Developer: Winged Cloud | Publisher: Winged Cloud | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Casual / Visual Novel | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam
Seiji, the protagonist of Sakura Beach, spends most of his time daydreaming about space much to the disgust of his two childhood friends, Ayumi and Momoko. In an attempt to get Seiji out of his own head the two girls drag him along on a weeklong beach holiday where it becomes painfully obvious that they are both smitten with him. Well, obvious to anyone apart from Seiji, who somehow remains completely oblivious about their intentions. It’s not uncommon for the protagonists in visual novels to be somewhat clueless when it comes to love, but Seiji takes this to a whole new level.
Over the course of the week, Seiji will encounter all the usual tropes of the genre, such as walking in on girls in their underwear because they are completely deaf and can’t hear him knocking on their door. The standard visual novel rules of physics also apply, so underwear has a habit of randomly falling off when stared at, and thrown pillows can not only knock you unconscious but also cause amnesia. Sometimes these situations can be mildly amusing, but overall it feels like Sakura Beach misses the mark when it comes to humor.
Sakura Beach only features six or so choices, and these are all centered around who Seiji sides with during arguments. Favoring one girl over the other then leads to an ending where they confess their love to him. However, the game also features a third ending if Seiji can’t make up his mind and doesn’t have any qualms about polygamy. Don’t get too excited, though, as apart from a few suggestive CGs there is a complete lack of any nudity in Sakura Beach. The text sometimes describes something lewd happening, but none of this is ever reflected in the visuals. Unlike other Sakura titles, there is no patch to spice things up either. The result is a game that feels rather tame despite the beach setting and risque scenes that Seiji stumbles into.
Seiji and the two girls are the only characters in the story and they all fall into the usual anime tropes. Seiji had a troubled past that turned him into a loner until the two girls entered his life and they became inseparable. Ayumi, with her red eyes and dark air, is a typical tsundere character who is constantly accusing Seiji of being a pervert or assaulting him on a whim. Momoko, with her blue eyes and blond hair, is way more laidback and enjoys teasing Seiji.
Only Ayumi and Momoko have character sprites, but their designs are decent albeit a little generic. The game also features plenty of beach themed backgrounds with sand, seas, and palm trees. Apart from the beach scenes, there are also backgrounds featuring locations such as the hotel rooms and pool. In total there are about 15 CGs that can be viewed from the “Extra” menu after being unlocked in the game.
The Sakura Beach soundtrack isn’t bad, but the tunes loop rather quickly and can become repetitive after a while. The game also lacks a music player for listening to the tracks outside of the story. Despite only featuring two characters the game also does not make use of any voice acting, so everything is text only. Speaking about the text, the game still has a few spelling and grammar issues littered throughout. These are minor things, such as a character saying she has a reputation to “upload” or will get in “sholtly” but they are rather noticeable. There’s not much to say about the interface as it is the standard visual novel fare that gets the job done but not much more.
While there is nothing particularly terrible about Sakura Beach it is also not a very memorable game. The story is as generic as you can get and Seiji is not exactly a very likable protagonist. Even the girls are cliched enough that we doubt anyone will even remember their names after completing the game. The game does attempt to add some depth to Seiji’s character by revealing some darker things about his past, but the overall tone of the game is very light. This is fine for players who want to read something that is not very demanding, but anyone looking for compelling characters or stories won’t find it here.
- OS: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (32 bit or 64 bit)
- Processor: 1Ghz
- Memory: 512 MB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX® 9 Compatible Graphics Card
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- OS: Ubuntu 10.10 or higher
- Processor: 1 Gz
- Memory: 512 MB RAM
- Graphics: OpenGL compatible card