Terrible writing (spoilers)

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#1 by hollowdelusions
2018-08-10 at 01:44
I don't usually do this, but the writing in this game was genuinely one of the worst I've ever come across that I am actually going to rant about it here, in hopes that I can save someone else the wasted time of playing this game.

The premise of the game is that the protagonist is essentially coerced into joining the student council (despite the fact that he constantly rejects the president's invitation) by the president effectively stealing his entire social circle, and leaving him with the choice of "join the student council, or be without your friends". She is genuinely one of the most hate-worthy characters I've ever seen in a game - and yet the protagonist doesn't bear her any ill-will at all? I can suspend my disbelief that a protagonist can be an "all-loving, all-forgiving idiot" if that's what his personality is actually like (prime example: Hase Hiroshi of Tsujidou-san no Jun'ai Road); but it's established that the protagonist is quite smart and practical, and in fact his short-comings are centred around the fact that he's fairly socially-reserved and has no interest in love. Even if he does want "everyone to smile" (this game has a weird fixation on smiles), there's a limit to how courteous people can be.

Without further ado, let's talk about the routes.

Ann. I felt nothing but anger about the fact that you're then FORCED to play through Ann's route in order to unlock major parts of the rest of the game (some H scenes for Konami, as well as Tina's route in general). Despite the fact that Ann is a completely unlikable character (not just in my view - the game actually tells you in the narration that people find her "hard to deal with" and that she's "fine as long as she keeps her mouth shut"), you have no choice but to play her route as it gives information about the Shinigami and sheds light on the protagonist's back-story (about the fact that she was best friends with the Shinigami who gave her life to revive the protag, and Tina is the younger sister of said Shinigami) - hence why Tina's route is unplayable beforehand. The drama of the route is semi-believable, but the fact that Ann decides "whelp, my split personality is also in love with the protagonist so I guess I'll just disappear entirely" was beyond moronic - especially when she herself set up the scenario which led to it.

Mio's route was fairly horrible as well. I can understand her being traumatised by the protagonist getting hit by the car when he was a child (right in front of her), but having that result in her crying at even just bumping into a male is ridiculous (not to mention annoying - the crying gets REALLY old, really fast). The drama in her route is ridiculously forced - effectively she asks the protagonist on a date to a 1-day-only exhibit, but he has to wait for a package to be delivered at home that day, so he calls his sister (Konami) and asks if she can wait on the package instead, which she's fine with because she was going to be home all day anyway. Mio finds out after-the-fact and LOSES HER SHIT to the point where she yells at the protagonist in the school hallway and tells him she hates him - which is completely unreasonable. Yet rather than being (understandably) angry at Mio for how she acted, somehow the protagonist feels HE'S at fault? Then Tina - the eternal moron that she is - gives Mio (who is distraught about the protagonist being angry and possibly hating her) the worst possible romantic advice in history: ignore the protag for a week (i.e., not speaking to him at all) and give him a present on his birthday to hope that somehow resolves everything. On the day that the protagonist meets with Mio (who, unbeknownst to him, is preparing to reconcile and give him his gift), he's nearly hit by a truck, to which Mio freaks out due to the childhood accident, and manages to tackle him out of the way and save him, but injuring her head in the process. When she wakes up, suddenly her severely inhibiting androphobia is cured. Because magic I guess?

Yuuri's route is genuinely the only saving grace of this game. It was almost perfect aside from the forced drama. It evolved well, going from a point of her being an acquaintance/friend-of-a-friend to the protagonist, to being a fully fleshed-out love interest. I also feel that due to their respective personality types, the protagonist and Yuuri were the match that made most sense (both are serious, smart, and hardworking, while also feeling negative about the prospect of love). I also enjoyed the backstory about how in their first year, Yuuri and Hanako (her older twin sister) were leered at by guys which led to both of them being disgusted with men as a whole, and after Yuuri and the protag start dating, Hanako was dubious about him so she "tested" him to see if he truly liked Yuuri for who she was, or just her looks - it made sense from a story perspective. If that was the extent of the drama I'd have called it a perfect route. But it wasn't. For some reason, Hyberion (an offensively-stereotyped gay Shinigami who has the hots for the protag) shows up to Hanako and telling her she's going to die soon (but hey, they reason was never revealed because lazy writing) and that he would extend her life if she got the protag and Yuuri to break up. She refused and sat around moping in the dark a bit, then the protag and Yuuri decided they'd break-up on their own because they got too absorbed in each other and neglected those around them. Except not really because aside from just not having sex for like a week they never actually acted much differently aside from being more conscientious of those around them. But this apparently was good enough to save Hanako's life, which makes you question why it was in the game at all. Also Yuuri then goes back to modelling despite hating it because reasons?

Konami's route was...well...it's fairly typical of a blood-related sibling incest route in a VN. The typical hesitations from the protag, but heroine pushes for it, and for some reason their friends have no real objections to their relationship (which is weird and unrealistic but whatever). Kudos though to the fact that their (step)mother actually was vehemently opposed to it - but mostly due to the fact that she felt she was letting her deceased husband down for being a failure of a mother. Conveniently Hyberion somehow still had their dad's soul despite him having been dead for at least 10 years because I dunno he's lazy and doesn't follow through on work? So he brings it over and their dad basically says he doesn't mind because he's dead anyway, so their mother decides that they'll have to separate for the time that they're in high school (three years because Hanako is a first-year student) and if they felt the same way about each other upon graduation then apparently their mother would approve of their relationship, which is a weird plot-point. But through those three years the protag and Konami never contacted each other because apparently Konami one-sidedly decided she wanted to "harden her resolve" or some garbage.

Now we get to Tina. Yeah, I genuinely couldn't finish Tina's route. She was an annoying presence throughout the game in general, but that annoying-ness was strengthened 10-fold in her own route. She decides on the protag's birthday that she also wants it to be her birthday because she saw him getting presents and a cake and such. She later says that the reason is because she wants to share his happiness or whatever but honestly she just comes off as childishly selfish. After the protag confesses his love to her (which comes out of nowhere), his friends actually give him MORE grief for being a lolicon than they did about the fact that he was dating his sister in Konami's route. Tina then starts sleeping more and more to the point of worrying others (but her familiar Kotarou won't give any information so he makes the protag chase Ann/Eleonora up about it for no reason), to which it's revealed that she will eventually die/fade away without doing her Shinigami duties because apparently they need memories of the souls they reap to function. But Tina refuses to resume her Shinigami duties, even if it means dying and fading away - with no apparent care about the fact that it would make everyone (especially her new boyfriend) horribly sad. Stopped playing it there but yeah.

All-in-all, one of the worst games I've played. I didn't care at all about the Shinigami aspect (and it wasn't even well thought-out or explained - especially how it was that the protag was somehow the reincarnation of Rina, yet the reason she gave her life was to put his soul back in his body?) and the drama of the game felt forced and - at times - outright offensive as to how the protag reacted to it.

I gave this game a 4/10, but even then I feel I was being somewhat generous.
#2 by kominarachromer
2018-08-10 at 02:09
nice trolling. i almost believed for a second that you had never read a single visual novel before
#3 by pendelhaven
2018-08-10 at 02:13
@2 for the most part I actually agree. this VN was very forgettable and imo Konami alone saved the entire VN.
#4 by kominarachromer
2018-08-10 at 02:22
#3 I'm not going to argue that SakuSaku is some sort of masterpiece. The game's drama does feel forced at times, and the Eleonora sub-plot feels like a mix of "we need more h-scenes" and "we need a diabolus ex machina to rake in the nakige fans". This review, on the other hand, gives off vibes of naivety towards the genre, lack of empathy towards the characters, and lack of understanding towards the genre. SakuSaku is nothing special for moege standards, but it's not particularly offensive either. It just kind of exists. The only reason I gave it above a 5 or 6 is because I have a soft spot for supernatural elements and I really liked the art.
#5 by siliparion
2018-08-10 at 05:21
@3 Konami is definitely the highlight of the title.

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