NEC was behind its competitors in terms of hardware (with only 16 colors and no sound support) and needed a way to regain control of the market. The first commercial erotic computer game, Night Life, was released by Koei in 1982.
Early eroge usually had simple stories, some even involving anal, which often led to widespread condemnation from the Japanese media.
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In 2002 a 13-episode anime series was produced, as well as another 24-episode anime series in 2006.
According to Satoshi Todome's A History of Eroge, Kanon is still the standard for modern eroge and is referred to as a "baptism" for young otaku in Japan.
To Heart's music was so popular it was added to karaoke machines throughout Japan—a first for eroge.
After a similar game by Tactics, One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e, became a hit in 1998, Visual Art's scouted main creative staff of One to form a new brand under them, which became Key. It contains only about seven brief erotic scenes in a sentimental story the size of a long novel (an all-ages version was also released afterward), but the enthusiasm of the response was unprecedented, and Kanon sold over 300,000 copies.
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Additionally, some games may receive an "all-ages" version, such as a port to consoles or handheld devices where pornography isn't allowed, which remove the sex scenes entirely.
Eroge gameplay is often in the style of a visual novel or dating sim.
Games also started to appear on Windows as it grew in popularity. In it, before any eroticism, the user has to first win the affection of one of a number of female characters, making the story into an interactive romance novel. Soon afterwards, the video game Otogirisou on the Super Famicom attracted the attention of many Japanese gamers.
Otogirisou was a standard adventure game but had multiple endings. In 1996, the new software publisher Leaf expanded on this idea, calling it a visual novel and releasing their first successful game, Shizuku, a horror story starring a rapist high school student, with very highly reviewed writing and music. However, in 1997, they released To Heart, a sweetly sentimental story of high school love that became one of the most famous and trendsetting eroge ever.