Reviews of English Visual Novels

Analysis: Sakura Beach — Ending Summer with a Rant

Sakura Beach | Header
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Written by Annie

Imagine just for a second, how fucking dull and lifeless you have to be in order to take the title of “worst Sakura game.”  Well, Sakura Beach has certainly passed that threshold, but I don’t know if it’s the worst because there are THIRTY SEVEN Winged Cloud games. That being said, I am praying that this is the worst this series has to offer, because Sakura Beach is one of the worst visual novels I’ve ever read, PERIOD!

I actually feel a bit of dread describing how bad this is, because it was just so agonizingly dull that I feel my life draining out of me just thinking about it. Hell, even the title sounds about as fun as getting a root canal and a colonoscopy at the same time. The previous games in the Sakura series were Sakura Spirit (you can check my review on it), Sakura Angels, and Sakura Fantasy. Say what you will about the quality of the games themselves, but they at least sound interesting.

Time does seem to pass by oh so slowly……

Sakura Beach, however, sounds lifeless and bland, like the series did away with any pretense that it’s not anything but porn for people that don’t know where to find actual porn. … Actually, that’s being too charitable, because some porn can be pretty damn creative in its scenarios and settings. Sakura Beach is so half-assed and lacking in substance, that it feels like the exact image that people who hate visual novels imagine when they think of them.

Given how bad this visual novel is, it’s easier for me to start with the few things it did right. Well, the music is decent… and the artwork is nice. Granted, there is little to no variety in artwork over the course of this five hour game, that it’s difficult to appreciate any of it, and none of the music is anything that will stick with you after you finish the game, but you take what you can get with this one. What you get though, is next to nothing but boredom.

The story is… fuck, I don’t even want to think about the story because I’ll start disassociating if I do. Okay, better force myself to at least get a paragraph out or something.

Anyway, Sakura Beach stars Seiji, an autistic daydreamer who can’t stop thinking about space. This isn’t an insult by the way, Seiji generally comes across as heavily autistic-coded. Being autistic myself, It’s weird to see a game accidentally portray an autistic asexual main character without ever intending.

I’m not exaggerating, about 90% of the game is Seiji thinking about space while two girls try their hardest to seduce him, and he just doesn’t get it. At first I thought he just had negative game, but a guy can only be so dense. There was literally a scene where Ayumi and Momoko start making out and talking about how hot it would be if Seiji joined in, and this dumb motherfucker didn’t get it. And keep in mind, there was nothing indicating that either of these girls were attracted to each other prior, it was thrown in because that’s what Sakura games do. They come up with a bunch of ideas for crazy fan service scenes, and then write the story around them.

As much as I hated Sakura Spirit, I can at least admit there was some decent fap material, and that it might satisfy those who don’t know the wonders of web browsing. You want to know what the hottest scene in Sakura Beach is? It’s the scene where Ayumi and Momoko get ice cream and start eating it very suggestively. The most overdone and boring ecchi trope next to “MC doesn’t knock before walking in on the girls changing” is the height of this game’s creativity. Oh, and since I mentioned the “idiot MC doesn’t knock” trope, that one is used three times in the game, one of which is in the first twenty minutes.

The fact that someone out there faps to this makes me weep for the future of humanity.

Oh yeah, I should probably talk about the story — but do I really need to? It’s a Winged Cloud game. I can’t imagine someone ever saying “oh, you know what visual novel is a true masterpiece? Sakura Beach! That one makes me tear up every time, and the cast felt so real!”
The most I can imagine is that some teenage boy plays it because he doesn’t know what porn is and honestly? — teenage boys deserve better than this. There’s a lot of discourse about whether or not teens should be allowed to access porn these days, but whatever they access can’t be as damaging as this visual novel. Hell, I think we should take it a step further and ban anyone — teen or otherwise — from reading this VN, just to be safe.

But in all seriousness, I struggle to even call Sakura Beach’s narrative a “story.” I mean sure, there’s a sequence of events, but the pacing is so abysmal that it feels incredibly generous to even call this a story. The plot is about Seiji going on vacations to a beach with his two childhood friends, Ayumi and Momoko, both of whom continuously try and fail to seduce him because he keeps thinking about outer space. This happens until they get mad at him, guilt trip him for not recognizing their advances, which leads to him suddenly accepting their advances.

The game describes how Ayumi stopped paddling, while her character sprite has her standing outside the pool…

This is a very condensed version, but all you are missing is the same few gags and plot points being recycled over and over, while moving at a snail’s pace for six agonizing hours.

The few points where I wasn’t bored out of my skull, I found myself realizing how abusive this relationship dynamic is. You have two girls who continuously gaslight Seiji over him not recognizing their advances, despite the fact that at one point, he explicitly asks them and they say that he needs to find out on his own. And I’m not even getting into the “joke” scenes where Seiji is almost raped and has his immobile body dragged down the stairs so his face bangs into the hard stairs with each step…

Everything about Sakura Beach is soulless and tedious. I can’t even remember if I mentioned the frequently reused backgrounds and lack of animation. I’m quite convinced that the CIA uses this game to torture people out of suspected enemies of the state. Wait a minute, Fuwanovel isn’t seeking out review codes from Winged Cloud, right? It’s one thing if they don’t want me to talk about politics, but this may be crossing a boundary. Hopefully, they knock first.

Moral of the story? Sakura Beach is shit, don’t play it.


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About the author

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Annie

Annie Gallagher is an american trans-feminist blogger who runs GuardianAcorn, where she’s built an impressive list of pieces writing very detailed articles about video games, visual novels, politics and everything interesting to her. Her writing consists of reviews, deeply analytical pieces, video game music critique, poems, original fiction and more. She approaches things from a philosophical and introspective manner that is meant to touch upon things most people never tend to notice.

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