Flower Sun and Rain - Review

Flower Sun and Rain
Ages: Teen

I just finished Flower Sun and Rain. I wouldn't say that I played it, because I don't consider it a game, but rather a story, albeit a surreal one. Some things like this, which are run on game machines or PCs have been called 'digital comics' (as in the Japanese Manga form). I like to think of it as a participatory story. Flower Sun and Rain runs on the hand-held Nintendo DS (you CAN take it with you).

You experience the story as Sumio Mondo. To quote from the Instruction Booklet, A Searcher by trade. Sumio has come to Lospass Island at the request of Edo, the hotel manager of the "Flower, Sun and Rain". Cynical, and yet a sucker for people in need. Sumio will embroil himself in any mystery that crosses his path. With the aid of his computer Catherine, he allows himself to be drawn into the ever growing list of occurrences on the island, no matter how bizzarre or trivial. I do like bizzarre.

In this story, a Searcher can not only find things, but also memories, emotions and other abstractions. When the time comes to find something, Sumio recites a little poetic litany and then opens Catherine (the metallic suitcase he always carries with him). Inside is a Jack, which he symbolically plugs into the problem receptor, a tape recorder, someone's eye, a keyhole, and then enters a number into Catherine's input counter. If this number is correct, a positive result ensues (if not, nothing happens). What you have to enter can be hinted at in previous conversations, or can be found in the guidebook to the island which Sumio is given upon arriving at the hotel.

The story appears to be completely linear - I did not see any evidence of branching or multiple endings. I did not run into any "Game Over" situations either. In order to finish the story in a reasonable time, so that I could write this review, I followed a walkthrough. If there were wrong turns I didn't see them, and nothing seemed to be timed, which I would have noticed, as I don't do well with timed puzzles.

The story itself is fantastic to the point of being bizzarre. Upon awakening the next morning after arriving at the hotel, Sumio has to cope with some strange occurrences, which culminate in his seeing a plane fly by outside and then explode. The next thing Sumio knows, he is waking up again, but it is the next day. In fact, there is some sort of time loop, which starts when he wakes up and ends when the plane explodes; and his job is to get to the airport and prevent that explosion!

There are a large number of characters in this story, and conversations progress via text at the bottom of the screen. You don't have any choices to make - the interactions unroll as you press the A button or touch the screen with the stylus to get the next part of the conversation. Getting from place to place, be it in the hotel or outside is done by walking. There is a step counter, by the way, and some increase in ability seems to be granted when you pass 5000 and 10000 steps, but I didn't notice it. For me, the walking seemed quite appropriate, and gave me more of a sense of being there than teleporting from one place to another would have done.

The graphics are stylized 'crude' - lots of flat planes, though the outside scenery felt real enough as I walked down the roads - trees and shrubs and not-quite-resolvable features in the distance. During conversations a shaded portrait of the speaker is presented along side the text, so you know who is speaking, and strange voice sounds eminate from the speaker. One other reviewer thought that the voice acting had been digitally distorted and played in reverse. I found this disturbing at first, since I was not sure that things were behaving properly, but these effects are deliberate. The music, on the other hand is varied and some of the pieces are unique.

Most of the time, the words "on air" appear at the top of the screen, either in a small or a large font. I have no idea whatsoever what this means, and I couldn't find any explanation online either. Did I say that Flower Sun and Rain was bizzarre? The conclusion of the story is somewhat murky (no surprise there) and if you view all the credits, there is another scene which either adds to your understanding or further confuses you.

All in all, I found this story to be intriguing and compelling, so that I had no trouble continuing to the end, and was quite glad I did. Your mileage may vary.

Fun Factor: Absorbing and compelling story. YMMV.
Female Factor: Several interesting female characters.
Player Friendly: You can save whenever you have control of Sumio. Useful instruction booklet.
Website: http://www.flowersunandrain.com

Reviewed by: Lou - 07/09

  • Flower Sun and Rain
  • Author: Suda 51
  • © Marvelous Entertainment, USA / Xseed
  • Platform(s): GBDSDS
  • To Order: DS http://www.amazon.com/ $27.99