When I first heard about Flower, Sun, and Rain, I thought it sounded totally awesome. Here's a quick rundown of the setup for the story: You're on an island, there's a bomb on a plane, you have to stop it from blowing up by the end of the day, the day keeps repeating in a time loop, and your computer is named Catherine. Sounds fool-proof, right? Wrong. The game, which was originally a Japan-only PS2 game (circa 2001) has finally been ported to US shores, but this reviewer is certainly not in the welcoming party.
The game starts out with a ridiculously long FMV sequence that I found pretty painful to watch, especially at the low resolution that it and the rest of the game is set. There are more than one of these FMV fun-killers throughout the game, and if you're like me you'll get pretty sick of them. The main character has some pretty funny lines; he explains that he named his computer Catherine because "Working with a Catherine is better than working with a Bob." But the dialogue just gets more and more strange as the plot progresses, eventually devolving into characters spewing total nonsense about "demons" and "blood-spewing death matches against the fiery fervour of youth!"
The graphics are hideous. Seriously, I've seen better grass textures on the NES. The developers also just BARELY managed to slop together some polygons that sort of look like human beings, but it hurts my eyes just to look at them in cutscenes and that makes it hard to take their conversations seriously. Also, somebody working on the game apparently thought that it would be a great idea to get a wildebeest in the studio and use the recorded sound file of him eating small child as the sound effect for when dialog is being spoken. The music is okay, I guess, but it's hard to appreciate it when I'm hearing "nomnomnomnomnomnomnomnom" jabbering in my ear constantly because the creepy hotel manager won't shut his trap.
Okay, so the graphics are terrible, the sound is terrible, the dialogue is just strange... what else? Oh right, the gameplay. THERE IS NONE. Aside from the occasional touch minigame (oh don't worry - it's the same one every time) where you "jack into" something and put in a number code to solve a terribly painful puzzle, there's pretty much nothing to do but walk around and talk to folks. Allow me to give you a walkthrough of "chapter 10" of the game, just to demonstrate what I got myself into with this review:
1) Go to the front desk
2) Talk to Edo
3) Go to the accident site
4) Talk to Mati
5) Go to the Diner
6) Talk to Ken
7) Talk to Mati
8) Talk to the customer
(No, I'm just kidding.)
9) Talk to Mati
10) Talk to Ken
11) Talk to Step
12) Talk to Shotaro at the accident site
13) Take the right detour road on the way back to the hotel
14) Check the soccer ball
15) Jack into the Container
And that is 1/18th of the entire game. Sounds fascinating, right? Well it's not. Look, when I saw that this was an XSEED-published game I got absolutely stoked. The last XSEED-published game I reviewed was Retro Game Challenge, which I totally loved. Seriously, that game deserves 100 times as much attention as it has gotten. It's great! So while this CLEARLY wasn't developed by the same people as that little gem, I still got my hopes crushed by it. I understand that the developers of this game were pretty much just working with material handed to them from an 8-year-old PS2 game, but WOW, they REALLY should've picked a different game to port/translate. The dialogue is bad, the visuals are awful, the story is just weird, the sound is horrendous, the gameplay is non-existent, and the FMV cutscenes make me want to stab myself in the kidney with a butterknife. I'm sorry to the people that worked on this DS version, but this is Suda51's worst work ever. I don't like this game.
Platform(s):PS2, DS (reviewed)
Developers:Grasshopper Manufacture, h.a.n.d.
Publishers:Marvelous Entertainment, XSEED Games