*2021 in Review*

I’m not quite sure how but it seems we’ve come to the start of another year. Given that 2021 was somehow worse than the previous year for me, I’m surprised I managed to finish anything at all so was surprised to find I’d played 23 titles. So, as per tradition, it’s time for my annual game awards.

Of the 23 games played, only 3 were otome games & 4 were on console, which means most of the games I got through this year were PC galge. I also didn’t play anything released in 2021, so clearly I was trying to work on my backlog (despite it increasing anyways).

With that little bit of info out of the way, time to begin!

Favourite Opening Song

Honourable mentions: Aoitori, Harukuru, Rorolog, H2O

6th Place: Akari no Arika – Kicco (Yorite Konoha wa Kurenai ni)

This is, in my opinion, one of Kicco’s best opening songs. As with the majority of lump of sugar titles, Yorikure has a great OP.

5th Place: QUALIA:AI – Murasaki Hotaru (Qualia ~Yakusoku no Kiseki~)

This is a beautiful song to a beautiful game and represents its subject matter very well. A cute love song.

4th Place: Konna Haru no Sora wo – Shimotsuki Haruka (Tayutama)

Another great opening song from a Lump of Sugar title. Am I surprised? Not one bit. Tayutama actually had a really great soundtrack overall.

3rd Place: Be With You – Airi (Haruru Minamo Ni!)

I adore this song & pretty much all of Airi’s work but I hate that it made me play this underwhelming game.

2nd Place: Floating Up – Kotoko (Karumaruka Circle)

This song is peak summer vibes and transports you to the island setting of the game when listening to it. Kotoko’s vocals, as always, are on point. What more could you ask for.

1st Place: Symphonic Love – Hashimoto Miyuki (Mashiro Iro Symphony)

This song is so iconic, catchy and utterly cute that I can’t help but love it. 10/10.

Favourite Insert Song

3rd Place: Sayonara Kimi no Koe – Misato Aki (Mashiro Iro Symphony)

I actually cried when this played during the game (sad, I know). It’s a beautifully sad song but I still like to listen to it.

2nd Place: Rainy Pain – Misaki Rina (Tayutama)

Technically a character song but it does play during the game too. I just find this one really relaxing & enjoyable to listen to. It represents Mifuyu and the themes in her route pretty well.

1st Place: Futaridake no Curtain Call – Asaba Rio (Aoi Tori)

Warning: Technically there’s some spoilers for Akari’s route in the video (same as the scenario movie) because I could not find the song without any.

Anyways, this song is gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, ect. It really fits Akari’s route and I love the insert songs Purple Software do for their games, I hope they continue with them.

Favourite Ending Song

3rd Place: Summer Again – Yuria (Shuffle! Essence+)

Despite this being one of the new ending songs for the essence+ version of the game, there’s just something nostalgic about this song that’s comforting.

2nd Place: Be Braver! – Yonekura Chihiro (9-nine- Episode 4)

There was a lot of great music in the 9-nine- series, this game included, and I personally really liked the more upbeat tone of this ending song.

1st Place: Tabidachi no Tori – Yamazaki Moe (Aoi Tori)

I’m not lying when I say Aoi Tori genuinely had some of the best vocal music of any game I’ve played, and it was only because of the sheer number of good OP songs that the opening wasn’t on my list too. I’d recommend checking out the soundtrack for sure.

Favourite Hero

1st Place: Igarashi Haru (Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen)

I think I said in my review of this game originally that I wasn’t sure which guy was my favourite but, on reflection, it simply has to be Haru. He’s one of the more unique characters in the game and his unusual confession scene won me over. A good bean.

Favourite Heroine

3rd Place: Hoshikawa Koharu (Amakano)

Koharu practically embodies the puppy-like energetic kouhai trope but that doesn’t make her any less cute and endearing. She’s a sweet and kind girl who’s always trying to help others and you can’t help but like her.

2nd Place: Mary Harker (Aoi Tori)

Mary is a 100-year old vampire whom is weary of living at the start of Aoi Tori. Throughout the prologue, she gets a second lease of life and becomes the cheerful, playful “onee-san” she was meant to be. She’s utterly adorable and, despite not being the main heroine of the game, won’t fail to leave an impression.

1st Place: Tarumi Konoha (Yorite Konoha wa Kurenai ni)

Despite her younger appearance, Konoha is a 200-year old being and takes her job looking after her people extremely seriously. She’s a doting onee-chan type of character and is absolutely sugary sweet towards her beloved, enjoying pampering them. What’s not to love?

Favourite Game I Played in 2021

5th Place: Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen

I personally really enjoyed the way that Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen subverted the usual tropes for a game where a poor person ends up attending an elite school. The caste system was interesting and impletemented well, with the route system offering different perspectives on it. There were some downfalls but overall this was a really solid game. I’m hoping the fandisc materialises.

4th Place: Qualia ~Yakusoku no Kiseki~

Qualia is pretty much the prime example of how to do a single heroine game right – it’s a self-contained love story with a likable cast, nice artwork and decent music. I really enjoyed it, especially as it was a lower priced title, and hope the developers make similar games in the future.

3rd Place: Aoi Tori

With likable heroines, great music and a pretty decent story it’s no surprise that I enjoyed Aoi Tori. Akari & Sayo’s routes in particular were very good and, despite the abundance of H scenes, I would definitely recommend the game.

2nd Place: Mashiro Iro Symphony

Mashifoni is literally the closest I’ve come to finding the perfect pure love romance game. Unlike most of the other games on this list, it’s not plot-heavy but the characters and romance more than make up for that. I would highly, highly recommend this and am just going to sit patiently for Palette to release the remaster.

1st Place: 9 -Nine- Yukiiro Yukihana Yukinoato

Whilst I may have complaints about the fact the 9-nine- series probably could have just been one game rather than seperate episodes, there’s no doubt in my mind that Yuki’s episode was the perfect ending to this series. I had my doubts but they were all quelled and I was fully satisfied by the end of the game. There’s a console port of the collected version of the games coming out next year so no excuses – definitely try out the 9-nine- series.

So that’s the end of the “awards” for this year. It was fun and quite challenging deciding on some of the categories! Apologies that there’s a couple fewer awards than in previous years but I hope that’s okay.

Looking forward towards 2022, I’m not planning on playing any games in particular, and will probably just continue to work on my backlog. The only upcoming game I’m remotely interested in is Otomate’s Tengoku Struggle because I liked the team’s previous works.

As for the backlog, it’s primarily galge so that’s probably most of what I’ll be playing for the next 12 months – blame the 500 yen sales! Maybe my backlog will actually go down for once this year…

Here’s to a happy & healthy 2022!

About Zettai Renai

Hello! ヾ(^-^)ノ Sometimes I write about Visual Novels. I particularly like cutesy/fluffy stories~ I also am eternally suffering in Enstars hell(˶′◡‵˶)
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