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VNs I still Remember, no matter how much Time Has passed


Clephas

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This might seem like an odd choice for a blog post, but it should be noted that, after more then twelve years and seven hundred VNs, remembering each and every one is impossible.  In fact, I hardly recall roughly 70% of all the VNs I've played, and less than 10% are memorable enough that I consider replaying them once in a great while.  I'm somewhat infamous for my lists, but I figured one more wouldn't hurt.  Remember, these are the VNs I still remember to the point where I can state almost everything about what I like and hate about each.  This list is going to be split into two parts, the VNs I loved and the VNs I loved to hate.

The VNs I loved to Hate

Suburashiki Hibi- Yes, I hate this VN.  In truth, I hate almost everything written by Sca-ji that I've read.  Sca-ji's style drives me up the wall (for some reason, it presses all the wrong buttons), and his love of unreliable narrators only makes it worse.  Suburashiki Hibi is just the most obvious example of a VN I can't forget, even though I want to, badly.  I can admit that Suburashiki Hibi is interesting... but to me that just doesn't stop me from hating it anyway.

Aiyoku no Eustia- For a chuunige fan like me to actually outright hate a chuunige is actually fairly difficult.  90% of the reason I eventually came to hate Eustia was because of its true/Eustia route.  I didn't like Caim's rapid personality change, the fact that elements of the setting introduced in Eustia's path make all other paths impossible, and I absolutely loathed Eustia herself (what is it with the love for the helpless and frail heroine in some games?).  That said, it doesn't change the fact that I liked most of the game before I got onto Eustia's path... but it does mean that I will never admit this is a truly great game.

Ryuusei World Actor- Similarly to above, this is a chuunige I love to hate, despite it being memorable.  There is one simple reason for this... it was made to be a prequel rather than a whole game in and of itself.  There is no sense of completion, no satisfaction to be gained by completing this story.  In addition, it was only recently that its sequel was - finally - announced.  Worse, Kinugasa Shougo's style of never really explaining the setting, except in the most oblique of fashions, greatly harms the enjoyment of this game's plot.  In the case of his previous works, it was relatively easy to extrapolate and speculate yourself into an understanding of the setting based on what was there, but there is a definite sense that way too much is left unsaid about this setting.

Sakura no Uta- Oddly, this is a game I thought I would have loved, given the twisted relationships and messy backstory involved.  However, once again Sca-Ji's style of presentation and love of unreliable narrators drove me nuts.  Not to mention the constant abuse of foreshadowing and repetition

Spoiler

(and the fact that the most interesting character dies right before the beginning of the story).

VNs I Love so much they are unforgettable

Dies Irae- Obviously, Dies Irae is one of the penultimate chuunige ever made.  While I personally think Masada turned into a complete incompetent after KKK, there is no denying the quality of Dies Irae's narrative, its characters, and the way it seems to age so well.  Dies Irae is one of those rare VNs that doesn't suffer at all from the passing of a decade or more between its original release and now.  That isn't to say it hasn't been left behind somewhat by the conventions of the genre, but in the end, that doesn't matter as much as you would think it would.

Fate/Stay Night- Arguably the VN that turned chuunige from a mere curiosity to an actual niche genre.  While many people have a love/hate relationship with Shirou and the Nasuverse, there is no denying that much of the game is enjoyable and it embodies most of the virtues and flaws of the early era of the genre.

Draculius- The VN that changed my viewpoint on the harem ending and actually did vampires right (outside of the comedy, anyway).  In all honesty, before I picked it up at random, I had no idea this would become one of my most-replayed VNs of all time.  While this game has aged poorly in some ways, in others it's presentation is almost ideal.

Evolimit- In my mind, this game is Higashide's masterpiece, the defining game of his career, whereas others will argue that it was Ayakashibito.  However, for all that I enjoyed Ayakashibito, this is the game I go back to play over and over, whenever I want my faith in JVNs revived.

Devils Devel Concept- No, this is not the best game out there.  It is a total niche within a niche game.  I love its characters and setting, but most people would probably drop it solely based on the artwork.  Devils Devel Concept taught me that the protagonist didn't need to be the good guy to be interesting and that heroines didn't need to be fainting lilies to make a chuunige work.

Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no- Let's be clear... visually this game has aged horribly.  It is from a much earlier era than most of the games on this list and it shows.  However, I  have to note that it is one of the single best nakige ever made.  I can still go back and cry for Tonoko, Shino, and Miyabi no matter how many times I replay it, and the sense of salvation after the end of one of those three paths, the catharsis is so strong that my stress buildup is perfectly lanced afterward.

Houkago no Futekikakusha- I frequently give this as an example of the ideal 'hard' utsuge.  The situation the protagonist is in is hopeless from the beginning, and his suffering his pre-determined.  Moreover, when the story begins he is already broken almost beyond repair.  The way it is presented provides great catharsis, though like many hard utsuge, the setting is all over the place.

Konata yori Kanata Made- Many consider the first Konakana to be the ideal for the 'soft' utsuge genre, and I don't generally bother to argue with them.  While similar games were made later on occasion, one can always feel the influence of this game in them, often to the point where it feels like they are almost plagiarizing parts of it.  

Akatsuki no Goei- I have a love/hate relationship with Kinugasa Shougo.  He hates completing stories, he never explains anything unless he has to, and his endings are always open-ended unless he is coerced to make them not so.  Akatsuki no Goei (the series) embodies him at his best, with Kaito being a complex character that only appears to be your typical 'dameningen' protagonist if you aren't paying attention.

Hapymaher- What often comes back to me about Hapymaher, compared to later Purple Soft games, was the ideal synchronicity of its aesthetic and its music.  It is very, very rare for me to bother complementing a VN on its music, since most essentially use rearrangements of old BGMs without accounting for unique themes and atmosphere.  While there are some severe obstacles to making this an easily replayable game (the Christmas arc is overwhelmingly boring the second time around), it is still a VN worth experiencing.

Semiramis no Tenbin- Semiramis no Tenbin is an oddity.  It is a game based in a school setting in modern Japan that doesn't gloss over Japan's social flaws or exaggerate them to excess.  I say this because the Japanese are as good at pretending certain issues don't exist as we white Americans have been at pretending racism doesn't exist.  Not to mention that the beginning of this game locked it in my memory eternally.

Nanairo Reincarnation- This is one of the few games in my VN experience that I actually out and out named a kamige on first playthrough.  I don't regret it today, and I don't think I ever will.  I could put down any number of reasons to love this game, but it is better, in this case, for readers to make their own conclusions.

Akeiro Kaikitan- I mostly chose to keep multiple VNs by the same author and team off this list.  However, I should note that I have actually replayed Akeiro six times since its original release... despite it having been released in 2016, a mere six years ago.  I play it about once, sometimes twice a year.  Why?  Because it is still interesting no matter how many times I read it.  The presentation of the various paths is about as close to the storyteller's ideal as it is possible to get, making it difficult to get truly bored of if you put some time in between replays.

Komorebi no Nostalgica- Say what you like about Takaya Aya, but his moments of brilliance definitely leave an impression.  Komorebi no Nostalgica is easily the best (mostly) non-action sci-fi VN I've ever read.  Ironically, the primary reason for this is how the central non-heroine character, Cinema is handled in the various paths.  It is impossible to fully explain to someone who hasn't played the game just how powerful a role Cinema plays as a supporting character as well as the game's central character, and I'm not even going to try here.

Ayakashibito- While Evolimit is my favorite Higashide game, I can't fail to mention Ayakashibito here.  Ayakashibito is the work of a genius, and it most definitely shows.  It was also the VN that first showed Higashide's basic style, which almost always utilizes a protagonist with an intimate relationship with the true heroine that continues to thrive regardless of heroine choice.  Ayakashibito is less refined than Evolimit, but in exchange, it also feels more freeform than some of his later works.  It also established his creation of high-quality antagonists (Kuki Youkou, Shannon Wordsworth, etc).

Ruitomo- Ruitomo is probably the most famous of all the Akatsuki Works games, for good reason.  It is a high-quality classic plotge from an era where such games were relatively plentiful, and its style was the one that defined the expectations of fans for the company's games, though they later took things in a more action-focused direction.

Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier- This VN is one I push for weaboos who like the romanticized eras (Sengoku Jidai, Bakumatsu era, etc).  It is based in an alternate world where young Japanese women are sometimes chosen by 'demon-aura stones' that grant them immense physical powers and heightened intelligence in exchange for being unable to have children and being naturally more aggressive than is the norm.  As a result, these women are generally adopted by samurai families and raised to be bodyguards, assassins, and in various other roles normally reserved for men.  The protagonist is a young man raised by a feminized version of Kondou Isao and Hijikata Toshizo and is essentially Okita Soujirou.  It begins previous to the formation of the Roshigumi and branches off after the initial stages of the rebellion that began the collapse of Tokugawa power.  

Sekien no Inganock- This is pretty much the only Liar Soft game I didn't have trouble playing.  In retrospect, it isn't as good as I remember it being, but it is still enjoyable.

Majikoi- Say what you want about Majikoi.  Various people either love or hate it and everything by Minato Soft, but I personally think it was an excellent base that they used effectively to milk the setting.  Later games and fandiscs added depth to the characters and expanded the cast, and this, the original was a great game (in my eyes) in itself.

Grisaia- Probably the most popular VN to introduce VNs to newbies now that Tsukihime and FSN have become so dated as to be almost unreadable for new people.  Like many VNs that got translated, it has a lot of people either worshipping or hating on it, but its quality (in Japanese) is undeniable.

Soukou Akki Muramasa- Easily the best game Nitroplus has ever produced.  While it is a heavy read, it is also a VN worth reading at least once, if you have the mastery of Japanese to do so.  However, it is also emotionally draining, so many who start it never finish it.

Hello, Lady- I could have chosen any of Akatsuki Works' chuunige, but with the final version of the game that includes the FD routes and the new true route, this game has easily become my favorite Hino Wataru game.

Kitto Sumiwataru Asairo yori mo- A game by Shumon Yuu.  Nothing else needs to be said.  Play it, or you aren't a true JVN fanboy.

Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide- An oddball sort of chuunige by Shumon Yuu.  This one is fully voiced (protagonist included) and has a solid story and cast of characters.  

Silverio Trinity- of the three Silverio games, I'll say right off that this is the one I liked the most.  While Vendetta has some great moments, Trinity is where I thought the setting first came alive truly.

Sakura, Moyu- Honestly, I think this is the best VN, by far, that Favorite has produced.  I cried more while I played this game than in all the other games combined, and I was more emotionally invested in the story than any of them by far.

 

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16 minutes ago, Plastic Memories said:

no Baldr Sky >???? 
no Sengoku Rance > ??????????
no Muv Luv Alternative > ?????????????????????????????
1/10 review

Baldr Sky maybe, but definitely not anything Rance or Muv Luv.

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