|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Grasshopper Manufacture Studio / h.a.n.d.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Marvelous Entertainment / XSeed||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Whether youre well-versed in cyberpunk lore or not, its a little unnerving when a total stranger youve just walked up to bluntly insists you jack-in to his eyeball. Its even weirder when you oblige by opening up your trusty computerized briefcase thats curiously named Catherine and proceed to jab a plug into the guys cornea. Then again, those whove grown accustomed to Suda51s recent work (Killer 7 and No More Heroes) might not find such an unusual request so alarming.
Delving further and further into the updated DS remake of one of his earlier, Japan-only PS2 releases, Flower, Sun, and Rain, reveals the designers knack for crafting progressively complex layers of strangeness to propel the adventure onward runs amazingly deep. Its this unabashed proclivity for bizarre storytelling that exerts a vortex-like power, drawing you deeper into the twisted tale. Even when some of the games crucial design elements begin showing signs of wear, its hard to fight the current once youre neck deep.
Called to the island of Lospass for work, Sumio Mondo, a professional searcher who locates missing things with the aid of his hi-tech, computerized briefcase, is drawn to the islands sole resort, the Flower, Sun, and Rain hotel, where he learns the guests and the entire island itself are trapped in some kind of cyclical time warp. Besides getting to the bottom of this temporal anomaly, Mondos client, the hotels owner named Edo, has also contracted him in hopes of stopping a terrorist plot to blow up the island. However, each day ends the same way (a plane flies overhead and erupts into a ball of flame) before the cycle resets and starts again. Despite the time warp, everyone retains their memory of the previous day. Mondo winds up struggling to keep his wits about him and complete his mission, while being waylaid each day by the needs of the hotels tenants.
The eccentricities of the assignment and the bizarre characters youll encounter increase exponentially the more you proceed to explore the islands mysteries. While the tasks youll undertake along the way vary widely, its the often puzzling and amusing interactions with the locals that give Flower, Sun, and Rain much of its unusual charm. Playing mind games with a soccer-obsessed Australian whos not afraid to push dangerous boundaries to suit his own amusement, helping a masked wrestler get his fighting mojo back, mixing drinks for a trashed lady who insists on obtaining a means to slay undead creatures, and attempting to throttle a bratty youth who playfully breaks the fourth wall by dissing elements of the game itself are among many other outlandish interactions youll wind up in. As you can imagine, the dialogue spawned from such encounters frequently takes unexpected turns that yield highly entertaining results.
Beyond the cornucopia of people you must deal with and attempt to help, adventuring through this highly linear quest puts you in the path of numerous puzzles to solve. Oddly, the games cyberpunk-inspired puzzle element is purely based on numbers and codes something that may alternately prove to be titillating or a major turn off. Youll frequently come across objects and even people you can jack-in to using your computer briefcase. Doing so involves a cool-but-simple touch screen mini-game where you must select the correct plug and jab it into the interface. Once connected, youll turn a dial to input the proper code in order to solve the puzzle. Successfully unlocking the mysteries that lie hidden in the subject or thing youre connected to is entirely dependent on obtaining the right sequence of numbers. Some answers are far more obscurely than others. Most of these can be found hidden within the expansive hotel manual youre given at the onset of the adventure, but wading through the text to piece together the proper codes (even with the clues dropped during character conversations) can be a major chore at times. Since all of the gameplay beyond simply exploring and talking to people involves these code-intensive puzzles, its easy to grow to dread them as they become harder to solve. Managing to not get horribly stuck does improve the games enjoyability a great deal, but the likelihood of reaching an impasse (even a temporary one) is high.