Gensou no Artemis, Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~ and Treating 2U are the masterpieces of the month. And VN of the Month January 2000 is Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~. That's a very solid start of the year.
1. Kurayami Zaka no Ie 暗闇坂の家  h.m.p
Afterwar Tokyo. There is a hill called "dark slope". There is an old house where master is missing for 18 years already. Women in the house still know nothing of that mysterious disappearance.
That is the beginning of the story about serial killer.
First of all, it's 3D as well as other h.m.p. games. It's a mystery solving game and gameplay is mostly exploring old buildings. I tend to block 3D if it has sexual content and h.m.p. used to be eroge creator, but neither the box, nor reviews mention sexual content presence (there is a scene of bathing in a tube), so should be safe to leave it here.
2. Innocent na Tenshi-tachi INNOCENTな天使たち  For
Main character had just entered university when he got hit by a car. He recovers in the hospital and only joins the study from Autumn.
School director's daughter gets raped and the whole campus gets into a chaos. Suspicions arise everywhere. Main character gets to assist in the investigation.
What awaits hero at the crossroads of his life? Please, please open the door of your heart to these heroines.
There are five heroines. All girls have some secrets and troubles of the past. One route takes less than an hour. There are some bad endings in addition to good ones. It looks like a detective story, but detective element is too thin - it's a normal romance game. And it can be enjoyed as one.
3. Rasen Kairou 螺旋回廊  Age
Yuuzi Saeki, is an assistant teacher at a university. His students convince him to buy a computer and he buys an expensive one even though he knows nothing about how to use them. While learning how to operate it, he finds a link to a website called Eden. Visiting there he sees that its about abducting girls, rape and worse... And the site claims that they take personal orders...
I know this is a nukige, but this is Age! Same Age that made Muv-luv and what not! So I'm curious here. First of all, there is an intrigue of who actually is the puppeteer - the truth shows up only gradually. Secondly, it's not that much of an erotic work, it lacks eroticism. Thirdly... some claim this game to be the originator of pure devil games ... something that even SEEK games could not achieve. Here there's no training, no evolution, no ultimate good goal... just pure darkness and destruction that's getting deeper and deeper. The strangest thing in all that is that main character is not some student, but a proper professor, so these desires look quite silly on behalf of such man. Age must be real geniuses in everything they are doing.
4. Seishin Hakai Kanketsuhen 精神破壊完結編  unknown
An adventure game that takes place 600 years after the events of the first Seishin Hakai
The stage is underground research center. Main character is the inventor. This time we can either prioritize mystery or just chase afte the girls, it works both way. Game is also free and leaves bad aftertaste.
5. Faustus ~Megumareshi Mono~ ファウスタス ～恵まれし者～  Gipsy
An ancient magician had the knowledge to resurrect with a ceremony. That awakening triggered a magical war involving the whole world. Magicians of the old stood up to protect humanity.
Nowadays news reporter Merlin discovers the ancient secret of resurrection and awakens Simon the Magus and the vicious circle repeats itself. Will humanity survive?
Simon the Magus is actually the real protagonist of the story. The selling point of the game is magic battles. You get a magical grimoir and five different colored sources of mana. Developers promise 300 different magical spells in our repertoire. There's no real tutorial or explanation so it gets quite difficult even for native speaker. Game has trouble installing since it does not recognize partitions over 2gb. Since there's close to zero chance that someone finishes here's the spoilers: magicians are actually aliens from planet of Eden. They depleted mana resources from their star and came to Earth. They actually created atmosphere from lava as well as living creatures and finally mankind. Simon the Magus was the bearer of "festus" title eventually decided to get rid of the mankind and their eternal vices. Such mages as Drakula, Merlin, Pharaoh opposed that decision since not all people were evil. They sealed Simon the Magus, but could not find the concealed by Simon mothership "arc" and their power was fading. But new enemy Noah appeared, so magicians collaborated to oppose him. Phew, at least we're not gonna kill humans in the game. And even that's not the end since afterwards Merlin gets completely insane trying to destroy the world and the mother ship "ark" altogether. Story is as muddy as this. Actually the story is only explained in the end and most of the time there's no idea what's going on. Five bosses are females and that's the main source of H scenes, mostly with tentacles.
6. Onikiri-den 鬼斬伝  Jupiter
An adventure quiz game with a story featuring familiar characters from old japanese tales.
What a weird game. Success on fighting the demons depends on the timed answers to the quizzes... Famous characters like Kaguya Hime don't really add the appeal. Game's quite short as well, some 4 hours length.
7. Gensou no Artemis 幻想のアルテミス  Shoeisha 1
The game takes place in Ikoma Aku Torres Actress School where different girls go to grow their perfomance abilities, and one night when a performing is taking place the owner of the school jump off a roof to the death. The police think that is just a suicide, but the motive is still a mystery, so the people on charge of the school decide to hire a private detective (Kiyouiti Kusakabe) to make an investigation. So when they hire him they decide that he enters the school as a new instructor in the academy. That's when the game begins.
Player takes the role of a detective that has to investigate a murder in an actress school, the game at the beginning let the player choose between 5 different girls to help him in his investigation, each of them got a different story and the game will go in a different way depending of that choice, and also the ending. The main part of the game is to solve the case but during the investigation the player will also talk to different people and girls and there is a chance of a possible romance with any of them, so the game is also a dating simulation. Glad to see that Lipstick ADV conception is alive and having an assistant on you side is really the best way to get to know the girl. Quite a quality galge. Good masterpiece call.
8. Forever My Love - Kimi o Wasurenai Forever My Love・君を忘れない  F&C
Hero had a dream of studying abroad in an international academy and now his dream comes true. Meet you new acquaintances and use card conversation system for communication.
Card conversation system is not intuitive and not really a good idea. Girls are anime-style and too aggressive. No really attractive girls. No skipping allowed. Otherwise it's a dating SIM below the standard level.
9. Hakutou 魄冬～はくとう～  Zenos
Our guy wants to move out of his home town into the big city. Before he can do that, he has to do a five day husband and wife ceremony with his childhood girl on new years day. This ceremony comes from the tragic legend of two sisters, their childhood guy and another nasty guy. Can he successfully complete this event, free some spirits and find love at the same time?
The atmosphere of Sengoku is not bad, but the actual "tragedy" is too light. Actions of characters look spontaneous. The structure is looped with the past events, but there's still no satisfactory explanation. There are too many symbols with real persons almost pushed to behind. Multiple choices open up with additional playthroughs. Game lacks excitement and feels unfinished in many ways.
10. Kaseki no Uta 化石の歌  Age
The Protagonist and his sister are brought to a mansion by a catgirl. The mansion lady lets him stay, but he has to work as a doll trainer. He trains created females in virtual worlds. His own world doesn't seem all that real either, with all those maids, the lady and weird mansion owner. Can he regain his lost memory and figure out what's going on?
Well such synopsis would be blocked for some unknown company, but we're talking about "Age" here - is it new Nocturnal Illusion?
Setting is unusual. Distant future where the whole galaxy is inhabited, but interstellar trade fell into dysfunction and there are a lot of abandoned colonies. Decadent atmosphere prevails.
Game period is one week, and we indeed have to raise doll girls. We enter virtal spaces and look for pieces of memory. The atmosphere is good and graphics is very beautiful and there are a lot of well thought details. But... in he end it's just a museum eroge. The amount of text is thin. Unlike ordinary museum eroge, difficulty level of clearing is high and getting to true ending is troublesome. Setting is difficult to grasp, but there does not seem to be any good consistent story here.
11. Larentia ~Netsujou no Miyako~ ラレンティア ～情熱の都～  Nikukyuu
Julius is an aspiring adventurer visiting port city of Genoa in Larentia region. The city is prospering and thus there is a constant shortage of manpower. Julius answers the call to make a name for himself over three years.
Training SIM + realtime action battles. It is also possible to hire up to four mercenary heroines participate in battle. Action part is quite well done and there can be up to some 70 people on the screen. But there is literally no main storyline. Just take on missions and develop relations with the mercenary girls. If you ok with that, it's a very entertaining game.
12. Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~ Lien ～終わらない君の唄～  Purple 1 2
When I regained consciousness, it seemed I had died. At first, experiencing things as a spirit (like, going through things) was somewhat fun, but I soon got a grip on myself. Well, what to do now. It looks like a wild dream, but it's not as if I feel resentment or pain. I don't feel the necessity to achieve anything either. Even after becoming a ghost, I commute to school as usual.
Days pass by nonchalantly, but those days are forever lost to me. Yet, even after having passed away, I'm remaining here. People I interacted with. New memories. A frozen flow of time. A running flow of time. In-between, I am in those maidens' everyday.
There's a great English review of this game.
13. O-Hanabatake no Flore お花畑のフローレ  Kuroneko-san Team
New title in Magic Witch Parfait universe.
The story is about Furetre, Parfait and Lennett who are 11 years old and like growing flowers. Grow over 50 different varieties of flowers with them!
Eeew... PASS. Opening is good as usual.
14. Oumagatoki no Kioku 逢魔ヶ刻の記憶  Black Package
Main character heads mystery research club and loves walking around the school exploring various mysteries. It's not an official club, but student council turns a blind eye on it. One day hero gets caught in the middle of ridiculous incident because of exploring...
Back at old times Black Package was making decent games instead of nukige. There is both visual novel and gameplay item search parts. H events only start massively since the second half. Scenario-wise it's very fragmentary and messy. It's not explained why all girls love hero already. Hero actions are also very spontaneous - he can start attacking just because of a small reprimand or just because of situation like seeing a crouching girl.
15. Rose or Lose  Ciel
Sawaki summoned an angel Rose and a devil Lose by chance. They are about to destroy the world, but agree to set a condition that the world could be saved if Sawaki found a lifetime partner in the remaining 5 months. The world's fate is in your hands!
Raising SIM with six girls. Make a schedule for a week and trigger events on maps, common stuff. Synopsis is very stupid, but text is ok. Graphics is as if came from shoujo game. But price is low so it's a good cost efficiency for lovers of such kind of games. At least Ciel dropped its initial nukige style and working towards more neutral games.
|16. Ryuuki Denshou 3 竜機伝承3  KSS Inc.|
Knight defeated an evil dragon, but his shrine maiden lover also died as a result. Now the devastated lover gathers forces to conquer the world.
Hero is an adventurer who is requested to investigate the circumstances of northern fort destruction overnight.
I think I only touched first part since I could not find any text information on the second part. As a longstanding tradition SRPG part here is akin to previous parts, very simple and in squares. The hero party can include at least 6 people in it. Story is solid, but I don't feel confident to discuss it.
17. Tenshi no Hina 天使のひな  Bell-Da
Hero lost parents, but inherited huge assets at his age of 19 years old. He got lots of attention from all kind of people and withdrew to the villa where he contracted an incurable disease capable of killing in few months. At that time a woman who claimed to be the manager of deceased parents came to the villa. She brought a big egg saying that she was an angel born from the egg and now she would grand hero one wish...
Not sure what's with the wish, because girl just gets to live with hero for several days... Quite sad to see Bell-Da falling for nukige as well. It's not just H though, there are some parameters and some planning to do. There's also a clicking game so that noone dies out of boredom, but there's still a good possibility of it.
18. Treating 2U  Blue Gale 1 2 3
Tsutsumi Inosuke is a musician who makes his living by working at a convenience store. But his life changes when he’s taken to a hospital because of a cold and is told to stay at the hospital. There, he meets many people including a small boy, his mother, the nurses, and other people at the hospital…
There's an English review for this game.
19. White Angel  light
Hero lives along in the house. One day he goes from school with childhood friend Ichigo when his cousin Aya and maid Karen suddenly push into living with him. And feeling the warmth of relations he starts to recover memories sealed in the past...
There are six heroines with one playthrough about 2-3 hours. There's a constant feeling that it lacks uniqueness and it's been already before. There is a feature of stories composing in the game and downloading plug-ins via the internet, but it's a bad excuse to disregard the story.
20. White ~Setsunasa no Kakera~ White ～セツナサのカケラ～  NekoNeko Soft
That winter, and those women he met...
First of all, character design (especially in CG), composition and structure looks very much alike Kanon, but story-wise game tries to differentiate from Kanon as much as possible. Period is some 18 days. There are five heroines. It's a quality warm galge with a good scenario. But masterpiece level needs something to stand out.
1. Yuuyake -November- 夕焼け - November -  TacticsMain character studues in high school together with four classmates. There are four stories, each with a specific theme:
1. "To the innocent eyes" 「無邪気な瞳に」
2. "Shake feeling" 「揺らぐ想い」
3. "Wipe the wound" 「傷をぬぐうように」
4. "Looking up at the sky" 「空を見上げたら」
2. Duette 2 Duette II ～デュエット2～  Stage-nana
3. Irainin ~Metamorphose~ 依頼人～メタモルフォーゼ～  Factor
Main character is an elite psychiatrist who works at a famous university hospital. He has a hobby of manipulating patients will with technique and special medicine and recording results on a video. One day he finds his psychiatrist grandfather research results. It's a study of how to manipulate humans freely, both personality, memory and athletic ability. Main character decides to inherit his grandfather's skill and make use of his hobby.
4. Minto ~Kasuka ni Kaoru Kaze o Kanjite~ みんと ～かすかに香る、風を感じて～  K'Night!
One summer night three naked fairies came to hero's room. They decided to live together with him, but hero did not know where to get his eyes since fairies knew nothing about their femininity, feelings of romance or shame. As fairies and hero learn about each other with every new day, what choices will they make?
6. Aegi no Yakata 2 あえぎの館2  Aquarius
Main character stopped going to school in order to work part-time at a construction site. Money is being spent on apartment, gambling and clothes - what kind of life is that? A suspicious man offers him a job to train a girl in ten days, and main character welcomes the opportunity.
7. Nozoku 覗 ～のぞく～  Hyperspace
Main character gets acquainted with a cute girl. He asks around about here living place and sees a horny scene upon arrival. He decides to stuff the house with peeping equipment.
8. Yume Tenshi R 夢・天・使R  Triangle
This is a virtual simulation entertainment salon. The number of available characters is less than in prequel, but the variety of situations is greatly improved.
9. Nightmare  Gin no Ken
Kyle reunites with his half brother Lark on a rainy night. Brother feels well, but something is wrong about him. Golden eyes stare at the past, his soul is trapped in dreams. He is a vampire now...
Kyle enters the cold heart of Lark to save him as there is still a strong bond between the half-brothers. The nightmare of memories is about to begin...
Shuji Mikami goes to Hokuyo High School, and he decides to attend the annual college preparation lecture. The truth is, he doesn't need to go, but he has a purpose; he's looking for his beautiful childhood friend Misaki. Shuji and his sex slave Hikaru start acting in order to achieve the goal...
11. Chijoku Yuugi 恥辱遊戯  Aquarium
In a dimly-lit room there's a lonely nude girl. She is sitting on the floor with her hands tied behind her back. Her background and fate depends on choices.
12. Dokisuro 2 ドキスロ2  Melo
There's a mysterious new style slot action game club. Main character comes here to test his luck and compete against ten girls.
An amusement CD collection with characters and stuff from Comic Party and White Album. The game Night Writer is also included with this CD. Night Writer is mainly a typing game featuring Corin. You battle demons from Dr^2 Night Janki by typing words for your attacks.
14. Private Eyes プライベートアイズ  J-Box
There are three great girls living in the same building as main character. He does not dare to talk to them out of shyness. But one day Chinese friend brings him a mysterious blue bottle as a souvenir. After drinking it protagonist becomes invisible... Now he has the courage to touch the neighboring girls. And if he does everything right, girls will get aroused.
15. Twilight Theater トワイライトシアター  Komaya
A college student finds a rental shop called Twilight where he gets to borrow a new generation media called a visual disc. The disk contains nine software pieces enclosing all kinds of lustful desires.
16. Variety Tactics ばらえてぃたくちくす！  Tactics
Fandisk containing among other goodies following games:
1. The legend of Initial T (RPG)
2. Undress 2000 (Quiz)
3. Bells sing a song (ADV based on Suzu ga Utau Hi)
17. BF  Ritz software
BF is a high school-type BL game.
You play the main character, Nozomu Kasahara up to Valentine's day. Early in the new school year, he's helped by some upper classmen he didn't know before, and his story becomes entwined with theirs. Being with friends, taking tests, enjoying himself at the school festival...
Who he ends up with at the end depends on you.