Season of Sakura is one of the very few Japanese "Hentai" (adult) games I like, mostly because it is not just another adult-pictures-collection-wraped-in-a-paper-thin-plot that most Hentai titles are. The fact that Hentai scenes appear only in the game's ending attests to its emphasis on plot and gameplay over gratuitous sex scenes. Although the downplay of Hentai elements alone would have made Season of Sakura worth a look, the designers went one step further by actually populating the game with believable characters and interesting real-life situations. Add to that excellent translation from Japanese by JAST, and we have an excellent game (i.e. not adult pictures collection) that is fun, interesting, and replayable. |
The story revolves around you, naturally, as Shuji Yamagami, a socially awkward high school student. As with most Hentai games, Season of Sakura plays like an interactive story: you choose what to do from a selection of choices at the bottom of each screen. There are eight main female characters to pursue as your "first love," and if you do something right, you will get to see a brief adult scene in an ending with the girl of your choice.
One of the game's highlights is the fact that the female characters are very well thought out. Each girl has her own dreams, interests, and secrets. They are not licentious, stereotypical girls common in most other Hentai games, and each girl has her own way of rebuffing your approach if you are too rude. The game keeps track of your relationship with each girl throughout the game, and determines near the end which girl is most likely to respond to your passion. The game has no scoring or progress system of any kind, so you must determine on your own how successful you are in your pursuit. It is possible, for example, to end up with no girl beside you at all at the end, if you choose the "wrong" girl at the end (i.e. the girl to whom you declare your love is different from the one you most impressed up to that point). You may have hurt a girl's feelings withtout knowing it, and the only way you could tell is by observing her reaction to you in the following days. Or you may have hurt or ignored her too long for the girl to forgive you no matter how much you try to make up for it, and it is then up to you to realize your mistake, and start pursuing someone else (or restore a saved game).
These subtleties make Season of Sakura an excellent reflection of real life, and the game never descends into a superficial game of "give a girl a gift to win her heart." Translation from Japanese to English by Jast USA is also one of the best I've seen, without significant grammatical errors. Overall, Season of Sakura is an excellent example of how good adult games can be -- when sex is used as an integral part of the story, but not the goal or be-all-and-end-all element. Season of Sakura is mature, sensible, and offers a great story full of believeable characters. Two thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs