Winter is coming

By , 17 January, 2012 2:50 PM

SAGA PLANETS’ trial for their newest offering, Hatsuyuki Sakura, has been out for a while so most of you might have already played through it. Not to mention someone needs to breathe some life into this blog, otherwise it’s going to become a tomb haunted by ghosts. Fitting that the game I’ll talk about today is about such denizens of the other world.

Ran, the girl above, lives with Hatsuyuki, who is most definetly not the usual male lead. He’s a brooding, cold, lone wolf of guy. Blunt and often mean in his way of talking to other people, feared by many and respected by some. He holds sorrow deep inside his heart, and he has no hopes or expectations for his future, but perhaps there is some kindness underneath that cold exterior. He is so different from what you’d normally expect. Have you heard of anyone else who tells a girl off by telling her to go home and masturbate?

His tale and the game’s story starts when he meets the main heroine of the game, Tamaki Sakura, one cold winter night when he’s chasing after some rabbit that has stolen his money. She has come to this town searching for something called the ghost child, and Hatsuyuki ends up becoming involved in her little ghost-hunting quest. I will say one thing about all the characters in general, and that is SAGA PLANETS has refrained from using cheap, moe personality traits to bring appeal to their characters. In their previous game, Kisaragi Gold Star, you could easily observe what moe archetype each character takes after but that’s fortunately not so much the case in this game. What draws you to the people of this game is what’s revealed of them through Hatsuyuki’s interactions with them. They are more than a collection of moe labels, and there are hints that there may be more behind them than what you simply see or hear on the outside.

The next thing that makes Hatsuyuki Sakura wonderful is everything else. The graphics, superb. The music, wonderful to listen to and creates the right kind of mood. The OP’s also spectacular, like Rolling Star in the previous game. Which in the case of Hatsuyuki Sakura is a seamless blend of school romance and supernatural mystery, a surprisingly excellent fusion of comedy and drama. The light-hearted antics of Sakura, Nozomu, and the other girls contrast starkly to the mellow, sometimes sad malaise that pervades Hatsuyuki’s private life, the exact nature of which you won’t fully know until the end of the prologue–and when you do the story takes on a serious, even dark tone. Not overtly, but with subtlety that lurks in the background, never in your face unless the moment is right, and when it is the game delivers like a freight train. A story is well-written when the first act closes with the audience knowing exactly what kind of journey the characters must now take for the rest of the tale, and the end of Hatsuyuki Sakura sets the score to be settled so strongly you are just as determined and set on what you have to do, just like Hatsuyuki at the end of the trial.

Beautiful is what this game is. At the very least I am enjoying this hell of a lot more than Kisaragi Gold Star. Hatsuyuki Sakura is a more serious story, perhaps even moreso than Natsuyume Nagisa. The game’s a lot like Lump of Sugar’s Itsu-Sora in some respects. You sure as hell wouldn’t think so by visiting the game’s official site or looking at all the screenshots, but mark my words and prepare yourself. This game is no leisurely stroll through the neighborhood, but a foreboding trek through a haunted forest. In winter.

5 Responses to “Winter is coming”

  1. warum says:

    A brooding, cold, lone wolf guy huh? you’ve got my interest piqued! Now if only he is also a hard-boiled type…it’d be “icing” on the cake :D.

    Bad puns aside, I really enjoyed the games where they focus on the beauty of an object, like with Sukima (Sakura) or Asairo (Autumn) as they tend to take you to appreciate the lighter things in life, or as some people like to call it in its Japanese term: mono no aware. In Hatsuyuki Sakura’s case it looks like it’ll be about Winter/Snow, where similar to fireworks, is beautiful because it ends quickly. So definitely looking forward to this one, now that you mentioned it. Thanks!

    Aside: Typing out Hatsuyuki Sakura made me realize the naming sense is really similar to Natsuyume Nagisa…coincidence? I wonder.

  2. Kresnik says:

    Natsuyume Nagisa didn’t really click well for me, Kisaragi Gold Star were much better but there are some questionable plot development reducing the overall value, and I’ve yet to play the ‘Spring’ title yet. I have great hopes for their ‘Winter’ title and let’s hope that it really will turn out as we both expected.

    I refrained from playing the trial in order to minimize the re-reading which might lower my excitement.

  3. Newprimus says:

    There’s a spring title? Unless you mean coming humming, which was a long while ago.

  4. warum says:

    Managed to finish the trial, and it hit me hard as to why you have chosen to use that particular image…(You sly fox). Definitely a must play for me as I am very excited about the development at the end of the trial. But beyond that, I really like how the story is unfolded in a rather curated manner. If anything, the trial really got my conspiracy vibes going…

    Waiting for end of February just got abit harder, can’t wait for more of…all the characters really :D, they are all so delicious.

  5. Newprimus says:

    And Hatsuyuki Sakura is finally out!!! And I’m going to skip out on my huge backlog of games (AGAIN) to get through this epic adventure (cause there’s like seven or so routes, some of them you have to unlock by nabbing other ones first). And then I’m going to write a nice little review writeup on this blog.

    And I’m going to make promises I might not be able to keep. ;)

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy