Sakura Swim Club
Gameplay 4
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Sakura Swim Club is another fan service packed visual novel by Winged Cloud. The protagonist is an unmotivated high school student named Kaede who joins the swim club where he is drawn into the lives of Hiromi and Mieko. The two girls are the only remaining members of the club and while trying to whip Kaede into shape they begin to develop feelings for him too. There’s nothing new or surprising here, but Winged Cloud fans will enjoy the game, especially with the adult patch which adds a few sex scenes.

Gameplay: The game gives the illusion of choice, but the experience is actually very linear.

Graphics: The art is the highlight of the game.

Sound: Decent sound effects, but the music is very forgettable

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Sakura Swim Club

Developer: Winged Cloud | Publisher: Winged Cloud | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Casual / Visual Novel / Indie | Purchase: Steam

Kaede, the protagonist of Sakura Swim Club, has been living in the shadow of his overachieving father his entire life. Everyone, including his father, expects the same type of excellence from Kaede and thus far he has done nothing except disappoint them all. The game opens with Kaede transferring to yet another new school as his parents continue to hope that it is his surroundings that are holding him back. Unfortunately, Kaede appears to have reached a point where he no longer cares about anything academically and unmotivated to do anything about it. However, things change when Kaede is promoted to join a club at school. Despite his teacher attempting to dissuade him from it, Kaede chooses to join the swim club because he is curious why it has such a bad reputation. Much to his surprise, Kaede discovers that the only other members in the swim club are two beautiful girls and for the first time in his life he begins to feel some motivation.

Sakura Swim Club treads the same well-worn path as its predecessor, Sakura Beach, and indeed the rest of the Sakura series. The only difference is that this time an 18+ patch is available for the game that actually adds some eroge. Since this is a Winged Cloud title there are no prizes for guessing that the two girls in the club, Hiromi and Mieko, quickly fall for Kaede. The game also continues the Winged Cloud tradition of throwing including tons of fan service, often in the most implausible ways possible. Our favorite is the scene where the girls attempt to play on a console at Kaede’s house and somehow manages to strip themselves and get tangled up with the controller cord in the process. Like the other protagonists in previous Winged Cloud titles, Kaede also possesses the superpower of walking in on girls at the exact moment that they are undressing. Some players will find it entertaining, but the formula is starting to wear a little thin at this point.

Apart from Kaede and the two girls the only two other characters in the game are Kaede’s father and a teacher. Neither of them has character sprites, though, and only crop up for the occasional conversation with Kaede. For the most part, the game concentrates on Kaede’s inner thoughts as he spends more time with the girls and develops an actual passion for swimming. Sakura Swim Club does try to flesh out the characters somewhat, but still sticks to the expected tropes, so Mieko is the tsundere type while Hiromi is more calm and collected. Both of them have also had to deal with some trauma in their lives, but the game never dwells for too long on any negative things. Instead, we are constantly treated to scenes of Kaede walking in on the girls in compromising situations and then getting berated for it.

Although Sakura Swim Club is not a kinetic novel it might as well have been. During your first playthrough, it might look like some of the choices will lead to different outcomes, but replaying the game reveals that this is not the case. Instead, you might get one or two different lines of text after making a different choice and then the game continues on the same path. Even the fact that there are two girls doesn’t mean Kaede gets to pick which one to spend more time with. We don’t want to spoil anything, but a single playthrough is enough to pretty much see every scene that the game has to offer.

Since Sakura Swim Club is a Winged Cloud title the art is a cut above the rest of the competition. Both girls look beautiful and the backgrounds are packed with detail. Hiromi and Mieko also have different poses and expressions while spending most of the game in either school uniforms or swimsuits. As we mentioned earlier the game is packed with fan service and some actual sex scenes too. Although very brief, the art for these scenes is really good. Sakura Swim Club doesn’t have a lot of backgrounds, though, as the story is set mostly at school, the pool, and Kaede’s house. The game is rather short, so this doesn’t matter too much and there are more than enough CGs of the girls to make up for it.

The audio in Sakura Swim Club is somewhat disappointing with rather generic background music. All the tunes are upbeat and give the game a cartoonish feel that is at odds with the more serious moments. The sound effects are decent, but overall the audio is not very memorable. The user interface and controls are all standard visual novel fare with everything working as it should, so no complaints there.

There is no doubt that Winged Cloud has their fair share of fans and as formulaic as their games are there is still a market for them. Sakura Swim Club is never going to be able to compete with some of the big names of the genre in terms of story, but that’s not the reason why their games continue to sell. Instead, it’s the art and fan service, which is where this game does not disappoint. The inclusion of the eroge scenes that can be added via an optional patch will also make the game more enticing for most readers. Sakura Swim Club is still a very short game with cliched characters and situations, but anyone not yet tired of the formula will have fun for the two hours or so that it lasts.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1280 x 720
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: OS X 10.6
  • Processor: Any 64 bit processor
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1280 x 720
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: x86/x86_64
  • Processor: 1 Gz
  • Graphics: 1280 x 720
  • Storage: 200 MB available space

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