Year 2001 is a year of lost opportunities for visual novels, at least for chunige. The matured industry failed to produce breakthrough works. Of course there are lots of new cool openings Visual Novel Openings 2001 with songs.
1990s are over. And to commemorate that I've made a video playlist of all the openings/demo/endings with singing/energetic instrumental from 1990s here Visual Novel Openings 1990s I'll be making such playlists for each new year starting with 2000 since each year is going to have over 100 such opening/ending/demo themes.
Second Windows era year is behind. It failed to bring such a game that I'd announce Vn of the year 1999 right away. Instead, it brought a number of quality galge and some quirky cryptic games that I personally had a good time unwinding.
Year 1998 has become a year of hope for me. After very devastating transition year 1997 there are so many joys and wonderful games at last. Running a bit ahead, there is a 50% increase both in total number of games and in number of listed games resulting in the record number of masterpieces this year.
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.
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.
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.
Year 1991 was the first with monthly issues and for that reason the hardest. Let's first try to determine its prominent features for VNs: - Number of adult games increased greately to some 100 titles overall - PC-98 era arrives with mouse support and the older systems finally lose support - RPG percentage remains high at some 20% while ADV grows significantly to some 50% - New sub-genres appear - point-and-click, quiz, board game. - Some games start to use action icons instead of command selection thanks to mouse use. - It's the last year without any government regulation. After November 1991 shoplifting incident regulations being created.
1987 has become a great breakthrough for visual novels. Text parser has been made obsolete by command selection and quite many games that amplify text over gameplay or graphics have showed up (even though the graphics have evolutioned immensely as well). But the most innovative and engaging game of 1987 is Hiatari Ryoukou adapted from anime by Toho. That's the first galge in modern sense - it's about daily routine and chasing one of the girls with lots of sunshine and comedy scenes. The charm of characters is overwhelming and gameplay is quite easy and infectious. If only it could be hooked...
There's actually a harsh competition here, but no obvious winner at the same time. I don't want to nominate NES titles, because this platform is not really suitable for the genre. Maison Ikkoku was nominated by me previously, but in the long run it's a NES game again and it's not particularly entertaining. Wingman 2 and Little Princess are way too short. J.B.Harold is a detective genre that I can't stand. Casablanca does not have a normal release. Boukenshatachi is mostly a parody with some jokes difficult to understand already and text parser ruins it all. But I was really shocked by production values of Gall Force - Eternal Story. It has pure command selection gameplay, really nice dialogues, lots of CG and plenty of action scenes as well as worthy sound support. That's what VNs should be like and that's why it's the VN f the Year 1986!
Masterpieces of the year 1985 include: 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!
First of all, Death Trap is not included in the masterpieces list because it does not feel exciting to me. But we're still left with as many as 10 masterpieces on our hands! Lots of novelties and good stories this year, but the VN of the year 1984 is Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsk ni Kiyu. And one of the reasons for that is that this work both used command selection AND allowed to use only a short list of commands. Another reason is that the game feels very realistic both in characters, dialogues and landscapes. The mystery is great as well since the three consecutive murders seem completely unrelated. No other work in 1984 is same engaging. It just feels like a professional AAA class game like no other game of 1984.