1. El Dorado Denki
2. Karuizawa Yuukai Annai
3. Tenshi-tachi no Gogo
4. Abyss II ~Tears of Emperor~
5. Dezeni World
6. Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu ~Hyakki Hen~
So there are very few VNs in 1985 and even fewer account for masterpieces. Karuizawa Yuukai Annai was obviously a favorite after Horii Yuji won the previous two years, but the game lacks the mystery and fills it with lots of fanservice. El Dorado Denki gets a pretty devastating review. Tenshi-tachi no Gogo is an eroge that I would strike out if it weren't in the 80s. Abyss II and Dezeni World still use text parser. So why not Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu first title? The story is fresh and serious. There is only command selection. That's definitely not the worst option and a good read!
1. El Dorado Denki エルドラド伝奇  Enix 1 2 3
A young Japanese man receives an unexpected call from his friend Akira in the middle of the night. He hurries to Akira's house, only to find him dead under unclear circumstances. Checking out his computer files reveals information about his sister, who was allegedly kidnapped. The trail leads to the mysterious land of El Dorado in South America, populated by tribes of Amazonekos ("Amazon cats"), who look like young attractive human females with cat tails. In order to solve the mystery, the hero must find a way to view tattoos adorning various body parts of the young ladies.
There are two English reviews on this game.
2. Saiyuuki 西遊記  Gamu
Saiyuuki or Journey to the West is one of the four great books of China. Sanzo Hoshi and Son Goku to go on a journey to examine Buddhist scriptures. Sanzo Hoshi gets caught by a monster and carried to the top of the mountain. Son Goku sets off to rescue his friend. He will need to defeat numerous monsters and pass through three demon gates.
There are four layers of the mountain, so we need to travel around and look for a gate while getting into numerous fights.
3. Juggler Stone ジャグラーストーン  Riverhill Soft inc.
Collecting all three juggler stones is supposed to bring great power.
Main character acquires one stone by chance and heads to Alpha Town to find traces of the other two with the help of characters met along the way.
A classic short adventure that's notorious for instant picture display and unexpected ending.
4. Asteka アステカ  Nihon Falcom
Main character Annie comes to the recently discovered archaeological site at Latin America. She believes that he can finally reveal the mysteries of ancient Aztec civilization.
A rather unique game with adventure spirit. The prominent features are ability to write commands with a commas and to track back your progress. The difficulty is high since commands are elaborate.
5. Time Zone  Starcraft Co., Ltd. 1 2 3 4 5
Time Zone is a multi-disk graphical adventure game written and directed by Roberta Williams for the Apple II. Developed in 1981 and released in 1982 by On-Line Systems (later Sierra Entertainment), the game was shipped with six double-sided floppy disks and contained 1,500 areas (screens) to explore along with 39 scenarios to solve. Produced at a time when most games rarely took up more than one side of a floppy, Time Zone is one of the first games of this magnitude released for home computer systems.
There are English reviews.
6. The Count ザ・カウント  Starcraft Co., Ltd.
Main character heads to Count Dracula castle to rescue travelers lost in stormy weather. There are only three days given to defeat the vampire with the help of garlic and holy cross.
Quite a creepy horror adventure. If Dracula manages to drink hero's blood for several times, then protagonist becomes vampire himself.
7. Doukeshi Satsujin Jiken 道化師殺人事件  Thinking Rabbit
A summer resort town Brighton stands not far from London. A small circus troupe becomes the main attraction of the season. Just a day before the premiere clown Charles Dubois is found dead in a shower wagon. The cause of death is a knife strike from the back. Main character is a detective who is called from London to resolve this case.
A particularly famous game of the time. The entire town is the stage, and moving is done with common 2 4 6 8 numerals. There's a huge number of suspects. Game even has Sega Saturn remake with prominent graphics and normal command selection system.
8. New Godzilla ニューゴジラ  Toho
The aim is to repel Godzilla and prevent the Soviet missiles from launching. The story is divided into three parts and proceeds according to the film events.
Again Toho, again Godzilla. The "New" in the title is set to mean the shift from child cartoons back to original horror. The plot actually follows that one of the movie quite faithfully. There are some real time elements included while searching. At the very least this time the graphics are tolerable and the drawing speed is fast.
9. Tokyo Nanpa Street Ｔｏｋｙｏナンパストリート  Enix 1 2 3
You have to manage your stay at a local hotel and, during the day, use your wiles in conversation to snag a girl for the night. The most crucial phase of the game is the restaurant conversation you have with a date, which involves careful selection of options from a text tree.
There's no real plot, just these conversations with artificial intelligence. There are some numbers to take into account while talking, especially the money factor. There are 55 females in the game with only small differences about them. This game still is the founder of the whole genre and historically significant.
10. Karuizawa Yuukai Annai 軽井沢誘拐案内  Enix 1 2 3 4
Kumiko and her younger sister Nagisa are spending their vacation in Karuizawa. One day Nagisa went out to the supermarket to do some shopping, but then failed to return to the villa they were staying at. Kumiko also receives a strange phone call later that night. With the police not being very helpful, Kumiko and her boyfriend (i.e. you) decide to take matters into their own hands.
This is actually the third work from the same people who did Portopia and Okhotsk detective stories previous years that became game of the years 1983 and 1984 from my point of view. There is enough English information on the work including the full review from an author whom I nearly worship for playing these old games these days.
11. Tankentai 2 - Makyou Amazon no Okuchi ni Kogane Densetsu o Mita! 探検隊第二弾 魔境アマゾンの奥地に黄金伝説を見た！  DataWest
Game is a parody on famous Japanese geographical TV show. It is reported that gold is found on the Amazon river with the aim of raising TV rating and expedition is sent there alongside TV unit.
This is the game that I failed to find rom for which explains why it's so obscure. Anyway, text parser is used and you need to guess not just the appropriate answer for the situation, but the best one to raise TV ratings of the program. Item collection is important. The whole location takes 6x7 squares, or 42 screens. The end TV ratings depend on the actions taken, so it was nice to compare results afterwards.
12. Tenshi-tachi no Gogo 天使たちの午後  JAST 1 2 3 4
Tenshitachi no Gogo is an adventure game set in a Japanese high school. The goal of the game is to seduce Yumiko Shiraishi, the star girl of the tennis club. To seduce her, the protagonist will have to become acquainted and intimate with her friends by talking to them.
The ancestor of bishoujo games since before there were mostly lolicon games. And finally the characters are drawn really cute here. There is a list of commands to the right, but inputting your own is also allowed. The game is also notable for the glorious JAST sound. It's the shockingly good visual and audio quality that makes this game a masterpiece.
13. Abyss II ~Tears of Emperor~ アビス Ⅱ ～帝王の涙～  Humming Bird Soft 1
In the year 3006, various organizations in the galaxy are searching for a legendary weapon known as Tears of Emperor. It is said that possession of this weapon will allow its owner to dominate the entire world. A criminal syndicate called Grimp has devised its own scheme for procuring the weapon. They kidnapped a well-known space explorer and infused his body with a tiny neutron bomb. If the explorer will not obtain Tears of Emperor for them, the bomb will detonate...
It's still text parser, but common commands are set to function keys. The graphics are much better. This is actually a work of high completeness.
14. Yellow Lemon イエローレモン  PSK 1 2
Yellow Lemon is a simple text-based simulation game consisting entirely of conversations with four school girls. The player has to type conversations topics and responses, hoping to increase the girl's "liking" parameter. Once it is high enough the girl would assume erotic poses and sexual relationship is implied. Afterwards the game switches to another girl for the same procedure.
Tenshi-tachi no Gogo released two months before really shifted the gears from lolicon games to bishoujo ones. Even the originator of loli genre PSK introduced older girls in this new game. It's not a real conversation that's used in the game since you don't really ask questions. You only get to answer them, so interrogation or a quiz is more appropriate. The reward is nude CG. At this time there was already EMMY artificial intelligence bishoujo software, so this game felt dated. There is an English review on the game.
15. Will: The Death Trap II ウィル デス・トラップII  Square Co. 1 2 3
President of the United States of America receives a letter with simple, but blood-chilling words: within the next twenty-four hours, the entire life on Earth will be annihilated. Specialists track the sender of the letter to a small island named Torinia somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Special agent Benson is sent there with the ultimate mission: find out who sent the letter, or prepare for the destruction of the world...
The game has enough information in English including one review.
16. Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu ~Hyakki Hen~ 白と黒の伝説 ～百鬼編～  Soft Studio Wing 1
Story begins with an incident in a psychiatric hospital - at midnight the third floor of the building suddenly burst into flames. Reporter from the local newspaper arrived on the scene to write an article. After interviewing witnesses it appears that the fire started in the chamber of 301 - but the cause of fire remained unknown. Moreover, the patient of this chamber disappeared - even his body could not be found. After a long search, the reporter still finds the missing patient on the streets - but he just mumbles some strange prophecies. The next day, the usual trip on the train turns into a nightmare for our reporter: when the train enters a tunnel, the world outside the window suddenly begins to change and he find ourselves in a terrible alternative world. But all this is only a prelude to the coming apocalypse.
First game of Soft Studio Wing and MSX exclusive. MSX placed really harsh limitations on the games and thus very few colors are used. The drawing speed is slow. Pure command selection is used, so it's at least user-friendly. The game was later released as Desctruction series and better known as that.
17. Dezeni World デゼニワールド  Hudson Soft 1 2
This time the player is put in the role of an onscreen character - Dezeni Man, a fat dishevelled loser who bears some kind of resemblance to Hudson spokesperson Toshiyuki Takahashi (also known as Meijin Takahashi, who was also the main character of their Adventure Island series, although he denies the connection.) His goal - to infiltrate Dezeni World and disable the evil computer HAL3 (a parody of the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, although in Japanese it's pronounced "harumi", a girl's name.)
There's a good English article on the game.
18. Lupin Sansei ~Cagliostro no Shiro~ ルパン三世 ～カリオストロの城～  Toho
After a successful robbery leaves famed thief Lupin III and his partner Jigen with nothing but a large amount of fake money, the so called "Goat Bills," he decides to track down the counterfeiter responsible—and steal any other treasures he may find in the Castle of Cagliostro, including the "damsel in distress" he finds imprisoned there. However, as usual, Inspector Zenigata is hot on his trail.
RPG game based on animation movie of the same name. Player chooses Lupin or one of the other two heroes and investigates the castle. Scenes from the OVA are used for as title screen and demo screens. This game is obscure because in 1985 there was another Lupin III game with the same title but being an arcade and that game got much better spread and coverage.
19. Harry Fox ~Yuki no Maou Hen~ は～りぃふぉっくす ～雪の魔王編～  Micro Cabin
Mother Fox died of hunger in the snowfall. Little Fox was found and nursed by girl Mari.
Basically they wanted to give slightly different story, just in winter aesthetics. Now we get to meet winter animals and birds and there's also girl Mari looking for the fox.