Sakashiki hito ni miru kokoro
by Light, released May 30, 2008.
Demo available (not particularly safe for work, game for 18+ only, and so on and so forth.)
Sakashiki hito ni miru kokoro, or Sakakoko, is a low cost (~Y3000) that’s available on disc and as a download version. There’s a somewhat reasonable DRM scheme set up around the package version (as reasonable as DRM can be anyways). Online activation of the package version needed, up to 12 installs for the first 2 months after release (long past), unlimited afterwards, and then 1 year after the release (so on May 30, 2009) Light’ll have a page you can log into to that will tell you how to get rid of the protection entirely.
Anyways, onto the game. I’ll admit it right here that I got this game for 3 major reasons.
- The character designs should be illegal since they can probably convince me to buy just about anything.
- Aoyama Yukari is the main voice, with Maki Izumi as a leading sub-character.
- The scenario looked very much like it was a classic style tsundere instead of the modern bi-polar tsundere. Yes, I miss the days when you would slowly work through the tsun until you got to the sweet dere.
Magara Arimi – Main heroine, meganekko, and tsundere in the good old fashioned ‘ice queen’ sense. Also extremely well studied, and has a tendancy to lecture people if they get things wrong. Overall she’s tough to approach and has few friends. She also has something against Kazushige that makes her especially vicious.
Kousaka Kazushige – Main protagonist, you ride around in his head more or less. Is the sort of guy who obsessively wants to get along well with everyone. Is also very well studied and will often go head to head with Arimi as they lecture each other back and forth.
Sumi Noriko – Arimi’s only real friend, everyone calls her “Don-chan” because 鈍(don) looks somewhat similar to her surname 純(dumi) with the radical changed… It’s not exactly a nice nickname, but she seems to like it and always tells other people to call her don-chan. She lives in a world of fluffy innocence and happiness for the most part, and makes friends with everyone.
Sumi Majino – Don-chan’s sister. She’s charged herself with protecting Noriko ‘cause her sister’s so unreliable. A large number of guys after Noriko have already been chased off by her. Tends to be a troublemaker.
Kousaka has always led a life where he wanted to get along with everyone. Always smiling, being nice, helping out, etc.. Then one day in the library he bumps into Arimi, who not only acts coldly hostile to him, but outright tells him that she hates him to his face. Since he’s not willing to accept it, he gets a bit obsessed, and soon falls for her and begins chasing her. All in all, it’s a rather simple scenario, and the game covers the time it takes to catch her, plus a bit of time afterwards.
As a low priced game, there’s quite a number of rough edges, but on average with a measily n=35, it’s not doing too badly on erogamescape, with a median of 78 average of 75.
The biggest issue that I noticed was that the writing was uneven. In the sense that you’d be picking weeds out in the garden when suddenly Kousaka is arguing with Arimi over the merits of the Kyoto Protocol (no, really). Sure the game does bill itself as a “pedantic恋愛ADV” so I can’t say you weren’t warned about it, but I didn’t particularly have the energy to look up all the words that came up. Other topics that appeared were historic Sengoku-jidai factions, something I can’t remember about edible tree leaves, coffee…
That said, the overall flow of the scenario was better than expected, even if you gloss over the pedantic parts, it’s pretty sweet and charming. Both Kousaka and Arimi are intelligent, and hate to lose, so they spend much of their time pushing at each other. It’s somewhat different from most other games where when a heroine goes into dere mode, the whole world’s changed.
What I do complain about is that there’s lots of little choices. They seem to have no meaning — sometimes they give only 1 choice — but after playing a second time, I noticed that if you raise certain flags in early choices, a 1-choice point might become 2. Still, it’s rather annoying, and I only got 74% CG before I just used a kouryaku and completed it.
Other people, mostly on 2ch, complained that the background art and the music were more or less recycled from previous games (like Dear My Friend). They’re also somewhat bitter about the whole Dies Irae incident. Since I’ve never played any other Light games before, I’ve noticed none of that… (though I’d like to play DMF someday soon…) The music was nice anyways.
The interface flips between ADV and Novel mode a fair amount. I didn’t mind since I think ADV window boxes force script lines into small chunks, and longer sentences are required at times. Some people seemed to mind though.
Some people also complained that the ero scenes were interjected by choices that got irritating, but I don’t pay attention them to those scenes that much, so I didn’t notice either way.
I mentioned that the character designs were a major selling point for me, but the characters themselves are quite fun and I have a habit of forgiving a fair amount of storyline if the time spent interacting with the characters was fun. Arimi’s quite cute, and Aoyama’s acting fits perfectly. Instead of just her standard tsundere voice that mostly involves a certain amount of high tension shouting and screaming, she goes from a freezing voice filled with contempt and hostility to a calm, sweet, sometimes playful voice towards the end.
So I like voice acting =P
Don-chan was the surprise favorite character for many. Maki Izumi’s floaty voice makes you feel like there’s nothing but pink bunnies in her head, and it just works. She had so much positive fan response that Light had announced on Pratia radio a few weeks ago, (#64 I think? around there) that they’re making a game about her. “Don-chan ga kyuu~~” or something, since she goes “kyuu~” with spinny eyes and all that whenever someone starts talking about impure things…
Over all, because my expectations were clearly framed in the low cost 3000 yen frame of mind to start with, I was surprised at the relative volume of story and quality. It really did take a few hours to clear the scenario through without much skipping, and there’s 2 major endings, 4 or so if you count some variations,, so there’s a tiny bit of replayability.
Sure, there’s plenty of rough edges, but I had a fun weekend with it as light reading, and I liked the characters enough that I’ll probably get the Don-chan game when it comes out.
I was having fun showing the game to my friends on IRC before it came out, and somehow managed to get a few other people to get copies too. For the most part the ones who played it through were pretty happy about it. So give the demo a spin, and get it if you like it.