graduation peacefully when he was forced to transfer to all-girls school where his father was a chairman. What will happen to the only male student in all-girl school?

A hundred flowers... quite a shouting title. There are only four heroines though, each with 2-3 endings. This is a comedy with strange not really funny jokes. The characters are very eccentric. Hero is an imbecile whose hobby is to sleep and whose super ability is to sleep anywhere with any circumstances. Oh, and he's mega rich. Game's short - 2 hours for first playthrough.


6. Ikinari Mujintou!? いきなり無人島!? [iMAGE CLUB] VNDB

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Uninhabited island. Blue sky, coral sea and white sand beach. Our ship sunk and we were drifted to it. All we can do is wait for help. 

But just waiting is boring. There is even a girl who always wanted to live like this once. Anyway, our uninhabited island life begins.

Mujintou Monogatari fame does not let competitors sleep soundly. Here's another work with survival element reduced to minimum and love element increased shamelessly. The routine is done by command selection and there's a lot of routine early on. The number of game events is small. As for H-events, there's only one per heroine who are five overall. Length is small and the aim "to wait" is not the best motivation. Very ordinary game, though a lively one.


7. Kana ~Imouto~ 加奈~いもうと~ [D.O. & Takayashiki Development] VNDB

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You have a sister by the name of Kana, who is 2 years younger than you are. You are an important figure to her; you have always watched over her. You have always taken care of her and loved her.

Kana is also an important figure to you.

It's not love or like, but it's something special.

You care about her a lot and you feel that you have to protect her.

You wish for her eternal happiness, but you just don't know how you feel about Kana.

Yet. . .

Game is localized and it got a large number of reviews.


8. Kanon [Key] VNDB

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Yuuichi Aizawa, a high school student, returns to a town that he last visited 7 years previously to live with his aunt and cousin. For a reason he’s not quite sure of, he can hardly remember anything about his last visit, but initially this doesn’t seem to worry him too much.

The day after he arrives he goes into town where he (literally) bumps into a girl named Ayu Tsukimiya, and Yuuichi’s memories slowly begin to return.

Game is localized and has many reviews.


9. Lost Mind ~Yuganda Sekai~ LOST MIND ~歪んだ世界~ [Active Soft] VNDB

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You're Mina, a housemaid. You've lost your memory and serve at a household together with other maids. Which is SLG part, as you need to clean up the house, wash etc. trying to keep everything below a certain dirtyness level (100) without exhausting yourself. The other maids aren't necessarily your friends and with lots of woman around there are plenty of chances for yuri action (but it's not limited to that). Needless to say there is also a secret to uncover...

Events vary according to parameters. Player sees the story from the viewpoint of main heroine. Only the ending is going to explain the meaning behind "irregular world" in the title. Game is divided by chapter and chapters names vary by the decisions made, so there is some replay value. So there is some intrigue in the story, but high difficulty level and monotonous gameplay stand in the way.

 

10. Maid Hakusho メイド白書 [Sweet] VNDB

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All Japan Maid Championship will be held in 3 months and you need to choose your champion out of four candidates and train her into the best maid Japan ever seen.

Aww, another maid SIM. You set maid's schedule and train them in various maid specialties like cleaning and cooking or more exotic ones like dancing and English conversation. But other three rivals are strong and in the nighttime you also need to obstruct other three maids using variety of attacks killing their motivation to compete. This maid obsession is getting kind of nuts.


11. Room with Lina ルームウィズリナ [Episode] VNDB

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Lina Kanzaki helped main hero when he was got drunk under the rain. She continues to live in his house with some purpose. By becoming friends he will know the secret of Lina.

Some innovative SIM that introduces lots of excessive instruments like all kinds of schedulers, address books, notepads etc.


12. Shanghai Gensoutan Teito Kitan Gaiden 上海幻想譚 帝都奇譚外伝 [deeps] VNDB

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Several months after events of Teito Kitan ~Doushi Tantei no Jiken Memo~. Kudo  was staying at Iwasaki residence in Shanghai with Aya when they were assaulted and Aya kidnapped. Iwasaki tells Kudo that the attack was done by members of "The Legion Party", a secret society that appeared in Shanghai lately. Kudo takes maid Masha as assistant and starts investigation.

This work is same obscure as its prequel. There are three scenarios plus a bonus one after all cleared. Game system is same bad as of the prequel. Memory leak noticed. Game was made as a result of the call to create more beautiful works with beautiful music about Taisho era - aesthetic side dominates here. Story lacks excitement, but atmosphere of Shanghai before the Second World War is quite lovely depicted.

 

13. Stay With... ~Karen ga Kureta Kisetsu~ Stay With… ~カレンがくれた季節~ [Tenshindo] VNDB

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Kazuya steals an android girl that was going to be disposed of. In couple days android suddenly starts to move and talk - so they start living together. However, android Karen 's secret is is concealed in the depths of a mysterious organization. 

Jeez, synopsis copied entirely from Girl Doll Toy ~Tamashii o Kudasai~ from 1997. Music and drawing are beautiful and full voicing is luxurious. But voice sound level is unstable and story is too short and weak. This work is of very low price segment.


14. Twins Story: Kimi ni Tsutaetakute... ツインズストーリー きみにつたえたくて・・・ [Panther Software Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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Sixteen years age is an unforgettable time of school life full of chatting with friends and searching for love. At such time hero has to start living with his annoying twin sister while parents stay abroad. The best year of life begins now!

System-wise quite a typical D-SIM, but with PS1 title animation charm. There are 12 heroines to capture which is a LOT. In addition to usual parameters there are internal parameters that change according to conversations. So clearing is very difficult. At least there is not BAD END and even if you fail miserably you're forced into ending with Nami girl. One playthrough is slightly over 10 hours. Twin sister is the main attraction of the game but her story is not really special.

 

15. You & I [Tiare] VNDB

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Hero was absent at school due to traffic incident. Now with a new semester he finally comes to school and starts to feel interest from girls in his class. A new feeling is being born.

Pretty much nothing is known about the game apart of the fact that there are six girls and their personalities. All of them are school students, so it must be a normal school love story.


16. Yuuhi no Naka de Kimi wa 夕陽の中で君は [Saba] VNDB

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The games story starts when YOU the main character, Male, goes into a town for a vacation. During the Vacation wild things started to happen and from it you find the person that you loved for soo long.

There is an English review.

kivandopulus

There should be no two opinions about this, Comic party rocked May 1999. It's very difficult for a SIM to gain my approval, but all the elements fit here perfectly. So far there have not been more than a couple of doujin games released, but this game has woken the devil of 2000s.

1. Akatsuki no Ganshou 暁の岩礁 [System Rose] VNDB

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Main character is a teacher at a private girls' school. One day he and his students set off on excursion to Yokohama port and then by luxurious liner "Ingleb" to Hong Kong. However, they fall into a trap set by someone just before departure. Can they safely survive?

There are nine girls and each has her own unique survival route to follow even though they all start off the same prologue. One route takes roughly one hour. There are a lot of time limit events with bad end prepared. Some routes involve mini-games. The gags are surprisingly mature and best fit for the age of 30s. So it's very difficult to stuff something more than a suspense action scenario and a hasty H-event in one-hour route and that's exactly what this game is.

 

2. Comic Party こみっくパーティー [Leaf] VNDB

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Early April, Kazuki Sendō is invited by his friend, Taishi Kuhonbutsu, to come with him to Tokyo Big Sight. He is surprised to see thousands of people waiting in line to get in. Apparently they're at Comic Party, a giant dōjinshi convention. Once inside, Kazuki meets some of the dōjinshi artists and is surprised to find himself enjoying their work. Taishi convinces Kazuki to draw dōjinshi after their visit because he recognizes Kazuki's skill as an artist, but Kazuki's childhood friend Mizuki tries to talk him out of it because she believes otakus are smelly, dirty, and disgusting. Her reasoning doesn't help because Kazuki already made up his mind and begins to draw his first dōjinshi.

Game has lots of English reviews.


3. Girl Doll Toy Gaiden Azami Girl Doll Toy 外伝 AZAMI [Uran] VNDB

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Protagonist is a Treasure Hunter who comes to a foreign land to get Miron 's treasure, but is reported and arrested by archaeologist Yuki. Hero agrees to cooperate and gets released - together with Yuki they get on an adventure.

Story is good, but system is troublesome so it can't be really recommended. Uran got turned on Doll Toy and he's getting the third game in this franchise just in July 1999. That's all that's known about this game and there's no motivation to check it out.

 

4. Marionette Company マリオネットカンパニー [Micro Cabin] VNDB

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In Marionette Company your character happens to come across a broken android girl (called "marionettes" in the game) weakly crying for your help inside a cardboard box abandoned in dark alleyway. You of course decide to pick the poor thing up and repair her to the best of your ability. However there's still much work to be done on her to make her as "human" as possible.

There's an English review of this game.


5. Mujintou Monogatari RR 無人島物語RR [KSS Inc.] VNDB

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Events take place on an uninhabited island around Hawaii. There is electricity and basic facilities ready. Resort love story begins now!

Game's gone pretty far from its origins. There is no superficial element of prequels and there is basically everything ready and it's even a resort... really... it's survival game series, not a vacation rabu-rabu, for god's sake! Battle gets really like jrpg. This is one of the last games in the series and I think everyone got tired reinventing the same setting for the 10th time.

 

6. Pythian ピュティア [Studio e.go!] VNDB

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The world collapsed, before that, people would actively researching Psionics. In the new era, people who with psionics power became decadent aristocracy and dominate the continent for years. Rebellion broken out and took over, soon neighbouring country took the chance to invade.

Protagonist suffered amnesia, believing that artefacts have a link to his memory recovery, come to the capital to investigate surrounding ruins amid the chaos.

SRPG. There are 15 chapters, each with 0 to 3 battles. Game balance is not the best. Story is very difficult to grasp - it's not integral enough and some plot twists look really random. Game features special undressing system.


7. Sakura Biyori さくら日和 [May-Be Soft] VNDB

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Ronji Mizushima failed to pass entrance exams and moved to Sakura Heights boarding house to study as ronin. He chose this place because the rent was cheap and landlord was a beautiful woman. It turned out that it was inhabited only by women and thus his life in an apartment full of women begins.

I should probably have blocked this game because it's a borderline eroge. It's mostly remembered by the description on the box "How much ecchi can SLG contain"? And the answer is a LOT. Even though it's a raising SIM, all the girls are nymphomaniacs. Still it's most unusual for such boring genre as a raising SIM to be H-oriented, so I'll let it slip for now. There are some 8 heroines and also guests who make only occasional appearance. We take care of hero's weekly schedule for 11 months. There are four parameters to worry about.


8. Seisen Ren'ai Yuugi 聖戦 恋愛遊戯 [Rare] VNDB

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Frontier planet "XIAN" far from the Earth. There are no planetary governments and the two major conglomerates of Ron and Zoroa dominate and prosper by free trade. Ryuta graduated from the military academy and came to Shan, the land of memories of his deceased father. He was welcomed by Ron Ron, the general commander of the army, and was invited to the Mayfa Corps Base, which is the headquarters. In the meantime president Ray Long suddenly dies. At the same time unknown identity enemies attack the base. Ryuta picks up three young ace pilot girls and tries to organize defense. From now on they are being swallowed by the war...

Tactic strategy mix. Only one girl pilots the mecha and it depends on favorability. In battle there are three types of robots: proximity type, middle range type, and long range type. Enemy turns take quite a long time. When girl attacks, you gain favorability, when she suffers damage or you're far from her, you lose favorability. One playthrough is about 8 hours.

 

9. Suzu ga Utau Hi 鈴がうたう日 [Tactics] VNDB

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A small town along the sea. A slight tide smell in the air ... in such a town I met a girl. Gir's name is Suzu. That small incident changed the boring summer and turned it into an irreplaceable season that I won't be able to forget till the rest of my life...

Split with Key was devastating for Tactics. Their new game has the same systems as "One". The text is quite bad, but some gags are ok. You need to choose places on a the map and check if it triggers some event, so it's not really fun. Game period is 20 days. One playthrough is just 3 hours. There's no voicing. Characters are... I don't know, but anything but cute. Only Suzu route has some meaning in it, but it's not good either. A very plain and much more inferior game than "One".


10. Venus Revolution ヴィーナスレヴォリューション [Abel Software] VNDB

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Once per several hundred  years the Gods summon a human to their domain for eight days to study human nature. Main character is such a summoned man. Different Gods represent different elements and main character is given cards representing different elements to use wisely in conversations.

I tried to play that since it was Abel Software... and it's plain horrible. It's just a hundred megabytes in size, ugly, with only mouse control, no skipping or even instant text drawing and with zero options at all... After small introduction you're thrown on a map where you can visit different Gods and use conversation cards... That's basically it, with clever use of cards and diligence you should gain any God's trust. And now the most important thing... this work is not made by Abel directly, it was made by "Art Club" company and only published by Abel Soft group, so it should not really be considered an Abel game.

kivandopulus

Lipstick Adv.EX does not have rivals this month for me since I really need some plot to enjoy the game, not just a school setting with some twist. It's not without flaws, but I'm being sentimental here after its older prequels.


1. 30 Days [Kurage Club] VNDB

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Hero is an ordinary high school student who used to be a national level kendo sportsman till his father abandoned him in junior school. He has hated his father ever since. He was adopted by another family but he does not feel at home there. One day a news of his father's death arrives and it's going to change everything in his life...

Multi-end ADV with four endings, one for each girl. They are mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law and a classmate. Game is linear with the only significant choice determining girl of interest.  There is much animation used and Kurage Club takes roots from the same Umitsuki Production company that the famous full-animated works brand Jellyfish. A series of incidents breaks out with his hero father's death, but romance is developing at the same time and those two lines look alien to each other. But generally speaking it's the story of pessimistic boy who gets over his hatred towards father with the warmth of family members or a classmate. And that grows into knowing the will of his father  and accomplishing it. That kind of story.

 

2. Angel Court [R.A.N.Software] VNDB

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Richard Baguel is a young businessman and a competent architecture designer. By a twist of fate he gets to the heavens and with a divide intervention he gets to change his destiny.

Story is quite loose. There is full voicing. It's basically a pure love story and the degree of H-events is not very high. There are very few choices.

 

3. Binetsu Jounetsu 微熱・情熱 [Cat's Pro.] VNDB

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Yoshio Kusunoki was drinking with an old man at the bar. He was told that a mansion not far from the town has only girls as workers and now is recruiting. The next morning that old man died of heart attack in an alley and Yoshio looked at his last words about the mansion as a testament and set off for the mansion.

Cat's Pro is a notable game brand from PC-98 era and it returns after 5 years of slumber. Game period is five months including three months of a trial period. Each day consists of morning and evening with a rest time between them. If you do not work, you get mansion destruction point and with three points it's game over. But losing characters sympathy is even worse. There are six heroines to win attention of. So it's quite a boring game that's saved only by its small volume of about 4 hours altogether.


4. Crank Up ga Matenakute クランクアップが待てなくて [Seal Staff] VNDB

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Fujimi is a third grade school student who attends school cinema club and dreams of shooting a film. Finally he gets such opportunity. Now he needs to appoint the roles and find the main heroine for the film out of many worthy beautiful girl candidates.

Setting is late 80s so it's a nice retro feeling. There are very few choices. There are three heroines. The volume is quite small, around 2 hours.


5. Datenshi Bokujou 堕天使牧場 [M's] VNDB

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There is a world where only women are born. Occasionally a man is sent from the sky to maintain population. Here is such man who has no memory of previous life. Unlike earlier sent men he's not a crude person. He wants to get memories back.

There are six heroines to capture. There are BAD ENDs as well. Some heroines routs open up only after clearing other heroines routes. Volume is around 2 hours. 


6. Deep Purple ディープパープル [Studio Nekopunch] VNDB

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In a small village on the North Pole witches live. They are forever young and beautiful magic wielders. But first of all they are girls. They feel the need for love, friendship, thrill, suspense, violence, laugh just like everyone else. One of witches starts an investigation to learn the truth about her best friend's death during magical experiment.

This is a debut work of Studio Nekopunch. First of all, this is a Yuri work. Volume is small, around 2 hours. There are only several choices. Prologue is serious, but it's a comedy work for the rest of the game. Operation is mouse only, no skip function. 


7. Lipstick Adv.EX リップスティックアドベンチャーEX [Fairytale] VNDB

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The story starts as a usual day of Detective Ichijou Megumi and his assistant, Hidaka Koume. Like many detective games, this detective has not gotten any case for a long time. As a result, he just wonders aimlessly around the town flirting with a female in public library and helps Koume's Detective Club out to find the culprit of stealing her classmate's clothes. While these two events seemed irrelevant, it is a slow pavement behind a big evil (?!) scheme hidden in the city.

In this game, you will be switching between perspectives of the detective and his assistant.

Game has an English review. It's your only chance to pick up a part of Lipstick ADV legacy on Windows.


8. Little Witch Parfait リトルウィッチ パルフェ [Kuroneko-san Team & Kogado Studio] VNDB

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Parfait Sucreal is a young witch, who is yet in training and full of clumsiness in raising a potion shop called Black Cat Market run by her mother and Parfait's black cat, Sakemas, who can amazingly talk. A year ago from the time this game was set, her mother had died from an illness - her father was a famous wizard who died from saving the kingdom when Parfait was young.

At the beginning, Parfait introduces herself and tells the player that she is almost at the risk of losing her beloved shop (the only remains of her mother), for Parfait has to pay the debt of 1,000,000G (gold) by 12 months to keep the shop running. As a normal shop, there seems no hope for raising the Black Cat Market's fame.

Game has an English review.


9. My Friends [Euphony Production] VNDB

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Toru just graduated from school and entered university when he received a letter from old friend Sanae that invited him to visit her boarding house. The same invitations were passed to many hero's girl acquaintances as well. It was the beginning of summer drama.

First half is ADV at university and second one is SIM at the boarding house that looks very similar to previous game Happening Journey. Two heroines are just taken from Graffiti of Petit - shameless as that. Hero is deliberately put into a harem situation and he does not need to put much effort at all. It's different from other games in that all the heroines are students and thus are grown-ups. Game has pleasant graphics and calming atmosphere. Play time is around 5 hours.


10. Natsu no Owari ni 夏の終わりに [deeps] VNDB

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Hero is taking tutorship in order to enter a special prestigious school. His childhood friend was supposed to tutor him during summer, but hero's mother forced the decision to hire several women tutors on various science subjects. How far will he progress by the end of the studies with studies and relations?

Each day of the week save for days off there is its own tutor with his science attending. Hero is middle school student and thus does not invoke much sympathy. Heroines character design is not good and those huge melons might even rival those from minori. This is a SIM game with parameters so the tempo is not good either.


11. Nature Trip ねいちゃあトリップ [Xuse] VNDB

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Hero was staying under the tree hesitating whether to approach the girl he liked for a long time or not when the tree was struck by the lightning. As his vision cleared he saw a cave with an altar and a beautiful woman looking at him anxiously. And she looked almost like the girl of his interest! Where is he? Is this a fantasy world? What will happen to him?

The different world is populated only by women and that fact kills the whole synopsis intrigue - just another convenient environment.  There is a happy ending for each heroine around, but only three of them have routes and side-characters have a H-event and game over. It's a light solid work, but far from masterpiece.


12. Nekopara ~Nekosogi Paradise~ ねこぱら ~ねこそぎ・ぱらダイス~ [Takuyo & Mink Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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Boys school suddenly gets merged with girls school. Hero is secretly in love with one girl from there and he has only one year till graduation to confess his feelings.

This is a board game with the use of dice etc. You trigger events and accumulate service points through replays opening more heroines and more CG. There are five heroines each with its own rival.


13. Nurse Story ナース物語 (ストーリー) [MYCOM] VNDB

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The protagonist of the story is hospitalized and needs to stay for three months in a hospital. What to do during all that time, worry about getting better? Nope, walk all over the hospital and try to woo the nurses and hospital staff. First part of the game centers on your trying to win the heart of the woman of your choice in a typical love simulation style. Second part then turns into a romantic visual novel story.

Game period is 3 months. You spend hearts to move around the hospital up to four times a day and replenish them as you visit the doctor. Talking to characters increases or decreases their mood depending on answers. If you don't meet anyone, that's a day wasted, so harsh use of save and load is needed. The second parameter is money... well, it's self-descriptory. Each month he gets 10,000 yen and can also participate in lotteries. It's random, but save/load can make you a millionaire or close to that. There are eight heroines and they include everyone who has a skirt - nurses, doctors, patients... Despite tedious gameplay, characters and dramatic parts are alright.

 

14. Onii-chan to Issho! おにいちゃんといっしょ [FISHCAFE] VNDB

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Toyoda Shinji lives with his father, a teacher at school. Shinji was enjoying his school life till one of his classmates became his sister-in-law. She started to live under the same roof and from that day peaceful life went awry...

There are four heroines and there is a rival heroine in each branch so can switch to rival heroine. It's definitely not an onii-chan game, but rather school romance one - it's just very weird that classmates call the hero onii-chan. Girl routes are pretty much the same, so there's little point in aiming to clear all.


15. Senbatsu Keibitai 選抜警備隊 [Outlaw] VNDB

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You are a guard and your current duty is to guard a lone princess with other guards disguised as princess friends and relatives in accordance with the last order of the king.

It's an RPG mix game. Game progresses by minutes and sleep takes only three hours. The leftover time is spent moving around, getting information and protecting the princess, of course. You need to protect her for 30 days and constantly defend against attackers at night and in the forest. Story is not very good and its developments only make feel uncomfortable. Battles are no fun at all. Damage is random. Overall it's a painful game without even any clear aim.


16. Shuumatsu no Sugoshikata ~The world is drawing to an W/end~ 終末の過ごし方 ~The world is drawing to an W/end~ [Abogado Powers] VNDB

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In a week the human race will perish. In this situation the hero keeps going to school while everyone gives up. What is there ahead?

Abogado Powers are back from PC-98 slumber and I'm excited about it!  The game has awesome styled graphics, sound and text. But it lacks greatly in the story department and is short, just 2 hours long. Everyone accepted the defeat and there is decadent atmosphere everywhere. Story is told from the 3rd person view instead of that of the hero. Too little volume, too underdeveloped characters, too few days to matter. One of the most mysterious features of the game is that everyone wears glasses save for one character who wears contacts. 

 

17. Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 3: Tabidachi no Uta ときめきメモリアルドラマシリーズ Vol.3 旅立ちの詩 [Konami] VNDB

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Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series vol.3 Tabidachi no Uta ("Poem of Journeys") features both Shiori Fujisaki and Miharu Tatebayashi sharing a similar story about the player running a marathon just before graduation that branches off into different directions depending on which girl you choose to pursue. 

Game takes 10 days before graduation. Unlike first two volumes this game has hero parameters that a raised by winning main marathon and other mini-games, including even guitar mini-games from second volume. Game feels inferior to first two volumes due to short period and lack of side characters. It was supposed to be the final game in series, thus the graduation poetic atmosphere, but as we know now the claim to be the final game in the series was GREATLY exaggerated.


18. Élan エラン [Visco] VNDB

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A plan to migrate humanity to the planet "Elan" is created, the Elan Project.

In order to select suitable people to join the project many boys and girls with great mental ability are gathered in the research city Alpha.

The protagonist is one of the best candidates, and while acquiring training they interact with the other candidates.

While conversing with the other candidates there aren't just the usual conversation options. It is also possible to choose Happy/Normal/Sad/Mad emotional type responses.

Well, it's half an otome game since you can choose either gender, but I'll only tackle galge part ofc. Dating SIM with intensive SIM part. Game part is tedious, events are commonplace. Characters are too many and too underdeveloped.

kivandopulus

"Captain Love" to the rescue! That's the VN of the Month March 1999. Endlessly fun and charming game. And bakage are very rarely good games. 


1. 19:03 Ueno Hatsu Yakou Ressha 19時03分 上野発夜光列車 [Visit] VNDB

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A freelance photographer and a middle school teacher take the night train that goes from Tokyo's Ueno to Sapporo, but what started as a normal train trip soon will become a little more complicated since they will be involved in murders, assassinations and other dangerous situations. Depending on the player's choices his character may or may not survive the trip.

Well, it's actually a sequel to the more or less same system game and has many links to it. Previous work centered on occult topic - this time it's monster movies and panic movies, so it's more thrilling. There are several protagonists so actions can be observed from several perspectives. Not necessarily a bad game, but rather a story-less one. The point of the game is to get its numerous endings (including bad ones).

 

2. Aisa no Namida アイサの涙 [Pinpai] VNDB

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Hero and his six friends come to play to a solitary island. There they meet a girl named Lara. She and other local girls get to sing traditional songs which are a key to the mystery of the island and to the legend of a sleeping mermaid.

There are three routes - adventure (centered on exploring the cave) and horror (centered on murder) ones are available from the start and after clearing fantasy route appears that reveals all the mysteries. Genre is point and click adventure. The relevance between the scenarios is small and the volume is insufficient to enjoy it, around 2 hours.


3. Captain Love キャプテン・ラヴ [Rit's Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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In Captain Love the player's controls a high school student boy that will meet different kind of girls and have to improve his relationships with them to increase his love power. The love power will be used when he got to fight some of the enemies of the evil organization that will try to defeat him.

So it's an ADV when meeting girls and battle with enemies - in battle you need to find the attack that would be effective through command selection. Battles are especially fun for the voice abuse that's used. Plot-wise it's a bakage. This work's problem is that main heroine is not attractive no matter how you look at her and she got a very weird voice on top of that. Well, there are all kinds of attractive sub heroines instead. So it's a masterpiece game as long as one can tolerate bakage style games.


4. I Ghost アイ・ゴースト [Saint] VNDB

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Hero is killed by someone and he is going through Hell and Heaven to find salvation and reveal the truth about his death.

Game is full of bugs and freezes upon selecting wrong choice usually. Message skipping is also poorly realized. The flow of the game is normal, but game system flaws are crucial here.


5. Kita e. White Illumination 北へ。White Illumination [Hudson Soft] VNDB

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The player, a second-year high school student (17 years old), travels from Tokyo to Sapporo in Hokkaidō (hence the basic title of the game Kita E - To The North). There, he encounters eight different girls, including the lead character Kotori Haruno, whose family he stays with during his time up north. In the game, the player explores the island, plays video games, does karaoke, goes shopping -- and most of all, tries to find that special someone to share his heart with.

There are English reviews.


6. Mamorigami-sama 守り神様 [Alice Soft] VNDB

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This is a traditional four-person family: a working dad, a housewife, an older sister and a younger brother (and a cat). One day dad has to go out to work for a week, so the house is left with three helpless souls. Of course those little star-shaped akumas (devils) are coming to take advantage, and you, as the mamorigami (protection god) will have to make sure they have a peaceful life before dad comes back.

There is an English review of this game.


7. Mugen ~Kyojitsu to Shinjitsu~ 夢幻~虚実と真実~ [Purple] VNDB

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Hero is being forced to kill 12 warrior girls in order to reincarnate old Christianity goddess Lilith. Will he fulfill his fate or come under favor of other goddess?

This is an RPG and it has 12 chapters with each chapter to have ADV beginning and then a battle. There are 8 girls to capture, each with her own mutually exclusive conditions. There are a lot of questions to the systems. In order to launch the game it's needed to create directory in Program Files and install anew. There is message skip function but it's very painful to use. The way hero just accepts his fate is not explained and looks stupid.


8. Negai ねがい [Ram] VNDB

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The main character becomes a new chief priest of a shrine after his father's death. He needs to employ some Miko for a summer festival taken place in a month. But all the six Miko whom he employed have totally different personalities and he gets into trouble. Deal with troubles and feel their "Heart". Will he be able to organize a summer festival successfully?

Story branches only late in the game, but if you flag one girl, you won't be able to see other girls events in this play-through, so freshness is maintained. It's a comedy for the most part so the flow is nice. Girls are quite charming. It's a light galge without much fancy.


9. On Air [BROWNIE corp.] VNDB

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Hero gets a part-time job at a television station. It's a very rigorous job and he's yelled by the boss all the time. However, with time he becomes friends with five female casters, each with her own goals, and he gets motivated to learn more about the place and its workers.

Period is three months. We move on the map and trigger events. Apart of 5 female casters there are other 10 girls in the neighborhood that are available for some romance. Every moving takes some time and characters move around all the time, so capturing is very very tiresome unless you hunt just for one girl (it's claimed by manufacturer that up to 14 girls captures can be done simultaneously in a perfect situation). There are 6 endings with five being for female casters and one is hidden for an idol girl. 

 

10. Silver Moon [R.A.N.Software] VNDB

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Hero was brought up in the institution for gifted children "Geo".  He lives a normal life and attends college. One day a mysterious woman V.A. appears before him and tells him that he is bound to die in 15 days. Who is this woman? What's the secret behind his physical condition? How will he live these 15 days?

This is probably the second work  after "One" that inherited the richness of colors and close to contemporary beautiful drawing. And it really looks like this game tries to imitate "One" as much as possible - in romance, in gags, in graphics. There are four heroines and heroine is decided on the 10th day and after that it's just heroine route without any choices. So common route is full of gags and heroine routes are dramatic. Game is not voiced. There are some bugs and typos that are removed with the patch. What's really weird is that in all the routes protagonist's thoughts, descriptions and words are the same or almost the same and only environment and girl changes - girls are lively and great, but from 2nd playthrough there's a very weird feeling because of that.


11. Sweet Stuff スウィートスタッフ [Rave] VNDB

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For fifty years humankind has been migrating all over the universe. Ricks visits training school as a candidate for captain of a space ship. And with time and encounters he begins to touch the hearts of pilot candidate girls...

This is a Dating SIM. There are 18 days and 6 girls. That's pretty much all that's known, there's not a single comment anywhere apart from walk-through which already tells a lot by itself.


12. The CARD Novel Kurenai the CARD Novel 紅 [Mugen] VNDB

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Hero who is a writer on travels and arts receives a message saying that Ukyo, a longtime friend, gone missing. In a couple of days, a letter comes from Ukraine with the same content and demand to come to a certain Western-style hotel. He steps in the hotel and gets in a whirlpool of events.

Finally a card game that's not a strip poker and not a strip mahjong. Instead of choices we choose cards and the same card can not be used more than once so it feels fresh. There are five types of cards reflecting emotions (pushy, soft, etc). There is no skip function so the chances that one replays it to see another ending are slim. Story is basically a bakage (since there is so much unrealistic stuff) with sudden sexual fantasies. There are six girls to capture each with 5 HCG. Flags are very difficult to recognize.


13. Touch Me ~Koi no Okusuri~ Touch me ~恋のおくすり~ [Mink Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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The player is in the medical major. Under the threat of your father, you go to an all-girls high school and spent a month there as a doctor at the health department. Of course, a male doctor in an all-girls school is pretty odd and rare. Basically, during your month of stay, you will meet a total of 5 girls, each having their own personality and problems/troubles in love. So, as a school doctor, you have to somehow see to their hearts, help them somehow and make them feel happy. Maybe you will end up having a relationship with them too...

You and everybody else go to school on weekdays as well as saturday morning. You will have a chance to walk around school before school starts, lunch break, and after school. Each break has a different time limit, and during that time limit you can walk around school and by chance you may be able to meet girls, chat with them, have lunch with them, etc. As you do things or say good things to them, their impression will increase, and certain events will appear only if the impression gets to a certain point. On Sundays, you can choose to go out with a girl for a date, or you can choose to loiter in school.

There is an English review for this game.


14. W ~Chinurareta Hanayome~ W ~血塗られた花嫁~ [Desire] VNDB

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Wedding ceremony is the happy event and noone thought it would be the start of a big tragedy. Everything starts with a minor injury incident to the bride and then one by one people close to Junya are attacked and killed. The dark past strikes back and Junya with Natsumi need to act and find out the truth behind the incidents.

Hero cooperated with Kyoto police as boy detective in the past and now past comes back to him. This is a borderline eroge work with a unique style.

kivandopulus

February has always been the slowest month with the least number of works released. Despite being a galge, Campus ~Sakura no Mau Naka de~ is the only title here worthy of the title the VN of the Month February 1999.


1. Campus ~Sakura no Mau Naka de~ Campus 〜桜の舞う中で〜 [Ather] VNDB

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A dream of the past and an improbable future...

Night after night, Takakage's dreams take him away to another life long ago. A life of love and sorrow. A single passionate night in the arms of the beautiful priestess Ayame and the painful death that separated them forever. But that was all just a dream...

When Takakage goes to a festival on campus with his friends, a fortune teller describes his immediate future madly in love with a woman... and his distant past exactly how he dreamed it! Could his re-occurring dreams of Ayame have been flashes of a real past life?

When gorgeous Chisato crosses his path on campus, Takakage begins to believe that Chisato might just be the woman of his fortune. But is she the woman of his dreams?

There are 6 heroines and 14 endings. But it's more than just a galge. It has plot, climax and fascinating endings, especially bad ones. Logic of events is difficult to understand, but plot twists add some spice to romantic story. The characters are well developed and very charming.

 

2. I Wish... Todoke, Kono Omoi I wish… とどけ、この思い [Janis] VNDB

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Rush is a miner who dreams of doing something big someday. One day he sets on a journey to find secret treasure that makes wishes come true. His childhood friend Latia joins him on this adventure journey. 

ADV inside town and RPG outside. Up to three people including protagonist can participate in battle. Game feels half-baked. Control is only allowed with a keyboard and joystick - if mouse is clicked it crashes. Freedom of movement is low and story is forced and linear. Game is quite short and can be cleared in 4 hours.


3. Kegarenaki Kimi o 穢れなき君を [Studio Jikkenshitsu] VNDB

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Hero is an exorcist. In the middle of one exorcist act the evil spirit possesses his wife who bears three unborn triplets and it's impossible to know who of the children got possessed...

Picture is rough. Story is short and there's only enough time to reveal the mystery. There is no voicing. Game looks like a shortened and degraded version of Kizuato by Leaf.


4. Machine Maiden マシンメイデン [Evolution] VNDB

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Hero has only recently graduated and now he's been hired for a job. He is given the assignment to raise artificial intellect girl named Alia, but commonly known as Doll. What results can he attain in one month?

A raising SIM. Gameplay is really boring, but Alia is very nice and pure. SIM elements are almost nonexistent and we mostly only direct where to go. Game got quite famous and spawned a side-story and a sequel, but party this success is owned to famous artist Carnelian. There is also a devil part of the story.


5. Meguri Aishite めぐり愛して [Sony Music Entertainment] VNDB

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Our protagonist goes back to the city of his childhood as a high school transfer student. For one year and a half, he'll live an ordinary school life full of friendship, meetings and love.

The game is presented as a collection of memories between the protagonist and the heroine of his choosing, who remember their high school years after graduation.

Quite a classic dating SIM with increasing stats and pursuing events on weekends. Probably the most memorable thing about this work is that it has eight different minigames. That alone says how ordinary the work is. There are some 10 heroines and their characters aren't developed much.


6. RISE RISE ~ライズ~ [RISE] VNDB

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Hero will live with robot girl Nanako for a month with a goal to win MISCON.

Raising SIM. There are other girls than Nanako: Ayame, Totomi, Ryoko. There are some 10 endings and true ending is only available if you flag each heroine and win MISCON with Nanako. There are both serious parts and gag parts. There is not so much text and raising part takes the most time. Replay-ability is close to zero as seeing the same text is even more boring. Still, if one likes its humor and gets true end, evaluation might be quite high.


7. Satomi ~Yami no Kyouzou~ SATOMI ~闇の鏡像~ [Otemoto] VNDB

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The main character is a detective who is asked to bodygurad a girl named Satomi. Someone is sending her letters with threats of suicide. Client decides to stay incognito and sends a big sum of money for the task. Something's fishy...

Hero infiltrates girls' school to guard Satomi and investigate the threats case. 

Suspense mystery story. First flowerpot falls on the head of Satomi, then her medicine gets swapped with drugs. There are three girls routes and Satomi route is the most shocking one since she has a split personality. Game freezes on XP and only runs on Win98 normally.


8. Shitsuren しつれん [acute] VNDB

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In the beginning of the game the hero is dumped by his girlfriend he was dating and he's devastated since he did not even kiss her. He asks her to name logical reasons to break relationship. Where will his broken heart lead him?

So you basically wander around and try to heal your heart wounds with other girls. It's the same company that made Yume no Saka that I totally could not stand. This game inherits many of those flaws - difficultly composed sentences with lots of punctuation and weird dialogues that look more like monologues. Graphics is same weird and girls look ugly to me. The number of CG is minuscule. The fact that these games are also very difficult to launch does not add appeal either.


9. Works Doll [TopCat] VNDB

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Dolls become a common occurrence in human world. Their purpose is to calm and heal humans hearts. 

As technologies evolved new type of dolls got constructed - "sub-dolls" who make the owner feel a wide range of emotions. You're the person who creates and trains dolls.

A raising SIM. Quite difficult system with text mostly in H-events since the training is done with animation alone. It takes much time to get to an ending and H-events are absolutely unsatisfactory. The uncommon setting and the young looking dolls are the only appeal points of the game.

kivandopulus

Foreword: I've been mesmerized by C's Ware games for quite a long time by now and I could not miss this work even though it's not my type of game at all.

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Title: Chiruhana ~Kindan no Ketsuzoku~

Developer: C's Ware

Date: 1999-01-29

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v2662

Length: 3 hours. There might be slightly more if you look for side H-events and look in non-plot rooms all the time.

Game type: Mystery suspense detective story.

Difficulty: Zero. Linear.

Synopsis: Your uncle dies, and you investigate his mysterious manor.

Structure: There are five chapters and each chapter ends with a murder save for fifth chapter that finalizes the game.

Character Design rating: 6/10

Protagonist rating: 5/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 8/10

Overall rating: 6/10

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Rating comments: Don't be led astray by the low scores - game is of high quality and is enjoyable. Mystery is well developed and I failed to guess the culprit. Well, I have not guessed the culprit not even once in my whole life, anyway. Low scores were almost inevitable and they come from the setting and from game length. You can't really extend manor mystery to 30 hours (Nocturnal Illusion managed to do that only thanks to torturing bruteforce gameplay). And you can't develop characters in action-driven mystery story. Game did everything it could - it produced a thrilling fast-paced story and created a nice mystery layer on top of that. It could be much worse if it tried to extend length or try to develop characters.

Protagonist: There are two - mansion owner's nephew Shiraishi Minoru and mansion owner's granddaughter Chisato. Minoru is quite an ordinary young man without distinct traits. Chisato is kind of tsundere and tomboy.

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Characters: There are quite many characters - initially - hehe. The two most noticable are mansion owners' daughter and mother of four kids Michiyo-sama as she eventually pairs up with Minoru in investigation. Minoru's senior, investigator Kaneshima-san also comes to the mansion on the following day and he eventually pairs up with Chisato in investigation. Basically, Kaneshima-san is the only one who actually investigates and everyone else only a hindrance to investigation. But the most memorable are probably twins Tomomi and Tomoka. They are totally synced in speech so that one usually starts the phrase and the other one finishes it. Several phrases they speak together in unison. And you always hear their lauch, like a pair of small bells ringing and that laugh at some point drives Minoru to the point of craziness and he can't sleep and see them in every room following him. Another example of brilliantly enhanced atmosphere.

Story: It's not the murder that's terrifying but the way how it's done - mansion owner's neck was cut and he was hanged on a sakura tree upside down. Many old legends show up featuring ghosts and evil revenge spirits that kill only men and the whole game this atmosphere is kept up which is great. Mansion inhabitants are paralyzed with primal fear and police only comes to assert the deaths as suicide. Minoru's senior Kaneshima-san is the only one who is able to think sober and analyze the facts. He finds a hidden room inside the mansion where some kind of laboratory exists and tries to link the deaths with poisoning. Only couple of deaths seem to linked to poisoning and the others are done much more brutally with piercing wounds. So is it an evil spirit ravaging or are there several culprits? We'll find it out eventually.

CG: Cool CG in adequate quantity.

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HCG: I liked it that there are only H-events and they mostly are of soft nature and very very short, some 30 lines or so. They bear much artistic value. I especially liked the fact that melon-chest maids aren't having any scene in the main plot. Game's CG shows that they have a scene, but in order to get it it's probably needed to check non-plot highlighted rooms all the time.

Sound: Full voicing. Even for both protagonists. One of BGM was irritating since it had one very high pitch moment deafening me and making voices unrecognizable, but lowering bgm volume helped. Also I'd like to notice that most of BGM are very lively yet old-mannered corresponding to Taisho era, so it's not a depressing game. Just with some atmospheric features.

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Themes:

1) It's not a theme, but rather a symbol. Blossoming sakura. It always had the most sweet reminiscences. Chiruhana treats it another way. Pink. Light red. Dark red. Red as carpet. It's the color of beautiful flowers that bring bad omen. Sakura demands blood. This symbol is repeated over and over with words an visuals and creates a specific atmosphere.

Overall comments: It was very difficult to make something good from such synopsis and game succeeded in that. Mystery remained strong till the very end and numerous details made the atmosphere really thrilling. The end was very satisfactory for me as every murder is explained. It's not my type of the game, but if you have a taste for good quality short atmospheric mystery murder story, it's much advised.

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kivandopulus

VN of the Month January 1999 is Ikusa Megami. It should actually be Refrain Love 2 for the sheer quality, but the chances someone gives a look to an old ps1 galge are very slim.


1. Chiruhana ~Kindan no Ketsuzoku~ 散櫻 ~禁断の血族~ [C's Ware] VNDB

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Your uncle dies, and you investigate his mysterious manor.

The next C's Ware game after luv wave, of course I'm reviewing it. And I'd like a blind play so not searching for reviews for the moment.

 

2. Gray Judge グレイジャッジ [Sorciere] VNDB

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Near future where security structures are privatized. Sakura Genichiro works for a microscopic police company. He will resolve incidents together with his female companions.

There are four different cased to resolve. There is an ending for each of five heroines, but not all of them are available from the beginning. Story tries to be hard boiled, but lacks tension for it. There is no integral line, so after four different cases it's an abrupt end - very disappointing. 


3. Hiiragi Sou ~Onaji Yane no Shita de~ ひいらぎ荘~同じ屋根の下で~ [Pias] VNDB

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The story is actually about you the player trying to take the deed of the house for this "mysterious boss" guy. The only way to gain the deed and have the girls move out is to go undercover. And this is where your job comes in...

There is an English review for this game.


4. Hotaru Mau Yoru 螢舞う夜 [Mei Full House Karen] VNDB

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A girl left this world in an accident without confessing her true feelings. The following morning Yui Uchiura and his childhood friend witnessed the Poltergeist phenomenon and consulted with the shrine maiden. She suggested that they lived at the shrine till she found the way to release the spirit. 

Instead of horror it turns out to be love comedy with two heroines. Game is very short and there are only three choices throughout it. Events take place during several days which follows by ending. There are multiple endings here. Even though the game is called night of fireflies it's a bit severe to show fireflies in the mids of the winter. Quite a crappy work.


5. Hunter [Ast] VNDB

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New anti-cancer drugs raise metabolic abilities of human beings.

Although it is an effective medicine, it is difficult to control and experiments are being held on animals only. The experiment on a monkey finally showed good results, but it escaped the laboratory and now hero with a partner need need to find the species within a day.

There are three girl partners available to choose from. Game's about making tough decisions and surviving since you're constantly given choice of two options. Operation is mouse only which is very painful and text rendering is slow even on highest speed.


6. Ikusa Megami 戦女神 [Eushully] VNDB

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Celica Sylphil obtained the body of a goddess by slaying her. As a result, he was chased by gods and nations, and hunted by assassins until the ‘water miko’, the guardian saint of the holy nation of Rewinia. During the Battle of Dounel, he lost almost all of his divine power while defeating the evil dragon Aracale. Rewinia was saved, but he had become a soul-less female body.

Before he had time to recover his wounds, the ‘water miko’ requested that he head to the Rerun area to investigate the disappearance of the princess of Rewinia 18 years ago. Following the Rewinian order of knights who had left before him, he arrived to find a giant labyrinth. Will he be able to uncover the truth and regain his lost power?

Game has English review.


7. Prostudent Good ぷろすちゅ★でんとGood [Alice Soft] VNDB

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The time is 2005 in Japan. The world has received word that aliens shall invade Earth. Therefore, Japan set up a robot group called Yugoku to fend off the aliens when they come. However, eventually the aliens did not come, so Yugoku was all for nothing. Meanwhile, the Japanese government was totally corrupted, and Yugoku decided to use their robot army to overthrow the government.

There is an English review of the game.


8. Refrain Love 2 リフレインラブ2 [Riverhill Soft inc.] VNDB

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In April hero decided to move to Sakurazaki Town to enter  university there. He rents a room in Scarlet Hall apartments. These several months he will spend together with his university colleagues and other boarding house members. 

Another quality species among galge. One distinctive feature is that age is set much higher than usual. Another one is that standing sprites are animated... that's a very refreshing view. Unlike first old work SIM elements are excluded so can play without restraint. That all and lovely heroines create lots of charm for this work.


9. Roommate W ~Futari~ ルームメイトW ~ふたり~ [NEST] VNDB

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You've got a new roommate and not just one, but two! Greetings and salutations to Kaori and Yamaguchi.

This is a side-kick of the series. For the first time there is no Ryoko, but your roommate visits the same school as Ryoko did and she's referred to as "legendary sempai". This work also was only released for Saturn and has lower production values. One girl studies at school and the other one works as a nurse and thus she has night shifts all the time. Basically, you need to choose between them since you can't possible stay up 24 hours a day. This game feels inferior to prequels.


10. Tokimeki Check-in! ときめきCheck in! [Crowd] VNDB

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Takayuki Yamano is a boy who simply wishes to break away from his family's tradition, running Yamano Inn, which is a hot spring resort where the most beautiful girls come from miles around for vacation time. One could easily question his sanity, as did his employers. Being rejected for the millionth time, he sadly returns to Yamano Inn to work as manager/butler. You've got three days to choose to follow and woo the girl of your choice.

Game is localized and has English reviews.


11. True Love Story 2 トゥルーラブストーリー2 [Bits Laboratory] VNDB

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The protagonist has just been moved with his sister Kimiko to a new town, due to the sudden transfer of their parents. Suddenly, a bunch of girls arrive in his life: his childhood friend, a tomboy, a clumsy junior, a silent classmate... Love has arrived to his life.

Prequel was mostly notable by "walking home" sideview system and that remains intact. Instead for seasons now there are three semesters and each semester has its own cd, so the number of events increased greatly. Number of heroines decreased to four main and two limited time ones. Heroines characters are quite realistic. One play-through is about 4 hours, but replay-ability is great.


12. Yureru Omoi ゆれる想い [Air Field] VNDB

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Kotaro Hito is a student who left Kobe for Tokyo alone to enter university. He has left the girl of his love interest in Kobe but in Tokyo there even more temptations. The love story over two cities begins now. 

Fresh feature is that we get to choose our university specialization but that usually only affects the ending. Game takes a period of three months and we should take decisions for each day of it. There are 8 heroines and as many as 52 endings (basically each heroine multiplied for each occupation). Events are placed loosely and there can be the time that there's a whole month without events. Even though the game is called "love triangle" there is no special emphasis on two main heroines - everyone is equal. So it's a very painful, cheap, generic game with opening theme being its strongest side.


13. Zenjidou Saishuu Shori Ningyou Kururu-chan 全自動最終処理人形クルルちゃん [A2] VNDB

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Near future. Inventor created three automatic muppet dolls. There story starts as a boy and a girl find them.

This is a bakage with 15 patterns of scenarios to unfold. Stories are vertical text and rakugo style, so that's an amusing read, but hard to do sequentially. There's enough H-events as well.

kivandopulus

Year 1998 has become a year of hope for me. After very devastating transition year 1997 there are so many joys and wonderful games at last. Running a bit ahead, there is a 50% increase both in total number of games and in number of listed games resulting in the record number of masterpieces this year.

Let's prolong the chart.

VN per year

Year

Total

Listed

Blocked

1991

75

40 (53%)

35 (47%)

1992

80

49 (61%)

31 (39%)

1993

121

46 (38%)

75 (62%)

1994

155

61 (39%)

94 (61%)

1995

180

58 (32%)

122 (68%)

1996

183

83 (46%)

100 (54%)

1997

202

91 (45%)

111 (55%)

1998

303

133 (44%)

170 (56%)

 

The split is exactly the same featuring 50/50 eroge and galge market and 50% galge market with some additional titles blocked for other than eroge reasons. But look at the numbers, there is a 50% increase in every number compared to 1997. Finally industry got out of slump and gains momentum.

 

Let's see what year 1998 brought:

  • - The complete shift to Win95-98 platform resulted in dramatic increase in resolution and colors with most works having 256 colors and some reaching 16 bit colors.
  • - With dating SIM dominance substantial shift to pure love stories the number of heroines decreases significantly to just 4-5 and in some cases to just two as in With You ~Mitsumete Itai~ or even one as in DiaboLiQuE without decreasing the volume.
  • - There is a significant number of works where hero is already in relations with the main heroine, but has an option to cheat on her. The starter of that tendency is White Album.
  • There is a surprising influx of mahjong games, but most of them are blocked as eroge due to having strip element on losing.

Contrary to 1997 there were a lot of major games in 1998. So here is my 1997 masterpieces list. 

  1. 1) Castle Fantasia
  2. 2) Castle Fantasia ~Seima Taisen~
  3. 3) Diabolique
  4. 4) Double Cast
  5. 5) Doukoku Soshite...
  6. 6) Exodus Guilty
  7. 7) Hajimari no Kisetsu ~Izakaya Fuyu Monogatari~
  8. 8). Hoshi no Oka Gakuen Monogatari: Gakuensai
  9. 9) Kisetsu o Dakishimete
  10. 10) First Kiss☆Story
  11. 11) Kuon no Kizuna
  12. 12) Love Seed
  13. 13) luv wave
  14. 14) One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~
  15. 15) Oudou Yuusha
  16. 16) Sakura Taisen 2 ~Kimi, Shinitamou koto Nakare~
  17. 17) With You ~Mitsumete Itai~

Seventeen. A record number considering that in 1996 quite several games were chosen mostly because of novelty. What especially pleases the eye is that there are as many as four great RPG works inside. As many as seven works initially were launched for consoles - either PS1 or Saturn which tells a lot - production values of console games were still much bigger than their PC counterparts and that attracts talent story-writers. There are a lot of worthy games in this list, but my heart was stolen by luv wave as soon as I saw it. It's the most serious work in my favorite setting that rose the most of topics for thought. It's a very subjective feeling, of course.

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P.S. I promised to review Yume no Saka at one point and I went couple hours in, but this is just not a visual novel matter: there is only a dozen of CG for 20+ hour gameplay, very bleak backgrounds, very rough character designs, no voicing and - most importantly - it pours a wall of text on each screen - up to four dialogues at once which get terribly smashed together by text hooker. It would not matter if the plot was interesting, but it's just solving some ugly girls psychological problems and seeing through huge walls of text descriptions. I don't think there were ardent fans of this work waiting for a review, so it's safe to drop it.

kivandopulus

I don't think I'd sound original, but I liked Kuon no Kizuna the most of December 1998. It's a very unique slow horror story that pierces through the time and brings calamity to the mind.

 

1. Desert Time Mugen no Meikyuu デザートタイム 夢幻の迷宮 [Software House Parsley] VNDB

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One day a huge mystery dungeon appeared in the middle of the desert. A number of hidden treasures were discovered there and the rumor spread all over the world. 

As you step inside, you are challenged by girl wizard. A huge explosion occurs and everyone got sucked under the sand. Now you need to get back to ground floor and maybe even further.

Balance is bad. Message speed is too slow and non-adjustable. Story does not develop far beyond synopsis. Girls lack unique approach, capturing is totally the same. So systems are lacking and there's pretty much nothing but gameplay.

 

2. Flowers ~Kokoro no Hana~ Flowers ~ココロノハナ~ [Craftwork] VNDB

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Ryusei Ryousen is a 2nd year high school student. His school has just recently been co-educated from all girls school. There are only three boys in school and a lot of wonderful girls around the hero. Which one will be chosen by the April?

We attend school and make decisions where to go during lunch break and after school. There's hardly any story besides that, but a great emphasis is put to getting to know characters during conversations. They look like real persons, not just moe abbreviations. Game was advertised with a lengthy description of flowers and that they need the proper soil to grow. Game text is full of comical references. So gameplay is not good, but it's easy to get interested in these nice girls.


3. Gin'iro no Ki ~Konayuki no Photograph~ 銀色の樹 ~粉雪のフォトグラフ~ [Blue Bell] VNDB

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Hero is afraid of women after drinking party where he was assaulted by one of them. Now he's set to overcome his phobia and get a girlfriend by the Christmas.

Come on, Bluebell, you can do better than that! Onegai! Renhou in September had exactly the same synopsis! Why must hero be raped by women even before game starts... The game has four heroines filled into two scenarios with one being main one and another side one demanding certain conditions. It has SIM elements since there are parameters to reach.

 

4. Hanketsu 判決 [NOCTOVISION] VNDB

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Hero is a prosecutor in a trial held for a consecutive rape case. To prove the case women testimonies are needed. You need to delicately take them out of their state of shock, heal their heart wounds when possible and reveal the truth, of course.

SIM mainstream gradually changes for ADV mainstream and this studio works are a good example of it. It's very different from normal court games in that main events happen out of the court and many H-events are shows as flashbacks. Drugs are also involved. Volume is quite small and girls stories get crumpled by that. It's a rough work, but with a fresh look.


5. Hotaru ほたる [Bell-Da] VNDB

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It's bad luck that our guy got hit by his student's car. This put him in her father's hospital, without memory of his past. Will she or her two sisters be able to help him regain his memory? Or will he regain some memory that has been long buried?

Bell-da works are mostly ero-oriented, so I tend to block most of them. At least this time scenario is ok. Hero thinks of himself as a hero of justice and the hospital as a secret organization hideout.


6. Kanpai 乾杯 [h.m.p] VNDB

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As the title of the game tells it all, it is a game mainly about drinking beer..Typically, you just hang around with a couple of friends either in a bar, karaoke, or a club. During the time you also got introduced to some girls that either was your friends' friend or her friend that was dragged along for having fun.

There is an English review of the game.

 

7. Kuon no Kizuna 久遠の絆 [FOG & Xuse] VNDB

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This story starts out from the perspective of a high school student. One day a transfer student comes to his school, and tells him she’ll kill him. At the same time, he starts seeing weird dreams and people mysteriously gets killed in his city.

Soon he realizes that them two are incarnated personalities of a man and a goddess that fell in love 1000 years ago. Since then, they have been trapped in a cycle of reincarnation and a battle against an evil god.

Game has English reviews.


8. Lord Monarch -Shin Gaia Oukokuki- ロードモナーク -新・ガイア王国記- [Nihon Falcom] VNDB

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You are prince Alfred, the son of the great king of Monarch. Since you have been a rather fresh and lazy boy, the king decides to strengthen you by sending you to battle. You are now sixteen, and you must prove you are worthy of being the prince of Monarch! 

This is a strategy war game. You command an army and can perform various actions, such as sending troops, fortifying your position, allying with another ruler, etc. There are time limits to your strategic operations during which you'll have to defeat the enemy. 

It's a strategy with only minor visual novel elements so moving on.


9. Lost Memories ロストメモリーズ [Nouvelle] VNDB

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One evening on a rainy day in April Naoto meets a girl who is shivering and looks like a thrown cat. He takes her home. She lost her memory but reacts to the name Alice. As she starts to gradually recover the memory she is confused by memory contents and conflicts. What's the truth behind her past?

It's an multi-end adventure so capturing of side-characters is also possible. There is time urgency and it's game over if you don't click in time. It's actually easy to get stuck and get to a state when there are no more encounters possible due to missed encounters. It's a rare example of the game that's very torturing to move on even with a walkthrough.


10. Love Seed [VOICE] VNDB

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Distant future, another galaxy. There are five star systems each forming a nation. You are a freelance captain of a spaceship and can take missions varying from good transportation to pirates elimination and sometimes even revealing nation scale conspiracies. The whole universe is before you!

This work is very special, because it was the first work to try and imitate the unique Kichikuou Rance system. In Love Seed there are dozens of characters to capture and simultaneous capture is also allowed. There are at least 40 heroines present. There has not been another such global game till Daiakuji in 2001. This game is not as polished as above mentioned Alice Soft games, but it's a huge enterprise and is worth a masterpiece title by the scale alone.


11. Magical Kanan まじかるカナン [Terios] VNDB

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A magical creature went to the normal world to retrive some seeds. He lost his power and fainted. A girl found him and took him home. Well, this creature became a man after gaining back his power, which surprised the girl some. An incident happened and she became a magical fighter with his kiss. Things start to get complicated as they try to get the seeds and with most people not being what they seem.

Light comic work with great CG. It starts with few choices but as routes are cleared new choices become available. There's no parody in game text and watching Magical Canon animation would probably bring a comparable experience as playing the game, save for HCG. It hugely lacks in the story department though.


12. Medical Fellows めでぃかるFellows [Kingdom] VNDB

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Shimamura Kazito just got a doctor's license. He has never had any interest in girls and his monther and aunt conspired that his medical team would include only beautiful women. Can hero become a fin doctor? Which way will love fly?

There are four heroines and after first few days story falls in the route of the girl with the most favorability. Girls routes follow the same pattern and feel cheap. Heroes try to be funny and fail at it hugely.

 

13. Precious Love プレシャスLOVE [Black Package] VNDB

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End of November. Ogata Kosuke is a third year high school student who has been studying hard to get employment. From a trivial quarrel with his sister he makes a bet that he finds a girlfriend before the holy Christmas night.

Raising favorability through repeated contacts, inviting on a date, through skillful conversation enter exchange diary stage or H-event. Exchange diary is not as cool as it sound since it's done via selection of choices. The good part of it is that it contains some H text.  Conversation simulation part is the hardest one since there are lots of random subjects and it's difficult to keep guessing good answers. But overall quite good atmosphere is created and impression is good as well, but nothing special.

 

14. Shoujo 少女 [Curott] VNDB

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Hero becomes a tutor for three sibling girls.

Game deliberately puts up a simplest ever title and synopsis. But it has its charm. Initially you're given a set of questions and those determine the number of CG. Characters managed to feel unique. 


15. Sonnet ~Kokoro Kasanete~ sonnet~心かさねて~ [Blue Gale] VNDB

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Winder vacations approach and hero gets uneasy. He looks around and finds several girls that he previously considered unfriendly. Will he be able to find a familiar soul from 1st to 24th December or shall he spend Christmas alone?

Looks like Christmas is locomotive of Japanese demography. There are a lot of heroines to choose from. And inside each heroine route there is an angel and a devil path resulting in good end and bad end. Since there is such a big number of routes/paths each story lacks uniqueness. Still, a good quality general product.

 

16. Triangle Heart とらいあんぐるハート [Ivory] VNDB

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Triangle Heart's story is basically a normal school life. You have time from December to your graduation to find a girl you can love. There are six girls, two of them are your childhood friends, but there isn't any "love triangle" between them. There is also a secret special character.

Game has an English review.


17. Wish Well ウィッシュウェル [Agumix] VNDB

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Distant future. Interstellar navigation is common and humankind together with alien races populated most of the known galaxies. Galactic Integrated Space Army was created to protect confederation. A young man transferred to its academy in order to join this elite military unit.

Raising SIM + tactical SIM. We raise stats during the classes and have lunch and date after school. On holidays there are various events. There are five girls to date. Once per month there is a mech tactical combat with its own rules. 

kivandopulus

Foreword: This is Kanno-san's scenario and I could not miss on it. There are a lot of good English reviews on the game so I'll try to just add some additional thoughts I have on top of those reviews.


Title: Exodus Guilty

Developer: Abel

Date: 1998-07-31

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v172

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 Synopsis:The year 2000. Kasumi Shindo is at first glance a run-of-the-mill high school student in modern-day Japan. However, beneath his normal appearance, Kasumi is in fact a top-notch treasure hunter. This time, Kasumi is aiming to seek out the lost 11th Commandment of Moses. Kasumi discovers that his childhood friend, Reina Tachibana is in southern Europe participating in an archeological dig. Pretending to be a tourist, he visits the excavation area and manages to get put on the excavation staff. But he is not the only treasure hunter looking for the Eleventh Commandment of Moses and before he knows it, he's embroiled in a dangerous adventure.


Structure: There are three stories - one 1200 B.C. fantasy story, one 2000 A.D. treasure hunting adventure and 13,800 A.D. future anti-utopia fantasy. Story-lines exist pretty much separately only to be loosely connected by girl Will and flashbacks from the other time to help on puzzles. All the lines coincide in the last chapters of last "Future" Volume 3. So basically I consider first two stories to be preparatory and I'll focus only on 3rd Future story. I feel that the chosen composition is wrong - it's 1st chapter of Past, then 1st chapter of Present, then 1st chapter of Future, then full Present, then full Past, then full Future. In my video walkthrough I went for showing full Past, then full Present, then full Future. This really feels more logical to me since all the roots and the Will story are in the Past. And when seeing all those first chapters one by one and then Present my head was already blowing up from the characters and the kind of mess it created.

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Length: 21 hour

Game type: Epic multi-story ADV with minimal interaction (speaking of DVD version only, ofc)

Difficulty: DVD version is supereasy, but I got stuck once at a puzzle that was not properly described. I left a link at VNDB discussions page of the game to prevent other people from wasting time.

Character Design rating: 10/10

Protagonist rating: 8/10

Story rating: 9/10

Game quality: 8/10

Overall rating: 9/10

Rating comments: Why such a high score again? Well, VNs are akin to literature, what matters is whether I like it or not. And if I like it, there's no point thinking which one is better. I really loved the story here - arigato, Kanno-san! And that might easily be 10 if I played Japanese pc version. There are a lot of protagonists in this game and I have grudges to some of them. I think I'll develop on it in characters section. I also blame the structure as video is not as engaging as game and pouring all three story lines all at once was very confusing and only belief in Kanno-san actually made me unwind this mess. But when things get clear, it's a very engaging story - thus the high scores.

Protagonist: There are too many of them.

Characters: There are three sets of characters. The setup of characters on the screen changes a lot with the story. Let's look at characters in bulk, according to their epoch.

 

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Past: Main characters cast are a swordsman Ales and his foster mother Masa. Masa bears some strange tattoo and she sends Ales to find Will - another girl with such tattoo since their fates were linked and Mother Spirit was calling to do that for some reason only Gods could understand. But in order to pay a visit to the God one needs to gather sacred books of elements and oracles of those elements. That's pretty much what we do during the whole Past chapter. Of course we find Will as well under strange circumstances. So Ales is a pretty straightforward swordsman who fulfills the will of his mother and who protects those who are dear to him and... pretty much everyone else, even his enemies, lol. This is a traditional fantasy story, so there's no need for quirky characters, but without some gameplay it's quite boring to watch. Well, some of the four oracles are pretty cool/funny so they ease the tensions and their interactions basically save the narration. This part is seinen enough, but it gets to be pretty dull due to very serious characters and lack of fights. 

 

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Present: From left to right we have Kasumi, Ai's sister Reina and fiance Ai. Reina is much older and already divorced - she is always flirting making Ai mad. Kasumi and Ai actually only met 10 years ago and they they fight all the time over everything. Kasumi is basically interested in money and treasures and he does not really encourage Reina moves. Ai is also quite stingy and only Reina moves bring her tolerance to the brink and she starts acting aggressively to any "oppai" girl near Kasumi. That creates some comical situations, but at the same time is an eternal source of drama. And the further it goes, the more drama it is. So at times it was really nauseating. And at some point I got somewhat disappointed in Kasumi as well. It was at one scene where Kasumi was getting down to the den on a rope. Ai threatens to jump down from that insane height if Kasumi does not take her with him. Here's the exact extract:

- If not, I'll kill myself.

- Then die.

- I will die.

- Die right now, here. In less than 10 seconds.

- Meanie. I'm going to cry.

- Cry if you can. Cry.

It's presented in a comical manner, but it was not funny for me. Too much relations hustle, predictable characters' behavior and lack of intelligent talks did not let me enjoy this volume. So it's a great shounen story, but I can only appreciate seinen stuff.

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Future: The cast from left to right is scientist Titi, secret royal family descendant Sui, self-supporting town boy Tatsuta and Sui's bodyguard Laily. Oh, and don't foget this animal... something (squirrel?) Railulu. Sui basically plays the role of straightforward and cheerful bakagirl while Laily is reserved and she does everything right. Titi is a chatterbox, she usually supports Sui in everything and provides scientific advice when needed. Tatsuta is a usual town boy who lives alone and who this time allows girls to have food and shelter for a mere trifle - wedding Laily! He's pushy and manages to win her heart little by little and this sideline is really nice. 

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Story: I seem to have tackled a lot on story already, so let's finally focus on the main part as I see it - Future 13,800 AD. For 40 years earthquakes and acid rains devastated the Earth burying the scientific civilization and the remaining humanity declared science outlaw in order not to repeat previous mistakes. The royal house monopolized the right for science as people needed to survive somehow in this barren wasteland. Royal house suffers from a spree of coup d'etats and this last king is a very cruel man who's seeking for descendants of former family and especially for a girl matching Sui's description. Sui and Laily's foster mother asked them to find some Uu person and give him the Key of Will. And they have no idea where to search for those. That takes first half of Future story and the second half is meeting the guys from Past and Present and together facing their fate. 

 

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CG: I seem to be not demanding towards CG quantity but this game has a whole ocean of CG - even many small actions have one. Game really tried to look like an anime so it has some animated sequences and a lot of screen changes. Outside of my habit, I'm not going to post gore CG this time since there aren't many of them and they can be spoilers.


HCG: None since it's initially a PS1 and dreamcast game and only much later it got PC version version. It's a very funny version to see since usual CG have low resolution and PC HCG are of very high resolution.


Sound: The good part is that it's full voice even with all the protagonists voiced. The bad part is that some lengthy conversations with side characters aren't really voiced or voiced up to 3-4 phrases. It does not hurt at all, but just for the justice sake let's say that it's only about 85% voiced.


Humor: Future part is culmination and it has quite much humor in it. One example is that Layla always apologies to Sui and says "It must be in my character". For the first times it looks ok, but later she tells the same thing to the very little notices like you look moody today or is it you stomach growling. 

There was one fabulous joke when Titi, Sui and Laila with Railulu needed to see guards out and they consequently tried to use sex appeal on them. First Titi failed with her charms, then Sui was ignored and sent off and then came this.

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Game also uses repeats wisely. In this very scene the fourth try was Layla's and her appearance actually melted men's hearts and maybe something else as well. In another scene later on the three girls were trying to get food and shelter from Tatsuta and he asks a girl to become his wife. Titi and Sui blush and say they're not ready and here's the except:

- But let me tell you something, I have no interest in cow breasts or eyeglasses monkeys.

- ....Raylulu? What, are you...?

That was pretty awesome. 

Themes: It's mostly and adventure work with pretty straightforward characters, but there are couple themes that I was able to discern:

1) God's will VS human logic. This is the major theme of the game. All the time we're asked to do weird things. Seemingly horrible events occur due to some god's will without much explanation. The future part is the one where this conflict becomes the culmination of the game and heros are confused what to do - blindly follow God's will or send the Gods to hell and try to preserve humanity as it is. You can guess from the game's title which side wins.

2) Sacrifice. There are quite a lot of sacrifices in the game. Sacrifices are the least logical thing to do and yet so many characters choose it over persecuting their own goals. As one of the character explains: "Death is not the end. It's the beginning". Well, it falls in perfectly with the first theme. After all, it's the game about God's will and it's a difficult topic to develop since irrational actions won't get much appeal. Still the game does its best in that and sacrifices are seen as fulfilling some selfish-less desires for the greater good of others and at least look organic with the setting.

Overall comments: By now it should be evident that Guilty Exodus was much to my liking even though I tend to dislike religion and shounen stories. My first reaction was akin to that depicted in beliar review. Too much information poured at once, seemingly meaningless dull talks, false drama, religious preaching, random events, lack of gameplay. It's a different work that we usually get to see in visual novels. We got the worst release of the game translated - DVD video one. If it was a different release - it'd be a perfect game and I would not need to rant at all. If it was a different release, we'd need to pay great attention to game progress because it would be a gameplay issue. DVD release is basically a video with just a few meaningless choices so it's easy to get distracted, listen to it only as background and inevitably compare it with compact and fast-paced anime works. Guilty Exodus is very demanding to the player right from the start. It's easy to get confused with all that information. But if you take it seriously, you'll be able to enjoy one of the best stories written by Kanno Hiroyuki, on par even with YU-NO.

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kivandopulus

My choice of the VN of the Month November 1998 is Exodus Guilty. That's three adventure stories from Kenno-san that share  some motives and link with each other eventually. The final part makes up for the boring narration quite alright.


1. Another Mind アナザー・マインド [Square Co.] VNDB

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A 16 year-old girl named Hitomi Hayama is involved in a car accident and admitted to a hospital. Upon waking, she realizes that another being, albeit a mind, has taken residence in her head. The player takes on the role on this separate consciousness.

Game has an English review.

 

2. Castle Fantasia ~Seima Taisen~ キャッスルファンタジア ~聖魔大戦~ [Studio e.go!] VNDB

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The 200 year long war between Lushiera and Injiera continues. This is the story of a hero who changes the course of this neverending war and the lives of people around him.

In Castle Fantasia 2 you play as Hewie, commander of the seventh holy knight corps. He has a keen mind for strategy and tactics, seeing through and predicting enemy plans. However, his laid-back attitude causes him to be kept in a low regard by his commanding officers, friends and even his subordinates.

Game is localized and has many English reviews.


3. Exodus Guilty エクソダスギルティー [Abel] VNDB

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The year 2000. Kasumi Shindo is at first glance a run-of-the-mill high school student in modern-day Japan. However, beneath his normal appearance, Kasumi is in fact a top-notch treasure hunter. This time, Kasumi is aiming to seek out the lost 11th Commandment of Moses. Kasumi discovers that his childhood friend, Reina Tachibana is in southern Europe participating in an archeological dig. Pretending to be a tourist, he visits the excavation area and manages to get put on the excavation staff. But he is not the only treasure hunter looking for the Eleventh Commandment of Moses and before he knows it, he's embroiled in a dangerous adventure.

Game is localized and has many English reviews. I'm still reviewing it since it's Kenno-san scenario and does not have video playthrough.


4. Fluorite ~Hotaruishi~ Fluorite ~ほたる石~ [Air Plants] VNDB

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The story revolves around a hotel, a strange glowing stone, the ghost of a young girl who is haunting the main character and there are six heroines.

Game has an English review.


5. Iinazuke 許嫁 [Zero] VNDB

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Shoichiro Takase is a usual high school student who attends kendo club. One day his grandfather tells him that they are from very ancient family and that Shoichiro must marry Kiyoshihana Shizukawa and from now on they should live under the same roof.

Will Shoichiro accept his fate or make his own decisions in life?

Story tries to be serious only at the beginning of it. On the day 2 it's forgotten that he needs to train as a warrior and absurd school life begins. It's a good tempo fun bakage. There are many choices (lots of fake ones too) and many branches. There are some questions to the scenario, so best just consider it a bakage and pardon it all. Graphics are quite rough and there is no keyboard operability, but overall the story can be enjoyed if one has mood for it.


6. July [Fortyfive] VNDB

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July 7, 1999: Six years after a mysterious terrorist bombing, two Japanese youths start out on a bizarre quest to get to the bottom of a mystery that only begins with the mysterious bombing. Makoto Takamura, a bare-chested college student, lost his parents to the freakish bus bombing. Joshua, a rebellious youth often wanted by the law, uses his connections to Tokyo's seamy underbelly to track down the culprits behind that same bombing. As their paths cross, the two uncover a plot by an evil race of genderless beings to bring about the prophesied end of the world through their secretive puppet corporation, NAX.

Game has two English reviews.

 

7. Missing ~Itsuka Kitto~ Missing ~いつかきっと~ [Pinpai] VNDB

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On the White Day February 14th Yuuki Masahiro received a bar of chocolate in the post. The next year he also gains a bar of chocolate and a message only saying "Missing". From that moment events starts to whirl around him.

Period is two weeks. There are 9 heroines total, but some are only available after clearing the game. Routes vary in quality greatly and evaluation greatly depends on chosen route as of any charage.


8. Motif ~Sepia-iro no Sobyou~ Motif ~セピア色の素描~ [NOCTOVISION] VNDB

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Shinya Kano opposed his father's will and for three months he needs to support himself. As he arrives home for the first time in four years he finds three smiling girls who call themselves "sisters" while there should have been noone there.

SIM about raising sisters. Period is 3 months and it's basically the same planning actions each day mixed with occasional events. Tempo is bad and picture is not for everyone's taste.


9. Palette [Fairytale] VNDB

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Last summer school vacation. It's your last chance to experience school romance!

Game has an English review


10. Pastel Chime -Koi no Skill Up- ぱすてるチャイム-恋のスキルアップ- [Alice Soft] VNDB

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In a High school of a fantasy world, students spend their time learning magic and sword fighting, training to be adventurers.

At the botton of the school there's a special dungeon to test their skills.

The protagonist is one of these students who want to become someday a great hero.

There is an English review of the game.


11. Re-leaf レリーフ [C's Ware] VNDB

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A demon and a shy high school girl change personalities, and deal with adapting to their new situations.

There is an English review of this game.

 

12. Yasashii Ame ~Hitotsu no Kasa ni wa Futari Made Shika Hairenai~ やさしい雨 ~ひとつの傘にはふたりまでしか入れない~ [Juice] VNDB

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Hero was a promising cameraman three years ago, but he lost in the harsh profession competition. One day he was delivering photos to a magazine as assistant photographer when the rain suddenly started. He saw a girl hiding from the rain and his dulled vision started to shine as brightly as ever.

It's a low-price work from a small developer so it lacks voicing and polishing. There are four heroines and as long as you deliver attention to one of them you get that route. Still, there is a normal end and a bad end for each heroine and true ending is really worth some sweat. 


13. Yukiwari no Hana 雪割りの花 [Production I.G & SCEI] VNDB

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Winter. I live in a small town by a port. My life is very ordinary, I just go to a nearby college on a daily basis. One winter afternoon, my friend invited me to a party, but I refused to go because of a girl, Kaori Sakuragi, who lived next to me, whom I had a big crush on. That particular afternoon, I witness her kissing a man. It hurts my feelings greatly. Following the incident, I hear a knock on the door. As I open the door, I see two policemen standing. They ask, "Do you happen to know a girl named Kaori Sakuragi?"

Yarudora vol.4. Atmosphere and drawing are unique, but game suffers from too many bad endings. The conflict is not developed good an no empathy is felt towards towards protagonist. In the second half his mental state gets unstable and only alienation is felt. Game lost its live-action nature and became just a novel with choices which was for the worse.

kivandopulus

VN of the Month October 1998 is Eien no Miyako. At least it's a normal AVG with high production values and a bit of suspense and a romance mixed in many consecutive routes.


1. Dungeon Burai 迷宮無頼漢 [Studio Jikkenshitsu] VNDB

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One day a huge hole that appears in the house. It is a secret entrance of a secret organization "Jyuuichi Kuchuuru" that aims for world domination. The house owner accused them of land fraud and organized a party to throw them out of there.

It's an RPG bakage. Classes include all kind of stuff like samurai, magical girl, dog, dry weed... You need to take care of your light and food in order to walk at all. There are nine random rooms on each floor and the ladder to next level. There are events happening from time to time with a good chunk of them being H. Operation is mouse only and thus very painful.


2. Eien no Miyako 永遠の都 [Cherry Soft] VNDB

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Hero is a college student who attends university in Tokyo. He lost father at young age and now lives with mother, father-in-law and sister-in-law Mariko.

strange letter arrived from Mariko's pen friend Keiko who spends summer vacation on a "September Island (Ku Tsutou)".

"Strange events have been happening, please come quickly. I'm scared". 

Hero used to visit this island together with his deceased father and together with Mariko they set off to help Keiko.

Keiko was supposed to work as maid in a western mansion, but only three mansion owner daughters are found there.

Suspense romance story. Story is very long compared to usual works. After clearing one route, the next one appears. Suspense gradually turns into romance. Live-action backgrounds ruin the atmosphere. Scenario is written by female writer and it's really difficult to associate yourself with the protagonist, his pattern of though is really different. Game lacks balance and thus does not leave good impression.


3. Eye's ~Anata no Hitomi ni Utsuru Mono~ Eye’s ~あなたの瞳にうつるもの~ [Escu:de] VNDB

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It's ordinary and boring school life. There is Asami teacher and three girls to fight for attention and each of girls has her own rival the number of characters increases to 6!

Game has an English review

 

4. Gone ~Sugisarishi Hibi~ GONE~過ぎ去りし日々~ [Active Soft] VNDB

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Yuji Takeda is an unpopular actor who can not sell. During the shooting of a historical drama, he is struck by lightning and he find himself in a parallel world similar to the drama that was shot - Sengoku period full of ninja and samurai.

Story divides into two large scenarios - one in real world and the other one in warfare world. Warfare one does not contribute much to the story apart of fatal choices. The real world scenario is also thin and falling into comedy mostly. Characters are quite charming so game's best be described as charage. There are over 20 endings. 

 

5. Hoshi no Oka Gakuen Monogatari: Gakuensai 星の丘学園物語 学園祭 [MediaWorks] VNDB

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Our hero Kanata Muriya (name changeable) has just transferred to a new school and he has one month to prepare for the school festival. During that time, he'll have to make sure the festival is a success, while interacting and developing new relationships with his classmates.

Romance raising SIM. There's no story so charm is determined by the girl characters. Since it's a game for PS, there's a lot of animation. Game feels good and quite unique thanks to lots of events outdoors. A good title to check for galge enthusiasts.

 

6. Ichou no Mau Koro いちょうの舞う頃 [Types] VNDB

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Yusuke Akiyama is a mediocre person.  His childhood friend Yoshizawa Makoto is like a sister to him as she takes care of him for a long time. One day Yusuke receives a love letter from a lower grade student. What kind of story awaits Yusuke upon this magnificent autumn season?

Games in 1998 often started to have such synopsis that there is a love triangle and choosing one would inevitably dump the other girl. Game is one of the major titles of 1998 and it even got a sequel the following year. The strange drawing and the passive protagonist are the main shortcomings of the game.

 

7. Kiseki Maigo no Tenshi 奇跡 迷子の天使 [E.G.O.] VNDB

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London, 19th century. Hero is private detective investigating a series of women murders. The story starts when an angel falls on him on a deep foggy night.

Command selection multi-ending ADV. There are three heroines and they all get three endings. There is also an ending for each sub-heroine. There are a lot of choices and they really hurt the tempo and the atmosphere. Angel's identity comes out pretty fast and there's little motivation to play afterwards. It continues quite as ordinary work.

 

8. Menkai Shazetsu 面会謝絶 [Sirius] VNDB

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The player plays the role of an average high school student in Japan who has a beautiful girlfriend called Sayuri. The two of you walk to school chatting happily while suddenly a vehicle runs towards both of you and crash. You gain consciousness in a hospital. The nurse says you are recovering nicely and should be out of the hospital within a few days. However, you are really concerned about Sayuri because she is nowhere to be seen. You go to the nurse desk and overhear rumors about doctor conductor weird experiments. You need to find out what is happening in this hospital and rescue Sayuri.

There is an English review of the game.


9. Sampaguita サンパギータ [Production I.G & SCEI & Sugar and Rockets Inc.] VNDB

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Autumn. One rainy autumn evening, I was walking back home from a drinking party. I bump into a girl sitting in the rain, completely drenched in water. I notice a cut on her forehead - bleeding. I take her home with me. Her name is Maria, and she is from somewhere in the South East Asia, but she does not remember her identity. I search through her bag and find a photo, some cash, make-up set... and a hand gun.... 

Yarudora vol.3 arrived. It has an English review and enough English information.


10. Sekai no Hate no Monogatari 世界の果ての物語 [Purple] VNDB

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Kou is a girl who believes in her sword and she sets off to the capital city. However, she is caught by the enemy country army on the way, and is imprisoned in the Gallsberde fortress. She was offered to gather bail in 30 days time or die. Unnatural events start to happen around her. Now she needs to discover the truth about those events and make it in 30 days time.

It's a SIM aimed at to produce destruction work at various castle parts and also discover the mystery. There are 28 days with each day consisting of 5 turns. There are three usual commands "destroy!", "move" and "sleep". Character has many stats and destruction works is done faster with higher stats. It starts as a serious dark story, but then atmosphere gets light and story pretty much goes to hell. 

 

11. Shirobara no Namae 白薔薇のなまえ [Glanz] VNDB

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Masaki Yuu who works for the detective office is entrusted with  training three new girls as detectives within a year time.

Flow is divided by weeks with each turn taking a day. Every girl has parameters like trivia knowledge, investigation technique, body art etc etc Most of training is done by fulfilling commands "on-site investigation", "listening", "thinking".  If they manage to grasp the clues, then we move on to next scene. Graphics are nice, but gameplay is really weak.

 

12. Shunpuu Shoujo 春風少女 [Aquarium] VNDB

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Takuma Takuma is a college student. One day a girl Sari from another world appears before him. She said that she appeared to purify the conscious body possessed by Takuma and the should live together till that time. Takuma friends and girl classmates aren't really happy about that. Where shall the future take him?

Story is light and lacks the depth. For 11 chapters it's assumed that Takuma and Sari are lovers and it's all the hustle about it. Only in 12th final chapter there is development and resolution with you staying with the girl you've developed the most intimate relations. Gags are mixed well with the serious parts so at least you won't get tired in the mids of it.

 

kivandopulus

Foreword: C's Ware produced so many good works that I inevitably had to observe each work very thoroughly. luv wave with its 3D half-naked girl on the cover looked more like a 3D adult movie than a cyberpunk game. Who knew then that it would be one of my favorite games.

 

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Title: luv wave

Developer: C's Ware
Date: 1998-07-31
VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v2694
 Synopsis: September 2039. XINN, the computer virus that shutdown the world's computers, threatens us again. You, detective Kaoru, must solve who and why, with your new cyborg partner, Alice. However, haven't you met her before?

Structure: There's unstructured single road command selection story with a small after-story selectable from game menu afterwards.
Length: 27 hours
Game type: Command selection adventure
Difficulty: Easy. You can't fail in here, but you can get stuck. Bruteforcing helps from any situation though.
Character Design rating: 10/10

Protagonist rating: 10/10

Story rating: 10/10

Game quality: 9/10

Overall rating: 10/10

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Rating comments: 10 for the third game in a row - that does not look convincing anymore. And game is actually a bit raw. It uses unique engine that makes it very difficult to run it in windowed even with additional tools. Selection commands are just flying together with the output text. Sound levels for characters vary greatly (well, I think I found adjustment level in options for different sound frequencies that caused that). And most importantly, The afterstory crashes next to the end of it giving out a number of scenes missing error which is very bad for the last scene that should be perfect and form a final judgement. So much for the game quality. Everything else is perfect. Every character is well developed. The story is one of the best examples of cyberpunk sophisticated narrative with lots of twists and mind-blowing elements (in a good way). 

Protagonist: Mikogami Kaoru is one hell of a protagonist. He's in special forces unit specializing on assassinations. He's tall, blonde, often smoking and inevitably in a long coat. He's got a sister working in public security division, a lover who specializes in hacking and cracking and now also an android partner. He does not like assassination missions actually. He's always rational, calm, reserved, but he can be very proactive if he needs information from someone.

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Characters: Game is a one story without branching, so some characters are inevitably given more attention than others. I was actually very glad luv wave does not fall under any generalizations. Unlike very stupid hentai OVA based on the game there is no H-event with protagonist's sister (there seems to be one, but it's optional) and there is also shop-owner Kyoko who is left alone without one. This really helps to feel the story. If you think that you can watch OVA to grasp the story you'd be so wrong. OVA covers only beginning events more or less truthfully. The rest is a totally different story. Not even a greatly cut and simplified one, but a totally different story with the gist of it, the main opponent and the ending being totally different. 

Alice: New android partner and the leading female staff member. She starts as a killing machine, typical robot, but gets to change a little by little and ends up changing the people and the world around her. She's a bottomless depth of a character.

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Mikogami Mamoru: Kaoru's sister. Light-minded police swat member. She's wasting way too much money, fond of tv and gaming. Very cool and bright heroine. She mentions that she was assaulted to be raped at work in the past, but it failed and things got better from then. But this gang rape scene was vividly depicted in OVA. Actually there seems to be a H-event with either Mamoru or Kanako and I had Kanako one which is great since I don't appreciate incest.

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Takigawa Kanako: Mechanic of Alice. She's got quite a story behind her past. She was actually gang raped long ago and feels incompetent because of that. She wanted to become space engineer and construct space ships, but chose to change society instead and served as a special agent for half a year. Then she moved to a more calm field of work - android maintenance.  

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Takashi Yuri: She's the actual girlfriend of Kaoru. Her work is hacking and cracking - she calls it binary agent. She always wears long dresses. Due to her work she gets to know many shady individuals and trades information with them. Her story is very touching as she was thrown out of the house and was brought up by the bums at a waste place. Those bums compiled a computer from the parts in the waste dump and since then she's been very interested in computers. I suppose they also paid electricity and internet bills, but the story does not really elaborate on that.

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Yamashita Kiyoka: She's one of the shady individuals that trades information with Yuri. She formed her newspaper about net activities and is hunting for a scoop. She's an invaluable source of information if she trusts you.

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Diane Wiseman: A red-haired president of largest japanese computer company Digital Demand Inc. Strong-willed and ambitious. She's absolutely sure that her company can create a vaccine against phenomenon XINN that noone in the world understands. What makes her so sure? Does she know something that noone else knows? We'll figure it out.

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Mayumi Masato: Kaoru's Girlfriend from the past. It's really dangerous to write anything else about her since that might easily become a spoiler.

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Kyoko: She's the owner of the hardware shop where Alice works on a part-time job. Noone knows where she takes the money since her business in constantly in the red. She's a mysterious character who gives very unusual advice and who develops many of the important themes of the game.

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Story: Right off the bat you and Alice are sent on a mission by CIA command to assassinate some american guy Macy Specter who seeks refuge at japanese land. Somehow he gets to know about our true aim and he starts shooting and explodes his suitcase. When Alice connects to the computer afterwards she gets hacked and nearly burns her brain by the same american guy that they just killed. There's no time to rest since there's a new bombing incident announced and the culprit there has a totally different body but also claims to be that american guy Macy Specter. The command center manages to find Macy Specter hideout, but there is only some disturbing information found as well and new drug, the same drug that was also found at previous incident spots. Gradually we need to figure this mess out. What's this new drug and what's its connection to the crimes? How can a consciousness of a person exist separately of the body and in several bodies? What is this XINN phenomenon and what did it try to achieve by 1 second blackout of all the computers? Who's the mastermind behind all that what does he want? There are too many questions and answers are slow to get. And when you get them... it turns into a different story about world dominance and living GOD on Earth.

 

CG: I was quite happy with the number of CG. Gore scenes weren't multiple, but looked really cool. Let's start my usual gore-show.

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HCG: To my taste the number of H-events was a bit too much. There were two scenes for four heroines resulting in just 8 scenes which is quite ok. Alice is a subject of only one very mild scene which can't be even called a H-event. But at the end of the game we're digging the past of the characters and it brings about 8-9 more scenes for former girlfriend Mayumi which is an overkill imho. Scenes are more erotic than usual and it's achieved by voiceplay and scenes creativity - there's hardly a single normal bed scene in the game. 


Sound: Voicing is partial, but it's on for about 85% of the game, so can as well be considered as full voicing. Protagonist is not voiced, apart of his past self. As usual, I don't have complaints of bgm. My only complaint for sound is that by default there are different levels for different sound waves and that made lively characters very loud in my video playthrough and calm voices and males hardly heard at all. I'm very sorry that I could not figure it out earlier...

 

Themes: This game is Ghost in the Shell + Johny Mnemonic + Alice in wonderland in one shell and it raises a lot of themes. It's GITS because there's an android girl and there's net consciousness wondering stand-alone. It's Johny Mnemonic since new drug has 9 varieties and each contains up to 8 gb of data it it. It's Alice since this was not original name of android Alice. It's given to reflect a fantasy girl story in a magic land.

1) Can androids love? This is the first quite evident question that's posed. And the game kind of avoids an answer to this question, because Alice is not really an android.  Machine-Human-God dichotomy is discussed a lot in the game.

2) Can consciousness exist separately from the body? This in an ambiguous one. Macy Specter case shows that it actually can't since even during hacking there was a distinct body with his consciousness inside. But Alice case shows otherwise.

3) Can one become a God? There is a lot of discussion on the topic. At least three characters aim to become Gods. Is immortality enough to become a God or does one need to conquer the Earth? Characters have different approaches towards it.

4) Can one "remember" the future? Again, there's a lot of discussion on the topic with different views. Is remembering just perceiving or active influence on future events? Alice is the only character that can remember the future and she excels in all the meanings.

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Overall comments: luv wave suffers from pacing in the first half of the game as after couple action events there's lot of walking and rounds and gathering information. Mamoru is getting us information about "9 heavens" drug and Macy Specter from public security database, Yuri deciphers stolen data during hacking session and later on she participates in creating anti-XINN vaccine and secretly sends us information about it. Kiyoka introduces us to the world of drugs and also gets us to know Digital Demand Inc. president. Diane is the president that's in the epicenter of events. Little by little every lead and thread comes together and we get the full picture. I actually prefer this approach to forced action line, so pacing was ok for me. After we get to conclusive final of the story it does not really stop there. It presents the past of both Alice and Kaoru in a mindscrew fashion. That's a very different story from the main plot and not less thrilling one. It looks like a huge mural with small threads being knit together all the time. There's no answer to all the questions and in this case it's not particularly bad - that creates the mystic aura about the game. We get to know the past and the present, but as for the future - we need to remember it ourselves. It's a solid cyberpunk story akin to Ghost in the Shell and that alone should be enough. It's also full of memorable characters that don't fall under some categories - they are unique parts of one big story. I enjoyed it immensely since it gives an ample food for thought.

kivandopulus

I've only appreciated With You ~Mitsumete Itai~ and Yume no Saka this month. The former is still a normal school romance VN while Yume no Saka is something unique that probably won't have a similar rival ever. I consider Yume no Saka to be the game of the month September 1998 and there will be a review explaining why.

 


1. Carbon Knight カーボナイト [Palette (old)] VNDB

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A world devastated by the battle of gods. The surviving people created inanimate "carbon humans" by using the relics of Gods and sealing the soul within. For several hundred years the war lasted. Now carbon knight needs to deter the restoration of the once sealed demon king. 

Story has H-events densely packed. Save function returns you to the start of the day and one day is a very long period. It goes like a normal ADV with periodical choices of where to go or what to answer.

 

2. Doki Doki Pretty League: Nekketsu Otome Seishunki ドキドキプリティリーグ 熱血乙女青春記 [Xing Entertainment] VNDB

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In this game you play a coach for an all-girl baseball team. The game plays like a managerial game where you have to keep track of the schedule, add practice time for the girls and play games to advance in the series. But to keep the team happy you must also make sure they have a good social life as well as a well thought out training regime.

There are a lot of games in this baseball manager franchise. They look pretty much the same to me and there's no will to look for differences.


3. For Season ~Meguriyuku Kisetsu no Naka de~ For Season ~めぐりゆく季節の中で~ [Giga] VNDB

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You are hired as a family tutor, and you pick three girls of your choice (from five) as your students. In six months time (July to January), you are to assist these three girls in getting into University.

There is an English review of this game.


4. Kidou Senkan Nadesico: The Blank of 3 Years 機動戦艦ナデシコ The blank of 3years [Sega] VNDB

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A follow up to the Kidou Senkan Nadesico anime, this game covers the events that occur in the storyline between the end of the series and the movie.

There is enough English information on the game.


5. Lag ラグ [Aaru] VNDB

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2022 AD. Hero is the strongest fighter in history. He was ordered by his father to find a girlfriend in three years time and train her into a fighter. He needs to attend the school of fiercest fighters from all over the country. But his power gets sealed and he needs to start from scratch.

Fighting ADV genre has given us quite a good number of games. System-wise it's nothing special, command selection. We choose type of training each month. Once you get enough experience with training, you can level up. Each week we can choose to see some girl or do smth else on free time. Battles lasts for 10 turns with selection limited to attack, defend and provoke. But games lasts for 3 years which is a LOT. RPG element tries to shake off repeatedness, but succeeds only partially. Quite an ordinary fighting adv, but with good character growth and battle mechanics.


6. Light My Fire -Hajimemashite- LIGHT MY FIRE -はじめまして- [Take] VNDB

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Hero is a teacher during daytime and DJ at night time. Main heroine is the daughter of religious cult guru. Hero acts to prevent destruction activities of this religious cult.

DJ battle adventure simulation game as it describes itself... wth. This doujin game is a huge mess.Why teacher would fight religious fanatics... Why it suddenly turns into a sex game... Why the teacher reconciles guru and his daughter and joins the religious cult as a senior executive eventually?!  It all looks like a bad joke. And on top of that game is music-based and there's a nice DJ battle minigame. Doujin crapocalypse is coming...


7. Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan 御神楽少女探偵団 [Human Club & Nude Maker] VNDB

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Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan is an adventure game that tells a story of Mikagura Tokito was the director of a detective agency in the Taisho era but disappeared after an accident. 

Three girls who adored him continue his work - they are Tomoe, Shigeno, and Chizuru.

Talk to every character in each screen until each scene is solved. That pretty much sums it up. There rest depends on whether you like cute girls unwinding cases in Taisho era.


8. My Girl マイガール [Jam] VNDB

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You start the game already with a girlfriend, Miki. During the school year, you'll meet other two girls, and you must choose between chasing one of them or sticking with Miki.

There is an English review of this game.


9. Mystic Mind ~Yureru Omoi~ Mystic Mind~揺れる想い~ [Family Soft] VNDB

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Depending on gender choice the game will differ in who you meet - males or females. 

The game begins when the player's character is transferred to a private high school where he will meet the other main character of the game, and the game will start there.

The game features different endings depending on the player's choices and character development during the gameplay. So now it is up to the player to succeed in finding love or not. 

Oh my, half-otome game. Those that try to please everyone usually get a generic game as a result and this is no exception. A raising sim that I can't see any outstanding features in.


10. Nurse Call ナースコール [Mei Full House Karen] VNDB

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A girl died during operation without telling her feelings. Fumiura Yuya starts to hear her faint voice from then on. 

Will he be trapped with the ghosts of the past or see a sign of new life?

There are three heroines, but scenario is the same so there's no meaning in it. Game is also really short.


11. Omoidezaka 想ひ出坂 [Ume Soft] VNDB

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A landscape with a nostalgic atmosphere. A woman is always standing on a slope behind the scenery.

...  This is the mysterious dream that comes every night. The hero returns to his home town as a practice student and recognized the girl of his dreams in Tamiya Maika. While still wondering about this connection, he gets to know that the teacher was killed in the arts classroom. He sets on the investigation to find out the truth behind the incident.

Multi-route multi-ending command selection ADV. There are 10 girls and 10 happy endings. First half of the game is usual school slice of life while only second one is murder investigation. Even though solving the case is easy, the flags are vague and getting all the endings is very tough. 


12. Onegai! Renhou おねがい!蓮宝 [Blue Bell] VNDB

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Hero is waiting for graduation and attends photo club. He has fear of women. One day photo club manager assaulted him after drinking party. Now he's finally set on overcoming his fear of women. 

Normal mahjong game with weird synopsis. As you win you can buy items in various shops. There is story mode and pure mahjong mode.

 

13. Rakuen no Natsu 楽園の夏 [Ange] VNDB

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Hero is a 3rd grade high school student in a small rural town. He is surrounded by childhood friends and lives happily. By summer vacations he starts to think about future and long-life relations.

There are many heroines and depending on places you chose to go, branching happens. August 15th is the summer festival day and it's the day of erotic ending.

 

14. With You ~Mitsumete Itai~ With You ~みつめていたい~ [Cocktail Soft & F&C] VNDB

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Long time ago, a man and a woman made a promise, stating that although they were destined to be lonely souls, they should always remain together. But by a cruel joke of fate, they were separated and sealed into two jewels that were hidden for generations. Manami, who left the country 6 years before, has found one of the jewels while traveling. He will return to Japan to meet with their friends from childhood. This will entail a meeting of the two jewels again, for the second jewel seems to be owned by his father.

There is an English review of this game.


15. Yami no Mitsuryousha 闇の密猟者 [Jade] VNDB

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Protagonist with three girls go in the mountains to draw a sketch, but they get lost and it starts raining. They see a villa and come inside to get dry. Younger sister gets hungry and they start seeking for provision but find an arm cut from the elbow in the basket instead. 

Systems is clumsy as in every work based on macromedia. No skip function, pseudo 3D and slow screen motion. Text is really bad and scarce. Story is of dark origin with much rape and it's a single road. Opponent is multiple personality killer demon.

 

16. Yume no Saka 夢の坂 [acute] VNDB

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Dream slope is a hill near student dormitory. According to old legend monsters used to appear from there. They were exterminated by a travelling samurai, but as he was leaving he predicted that evil would rise again on the slope.

Heroines with heart and mind wounds get caught by the dream slope. Each heroine story is unique. Another feature of the game is that there are not really good endings. I'm intrigued to some extent. I'm giving it a full review.

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