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Bev Chen
21 Aug, 2010

Flower Sun and Rain Review

DS Review | Not all rainbows and butterflies.
What is ‘paradise’? If ‘paradise’ is a place, what does it mean to be there? What is your sense of purpose in ‘paradise’? Perhaps these questions are that Flower, Sun and Rain wants the player to think about and uncover for themselves. And in a sense, it succeeds. But to reach a conclusion, be prepared for a very frustrating experience.

Flower, Sun and Rain is a game by Suda 51, most famous for cult hits killer7 and the No More Heroes series. As anyone who has played those games will tell you, Suda 51 is a specialist in the surreal and bizarre, and Flower, Sun and Rain is no different. Originally released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, it is actually the fourth game in a series known as Kill The Past. It is worth mentioning that while most of the games in this series have only been released in Japan, gamers giving Flower, Sun and Rain a shot need not worry; the game is quite accessible and the story works well as a stand-alone entry. This being said, the second half of Flower, Sun and Rain contains a lot of revelations which requires the players to have some sort of previous knowledge of previous Kill The Past games in order to fully understand their implications and significance. Nevertheless, story is where the game truly shines.

Flower, Sun and Rain follows the misadventures of Sumio Mondo, a ‘searcher’ who helps people find lost possessions. Mondo has been called to the Flower, Sun and Rain hotel on Lospass Island in order to prevent a terrorist attack at the island’s airport, but as he quickly finds out, this is far more difficult than expected, as he is trapped in an endless time loop. At the end of each day, a plane leaving the airport explodes and he is forced to live the day out again. Mondo must then live out his days on the island, trying to find his way to the airport and to answers regarding the terrorist attack, as well as helping people with their requests.

The script in Flower, Sun and Rain is well-written in what can only be described as a typical Suda 51 style. The dialogue is certainly eccentric and frequently breaks the fourth wall, often in ways that will get a wry smile out of the player. The game’s NPCs are also very well characterised, oozing with style and mystery.

  
As with any Suda 51 game, expect wrestlers; a poolside detour at the hotel.

As with any Suda 51 game, expect wrestlers; a poolside detour at the hotel.
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Flower, Sun and Rain’s gameplay consists of two things: running between locations to trigger story events; and solving puzzles. Unfortunately, traversing the island is as tedious as it sounds, especially considering that around 90% of the gameplay consists of players running around. This might not be too bad for some, but the game rarely gives any solid details on where the player is supposed to go next, preferring to give obscure hints instead. The result is a good quarter of an hour wasted on trekking halfway across the island, only to realise that the true port of call is only a few meters from where the player had started. The game even goes so far as to taunt players, with Mondo saying that he could teleport if he wanted to. It’s true – Flower, Sun and Rain would have had much more enjoyable gameplay if a simple quick-travel system had been implemented. Take it from us, even though it might not be saying much – the puzzles fare better.

Integral to these puzzles is Catharine, the suitcase that Mondo is rarely seen without. Using Catharine, players ‘jack in’ to certain points of interest which then allows them to solve the puzzle. These puzzles range from simple maths problems to entering the correct amount of ingredients needed to create a cocktail, and the game will give you scribble space (on the DS touchscreen) to try and sort these out. Some of these puzzles can be solved by thumbing through the guidebook that the hotel’s manager gives you. Others rely on guesswork or vague statements characters make, which can be very frustrating. To add fuel to the fire, Mondo makes a little speech before players can attempt to solve the puzzle. It’s cool at first, but will get annoying after trying to solve the puzzle for the fifth or six time, especially since Mondo’s spiels are quite long and unskippable.

This being said, the guidebook is one of the most entertaining things in the game and players may find themselves wishing that Lospass Island is a real place. Additionally, there are three bonus puzzles that can be found in various locations on the island during each day. These puzzles, known as ‘Lost and Found’, are fairly challenging compared to the standard fare present in the main storyline, and adds a nice little level of extra value to the game.

However, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Flower, Sun and Rain has among the worst graphics of any Nintendo DS game so far. The environments are bland and the animations are poor. The polygon models are clunky and unattractive, a fact that even the characters make fun of. One character even wonders why their 3D models look nothing like their portraits. The graphics in ‘Catharine Mode’ - when you jack in to an object or a person to solve a puzzle – look great, and one may wonder why the developer didn’t just run with a graphic novel approach to the visuals.

  
Catharine allows you to jack in to people as well, provided they are willing; the memo pad in use.

Catharine allows you to jack in to people as well, provided they are willing; the memo pad in use.
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Music-wise, Flower, Sun and Raintruly excels, courtesy of Masafumi Takada (No More Heroes, God Hand). The game’s soundtrack contains a varied mix between original compositions, remixes of songs from previous Kill the Past games, and arrangements of songs from classic musicians such as Gershwin and Bach. Each song is played in a fitting setting and adds to the overall surreal nature of the game. The game also makes use of some interesting sound effects. While the majority of these are mundane, the ‘voice acting’ is particularly delightful. This consists of numerous garbled voices, a technique that will be familiar to those who have played killer7.

Despite having a good story and a soundtrack to die for, Flower, Sun and Rain has very little replayability. While there is the option to go back and replay previous cleared chapters, it is unlikely that players will find reasons to do so, other than to complete Lost and Found missions or to repeat segments of the story.

Overall, Flower, Sun and Rain is an interesting tale that suffers from a poorly chosen medium. If only simple changes to the gameplay were made and the graphics improved, it would then be a game worthy of inclusion in any adventure fan’s collection. But the way that it is, we would only recommend it to die-hard Suda 51 fans.
The Score
An addition to the long line of adventure video games that will leave players feeling cold where gameplay is concerned. Suda 51 fans should play it for the story and the music, nothing more.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 Comments
3 years ago
Suda51 is an overrated hack.
3 years ago
Dear Palgn
I think a couple of points on the game where really missed on this review and it confuses me why you are doing a review on a game that is 10 years old and has been available for almost 2 years now for the format you reviewed it on. Its true the games base game play does suffer tedium and feature problems although they are clearly a theme used by suda and the dialogue even states this. a problem with reviewing games like these is a review really expresses an opinion towards a wide and varied market whereas these games tend to really focus on those players far and few between that get something out of these type of games... for a review aimed at everyone a 4.5 score makes sense but I feel it should be stated that if you are the kind of gamer who enjoys the quirky and unique titles that can be found out there this game holds a much higher value and this review shouldn't put you off giving this game a try as it holds a certain something.
3 years ago
Quote
I think a couple of points on the game where really missed on this review and it confuses me why you are doing a review on a game that is 10 years old and has been available for almost 2 years now for the format you reviewed it on.
It's an archive review. We have done archive reviews that were more than two years late, why do we do it? because we want to try cover as many games as we can. If a game hasn't been reviewed, it's nice to archive it. We are volunteers in the end and dont get as much review code as we would like. Instead of complaining appreciate the effort of us archiving games we bought with our own money.

Quote
Its true the games base game play does suffer tedium and feature problems although they are clearly a theme used by suda and the dialogue even states this. a problem with reviewing games like these is a review really expresses an opinion towards a wide and varied market whereas these games tend to really focus on those players far and few between that get something out of these type of games... for a review aimed at everyone a 4.5 score makes sense but I feel it should be stated that if you are the kind of gamer who enjoys the quirky and unique titles that can be found out there this game holds a much higher value and this review shouldn't put you off giving this game a try as it holds a certain something.
I believe praise was given where it was due, the review picked on what was good about the game. Also, we review games for all gamers not niche markets. We put our personal fandoms/preferences aside to write an objective review.
3 years ago
ThatGuy wrote
Dear Palgn
For a review aimed at everyone a 4.5 score makes sense but I feel it should be stated that if you are the kind of gamer who enjoys the quirky and unique titles that can be found out there this game holds a much higher value and this review shouldn't put you off giving this game a try as it holds a certain something.
Jahanzeb pretty much said everything I was going to say, but I thought I would add my two cents.

I certainly agree with what you're saying; I do think it's a good game for people who like strange games that 'break' the mainstream. I believe I wrote somewhere in the review that it's a game that Suda fans would enjoy.

I personally enjoyed FSR very much, all flaws aside, but as someone giving advice to people trying to decide what to spend their hard-earned cash on, I don't want to give the impression that it's a totally superb game. People can make their own judgements from there icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
It certainly doesn't hold up as well as when it was released 2 years ago, and even then it was a mixed bag. I wouldn't pay more than $20 for it though, thankfully I've seen it for around $30 at Kmart for a long while now, it's an interesting game that is worth a shot if you like suda games.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/01/2009 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $59.95 AU
Publisher:
  AFA Interactive
Genre:
  Adventure
Year Made:
  2008

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