This game caught my eye in a pile of EsperKnight’s for-sale games mostly due to how they managed to spell the name Emelia in the most bizarre fashion I had ever seen. Sensing only the finest koala tea from it, I did a quick search online.
PSX Data Center had an entry for the game with several screenshots and a really badly translated description:
This is the story of a small country but an incident happened.
The King's only daughter Princess Emmyrea are lost. The people suspect of the north country witch - Karakuramu, So who is a courageous choice, that will be up to rescue the princess Emmyrea ! The player will take the role of the knight that will try to rescue the princess and for that he will have the help of some girls: Irini (a woman knight) that is the best friend of the princess, Merian & Lulu.
Our charming girl characters unfolds, a fantasy adventure.
The characters, the excitement of the game with full voice convincing performance.
Make it easier to concentrate on playing, it is a simple operation.
(It’s bad that my biggest gripe about that description is the “convincing voice performance,” but we’ll get there, I promise.)
Really though, seeing a female knight was enough to convince me to throw it in my pile of games from Esper and forget about it for several months. Until now!! Join me as we embark on low-budget visual novel adventures!
The game starts out as any good game should:
Actually starting the game, we get the standard fantasy beginnings:
The game proceeds to have 3-4 dialogue boxes of set up before throwing us right into the throne room as the evil witch busts in, wasting absolutely no time getting this plot on the road.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to localize “karakuramu,” so Calkram for now seems decent enough. Apparently she’s a legendary witch whose “been around longer than records have existed,” but no one had actually seen her till now.
In the blink of an eye, Calkram photoshopped a transparent version of the princess into her arms!
In what I can only describe as mild disinterest, the King’s voice actor grumbled about the predicament. But that is not all. The Great Witch also casts a curse upon the King.
She goes on to describe how she’s most likely the only person who can remove the curse, and how she’s excited to watch him fall. That and with Princess Emmyrea (do I really have to spell it like that ; _;) kidnapped, there’s no true successor to the throne. Chaos will soon befall the country, and she’ll be laughing while enjoying some popcorn.
She never actually explains why she’s doing this by the way. She vanishes in a smoky middle finger at the King and silence fills the halls.
Just then, a toothpick of a young girl appears! Her name is written as “Iriina” so we’ll just call her Elina. At this point, I realize we’re sadly not the female knight and got a bit disappointed. Why do we have to be the boring guy? Oh well.
Speaking of generic protagonists, ours has to profess his classiness as soon as possible:
Any dude who doesn’t think a girl in a suit of armor is sexy is already a lost cause. Either way, she’s Emmyrea’s childhood friend, so she was assigned as her bodyguard when she became a knight.
Elina immediately proposes to go after the witch, to which we have some reservations:
Female knight comment aside, he does have a point if she’s never actually seen battle and then wants to fight a witch that just utterly outclassed everyone.
After getting what was probably the King’s permission as he’s twitching on the floor in pain, you agree to join Elina along with three others:
Our protagonist explains that without a magician, one will get lost in the forest and die a slow death. No one has come back alive from the forest either, so I’m not sure how that information came about, but hey, I didn’t write this game~
One small note about the voices here: Elina is great, she sounds normal. A bit compressed, but normal. Eddy on the other hand, sounds like a programmer picked up a paper tower roll and recorded his lines while eating lunch. It’s so starkly different and weird, it’s baffling. The tiny boy Andy’s voice actor is super deep as well and does not match the body. Henry at least sounds mostly normal, but I feel they focused 80% of the acting budget on the female characters and gave the males some scraps to fill the plot holes.
With the game really harping Elina for having no experience but being arrogant, I’m wondering how long until her disillusionment and realizing she’s not as invincible as she thinks.
The next morning, the party of 5 embarks to the Northern Forest, with nary a plan on what to actually do there! It’s odd we have a party of 4 guys, that’s really not how I was expecting things to go down.
A reasonable amount of time into their journey, the party decides to take a rest on the outskirts of the forest, but their Captain is having a powertrip:
Everyone kind of looks at her, then to us. I selected the option to nicely explain to her that once we’re inside the evil death forest, we can’t exactly rest like we are now. It’d make more sense to be at our bests before entering hell.
While they rest, Elina manages to shout some more since she’s really enjoying this leadership with no plan thing:
Eddy calms her down between voracious bites of food:
Before their argument can progress any further, their noise draws the attention of some new characters.
In what can only be described as “the red-eyed evil duo,” our hero recognizes them:
You could argue “barunaagu” could be read in a different way, but you could also argue his name is Balnog like the Eggnog drink but for balls, and it stuck too hard. Also Redrick!? It’s like they wanted to name him Fredrick, but then someone’s like “wait he has red eyes! Redrick!” and everyone who approved the name Emmyrea gave the thumbs-up.
Bitch explains to the viewer that Balnog is the fearsome “Black Knight” who has no connection to his feelings and never moves his facial muscles. With a single order, he’d kill woman and child alike without remorse. For some reason, he follows Redrick here, whose vying for the throne. His plan is that if he rescues the Princess, then he’ll be handsomely rewarded and step closer to royalty. Though if he saves the King and Princess, then they’ll be back in line. Maybe he’ll negotiate for the Princess’s hand? Either way, he’s an arrogant ass who can only haughtily criticize people while his Balnog supplies the bark to his bite. Balnog really makes me think of Lu Bu here, so I’m expecting Redrick to be betrayed and Balnog to join the witch or something. We’ll see.
Either way, Redrick tells us to be good little kids and camp here instead of going to our deaths. We give him the good ol’ finger and walk off into the woods without him.
I don’t remember the context of the above, but I couldn’t not share it!
Anyway, shortly into the forest, the party is ambushed by their first monster!
It’s a weird, uh, six-armed monkey thing? I’m not sure it can really close its mouth with those teeth…
The fight immediately goes to hell when one of the guys is bitten from the shadows. The creature leaps back into the trees, hiding its location. A second guy is taken out in a flash. Bitch tries to restore order to the situation, but Elina isn’t having it!
Somehow, their third guy is taken out, but Bitch manages to hold his own against the toothy onslaught. Just before death breaks through, a flash of steel from behind skewers the monster.
I’m with you on this one Redrick, I’m just impressed at the game’s ability to remove all the men from the party effortlessly. Like, why did we even have these party members anyway!? It’s been 10 minutes! This at least explains why their voice actors were so shoddy.
Redrick once again recommends leaving this to them. This time he asks that you watch their horses since they can’t take them further in. On the way back, they can have the honor of following his victory precession. Elina finally snaps after all the stress.
Ahh the joyous expression of an asshole getting slapped. Impressively, we aren’t immediately killed by Balnog, but maybe he was secretly happy as well.
Turns out Henry, Andy, and Eddy aren’t dead, but Henry and Andy are too injured to continue, so Eddy escorts them back to the castle. Now alone, Elina has a moment of self reflection.
I mean, I knew this turn of events was coming, but wasn’t expecting it so soon. This game is really going quite fast!
Good ol’ Captain Bitch, has a nice ring to it. We get a choice here, it’s a difficult call:
Really riveting choices, I’ll have to try the other branches on another game~
As your first order, you tell the group of Elina to keep going forward to an opening in the trees.
Side note: At this point is was pretty obvious this game was ported to consoles as an all-ages version. Shentok confirmed it was an 18+ title called Nemureru Mori no Ohime-sama (Princess in the Sleeping Forest). The VNDB page has this exact image but without the jacket above, so it’s definitely the same game. I wonder if the compressed-sounding voices were from trying to go from PC to PS1. The art also seems oddly blocky as well, so I’m wondering if overall they didn’t do the best job.
Also side note: Turns out this game got a re-release as a Simple Series game in the SuperLite 1500 Series. I’m assuming it doesn’t change anything, but it’s possible. For reference, I’ve got the original release PS1 version and not the Simple one.
But I digress.
We rush forward to intercept the… um… man centipede poison monster that can fly…?
The game actually gives you combat options, though it’s really vague and disconnected. You get options like “swing upwards,” “swing downwards,” etc., but there’s no real indicator on what makes the most sense. After around three options, you fell the monster! Fast monkey thing, no chance. Poison centipede with perfect chompers, a-okay~
The new girl rushes in to hug Bitch, wearing only a single unfastened robe the Playstation ratings board found for her.
My god this dude has to comment about boobs the moment a new character is introduced, no exception. Well, I guess he hasn’t mentioned the evil witch’s yet.
Seems she’s instantly fallen for the main character after he saved her, as expected from a visual novel like this.
Bitch, ever judging of the poor knight girl, keeps up his nonsense about how she’s not the coolest-looking character here (well, aside from the witch maybe).
Though Marian takes slight offense, saying she’s not dressed to look cute but wearing her profession’s clothes:
All of these are terrible answers, but of course I had to select the one that makes the least sense.
Alright, that was a good 4th wall break, 10/10.
Also, ever since this nearly naked girl (we told her to go put on clothes and come back) hugged Bitch, Elina became extremely prickly to her. Better get used to catfighting, because they do it for a while. After Marian tells them she’s a magician (oh hey we need one of those, convenient ce store), Elina shrugs her off as a useless little girl. Angry, Marian attempts to turn her into a frog!
Elina grew so much into a happy girl only to immediately channel it into being a bitch. Whoops. Probably shouldn’t have been hanging around the guy actually named Bitch.
We try to ask Marian on several occasions what she was doing in the cursed evil woods, but she just keeps answering “taking a bath in the lake, duh.” For now, she’s following us and helping us through the forest. We just tell her we’re searching for someone, since we don’t want to reveal too much.
Both girls for some reason are vying for your attention, so they compete over silly things like “do we go left or right?”
I don’t know, maybe the clumsy forgetful mage whose at least been here before might have better odds than someone whose never been here ever. But no, Marian gets all happy I sided with her. Whoops. Does this game have multiple endings? We’ll have to see~
We decide to rest at a cave for the night as the sun’s setting. Still competitive as ever, they make me decide who will cook dinner.
We were given 3 options: Merian, Elina, or both. I selected both, meaning they should have a competition! They, uh, sabotaged each other and we didn’t eat dinner that night ; _;.
Later, we go off alone to fill up water bottles at the lake, leaving Elina behind to protect Merian. On the way back, we hear some voices:
Seems they’re talking about us~
Somehow five seconds alone has greatly improved their relationship! Though the moment we get back, they start bickering again as if they’re ashamed of being friends. Or something. I’m not really sure why.
Elina accidently lets it slip that they’re trying to find the Great Witch Calkram.
For some reason we just reply with “wow that’d be really nice!” and not “this is immediately a red flag.” Oh well, we’ll cross that important betraya– bridge when we get there.
Tired after the long trip, we rest for the night. But not long after, our stomach wakes up back up and we rummage for anything we can.
Elina can’t sleep either and offers to cook you some food. You accept, wary of her cooking skills. To your surprise, she’s really good! She glares at you, but you play it off like you totally knew she was good this whole time, yup!
The two of you spend a short time chatting about whatever comes to mind while listening to Merian mutter in her sleep about you. Eventually, you retire for the night yourself.
I’m sure Emmyrea is madly in love with you for no reason, but we’ll find out next time! See you soon!
Ever since I heard that one of the Crystar developers was working on a new game, I knew it’d be a day 1 import. However, most of the pre-release buzz around this game was that it was supposed to feature a Shin Megami Tensei IF’s writer, but then it turned out they only supervised/gave feedback or something like that, and it made a stink. Seeing how I wasn’t interested in that reason anyway, I forged ahead and bought the game.
My first impression of the game was actually quite bad, and it felt like I’d be in for a rough time. However, as I gave the game a chance, it really pulled me in and made me glad I stuck with it and looked past the older-looking graphics.
I’m writing this review out of the ordinary today because of my bad first impressions. I wanted to shine light on the game in more detail so others can make an informed decision. It’s a very character-heavy drama, deeply exploring the wounds of trauma and how we as humans cope with the pain. I’ve cried a couple times so far. As of this writing, I’m very close to the end, but not quite there yet. Future me, what’s your spoiler-free impression of the ending?
Future Aria: Okay, I was like, 60% into the game and just at the cusp of sadness, holy shit. It destroyed me; just like Crystar, I went through several tissues, cheered as characters got their moments, and yelled at my TV as others screwed up their chances. Someone else has to play this so I can gush to them about things. I imported the Kamitsubaki collaboration album (more on that later) and have been tearing up over the full intro song ; _;
Intro to the Plot
Our game begins as any good JRPG does:
I always joke I’ll take a shot if a protagonist has amnesia, so this didn’t help my first impressions.
Just before this though, the game actually begins in the principal’s office where you get to name your character:
I was trying to spell Goblet, like a tiny goblin and not the cup, but the Japanese version is limited to 5 characters. I’m sure in the English release you can be Goblet, but for now, we’re Goble-kun~
The game heavily follows the concept of the seven deadly sins, where your character has certain levels in Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. One of the first things the game does is an initial personality test, where your answers determine which sins get points. These levels are used to access certain items and events and can be raised by killing enemies of a certain sin or taking quizzes that are given throughout the game.
As the game went on, it told me I’m prideful as hell with nowhere enough greed to pick up an item I wanted, so that was odd to find out haha.
Back to amnesia land, you wake up surrounded by fog, where you’re found and pulled to safety before it drives you insane. The fog has spread throughout several of the floors, blocking access to many areas. The entire school has apparently been covered by a barrier that no one can leave, as if to contain the maddening fog.
The first floor of the main building is safe, which is where you meet the student council president Nozomi Hinata who joins your party. She wants to be a strong leader, but doubts herself after she failed to maintain order and calm the students after all the chaos started. Outside of battle, the school nurse Kakeru Hasegawa, a laid-back dude who puts in the minimum effort and naps otherwise, and your energetic little sister Chiyo Aikawa support your efforts.
In order to start solving the mystery of what’s going on, you and Hinata venture into the fog of the 2nd floor. Inside, you’re drawn into another world of broken fixtures and skeletons known as Legions.
Before long, you’re surrounded and things look bleak since you’re not exactly the captain of the exorcism club. Before you can be sliced into bits, a bizarre stuffed-animal looking creature emerges from space itself. It talks in creepy, mysterious words with lots of katakana nonsense mixed in to sound bizarre and profound.
However, he chills on the grand act when you threaten to pull his ears off. He informs you that you made a contract with him for powers, and that he’s a demon known as a Monark (oh hey name of the game, we’re done~). There are seven Contractors in the school who gained power from seven Monarks, one for each of the deadly sins. However, any ordinary person can fight in this world if they… *check notes* equips their Ego as a weapon to fight. I think that’s what it was.
Once you figure out how it works, you put on your badass King cloak and kick some skeleton ass in a combat tutorial I’ll explain further on. Afterwards, you’re returned to the real world.
Just outside, you run into a young man who professes himself to be the actual student council president.
You learn that he filled the gap that Nozomi couldn’t and usurped her position as the student council president, gaining the respect and allegiance of the students almost *too* easily. He demands that you be punished for venturing into the 2nd floor, but the principal appears and argues on your behalf, making him have to give up.
Afterwards, you meet up in an empty classroom, where the stuffed animal demon Vanitas appears. The principal Sora, knowing what he is, realizes you guys are in the know now and explains what she knows about the situation. Essentially, the fog is created whenever a Contractor uses their powers. In order to free the school of the fog, each Contractor must be defeated by breaking their Id, which will destroy their powers as well as pretty much wipe their brains clean, arguably a bad thing. Once all the Contractors have been defeated, including the Contractors who join your party, then the barrier will fall and the school can be freed.
You’re told you’re a Contractor as well, with Vanitas being your Monark, but you’re an exception as main characters usually are. No one knows what your Authority (sin) is, and Vanitas isn’t about to tell you.
At this point, you explore the main building, searching for the Contractor spreading fog there (gee I wonder who it is~).
The combat system is where this game truly shines in my opinion. It’s a pretty detailed strategy game with several fighting options.
Combat follows a turn-based system, where your entire team goes followed by the entire enemy team. You can move around anywhere in the blue circle above, determined by your movement stat. Characters can activate in any order.
Positioning is key when deciding where to move. If you attack an enemy while in range of their own weapon, they will get a free counter hit against you, which you definitely want to avoid when possible. However, if an ally is also in range of an enemy, they’ll get a free assist attack, which is roughly 50% of their usual damage. Once you get a party of 6, those assists really rack up and are an important part of winning battles. However, if you group up too hard, you’ll be weak to area of effect attacks the enemies can use.
Counters and assists aren’t triggered by some spells or area of effect attacks, so there’s a trade-off of using a spell or triggering several assist attacks.
Back attacks are also very important since they do not trigger counter attacks and have a higher chance of landing. Beating a poor skeleton’s back while surrounded by 5 allies who all get assist attacks really brings foes down quickly.
Skill costs come in two flavors: HP or MAD. HP is pretty self explanatory; spend x HP to activate a skill, usually physical. Magical-oriented spells add to your MAD percentage on the lower right.
Another very important option is Reorder, where any character can literally gift their turn to another player whose already gone. This works really well for helping one character travel across the map quickly, or having your strongest character get another key attack off on the enemy’s back. The drawback is that when a player receives a Reorder, their MAD increases. The more times they’ve been reordered in this fight, the faster their MAD grows.
Max out your MAD gauge and your character enters a Berserk state, denoted by the red haze effect above, where they act irrationally like a charmed status effect, except with increased stats to really hurt the party. After 3 turns, the Berserk effect ends and they faint. So generally you don’t want to go Berserk.
Opposite of Berserk is the AWAKE gauge. This one increases when you receive attacks or if you use the Focus skill to raise it by 25%. Once at 100%, you’ll automatically enter an Awakened state, where your stats are buffed for 3 turns. Your MAD stat is set to NULL for this time too, meaning all spells are free. Not only that, but if you’ve unlocked a special move, you’ll be able to unleash it for high damage, ending the Awakened state immediately. You’ll have to balance when to enter an Awakened state and when to use a special skill to help turn the tide in battle.
All allies and enemies can enter a Berserk state. Only human allies and enemies can enter an Awakened state normally.
With me so far? Now I get to clarify that normally part with a pretty unique skill your main character has that can both be absolutely amazing or kill your entire party instantly if you’re dumb like me.
The main character has an ability that lets him “connect” to another player, sharing all status buffs and ailments. This allows you to buff one character’s attack, defense, agility, etc, then share those effects with another player. That way, you can easily spread buffs around efficiently. Later in the game, you’ll unlock “area connect,” which allows you to connect with everyone in the area for even greater nonsense!
Even better, characters that are connected also share all their magic spells. Connect to your healer, then suddenly everyone can heal!
You can also connect with enemies too and share their buffs as well as steal their spells. Though of course, you’re letting them access yours too.
In the above screenshot, you can see that Bitch’s Awakened state has been shared with Date (you’ll meet him later~). You may have guessed, you can share Berserk as well, which will instantly make everyone go insane. Don’t do that, that was really dumb of me. But this allows you to share the Awakened status with skeleton party members who can’t normally Awaken on their own.
Now, this may seem really good on paper and for good reason! You give one character 4 evade buffs, share it with the whole party, then laugh as the enemy can’t hit any of you. Until an enemy casts a charm spell, hitting one person, which then spreads to the entire party resulting in absolute chaos and everyone dead on the floor. I’ve really messed up “area connection” more times than I’d like to admit, but it’s really fun to gamble with! On the bright side, if you leave one person out of the connection, then can use a healing item to cure one person of an ailment, which will cure everyone. Always have a designated survivor!
Now, you probably aren’t wondering this, but what happens if you connect a Berserk character with an Awakened character? This is actually explained early on, but from how confusing this combat system was to understand in Japanese, I didn’t get it until like halfway through the game. Combining these statuses creates a special “Berserk Awakened” effect, which is essentially being a Berserker who maintains their sanity.
You can tell you’re Berserk Awakened when everyone connected is just straight on fire.
This combo gives you a massive stat boost and essentially makes you a walking tank. There are also some particularly devastating special attacks than can only be accessed in this mode, making it worth forcing a character to go insane on purpose if you can awaken someone else as well.
That’s about what happens, it’s nice. But risky.
I think that’s most of the combat’s features. Sometimes there are traps in the arena, such as iron maidens that spew out charm spells or cannons that hurt you if you stand in their way. The game will helpfully show you a circle on the ground if you’re about to end your turn inside the trap’s effect, so you have to deliberately accept the consequences of attacking from that point.
Before each battle starts, you’ll be able to see a map of the area along with any traps present. In this boss battle, there’s charm, burn, poison, and healing towers present. This Contractor’s power messes with space, which adds teleporters to the mix.
As a reward in battle, you’ll earn SPIRIT, which can be used to level up your character on their skill tree. Every time you get a new skill, your character goes up by 1 level instead of by experience points. SPIRIT is also the shop currency, so everything revolves around it.
As the game goes on, you’ll get a few friendly skeletons to join your cause. Each skeleton has their own skill tree as well with set skills in it, so they follow a specific role. As you can probably see, you’re allowed to name them anything.
Healer. Also all-around badass.
Ikuze! (Ancient Roman reference to Burke who always shouts this when he runs into battle with an axe)
Axe user and intense powerhouse/tank.
Literally the MVP of the entire game.
Midori Archer (Fate Extra/CCC reference to Robin Hood)
Long distance starter of assist attacks, kind of slow
A-nantoka-kun (Uh, good ol’ what’s his name…?) (Sleepy Princess reference)
A 4th skeleton I really didn’t feel like raising. He shouts something about slaughter a lot and gives other people his turn.
Skeletons (they’re called Legion, but ehh) are also the only ones who can equip different armor pieces, which are dropped from other skeletons when killed in battle. This not only offers stat boosts, but they also sometimes have special skills attached.
Each chapter generally follows a similar flow. The first step is to explore a floor of the current school building, looking for the hidden entrance to the other world. Interestingly enough, the floors aren’t generally deadly; there’s no random encounters, and the main obstacle is actual puzzles.
The puzzles can range from convincing a student driven insane by the fog to unblock a door, finding the combo to a safe, or even summoning the PlayStation keyboard and entering the solution by hand (don’t worry, you won’t have to type in Japanese like I did x _x). I really enjoyed these puzzles and it helped vary up the gameplay between battles. Sometimes trying to piece together clues to solve the puzzle was harder than the battles themselves, though then again I was playing in Japanese, so you’ll probably have an easier time there.
Each Contractor has 3 fragments of Id, resulting in 3 floors to clear. Every time an Id fragment is broken, you view a glimpse of the Contractor’s inner emotions, and why they craved the powers given to them by their Monark.
The end of the 3rd floor triggers their final attempt to stop you in a climactic boss fight. Now, normally I’m a huge fan of boss music tracks, but Monark went the extra mile here: every boss has a unique vocal theme as part of a collaboration with KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO and their talents. Now I hadn’t heard of them till now, but I got caught way off guard by this first boss theme which knocked me on my ass:
I still listen to this track constantly, definitely one of my favorites from the game. I really really hope they subtitle the lyrics or have some way to read them later, since they often match the themes of the Contractor really well.
「手を伸ばせばあなたの顔が 切なく 愛おしく 消え去るように 目を閉じれば楽になるかな その場しのぎの正義を演じて」 “If I reach my hand out to you, all I see is grief and pain as you fade away. Would it be easier if I just closed my eyes, and pretend that I took the right path?”
I’m not confident I did a great job translating the main chorus there, especially since the lyrics are more poem than prose, but hearing those lines while in a fight with this Contractor really brought the emotions to the battle. If they don’t sub the songs when they play or in the menu where you can relisten to them after, look up the lyrics online later!
The Contractors themselves vary from sympathetic, “I don’t want to fight this person,” kind of stories to “okay just no, we’re killing this guy” ones, so some are hit and miss. I’d be curious to see which ones people found relatable and which ones they didn’t!
One gripe I have with the game is how you can only have one other human in your party at a time. After the first chapter, the student council president Nozomi leaves your party and you’re told to investigate around the other buildings in the school. In each area, you find one of the three other party members:
Kokoro Surugadai: Genius 200 IQ student whose only goal in life is to read, sleep, and eat yakisoba pan while neither hurting or being hurt by anyone.
Ryotaro Date: Delinquent whose goal in life is to leave his mark. Gets lost going to the bathroom.
Shinya Yuda: An orphan adopted by the principal and her husband. Strong sense of justice and desperate to prove his worth. Hates being called cute.
During these chapters, you’re only allowed to use the corresponding party member alongside your skeleton pals. This gives you a chance to learn about them both as a person and as a fighter.
After these chapters, I expected to be able to form a full party, so I ignored my skeletons, but you’re still limited to only one human member. It makes sense as to why as the plot goes on, so I can kind of forgive it, but it bummed me out a lot when I got to that part. So just giving you a warning now, don’t neglect your skeletons!
Future Aria chiming in: every character gets their moment in the sun. Everyone gets used equally, so you’ll use everyone, just not at the same time outside free battles. It’s an interesting choice, but it works well in the game to help explore every character.
Date was my party member of choice. I really wanted to use Kokoro since I like her a lot, but Date’s also badass and incredibly useful in battle. His long range gun attack is very good at triggering assist attacks from far away, whereas Kokoro is big into area of effect attacks and status ailments. I feel kind of bad for the other two, their combat potential for me was giving Ikuze! another turn, whoops… I’m sure they have more potential than that though!
There’s so much more I want to talk about, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone! Let’s just say, the plot is not afraid to go places.
Every time you start a new chapter, the level requirement jumps up. You can use your phone when near Vanitas to enter free battles and level up. There’s one very important fight I used from around level 35 to 80 since it’s really fast and nets between 5k and 8k SPIRIT depending on your rank.
I’m not sure what the English name will be, but in Japanese it’s 豊穣の狩庭LEVEL IV, aka Hunting Garden Level 4. You’ll find the phone number to access it in a document, but you can enter it anytime as ##*-#*#-*00 .
It’s a very small arena filled with enemies between level 33 and 39. Obviously my characters here eclipse the level requirement, but it’s still very useful to gain 8k SPIRIT in 2-3 minutes. For me, Ikuze! is my strongest attacker, so I send him up the left side, while Bitch Goble uses Reorder to pass his turn to Ikuze for more chaos. The other two split off to handle the two below the charm trap. After, they can hang up the right side and pass more turns to Ikuze! if need be. Positions change a little between rounds, so it’ll vary a bit, but that general strategy will let you win in 3 turns once you’re strong enough. The 4 hit axe skill Ikuze! gets is key!
One warning though! The enemy may cast a spell that reflects damage received once to the nearest person, friend or foe. If you use your strongest attack without thinking as a level 80 death machine, you’ll end up exploding yourself. Pay attention to that! Apart from that, I used this whenever I needed a few levels, or if I needed to level up a random party member.
If you have any questions at all about the game, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Discord! I’d be happy to answer any questions or chat about the game if you’ve played it!
After finishing the Legend route and learning just who caused all this 天罰 (remember this vocab from last time? Tenbatsu, aka divine punishment, it’ll be on the test!), I jumped pretty quickly on the next story to see how everything would play out now that Kanata (or more so us the player) knows what’s going on.
One thing you might notice is the huge increase in image quality! I got an adapter for VGA to SCART from CastleMania, which bumps me from S-Video and 240p/480i up to a higher base of 480p via VGA. Now DiceLord can send much cleaner shots to make these posts with~ Enough of that, onto the story!
Alright, now we can talk spoilers with that out of the way! At the end of the Legend route, we learned that Kikka and Hakuou (Sumino and Kanata respectively) fell in love, had a child, and were smited by heaven in the span of a week.
Housen (Meiko) asks the Elder Dragon Sister to make her immortal until she can meet the reincarnation of her brother who will break the endless cycle of snow and 天罰. Housen decides to live with the people quietly in the village, whereas the Elder Dragon Sister will live in the woods as punishment for her failure.
It was confirmed at the end of the Legend route that the Elder Dragon God is the girl in the mountains, though that wasn’t exactly much of a surprise considering there was one giant opening in the cast and they shared a text color, but the game hid her name in the Legend route on the off chance you didn’t immediately realize the obvious. You can see her listed as Shigure in both the manual and the opening movie.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with Shigure’s route! First step involves tracking her down enough times that her route activates. Oddly enough, I couldn’t figure it out and kept hitting the common bad ending despite running into her several times. I finally tracked down a guide in Japanese, which I backed up just in case their site goes down, and was able to figure it out.
Short aside, that guide also had a section at the bottom for something called Dark Snow (暗黒SNOW), so I had to figure out what the hell that was. Turns out it’s on the fandisc made by Studio Mebius, and it’s a short alternative story made in a similar vein to their other works. Unlike Snow, most of their entire catalog is, uh, let’s just say extremely adult and fucked up. The only review I found for Dark Snow was a 1 star, saying it was a complete pile of trash where not even the 18+ scenes were remotely enjoyable. Out of morbid curiosity, my Discord helped me track it down and I streamed the first hour with 75% of the window blacked out. It fucking scarred us. We don’t talk about Dark Snow Thursday… I’ll review it in the future, but holy shit it’s bad.
AAANYWAY #2, I kept missing the route since there’s a part where Sumino calls you from a payphone, saying she’s waiting for you at the waterfall despite there being a blizzard. If you answer the phone, you immediately rush out to help her get home safely. If you don’t answer, you just laze around all day and run into a different girl, probably Asahi. However, there’s a 3rd option I kept missing, where you reject the phone call, but then your cousin Tsugumi tells you she’s worried, so you decide to find Sumino.
However, since time had past, you just find a note from Sumino:
At this point, there’s nothing left for Kanata to do other than head home himself. But the blizzard gets so bad, he can’t find his way home and starts to freeze. Thankfully you run into the mysterious girl in the woods and try to follow her. Eventually, you find yourself at the base of the mountain near Sumino’s shop. You go yell at Sumino for calling you out then leaving, though it’s your fault really for not answering the phone. With that, Asahi later vanishes from the plot saying we no longer hold her dear, the time travel child disappears without a trace (we really don’t worry about the alone child who tried eating a sparrow to have food, huh), but now Shigure’s route starts proper!
Kanata asks Tsugumi if she’s heard of anything appearing in the woods, to which she gets really excited and starts telling you about mysterious sightings and rumors. You wonder if that could be the mysterious girl you keep seeing, but Tsugumi reveals a much more dreadful possibility:
Okay, maybe not. But Kanata facepalms a bit and dismisses the rest of the conversation. However, she does mention there are also rumors of a snow woman, which is a Japanese yokai in the form of a beautiful woman who lives alone in the snow. Hmm~
Kanata lays awake at night, pondering an important decision:
The next morning, you run into Meiko. At this point, we as readers know she’s supposedly Housen and has lived in the village for 1,000 years and personally knows Shigure, but Kanata doesn’t know this. He asks her if she knows any rumors about things in the woods, to which she also answers Big Foot. Also chupacabra. Also Toraemon, though that one could have been some kind of mountain cat. Also sky fish. Turns out she’s a fan of the occult and UMAs (Unidentified Mysterious Animals). You have a nice long chat about various topics before getting back to your water carrying job.
On our way, we take the animal path shortcut and run into the girl once again, who is asleep and muttering to herself.
Unable to watch her have a nightmare, you wake her up. She jumps away nervously and says the most she’s ever said to you so far:
She then runs away from you without clarifying anything, leaving you confused and wondering if you did something. The next few hours of the plot are essentially trying to get Shigure to talk to you and failing, while various silly things happen.
Speaking of silly things, the next day happens to be Valentine’s Day and no one noticed in the other routes at all! Meiko has a surprise for you~
That seems weird, but it’s just chocolate, righ–
Oh. Well, there’s a giant cockroach inside that’s 40cm long (15 3/4 inches!!).
At this point, she leaves you with this nightmare Schrödinger’s cockroach. You’re given a choice on how to get rid of it:
If you pick the first option, she rushes back and yells at you not to bury it. She stands there, saying she won’t leave until you try it. You weasel out of it by promising that you’ll absolutely try it, then she lets you leave as you stick it in your bag.
If you try to throw it, Meiko jogs up to you a short bit later with an over-foot-long cockroach in hand, telling you to be careful not to drop a present something painstakingly made for you! As before, it ends up in your bag as you do errands.
After collecting water, you head to Sumino’s shop to pick up produce, but you hand the bag over to her mom, forgetting about the cockroach.
You explain to Sumino that you left Meiko’s chocolate in there on accident. She’s really curious about what Meiko made, but you point to her mom as a warning that she really shouldn’t look.
And then Sumino died (just a little on the inside).
Back at the inn, you realize you only filled up one tank instead of two (earlier, a monkey stole your lunch and you bumped into the open water jug. You reasoned with the monkey, saying you’d be fine giving them a riceball, to which the monkey nodded and returned the lunch.) Not wanting to skip out on your job and hurt the business, you head back up the mountain. You find a deer in the woods, who at this point realizes you’re chill and nice to Shigure, so it leads you on a new path to a familiar place.
Well, not the title screen, but with 3 piles of rocks at the scene where Kikka and Hakuou died in the Legend route.
The mysterious girl comes by with plants, freezing in place when she sees you. This decorating strongly hints that the piles are a grave tended by her, so that would make the graves Kikka, Hakuou, and their unborn child. She asks if you remember, but you don’t know what she’s talking about. She drops the flowers on the ground and runs away, once again not answering any questions. You take the flowers and arrange them in front of the stones neatly, shrug at the deer you’ve become best buds with, then head home for the day.
Back at the inn, you relax in the hotspring while wondering what she meant by “did you remember?” when you suddenly hear Tsugumi scream. You hear the sliding door open and look over just in time to see a 40cm giant cockroach fly through the air into the night sky.
The next morning, Tsugumi surmises you’re having girl problems after you look depressed and won’t say what’s wrong. She gives you a box of manjū to help apologize for any grievances you’ve caused. Kanata’s surprised and thanks Tsugumi for her kindness. Buuuuut…
…she makes you buy it with your daily salary of 200 yen. So that’s 2.5 days of labor for some apology snacks. You sigh and accept it, figuring you don’t have any better ideas.
However, you don’t run into the mysterious girl that day. Nor the day after as well. You mention the snow woman again to Meiko by chance, who gives you the cryptic advice of “follow the cries of an animal to find her again.”
That evening, you decide to head back to the graves on the hill and wait for her to come by. Some time passes when you start hearing the distressed sounds of a young deer. Despite the sun starting to set, you press through the treacherous and steep parts of the mountain to get closer. You faintly hear the deer’s bleats from below.
Down below, we see Shigure attempting to help the deer, but got herself caught on the ledge. (I figure someone with 1,000 years of living in these mountains would be a bit smarter about this kind of situation, buuuut no.) Kanata, our intelligent protagonist, answers in the most solid of fashions:
Dumb remarks aside, he finds some rope or similar nearby, ties it to a sturdy tree, then lowers it to her. Once she’s grabbed it, he slowly drags her and the baby deer to safety.
Upon reaching solid ground, she collapses and Kanata realizes she’s injured.
She’s got a serious laceration on her leg, but apart from that it doesn’t seem too bad apart from exhaustion. Maybe she was down there for a few hours? It does make me wonder the limits of immortality and if she can die by injury or not. Also where is she going to buy new socks?? I’m sure they’ll magically heal too~
Kanata volunteers to carry her to the hospital in town, but she refuses and hops off into the woods, giving him the cold shoulder once again.
We don’t even know her name yet, this part is taking a while…
The next day, we ask Meiko how she knew that following the animal noises would lead to the girl.
Kanata is surprised and asks her more questions, but:
Obviously as a bit of dramatic irony, we know she’s not lying and knows her from 1,000 years ago, but Kanata has no way of knowing that.
Later on at Sumino’s house, we learn that the Dragon God Remembrance Festival is on the 23rd and for some reason never existed at that time on the other routes. Nope. Just like how the inn only goes out of business if you’re dating a specific girl, the festival is an illusive plot event~!
And since the game gave us a specific date, we know that’s when shit will hit the fan, like with Sumino’s route. Ugh it’s a week away…
In the village, people get randomly selected to help run the event. Meiko mentions she already knows who will be picked, but after Kanata presses, she reveals it’s just a hunch. Kanata pushes and presses a bet on her, saying she won’t get it right. Kanata says that if she wins, he’ll give her a kiss on the cheek. Sumino jumps in via the jealousy train.
Meiko on the other hand, gets uncharacteristically shy and blushes.
Everyone stares in confusion, wondering about the health of their poor friend. With that option ruled out, Kanata has a different idea:
Meiko strikes back:
Sumino is happy gaining from either side, but Kanata is confident and doesn’t back down, even against someone with clairvoyance! Whoops.
Meanwhile, we head back to the mountains at night for some reason which eludes me. Something about finally give the girl that manjū or just trying to see her again by waiting in the cold till it’s really late. At the waterfall, we see a strange sight:
Without thinking, Kanata dives into the water after whoever is in there.
Kanata thankfully manages to drag the mysterious girl out of the water. By this point I’m really wondering how she survived 1,000 years in the woods.
Ignore my previous remark, it makes sense now.
In a bit of shocked surprise, she mutters out an old name:
At about this point, hypothermia kicks in and you fall on your face.
Kanata has a strange delusion of a giant fuzzy creature carrying him, but Tsugumi tells Kanata that he appeared by the front door unconscious with animal tracks nearby. Sounds like deer bro carried you home along with a girl’s footprints nearby.
We just can’t let go of the Big Foot joke, can we~
The next day, we go to the graves again and thankfully run into the girl again. We’ve run into her enough times at this point that she doesn’t run away like a spooked deer!
Wooo!! MISSION SUCCESS, WE HAVE NAME! I can stop writing Mysterious Girl~ She tells you that she was scared when you came. Seeing you again gave her a grave shock. She never interacts with people while living in these mountains (except for her tailor of course~), so seeing you was a surprise. But you helped her and the animals enough that you seem like a safe person. She knows your name, supposedly from the rumors after the rockslide at the beginning of the game.
For now, you give her your extremely tacky umbrella with the brazen logo of the hotsprings on it, then part for the evening.
The next morning, Tsugumi can tell just how much your life is brightened by learning their name. She makes you a double lunch to enjoy with whoever it is you’re seeing and sends you on your way.
Shigure hasn’t seen a meal like this in hundreds of years, considering she eats what she can scavenge from the forest and what animals bring her.
You practically have to wave the food directly in her face to get her to agree, though I was expecting her to run away in a panic. You mention that it’s okay since your cousin is the proprietor of the hotsprings and she likes making people feel welcome, so cooking extra for her is no problem. After you mention the name of the inn, a light brights up in her eyes.
She gets all excited and bouncy for a second, remembering when during the Legend route Housen gave everyone the weird acrobat nicknames, then gets embarrassed and quiets down. After some more quiet conversation, with Shigure calling you a contradictory person who complains or says mean things while they’re being nice, Kanata asks her the reasonable question of “so why are you in the woods anyway?”
Kanata tries to press, wondering what sin this innocent-looking girl could possibly have done, but she channels her inner deer and bolts.
In the afternoon, there’s a random conversation where Kanata tries to convince Sumino that aliens are coming to take the anman:
That’s all for that scene, really.
Back to important matters! Tsugumi got selected for the festival committee, so the inn will be closed in the meantime.
Arguably more importantly, this means you lost the bet with Meiko and will have to wear an adorable skirt. Oh no~
The next breakfast with Shigure (it’s the 21st, we’re almost to the 23rd!), we ask her if she’ll go to the festival with us (aww~). She tries to get out of it by saying she can’t leave the mountain.
Yes Kanata, it’s called “running from the law,” and it’s more common than you’d think to hide out in a mountain alone. Ignoring that, we get her to agree and come down to the festival preparations and say hi (woo!).
Unfortunately for us, she gets extremely nervous near the base of the mountains and sprints back up while apologizing profusely (aww…) We head off to the shrine alone and run into Meiko and Sumino who didn’t forget about the bet:
Kanata’s down in the dumps enough over Shigure bailing that he hardly registers any emotion at the girl’s games. Meiko for some reason relents and spares him (aww…), but not without some harassment first.
It seems the artist didn’t want to try Kanata in a dress, though I suppose it makes sense since they’re allergic to even drawing his face, let alone whole body.
Meanwhile, Meiko’s “dad” the surgeon says hi, despite being in the middle of a surgery.
Walking malpractice lawsuit aside, you help build the structures for the festival, which include a tower lashed out of wood with a place to light a flame at the top. You ask Meiko about it, who tells you about the festival.
She explains that the ritual supposedly symbolizes the love between a boy on the Earth and a girl in Heaven, with the fire being his feelings going up to her.
Unfortunately at that time, Sumino interrupts you and you lose all chances at serious plot-relevant conversations for the day. We gotta keep the plot moving at a glacier’s pace!
The next day, you don’t see Shigure, so you give up after a couple hours in the cold, then head to the shrine to continue helping with preparations. You’re immediately strongarmed by Tsugumi into bad ideas:
It turns out she wants you to help with the fireworks, which is apparently dangerous enough that you have to sign up for liability insurance. After much persuading, you’re forced into the role. As thanks, she gives you a plastic bag full of fireworks to play with later (this is important!).
On the way home, you’re ambushed in the streets!
She says she got all the way to the torii gates outside of the shrine, but was too scared to walk up. But she wanted to see you so badly, so she waited at the base of the stairs instead for you to come by.
Kanata, in his infinite class, thinks about only the most pure things when she grabs him:
She declares that she’s not going back to the mountain and wants to spend the night together with you! That way you can go to the festival tomorrow! Also conveniently, your cousin is staying overnight at the shrine as part of a committee celebration, so ALL NIGHT PILLOW FIGHTING IS A GO!!
This section is essentially “Shigure hasn’t set foot outside the mountain in 1,000 years and has no idea what anything is” and it’s adorable~. She asks what a telephone pole is when they pass one, to which Kanata explains that it carries electricity. She doesn’t get it, then as he tries to explain, she gets mad that he’s messing with her. Later, he says that she should enjoy the hotspring while she’s here:
We’re not going to sexually harass the poor, confused past girl, only classy Kanata for this playthrough when possible! She wants to take a bath, but would be too nervous if she can’t see you. She doesn’t want you to see her either, which leaves you in a pickle. You settle on crouching behind a rock, so she can see the top of your head. Close enough! To no one’s surprise, you find an excuse to run over to her in a panic and see her naked. Anyway~
You both sit in Kanata’s room after a relaxing evening of having no idea how canned green tea works, when suddenly she, uh, comes onto you hard.
For some reason, she gets the idea in her head that she can make it up to Hakuou in the past by sleeping with his reincarnation? Hmm…
Yeah no, you don’t touch the poor depressed girl, bad. The guide says you get a sex scene on the PC version, followed by an immediate and deserved bad ending.
Instead, we tell her off, saying we’ll never touch her if she doesn’t respect herself first.
AND THEN THE PLOT GETS WEIRD
(in a good way!)
Alright, so this is my favorite part of the route here:
Suddenly, you’re warped to the Legend route again! But it’s the stupid Legend route! Essentially, what if Hakuou was replaced by an absolute moron and the game just parodies itself. It’s pretty fun, let’s go~
This is the one route so far that mostly breaks the structure of setup, slow happy section, incredibly depressing section, happy resolve. We’re trading the depressing section for comedy!
You wake up to see Housen, who calls you brother and asks if you had a bad dream.
Kanata is convinced he’s either in a dream or people are playing an elaborate prank on him, so he doesn’t take things seriously at all. Housen is clearly upset that her brother has gone completely insane.
Kanata wants to comfort Housen/Meiko, so you have the option of patting her on the head or the back.
Classy Kanata strikes again in the least believable mess ups in history~
After being punched in the face, they head to town and Kanata further embarrasses himself by checking if people 1,000 years ago wore underwear or not. Like I said, this is very much the stupid Legend route. Meiko tells everyone you had a weird dream and aren’t right in the head, but that you’ll be fine tomorrow, hopefully!
Kanata asks if there will be a large feast, but everyone looks at him in shock, reminding him that they don’t have much food and can’t gather more since there could be bandits in the woods. Kanata dismisses them, telling them to go anyway.
Kanata brings up a surprisingly good point, which throws the villagers into a joyous frenzy. They all run out into the woods to get food, while Housen just smiles and shakes her head.
Just before you leave town, the artist behind Asahi’s painting comes by with a request for Hakuou to exorcise the spirit from the scroll that’s coming out and terrorizing the town. Kanata just replies very simply with “I have no spirit sense, can’t help you.”
With that, he leaves and Housen hits you over the head. Bye Asahi! But no, he comes back later and you take the scroll. Boo.
Back at the shrine, Housen reminds her brother that they have to memorize their part for the dragon goddess summoning ritual, but he takes one look at the book written in ancient Japanese with its calligraphy-like script and gives up instantly.
Suddenly you black out, and appear at the lake. Housen is dressed in her ritual clothes. It appears that when you lost consciousness, the real Hakuou took back over.
Seeing as you weren’t even around the last few days, you don’t know any of the words. She hands you the book and dances, leaving you to read what you can. You read a few characters, but she’s constantly correcting you since you’re reading modern Japanese pronunciations, making it completely wrong. After you finish, the lake is quiet and nothing happens.
Housen starts panicking since nothing’s happening, but then suddenly the gods just shrug and let the goddesses descend.
Kanata instantly recognizes Shigure, then runs up and hugs her. She freezes in disbelief, whereas Kikka asks how on Earth he knows her name. “Do you remember me then?” she asks, with big bubbly eyes.
> “Sumino!” “No clue”
Answering Sumino has her frown, saying she’s Kikka. Kanata doesn’t listen, insisting that she’s Sumino.
Kikka is clearly confused at this rude guy calling her some other name, but then they look over at Shigure, who looks very pale.
You carry Shigure back to the shrine to rest. You have the absolutely foolproof way of verifying that this is indeed Shigure:
Tanaka-kun would be proud…
Everyone decides at that point to just go to bed after whatever the hell just happened. In the morning, one of the villagers comes to ask for help about the monster terrorizing the village:
Kanata is 5000% uninterested in the Asahi plotline, and I’m all for it~ Sadly Housen yells at you again, so you take extra precautions and prepare to seek out the monster.
And by that, I mean absolutely no caution whatsoever.
Kanata, in his infinite stupid trying to one-up himself, doesn’t even recognize Asahi at all for some reason. Once she ejected herself from the plot, Kanata just deleted all recognition of her from his brain. Good on you nanoda~.
Since Asahi is still in bunny form, she still talks with “supi supi” at the end of her lines instead of “nanoda.” She’s still not in her final form!
Kikka has to walk up and facepalm, telling Kanata that the bunny is the monster. Kanata doesn’t know that Kikka isn’t supposed to be seen by others, so he’s unfazed by her arrival. Shortly after, Asahi loses her grip on being human and reverts back to a fuzzball.
Somehow Kanata remembers the bunny form from 10 years ago, but not the annoying girl who was just chatting with him last week. His Nanoda Eraser is strong…
Back at the shrine, Shigure scolds Kikka for running out of the house when they’re supposed to stay hidden until the festival.
Shigure didn’t seem this adamant in the previous route; it’s like she’s trying to use the opportunity to force Kikka back to safety by any means necessary. Kanata paves things over by taking the blame for bringing Kikka, leaving Shigure with little option but to forgive them. Later that night, Shigure approaches you and confides something:
Shigure constantly sees this dream of the tragic visit to Earth, but is powerless to stop it. So now that we’re here from the future, it’s our job to stop the tragedy! Which means we have to avoid playing Twister with Sumi– er, Kikka! Time to be an asshole!
We got our first asshole opportunity quickly! This was a nice throwback to the common route, where Sumino rolls at you in a similar fashion 3 different times. Even after 1,000 years, some things never change~
Later when Shigure collapses in the bath like before, we make sure she’s okay by looking all over her body for injuries. Housen comes running when she hears the commotion and catches you in the worst of moments. Kanata however, must defend himself!
Kanata, you’re killing the Twister game chance perfectly~
Though for some reason, they’re kind of okay with it and accept you being a sleaze. You even pretend to chase Kikka saying that you’ll touch her too, and she laughs while running away. It’s kind of odd.
Shigure finds you the next day and asks how you’d prevent this tragedy from happening. If you were a human in love with a god, and you knew that being together would bring 天罰, would you still be with her? Kanata smuggly says that he’d defy fate and make it work. When pressed for how,
…Kanata gives not the most practical answer. If the problem is that one’s a dragon god and one’s a human, then they just both need to be a same! The god could become a human instead!
Kanata gets cool and confidence points, but 0/10 for not actually saying anything useful. Shigure leaves to think about Kanata’s vapid enthusiasm.
The next morning, they’re paid a visit by Asahi:
The bunny gets super excited to see you and starts supi supi-ing all over the place.
Kikka, who for some reason can speak annoying, translates. Shigure walks in, but jumps in surprise as to why there’s a rabbit in the house.
(Asahi’s character makes sense now! Finally! No ordinary bunny could handle all those nanodas!) Meanwhile, Shigure just looks at you with the face of “what the fuck are you talking about??”
Kikka explains to Kanata that the scroll is Asahi’s life and home. Without that scroll, Asahi will die. Then, Kanata does the most amazing move I didn’t expect:
With that, Kanata literally yeets Asahi out of the plot once again, all plot strings resolved. His absolute disdain for Asahi is savage, and I support it.
Kikka cries out in frustration at your insensitivity. The game of Twister is off for sure now! Though we should probably do some damage control at least.
Shigure just sighs in the corner at how stupid her sister is and how she’s in love with an absolute moron.
Though it seems your efforts, whether on purpose or not, paid off!
So now we just got to get through the ritual, then launch these girls back into the stratosphere, then we’ll have solved winter, right?
Oh by the way, there was a plastic bag from the future our hero forgot about until now:
Uh oh, we’ve lit explosives in our protagonist’s heart. I told you the bag would be important earlier!
Now we jump to the festival itself, where the girls are moping since it’s their last day together. Kanata gets frustrated having to look like a stoic monk and starts dancing to everyone’s shock.
He drags everyone onto the dance floor, where everyone smiles and has fun until the bandits attack!
Everyone panics and scrambles for weapons. Children hide, while anyone who can fight rushes to help. Kanata yawns. Rather than giving any shits like in the Legend route, our hero interrupts the bandits speech by just chucking fireworks at them!
With the bandits caught off guard and unsure what’s going on, Kanata directs Housen to grab a lighter and have a blast!
That went way better than expected. You got a bit too close to the explosions and passed out from exhaustion as well. Seems to happen a lot.
You wake up in Shigure’s lap, who tells you to stay put while she puts ointment on your burns. Kanata remarks that he’s rather lucky that he passed out.
Alright, one last sleazy line and I’m cutting you off Kanata~
Once you’re ready, you escort them back to the lake to see them off.
Kikka is sad and inconsolable, not wanting to leave your side. It’s not even your route Kikka! Thankfully we know how to pacify her:
Kanata gives everyone a bag of sparklers to hold onto, saying that when they’re reunited, they can light them all together. He waves one last goodbye as they vanish into the air.
Really? We went into a dream, acted like a complete idiot, and now endless winter is solved? Huh. That was surprisingly easy, why didn’t we do this earlier?
Hakuou asks Kanata for one last favor; do something about the darkness Shigure is trapped in. I guess we’re in a weird void.
Despite the new happy ending, Shigure knows this isn’t how it truly went down. We’re treated to a sepia tone cliff note rendition of the Legend route:
Alright, there’s my spark notes of the cliff notes.
Kanata: “You did nothing wrong! It was all fate! Everything’s fine now…” Shigure: “But I… killed Kikka, Hakuou-sama, and even their child…” Kanata: “You didn’t kill them! You didn’t kill anyone! Kikka died due to 天罰 and Haukou… Either way, I won’t die! I’m here to stay! I love you, but I won’t die! I was reincarnated so I could live together with you!” Shigure: “You… forgive me…?”
Aww, that was a good route! Nice and happy, no real sad part~
… … …
JUST KIDDING YOU THOUGHT WE WERE DONE OF COURSE THERE’S A SAD PART. UGH.
So, you wake up from the dream back into your room. That’s all good, right? Though Tsugumi is looking weirdly shocked at you.
Fuck you Snow, come on with this! Ugh…
So you’ve been in a coma for the past two weeks or so. You were in the hospital until a week ago, where you were transferred to the inn to rest. You seemed to recover from your injuries, but you wouldn’t wake up for some reason. You ask her about Shigure, but she has no idea who that is. You argue that you have memories from the past few weeks, including the water collecting job she had you do. She’s shocked that you know that, but reasons that you must have heard her mention it when she told your parents as they visited.
Meiko and Sumino come to visit you, throwing you into more confusion.
Oddly enough, Meiko isn’t wearing her scarf anymore. But she doesn’t react in the slightest to Housen’s name. Kanata asks Meiko to tell him about the village’s past. She tells him the story of a boy who loved a dragon god, but since their love was forbidden, they went their separate ways. It seems that reality has changed to make what you dreamed earlier reality.
Kanata freaks out, confusing the line between dream and reality, so Tsugumi tells the girls to come back another time so Kanata can rest.
Once you’re rehabilitated enough to walk, your parents decide to bring you back home to be examined by a larger psych hospital. You have one last day to walk around, so you sneak off and head up the mountain. It turns out this village has normal weather seasons, so the eternal winter was solved, but at what cost?
As you await the final bus out of town (why are we leaving at night!?), you reach into your pocket and realize there’s a sparkler in there. In one last act of desperation, you look for Shigure once again.
Kanata begins lighting one sparkler at a times, watching them slowly burn out in the cold winter night. One after another.
In the end, the final flame goes out, leaving him alone in the biting cold.
… … …
Suddenly you see a light behind you! She’s back! And has long hair, which implies she’s happy now or something! Also her horns are gone? Maybe, could be the camera angle.
And with that, we get credits! Phew, we had to have the sad scene of course, but thankfully that resolved normally. Overall, I liked how that route changed up the structure and had more of a feel-good, healing kind of vibe. I was disappointed we never got a moment with Mekio and Shigure talking. I was really looking forward to their 1,000 year later conversation… That and we didn’t get to see Shigure react seeing the reincarnation of her beloved, not the brightest sister. AND WHERE DOES SHE CLOTHES!? But overall, I’m happy with how that route went! And thanks for reading this far, this post got long ; _; haha
We’re getting close though! Next off is the time-travel daughter route, which according to this CG Mode screen should be the last route. Though the guides I’ve seen reference a Meiko route, so we might unlock that after? This screen shows Meiko labeled as “Other pictures,” so I’m not sure if this chart will re-align or something, or if this version doesn’t have her route.
We’ll just have to see after next time! (We’re almost done with Snow, oh my god it’s long… whew~)
The Legend route unlocks in the main menu after clearing Sumino or Asahi’s route, which we covered in the previous blog posts. Having seen both of those routes turned out to get a good idea for understanding just what happens in the past.
We already know from the poem in the instruction manual that a dragon goddess from the Heavens fell in love with a man on the Earth, which pissed off a lot of people and was generally regarded as a bad move. This lead to the 1,000 years of winter that will soon cover the region. But the question is; what does this have to do with our characters?
They all share the same voice actorsfont colors ancestry. Enter two siblings, Hakuou (our new Kanata/MC) and Housen (Meiko’s equivalent). Their parents were priests in charge of summoning the goddesses who descended once a year to hear the wishes of the villagers before returning to Heaven and relaying that information in an incredibly inefficient and prone-to-failure process of communication. However ~8 years ago, bandits raided the shrine and forced Hakuou and a baby Housen to escape with the goddesses while their parents fought to the death behind them.
In this brief flashback, we get a glimpse at the goddesses, where one looks an uncanny amount like Sumino. She even shares the same voice actortext color eyes! As for the blue-haired girl, there’s only one opening in the cast left who has blue text hair, so she much be the mysterious animal girl we’ve yet to learn about yet! (I’ll stop striking through text, I promise~)
The scene is rather short as Hakuou remembers that night in a dream, especially remembering the part where not-Sumino hugged him and she smelled really good. (they say smell is a strong sense for recalling memories~) The goddesses safely escape back to Heaven, while the two siblings are dropped off at another shrine to call their home.
Back in the future past, they see how much their parent’s shrine has fallen into disarray and start the work to clean it up. Their goal is to restart the Goddess Communication Network Ritual (GCNR for short) and wish that the bandits would go away. If they can succeed in this, then the nearby village will be happy again.
You would think that humans who intentionally hurt the goddesses would be smited, but nooo. Gotta save that 天罰 (divine punishment) for other things~
They don’t know anything about how to conduct the ritual, but luckily for them, one of their parents buried the manual in the dirt floor of the shrine. After reading it, they realized they could only summon the goddesses about 10 days after the summer solstice, which was conveniently in a couple days!! So they set upon the village to ask for help.
The above screenshots show part of the pain of this route; all the text in parenthesis are readings for complicated, old words. There’s a fair bit in the first half of the story for world building consisting of complex or outdated kanji. Thankfully they give the reading, but only the first time. Hoped you memorized it on first glance!
The villagers are shocked to see the children of their old priest return once again, but are hesitant to summon the goddesses since that brought the bandits upon them. After lots of assurances and Hakuou telling his plan to just ask the goddesses to make the bandits go away, the village accepts and helps them start preparations.
Our characters, having run away from home at a young age, don’t know much about the ritual, so they find the oldest person in town who didn’t die 8 years ago and have her explain the plot.
Essentially, the goddesses are summoned and hang out at the priest’s place for a week. They’re not allowed to be seen by anyone else until the night of the festival, where they will hear all the wishes of the villagers. Then later that night, they’ll return to heaven. If they don’t return that night, they’ll be stuck on Earth.
All the clothes for the ritual were burnt in the fire years ago, so the women of the village agree to sew post-haste. Then, the old lady gives a slightly important reminder:
Whaaa– n-noo, never, no dragon god falling in love here, nope.
Apart from Housen giving Hakuou the low blow by calling him a virgin in front of the town, she does call what’s going to do down. I mean, it’s pretty obvious at this point Hakuou is going to unleash 1,000 years of winter upon one of the goddesses.
After one last poke from the old lady to make sure they get back to Heaven, the pair return to continue preparations at the shrine. A couple days pass, they pick up the clothes, and are ready to head to the Goddess Airport, aka the Dragon God Lake.
As they perfectly perform the dance they practiced nonstop for several days, a flash lights up the night.
The ritual was a success, and two goddesses descend. What beautiful and elegant women await us–
Damnit… Alright, it’s literally Sumino, Euuu~~’s and all. The younger Dragon Sister (Not Sumino) bawls her eyes out, glad to finally see Hakuou and Housen alive again, as they were the goddesses who helped them 8 years ago. After much rejoicing, they’re escorted back to the shrine where they’ll be staying.
In case we weren’t sure, Not Sumino is still into sweets, but it’s manjū now (steamed yeast bun with filling) instead of anman. A quick google search seems to say they’re similar, but manjū is smaller and more brown. (You can read more on the differences here!)
Everyone decides to celebrate by drinking amazake, which is a sweet, low-to-no alcohol drink. As a repeat of Sumino’s route, the younger sister gets very drunk on almost nothing.
Before long, she gets herself sick and steps out for fresh air. Generally, being about to throw up isn’t the best time for small talk, but she decides it is.
She tells you her name is Kikka and demands that you call her that. Hakuou, whose very reluctant to disrespect a literal god, tries to avoid it, but Kikka pouts enough that he gives in and calls her Kikka-sama. Close enough for now.
And now we enter Act 2 of the Snow Formula, where we have the Snow Hump Hump, aka the happy, everyday life part probably filled with awfully written sex scenes I get to avoid by playing on Dreamcast. Phew. Small side note, I saw some mention on Twitter about how Sumino’s route has a really bad one they’d be more than happy to never read again. If it’s during the last act where she’s losing her memories, then oh jeez I’m glad I avoided that one… Thankfully the English patch seems like it’ll add an all-ages option.
The next morning, one of the villagers arrives at the shrine in a panic (ignoring the whole “no one should see the goddesses thing,” maybe they got shoved into the broom closet). Housen kindly offers the man a drink to wet his parched throat.
Except Housen accidently offers him a leftover glass of the amazake from last night. Worse off, apparently everyone in this world has the alcohol tolerance of a hamster, and he’s left giggling to himself. Equally miraculous is his ability to sober up when the plot necessitates it!
He reports that a monster in the shape of a giant rabbit (uh oh) has been terrorizing the village, and he hopes that the priests can come and exorcise it. The source is from the ancient tapestry we saw in the original route, which is entrusted to us to take care of. After the villager leaves, the goddesses climb out of the closet and Kikka says they should hurry and go see the bunny!
Clearly forgetting the “can’t be seen by others” bit, Kikka is rejected from seeing the bunny.
Kikka gets all pouty, refusing to listen to the others and mopes about not seeing the bunny.
Remember, this is a goddess that oversees human villages for hundreds of years. You end up convincing her to stay behind and run off yourself to see what all the flip-flop hop-hop is about.
…to no one’s surprise, she sneaks out of the house, and you run into her in the woods. Thankfully, she took a dirt path with no other people, so hopefully no one saw her.
Suddenly, Hakuou sees the bunny and gives chase, but Kikka stops you in place with an absolute order:
She then explains to you that the bunny just wants to become a human, since she can read the animal’s thoughts (or at least understand them really well.) You then decide you can fix this situation by telling the rabbit that it’ll become human if it does enough good deeds. Obviously, this is a lie, but maybe it’ll resolve the issue?
In the meantime, there’s a very angry dragon waiting at home:
Kikka, expecting as such, delivers the perfect excuse:
Alright, maybe not. After a sisterly scolding, Kikka promises not to do anything rash again. We’ll see how long that holds up.
The next morning, we leave Kikka behind and head into the village, only to behold a truly horrible sight:
My nightmares had been realized before my very eyes. The beast I thought I escaped laughed as it stood in front of me, with the gall to wear a smile. My saving grace was that it didn’t scream in its wretched, mind-numbing screech, for it had needed another thousand years of evolution to acquire the dreaded “nanoda.” Now, it squealed with an eerie “supi, supi,”, to which I could stand just a bit more.
Alright, enough with that. Nanoda Asahi is back, but only briefly before their transformation magic fails and they revert back to a bunny.
Supi is the sound rabbits make apparently, and we’ll be hearing a lot of that. Maybe telling a magical creature that it could become human if it tried wasn’t a good idea. Either way, the bunny runs off after we give it some advice. We already know this whole arc since we played Asahi’s route, so mostly it’s the same but from Hakuou’s perspective.
Back home, Kikka rushes our position and wails in a lonely manner:
The powerful dragon goddess then trips and falls on her face. She’s just so lonely that she can’t bear being apart from you. You begin to wonder if this might not be normal, but you shake it off. It’s probably fine.
Her older sister confides in you that Kikka miiiight be a stalker from the Heavens, which is a bit weird, and that she might like you. And that you must not reciprocate. Yeah, sure, got it. No dragons, nope.
Though for some reason, you find out she got so stressed she passed out in the bath and also that she likes you too.
These dragons fell in love with you when you were like, 8. I guess they were watching you this whole time from Heaven, but that’s still pretty weird. Also someone should have brought a different goddess along, since these ones clearly have a conflict of interest. Anyway~~
Some time passes, Asahi tries to do good, but gets chased away and hurt, so Hakuou tells her that she should just live in the forest and makes her a house. Presumably, this is where she hides in her route a thousand years from now. Or a similar tree, though that’s not as cool.
The next day, Nanoda isn’t happy staying in the forest and shows up at your place! Housen has some familiar words for her:
We saw this line both in Asahi’s route from her perspective as well as Meiko saying the exact same thing. Hmm~ Anyway, she lives here now. You realize the name on the scroll is from a painter named Asahi, so you name her that. Since the scroll is her lifeblood, you vow to keep it safe and hi-five your new pet bunny. Kikka is stoked.
That night, you and Kikka really hit it off and you argue with yourself, whether or not you can morally accept Kikka’s love.
For some reason, the scene jumps and you remark about how you couldn’t sleep last night since you were so happy. Huh, that’s weird.
For some reason, Kikka’s asleep next to you. Seems pretty implied that you unleashed a thousand years of winter played games all night with her! This is the PG route, nothing sexy happened! Nope!
And for some reason she’s naked, that’s weird! One of the games must have been strip poker or something, you wouldn’t thrust your sword into a dragon’s weak point, right? Both of you are super cutely awkward about this situation though:
After your amazing Twister match last night, you decide you never want to be apart from her again. You vow that you won’t let her return to Heaven.
This’ll end well.
The Elder Dragon finds out and has just one question:
Elder Dragon “WHHHY!?!?”
Aww, that’s cute. Horrific consequences aside, cute. She swears she’ll drag Kikka back to Heaven if she has to.
Tenbatsu~ Wait too early, we’ll get there.
Anyway, Housen has a premonition that the bandits will attack the day of the festival. She’s not sure when, but they’ll be there to stop the goddesses. For the last few days till the festival, Housen and Hakuou help the village prepare for the assault, while Kikka makes food for all the villagers. Finally the day arrives and the festival commences.
The goddesses listen to the villager’s wishes, and a light brighter than the rays of sunlight shines into the Heavens for each one. I don’t really understand this, since even if we’re using light to send information to the Heavens (fiber optics without the cables?), the wishes don’t come true until the goddess return. So they could just write the wishes on a sticky note and read them at home.
Anyway, the night is going well, people are drinking, and the Elder Dragon is getting anxious. Hakuou tells her to chill and relax, there’s no reason to rush home!
Oh right the bandits.
They sneak in easily enough due to said drinking and attack. Hakuou kills several of the bandits before hopping on a horse and escaping with the goddesses back to the Lakeside Airport. Unfortunately, bandits can be heard from that direction, blocking their escape. They must run off into the woods and flee, missing the critical deadline.
Now it comes to everyone’s favorite act, the sadness act!
After running from the bandits frantically last night, you randomly wake up in a grass field. Everyone is covered in mud, still wearing their formal clothes from the night before. The goddess have missed the deadline. What will happen now, nobody knows. For now, they can’t head back to the village without risking the goddesses, so they decide on the next best thing: wander around in the forest blindly for days.
Low on supplies, they manage to find a hot spring run by an old woman in the middle of nowhere. Unwilling to put the old woman in danger in case the bandits come by asking questions, they introduce themselves as a wandering set of performers.
To pay for the springs and food, Housen says they’ll put on a show. Hakuou gives his best shot:
Your act is stupid enough the old lady busts up laughing and gives you free access to the spring and sees you off with plenty of bags of food and more importantly manjū, aka Sumino Kikka’s lifeblood. You notice a sign saying it’s a hotspring named after the dragons and that there’s a high chance she helped you since she knew the truth.
We see a short scene later of the bandits pushing the old lady around, but she refuses to say anything about you.
The journeying to nowhere in particular continues for several days (in game and also just reading time in general). Kikka slowly develops a stomach ache that doesn’t go away. Soon, she starts to show a swollen belly.
Many questions. Something got twisted up in our Twister match. Also it’s been like, 5 days. Elder Dragon has an answer for that at least.
It’s plot/sadness bait convenience, just say it. Anyway, so yeah, she’s already pregnant with your child. Just a few back-of-napkin calculations, if she’s showing, then she should be about 16-20 weeks in. If an average pregnancy is 40 weeks, then we’re 40% of the way there. 40% in 5 days would put us at 12.5 days total, or 7.5 days remaining. That baby is here in a week!
The party treks on, making sure Kikka gets extra food and rest. Meanwhile, Elder Dragon prays to the Heavens for forgiveness.
And there it is, the word of the evening!! 天罰 (tenbatsu), aka divine punishment. They repeat this about 30 times over the next several hours, just hammering into your head how you fucked up. It has a nice ring to it.
It starts raining, 天罰. Food starts running low and they can’t find more, 天罰.
More importantly, the sad train is making a repeat visit! Sumino Kikka wakes up confused, thinking they were just at the shrine.
Everyone has to explain that the festival already happened and that they were attacked by bandits. They can’t return to Heaven or the village. Your party responds exactly as expected:
You are leaving this blogpost knowing that word by the way. Tenbatsu. Consider this your 天罰 for reading this far or something.
Just like before in Sumino’s route, Kikka starts to lose her memories. In a more drastic moment, you find her in a frightening position:
She does the horrific things in a cute voice sadness again, so we know we’ll be in it for the long run.
From here on, Kikka goes from insisting you call her Kikka, to forgetting about everyone here, including her sister. She becomes irritable and screams about how she wants to go home and not be covered in mud and starving in this rainy forest.
You guessed it~
I promise I didn’t screenshot every time it came up, just several times. Around this time, Housen has a premonition:
In her dreams, she sees unfamiliar buildings in a place like this covered in snow. A young man in strange clothing who looks oddly like Hakuno breaks the cycle. The world she sees is the modern times, where Kanata now lives. Fortunately, this means the 天罰 can be stopped! Unfortunately for our heroes, it’s not for another thousand years. That’s bad for them.
Also Kikka forgets who she is.
Interestingly, the game shifts narrators a bit here, letting us see Hakuou for the first time.
Generally, fill this section of the game with several more hours of being dragged through the mud sadness, mutter 天罰 a few dozen more times, and you’ll have the idea. Elder Dragon eventually snaps and yells at Kikka, similar to Sumino’s mom in the future:
Kikka, who at this point is completely oblivious, doesn’t know how to respond.
In this sad, dark moment, Hakuou has just one wish:
Why would the gods give you that, that’d be–
Aww, her memories back and she loooves you~~
…yeah, we’re not falling for the Sumino route trick again. (though presumably the Sumino trick stole from this, either or).
HAHAHAHA! HAHAHA! Ahh, that’s a good one Elder Dragon-san.
Anyway, you have an amazingly peaceful day, then right on cue, Sumino Kikka gets a fever. It begins~
One last beacon of light shines:
You see a vast, green expanse unfold before your eyes. The skies are blue, the scenery is beautiful. You spy a small village in the distance and realize that it’s the main menu you can finally rest!
Hey wait a minute, isn’t that our town?
Your party slowly realizes they spent a week or so walking in a giant circle. Kikka is desperate for a bath and a nice bed, but you unfortunately have to tell her that you’ll have someone scout it out first and you’ll go in the morning. Who know where the bandits that want to attack you are now? For now sleep.
You had a very not-good dream. Also you wake up in the morning to find the bandits. And it’s raining. Whoops.
They explain their evil, not-well-thought-out plan of killing the villagers and kidnapping the goddesses, which they can then leverage to control harvests and live like kings! Except like, the goddess have to go back to Heaven to report the wishes, and they will just not turn them in. That and you’re fucking with the gods, who really should have smited these guys earlier, especially now that we know they have mighty 天罰 powers of mind erasing.
They attack Housen, who escapes with just a cut shirt as Kikka slowly dies of her fever in Hakuou’s arms. A bandit nearly kills him when Asahi jumps in front of the bandit to defend him. Just like as we saw in the Asahi route, she’s thrown into a tree and nearly killed.
Hakuou then goes fucking crazy and unleashes the bloodlust.
He goes so crazy at the death of his dragon wife that he single-handedly solves the entire bandit problem. As his head cools down, he walks over to the injured Asahi.
With Asahi now safe to recover inside the scroll, Hakuou looks up to the Heavens and generally just flips off the clouds while screaming Kikka’s name. The Elder Dragon runs off into the woods looking for herbs to heal his wounds, when Hakuou asks Housen to fetch him some water. She feels something is amiss, but eventually agrees and leaves.
Now alone, Hakuou stands above the deceased Kikka.
Just as the Elder Dragon is returning with herbs, Hakuou plunges his sword into his stomach and kills himself, falling on top of Kikka.
Now Kikka, Hakuou, and their unborn child can be together once again. The snow we’re all familar with begins to fall. There’s only one possible reaction to this:
Both women now stand in the unimaginable silence, broken in both body and mind. Knowing this cruel fate will happen again and again, Housen has an odd request:
For some reason, the Elder Dragon is able to grant this request and make Housen immortal, which opens a whole can of “why didn’t you do that and more earlier,” but this is a really good tragic scene, so we’ll let it slide.
The Elder Dragon blames herself for not bringing her sister back to Heaven or stopping Hakuou from being with her. She couldn’t do anything as her sister deteriorated and died in front of her.
Set on their long mission to stop this tragedy, the two agree to go their separate ways and wait for that day. The Elder Dragon decides to live in the mountains, never to talk to another person. Housen chooses to live quietly in the village, waiting patiently.
Back in the present day, we confirm Housen is indeed Meiko. Doctor Tachibana one day nearly hits her with his car and tries to help her, but she doesn’t have any parents to call. He decides to adopt her into his family.
The Elder Dragon is also confirmed to be the girl with the white hat who we ran into in the woods.
Lastly, we’re left with an image of Sumino and Kanata as kids and the reincarnated versions of Kikka and Hakuou, with bunny Asahi on his lap.
Lastly, the credits play and the main menu changes once again, now a bright sunny day with the snow back once again.
Despite the Legend route feeling pretty strung out and reusing a lot of the sad tropes from the other routes, they really stuck the ending. I’m genuinely excited to continue the story after I write this post! After looking at that PS2 route guide, it appears we’re locked into a path where the Elder Dragon route is next, followed by our time travel old lady child. Apparently there’s a Meiko route to close it out, but I don’t see anything about it on Dreamcast. If it’s a PS2-only thing, I may need to play that one or just skip to the PSP version which adds another character anyway.
We have 66% of all the CGs, so we’re close! Meiko’s image down there just says “Other people” and shows Giraffe Sayori, your cousin, and Meiko. Maybe it’ll be a surprise last route? Not sure!
But next up, we can start the Elder Dragon’s route, aka Shigure apparently!
After finishing Sumino’s route, I put out a Twitter poll asking what route to try out next. “Old Lady Time Travel Daughter” won out by a large margin, so I originally set out to do that route. I attempted to gain favor with the tiny enigma child, but things didn’t work out.
I played with the kid and gave them food as they sadly waited in the snow for their parents. She noted that we look really similar to her father for some strange reason in a not-so-subtle elbow nudge.
Whenever Sumino was rolling down the hill uncontrollably, I stepped out of the way and let her slam into a tree. I think this happens 3 times?? To be honest, after the last route she kind of scares me…
When Asahi arrived at our window during a blizzard and knocked pitifully to be let in, I closed the blinds and went back to watching TV.
Though no matter how much I did, the time traveler would always mysteriously vanish and never appear in the plot again. Kanata goes to the shrine, notes she’s not there, wonders if maybe her parents finally came back, and wishes her well. We, on the other hand, have failed to get on any route, and things don’t turn out well.
Asahi leaves a letter behind complete with sad snow-covered narration about how we’ve changed, and that it’s clear she’s not in your heart anymore. She vanishes to the mountains to never be seen again.
The following morning, your cousin Tsugumi tells you that the family inn is bankrupt and being sold off as a cultural landmark! Tomorrow! Kanata was initially worried about what would happen to Tsugumi, but it turns out she got engaged to the strange town doctor and will be perfectly set. Everyone in the town has one last bath at the bath house in honor of its closing, and I get scared seeing Sumino in the inn again. That route hurt me more than I expected ; _;
Lastly, Sumino walks us to the bus stop in harsh silence the next morning. Since we put up a thick emotional wall between us after *last time*, we don’t get her route, and we get on a bus to go back to the city we came from. She chases after the bus, shouting for us to come back one day, too broken up by our sudden separation. Kanata nods and waves, not wanting to do that again. Go time travel wisdom~
And then game over.
I had to do some searching in Japanese for a route guide, which isn’t easy when the game is named something super generic like “Snow.” Eventually I found something for the PS2 version which states that everything is actually in a strict order oddly enough. At first, you’re allowed to do either Sumino or Asahi, then you have to do the Legend route. After that, one more route opens up at a time, with time travel daughter being near the end.
The only hint I noticed that points to this is that Meiko at one point asks you “How much do you know about the legend?” to which Kanata doesn’t answer well enough. She smacks you and tells you to come back after studying more. Apparently that was more 4th-wally than I realized if she meant that for me, the player, and not Kanata. I also get strong vibes that she knows everything and may have lived in the days when the dragons were around.
I figured if I didn’t do Asahi now, I wouldn’t go back to it, so I went ahead and started that route.
Spoiler-free version if you’re wanting to play the English release in the future: Both Sumino and Asahi’s routes tackle very similar themes, so you don’t really need to do both. Sumino’s has a bit more importance I feel, so I would recommend that one. Asahi explores a bit more of the world’s backstory a bit, but I think that’ll be mostly covered in the Legend route. Sumino’s is just the better story though. Sumino’s made me feel sad and anxious. Asahi made me feel annoyed and impatient.
Entering Asahi spoiler territory! Also Sumino spoilers from the previous post are mentioned!
(I’m going to be honest here; I played this route a bit over a month ago and was just so uninspired that I put this review off too long. Hopefully I didn’t forget too many details, but thankfully I take a huge amount of screenshots for fun out of habit.)
So after letting Sumino slam into more trees and cry about anman, the plot branches after we let Asahi into the house after she knocks on our window in the blizzard. Tsugumi asks Kanata who this random child is, but he has no idea either. Asahi gets upset and starts crying, saying that when you were kids, you, uh, “kept each other warm in a long hug full of love” or something to that degree. Tsugumi immediately flips out:
Obviously this is a misunderstanding. Tsugumi doesn’t seem to realize that this event was 10 years ago, so clearly he didn’t sleep with her and then ran the next morning. But for some reason, no one mentions this, and Asahi is ecstatic that she gets to be your wife and her love is accepted, by force.
The following night, you have strange dreams of what you may have just gotten yourself into:
Dream Asahi says she’s a daughter of a group that “punishes evil people.” However, a guy with a punch perm threatens to wrap you in a bamboo mat and throw you in the ocean to drown, so it’s easy to assume Asahi is a yakuza boss’ daughter.
Thankfully we wake up from that…
…and wake up into a new hell. Alright that’s a bit much. Also, you better get used to hearing “nanoda” at the end of all her sentences for the next several hours, since it’s her “cute” thing she does nanoda. It doesn’t really mean anything nanoda, just a cute way to talk nanoda. Alright we’re done with that nanoda.
Now that Asahi’s your forced wife, she insists on helping you with everything. And she’s somehow bad at everything.
She insists on making you dinner, which you think is nice, until you see she just brought out a plate of raw vegetables and starts gnawing on a carrot. You hold an uncooked potato in your hand, but you can’t really eat that. However, you summon your main power characters and eat as much as you can to make her happy. You request next time that she at least prepares them a bit. She’s confused at first, but nods enthusiastically that it’ll be much better next time! The next evening, you get a pile of hacked up vegetables. Confused, but still polite-ish, you eat them and ask that she makes some meat next time and actually seasons the food. That and rice would be a nice complement.
So the next day, she hands you a raw steak covered in pepper, sugar, soy sauce, mayonnaise, and ketchup perfectly complemented with a bowl of uncooked rice. Perfect!
Now, the astute reader (or anyone whose remotely thinking about the story while reading) may have realized the route’s twist at this point: Asahi is a rabbit from your childhood who came back because they missed you. And now if you think I’m jumping the gun, let me present some proof:
She has no idea how to do basic human things
You met her 10 years ago, but don’t remember her. You shared a “loving, warm embrace” that can’t be explained unless you kept a bunny warm
She served you a plate of raw vegetables for food
Her hair is tied up into two long bunny ears
She has red eyes
She’s dressed like a fucking carrot
She goes home every night, but refuses to let you see her house or know where she lives
Kanon already did this (though with a fox), so there’s no surprise they copied this too
There’s a rabbit on the game’s cover
So yeah, by this point (which is still in the common route section by the way!!) I already guessed most of the twist and spent the next several hours waiting for the game to reveal it.
Now you might be wondering why I called this post “copying their copied homework.” That’s because this route is really just the Sumino route all over again!! It follows the same structure perfectly, so you really don’t miss much if you only do one route. As I mentioned in the last post, this game was originally an 18+ game for PC, so this happy period most likely contains some scenes I’d rather not think about involving your pet rabbit. MOVING ON.
The beginning part of her route is her learning to actually cook like a normal person and control animal instincts, like eating the entire kitchen since she found new tasties. She’s incredibly bad at everything she does, but she makes up for that in enthusiasm!
Though enthusiasm only gets so far when you scrub someone’s back with a pool-scrubbing brush on accident and rip their skin open, requiring stiches. She’s trying though 😀
Soon however, Kanata realizes that her blind enthusiasm may cause some unexpected problems. Begging to be useful, Kanata asks Asahi to go to the village store and grab this week’s Shonen Copyright Avoidance magazine. Sumino’s mom, who runs the store, tells Asahi that due to being out in the mountains, they run one week behind on the magazines, and that she’d have to go into town to get one. Unfortunately, this is exactly what she does, on foot without telling anyone.
We find her frozen at the shrine (oh hey, just like Sumino) clutching the magazine for you. We bring her back home, realizing how terrible we’ve been or something.
She gets anime sick for a while due to it, but recovers pretty quickly. Kanata realizes just how much Asahi loves him, and he resolves to be better to her.
Around this time, Asahi, after many many days of practice, manages to make a meal that is not an inedible pile of trash!
What’s that? A happy smiling face? You know what that means!
*whistles from the sad train can be heard softly in the distance*
At some point, Meiko lets us know that Sumino has given up and that she wishes Kanata and Asahi well. The confusion over the past hugging incident is resolved, though Meiko wants you to tell her it really happened because it would ruin her amusement if everything just worked out. Kanata and Asahi break off the forced wife situation since the misunderstanding is resolved and decide to see what grows naturally in its place.
Asahi and Meiko get into a tiny argument due to Meiko’s bullying, to which she tells Asahi that she’ll “peel her skin off and cook her in a nabe pot.”
This freaks the Asahi out greatly.
Apart from that, everything is going great and life looks good! However, Asahi mutters the forbidden words:
*sad train approaching the station, please keep your distance from the platform as the train pulls in*
To be fair, the game takes another hour at this point, and she says this like 2 more times as if feeling invincible and spitting at the gods.
She even relishes in her power and blows up the other heroine’s oven while trying to cook! She’s on a power trip!
Another important moment; Kanata catches Asahi with a lighter near the tapestry hanging in your room. The tapestry is ancient, coming from back when the dragons lived in the village of the past. She goes on about how it’s evil and she hates it, but you prevent her from burning it.
Definitely nothing related to bunny-ness and magical turning-into-human powers here, nope. Move along.
The next morning, Kanata notices Asahi acting peculiar.
Not only was she sitting oddly close to the TV earlier, but she kept running into walls this morning. Kanata and Tsugumi determine that her eyesight must be getting bad and that they should get her checked out at an optometrist. Considering the game we’re getting into and what happened with Sumino, it’s beginning.
Her eyesight continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. They actually change her model here to have more vacant, blank eyes. It’s kind of creepy how they drew it… The doctor suggests that they admit Asahi to the hospital, but she refuses.
You decide to respect her wishes and hope she’ll get better. Kanata and Tsugumi insist on having her stay at the inn since she lives alone with no other family. Later, you have a memory from when you were a child where your mom scolded you for getting too close to the ancient scroll on the wall, but you were too entranced with the bunny.
However, in the present day, there’s only a smudge there. On closer inspection, Kanata can somewhat make out a pair of eyes.
Kanata, in an infuriating moment of “almost putting two and two together,” dismisses everything and ignores the mysterious scroll.
Soon after, Asahi starts mumbling a lot and loses the ability to talk normally. She has to try really hard to enunciate everything, often leading to grunts and gestures. Kanata takes her to the doctor again in a panic, but he can’t offer any advice other than rest. Meiko, his daughter, offers pointedly cryptic advice:
She came in with similar advice for Sumino when things were turning bad then, so I really expect her to be in the know.
Kanata looks back at the wall scroll when he gets home and notices the rabbit’s mouth has returned.
NOPE BETTER IGNORE IT, NOPE. WE CAN’T REALIZE ANYTHING FOR A FEW MORE HOURS AT LEAST.
That night, Kanata has a dream of the distant past.
He dreams of running through lush green fields (ignore the sepia tones, that just means the recor– memory is old). He realizes that he, or more so the person whose memory he’s watching, is not in fact human. A kid shouts that they saw a giant bunny as they ran past. Another voice shouts that they found a monster. Before long, Kanata wakes up.
The next morning, Tsugumi mentions that they need to go on the roof and knock snow off before it gets heavy and the roof collapses. (Side note, isn’t it amazing how the inn doesn’t go bankrupt just because Asahi loves us?) Asahi insists on still helping out, despite all she’s going through. She still wants to be useful to Kanata.
In all of our character’s infinite wisdom (he did let someone with a 106F fever go dress shopping), we decide that the person with degenerating eye sight should be allowed to climb a ladder onto a slippery snowy roof? What’s the worst that could happen, they’d fall off the roof?
They fall off the roof.
Thankfully you catch her and take the brunt of the fall. But really though, why did anyone think this was okay in the first place!?
As if the sad train wasn’t trying its hardest to get up depression hill, next Asahi’s hearing starts to fade. She’ll stare off blankly into space until Kanata shouts or talks right next to her ear, causing her to jump.
“I wonder if it’s the scroll– no couldn’t be…”
We have more sepia memories, this time we learn that the rabbit wants to become a human. A man tells it that in order to become a human, it needs to do good deeds for humans. The rabbit tries to pull vegetables out of the garden and bring it to the village to save them time, but they chase it away while calling it a monster.
Someone’s kimono flew off a drying rack and blew away, so she tried to grab it and bring it back (okay it’s clearly Asahi, I’m switching to she/her). However, they see the monster rabbit and immediately assume the worst and chase her out of the village.
The next morning, Asahi is nowhere to be found. Eventually, Kanata finds a note on the table:
He realizes that the tapestry in his room is now missing. We wonder once again if the scroll has any meaning.
But alas we ignore it for now and search for Asahi. We don’t know where Asahi lives still, since she used to go back to her house alone and refused to let us see her place.
Thankfully Kanata intuitively knows where to go, this knowledge only being unlocked by plot relevance. He finally manages to track down Asahi’s home:
It’s an opening under a tree where she can get out of the cold. You find her alone and shivering, the wall scroll on the ground nearby. You hold her close, startling her in the process, and sleep there with her for the night instead of, you know, bringing her home.
Once again you dream of the past, but this time the rabbit saves a drowning child. The village is perplexed and terrified, but one man comes to her side.
A man named Hakuou (I think that’s how it’s read, the legend route should clarify it later) vouches for us and protects us from the other villagers. We learn he’s the man who told us we can become a human if we did enough good deeds, but he apologizes for how things turned out and asks that we return to the wild and stay away from humans from then on.
Kanata and Asahi then wake up from under the tree, after presumably seeing the same dream.
HAHAHAHA no. Why would it, we’re playing depressing Snow simulator.
I was 99% sure she was going to die here just like Sumino, but she didn’t. I’m kind of blanking on this next part, but we end up back at the hole again, this time with Asahi covered in cuts that won’t heal. I believe she ran away again, so you chased after her. You try to quickly grab food from the kitchen, but Tsugumi walks in and asks what’s going on. In a panic, Kanata sprints out without a word for some reason, clutching the few carrots he could. We see a flashback where he did this exact same thing in the past, with Tsugumi finding he was taking food to a rabbit that he wasn’t allowed to keep in the house. Why he panics now, I’m not really sure.
Back at the hole, Kanata manages to get Asahi to briefly nibble on a carrot, but not by much. Even after bandaging her wounds, the bleeding won’t stop. Kanata makes the expert medical decision to sleep in the cold hole again, and they’ll go to the doctor if it’s still bad in the morning. I really want to slap some common sense into this guy…
We have one last memory to see.
We learn that Asahi is not an actual rabbit, but part of the scroll brought to life by magic (THE SCROLL WAS IMPORTANT!?).
We learn that the tapestry is actual her life, and that she’s given form through its magic. She’s told to live her life as a rabbit, free from the confines of the tapestry. She runs after Hakuou and busts into his house however, despite him telling her to never seek out humans again.
Hmm, that line is oddly familiar and in the same font color/voice actor as Meiko. More hints about her being around for a long time, or just a very similar descendent?
Asahi ends up saving someone’s life, but is gravely injured in the process. The only way to save Asahi is to place her back in the tapestry to recover. However, she’ll be trapped and can’t leave of her own power.
It’s implied at this point that she’s released when Tsugumi gives you the tapestry to hang up at the beginning of the game. She doesn’t appear for the first time in the plot until after that. We can also put together that being in human form maybe have been a reward for her past actions, but that she can only stay outside of it as a human for so long before she has to return, hence her slowly fading senses. She must have been released from it as well 10 years ago when Kanata interacted with the scroll, but she disappeared somehow. Maybe when the tapestry was rolled up? That or she faded after running out of power? Not sure if they answered that.
More importantly, we learn that she’ll die if the tapestry is destroyed.
Asahi doesn’t know this and plans on burning the tapestry. We try to stop her, but we hear screams of pain as the scroll starts to burn. Kanata rushes in and throws the scroll to the ground, putting out the flames. However, it looks to be too late.
Asahi disappears, leaving only her clothes behind. You collapse in the snow.
Thankfully you don’t die. While unconscious, someone finds you and brings you to the hospital. You make a recovery, but Asahi is not here with you anymore.
And lastly, in a less confusing ending than earlier:
We find a mysterious bunny whose happy to see us. Aww~
So Asahi briefly gets her wish to become a human and see the one who took care of her years ago, but the magic wasn’t strong enough to maintain her human form for long. But now this girl you fell in love with is now your pet bunny, so that’s kind of weird when you think about it. Hmm. Let’s not think about it!
Overall, the route wasn’t bad per se, but Sumino’s felt a lot stronger. This one at least ended in a way that made sense though. I feel like Asahi’s route was plain and stayed coherent by explaining everything by the end. With Sumino’s, we still have no idea why she got sick, better, then died. That one requires digging into the Legend route, which will be next up!
Some months ago, I wanted to make my purchase from Japan Retro Direct worth the shipping cost when packages were expensive due to Covid. I searched the Dreamcast section of games and saw one that was just called “Snow” with two girls spinning as snow’s falling, and it just seems to whisper in your ears: “You’re gonna have a sad time.” It was in my cart and ready to go before I realized it.
I’m an absolute sucker for nakige, which are games designed to make you cry (naku = “to cry”, ge = short for “geemu/game”). Kanon’s a classic favorite of mine (tho I’ve only watched both animes for it so far), which suspiciously involves snow and sadness as well. Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna (I Am Setsuna) is another sad snow-filled game with one of my absolute favorite game OSTs that I overplay even now. Crystar is the game I’ll scream on rooftops about to the audience of no one else whose played it (another jaw-dropping, heart tearing OST here ; _;). ef – A Tale of Memories still makes me cry while thinking about it since I loved it to hell and back in high school. Narcissu–
You get the point, I like sad. This is up my alley so much. Let’s sad~
I played this game on-and-off for a few months, so I’m a little fuzzy on the beginning of the game. I’m writing this blogpost after playing for 5-6 hours marathoning the 2nd half, so there will be a lot for the Sumino-specific story.
Early on, I was taking pictures of the screen with my phone and using composite from the Dreamcast, so the photos aren’t the best. Now I have a RetroTINK Pro + S-Video -> capture card -> raspberry pi -> discord robot for super easy screenshots~
The game starts with the image of a shrine covered in snow. You’re told about a story from long ago, when dragons existed (wait wha-).
“Once there was a dragon princess who ruled the heavens. One day, she fell in love with a boy from the surface. The love between them was forbidden. The dragon coated the ground in eternal snow, as if to break away from her lover. Hundreds of years later, our story begins. Feelings dulled to time will cross once again in the land where the snow buries only the truth.”
At this point, I swore I hit some weird copy protection from playing a Japanese game on a US console. The game just screams at you, making your ears bleed. The camera pans up to see you’re lying on the ground, staring right at a girl’s panties. Classy start.
She does the usual routine of calling you a pervert over and over, then throws a bunch of snowballs at you. Except one of the snowballs has a large rock inside of it, and she smashes your head in.
You fucking died.
–is what the whole village thinks. After a while, you wake up in what appears to be a shrine while wearing a white funeral kimono. I believe they were about to light you on fire.
So of course since immolation is not on your to-do list, you sit up and tell them you’re fine.
Cue the screaming. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH K-KANATA CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD!! WAIT PRIEST, DON’T ABANDON ME HEEERREEEEEE!!!”
Finally you calm her down after pointing at your legs and convincing the girl that ghosts don’t walk. She’s so taken aback by your firm logic that she sighs in relief. It turns out she’s your cousin Tsugumi who asked you, Kanata, to come to this remote village to help with running her family’s inn. Apparently you were caught in a rockslide before the snowball incident, so that’s more likely what “killed” you.
Realizing that since you’re not dead and there’s no need to have a funeral anymore, she says you can eat the special occasion sushi she ordered to get some energy back. On the way to sushi, you find…
More screaming!! The little girl who (almost) murdered you sees you and screams “YOU’RE A GHOST!” together with her cat and runs away in absolute panic before we can explain anything. You try to chase after her, but she disappears too quickly.
Now we’re at the part of the game where all the heroines/routes are introduced. First, we run into Sumino and her mother Sayori.
As you’re running after the pink-haired kid, you realize it’s oddly cold. Someone drives past in a truck to offer you a lift, but then suddenly screams that the dead have risen and guns it down the road. You eventually run into Sumino who, to no one’s surprise, screams in terror until you can calm her down. She points out that you’re still wearing a funeral kimono and bandages, hence why you look like the walking dead. You fix that, then walk to her house to warm up.
You may notice the screaming trend here. Sumino convinces her mom that you’re alive since you have feet, which is for some reason the most firmly held belief in this village. You find out that Sumino is your childhood friend from when you lived in this village 10ish years ago (huh, Kanon called), but you don’t remember her very well. She’s disappointed, but hopes you’ll remember in time.
Conveniently, you remember her in your dreams as the girl whose jacket took the top award for cutest jacket that tries a little too hard. Just like in real life, you remember her dropping an anman bun, having it roll down the snowy road, then her crying over it. You tell her it’s just a bit dirty, tear off the dirty section, and tell her it’s still good. Just like you did earlier that day! Thankfully before long, you tell her you remember everything. Yay~.
She has another childhood friend, Meiko, who doesn’t appear to have a route in this version. (There are several different versions of Snow, such as Snow Portable for the PSP that introduces a new character and might have a Meiko route, but since the game was originally in a 4:3 screen ratio, playing on a PSP cuts a lot of the pictures off. Then there’s the Android version, but that’s 18+ and I haven’t heard the best things about those scenes…)
She greets you with the nicest message of “Why the hell are you alive?” It turns out she’s the daughter of the town doctor, Seishiro. He pronounced you dead and she confirmed it, so to be fair she has either the right to be startled or to be sued for malpractice. She tells you that when Sumino found out you were hurt, she performed a “ohyakudo,” also known as a hundred times worship, where someone walks back and forth a hundred times before a shrine while offering a prayer each time. She mentions that it’s her best guess as to why you’re alive, and even if it’s not related, you should really thank Sumino for doing that for you.
Also if anything happens to Sumino, she will not hesitate to stab you~
She’s constantly messing with you and talking in strange voices, but throughout the game you get used to her. It even gets to the point where when you see each other, you both go “usu” as a somewhat grunt, gruff greeting between casual friends.
The general setup of the game is that your job is to hike all the way out to a waterfall in the middle of the snow, fill up two giant tanks of water, then lug it all the way back to the inn so they can cook with it. The inn’s gimmick is cooking with fresh spring water, so your job is to do the heavy man lifting. Your cousin pays you 200 yen a day with no remorse, but since you’re getting a room and delicious extravagant meals, you don’t really have much room to complain. You’ll run into a lot of the characters while you’re performing this job.
After Sumino’s cast, the next route you can pursue is the pink-haired girl. You run into her several times in the beginning, but it takes something like 3 attempts to chase her down and convince her you’re not a panty pervert ghost whose haunting her.
Eventually you convince her and she stops being mad. Her dialect makes her sound like an old country woman, despite being a small kid. You find out she’s scavenging for food and eating things like nuts off the ground.
Behold, the saddest cat possible~. You find out she’s waiting at the shrine for her parents to return, but you tell her to go home and eat proper food. After some reluctance, she does. You repeat this a few times before noticing that something’s up. She doesn’t seem to have a home to return to and her parents haven’t been seen in years. The sadness of the game peers around the corner at you, light glittering off the knife, before returning to the casual fun times~. You play with her a bit, giving her a ride on your shoulder and spinning like a father might before you realize you’re not on her route and proceed to ignore her for the rest of the game. Whoops.
Next we have green-haired screaming child, who assaults you one day when walking with Sumino. She screams that she sees evil and stops you from the lewd act of holding hands with Sumino. She’s trying to be a cool hero of justice, but then falls out of the tree. You protect Sumino from her giant icicle, to which this girl gets sad that you’re being mean to her, and that she just wanted to play. You tell her that she can’t do anything that’ll hurt people, so later she comes back and throws snowballs at you. You get mad again, asking why she’s bothering you, but she replies that she knows you from childhood and you finally came back! (wait, I thought we did this already). You inform her you don’t know her, but she promises to make you hers. On this route, we ignore her constantly. Once we’re on the Sumino route, she comes into our house late at night through the window, says something like “I see your heart is set on another, and that my dreams will never be fulfilled. I’ll never see you again, goodbye.” and then peaces from the plot forever. Huh.
Lastly is the strangest character so far. Based on my decisions, I only ever saw her once in the scene above. We were fetching water when we found her asleep, surrounded by animals. She wakes up, sees up, and sprints away like a panicked animal. We never see her again. That’s literally all I saw of her, so can’t say much. Animal spirit in a human body maybe? Dragon related? Who knows~.
After a surprisingly long opening, we made enough decision points to land on Sumino’s route. This game is *very* long-winded.
Spoiler warning!! ⚠️ We will be talking about the rest of the game in detail, so you might not want to read ahead if you plan on experiencing the game on your own in the future!
Suddenly one morning, your cousin who runs the inn says she’s giving you the inn. You’re given 2 options: “Okay, I”ll take it.” or “Give me sometime to think.” Being a rational person, I picked the later option. You run to Sumino’s house to ask for advice, then when you get home, you find the inn sold with a note that says “get out by tomorrow kthxbai!” AND THE GAME ENDS IN A BAD ENDING.
So, time travel back, we pick the option to agree and sign paperwork. We once again head over to Sumino’s for advice, then when we return, your cousin has left the game, never to be seen again. Seeing you panic over what to do, Sumino and her mom decide to help you run the inn. They also casually push the idea of Sumino living at the inn together with you as the inn mistress, which leaves just the two of you under the roof. You know what that means~
ALL NIGHT PILLOW FIGHTS!! (>’.’)>~!
She agrees to work at the inn with anman as her pay because, in her words, anman is the source of her life. Remember this o _o
So now starts the slowest part of the game. This is about where I dropped it for a long time since it’s everyday life with Sumino, her mom, and you trying to run the inn. It’s super adorable, but happy and slow. This game was originally an 18+ PC title, so I suspect this is where a lot of the sex scenes were, but all we get is slightly creepy behavior and dorkiness. So we’ll call this plot lull the Snow Hump Hump.
For this part of the story, Sumino’s on full adorable blast with the full range of 90s anime girl noises:
While at your mom’s store, Sumino shyly admits she wants a toy ring and dreams of getting married. When she’s not looking, you quietly buy the ring from her mom using the meager salary you got from carrying water, then surprise propose to her one night:
This route is just too adorable. In case it wasn’t obvious how she reacts…
…it’s by making her favorite anime girl noise “euuu euuuuuuuu” followed by happily accepting your proposal!
Your engaged couple life begins as you work at the inn with random events like:
And more weird ones:
Sumino also sets up March 3rd as the date to try on their custom-made wedding dress. The future looks bright.
Your adorable wife is getting drunk off a glass or two of 1% wine.
Meiko comes by as well, but leaves the cryptic farewell of “Make sure to make her as happy as you possibly can.” before heading out.
I was really, really itching for the sad train to pull into the station so I was really excited by this subtle hint:
My immediate thoughts went to she’s been dead the entire time and is fading out of existence! but that might be hoping too much.
But as I hoped, the feel train has left the station. I hope you packed your bags (and tissues).
Sumino slowly starts spacing out and forgetting little things. Her mom asks her to run errands, but she comes home after forgetting what she was out for.
Then later when you come home, she asks you if you’ve seen her anman anywhere. You look at her oddly and point to the table in front of her with the bag sitting on it.
It slowly gets worse as time goes on. One evening when her mom is busy and needs something from the store, Sumino volunteers to go get it and leaves before her mom can stop her. Several hours pass and everyone’s worried sick. You venture out into the town in the dark and eventually find her quivering at the shrine.
She’s completely forgotten how to go home or how to return to the inn. She’s stuck in an unfamiliar place, stranded in the snow. You warm her up with her jacket, calm her down, then escort her back to the inn.
It’s at this point that the family decides to take her to the hospital. She doesn’t know why they’re taking her. You and her mom just tell her she’s got a cold that could get worse if they don’t look into it. The doctor examines her and tells her that she’ll be fine, but that he wants her to stay as an inpatient for a while. Privately however, he informs everyone else that her mind is regressing similar to someone with Alzheimer’s. It will slowly get worse over time and there’s no treatment. The only factor is the will of the heavens.
At the hospital, she asks why she’s there since she doesn’t even remember coming. They decide to move her back home, since being around nostalgic places may help her maintain her memory.
Her disease reaches the point where she doesn’t remember eating after a meal. She complains and throws a tantrum that Kanata is ignoring her and refusing to feed her. She hits Kanata like a stubborn toddler would, but she doesn’t realize how strong she is and hits him for real. Once she finally tires herself out, she passes out, disheveled on the bed.
In one of her more together moments, she asks you a question that made me hesitant and mull it over:
That was a hard choice for me to make. Sayre and I talked it over a bit, and we finally went with telling her the truth. Even so, Kanata softens it a lot, saying she’s only a little sick and will get better soon. This gives Sumino some relief, but stabs into our heart.
At this point, the downward spiral accelerates. After dinner with her mom and Kanata, she throws a fit accusing them of eating without giving her anything. She calls her mom a horrible person for tormenting her child this way and screams at her.
Her mom, at her absolute breaking point, snaps and slaps Sumino. The sound effect really tore through as the music stopped and the screen went white.
Sumino’s unable to comprehend what happens and continues her tirade.
Eventually, Sumino wears herself down and passes out at the table, leaving Kanata and Sayori sitting together in silence.
Sayori instantly feels guilty about what she’s done and apologizes to Kanata. Both her and Kanata acknowledge just how difficult this situation is for them, and Kanata doesn’t fault her for breaking under pressure.
From then on, Sumino goes into episodes of saying “I don’t want to eat, I’m not hungry” then complaining and demanding food later on, even after just eating. Her mom offers her anman, her self-proclaimed source of life, but she refuses, saying they taste terrible.
At one point, you catch her voraciously shoveling snow into her mouth, complaining of her hunger. You try to wrestle her away, saying you made an onigiri for her in the other room, but she thrashes and batters you. She claws at you and leaves you bleeding.
Once she calms down, she glances at her hand and notices something: the plastic purple gem Kanata proposed with.
“What’s this thing? It’s in the way,” she says as she casts the wedding ring away.
Kanata’s spirit absolutely breaks at this point. It’s at this point that he feels like his beloved Sumino may truly be gone. That ring is the link between her and him. He spends the next several hours clawing through the snow in desperation, but has no luck. He thinks he sees a glimmer in the lake, so he dives into the icy water without hesitating and searches around. After cutting his feet on sharp rocks and nearly passing out from hypothermia, he somehow manages to stumble onto the toy ring.
Even with the ring back, Kanata can’t help but feel in despair. Just to drive the knife deeper, the game gives you this choice:
I talked to my discord at this point and described the plot. I suspected that if I picked the first option, my character might try to kill Sumino to put her out of her misery. ItsumoKnight made the valid point that the plot would become Silent Hill 2 at that point with James and Mary. Knowing where that plot went, I decided to select the first option and see what happened.
The plot continues for another day, with Sumino now unable to even remember Kanata’s name. She barely remembers her mom, but she calls her the impersonal Sayori instead of mom. Knowing his fiancé doesn’t even recognize him anymore, Kanata faces another decision.
This one is a more clear-cut choice as to what ending, but emotionally the first option felt like it fit the main character much more. I went with that one to see what happens, and you steal away from the town at night. Suddenly, you wake up in a bright room. A man you don’t know asks how you’re feeling, and you reply that you feel good enough to go for a jog. He responds in a familiar way which you find annoying. You’ve had this interaction before. A woman comes to talk to you. She mentions something about her daughter and a promise to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. You don’t know anything about that and tell her “who cares about that.” You’re alone in that quiet, white room.
So I guess we somehow also got sick when we left town and had our memories regress like Sumino’s. Well, time for time travel and redoing the decision.
Rather than breaking down and giving up, Kanata racks his brain for ideas on how to help. He suddenly remembers the hundred time worship Sumino did to save him and desperately gives it a shot since he’s out of options.
At the shrine, he hikes up the long staircase to the top, throws all the money in his wallet into the offering box, then vigorously shakes the hanging bell before offering his plea. “That’s 1,” he says as he heads all the way down the stairs, places a rock to keep track, then turns around and does it again. Around 20 times in, light breaks. Halfway through, he falls, but pulls himself up. It’s midday and he hasn’t eaten or rested, but he drags himself along. 70 prays in, he collapses again and thinks of Sumino.
After the vision of her in his head, he tears himself off the ground and keeps going. Only ten left when his knee gives in and sends him to the ground. He slowly pulls himself back up, but forgets what count he’s on. He keeps dragging himself along until he faints and wakes up in his room.
(I’m still not sure how big this staircase is for it to take him 36 hours to climb it 100 times? Especially when he climbs it now and then anyway…)
Staring at the ceiling, he realizes it must have all been a dream. However…
Sumino, who has been treating him like a stranger, walks into his room that morning and calls for him. Kanata starts crying for joy, with Sumino saying he’s acting weird. Sayori hears the commotion and comes over as well, also breaking down at her daughter’s mental return.
She seems to have all her memories from before her regression, but none during it. She’s essentially forgotten that she’s forgotten anything.
To keep things simple, they tell Sumino that she’s been asleep this whole time. To test the waters, Sayori hesitantly asks Sumino how she feels about anman:
Sayori and Kanata believe the gods answered Kanata’s prayers at the shrine and saved the day, conveniently enough. Sumino remembers they have to pick up her dress tomorrow, bringing tears to Kanata again since she remembered their engagement. Sumino wants to sketch since she hasn’t drawn in forever, so they decide to go to the lake.
We’re finally back to the happy, anman-filled silly antics after surviving the sad gauntlet!
Sumino makes Kanata stand in a weird pose while she sketches him, then gives him the above drawing. He promises to keep it close to him forever. Sumino suddenly realizes she’s missing her ring, but Kanata pulls it out of his pocket from earlier and gives it back to her.
What a happy ending…
JUST KIDDING THE FEELS TRIP IS BACK TO KILL YOU
Sumino develops a fever of around 102-103 and, after half an hour or so of in-game happy, the sad song comes back. You know the game lured you in and gave you the bait and switch.
Kanata tells her that if she sleeps and reduces her fever, they can pick up the dress tomorrow. Anxious and excited, she attempts to sleep. In the morning however, her fever has gone up to 41.3C. In Fahrenheit, that’s 106 degrees!!
It was at this point that Sayre and I looked at each other. “Doesn’t a 106 degree fever mean a medical emergency that kills people?”
Sumino refuses to back down and insists on going today, instead of, you know, going to a fucking hospital. Her mom finally agrees (wat), and Kanata agrees to carry her on her back to the store. Sumino tells her mom that she loves her and says goodbye. Sayori realizes that something is terribly wrong at this point.
Now Sayre and I are pondering the insurance liability for dying on store property. This scene was just not as well delivered as the earlier sad scenes, so we ripped on it a little haha.
She tells Kanata to hurry quickly to the store, then go by the hospital on the way back.
You can see Sumino’s arms draped over Kanata’s shoulders as he’s carrying her through the snow.
She tells him how happy he’s made her, and that she’s glad he came back to the village.
He asks where they should go on their honeymoon. She thinks about it, then decides that Hawaii would be a great escape from the snow.
She briefly goes quiet before Kanata prods her awake again.
“I… was really happy with you…”
And she dies in your arms.
SHE FUCKING DIES. Holy shit I’m tearing up just remembering this scene. This game dragged you through mud earlier, only to offer a nice hot shower and fluffy towel on the other side, then filled the bathroom floor with glass when you got out. Fuuuuuck.
I can’t see in front of me through the tears. But I have to let you try on the wedding dress. I can’t see you through the tears, Sumino… Sumino… Sumi…no…
The scene fades to white as you remember play marrying Sumino as kids. You use a curtain as a veil and profess your love for one another.
And then it got weird.
You find yourself in front of the shrine, hearing the voice of the pink-haired girl calling “Mom, over here, over here!” You hear a voice respond in kind that sounds like Sumino’s. You see them playing together, but they don’t see you at all. Eventually, as things fade, they slowly turn to you.
And the game ends.
WHAT!? So were the missing parents of the girl us the whole time? Does this mean those two are both dead now? Does me meeting them mean I’m also dead!?
What caused the amnesia!? Was it the dragon’s at the beginning? Was it plot convenience? How the hell do we have a dead time-travel daughter who talks like an old lady!?
For beating the game, the snow in the main title has melted, leaving a beautiful forest of green and confusion. There’s a new menu option called “Legend” which appears to be a prologue about the dragon fable, so I’ll have to read that next and see if it sheds any light on what I just saw. If not, we’ll have to play our time travel old lady daughter’s route next. And what’s with that animal girl!? And the green-haired screeching girl!?
Kenji Eno was a visionary game developer who constantly explored new ideas, from a sound-only game for visually-impaired players to incorporating fashion design into his storytelling. He also made a game about beating up perverted men by crushing them at mahjong. We’ll be talking about that one today.
18+ strip mahjong games are nothing new, ranging back to several titles on the PC-98. But Kenji Eno wanted to do something different:
“I remember thinking ‘Man, I’m really tired of games where you play mahjong to strip girls, I want to make one where you save them!’ and that’s how we somehow got to whatever this is. At first, we didn’t plan on having anime cutscenes or a theme song, but somehow it just all became a bigger project than anticipated. I hope everyone’s satisfied with it!” – Kenji Eno, Producer
From this quote alone, we can tell this wasn’t a project to take seriously. Let us done our hero cape and become a champion of justice!
Our story begins as a high school girl walks home alone at night, only to be assaulted by a pervert who flashes her with his camera and begs for her underwear. Then he flashes himself, revealing he’s wearing nothing but pink teddy bear panties. Clearly in a pinch, she calls for the Oyaji Hunter!
Alright, so to get this in the right order: the pervert is tazed, then Hunter flies in from miles away and punches him to the ground. I’m not sure how he shocked him from a mile away, but I have to admit he’s good at stopping an attack in progress. The best part of all these scenes is the obviously forced segue into mahjong:
“The hero of justice, Oyaji Hunter, is on the scene!”
“You bastard, looking for a fight!?”
“I can’t just stand by and watch your despicable acts, lolicon with a fetish for used girl’s clothing!”
“Then beat me at mahjong!!”
Just like, Hunter already beat the crap out of this guy, but he’s like “play mahjong with me” and for some reason, Hunter just silently nods and they walk to the nearest shady mahjong bar. Just listen to the music for the first stage and tell me it doesn’t feel like you walked into a lonely bar, the stale stench of years of tobacco stinging your nose. The place doesn’t make you happy, but here you are yet again, playing mahjong until the light hours of the early morning.
This seems the right place to mention I ripped all the music from the game and uploaded them to YouTube. I even subtitled the very important opening theme~ Have fun! (Stage 1 is around 2:19)
Anyway, enough of that, time for the gameplay! Now I only learned riichi mahjong (Japanese mahjong) a few weeks before this, so I’m still learning by playing hot anime gacha mahjong with friends online.
Once you sit down at the table, you’ll be greeted by a facecam of your opponent, followed by a very muffled “I won’t go easy on you.” The game plays like standard riichi mahjong, except each round is with only two players. Each player takes turns discarding tiles until either someone wins or the discard pile is full. Calls such as kan, pon, chii, and riichi won’t be displayed automatically like in some mahjong clients, so you’ll have to press B to see what’s valid on that turn. If nothing is valid, your player will just say “dame (no)” every time for every button press, meaning you can be a DJ and dame to the beat~
The discard pile only fits 18 tiles, which makes the rounds feel short, especially since you only have one player to call tiles from. So for many hands, you might have problems finding the last tile you need. Thankfully, the game has you covered. If you’re one tile away from winning and declared riichi (1,000 point bet that you will win the round), but then the round ran out of tiles, you’ll enter what the game calls Last Hunter Chance.
In this mode, several tiles, including the tile you need to win, will shuffle very quickly on the screen. If you can follow the tile with your eyes and select it, you’ll draw that tile and win the round! It’s a really nice bonus, but it’s hard to get consistently (unless you’re save stating on an emulator~).
Each player’s score doubles as their life and if you win the round overall, you deal your hand’s value as damage to your opponent! You may be thinking that getting 50,000 points is a huge number to hit (or not, maybe you’re better at mahjong than my sorry ass), but no fear, there’s multipliers!
You’re given the chance to hit the pervert, and what you land on determines the attack. You’ll want to aim for Hunter Beam, which gives you a whopping x10! If you score above a point threshold (only happened to me like once or twice), then you might see Hunter Bomb appear which is an instant kill.
Keep in mind however that your opponents aren’t just punching bags. If they win the round, they get a “Punishment Time” where they inflict their creepy fetishes on you and cause damage.
Similar to the Last Hunter’s Chance, several “punishments” will be shown before flipping over and mixing up randomly. The punishments range from x1 damage, no damage, to the game-ending x10 damage. The more points the opponent had, the more deadly the cards will be. These ones are a bit slower to mix up, so it’s not too hard to keep yourself alive.
But if you fail…
So yeah, don’t let that happen.
In terms of accessibility, this game is import friendly if you know how to play mahjong. There’s a tutorial mode, but that’s not going to do you much good in Japanese. However, there’s plenty of English-language tutorials for learning riichi mahjong as well as free games like Mahjong Soul to help you learn. Most of the story is played out in cutscenes, so even if you don’t know what they’re saying, it’s pretty clear what’s going on.
The main things you’d need to know are the options to call, so here’s the Japanese with its meaning:
Announce that you’ve won. I believe this is for both ツモ (tsumo, self-drawn win) and ロン (winning off an opponent’s discard)
Declare that you’re one tile away from winning and that you’re betting 1,000 points that you’ll win
Call your opponent’s discarded tile to complete a sequence in your hand
Call your opponent’s discarded tile to complete a triplet in your hand
Call your opponent’s discarded tile to complete a quad in your hand
Announce you have a quad in your hand you want to play
Add the 4th tile you just drew to a previously played triplet of yours.
Apart from that, the main Japanese text in the game is the victory screen where you’ll see the names of what hands you played. Those aren’t very important since you’ll either have an idea of what you played, or you’ll just see numbers becoming the big numbers and nod.
When you finally get enough of playing mahjong against a pervert, you’ll get a victory cutscene.
Usually the scenes end with the girl, previously in distress, taking matters into their own hands because you were spending all your time playing mahjong. Something about you winning at a gambling game gives them the courage to beat the shit out of their assailants. Girl power? I’ll take what I can get.
The story itself consists of 5 chapters against 5 perverts, ranging from S&M Hitler Pervert to Super Alter Mech Robo Pervert in the finale. Apart from the finale, the stages follow the same formula of girl in distress, beat the pervert up, play mahjong with them, then the girl beats up the guy (apart from one nice girl who forgives him).
In the finale, the pervert in the power suit doesn’t admit defeat, and you get treated to the only acknowledgement that Hunter literally just carries a mahjong table at all times.
The robot and Hunter engage in an intense final battle, where the robot fires a beam that conveniently removes all women’s clothing in a mile radius! Hunter is about to be incinerated by a laser beam when he pulls out his Hunter Shoulder Mirrors which reflect it back, destroying the robot!
Left behind in the rubble is what appears to be Gollum…
The tiny man explains that he had to take revenge on all women for calling him a short, ugly monster. Life is just so cruel, and it’s all women’s fault (uhhh).
So then these women come up and apologize to him on behalf of all women (UHHH).
As a reward for beating the game (and for reading this post for so long!), the game rewards you with a level select code to play any stage:
The game has no saving, so the above code is really useful if you need to stop or if you’re bad at mahjong and each round takes forever to win.
Now, as a fan translator and hacker, I always check to see how easily a translation would be if the game doesn’t have one. Considering I know the 3DO tools pretty well from translating Doctor Hauzer, it was easy to see what we were working with. Thankfully, nearly all if not all of the text is pictures!
So overall a translation effort of the game itself would involve a lot of image editing, but nothing too difficult there. The hard part would be translating the videos, since the 3DO doesn’t currently have the best tools for working with them. We’re playing around with writing our own tool at the moment, so if that pans out, then we’ll definitely translate this game!
Lastly, the game also contains a bonus section of mini-games and demos and also one unsolved secret. In the demo section, we see one game stand out like a sore thumb: the trailer for the cancelled M2 version of D’s Diner!!
When I first saw that, my heart skipped a beat. It turned out to be nothing new, but was still amazing to see the 3DO model of Laura in the D2 trailer!
Now, the unsolved secret involves going down to the basement, where you’re met with a sign that says “Cleaning in Progress.”
On the other hand, I do already know what’s behind the door due to aforementioned game hacking. You might recognize it from the café banner for the website:
As far as I can tell, entering the room shows you a pitch for none other than:
Even if I mostly know what’s behind the door, I still want to know how to get in there and see it myself! I tried searching online in Japanese to see if I could find it, but unfortunately the search terms mostly just got some not so safe for work things >//<.
Judging by Kenji Eno’s past secrets with D that involved dismantling your CD case to find a hidden code that you have to interpret as a password to enter on the final screen of both D and D Director’s Cut to get 2 separate save files, I’d imagine it’s something really esoteric and complicated.
…or who knows, maybe you just have to get a really good mahjong score. Or beat the minigames with a certain score. Or have a save file from another one of his games.
Lastly, there’s a few fun things in the manual:
We saw Kenji Eno’s above, but here’s the interviews from the other staff members!
“Somehow we managed to use more than 4,000 cells for this game’s animation! A thirty minute program might use something like 2,500 cells, so this was quite an achievement. For a mahjong game, it’s unheard of! Though most mahjong games don’t have missiles flying at you or battle scenes, so it’s definitely a lot of fun.” – Ichiro Itano, Animation Director
“For as long as I could remember, I’ve always wanted to play a hero of justice. With this role, I finally got to act out the ‘heart of a hero’ I’ve always held by acting in this game. Someone who was always there when you needed him and was smooth and refreshing like a nice soft drink.” Taiki Matsuno, Voice Actor
“Oh man, I have to do this too? Well, I sung the opening theme to Oyaji Hunter, if you could call it that. People who aren’t familiar with the game get a little weirded out when I say that, but those who know about the game get a chuckle out of it. You reading this paragraph, come join the world of Rumi Shishido! Your life will be filled with so much joy! Now, sing with me: ‘Oyaji Hunter~'” – Rumi Shishido, Singer
“Phew! We’re finally done.”
Two major industry pros met, and this big project is the result! They fought until dawn and gave a few honest words while their eyes were still bloodshot.
Eno: “Phew! We’re finally finished! I thought releasing this would forever be a far off dream! Really, good job to everyone.”
Itano: “Good work everyone. What even sparked this project anyway?”
Eno: “We were both lecturing at the same school, remember? Then we got talking and eventually mentioned that it’d be cool to work on something together…”
Itano: “Then you followed up and got the ball rolling. But wow, Oyaji Hunter Mahjong really took off into something big.”
Eno: “It really did. The animation was so well done, I’m glad you worked on this with me. At first, we weren’t even planning on having anime scenes. Then we decided to stick something of yours in and see how it went. After that, I knew it could only be you. At first we were only going to have 1,500 cells and call it a day there, but then somehow…”
Itano: “4,300 (laughs). And Eno, it wasn’t just ‘somehow.’ At first you said ‘Oh it’s in a game, so they don’t have to move much,’ but then you’d go like ‘Oh make that part flashier’ or ‘This is an Itano anime, we should really add more missiles. More missiles!'”
Eno: “Hahaha. I’m sorry, really. But the characters really do move a lot. I can’t imagine this as a 4,800 yen game!”
Itano: “You sure? It seems close to me, but I’m worried about next time.”
Eno: “No, this project was enough of a beast. We really put too much into this. But, I think everyone will be happy with it. How would you feel about working together again though?”
Itano: “If 3DO fans like this kind of anime, then I’d love to work with you again.”
This one’s strange in that it’s a picture of 4 random guys that says “These are Oyaji!” aka the creepy perverted men you’re hunting in the game. I’m not sure if these are programmers or staff being added for fun in the manual or what. But it basically says their type “Park Oyaji,” “Walking the Streets at Night Oyaji,” and “Festival Oyajis.” Then it has a small bio of their name, age, date of birth, sign, hobbies, and favorite type of girl. It must have been a great honor to have been, uh, listed as a perverted man in a game manual…
One final thing. I was looking through the manual for hints on the secret area and stumbled across this page:
This is mostly your normal warning of “don’t sit close to the television, take breaks,” etc, but I can’t help but feel suspicious at the highlighted characters. I’m wondering if this is how you get the secret room? Here’s the highlighted characters in order, then what color they were.
Maybe that’ll give someone an idea…
But thank you for joining me this far! And remember; when you’re in trouble on the streets, just call for a hot guy with a sweet bod to play mahjong against your assailant~!