Well considering the latter half of 2022 has been utterly horrendous for me personally, I’m quite surprised that I managed to finish 27 games in total. I think that this is the first year that the entire list has been PC galge but at least I did manage to get through some titles that actually released this year.
As is now the yealy tradition on this blog, I’ll do a little “game awards” – let’s see how this year’s batch of titles compare!
Best Opening Song
5th Place: Sign – Yumeno Yuki (Sorakoi)
Considering this game was pretty underwhelming for the most part, the vocal music from Sorakoi was top tier, with this song being actually pretty heartbreaking after playing Sora’s route.
4th Place: Kotoba Tsunagi – Hana-tan (Sukimazakura to Uso no Machi)
Maybe an unpopular opinion but I prefer the opening song of this game to its ending song, the latter just lacks the grandness that the opening has. I do agree with an opinion I read somewhere that they could almost be swapped and it still make sense haha. Still a fantastic song though.
3rd Place: Seven Colors – Mitose Noriko (Harukazedori ni, Tomarigi o.)
This is another song that is extremely memorable and also fits the game it is from very well. It’s definitely emotive and the vocals are beautiful – I guess you can’t ask for much more.
2nd Place: bumpy jumpy – Kotoko (Natsuyume Nagisa)
This song is a classic and rightly so – it encapsulates the feeling of summer that the island of Hope the game is set on and is catchy as hell. The song might give you a false sense of safety but that’s one of its highlights for me.
1st Place: Kuuki Rikigaku Shoujo to Shounen no Uta – Hana (Subarashiki Hibi)
Subahibi’s opening is one of those that has been held in very high regard by much of the community for many years and it most definitely deserves all the praise it gets! Hana’s vocals are absolutely beautiful and I often found myself humming this track even when I wasn’t playing the game. The piano version is also gorgeous.
Best Insert Song
1st Place: Sayonara, Mata ne – Hana-tan (Acchi Muite Koi!)
I still have no idea why a school life romantic comedy like this has such an amazing insert song – it’s literally the most random addition to the game but I’m not going to complain because Hana-tan’s singing is beautiful as expected.
Favourite Ending Song
2nd Place: Sora Koi – Yasuda Mizuho (Sorakoi)
As I mentioned earlier, the vocal songs in Sorakoi were weirdly great with the ending song being no exception. The OST probably has more value than the majority of the game at this point.
1st Place: Innocent Summer – Nao (Koko Kara Natsu no Innocence!)
First of all, this is an Airi song in a Clochette game which automatically makes it great. This is one of the handful of times I love an ending song more than the opening which says a lot because the opening song is also good. I guess I’m a sucker for cute romance songs and this fits the bill.
3rd Place: Kutsuno Kanade (Amakano Second Season)
Kanade is the kouhai of the protagonist and happens to be the grandaughter of the inn owners where he currently lives. She takes on a more imouto-like role in the game and is just the epitome of adorable and fluffy. Surprisingly, the game handles her physical disability and rehabilitation pretty well and watching her grow in confidence througout her route is super heartwarming. I can’t wait to play the fandisc for her afterstory~
2nd Place: Tsukushima Tsukushi (Houkago Cinderella)
I mean all of the heroines in Houkago Cinderella are good but I personally just fell in love with Tsukushi and her antics. She’s initially very afraid of men so runs away from the protagonist but eventually realises he’s not too bad and slowly opens up around him. Her self-depreciating remarks and hilarious quips earned this sweet girl a place in my heart. Oh look another fluffy kouhai, I wonder if I have a preference in characters haha.
1st Place: Shinohara Kouta (HajiLove -Making * Lovers-)
Kouta is surprisingly not a kouhai (despite her looks) but is a very hard-working and family-oriented girl with a strong mothering nature (hence her nickname of Kouta-mama). The mix of sweet and fun make her an extremely enjoyable character and I found myself having a great time during her route simply from her personality which is something I rarely find. If you enjoy being doted on then Kouta is the heroine for you.
Favourite Game Released in 2022
1st Place: Amanatsu
I should probably say here that I didn’t play a lot of the year’s more, uh, hyped releases – Ambitious Mission, Hentai Prison, Jewelery Hearts Academia, etc. so my opinion is only based on what I did buy & play – primarily moege. That being said, Amanatsu was one of the four Azarashi Soft releases in 2022 and was my favourite of the full price titles. It differs from the other games in the “Ama” series by having more of a typical galge common route and actually having some side characters with sprites as well as group CGs, both of which were definitely welcome additions to the series.
Whilst I do still feel the main Amakano games are slightly better, Amanatsu does deliver on an enjoyable summer romance story in a small remote village with likable heroines and stunning artwork. I’d recommend it to fans of moege and people familiar with Azarashi Soft’s style of game.
Favourite Game Played in 2022
5th Place: Soshite Ashita no Sekai yori
Asuseka is a game with an incredibly unique setting featuring an impending apocalypse but decides to go for a more limited scope story about a group of friends on a remote island dealing with this fate. Most of the heroine routes were engaging with good characterisation and the side character were also memorable. I really would recommend this game to those looking for something a little different but be prepared to cry.
4th Place: Amakano ~Second Season~
With how many of their games I’ve bought it’s not really surprising that I’m a huge fan of Azarashi Software and their high quality moege. The Amakano series in particular is extremely heartwarming and relaxing to play which I personally enjoy. Second Season takes the original Amakano formula and improves on it ever so slightly which is a bonus. The heroines and artwork are also top-tier which makes it truly excel in its genre.
3rd Place: Houkago Cinderella
As much as I enjoyed Amakano SS, my favourite moege of the year belongs to Houkago Cinderella. There was just something so incredibly fun about this game – from the lively character interactions, to the enjoyable conversations whilst walking home with your chosen heroine and even having some memorable side characters. It absolutely does its job of romanticising the journey home from school and I still enjoyed this system even on my final route, which says a lot for the gimmick. I’m absolutely gutted I haven’t been able to play the sequel yet but it’s very high on my list for 2023!
2nd Place: Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~
Subahibi being a game with such acclaim and hype around it is what initially made me not want to touch it for the past 10+ years since I fear about it disappointing expectations. However, I bought it on sale (what a surprise) and took the plunge recently as I wanted something a little different.
I did enjoy this game a lot – watching the threads of the story come together over the course of the chapters was very interesting and I actually found myself liking a lot of the characters (especially all protagonists except *that one*). Despite the story sometimes being a little too repetitive and the excessive amounts of violence, I do think this is a great game. Imo, the Full Voice Edition is a must – complete voice acting adds a LOT and the extra chapter was the perfect ending to the game for me.
1st Place: Natsuyume Nagisa
I actually played a surprising amount of enjoyable games this year but the one game that had me enthralled the whole way through was Natsuyume Nagisa. The summer game in Saga Planets’ four seasons series looks like a standard summer moege but going through the routes reveals more to the story, with the true route being a real tearjerker.
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this game and how emotive I found it. Personally, I enjoyed Natsunagi more than Hatsuyuki Sakura in the series primarily due to the initial pacing & heroine routes being better. Would 100% recommend this game to those who enjoy crying their eyes out over fictional characters.
And with that the “awards” for 2022 come to a close. Apologies for the lack of creative(?) categories but I think I covered pretty much what I wanted to. I actually ended up liking a lot of the games I played last year so it made it quite hard to choose in some of the categories which was quite fun.
Looking forwards to 2023 and I honestly don’t have high expectations. The last couple of years have been rough for me on a personal level with 2022 being a year I’d like to forget. So I don’t want to put any pressure on myself and just plan to try and play/write when I can without getting too stresed about it – I do this for fun after all.
As for upcoming releases I probably will try to buy any games that catch my eye. I’m patricularly excited for the Mashiroiro Symphony Remasters (especially the Sana edition) but some other titles caught my eye such as: Koi ni wa Amae ga Hitsuyou Desu, Tenshi☆Souzou RE-BOOT! & Sore wa Maichiru Sakura no You ni -Re:BIRTH-. And also, of course, anything my beloved Azarashi Soft releases. Not to worry because my completely out of control backlog will keep me busy either way.
Here’s to a peaceful 2023!