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Creator / ELF Corporation

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ELF Corporation, stylized as élf, was a long-standing Japanese developer of Visual Novels, specifically H-Games, based in Tokyo. It was founded on April 27, 1989 in by writers Masato Hiruta and Atsushi Kanao, and programmer Toshihiro Abiru, all former employees of the developer FairyTale.

Despite most of their output being, ostensibly, smut, the studio would often lean in a somewhat more softcore direction, and at the top of their game, they produced many VN stories that were comparatively unorthodox and even somewhat radical for their time, often challenging the Dating Sim genre conventions — even as the genre conventions were still very much in the process of being written down, in part by themselves, in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s — in surprising and even subversive ways. élf's stories would often tend to be very much in the Porn with Plot camp, featuring rather complex characters and plots, often dipping into Deconstructed Character Archetype, and examining themes such as gender roles — especially how society tend to treat women — and sexual agency, and also take a quite critical eye to several Sexual Harassment and Rape Tropes. Many of their projects were also released in Bleached Underpants versions, which allowed some of their output to reach more mainstream consoles, such as the Sega Saturn.

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Masato Hiruta would remain one of the main creative force in the company throughout the years, but he would step back from writing and directing duties as the 2000s rolled around, as he became the CEO of the company, before he eventually completely resigned from the company in 2008. élf itself would announce its closure in October 2015. The publishing rights to the company's back catalogue are currently held by DMM Games, which has occasionally made re-releases of some of their titles.

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Selected games developed by this company:

  • Dragon Knight (1989)
    • Dragon Knight II (1990)
    • Dragon Knight 3 (1991; released on the Western market by Megatech Software under the title Knights of Xentar in 1995)
    • Dragon Knight 4 (1994)
  • FOXY (1990)
    • FOXY 2 (1991)
  • ELLE (1991; Remade under the title Él in 2000)
  • Dōkyūsei (1992; Remade in 1999 and 2021)
    • Dōkyūsei 2 (1995)
    • Kakyūsei (1996)
    • Jankyūsei (2001)
    • Kakyūsei 2 (2004)
  • Metal Eye (1993)
    • Metal Eye 2 (1994)
  • Words Worth (1993; Remade in 1999)
  • Isaku (1995)
  • YU-NO (1996)
  • Shūsaku (1998)
  • Kisaku (2001)
  • Lime-iro Senkitan (2002)

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