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Tsui no Sora 終ノ空 [KeroQ]

July 21, 2018
Foreword: Game first arouse my interest as alternative version of Subarashiki Hibi. Then I tried to get the glimpse of it by watching hentai OVA... and it was the worst hentai OVA I ever seen, so I was really infuriated since it did not say much about the game. Finally I've picked it up while investigating year 1999 and it struck me as something more serious than a nukige, especially after seeing those demon mind-screw CG. And it's been a while since I enjoyed a visual novel that much.

Kuon no Kizuna 久遠の絆 [FOG]

July 18, 2018
Foreword: There is a good number of English reviews on this game (1 2 3 4), but those are all kinda short and non-structured. Now I know why and mine won't be an exception. You'll know why soon enough as well.
Title: Kuon no Kizuna
Developer: FOG
Date: 1998-12-03
VNDB link: https://vndb.org/v2773
Youtube walkthrough: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLENAECnNmAq-CHIuWBfnU3DYzNCEcLjcV
Synopsis: This story starts out from the perspective of a high school student. One day a transfer student comes to his school, and tells him she’ll kill him. At the same time, he starts seeing weird dreams and people mysteriously gets killed in his city.
Soon he realizes that them two are incarnated personalities of a man and a goddess that fell in love 1000 years ago. Since then, they have been trapped in a cycle of reincarnation and a battle against an evil god.
Length: Took me 66 hours for all routes.
Game type: ADV with choices and couple easy battles.
Difficulty: I followed walkthrough, so not too sure on difficulty. There are some fake choices, but there are also choices that lead to game over. And there are a LOT of choices, so it must be quite difficult.
Character Design rating: 7/10
Protagonist rating: 8/10Story rating: 6/10
Game quality: 9/10
Overall rating: 7/10
Rating comments: This is one of the most ambitious projects I've ever seen. Just imagine - 66 hours. 66 hours of not raising stats, killing monsters or chasing girls over and over. 66 hours of pure text reading time. There's nothing like that in the 1990s and it won't be beaten till 2000s. You know, in many Japanese reviews of the time volume is a very important factor and there's often such criteria as cost-efficiency. Visual novels cost a lot and compared to solid books they used to lose all the time. But everything changed with Kuon no Kizuna. It became a paragon for both volume and visuals. 
I liked protagonist and characters enough, but they don't become cozy. They remain transcendent beings piercing the veil of time in an epic story, not really likable characters who I could respect for their characters or decisions, that's why it's 7/10. The story is indeed epic, but it does not go smoothly. We jump from reality to three periods all the time and the shifts aren't really explained, they just happen. I also did not like it that the first half of the story is pretty much the same for all three heroines and we just have to read it three times with little variation. That makes story only 6/10. But the quality of the game is superb, especially with full voice (excluding the protagonist though). The graphics are stunning and visual effects amazing. No complaints with the quality.
Protagonist: Mikado Takeru is a strong protagonist as he constantly has to protect those who are dear to him and he's the only one who can oppose demonic forces thanks to his demonic heritage. He's a one man army and hardly ever gets any help from the side. He'd be more realistic with voice, but he's quite cool even as he is now.

Characters: There are three heroines who have their own routes.
Takahara Mayou is our mysterious transfer student who greets Takeru for the first time with words "This time I will definitely kill you".
Itsuki Shiori is a childhood friend who Takeru lives with under the same roof.
Tokiwa Saya is the class teacher.
Story: The rant part. So each heroine has her route... but it's the same route, at least for the first half of it. In the second half some periods are developed for each heroine, but still there's a very strong feeling that you're watching the same story and it irritates a lot. 
There are four periods: Heian, Genroku, Bakumatsu, and the present. Present and Heian are really the same and those are the most boring parts, especially Heian. Heian focuses on a an ancient period of Japanese history where nothing really happened for dozens of years and that's why it's full of myths and legends - because there was nothing to do there. In Kuon no Kizuna Heian is when beasts invasion starts and it differentiates just a bit in the end depending on the heroine chosen throughout it. I especially liked Bakumatsu period for meeting and fighting alongside Shinsengumi (and sometimes against) and kunoichi. 
But there is a great problem with these periods - they aren't really connected to each other. People can die there or love there and in next period everything starts from scratch. That creates the feeling of multiple stories and I really dislike that genre. Nothing really happens throughout those stories, then beasts arrive, the short drama and it's over. Heroines aren't really able to hold attention. But what's worse, the heroine of your choice have play very small role till the very end of each part. 
But then comes the fantastic Special route №1 that arrived later with remake as an attempt to tighten the crumbling main story. Special route №1 lasts for some 7 hours, holds a totally new epic story with really great enemies and is a great ending for all the characters, so I can't praise it enough.
The Special routes №2 and  №3 are there for comic relief after all that superserious narration.
So overall the story really sucks, repeats itself in routes and has poor tempo. But the great special route makes up for it.
CG: Just fantastic. See for yourself.
Sound: I really appreciated full voicing and beautiful BGM. That kept me from sleeping.
Overall comments: This game was created to surprise the imagination. It has huge length and astonishing visuals, but there still was no culture of such huge coherent stories - thus the multiple periods format with lousy links between them. Dialogues are long and not too meaningful, fights are inevitably dull and poorly written, heroines fail to catch attention and the absence of humor makes it all a real torture. The sudden jumps between periods only add to the confusion. But this game bears a huge importance for the industry as it made long story-driven visual novels without gameplay elements viable while only dating SIMs, charage and nukige governed the ball.

To Heart PSE [Leaf/Aquaplus]

July 09, 2018
Foreword: It took me a while to get interested in this grandfather of all modern charage and moege. It took even longer to finish all the routes. I doubt I will ever pick a moege for review, but I need to see fundamentals with my own eyes. There are quite many reviews found, but only one of them (7nightstranslations) actually was reviewing a finished game, but still it was too short and only touched a few heroines. I'll have a word about each heroine at least.

Viper-F40 [Sogna]

June 14, 2018
Foreword: Why review a Sogna game? Aren't those just short mindless animated H episodes? Those were my thoughts as well. And that was actually true for the earlier series. Then something happened in 1994. Instead of the usual numbers alongside "Viper", game Viper-GTS appeared and it was a one-story episode based on earlier V6 short story. Then followed titles with numbers, as usual till Viper-BTR which is a one story game based on short V12 story. But same as GTS, BTR is indeed ero-centered. And that concludes PC-98 era for Viper games. First Windows Viper is Viper-CTR ~Asuka~ which is as usual based on another previously featured short story in V10. And I actually consider Viper-CTR ~Asuka~ "almost" a masterpiece. Its only problem is that it only takes 50 minutes to clear it, but it's stuffed with four H scenes.
So why I'm retelling information that's easy to get from VNDB? It's because Viper-F40 is a totally different game and it's absolutely wrong to measure it by past Sogna experience. First of all, Viper-F40 has only one big story. That's not a new thing, of course, after GTS, BTR and CTR. But it is not based on any previous short story which means the setting and characters are created anew. And now the main part - the game takes almost 4 hours. And that's at least three times longer than any previous Sogna game. And I aspire to prove my point by showing that contents-wise it's also an absolutely new game.

Ai ga Mie Hajimetara 愛が見えはじめたら [C's Ware]

June 10, 2018
Foreword: I really can't stand multiple stories visual novels. But this is C's ware work and the first story was really sweet, fast (just one hour long) and only included several non-significant choices, so I went for other two stories as well. And I promised myself that I would write a review on any game visual novel that I play to the end and that takes me over three hours to finish. So here it is - my first and hopefully last multiple stories visual novel review.

Rabyni ラブィーニ [C's Ware]

June 04, 2018
Foreword: A C's Ware game at the mature period of company development, past DESIRE, Xenon and Eve:Burst Error. That's already enough to hook me. It has other attractiveness factors like title mystery that is Russian word Рабыни for "female slave". But why bother with Russian title in a nukige? Another reason is that cover has absolutely no premise for slavery. So mayhaps it's a sly puzzle that the company prepared for us? I'm more than willing to discover.

Angel Halo エンジェル・ハイロウ [Active]

May 26, 2018
Foreword: Game has a very strong start and intriguing concept which made me play to the end. It differed from my initial expectations, but it's a very original and good-looking game, so I don't regret playing it.

Bounty Hunter Rudy バウンティはんたぁルディ [Scoop]

May 25, 2018
Foreword: Game's obscure, but it has one absolutely overwhelming Japanese review (giving 8/10 score btw) which claims that the game has references to dozens of media sources. I'm not good with media of 1996 year and earlier, but even I could discern 5 sources. Visual novel is easy to read and it's a great laugh at times while preserving a solid and intriguing plot with lovable characters, tonns of CG and almost full voicing. I say it's a neglected masterpiece.

Shizuku 雫 [Leaf] VS Kizuato 痕 [Leaf]

May 22, 2018
Foreword: Who does not know of Leaf company? Who does not know that its games Shizuku and Kizuato are considered the first modern type visual novels? But how many of us actually played those? There are some good English reviews of those (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) and I initially only relied on those as well. But the historical significance of Kizuato made me change priorities. Throughout the rest of 90-s and the first half of 2000-s I encountered quite many story-focused visual novels that are described by Japanese reviewers as "degraded version of Kizuato", so I really needed to see the original myself to get the proper idea. As for Shizuku... it came first and is a curious blend of old and new types of visual novels. Why did Leaf bother to make two remakes of it if it's a plain nukige about radio waves? Or maybe it's a dark-themed masterpiece akin to Moon by Tactics? I hope to answer those questions here. And I decided to make a comparative review to spice things up. Screenshots on the left belong to Shizuku, on the right - to Kizuato.

Lilith リリス [Four-Nine]

April 23, 2018
Foreword: Game's totally obscure and there just one quite shallow Japanese review exists, so I'd probably miss this wonderful game unless saw Four-Nine as developer. And I'm really happy I did!

Fermion ~Mirai kara no Houmonsha~ フェルミオン ~未来からの訪問者~ [Silky's]

April 20, 2018
Foreword: I keep exploring the vast vaults of Silky's games. This time it's even more suspicious work - a full scale yuri game. But it has many SF elements and even has genetically modified mutants - knowing Silky's they would not settle with an ordinary yuri work.

Jack ~Haitoku no Megami~ JACK ~背徳の女神~ [Silky's]

April 19, 2018
Foreword: There is a negative English review, but VNDB voting shows a decent 6.72 score atm and this is Silky's story oriented work, same Silky's that I praised multiple times for Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku, Reira Slave Doll, Ushinawareta Rakuen and Koihime. So I decided to make it to the end of Jack ~Haitoku no Megami~ no matter what.

Reira Slave Doll レイラ SLAVE(奴麗)DOLL [Silky's]

March 07, 2018
Foreword: Silky's company and Slave doll in title inevitably make us think it's a nukige, but actually it's a scenario oriented game. Moreover, that's retelling of a classic cyberpunk story about an android hunter - the story that was already told in visual novels by Imitation wa Aisenai and Snatcher. Did Silky's ruin the classic concept or was it able to produce a masterpiece? You'll find the answer in this review. That's actually infamous Raira on the screen.

Gao Gao! 2nd ~Pandora no Mori~ GAOGAO!2nd ~パンドラの森~ [Four-Nine]

March 05, 2018
Foreword: It would be weird if I reviewed only three games of the serious out of four. So here is the leftover piece - and again a worthy one.

Gao Gao! 1st ~Radical Sequence~ GAOGAO!1st ~ラジカルシークエンス~ [Four-Nine]

March 04, 2018
Foreword: I did not expect much of the first game in the series, but was pleasantly surprised. It's a really long scenario-centered game that stands on the same level as Gao Gao the 3rd, just in less intriguing environment. It's well worth a review!

HHG Heart Heat Girls ハートヒートガールズ [Cat's Pro.]

February 23, 2018
Foreword: This is one of the best masterpieces of the year 1993 and cyberpunk themed on top of that. I could not miss the chance.

3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ 3x3 Eyes ~三只眼變成~ [Nihon Create]

February 17, 2018
Foreword: Game had already couple reviews, but those weren't too specific on the story, so I had to check it out myself in the end.

Gram Cats 2 グラムキャッツ2[Dott Kikaku]

February 15, 2018
Foreword: I was quite intrigued by original Gram Cats concept - mutated humans fight with aliens and ordinary schoolgirl gets an ability to transform into cat and thus becomes a great spy. But the eternal maze of corridors prevented me from finishing that game. So I thought I'd have more luck with the second part to get acquainted with this SF setting.

Phobos フォボス [Himeya Soft]

February 09, 2018
Foreword: Himeya Soft and C's Ware are basically the same people, so it would really be a shame to miss their first cyberpunk game, father of Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~ and grandfather of luv wave. How deep is the story? How much torture does it imply on players? Does it already have mind-screw elements? I'll try to answer all those questions.

Shinjuku Monogatari 新宿物語 [Fairytale]

February 08, 2018
Foreword: Fairytale is the main experimentation company of the early 1990s. And Shinjuku Monogatari is an attempt to go away from adult games for the sake of games that can keep the interest by the story and atmosphere alone. The history shows us now that it was a failure attempt from the start since adult titles with cute heroines are everything the populus wants. But was Fairytale really wrong in that intention?

Armist アルミスト [Basement]

February 07, 2018
Foreword: I did not intend to play Armist to the end, but its game system was indeed player-friendly and the story turned out to be quite a serious thing instead of being a bakage, so it's well worth a review.

Eve: The Fatal Attraction イブティーエフエーアトラクション [C's Ware]

December 30, 2017
Foreword: Again, C's Ware game and EVE on top of that. I actually played it before EVE Zero as a substitute for EVE:Adam Doublefactor, but decided to to keep it for a later time since it has some imminent spoilers for EVE Zero.

EVE Zero [C's Ware]

December 28, 2017
Foreword: Phew, this game took a while to beat! Command selection was not comfortable after point-and-click EVE TFA that I finished before Zero. Eve Zero is best be played as the third game in the series, after EVE Burst Error and EVE Lost One.

VN of the Month April 2000 - Gyousatsu♥Shinsengumi Hitokiri Bishoujo Adventure

December 05, 2017
I've waited for this day with terror since it's going to show whether this blog going to have a purpose after year 2008 - first clash with Micchi blog and notably his fool's day edition targeting April 2000! And the results are quite satisfying so far. Micchi highlighted 13 works and has one work that I can't allow to include because it's Tinkerbell work that produces only camouflaged nukige. But I include 11 more works that Micchi does not have. So for now I'm quite content with the result - there are a lot of obscure works Micchi misses and that's why there's probably a reason for this blog even after 2008. So in April 2000 I consider only one game as masterpiece - Gyousatsu♥Shinsengumi Hitokiri Bishoujo Adventure.

VN of the Month March 2000 - Eve Zero

December 01, 2017
Eve Zero is the game of the Month March 2000. The other masterpiece of the month is Harlem Blade II, but it's only suitable for those who appreciate RPG.

VN of the Month February 2000 - Phantom of Inferno

November 29, 2017
The only masterpiece of February 2000 is Phantom of Inferno and thus it's the VN of the Month. I already made full video walkthrough of the game, but it got wiped with the channel, and I'm not doing it again.

VN of the Month January 2000 - Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~

November 27, 2017
There's a big change since 2000. From now on I'm starting to block visual novels by certain criteria (fandisk, nukige, shounen ai, yaoi, antology, demo, non-Japanese, EVN, otome, doujin) which means I'll still note them at the back of the post, but will only provide a synopsis, an opening song and review links where possible. But there is also a good news - I'll be making reviews and video walkthroughs of at least one route from the games of the month.

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.

VN of the Year 1999

November 24, 2017

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. 

VN of the Month December 1999 - Elemental Arts

November 22, 2017

There are surprisingly many masterpieces this month. There are three: Elemental Arts, Green and SPARK! My personal favourtite would of course be Vist, but even I understand that it lacks the masterpiece level. The game of the Month December 1999 is Elemental Arts since I would not like to compliment eroge'ish Green and bakage'ish SPARK!

Vist [C's Ware]

November 12, 2017
Foreword: It's a C's Ware story game so I'm in. I have not read reviews prior to playing the game. I followed three different walkthroughs though - and still failed to get even a single happy ending. You can read about my torments below.
 
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