Length: Short (3 – 5 hours)
Lewdness: 3/3 (Lewd – Gratuitous Nudity, Explicit Scenes) with 18+ patch
Price: 9.99 USD
Summary: Tired of her current job, the asocial Nekohime is convinced by Clover, a bubbly girl who happens to be Nekohime’s best friend, and Suki, a mischievous bad girl who recently moved into their apartment, to create a visual novel. Will they make the deadline? And can Nekohime find a purpose in life?
Review: While Sakura Gamer still features a lot of the same elements that are to expected in a visual novel published by Winged Cloud, this visual novel is probably among the best within the Sakura franchise. If future Sakura games continue to follow this trend (which was established back in Sakura Space), perhaps the critics will be able to overlook the excessive nudity and acknowledge that the visual novel line is more than just hot anime girls getting frisky with one another.
If you were to ask anyone why they’re playing Sakura ________, most would probably say they’re just here for the attractive anime girls. Attractive females are certainly present in Sakura Gamer, but the visual novel also features a decently written storyline. There’s foreshadowing, introspective monologues, and important themes that are explored as the three girls work together to create a visual novel of their own. Sakura Space was better written than expected, but Sakura Gamer proves that the writing in a Sakura game can be nuanced enough to tackle sensitive topics like dissatisfaction with life, following your dreams, unhealthy and stressful familial relationships, and so on. In other words, the plot is not outdone by the porn, but it’s probably still going to be overlooked due to the nature of visual novels (I mean, just look at the namesake of the medium. They’re called VISUAL novels for a reason) and the reputation of Winged Cloud.
In fact, the concept of visuals overshadowing the writing is actually addressed within the game. The fact that the visual novel is about girls creating a visual novel allows for the fourth wall to be dented at times as they have earnest discussions about what it means for a visual novel to be successful, whether or not visual novels count as games, how characters are supposed to be portrayed in visual novels, and so on. The self-awareness allows for earnest, engaging, and amusing scenarios to emerge.
Sakura Gamer only features three girls this time around, but they all have their unique charms and appeals. There’s the catty and easily flustered Nekohime, the energetic and exhibitionist Clover, and the flirtatious vixen, Suki. All of the girls happen to have hidden depths, as well, saving them from being just one-note characters.
The music isn’t exactly award-winning or all that original, but it does remind me of retro gaming with its simplicity and with how the tracks are so easy to listen to for extended periods of time.
As for the yuri, the game doesn’t shy away at all. Nekohime outright confirms that she is a lesbian in one of the routes (there’s three routes, by the way. One for Clover, one for Suki, and one for the OT3), the girls get flustered over seeing each other’s bare bodies, and the game stays clear from the tried and tired “oh but we’re both girls” talk. I personally would have enjoyed seeing more oral stimulation, but we already received plenty of erotic scenes as is.
A short, sweet, simple, smutty story. You’ll probably play through this one game once and be done with it, but it was a fun ride nonetheless. It’s a porn-with-plot visual novel with a decently strong story, so the typical audience for such games will be pleased to play through Sakura Gamers for an extra bonus in addition to usual bonus of attractive anime girls. I’m of the belief that the surprising depth of the story can bring in viewers who are put off the excessive porn that’s to be expected in a Winged Cloud release, but that depends on the player’s tolerance.