This post is a little late since I was busy for the actual new years, as such I haven’t even gotten around to starting the next VN.
It felt like this year went by in an instant but once looking back, there’s been a lot of stuff this year.
While you can’t say its been a year with many masterpieces, looking back on whats happened during the year I can say that it had a fair share of enjoyable VNs.
In January we had Majikoi S and the UnisonShift 10th anniversary title, both of which was decently enjoyable, though I already mentioned that Majikoi never did come off to me as really that great to me.
In February we had Passion Star Stream, essentially the FD to Twinkle crusaders with Princess Witches content stuffed in it as well, it’s somewhat amazing how Lillian can make a relatively simple gameplay into something fun yet at the same time not really obstructive to the story as some forms of gameplay are.
On the note of FDs we also had Meikyuu which helped set things up for the (hopefully) soon to come finale of the Grisaia trilogy.
Moving away from FDs, there is also Kaminoyu which was a pretty unique VN in both art style and story. I think it was pretty much one of the rare occasions where the protagonist is not a high schooler but a university student, not that things changed all that much. Following that we also had Hatsuyuki, definitely one of the top VNs of 2012 though it was a little lackluster in some areas.
In March we had the spiritual successor to Duel Savior: Material Brave. Alas it was largely disappointing as the gameplay came off as flat out grindy at times and the story was terrible, just terrible. There’s no room for redemption in that area. In the same month, we also had another big release in terms of gameplay, TENCO’s Eiyuu Senki.
When I heard that it had the same writer as Material Brave I felt like raising the white flag but nevertheless it wasn’t a good enough reason to drop an anticipated VN just like that, and it was a good thing that I didn’t. While many seem to disagree, I personally found the last boss to be extremely entertaining, which rounded up to me cheering on for the last boss instead of the protagonists. It gave similar vibes to Ajimu from Medaka Box so I was all for it. Unfortunately it’s the inevitable fate for the last boss to be defeated by the hands of the hero, I can however agree that it wasn’t very pleasant for there to only be one ending and that various of the girls lacked hscenes and screen time in general, making it seem a bit incomplete. Hopefully TENCO intends to solve that with the announced new version of it.
Returning to the stories, March was a great month in that area as well. First off you have Dracu-riot which solidified me as a Yuzusoft fan until further notice, while they’ve always produced above average charages and the likes, Dracu-riot was especially fun to read. After that there’s & which was pretty dull, to be frank. I was mostly entertained by the roguelike references but aside from that, I don’t like how all of the stories feel like a rehashed version of their previous work as they all seem to follow the same trend of several strangers meet together through a mysterious twist of fate and they solve some interesting happenings surrounding them. It doesn’t quite help that they’re even similar down to the character designs as well.
Arriving at April we had Monobeno which I blogged about and Eushully’s most recent game: Soukoku no Arterial. The experience for the former was good at the start but essentially only went downhill from there, it was also bizarre for the fact that, while lolis aren’t uncommon in eroge, something just comes off as wrong when dealing with a loli which is quite literally a child both physically and mentally. It doesn’t help that they were technically supposed to be siblings on top of that.
The latter, if it wasn’t obvious enough, was greatly enjoyable mainly for the demon route. I would say it was mainly because I wasn’t really expecting for there to be rape in Soukoku since it looked like another vanilla title after the success of Kamidori therefore I essentially cheered when it came to it. Unfortunately the writing isn’t particularly interesting as usual and the gameplay was a step down from Kamidori, nevertheless it was a good VN that kept me entertained for a while. On the note of gameplay, in the same month there was also Venus Blood Frontier. As someone who mainly got into the Venus Blood series because of Empire, it was great, not that the other games were bad. Though to be honest nothing was really unexpectedly good or bad for the better or worse.
Finally as a surprise hit we had Harumade Kururu. Though I frankly don’t bother trying to figure out what I liked the most, I have to say that Harumade was quite likely my favorite VN of the year. Then again, half of the reason was probably because it took me by surprise. I saw it come up in the rankings of Erogamescape and got interested in it enough to try it out. That was a great decision since it was one heck of a ride. Hopefully they’ll do just as well in their next title.
Now at May, this is where I picked up blogging on a whim and somehow kept up with it until now. Though at this point it has become something along the lines of me coming by and jolting down my thoughts before returning to reading, makes me wonder who exactly would come by and read this blog but well, it’s enjoyable in its own way so all’s good. From here on since I more or less blogged every single VN I played you can probably just look at the history to review what came up in the rest of the year but I’ll continue talking about it anyway, just for the sake of completion.
In May we had some interesting titles, first off there was Supipara which… in hindsight was a complete waste of time since Minori decided to drop the idea of continuing the series. Funnily, after that they basically went and made a nukige after that. Talk about a 180 degree change in idea really. Oozora was one of the better charages of the month and it was relatively enjoyable to go through. I had similar impressions for Kamigakari or rather, at this point I was starving for some chuuni game or anything but grinding through more peaceful stories. I tend to like to balance out what I read so that I don’t get too tired of either reading some chuuni lines which would probably be pretty damned embarrassing if you tried to say it in real life or generic romances that, while they can be a nice break from things, get tiresome once you read the same or similar setup 10 times in a row.
Going to June, we had Dolphin divers which…which… well was basically a title where everything perfectly fit the expectations I had for it and was thus in reverse a bit plain to really hold much of an impression about. On the bright note June also bought us Joker and Futsuno Fantasy. Even though the former killed off the best girl (which I’m still mad about when thinking back to it) while letting every other person live and the latter got severely butchered by the evil terrors of Square Enix, they were both enjoyable titles. My only complaint would be that Futsuno Fantasy fell flat when it tried to take itself seriously. There’s also Gurenka and Namima, Gurenka was pretty much disappointing period but Namima was great.
July was also pretty nice with Ley-Line… or well, maybe not Ley-Line. In hindsight it’s fine now because they actually announced a sequel to it, which is actually coming pretty soon but I’m pretty damn sure they could’ve done with informing us that it’s a multi-part story before making us play it and get cut off just as things were getting good. To be honest it makes me think that it was the first volume of a LN in a VN format. The writing seems to remind me of it as well.
Owaru Sekai to Birthday was a great story with twists here and there, it’s also pretty interesting how basically every other heroine route was a bad end. Not that the final route was much better but, at least it resolved everything for the most part so it was the sort of “acceptable” bittersweet ending. Not that it stops me from wishing things went a little better.
We also had Sousei Kitan Aerial which had serious downfalls in certain points of writing but it was actually pretty enjoyable to read. Ignoring the downfalls. Ignoring them. The endings and routes could’ve done with some serious work. The hscenes were also… questionable to say the least. Best girl didn’t get a proper end, I’m still not happy about that regardless of the fact that it fits the story logic.
When looking at things again, July was a month with endings gone wrong everywhere, seriously.
In August we had Sakura Sakimashita. I think the worst part of the story was that the main heroine was someone who I didn’t really even like. No matter how touching the story is, when you don’t like the heroine it gets you nowhere. Moving on, there’s Nakonohito which does what Alcot does best very well, the only unfortunate part of it was that it felt relatively short.
And then we have another one of the bigger titles of the year: Tokyo Babel. Though I actually feel it’s not too popular, too bad. At least I enjoyed it so all’s well. Finishing up the month there’s also the FD of Irotori, as a FD it served to wrap up the story very well, unlike some other FDs which are really more of an excuse to add in more hscenes and earn a bit more money.
In September we got Augument which was moderately enjoyable. It had its fun points but at the same time also its negative points, can’t say much really. Following that came Re:birth Colony. While I can’t say it’s awesome, it solidly ranks in the above average section for me because of the story and mainly the main heroine. There’s SINCLIENT which… was probably the epitome of having a main heroine I hated. I think just about anyone would’ve been better…
Zero Infinity had a pretty odd mix of annoying characters but it was one of the odd stories that got better as you continued reading it, and the best heroines on impression turned out to be the worst, while the worst turned out to be the better ones. It probably helped the most that by the end most of the heroine related story gets thrown out in favor of more fighting, as the story should’ve really been about. The epilogue in form of a sound drama was also a very nice touch making it a decent impression, terrible middle, good finale.
On a more light hearted note there’s Pure Girl which is almost refreshingly erotic. To be fair, I don’t really read all that many nukiges but I still don’t think there’s many stories that are so blunt with things. Even if they’re true.
Tsukumo was another good story for this month, stories that try to cut out heroine routes in favor for a longer and linear story tend to be fairly enjoyable if it’s done properly and this is one of the better done ones, though it’s by no means perfect either.
There’s Tsujidou where the writer took a liking to ensuring that you feel as guilty as possible for not picking the main heroine, enough so that I had trouble going through all of the routes even if the heroines in question were likable. That was a terrible experience and I hope I don’t have to experience anything like that again. If you limit yourself to Tsujidou however, it’s generally enjoyable.
Finally there’s Ryuuyoku no Melodia which was a pretty good story but at the same time a bit lacking in some areas, namely the writing which I sort of wished was done a bit better. Didn’t really expect much more from Whirlpool however so I guess it’s not too bad.
Arriving at October there’s Chuuning Lover for comedy and fun antics (these stories tend to always, without exception fall flat during heroine routes though. I wonder why…), Ryuusei Arcadia for a far too short story in an otherwise promising setting. That was disappointing. Shukufuku was decent but pretty much suffered from a short length as well, Koiiro was also nice but I sort of preferred love quad more and the spotlight of the month would, with no doubt, go to Tsuriotsu. LUNA FOR THE BEST HEROINE OF 2012.
Ahem, moving onto November there’s Witch’s Garden with its e-mote system. I think it was worth playing for the e-mote system alone but the story itself was actually pretty decent as well, making an all in all great VN. On the disappointment side there’s Alice tale which failed to meet up to its expectations with the premise, the gameplay wasn’t much more than an accessory either.
Now at December…December… You know, I’m not even done with this month yet. Talking about things that I’ve blogged about just days ago is also questionable but for time being, Gun Knight Girl was definitely one of the better VNs of the year.
Overall, although there’s no title that especially stands out, it has without doubt been a good year with plenty of enjoyable stories. Hopefully the next year will be just as enjoyable if not even more so, and with little doubt, the releases scheduled for 2013 is shaping to be a lot more promising than 2012 was.