The 39 Steps Review

Title: The 39 Steps
Release date: 2013-03-15 (download edition)
                      2013-03-29 (physical edition)
Developer: The Story Mechanics
Publisher: Kiss (download edition) / Avanquest Software (physical edition)

First of all I have to say that I have never actually read the book the game is based on, nor have I ever seen any of the movie adaptations. Actually, I haven't even heard of "The 39 Steps" before picking the game up. It's apparently a classic British spy novel that kickstarted the whole genre. Kudos for that but no cookie.


Muv-Luv Alternative Review

Title: Muv-Luv Alternative
Original title: マブラヴ オルタネイティヴ
Release date: 2006-02-24
English release date: 2011-09-05
Developer: âge
English publisher: Amaterasu Translations (as a fan-patch)

"Muv-Luv Alternative" is a sequel to "Muv-Luv" I reviewed previously, and one of the most revered VNs in the English speaking fandom. There is only one question - does it deserve its fame? Short answer: Hell, yeah! Long answer: read below.


Muv-Luv Review

Title: Muv-Luv
Original title: マブラヴ
Release date: 2003-02-28
English release date: 2010-07-27
Developer: âge
English publisher: Amaterasu Translations (as a fan-patch)

I’m kind of ashamed of myself that I haven’t yet played "Muv-Luv Alternative" – one of the most lauded English translated VNs. After finally deciding that it’s high time I tackled it, I decided to first replay its prequel "Muv-Luv" in order to reacquaint myself with the previous events.


Demon Master Chris Review

Title: Demon Master Chris
Original title: デーモンマスタークリス
Release date: 2013-07-20
English release date: 2013-10-31
Developer: Nyaatrap
English publisher: MangaGamer

So, "Demon Master Chris" or DMC (not to be confused with THAT other game) is an eroge dungeon crawler. A small change from what I usually review and even strange due to the fact I don't even like dungeon crawlers. You ask, what egged me to try it out? It's yuri people! That's all I needed to know before diving in. The experience was underwhelming, but let's start from the beginning.


Hierofanía Walkthrough

And here is the walkthrough for an OELVN Hierofanía. I wrote it, because there was no available walkthrough on the Internet.

Hierofanía Review

Title: Hierofanía
Release date: 2012-02-08
Developer: Ludeshka
Publisher: Ludeshka

This time I'm gonna review an OELVN that is quite well regarded on the Internet.


Dra†KoI Review

Title: Dra†KoI
Original title: 竜†恋
Release date: 2006-02-03
English release date: 2013-04-21
Developer: Nitroplus
English publisher: TLWiki (as a fan-patch)

Another review - another Nitroplus game. This time it's a small, short and completely insane piece named "Dra+KoI".

Actually, "Dra+KoI" has never been released as a standalone game, but rather it was included in "Sabato Nabe: Nitro Amusement Disc", together with a "Hanachirasu" fan-disc and "Nitro Wars". It was translated not so long ago by our resident troll Moogy and I finally got around to playing it.


Phantom of Inferno Review

Title: Phantom of Inferno
Original title: ファントム -Phantom of Inferno-
Alias: Phantom: Integration
Release date: 2000-02-25
English release date: 2003 (original release)
                                    2005-09-16 (New Package Edition)
                                    2006-02-28 (Phantom Double Pack Edition)
Developer: Nitroplus
English publisher: Hirameki International (original release / New Package Edition)
                               Anime Works (Phantom Double Pack Edition)

Not a single visual novel from “Nitroplus” has ever disappointed me and “Phantom of Inferno” is not an exception. While currently “Nitroplus" has a relationship with “JAST USA”, PoI was released by now dead and buried “Hirameki International” in the reviled DVD-PG format.


Phantom of Inferno Walkthrough

This walkthrough is specifically tailored for an English DVD-PG version of the game. It might or might not be accurate for Japanese releases, especially because some of them have one additional ending.


Hourglass of Summer Review

Title: Natsuiro no Sunadokei
Original title: 夏色の砂時計
Alias: Hourglass of Summer
Release date: 2002-05-30
English release date: 2004-07
Developer: Princess Soft
English publisher: Hirameki International

“Hourglass of Summer” is one of the visual novels released by “Hirameki International” in a DVD-PG format, which makes it nigh unplayable if you don’t know what you are doing. Even if you know what you are doing, this format brings its own share of problems and thus HI eventually got rid of DVD-PG and started releasing games for Windows. That didn’t save the company, but we have overeager hackers to thank for that.

Hourglass of Summer Walkthrough

I have written this walkthrough using a Japanese one as a basis.


A guide how to play Hourglass of Summer on a PC

"Hourglass of Summer" is one of the visual novels released by now defunct "Hirameki International" on a widely reviled DVD-PG format. Theoretically it means that the game should be playable on any device that has a DVD drive - practically it means that you cannot play it at all.


Cinders Walkthrough

In my review of "Cinders" I also included a partial walkthrough to that game, however now I think that it needlessly bloats the post. Thus I decided to separate it into a new post.

Baldur's Gate II modding

Last year I have written a personal guide how I modified my installation of "Baldur's Gate" and published it here. This year it would be prudent to repeat the same with its successor.

As I haven't used "Baldur's Gate Trilogy" or "Big World Project", I had to modify BG by myself and so I did the same with BGII. There are a shitload of similar guides on the net, so it's your choice if you pay even the slightest bit of attention to mine.


Cinders Review

Title: Cinders
Release date: 2012-06-20
Developer: Moa Cube
Publisher: Moa Cube

Many VN fans are exaggeratedly critical of OELVNs, but that is not without a basis. Sturgeon’s Law applies to this niche more than to any else. On the other hand, if you search really hard, you might find real nuggets of gold amidst the piles of steaming… fecal matter. In a subversive situation, there was no need to search hard for “Cinders” – a retelling of “Cinderella” fairy tale – as it was a really visible visual novel since even before its release.


The Royal Trap Review

Title: The Royal Trap
Release date: 2013-02-23
Developer: Hanako Games
Publisher: Hanako Games

"Hanako Games" is one of the three best known commercial original English language visual novel makers currently in business; the other two, of course, being "Winter Wolves" and "Sake Visual". It's a real shame that Hanako prefers to create stat based simulations and very rarely gives us pure visual novels. "The Royal Trap" is one of such exceptions.


Suika A.S+ Review

Title: Suika A.S+
Original title: 水夏A.S+~SUIKA~
Alias: Wet Summer Days
Release date: 2001-07-27 (2004-09-24 A.S+ Edition)
English release date: 2009-04-25
Developer: Circus (Northern division) & Moonstone
English publisher: MangaGamer

Suika was one of the first games released by then fledgling MangaGamer back in the hoary 2009 and somehow didn't garner much attention from Western fans, which is a real shame. While I have first played this game back in the year of its release, recently I got an urge to replay it. Posting a review is just a side effect of that. So, come closer children and listen to my tale.


Throb! The Greatest Inventions of the Sexy Era! Review

Title: Todoroke Seiki no Daihatsumei Ai to Okori to Kanashimi no Himitsu Kessha Dai Ni Kagakubu
Original title: 轟け性紀の大発明 愛と怒りと悲しみの秘密結社第二科学部
Alias: Throb! The Greatest Inventions of the Sexy Era! ~Second Science Club–A Secret Society of Love, Rage, and Sorrow~
Release date: 2009-07-24
English release date: 2013-06-21
Developer: Softhouse-Seal
English publisher: MangaGamer

"Throb! The Greatest Inventions of the Sexy Era!" is the latest title in MangaGamer's lineup of shitty nukiges that I decided to play. My motto: "Experiencing the shit so that you don't have to". Surprisingly, it's also the best title in the said lineup, beating any previous S-S game in every aspect.


Phenomeno Review

Title: Phenomeno
Original title: フェノメノ
Release date: 2012-06-16
English release date: 2012-10-02
Developer: Nitroplus
English publisher: Suimin Chuudoku & Pin201 (as a fan-patch)

While the name of my latest venture into visual novel world is "Phenomeno", it has little to do with a Dario Argento movie and even less so with that film starring John Travolta. Instead it is one more VN from "Nitroplus" that caught my attention.

The "Phenomeno" novel was first released on the Internet as a collection of two scary stories. Later the novel was expanded with an additional story and published in "dead tree". "Phenomeno" the visual novel only turns the very first story called "The House that Grants Wishes" into a game. Actually that is a kinetic novel as there are no choices to influence your outcome and the text is a 100% carbon copy of the one present in the book. It's no wonder that after Suimin Chuudoku translated the book into English, a Russian guy named Pin201 took the translated text and made it into a patch for the game. Oh, and did I mention that the game is completely free? Must have slipped my mind.


Orion Heart Review

Title: Orion Heart ~Injoku no Suku Mizu Sailor Senshi~
Original title: オリオンハート~淫辱のスク水セーラー戦士~
Alias: Orion Heart
Release date: 2009-03-27
English release date: 2013-05-24
Developer: Portion
English publisher: MangaGamer

Strangely “Orion Heart” was one of the MG nukiges that I expected to like. After all, it’s made by “Portion” – a sister company of “Liquid” and previously I really enjoyed the latter's visual novel “Conquering the Queen”. Alas, it wasn’t destined to be so…


SSSS: Super Secret Sexy Spy Review

Title: Nakadashi Spy no Sounyuu Sousa -Shikyuu no Heiwa wa Ore ga Mamoru!-
Original title: 中出しスパイの挿入捜査 -子宮の平和は俺が守る!-
Alias: SSSS: Super Secret Sexy Spy
Release date: 2010-10-22
English release date: 2013-04-03
Developer: Softhouse-Seal
English publisher: MangaGamer

Why is it that after playing "Super Secret Sexy Spy" I hear a tune in my head? A tune that sounds suspiciously like AVGN theme song - you know, the one about playing shitty games that suck ass... Must be a completely unfounded coincidence.


Saya no Uta Review

Title: Saya no Uta
Original title: 沙耶の唄
Alias: The Song of Saya
Release date: 2003-12-26
English release date: 2009-02-24 (as a fan-patch) / 2013-05-06 (as a commercial release)
Developer: Nitroplus
English publisher: TLWiki (as a fan-patch) / JAST USA (commercial)

One hardly needs to introduce "Saya no Uta" - after all it is one of the most famous visual novels in the West and for good reason. No, shock value is not that reason, but rather the fact that it is a brilliantly written little piece of fiction that while being quite short still manages to pack a real emotional punch.


Shikkoku no Sharnoth -What a Beautiful Tomorrow- Fullvoice ReBORN Review

Title: Shikkoku no Sharnoth -What a Beautiful Tomorrow- Fullvoice ReBORN
Original title: 漆黒のシャルノス -What a beautiful tomorrow- Fullvoice ReBORN
Alias: Sharnoth of the Deepest Black Fullvoice ReBORN
Release date: 2008-11-21 (2011-12-22 Fullvoice ReBORN Edition)
English release date: 2011-09-05 (2012-11-20 Fullvoice ReBORN Edition)
Developer: Liar-soft
English publisher: Amaterasu Translations (as a fan-patch of both Regular and Fullvoice ReBORN Edition)

Previously I have played and reviewed Liar-Soft’s “Sekien no Inganock”, which was a strange, beautiful and altogether memorable piece of work. Now it’s time to take a closer look at its sequel/spin-off/sister game thingy called “Shikkoku no Sharnoth” where secret societies, British government, supernatural forces and one clueless girl clash over the right for the new dawn to come.


Loren The Amazon Princess Review

Title: Loren The Amazon Princess + The Castle of N’Mar
Release date: 2012-04-30 (main game)
                      2012-09-28 (the expansion pack)
Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves

I have previously already played and reviewed “Planet Stroghold” - another RPG by Italian developer Winter Wolves a.k.a. Tycoon Games a.k.a. Riva Celso a.k.a. Jack Norton. Today it’s time to review another game, called “Loren The Amazon Princess” and also its expansion pack “The Castle of N’Mar”.


May Club Review

Title: VR Date - Gogatsu Club
Original title: V.R.デート 五月倶楽部 or メイクラブ
Alias: VR-DATE Simulator May-Club
Release date: 1995-08-25 (original release)
                       2001-05-12 (DX Edition)
English release date: 1999-05 (original release)
                                    2003-03-21 (Milky House Memorial Collection)
                                    2010-12-12 (DX Edition)
                                    2012-06-28 (JAST USA Memorial Collection Special Edition)
Developer: Desire
English publisher: RCY America & Milky House (original release)
                                JAST USA & Milky House (Milky House Memorial Collection)
                                JAST USA (JAST USA Memorial Collection Special Edition)
                                ViLE Project (DX Edition) (as a fan-program/loader)

I believe it would be prudent to review another of eroge classics available in English – “May Club”. This is one of the old visual novels I have never played before. Actually, I did download “May Club” together with a few other VNs more than a decade ago, however I failed to understand how to play it, got bored and dropped it after about an hour. What do you want from me? When I was fifteen I had an attention span of a goldfish and a patience of a bull in heat.


Nocturnal Illusion Review

Title: Mugen Yasoukyoku
Original title: 夢幻夜想曲
Alias: Nocturnal Illusion
Release date: 1995-04-21 (original release)
                       1998-11-27 (Renewal Edition)
English release date: 1998-04-15 (original release)
                                    2003-03-21 (Milky House Memorial Collection)
                                    2011-01-14 (Renewal ViLE Edition)
                                    2012-06-28 (JAST USA Memorial Collection Special Edition)
Developer: Apricot
English publisher: RCY America (original release)
                                JAST USA & Milky House (Milky House Memorial Collection)
                                JAST USA (JAST USA Memorial Collection Special Edition)
                                ViLE Project (Renewal Edition) (as a fan-program/loader)

This time I will review a timeless classic of visual novel world – “Mugen Yasoukyoku”, better known in the west as “Nocturnal Illusion”. It was one of the first Japanese H-VNs released in the occidental territories. Published by “RCY America” that died after releasing only two visual novels, it developed a surprising cult following, despite being a work of completely unfamiliar genre to many people.


Koihime Musou Review

Title: Koihime † Musou ~Doki ☆ Otome Darake no Sangokushi Engi~
Original title: 恋姫†無双~ドキッ☆乙女だらけの三国志演義~
Alias: Koihime Musou ~A Heart-Throbbing, Maidenly Romance of the Three Kingdoms~
Release date: 2007-01-26
English release date: 2011-02-28
Developer: BaseSon
English publisher: MangaGamer

Now let me tell you that I have absolutely no knowledge of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. I have not read the book or played countless computer games based on that enormous saga. I am confident though, that it doesn’t really matter, because I think that the game I’m about to review “Koihime Musou” is a close to RotTK as “Tears to Tiara” is to “Mabinogion”. Words “Very loosely based on…” come to my mind.


Magical Teacher: My Teacher's a Mage? Review

Title: Magical Teacher Sensei wa Majo?
Original title: まじかるティーチャー 先生は魔女?
Alias: Magical Teacher: My Teacher's a Mage?
Release date: 2006-01-13
English release date: 2012-04-13
Developer: Score
Publisher: MangaGamer

A miko, a nurse, a princess, a nun and a witch come into a bar... I'm scratching my noggin trying to think of a punchline for the joke, but I cannot think of one. Maybe the joke's on MG for releasing the game or on me for trying to play. The life's strange and too short to play sucky games, but you have me to take this burden off your shoulders.


Slave Witch April Review

Title: Reizoku no Majo April ~Injoku no Mahou Choukyou~
Original title: 隷属の魔女エイプリル~淫辱の魔法調教~
Alias: Slave Witch April ~Sexy Magic Training~
Release date: 2011-04-28
English release date: 2012-12-21
Developer: Aconite
English publisher: MangaGamer

“Slave Witch April” is one of the only three visual novels released by a development circle “Aconite”. The last time they updated their website was the same date SWA was released, thus I can make an educated guess that the company croaked it. In that case, I hope that MangaGamer will get the other two nukiges, as at first look they seem to be better than “April”.


Boob Wars: Big Boobs vs Flat Chests Review

Title: Oppai Sensou - Kyonyuu VS Hinnyuu –
Original title: おっぱい戦争 -巨乳VS貧乳-
Alias: Boob Wars: Big Boobs vs Flat Chests
Release date: 2010-08-27
English release date: 2012-10-19
Developer: Softhouse-Seal
English publisher: MangaGamer

This is the second “Softhouse-Seal” title I have played, thus a comparison with “Sexy Demon Transformation!” is inevitable. I will unload a burden of my shoulders and say that I liked “Boob Wars” better of the two. As to why… read on.


Sexy Demon Transformation! Review

Title: Kozukuri Youkai H Henka ~Otome o Okasu Hyoui Gattai~
Original title: 子作り妖怪H変化~乙女を犯す憑依合体~
Alias: Sexy Demon Transformation!
Release date: 2011-02-25
English release date: 2012-09-14
Developer: Softhouse-Seal
English publisher: MangaGamer

My, oh, my... MangaGamer seems to be on the roll in releasing "Softhouse-Seal" titles. Apparently they managed to snag basically the whole S-S catalogue for cheap and are releasing one nukige after another. While I always love a good nukige, I was a bit apprehensive about the possible quality of the titles from this specific circle. Let's see how one of them, called "Sexy Demon Transformation!" in its translated form, will do in my opinion.


Sekien no Inganock -What a Beautiful People- Fullvoice ReBORN Review

Title: Sekien no Inganock -What a Beautiful People- Fullvoice ReBORN
Original title: 赫炎のインガノック -What a beautiful people- Fullvoice ReBORN
Alias: Inganock of the Brightest Flame Fullvoice ReBORN
Release date: 2007-11-22 (2011-12-22 Fullvoice ReBORN Edition)
English release date: 2009-12-18 (2012-11-20 Fullvoice ReBORN Edition)
Developer: Liar-soft
English publisher: Amaterasu Translations (as a fan-patch of both Regular and Fullvoice ReBORN Edition)

Oh, the fantastic, the unbelievable and the magical - those are the words that characterize the stories of fantasy. The books of that genre are supposed to immerse you in a world very unlike our own and let you forget the mundane and the boring and whatever anyone would say, visual novels are just books in a different medium. Sadly, only rarely can visual novels truly unleash the magic upon you.

Even some of the best novels like “Tsukihime” or “Fate/Stay Night” didn’t manage to tell stories without relying on character routes and romance subplots, but SnI does away with that. In this aspect, “Sekien no Inganock” can be truly called a Visual Novel as it does away with the pretence of being a game and is simply a book about beautiful people.