Hey all! Been a bit dead around here lately >____>. I know that Aedes is just lazy, but I have NO IDEA what Aqua is up to. Anyway, I actually finished Hatsuyuki Sakura something like a week ago. Unfortunately Aedes did a review on that like a week after it came out, which took away any thoughts of writing something about that. Btw, the game was great; as expected of Saga Planets.
Back on topic, I decided to go for a cute and funny slice of life game. Enjoy ^^
Company: すたじお緑茶 (Studio Ryokucha)
Game site: 祝福の鐘の音は、桜色の風と共に
Release date: October 26, 2012
Links: VNDB, Walkthrough
Shuuji lived with his musician father Yuuhei, but the family debt had gotten to the point where it was impossible for them to pay it off. They had prepared themselves to run away at a moment’s notice, but one day Shuuji’s grandfather Genzou appeared and wanted him to succeed the Ootori family line. Since the Ootori is a famous family which has great influence in many places, their debt would be fully paid off should he agree to Genzou’s request. Shuuji consented to it, but that was not the end of it. As a successor to the Ootori household, he must have a wife, so it was arranged that he be married to his cousin Maria. Of course, both of them opposed the engagement. Genzou told him that he should find himself a wife instead, but he only has one year to do so, otherwise the engagement will continue as planned. So begins Shuuji’s search for a bride at Minami-Sakuragaoka Gakuen.
[Borrowed from Micchi’s blog]
Contrary to the serious topic of “inheritance”, the game has a very light atmosphere. The majority of the game is set in the school and though it’s a school for the wealthy, it feels similar to a normal school. The reason for this is because there is an excellent arrangement of characters that have very friendly and interesting personalities. Urara’s aggressive advances, Hayato’s playboy nature and Nanaka’s cut-ins are very amusing and never grow old =3. Though we don’t have the FULL ON strained wealth atmosphere, there is still a distinct sense of “wealth”. We see Shuuji to adjusting to this new life style and he finds himself needing to learn stuff like table manners, dancing, etc.
Something I found VERY fortunate is that Shuuji doesn’t approach heroines with the hidden agenda of seeing if they’re “wife material”. Shuuji is reminded of it from time to time, but it isn’t something he keeps in mind most of the time. He gets closer to them purely because he wants to be friends with them. Though once the relationship is properly established the given heroine will just accept that she’ll become Shuuji’s fiancée…which was a little weird.
The common route is pretty long, but it doesn’t feel dragged out. The characters are really only briefly introduced, which is rather surprising given the length of the common route. He meets each of them through an interesting encounter and slowly they form a group of friends.
Though the individual routes have more story than the common route, the main focus is clearly skewed towards romance and comedy. And believe me, there’s A LOT of romance and comedy to look forward to. ALL the heroines become quite love-struck once the relationship is formed. The confessions are all done quite nicely and each one is unique. Each route also contains a pretty serious element of drama, which tends to lend towards the formation of the couple.
Maria is Shuuji’s cousin and shows quite a bit of hostility towards him. She has great pride in the Ootori household and her fierce demeanour tends to keep others away. She has a tsundere personality and is constantly warning Shuuji to not tarnish the Ootori name.
Shuuji helps a girl who’s being constantly pestered by a guy. However this results the girl’s parents request him see said girl in a marriage meeting. As this goes on, Shuuji thinks about ways to pay back Maria for constantly helping him and from here the two grow closer. As the marriage meeting date draws near, Maria realises her feelings and goes to stop it from happening. Just as things start to settle down, that pestering guy comes back for a little revenge.
The Nishikujo household is famous for musical talent and Kanon is a talented pianist. Her first encounter with Shuuji occurs when she overhears him saying that her piano performance lacks “emotion”. She is quite shy and gives off the image of a small animal.
Shuuji wants to support Kanon and the two try to get more “emotion” into her performance. This constant contact causes the two to become more and more conscience of each other. Unfortunately these “daydreams” cause Kanon to injure her hand and means that she can’t perform in the upcoming contest.
Saya is 3rd year student at Shuuji’s school. She has a tendency to get lost, to the point that there are intercom announcements asking people to help her. Due to some past strife between their grandparents, the Ootori household and the Kitazono household are on very bad terms with each other.
The two of you decide to secretly become a couple despite the conflict between your households. However Saya becomes increasingly open with the relationship and the households soon find out. Tension rise between the households and the two are prevented from seeing each other. After sneaking out to see each other, the two question whether they should run away so that they can be together.
Urara’s household is an up in coming finance company and until fairly recently, she was a “commoner” like Shuuji. She has a very energetic personality and falls for Shuuji after the classic “bump into girl in the hallway” event. Her dyed hair, modified uniform and questionable grades make her the frequent target of teachers’ preaching.
Something that originally felt weird, but over the course of the common becomes normal is questioned in Urara’s route. That is, why exactly does Urara like you? Shuuji starts to form doubts towards Urara after being warned that she’s only getting close to him for the sake of her household. Things spiral and Urara’s true nature is revealed. After learning of her past, Shuuji prepares himself and takes some desperate measures to confront her.
Route ranking: Very hard to tell sorry >____>
All routes pretty much take first place in my heart given the nice icha icha, romance and comedy that each of them have. Maria’s ending was FANTASTIC. As for the others, their endings were good, but not great. Something I’m grateful for is that the game ends before Shuuji is required to take any REAL responsibility for the Ootori household. Instead of needlessly looking at the challenges that lie ahead as Shuuji approaches adulthood, I got to see nice romance from start to end.
System, graphics and sound
Regarding the game’s graphics, I REALLY like the SDCGs.
No complaints about sound. Yep, that’s it =3
The save system for this game is quite grand. Along with having like 600 saves already available for you, you’re also able to create new save pages. As for how many save slots I filled up, I think it was somewhere around 200.
Something I quite enjoyed about the game is the interesting manipulation of character sprites and textboxes. Having a moving textbox makes dialogue feel like it’s really coming from the associated character. Varying character sprite sizes and simple animations allow the game to express actions a lot better.
System, graphics and sound: 8.5/10
Yeah the story for this game is lacking, but that’s not really what you look at when you play a game like this. All the characters are very lovable and the heroines are pretty damn cute once the two become a couple. If you want to see some nice romance with lots of comedy on the side, this is your game.
Finally I want to mention a problem I experienced when I played this and hooked it via ITH. If I kept ITH open when I CLOSED the game, ALL MY PROGRESS WOULDN’T GET RECORDED. Any changes to save data just doesn’t happen and read text remains as unread text. So you may want to test to see if you get this issue early on. Otherwise, just close ITH before you close the game window.