Akira, the protagonist of Sakura Agent, is a seemingly ordinary guy with a far from ordinary job. Along with his assistant, Kimoko, he works for an agency that specializes in disposing of things that are a little too abnormal for the general public to know about. Think of it as Men In Black, but with a less formal dress code and other-dimensional beings instead of extraterrestrials. Due to his penchant for showing up late to work and getting distracted by assignments, his superiors assigned Kimoko to keep a close eye on him, which means Akira is kept on a tight leash. Threatened with a mind scrub if he steps out of line again, Akira has to deal with a greater invasion of other-dimensional beings than ever before as well as a cute new rookie partner showing up to cause friction between him and Kimoko.
Sakura Agent is the latest in a long line of Sakura titles from Winged Cloud, so chances are you already know whether you are going to enjoy it or hate it with a passion. As with all titles from this developer, it is a visual novel that is light on plot and heavy on the fan service. Not much is shown of Akira beyond his hands and the back of his head in a few of the CGs, but a lot of attention has been lavished on the ladies of Sakura Agent. Kimoko is Akira’s long suffering assistant who has a penchant for short skirts and revealing tops while Masumi, the newcomer, strolls around in crotchless jeans. Of course, as ridiculous as this would have been in real life, it makes sense in the Sakura universe where all women are beautiful and can’t resist the charms of the protagonist.
Like we mentioned before, the Sakura titles are not exactly known for compelling storylines, and Sakura Agent is certainly not an exception. The first clue you get is when the initial batch of invaders turns out to be “Entanglers” or, as Akira calls them, space squids. It also doesn’t take very long for one of the girls to end up in the tentacles of one of these squids. However, the invasion quickly takes backseat to the love triangle that develops when Masumi and Kimoko both realize they are hopelessly attracted to Akira.
While the designs of both the women in the game are nice and colorful, the same cannot be said about the rest of the visuals. There are plenty of scenes that describe the invasion of the space squids, gremlins and all kinds of other creatures, but these are never actually shown visually, which is a bit of a letdown. We know that fans of the Sakura games will obviously prefer that the art budget is spent on the girls and not the monsters, but it does make the game feel a bit cheaper. Sakura Angent also features very few backgrounds, which results in a lot of scenes being described as taking place in locations that doesn’t match the background. It is not all bad news though. Sakura Agent is pretty much a nukige title at heart, so Winged Cloud has released a patch for the Steam version that adds a couple of additional explicit scenes as well as uncensored the existing ones. This patch takes the game from ecchi territory straight into hentai, so be sure you know what you are getting yourself into before downloading it.
The audio is unfortunately not the best we’ve heard from Winged Cloud and the game opens up with a totally silent title screen. The music only kicks in when you start the game, but even then none of the tracks really stand out as memorable. The developers seem to have realized this too, as the game features a gallery where you can view all the CGs, but no jukebox for listening to the tunes. We are a bit puzzled by the complete lack of sound effects as well. In many instances there will be descriptions, such as something going “Boom” but no accompanying sound effects. We are not sure if this is a technical issue as there is also an option to adjust the voice volume along with the sound volume, despite there not being any voices in the game either. The game is made with Ren’Py, so from an interface and control standpoint everything is solid. There are a few grammar and spelling issues that crop up here and there, but nothing too serious. In terms of choices the game is fairly linear and the few times where you do get to choose what to do next the outcome is usually just an extra CG or not.
Overall, Sakura Agent is a pleasant enough diversion if you are a fan of the genre, but definitely not the best that we have seen from Winged Cloud. The story does try something a little different with the different powers wielded by the girls and the invading creatures, but never really goes anywhere. The characters are also likeable enough, but don’t expect much growth from them. As long as you don’t mind these things there is fun to be had with Sakura Agent and it is priced lower than some of the longer visual novels, which softens the blow a bit. Fans of Winged Cloud and the Sakura titles in particular will know what to expect, but if you didn’t’ like any of the previous titles there isn’t anything here that will change your mind.