VN of the Month June 1996 - Es no Houteishiki

Kakyuusei  and Es no Houteishiki are masterpieces of the month, but my favorite is Es no Houteishiki and furthermore it's played like a regular novel and can be enjoyed nowadays.

1. Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Houseki RADICAL DREAMERS -盗めない宝石- [960601] Square Co. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Radical Dreamers is a text-based adventure game taking place after the SNES RPG Chrono Trigger. It aims to tie up a loose end from Chrono Trigger, and features two recurring characters from that game. The story follows the thieves Serge, Kid, and Magil as they sneak into a large and foreboding mansion to find the Frozen Flame.
Game has an overwhelming number of English reviews.

2. Gakuen King -Hidehiko Gakkou o Tsukuru- 学園KING -日出彦 学校をつくる- [960607] Alice Soft 1
In the year 30 of the Meiji era in Japan (end of 19th century), a powerful family of Japanese oligarchs (zaibatsu) known as "Amatsukami" has constructed an artificial island and ruled over it, basically creating a state within a state. They had high hopes of building the "Japan of the future" and educating the young ones: the central place on the island was dedicated to a high school. But years have passed, and the youngsters rebelled against the oligarchs. Chaos reigned on the island, and even terrorist attacks were not uncommon. Amatsukami Hidehiko, the last (and youngest) of the oligarchs, decides to change the way of things. Using his charisma, but also more violent tactics, he goes to the troubled school to deal personally with anyone who dares oppose him.
The synopsis hardly matters here since it's a bakage. Weird text and a lot of colorful characters made it enjoyable to play. RPG part here is quite irregular with random battles for leveling up. The difficulty level is also high. It's more a game for those who got tired of fantasy RPG of similar systems and want just to have fun.

3. Grounseed グランシード [960607] Studio Twinkle 1 2
Akira Ichijou is an ordinary Japanese high-school student. One fine Sunday, he goes out to meet his lovely girlfriend Kanami. Suddenly they see a strange glowing ball. When they touch it, they enter a portal that leads to a parallel dimension named Grounseed. It is a medieval world with spirits and magic. Naturally, it was no coincidence that Akira ended up there: the balance of both worlds is in danger, and only a person from our dimension can restore it. To do that, Akira has to travel to the spirit kings of the five elements, and complete a magical ritual that would prevent both universes from collapsing.
There's a good English review of this game.

4. Kakyuusei 下級生 [960607] Elf 1 2 3 4
In Kakyūsei, the player takes the role of a young Japanese high-school student named Kentarou. During the summer break, Kentarou has been working in a restaurant, run by a relative of his family. Now the summer is over, so Kentarou can finally get his salary and prepare for the school season that is about to begin. With some money in his pocket, and plenty of interest towards representatives of the fairer sex, the boy is determined to make this school year memorable...
There's an English review but it's quite short. It's sister series of Classmate featuring last year of middle school instead of graduating high school year. Game period is one year, that's already quite different since Classmate only covered summer vacation or winter vacation. Some elements have changed like map is chosen now instead of backtracking on feet. Middle school is a stage which means one thing - lots of young and loli-like cute characters. Add Elf's astonishing graphics and you'll see what launched the moe revolution. Another memorable tsundere character is featured to push the trend further. Since events take a full year there are longer periods between dates and some periods lack events. Overall satisfaction is lower than of Classmate 2, but the freshness of experimental system and its characters made this game shine. And I saw the game after I watched the anime, so I loved the characters already.

5. Ura Mansion Hakkin 裏マンション発禁 [960607] Illusion 1
The protagonist of the game is an ordinary Japanese man who lives together with his pretty wife Harunako. Two years after their marriage, they decided to move into a mansion in the suburbs. Everything seems normal when the couple arrives. But very quickly they both become involved in sexual intrigues, and witness strange events - mostly of sexual nature - that occur in the presence of their neighbors. Looks like the quiet family life they were hoping for will never become reality...
It's an Illusion game, so the plot part can be fully omitted. And it's one of the pioneers of NTR fetish.

6. Bunkasai 文化祭 [960614] Ucom 1
Bunkasai puts the player in the role of a male Japanese high-school student. One day his teacher tells him about the upcoming culture festival, giving him the assignment to help his lovely classmate Mia in the preparations. Naturally, the young man's mind is more directed towards... err... other aspects of Mia's personality. But what starts as a simple collaboration between high-school students soon turns into a drama full of violence and difficult decisions to make...
Multiple incidents occur in the course of festival preparation and you are to solve each one of them before the event actually starts. It's still command selection here, mostly to cover the volume shortage. There is a happy end only with Mia although there are some H-events with two more girls. There are just couple CGs of Mia which is not even remotely enough. It's really hard to find an appeal point for this game.

7. Hankou Shashin ~Shibarareta Shoujo-tachi no Mita Mono wa?~ 犯行写真 ~縛られた少女たちの見たモノは?~ [960614] Imagineer Co., Ltd. 1
Mystery goings on in this adventure game with a title translating as Crime Scene Photo and young ladies in danger. Plenty of real photographs to help as clues to solving the mystery. The detective must also review footage of them frolicking in their underwear and in the hot spring before a mystery man appears.
A murder occurs at the same building where protagonist is sent to take photos of three idols. It's a kusoge. There is hardly any mystery, there's nothing to do with the photos. But it shows the tendency to try and make live-action games which will show up multiple times in the future games.

8. Re-No Stayin' Alive Re-No Stayin' Alive [960614] Software House Parsley
 Ryo is a private detective. His girlfriend works in a music industry and requests that he escorted singer girls. A chain of incidents happens one by one with many of them of uncomprehendable nature. Ryo needs to get to the truth behind them.
Suspense mystery story. The tempo is especially good here since the tension rises persistently. The development is abrupt close to the final but the final mystery is satisfying. Since it's so dense on events, protagonist looks ill-developed as it seems that he does not think, just follows events. Female characters fail at showing their appeal points. The evaluation depends of what you seek. If action movie is what's desired, then it's definitely a masterpiece. If you're looking for developed protagonist and girls characters, look elsewhere.

9. Delicious Lunch Pack デリシャスらんちぱっく [960621] Scoop 1
Delicious Lunch Pack has nothing to do with lunches (or anything delicious, for that matter); but it is indeed a "pack", since the game consists of three separate games/stories that are unrelated to each other and can be accessed directly from the main menu.
The first story stars a young man named Kouichi, who inspects a newly opened department store; his goal is to make acquaintance with the young and pretty salesgirls, eventually seducing them.
The second story follows the sexual adventures of an innocent young school girl named Kyouko. She is being introduced - by teachers, a nurse, male and female classmates, even family members - to various kinds of sexual experiences.
The third story is set in a fantasy world. A young huntress named Chiroru is looking for food and water in a forest, encountering various fantasy creatures and having sex with them.
I'm no fan of short purely erotic stories.

10. Rabyni ラブィーニ [960621] C's Ware 1 2
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...
I've got a full review prepared.

11. Carrot Time キャロットタイム [960628] Aquarium
This is a story of two lovers - bunny girl Carrot and fox boy Tail - who live in a small village at the corner of a fantasy world.
Game's quite ugly and no wonder it's forgotten. Still game art style is inherited in further games of Aquarium and game's important as its origin.

12. Es no Houteishiki Esの方程式 [960628] Abogado Powers 1 2
Es no Hōteishiki is the second game in the Detective Suzusaki series. The events described in the previous game, 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...
The two works are loosely connected. If first one focused on Cthulhu myths, this second one has quantum theory / psychological motive in center. Es is chaos or suppressed urges in Freud's theory and it's one of the psyche parts alongside with ego and super ego. It's hidden behind a tall wall usually, but at times it may break loose. This point and click adventure is quite easy to progress and it's over in under 10 hours. The story is not too complex but narration constantly shifts from present to past scenes which makes it difficult to track. The final route leading to game's end may seem a bit hasty. I've a full review prepared.

13. Fortune Lover フォーチュンラヴァー [960628] Interheart
Shuu is high school student. He was late for his date with Reiko and got dumped for that reason. A shady merchants sells him fortune charm that's supposed to fix their relations instantly. Upon showing the necklace to the Reiko she forces her on Shuu right in the school. At the same time other girls start to behave excited around Shuu.
Quite a lively work. There are lots of endings here with most of them being bad ones. But each good ending branch is also short, about 20 minutes long.

14. Kokuu Hyouryuu Nirgends 虚空漂流ニルゲンツ [960628] Micro Cabin 1
Kokuu Hyouryuu Nirgends tells the story of a young man named Dünn Bit, who was just recruited for a special military unit called "Windmühle". Led by the young and pretty captain Eis Schwarz, this unit specializes in unique airplanes that can transform into giant combat robots called "Divers". They have recently began operation in the country of Vidar, where enemy activity has been spotted. Dünn has to prove himself as a capable pilot and fighter, and perhaps also to make impression on the gorgeous captain or other people in his team, most of which are pretty girls...
Exclusive PC FX game and one of the highest peaks of quality for this platform. Game widely uses anime motion for scene. Battles are actual real-time simulator stuff, so difficulty is very high, although with enough training can do even without high reflexes. Since PC FX is bad with polygon rendering it uses pseudo 3D which is fine, but not an actual 3D of course. Game's hard to get now, but those who managed to get through the combat rate this game as a masterpiece.

15. Manguri まんぐり [960628] Illusion
In a strange world, you can tell girls how to have fun. You get to watch the animated results. Afterward, your batgirl guide will say what kind of person you are.
No plot, just weird animated scenes.

16. Travel Junction トラベル★ジャンクション [960628] Cocktail Soft
Hero fails to find a job in a major tour company. Eventually, he gets a job in a very small tour company on the verge of bankruptcy only containing four people with him. Their last hope is barely known southern island that no big tourist company holds. Hero and company president's daughter go there as guides alongside a tourist group of six women.
It is a galge, but it's refreshing that it does not take place at school nor with a student as protagonist. It actually is hardly romantic as well. It's a resort adventure with lots of sun, sea, alcohol and opportunities to know each other better. Game uses point and click system and has multiple endings. I tried to play it but stopped when realized that it's a resort type galge with six random women. There might be a side plot line, so let me tell you about first part impressions. Game starts as hero attends the big tourist company. He is looking for toilet and goes to a wrong room. That's the room of big company president's daughter. She mistreats the urge for toilet for passion and seduces protagonist, so he misses the interview. The next day he's not allowed past the receptionist. So the side plot is in that the big company president gets to know about small company secret tourist tour and sends his daughter to ruin those plans. And presidents of small and big tourist company started out together and rivaled over the same woman, so the competition is bitter. So the number of girls is 8: six plus small and big company presidents daughters. It's a light comedy with nice humor and graphics.

17. Twilight Hotel トワイライトホテル [960628] ZyX
A guy got into a car accident(fell down a cliff) and woke up in the Twilight Hotel unharmed but can't remember much except his job. This hotel is run by 4 sisters, 1 maid, 2 manservant and has 3 guests. The bridge door to the outside world is locked, so he explores this hotel and its people. What he finds is that the 4 girls' father want them to be immortal, but what they got was 3 demons that stop time for them and totally used them. It is up to the guy to either free the girls or join in the fun.
Museum type game. Point and click is introduced poorly as clicking is difficult and it's needed to click on multiple objects to trigger dialogue. Atmosphere is quite alien with all the otherworldly stuff.

18. Moderate Party モダレイトパーティ [960628] Ice Soft

Shibuya is full of girl chatter. It's easy to find a girl to one's liking here. But every girl demands individual approach during initial meeting and further on. Will you use find the right words to attract the girl and save lovely personality in her?    
Nanpa was one of the main topics for PC-98, so it's natural that first Windows games with better graphics would want to prey on its success.           

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