9-nine-:Episode 4

9-nine-:Episode 4

9-Nine-: Episode 4 returns players once more to the college town of Shiromitsugawa where Kakeru Niimi and his gang of artifact users battle a threat from a different dimension. This episode upholds the same high standards as the rest of the series and the story really is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s not the best place to get started with the series, but fans of the previous episodes won’t want to miss out on this one.

Gameplay: Very engrossing and packed with humor, action, and drama.

Graphics: The character sprites and CGs are still some of the best in the genre.

Sound: Great voice acting and a solid soundtrack

Your Smile Beyond Twilight:黄昏下的月台上

Your Smile Beyond Twilight:黄昏下的月台上

The protagonist of Your Smile Beyond Twilight, Yunshan, returns to his small hometown for the first time in six years. A lot has happened in the meantime, but Yunshan still has some unresolved issues from his past that he has to deal with. However, upon arrival with his girlfriend Jingxuan in tow, Yunshan encounters a mysterious maiden who only he can see. This short kinetic novel can be completed in very little time, but the story is good enough to leave a lasting impact.

Gameplay: Short, but well written and engrossing.

Graphics: Only a few sprites and backgrounds, but they are all beautiful.

Sounds: Chinese voice acting and a beautiful soundtrack

Forward to the Sky

Forward to the Sky

Help a sword-wielding princess take on the skeletal enemies and traps of the sky tower in this third-person title by Animu Game. The visuals and audio are decent, but the game is just way too short and simple. It can be completed in less than two hours and most of it will be spent solving some basic puzzles along with the occasional bit of combat. With a bit more polish and a few more levels Forward to the Sky could have been great, but as it is there are much better options available.

Gameplay: The controls could definitely have been tighter and the overall experience is very short.

Graphics: Bright and colorful, but not much in terms of variety.

Sound: Passable background music and voice acting

Gal*Gun Returns

Gal*Gun Returns

Help Tenzou Montesugi fend off lovestruck girls with his pheromone gun while pursuing true love in the game that started the Gal*Gun franchise. While it lacks some of the features and enhancements introduced in sequels, Gal*Gun Returns is still a fun title with plenty of humor and lots of fanservice. It’s rather tame by the standards of the series and can become repetitive after a while, but it is definitely not lacking in content. As a bishōjo rail shooter game, it is a very niche title, but players who can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humor will enjoy Gal*Gun Returns.

Gameplay: A straightforward rail shooter with plenty of girls and modes.

Graphics: The character models look great, but the backgrounds are a little plain.

Sound: Full Japanese voice acting and some nice tunes too

Sakura Beach 2

Sakura Beach 2

Sakura Beach 2 is a continuation of the first game starring the same characters and pretty much recycling all the art and music. The addition of a new character could have made things a little more interesting, but unfortunately, the story still falls flat in every aspect. Even though the Sakura series isn’t exactly known for deep storylines or compelling characters Sakura Beach 2 is a low point.

Gameplay: A rather mundane story with meaningless choices.

Graphics: Not bad, but most of it is recycled from the first game.

Sound: The same repetitive songs as the first game

Jiangshi x Daoshi

Jiangshi x Daoshi

Jiangshi x Daoshi is a very unique kinetic novel featuring some of the most animated and over the top scenes we’ve seen in the genre. The quirky style of the game and Chinese folklore elements can be a little overwhelming at first, but it’s hard not to get sucked in by the characters and story. The first two episodes are completely free, so there’s no reason to miss out on the game and the third episode is worth the price of admission as well if you are hooked.

Gameplay: A kinetic novel, so there are no choices, but the story is very unique.

Graphics: The over the top animated style of the game is something to behold.

Sound: Decent voice acting as well as a very varied soundtrack

Sakura Swim Club

Sakura Swim Club

Sakura Swim Club is another fan service packed visual novel by Winged Cloud. The protagonist is an unmotivated high school student named Kaede who joins the swim club where he is drawn into the lives of Hiromi and Mieko. The two girls are the only remaining members of the club and while trying to whip Kaede into shape they begin to develop feelings for him too. There’s nothing new or surprising here, but Winged Cloud fans will enjoy the game, especially with the adult patch which adds a few sex scenes.

Gameplay: The game gives the illusion of choice, but the experience is actually very linear.

Graphics: The art is the highlight of the game.

Sound: Decent sound effects, but the music is very forgettable

Sakura Beach

Sakura Beach

Sakura Beach is a typical fan service focused visual novel with a generic storyline, implausible situations, and rather generic characters. Watching childhood friends Ayumi and Momoko practically throw themselves at the completely oblivious Seiji can be amusing, but overall there isn’t a lot here that players will remember after completing the game.

Gameplay: Six choices that lead to one of three different endings.

Graphics: Vibrant backgrounds and character sprites are decent.

Sound: Rather generic

Sakura Fantasy

Sakura Fantasy

Sakura Fantasy features an intriguing storyline, interesting characters, and beautiful artwork, but ends with too many unresolved questions. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the planned sequels were ever released, but unfortunately, this was not to be. Unfortunately, this means anyone playing the game for the story will be disappointed. However, players who are purely interested in the lewd content will find plenty here, especially after installing the optional uncensor patch.

Gameplay: Interesting until the story just ends without any real conclusion.

Graphics: The visuals look great is filled with the usual amount of fan service.

Sound: Decent Japanese voice acting and the soundtrack is good too

Aozora Meikyuu

Aozora Meikyuu

Aozora Meikyuu is a short and simple visual novel featuring a protagonist named Aoi who has given up on women. His plans to resign himself to a life of eroge games instead of actual relationships are shattered when a naked girl named Sora falls out of the sky and lands on top of him. After Sora forces herself into his house and life, Aoi has to choose whether to embrace this change or fight it every step of the way. It’s an interesting if a little cliched, premise for a visual novel but the game is just too short and mundane to make it very memorable.

Gameplay: Timed choices make things a little more interesting, but the story itself is rather humdrum.

Graphics: Decent, but somewhat lacking in good CGs.

Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack isn’t too bad