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

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kivandopulus

I consider Double Cast to be VN of the Month June 1998. The suspense story is surprisingly interesting and some endings are quite fun. It's also the most integral part of the whole series. Why not One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~? It's an entertaining read I enjoyed protagonist jokes on the girls. Nagamori Mizuka is the most fun since Kouhei sets her up on daily basis. I have to admit that I've only seen Nanase and Shiina routes. Nanase route is quite commonly recognized as a comedy route and the weakest in story. And next I actually aimed for Nagamori route and somehow bumped into Shiina Mayu paired route instead. The worst route ever. She is delinquent who barely speaks - she's a horrible character to pair up route with and she mercilessly wrecks Nagamori as likable character in it. Speaking of talking - two other heroines have serious problems with speech and another one is blind - is this Katawa Shoujo or smth? Too many weirdos at once, no separate roots for girls and absence of intelligent conversations is what killed the fun for me.


1. Angel! えーんじぇる! [Triangle] VNDB

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Hero is an angel apprentice who can not pass the promotion test to angels even though his lover Shirley is already an angel. The chief angel chief decided to impose the final special examination on the hero. Its contents is to go down to the Earth, do good things and earn 100 points in 6 days. If those conditions aren't met the hero will be expelled from the Heavens forever. His powers on Earth are limited to transformation into a strange stuffed animal figure. He appoints two school girls Mikoto and Makoto as his own apprentices and hurries to do the good deeds worth 100 points.

Full voice fun bakage! There are choices during the conversation and depending on those Makoto and Mikoto gain empathy and that directly affects the ending. At important moments Makoto and Mikoto use magic that you pass to them. H-scenes depend directly on the magic you give them. Due to this fact many playthroughs are needed to discover all variations of CG. Slight inconvenience that saving is only possible at the beginning and end of each chapter, but skip function makes it easier. Story is not serious, but moves in a good tempo and contains five chapters stylized to look as anime episodes. It's a big hit among bakage due to high production values and attractive parodies.

 

2. Double Cast ダブルキャスト [SCEI & Production I.G] VNDB

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The game begins with you, the main character, waking up at a fountain to the face of a pretty girl. You are a high school boy, and this girl has helped you out of the garbage where you had passed out in a drunken stupor. (Talk about first impressions!) As it turns out, she cannot remember anything about herself except for her name, Akasaka Mitsuki. Since she has no place to stay, you offer your own, and so begins your unusual relationship with this spirited girl. When your film club finds itself in need of a female lead, Mitsuki joins in, and from there the main story begins to unfold.

There is enough English info, but it's very dry, so let's spice it up. Full voice full animation interactive movie. Game starts as a heartwarming story, but since the middle turns into a suspense horror. Game is all about discovering endings - there are 27 of them plus one special if you discover all 27. Few options and endings are available at first but more and more options are added with discovered endings. Skipping and choosing episode to start with help, but still a guide is almost a necessity to find some of them. Surprisingly interesting game with high production values, but only for PS1 and PSP.


3. High School Terra Story ハイスクールテラストーリー [Uran & Success] VNDB

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Basically, you have about three and an half months to finish the game with one girl. Each day, you start out at school and you have a parameter with three sections: Studies, Athletics, and Art. Depending on how you build up this parameter and how you inter- act with the characters, the story will change. You also receive love points if you answers questions by the girls you interact with correctly. You do not freely move in this game, it directs you by your parameter and how you answer questions with the girls. You can choose which girl you want to finish the game with by using that method. You also earn money and you have a meter that tells you how tired you are.

There are two good English reviews on the game.


4. Kimi ni Steady キミにSteady [D.O.] VNDB

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Hero is a senior in high school sctudent. He spent summer vacations on part-time job and did not create any memories. Now he intends to definitely find his love by Christmas. 

Pure love romance school adventure. Game period is 4 months and you move around the game and trigger events. Game system looks like classmate, but it's made much easier for newer generations. Like triggering events does not advance time and important events are clearly show on the map. But still for newer generation the game remained too difficult. Actually, difficulty varies from very easy to next to impossible. Game relies on minigames a lot since each girl has her own mini-game and there are also games at game center. Still, the characters aren't really cute and the character designs have not gone far from Youjuu Senki. Game was in production for two years and grew old even before release.


5. Koi no Floating Mine 恋のフローティング・マイン [Active Soft] VNDB

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Life is always hard for a student who have to transfer to a new school, especially the fact that you need to start everything over. But there are always exceptions... 

Especially if you meet a bunch of pretty girls!

There is an English review for this game.

 

6. One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~ ONE ~輝く季節へ~ [Tactics] VNDB

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One's story revolves around Kouhei Orihara, the main protagonist, who suspects that at some point his current life will change while living a peaceful daily routine. Due to this, he begins to seclude himself in the Eternal World, a world within his mind. The game's main recurring motif is a focus on the Eternal World, a mystical alternate space which is never clearly explained, and the details of which are unknown.

Game is localized and has many English reviews.


7. Saikai ~Sotsugyou Ryokou '98~ 再会 ~卒業旅行’98~ [Saint] VNDB

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School life is over and classmates go on a graduation trip for four days to Okakura pension house What kind of memories will the hero build over this trip?

First things first - I blocked the prequel for it having a yaoi scenario. Well, here there's also one yaoi scenario, but aestetics is not yaoi-distorted and most of love interests are girls so I'll let it slip. So it's quite a typical romance game. You move around, hit flags for the first days and on the third day you can confess to your love interest with a H-scene following on 4th day. There are 8 heroines to capture (rather 7+1 non-heroine). Each girl has both pure love and eroge sides of scenarios to pick up.


8. The Grand Hotel ザ・グランドホテル [Apollon Create] VNDB

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Meg and Alice graduated this spring and they are best friends. 

They are trying to find job at the Luxury Hotel "Grand Hotel". The final exam is to pick up the debts from long-standing patrons.

However, all the patrons are weirdo. Will they be able to adapt?

Game is ADV with some SIM elements like money. So you wander around the rooms and ... practically anything can be inside. It's a parody game on the verge of sanity. One of the endings even says that hotel was a training ground for space mission and they both go to space. So it's probably an eroge, but a merry one.


9. Update あっぷでーと [Pinpai] VNDB

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Main character registers on the meeting web site by friend's advice. Will he be able to find his love and meet her in real world?

Well you write a letter and choose a topic for beginning, middle and end. And if you mail suits girl's character, she responds. You can keep sending replies of fair, good or best quality. Then if everything is ok there's a meeting of net friends in a real life and then a possible date. There are two H-events for each character. The most fascinating route is of protagonist's ex-girlfriend as the story unfolds her dark net past.

kivandopulus

Foreword: I don't believe Alice Soft - they can only make eroge and bakage. But this game was highly praised overseas. Who knows, maybe it's the game that can overcome my aversion.

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Title: Diabolique

Developer: Alice Soft
Date: 1998-05-28
VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v2261


 Synopsis: In this world, here are two kinds of intelligent beings. One are humans and the other are Diaboliques. Diaboliques possess power, violence, intelligence, and eternal life. Their life form was categorized into four levels, the lowest division lacking intelligence, reproduction ability and beauty and the fourth being very intelligent and able to change form.

For thousands of years, human race has been suppressed by the danger of diabolique. However, a legend has passed on through generation that there's diabolique that kills its own species. This diabolique was Azulite - one of the only five Lord Diabolique (the ones of highest category). Being known as the "species killer," Azulite has come up to kill diaboliques. At here, he met a girl named Letticia. Her innocence and tragic background has attracted Azulite, and soon Azulite fell in love with her. However, the two lovers were separated after Letticia was killed. They promised to see each other when she was reincarnated. Carrying with the promise, Azulite once again set off on a journey looking for Letticia.

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Structure: There are roughly five big parts corresponding to five different time periods.
Length: 16 hours
Game type: Command selection adventure
Difficulty: Easy. Story is one way road and bad ends are possible only if make a bad decision in battle. Even then the game kindly suggests to load from the beginning of the battle rather than finding your earlier savegame.
Character Design rating: 8/10

Protagonist rating: 10/10

Story rating: 10/10

Game quality: 9/10

Overall rating: 10/10


Rating comments: Two games in a row with a 10/10... either my standards are that low or the games are that good. I actually stand for the latter. My only complain to game quality is that it's not voiced and music only lasts for couple minutes and fades before the next scene is reached. And I did not particularly like the way the five Lord Diaboliques were presented. We get short scenes with them between the main Azurite story parts and only by the mids of fifth final part we're told their names and their governing elements. So through the game they are just random guys and when we get acquainted to them, there's already a climax part pending. I'd like to get more of Lord Diabolique characters.

 

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Protagonist: Azurite is absolutely fabulous as a protagonist. He lost most of his memory, but he knows that he's the strongest of Lord Diaboliques. He remembers he's searching for something and wanders around killing his kin and getting food and shelter for that. He travels in a human form and he looks like a very tall elf with his long hair, slender body and big sword. But in this cruel world drowned in blood he's the only gentelman. He's very polite, kind, good-mannered and modest. He never drawn his sword against any human no matter how bad he's bullied or hunted (well, not in human state at least he-he). And he's a one-woman man. From the moment he met Leticia in humiliating conditions he felt a deep sympathy towards her. He's never laid an eye on any other woman and when one woman throughout the story tried to force herself on him, his manhood could not react at all. He's very loyal and that makes the story unique. Well, he's quite sensitive too and he can afford to cry when he's with Leticia. He's a great cook and at mornings he always greets Leticia in an apron and with a ladle inviting her to have breakfast. 

 

Characters: Each of the five story parts has its own set of characters. I adore party adventures and story part 2 and 3 were about adventuring in two different parties and that was absolutely cool. I really liked those different party members with fancy characters, but they don't play significant role. Only Leticia follows throughout all the parts (actually, even she's absent in one part) and enemies. There is also Aria girl that has an important role in 4th and 5th story parts, so let's look at those two girls.

 

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Leticia: Well... she's different. Part 1 shows us canonical abused scary girl. Part 2 is an absolutely different, bold and picky personality and a different appearance. Part 3 is again totally different from those two, but I would not like to spoil here. In Part 4 she's absent and in Part 5 she's basically canonical Leticia again, but she remembers all the previous reincarnations as well. Well, she's quite a typical heroine like in many single heroine stories. Sensitive scared crybaby who knows next to nothing about the world and that gives Azurite an opportunity to act protective and teach her basic facts about the world. But as for me, Part 2 and Part 3 Leticia reincarnations are much cooler, totally different personalities and great stories.

 

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Aria: She's a usual native Indian girl, curious and brave. She recovers Azurite body when he falls into a trap and takes care of him while he recovers. But Azurite falls into the same trap for the second time (well, he's not wisest man) and she dies stepping up and getting all the blows that were ment for Azurite. That's an inevitable spoiler because there's not point discussing Aria as human. Azurite makes a misfortune (intelligent creation) of her she stays protecting those ruins and waiting for Azurite. Well, that's the biggest charm about this girl. She's becomes a killing machine, but she regains her memories - she looses humanity, but she has intelligence and senses. She's condemned to wait for Azurite for hundreds years in that dark den and eventually he comes... not alone, but with Leticia. There's a very touching scene of jealousy risen inside Aria towards Leticia and that and her damned fate make her a very memorable character.

 

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Story: Story is superb throughout first four story parts. There's a lot of diabolique fights, lots of death, lots of adventuring. Part 2 and 3 features adventuring inside two different parties and that's just the best moments of the game. Part two is also a perfect slice of life on top of that. So we get to know Leticia in part 1 and eventually lose her. In part 2 after 60 years we discover her soul in a different girl and eventually lose her. At this point I already thought I knew what would happen in leftover parts. But part 3 is totally shocking - there's no Azurite in it, there's no Leticia in it - main three characters are a pub girl, a huge warrior woman and pub girl's brother who wishes to go adventuring and joins that huge warrior woman. For two hours the story lingers and you start to put up with the fact that's it's a totally different story when - BAM - Azurite appears in a totally unexpected way - BAM - Leticia appears and the chapter shortly ends. Ok... now I adjusted my expectations and the leftover stories were bound to be the same Azurite is searching for Leticia, but in other humans forms, easy as that. And fourth chapter gives another shock - there's Azurite in his usual for throughout the whole chapter, but Leticia does not make appearance in this chapter at all - not her soul, pretty much nothing! Just wow. So fifth chapter should finally be about meeting of two heroes, right? NOT. For one and a half hour you watch a slice of life about 7-year old reincarnated Leticia and her 7-year old friends. And I'd like to assure you that watching a slice of life about 7-year old first graders is not fun in any way - that was the most torturing part of the game. But fifth part is the longest one (about 5 hours long), so there is enough time for heroes union and new confrontation setting and final resolution. I'll tackle the fifth chapter in Themes more.

 

CG: There's a lot of CG, actually. I'm totally satisfied by is quantity and quality. Here are some gore CG for the taste of it. There's a lot of CG, actually. I'm totally satisfied by is quantity and quality. Here are some gore CG for the taste of it.

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HCG: Believe it or not, but there are only two and a half hentai scenes in the game. Two scenes for 16 hour long gameplay. I'm sorry, is this really Alice Soft? Well, it is. In order to make up with just two H-scenes there are a lot of half-naked/naked shots. A lot of enemies are drawn the way to amplify eroticism. There are a lot of flashbacks and occasional nudity scenes, so don't worry, it's very much Alice Soft, just adapted to fit the pure love eternal reincarnation story. And the only Azurite and Leticia H event is one of the most memorable in my gaming experience. There's no music and no voice during that. Only the rising and fainting gusts of wind are heard. The scene is maid as manga scrolling strips overlapping each other with up to 4 small screens deployed at one time. Very beautiful and touching.


Sound: Sound is my biggest complain. I'm used to unvoiced games, that's ok. But each bgm fades after some two minutes and during the rest of the scene there's dead silence so I really often had to check whether I forgot to turn on sound or something. Actually, there are also nice sound effects during actions, but everyday life scenes lack them a lot.

 

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Themes: So first four chapters were pretty much brainless merry adventures with some sad resolutions. I loved those the most. But then came final fifth chapter and game suddenly turned into a nakige. The great diabolique/human war broke out and our heroes are hunted from both sides as well as by four Lord Diabolique. Leticia shakes in hysteria crying that's she's tired of running and hiding asking to leave her alone. Azurite is totally depressed as well because he can't give anything besides his feelings to the woman he loves. Those are very depressing scenes that last throughout the whole fifth chapter. But at the same time a lot of serious questions are raised.

1) Time brings change. Leticia was hiding in the forests with Azurite for 11 years and now she's 18 and she's tired, she wants a normal life. Feelings alone aren't a solid basis of relations.

2) What's better - to reincarnate, lose memory and start anew or to keep on living? Surprisingly, I feel like the game says that reincarnating even with memory loss is much better. First four chapters are a vivid example of it. It used to be a great romance story, but once heroes got together and Leticia turned 18 things have changed. She'll soon get old and die of boredom in the forest. Bearing the burden of past lives memory is already difficult. So when fire kings visits her alone in the forest and suggests to wipe her memory she's pretty much ready for both memory wipe and even death and reincarnation since reality has turned into such a heavy burden.

3) What's good and what's evil? Diabolique Lords are almighty cruel creatures that enslave humans, but with the story flow we start to see their characters, their griefs, their losses and they aren't seen as evil anymore. Humans used to be on losing side, but with the invention of firearms the balance shifted and humans started to kill even 24 Diaboliques getting very close to hunting Diabolique Lords. While diaboliques mostly used humans for sex pleasures, humans started to torture diaboliques just for the sake of revenge and those tortures were inhumane. At fifth chapter we're given the ultimate choice - shall we support the Diabolique Lords or shall we keep on hiding and fighting diaboliques. Supporting Diabolique Lords leads us to the first game ending with Azurite regained memories and power of Lord Diabolique of darkness and Leticia happily living with him. This is not a true ending, but I don't see it as a bad ending either. Humans with their lowly desires are hardly better than diabliques. While they were weak, they used to humiliate their own kin. And the story of Leticia in Part 1 is a vivid example of that. Now they got the power and they start to torture and humiliate even diabolique gods. Under diabolique lords dominance the Earth survived for thousands of years and they never really cared much about the humans, never tried to wipe them. And there's big question whether the human dominance going to be better. Azurite understands that and he chooses the third way. No spoilers.

Humor: I don't really need humor to enjoy the story, but it can be a very nice addition to the story. In this game those seldom humor moments present were of Alice Soft bakage heritage. Here's one example of its "humor". Chapter 2 Leticia takes Azurite's clothes and gets to wash it while Azurite sits covered with a blanket. He wants to get breakfast and set coffee, but Leticia notices that it's dangerous and he could get a scorch. Azurite suggests that he wears an apron to prevent that. -But you don't have anything to wear, all your clothes is being washed! -I can wear an apron as I am! -NO! PLEASE! NO WAY!

 

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Overall comments: Atlach-Nacha was the first game of Alice Soft to shake my beliefs in Alice Soft as a sucky company. But it's Diabolique that made me surrender and shake off all the grunts. Diabolique is really an astonishing adventure and pure love story. It's ever surprising, mysterious nature keeps the thrill on all the time and I finished this 16 hour story in just two sittings. It has plenty of touching moments and an ultimately satisfactory ending. It's a waste to bury such story just because the game is old, has command selection gameplay and meciocre sound support. You can always glimpse on the game through my video playthrough as well.

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kivandopulus

VN of the Month May 1998

Quite a busy month with lots of good games. As for me first Castle Fantasia is still too simplistic. Hajimari no Kisetsu is very nice, but I opt for adventure works when possbile. Reborn's Day is definitely not for everyone. I played White Album quite long ago (remastered version) and it was very plain - couple routes were nice, but nothing more. That leaves us with Diabolique as VN of the Month May 1998. I'm giving it a full review next time.

 


1. Akai Hitomi no Serafu 紅い瞳のセラフ [Bishop] VNDB

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Kogo and his lover Ai are in a relationship for two years, but they never were intimate with each other. Even when Kogo's parents go on a trip his suggestion is rejected by Ai. Kago tried to summon a love angel with a spell, but failed with it. As a result, love of this world was confined and in order to save love he needs to enter the spirit world, interact with its inhabitants and rescue love withing a limited time period.

One way road with only bad ending on time limit expiration. Bishop is an eroge maker company, but this first work can actually be viewed as pure love story despite having some harsh content.

 

2. Castle Fantasia [Studio e.go!] VNDB

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You are a knight named Varu who has a very beautiful girlfriend and is very happy with her. However, one day their kingdom get involved in a war, and the girl's parents die in it. After some time, an unknown religious organization appears in the city. Varu's girlfriend is in such a grief after the death of her parents, that she decides the world has nothing to offer to her, joins the adepts of the new religion, and leaves the city. Varu becomes very depressed after this separation, but when he learns the religious group which took away his girlfriend became an evil cult that kidnaps girls and seeks resurrection of demons. But even more awful is the fact his ex-girlfriend is now the leader of this cult...

There's an English review of it.


3. Diabolique DiaboLiQuE -デアボリカ- [Alice Soft] VNDB

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In this world, here are two kinds of intelligent beings. One are humans and the other are Diaboliques. Diaboliques possess power, violence, intelligence, and eternal life. Their life form was categorized into four levels, the lowest division lacking intelligence, reproduction ability and beauty and the fourth being very intelligent and able to change form.

For thousands of years, human race has been suppressed by the danger of diabolique. However, a legend has passed on through generation that there's diabolique that kills its own species. This diabolique was Azulite - one of the only five Road Diabolique (the ones of highest category). Being known as the "species killer," Azulite has come up to kill diaboliques. At here, he met a girl named Letticia. Her innocence and tragic background has attracted Azulite, and soon Azulite fell in love with her. However, the two lovers were separated after Letticia was killed. They promised to see each other when she was reincarnated. Carrying with the promise, Azulite once again set off on a journey looking for Letticia.

There is an English review on this work. But since this work is hardly known at all, I'm giving it a review soon. Another chance to challenge Alice Soft.


4. Hajimari no Kisetsu ~Izakaya Fuyu Monogatari~ はじまりの季節 ~居酒屋冬物語~ [R.A.N.Software] VNDB

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The protagonist's relationship with his girlfriend is not doing very well. She's even being courted by his boss! In an effort to rekindle their love, he takes her on a vacation to a ski resort. But will that be enough to win back her heart?

Game has a good English review.


5. Konpeki Tou Kumiai 紺碧塔組合 [Outlaw] VNDB

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Master Ladrinado Oz traveled to the Emerald City adventurer guild headquarters to become a hero. Together with the seven companions their adventure begins.

Even though it's SRPG, there aren't its usual elements like attack or defend stats or elements... mechanics take some time to get used to, like attacking is not profitable, but counterattack is much more favorable. Your enemies will include sailor schoolgirls, shrine maidens, swimsuit schoolgirls etc

 

6. Namaashi Club 5 x 5 生足くらぶ 5×5 [Jam] VNDB

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Game imitates a TV show in which 5 females and 5 males ask questions to each other, fulfill tasks, form sympathy and form a couple if the sympathy is mutual.

There are five girls and five mini-games to win favorability. Game's pretty short.


7. Reborn's Day ~Tsukiyo no Dekigoto~ Reborn's Day ~月夜の出来事~ [Pinpai] VNDB

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Hero stayed at school on a full moon night. In the moonlight he saw the girls that were different from usual. They had scars due to their  own weaknesses and desires that remained hidden at daytime.

Will the hero be able to feel their wounds?

Story is shaped as hero's monologue. Basically, there's little story. Hero wanders around the school in the evening and some events momentarily occur to him. Game is of fragmentary nature and ends with a fancy which is a waste for the unique atmosphere it creates. There are several heroine ends, but there are also some not pleasant bad ends. Text is good, but it's a sensualist thing rather than a coherent story.


8. Renkinjutsu no Musume 錬金術の娘 [Black Package] VNDB

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Hero was born in a rich house and he uses assets to finance extreme alchemy experiments to recover lost secrets. There are three students in this academy to take care of and try new inventions effects in dungeons with.

So it's a raising SIM with items combinations. Visiting a private  room with one of the three students is possible, but students  coverage is thin. There's hardly any explanation at all. Not even of items do or when the next dungeon trip occurs and that's pretty bad since going in the dungeon without items is not good. No significant story noticed.


9. White Album [Leaf] VNDB

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You play a university student whose girlfriend from highschool, Morikawa Yuki, is starting to become a very popular idol singer. Unfortunately, her popularity puts a strain on your relationship; you must either try to maintain the relationship or find someone else.

Game has many English reviews.


10. Yoi Sakura 宵桜 [Fuuro] VNDB

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Keiichi Kikuchi is a 3rd grade student who likes to read and talks to the flowers on the roadside. There is a girl who is afraid to confess her feelings to him, there are cats who attacks people at nights and there are other evils at school. Everything shall depend on the actions of the hero.

Setting is a mess and game relies on it only occasionally. Period is 5 days and you just wander around the school and bump into events, then night times and you wander some more generating different kind of events. The invasion of cats, occasional scary events, indifference towards events nearby - it all looks very random and fragmented. There are many mistakes in the text. Girls endings aren't seen as happy endings. There are still many well depicted insult scenes so probably it was ment as an eroge.

kivandopulus

Sakura Taisen 2 is my personal favorite for the VN of the Month April 1998.


1. First Kiss☆Story ファーストKiss☆物語 [HuneX] VNDB

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At the beginning, First Kiss Story lets you name the protagonist. Since this stud gets to flirt with twelve chicks (most games stop at five or six), I named him "BIG ZIG". Like every other gal game in the world (...in Japan), some kind of unrealistic situation forces you to get unnaturally close to a bunch of unnaturally cute girls. In this game's case, your parents have suddenly decided to move one month before your high school graduation. That's obviously not a good situation for a college-minded kid, so your parents conveniently agree to let you live with your classmate Kana, her little sister Manami, and their unusually attractive mother.

There is an English review of this game.

 

2. Keisei 傾城 [Ange] VNDB

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Tokugawa shogunate. Idyllic atmosphere of cherry blossom in spring. Each day passes like a dream around insults between prostitutes and their customers. I want to lift their burden and heal their wounds. Your love is waiting for you. 

Command selection ADV. Decadence and somewhat dark atmosphere of Tokugawa shogunate. There are two main scenarios - "Childhood familiarity" and "Daughter of Samurai" both lasting for about three hours. It's pure love story with individual ending for each heroine, although there are dark scenes as well. Ange always produced weird games and this is one of its best masterpieces. Only small volume and weak graphics are its flaws that prevent it from being a real masterpiece.


3. Mamoribito 護人 [Softhouse Bonbee Bonbon] VNDB

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Phantom beast world where furry inhabitants live exists as parallel to human world. 

Kisaragi Kyosuke is working in Tokyo in a major company. On his 25th birthday he was informed that he is no a guardian to keep the balance between two world and prevent interference. Is it possible for him to maintain the balance between these two worlds?

Command selection ADV. There are five chapters and the gameplay time is also around 5 hours. This game really lacks a better explanation. Close to nothing is explained about phantom world, secret organization danger and even reaching the end does not really explain much. An attractive fantasy story with a half-baked feeling.


4. Oudou Yuusha 王道勇者 [Alice Soft] VNDB

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You are awaken without any memory of your past. You don't know where you have come from, you don't even know your name. You are found by a kind-hearted little girl who brings you to the best swordsman on the Western Continent. You live happily. But you know that you've had a life before that. You are determined to discover your true identity. You travel to the Eastern Continent, hoping to find someone who knew the real you. But you don't know yet that your story is entwined with the fate of the entire world...

Oudou Yuusha is a RPG with the single hero (default name Zanba) fighting enemies, collecting treasure, and leveling up. Dialogues and cut scenes are displayed as text super-imposed on still anime-style pictures, like in Japanese adventures. Once in exploration mode, the screen is divided into a large auto-map, statistics screen, and a small window that shows pictures of the location the hero is currently in. The turn-based battles (occurring at set points) are viewed from a platform perspective, like in fighting games, with the health bars of the hero and the opponents displayed above. The hero can attack, use items, or charge to execute a stronger attack.

There's an English review for this game

 

5. Roommate 3 ~Ryouko Kaze no Kagayaku Asa ni~ ルームメイト3~涼子 風の輝く朝に~ [Datam Polystar] VNDB

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Ryouko is now back in Japan after her home stay in the States. She starts by telling you how comfortable she feels to be back and so on. But why is that? Could it because you make her feel this way? She seems to think so.

The system of the game is exactly the same as that of the prequel. And that's already enough to stop looking into it. Summer vacation had horrible inner time feature so you'd need to meet her around 4 p.m. of real time on some day - we don't have a week off to pull that out! You only can meet Ryouko at certain time of the day! It's not us playing the game anymore, but the game plays us.


6. Runners ランナーズ [Studio B-Room] VNDB

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Hero is a social studies teacher at a girls' school. He founded runners club and is going to raise champions in there. 

Raising SIM about jogging or running and on top of that with big randomness factor depending on dice. Difficulty is pretty high and reaching the end for the first time should take about 40 hours.


7. Sakura Taisen 2 ~Kimi, Shinitamou koto Nakare~ サクラ大戦2~君、死にたもうことなかれ~ [Sega] VNDB

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One year have passed since final battle of first game. During this year Ichiro Oogami was abroad and he returns to Kagekidan in the beginning of the game. Soon new enemies are showed themselves. Kokkikaigogyoushuu (lit. - meeting of five demons) and ther leader - Oniou (lit. - demon king) trying to destroy a peacefull life of Imperial Capital. At the same time two new members joined Kagekidan - ladylike half-Japanese/half-Italian Orihime Soletta and quiet and serious german Reni Milchstrasse. While game progresses it is appeared that Oniou is not a real leader of new enemies but he has his own mystery...

Game has many English reviews


8. Sakurairo no Tegami 桜色の手紙 [Blue Bell] VNDB

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Shoji Kano thought to confess to the childhood friend Chiharu after passing entrance exams to the university, but failed to pass. A letter from distant relative and first love Mizuho arrives asking "Would you want to come and visit us?". The same letter comes to Chihary so they go together. Mysterious events will happen to them there.

Story has a flavor of fairy tale since heroes start seeing mysterious girls under the sakura tree at night. The whole text is shaped as protagonist's monologue. Story lacks excitement and the highest point is anticlimactic. Chiharu root is the only true ending and other characters roots are seen as bad ending.


9. Sotsugyou 3 ~Wedding Bell~ 卒業3 ~Wedding Bell~ [Shogakukan] VNDB

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The game begins with the teacher, who is the player married with one of his students. The principal finds out and asks the student to be expelled from the school. The teache makes a deal with the principal that this secret life with his students will not be revealed to the public and he also promises that he will coach his students all the way to an A when they graduate.

There is an English review for this game.


10. Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Yume no Owari ni 探偵 神宮寺三郎 夢の終わりに [Data East Corporation] VNDB

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Jingūji is tormented by hideous dreams of his past. The mystery begins as Yoko unwittingly decides to investigate a requested case.

Seventh installment of detective Jinguuji Saburou series that keeps bugging me since 1987. There's an English review of it.


11. Toki no Moto e 刻のもとへ [Aquarium] VNDB

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Star cat Nyantaru Pu together with star duck and star snowman come to Earth to buy a new game "Magical Blonde 2". But the clock go past 24 hours showing 25 etc hours, tomorrow is not going to come and so the game won't be ever released. Nyantaru Pu starts his investigation on time distortion.

That's a very weird game. Both the general systems and gameplay systems are a mess. We walk around the city choosing locations on a map, fight, earn exp and money. Very few people managed to clear it even with walkthrough.

kivandopulus

There are basically 7 SIM/Charage this month, one nakige, one detective and one adventure work. My personal taste usually follows adventure works and that's EVE:The Lost One as the game of the month March 1998. 


1. Changing My Heart ~Kokoro o Kaete~ Changing My Heart ~心を変えて~ [Mesa] VNDB

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One winter day you're forcibly pulled by a bad friend to visit a Comiket in Tokyo. Will you spend your time there with the classmates, cosplayers or total strangers?

Story takes one day... no good story can come out in one day. There are three acquaintances and two strangers to pick up. The flow is absolutely ordinary. A nice feature that you can decide on your clothes and girls clothes.

 

2. EVE: The Lost One [C's Ware] VNDB

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EVE: The Lost One is a sequel to Eve burst error. The events of the game take place three years after those of the first game. The player is able to control two characters - the female detective Kyoko and the mysterious Snake, as they try to solve a complex mystery full of betrayals and political intrigues. In order to complete the game successfully, the player will have to to experience it from the perspectives of both heroes, helping each other to gather clues and to unlock events.

Kenno-san did not work on this sequel and the story was scrapped. It's not that the text is bad, but it's too different from original EVE and there are lots of small inconsistencies. Gamy system was slightly simplified as you don't need to travel manually through the screens. SNAKE part looks shallow compared to Kyoko's. Game still has high production values with fun dialogues, great voicing and lots of animation. Just don't compare it with the original. It's too cruel.


3. Imagination Love いまじねぃしょんLOVE [System Rose] VNDB

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The store manager escaped with 10 million yen and hero is forced as a new store manager and he needs to earn this sum within a month. Most of the staff left after the incident leaving you with only four sales girls.

Contrary to the synopsis, it's not really a SIM, but rather an ADV. There are still three times of the day. Earning money is not difficult, but getting flags for girls is challenging. The feelings part is serious, but game's filled with a good portion of laugh.


4. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo: Jigoku Yuen Satsujin Jiken 金田一少年の事件簿 地獄遊園殺人事件 [Kodansha] VNDB

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In this case Kindaichi & Mijuki were having a discussion when they found that the police had found a man hanged in a park, so Kindaichi offers his help and goes to investigate the theme park and that's when the game starts.

There are as many as 7 games released about this child detective Kindaichi. I have not watched even any of its 148 anime episodes and not going to.


5. Mitsumete Knight みつめてナイト [Konami & Red Entertainment Corporation] VNDB

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The player is a mercenary from the east travelling to the kingdom of Dolphan, modelled after middle-ages Europe. He had been hired to aid the war fought by the country, which will last throughout the following three years of the game, where the player will meet a number of the different characters and develop a relationship with them.

There are English reviews of this game.


6. Pocket Love 2 ポケットラブ2 [KID] VNDB

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Two months after the prequel. It's the period when hero and heroines started to have feelings for each other. 

Sequel is praised same as original. The magical pixels are same intact. Number of heroines increased to 10 with 7 former ones and 3 new ones. 


7. Roman Reine ロマンレーヌ [King Records] VNDB

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The world is guarded by the goddess Gertruz. The queen who governs this world is chosen from the best girl candidates. One of the candidates got ill and hero's nephew is going to try to become the next queen. 

Fantasy raising SIM to raise the best girl worthy of Queen's title. 300 days is the period (1000 days for other candidates), week by week. The events vary from fighting competitions to beauty contests. At first only 6 candidates are available, but with time all 12 open up.


8. Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 2: Irodori no Love Song ときめきメモリアルドラマシリーズ Vol.2 彩のラブソング [Konami] VNDB

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It is 17 days to the Culture Festival and your band (Irodori) is going to participate in the band contest. On this day while your are practicing a group of girls gathers around your band to talk to Takumi while you just ignore them and practice. After practicing Takumi meets his classmate Katagiri Ayako and goes over to talk to her. You will not know who she is at this time. Suzune will follow you on your way home. 

At this point you will learn that she actually has some feelings for you, but you will not realise it. During lunch time you go to the rooftop to write a new song (Tears Angel) to participate in the Band contest. After school you can walk around to meet the other girls.

There is enough information in English about this game as well as one European language review.


9. Yuki-iro no Karte ~Karte von Schnee~ 雪色のカルテ~Karte von Schnee~ [Peach & TopCat] VNDB

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A small town in the mountains. Hero is a doctor who works there with a nurse. One day a girl affected by some incurable disease comes to this doctor after hearing about his prowess. 

There are three girls, each one with her own problem and sad past story. A girl who is poor and being affected by an incurable disease. A girl who closed her mind through parent abuse. A bad-looking little girl who was forcibly put in the hospital while parents participate in the election. Finally some quality nakige started to show up. Curing leads to a happy end while failing to do so leads to patient's death. Scenario is good, but hospital nakige is a genre not for everyone.


10. Zutto Issho ずっといっしょ [Beyond Interactive] VNDB

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The main game's hero has to start living by his own when his parents had gone due to a job transfer. He got an apartment and started living with a girl. 

The SIM part is repetitive and dull. The scenario is mediocre at best. But game is released for PS and has lots of animation and cute heroines.

kivandopulus

Kyouken Densetsu Crazy Knuckle 2 is the closest thing to a thrilling story this month.


1. Coach! Oshiete コーチ!おしえて [Nouvelle] VNDB

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New teacher was suddenly invited to a girls' school as an advisor to the athletics division. The final goal is to win the tournament! Is it possible to train six champions?

Raising SIM with week as time unit. Apart of training routine there is summer and winter vacation training camps and various events. Period is one year. The biggest complaint about this game was that there is no H events in here, only peeping in the changing room etc. The worst part is that despite each heroine having unique profile, all the events and text are absolutely the same for each of them - zero personality. Also even with max stats (256) it's actually a game of luck whether you win tournament or not. A rare kusoge...

 

2. Doukoku Soshite... 慟哭そして。。。 [Studio Line & Sakata SAS] VNDB

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In this game, you play the role of a high-school student (whom you can name as you like). A bus takes him and his classmates to the school every day. But this time, just when the hero was talking to one of his classmates, the lovely girl Riyo, a car drove up to the bus, there was a sound of a crash, and then the hero became unconscious. When he woke up, he found himself, his classmates (most of whom were girls), and a couple of unknown people in a locked room in a strange mansion. Soon the hero realizes something terrible is going on in the mansion. People are being killed under mysterious circumstances, their corpses hidden; he finds a memo soaked in blood and a photograph. Will he be able to solve the mystery and to protect the people destiny brought him together with?

There are three English reviews of this game.


3. Happening Journey はぷにんぐJOURNEY [Euphony Production] VNDB

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Masaharu is long in love with his childhood friend Yuki, but lacks the courage to tell her his true feeling. One day Masaharu's friend Takagi asks him to go on a ski trip together, telling him that he would also take Yuki for Masaharu, so that Masaharu would take Miki, his partner in their tennis club, for Takagi. Somehow their plan becomes known to other girls too, who start insisting on joining the trip - so the party now consists of seven boys and girls. Will Masaharu have a chance to tell Yuki his love during the trip?

There is an English review of this  game.


4. Houkago wa Fiancee 放課後はフィアンセ [Sweet Basil] VNDB

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Tadashi Wakita lost his parents in an accident at an early age, but thanks to the assistance of his uncle Kanno Rotaro, he is a high school student and lives in a house. Uncle dies and leaves a will that nephew must marry one of his three daughters in order to inherit his property and he must do it before the deadline.

Depending on choices it can be either a pure love story or a tyranny story and choices aren't transparent at all. Game is not limited to three daughters, there are other, less profitable variants too. Each route takes about one hour and there is also a harem ending with five girls. Characters are cute enough, but H events are too frequent and dark side of the game constantly tries to pop up.


5. Kunoichi Torimonochou くのいち捕物帖 [Polestar Co.] VNDB

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Long ago, during the Edo period, those chosen to become ninja train in secrecy from youth, living in an isolated village to become a secret agent for the shogun. Here, a young girl is training to become such an agent; her name: Ran Sagajo. Along with her talking ninja squirrel companion Sasuke, she has begun a trip to Edo to continue her train

You generally choose destination and wait for events to happen. Battles are played in the way that you select a command and opponent selects and you watch the outcome, much like the other VN fightings. When energy is accumulated to the max, a special move can be used. There are stats and places to train them. Game's appeal point is a good balance between animated story sequences and picturesque battles.


6. Kyouken Densetsu Crazy Knuckle 2 狂拳伝説クレイジーナックル2 [ZyX] VNDB

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Lunar shadow was a legendary ultimate fighting school, but its last descendant lived 80 years ago. 

Kusakabe Aoma is a bouncer of the street gang group in the city called Crown City. But he wants to get to know his true self. One day he arrives to the usual place, but instead of smiles of other members all he sees is a sea of blood.

Compared to the prequel text has gone better. Scenario is the debut work of Arakawa Takumi who gave us Ayakashibito, Bullet Butlers and several other interesting works. There is a good balance of seriousness and comedy. The atmosphere gone even darker than that of the prequel. Fighting system got more difficult. Animation is widely used. H events are densely packed, pretty much with every battle. So a good entertainment work, but not more.


7. Mars Ball マーズボール [Studio Jikkenshitsu] VNDB

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Humans migrate to Mars, where the description of ancient sport is found in the ruins and it becomes the new craze - the Marsball.

An ordinary salaryman gets fired and with his baseball experience in high school he tries his luck as a manager of a new Marsball team.

Baseball game with card battles and quite high difficulty. Most of the time you train and once in a while there is match. H-events are hard to unlock with flags and are over in a flash. It's weak as love story, weak as H-story... then it's probably just a gameplay oriented game.


8. Misa no Mahou Monogatari ミサの魔法物語 [Sammy Corporation] VNDB

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Misa no Mahomonogatari - Heartful Memories tells the story of a young girl who got a mission from the queen of a magic world called Firimu, to travel to the human world, find a young girl and train her into a tarot magician so that she could defeat the evil forces willing to conquer both of the worlds.

The game takes place in that high school and will last 4 years of training, the main character of the game is Misa and during that time period she has to train her abilities, meet different people and classmates, and face the evil that endangers the world.

A raising SIM to train a justice magician girl. And that's enough already to stop discussing it.


9. Yume no Yukue Karuizawa Monogatari 夢のゆくえ 軽井沢物語 [Fair Dance] VNDB

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In Autumn wandering in the forest of Karuizawa of autumn leaves, I met a girl in a white dress living in an old villa. 

In winter three of my classmates and I came to ski and I had a vision of a girl in white dress again.. 

In spring I walked in the forest of Karuizawa to find a girl in white dress. 

And in the summer I shall wander between reality and daydreaming. 

Obscure work, mostly due to the fact that there is no save function in the game.

kivandopulus

My subjective choice for VN of the Month January 1998 is Machi - maybe it's the impact of 428 sequel. I've very difficult history with Divi-Dead as both times I tried it I fell asleep. No true ending is worth such boring gameplay. And I just can't appreciate dating SIMs without impact on story to evaluate Sentimental Graffiti properly. 

1. Dice Kiss [Mei Full House Karen] VNDB

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It's two months before Xmas. The hero decided to find a girlfriend before Xmas.

Board game. You throw the dice and move to some field where some event should happen. There are five girls to clear. It's plain tiresome to wait till you roll a good choice for your girl. And the dice rolls very slowly...


2. Divi-Dead ディブァイデッド [C's Ware] VNDB

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My name is Ranmaru Hibikiya. Today is my first day at Asao Private School...

My uncle is the dean of this school. About a month ago, he paid me a visit and offered me enrollment at his school. Seeing I've been out of school for a long time, I accepted his offer. What was the catch? He asked me to keep an eye out for him. Bluntly, I was to be his spy...No problem.

Well actually, there was a problem. Once I arrived, I started noticing some disturbing things. There was violence and misconduct happening on campus, not the usual past times at a private high school. As I got deeper into my investigation, I came across a possible correlation between an underground society and the unusual behavior of my peers. I realized that I could not trust ANYONE.

There's just one last thing...After transferring, sometime between all the sexual escapades happening on campus, and my investigation, something horrifying happened to me. I...

Join me in my quest to uncover the horrible secrets at Asao Private School.... and find out what fate holds for me... 

Game is localized and has many English reviews.


3. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo: Hoshimitou Kanashimi no Fukushuuki 金田一少年の事件簿 星見島 悲しみの復讐鬼 [Hudson Soft] VNDB

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The idol at the height of the popularity got involved in a scandal scandal. Idol manager Tachibana Yufu was searching for the truth of it and was found dead. The police asserted Yufu's death as suicide, but there were two people who had suspicions in that. 

One was former idol and Yufu's best friend Katsuragi Yo and another one Yufu's fiance Takuya Asagiri. The two of them decided to take revenge at a leisure facility "Hoshijima" where the stakeholders gathered, but there was a also present a grandson of Kaneda detective Kanedaichi and his friends ..

The purpose of the game is to commit a perfect crime - a murder - and get away with that. It just has everything that I can't stand.


4. Machi 街 [Chunsoft] VNDB

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Machi is a story of 8 unrelated protagonists, all with their own problems and objectives, all living in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan. The story spans 5 in-game days and is told through a huge number of live-action still photographs. The protagonists are varied, including a high school playboy, a gamer geek police officer, a struggling actor, an ex-Yakuza man, a TV scriptwriter and many more. Each of the protagonists lead a completely different story that even defies genres, with one story having a lighthearted comedy style while another having a dark, ominous tone.

The player must play all of the stories in parallel, jumping across different protagonists, and backtracking to re-select branches which not only affect the active protagonist, but also other protagonists through often bizarre twists of causality.

Since its release in 1998, Machi has amassed a cult following among Japanese Sound Novel players, causing a yearning for a sequel for years which did not come to fruition until 2008 which had the release of the spiritual sequel, 428: Fusa Sareta Shibuya De.

There are good English reviews for it.

 

5. Sentimental Graffiti センチメンタルグラフティ [STACK software] VNDB

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The protagonist, Tanaka Ichirou, is a high school student who, prior to the spring vacation of his third year, receives a letter simply stating "I want to meet you." During middle school, his frequent transferring of schools allowed him to form unique relationships with various girls. In order to search for the sender of the letter, he travels nationwide to various places, and meets the 12 girls of his memories once again.

Game has at least three English reviews and a lot of information in English

kivandopulus

What a tiresome year. First Windows year had too many obscure games with tiny bits of information to get. Crude graphics, bland plotlines, typical dating sim gameplay. But all in due time.

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%)

Numbers don't show anything extraordinary - a very mild logical increase in numbers. Shift to Windows has not had an influence on the quantity so far. As for the quality, that's another thing.

Let's see what year 1996 brought:

  • Industry got tilted too much to romance games reaching over 50% of total number. At the same time the number of works with an impact on story decreased drastically.
  • Some of the old titans could not adapt to Windows reality in 1997 - those include Elf/Silky's and Abodago Powers.  At the same time there is an influx of new brand names with low price low quality games.
  • The number of titles with a theme song and an opening increased significantly.
  • Genres battle still goes on, but simplification process comes to either ADV or ADV with some features. There's still hardly any game with autoplay, so player's active commitment is expected.

There was no major game in 1997. You cant just say "1997 year is X". Pia Carrot 2 is probably the closest one to a major game. It sold the best, but it's hardly a masterpiece, just a game with the best production values. Let's count the masterpiece level games of 1997: 

  1. Atlach-Nacha
  2. Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~
  3. Comic Road
  4. Moon.
  5. Rookies
  6. Ryouki no Ori Dai 2 Shou
  7. Tales of the Nights ~Yumekyou no Miko~
  8. Zoku Hatsukoi Monogatari ~Shuugaku Ryokou~

Just eight games. And the split is very bad - x2 PC-98 games, x1 RPGs, x2 console games which leaves only Atlach-Nacha, Moon. and Ryouki no Ori Dai 2 Shou as three dedicated Windows masterpieces. There's almost a feeling that Windows platform is not for the quality story works, but for mass product. There are three works that I put above others - those are Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~, Moon. and Atlach-Nacha. But the latter two are atmospheric, but dark and depressive works. Atlach-Nacha is Japanese answer to western Cthulhu while Moon. is rather a convenient story to show all kind of torture, rape and humiliation. And what about Canaan? It's a continuation of the most heartwarming game of 1994, Gao-Gao 3. If there was no Desire the same 1994 year, it might easily become the game of the year. Cannan is direct continuation of Gao Gao 3 which means it automatically inherits the merits of part 3 and adds new development in the story as well as a new hero. Yes, it's PC-98 game, but after year 1997 I'm starting to think that PC-98 era was really cool. And in order to share this wonderful experience of Gao Gao 3 and Canaan, I'm making Let's Play series of them. The game of the year 1997 is Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~.

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kivandopulus

VN of the Month December 1997 is Atlach-Nacha. It's atmospheric, crazy and japanese-styled primordial horror story.


1. Atlach-Nacha アトラク=ナクア [Alice Soft] VNDB

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A long time ago, there lived a jorougumo named Hatsune who gathered enough celestial energy that she was able to take a human form.

One day, a mysterious monk came to Hatsune's nest and nearly annihilated her for taking a villager's life. Severely wounded, Hatsune went into hiding. To heal her wounds, she decided to make Yaesaka High School her new nest and absorb energy from the students attending there. Hatsune absorbs energy by eating the flesh of (mostly male) students or through having sexual intercourse with them (preferably with females).

Game has two English reviews


2. Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna 3: Lightning Angel 銀河お嬢様伝説ユナ3 LIGHTNING ANGEL [Red Entertainment Corporation & Hudson Soft] VNDB

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The Machine Empress plants a bomb that while surely destroy the Earth. Its up to Yuna and gang to stop her and bring peace to the earth. But soon they will find out theres more to the Machine Empress and her army than her motives of destroying Earth....

There's an English good walkthrough for this game and very fine Spanish review, so there's enough information.


3. Girl Doll Toy ~Tamashii o Kudasai~ Girl Doll Toy ~魂をください~ [Uran] VNDB

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Near future. Hero works in a laboratory developing human-like androids. He picks up an android that was fated to be disposed, upgraded her and named her Erika. At some point he starts to feel romantic emotions for her...

Raising SIM/ADV. The good part is that it's not just fuwa-fuwa - the second part is quite severe as the hero has to oppose the laboratory. Quite an ordinary android raising work, but with good video and voicing.


4. Heart Work Symphony of Destruction [Active Soft] VNDB

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Yuu Asakura was a mild mannered university student until he found a mysterious duffel bag with a gun and orders for an assassination. He was terrified at first, but when he held the smooth metal of the pistol in his hand, he started to become someone else. Capable of anything, Yuu takes the assassination job and enters a world of nonstop sex, blood and guns. When he returns to school with his newfound abilities, he finds it no trouble at all to get any girl he wants. The syndicate and the police want a piece of the new guy, but the one Yuu has to worry about is the gun's original owner.

Game is localized and has English reviews.


5. Isle Mystique あいるみすてぃ~く [Azurokusu] VNDB

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Hero became an owner of the island in the vicinity of Okinawa. There was a famous statue of dragon there. But one day it was revealed that the standing statue was a fake. Now it's needed to find the real one sold by pieced around the island.

Game is kind of nanpa and after H event you can check if the girl had the real part of the dragon. There are several locations and three times of the day - by being in the right place in the right time you trigger events. Its "unique character system" is just a gauge during H-event that reacts to your actions - this is actually a very difficult part. Systems are very clunky and graphics is bad.


6. Kaitouranma 快刀乱麻 [Technical Group Laboratory] VNDB

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Japan in alternative history universe. Shinjuro may be a little young to be the master of a swordsmanship school, but fate didn't give him a choice. Now his position and martial arts skill land him in the middle of serious trouble when the rogue samurai Mikage faces off against the Tokugawa government, and Shinjuro and the small group of swordsmen who train at the school must now protect the town from harm. However, the group won't be challenged until the Tokugawa house calls in a favor, and the young swordsman is forced to duel Mikage himself.

Game has an English Review


7. Teito Kitan ~Doushi Tantei no Jiken Memo~ 帝都奇譚 〜道士探偵の事件メモ〜 [Space Project] VNDB

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Taisho era. A series of kidnappings of young girls have happened in the capital with the aim of selling into sexual slavery. A special detective trained in fighting is sent to investigate the case.

Strategic card battles. Scenario is quite simple, but Taisho era spirit depicted well. CG and voicing are mediocre. Quite an obscure game.


8. Universal Nuts ユニバーサルナッツ [Lay-Up] VNDB

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Universal Nuts is a sci-fi visual novel featuring two protagonists, Yui and Ai, which get involved in an incident onboard a space station. As the story progresses, the mystery of events that have occurred start to unfold. The game plays in a typical visual novel style by reading through on-screen text and dialogues to progress the story. Character icons are present during dialogues beside the character art over the background image, and the game features both animated cut-scenes and voice-acting.

There is a ghost ship in the open space sending out S.O.S. signals. But when Ai and Yui approach it, all the crew is absent even though all signs of life are present, even the lighted cigarette in the ash tray. A bad scenario with good production values and luxurious voice cast. Don't be surprised as anything can happen any moment here like in the weirdest bakage. There are too many inconsistencies too like meteorites catching fire in space or girl in a towel with a portrait in the suit. Scenario is multi-ending one, but with unskippable text very few would have the will to do it again. There are six "good" endings, but each time there is a a phrase following "Are you sure this is the best end?". And all of six endings have it. And there are lots of bad endings too. So there is no reward for looking for good endings, only irritation.


9. Yuki Furu Kisetsu e ~Omoi, Anata ni~ 雪降る季節へ ~想い、あなたに~ [Blue Bell] VNDB

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Shinichiro Sawaki is a friendly and sincere boy. All the girls in school think about him this way, but noone made a move to know him better.

Transfer student Naomi Sakura comes to such class and sits next to hero. Naomi has great appearance, excellent grades and is good in sports, so she's very popular with boys. She gets familiar with the hero and that makes other girls in the class think of him in romance sense. Who will he date this winter?

Dating-SIM. One month is the period. You go around school each day and meet six girls. Difficulty is low and it takes just 30 minutes to get to each girl's ending. Scenario lacks excitement and girls aren't particularly charming. Some girl sprites differ drastically from their CG. Even if you don't like any girls, there is no bad end - you get a child from a childhood friend!


10. Zenyasai 前夜祭 [Violate] VNDB

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A week before the school festival. Soichiro Kiriharais in the festival executive committee. There are five girls around the hero, each with their own troubles. Will his curiosity, kindness and persistence make them open up to him? 

ADV where we raise/lower favorability according to the answers given. If you miss even one event to raise favorability, you won't get girl's ending.


11. Zero 零式 [Alice Soft] VNDB

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In order to find their father who has gone missing, the twins Akane and Naomi participate in 'Chariot Fest', a tournament in which people try and amass the most points by destroying robots in an underground maze.

There is an English review for this game.

kivandopulus

VN of the Month November 1997 is Moon.. Despite being almost an utsuge it's a touching story about strong wills in weak children bodies and it's the first traditional visual novel as we know them.


1. Chaos Blood カオスブラッド [Ange] VNDB

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Komiya Soma is leading a casual university life, but one night he gets involved into strange case. A student girl stood naked on the rooftop, repeating meaningless words and eventually starting to pee. 

It was only the first of a series of incidents to arise in the future... 

Minor work. Ugly character design. Story is tilt to weird fetishes and the synopsis is set just to show them. There are three routes, each featuring two different girls.


2. Lofty Form ロフティーフォーム, ロフティフォーム [Aaru] VNDB

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Yakushiji Shion is the eldest son from the clan punishes bad people. But after he assassinated Empire's shadow Kurobe Akiyoushi, it is regarded as a rebellion against the Empire. He gathers the clan and moves towards the North. Every day they are attacked by pursuers. At the same time he is chased by the girl Hiramatsu Yae who fell in love with Shion. 

Wow. Just wow. A serious samurai story somewhere in Edo period... Hero is too serious so it's others that fill in the gaps with everyday life scenes gags.  Just imagine warriors talking about strange things with serious face, soft kind of humor. Hero literally has 30 lines in the beginning and hardly 100 lines by the end of the game, his presence is not felt at all. There aren't even his thoughts. Game has brilliant vivid and very beautiful CG, lots of cool enemies and gore. Characters are very likable as well. The game is not without the faults. The speechless protagonists is a questionable move. There's an influx of events by the end of the game and abrupt ending. There are a lot of women caught up in between the warring sides... well, it might be an advantage, actually. But I consider this game a masterpiece. In 1997 I only expected entertainment stories. Or maybe I just love samurai stories too much.


3. Megami no Hohoemi 女神の微笑み [Palette (old)] VNDB

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Humans are extinct, only computer "CZ 25" with a will keeps existing. He strongly wished to see his creator and other human beings, and one day the goddess of time comes before him. She decides to change the past in order to fulfill his wish.

Modern time. Takuya Saito fell ill on the day of exams and now he is a ronin. One day Takuya is inspired by old friend Hiroyuki to become a high school graduate. What fate awaits Takuya?

Multi-ending ADV. There are five girls to clear and story develops by moving around and triggering events. There are several chapters with the cutest girl in the final chapter. Story development is unnatural, same as goddess of time part looks irrelevant. There is no hint that with some ending future was going to change. Game feels incomplete.


4. Moon. [Tactics] VNDB

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The story follows a young girl named Amasawa Ikumi who follows the recent death of her mother to an organization known as FARGO. Ikumi joins FARGO and uncovers their disturbing nature of harnessing psychic abilities through torture.

Game is localized and has many English reviews.


5. Nails Nails ~Beginning of Your Heart Beat~, ネイルズ [Jam] VNDB

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People and nail people share the same continent and are in constant struggle against each other. At some point a relative peace has been settled and both populations continued to coexist in several smaller nations. 

The stage is Altair Kingdom. 

Jam Rock is a famous swordsman. One day on the way home from the swordsmen dojo, he helped a girl chased by suspicious men. She only remembered here name -  Minwi. She turned out to be a shrine maid of Theinhad Temple and her memory was sealed for some reason. Jam Rock decided to take her to the Temple of Zainhad, but he was declared as Minwi kidnapper. 

Two people passed through the security net and reached the Temple of Zainhad. However, Minnie could not remember anything. That night Minwi was kidnapped by the nail people with a probable aim to bring her as sacrifice to gods.

Jam Rock's rescue adventure is only beginning now.

Dungeon crawl RPG or maybe SIM with map travel because there are no levels or stats. Changing the destination map changes characters that will become friends. Party characters have favorability scale and it rises whenever they are praised. There are 8 girls to clear and 23 endings overall. Battle is turn-based command selection. Controls is mouse only and you need to choose action, then target, then confirm, so three mouse actions for each character in each turn. There are random encounters happening all the time. So it's actually a masterpiece level game with clunky controls and repetitive gameplay without satisfaction in seeing character growth.


6. Reversible Karte RK リバーシブルカルテ RK [Black Package] VNDB

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A young psychiatrist, Kyogoku Kazuya looks over patients at the prestigious Psychiatric Ward every day. From the day when his girlfriend was killed in front of him, strange cases of women being insulted by patients started to happen in the hospital. What causes those incidents?

ADV with favorability of heroines depending on the number of hitting their flags. The routes aren't really connected and there is no single theme - just loosely placed individual stories. It's not a dark themed game, but rather a charage in a weird setting.

kivandopulus

Finally a month with several interesting titles. Swappers is a very fine game. There are two grands Pia Carrot e Youkoso!! 2 and Sotsugyou Vacation also present. But I will be biased and give the title of VN of the Month October 1997 to a fairly unknown RPG Tales of the Nights because of the really fancy RPG/ADV system that it embodied.


1. Gekkou Kemono 月光獣 [Blue Gale] VNDB

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After the main character returned from school he was taking a nap at the bed in the room. At that time he dreamed that 

he was chasing someone familiar in a dark place. It was 8 o'clock in the evening when he woke up. The light of the pale moon was coming from the window. The hero rushed to city under the full moon. 

What fate awaits him?

Hero has excitement level of four levels. Every time he sees an ecchi scene, excitement rises by one point. Whenever he gets "four" in excitement, he becomes a "beast". He then attacks the first girl he sees or bumps into a game over. After the attack the excitement level gets back to normal. There are six endings overall. Game's akin to Classmate the way moving is done around the town. It's quite short. Needless to say it's a borderline eroge work.

 

2. Ikusa Miko -Vestal Virgin- 戦巫女 -Vestal virgin- [Alice Soft] VNDB

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You are a devil hunter. You became a hunter because your parents were killed by devils and so you went to learn how to kill those devils. To become a hunter you became a very lonely guy who wanders around looking for devils, until one day...

You came to a shrine chasing after the devil that killed your parents, but you couldn't use your "power" anymore. A miko (Chitose) suddenly appeared before your eyes. You transfered all your "power" to her and she beat that devil away. Since she saved your life, you began to teach her how to use her new "power" and let her be the one who kills the devil.

There is an English review of the game.


3. Magical Bunny まじかるバニー [Aquarium] VNDB

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Shimamura Yuji has been dating sweet Shizuka Kasai for three months now. At the end of today's date she dragged them into a game center where clerk is a "bunny". Shizuka-chan disappears and "bunny" says that Shimamura has to play a game in order to help her. And so the travel into mysterious games begins.

Er... it's actually a stripping tetris game with modified rules. 


4. Pia Carrot e Youkoso!! 2 Pia♥キャロットへようこそ!2 [Cocktail Soft] VNDB

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Yusuke (from the first Pia Carrot series) returns as the manager with a whole new cast. So the new male lead is Maeda Koji. Despite being late after an "accident," Koji manages to get the job as the Carrot's waiter because he's very persistent. Included within the set are Azusa (the female lead who hates Koji for his perversion), Ryoko (the manager who's sweet on Koji by working him very hard), Aoi (the token alcoholic), Jun (the secret-hiding waitor), and Mina (Azusa's cute little sister).

Game has two English reviews.


5. Shiken Yasumi wa Mitsu no Aji 試験休みは密の味 [Candy Lip] VNDB

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Hero attends high school for a week during the time of holidays and familiar people are much more friendly during the holidays. 

There are five girls: childhood friend, sempai, swimming club kouhai, English teacher and nurse. There are four happy endings. There's dating, then confession, then H-scene. Poor answers make you appear in friend zone automatically. The graphics is done with QuickTime and is quite slow to load and ugly.


6. Sotsugyou Vacation 卒業VACATION [MYCOM] VNDB

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The player is on a southern island called Suzunari Jima. The 15 girls from Seika Joshi high school are also on the island for summer vacation.

The game starts as the master of the hotel tells a story of a hidden treasure on this island. Since many of the girls are pretty bored on the island, they decide to go look for the treasure.

Each day, the girls break up into several groups, and go looking for clues in finding the treasure. There are ten different locations on the island, and there are three times during the day (morning, noon, afternoon) that the player/girls can go to these locations. Then during dinner, everyone talks about what happened that day and makes plans for the next day.

There is enough information in English about this game.


7. Sweepers! Swapers! [Petit] VNDB

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Takuya Hayami  is an ordinary university first grader. However, his constitution allows him to easily invite spirits to his body. His childhood friend Mizuki Fuko has been in coma for a long time because she got involved into youkai extermination incident.

Now he goes to a spa resort with his lover Miyuki Kusuhara, but he hears Fuko words and there's going to be a new ghost riot.

Love comedy work. There are five short chapters with a bit of branching to determine who you end up with. Pacing is good and there is tension in the air even at final confrontation scene. Characters are quite charming. There are five heroines total, but game is mostly about love triangle. There are some inconsistencies like some events are mentioned in the wrong routes. There are some character and uniform models from Petit previous titles. But overall it's a good story that leaves a nice impression.


8. Sweet Days スウィートデイズ [Pearl Soft] VNDB

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The hero spent summer vacation of high school third grade without doing anything. The school side persuaded him to leave the advanced course because of lack of academic ability and motivation. 

 The mother of the protagonist is shocked by that. She asked revise that decision based on the results of forthcoming exams. She hired a neighbor Shinohara Aki who attends a famous national university as tutor. 

 Aki, who secretly had feelings for the hero, willingly accepted and for three weeks before the proficiency test she will tutor the hero.

Despite what synopsis might suggest, there are six heroines overall, but only Aki's route is somewhat well developed. And the other girls routes feel bad because you have to constantly skip studies and see grumpy Aki's face. It's quite a short game hardly reaching two hours length and most of that time is occupied by routine actions.  


9. Tactical Fighter [TamTam Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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One rainy day a daughter of the director of a company visited the hero. She said that the company was hijacked, director was missing. In order to help director the hero starts to train this 15-year old girl in  order to win in S-Grand Prix fighting competition in three years time.

Just previous month there was Metadoll Ai with almost the same story. This time there is raising SIM part and 2D fighting part where you do not participate at all, just watch. It's quite fun to learn new fighter moves and see how they are implemented so gameplay is good. You don't just train, there is a full-scale SIM part together with recreation, study and even part-time job activities. Still, three years period is a very long time and game gets repetitive. There are two kinds of endings - the true one and the scholar path if you lose the grand prix.


10. Tales of the Nights ~Yumekyou no Miko~ テイルスナイツ ~夢鏡の巫女~ [Tiare] VNDB

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There are a lot of worlds and it's possible to travel between the worlds in dreams. Iphilis is world of swords and magic, a peaceful world. However, the sealed witch Lamia broke free and summoned demons. Shrine maiden Elysia summons the hero from our world and asks for help. 

RPG where hero travels to Iphilis world each night and tries to cleanse it from evil and in the daytime he goes to school. What a poor lad! Real world part is played as an ADV, but actions during this phase will affect Iphilis RPG part. Defeat the witch and have a happy end with one of the five girls, easy as that.

kivandopulus

Foreword: The culmination of the series and the biggest jewel Four-Nine ever produced. I'm late with the review since I wanted to finish recording video playthrough first.

 

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Title: Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~

Developer: Four-Nine
Date: 1997-04-18
VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8697
 Synopsis: The fourth entry in the GaoGao series is set in the same post-apocalyptic world as the two previous games. In the future, a failed biological experiment caused widespread mutations, leading to a total separation of human civilization and the mutated tribes of "animal people". The events of the game begin shortly after the end of the previous installment. Human civilization is nearly destroyed; the remaining humans live in shelters, dreaming of the "promised land" Canaan, somewhere "near the end of the world", where there is enough food for everyone and where mutants can't enter. The game has two protagonists: a human boy who has lost his parents and who swears to himself to find Canaan, and Wolf, the mutant hero of the previous game, with his colorful female companions. Eventually their paths cross - but will they able to understand each other and bring peace to the troublesome world?..


Structure: 29 parts overall varying in length from 3 minutes to 2 hours.
Length: 15 hours
Game type: Command selection adventure
Difficulty: Easy and even easier than in before. No need to bruteforce all the commands to advance, dialogues are enough to proceed usually.
Character Design rating: 10/10
Protagonist rating: 10/10
Story rating: 10/10
Game quality: 9/10
Overall rating: 10/10
Rating comments: All the shortcomings of Gao Gao 3 are eliminated here: no more command bruteforcing, optional (and less painful gameplay-wise) H-events, story is not bounded to a strict structure, but feels as a natural adventure. I can't put 10 for quality since it's PC-98 game with no voicing, but besides that just perfect.

 

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Protagonist: Same Wolfy boy (we're given official English spelling in the credits like that), but now also with a human boy Kite moving elsewhere in parallel with paths joining only by the end. Wolfy is same cool and optimistic person, but what's nice - there was a chapter of total despair even for him - that was a welcome character development to see. Kite is pretty much allusion to Gao Gao 2nd part protagonist - human boy who wishes to protect those he loves but fails to do that due to lack of power. "I want to become stronger" is his motto, but unlike part 2 here Kite actually becomes strong and at some point even assaults enemies on par with Wolfy - that was also a satisfactory character development.

 

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Characters: I've counted 25 humanoid characters in the game, aside of definite side-characters. Only four of them are males: Wolfy, Kite, Blue, Pr.Kayne. All the allies migrated from Gao Gao 3rd safely with some new ones and old acquaintances. It's enough to mention that there are as many as 12 people in our party at the time of the final battle. Just as in Gao Gao 3rd whenever you meet some new person, a long quee of questions to him follows, so every character is very well depicted as we get to know their past, their status and their wishes. This way is much better than having lots of mystery characters and getting to know them bit by bit by their actions. 

 

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Enemies: are very cool. There are more guys with advanced tech and guns, there are robots, new war modified mutants. Just as before, human enemies are possible to negotiate with.

 

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Story: Kite is a boy who lives in one of the sealed shelters and one day sneaks out from there to try to find Canaan - the best place for people to live - he read about in the books.  Wolfy party gets out of the Underground this time and walks the picturesque landscapes. At some point they find Kite's shelter, read his diary and burn up to find this land of prosperity Canaan as well. Kite saves a girl Angela from the crashed helicopter and they go seeking her "Fur", someone very close to her but unable to remember because of amnesia. Wolfy party finds the angel/bird girl Fur in a different crash place and she needs to find Angela. Soon Fur gets kidnapped and the story slowly, but surely unwinds. The biggest part of the story takes mutual alienation of mutants and humans. And only little by little, one encounter after another both species stop thinking in black and white terms.

 

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CG: There were much more CG compared to 3rd part. They are of better quality and overall make up for the rich story feeling. A lot of backgrounds are reused from 3rd part, but that seems natural as it's the same underground everywhere.

 

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HCG: I'm pretty sure there are less H-events than in 3rd part and all the female characters excluding only some enemies get their own HCG. But what I really liked is that there are only two compulsory events with Rabby in the beginning of the game and in the end of it and one compulsory event of Kite with mutant girl Mira. Mira is by the way one of the main characters this time, party of Kite consists of three persons usually: Kite, Angela, Mira. Optional H-events helped me to concentrate on the story and build up more empathy for the main characters rather than struggle through all the side-character pretty random and not important H-events.
Sound: Only couple of old bgms migrated from Gao Gao 3rd and those are generic battle ones. All of the important battles, events and just actions have new much more elaborate midi melodies, which is really nice.

 

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Themes: Most evident theme is definitely of Canaan. We tend to ask about Canaan every passer-by with both protagonist. What's Canaan? Will we be able to find it? See it for yourself, but the answer is very satisfying. Another interesting Canaan side-story is that of Prof. Kayne - but I won't spoil it here.

Another theme is that of coexistence. In Gao Gao 3rd there was not a single living human - only one human spirit Saison, but that was snobbish pc room maintenance specialist and he openly declared that mutants is the lower life form and has to be annihilated. By the start of Canaan both parties are ready to kill the other species enemies on spot and it takes a lot of effort to overcome that feeling. It starts from simple - "They can also be sad and cry" and goes all way through.

The third important theme is that of creators and creations. Are we responsible for life of those who we created? Should we treat them as luggage and just make another clone instead? This theme is covered mostly by Pr.Kayne sideline.

Another one is that of the reason of life. There are some suicides in the game and the gravest events happen because characters lose the reasons of their lives. Is it worth it to live on without the reason of life or is it possible to find another reason? Those are the questions raised.

 

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Originality: Since it's direct continuation of Gao Gao 3rd there's not much originality here. But double protagonist story lines is a fresh move which really helps with the information overdose in the beginning.

Humor: I absolutely love the humor here. The old jokes don't have a strong presence, but occasionally show up and those moments are cherishable indeed. When a party of peddlers is asked whether they know about Ningen, they first take out a carrot, then green beans and then admit that they don't have any more vegetables reminding Ningen. Hit android with the pie joke is played out pretty cool too and the whole party was shocked that android did not stop functioning after that. The inventor of new meanings is only Iria now and she is hit frequently by Rabby, Leona and Dola because of that. Wolfy thoughts and comments are stingy as ever and the spirits in the party is always high.

Overall comments: This is a very rare beast. A serious grown-up story in postapocalyptic world with the best possible humor, dozens of well-developed characters and many important themes raised. What else can one possibly want? It feels like an epic RPG story on par with Legend of Heroes - Trails in the Sky, but with zero RPG elements. There are other games with interesting stories, but this unique party atmosphere is not to be rivaled in any pure visual novels to come further.

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kivandopulus

The best Visual Novel of September 1997 is Comic Road - a shy life simulator of a starting manga artist with a lot of animation and very cute scenes.


1. Be Happy! Koi Mau Gakuen BE HAPPY ! 恋舞う学園  [Studio Jikkenshitsu] VNDB

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Shoji Toki is preparing for high school entrance exam. One of the teachers invites him to a cram school to prepare for exams.

Raising sim about study in the first part of the game. Examination is held by the series of quizzes. After you pass the exam, the second ADV part with map choice begins. Every heroine has her own ending. Difficulty is above average. Graphics is really meh and character design is not even remotely same cute as on the box. Just compare the winking girl in game with the same winking girl on the box...


2. CD Girls -Utahime-tachi no Koi Monogatari- CDgirls -歌姫達の恋物語- [C's Ware] VNDB

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A mediocre hero borrowed a CD from a friend with the title "CD Girls". The moment he pushed "play" a little girl jumped out from the CD. Time stops here with only old memories and old love wounds lingering in search of cure.

Scenario is ridiculous and ending is abrupt. Choices can be severe as one wrong answer leads to event end. Game's very short. There's an H-event for each of 3 heroines in the end of their tiny routes.


3. Comic Road  こみっくろーど  [Cocktail Soft] VNDB

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Comic Road is a "life simulation" game, starring a young girl (whom the player names themselves) who dreams of becoming a manga artist. In order to become successful, she has to do more than just draw well; it is important to develop other aspects of her personality, and also keep an eye on the finances, otherwise working too much might deteriorate her drawing skills. Social life, physical exercises, reading - everything has consequences!

Manga training sim. Might be the only of this kind. Highly animated work (3 hours total!) during a period of 3 years. While other companies keep making weird raisig sims and clone dating sims, this is a sim about life with part-time work, skills training, occasional friends gatherings and doujinshi festivals. It may still seem monotonous, but that's basically life simulation, it can't be exciting. This game was largely overlooked at the time of issue, but I think it a very important work to doujin culture, probably same as Comic Party in 1999.


4. Heart no Kakera ハートの破片 [Seal Staff] VNDB

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Masato Sakurai just entered high school. He starts to feel dissatisfaction with current life and starts club activity. What kind of girls can he meet?

Command selection ADV. One way road with only number of CG depending on choices. At first four girls scenarios are available, then three more open up. The scenarios are short and unmemorable. Girls are not voiced and that's really bad. There is not enough romance or bonding or smth, more like a nampa game.

 


5. Kuroyagi ~Otome-tachi e Sasageru Serenade~ 黒山羊 ~仔羊たちへ捧げる小夜曲~ [E.G.O.] VNDB

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Late 19th century. In a certain place in Western Europe there was a famous house called the Yagi family. Lord Earl was an excellent person as its head. 

· · · However, one day the he disappeared. An incident occurred in which all members were found dead. The crime remained unsolved. 100 years have passed since then · · · 

A certain detective tried to bring the truth about this incident up without a request from anyone and vanished without a trace. His best friend is anxious to know about his whereabouts and he steps into the mansion as well. He seems to be a very ordinary journalist, but in reality he has a "witch" as his ancestor. 

It's a minor low-price work, but very atmospheric one. It's well depicted as detective gradually approaches the truth behind the incident. He travels in time three days before the incident and can witness its circumstances with his own eyes. Standing CG ruin this atmosphere to an extent. There are five heroines to clear overall. The pacing is generally good but development becomes too fast in the second half. I've tried it game is not voiced at all. There is no opening either. Character designs are mostly ugly, but CG much nicer. I see little interest in plot, it's merely a pretext to enter a house full of girls and see some dramatic resolution only by the end of 3rd day.


6. Kyouen Etsuraku no Requiem 狂宴 悦楽のレクイエム [Vector] VNDB

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Yasuto Hirabayashi's grandfather died and left him a diary. There was written about the woman and the ring that he could not attain. How is it connected to the classmates that who decided to spend vacations in a mystery mansion?

Multi-ending (six endings) command selection adventure. How to reach each ending in hinted in the help option. There are two heroines but neither can get a happy ending. Game has poor system. Quite a well known fabula since Beast series where a group of students break into pairs and explore the abandoned mansion. Wandering around the rooms takes majority of time.


7. Metadoll Ai メタドールAI [Petit] VNDB

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2026 AD. Amagi Shiro used to be metadoll robots fighting competition champion back in middle school. Then he abandoned it after his mother and his robot disappeared in the house fire of unknown origin. Now a year later he lives with father and he's returning in the competition on his new metadoll Ai.

Game consists of first raising sim part where we aim for the champion title and then there is mystery adv where we investigate the tragic incident of the fire. Fights are very difficult, especially in the first part of the game, but losing does not seem to affect the flow and the ending. And the culprit of the incident is the evil organization and this ADV scenario is too short to matter. 


8. Mujintou Monogatari X ~Gaiden~ 無人島物語X ~外伝~ [Pinpai] VNDB

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The story behind Desert Island is that you and six other people (all girls) have been anesthetized and brought to an uninhabited island. You woke up from theanesthetic and found you and your sister is on an uninhabited island somewhere in the Pacific. You and your sister have no clue on how you two got on the island. However, you have soon found a radio inside a hut on the beach. From the radio, you are given the information that you and six other people have been transported to this island under the experiment called "J Project." The company conducting this experiment has informed you that you will have three-month to uncover the secret of J Project. From here on you will begin your exploration of the island to uncover the secret of J Project and gather up girls.

After the main trilogy Desert island story started to adapt to the market. So after R story there was an inevitable X story. But instead of just adding H-events the gameplay was razed to a simpleton level. The game has an English review.


9. Roommate ~Ryouko in Summer Vacation~ ルームメイト ~涼子イン サマーバケーション~ [Datam Polystar] VNDB

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Roommate: Ryōko in Summer Vacation is the second game in the trilogy centering around Ryouko Inoue, your roommate for the time of the story. Ryouko just came from abroad and decided to use her summer vacation to return to Japan. Arriving hot and sweaty from the airport, she rings your door bell and after taking a quick shower tells you all about her trip abroad. For the time being, she'll be staying with you and be your roommate.

There is an English review of this game.

 

10. Winter Kiss ウインターキス [UcomVNDB

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You come to winter ski resort. That's a perfect place to find a girlfriend.

There are 8 girls but selection is made on the very first day and then the story just goes automatically. There is full voice here. Besides that it's hardly noticeable. At least the system is ok. An obscure work like most of Ucom works.

kivandopulus

Kaeru nyo Panyon is decent enough to be the game of the month... or rather the others are totally appalling.

 


1. Bishoujo Hanafuda Kikou Michinoku Hisen Koimonogatari 美少女花札紀行 みちのく秘湯恋物語  [FOG] VNDB

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A romance adventure game where you go around the sightseeing spots in the Tohoku region, make photos of heroines and play cards with them. All backgrounds are live-action capture with detailed commentary on various places added. This game is regarded as the origin of travelling games.

It's all in the synopsis. Game's more like a travel guide with girls being almost tour guides.

 


2. Kaeru nyo Panyon かえるにょ・ぱにょ~ん [Alice Soft] VNDB

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A magician changes the prince of Parancho into a weird creature while he is on an errand in a distant land. Since his new form isn't very strong he has to entrust his life to a group of adventurers to get back home safely.

Game is localized and has some English reviews.


3. Mahou Shoujo Pretty Sammy ~Osorubeshi Karada Sokutei! Kakubakuhatsu 5 Byou Sen!!~ 魔法少女プリティサミー 恐るべし身体測定! 核爆発5秒前!! [Interchannel] VNDB

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Nuclear warheads were stolen. Find the culprit together with Sammy while enjoying school life!

Digital comic. The story feels like usual 60 min OVA is stretched to 120 min length. There is one place by the end when wrong selection means bad end. Game is mostly about parody and... bloomers.

 

4. Panic-chan ぱにっくちゃん [Imagineer Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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Kengo works part-time at video shop. One day when the store manager asked him to create a leaflet for recruiting new workers , a pretty girl suddenly appeared on the screen. She jumped from the screen on the floor and introduced herself as Panic-chan. Both Kengo and the store manager monotonous lives will subject to many changes from now on.

Game hardly reaches 2 hours length. Synopsis tells like 70% of the actual story. Its appeal points are cute girls, a lot of animation and a very cheap price. It's a low price fanservice work and should be treated this way.


5. Tokiiro no Matsuei 朱鷺色の末裔 [Palette (old)] VNDB

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Once upon a time the world was chaotic state. Those who had special abilities were born in chaos. Some of them helped human being, gave a guidance to people, and were revered as god. Others gave destruction and disasters, and were feared as devils. But what were born in chaos were not only god and devil, also Shinma, which had a figure of a god and a heart of a devil. And Shinma were feared as conductors of confusion. YamataNoOrochi,the king of Shinma, demanded sacrifices(maidens) from people, but was beaten by Susanoo. As a result Shinma were shut up under the ground, and lost their ability. However, Shinma is reviving now.

There is an English review for this game.

kivandopulus

So much pure love and light that I'm feeling sick already. Probably I'm really old fashioned, but I'm choosing Onii-chan e as the game of the month. It has some really crazy stuff and rural maniac atmosphere. Can't wait for the dating sims era to end.

 

1. Chikai no Essence 誓いのESSENCE [Black PackageVNDB

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Here is the president and teacher of a prestigious girl academy with over a century of history. Both his father and grandfather found their love inside these walls. What students will arrive this year? 

As you were returning from a walk...

"Nice to meet you, dear brother! I arrived one day earlier." 

My intuition tells me: "This year will be a different year." 

"We have not met for a long time, Arlise... I shall be your teacher."

Raising sim about teaching. There are 4 girls at start and two more join since the middle. Stats are raised by giving herbs. Herbs can be grown in the garden or it's possible to hire a butler later for that and pay him a salary. Game takes the title from one of the herbs name. Length is too short to see the depth in the heroines or the protagonist. Sound is also missing at times. Game has a good aura, but feels incomplete.


2. Daisuki だいすき [Gaga] VNDB

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Military school in the near future. We need to train the best pilots from these rookie girls. 

There are lots of stats, some are given from start from traits, the others are trained. There are as many as 99 certificates overall. Need to take basic sciences for the first year and then specialize. Saving is allowed only at the end of the term. There are lots of funny minigames that are used as a training means. Overall a very complicated game without much satisfaction for the torture.


3. First Step! ファーストステップ! [Bunny Pro] VNDB

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A high school with separate teaching of boys and girls with the border along a tall wall. One day and explosion occurs and it suddenly becomes a co-ed school. What kind of school life will they enjoy?

There are many heroines, each with its own ending. But the game feels empty with few events and over half of H-scenes are dedicated to peeing. Gameplay-wise it's similar to Graffiti from Petit, but with longer period and much fewer events. It has problem with scenes switch and text speed. A boring long game with poor usability.

 

4. Graffiti グラフィティ [Petit] VNDB

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Hiroki Takasugi parents were relocated and started to live with an incomprehensible sister.  He did not want want to move and his mother said he could stay at old place if he has a person he loves. Now it's time to find one and do it fast till the end of February.

Game feels like Memories Refrain and even shares some locations with it. There are three parts of the day and you need to move around the school and trigger events. There are only two months from 6 January to 22 February available for action. Graphics are somewhat obsolete already, but voice actors richness make up for it. 12 girls overall. Each girl has a mood and there are some tricky conditions to fulfill, so difficulty is above average. Well, time for triggers is generously depicted in the manual.


5. Hatsukoi Valentine  初恋ばれんたいん [Opera House] VNDB

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Love training simulation to enjoy high school life during a period of two years with childhood friends and new acquaintances, even a female teacher. Game features a unique system of leaving letters in the shoebox.

Game is memorable because you have to wait for quite a long time for a day to pass, takes about 20 seconds. Now take in mind that you need to pass two years... yeah. There are 24 date places, but reactions to those places are absolutely the same from girls. It has many other drawbacks like endless torture of stats growth as they fall down by 1 after each rest. Even letters system works in weird ways like you get short status answers and how would want that in response to a love letter? Girls are fine, but system kills gameplay completely, even with the use of guide.


6. Onii-chan e  お兄ちゃんへ [GuiltyVNDB

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Main here is an illustrator in Tokyo. One day he receives a telegram saying "Little sister is coming home." He was the eldest son, but he fled to Tokyo to escape rural life. Now he returns to the family house and many things have changed for the worse.

Mystery suspense adventure, or that what it's called by developers. Mysterious atmosphere is depicted well, but there's little of suspense here. The abandoned family members are on the verge of craziness. There is dark atmosphere everywhere and dark instincts prevail. There are multiple endings here, but the "good" ending is hardly any different from the bad endings as it does not solve any problems and hero is still being sucked into whirlpool of dark emotions. System is still command selection, probably to pump up volume. Due to such system it's really difficult to cover all endings without a guide. Only 5 save slots don't not help either. There is no fast skip function so reaching other endings is even more painful. So a pretty depressive rural story with a lot of dark motives.

 

7. Pocket Love ポケットラブ [KID] VNDB

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Hero's love interest is in the higher grade class. This year he gets in the same class with his childhood friend and she piques his interest a lot as well. He is not confident in his abilities, but this year he wants to find his love. Hopefully by Christmas ... 

This is the first dating sim for gameboy. There are stats and there is concept of money. So most of the time you raise stats and events happen if you meet the prerequisite. There are seven heroines altogether. Somehow despite just 4 gradations of color, characters are cute and mechanics are good enough enjoy this game while outdoors.


8. Shinseiki Evangelion Koutetsu no Girlfriend 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン鋼鉄のガールフレンド [Gainax] VNDB

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A shy female character, Mana Kirishima, starts at Shinji Ikari's school and immediately admits to finding him cute. Gradually, a relationship unfolds and they end up going on a date. It turns out, however, that she is one of three test pilots for the TRIDENT units, a new competitor to the Evangelions, similar to Jet Alone; thus the name Girlfriend of Steel.

Game is localized and has many English reviews.


9. Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 1: Nijiiro no Seishun ときめきメモリアルドラマシリーズ Vol.1 虹色の青春 [Konami] VNDB

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The story behind the game is about a transfer student (that would be you) who joins a soccer team. He encounters this girl who laters turns out to be the manager of the soccer team. Her name is Saki Nijino.

It seemed that everything to be going fine when all of a sudden, the coach picks the starters for the team. You got very confident in yourself that you thought he would pick you. Yet, the coach only saw you as a beginner and you were not picked to be one of the starters.

This begins your relationship with Saki Nijino and also you start to get to know her friend, the first year manager (she is a new character but i don't know how to pronounce her name). Your relationship grows and grows with Saki because you train yourself infront of your house everynight with her helping you out.

Game has English reviews.


10. Tonari no Princess Rolfee となりのプリンセスRolfee [NEC Home Electronics] VNDB

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The official mascot of the PC-FX console is now the star of her own game. Rolfee is a princess of a magical land which is threatened by demons. So Rolfee and her family - including a cute little animal called Nyai - move to Japan. Rolfee has to go to high school, and she hopes to study well and make friends. Will she have success in the school? Will she be liked by her classmates? Will she not quarrel too much with her family? It all depends on the player!

Dating sim with Rolfee stats depending on main character actions. You mostly only choose maps and some events are totally random and those events can even force some ending. At some point Dark Demon appears and command selection battle begins. There are three endings overall. Rolfee is PC FX mascot character, so no need to pretend - game is made to ship it with lots of side goodies. So Rolfee fans were happy.


11. Virtua Call 3 バーチャコール3 [FairytaleVNDB

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Yoichi Asami was about to have another cold lonely summer vacation. One day he encounters a girl by chance and receives from her a cartridge called "Virtual Call" with which one can access a two-side videophone service. What kind relationship will he find there?

Synopsis is the same as part 2. The number of girls increased, but the impression of each character became thin. In order to open closed girls, need to clear the available six girls which gets really repetitive. Some characters were unable to clear which felt bad. It's quite a worthy franchise continuation still.


12. Wakusei Kougekitai Little Cats 惑星攻機隊りとるキャッツ [Family Soft] VNDB

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The galaxy is threatened by robotic enemies from a remote space. In order to stop them, giant combat robots were deployed to a space station under the command of Colonel Goofy Reagan. The combat robots are navigated by the best pilots, which happen to be cute teenage girls. Since the Colonel is very busy, he needs somebody to watch over the girls and train them. This somebody would be Major David Lowe, the protagonist of the game...

A raising sim, basically. You rise stats and then can fight in open space. Lots of minigames are used for training. So, another weird SIM mix with quite strange space fight mechanics.


13. Yakusoku やくそく [May-Be Soft] VNDB

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Sayama Yuichi is a college student who is being followed by mifortune. He lost parents in an accident and lost memory. However, his life changes completely with the appearance of girls of several girls in his life. Time has come to fulfill the old "promise"  given before memory loss. But what was that promise? 

It's an ADV with location choice. As a story it has very little to offer with one way road scenario and no satisfactory answers gained. Ending depends on your actions. Text, characters, story - everything is done loosely. So with the amount of H-scenes in the game, it's definitely an eroge, camouflaged for a story game. Well, at least old-school type released to PC-98 simultaneously, not another pure love moe stuff.


14. Yuukyuu Gensoukyoku 悠久幻想曲 [MediaWorksVNDB

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Enfield, a country revived 50 years after a tragic war. Our protagonist works in a general shop owned by a widow called Arisa, who helped him when he was lost. After Arisa has to pay a great fee to free the hero from prison for a crime he didn't commit, our hero will have two problems to solve: how will he pay back Arisa? And who's the real criminal? Maybe he'll find the answers by becoming part of the town...

So the hero has ten friends and in the beginning of each week you set three of them to work at some place. In order to raise favorability rating on friends talking is used. Heroine specific ending is achieved by choosing the right answer in four themed events. Game is different from most of galge because you aim for friendship, not for romance. On weekends there are different activities as well and you can train magical and physical skills. There is also some battle element included since you can participate in very easy Colosseum matches, but it's optional, just to earn money. So it's a very strange mix of RPG and dating sims. I can not understand the meaning of this game series. Why set an epic fantasy setting and strip it off all the adventures, epicness while filling it with routine and nothing but encouraging friendly talks. 

kivandopulus

Zoku Hatsukoi Monogatari ~Shuugaku Ryokou~ is the only favorite here for the VN of the Month June 1997.

 

 

1. Card  カード [Ange] VNDB

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Hero has a tarot fortune-telling business with another girl Yusa Hikaru as his partner and one day he gets in a road crash on his bike. He regains consciousness in a hospital room and his nurse is a junior high school student Saki Koizumi. 

How will he develop this triangular relationship?

Command expression pure love story. There are no bad endings. Overall there are nine girls present. 

 

2. May Club 2 五月倶楽部2 [Desire] VNDB

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Keisuke May is the son of May club president. His father requested that Keisuke found a lifetime companion at the May club as an advertisement for business. However, if Keisuke does not appear at class for long, he is going to be expelled from school. Now he has to balance study and companion search.

This time dating is not limited to virtual reality, but also happens in real world. 45 days is given. Movement is done with huge latency. Sound breaks often and text balance is distorted so that text almost jumps out of the box.


3. Zoku Hatsukoi Monogatari ~Shuugaku Ryokou~  続初恋物語~修学旅行~ [Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co.] VNDB

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Zoku Hatsukoi Monogatari: Shūgaku Ryokō is a mixture of adventure and "love simulation" - more specifically, first love. The player takes the role of a male student and can choose any time period between ground school to college. Every time period has four different girls that the hero can fall in love with. The player must choose one of those girls as the main love object. The setting is the same in every time period: the class goes on vacation to different places in Japan. Most of the game consists of traveling from place to place, trying to be at the right place the right time and make the right decision. The player must assemble a schedule for each location. It is possible to manage the player character's finances, as well as buy items that can be given to the girls.

There are four school periods with three heroines in each there's also one childhood friend Yuuka true heroine route that opens up after clearing all four school periods four routes. Incorporated elements of raising sim provide quite some routine that needs to be overcome if willing to get to the end. Evaluation can vary from kusoge to masterpiece depending on ability to endure this routine. Good luck experiencing pure first love for five times in a row!

kivandopulus

Out of this selection To Heart it is - the VN of the Month May 1997

 


1. Akazu no Ma あかずの間 [Visit] VNDB

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The story (written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi) is a futuristic one, taking place in a near future where the player's character arrives a a building tower in a helicopter and as soon as he arrives there strange things start to happening (he listen to girl screams, strange noises, etc.). 

Another sound novel without a single person and about just wondering around the building. As usual, more about senses than a story.


2. Hi School Jam Hiすく~るJam [Jam] VNDB

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You start off as a second year student of the school and you are on the student's council as well. Your goal is to be elected as the next student council's president at game end when the seniors graduate.

There is a good English review for this game.


3. Kidou Senkan Nadesico ~Yappari Saigo wa "Ai ga Katsu" ?~ 機動戦艦ナデシコ ~やっぱり最後は「愛が勝つ」?~ [Sega] VNDB

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It is a dating sim with players taking the role of Akito Tenkawa and attempting to build relationships with the female crew members, although there are a few mecha elements included.

One more anime offspring. The crew counts 10 members. There are 8 chapters each containing an adventure part with target character emotional scenes and the battle part where you repetitively push one button for the win. What's interesting - if you distract attention in favor of some different girl, the target girl's favorability drops. Anyway, mediocre Saturn exclusive for anime fans.


4. Photo Genic フォトジェニック [Zero System] VNDB

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In Photo Genic the player controls a young boy that got a job as a photographer. The main goal of the game is to improve the boy stats and photograph skills to make him win the heart of one of the girls of the town.

During the game the player makes decisions about what his character will do each week (gymnastics, study, take another job, etc) to improve his stats. He also can walk around the town to talk to the people and the girls, the more in touch that he is with them the more possibilities to take a better photograph and date them. After taking the photographs the player can view them in the photo gallery.

There are three girls of interest. This work is interesting because it has SIM part as photographer and ADV part of wandering around the town and event scenes. Graphics of this game is really impressive with a lot of bright CG. Cute, but nothing else.


5. Ryuuteki Gosennen ~Dragons of China~ 龍的五千年 ~Dragons of China~ [Imagineer Co., Ltd.] VNDB

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China, 2099 AD. During the construction of a new Olympics stadium, the ruin were found at the basement. The construction machinery damaged the sealed pot and a black dragon appeared from it with a thunder and flew away. He appeared in Tokyo and destroyed it to the ground and the next day the world was hit by multiple natural disasters bringing the humanity to the brink of extinction. At the global academic conference of ancient ruins it was decided to acquire the power of a good dragon in order to deal with the evil dragon. You are Ken, the participant of that conference and you hurry to find the good dragon of China.

Command selection adventure with occasional battles during movement. It's not a serious ADV game, more like and entertainment game for pupils to have fun with battles. Game also features very unusual character design.


6. Shuukan From H 週刊フロムH [JAST] VNDB

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Atsushi, the son of a very rich man, returns from abroad to his hometown. After getting some quarrel, his father cancelled giving him money and now Atsushi has to find any temporary work around the whole city. You as Atsushi try various jobs – from stadium to the hospital or the news agency. There are also plenty of pretty girls around the city and you make attempts to get them known better and maybe even eventually date with one of them.

ADV with location choice on the map. Each week you try a new job and there's a new girl at each job. It's a light work with a comedy touch.


7. To Heart [Leaf] VNDB

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In this game, you play as Fujita Hiroyuki, a high-school student who seems to have more interest in romance than in his studies. In his school there are several pretty girls, and his goal is to be nice to one of them, to make the right decisions when talking to her, and ultimately to win her heart.

There are two English reviews of this game.

kivandopulus

Foreword: I've noted the series quite long ago, but only when approached 4th final work decided to play the prequel that's directly connected with 4th part. Review of Canaan is coming a bit later.

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Title: Gao Gao! 3rd ~Wild Force~

Developer: Four-Nine
Date: 1994-10-29
VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8696


 Synopsis: Wild Force is set in the same post-apocalyptic world as the previous entry in the GaoGao series. A virus turned most of the Earth's population into mutants, and human beings continued living in artificial cities, separated from the rest of the world. This time, the story is seen from the point of view of the mutants themselves (the previous GaoGao games had human protagonists). These look more like fairy tale creatures (half-cats, winged people, etc.), and continue living on the wild, dangerous Earth, keeping close to their respective animal tribes. The protagonist of the game is a young boy named Wolf, who belongs - you've guessed it - to the wolf tribe. One day, exploring the wilderness, he stumbles upon a strange cave with lurking monsters. Together with a girl from the rabbit tribe and other fantasy creatures, Wolf discovers an advanced civilization, learn of the existence of human beings, and eventually becomes a hero who saves the new world from a grave danger.


Structure: One route with 8 chapters.
Length: 15 hours
Game type: Command selection adventure
Difficulty: Easy. Scene advances after brute-forcing all the commands in all available locations.
Character Design rating: 8/10
Protagonist rating: 9/10
Story rating: 9/10
Game quality: 9/10
Overall rating: 9/10


Rating comments: I'd give it a perfect score, personally. But what keeps me from it is painful command selection brute forcing. Game is really long itself and did not need such extra longevity layer. Another minus is interactive H-scenes that can't be skipped and that take really much time with that painful scrolling up and down. Characters are cute and memorable, but in H-events they often have distorted faces, that's a bit unpleasant. Oh well, and since the game is for pc-98 only, it has only midi for sound. Otherwise, a perfect game with a perfect story.

 

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Protagonist: Wolf boy Urfy. He admits that he's given the name just after his tribe name, so if English version existed, he'd probably be called Wolfy instead. He has face. He is rational, skillful in sword art, supportive, tries to cheer up companions even in difficult situations. And he tolerated that Rabby tsundere bunny girl (she's named Rabby after the rabbit tribe...) the whole game absorbing all her hysteria. He never imposed himself with women (with one small exception during interrogation). He's the perfect guy. He is really unusual and he leads the story without being pushed by circumstances.

 

Characters: There are really many characters in this game, so let's just present our most frequently met party members and enemies. First enemies.

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Enemies are rather cool. You would not believe it, but there was just one enemy that was bitter alienated and the others had their own reasons and could be debated with words, not swords.

 

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Allies are even more developed, of course. First we have baka twins Leona and Dora. They move usually as a separate unit and we constantly stumble upon them wherever we go.

In the right upper corner is our acquaintance throughout the whole game - Rabby. She is total tsundere, blushing and shouting all the time. She is also a spiritual medium and she's the first to hear sounds or perceive traps. She's not of battle sort and on this CG she only fights because she has spirit of Ilia controlling her. 

Ilia is the warrior in the right lower corner. We first find her spirit that occupies Rabby body, but then occasionally get her old body. She's strong-willed, but reasonable. She's also breaking everything she touches.

In the left lower corner is Nise. She's a gluttony-obsessed coward who can not even fly. We find her in the second chapter and she has little utility serving as a cute girls who's often crying and is afraid of everything. But she finds her use in one of the last chapters.


Story: I'll give chapter titles with brief description of contents:

1) - Underground - Urfi stumbles upon Raby in a dangerous forest where people disappear and together they fall through the ground.

2) - Legend - The chapter takes takes place outside on the way to the capital city. In this chapter we save Nise as the only survivor of beast assault on the road. Then beasts attack and we fall underground and occasionally find Ilia spirit that embodies Raby. 

3) - Resurrection - Capital city inhabitants takes us for saviors from legend and send us on a mission to recover the body of Ilia. After some adventures we succeed in that.

4) - Trap - Ilia is resurrected and we go to the village that was assaulted by the beasts. On the way back from it we get to the trap of one of the enemies. Next Ilia gets deadly wound by mysterious enemy.

5) - Ephemora - In order to save Ilia, Urfi with baka twins go to the witch Ephemora for ambrosia and after some adventures get it.

6) - Key - Time to get on a mission to save the world. The key to all mysteries lies under the temple where Ilia body was found. And underneath it is a high technology human ghost city where the answers to all the questions are found during next two chapters.

7) - Dark eater - no spoilers

8) - Blue - no spoilers


CG: Game was quite greedy for non-HCG throughout the game but under the credits roll it presented so many cool new CG that I'm ready to forget about that. I found great pleasure in graphics and non-HCG in this game. The game has its cruel and even guro parts with the whole villages massacred, heads thrown away from the bodies etc and I liked those a lot.

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HCG: I've counted it and there are 19 H-events in the game. That's it! 19! And all of them are interactive that you need to constantly choose different commands. So each such event usually takes several minutes of your time. And I'd say that 60% of HCG weren't pleasant due to distorted face features. Girls in this game are very proactive. They sneak into Urfi's room the same day they get acquainted. I was so happy to note that there were as many as three girl characters who never took interest in Urfi... but by the last chapter there was only one minor girl character left without H-event and that was a boarding house host girl without a sprite who had a husband she run business together. All the other female characters sooner or later had H-event. There were two more girls free from his charms, but one was a zombie-android creature and another one was heavily wounded on meeting her and died withing two minutes. So I wish there were much fewer H-events.


Sound: There was only midi bgm. Quite nice bgm to not annoy during 15 hours.


Themes: This work is a concluding one for all the series (since there was no 4th part in plans in 1994). It has big involving story and gives all the answers to all the questions of this part and previous ones. What happened to the humanity? Who are mutants? Who are demon children? Who are Dark eaters? Who are Light Eaters? Everything is explained in last two chapters, so it's a very satisfying work designed to be a grand finale

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Originality: This work is the origin of a new game genre - heartwarming party adventure. It is basically an epic party RPG that was stripped of absolutely all RPG elements and given command selection instead. There are a lot of battles in the game, definitely more than H-events, so over 20. And each battle is played individually, not through fixed commands. Commands vary for each battle and you can't move on till you brute-forced the needed commands. That makes realistic involving battles where most of the time you talk with your party members and the enemy and read in text as you advance or try to defend or invent some cunning strategy or even flee from battle. And this adventure is heartwarming because a lot of time is spend walking or attending city buildings where you mostly chat with your party members. That allows to develop really deep personalities and get to know everything of each other. Add here a very good text - it's very easy to read, it's involving and it has a lot of funny face animations and emotions.


Humor: Apart of jokingly inter-character interactions there are actually a lot of very funny humor moments that are events-based or repeats-based. Here's an example of an event joke: the party flees from an overpowered opponent and uses consequently all the secret items acquited from the city - first makibishi spikes but enemy only jumps over them (one of party members actually gets into them which adds the fun), then a smoke bomb, but it does not help much. Then we search the bags and throw a pie into an enemy and enemy leaves us alone for the rest of the day!

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I adored the repeats-based humor moments as well. It's mutants world and when we first here word "ningen" (humans) party members give their variants. The coolest one was from Ilia that she ate it in salad - it's the red vegetable from the garden, a carrot (ninjin)! Then at the human secret facility we find a pc with an interactive chat program. The girl there calls herself Crazy-chan and to most questions answers "Don't know". To the question what is "ningen" she answers... a red vegetable from the garden! Ilia joyfully jumps up shouting I told you, I told you! Then Crazy-chan adds "That's a lie, actually" -Arr you little!!!

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The story with repeats goes long much further. At one moment the party starts to guess meanings even of known words they stumbled upon in secret human facility. Security door asked a number and the party is already discussing. It said Nampa! How shall we get it with the door?! No, it said Member!

At one of the rooms we find the box of this developer's another game - Waku Waku Mahjong Panic! - we read the whole advertisement on the back of the box and get to discuss what Mahjong is. One of the variants is that it's the benefit that you gain after load is returned to you (margin). There are also cereals called Gao-Gao with a girl on it. I really liked these real world references without breaking the 4th wall completely.

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Overall comments: I liked this game a lot. It has everything a masterpiece game should have - thrilling big volume story, great cute characters including enemies, absolutely fabulous text, humor just to my taste and the unexpected and most welcome shift from fantasy to post-apocalyptic sci-fi like early Might and Magic and Wizardry series. The important note about this game that its pc-98 rom is very easy to find and it runs with any anex86 emulator version. This emulator does not require to tune it in any way and game text is easily acquired by default ITH hook. Google translate with Translation Aggregator gives a very good translation after its upgrade in the end of 2016. So no need to be afraid of scary PC-98 emulation. Good stories know no aging and should not be forgotten.

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kivandopulus

Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~ is the ultimate winner as VN of the Month April 1997. There are eight more months ahead, but so far Canaan is the major favorite for the VN of the Year which would be devastating to have a pc-98 game as a winner in almost fully Windows year.

 

1. Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~ カナン ~約束の地~ [Four-Nine] VNDB

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The fourth entry in the GaoGao series is set in the same post-apocalyptic world as the two previous games. In the future, a failed biological experiment caused widespread mutations, leading to a total separation of human civilization and the mutated tribes of "animal people". The events of the game begin shortly after the end of the previous installment. Human civilization is nearly destroyed; the remaining humans live in shelters, dreaming of the "promised land" Canaan, somewhere "near the end of the world", where there is enough food for everyone and where mutants can't enter. The game has two protagonists: a human boy who has lost his parents and who swears to himself to find Canaan, and Wolf, the mutant hero of the previous game, with his colorful female companions. Eventually their paths cross - but will they able to understand each other and bring peace to the troublesome world?..

Final work in the series, final game of Four-nine, one of the final great masterpieces of pc-98 era. First three games were released the same year, but to get to this fourth work three years were needed. Third work was a real masterpiece and it's most remembered for creating a new genre - party-based heartwarming cooperation interaction. This work is also party-based and this alone thrills me enormously. The number of party members can exceed 10 people and they are enormously charismatic fellas. Story is one-way road, but thanks to multiple protagonists and multisite perspective it's rather an advantage. I'd stop here since I'm doing a full review anyway.


2. Dark Hunter: (Ge) Youma no Mori ダークハンター -㊦ 妖魔の森 [Koei] VNDB

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It is a direct sequel to "Dark Hunter: (Jou) Ijigen Gakuen" and thus the story picks up immediately after the events of the first game. Finally, the reasons why Mariko has been left untouched by the invaders are revealed, and Ran's and Cher's fight to stop the invasion is drawing to its conclusion.

Game has an English review and quite much information in English.


3. Dark Hunter: (Jou) Ijigen Gakuen ダークハンター -㊤ 異次元学園- [Koei] VNDB

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Dark Hunter is the second entry of Shibusawa Kou's "English Dream" series, following the three-part 'Emit'.

Jigen Academy is a secluded school, where the students with psychological scars come to heal and find their purpose in life. Mariko experiences a chain of vivid hallucinations after her father's remarriage and her new mother sends her away to attend Jigen Academy. There she meets two transfer students: a stoic young man Ran, whose being is consumed by a need for revenge, and a foreign woman with reckless driving skills. Mariko's encounter with them sets her on a path to unearth the mysteries within the Academy.

Game has several Englishs review and quite much information in English.


4. Hare nochi Tokidoki Munasawagi 晴れのちときどき胸さわぎ [Cocktail SoftVNDB

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The main plot in the Hare games focuses on the love triangle between the player (the ultimate pervert), a "violent" girl, and a witch girl, both being classmates of the player.In this particular game, the whole gang goes out for a vacation, and many strange things happen around them. The player, due to his "perverted" nature, is the biggest suspect among the gang. To regain his dignity, the player has to find out the mastermind behind these events.

There is an English review from someone who does not understand japanese... but in this game it's hardly needed. A comedy adventure bakage without romance, but with lots of pickup and slapping in reply. The ultimately stupid protagonist does not let this game to advance in any field.


5. Ikenai Katsumi Sensei ~Kanja-san Oita wa Dame Yon~ いけないかつみ先生 ~患者さんおいたはだめよん~ [Alice Soft] VNDB

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Katsumi-sensei from D.P.S. series is back! Her goal to seduce patients remains intact, but now with a lot of bizarre events happening to her!

A bakage to the bones... it has all of it. Aliens, superagents, gangsters and lots of lesbian H-scenes. It should probably have been blocked as an eroge, but it's too crazy to even enjoy H-scenes. 


6. Kyouken Densetsu Crazy Knuckle 狂拳伝説クレイジーナックル [ZyX] VNDB

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Story is about a martial artist called Zado who wants to the be the world's most powerful martial artist. To do that, he is collecting little fragments that will lead to the secret of the ultimate martial arts skill. In order to learn the skill, he has to defeat the people who holds these individual fragment. However, Zado's most-trusted henchmen took all the fragments and learn the ultimate skill himself and defeats Zado. To regain his dignity, Zado has to defeat his henchman in the battle ring.

There is an English review that describes very well what this game is about. I'd also add that H-scenes are of pretty dark nature.


7. Mujintou Monogatari R 無人島物語R [KSS Inc.] VNDB

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Two years have passed since the events of Mujintou Monogatari. New survival unfolds on the same island.

R in the title stands for R-age rating, or 15+.

From ultimately complex part 3 the series goes back to the roots and suggests a much simplified gameplay and emphasis on heroines and ADV element. And it fails to deliver a good love story and makes hardcore RPG fans angry.


8. Sparkling Feather スパークリングフェザー [HuneX] VNDB

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Long time ago, there was a happy country called the Eternal Feather Kingdom. Protected by benevolent deities, it flourished until a disaster came: a demon destroyed the kingdom, and it disappeared off the face of the earth. But a few chosen ones, called "Feathers", continued to keep sacred gemstones, which allowed them to use unique powers in the fight against the demonic army. Each Feather protects a gem, and the protector of the Ruby gem is the protagonist of the game - an ordinary high school boy from our modern world who at first wants nothing to do with ancient prophecies and heroic deeds. But as he receives new power from the leader of the Feathers, he understands that his destiny is to fight evil, and perhaps restore Eternal Feather to its former glory.

There's a good English review of this game.


9. Tantei Tomamechi Kensuke Futsuu wa Kou Da ze! 探偵・苫米地研介 普通はこうだぜ! [Altacia] VNDB

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A woman strangled to death was found in the apartment where Tomamechi Kensuke lives. The detective is asked by the manager to launch an investigation.

Tomamechi Kensuke is a side-character detective of the series who looses consciousness when sees blood. Choosing a wrong action leads to many bad endings. Not a long game.


10. Tenshi no Hitomi ~Sapphire Eye~  天使の眸 ~Sapphire Eye~ [Accept] VNDB

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Kagami is high school second year student. He is not popular at all. Once a strange phenomenon occurs to his left eye as when he watches with it on some girl, the girl becomes lustful. It happens to be a technology from the future.

What a messy setting. Multiple ending game with an ending for each heroine. Clearing one route to the end takes about 40 minutes. And as follows from the setting, there are spontaneous H-scenes. This is the only work by this company - Accept.


11. Uki Uki Island うきうきアイランド [Fairy DustVNDB

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A group of high school students (3 boys and 3 girls) decide to go on a lost island, called Daikokujima ("big black island") as a club event of the "Exploration Club". One of the islanders disappears and the new goal of the club is to get his whereabouts.

Well it's still mostly the game about the girls whose number is about 10. Game is quite difficult to clear, mostly because of lack of save slots and saving system that takes you to the beginning of the event.


12. Zest to Fantasy [Aaru] VNDB

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The story behind Zest is that you, Zefaa, woke up at a desert after you have been knocked unconscious. You realized that you have lost all of your memory except you first name. Since there are no one around the desert, you decide to find a place to rest and begin the search of your own identity. From here on, you will choose one of the four paths and begin your quest for your past.

A spiritual successor to アッシュ game that I blocked for too many stories to follow (around 40). Here there are actually as many as seven big stories that depend on early choices, so there's bigger emphasis on story here than just lots of random stories. And each route concentrates on one girl with protagonist remaining the same, so it might even be called a galge. Totally different routes unlike most of games, but those routes are somewhat short, about 30 minutes each. I'm not big fan of short stories, as you might have guessed by now.

kivandopulus

None of the games stands out too much. Ruriiro no Yuki is the most interesting title from this selection for the VN of the Month March 1997 and it's just interesting to watch the development of Ail company that started as doujin circle, issued first work as adventure novel, then several hardcore H works and then tried to play with romance at Ruriiro no Yuki.

 

 

1. Doki Doki Pretty League ドキドキプリティリーグ  [Xing Entertainment] VNDB

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

Basebal team manager game, but of course with everyday activities as well which include team room conversations as well as events such as Valentine's Day, summer festival, culture festival and so on. Multiple endings are promissed. There are many installments of this series, mostly for playstation.

 

2. Melody ~Koi no Messenger Girl~ Melody ~恋のメッセンジャーガール~ [Melody] VNDB

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One evening girl "Melody" came in a dream of a hero. She said that there is a girl who thinks only about him all the time and in order to show her heart Melody will develop mysterious world in reality and in his dreams. Will her feelings be able to reach his heart?

It's an ADV with parameters of LIFE, VIT, INT, LUCK. Those parameters rise or fall according to dialogue choices and those parameters serve as qualifiers for each girl branch. The story goes like this: 1. Dream-1 which is basically a prologue 2. Reality-1 is searching for a heroine 3. Dream-2 depicts the past of the heroine 4. The relations. Characters for capture are rich in variety - there are six of them. Capture is difficult because of the stats requirements. Each girl branch is unique story so it can be enjoyed nicely. Light game that managed to grasp the individuality of each girl character.


3. Ojou-sama o Nerae!! お嬢様を狙え!! [Scoop] VNDB

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Adult dating game featuring both teenagers and a couple of older maidens. The interface follows the standard Tokimeki format with a conversation portion where you engage the target of your interaction in conversation and action. The rest of the screen is taken over by the animated persona of a girl. Her facial expressions and attitude towards you will change depending on your level of social skills.

15th rank game by sales in the first half of 1997, that means something! Actually, that only means that it had sound and H-scenes and that was still new with few Windows games released. Contents-wise it's a transformation period work, not nampage already, but without character depth or good story. 


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

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You play as a college student who happens to live right by the campus. It's summer and you're going to America for Christmas, but you'd love to get a woman before then.Your three buddies Kousuke the jock, Tetsuya the DJ, Taizo the nerd and you vow to find a girlfriend before Christmas time. You already know some girls, so it shouldn't be a problem. But you have been having weird dreams of some mystery girl and when a walk in the park leads you to find a girl that looks suspiciously like the one of your dreams, you find that maybe you do have chance with the ladies. But, let's face it. You have to juggle part time jobs, romance, and seeing your dude friends. Welcome to Refrain Love. 

Part one is where we choose among the girls, part two is the dating part with ending showing 3 years later moments. There are seven girls to choose from. There is adventure part and SIM part where we earn money at part-time jobs and spend them on dates and presents. Quite light moe dating sim.


5. Ruriiro no Yuki 瑠璃色の雪 ~るりいろのゆき~  [Ail] VNDB

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The protagonist of the game is a high school student who has lost his parents in a car accident. Living with foster parents was difficult, and he decided to rent the room in the house that once belonged to his real parents, feeling that their spirits will become closer to him that way. However, shortly thereafter the boy started seeing strange dreams. Upon his arrival he discovered a jar in a hole underneath the floor in his room, and that jar miraculously produced a young woman named Ruri (which means "lapis lazuli"), who becomes a part of his life in a way he would never expect.

Command selection that embraces the the formula of time. Well, it may rather be called an ADV since there are varying choices and at time there is just one choice. Genre is love comedy and there are lots of girls to capture. There are two endings for each girl. Game platforms of pc-98 and sega saturn weren't too popular already and Ail rereleased the game for windows only in 2000 when there was much bigger rivalry between titles.

kivandopulus

There's nothing to choose VN of the Month from, honestly. I guess Roommate ~Inoue Ryouko~ suits the best for it this month since the game is at least integral and not falling apart like Ekudorado and Tasogare no Kyoukai. Yaku Tsuu is too short to even qualify and too ugly to really recommend it. Can't say much about famicom detective series.


1. BS Tantei Club ~Yuki ni Kieta Kako~  BS探偵倶楽部 ~雪に消えた過去~ [Nintendo R&D1VNDB

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Ayumi Tachibana returns to her parents home in Ochitani village over vacation to visit her mother, Toshie, who is recovering from illness. She meets with her mother and her old friend Reiko for the first time in years, hoping to ease her fatigue by relaxing at her childhood home. However, Gozo Kusano, the former mayor of Ochitani village, is found dead the next morning in a secluded area outside his house. Toshie was the discoverer of the dead body, and she is apprehended by the police as a suspect because her footprints were the only ones found in the snow near the crime scene. While waiting for her mother to return from the police station, Ayumi learns of a long-lasting feud existing between the Tachibana family and Kusano family. An ochimusha legend passed on in the village, an investigation from 18 years ago, and this new murder all tie into a set of serial killings which Ayumi must solve before it is too late.

It's a part of long-standing famicom detective series that includes 11 parts overall. I did not take much interest in its prequels and skipping now as well. There is some information in English for those who care.

 

2. Ekudorado ~Kagami no Naka no Oukoku~ エクドラード ~鏡の中の王国~ [Black PackageVNDB

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A young high-school student named Seirou has a normal, boring life: days resemble each other, and so do the nights: every night he sees the same strange dream: two girls talking to each other, one of them saying something about a coming darkness... One day, he and his female classmates find a mirror in an abandoned house; when they touch the mirror, they are transported into the magical medieval land of Ekudorado. The hero must first find his classmates, who are scattered around this world, and then find a way to return to our reality...

RPG and card battles mix. Story is one-way road and there aren't grinding opportunities, but if you lose, you're transported to the closest town and can gain some more exp on the way. Cards balance is not the best and some elements are just better. There's no real connection between the battles and H-scenes. There's very little justification for inventing the whole parallel world rather than just start in it. There's no story behind using cards. Game feels like its elements are gathered randomly and it does not encourage to explore its world.


3. Roommate ~Inoue Ryouko~ ROOMMATE~井上涼子~ [Fupac Co., Ltd.VNDB

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Ryoko is seventeen, her family has moved from Tokyo to New York, and she is staying behind to finish school. Her father (a friend of your father's) has asked that she move in with you in your apartment (where you have a spare room) so she can complete her studies. But Ryoko misses her family and is emotionally vulnerable - so it's time to for you to do some moving in of your own.

In Roommate Ryoko you have three years to develop a relationship with her. Using a truly innovative real-time feature, the Saturn's internal clock affects how the game plays out. 

There are two English reviews of this game.

 

4. Tasogare no Kyoukai 黄昏の境界 [TiareVNDB

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This is a horror-adventure about a high school student who is a treasure hunter. You'll need to explore some horrifying dungeons to investigate a mysterious sequence of murders.

Hero lands hands on one of five manuscripts stolen from mysterious village shrine. When all five are gathered, it's rumored to be possible to summon a demon. This is ... an exploration game, sort of. You see the dungeons from first person view like in old rpgs and have to watch your lamp and draw maps to get through the maze. Events are generated on moving through the map. There are ghosts encountered on the way but they are mere obstacles - if you fight them you die. Game deliberately tries to confuse leaving lots of things hanging in the air. For example, the meaning of the title is not clear at all or the conclusion that this demon is involved with the murder. There's a lot of torture in map drawing and getting through the maze. Probably the best part of it is that we get an ending with one of three female characters once we deal with the demon. 


5. Yaku Tsuu ~Noroi no Game~ 厄痛 ~呪いのゲーム~ [Idea Factory Co., Ltd.VNDB

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A game company has released a title only for it to be received coldly by the press. The company's president disappears soon after, and mysterious deaths begin to occur. 

For all those very small number of people who liked the prequel - here's the awaited (?) sequel. At least they have the guts to joke about the curse of the game company after releasing a bad game. Graphics are so weird and scary that this game received one of the worst ratings everywhere - probably from people who never played it. Game is quite short, hardly reaching two hours. You start just as before, in the group of five. It's also a sound novel, but the story is much more impressive than in the prequel and it tackles some deep themes. 

kivandopulus

Slow year beginning, as usual. VN of the Month is definitely Ryouki no Ori Dai 2 Shou - an exquisite and tasteful experience.

 

1. Rookies ルーキーズ [Umitsuki] VNDB

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Tsuyushi Kusabe describes himself as a detective. But he never got a request to helps so he's been working on part-time jobs. On his 30th birthday he got a request to investigate narcotics circulation in an all-girls school. His girlfriend makes him promise that this is going to be the last case if he fails.

One of the last masterpieces of pc-98 era. Game has many cute girls and it's fun interacting with them, but this is hardly a gal game. The game is mostly about the 30-year looser protagonist and his rivalry with another similar looser who also got a request. The game has lots of animation and feels like a movie. It's not a coincidence that this company later spawned Jellyfish that's famous for fully animated works. The game has a catch phrase "dreams pave the way to the future" which belongs to hero's girlfriend at the time when she allows this immature looser to follow this investigation - that feels very supportive and nice. Happy ending is difficult to reach even though story is a one-way road. Even though the game feels like minor and has poor production values, it's one of the most memorable works of pc-98 era.


2. Ryouki no Ori Dai 2 Shou 猟奇の檻 第2章 [Studio Polaris] VNDB

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A mysterious game that centered in a theme park. An accident happened three years ago has caused the theme park to be shut down (But is it truly an accident or a murder? You will find out as you go deeper into the game). Now the theme park reopens, and you are hired by Amano Miyukias (Fantagen's director) as one of the security guy that patrols around the park. Before you start working, you will be introduced to the theme park. There are six major areas around the park and one central area. In every area, there will be one girl that is in charge of the area. After the brief introduction, you will be able to meet all these girls around the park. Next day, you came into the park and patrols around the park. Everything just seemed to be fine, but you realized there are something wrong. You realized these girls are trying to hide something from you. You began to search what is going on in this mysterious theme park.

There are two English reviews for this game. 

 

3. Shinsetsu Kamiya Ukyou ~Zouge no Tou~ 真説 神谷右京 ~象牙の塔~ [Altacia] VNDB

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In 1985 fund regulation law was enforced and there are many companies that fall under its jurisdiction. You need to gain consent from one of such funds.

Yet another work in the series and there's nothing new to say, actualy. Work based on a true case and has lots of lawyer terminology in it. There's little drama in here - just professionalism in handling a case. This is an alternative version of part 2 of the series. The author stopped writing leaving series discontinued so these alternative versions appeared.

kivandopulus

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The best year so far, actually. I really hope that I'll be able to say the same about every forthcoming year. 84 works during the year amounts for an average of 7 works each month - a very saturated year.

 

 

Let's prolong the chart.

VN per year

Year

Total

Listed

Blocked

1991

75

40 (53%)

35 (47%)

1992

80

49 (61%)

31 (39%)

1993

121

46 (38%)

75 (62%)

1994

155

61 (39%)

94 (61%)

1995

180

58 (32%)

122 (68%)

1996

183

83 (45%)

100 (55%)

There's roughly the same number of visual novels in 1996 as in 1995, but just look at the split. There's almost 50% increase in the listed games compared to the 1995, such numbers have not been met since the heavily censured 1991 and 1992 years. The answer is probably romance games. They are everywhere this year, especially in the second half of it where Windows games preside. First half of 1996 is quite traditional mixed pc-98 representation familiar by previous years.

Let's see what year 1996 brought:

  • Windows 95 brought 256 colors - something that pc-98 could never rival. Games not ported to Windows, but made specially for Windows like Dousoukai ~Yesterday Once More~ showed it clearly that there is just one possible future for VNs - on Windows and game consoles.
  • The second half of 1996 showed clearly that with the rise of Windows games, there are much fewer creative games as well as mixes of genres.
  • Bigger number of CGs and even more simplified gameplay tendencies persist - newer dating sims barely resemble the complexity of pioneers
  • 1996 was the year when game accessories like wallpapers started to sell well - that provoked the creation of specialized moe titles 
  • With Shizuku and Kizuato Leaf transformed the sound novel genre that used to be wall of text on some background horror stories into what we now know as contemporary NVL novels with big character sprites and eliminated gameplay elements .
  • 1996 is the first year that bore no new genre, no big development in systems. And that's also good as the market started to stabilize. 

Let's count the masterpiece level games of 1996: 

  1. Be-Yond ~Kurodaishou ni Mirareteru~
  2. Dousoukai ~Yesterday Once More~
  3. Gakuen King -Hidehiko Gakkou o Tsukuru-
  4. Harlem Blade ~The Greatest of All Time.~
  5. Kakyuusei
  6. Kokuu Hyouryuu Nirgends
  7. Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO
  8. Megami Paradise 2
  9. Mujintou Monogatari 3 - A.D. 1999 Tokyo
  10. NOëL NOT DiGITAL
  11. Pia Carrot e Youkoso!! ~We've Been Waiting for You~
  12. Sakura Taisen
  13. San Shimai
  14. Sotsugyou Shashin 2 ~Raspberry Dream~
  15. Star Platinum
  16. Stone Walkers
  17. Travel Junction 
  18. Zap! The Magic

Eighteen it is! Just note that some of the games are included for sheer concept originality or impact they made on further works. We would not play Megami Paradise 2 these days and there are definitely better MtG games nowadays than Zap! The Magic, but those games were very important for the year 1996. Even Star Platinum stands out among majority of card games due to the game nature and the actual story that feels really nice. Card pc games were rarely seen as something bigger than strip game. But the game of the year can't be just an important game. It should be the best from the best and definitely not a dating sim. Nothing stands close to a girl who chants love at the bound of this world, YU-NO. I played it some five years ago. Both the real world maze and the fantasy world beautiful ending are still vivid in my memory. It's a great adventure with most memorable characters and a huge impact. Hands off, the best work of Elf and it's probably the last time Elf hosts the game of the year. Windows era shall have its own champions.

From year 1997 I'm starting to to actually name a game of Month for each month. It's finally the year of Windows games and they are easier to evaluate. For those interested in games of the month for years 1991-1996, it's easy to guess by the cover of each Month's post on my identical content blogspot blog which is kept for such cases as FuwApocalypse.

kivandopulus
  • 1. Bloody Bride Imadoki no Vampire VNDB
  • 2. Can Can Bunny Premiere 2 VNDB
  • 3. Cry Sweeper VNDB
  • 4. For Elise ~Elise no Tame ni~ VNDB
  • 5. Houkago Ren'ai Club ~Koi no Etude~ VNDB
  • 6. Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO VNDB
  • 7. True Love Story VNDB

 

1. Bloody Bride Imadoki no Vampire Bloody Bride いまどきのバンパイア [Astrovision] VNDB

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You play as a young vampire who has reached (vampire) adulthood. He is sent to earth to suck the blood of a girl with a 'platium aura'. However the girl has to willingly allow him to suck her blood. The character is given three years to complete his mission.

There are several English reviews.

 


2. Can Can Bunny Premiere 2 きゃんきゃんバニー プルミエール2 [Cocktail Soft] VNDB

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You are one single lonely guy who wants a girlfriend. And when you went home a huge explosion occurred. Inside your room, you saw seven little midgets: the Japanese Gods of Luck. Along with them was a beautiful girl with green hair and she gave you something which she called the "Star of Guidance". The next day you ran into some cute girl, and mysteriously, the "Star of Guidance" glowed...

The promissed earlier full title (after 5 1/2). A good quality game that follows exactly the same line as the prequels. Sawady and Swatty are both present for the first time. And you've got only 10 days to capture the heart of your love interest. But after Pia Carrot fabula looked really old already and lacked freshness.

 

3. Cry Sweeper クライスイーパー [D.O.] VNDB

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A series of mysterious events has occurred in a seemingly normal high school somewhere in Japan. Girls have been reported missing or assaulted under mysterious circumstances. The police is helpless. Two people are determined to solve the mystery: Kai Shuri, a man who can read minds and recall events from the past, and Ami Kanko, a girl who controls the powers of telekinesis. Will they ever be able to get to the bottom of the things, or will gruesome events continue to happen amidst innocent teenagers?..

It's one my first played visual novels. It's actually about rape after aliens/demons invasion into the school, but it has a lot of coolness about it. A trash game in a good sense of this word (if it has any good sense). Lots of gore, impressive demons and good old insanity everywhere. I probably did not have sound, but the voicing of Windows version is very highly praised.


4. For Elise ~Elise no Tame ni~ for elise ~エリーゼのために~ [Craftwork] VNDB

 

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Hero is an ordinary salary man. In his dreams he starts to do something strange to familiar women. Gradually dreams intertwines with the reality...

Game is the origin of Sayonara o Oshiete released in 2001 and overlaps with it at times. It's an utsuge with strong motives of depression and insanity. Some moments are disgustingly unforgettable like fulfilling a desire to make a trash can out of woman. Game has its cool atmosphere, but need a stomach for a real utsuge.


5. Houkago Ren'ai Club ~Koi no Etude~ 放課後恋愛倶楽部 ~恋のエチュード~ [Libido] VNDB

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You are a teenage boy in high school. You join the Casual Romance Club in order to meet other people and perhaps find love. There are twelve girls you can approach, each one possessing her own unique beauty and personality. Use your time and efforts wisely and you may just get yourself more than a casual romance...

You are given a month to shop around and win somebody's love, after which you'll ask the girl of your choice to keep seeing you even after the club adjourns. Each game day starts at the Starry Sky restaurant, with the club notebook laid out for you. The club notebook has the lowdown on all the girls -- their basic statistics, pictures, horoscopes, likes, dislikes, etc. The girls also record their thoughts and reactions on daily events next to their horoscopes, so reading the club notebook can prove vital to your success.

Game has many English reviews.


6. Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO この世の果てで恋を唄う少女YU-NO [Elf] VNDB

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Takuya Arima is a young student whose father, a historian who has conducted various researches, disappeared recently. During a summer vacation Takuya receives a peculiar package from his missing father, along with a letter containing information about the existence of various parallel worlds. At first Takuya doesn't take it seriously, but soon he realizes that he possesses a device that allows him to travel to alternate dimensions. Is his father alive, after all? If so, where is he?

Game has many English reviews.


7. True Love Story トゥルー・ラブストーリー [Bits Laboratory] VNDB

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You are a male second year student at high school. Your parents got a sudden transfer, so you've just moved to a new city. You'll be transferred again in one month, so you only have that time to make one of the nine heroines fall in love with you. 

A degraded version of Tokimeki Memorial. Dating sims boom has come to playstation. Main feature of the game is going home together with the girl and taking on the way. It had good animation and sound so found its niche.

kivandopulus
  • 1. High School Days VNDB
  • 2. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo: Hihoushima Arata Naru Sangeki VNDB
  • 3. Saint Diary ~Sei-chan no Nikki~ VNDB
  • 4. Sotsugyou Shashin 2 ~Raspberry Dream~ VNDB
  • 5. Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Mikan no Report VNDB
  • 6. Tenshi-tachi no Hohoemi VNDB

 

1. High School Days HIGH スク~ル DAYS [May-Be Soft] VNDB

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Takashi Sakamoto follows his father's job appointment and transfers from a high school in Saitama to Hokkaido. What kind of exciting youth adventures are bound to happen to him there?

Quite a truthfully told story about adolscense. There aren't adventures, just everyday school routine. There aren't heroes, just shy and awkward children. The story is light and starts from comical sequences to prevent being bored. Game system is command selection. A well-balanced modest work without affectionate moves or ending.

 


2. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo: Hihoushima Arata Naru Sangeki 金田一少年の事件簿 悲報島 新たなる惨劇 [Digital Frontier] VNDB

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Treasure Isle is rumored to hide a vast bounty of gold said to be guarded by the legendary beast "Yamawara", which Kindaichi and other treasure hunters gather to search for. But the host is killed before the group even arrives, and a bloody slaying takes place during a time in which none of the people on the island could have done it. Will the island's mythical monster-guardian claim more victims?

Famous boy detective franchise. Game is difficult in the way that there are lots of choices and one wrong choice makes you out off the board. There are locations in the form of interactive dungeons as well where you can perform a lot of actions. There are some 25 animation minutes promised. There is little mystery, it's definitely not a suspense story. 


3. Saint Diary ~Sei-chan no Nikki~ せいんと☆だいあり ~聖ちゃんの日記~ [Desire] VNDB

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Saint Diary is a visual novel focusing on the romantic life of a high school student named Kiyoka (the Chinese character used to spell here name means "saint"), who works as a waitress at the local cafe during a vacation. The protagonist of the game is a male college student who frequents the cafe and gradually develops a relationship with Kiyoka. Though there are two other female characters in the game, the dating aspect focuses exclusively on Kiyoka. 

Quite a short story. Command selection within limited time was still fresh, main heroine is cute and has huge number of emotions showing on her face. Saves are also limited to the times when there is an option for it. After the ending there's the girl side of the story, which is probably the main feature of this work.


4. Sotsugyou Shashin 2 ~Raspberry Dream~ 卒業写真2 ~Raspberry Dream~ [Apollon Create] VNDB

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Yosuke Katsuragi is a 3rd grade high school student. During the summer vacation he walks around the city without particular reason and encounters various girls. Who will be smiling beside him on the photo stand the day the summer vacation ends and the day of the graduation ceremony?

Could not find anything about part 1, but part 2 was quite popular. Simplified Classmate system game. It's mostly romantic focused and has big volume, lots of characters and interesting story. But... characters aren't too cute and the difficulty is insane to the point that no single person could beat it alone and with the internet loosely spread that was a devastating blow for buyers who could not finish the route.


5. Tantei Jinguuji Saburou: Mikan no Report 探偵 神宮寺三郎 未完のルポ [Data East Corporation] VNDB

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An overseas package containing a small key arrives at the detective agency from Jingūji's journalist acquaintance. Jingūji must uncover the hidden meaning of the key.

5th installment of the series that has been pestering me since the late 80s. There's quite enough information about it in English.

 

6. Tenshi-tachi no Hohoemi 天使たちの微笑み [JAST] VNDB

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September 31, 2000, you accompanied your friends to job interviews. You and your friends are senior college students, but unfortunately you need to continue college for two additional years due to some reasons. Since you cannot graduate from college now, you are in a bad need of a part-time job to continue your education.

At the same time you accompanied your friend to job interviews, you received some messages. Since that day, you become a private tutor for four girls.

I have difficult relations with this series. I think I blocked all of them but couple works. There is an English review of this game. This one is the last major title in the series, so worth a look. Formally it's a tutorship raising SIM game, but due to the ease of this part it should be referred as an ADV work with some SIM elements and quizzes. You train your students but you can also go on a date. Even passing an exam excellently raises relations with the student to a point that H-scene happens... Windows version of the game had a fatal bug and the patch only dealt party with it. So it's an average work without advantages and disadvantages, but it was definitely not a good enough quality work to resurrect the Angel series.

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