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De-Ja 2 / デ・ジャ2

June 02, 2017
Foreword: I liked De-Ja a lot so sequel was a natural choice.

Title: De-Ja 2

Original Title: デ・ジャ2

Developer: Elf

Release Date: 1992-06-25

Summary: After events of De-Ja you're the winner in life. You have fame, respect, money and the love of pretty Gachako. What else to wish for? New adventures and unveiling new mysteries, of course. You get intrigued by the story of "crystal skulls" and one mad archaeologist knows exactly how to find them...

VN of the Month May 1992 - Kurutta Kajitsu

May 31, 2017
Kurutta Kajitsu is the only masterpiece of May 1991.

VN of the Month April 1992 - The 4th Unit - Wyatt

May 31, 2017
The 4th Unit - Wyatt is the only masterpiece game of April 1992.


VN of the Month March 1992 - Sotsugyou Shashin / Miki

May 27, 2017

Sotsugyou Shashin / Miki is the VN of March 1992.

VN of the Month February 1992 - Joker II

May 26, 2017
Joker II is the only masterpiece game of February 1992.

VN of the Month January 1992 - Himitsu no Hanazono

May 26, 2017
Himitsu no Hanazono is the most curious game of January 1991.


VN of the Year 1991 - ELLE

May 23, 2017

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.


VN of the Month December 1991 - Gidyy

May 22, 2017
Gidyy is the only masterpiece of December 1991.

VN of the Month November 1991 - Psychic Detective Series Vol. 5: Nightmare

May 22, 2017

Psychic Detective Series Vol. 5: Nightmare is the only masterpiece of November 1991.

VN of the Month October 1991 - Rance III - Leazas Kanraku

May 20, 2017
Rance III - Leazas Kanraku  finally gets solid mechanics and is worthy to be called VN of October 1991.

VN of the Month September 1991 - Cosmic Psycho

May 19, 2017

Cosmic Psycho is the only masterpiece of September 1991.

VN of the Month August 1991 - Kimi Dake ni Ai o...

May 18, 2017

Kimi Dake ni Ai o... is a very curious game and is worth being VN of August 1991.

VN of the Month July 1991 - Nike

May 15, 2017

Nike is the VN of July 1991. I also value Cybernetic Hi-School Part 4 ~Ape Hunter J~ high, but in the end it's just a bakage with quiz mixes.


VN of the Month June 1991 - ELLE

May 12, 2017

ELLE is my favorite in June 1991.

ELLE / エル

May 11, 2017
Foreword: I just had to try Elf adventure title. Now I joined the army of Hiruda scenario fans.
Title: ELLE
Original Title: エル
Developer: Elf
Release Date: 1991-06-23

Summary: Postnuclear world last survivors dome city. "Black Widow" organization is trying to obstruct plans for human survival while anti-terror organization along with lady sniper Elle oppose them.

VN of the Month May 1991 - Ginsei Senshin Guynarock

May 10, 2017
Ginsei Senshin Guynarock is the VN of May 1991 by default - it's the closest thing to a visual novel this month.

VN of the Month April 1991 - Psychic Detective Series Vol. 4: Orgel

May 07, 2017

I put Psychic Detective Series Vol. 4: Orgel above other games in April 1991 even though there are also such masterpieces as CAL II  and Nostalgia 1907.

VN of the Month March 1991 - Jesus II

May 06, 2017
Jesus II is the only masterpiece of March 1991.

VN of the Month February 1991 - Akagawa Jirou no Yuurei Ressha

May 04, 2017
Akagawa Jirou no Yuurei Ressha is VN of the February 1991 by default - Prontis is too much of a half-baked game.

VN of the Month January 1991 - Dragon Eyes

May 04, 2017
There are no masterpieces in January and Dragon Eyes becomes the winner by default since it's the closest thing to a normal visual novel.

VN of the Year 1990 - De-Ja

May 02, 2017
My masterpieces list:
1. Can Can Bunny Superior
2. De-Ja
3. Illumina!
4. Misty Blue
5. Sekai de Ichiban Kimi ga Suki!
6. Slope 
7. Suijaku Sakusen 2 Moeyo Dragon
8. The 4th Unit - Merry Go Round
9. Toushin Toshi
10. Yami no Ketsuzoku
11. Urotsukidouji
12. Urusei Yatsura: Stay With You

1990 is the year of RPG. Their number and diversity put interactive adventures VNs to shame. 1990 is a revolutionary year in many aspects. First doujin works, first nsfw covers, first explicit sex scenes, first lgbt game, first strategy and SIM VN mixes.
The big three candidates for the VN of the year are De-Ja, Toushin Toshi and Misty Blue, but De-Ja exploration and humorous nature is much to my liking and thus De-Ja is the VN of the year 1990.

De-Ja / デ・ジャ

April 28, 2017
Foreword: I've wanted to play this game for a long time. I've always considered it to be the grandfather of all adventure visual novels, but only found time for it while doing year 1990 coverage. So this is Elf's first grand work and the first Elf work to have Hiruda as story writer. Game is amazing but at the same time there aren't that many japanese reviews and as many as zero English ones. How can that even be possible?! I've no answers. My best guess is that work is prior to internet era and Multi-pack (2004) only brought contemporary systems and graphics, so japanese din't really bother to discuss a remake. Let's start already.

VN of the Year 1989 - Imitation wa Aisenai

April 21, 2017
Year 1989 masterpieces:
1. Burning Point
2. Dororo ~Jigoku Emaki no Shou~
3. Dual Targets - The 4th Unit Act.3
4. Paragon Sexa Doll
5. Tawhid
6. 38 Man Kilo no Kokuu
7. Dragon Knight
8. Twilight Zone 3 Nagakute Amai Yoru
9. Hare Nochi Oosawagi!
10. Imitation wa Aisenai
11. Nishimura Kyoutarou Mystery: Blue Train Satsujin Jiken
12. Asoko no Koufuku
13. Psychic Detective Series Vol. 1: Invitation - Kage kara no Shoutaijou
14. Psychic Detective Series Vol. 2: Memories

The two main candidates for VN of the year for me are Burning Point and Imitation wa Aisenai. The first is a very integral work with all the elements fitting flawlessly. The second is a hard-boiled SF adventure and I favor that the most! Imitation wa Aisenai is VN of the year 1989.

Let's try to distinguish what features year 1989 brought:
- number games with multiple endings greatly increased
- while still being interactive adventures, VNs started to have simplified command selection mechanics
- simplified game mechanics led to higher game volumes and thus higher satisfaction with the story
- most of year 1989 games are story-driven and it's the golden age for adventure theme in VNs
- proportion of rpg games and elements got higher
- school setting games got more numerous
- science fiction clearly lost to mystery

VN of the Year 1988 - Lipstick. ADV

April 17, 2017
In 1988 there are even more games, but I have only selected 9 as masterpieces:
1. Soft de Hard na Monogatari
2. Chatty
3. Famicom Tantei Club: Kieta Koukeisha
4. Lipstick. ADV
5. Onryou Senki
6. Psy-O-Blade
7. Angelus ~Akuma no Fukuin~
8. Snatcher
9. Akira

Year 1988 is the year when PC-98 won. In 1987 there were only couple games with pc-98 versions. Occasional games start to have animation and sometimes even certain phrases voiced. In 1988 there's a very big share of visual novels made deliberately for famicom.
Lipstick ADV was very revolutionary for that time and marked the birth of "Elf" games. It is a worthy champion of 1988.

VN of the Year 1987 - Hiatari Ryoukou!

April 12, 2017
The number of visual novels in 1987 increased greatly, but the number of masterpieces is relatively the same:
1. Amazons no Hihou
2. Urusei Yatsura
3. DNA
4. Koroshi no Dress
5. Hadou no Hyouteki
6. Jesus
7. Nakayama Miho no Tokimeki High School
8. Hiatari Ryoukou!
9. The 4th Unit


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...

VN of the Year 1986 - Gall Force - Eternal Story

April 10, 2017
The masterpieces of the year 1986:
1. Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu ~Rinne Tensei Hen~
2. Wingman 2: Kitakura no Fukkatsu
3. Boukenshatachi Kenja no Yuigon
4. Alpha
5. Hokuto no Ken: Violence Gekiga Adventure
6. J.B. Harold no Jikenbo #1 - Final Mystery - Murder Club
7. Casablanca ni Ai o Satsujinsha wa Jikuu o Koete
8. Gall Force - Eternal Story
9. Maison Ikkoku ~Omoide no Photograph~
10. Suishou no Dragon
11. Little Princess
12. Toki no Tabibito
13. 1000-nen Oukoku

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!

Maison Ikkoku ~Omoide no Photograph~ / めぞん一刻 ~想いでのフォトグラフ~

April 09, 2017

Did you hear anything about Maison Ikkoku? Well, you must have. It had a huge impact on anime and manga of 1980s. It produced manga and 96-episode anime series, three live action films, anime film and 3 anime OVAs as well as this particular game in 1986. It's actually very sad that such ~100 episodes format slice of life warm comedies have not survived to our days. All the modern longterm on-goings are just shounens for kids.

VN of the Year 1985 - Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu ~Hyakki Hen~

April 08, 2017
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!

VN of the Year 1984 - Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsk ni Kiyu

April 07, 2017
The masterpieces of the year are:
1. Miko to Akemi no Jungle Adventures ,
2. Salad no Kuni no Tomato-hime ,
3. Eiyuu Densetsu Saga
4. Again
5. Jigoku no Renshuu Mondai
6. Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsk ni Kiyu
7. Corridor
8. Wingman
9. Time Tunnel
10. Zarth

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.

VN of the Year 1980-1983 - Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken

April 06, 2017
The masterpieces of the year are:
1. Joshi Ryou Panic,
2. Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken,
3. Star Arthur Densetsu I ~Wakusei Mephius~,
4. Mio no Mystery Adventure,
5. Dezeni Land.
The VN of the year 1983 is Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken, because it introduced command selection that was used for many years to come. It's a huge step from text parser. There was another revolutionary game Star Arthur Densetsu that introduced point-and-click elements for the first time, but the main part remained with the text parser there.
 
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