Title: Flower, Sun and Rain
Release Date: June 16, 2009
Publisher (Developer): XSEED (Grasshopper Manufacture and h.a.n.d.)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes and Mild Violence
Pros: Wonderful story. Fantastic and responsive touch screen controls. Interesting characters. The Lost and Found side quests are an interesting extra. The music is absolutely wonderful.
Cons: Horrible camera. The graphics aren’t impressive since the 3D cel-shaded look didn’t translate well. Some of Sumio’s tasks feel like busywork. Ends with a cliffhanger.
Overall Score: One thumb up, one sideways; 85/100; B; * * * 1/2 out of 5
The DS seems tailor made for adventure games, given the touch screen control options, and yet very few have been made available for the system. Sure, there are titles like Trace Memory, Time Hollow and Lux-Pain, but releases like that are infrequent.
Thankfully, XSEED has stepped up to the plate to bring the Suda51 port Flower, Sun and Rain to the DS. While it isn’t a standard point-and-click adventure, it’s close enough, and adventure game fans will surely find something to love about this puzzle-filled adventure filled with all kinds of unexpected surprises.
What if you had multiple chances to relive a day and prevent a disaster?
Sumio Mondo, a professional searcher, who works with a briefcase-computer device called Catherine to unlock mysteries and find objects. He has been summoned to Lospass Island, a resort area, by the Flower, Sun and Rain Hotel’s manager, Edo Macauster. Edo has hired Sumio to find a time bomb which has been planted on a plane. Sumio sets out on his task, but finds that everyone on the island has some sort of problem that only he can help resolve. He is inevitably delayed and doesn’t discover the bomb in time. The bomb goes off and the plane crashes.
Sumio wakes up the next day in the Flower, Sun and Rain Hotel only to find that it isn’t the next day. Like the movie Groundhog Day, he’s given a chance to once again go through the previous day and find the bomb. The player follows Sumio as he experiences that same day 18 times, each time finding a new adventure.
It may look blocky, but the adventure is worth it.
Let’s start with Flower, Sun and Rain‘s most obvious feature – it looks a bit sloppy. Grasshopper Manufacture and h.a.n.d. wanted to go with a cel-shaded approach, which is great. It worked for the PS2 version, if you check those screenshots. But the 3D, cel-shaded approach doesn’t translate well on the DS. Instead, you get blocky, pixelated images and environments that make Final Fantasy VII look cutting edge. Close ups of character faces are especially difficult to look at.
Speaking of close ups, Flower, Sun and Rain‘s camera is a total disappointment. The camera’s positions are fixed, and the player has absolutely no control over it. So, if ou want to investigate an area or see it in a certain way to check for items or clues, you have to make Sumio run around until you find a decent viewpoint.
If you can look past the visuals, then you’ll find yourself playing one of the best and most intriguing adventures on the DS. Flower, Sun and Rain has twists, turns, extra items to discover and a whole island to explore. The storyline is amazing, the translation is very good and adventure fans will be pleased by the puzzles to solve and characters to investigate.
There’s also a wonderful control scheme at work. You can use the face buttons for most tasks if you want, but the touch screen is best used for interacting with Catherine. You can take notes on things to remember, jack in to people and items to enter codes and look through a detailed guide to Lospass Island. Even more ingenious is that the in-game Lospass guide is used to solve practically every puzzle in game.
You can also use the touch screen to control Sumio and his actions. Usually I prefer to use the face buttons, but Flower, Sun and Rain is one of the few games where I relied solely on the stylus.
Spend your next vacation at Lospass Island’s Flower, Sun and Rain Hotel
Flower, Sun and Rain has everything you expect from a Goichi Suda game. It’s stylish, has an incredibly complicated and interesting plot, unusual gameplay mechanics and a wonderful sense of ambiance. While the visuals aren’t stellar and the camera constantly fails the player, the controls, characters and stories more than make up for it. And, if the graphics annoy you a bit, keep playing. As the game goes on and Sumio experiences the same day over and over, things start to look different. Sadly, after playing and finishing Flower, Sun and Rain, I get the feeling that only Suda51 and point-and-click adventure fans will pick up and persevere through this wonderful story.
A quick note though, for those who intend to wait and purchase Flower, Sun and Rain used. In the beginning of the game you must enter Sumio’s birthday to proceed. If your copy doesn’t include an instruction manual, make sure to stop by an online forum or consult a guide to know how to solve that initial puzzle.
Site [Flower, Sun and Rain]