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Review Database and Reviews of god forgotten Visual Novels

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kivandopulus

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Foreword: There is a negative English review, but VNDB voting shows a decent 6.72 score atm and this is Silky's story oriented work, same Silky's that I praised multiple times for Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku, Reira Slave Doll, Ushinawareta Rakuen and Koihime. So I decided to make it to the end of Jack ~Haitoku no Megami~ no matter what.

Title: Jack ~Haitoku no Megami~

Developer: Silky's

Date: 1995-11-30

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v6387

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3px7_N_hFY
 Synopsis: You are Jack Martin, a drunken, selfish, sex-driven bastard of a detective. You recently received a job to capture the inter-galactic terrorist "Phantom". The Phantom has been confirmed to be heading toward a galactic convention on a transtellar shuttle. This is where you come in.

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Structure: One route with four Bad End branches.

Length: 3 hours

Game type: Command selection adventure

Difficulty: Branching is difficult and following walkthrough is advised in order not to waste time on meaningless endings.

Character Design rating: 4/10

Protagonist rating: 5/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 6/10

Overall rating: 6/10


Rating comments: Pretty high score still. The introduction was very shallow followed by meeting meaningless characters having meaningless talks and then I entered the wrong branch where Jack just dozed off after drinking session at the bar oversleeping the important meeting and missing the whole murder case at the ship bridge... then there were some random girls encounters and then just something hit him in the head killing him after over 2 hours of play... wow, I felt really miserable at that point and that first impression really hurt evaluation. Then I followed a walkthrough and finally remotely understood what was going on. Other complaints are to be touched in corresponding sections.

Protagonist: Saying Jack is a bad protagonist is saying nothing at all. He's horrible. He does not have a single plan. All that he's doing is drinking in the bar and then drinking in his room occasionally having other girls drinking with him in the bar or in his or their rooms plus occasionally meeting some faces in the corridor. And if he drinks with the right people the story manages to unwind by itself...

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Characters: Characters are my biggest complaint in this game. There are a lot of girls, but they just flash here and there, throw a few dialogue lines and disappear in order to reappear in some spontaneous even leading to a H scene. Reni is the main heroine of the game, Jack's partner. She's an island of sanity in this asylum, but there's an impression that she just sits in the room all the time, so she never actually follows Jack. She does provide some insight, but apart of that she ain't much supportive.

Story: There's little in the story department. Main heroes hunt for mysterious Phantom, then a murder happens and they start investigation which does not bring any results, really. At some point Phantom just pops up and a swift resolution follows. I was greatly misleaded by the line about the dragon in the English review - actually it's not a normal dragon, but a space dragon that hatched from a huge space egg, so there's no shift in the setting.

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CG: Nice, but few'ish - but lots of HCG. Colors are kind of dim like in Reira while I'd prefer something more bright like Ushinawareta Rakuen.

Sound: Tracks are pleasant, but there are some 8 of them which is not enough.

Themes: Ok, this game actually does not have a symbolic theme, but why not mention couple repeating features

1) Oh, what time is it? Let's check the watch. It's 14:10. There is still a lot of time left. Those lines with slight variations are repeated so often, but I don't think there was some deadline ever so all that talk along with the clock integrated in the interface have little meaning.

2) The throat's got dry. I want to drink alcohol... Those lines are repeated over and over at those rare moments when Jack is not actually drinking. At the culmination point of the game in the mids of battle with Phantom he repeats the very same lines... That might be a nice feature of a cool protagonist, but Jack is not cool. He's rather miserable.

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Overall comments: I seem to be bashing the game in every section, so I'd like to focus on good sides in conclusion. 

1) First of all, the game plays as a contemporary visual novel with just clicking through and occasionally picking lines of choice.

2) Secondly, the constant drunkenness of protagonist opens up new opportunities like distorted consciousness and free flow of thoughts. 

3) There are some nice to observe archetype characters like a homo, an obviously super suspicious mechanic, an esper.

4) Jack himself actually gets some character depth by the end of the game - we get to know the circumstances that caused him to drop from an elite military unit and start to drink. 

5) The SF setting is quite interesting, actually, with postwar spies hunt and mysterious space events like that space dragon.

So it's not a masterpiece level game, but a solid Silky's experimental game. I like works with an SF touch Silky's is smart enough to provide an entertaining product. I'm looking forward to reviewing their next game Fermion ~Mirai kara no Houmonsha~.

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kivandopulus

Will be gradually updating old posts and filling this post with links when finished.

VN of the Month December 1994 - Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~

VN of the Month November 1994 - File: Kokubou Soushou Jouhoukyoku Jouhou Rouei Taisakubu Josei Jinmonin

VN of the Month October 1994 - Gao Gao! 3rd ~Wild Force~

VN of the Month September 1994 - Ai Shimai ~Futari no Kajitsu~

VN of the Month August 1994 - Shinsetsu Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou

VN of the Month July 1994 - DESIRE - Haitoku no Rasen

VN of the Month June 1994 - Necronomicon

VN of the month May 1994 - Tokimeki Memorial

VN of the Month April 1994 - AmbivalenZ -Niritsu Haihan-

VN of the Month March 1994 - Mirage 2 - Torry x Neat x Roan no Daibouken

VN of the Month February 1994 - Dragon Knight 4

VN of the Month January 1994 - Fuzoroi no Lemon

VN of the Month December 1993 - Demon City

VN of the Month November 1993 - Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou Vol. 2

VN of the Month October 1993 - Nooch 2 Remy no Gyakushuu

VN of the Month September 1993 - Youjuu Senki -A.D. 2048-

VN of the Month August 1993 - Houma Hunter Lime Dai 03 Wa

VN of the Month July 1993 - Bunretsu Shugoshin Twinkle Star

VN of the Month June 1993 - Can Can Bunny Extra

VN of the Month May 1993 - Nova

VN of the Month April 1993 - Quintia Road 2

VN of the Month March 1993 - Marine Philt

VN of the Month February 1993 - Cosmology of Kyoto

VN of the Month January 1993 - Mamono Hunter Youko: Tooki Yobigoe

VN of the Month December 1992 - Koroshi no Dress 3

VN of the Month November 1992 - Dracula Hakushaku

VN of the Month October 1992 - Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna

VN of the Month September 1992 - My Eyes!

VN of the Month August 1992 - Kiss

VN of the Month July 1992 - Phobos

VN of the Month June 1992 - De-Ja 2

VN of the Month May 1992 - Kurutta Kajitsu

VN of the Month April 1992 - The 4th Unit - Wyatt

VN of the Month March 1992 - Sotsugyou Shashin / Miki

VN of the Month February 1992 - Joker II

VN of the Month January 1992 - Himitsu no Hanazono

VN of the Month December 1991 - Gidyy

VN of the Month November 1991 - Psychic Detective Series Vol. 5: Nightmare

VN of the Month October 1991 - Rance III - Leazas Kanraku

VN of the Month September 1991 - Cosmic Psycho

VN of the Month August 1991 - Kimi Dake ni Ai o..

VN of the Month July 1991 - Nike

VN of the Month June 1991 - ELLE

VN of the Month May 1991 - Ginsei Senshin Guynarock

VN of the Month April 1991 - Psychic Detective Series Vol. 4: Orgel

VN of the Month March 1991 - Jesus II

VN of the Month February 1991 - Akagawa Jirou no Yuurei Ressha

VN of the Month January 1991 - Dragon Eyes

VN of the Year 1990 - De-Ja

VN of the Year 1989 - Imitation wa Aisenai

VN of the Year 1988 - Lipstick. ADV

VN of the Year 1987 - Hiatari Ryoukou!

VN of the Year 1986 - Gall Force - Eternal Story

VN of the Year 1985 - Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu ~Hyakki Hen~

VN of the Year 1984 - Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsk ni Kiyu

VN of the Year 1983 - Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken

kivandopulus

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Foreword: Silky's company and Slave doll in title inevitably make us think it's a nukige, but actually it's a scenario oriented game. Moreover, that's retelling of a classic cyberpunk story about an android hunter - the story that was already told in visual novels by Imitation wa Aisenai and Snatcher. Did Silky's ruin the classic concept or was it able to produce a masterpiece? You'll find the answer in this review. That's actually infamous Raira on the screen.

Title: Reira Slave Doll

Developer: Silky's

Date: 1994-04-28

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v9053

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUzNdzCXyhc&index=1&t=0s&list=PLENAECnNmAq8rNJQkjudialEIFqA335Pu


 Synopsis: Early 21st century. The crisis situation created by mass production and mass consumption of the 20th century has aggravated. Extinction of ozone layer caused environmental disasters including acid rains over the cities. Natural resources grew scarce due to explosive population increase. Humanity started space exploration. 

The shortage of labor force motivated scientific society to invent and produce bio-androids. 

2050. A quarter century has passed since start of practical use of androids. Fierce competition among android producers allowed advanced models to be sold for moderate prices affordable for average households. With that increased the number of runaway androids and crimes done by androids. Government obligated android producers to register all the units and new police units involving android crimes were created. Its police officers were commonly known as "Hunters".

This is a story of hunter Kano Ryo. He is looking for a female slave doll serial killer Reira. Out of two weeks given for the task only three days remain. Since android needs maintenance, the only place suitable for living for such a long time is some android factory. Ryo locates a factory near committed murders and just goes inside to conduct a full-scale investigation at the spot.

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Structure: Single route, no parts division.

Length: 7 hours

Game type: Command selection adventure

Difficulty: It was easy for me since I'm used to brute-forcing all the commands.

Character Design rating: 7/10

Protagonist rating: 6/10

Story rating: 7/10

Game quality: 7/10

Overall rating: 7/10


Rating comments: A very high score for a PC-98 game. Girls are the gist of the game and they are surely lovely drawn and depicted. They have different personalities and are memorable. But it's impossible to imbue them with depth in a not-so-long game, so it's high score as it can get. Protagonist is an ok guy - not a maniac, but not without perversion if the situation cries for it. He does not force himself on anyone, but does not decline any invitations to H either. My biggest complaint about him is that we're not given his image - and that's supposed to be the coolest thing a cyberpunk story! Story is with a twist, so I was pleasantly surprised. The quality of the game is very good, but greatly degraded by lack of non-H CG and constant command brute-forcing. 

Protagonist: It's actually difficult to say anything else about Ryo. Oh! He has a ray-gun, but he only remembers about that at the end of the game when he desperately needs to open a door. If he remembered about that earlier, I would not have spent 3 hours looking for ways to open previous two doors in the game! Anyway, there are only girls CG in the game and thus poor Ryo looks blank.

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Characters: So, yes, it's a game about girls mostly. But there aren't girls roots and the whole interaction with girls is presented by normal communication with them or finding them in different peculiar situations and reacting by the circumstances. So I don't feel the need to speak about them individually, but here are the names and occupations. Glasses wearing blue long hair Eleanor is an office section manager. Red long hair Alicia is responsible for scrap station. Short green hair Anise governs the warehouse. Medical department has  two similar looking nurses - Silk and Cotton (I know, I know...). Long blue hair Sofia is the boss of a sorting center. Short curly brown hair Mei is in charge of the furnace. Long blond hair Karin governs the chip processing section. So that's it - just 7 divisions and so many girls. But a nice thing is that few of girls are amicably set towards the detective. But still there is at least one H-event of each of them with the protagonist and there is more without Ryo. Oh and there is factory owner who does not get another name, but Owner. And that is because he owns.

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Story: Finally, the story. It's the part that should reinstall the game from a nukige to a decent cyberpunk story if it's still redeemable at all at this point. So Ryo gets a permission from factory owner to explore the factory with the guide Alicia. After the tour Alicia seduces Ryo saying that it's a direct order from the owner that she can't disobey. Because of that attitude a rebellion movement is threading among the staff against the owner. But there are also collaborators who obstruct the investigation and prevent Ryo from entering some areas. Ryo soon finds the traces of illegal android trade, but how is it linked with serial murders and runaway slave doll Reira? You won't know without watching the video walkthrough.


CG: Too few! But at the same time HCG are in abundance. 

Sound: BGM tracks are very pleasant, but not memorable.

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Themes: As pretty much every game about androids, Reira Slave Doll tries to keep with the flow. The main question is whether androids should have rights if their intellectual level outgrows that of a human. 


Overall comments: So it's definitely an ero-centered game. But at the same time it has a serious intriguing plot. So why not have both? The balance here is tilt towards H and the situation is aggravated by command bruteforcing, but the story behind it is satisfying. Recommended for all cyberpunk fans or just for anyone who wants a light cheerful game with beautiful characters and CG in Sci-Fi setting.

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kivandopulus

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Foreword: It would be weird if I reviewed only three games of the serious out of four. So here is the leftover piece - and again a worthy one.

Title: Gao Gao! 2nd ~Pandora no Mori~

Developer: Four-Nine

Date: 1994-04-16

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8695

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq9jc6oE6uhjsWcOoBDaZg2h


 Synopsis: A biological experiment that began in 1993 led to a terrible disaster in the beginning of 21st century. A virus that turned living beings into mutants and monsters has been unleashed. Soon the Earth turned into a terrifying place of chaos, as more and more human beings became infected. Unspeakable violence obliterated human civilization. Within a few years, humanity was on the verge of total annihilation. The Era of Darkness began.

But not all hope was lost. Humans began building cities known as "Domes", isolated from the wilderness, protected by glass from all sides, cut from natural resources. It was possible to start building civilization anew. 

On one fateful day, the famous scientist couple Mizuhara were killed in what looked like an accident. Their project, which showed new ways of fighting the virus, descended into the grave with them. Their two children were separated and for a long time were unaware of their origins. But the wheels of destiny keep spinning, as the young Mizuhara is about to discover the truth about his parents, and perhaps bring new hope to humanity...

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Structure: One route with 8 chapters.

Length: 7 hours

Game type: Command selection adventure

Difficulty: Easy - there were only couple moments to bruteforce - apart of that the pace is good.

Character Design rating: 7/10

Protagonist rating: 4/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 7/10

Overall rating: 6/10


Rating comments: Huh, the worst rating of all games in the series. The biggest complaint this time is absolutely spineless and useless protagonist. We see his crying face so many times that the desire to hit him arises. Luckily, his female cousin Lucia hits him so many times during the game that even desire to hit him vanishes. Another my complaint is that the game gets very ero-centered by the end of it sacrificing some of the story for the sake of it. I'm glad it was fixed in later installations, but here it left a negative impact for me. And that brings forth my complaint about the story which I'll explain in the story description. Overall game quality stays on the same level as other games of the series which is very high. 

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Protagonist: Jackie makes the worst protagonist in the series and I'm very glad I did not change his name to mine (there is such menu option). He can't make his own decisions, complains and cries all the time. His female cousin Lucia who accompanies him for the most of the game is a typical tsundere - basically it's a less funny version of Rabby from Gao Gao 3rd. When by the end of the game she's asked why she's that much of a tsundere, she answers that she does not really understand herself often and does not know what she wants... jeez. Jackie can't make his own decisions, so Lucia does them all the time! And she chooses kind of the worst options, so they always get into trouble. And both protagonists are powerless, so they are abused for the whole first part of the game and it does not look funny, to be honest. But to compliment the developers there are nice sub-characters here and amplified humor part.

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Characters: As usual, there are lots of sub-characters. The funniest one is Laila who is the genetic parent of Ilia from Gao Gao 3rd which means that they have totally the same personalities, but different memories. Another curious character is glasses wearing Meg who is a friend of protagonist Lucia. The beast girl protagonists encounter first is Lia, but she does not say anything but "Mi" and thus is almost useless for the story. And there's also a half-mermaid girl Nagi. Phew, that finishes the harem of Jackie. As if it's not enough - there also other sub-characters with H-events.

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Story: Jackie was separated from his female cousin Lucia 10 years ago after death of their parents. Now Jackie goes from Pluto-city to Aristo-city to meet his cousin. She meets him at the station, but treats him as a dog which role Jackie joyfully accepts. She is foolish enough to fall for a nanpa and Jackie whines so much that he's taken along on a car ride. The nanpa guy Roy brings them to a forbidden area infected by virus and attempts a rape. The cousins flee from the car and get lost in the forest where they eventually meet mutants and the real story begins. But forest part of the game does not really last long and 6 chapters out of 8 take place at Aristo-city upon their return. In order not to spoil much I'll only say that their return does not really happen smoothly and that the laboratory under the city holds all of its secrets (same as in Gao Gao 3rd and 4th, actually - so it's hardly a spoiler). I actually hoped for a better story - not just a walk to the forest and return back with the remaining story happening in the same city. But Gao Gao series is characterized by some facilities investigations in a company and that's presented here in full volume. Moreover, first two chapters were too boring thanks to featuring only two failure protagonists. But as more characters come to stage the flow gets its usual pace and the game becomes a worthy species of the series. 


CG: As usual, all the full-screen pictures are reserved for HCG which are rather uneven. But half-screen CG are very nice, yet as usual reserved only for event scenes. 

Sound: Great! But I actually think that Gao Gao 3rd inherited too many melodies from this game.

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Themes: It's not really a theme, but a complaint over the plot. At some point we get to know that virus is already extinguished and the governing circles just conceal this information as it's convenient to govern the isolated communities under the domes. But in Gao Gao 3rd and 4th we get a different picture as humanity is eliminated save for very small nucleus communities. And whatever the explanations for that are, I still see a contradiction here. Such big cities as Aristo-city can't just vanish over couple hundred years. The only answer to that might be reproduction problems, but Canaan protagonist human boy Kite was born in the vault without problems, so I doubt that's the case. 


Overall comments: So it's the weakest game in the series, but does it mean it's bad? I consider Gao Gao series to be the best visual novel series in the whole pre-Windows period. Thus Pandora no Mori surpasses a vast majority of pc-98 era games. And it holds much value for the fan of this series. First of all - most of jokes that keep repeating through following games are originated here (like in example "Information is transferred to the central host" "Oh, host is a man who is dating women!"). Here we finally get to know the origins of the mermaid story that goes through 3rd and 4th games. There are a lot of other symbols that get into following games (like Laila comes to a computer and exclaims that it's strange that it has not broken down after her approaching - and that theme repeats a lot for Ilia).

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kivandopulus

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Foreword: I did not expect much of the first game in the series, but was pleasantly surprised. It's a really long scenario-centered game that stands on the same level as Gao Gao the 3rd, just in less intriguing environment. It's well worth a review!

Title: Gao Gao! 1st ~Radical Sequence~

Developer: Four-Nine

Date: 1994-01-07

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8694

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik-oCR-wj2E&t=0s&list=PLENAECnNmAq8SX_gfftcaJs33UPCvY_Lv&index=1 

Synopsis: The protagonist of the game is a college student named Yuuji Shibata. One evening, just after hearing on the news that someone has stolen a tiger, he goes out to a convenience store. On the way back, in a dark alley, he notices a strange creature, a young girl with cat ears and tail. She doesn't seem to remember anything about herself, except her name beginning with the syllable "Mi...", which afterwards earns her the nickname Mi. Yuuji brings her to his house and tries to introduce her to the world of humans. (which, naturally, also involves techniques of human procreation). But will Yuuji be able to keep Mi as his companion (sexual and otherwise), or will he have to face her mysterious past?..

 

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Structure: One route with 8 chapters.

Length: 8 hours

Game type: Command selection adventure

Difficulty: Easy, but triggers aren't clear and bruteforcing required. There were couple very painful moments that took a while to bruteforce.

Character Design rating: 7/10

Protagonist rating: 8/10

Story rating: 7/10

Game quality: 7/10

Overall rating: 7/10
Rating comments: First three games were released almost the same year and they all share the same drawbacks that were partially fixed in 4th Canaan. Those are bruteforcing and obligatory interactive H-scenes. And again hero scores with every female heroine he meets sooner or later - I'm not a fan of such approach. But apart of that I'm really satisfied with the game. I was afraid of abuse of H events with Mi, but there were only two obligatory ones, quite the same as with some other characters. And the scale of the story is much bigger that's presented in the synopsis with a lot of characters to take part. Add here the fact that we're being the witnesses of the very beginnings of virus H1 outrage and I'm sold. I rated protagonist higher than other heroines, because he's truly a great guy - the following section is about him.

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Protagonist: Yuuji Shibata is a normal college student... at least we're told that. But he only attends library to prepare for the test in the game. He's funny and brave. There's a lot of charm about him. Gao Gao series protagonists have personalities, faces and none of them are of perverts. That's a great advantage. There are about 10 H-events in the game, but all of them have decent explanations and are results of some events and conditions. That's really fresh since girls don't really force themselves upon the hero and thus don't have their personalities devalued. Yuuji is the only fighting force till very late in the story (catwoman Mi is totally useless in fights) and I was really astonished by the fact that he defeated several ninjas all by himself and was the only one to effectively oppose virus beast - that's your normal college student! There's a lot of charm in the protagonist and Yuuji's the best human protagonist in the series (he can't beat half-wolf Wolfy, of course ^^).

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Characters: There are really many characters in this game and even though the game starts normally, it soon becomes a two-man party and eventually even three-man party, so it has the roots of the party heartwarming adventure feature that's the feature of the series. It's useless to speak of heroines, because there are only two main ones - Mi and another college student Hanako. Those girls usually accompany Yuuji and thus are able to contribute to many scenes. Other heroines have episodic part in the story.

Story: So Yuuji finds Mi at a waste depot and brings her to his room. From then on they just wander around the town for several days trying to help Mi recover her memories. At some point they start to be followed by different suspicious persons who demand to return Mi, but heroes just run away from them each time. With some of the memory threads linked together, Mi finally recognized the house that used to be her home. But getting to that house does not even cover a half of the story with the most exciting part hidden in the mansion's inhabitants. Things get violent soon with some unexpected allies joining in. But you won't get the real answers till you watch the video walkthrough.
CG: Somehow I found CG here superior to Gao Gao 3rd. And I did not feel as if I was retrogaming at all. But still rare... only for plot important scenes and thus are packed close to the end of the game.

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HCG: Compared to Gao Gao 3rd HCG are finally beautiful with few distorted face features.
Sound: Great! I like it how the themes of the sounds transfer to the next games, but transformed so that those would not irritate.
Themes: I can see one theme to be lingering throughout the game. There is no good and evil, allies and enemies. There are only persons that can be reasoned with as long as they possess intelligence. So far it's the kindest game in the series with pretty much noone dying apart of very episodic sub-characters.
Overall comments: I've already reviewed two other games of the series and thus don't have much to say here. That's a very strong start of the series and characters-wise Radical Sequence does not really fall behind its older brothers. We only get semi-fantasy environment here and semi-party experience, but it's the same stamp of quality that's shared among the games of the series. If you liked Wild Force or Canaan it would not be a waste of time to try Radical Sequence. And no game of the series gives virus origins and development explanation as good as Radical Sequence.

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kivandopulus

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Foreword: This is one of the best masterpieces of the year 1993 and cyberpunk themed on top of that. I could not miss this chance.

Title: HHG Heart Heat Girls

Developer: Nihon Create

Date: 1993-12-02

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8716

Length: 5 hours.

Game type: Command selection + Point and click + Action elements ADV

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq8F5WmXr06-5E634NvmhPmU

Difficulty: Low, but I managed to trigger Game Over once still - game just jumped to the beginning of the scene, so it was convenient. What was less convenient is saving only at few specific places. I actually had to replay the whole first chapter because of that and electricity cut.

Synopsis: HHG is set in a futuristic world, in which humans co-exists with androids, highly advanced cybernetic organisms. However, this co-existence is anything but peaceful, since android are going rampant, and a special police force known as ACP ("Anti Criminal-cyborg Police") is specifically assigned to deal with them. Two young and lovely police officers, Angelica and Apple, receive a S.O.S. signal from two army pilots, who were attacked by a mysterious female cyborg who called herself Patricia von Kreuzel. Upon arriving at the crime scene, the heroines find no survivors. Together with their colleague, a young detective named Keith, they must investigate and solve this case.

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Structure: Three chapters.

Character Design rating: 6/10

Protagonist rating: 6/10

Story rating: 7/10

Game quality: 7/10 

Overall rating: 7/10

Rating comments: As usual, I find it difficult to rate most of pc-98 games over 7, so 7 is almost the top score. My biggest complaint about the game that it lacks excitement and charismatic characters. There is only a handful of curious characters even though cyberpunk is a favorable ground for all kind of delinquents. Main heroines aren't cute enough to be the center of attention. Add the fact that it's basically an all ages game with just couple bare chests of half-cyborgs at the very end and you get a slow unwinding story that makes it easy to doze off at times. All the leather fancy dresses with gloves and short skirts are wasted here.

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Protagonist: There are three main heroines. Ann (Angelica) is a descendant from an important aristocratic family famous for scientific research. She is long hair blonde and is seen as a spiritual leader of the team. Yui is the silver hair girl with a messy haircut. She has quite a shady criminal past prior to joining the team. The last of the protagonists is Apple who is a short hair blonde. She's quite a normal girl character-wise, but she's the best hacker in the team. Well, four girls are featured at many screens - the fourth one is Patricia Von Kreutzel whose name is featured in the game intro, but she only appears at the very end of the game and uncovering her personality is already a spoiler.

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Characters: There aren't enough colorful side-characters in the game. Girls's boss is just an old man who shouts all the time. The information bank bartender has an appearance of a normal punk and he does not add the spice. At some point in the game a huge man appears who overpowers the girls greatly but he just frees them and leaves the area with the reader totally puzzled of what the hell just had happened. Keith is a young detective who is supposed to be a part of girls team, but even though his name is called out often, he almost never appears on the screen so at one point I even started to think that Keith is another name of one of the girls. The reporter guy is quite a normal one. To tell the truth almost all the side-characters are males which does not add appeal. 

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Story: Ann and Apple receive a faint SOS signal and hurry to its coordinates. They make it the first to the spacecraft crash spot. They pick up some strange cyborg parts and are attacked by a cyborg of a strange model, but they manage to take him down. What makes it most surprising is that metal cyborg has some white essence playing the function of blood. The military unit that arrives next strongly suggests to leave this case to the Anti Criminal-cyborg Police. But the analysis of cyborg parts shows that one of them contains human brain cells. Why is there human brain in the cyborgs? Who is in charge of brain smuggling? What's the role of the military? Is there a government level scale conspiracy unfolding?

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CG: CG look modest. Some heroines angles are even passable, but overall it's passable at best. Picture takes only like a third of the screen and that hurts a lot. I could only enjoy close-ups on the faces. Animation does not really help much.

Sound: Sound is ok, but there is no voice (naturally) and no sound effects making BGM irritating sometimes.

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Overall comments: So the game is an attempt to make a long serious cyberpunk story that would present an interest for the sake of the story. But it had to adhere to lots of other methods to keep the interest - point and click sessions, 3d mazes, shooting robots action minigame, wide partial animation use, some gore and and even some eroticism at the end of the game. And it still fails to keep interest at all times. The investigation moves too slowly with visiting the same places for obtaining new pieces of information filling the puzzle. The dark palette leaves a mostly negative impression. But the story was worth it and it was nice to see the similarities with Silver Jiken, I'm sure HHG was one of the inspiration sources for it. 

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kivandopulus

Foreword: Game had already couple reviews, but those weren't too specific on the story, so I had to check it out myself in the end.

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Title: 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~

Developer: Nihon Create

Date: 1993-02-05

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v4547

Length: 6 hours.

Game type: Command selection ADV

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq-kxnAJKmFd5cOYSn55q0UZ

Difficulty: That happens to be the main part of review. FM Towns/PCE version is perfect with difficulty level low, full voicing and nice interface. The PC-98 version is gamer's hell, but only this version is hookable, so I proceeded with it. It's the fullest version having extra parts the other versions don't have, but pc-98 version has clunky interface of multiple windows that keep jumping all over and horrible mechanics that demand multiple clicking on the same commands to proceed with the game. That much useless clicking forces to miss on important parts as well. And there was a pitch moment in the second branch that made me waste two more hours on clicking through every room and searching for capture information which did not really help me, so only bruteforce clicking through every possible variant in each room only helped.

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Synopsis: 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ is based on the manga and anime series 3x3 Eyes. Pai, a young girl from the immortal tribe of sanzhiyan, three-eyed demons of Chinese origin, wants to become a human again. She meets a Japanese teenager named Yakumo Fujii, whom she accidentally turns into a "wu", an immortal obedient servant of a three-eyed demon. Together, Pai and Yakumo try to regain their lost humanity.

This game can be considered a side-story to the series. The player does not control Yakumo, but an ordinary high-school student named Kenichi Yamamoto. Accidentally, Kenichi comes into contact with the world of demons, and now he needs the help of Pai and Yakumo to be freed.

Structure: None.

Character Design rating: 7/10

Protagonist rating: 6/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 7/10 PCE (2/10 PC-98)

Overall rating: 6/10

Rating comments: I actually expected more from the story and hoped for more gore. The characters only get interesting in voiced version and in PC-98 not so much. PC-98 version is so horrible that it's a miracle I made it to the end.

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Protagonist: Kenichi Yamamoto does not really give a good impression. Pretty normal one for a fantasy story - positive, brave, curious etc.

Characters: Pai is a cheerful girl who happens to have her own secret. She and Yakumo don't really play an important role in the story - they just tag along and support. Sujin is the main heroine and love interest of Kenichi. She's a mysterious blonde with some superpowers and her true aims aren't clear. All the other characters get mixed in the swarm of children who get caught up in the blizzard and they go out of the stage more or less together at one point.

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Story: Kenichi Yamamoto just happens to have some bug crawl inside his forehead - there's no story behind it - it just happens. And at the same time strange persons start to find him interesting and some supernatural events start to occur around him. He and a swarm of other children get caught up in the blizzard and find shelter in a wooden house. However, a murder happens and panic rises with part of children leaving to find the way out of the blizzard. And both parties get attacked by the killer. And the battle finally shows who is the enemy and who is the real friend. From then on the main heroes seek the way to get the bug out of Kenichi body and for that seek advice from a specialist researcher and from then on seek for the remedy in different parts of the world.

CG: CG are shown in a small window. That looks awful.

Sound: PC-98 has horrible sound support. No sounds - just BGM. And those BGM aren't always suitable for the event on the screen - it can easily be a merry tune during a sad event.

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Overall comments: So the game starts with the longest clicking sessions and slowest progression ever. It would be easy to fall asleep for several times if you did not need to click furiously for 100 clicks per minute. Then there goes the short action part where the things settle - and it's the best part of the game. The second half of the game of searching around the world just does not have much in the story department - it's just defeating several lackeys of a bad guy and finally meeting the bad guy. And to make life more difficult there are two mazes implemented - one for each branching. I've only found the basic branching that actually coincides in the same story in the final part of the game. There should actually be a way to get the second naked body scene and even another ending. So it all comes to a poor conclusion - PCE version can't be read since it's not hookable and PC-98 version lacks the interest to be read attentively due to horrible mechanics. I would call the story eclectic since there is not much explanation for actions - like professor is lost and noone cares since there is little time left till mutation or like the light is blown out and four people can't find each other in a narrow corridor and just go separately without really trying to get together. There are some minor events that I fail to get the meaning of. So the main definition for PC-98 version is torture - both story-wise, mechanic-wise and even sound-wise. Quite a short story that would fit in a 40-minutes OVA is stretched mercilessly to 6+ hours of unsatisfying gameplay.

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kivandopulus

Foreword: I was quite intrigued by original Gram Cats concept - mutated humans fight with aliens and ordinary schoolgirl gets an ability to transform into cat and thus becomes a great spy. But the eternal maze of corridors prevented me from finishing that game. So I thought I'd have more luck with the second part to get acquainted with this SF setting. 

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Title: Gram Cats 2

Developer: Dott Kikaku

Date: 1993-01-08

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8889

Length: 4 hours.

Game type: Command selection ADV + RPG

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=655prv-IBI8

Difficulty: It's not difficult, but very repetitive. Till you trigger some flag, the rest of events would repeat over and over again. And the second RPG part has one huge pitch moment - I had to restart that whole RPG part for 4 times to find the solution. So upon entering the 2nd floor if you move forward there's a triggered scene where Sayaka falls down - you get to find Sayaka, but upon returning to 2nd floor there is new cutscene that takes away Marine from the party and you need to get to boss door alone. The problem is that from both sides of the door there are the toughest enemies that can only be taken down with two characters in party. You can turn into cat form and slip through the enemies, but to open the door you need to be human and you can't get to human form unless you attack that tough enemy and thus suffer a retaliation hit. And if you enter the boss room without the full hp - he's impossible to beat. So I've tried a lot of different approaches in cat form and running away in human form, but all of them did not work. So on my 4th try upon entering the second floor I did not step forward but turned left and killed the tough enemies while still having two characters in the party and then triggered the two cut-scenes - that finally made my day. But just imagine - the main feature of the game of heroine turning into cat turned totally useless here.

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Synopsis: Marine and Sayaka arrive to the Scherer Island which is known as a luxury resort with a great hotel and famous nudist beach. Their goal is to investigate island secretly for the traces of an alien base. 

Structure: None.

Character Design rating: 3/10

Protagonist rating: 3/10

Story rating: 2/10

Game quality: 4/10

Overall rating: 3/10

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Rating comments: I'm very pissed with this game for stealing four hours of my life. So I thought I would waste an hour more to write a review. My greatest disappointment is that the synopsis is conveyed during the opening sequence that takes around three minutes. It stops at the moment when the girls dive into the ocean and find some structure underwater. And for the first two hours of adventure mode we actually just getting to this structure from the point of arriving to the island. That's just stupid - why showing it in the opening at all then. Heroines don't have individuality so I did even need to know who of them was Marine (red head) and who was Sayaka (blue head) till the point when they separated. I can't say that game is of low quality - graphics are nice, music is solid and there is animation at time. But combine poor characters, absence of story, repetitivity (and reusing of the same resources), abuse of eroticism, weak RPG part and this stupid pitch moment right at the boss and you get exactly a score "3".

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Protagonist: Sayaka and Marine are poor protagonists. Their main difference is that Marine (red hair) is more shy and defensive type and Sayaka (blue hair) is kind of loose and for that she's the main heroine of the most voluntary H events - Marine gets coerced in her events. Sayaka was the heroine of the prequel, so it's natural.

Characters: The only side-characters here are girls that get involved into H events and one local salesman who turns out to be something more than a side-character... Apart of that, there's noone of notice.

Story: I've already mentioned that there's no story besides the synopsis. So let's at least mention the main steps till reaching the underwater base. Each day we need to go to the pool to develop diving skills. After that there's couple days of diving in the real ocean practice. At the same time there seems to be another goal - getting into the nudist beach! Marine does not have the courage, but after a few encounters in the hotel with other girls she gets able to relax a bit. There's also Marine kidnapping happens. That's it! And the rest of two hours adventure mode is visiting the same places over and over again hoping for some new event to trigger.

 

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CG: CG are few or I'd rather say non-HCG are few. And because Sayaka transformation suit kind of is not supposed to cover nipples I can't even show those transformed mode nice CG.

Sound: Well, this time I found two BGM annoying. Had to even turn volume down. So not the best sound support.

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Overall comments: I expected at least somewhat interesting SF story with superhero transformation mode. What I actually got was a yuri game with no story at all. The whole "gram cat" feature is only flashed at the very end and does not bear much meaning - that could be a game of any other franchise without any problem. Oh, well, at least there is one obscure game less now.

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kivandopulus

Foreword: Himeya Soft and C's Ware are basically the same people, so it would really be a shame to miss their first cyberpunk game, father of Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~ and grandfather of luv wave. How deep is the story? How much torture does it imply on players? Does it already have mind-screw elements? I'll try to answer all those questions.

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Title: Phobos

Developer: Himeya Soft

Date: 1992-07-16

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v9006

Length: 4 hours.

Game type: Command selection ADV.

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWumb25ixg4&list=PLENAECnNmAq8RWaOExpvkkUSuI3utIyp1

Difficulty: It's not difficult, but rather very repetitive. There's no telling when event is going to be triggered, so I had to make a full round of talks with each npc and return to the base each time. It would be more pleasing with a walkthrough.

Synopsis: In the future, mankind successfully colonized Mars. However, the colonists eventually wished to be independent from Earth's control, and as a result a war began. Martian colonists used armored combat androids in battles. Eventually an uneasy truce was achieved, but Martian economy was badly damaged by war, and the planet became de facto dependent on Earth to survive.

Half a year later, a young Tokyo-based private investigator named Ryuuichi and his assistant, the android Leyla, are contacted by the colonel of the former colonial army of Mars. It appears that someone has stolen documents containing top military secrets and disappeared with them. Ryuuichi is asked to find that man, whom he knew quite well during the years of war...

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Structure: Ryuuichi is given five days till the new rebel war starts, but actually the game takes only four days and on the beginning of the fourth day the most important events to prevent the war take place.

Character Design rating: 6/10

Protagonist rating: 8/10

Story rating: 8/10

Game quality: 6/10

Overall rating: 7/10

Rating comments: I really liked the protagonist and the story behind him. But for heroines... they lack attention and thus depth. Android assistant Leyla is given much attention, but she hardly has any feelings apart of loyalty. The story is really tough and good with sudden twists and treasons. But overall high repetitiveness and somewhat spontaneous H events hurt the impression. It's still a masterpiece for me.

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Protagonist: Ryuuichi is the real gem of the game. He participated in the martian war and three years later keeps seeing nightmares about those armdroids he killed. He does act like a perv at times, but that's to add comical effect mostly. His wife Leyla stayed on Mars and he remodeled one of the armdroids to serve as his assistant and named her Leyla as well. Ryuuichi story actually might be more important than the main martian guerrilla one. The game ends in half happy tones and half sad ones and the ring scene is touching and well-done. Describing it would be a spoiler.

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Characters: Game has quite many characters. I've counted seven heroines with HCG. There are also some hard-boiled male characters. The peculiarity of the game is that only one heroine is of calm civilian type and the others have a violent character and are skilled in warfare. They're quite the beauties as well.

Story: So, we're only given vague instructions to find captain Konnor who killed one of the soldiers and fled with secret documents regarding martian guerrilla movement. We're not being too successful when we find some mysterious woman spying on us. Following her leads to East district where two suspicious organizations dwell - Sakuragi Heavy Industries and Club Kowloon. Both of them have only women as staff members (males still serve as guards) and for a good while we try to get inside those buildings. Still the most of plot events happen as encounters - our life is in constant danger with so many violent girls around. At the same time one of our hirers major Garrak is rumored to deal with drugs and conspire with martian rebels. Then suddenly everything starts to look not as it seems and friends get to be difficult to tell from foes. So, yes, it has mind-screw elements, even though in initial state. But the story is complex and inspiring, so it's well worth the time.

Title meaning: The title screen of the game says literally : "The "PHOBOS" is a satellite of the mars". And up to the very end the name never shows up. And it actually turns out to be the name of the secret military plan dealing with photon and nucleus. I really like it when the meaning of the title gets explained at some point.

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CG: I can't say CG are good here - they're fine - the girls are mostly cute, the males are tough and androids are cool, especially when damaged.

Sound: There is a different BGM for each place and those are pleasant tunes.

Overall comments: Phobos is a serious mature SF story and adult elements suit fine here, same as in Imitation wa Aisenai. HCG are very modest and light since they serve the story and not otherwise. That helps to create a human dimension out of protagonist private life drama instead of being just a sales oriented adventure work like Snatcher. I really like it how Himeya Soft and C's Ware great games turn out to be underrated. In Phobos case I blame horrible and childish-looking box cover. The more the joy to discover these masterpieces.

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kivandopulus

Foreword: Fairytale is the main experimentation company of the early 1990s. And Shinjuku Monogatari is an attempt to go away from adult games for the sake of games that can keep the interest by the story and atmosphere alone. The history shows us now that it was a failure attempt from the start since adult titles with cute heroines are everything the populus wants. But was Fairytale really wrong in that intention?

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Title: Shinjuku Monogatari

Developer: Fairytale

Date: 1992-07-23

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v9083

Length: 2 hours.

Game type: Command selection ADV.

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0x1q4yO5Dk

Difficulty: Very few options to choose. Trivial.

Synopsis: Ibuki inherited an antique store, but to survive he takes side jobs as well. One day his frequent client Akemi offers him a job to fake kidnapping of a high school girl Megumi Naruyama, the only heir of Naruyama Real Estate group. Megimi herself is the initiator of the kidnapping. Since the pay is good - a million yen - Ibuki takes his younger partner Shinji and gets to the school gates. But Megumi's uncle Sakai has own plans for Megumi and he sets a yakuza gang on the children trail.

Structure: Game takes three days.

Character Design rating: 7/10

Protagonist rating: 7/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 7/10

Overall rating: 7/10

Rating comments: This is an experimental Fairytale work. It's a very realistic story about youth rebel state of mind. All the heroes of the game are as if drawn from modern life, just with weird haircuts. I'm probably too old to appreciate the values of youth independence, but overall it could easily be Douglas Coupland novel for those qualities. Overall it's an enjoyable piece of work, just only two hours long and I can't possibly rate a short game any higher.

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Protagonist: Ibuki is a peculiar protagonist in that he is an orphan and he takes care of the antique store with his sister. He takes on different kinds on jobs and that's why has quite a net of informants around him.

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Characters: Shinji is the younger partner of Ibuki and he's not the smartest kid. He wears an "Elvis" hairstyle and is there for support mostly. Megumi is the main heroine and she's one rich family spoilt brat. Her character is good, but she's sick of adults and she thinks that all the adults in her surrounding are liars and two-faced. She lost her mother long ago and her father took another wife. A month ago the father died at Chicago at very strange circumstances reported as an incident. Megimi's uncle Sakai took care of the company affairs. Megumi hates both her stepmother and her uncle. She orders her kidnapping on a whim - just to get a week vacation from the false adults around her. And the whole story is about her growing up and coming to terms with her past and the adults.

Story: The story is not the most important part of this game since it's a novel about growing up. The dialogues and thoughts are the focus here, so I guess I can tell the most of the story without much fear of spoilering. Ibuki and Shinji successfully kidnap Megumi and she plans the week of her vacations ahead - shopping, amusement park and then going somewhere far away from Tokyo. She's a rich one, so she easily buys a new Jaguar car for boys costing 13 million yen as well as new dresses. But partly she just wants attention, especially from her stepmother who is very distant from her since the company president death. So she instructs the boys to telephone to the company and demand a ransom so that her stepmother delivered it next day evening. But instead the next day noon children are assaulted by her uncle Sakai with his thugs. Boys just need the payment, so they are eager to exchange, but Megumi refuses to return categorically and they manage to run away together on a car. Ibuki is astonished by the turn of events - an easy job turned into a matter of life and death. Sakai thugs turn out to be real killers from Chicago. How will they manage in this perilous situation? Will Megumi accept her past and present? I guess I won't spoiler everything after all and the answers can be found in my video playthrough.

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CG: They are quite uneven. At times Megumi is cute, but mostly her face is distorted in some manner. Shinji is the only one who looks ok, mostly because his face is drawn in a comical way all the time. But all CG are stylish in sepia tones and are very multiple, setting a unique atmosphere of the game.

Sound: Some midi BGM.

Overall comments: Shinjuku Monogatari was devised as a series of games and in the end of the first game we get the synopsis and intrigue of the second episode flashed. And for that reason we get to know a lot of side-characters who are a colorful bunch, but don't really get any meaningful role in the game. Would I really want to play another episode about Ibuki and Shinji? Actually, not. But was the game a failure? I don't think so. The game was a part of very strong movement to cleanse the newborn genre of visual novels from constant sex allusions and make it a genre for literary adaptations and talented scenarists debuts. But we got what we got.

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kivandopulus

Foreword: I did not intend to play Armist to the end, but its game system was indeed player-friendly and the story turned out to be quite a serious thing instead of being a bakage, so it's well worth a review.

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Title: Armist

Developer: Basement

Date: 1992-07-03

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8564

Length: 2.5 hours.

Game type: Command selection ADV.

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRhArebnKUk

Difficulty: That's the most important thing in the game. There are few commands to select from and as soon as the topic is depleted the command disappears. This way repetition is eliminated almost completely. There are also some 10 "fights" in the game, but there aren't any stats and player can only choose means of attack for each of three heroes. That choice is mostly meaningless (only the toughest enemies are immune to physical attacks and should be dealt with gunfire).

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Synopsis: In the future, advanced genetic studies opened unseen possibilities for mankind. After years of research, it finally became possible to create artificial human beings with animal traits, the so-called deminoids. The player takes the role of the head of a detective agency named Armist; two pretty female deminoids (with bunny and cat ears) are his trustworthy partners. Investigating a murder in a huge deminoid-producing company, the hero will eventually discover the truth about this scientific achievement and all its implications...

Structure: Game consists of moving between four floors and each of those floors demands a different diskette image, but overall it's just one day.

Character Design rating: 6/10

Protagonist rating: 7/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 7/10

Overall rating: 6/10

Rating comments: The governing attribute of the game is simplicity. Both main heroines Billy and Miria have straightforward characters. The gameplay is mostly about room investigation and the important information is given mostly in the end. There's no drama or treachery and game is short - that all prevents the game from being a major one.

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Protagonist Rise is the name of the hero. He's the head of the detective agency. A cool guy who can both melee and support with gunfire. What's especially nice is that he's not a perverted type - but a pure professional.

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Characters: Miria the bunny girl is the more sensible of the deminoids. She believes in negotiations and she's a cowardly one. Her weapon is a gun, aimed shot and quick shots. She's also blamed by Billy for wearing fancy dress. On the other hand Billy the catgirl is the close quarters fighter using  claws from her fingers. She's the violent type and prefers to to fight, then think.

Story: We just come to the roof of skyscraper and investigate the rooms of the four available floors from 45 to 48 on with on average 5 rooms per each floor. One by one we get to find survivors in different states of mind, but none of them is perfectly sane. Some of them turn to be enemies, some happen to be helpful. Oh and of course we get to know who and why massacred the whole staff of deminoid production company and put an end to the incidents.

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CG: CGs are of beautiful retro-style, but are mostly packed at the beginning and close to the end of the game. The only HCG in the game are couple shots of enemies without upper body dress.

Sound: Sound is merry and couple of bgm REALLY reminded me of Gao Gao series music.

Overall comments: So the reason I even decided to write a review on this game is how much it reminds me of Gao Gao series. Same animal ears mutants, same heartwarming party talks while exploring, same numerous rooms and floor investigation (and some rooms looked very familiar to me), same merry atmosphere with occasional drama crumbs, same heads icons on the bottom during dialogue and even bgm at times sounded much alike. I honestly believe that this little bright game inspired Four-Nine for creating a whole world based on the same premise. But here there's little mystery behind deminoids. Four-Nine, on the other hand enveloped the whole mutants appearance in the myst and added the whole new layer of humanity extinction (to a different degree in different works of the series). Game is hooked well and the received text is without garbage, so I'd recommend to have a look on the game for all Gao Gao fans and just all admirers of retro CG and music. My video walkthrough is in a bit too fast tempo since I did not intend to get to the end of it, but it's still watchable, either with pauses or with just reading dialogues as there are always pauses for dialogues.

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kivandopulus

EVE: TFA [C's Ware]

Foreword: Again, C's Ware game and EVE on top of that. I actually played it before EVE Zero as a substitute for EVE:Adam Doublefactor, but decided to to keep it for a later time since it has some imminent spoilers for EVE Zero.

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Title: Eve: The Fatal Attraction

Developer: C's Ware

Date: 1999-12-02

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

Length: 22 hours.

Game type: Point-and-Click ADV.

Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBhsyk1jhDw&list=PLENAECnNmAq_7odFKypHmj08DyKpfQfCN

Difficulty: More severe than the previous three EVE games that I played. At one point I needed to guess and move each of the characters to the location behind the Sun Mansions apartments to progress the story. In last titles the zapping moments were pretty evident since you got stuck at one scene and there were like only couple of actions available. Here you have 10 maps and lots of locations inside them, so you don't really know if you know to brute-force every object and command at all those locations again for both characters or look for a zapping spot for characters to meet. Another time I got stuck since at the old location you needed to click at lots of ambient objects for a new location (park) to open up. That was counterintuite at all and there were zero tips what needed to be done. Hopefully I found a very good japanese walkthrough and I'd strongly recommend to use it.

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Synopsis: Detective Kojiroh receives a request to become a bodyguard for trading company director for seven days. But a lot of aspects of this task look fishy: director does not want to explain who or why is going to attack.

At the same time investigator Marina is tracking the serial killer who violently tortures their victims with a knife. How are those incidents linked with each other? What does the criminal strives to know from the victims?

Both plot-lines eventually come together only to reveal the grand scale of political game and conspiracy.

Structure: Game takes place during seven days with Marina part having a small continuation on 8th day.

Character Design rating: 8/10

Protagonist rating: 9/10

Story rating: 10/10

Game quality: 9/10

Overall rating: 9/10

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Rating comments: I tried to rate based on the weight of shortcomings noticed. I don't really have questions to character design - I rather don't like the style of the artist. He managed to make even good old characters ugly. Standing sprites for female characters don't bear comparison with the game prequels. Male characters are actually ok. Lots characters on CG are looking weird and sometimes just horrible. The happy face of Queen Prisia on Kojiroh's shoulder made me want to cry. Again, males on CG are mostly cool. Both Marina and Kojiroh lost a bit of their charm due to lack of humor or rather more drama. Kojiroh scenes are especially painful since protagonists only have their thoughts, but not dialogues voiced. So in dialogues his everlively nature gets lost and he becomes the guy who does not know what he wants. But after the event I hear his voiced thoughts and it gets much easier since this is our old humorous Kojiroh who's making sarcastic comments over the passed event. Still those aren't decisive faults to lover the score. What's important is that the ending day is rushed and for both Marina and Kojiroh it's just a series of flashbacks rather than coherent gameplay. There's a lot of new difficult to chew stuff poured on the reader without much explanation and that leaves the feeling of the ending being rushed with some loose ends.

Protagonist Marina and Kojiroh, of course! I've already said that they both lost a bit of their charm. Partly it's because both the protagonists have a new soul trauma. It was unusual for me to see those lively problems-free guys in depressed state at times.

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Characters: Well, first of all I'd like to notice that the opening is absolutely cool and I really awaited lots of gunfire, cool scenes and lots of new characters. However, the two characters featured in the opening (the blue-haired one and the yellow-haired one) never appeared in the game and that was really disappointing. The game also has veeeery few action scenes. But we're speaking about characters now. There are fewer cool female characters this time (again, lots of cool men characters). All I can think of is the head of secretary department of trading firm Ami and a very cool receptionist girl at the same company. But Himuro Kyouko character even turned for the worse. She is the source for lots of jealousy and drama in Kojiroh's office (she's Kojiroh assistant in this game) and the only time she's actually useful she features a huge explanations over the most trival pc topics so that I started to guess whether she was good with computers at all or just bluffed about it. But overall there's a great cast of characters, as usual. Nothing to complain, really.

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Story: Finally, the story. Well, I actually told too much of it in the synopsis. The structure of the story does not really innovating. Kojiroh becomes a bodyguard and actually Marina becomes a bodyguard of one surviving girl Yuka as well. And this part looked actually very similar to Burst Error. There was Mayako - now here is Yuka. There was 50/50 split of the time with the guarded person and it's roughly remains the same. There is also a scene of alcohol party with Marina+Yayoi+Yuka that looks almost identical to that of Burst Error with Marina+Yayoi+Mayako. It follows absolutely the same pattern and happens in the same apartment. The only difference is in Yuka lively attitude compared to reserved one of Mayako (Yuka has short yellow hair, she is featured on two pictures in this post). And the structure of the plot is not as difficult as in prequels. Basically, both protagonist just guard the target person and wait for attacker to make his move. The do get to know a lot of details about their protected person and their shady dealings. Marina has more screen time in this game and she actually investigates other leads, but in the end what only matters is the aggressor move, not her activity. The game had a very cool action opening. In the very first animated intro of the game Marina and Kojiroh cooperate to prevent Prisia assassination by a sniper. And there was a lot of talk that the town got flooded with illegal weapons. Those three factors made me think there was going to be lots of gunfire and cool scenes. But actually the main weapon of the game is a knife and no the only time something other than a handgun is featured - UZI - it never gets to be used. That sniper episode is not returned to till the very last minutes of the ending when we seen the short resolution of that incident. The only meaning of it seemed to be in that we get to know the face of the sniper, but it was not familiar to me - exactly because I have not played EVE Zero yet at that time. There are quite many references to Eve Zero and only couple really to the events of Lost One. Overall, I don't have complaints over the story apart of the rushed ending. It just looks that they wanted this game to be much bigger initially, but it was growing to a long playtime already so some things were scrapped. It's still our EVE and its story is still intriguing and totally unrivaled by any other companies of that time.

CG: I already complained about the artist in the ratings. So i'll mention only HCG here. There are TWO HCG in the game. Yes, just two HCG of bare chest and that's all. I was relieved to learn that since EVE Lost One and EVE Zero are all-age ones and thus there aren't sudden shifts here.

Sound: Everyone is voiced apart of the current protagonist dialogues (well, there were actually couple places without voicing). Protagonist thought monologues are voiced, actually. No complaints here.

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Themes and symbols: Well, game's not thought-provoking, but here are couple themes that I can discern:

1) I will live by my own rules. That thought appeared several time from both Marina and Korijoh. I don't think there's any special meaning apart of that they really break some rules sometimes there are moments of doubt where they turned into bad guys.

2) EVE theme lives on, naturally. By now everyone must know that EVE theme is cloning. In EVE Lost One there were quality developments in that field, but here in EVE:TFA there's rather a quantity development. Clones get numerous and that rises several questions. Some demand equal rights with other humans. Some demand freedom and isolation from the humans. Some just try to hide among humans. But the question remains : what to do with clones if their populations rises? This question does not bear much meaning nowadays though since human cloning experiments are forbidden worldwide.

Humor: I skip this part when there's noting to talk about. And this game is rather a serious one. But I totally adored the receptionist at president Ando (Kojoroh's client) company. That's a very stingy woman with a very formal attitude. Every time Kojiroh visits the company she asks of his name and the purpose of his visit. And every time there's a very amusing word battle among them. Kojiroh refuses to tell his name or purpose and she keeps asking. She looses temper and all her formal attitude in this arguement. Finally she gives up and gives a call to the director without knowing the name and purpose and Kojiroh is let in. That's fun enough, but the next day everything repeats itself. She refuses to acknowledge that Kojiroh visited just recently and keeps asking the same question. The argument vocabulary is different for each new fight and each following time there is more fun.

Overall comments: It's a new EVE game and I totally like it! If it was issued in the same format in 1999 instead of ADAM - that would be the game of the year 1999 right away for me kicking Kanon. And - who knows - maybe it's going to be the game of the year 2001 for me. As every EVE game so far it has entertaining and thrilling scenes, serious development, great characters and lots of interesting to read dialogues. The characters have become most dear by now and they stay true to to their personalities. It's like a new season of your favorite show. There are ups and downs, but that's natural since characters can't stay the same and they constantly develop. Those are your favorite characters and you can't stop loving them.

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kivandopulus

EVE Zero [C's Ware]

Foreword: Phew, this game took a while to beat! Command selection was not comfortable after point-and-click EVE TFA that I finished before Zero. Eve Zero is best be played as the third game in the series, after EVE Burst Error and EVE Lost One.

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Title: Eve: Zero

Developer: C's Ware

Date: 2000-03-30

VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v2709

Length: 23 hours.

Game type: Command selection ADV.

Youtube playthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq8cGcQ2Nk61X8HURZddGzlc

Difficulty: Quite ok. There are some 5 spots where actions for another protagonist are needed to take place for the story to proceed.

Synopsis: Events take place before EVE:Burst Error. Game starts with a wicked murder of a man with his entrails cut out of his ribs. But Marina job this time is just to escort an important american business-woman Ruth Bradford. Kojiroh is working at Aoi's place as a detective and he gets a case to find a lost child from Nishina genetic institute chief. Those banal tasks do not stop our heroes from getting involved into a much bigger scheme of serial killings and organs illegal trafficking.

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Structure: Game takes place during eight days and has two minor actions in the middle of day 3 and day 4 that lead to two different endings on day 8.

Character Design rating: 10/10

Protagonist rating: 9/10

Story rating: 10/10

Game quality: 9/10

Overall rating: 10/10

Rating comments: After the first non-true ending I actually had mixed feelings with some threads left hanging loose, but true ending left a good impression and most of the actions got explained. Game still does not really tell everything explicitly leaving a space for afterthought. So this time I have no complaints with the characters - cute, interesting and useful for the story. The only small complaint with the protagonist Kojiroh is that we don't get to hear his voice at all and another one is that his character is shown while withstanding a series of very serious shocks and he often gets to act based on emotions in this game. On the other hand Marina is totally cool. After playing EVE TFA I really thought we gonna discover her dark past in Zero as well, but she's totally cool and great-looking in her perfect dress. Story moves quite slow for the first 5 days with mostly information gaining, but few fascinating events - still it suddenly blows out on the day 6 and keeps an insane tempo through the day 8.

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Protagonist Marina and Kojiroh. Kojiroh is not in his best shape though. He is not voiced and does not really joke. But Marina stands up for the both! That dress is something.

Characters: First of all, thanks to Carnelian all characters are beautiful. The main cast remains the same, so Chief, Himuro, Akane are as lively as ever. It was a bit weird to see how Himuro already knows both of protagonists prior to Eve Burst Error, but she wears different disguise so it's probably ok. Genzaburo (Kojiroh's stepfather) is back so we can again bathe in the light of his awesomeness. There's Glen and Nikaido too! A very strong character cast including lots of fresh ones that I'd prefer not to cover here for the sake of not spoilering.

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Story: So Kojiroh is looking for a missing boy Shin. And he actually finds him pretty fast. But he discovers some facts in the process that prevent him from returning the boy to his scientist father. That father is involved in some shady schemes and seems to be a boss of local mafia gang. The boy is also not so simple since he looses consciousness and takes actions that he does not remember about after that. Marina is just escorting an american business-woman, but that woman is also involved into some shady schientific business looking for organ transplantation technology. But the scientist Shasha Novalis who has that technology can only think of his daughter disappearance and Marina is eager to help. The girl is found pretty fast as well, but the girl is also suffering from loosing consciousness and takes unknown actions while in that state. And gradually the town gets drowned in blood. This is the prequel to the series, so there are only a few important for the next parts characters who are guaranteed survival. Most of fresh introduced characters aren't so lucky. That covers hardly some 5% of the story and the rest you will know in the game! There's a lot of mystery to follow up!

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CG: Absolutely fantastic. Carnelian is a real pro. Some might think that his style is too cute for such a bloody game, but that's much better than the style of EVE:TFA where an unknown artist was invited with a lot of rough looking characters and CG to introduce.

Sound: Everyone is voiced apart of the current protagonist dialogues. Same as usual.

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Themes and symbols:

1) Cloning there is an old theme, but here it stays the strongest since here is where it starts and develops initially.

2) Sacrifice is also an old one as well, but... It's a totally different sacrifice now. It used to be patriotic self-sacrifice, but now it's coercion sacrifice of other human beings in the name of the science.

3) The new theme is that of the spirit. Some characters get to live after they actually die in limbless state. That's a creepy and interesting thought.

Overall comments: Being a prequel EVE Zero introduces lots of new characters and mercilessly gets rid of many of them. That's why the game has the most amount of gore among first four games (have not played New Generation yet). The story itself is not really outstanding and moves at quite a slow pace while both of protagonists guard their protection target. But along with the story we get to know the conditions that led to events in Burst Error as well as more of the personalities of the main heroes. The flow is really lively thanks to appearance of many cute characters. Command selection with lots of locations to visit is quite painful though - I'd prefer just watching it myself. This is one of the greatest plot-driven games and I'm glad to be a part of it. Oh, and there's an obligatory for the series underwear girl party, of course (no, it's not that kind of a game)!

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kivandopulus

Back to the future

Not really a post. Just an overview of recent events and their consequences.

  1. I tried to add a certain extension to my wiki which caused a bug (even though it was reversed a minute later) which led to 100% cpu load which led to suspension. I had everything backed up with standard mediawiki .xml export, but my wiki had just too big number of pages (some 23,000) to import properly back which led to loosing trust with semantic mediawiki. It used to be ok, but it's way too unstable, that's why no wiki farm uses it (.wikia allowed using it in 2013 just to shut support later in the same 2013, .referata declined and .shoutwiki no longer installs it). It has big problem with performance, background works and scaling.
  2. I was mesmerized by discovering reddit vn hub lately. It has impressions on some 1,500 different vns gathered over some 10 years - that's a huge base that I'm very excited to use as vn reviews collector. Its policy emphasizes quality of text over personal expression, so it's not really a suitable environment for me to participate though.
  3. I'm really startled by the fact that the most popular pages of my blog are of 1980s years vns. And that's really embarrassing since those are very low quality posts. I've also got some feedback that eroge should not really be put together with the nukige. Additionally Micchi april fool day's blog post actually showed that it tackles some very dubious eroge from time to time. 

That all led to the following horrible decision - I'm getting back to the 1980's. This time I'm going to unblock all the eroge (except for nukige, but 1980s-1990s had very few pure nukige), multiple stories and all the under 2 hours works (till 2000s). Moreover, I'm going to try to present synopsis of every blocked work as well - together with all the reviews found for those works. That's going to result in very long cumbersome posts since it's not rare for a single month to have over 100 vns issued in 2000s. 

I'm getting to it after I've indexed all the English reviews for untranslated vns and rare translated vns. I'll post all the indexed sources and reviews links probably at this free wiki  where I've set just bare carcass. But this time I'm keeping the original in excel file only since it's the fastest way to find and edit a really big set of items. 

So I'll get Eve Zero and Eve The Final Attraction reviews set and then start my back to the future quest.

Why am I doing this now when I've finally approached interesting vns? Do I really like old games? Actually, I don't like them much. What I like is the order where every piece is categorized and described. I can't really move on if I'm not satisfied with the result.

Meet those of you who survive this long ride of exhaustion in the future!

kivandopulus

I've waited for this day with terror since it's going to show whether this blog going to have a purpose after year 2008 - first clash with Micchi blog and notably his fool's day edition targeting April 2000! And the results are quite satisfying so far. Micchi highlighted 13 works and has one work that I can't allow to include because it's Tinkerbell work that produces only camouflaged nukige. But I include 11 more works that Micchi does not have. So for now I'm quite content with the result - there are a lot of obscure works Micchi misses and that's why there's probably a reason for this blog even after 2008. So in April 2000 I consider these four (!) games masterpieces: Castle Fantasia ~Erencia Senki~, Rumble ~Bankara Yashahime, Fukakutei Sekai no Tantei Shinshi and Gyousatsu♥Shinsengumi Hitokiri Bishoujo Adventure. Basically those are RTS, bakage, bad Dreamcast port and a "serious bakage" from Liar-Soft. I totally prefer that serious bakage which makes this strange game the VN of the Month April 2000 - Gyousatsu♥Shinsengumi Hitokiri Bishoujo Adventure.


1. Angel Reason ~Tenshi no Iiwake~ エンジェリーズン ~天使のいいわけ~ [Spica] VNDB

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School life is over in a few months. With parents gone overseas it's a great opportunity to make memories with the school's idol. 

Wizards, ghosts, robots and rabbits coexist at this school. Something must happen in such a perfect environment! 

A rather mysterious work - and mysterious here means beyond the scope of understanding. First of all - all the endings are bad. Secondly, it goes totally crazy from the second part. It has lots of moving screens and is just fun by watching alone. But in the end it's just a school bakage+galge. You basically just pursue one of the girls without any story. I tried to play it, but I really need at least some additional story to go on. Just girls got too boring and the number of girls is quite big, like 6.


2. Aries Aries -アリエス- [Circus] VNDB

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\A fallen angel studying in a "special angel school" to become independent has to go to earth to study the behavior of regular humans.

This particular angel doesn't understand love well, and comes to live a happy campus life with the protagonist to better her understanding of it.

Well, I hated this game for a long time even without knowing anything about the game just because it spawned such a huge number of side stories and fandisks. Now knowing the contents I can only cite Zen from Micchi blog: "Aries may quite possibly become the worst game ever made, to the point I cannot decide which is worse, Aries or Card Captor Sakura. I honestly cannot see a company getting away with a game like this unless there are a lot more lonely pedophiles in the world than I could have possibly imagined. I for one shall pray to every god and demon I can think of for the next nine years if necessary in the hope of burning this company to the ground before they can visit any more of such misery upon the world."


3. Asu Wa Koishite あすは恋して~Prime Beat Planet [Unbalance] VNDB

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Yoshizo moved to the town to continue study there. What conceal the memories of the forgotten past? 

Number of characters is 12. There is some free time after school and on weekends when we can initiate conversations, but each type of story only available at corresponding day of the week. Remembering all the types of stories for all 12 characters is a good training for the memory! Eventually characters may give you dream glass that contain pieces of your forgotten memories. All girls are also from different zodiac signs. Quite an average dating SIM without any story.


4. Castle Fantasia ~Erencia Senki~ キャッスルファンタジア ~エレンシア戦記~ [Studio e.go!] VNDB

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The year 1247 of the Holy Calendar, the Erencia Kingdom was invaded and occupied by Illumina Kingdom.

Eight years later, Faizeru, son of the Erencia Kingdom consul, returned as the leader of Fenrir, the best mercenary group in the continent. As he landed at the harbour of the occupied hometown and is asked to join the rebel group Erencia Liberation Army, the second Erencia War commences.

The scenario value is great, but battles last long, so it isn't suitable for an impatient person. During battle each unit behaves in real time, and the player issues commands according to situation. The flexible strategy helps to fulfill victory conditions such as person's rescue and guard, and extermination of enemies. Battles aren't really difficult and don't need tactics. After the battle there is conversation stage with heroines belonging to the unit that can deepen friendship ties. Depending on choices and battle outcome multiple plot branches take off. So... game's very amusing, I'd say a masterpiece and first Studio e.go work to compliment.


5. Fugue ~Kimi to Boku no Uta~ Fugue ~きみとぼくのうた~ [C's Ware BLITZ] VNDB

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Masaki happens upon his classmate Futaba who ran away from home. She forces him to come with her to a closed-down school in the countryside. He then noticed that there were many other runaway girls who lived in there.

The only review found affirms that it's a short game in an abandoned school with three girls. Coversation is loose. I know it's C's Ware BLITZ, but looks like they don't really stand up to the fame of parent brand. If only there was some quirk...


6. Fukakutei Sekai no Tantei Shinshi 不確定世界の探偵紳士 [Abel Software] VNDB

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Agyou Souma, the protagonist, is the IDLA Class A Detective. IDLA stands for International Detective License Agency. It's a highly respectable agency that evaluates and classifies a detective based on one's ability as a detective, from Class A to Class F. There are only 30 Class A detective in the whole world and there are only 2 Class A detective in Japan.

IDLA also collects all kinds of requests and offers them to the detectives to work on it. Its base is located in London. Of course, Souma is the type of person who most likely won't accept any cases from the IDLA.

He is a stoic, brooding man of few words, his incredible observation and deduction skills are tempered by his abysmal luck. He can't even step out for a cup of coffee without the cafe being robbed, or cross the street without walking into a firefight between two rival gangs. Still, what can he do? Life goes on...

Over the course of the game, Souma works on four separate (but simultaneous) cases, each of which contains a unique storyline that is independent of the others, and meets a vast array of characters. If he clears all four cases with time to spare, a more complex, fifth case is presented.

There are two English reviews of this Abel Software game. I wanted to play it too even despite the genius boy detective setting, but my pc version does not have voicing in it and this game is known for some very good seiyu. All the Enlgish and Japanese reviews agree on the point that this game is a masterpiece.


7. Gyousatsu♥Shinsengumi Hitokiri Bishoujo Adventure 行殺♥ 新選組 人斬り美少女あどべんちゃ~ [Liar-soft] VNDB

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End of Edo period, Kyoto. 

Hero becomes a part of a newly-formed Shinsengumi unit. He is to protect Kyoto from the evil hands of Kinno (Kyushu) and develop relations with squad female members such as Hijikata and Okita. 

Despite the real historical period, events are mostly comical and beyond time limits. For example, heroines often appeal to human rights protection. Depending on the value of real "absurdity" parameter in the game you can get rid of the great devil coming to Kyoto with a 88 mm cannon, cyborgs or panda samurai.

If this game was released by some shady brand it would be blocked. But it's Liar-soft title! And a supercrazy one! Moreover, I'm going to block next Liar-soft title Bloomers 2000 for fetishism, so I'll try to pour all my love on Shinsengumi. I opened web.archive introduction page of the game and there's so much love in there that I'm really shocked. It has about 12 pages about different aspects of the game including lots of history ones. There's a very fun opening here. But let's get to the game already. Story is full of absurd. Lots of parts aren't explained and there are crazy shifts from one topic to another. But it's not just pure entertainment, there are a lot of historical figures and there's a lot of history involved. As you can see on the screenshot there are like seven parameters (but most of them are ignored, lol) and there's constant need to meet different people and improve popularity. You can borrow money or can sit without money - it actually does not matter at all. A serious quiz is used while borrowing. Heroine is determined by first several choices, so capture is rather easy. One playthrough is also short enough. That can be expressed in short as Serious bakage. Absurd? Yes, but it suits perfectly for this game. There's an absolutely magical atmosphere created. So is this a masterpiece? YES! But only if you are ok with historical parodies, if you know Japanese history (or watched couple shinsengumi doramas) relatively well and if you can understand specific Liar-soft humor. Too many "If" but luckily I totally fit in here.


8. Hana Kasumi 花霞 [Pink Post] VNDB

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Hero is a student in Tokyo university and he's taking part-time job as home tutor. He soon realizes that both heroines who take his lessons have feelings for him, but they are too shy to confess. They study diligently in hope to enter the same university as the hero and confess then. However...

Scenario unfolds slowly, then manages to confuse greatly, confuse immensely and ends abruptly with solving everything. The problem is that hero becomes uncontrollable and does really stupid things. The only good points of this game is graphics and not bad music.


9. Heartful Memories ~Little Witch Parfait 2~ ハートフルメモリーズ 〜Little Witch Parfait 2〜 [Kuroneko-san Team] VNDB

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The protagonist, Perky, has only his name to remember, but nothing else in his memory to confirm his true identity. He is found unconscious by Parfait Sucreal near the Crabell Waterfall outside Florelmos. When Parfait allows him to recover in her house and informs him about Florelmos, as well as herself, she takes Perky to the wise witch to see if she knew anything about Perky.

Unfortunately, the wise witch says she is not able to claim his identity but that he owns 500000 gold in return for keeping her keeping his sword for him. Until he collects the money by 6 months, the wise witch tells Parfait to allow Perky to stay in the Black Cat Market.

New Little Witch Parfait title. That's fourth game of this franchise done within a year. A formidable persistence.

 

10. KoiYoubi 恋ようび [Actress] VNDB

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Day of Love is about Haruki, the main character, that knew about a girl named Maho when he was young, but forgot about her when he was older, which had made her angry when she asked him years later when he's in high school. So to get back at him for not remembering, she dresses up as a guy and lives in the same dorm as him using the alias Mao.

There are at least four English reviews for this localized to English game.

 

11. Love Mate ~Koi no Rehearsal~ LoveMate ~恋のリハーサル~ [Mink Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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Kazuto is a new teacher at a prestigious girl’s school and was asked to be the drama club’s advisor. He had heard many great things about the drama club, so he was nervous accepting the position. However, afterwards he found out that there’s only one member in the club and that it is in danger of becoming disbanded. So they have to try to recruit as many students to save the club! To recruit students, you have to go around the school, interacting with girls and being able to relate to their interests. There’s lots of girls to ask to join, so it’s up to you to decide on whom you want to join the club. 

I do not trust Mink - almost all their games turn out to be ero-centered. Here we're supposed to gave a pure love romance game. Very low difficulty, no story and lots of heroines. It's a light comedy. But the selling point of the game is interactive touching system during H-scenes. Mink can't be trusted indeed...


12. Magical☆Antique まじかる☆アンティーク [Leaf] VNDB

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Leaf’s newest game is a business SLG+ADV. After the protagonist’s parents left one day to find more antiques overseas, he took over running the family antique shop. Later he meets Sophie, who comes from the magic world, and she helps out at the shop. 

Gah! Two games of little witch parfait type in one month! There's an English review and Micchi commentary on the game which should be enough.


13. Memories Off Pure メモリーズオフ~ピュア~ [KID] VNDB

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Memories Off: Pure game takes place a few years prior to the events in Memories Off. Tomoya and Ayaka are neighbors who communicate with each other through their bedroom windows and who attend the same junior high school with Yue.

There's an English review of this game.


14. Miracle Temptation!! みらくるテンプテーション!! [Escu:de] VNDB

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Saburou is in his 20’s and works at a perfume company, living a normal life (without a girlfriend though). One day, he heads out with one of the part-time girls, Misa, since it was her birthday and he bought her a present. The next day, girls kept coming on to him… something must have happened to make him so suddenly popular. With some research, he found out that it must be because of some type of pheromone. Was it because of something he drank or maybe the flowers he bought for Misa?

Game is not voiced. There's no real story. Type is dating SIM with some twist. Nothing really remarkable.

 

15. Persiom -Yakusoku no Tsudou Basho- PERSIOM‐約束の集う場所‐ [Alice Soft] VNDB

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PERSIOM takes place in a dungeon that leads to Hades and hell. Even though it is extremely dangerous, heroes enter to find treasure and make lots of money. Oh, and you can also capture female monsters. 

There is an English review of this game.


16. Phantom Knight Mugen no Meikyuu II ファントムナイト 夢幻の迷宮II [Software House Parsley] VNDB

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Several months after the battle of Desert City, the desertification of the earth is growing. People call this phenomenon "phantom  phenomenon." 

Main character is an elite knight who gets into a survey team to fulfill royal mission.

Well, system and the content is pretty much like the prequel. But here there'a automatic dungeon generation.


17. Princess Memory プリンセスメモリー [Cocktail Soft] VNDB

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In the sunny world of Eden, there is a cave that is always changing and full of monsters. Our protagonist finds a girl named Felia, who lost both her memories and her ‘heart’. He helps her to regain her memories and form.

Yet another RPG and again with automatic dungeon generation. The number of events is very small. RPG system is quite simple, but it's enough to enjoy the gameplay. There's just one H scene per heroine in the very end so it's more of an RPG.


18. Rumble ~Bankara Yashahime~ バンカラ夜叉姫 [Penguin Works] VNDB

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There was a hero once who saved the school from violence and it returned to a peaceful routine. His name was soon forgotten.

Nowadays there's a new threat and those who still remember that hero try to find a new hero for this task. And the search is finally over. That's you!

Type is ordinary ADV. Game story is inconsistent, but it's normal for a comedy game. Systems are very poor and skipping is troublesome. There's excessive number of characters without significant meaning. There are 5 heroines, each with a separate ending. Battles are done in command selection mode and relatively easy if follow the pattern. About 80% of the 10 hours scenario length is awesome due to very strong comedy elements. It's a masterpiece, but only if you don't mind gag games and broken characters.


19. Sakuranbo Station さくらんぼステーション [Mer Rouge] VNDB

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Transferring into portside private school Seiouga Gakuen, the protagonist meets new friends and enjoys the school life. As spring comes about, his feelings for his classmate become more than just as friends. Since Mer Rouge consists of only female staff, this SLG is supposed to be portray the female perspective and the heroine’s actions more realistically. 

Characters are cute and CG are nice, but length is too short - one girl path is over in like 30 minutes. There are many girls, but still.. Text is very bad. It's a doujin game sold as a serious work.

 

20. Shin Ruriiro No Yuki ~Furimukeba Tonari ni~ 真・瑠璃色の雪 ~ふりむけば隣に~ [Ail (Team Riva)] VNDB

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After losing both his parents, Hiroshi decides to rent a room in a mansion owned by the parents of his childhood friends Kotobuki and Youko. The rent was surprisingly cheap, since it was haunted by a ghost. But Hiroshi is the science club leader and doesn’t believe in ghosts. On the day he moved in, a hole opened in the floor, but he ignored it and went to bed. Woken up by a nightmare, he found a pot in the hole. He broke open the seal on the pot in curiosity and a girl came out, introducing herself as Ruri the yuki-onna.

PC-98 game was a hit and this is a safe for sales remake. There are quite many heroines. Many call this game a masterpiece, but there is not enough in the story department for that. All the important events are poured in the final part of the game.


21. Sho-Ki 將姫 [C's Ware] VNDB

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The story takes place at a highschool (featuring all kinds of pupils, including robo- and catgirls).

The players character (Kichijouji Kai) loves to play mahjonng and wants to become a regular member of the mahjonng-club of the school. 

However, at that day, when he went together with his classmate Ekoda Shoko (who secretly seems to have a crush on him) to the mahjongg-club, they arrive at a scene of horror:

All the regular member of the club lie around in the room, unconscious. The tables are all broken in half. Everywhere in the room, there are mahjong-tiles scattered on the ground. Some people are even pinned to the ground with counting-sticks.

So, suddenly, the whole mahjonng-club is reduced to him and Shoko. 

Because two people are not enough for a decent game of mahjong and in order to rebuild the mahjong-club as well as to investigate, who did that to the former mebers, Kai and Shoko start to challenge members of other clubs in mahjong. If these other club members lose, they have to join the new mahjong-club and have to tell them everything they know or suspect about the incident.

I'm over-enjoyed to say that this C's Ware game has an English review and I don't need to play mahjong.


22. Snow Memoria ~Wasureenu Omoi~ Snow Memoria ~忘れえぬ想い~ [Air Plants] VNDB

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A 100 year long war raged between two countries. The princess of one of the countries went missing, causing a ceasefire, which led to the end of the war. At around this time, Liolet saved a girl with amnesia named Colleen from some bandits, who treated him like her older brother. Her feelings for him began to grow with every passing day.

First half is a comedy, while there is much more serious development in second half. Text is only good during the daily routine scenes and is a headache for serious depictions since those aren't adapted for visual novel format. Second half feels a bit rushed. H scenes are  bland. 

 

23. Tsubasa no Hatameki ~A Sound of her Wings~ 翼のはためき ~A Sound of her wings~ [Shape Shifter] VNDB

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Yuzawa Yuuki is a pessimist. He thinks that life is meaningless since everyone is going to die one day.

Before the Christmas he meets a mysterious "angel" girl Mika. She claims that she came to save Yuuki from his desperate state. He doubts her sanity but decides to play along. After that self-proclaimed "devils" appear. Some of them aim to claim Mika's life, others are here to tempt Yuuki.

Yuuki's long and unforgettable Christmas night begins.

Game is short. There are some four stories and each playthrough opens up a new one. All routes are cleared within three hours. The only good point about it is Tony's CG and not bad text. It's not voiced. Protagonist is weird so it's difficult to sympathize with him. If only the volume was bigger.

kivandopulus

Eve Zero is the game of the Month March 2000. The other masterpiece of the month is Harlem Blade II, but it's only suitable for those who appreciate RPG. 

1. Aitakute... ~Your Smiles in My Heart~ あいたくて… 〜your smiles in my heart〜 [Konami] VNDB

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You're in tenth grade, your parents are out of the country for a year, and your new private school has affairs of the heart as a major elective. If that isn't reason enough to get chummy with the opposite sex, you're also a teenage male, and your father has decided that he'll find you a "really nice" girlfriend if you can't do it yourself. Throw in the fact that the only person you know at this new school is a Casanova who turned down a top-ten prep school because it wasn't coed, and one has the ingredients for a good old-fashioned romance sim.

As Ichinose Sinya, the player examines a variety of sloe-eyed high school girls through his daily interactions with them in the school environment. Once their characters, dispositions, and interest (or lack thereof) in the player become more clear through their own statements and interactive events, the pursuit phase begins.

The first goal -- one that is traditionally laid out as the be-all and the end-all in romance sims -- is to make yourself agreeable to the girl and eventually ask her out on a date. The tedious details of daily life can be taken care of selecting "Everyday Goals" in the auto-play configuration. Personality parameters can be adjusted either to the player's tastes or some chosen girl's preferences. For the more important things, manual play mode will allow the player to arrange the hot date by phoning to ask a girl out, reserving concert tickets, and buying presents. The player can also stake out a nice romantic spot or find a part-time job to pay for all this extravagance.

Well, vndb description pretty much contains review in itself. A dating SIM that tries to invent something new like nicknames or long dates.

 

2. EVE Zero [C's Ware] VNDB

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"Eve Zero" is a prequel to the famous detective/mystery adventure Eve Burst Error.

You control once again the two main heroes of the series: the witty and womanizing private investigator Kojiroh Amagi, and the beautiful red-haired secret agent Marina Hojo. The events of the game take place shortly before those of "Eve Burst Error". Kojiroh is working at Katsuragi Detective Office together with his girlfriend Yayoi. Dr. Nishina, the head of a genetic research facility, hires Kojiroh to investigate the disappearance of his son Shin. At the same time, Marina receives an assignment from her boss Kono, which involves watching over a representative of an American company. As in all EVE games, the two stories appear unrelated in the beginning and are gradually linked together later in the game.

Ever wondered what was Marina's previous assignment, with whom did Kyoko Himuro work before, or what exactly happened to Genzaburo Katsuragi when he was still the chief of Katsuragi Detective Office? Cared to know more about the appealing protagonist, Kojiroh Amagi? "Eve Zero" gives the answers to those questions.

Damn, I'm already playing EVE:TFA and it looks like EVE Zero should be played before it since in the last days there are links to events of EVE Zero. Anyway, from what I've seen already in EVE Zero it's definitely a masterpiece. But my full review of it along with video playthrough is pending. I won't get to next year till cover everything in 2000, so "sometime soon".


3. Elise Elise ~エリーゼ~ [Airyu] VNDB

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Our guy is a columnist that write about people's relationship base on their sign, blood type and other stuff. It's funny giving love advice when he doesn't even have a girlfriend. He has 4 prospects, one of them being his old girlfriend that left him without notice. Can he find a lasting girlfriend before Christmas eve in less than a month?

A normal galge with a twist in form of blood type and horoscope. There is also "gears" system which calls to listen to the girl and make suitable for her actions during H scene, otherwise scene ends abruptly. Each girl has a different psychological problem that you need to cure. There are only four heroines and game is short. 


4. Fern ~Dakara Kimi no Koto~ fern ~だからきみのこと~ [Apple Pie] VNDB

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Two weeks till protagonist moves to Hokkaido university. 

The departure makes hero recognize the existence of his sister-in-law Nagisa once again as he needs a person to take care of the house. His feelings still linger for her. There are a lot of other nice characters around the hero at the university. A lot may happen in two weeks time.

There are a lot of days when nothing happens and that only prolongs game unnecessarily. There are a lot of forced events involving Nagisa so it looks painful if you target girl other than Nagisa. But Nagisa concept is also blurred with a lot of other heroines added to the mix. Message speed is adjustable, but there is not skipping function - that kills repeatability. All operations are done with mouse only and there are multiple windows that keep moving. So quite a normal galge, but with really bad systems.


5. Harlem Blade II ~Dark Angel~ ハーレムブレイドII~Dark Angel~ [Giga] VNDB

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Our guy left his childhood girl and went to war against a monster after his father got killed in it. When he came back a year later, he was just in time to see his childhood girl taken away by the monster's army. He joined the resistance and started to find her. Within 30 days, he can help girls who will join him in the fight.

Picture becomes anime'ish and flow is rather comic. Game balance has improved. Overall the story is solid and gameplay is enjoyable. It's well worth a masterpiece title for those who appreciate RPG.


6. Hikari o... 光を… [LiLiM] VNDB

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The story takes place in a common town. Your parents disappeared long time ago leaving you and your half sister. You go blind after a car accident because of your little sister. Doc says some day after some special event (hint) you will regain your sight, maybe. So there you live your miserable life not being able to see all the cute girls around you. Until you regain your sight, you predict the appereance of the girls they have now with your memories.

There's a English review of it.


7. Infinity インフィニティ [KID] VNDB

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This is the first title completely created and produced by KID, origin of infinity series. The game features five scenarios, one for each main heroine. "Infinity Cure." features two new scenarios: 'Yuka Cure' and 'Cure Izumi'. All these scenarios are included in the game "Never7 -The End of Infinity-", with 'Yuka Cure' as an append story in the PC version.

So this game is the prototype of Never7 - The End of Infinity. It shared the plot and the loop structure with it. First release could not be completed due to a bug. Besides that the true route after 4 usual routes is totally anticlimactic and underdone. KID admitted that and was selling Infinity for a very low price instead focusing on correcting mistakes in Never7 - The End of Infinity.


8. Kimon Youitan 鬼門妖異譚 [Cherry Soft] VNDB

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The hero was living a normal school life, but recently some strance incident has happened around it. The hero has the blood of ancient demon flowing and thus he is  chosen to stop the resurrection of "Kidon" that threatens Tokyo. Will you fight to destroy the threat or  become a demon yourself and destroy humankind? 

There are story (AVG part) and battle (SRPG part) sections. Battles use anime'ish figures and animation. The "double" realease improved the SRPG part, but it still is unsatisfactory as a serious RPG. Balance gets a bit off closer to the ending. There are two different rountes - human and orge (demon). Ogre one has some dark H-scenes in it. Graphics of the game are mostly beautiful, yet specific, but gameplay makes this game just a good game, not a great one.


9. Natsuiro Kenjutsu Komachi 夏色剣術小町 [GungHo Works] VNDB

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Natsuiro Kenjutsi Komachi is about a school tournament and the player takes the role of Akira, the captain of the athletic team of the Katsuragi Hall High School. 

Natsuiro Kenjutsi Komachi is the typical dating simulation game in which the player's character will encounter different kind of girls to date. During the game the player's character can also participate in different kind of activities (sports, studying, etc) to improve his stats and have more chances to date the girls. The game uses a first person perspective in the adventure part and third person in the activities part. 

It's mostly a comedy work. Kendo actually takes a good half of the time and girls have to make with the rest. There are some 5 kendo matches. Quite a typical dating SIM otherwise.


10. Tenran no Natsu 天藍の夏 [System Rose] VNDB

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Hero is living alone in Tokyo and is persuaded to visit his home town by his mother. He will need to take care of parents' ryoukan for a month. He is surprised to find out that there are girls in his hometown waiting for him.

There's a short scenario for each of the six girls. One playthrough is about 2 hours. Only three girls icons are shown on the map and the rest three are needed to discover yourself, but difficulty level is relatively low. Atmosphere is light and relaxed. But the number of H events is rather big, so it's a borderline work.


11. Virgin Snow ヴァージンスノー [Essence] VNDB

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It's a cold winder day. Suddenly a warm feeling is born inside me. It gently melts the frozen heart. It's a soft warmth like the sun in winter. It was that one encounter that gave me warmth.

A generic AVG. System is bad (like only 4 save slots) and tempo is bad and only gets worse further on. Text and scenario are bad. There are only four locations to go. One playthrough is over in an hour, so there's just not enough development.


12. Yuki no Kanata ゆきのかなた [Rune] VNDB

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Hero was adopted by Takamori family at the age of 15 and he has no memory of previous years. Now he returns there after two years of absence and finds a lot of sisters-in-law. He also meets a girl with magic and gets involved in affairs of a mysterious organization. What is the mystery about hero's past?

There are a lot of gaps in the story and the whole scenario holds on the fact that nothing about the mysteries gets explained. With each playthrough new path is opened. Hero is granted some powers, but he's afraid to used them because something bad may happen. Ending is not satisfactory as it hardly explains anything. It looks like one big imitation of Kizuato and MOON. It's generally a comedy. There are a lot of bad endings and a lot of insult scenes to  moe characters. So evaluation mostly depends on whether you can bear with the cryptic scenario or not.


13. Yuugen Gaisha London Star ~Koi no Double Click~ 有限会社ロンドン☆スター ~恋のだぶるくりっく~ [Ivory] VNDB

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Our guy lives with his older sister. Since he doesn't have much to do while going to university, she found him a part time job at her best friend's company. It turns out there are 6 girls in that place, including his sister's best friend, the owner of that H game company(London Star). During two months work, he can chase a girl by helping her, if his personality matches the girl's. His personality is determined by some questions during game start, and affect by some in game choices. His older sister is one like none I have seen before in a H game. She plays the role usually a childhood girl would play, waking him up in the morning with real wrestling moves, especially if it is his turn to cook breakfast. Most unusual is that she is just there for support and can't be chased, unless you count the bad ending comfort part.

Period is two months and majority of days there's no events, so pace is not good. There are six heroines and if you totally fail there is a comfort ending with the imouto. Notably there is autoplay feature. In the prologue there are choices that build up hero's personality and the suitable girl is mostly decided by his personality. Girls are grown-up eroge games production specialists and it's refreshing for a galge. 

kivandopulus

The only masterpiece of February 2000 is Phantom of Inferno and thus it's the VN of the Month.

1. Aoiya Masshigura 葵屋まっしぐら [SofthouseChara] VNDB

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After graduating from high school, hero succeeded hot springs inn "Aoiya" that was previously managed by his parents. However,  business conditions have deteriorated with the rise of rivals. As a result all of the employees with an exception of childhood friend Yonagawa Kasu have left. He managed to rebuild the inn with financial help of his acquaintance. 

Will he bounce back and blow new life in Aoiya?

It's an ADV with SIM elements. It's still more of an ADV since state of ryoukan depends on text choices rather than management.  Difficulty level is low. Atmosphere is calm and relaxing. There's a comedy touch. There are only three heroines and overall volume is not big. Game is not voiced.


2. D+Vine [Luv] Dvine Luv [Abogado Powers] VNDB

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You play as an adventurer named Hyde. He's been dungeon explorer for a short while now. The desire to do so is because within many of these places lay remnants of the "Old World". Upon coming across a town named Arvil, he is told of a nearby cave that no one has yet looted for the monsters that guard it. This doesn't stop Hyde, and he soon stumbles upon something he wasn't expecting within the ancient cave--a woman!? This mystery-girl is going to really complicate things...

There are English reviews for this game.


3. Departures [Ochanomizu Electronic Manuf] VNDB

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Starting from tomorrow I shall travel with mercenary Tudus and fulfill my dream of adventures!

Game is free and flash-based. But it was eventually released with heroines voice and graphics aren't bad at all (backgrounds are photo based though). They go on adventure and meed five different girls. There are seven endings overall. Length is actually substantial, over 10 hours. There aren't good reviews of it.


4. Echo [FAIRYTALE HARDCOVER] VNDB

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During the earthquake a young man fell under the ground and lost memory as a result. He injured his arms, but was found and taken care of by a girl. The girl only knew that earthquake happened. Together they try to survive and get back to the ground.

The last work of Fairy Tale HARDCOVER, experimental division for horror stories. This work lives up to its fame. You need to play the game 14 (!) times to complete it... Each time we meet some girl and by the end of the route hero gets to remember or understand something and new branch opens up. Clearing the game once takes 16 hours... so it's a game of exhaustion. Text speed is slow and non-changeble and skipping is poorly implemented. However, meaningful part is not that big, half of the work can be scrapped without any harm done. H scenes should not be skipped since the psychological enlightenment happens usually at that time and you would not understand the result. Game also featured 3D sound and some moments are transferred to the player only through it. There is only one save slot and saving only allowed at special times which sometimes happen with gaps of couple hours long. And it used to freez pc after several hours of running. So completing this game is one of big challenges and those very few people who managed to get to the final consider it as one of huge achievements.


5. Moe ~Moegiiro no Machi~ Moe ~萌黄色の町~ [Unison Shift] VNDB

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Winter. Hero lives peacefully in his own pace. But with so many girls around him gradually a new feeling is born.

I just can't believe my eyes. The same Union Shift that we know for bitterest utsuge series started with something like this. There are eight heroines and there are two endings for each one. One playthrough is one hour. Lack of volume and thus lack of depth is the biggest flaw.


6. Moonlight ~Omoide no Hajimari~ MoonLight ~おもいでのはじまり~ [Clear] VNDB

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School that hero attended is going to be closed down. There are only two months left to say proper goodbyes to the classmates. 

Every hour of this time with the most important people should be cherished.

Debut work of Clear, but a high quality one. There are five heroines. The first half is for flagging and the second for dates and endings (there are bad endings in case of poor choices). Difficulty level is quite high. The atmosphere is quite special and a bit dark thanks to the feeling of loss. Text is good and easy to read. All the characters are quite attractive. Imitation of Kanon is felt in the picture, structure and text (game even takes place in winter as well). Also protagonist only transferred to this school the previous semester and it's really difficult to believe that he already has bad feelings about abandoning school. Characters are properly linked around the different routes. So it's a very solid start, but in the end game's a charage and Kanon imitation, although a good one, and thus not a masterpiece. 


7. Phantom of Inferno ファントム [Nitroplus] VNDB

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Phantom of Inferno is a story detailing the life of a 15-year-old Japanese boy who is kidnapped after witnessing the killing of a reporter. After being kidnapped his memories of his past life are erased and is given the choice to join Inferno or die. He makes the only choice he can to join and is given the name Zwei and will study under Ein. She is also known as Phantom since this is the title given to the organization's top assassin.

I don't think this work needs introduction. The first game of Nitroplus became a blockbuster and even was imported to the west market in English. It's the best game of early Nitroplus games. I still believe that it lacks depth, but there's so much coolness in this work that it'd be enough for a dozen of action games. But as I read reviews on this game the scores weren't too high and DVD format and its system was to blame. Some had trouble with disappearing subtitles, some with subtitles fonts and some with the password system which sometimes goes without another password for two-three hours straight. So I thought that people should stop reviewing game system and start reviewing its content, so I've made my own video playthrough of the game with both English and Japanese subtitles, all five good endings and a clear structure. I'll try to use this work for study purposes thanks to double subtitles. So here is the link to my video playthrough.


8. Rainy Blue ~6 Gatsu no Ame~ Rainy Blue ~6月の雨~ [R.A.N Software] VNDB

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The protagonist and his childhood friend, Ao, both aspired to become artists, but her life was tragically cut short by a car accident. While the protagonist was despairing from the loss of his friend, a small doll that Ao had once given him came to life. The doll, named Aoi, encourages him not to give up on his life and his dreams of art.

First of all, it's a nakige. Secondly, it's from a very good company that brought us Hajimari no Kisetsu and Silver Moon. It's the last game of this company and the one of the biggest impact. What I like most about this game is that it is not really about girls. Girls are merely catalysts for recovery and that's why girl parts and H-events aren't really important. There is a unique message in all of the three routes and there's also a true route. But I see a tendency of overdramatization. I can't really sympathize to a hero who was on the brink of attempting a suicide. Also although the text is good, the middle of the game is serious and uneventful which makes it boring for consequent playthroughs. If you have a thing for nakige, it might easily be a masterpiece. But I don't, so it was a good try, but no.


9. Road Love Story ロードラブストーリー [Corett] VNDB

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Ryo Uehara was on summer vacations when the elementary school girl living next door rang the doorbell. She explained with tears that before the summer vacations she had a quarrel with boy  Yura Yuta and then he changed schools so they could not properly make it up. 

Hero takes boy's photo and jumps into a bus to begin his search.

It's a travel adventure. There's a lot of map movement. Somehow, all those movements are exhausting and asking the same questions about the boy all the time does not make it more interesting. The whole synopsis looks unreal and the original aim of finding a boy very soon gets behind. It's not necessarily a bad game, but it's difficult to find appeal points in it.


10. Senjutsu Youhei Shidan Brave Blade 戦術傭兵師団ブレイブブレイド [To Be] VNDB

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400 hundred years ago the continent was ruled by demon kings, but eventually he was slayed with the help of holy sword Brave Blade. Now hero who is mercenary captain acquires this blade. 

A girl requests help from a tyrant. Hero sets to investigate and on the way he discovers and frees girls who are possessed by evil dresses "R-Enhance". No remorse for the tyrant!

Tactical turn-based strategy with rules reminding some difficult board game. There are 16 chapters with adventure, simulation and free action parts in each. There are permanent companions and mercenaries who appear just for one battle and have to be paid anew. Early part is bland and later on fights take just enormous amount of time. Rules are difficult to grasp and aren't explained so there's a long learning by mistakes. Story is ok, but this breaking armor of girl generals does not let it flow seriously.


11. Tsukiyo no Hitomi wa Kurenai ni 月夜の瞳は紅に [Discovery] VNDB

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Masato is a sophomore student in Kaori high school. He confesses to the girl of his interest, but gets rejected. In grief he occasionally breaks the seal of a shrine and releases vampire Kiko. She is hungry for human blood, but Masato sees a cute little girl in her and eagerly gives away blood. Later he notices he can use special abilities. He wanders around the town in search for assistance and new love... 

During the game Kiko becomes transparent and comes behind the hero. The main character will master the three abilities of Kiko:  

"Fascination" (creating a good impression on a girl), 

"people perception" (you see girls icons on a map) and "Future sense" (can hear Kiko's opinion on what's going to happen with each of the choices). Text is very rough and not fun to read. Other than Kiko routes look bland. There is a comedy touch to the story, but it's not remotely enough. First playtime is around 5 hours.


12. Tsukushite Agechau 尽くしてあげちゃう [Trabulance] VNDB

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Main character is hooligan who spends school days fighting and now is hospitalized due to a minor incident. A cute girl visits him there. 

Other girls get jealous and a fierce girl battle for the hero begins. 

Easygoing and short love comedy. There are 5+1 heroines and playtime is around 3 hours. Game series involves somewhat aggressive girls behavior. Story is quite simple, nothing really stands out, but there's a constant feeling that something is lacking.

kivandopulus

Gensou no Artemis, Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~ and Treating 2U are the masterpieces of the month. And VN of the Month January 2000 is Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~. That's a very solid start of the year. 

1. Faustus ~Megumareshi Mono~ ファウスタス ~恵まれし者~ [Gipsy] VNDB

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An ancient magician had the knowledge to resurrect with a ceremony. That awakening triggered a magical war involving the whole world. Magicians of the old stood up to protect humanity. 

Nowadays news reporter Merlin discovers the ancient secret of resurrection and awakens Simon the Magus and the vicious circle repeats itself. Will humanity survive?

Simon the Magus is actually the real protagonist of the story. The selling point of the game is magic battles. You get a magical grimoir and five different colored sources of mana. Developers promise 300 different magical spells in our repertoire. There's no real tutorial or explanation so it gets quite difficult even for native speaker. Game has trouble installing since it does not recognize partitions over 2gb. Since there's close to zero chance that someone finishes here's the spoilers: magicians are actually aliens from planet of Eden. They depleted mana resources from their star and came to Earth. They actually created atmosphere from lava as well as living creatures and finally mankind. Simon the Magus was the bearer of "festus" title eventually decided to get rid of the mankind and their eternal vices. Such mages as Drakula, Merlin, Pharaoh opposed that decision since not all people were evil. They sealed Simon the Magus, but could not find the concealed by Simon mothership "arc" and their power was fading. But new enemy Noah appeared, so magicians collaborated to oppose him. Phew, at least we're not gonna kill humans in the game. And even that's not the end since afterwards Merlin gets completely insane trying to destroy the world and the mother ship "ark" altogether. Story is as muddy as this. Actually the story is only explained in the end and most of the time there's no idea what's going on. Five bosses are females and that's the main source of H scenes, mostly with tentacles. 

 

2. Forever My Love - Kimi o Wasurenai Forever My Love・君を忘れない [F&C] VNDB

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Hero had a dream of studying abroad in an international academy and now his dream comes true. Meet you new acquaintances and use card conversation system for communication.

Card conversation system is not intuitive and not really a good idea. Girls are anime-style and too aggressive. No really attractive girls. No skipping allowed. Otherwise it's a dating SIM below the standard level.


3. Gensou no Artemis  [Shoeisha] VNDB

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The game takes place in Ikoma Aku Torres Actress School where different girls go to grow their perfomance abilities, and one night when a performing is taking place the owner of the school jump off a roof to the death. The police think that is just a suicide, but the motive is still a mystery, so the people on charge of the school decide to hire a private detective (Kiyouiti Kusakabe) to make an investigation. So when they hire him they decide that he enters the school as a new instructor in the academy. That's when the game begins. 

Player takes the role of a detective that has to investigate a murder in an actress school, the game at the beginning let the player choose between 5 different girls to help him in his investigation, each of them got a different story and the game will go in a different way depending of that choice, and also the ending. The main part of the game is to solve the case but during the investigation the player will also talk to different people and girls and there is a chance of a possible romance with any of them, so the game is also a dating simulation. Glad to see that Lipstick ADV conception is alive and having an assistant on you side is really the best way to get to know the girl. Quite a quality galge. Good masterpiece call.


4. Hakutou 魄冬~はくとう~ [Zenos] VNDB

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Our guy wants to move out of his home town into the big city. Before he can do that, he has to do a five day husband and wife ceremony with his childhood girl on new years day. This ceremony comes from the tragic legend of two sisters, their childhood guy and another nasty guy. Can he successfully complete this event, free some spirits and find love at the same time?

The atmosphere of Sengoku is not bad, but the actual "tragedy" is too light. Actions of characters look spontaneous. The structure is looped with the past events, but there's still no satisfactory explanation. There are too many symbols with real persons almost pushed to behind. Multiple choices open up with additional playthroughs. Game lacks excitement and feels unfinished in many ways.


5. Innocent na Tenshi-tachi INNOCENTな天使たち [For] VNDB

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Main character had just entered university when he got hit by a car. He recovers in the hospital and only joins the study from Autumn. 

School director's daughter gets raped and the whole campus gets into a chaos. Suspicions arise everywhere. Main character gets to assist in the investigation.

What awaits hero at the crossroads of his life? Please, please open the door of your heart to these heroines.

There are five heroines. All girls have some secrets and troubles of the past. One route takes less than an hour. There are some bad endings in addition to good ones. It looks like a detective story, but detective element is too thin - it's a normal romance game. And it can be enjoyed as one. 


6. Kaseki no Uta 化石の歌 [Age] VNDB

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The Protagonist and his sister are brought to a mansion by a catgirl. The mansion lady lets him stay, but he has to work as a doll trainer. He trains created females in virtual worlds. His own world doesn't seem all that real either, with all those maids, the lady and weird mansion owner. Can he regain his lost memory and figure out what's going on?

Well such synopsis would be blocked for some unknown company, but we're talking about "Age" here - is it new Nocturnal Illusion?

Setting is unusual. Distant future where the whole galaxy is inhabited, but interstellar trade fell into dysfunction and there are a lot of abandoned colonies. Decadent atmosphere prevails.

Game period is one week, and we indeed have to raise doll girls. We enter virtal spaces and look for pieces of memory. The atmosphere is good and graphics is very beautiful and there are a lot of well thought details. But... in he end it's just a museum eroge. The amount of text is thin. Unlike ordinary museum eroge, difficulty level of clearing is high and getting to true ending is troublesome. Setting is difficult to grasp, but there does not seem to be any good consistent story here.


7. Kurayami Zaka no Ie 暗闇坂の家 [h.m.p] VNDB

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Afterwar Tokyo. There is a hill called "dark slope". There is an old house where master is missing for 18 years already. Women in the house still know nothing of that mysterious disappearance. 

That is the beginning of the story about serial killer.

First of all, it's 3D as well as other h.m.p. games. It's a mystery solving game and gameplay is mostly exploring old buildings. I tend to block 3D if it has sexual content and h.m.p. used to be eroge creator, but neither the box, nor reviews mention sexual content presence (there is a scene of bathing in a tube), so should be safe to leave it here.


8. Larentia ~Netsujou no Miyako~ ラレンティア ~情熱の都~ [Nikukyuu] VNDB

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Julius is an aspiring adventurer visiting port city of Genoa in Larentia region. The city is prospering and thus there is a constant shortage of manpower. Julius answers the call to make a name for himself over three years.

Training SIM + realtime action battles. It is also possible to hire up to four mercenary heroines participate in battle. Action part is quite well done and there can be up to some 70 people on the screen. But there is literally no main storyline. Just take on missions and develop relations with the mercenary girls. If you ok with that, it's a very entertaining game.


9. Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~ Lien ~終わらない君の唄~ [Purple] VNDB

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When I regained consciousness, it seemed I had died. At first, experiencing things as a spirit (like, going through things) was somewhat fun, but I soon got a grip on myself. Well, what to do now. It looks like a wild dream, but it's not as if I feel resentment or pain. I don't feel the necessity to achieve anything either. Even after becoming a ghost, I commute to school as usual.

Days pass by nonchalantly, but those days are forever lost to me. Yet, even after having passed away, I'm remaining here. People I interacted with. New memories. A frozen flow of time. A running flow of time. In-between, I am in those maidens' everyday.

There's a great English review of this game.


10. O-Hanabatake no Flore お花畑のフローレ [Kuroneko-san Team] VNDB

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New title in Magic Witch Parfait universe.

The story is about Furetre, Parfait and Lennett who are 11 years old and like growing flowers. Grow over 50 different varieties of flowers with them!

Eeew... PASS. Opening is good as usual.


11. Onikiri-den 鬼斬伝 [Jupiter] VNDB

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Thousands years ago a great demon was defeated. That demon appears again in modern time. Momotaro's reincarnation Momota set off to defeat the evil again. 

An adventure quiz game with a story featuring familiar characters from old japanese tales. 

What a weird game. Success on fighting the demons depends on the timed answers to the quizzes... Famous characters like Kaguya Hime don't really add the appeal. Game's quite short as well, some 4 hours length.


12. Rose or Lose [Ciel] VNDB

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Sawaki summoned an angel Rose and a devil Lose by chance. They are about to destroy the world, but agree to set a condition that the world could be saved if Sawaki found a lifetime partner in the remaining 5 months. The world's fate is in your hands!

Raising SIM with six girls. Make a schedule for a week and trigger events on maps, common stuff. Synopsis is very stupid, but text is ok. Graphics is as if came from shoujo game. But price is low so it's a good cost efficiency for lovers of such kind of games. At least Ciel dropped its initial nukige style and working towards more neutral games.


13. Ryuuki Denshou 3 竜機伝承3 [KSS Inc.] VNDB

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Knight defeated an evil dragon, but his shrine maiden lover also died as a result. Now the devastated lover gathers forces to conquer the world.

Hero is an adventurer who is requested to investigate the circumstances of northern fort destruction overnight.

I think I only touched first part since I could not find any text information on the second part. As a longstanding tradition SRPG part here is akin to previous parts, very simple and in squares. The hero party can include at least 6 people in it. Story is solid, but I don't feel confident to discuss it.

 

14. Seishin Hakai 精神破壊 [unknown] VNDB

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That bizarre incident occurred at 8 PM. Girl student was murdered with face distorted violently. Strange killings keep happening around the hero. When judgement and emotions disappear something is going to break...

Game is free, but it does not really help since its title is mental destruction. Anyway, only girls who confess to the hero keep dying. And eventually game really gets into a state of deep suspense and esoterics.

 

15. Seishin Hakai Kanketsuhen 精神破壊完結編 [unknown] VNDB

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An adventure game that takes place 600 years after the events of the first Seishin Hakai

The stage is underground research center. Main character is the inventor. This time we can either prioritize mystery or just chase afte the girls, it works both way. Game is also free and leaves bad aftertaste.

 

16. Treating 2U トリーティングトゥーユー [Blue Gale] VNDB

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Tsutsumi Inosuke is a musician who makes his living by working at a convenience store. But his life changes when he’s taken to a hospital because of a cold and is told to stay at the hospital. There, he meets many people including a small boy, his mother, the nurses, and other people at the hospital…

There's an English review for this game.


17. White Angel [light] VNDB

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Hero lives along in the house. One day he goes from school with childhood friend Ichigo when  his cousin Aya and maid Karen suddenly push into living with him. And feeling the warmth of relations he starts to recover memories sealed in the past...

There are six heroines with one playthrough about 2-3 hours. There's a constant feeling that it lacks uniqueness and it's been already before. There is a feature of stories composing in the game and downloading plug-ins via the internet, but it's a bad excuse to disregard the story.


18. White ~Setsunasa no Kakera~ White ~セツナサのカケラ~ [NekoNeko Soft] VNDB

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That winter, and those women he met...

First of all, character design (especially in CG), composition and structure looks very much alike Kanon, but story-wise game tries to differentiate from Kanon as much as possible. Period is some 18 days. There are five heroines. It's a quality warm galge with a good scenario. But masterpiece level needs something to stand out.

kivandopulus

VN of the Year 1999

1990s are over. And to commemorate that I've made a video playlist of all the openings/demo/endings with singing/energetic instrumental from 1990s here 

 

I'll be making such playlists for each new year starting with 2000 since each year is going to have over 100 such opening/ending/demo themes.
Second Windows era year is behind. It failed to bring such a game that I'd announce Vn of the year 1999 right away. Instead, it brought a number of quality galge and some quirky cryptic games that I personally had a good time unwinding. 

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%)

1999

441

164 (37%)

277 (63%)

Windows years show a rapid increase in number of games, almost 50% total growth overall compared to 1998. In 1999 there's a shift towards blocked games, mostly because of nukige number increase.

Let's look at year 1999 highlights:

  1. It becomes a habit to issue first press edition with some omake inside and then regular edition.
  2. Doujin fan games make an appearance. Notably there is one doujin game for "One" and as many as three doujin games for "Kanon" in 1999. And Comic Party is notable for this movement.
  3. There was a short momentum of console games transition to PC with H scenes added (Kiss yori...), but it did not gain much continuation.
  4. In 1999 child pornography law came into force in Japan and from that time every single heroine in the games suddenly turned 18 years old. But appearance might suggest otherwise - such heroines started to be called loli.
  5. Year 1998 was notable mostly for graphic advances (thus the small number of masterpieces), but it hit the limit and in 1999 there is much more attention to the scenario.
  6. Nakige as class did not exist till 1999. But throughout the year it gained a universal spread and multiple magazines were making the list of the best nakige of 1999.
  7. Command selection ADV is almost extinct this year. Even Adam:The Doublefactor went for point-and-click instead.

To choose the game of the year 1999 let's observe the masterpieces presented:

  1. Captain Love
  2. Comic party
  3. Elemental Arts
  4. Green
  5. Kanon
  6. Kazeoto, Chirin
  7. L no Kisetsu: A piece of memories
  8. Mamatoto ~a record of war~
  9. Memories Off
  10. Refrain Love 2
  11. Silver Jiken
  12. Spark!
  13. Tokimeki Memorial 2

So, thirteen. A very solid selection. I don't really have a personal favorite here. And there is no such work that I'd say - yes - it' perfect. Taking out cryptic, simulation, rpg, bakage and ero-centered works we basically left only with Captain Love, Kanon, L no Kisetsu, Memories Off, Refrain Love 2 - a bunch of pretty normal galge. And among those Kanon quality level is significantly higher and thus Kanon is the Vn of the Year 1999.

kivandopulus

Well, I'm already back. I decided not to restore 80s and 90s (maybe with time) for my wiki and just to move forward right from December 1999.

 

There are surprisingly many masterpieces this month. There are three: Elemental Arts, Green and SPARK! My personal favourtite would of course be Vist, but even I understand that it lacks the masterpiece level. The game of the Month December 1999 is Elemental Arts since I would not like to compliment eroge'ish Green and bakage'ish SPARK!


1. Alive アライブリニューアル [Witch] VNDB

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A winter story. Kihara Yuuji , Sawaki Yuriko and Sakagami Yuzuki. A trio of best friends, two of them recently being a couple and the last blessing and watching over them. A short happiness that suddenly escapes everyone's hands as tragedy strikes and kills one of them. This is a story where the protagonist tries to overcome such a sorrow. The unforgiveable sin that is love. An eternal damnation. An unavoidable and cruel destiny. Unrequited feelings. And, caught in the middle, good and kind people who are in the end but innocent sacrifices.

Game actually feels very different from the synopsis. The trio happy school life introduction is very long so it's possible to get bored even at this stage. But the main part after sudden Yuzuki death is quite short and underdeveloped. There are four girls with their routes. But actually only main heroine route and true endings have some impact - the others are totally bland - there just is not enough discussions and expressions. A big shift in quality. That might be actually improved in the "Renewal" release in 2001. Overall it's a game based on atmosphere only.

 

2. Ano, Subarashii o Mou Ichido あの、素晴らしい をもう一度 [Mankai Seisakushou & Jitensha Sougyou] VNDB

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"Even without my memories, I won't be scared. As long as you're there to remember for me." So said the girl with 『no future』. If a future is made by repetition, stacking up the days, then indeed a 『future』 she lacked. 『Anterograde amnesia』. Also known as 『repeating disease』, a curse that eats away at your memories and future as they form. "If someone makes a mistake, they correct it. Not just repeat it over and over... No one should be forced into doing that." So said the man with 『no past』. And thus the two set out to recover the 『past』 and 『future』 that they respectively lack. All the while not realizing they've already entered the 『repeating world』...

Game was released only for a very old system x68000 in 1999, but we'll look at 2001 version, of course. Setting is fantasy-like with magic. It's basically a sound novel, but renewal version has game system that remembers choices and you can easily go to any past choice and play from there. Game actually has loop structure and the same story repeats over and over and over and with each new choice it gets minor changes. So from the second loop you need to remember locations of keywords and juggle them to modify the story. Like in the first loop you run away from monster, in the second loop you get to know the weakness of the monster and in the third loop you can remember that keyword and defeat the monster. Gameplay was fresh and the game gained cult-like following, at part thanks to that free x68000 release. Total length is about 6-7 hours.


3. Baldr Fist [Team Baldrhead] VNDB

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Baldr Fist is a branching adventure game with 2D action-shooter elements.

I think everyone by now should be familiar with baldr games gameplay - long range weapons for the safety, close range for the excitement. There are 6 heroines total for capture. Scenario has gone downhill compared to Baldr Head and is almost nonexistant. This game should rather be treated as gameplay polish since it reached new heights of enjoyment and fun.


4. Elemental Arts エレメンタルアーツ [BAROQUE] VNDB

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It's been ten years since the Devil was defeated by five heroes. Peace was maintained under the rule of the heroes. People kept summoning demons and forced them to work and live and terrible conditions.

Ren lived in a mountain locket with his parents. Occasionally girl named Lier came from the village to visit them. But one day Ren was attacked by a group of three bounty hunters who were searching for powerful demons and sealing them. Ren was surprised to know he was a demon even though he was brought up as a human. His powers were unsealed by the bounty hunters attack and he set on a journey. At first he was only seeking his family enemies, but observing the humiliating life conditions of demons he eventually begins to oppose the reign of brave heroes.

Game is pretty much a sequel of previous BAROQUE game Midgard. Now finally we play for the bad guys... or rather good guys oppressed by other good guys. It's one of the first work to implement 3D topographic elements and it looks awesome. There are 8 magic elements with different skills so it's necessary to pay attention to the elemental stats that equipment brings. You start alone, then gradually party size increases to 7 and after 8th member there's split of parties and all the characters meet together for the final battle in one huge 8-man party. Game story gets somewhat stale by the middle of the game, but overall it's a great rpg, definitely a masterpiece.

 

5. Film Noir フィルムノワール [Sophia] VNDB

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Nowadays video cameras are more popular than 8 mm films and rival video school club gets all the attention. In these circumstances Mayu Natsu is  struggling to gather performers and staff in order to shoot his own independent film before he graduates.

Game's divided into adventure part where hero finds the staff and simulation part where we shoot the film and this second part is not too serious. Period is 40 days but all the simultaneous flagging can be done in just one week and rest is just killing time. Game was postponed several times and thus feels old by the time of release. Text is also not good. There's not much meaning in the game apart of capturing all 9 girls, but atmosphere is good.


6. Green ~Akizora No Screen~ GREEN~秋空のスクリーン~ [Jellyfish] VNDB

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Movie club is preparing a sophomore student film, you are the director and the players are the other members of the club, all girls, lucky for you. The art teacher is also helping with the movie but there is also an another film project going on, led by your rival who is a bit of an eccentric... There isn't much time until the festival...

I'm really at a loss here. I tend to block such animated games since they inevitably fall into made just for animated H-scenes category. Game's quite good, but since it's fully animated it has over an hour of full animation scenes which puts it into a definite eroge category in my point of view. Let's try to observe other parts of the game. Game basically is a single road with Makoto route as the only true one and other two heroines choices are inevitably bad endings. What actually made me list this game here is the amateur film that the heroes are shooting. Game is quite long and you see odd scenes here and there, but when all the scenes join in one full amateur film - that's really amazing and film contents are touching indeed. After true end is cleared there's a bonus scenario, but it's not just omake - it's an alternative view on the same game events from the point of view of a transfer student. This game is quite a masterpiece, but the other Jellyfish games are inevitably going to be blocked by me.


7. Ichou no Mau Koro 2 いちょうの舞う頃2 [Loze] VNDB

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Main character is easily motivated and he takes part in multiple school clubs activities, but his grades aren't really good. 

The story starts at the point when swimming club competition ends with a strange result and hero is depressed. His friends cheer him up and motivate to prepare passionately for the arts contest in autumn. He admires arts club head Mizuno Yuki and decides to confess his feelings to her after the competition ends.

Events happen a year after the prequel, but... there aren't any connections, really. This sequel was trying to sell on the original short fame. This game is very much like the prequel plus the improved H scenes. But at the same time this sequel has some very poor scenario moves like selecting between two simple choices results in whether you gonna be fine or gonna crash and get to hospital. There are four girls, but one character feels totally inappropriate and offensive to the whole story.

 

8. Koiji 恋路 [Cliff Edge] VNDB

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A strategic dating SIM game where player needs to outperform and outsmart the rivals to win the heart of a girl. 

It's actually a common dating SIM with parameters and occasional events. We can see girls parameters as well so it's clear what each girls likes. There are 8 girls. The rivals is the most important part of the game. You can see their parameters and their next movements with many tricks to apply. It all seems only luck-dependent at times. Love is a tough competition.


9. Kurenai no Namida 紅涙 [Studio e.go!] VNDB

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800 years ago, the benevolent guardian of the continent, Empress of Flame had gone mad. Four girls came and used 4 'Red Arcane Stones' to seal her in the 'Jewel of Flame'.

Centuries later, Horse Clan, the decadent ruling clan of the time, lost their power to rebellion. Before they were expelled to the wild and became a clan of dreadful highwayman, they took the 'Jewel of Flame'. Now they are looking for the 'Red Arcane Stones'.

Fei, a martial art master, just finished 3 months of training that would normally take 10 years, meets a heroine when she is under attack by the Horse Clan. After the Horse Clan are dealt with, she invites protagonist to come and patch the damaged cloths. Fei goes along and is revealed that the heroines are guarding the 'Red Arcane Stones', thus the Horse Clan are coming for them. Being a martial art master, Fei is asked to help the 3 heroines.

Chinese-style worldview and story with its appropriate attributes. Story is deliberately depicted in an epic scale manner. There are five traditional chinese magic elements. There are 6 people in party divided into two rows. But actually it's more of a gag comedy with very funny talks. Each of three sisters has unique personality and they bring lots of laughs. Ending is also not serious at all it ends with a gag. Overall the game is really simple, akin to Men at Work series. AVG part takes place in the city and when you get a request you automatically moved on the needed map. Battles are too easy with enemies underpowered. Game length is just 8 hours. Studio e.go still has a long way to go till it creates proper RPG games. 


10. La vie de Chateau ラヴィドシャトゥ La vie dechateau [Artifact & AniSeed] VNDB

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Medieval-style heroic fantasy. 

A young knight apprentice dreams of marrying princess Felicia and to achieve this goal he needs to form connections with a wide range of important or useful women.

It's a self-raising SIM. Period is 6 months. We train each day and there are also events to trigger. If you train diligently you see how your rank rises. There are also duels in the game (with husbands, naturally) and it's satisfying to see that your stats actually determine your attack/defense/constitution. But text in the game is very slow and need to press shift for each screen separately. There are also quite many bugs around. 

 

11. My Diary Kimi ga Boku no Imouto Dattara My Diary 君が僕の妹だったら… [Pocket] VNDB

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Momo, Rika and Nozomi are friends with each other and they have common affection for Tsuyoshi. However, Tsuyoshi gets in a traffic accident and with time girls' attention shift to main character. Protagonist is actually the older brother of Momo. Even though she 

understands her feelings can't be fulfilled, she can not tolerate that her brother loved another girl. 

Last game of Pocket which is relieving. Game has a famous artist, so graphics is probably the only aspect that does not invoke questions. Text is too bad. Even the ending is literally 10 lines long. Imouto is nothing but annoying. There is a map to choose location where someone may or may not show up, but it's impossible to save on this map so it gets pretty stupid. Some choices are poorly implemented and actually get you into a loop. There's zero explanation of why three persons got in love with some Tsuyushi and why they suddenly got in love with protagonist. This work seems to be aimed at imouto fans, but it fails even at that since the other two heroines are much more convincing.


12. Pocke-Kano ~Aida Yumi~ ぽけかの〜愛田由美〜 [Datam Polystar] VNDB

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The star of this raising sim game is Yumi Aida, a little girl that you meet when she's 11 years old in a park. Later, the player will discover that she's his neighbour and keeps visiting her. 

For raising her stats, you must pass some minigames that allow you to buy her presents and take her to new places.

The three games got different openings, that's admirable. But most of the resources are repeated between the games. Watching over girl from 11 years old to adulthood might be fascination for someone.


13. Pocke-Kano ~Houjouin Shizuka~ [Datam Polystar] VNDB

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Pocke-Kano - Shizuka Houjouin is a sort of an adventure game with mini games in which the player start the game meeting Shizuka Houjouin, a little girl that he finds in the park and after that she takes him to meet her mother. After that he will continue visiting her and during the game he will more or less appreciated by her depending of the results of the different mini games that the player can play in his PocketStation that will make him earn money to buy Shizuka better presents. 

One different thing about the game is that you will see her raise from a little girl to a woman (the game last 7 years of the girl's lifetime). 

Bring up young Shizuka Houjouin in this girl raising sim.

The three games got different openings, that's admirable. But most of the resources are repeated between the games. Watching over girl from 11 years old to adulthood might be fascination for someone.


14. Pocke-Kano ~Ueno Fumio~ ぽけかの〜植野史緒〜 [Datam Polystar] VNDB

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Pocke-Kano - Fumio Ueno is a sort of an adventure game with mini games in which the player start the game meeting Fumio Ueno, a little girl that he finds injured in the floor and he takes to an hospital. After that he will continue visiting her and during the game he will more or less appreciated by her depending of the results of the different mini games that the player can play in his PocketStation that will make him earn money to buy Fumio better presents. 

One different thing about the game is that you will see her raise from a little girl to a woman (the game last 7 years of the girl's lifetime). 

Bring up young Fumio Ueno in this girl raising sim. 

The three games got different openings, that's admirable. But most of the resources are repeated between the games. Watching over girl from 11 years old to adulthood might be fascination for someone.


15. Ren'Ai Kumikyoku 恋愛組曲 [Libido & QT-Soft] VNDB

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Hero gets into an all-girl school band as a result of the injury of sempai. He is responsible for the keyboard and there is a rhythm minigame introduced to measure his success.

Another Libido game... somehow they all look the same to me and keyword here is tasteless. Now you also need to play the keyboard as if it was a piano. Apart of that it's not much different from a galge. There are 8 heroines to capture. Well, it's not that the story changes for each character. Scenario is painful to read without skipping. 


16. Romance wa Tsurugi no Kagayaki II ロマンスは剣の輝きII [Fairytale] VNDB

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The story of Keith, a young adventurer who falls one night on Princess Elfarcia's balcony. She has lost her precious pendant - The Silver Rainbow - and, thinking him to be an angel, asks him to bring it back to her. So Keith quests for the pendant to gain the trust of the beautiful princess and encounters many dangers, adventures and women along the way.

RPG. Dungeons are huge and complex so majority of the time will be spent there and reported in the town. There are 4 people in the party and there are 8 girls to capture. . But with such frequent battles stats grow really fast and get maxed for each character long before final battle. The scenario is surprisingly solid. The main theme of the game is coexistence with different races and for that game reminds of Canaan. Since it's an RPG - RPG part should be good, but actually balance suffers a lot, dungeons are painful, operating multiple characters is slow. Resolution of the game is quite low and eyes tiredness sums up. Play time is around 20 hours.


17. Shiro no Monogatari 白の物語 [Infinity] VNDB

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Yasha is very brutal character. One day he steals some relic and triggers space distortion resulting in the human world.

The heroine was dying of a heart disease at this time the the jewel that Yasha dropped healed her completely. He tries to take the jewel back, but the girl gets to die in that case. She manages to persuade him to wait for a week and live together for that time. However, it turns out that jewel is not just a precious item, but a "jewel of bliss" that can fulfill one wish.

Wow, what a boring synopsis. And it actually feels the same - like a boring anime for children... well some of the scenes are not for children though. Game is also very short.


18. Spark! スパーク! [Cat's Pro.] VNDB

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Protagonist is a normal high school student, has at times he sees strange scenes and gets depressed. One day he meets transfer student Yanan Michiru who calls herself an agent of human world management institution. According to her tale, hero has an ability to see the world where the balance is being broken by a stray angel. They will go to school together and search for an angel.

It's a comedy work at school setting. The purpose to find the angel does not really matter in the end and there's just a series of events triggered. The process is more valuable than the result here and it's just exciting to see what happens in the new dream. It may be a bakage, but its strength is not in individual gags, but in the flow they create so that it feels like a melody. Even H-scenes are overflowing with playfulness and humor. That's a very unique atmosphere created and it's worthy to be called a masterpiece.


19. Vist [C's Ware] VNDB

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In a rainy night, the cops are investigating a bizarre murder scene.

"What he saw?" - wonders the detective.

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.

And seeing the disturbing signs --- a heartbeat began to drift.

I've already provided full review in the previous post. But now I'm interested what other reviewers think of the game. 

№1:Have not understood the end... chapter 5 too fast development... the impressive reunion scene missing... there is no excitement in the ending at all... have to load game if there is a single counterattack. 

№2:Replay is very painful due to complex system... bloodshed scenes glorious... HCG quite large number... this work is not balanced... unexplained and esoteric development leaves bad aftertaste.

№3:Hard to understand story... story is good, but story development is not good... first two chapter sluggish, but next two chapters thrilling. 

№4:Totally suspense... repeated playthrough is troublesome... very bad that losing in battle can get bad ending fixed... if only 5th chapter scenario was deeper it would be a masterpiece... it's one of the best masterpieces of suspense genre... why no male voicing (cries)... atmosphere is good... scenario is of high quality... not a work that leaves something after it is over.

Wow, I can totally subscribe to every word here. Very strange, but very fascinating and mysterious work.


20. Voice ~Kimi no Kotoba ni Boku o Nosete~ Voice ~君の言葉に僕をのせて~ [TinkerBell] VNDB

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Heterographers are people who can manipulate language and create powerful word forms with almost magical effect capable of summoning spirits. 

This is a school where a lot of heterographers are gathered. There is fighting and a lot of mysterious events happening. Feng Hong transferred to such school in pursuit of his first love. What will these events conclude with?

This is the second work of Tinkerbell, the producer of some most hardcore nukige over these last 17 years. The first work was some weird psychology tilt game. The third work is already an eroge and is going to be blocked same as future Tinkerbell games. So this 2nd game is all we've got to try and see what the hell went wrong. 

What's only clear is that protagonist has some sort of unique power that makes him move the plot. The series of visions that occur aren't spectacular and it feels more like museum exhibition - it's not particularly interesting, but need to bear with all those pieces. Interaction between the students in school is quite interesting, but  we can't relate those conversations to the scenario events. Character placement is lazy - there's no clear meaning about any character in the story. Some chracters just happen to appear on the screen and say let's have fun. The skeleton of the scenario is very weak. It's presented in such form that it can not be enjoyed much. There aren't likable characters. So it's either already a nukige or a very cleverly concealed nukige behind all the esoterics. Well, we don't need such games anyway, so farewell, TinkerBell. 

 

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

Vist [C's Ware]

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.

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