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kivandopulus

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Everything posted by kivandopulus

  1. I'm not doing either. Going directly to blogs page each time... Absolutely agree with Plk_Lesiak that dev update feed should go from front page. But I'm also concerned about blogs page since Dev Boards Updates have not been updated for a year and FuwaReviews Team for over two years and they keep on being pinned and require scrolling down each time not to mention the image in Dev Boards Updates hanging for a year and my eyes really get weary of it. There's already Featured Entries on top of the page so why also having two ancient pinned threads as well...
  2. VN of the Year 1996

    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 1991 75 1992 80 1993 121 1994 155 1995 180 1996 183 There's roughly the same number of visual novels in 1996 as in 1995. Romance games 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. There aren't that many RPG this year, but the remaining ones are of superb quality. Four masterpieces are RPG this year, plus two more games of the month are RPG as well. Let's count the masterpiece level games of 1996: 1. Angel Halo2. Be-Yond ~Kurodaishou ni Mirareteru~3. Bounty Hunter Rudy4. Es no Houteishiki5. Harlem Blade ~The Greatest of All Time.~6. Kakyuusei7. Kichikuou Rance8. Kizuato9. Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO10. Ma Doll11. Mujintou Monogatari 3 - A.D. 1999 Tokyo12. NOëL NOT DiGITAL13. Pia Carrot e Youkoso!! ~We've Been Waiting for You~14. Sakura Taisen15. Star Platinum16. Stone Walkers Sixteen it is! Just note that some of the games are included for sheer concept originality or impact they made on further works. 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.
  3. Foreword: I did not want to review it. But then I watched the hentai OVA of its preuel - Mystery of the Necronomicon (黒の断章 Kuro no Danshō) and it's a total blast. I highly recommend to watch it to everyone. A very memorable and bloody occult detective story. There was no anime version of the sequel, so I rushed in. Title: Es no Houteishiki Developer: Abogado Powers Date: 1996-06-28 VNDB link: https://vndb.org/v8874 Synopsis: "Es no Houteishiki" is the second game in the Detective Suzusaki series. The events described in the previous game, "Kuro no Danshou ~The Literary Fragment~", led to a series of suicides, but the case was believed to be closed. But Kusanagi, the young brilliant psychologist and assistant of the famous detective Suzusaki, has now to face his own past. The traces lead to a remote village, which has seen nine mysterious, unsolved murders in eleven years. Soon, Kusanagi discovers a strange religious cult, that might shed some light on his past... Structure: One route without branching or dead ends. Length: 4 hours Game type: Point and click occult detective mystery. Difficulty: Easy. Just need to aim at the mouth of the needed character all the time. There were like only 10 times when needed to click something else. And one screen that took me the longest is where I had to click at tiny triangle of pantsu to advance the story... Character Design rating: 5/10 Protagonist rating: 6/10 Story rating: 8/10 Game quality: 5/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: Story is not bad at all. The problem lies with the clustered systems, lots of unnecessary female characters and H-scenes and shallow characters. Protagonist: Young psychiatrist Kusanagi. Nothing extraordinary besides that. We never see his face as if he's telling the story of Suzusaki detective from afar. At least he's of some use in this game - he witnessed some disturbing events in psychological facility eight years ago and those events now backfire. Characters: There are too many useless female characters introduced for the main purpose of H-scene, I bet. Apart of that, it's the same cast, evercool Suzusaki, same two police detectives and cute secretary Asuka. Well... she's actually cute only the first time we see her as her sprite is more or less transferred from the first game. As for me, all the character designs and CG in this game are ugly, yet the drawing is very fresh. Maybe it suits the atmosphere of the game, but I can't sympathize with those weirdos. At least let me show you the cute Asuka the first time we meet her in this game. Story: That's the most difficult part! Story is much more shallow that that of the prequel. And to cover that shallowness we constantly have to be distracted by slice-of-life fragments with some girls or H-events with them and when that's not enough we get to see the flashbacks from the past, mostly from that psychological facility 8 years ago. So the story starts as Kusanagi with his girlfriend come to a quiet ordinary town... that in the night becomes prostitutes town. Why oh why was such stupid move about prostitutes needed? Suzusaki bought a full building to establish detective agency here and we deal with a strange series of suicides. The victims usually open up their abdomen with a knife. Here's where Kusanagi memories show up ... first depiction of his activities in psychological facility and its patients and then strange behavior of some staff members followed by same suicides. The new present time suicides are especially strange because they happened at the very same time with different persons who never knew about each other's existence. Suzusaki is already a well-known occult researcher so he digs some disturbing stuff about one of the three legendary items from Amaterasu god that is rumored to be in this town. And I don't think I'll spoil much if I say that one of the psychological facility members is involved (since there are a big number of both doctors and patients there). So it really felt like Silence of the lambs when he seriously appeals to the fault of the government, accumulated DNA diseases and overpopulation to justify provoking suicides. And Kusanagi gets to remember previous talks to him - lots of disturbingly serious stuff to chew. CG: The only full-screen CG are actually HCG with just maybe 2 ordinary CG for couple girls. The most important events are depicted on some 1/3rd of the screen just as usual backgrounds (character sprites go beyond the background so they are full-height) so resolution is poor and lacks immersion. Sound: I really prefer midi sound. But here we get the usual .ogg or something. So music often starts at the beginning of the sequence, plays for some 2 minutes and goes down. For the rest of the sequence we get to play in total silence. That's not good. The game is not voiced... oh wait, there is exactly one phrase voiced - it's in one of the later scenes when there is imminent danger rises, Asuka cries "Oniii-chan!" and that's all. Systems: I usually hate to speak about systems, but in this game it just has to be done. First of all, the game won't load correctly in win10. But we've got dxwnd to cover that, no biggie. Second issue is that at least in win10 font is so bad that every character is only some 30% filled - we see different dots of it and usually can guess its form, but it may be just win10 issue, no biggie. We still hook the text and it's drawn as usual this way. Game is point and click, but it narrows down to mouths hunting as characters sprite move. There were like only 10 occasions when I had to click on anything else rather than mouth. The cursor does not change shape while moving on different objects... in fact it does not change shape ever and you have to point the ugly white small cursor everywhere! For the first half of the game there are no interactive commands, but then Suzusaki tells us to move and explains us how to push at the border of the screen to invoke the menu for moving! Great - I thought - since I totally overlooked that mechanics! So in the second part of the game we can invoke that menu and push move... and guess what... we don't get to use it even once... and when I attempted to there was a usual commentary than I need to do something else rather than go away. And the last - but not the least - there is a map of psychiatric facility in the game with a lot of rooms and initially we get a chance to come to every of those room and talk to its inhabitants. But this map is later used just once when we hear a woman's scream and need to find the source among those rooms! And when we found the source, we never ever get back to that map... So there are lots of systems piled together and each of those system is crumbling and poorly designed. Overall comments: As I already told, story is good. But Japanese reviewers promised falling back from occult matters in the realm of psychoanalysis and physics and that's barely true. What I see is the same occult stuff, just spiced with mental illnesses. ES should have only ment that inner chaos that is protected by the wall of consciousness. But in reality ES kind of also started to mean ESpers at some point. It should have been a story from the reality and in fact it involves too many surreal stuff. I can't blame the game or Japanese reviewers for that game was not fulfilling my expectations. If we look at it just as a sequel of Mystery of Necromonicon, it's a sequel worthy of its prequel and it should only be examined as direct continuation of prequel, not some original story with original themes. I rated this game quite poorly because of unnecessary slice-of-life episodes, useless spontaneous H-scenes, crumbling systems and poor character design and CG. But if those factors are overlooked we get a good story and I like good stories.
  4. Rabyni ラブィーニ [C's Ware]

    Foreword: A C's Ware game at the mature period of company development, past DESIRE, Xenon and Eve:Burst Error. That's already enough to hook me. It has other attractiveness factors like title mystery that is Russian word Рабыни for "female slave". But why bother with Russian title in a nukige? Another reason is that cover has absolutely no premise for slavery. So mayhaps it's a sly puzzle that the company prepared for us? I'm more than willing to discover. Title: Rabyni Developer: C's Ware Date: 1996-06-21 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v9048 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq_g_IirpxlYgTVj7C3WhmKz Synopsis: Reiji is a loser high school student. He likes to peek after girls and girls detest him for that. He only has one childhood friend Misaki who brings him to school and helps him with studies. But everything changes after Reiji is caught by the teacher red-handed taking camera shots in girls' changing room... Structure: Single road. Length: Took me 9 hours Game type: Command selection ADV Difficulty: Easy, but all the command selection moving around the same areas over and over again makes it exhausting Character Design rating: 8/10 Protagonist rating: 5/10 Story rating: 5/10 Game quality: 4/10 Overall rating: 6/10 Rating comments: I can divide the whole game into three parts. Beginning part prior to being caught red-handed was actually a blast. First first five minutes of the game hero just decides on a very important question - to go to school or to skip school. That's a very amusing monologue. Next he picks up on every girl discussing their body proportions and each girl gets angry in her own way. It's a very nice comedy in the first part with nice characters and dialogues. I put a firm 8/10 to the first part. Middle part changes the game drastically. His teacher blackmails him into becoming her slave under the threat of kicking him out of school with making his secret camera shots public. But it's not about sexual slavery that much - she rewards him with intimacy if Reiji has excellent marks and does the home chores like cleaning and cooking properly. In just couple days Reiji evolves greatly and becomes the best student in the class and starts to attract different girls attention. That's a hard to believe change, but still this part is very close to a romance work with getting to know girls better and helping solve their problems. I'd rate this part below the masterpiece level, but still quite highly, at 6/10. Then comes the last part and the title of the game starts to kick in. Reiji becomes dissatisfied with constant treasons of Yoko-sensei and one day just coerces her to his will putting her to slave position instead. And from then on this master-slave attitude starts to shift to girls. Girls stop being subjects. Even though there is nothing about sexual slavery, Reiji starts to behave like a master easily punishing any of girls for misbehavior. That stopped looking good anymore and ending failed to impress. So this part is worth 4/10 for me. The sum of those marks is 6/10 and the overall quality of the game prevents it from reaching masterpiece level. Game has no voice, repeating command selection gameplay, few locations and even fewer non-HCG. Protagonist: Reiji is a nice protagonist while he's a looser. Then he's suddenly reliable good guy with a secret in his his closet. And then he's a master who treats girls around him like punishable objects. That's a bit of too much change for a single game, isn't it? That quickly severs the link between him and the readers. Characters: There are some 6 girls, I think. But surprisingly enough two girls don't really have their H events. I don't really want to focus on girls since neither of them has their own route. Still girls are cute and dialogues with them makes the most enjoyable part of the game. Story: I happened to retell the story in the rating comments section. CG: Very few CG and few locations make the game look bleak. Animated H scenes don't help much since same scene may repeat over and over at different times and there's no dialogue in the mids. Palette is dim. Sound: Nothing special and no voicing really hurt. Overall comments: Game was not bad while I tried to evaluate it in the beginning and middle part, but final part spoilt it all creating an inevitably poor impression overall. Still I felt C's Ware puzzling feeling. There was even one scene when you suddenly make it from №300-sh to №1 in grades and have to participate in spontaneous test to prove your ability. It took me some 20 minutes to answer 8 out of 10 repeating questions correct, because many of those questions were different each time and I failed to understand how the knowledge of japanese baseball or which coin can be put to an envelope actually qualified as school knowledge. Game has a complex nature and is a treat for C's Ware fan like me. I'm really glad it turned out to be a quirky romance comedy rather that fall into fetishism.
  5. Rabyni ラブィーニ [C's Ware]

    Fixed! All that machine translation starts to dwell on me.
  6. Foreword: Game has a very strong start and intriguing concept which made me play to the end. It differed from my initial expectations, but it's a very original and good-looking game, so I don't regret playing it. Title: Angel Halo Developer: Active Date: 1996-10-25 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v6958 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c39QbpcwcZs&list=PLENAECnNmAq-m-9QhCmoIlz4DWBEqTwHq Synopsis: The protagonist, Kusakabe Makoto, is living a normal school life without knowing he is the reincarnation of Lucifer. One day an angel named Sofia and a demon named Lilith come to him. They are the messengers of Heaven and Hell. The day of Lucifer's judgement is approaching. Structure: Two routes depending on choosing Angel or Devil side with total number of endings being 5. Length: 5 hours Game type: AVG Difficulty: Branching is actually very easy as only 2-3 first choices determine the ending, but there are many fake choices, so it can look confusing. Character Design rating: 6/10 Protagonist rating: 5/10 Story rating: 7/10 Game quality: 7/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: Game barely makes it to 7 which is still considered a masterpiece by me. The first route story was really impressive worth 8 or 9, but all the others were the very same route with some minor variations, mostly just before the ending. Characters are good-looking, but aren't developed. Protagonist is a pushover, as usual. But naked angel girls with gorgeous wings help the evaluation a lot. And there's some charm in seeing all the endings. Protagonist: Makoto is an ordinary high school student who gets to know from one of the transfer students Lilith that he's an incarnation of the Satan and is going to destroy all life on the Earth in two weeks on Christmas Eve of 1999. And another transfer student Sofia says that Makoto is a savior of humanity. He does not believe either of them. But Sofia shows him her wings and Lilith introduces him to the world of pleasures, so he ends up taking one of the sides. I did not like protagonist since he was just killing time in school. He was hating his dull life and wanted for this unexciting life on Earth just perish one day even before meeting transfer students. He has an osanajimi Marimo in the same class and with all the otherworldly business he just forgets about her completely only stumbling upon her by pure chance in one of the routes. In Angel route he's passive, in Devil route a total dick. Characters: There aren't really character routes, so individual characters aren't developed. We get an angel Sofia, a devil Lilith, a childhood friend Marimo, a teacher Ruida who comes from the descendants of angels and male friend Shinichi. The rest of the characters are one-time thing and no female character stays without a H event. Ruida is actually a character who undergoes a lot of development. She's a natural ally of Sofia, but gets seduced by Lilith in the beginning who amplified her lust. So Ruida gets into a difficult position where she does not want the world to end, but can't resist Lilith's will as well and that leads to unexpected results in some endings. Shinichi is also worth mentioning as he's a stoic and benevolent character - he acts as a sempai in relations with Makoto. Story: There's actually not much in the story department after the opening sequence. Both Sofia and Lilith invite Makoto to their houses in the evening and this choice determines the side while following sub-choice determines the ending. Then for about two hours goes a fixed part of the story with Makoto finding indecent activities at school and in the part and also discovering a bonded missing girl in the church who craves for intimacy. Only being able to repress this temptation opens up the best angel ending. And the second half of the story depends on the chosen side. As a devil apprentice Makoto is encouraged just to do as he likes and wait for the world demise and following an angel path he needs to get intimate to several school girls who have are angel descendants. Doing that is supposed to restrain the Satan in him from breaking loose. This part is good as girls have their own wills and require some evidence or persuasion. But Makoto is such a failure protagonist that he can only whine. Sofia encourages him to use his super messiah power to make girls believe he is the Chosen one, but she does not know how that works and Makoto is not able to find that out, so the fate of the world depends on a chain of random events mostly. I hope I did not spoiler too much by now, but I also need to emphasize the endings. I started with the devil ending and it was impressive. The second devil ending was of the same pattern, but Makoto got his own malicious will to aggravate things even more. But finishing angel route I also got a bad ending... WTH? Second angel ending was also a failure. I'm glad I left the final best angel ending for the final... and it was impressive and impactful - that's all I can say without spoilers. Since I got a video of playthrough up, it's not difficult to see for yourself now. CG: I absolutely liked this dim retro palette and gothic uniform. There's a lot of attention to the dressing and those corsets, black t-shirts, long stockings and church-like gowns impress indeed. There is a substantial number of CG. Sound: Game is fully voiced (apart of the narrator). I found some exceptions to this rule when Makoto tells a long history of one city district and he's not voiced at that time. But it was really exciting to find a 1996 game with full voicing. BGM are actually nice, but the level can't be adjusted. I had to turn it off at times where the dramatic loud melody prevented from listening to the characters. BGM volume is not adjustable and it's a bit too high to my liking. Themes: Game's based on thy hype over millennium shift. I personally like apocalyptic theme in visual novels - I liked Subarashiki Hibi, Shuumatsu no Sugoshikata and will definitely review Tsui no Sora one day. There is also a nice fallen angel theme with its logical realization in one of the endings. Overall comments: Game of big unrealized potential. My biggest complaint that there is no action in the game even though there all prerequisites for it. For example, there's this Lilith butter servant with a sadistic face. He's destined to be a villain, but he only participates in on rape scene and then shows up several time in Lilith room and... that's all. But Angel Halo also failed as love drama. There this supercute Marimo childhood friend who loves the hero, but she only plays a very episodic role literally occasionally bumping into the hero in one of the evil routes and thus getting her ending by pure coincidence and inside an evil devil route. So it all gets down to listening the explanation of Makoto role and just waiting or trying to fix his fate by mating with angel descendant girls. And Sofia with Ruida act more like pimps to drag girls to Makoto and threaten the girls with the end of the world in case of resistance. That's hardly much different from Lilith approach especially in the light that Sofia uses her body to attach Makoto to the light path and not the Heavenly means or reasoning. But as this unnatural situation gets underlined by all 5 endings the game gets some charm over it, not a logical conclusion type of charm, but that of the chaos solution for the chaos situation. And we also love Japanese visual novels for this impactful and affectionate chaos.
  7. Bounty Hunter Rudy バウンティはんたぁルディ [Scoop]

    妖幻天女 looks very promising indeed, but year 2001 looks like an eternity away from where I stand - patiently cutting through 1996 games. Already played Mahou Shoujo B-ko and Ojou-sama o Nerae!! so far. But 1996 has its surprises as well - just finished Angel Halo by Active and hopefully will post review tomorrow. A game with an impact, although I still hoped it would be more positive.
  8. Foreword: Game's obscure, but it has one absolutely overwhelming Japanese review (giving 8/10 score btw) which claims that the game has references to dozens of media sources. I'm not good with media of 1996 year and earlier, but even I could discern 5 sources. Visual novel is easy to read and it's a great laugh at times while preserving a solid and intriguing plot with lovable characters, tonns of CG and almost full voicing. I say it's a neglected masterpiece. Title: Bounty Hunter Rudy Developer: Scoop Date: 1996-10-25 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v7168 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUUFqi-M6JU&t=0s&list=PLENAECnNmAq_3TQ0rXcu0n95aygm3PPQU&index=46 Synopsis: Rudy is a famous space bounty hunter with top notch skills. But she's famous mostly for her ability to fall into troubles because of uncontrolled destruction power. In order to deal with the debts she goes to casino, but drenches down into even deeper debt. She undertakes a top secret military case as her last resort to get big money fast. Structure: One route Length: 4.5 hours Game type: AVG with dialogue choices Difficulty: Game does not have branches, but getting 100% CG is not easy. Character Design rating: 7/10 Protagonist rating: 8/10 Story rating: 8/10 Game quality: 7/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: Can't really call it the game for 8/10, but it's decent enough to be called a masterpiece. Main heroine is impressive, characters charming (yet not developed), space opera story grappling and numerous CG and almost full voicing make up in the quality department. It has flaws, but I shall elaborate later. Protagonist: Rudy is our hermaphrodite strongest in the universe space bounty hunter. She blames in her failures anyone else but her and picks fights in dialogues with everyone. Being of simple and cheerful mind, Rudy enjoys drinking, money, a good company and space adventures. Characters: The only other significant heroine apart of Rudy is Anna who is an alien taking human girl form and who is waiting patiently for Rudy to drop her home. But Anna appears quite late in the story, after a third of it passed already. She's helpless and exists mostly as a comic relief - she always acts straightforward and answers honestly ruining Rudy's sly schemes. Other characters only make episodic appearance, although all of them are a colorful bunch and fun to have around. Story: Much of it is in the synopsis. Rudy gets into a huge debt after a passionate mafia boss chase around the city and being outwit at the casino house. She's only offered poor jobs by the bounty hunter guild leader, so she decides to steal the big job from another guild member Reike. That involves investigating anti-planetary missile weapon. And while on the task, Rudy comes upon an alien in cryogenic chamber who takes the form of human girl Anna. The whole game adventures actually only start from here, but as game adapts to the role of bakage events start to lose ultimate aim. That's the best part in the game - you don't wait for the ending, but just enjoy crazy funny dialogues. And my deepest regret is only that I failed to trigger all the foolish CG and all the extra dialogue lines. CG: Game lasts around 5 hours and does not use sprites for the characters... yes - it's all done in CG only. Hundreds of CG! Sometimes such CG would only last for a few seconds! I was really favorably surprised by the effort. Sound: Protagonist is a woman and all women in this game are voiced. That actually means that almost everyone is voiced considered that game only has bounty hunter guild boss and robot Freddy as male characters as well as some nameless episodic characters. At times I forgot it was partially voiced since only scenes with girls proceeded. Voicing is done here very well and helps a lot the playful mood of the game. Humor: It's just everywhere. Mostly in form of verbal insults and crazy dialogue lines. But I really like it when the game breaks the 4th wall and Rudy does it quite often in hilarious ways. Here's one moment where I laughed out loud and could not stop laughing. Rudy faces a military robot and is presented with three choices. I choose third one with ridiculous phrase "Once upon a time there lived a grandfather and grandmother". Next lines showed on the screen: "Grandfather went to a sauna, grandmother went to a host club". Next we see Rudy getting punched and she shouts "Do not pick this choice"! Then I picked the same choice again. What I got was "Then grandfather went to refresh". And next we see Rudy punched and she shouts "Reality is severe"! Overall comments: I have not enjoyed a bakage that much for a long time. The best thing is that you don't need to care for the plot much or for branches or saves - just enjoy what's happening on the screen at this very moment and that's it. It's a game for relaxation. I feel like some of the spice is lost in machine translation and some cultural layers lost since I am not a Japanese native of the 1990s. Also I appreciated that H events are playful, short and totally forgotten a second after. Well, H events aren't usual as well - they are fun and memorably inventive. It's rare to see a game that puts a player first and everything else second. It's a game that leaves a lasting warm impression and is worthy to be called a masterpiece and a hidden gem.
  9. Shizuku 雫 [Leaf] VS Kizuato 痕 [Leaf]

    That's a pretty poor choice for first UTL VN! Kizuato is still quite lengthy and lacks excitement. Its composition is lackluster as I did not feel there was a core story - more like several shorter action stories that spring out out of blue rather than being the product of synthetic development. And the ending... I felt I was scammed while watching credits and that's not a good thought at the final moments of the game. I hoped for Higurashi predecessor to be more like Higurashi and not like a charage. Well, maybe it's because I set my hopes too high and never liked charage much.
  10. Shizuku 雫 [Leaf] VS Kizuato 痕 [Leaf]

    Foreword: Who does not know of Leaf company? Who does not know that its games Shizuku and Kizuato are considered the first modern type visual novels? But how many of us actually played those? There are some good English reviews of those (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) and I initially only relied on those as well. But the historical significance of Kizuato made me change priorities. Throughout the rest of 90-s and the first half of 2000-s I encountered quite many story-focused visual novels that are described by Japanese reviewers as "degraded version of Kizuato", so I really needed to see the original myself to get the proper idea. As for Shizuku... it came first and is a curious blend of old and new types of visual novels. Why did Leaf bother to make two remakes of it if it's a plain nukige about radio waves? Or maybe it's a dark-themed masterpiece akin to Moon by Tactics? I hope to answer those questions here. And I decided to make a comparative review to spice things up. Screenshots on the left belong to Shizuku, on the right - to Kizuato. Title: Shizuku | Kizuato Developer: Leaf | Leaf Date: 1996-01-26 | 1996-07-26 VNDB link: https://vndb.org/v235 | https://vndb.org/v184 Youtube walkthrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4ivg044iMI&list=PLENAECnNmAq-I8SGBuae4loVKdMDk6axP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ixMxD4DBko&list=PLENAECnNmAq-5p0JujfLT9jK9_CSDAulN Synopsis: When one of his classmates suddenly gets mad in the middle of the class, the protagonist's uncle, one of the teachers in the school, asks him to investigate this matter after school. He starts the investigation with the help of one of the girls from his class, an investigation that will lead them to many horrors... The protagonist is visiting his four cousins' home. He starts to have weird nightmares. Soon, he finds out that their family has non-human genes and the beasts in them want to hunt, and the ones who hunt are the males. Will he be able to help his cousins, will his love be enough or will he be devoured? Structure: Three routes + Omake with total number of endings being 12 | Six routes + Omake with total number of endings being 26. Length: 25 hours | 40 hours Game type: NVL AVG | NVL AVG Difficulty: Easy as there are few routes and branches, but to get all 12 endings best to follow walkthrough | Moderate as there are many routes and endings and it's easy to miss some of bad endings and some omake routes Character Design rating: 5/10 | 9/10 Protagonist rating: 6/10 | 6/10 Story rating: 5/10 | 8/10 Game quality: 7/10 | 9/10 Overall rating: 6/10 | 8/10 Rating comments: Nukige-like story really hurts Shizuku. All the main events happen during just one day and there's not even remotely enough time to get to know the girls. Girls also aren't too cute or interesting. Protagonist is a faceless embodiment of the player and we make all the decisions for him, so his presence is not felt at all. Still the game manages not to fall into nukige category and maintains its storyline which is worth praising. Kizuato characters are totally adorable - every one of them! Each route follows a different pattern. Story is a fascinating one and each roots adds new details to the overall story. Protagonist is a faceless one and without much presence, but a good game does not need the protagonist to be great. So the question hangs in the air - why not 9 or 10 score then? As for me the routes are rushed and follow the same pattern - general route up to the half of it, then getting to know one of the girls better, then something bad happens and we hurry to help. And even though some details are added in consequent routes, those don't add much to the story and after first exciting route - second, third and fourth routes look really plain. True route was also disappointing for me as it added finally something new to the story, but failed to present a satisfying finalizing mark just freezing the state of events as it was. Protagonist: Nagase Yuusuke is quite a failure as protagonist and being called Nagase-chan by the girls makes him even more humiliating. A totally generic high school student. Kashiwagi Kouichi is a young adult, so he is at least mature. He's also not really a generic protagonist since he has quite a background behind him. He comes from an ancient Kashiwagi clan and his father mysteriously died as well as the girls father. So he has some mystery behind him, but I don't remember his face being shown and he does not show special personality traits in the dialogue, so I'd call him generic protagonist. Characters: Saori is a red-hair cheerful volleyball team member. Her route comes first and it's a really good route. And not just because of novelty as we see the carcass of the story for the first time. First - Saori has a bright personality and laughs a lot. Second - there is only one H event in her route and it's a voluntary one. Third - her route has the most of life essence as Saori and Yuusuke openly oppose the enemy, put up hell of a fight and emerge victorious from it. If only the other routes were similar. There is also one strong and shocking moment in the route bad ending, but it's the only bad ending that has nothing to do with H events, so it's really nice. Mizuho is short brown-hair student council secretary. Being the filler mid-game route it is the most miserable route. Mizuho cries often, feels miserable about herself, admits lying all the time and is drawn as a totally self-insufficient personality. She has no friends but Oota and was dragged after her to the student council. Mizuho has no motive to help with the investigation but to help Oota. And on top of that the route is full of helplessness and rape with it ending only thanks to external factors, but not the heroes. Ruriko is a mysterious short blue-hair girl who turned from a school idol to a weird goofy girl a year ago. She's more like a robot than a girl, but she has a very strong sixth sense, a mysterious aura around her and she gradually gains human traits throughout her route which looks really satisfying. Her route is a true one answering many questions, but it's also a route that features a lot of bad endings with all of the three girls and in that regard is very tiresome to get through. I would also like to notice the absence of sub-characters in this game. There aren't friends, schoolmates or some external characters. All we have is Yuusuke's uncle and the three girls under influence of radio-waves - one of them being Oota and the others aren't even given names. Chizuru is the oldest of sisters and the route is the most exciting one as it's full of action and cool-looking CG. Many other people as well as myself call this route a favorite one. Azusa is a tsundere and has a misfortune to present one of the middle routes - and the result is truly grievous - route is full of H events and adds nothing to the story. Kaede is a cold-hearted calm sister who devotes her life to a shire. And for the whole route we try to reveal her human traits. Her route tells us the clan story and gets to understand the routes of the problem. Yumiko is a side-character who works as correspondent. Her route is a very short one (just one hour long!) and is basically a single long H event. Hatsuno is the true route to my deepest regret. She's the youngest loli sister with bright personality and affection for her onii-chan. I really hoped she would not have her own route, but I guess developers needed an imouto route as well - and Hatsuno makes a great imouto. Rikka route added only in the last remake of 2009. She's a totally new - maid - character that comes with a totally new after-story with a new villain. And it's a totally good route that adds lots of new cool everyday life scenes for old characters. But just remember that it was not meant to be in the original game and should thus be treated as a sequel with old characters, but since it's just one route it was not wise to release it stand-alone so it was released together with original. Story: Shizuku story is almost entirely retold in the synopsis. Oota gets mad one day and goes to the hospital. When uncle asks us to investigate strange gatherings of students at night school we can either investigate it or ignore it. If we choose to ignore, we're showed the graduation ceremony that becomes a huge orgy because of commands passed by radiowaves. So radiowaves use is not the mystery of the game - it's showed in the very first hour of the game. Only the mystery of personality of the villain persists, but it also becomes soon uncovered as we come with one of the girls to the night school to bear witness of the events happening there. Each girl has her own reasons to accompany the hero to the night school, but those don't change anything - a confrontation happens followed by game's end. So the game has no mystery, no story and no likable characters (maybe apart Saori) - what's the game for then? My guess is that the game is a thrilling eroge in unusual conditions, nothing more. It barely manages not to fall in the depths of nukige and presents mostly a historical interest. Kizuato story is not really special. First half of each route takes nice and warm slice of life with only distant sings of the beast living in Koichi. In the second half something happens - either a mysterious enemy shows up or someone gets kidnapped or like in true route we just get to find an ancient cave and explore it. So it's a simple enough composition. But through the dialogues we get to uncover many secrets of the past and get to know the girls well. The most intriguing question is what about the beast part? I'd say it does not have that much emphasis in the game, actually. We get to have strange visions and people torn apart, but there's no telling if those are of Koichi doing. And thankfully beast instincts aren't used as a pretext for rape scenes - that happened only once. There aren't bad endings when Koichi would wreak havoc and kill everyone. Mostly beast instincts only show up during confrontation scenes. And the main theme of the game is learning to control those instincts. So as I see it Kizuato is more of a charage with a fancy intriguing plot rather than a full-scale action driven story. Rikka route is so big that it can easily qualify for a different game. It has a new serious story with some new characters and and presents a very satisfying development with a lot of interaction with all the heroines. CG: I only played the remastered version, and there are only some 10 non-HCG there which is a dreadfully small number. But what I really liked in Shizuku is the use of camera focus and animated camera shifts. Those really help to put emphasis on dialogue situations and show better what's going of from hero's perspective. Overall there are few outdoor daytime scenes in Shizuku and omnipresent dark areas make up for the gloomy pressure atmosphere. There is a moderate number of non-HCG in Kizuato, but both CG and HCG look great and really refined there. Most of dialogues take part in well lit areas or on sunny days outdoors which contributes to good impression. Sound: BGMs are very few and I grew tired of listening to the same main tune each time something important happened. Voicing is good, but due to the game nature those moans really get stuck in the head. BGMs are sufficient and pleasant, but not special. I totally liked the voicing since the four sisters have very different personalities. Hatsuno voicing is just perfect and always enjoyable to listen to. Themes: Shizuku is not a too complicated game, so it's useless to search for concealed meanings there, but I liked that each character route had a different theme. Saori route has the power of reason and overcoming even hardest obstacles for the right thing. Mizuho route is based on friendship with Oota and has a nice resolution of friendship prevailing all the odds (even though it's the the most weird ending as everyone just forgets about the villain). Rikka route is centered around the inner connection of two siblings. The curse makes the make theme of Kizuato. The whole clan is cursed with transformation affinity, but the males of the clan also subject to madness at some point of their lives. Koichi is the last male descendant of the clan with the rest of males taking miserable deaths full of suffering. Noone was ever able to cure it or control it. This desperation makes the theme of the game, but on practice the beast problem does not stand as grave in the game. Humor: So Shizuku is not our usual galge, but it has an absolutely awesome part. That's omake. Main game suffers from lack of slice of life part and omake makes up for it. It's a total bakage that breaks the fourth wall constantly. It looks like seiyu and scenarist just wanted to fool around and had their full at it. Basically heroines discuss the game and what kind of character everyone is which leads to forcing Yuusuke to choose the girl he likes the most. And since he can't make a decision girls participate in sport and cooking competitions. There was some humor in 2009 Rikka route, but can't remember any of the original. But that awakening scene with two sisters getting embarrassed by the state of Koichi body was nice. Overall comments: So here are first Leaf visual novels. What makes Kizuato a contemporary visual novel? Different long route for each heroine Long enough main part with heroines introduction Heroines aren't isolated in their routes but act alongside other heroines in the main course of the story. Text-heavy narration for which NVL system was introduced Has erotic content (which distinguishes from sound novels). Rich sub-character cast. Branched routes and multiple endings including bad ones. And here's what's wrong with Shizuku: Almost no sub-characters No introduction to heroines (no slice of life part) Too short time period taken Abundance of H events Each girl route follows absolutely the same pattern Game has 12 endings (10 for main game and 2 for omake) and a lot of parts are shared between them, so it gets very repetitive and there's a constant deja vu feeling. Repetitiveness is aggravated by the use of same phrases for countless times with different intonation. There were at least 5 such spots in the game when the characters may repeat the very same phrase for over 10 minutes. It may look fresh for the first time, but later on it only irritates. Both games systems remind contemporary visual novels, but Shizuku as the first test bullet contains numerous flaws. My plank for masterpiece games is a bit low - 7/10 is enough to get there, so I consider Kizuato with 8/10 a masterpiece. It has great heroines cast, solid intriguing story and it surpasses nowadays charage a long way. As for Shizuku, it holds mostly a historical significance, but it still a worthy game if only read Saori route, then the very end of Ruriko route and the hilarious omake, of course.
  11. VN of the Year 1995

    1995 did not bring as many masterpieces as previous years while increasing the total number of visual novels significantly First of all, let's prolong the chart VN per year Year Total 1991 75 1992 80 1993 121 1994 155 1995 180 There's been a steady increase in total number VNs by 16% compared to year 1994. The aftertaste is bitter as if I witness an overall decline in quality. So let's see what year 1995 brought: The number of VNs with high difficulties and genre mixes increased steeply Command selection gets almost extinct being substituted with either point and click or ADV Moe first focused on in Classmates 2 started its victorious march through the time Conception of time showed up in several games at once after success of Classmates 1 and 2 First Windows VN - Sinkha Let's count the masterpiece level games of 1995: 1. Bunny Hunter Zero 2. Eve: Burst Error 3. Isaku 4. Kuro no Danshou: The Literary Fragment 5. Lilith 6. Mime 7. Mugen Yasoukyoku 8. Ryouki no Ori 9. Romance wa Tsurugi no Kagayaki - The Last Crusader- 10. Tokyo Twilight Busters ~Kindan no Ikenie Teito Jigokuhen~ 11. True Love ~Jun'ai Monogatari~ 12. Youjuu Senki 2 -Reimei no Senshi-tachi- Just twelve works? That's a definite decline from 1994. Eve: Burst Error is an unbeatable giant this year. It is the best known old game that has not lost a grain of its charm to our days. It has all the rights to be the VN of the Year 1995. Oh, and some final words. The era of pc-98 is actually almost gone. Year 1996 will the transition one and 1997 will have only some leftover slowpokes on pc-98 systems. So let's say thanks to the magnificent beautiful world of pc-98 and dive into... very crude and ugly works of beginning of windows era...
  12. Lilith リリス [Four-Nine]

    Foreword: Game's totally obscure and there just one quite shallow Japanese review exists, so I'd probably miss this wonderful game unless saw Four-Nine as developer. And I'm really happy I did! Title: Lilith Developer: Four-Nine Date: 1995-12-16 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8949 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_1nGf0P0-M&list=PLENAECnNmAq8obEJUzYJkNq8XOxyNZ-0s Synopsis: An intense night battle between kunoichi clan leader and evil biblical spirit Lilith ends with kunoichi falling into coma state. A cat gets into an ordinary student Koketsu room, transforms into a girl and claims that Koketsu got her master kunoichi spirit and must help her master and defeat Lilith. The problem is that nothing is known about Lilith but the name and together they set to uncover its secrets. Structure: One route Length: 11 hours Game type: Command selection adventure Difficulty: Challenging since there are gameplay elements introduced with walking on schematic map and triggering events including traps, some of which result in game over. Once I even managed to trigger game over during a H event! And there is no scene replay - you'll have to replay from the last save game. Character Design rating: 7/10 Protagonist rating: 8/10 Story rating: 9/10 Game quality: 8/10 Overall rating: 8/10 Rating comments: I can't praise this game enough. Lilith came a year after Gao Gao 3rd and it fully inherits the spirit of Gao Gao series, just with a slightly different setting. The story is surprisingly solid and long. Protagonist is the strongest compared to all the Gao Gao series games. Characters serve the story purpose mostly, but they spend so much time with Koketsu that we get to know everyone very well. The gameplay elements are really annoying when encountered, but those get easier and easier as story goes on, so the impression gets balanced. Being PC-98 exclusive, game is not voiced and can feel monotonous at times and only for that it's not a perfect score. Protagonist: Koketsu is a normal student proficient in Kendo. And I can only admire how he manages to beat all kinds of beasts, demons and undead all by himself with his wooden sword! That kitten girl is absolutely useless in battle and strong allies join up quite late in the game. There are strategic retreats at times, but mostly he just beats crap out of anything! It's been a while since I encountered protagonist that strong. He's funny, cool and takes decisions himself. He reminds Wolfy from Gao Gao 3rd-4th a lot. Characters: I'm not really sure for transcription, but cat-girl is Miya. There is also childhood friend Minoru. Eventually a fox girl comes into stage and kunoichi Sasame comes out of coma, so we get quite a harem here! And most of enemies are girls, of course. What actually delighted me is that not every female enemy gets a H event unlike Gao Gao series. There are also numerous neutral/episodic female characters in the game, so there's not enough time to devote to separate heroines. Story: I absolutely liked the story since it was absolutely unpredictable and full of great enemies, battles and blood. There are so many civilians and enemies killed violently that Gao Gao does not come into comparison even remotely on the matter. I also liked that at some point story got some structure as heroes needed to get all three spiritual stones. So each of these spirit stones parts and next fighting parts have each a beautiful legend in the core. Some of those stories are even about our enemies which totally blasts. Since I divided the videos by structural parts, it's well worth to mention those when talking about the story, but without too many spoilers, of course. So Koketsu with Miya just gather information about Lilith from various sources and work out a course of actions in introduction. Then gathering of three spirit stones follows. And second half of the game is devoted to numerous encounters with old and new enemies. That's the gist of it, but there there is a lot of content for 11 hour story. CG: Relatively big number of CG, but as usual for Four-Nine, only HCG are full screen size. What I especially liked is that there aren't many H events in the game. And H content is filled by inserting many random H events that are peeped while investigating some locations. Quite a lot of H events with Koketsu are packed by the end of the game since he needed to restore a lot of energy and we know an absolutely best way to give an injured bleeding hero energy! Sound: About 10 tracks, but those are totally different and very nice non-mechanic. BGM really adds to the charm of the game. Themes: 1) Lilith is the supposed first wife of biblical Adam, so religion has an important role in the game. Humor: I was surprised to see so much mild humor in the game. It's totally the Gao Gao type. Some cases that come to mind to get a taste of it: 1) Christian priest says he studies Japanese culture and he already knows of ninja, geisha and hara-kiri! 2) One heroine was found in the bushes and she just can't excuse Koketsu for stealing her first breast! As it turns out it's the the same thing as the first kiss, but about touching a breast. 3) An exchange student is asked if she knows something about Lilith. It's a girl who went through a mirror to the wonderland (No, it's "Alice")! It's a game where you turn blocks and stick them together (No, it's "Tetris")! It's a fighting game between monsters where king is the mummy (No, it's "Anakaris")! It's shameful to say it as a girl, but it's what men have between the... (PLEASE STOP RIGHT THERE!) Overall comments: This is a masterpiece and the exact kind of hidden gem that I would like to find in visual novels. A rich event-driven story with very unusual, but appealing characters (most of characters are half-bests as in all the Four-Nine games). So why is it so obscure then? There are many versions: command selection gameplay, trap/puzzle sections, bad endings, slow start of the game. But I also blame December - there are so many visual novels issued each December that it's sometimes difficult to find the place in the top 10 and the rest are deprived of attention.
  13. Foreword: I keep exploring the vast vaults of Silky's games. This time it's even more suspicious work - a full scale yuri game. But it has many SF elements and even has genetically modified mutants - knowing Silky's they would not settle with an ordinary yuri work. Title: Fermion ~Mirai kara no Houmonsha~ Developer: Silky's Date: 1995-12-22 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v5903 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btt7mlj8_rI Synopsis: The future isn't so bright. Pollution has severely weakened Earth and all of it's children, including humankind. Human DNA is too weak to reproduce itself and scientists are desperately trying to revive the human DNA. But every attempt fails, even the desperate attempt to fuse Human and Animal DNA turns out to create mutants that run amok. Everything seems hopeless. But suddenly, scientists detect a space-time displacement, a gap in time. The gap will hold for a couple of days, and during which people may be sent through time. Your mission as a Half-Human, Half-Feline, mutant-hunter Conny, is to back in time to the present (the late 20th century) and recover samples of healthy human DNA. Structure: One route Length: 5 hours Game type: Command selection adventure Difficulty: Easy since there are maximum three commands to select from at any time. Character Design rating: 6/10 Protagonist rating: 5/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 6/10 Overall rating: 6/10 Rating comments: This is not a masterpiece, so it can't be 7 or higher by my scaling. Well, the rest depends on whether you play yourself or watch my playthrough with scores of 4 and 6, respectively. Original game has too many (10+) H events and has a very time-consuming and boring ventilation system maze crawler. I've cut those in my video reducing overall length almost twice without hurting the story. The whole first half of the game is packed with H events so densely that I really started to think Silky's made a plain ero-centered yuri game. But after two hours of such struggle finally story showed up making it a worthy Silky's title. Heroines in this game are quite memorable and well done, so characters get a high score. Protagonist Conny has a lower score since she does not even try to think for herself - first she follows orders and then her emotions. Protagonist: Conny is a so-so protagonist since she has a strong sense of loyalty as a mutant towards humans. She can turn to a cat voluntarily, but she only uses that to prove that she comes from future and to get into other girls beds - only very late in game she actually it appropriately to travel through the vent system (and she manages to carry fuel canisters with her through the vent in cat form - don't ask me how). It's ok for a protagonist to be dense, but this time I felt no sympathy towards protagonist. Characters: There are two casts of characters - from year 1996 and from year 2296 - first represented by Kanako, her mother and sister and second comprised of military base crew. There are too many H events in the game, so most of dialogues are scrapped or serve as a prologue to next H scene, but still characters are solid here and dialogues feel alive. Story: That's the difficult part. Conny arrives to Kanako family backyard in the form of a girl and is brought home by Kanako. During the whole first half of the game only gathering of genetic material happens. First the whole Kanako family cooperates, then Kanako invites a friend and then Conny manages to get into the school as a foreign student and gather genetic material in form of women fluids there. But the second half of the game brings much more in the story department. Conny's superior Dr. Kanzaki suddenly arrives to 1996 and kidnaps Kanako. When Conny flies back to future to save her new friend, she finds herself trapped in a cell-like room without freedom of movement. What's going on there? Why future military needs Kanako? What can Conny do about this situation? There are a lot of mysteries uncovered closer to the end of the game and some of them are totally unexpected and fascinating. CG: Again, quite few normal CG and too many HCG. At least palette now is much more bright and vivid. Sound: Not too many tracks, but I liked how in crucial story moments all the music stops and couple minutes are spent in a total silence - that benefited the atmosphere. Themes: 1) Time travel. As far as I understand the game violated all the logical laws of time travel like meeting yourself in the past. No big complaints here, but it gets an amateurish touch to the story. 2) There are no men in the game. The single time I saw man mentioned is when Kanako wanted to invite her friend and Conny asked whether that friend was a man or a woman. It's pretty weird to have a good dozen of characters with all of them being women. Overall comments: This is mostly a yuri-intensive work, but the story turned out to be surprisingly good considered limitations of the setting. It's only disappointing that the action part of the story is hidden closer to the end of the game behind the wall of numerous yuri events and then the maze of vent system. It's an interesting and beautiful game with very nice characters, but I would only recommend watching my edited video version of it if you're interested in the story like myself.
  14. Foreword: There is a negative English review, but VNDB voting shows a decent 6.72 score atm and this is Silky's story oriented work, same Silky's that I praised multiple times for Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku, Reira Slave Doll, Ushinawareta Rakuen and Koihime. So I decided to make it to the end of Jack ~Haitoku no Megami~ no matter what. Title: Jack ~Haitoku no Megami~ Developer: Silky's Date: 1995-11-30 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v6387 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3px7_N_hFY Synopsis: You are Jack Martin, a drunken, selfish, sex-driven bastard of a detective. You recently received a job to capture the inter-galactic terrorist "Phantom". The Phantom has been confirmed to be heading toward a galactic convention on a transtellar shuttle. This is where you come in. Structure: One route with four Bad End branches. Length: 3 hours Game type: Command selection adventure Difficulty: Branching is difficult and following walkthrough is advised in order not to waste time on meaningless endings. Character Design rating: 4/10 Protagonist rating: 5/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 6/10 Overall rating: 6/10 Rating comments: Pretty high score still. The introduction was very shallow followed by meeting meaningless characters having meaningless talks and then I entered the wrong branch where Jack just dozed off after drinking session at the bar oversleeping the important meeting and missing the whole murder case at the ship bridge... then there were some random girls encounters and then just something hit him in the head killing him after over 2 hours of play... wow, I felt really miserable at that point and that first impression really hurt evaluation. Then I followed a walkthrough and finally remotely understood what was going on. Other complaints are to be touched in corresponding sections. Protagonist: Saying Jack is a bad protagonist is saying nothing at all. He's horrible. He does not have a single plan. All that he's doing is drinking in the bar and then drinking in his room occasionally having other girls drinking with him in the bar or in his or their rooms plus occasionally meeting some faces in the corridor. And if he drinks with the right people the story manages to unwind by itself... Characters: Characters are my biggest complaint in this game. There are a lot of girls, but they just flash here and there, throw a few dialogue lines and disappear in order to reappear in some spontaneous even leading to a H scene. Reni is the main heroine of the game, Jack's partner. She's an island of sanity in this asylum, but there's an impression that she just sits in the room all the time, so she never actually follows Jack. She does provide some insight, but apart of that she ain't much supportive. Story: There's little in the story department. Main heroes hunt for mysterious Phantom, then a murder happens and they start investigation which does not bring any results, really. At some point Phantom just pops up and a swift resolution follows. I was greatly misleaded by the line about the dragon in the English review - actually it's not a normal dragon, but a space dragon that hatched from a huge space egg, so there's no shift in the setting. CG: Nice, but few'ish - but lots of HCG. Colors are kind of dim like in Reira while I'd prefer something more bright like Ushinawareta Rakuen. Sound: Tracks are pleasant, but there are some 8 of them which is not enough. Themes: Ok, this game actually does not have a symbolic theme, but why not mention couple repeating features 1) Oh, what time is it? Let's check the watch. It's 14:10. There is still a lot of time left. Those lines with slight variations are repeated so often, but I don't think there was some deadline ever so all that talk along with the clock integrated in the interface have little meaning. 2) The throat's got dry. I want to drink alcohol... Those lines are repeated over and over at those rare moments when Jack is not actually drinking. At the culmination point of the game in the mids of battle with Phantom he repeats the very same lines... That might be a nice feature of a cool protagonist, but Jack is not cool. He's rather miserable. Overall comments: I seem to be bashing the game in every section, so I'd like to focus on good sides in conclusion. 1) First of all, the game plays as a contemporary visual novel with just clicking through and occasionally picking lines of choice. 2) Secondly, the constant drunkenness of protagonist opens up new opportunities like distorted consciousness and free flow of thoughts. 3) There are some nice to observe archetype characters like a homo, an obviously super suspicious mechanic, an esper. 4) Jack himself actually gets some character depth by the end of the game - we get to know the circumstances that caused him to drop from an elite military unit and start to drink. 5) The SF setting is quite interesting, actually, with postwar spies hunt and mysterious space events like that space dragon. So it's not a masterpiece level game, but a solid Silky's experimental game. I like works with an SF touch Silky's is smart enough to provide an entertaining product. I'm looking forward to reviewing their next game Fermion ~Mirai kara no Houmonsha~.
  15. VN of the Year 1994

    First, some statistics. Here's the chart of total number of VNs, number of listed VNs in this blog and number of blocked VNs for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994. Number won't change significantly since for the moment these are all the VNs that vndb.org has for the noted periods. VN per year Year Total Listed Blocked 1991 75 1992 80 1993 121 1994 155 As you remember, year 1992 was to my liking since, due to harsh censorship, works were more story-oriented. And with almost the same number of total VNs compared to 1991, in 1992 there were much more works that made it in the list and even smaller number of blocked ones. The total number of works increased further by 28%, but the correlation of quality story oriented works improved slightly in comparison to 1993. So let's see what year 1994 brought: Dating SIMs showed up and pushed Raising SIMs back RPG weren't too numerous but there are surprisingly many very high quality RPGs in 1994 There's the first Otome game Angelique There's the first Yaoi reference in Uchuu Kaitou Funny Bee Gao Gao 3 presented a new model of game - party interaction based. Let's count the masterpiece level games of 1994: 1. AmbivalenZ -Niritsu Haihan- AmbivalenZ 2. Crystal Rinal - Ouma No Meikyuu - 3. DESIRE - Haitoku no Rasen 4. Dragon Knight 4 5. Gao Gao! 3rd ~Wild Force~ 6. Fuzoroi no Lemon 7. Mirage 2 - Torry x Neat x Roan no Daibouken 8. Nooch 3 Saigo no Seisen 9. Policenauts 10. Team Innocent: The Point of No Return 11. Tokimeki Memorial 12. Toushin Toshi II 13. Urusei Yatsura: Dear My Friends 14. Wedding Errantry -Gyakutama Ou- 15. Welcome to the Cinemahouse 16. Zatsuon Ryouiki And five of those 15 are RPGs, pretty insane. I guess there was no competition from the beginning - I'd put DESIRE pretty much above any game put beside. So DESIRE is the game of the year 1994.
  16. Foreword: Silky's company and Slave doll in title inevitably make us think it's a nukige, but actually it's a scenario oriented game. Moreover, that's retelling of a classic cyberpunk story about an android hunter - the story that was already told in visual novels by Imitation wa Aisenai and Snatcher. Did Silky's ruin the classic concept or was it able to produce a masterpiece? You'll find the answer in this review. That's actually infamous Raira on the screen. Title: Reira Slave Doll Developer: Silky's Date: 1994-04-28 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v9053 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUzNdzCXyhc&index=1&t=0s&list=PLENAECnNmAq8rNJQkjudialEIFqA335Pu Synopsis: Early 21st century. The crisis situation created by mass production and mass consumption of the 20th century has aggravated. Extinction of ozone layer caused environmental disasters including acid rains over the cities. Natural resources grew scarce due to explosive population increase. Humanity started space exploration. The shortage of labor force motivated scientific society to invent and produce bio-androids. 2050. A quarter century has passed since start of practical use of androids. Fierce competition among android producers allowed advanced models to be sold for moderate prices affordable for average households. With that increased the number of runaway androids and crimes done by androids. Government obligated android producers to register all the units and new police units involving android crimes were created. Its police officers were commonly known as "Hunters". This is a story of hunter Kano Ryo. He is looking for a female slave doll serial killer Reira. Out of two weeks given for the task only three days remain. Since android needs maintenance, the only place suitable for living for such a long time is some android factory. Ryo locates a factory near committed murders and just goes inside to conduct a full-scale investigation at the spot. Structure: Single route, no parts division. Length: 7 hours Game type: Command selection adventure Difficulty: It was easy for me since I'm used to brute-forcing all the commands. Character Design rating: 7/10 Protagonist rating: 6/10 Story rating: 7/10 Game quality: 7/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: A very high score for a PC-98 game. Girls are the gist of the game and they are surely lovely drawn and depicted. They have different personalities and are memorable. But it's impossible to imbue them with depth in a not-so-long game, so it's high score as it can get. Protagonist is an ok guy - not a maniac, but not without perversion if the situation cries for it. He does not force himself on anyone, but does not decline any invitations to H either. My biggest complaint about him is that we're not given his image - and that's supposed to be the coolest thing a cyberpunk story! Story is with a twist, so I was pleasantly surprised. The quality of the game is very good, but greatly degraded by lack of non-H CG and constant command brute-forcing. Protagonist: It's actually difficult to say anything else about Ryo. Oh! He has a ray-gun, but he only remembers about that at the end of the game when he desperately needs to open a door. If he remembered about that earlier, I would not have spent 3 hours looking for ways to open previous two doors in the game! Anyway, there are only girls CG in the game and thus poor Ryo looks blank. Characters: So, yes, it's a game about girls mostly. But there aren't girls roots and the whole interaction with girls is presented by normal communication with them or finding them in different peculiar situations and reacting by the circumstances. So I don't feel the need to speak about them individually, but here are the names and occupations. Glasses wearing blue long hair Eleanor is an office section manager. Red long hair Alicia is responsible for scrap station. Short green hair Anise governs the warehouse. Medical department has two similar looking nurses - Silk and Cotton (I know, I know...). Long blue hair Sofia is the boss of a sorting center. Short curly brown hair Mei is in charge of the furnace. Long blond hair Karin governs the chip processing section. So that's it - just 7 divisions and so many girls. But a nice thing is that few of girls are amicably set towards the detective. But still there is at least one H-event of each of them with the protagonist and there is more without Ryo. Oh and there is factory owner who does not get another name, but Owner. And that is because he owns. Story: Finally, the story. It's the part that should reinstall the game from a nukige to a decent cyberpunk story if it's still redeemable at all at this point. So Ryo gets a permission from factory owner to explore the factory with the guide Alicia. After the tour Alicia seduces Ryo saying that it's a direct order from the owner that she can't disobey. Because of that attitude a rebellion movement is threading among the staff against the owner. But there are also collaborators who obstruct the investigation and prevent Ryo from entering some areas. Ryo soon finds the traces of illegal android trade, but how is it linked with serial murders and runaway slave doll Reira? You won't know without watching the video walkthrough. CG: Too few! But at the same time HCG are in abundance. Sound: BGM tracks are very pleasant, but not memorable. Themes: As pretty much every game about androids, Reira Slave Doll tries to keep with the flow. The main question is whether androids should have rights if their intellectual level outgrows that of a human. Overall comments: So it's definitely an ero-centered game. But at the same time it has a serious intriguing plot. So why not have both? The balance here is tilt towards H and the situation is aggravated by command bruteforcing, but the story behind it is satisfying. Recommended for all cyberpunk fans or just for anyone who wants a light cheerful game with beautiful characters and CG in Sci-Fi setting.
  17. Foreword: It would be weird if I reviewed only three games of the serious out of four. So here is the leftover piece - and again a worthy one. Title: Gao Gao! 2nd ~Pandora no Mori~ Developer: Four-Nine Date: 1994-04-16 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8695 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq9jc6oE6uhjsWcOoBDaZg2h Synopsis: A biological experiment that began in 1993 led to a terrible disaster in the beginning of 21st century. A virus that turned living beings into mutants and monsters has been unleashed. Soon the Earth turned into a terrifying place of chaos, as more and more human beings became infected. Unspeakable violence obliterated human civilization. Within a few years, humanity was on the verge of total annihilation. The Era of Darkness began. But not all hope was lost. Humans began building cities known as "Domes", isolated from the wilderness, protected by glass from all sides, cut from natural resources. It was possible to start building civilization anew. On one fateful day, the famous scientist couple Mizuhara were killed in what looked like an accident. Their project, which showed new ways of fighting the virus, descended into the grave with them. Their two children were separated and for a long time were unaware of their origins. But the wheels of destiny keep spinning, as the young Mizuhara is about to discover the truth about his parents, and perhaps bring new hope to humanity... Structure: One route with 8 chapters. Length: 7 hours Game type: Command selection adventure Difficulty: Easy - there were only couple moments to bruteforce - apart of that the pace is good. Character Design rating: 7/10 Protagonist rating: 4/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 7/10 Overall rating: 6/10 Rating comments: Huh, the worst rating of all games in the series. The biggest complaint this time is absolutely spineless and useless protagonist. We see his crying face so many times that the desire to hit him arises. Luckily, his female cousin Lucia hits him so many times during the game that even desire to hit him vanishes. Another my complaint is that the game gets very ero-centered by the end of it sacrificing some of the story for the sake of it. I'm glad it was fixed in later installations, but here it left a negative impact for me. And that brings forth my complaint about the story which I'll explain in the story description. Overall game quality stays on the same level as other games of the series which is very high. Protagonist: Jackie makes the worst protagonist in the series and I'm very glad I did not change his name to mine (there is such menu option). He can't make his own decisions, complains and cries all the time. His female cousin Lucia who accompanies him for the most of the game is a typical tsundere - basically it's a less funny version of Rabby from Gao Gao 3rd. When by the end of the game she's asked why she's that much of a tsundere, she answers that she does not really understand herself often and does not know what she wants... jeez. Jackie can't make his own decisions, so Lucia does them all the time! And she chooses kind of the worst options, so they always get into trouble. And both protagonists are powerless, so they are abused for the whole first part of the game and it does not look funny, to be honest. But to compliment the developers there are nice sub-characters here and amplified humor part. Characters: As usual, there are lots of sub-characters. The funniest one is Laila who is the genetic parent of Ilia from Gao Gao 3rd which means that they have totally the same personalities, but different memories. Another curious character is glasses wearing Meg who is a friend of protagonist Lucia. The beast girl protagonists encounter first is Lia, but she does not say anything but "Mi" and thus is almost useless for the story. And there's also a half-mermaid girl Nagi. Phew, that finishes the harem of Jackie. As if it's not enough - there also other sub-characters with H-events. Story: Jackie was separated from his female cousin Lucia 10 years ago after death of their parents. Now Jackie goes from Pluto-city to Aristo-city to meet his cousin. She meets him at the station, but treats him as a dog which role Jackie joyfully accepts. She is foolish enough to fall for a nanpa and Jackie whines so much that he's taken along on a car ride. The nanpa guy Roy brings them to a forbidden area infected by virus and attempts a rape. The cousins flee from the car and get lost in the forest where they eventually meet mutants and the real story begins. But forest part of the game does not really last long and 6 chapters out of 8 take place at Aristo-city upon their return. In order not to spoil much I'll only say that their return does not really happen smoothly and that the laboratory under the city holds all of its secrets (same as in Gao Gao 3rd and 4th, actually - so it's hardly a spoiler). I actually hoped for a better story - not just a walk to the forest and return back with the remaining story happening in the same city. But Gao Gao series is characterized by some facilities investigations in a company and that's presented here in full volume. Moreover, first two chapters were too boring thanks to featuring only two failure protagonists. But as more characters come to stage the flow gets its usual pace and the game becomes a worthy species of the series. CG: As usual, all the full-screen pictures are reserved for HCG which are rather uneven. But half-screen CG are very nice, yet as usual reserved only for event scenes. Sound: Great! But I actually think that Gao Gao 3rd inherited too many melodies from this game. Themes: It's not really a theme, but a complaint over the plot. At some point we get to know that virus is already extinguished and the governing circles just conceal this information as it's convenient to govern the isolated communities under the domes. But in Gao Gao 3rd and 4th we get a different picture as humanity is eliminated save for very small nucleus communities. And whatever the explanations for that are, I still see a contradiction here. Such big cities as Aristo-city can't just vanish over couple hundred years. The only answer to that might be reproduction problems, but Canaan protagonist human boy Kite was born in the vault without problems, so I doubt that's the case. Overall comments: So it's the weakest game in the series, but does it mean it's bad? I consider Gao Gao series to be the best visual novel series in the whole pre-Windows period. Thus Pandora no Mori surpasses a vast majority of pc-98 era games. And it holds much value for the fan of this series. First of all - most of jokes that keep repeating through following games are originated here (like in example "Information is transferred to the central host" "Oh, host is a man who is dating women!"). Here we finally get to know the origins of the mermaid story that goes through 3rd and 4th games. There are a lot of other symbols that get into following games (like Laila comes to a computer and exclaims that it's strange that it has not broken down after her approaching - and that theme repeats a lot for Ilia).
  18. Foreword: I did not expect much of the first game in the series, but was pleasantly surprised. It's a really long scenario-centered game that stands on the same level as Gao Gao the 3rd, just in less intriguing environment. It's well worth a review! Title: Gao Gao! 1st ~Radical Sequence~ Developer: Four-Nine Date: 1994-01-07 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8694 Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik-oCR-wj2E&t=0s&list=PLENAECnNmAq8SX_gfftcaJs33UPCvY_Lv&index=1 Synopsis: The protagonist of the game is a college student named Yuuji Shibata. One evening, just after hearing on the news that someone has stolen a tiger, he goes out to a convenience store. On the way back, in a dark alley, he notices a strange creature, a young girl with cat ears and tail. She doesn't seem to remember anything about herself, except her name beginning with the syllable "Mi...", which afterwards earns her the nickname Mi. Yuuji brings her to his house and tries to introduce her to the world of humans. (which, naturally, also involves techniques of human procreation). But will Yuuji be able to keep Mi as his companion (sexual and otherwise), or will he have to face her mysterious past?.. Structure: One route with 8 chapters. Length: 8 hours Game type: Command selection adventure Difficulty: Easy, but triggers aren't clear and bruteforcing required. There were couple very painful moments that took a while to bruteforce. Character Design rating: 7/10 Protagonist rating: 8/10 Story rating: 7/10 Game quality: 7/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: First three games were released almost the same year and they all share the same drawbacks that were partially fixed in 4th Canaan. Those are bruteforcing and obligatory interactive H-scenes. And again hero scores with every female heroine he meets sooner or later - I'm not a fan of such approach. But apart of that I'm really satisfied with the game. I was afraid of abuse of H events with Mi, but there were only two obligatory ones, quite the same as with some other characters. And the scale of the story is much bigger that's presented in the synopsis with a lot of characters to take part. Add here the fact that we're being the witnesses of the very beginnings of virus H1 outrage and I'm sold. I rated protagonist higher than other heroines, because he's truly a great guy - the following section is about him. Protagonist: Yuuji Shibata is a normal college student... at least we're told that. But he only attends library to prepare for the test in the game. He's funny and brave. There's a lot of charm about him. Gao Gao series protagonists have personalities, faces and none of them are of perverts. That's a great advantage. There are about 10 H-events in the game, but all of them have decent explanations and are results of some events and conditions. That's really fresh since girls don't really force themselves upon the hero and thus don't have their personalities devalued. Yuuji is the only fighting force till very late in the story (catwoman Mi is totally useless in fights) and I was really astonished by the fact that he defeated several ninjas all by himself and was the only one to effectively oppose virus beast - that's your normal college student! There's a lot of charm in the protagonist and Yuuji's the best human protagonist in the series (he can't beat half-wolf Wolfy, of course ^^). Characters: There are really many characters in this game and even though the game starts normally, it soon becomes a two-man party and eventually even three-man party, so it has the roots of the party heartwarming adventure feature that's the feature of the series. It's useless to speak of heroines, because there are only two main ones - Mi and another college student Hanako. Those girls usually accompany Yuuji and thus are able to contribute to many scenes. Other heroines have episodic part in the story. Story: So Yuuji finds Mi at a waste depot and brings her to his room. From then on they just wander around the town for several days trying to help Mi recover her memories. At some point they start to be followed by different suspicious persons who demand to return Mi, but heroes just run away from them each time. With some of the memory threads linked together, Mi finally recognized the house that used to be her home. But getting to that house does not even cover a half of the story with the most exciting part hidden in the mansion's inhabitants. Things get violent soon with some unexpected allies joining in. But you won't get the real answers till you watch the video walkthrough. CG: Somehow I found CG here superior to Gao Gao 3rd. And I did not feel as if I was retrogaming at all. But still rare... only for plot important scenes and thus are packed close to the end of the game. HCG: Compared to Gao Gao 3rd HCG are finally beautiful with few distorted face features. Sound: Great! I like it how the themes of the sounds transfer to the next games, but transformed so that those would not irritate. Themes: I can see one theme to be lingering throughout the game. There is no good and evil, allies and enemies. There are only persons that can be reasoned with as long as they possess intelligence. So far it's the kindest game in the series with pretty much noone dying apart of very episodic sub-characters. Overall comments: I've already reviewed two other games of the series and thus don't have much to say here. That's a very strong start of the series and characters-wise Radical Sequence does not really fall behind its older brothers. We only get semi-fantasy environment here and semi-party experience, but it's the same stamp of quality that's shared among the games of the series. If you liked Wild Force or Canaan it would not be a waste of time to try Radical Sequence. And no game of the series gives virus origins and development explanation as good as Radical Sequence.
  19. VN of the Year 1993

    Year 1993 was... strange. Most of praised games of the year were blocked by me due to nukige nature of the games. Those games include Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku, Rance 4, Viper series, NOVA, Ayumi-chan Monogatari, Kindan no Ketsuzoku. And a lot of quality representatives that I don't even want to mention here are purest brainless nukige. It really looked to me as if the world got mad after the strict censorship of 1992. The number of VNs that made into my list slightly decreased from 4.08 in 1992 to 3.75 in 1993 due to increased nukige tendency. The notable features of year 1993 included: - Hard disks come as an early substitute for FDD, e.g. Rance 4 was released only for hard disks. - Games featuring 2 or even 3 screen CG scrolling got frequent - Multiple games heavily introduced animation to look like TV anime - Several works included percentage of watched CG and it stimulated pursue of CG rather than developing story - As games increase in volume they start to feel uncomfortable withing Command selection formula. Command selection is generally simplified even further to such extremes as three icons or 2-3 unique variants for each selection, sometimes merging with contemporary ADV system. Let's try and count what masterpiece level games we ended up with in 1993. 1. Bunretsu Shugoshin Twinkle Star 2. Can Can Bunny Extra 3. Cosmology of Kyoto 4. Demon City 5. HHG Heart Heat Girls 6. Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku 7. Nova 8. Marine Philt 9. Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou Vol. 2 10. Prostudent G 11. Rance IV - Kyoudan no Isan - 12. Words Worth 13. Zoku Youjuu Senki -Suna no Mokushiroku- So if we talk about which game had the biggest impact on industry - it would be Can Can Bunny Extra. From this work the Swatty goddess became a meme and the game is the closest thing to a contemporary high quality charage. But I just refuse to give this nampa game the credit of being the best VN of 1993. 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ is a nice gore game just to my taste, but it has lots of shortcomings. Horror games like Marine Philt are one-time games that are only good while playing. Bunretsu Shugoshin Twinkle Star is mostly fun only for first two chapters. Cosmology of Kyoto is a gem, but it's too different from anything else to participate in the general race. Prostudent G is a bakage that I refuse to give credit. Words Worth is a great game, but it would appeal only to a very small percentage of RPG fans. H.H.G.: Heart Heat Girls is an amazing story but it's from a relatively unknown developer Cat's Pro and its production values are greatly lacking. Dark palette, average character design and CG quality just can't be the BEST game of 1993. So why not Demon City? It's quite a borderline game, but so is year 1993. It's from the same Cocktail Soft company that made most acclaimed Can Can Bunny Extra the same year, so it's only fair. Demon City has fantastic production values, very unorthodox setting, cool original protagonist, great shifting story. It's persistent, fun and never boring. It made the biggest impression on me and that's what counts.
  20. Foreword: This is one of the best masterpieces of the year 1993 and cyberpunk themed on top of that. I could not miss this chance. Title: HHG Heart Heat Girls Developer: Nihon Create Date: 1993-12-02 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8716 Length: 5 hours. Game type: Command selection + Point and click + Action elements ADV Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq8F5WmXr06-5E634NvmhPmU Difficulty: Low, but I managed to trigger Game Over once still - game just jumped to the beginning of the scene, so it was convenient. What was less convenient is saving only at few specific places. I actually had to replay the whole first chapter because of that and electricity cut. Synopsis: HHG is set in a futuristic world, in which humans co-exists with androids, highly advanced cybernetic organisms. However, this co-existence is anything but peaceful, since android are going rampant, and a special police force known as ACP ("Anti Criminal-cyborg Police") is specifically assigned to deal with them. Two young and lovely police officers, Angelica and Apple, receive a S.O.S. signal from two army pilots, who were attacked by a mysterious female cyborg who called herself Patricia von Kreuzel. Upon arriving at the crime scene, the heroines find no survivors. Together with their colleague, a young detective named Keith, they must investigate and solve this case. Structure: Three chapters. Character Design rating: 6/10 Protagonist rating: 6/10 Story rating: 7/10 Game quality: 7/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: As usual, I find it difficult to rate most of pc-98 games over 7, so 7 is almost the top score. My biggest complaint about the game that it lacks excitement and charismatic characters. There is only a handful of curious characters even though cyberpunk is a favorable ground for all kind of delinquents. Main heroines aren't cute enough to be the center of attention. Add the fact that it's basically an all ages game with just couple bare chests of half-cyborgs at the very end and you get a slow unwinding story that makes it easy to doze off at times. All the leather fancy dresses with gloves and short skirts are wasted here. Protagonist: There are three main heroines. Ann (Angelica) is a descendant from an important aristocratic family famous for scientific research. She is long hair blonde and is seen as a spiritual leader of the team. Yui is the silver hair girl with a messy haircut. She has quite a shady criminal past prior to joining the team. The last of the protagonists is Apple who is a short hair blonde. She's quite a normal girl character-wise, but she's the best hacker in the team. Well, four girls are featured at many screens - the fourth one is Patricia Von Kreutzel whose name is featured in the game intro, but she only appears at the very end of the game and uncovering her personality is already a spoiler. Characters: There aren't enough colorful side-characters in the game. Girls's boss is just an old man who shouts all the time. The information bank bartender has an appearance of a normal punk and he does not add the spice. At some point in the game a huge man appears who overpowers the girls greatly but he just frees them and leaves the area with the reader totally puzzled of what the hell just had happened. Keith is a young detective who is supposed to be a part of girls team, but even though his name is called out often, he almost never appears on the screen so at one point I even started to think that Keith is another name of one of the girls. The reporter guy is quite a normal one. To tell the truth almost all the side-characters are males which does not add appeal. Story: Ann and Apple receive a faint SOS signal and hurry to its coordinates. They make it the first to the spacecraft crash spot. They pick up some strange cyborg parts and are attacked by a cyborg of a strange model, but they manage to take him down. What makes it most surprising is that metal cyborg has some white essence playing the function of blood. The military unit that arrives next strongly suggests to leave this case to the Anti Criminal-cyborg Police. But the analysis of cyborg parts shows that one of them contains human brain cells. Why is there human brain in the cyborgs? Who is in charge of brain smuggling? What's the role of the military? Is there a government level scale conspiracy unfolding? CG: CG look modest. Some heroines angles are even passable, but overall it's passable at best. Picture takes only like a third of the screen and that hurts a lot. I could only enjoy close-ups on the faces. Animation does not really help much. Sound: Sound is ok, but there is no voice (naturally) and no sound effects making BGM irritating sometimes. Overall comments: So the game is an attempt to make a long serious cyberpunk story that would present an interest for the sake of the story. But it had to adhere to lots of other methods to keep the interest - point and click sessions, 3d mazes, shooting robots action minigame, wide partial animation use, some gore and and even some eroticism at the end of the game. And it still fails to keep interest at all times. The investigation moves too slowly with visiting the same places for obtaining new pieces of information filling the puzzle. The dark palette leaves a mostly negative impression. But the story was worth it and it was nice to see the similarities with Silver Jiken, I'm sure HHG was one of the inspiration sources for it.
  21. Foreword: Game had already couple reviews, but those weren't too specific on the story, so I had to check it out myself in the end. Title: 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ Developer: Nihon Create Date: 1993-02-05 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v4547 Length: 6 hours. Game type: Command selection ADV Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq-kxnAJKmFd5cOYSn55q0UZ Difficulty: That happens to be the main part of review. FM Towns/PCE version is perfect with difficulty level low, full voicing and nice interface. The PC-98 version is gamer's hell, but only this version is hookable, so I proceeded with it. It's the fullest version having extra parts the other versions don't have, but pc-98 version has clunky interface of multiple windows that keep jumping all over and horrible mechanics that demand multiple clicking on the same commands to proceed with the game. That much useless clicking forces to miss on important parts as well. And there was a pitch moment in the second branch that made me waste two more hours on clicking through every room and searching for capture information which did not really help me, so only bruteforce clicking through every possible variant in each room only helped. Synopsis: 3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ is based on the manga and anime series 3x3 Eyes. Pai, a young girl from the immortal tribe of sanzhiyan, three-eyed demons of Chinese origin, wants to become a human again. She meets a Japanese teenager named Yakumo Fujii, whom she accidentally turns into a "wu", an immortal obedient servant of a three-eyed demon. Together, Pai and Yakumo try to regain their lost humanity. This game can be considered a side-story to the series. The player does not control Yakumo, but an ordinary high-school student named Kenichi Yamamoto. Accidentally, Kenichi comes into contact with the world of demons, and now he needs the help of Pai and Yakumo to be freed. Structure: None. Character Design rating: 7/10 Protagonist rating: 6/10 Story rating: 6/10 Game quality: 7/10 PCE (2/10 PC-98) Overall rating: 6/10 Rating comments: I actually expected more from the story and hoped for more gore. The characters only get interesting in voiced version and in PC-98 not so much. PC-98 version is so horrible that it's a miracle I made it to the end. Protagonist: Kenichi Yamamoto does not really give a good impression. Pretty normal one for a fantasy story - positive, brave, curious etc. Characters: Pai is a cheerful girl who happens to have her own secret. She and Yakumo don't really play an important role in the story - they just tag along and support. Sujin is the main heroine and love interest of Kenichi. She's a mysterious blonde with some superpowers and her true aims aren't clear. All the other characters get mixed in the swarm of children who get caught up in the blizzard and they go out of the stage more or less together at one point. Story: Kenichi Yamamoto just happens to have some bug crawl inside his forehead - there's no story behind it - it just happens. And at the same time strange persons start to find him interesting and some supernatural events start to occur around him. He and a swarm of other children get caught up in the blizzard and find shelter in a wooden house. However, a murder happens and panic rises with part of children leaving to find the way out of the blizzard. And both parties get attacked by the killer. And the battle finally shows who is the enemy and who is the real friend. From then on the main heroes seek the way to get the bug out of Kenichi body and for that seek advice from a specialist researcher and from then on seek for the remedy in different parts of the world. CG: CG are shown in a small window. That looks awful. Sound: PC-98 has horrible sound support. No sounds - just BGM. And those BGM aren't always suitable for the event on the screen - it can easily be a merry tune during a sad event. Overall comments: So the game starts with the longest clicking sessions and slowest progression ever. It would be easy to fall asleep for several times if you did not need to click furiously for 100 clicks per minute. Then there goes the short action part where the things settle - and it's the best part of the game. The second half of the game of searching around the world just does not have much in the story department - it's just defeating several lackeys of a bad guy and finally meeting the bad guy. And to make life more difficult there are two mazes implemented - one for each branching. I've only found the basic branching that actually coincides in the same story in the final part of the game. There should actually be a way to get the second naked body scene and even another ending. So it all comes to a poor conclusion - PCE version can't be read since it's not hookable and PC-98 version lacks the interest to be read attentively due to horrible mechanics. I would call the story eclectic since there is not much explanation for actions - like professor is lost and noone cares since there is little time left till mutation or like the light is blown out and four people can't find each other in a narrow corridor and just go separately without really trying to get together. There are some minor events that I fail to get the meaning of. So the main definition for PC-98 version is torture - both story-wise, mechanic-wise and even sound-wise. Quite a short story that would fit in a 40-minutes OVA is stretched mercilessly to 6+ hours of unsatisfying gameplay.
  22. Foreword: I was quite intrigued by original Gram Cats concept - mutated humans fight with aliens and ordinary schoolgirl gets an ability to transform into cat and thus becomes a great spy. But the eternal maze of corridors prevented me from finishing that game. So I thought I'd have more luck with the second part to get acquainted with this SF setting. Title: Gram Cats 2 Developer: Dott Kikaku Date: 1993-01-08 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v8889 Length: 4 hours. Game type: Command selection ADV + RPG Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=655prv-IBI8 Difficulty: It's not difficult, but very repetitive. Till you trigger some flag, the rest of events would repeat over and over again. And the second RPG part has one huge pitch moment - I had to restart that whole RPG part for 4 times to find the solution. So upon entering the 2nd floor if you move forward there's a triggered scene where Sayaka falls down - you get to find Sayaka, but upon returning to 2nd floor there is new cutscene that takes away Marine from the party and you need to get to boss door alone. The problem is that from both sides of the door there are the toughest enemies that can only be taken down with two characters in party. You can turn into cat form and slip through the enemies, but to open the door you need to be human and you can't get to human form unless you attack that tough enemy and thus suffer a retaliation hit. And if you enter the boss room without the full hp - he's impossible to beat. So I've tried a lot of different approaches in cat form and running away in human form, but all of them did not work. So on my 4th try upon entering the second floor I did not step forward but turned left and killed the tough enemies while still having two characters in the party and then triggered the two cut-scenes - that finally made my day. But just imagine - the main feature of the game of heroine turning into cat turned totally useless here. Synopsis: Marine and Sayaka arrive to the Scherer Island which is known as a luxury resort with a great hotel and famous nudist beach. Their goal is to investigate island secretly for the traces of an alien base. Structure: None. Character Design rating: 3/10 Protagonist rating: 3/10 Story rating: 2/10 Game quality: 4/10 Overall rating: 3/10 Rating comments: I'm very pissed with this game for stealing four hours of my life. So I thought I would waste an hour more to write a review. My greatest disappointment is that the synopsis is conveyed during the opening sequence that takes around three minutes. It stops at the moment when the girls dive into the ocean and find some structure underwater. And for the first two hours of adventure mode we actually just getting to this structure from the point of arriving to the island. That's just stupid - why showing it in the opening at all then. Heroines don't have individuality so I did even need to know who of them was Marine (red head) and who was Sayaka (blue head) till the point when they separated. I can't say that game is of low quality - graphics are nice, music is solid and there is animation at time. But combine poor characters, absence of story, repetitivity (and reusing of the same resources), abuse of eroticism, weak RPG part and this stupid pitch moment right at the boss and you get exactly a score "3". Protagonist: Sayaka and Marine are poor protagonists. Their main difference is that Marine (red hair) is more shy and defensive type and Sayaka (blue hair) is kind of loose and for that she's the main heroine of the most voluntary H events - Marine gets coerced in her events. Sayaka was the heroine of the prequel, so it's natural. Characters: The only side-characters here are girls that get involved into H events and one local salesman who turns out to be something more than a side-character... Apart of that, there's noone of notice. Story: I've already mentioned that there's no story besides the synopsis. So let's at least mention the main steps till reaching the underwater base. Each day we need to go to the pool to develop diving skills. After that there's couple days of diving in the real ocean practice. At the same time there seems to be another goal - getting into the nudist beach! Marine does not have the courage, but after a few encounters in the hotel with other girls she gets able to relax a bit. There's also Marine kidnapping happens. That's it! And the rest of two hours adventure mode is visiting the same places over and over again hoping for some new event to trigger. CG: CG are few or I'd rather say non-HCG are few. And because Sayaka transformation suit kind of is not supposed to cover nipples I can't even show those transformed mode nice CG. Sound: Well, this time I found two BGM annoying. Had to even turn volume down. So not the best sound support. Overall comments: I expected at least somewhat interesting SF story with superhero transformation mode. What I actually got was a yuri game with no story at all. The whole "gram cat" feature is only flashed at the very end and does not bear much meaning - that could be a game of any other franchise without any problem. Oh, well, at least there is one obscure game less now.
  23. VN of the Year 1992 - Phobos

    Year 1992 was much to my liking with few eroge and a great number of elaborate plots. The notable features of year 1992 included: - Implemented censorship rules resulted in private parts censored and at some cases companies set self-censorship to a degree when no private parts were ever on a screen or sometimes even to no nudity at all - Regulations led to bigger emphasis on the story and experiments with the genres - Horror mysteries with gore pictures started to appear as a genre - Several sepia color works appeared to underline the warm atmosphere of the past events - Pure romance works started to appear, but Nanpa games were still larger in number - In several games individual endings for each heroine were implemented - As for system, several games had very weird choices for text window and icon/command window The number of good high quality games increased significantly. Masterpieces of 1992: 1. Armist 2. Can Can Bunny Premiere 3. De-Ja 2 4. Doukyuusei 5. Dracula Hakushaku 6. Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna 7. Joker II 8. Kiss 9. Koroshi no Dress 3 10. Kurutta Kajitsu 11. Martial Age 12. My Eyes! 13. Phobos 14. Shinjuku Monogatari 15. Sotsugyou Shashin / Miki 16. The 4th Unit - Wyatt And there was a good number of works with good atmosphere and story. At first I was pretty sure that Crazy Fruit (Kurutta Kajitsu) must be the game of the year 1992 since the year born so many horror mystery novels. Then I got really intrigued by Shinjuku Monogatary. Doukyuusei (Classmate) and it struck me as a very bright and novelty game. It was supposed to be another nanpa game or dating seem and turned out to be a collection of stories that you choose yourself. It's a game of events as something keeps happening everywhere and it's up to you whether you stop and try to get to know the people there or keep on exploring. Game has very attractive characters and huge replayability potential. It's not a strategy, not an RPG, but the amount of freedom you're given makes you think it's an entirely new genre. And yet my personal preferences demand a story game for the winner. And I personally liked the story of Phobos the most among the visual novels of 1992.
  24. Phobos フォボス [Himeya Soft]

    Foreword: Himeya Soft and C's Ware are basically the same people, so it would really be a shame to miss their first cyberpunk game, father of Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~ and grandfather of luv wave. How deep is the story? How much torture does it imply on players? Does it already have mind-screw elements? I'll try to answer all those questions. Title: Phobos Developer: Himeya Soft Date: 1992-07-16 VNDB link:https://vndb.org/v9006 Length: 4 hours. Game type: Command selection ADV. Youtube walkthrough:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWumb25ixg4&list=PLENAECnNmAq8RWaOExpvkkUSuI3utIyp1 Difficulty: It's not difficult, but rather very repetitive. There's no telling when event is going to be triggered, so I had to make a full round of talks with each npc and return to the base each time. It would be more pleasing with a walkthrough. Synopsis: In the future, mankind successfully colonized Mars. However, the colonists eventually wished to be independent from Earth's control, and as a result a war began. Martian colonists used armored combat androids in battles. Eventually an uneasy truce was achieved, but Martian economy was badly damaged by war, and the planet became de facto dependent on Earth to survive. Half a year later, a young Tokyo-based private investigator named Ryuuichi and his assistant, the android Leyla, are contacted by the colonel of the former colonial army of Mars. It appears that someone has stolen documents containing top military secrets and disappeared with them. Ryuuichi is asked to find that man, whom he knew quite well during the years of war... Structure: Ryuuichi is given five days till the new rebel war starts, but actually the game takes only four days and on the beginning of the fourth day the most important events to prevent the war take place. Character Design rating: 6/10 Protagonist rating: 8/10 Story rating: 8/10 Game quality: 6/10 Overall rating: 7/10 Rating comments: I really liked the protagonist and the story behind him. But for heroines... they lack attention and thus depth. Android assistant Leyla is given much attention, but she hardly has any feelings apart of loyalty. The story is really tough and good with sudden twists and treasons. But overall high repetitiveness and somewhat spontaneous H events hurt the impression. It's still a masterpiece for me. Protagonist: Ryuuichi is the real gem of the game. He participated in the martian war and three years later keeps seeing nightmares about those armdroids he killed. He does act like a perv at times, but that's to add comical effect mostly. His wife Leyla stayed on Mars and he remodeled one of the armdroids to serve as his assistant and named her Leyla as well. Ryuuichi story actually might be more important than the main martian guerrilla one. The game ends in half happy tones and half sad ones and the ring scene is touching and well-done. Describing it would be a spoiler. Characters: Game has quite many characters. I've counted seven heroines with HCG. There are also some hard-boiled male characters. The peculiarity of the game is that only one heroine is of calm civilian type and the others have a violent character and are skilled in warfare. They're quite the beauties as well. Story: So, we're only given vague instructions to find captain Konnor who killed one of the soldiers and fled with secret documents regarding martian guerrilla movement. We're not being too successful when we find some mysterious woman spying on us. Following her leads to East district where two suspicious organizations dwell - Sakuragi Heavy Industries and Club Kowloon. Both of them have only women as staff members (males still serve as guards) and for a good while we try to get inside those buildings. Still the most of plot events happen as encounters - our life is in constant danger with so many violent girls around. At the same time one of our hirers major Garrak is rumored to deal with drugs and conspire with martian rebels. Then suddenly everything starts to look not as it seems and friends get to be difficult to tell from foes. So, yes, it has mind-screw elements, even though in initial state. But the story is complex and inspiring, so it's well worth the time. Title meaning: The title screen of the game says literally : "The "PHOBOS" is a satellite of the mars". And up to the very end the name never shows up. And it actually turns out to be the name of the secret military plan dealing with photon and nucleus. I really like it when the meaning of the title gets explained at some point. CG: I can't say CG are good here - they're fine - the girls are mostly cute, the males are tough and androids are cool, especially when damaged. Sound: There is a different BGM for each place and those are pleasant tunes. Overall comments: Phobos is a serious mature SF story and adult elements suit fine here, same as in Imitation wa Aisenai. HCG are very modest and light since they serve the story and not otherwise. That helps to create a human dimension out of protagonist private life drama instead of being just a sales oriented adventure work like Snatcher. I really like it how Himeya Soft and C's Ware great games turn out to be underrated. In Phobos case I blame horrible and childish-looking box cover. The more the joy to discover these masterpieces.
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