Emmyrea #2: Oh We Found the Princess, She Was Behind the Couch

I’m finally getting time to write this post! May was a crazy month powering through the last of my part translating CCC and preparing a cosplay for Fanime. Now dead from the convention on a quiet holiday morning, it’s time to finally write up the next Emmyrea section! I, uh, played immediately after the last post, which was a tad more than a month ago, so here’s hoping I remember everything well enough. I take a lot of screenshots, so hopefully they’ll jog my memory enough. Without further ado, let’s try to remember what the hell was happening!

I’ve never seen fog as thick as this before. I could only see five meters– no, two meters in front of me.

Our heroes wake up the next morning from their cave sleep, only to be surrounded by impenetrable fog. Elina and Bitch try to wake up Marian, only to find she’s an absolute disaster first thing in the morning:

Her hair was a disheveled mess. Her eyes couldn’t focus on any one thing. Drool dripped from her half open mouth.

Stuck in the thick fog in an unknown forest, our heroes had no choice but to shake the tiny mage girl awake.

Elina:
“Earth to Marian? I hate to admit this, but we need you and your magic right now!”
Marian:
“Ahh… sorry… Mistress Calkram… Five more minutes…”
Elina:
“You’re supposed to be guiding us to that Calkram, not being woken up by her!”

Once again she openly hints at being close to the evil witch, but our characters can’t see the plot through all the fog. Either way, once she’s woken up enough to focus her eyes and fix her hair, she lets the party know her plan.

Marian:
“We just gotta use this Magic Compass, and we’ll reach Mistress Calkram, no problem!”
Marian:
“All mages make a pilgrimage to visit Mistress Calkram once in their lives.”

Bitch and Elina hadn’t heard of this fact before since they’re removed from magic as warriors, but it sounds like it’s not a tradition for their kingdom at least, considering no one has entered her forest alive. To them, Calkram is known as the Grand Mage who protects them. Until the whole princess thing of course.

Marian:
“…ah! Ta-da! This is my Magic Compass, Paa-kun!”
Elina:
“…can I cut this girl, Bitch?”

These two screenshots were taken 20 minutes apart, so presumably they weren’t connected, but they just fit too well not to juxtapose.

(I’m falling asleep at like 2pm due to con fatigue x _x. I have coffee now, hopefully that’ll carry me through this~)

I’m tired enough I just realized “Paa-kun” is because of compass… I guess we could call it Rose for compass rose or something like that, though that’s not really cute enough. Rosey maybe? Or Compy like the tiny dinosaur. We’ll punt that issue for now.

Marian leads us into a not-dark cave, to which Bitch and Elina express their surprise at the incredible luminescence. Elina is weirdly confused.

Marian:
“Ehh? It’s common sense? What do you mean it’s common sense that caves are dark!?”

The cave should lead to where Calkram lives and Paa-kun can guide them down paths without monsters. Marian boasts that everything will be a-okay!

I was worried, but Marian struck a dramatic, confident pose.
Marian:
“It’ll be great, just leave it to me! You can both just rest in peace!”
Elina:
“S-she means rest easy, right…?”

However, Paa-kun seems to be having issues and isn’t getting a signal. Apparently the compass has a feature where if the guest isn’t invited, it won’t show their house on Magic Maps. Damn that’s useful. Since the party will have to fight through monsters now, Elina and Bitch have reservations about bringing Marian along. Not so much that she’ll cause problems, but that they don’t want her to risk her life for a cause no one’s even bothered talking about yet. Of course, she protests this:

Marian:
“If Bitch is here by my side, then I can pull through, no matter how dangerous or scary it gets!”
Marian:
“I know I could be killed! But it’s safer for me by Bitch’s side instead of returning to the forest, right!?”
Marian:
“If I end up dying, I’ll only haunt you a little bit!!”

Surprisingly, the decision is left up to the player.

Bitch:
“Er, I understand you’d be worried about being alone, but…”
“But we should part ways here.”
> “We need her if we’re going to rescue the princess.”

Of course we bring her along! Almost certainly a bad ending if not, but I’m a bit curious.

Marian:
“T-thank you so much, Bitch!!”

Elina argues with you, to which Marian calls her an old hag. Elina shouts back that she’s barely twenty, to which Marian retaliates with bad Japanese puns:

Elina:
“I-I’m barely twenty you know!!”
Marian:
“…could you read this kanji for me please?”
=>「鯖」
Elina:
“Saba”
Marian:
“I rest my case.”
Reading saba. Basically, she’s trying to say “you’re lying about your age, aren’t you?”

It took me a minute to puzzle this one out, but 鯖を読む (reading saba) is an expression that means “to manipulate figures to one’s advantage; to count wrongly on purpose; to inflate or deflate one’s age.” So by asking her to read “saba,” aka the word for mackerel (not to mention breaking the fourth wall by having her read a floating kanji), she’s making her admit to lying about her age. How I would actually translate this, I have no freaking clue. I need way more coffee for that…

Elina flared up as if someone threw a torch at a gasoline tank.

Remember that gasoline tanks don’t exist in this world, but just ignore that, neither do convenience stores.

Elina:
“I-I will fucking end you!!”

Some liberties with that line, but only so many times I can translate ふざけないで as “don’t fuck with me!”

Anyway, they finally get started on their dungeon exploration adventures. This section took a while, so I’ll probably paraphrase it a bit. You’re given options on where to go without any basis for your decision.

> “Let’s try right.”
“Let’s go straight.”
“Let’s try left”

Various different events happen, such as finding monsters:

Or having Elina and Bitch fall into a trap:

Elina:
“AHH! Watch where you’re touching, Bitch! Ugh there’s something slimy on my leg! I told you to watch where you were going!”

One of the traps drops a washbasin on you in the classic anime trope, complete with the perfect sound effect. It’s a weird tone mix.

Marian:
“Hahha… y-yess… I-I’m glad you’re… *pfffff*… Elina, you… shouldn’t laugh… hahahahhaa”

If you take the wrong way, it’ll actually just loop you back to the start, so I ended up just saving before decisions and time traveling.

When you’re far enough on the correct path, Marian asks a silly little question that’s on her mind:

Marian:
“Um, I’ve been wondering this for a while now, but you’re not magicians, right? Why do you want to meet Mistress Calkram anyway?”

FINALLY. Like, this conversation should have happened hours ago!! Bitch and Elina look at each other awkwardly before telling the truth about Calkram:

Elina:
“I’ll never forgive her. To kidnap the innocent princess and curse the king… I’ll never forgive Calkram!!”

To no surprise, Marian is in a bind for her love for Calkram and for her friends.

Bitch:
“Just as we swore loyalty to the King, she must respect Calkram the same way as a mage.”

Oh don’t think too hard about this, it’s time to punt the problem down the road again with monsters!

This monster’s different though since it’s a magical beast! The only way to kill it is to break the gem that gives it life. So they do that and poof.

However, the next room is rather dicey:

The weird bug things are scared of the rock lizard guy, so they’re just watching from the distance. You’re given the option of either fighting the rock lizard while the others are at bay, or running past the stunned copy-paste eyeball monsters. I chose to fight the lizard.

It immediately fucked me up.

Elina:
“Let go of Bitch!!”
I called their names. No, I tried to, but my voice wouldn’t come out. …please, rescue the princess… without me…

That was rather bleak and dark, not to mention sudden.

Time travel back five seconds, instead we fight our way through the bug guys. Marian nods and says she’ll help us, preparing a grand magic attack…

…that ends up being a nabe pan falling from the ceiling and bonking a monster with the perfect sound effect.

Marian:
“Whaaaat~, that’s not right~”

With much better luck than the rock snake, the party manages to make it out of the cave alive!

But not without unwanted attention:

I’m not exactly sure what her orb communicator is held up by, but the sub balls are held by chicken feet, which means the center is… Anyway, evil-looking character!

Gilma:
“…hmm, I didn’t expect Mary to be frolicking with the enemy. I’ll be sure to punish her thoroughly after this.”

With that threatening interlude over as fast as it appeared, the party reaches their destination.

An underground castle in the cave?

Before they can soak in the sights, Redrick appears out of the literal blue with his warm glass of Ballnog:

Redrick:
“Oh my, you sure have been working hard haven’t you, Miss Elina.”

Marian’s a bit confused, having never seen this trash— person before, so he politely introduces himself.

Redrick:
“Remember the name, Redrick! Sharp, handsome, and the man who everyone gossips about being the next in line for the throne!”
Marian:
“God, he’s saying all that nonsense while dressed like an idiot. And his laugh is just awful! He’s scaring me~”
Marian:
“I’ve never seen a narcissist as self-absorbed as you before. If I was your friend, I’d be absolutely embarrassed just being around you.”
Marian:
“Oh right, a weirdo like you couldn’t possibly have friends to begin with.”
Bitch:
“Marian, please be more careful. If you get close, you’ll catch his stupid.”

I’m glad the party collectively knows how to deal with Redrick, especially with Marian’s savage support.

Redrick, responds with whatever this face is:

and takes his warm Ballnog with him out of your sight! Apparently they followed in your wake and probably will be tailing you again, but for now they’re gone, allowing you to enter the castle.

Into the dark and cold castle we go. What horrors lie in this seemingly empty hell where our princess lies trapped?

A cute maid of course!
Girl:
“Oh, Marian, you’re rather late. …who are these people you’re with?”

We get a rather warm reception waltzing into enemy territory. She notices Elina is wounded and tends to her without hesitation.

The girl pulls a handkerchief out of her pocket and wipes the wound clean, unphased that her pure-white handkerchief is now dyed a deep red. After, she gives the wound a small kiss before wrapping it with a cloth she pulled from somewhere I couldn’t see.

Elina smiled back at the kind gesture, but her eyes showed no laughter, only the cold sharpness of a blade.

Marian on the other hand, is realizing the gravity of the situation.

Marian:
“Did… I betray Mistress Calkram…?”
Marian:
“To tell you the truth… I’m actually Calkram’s disciple.”

Not that this is particularly shocking, though the most striking part is that she’s a grand mage’s disciple while sucking at magic very badly.

She introduces the maid as Lulu, who takes care of Calkram.

Lulu:
“Calkram said that anyone from the castle is a bad person and should not be allowed here. What will she say when she finds out?”
Marian:
“I might be Calkram’s disciple, but I didn’t intend to fool you guys or catch you in a trap!”

You try to explain how you’re not the bad guys and that Calkram is the bad one, but Lulu isn’t going to believe you that easily.

Should we forgive them? Or cut them down here as the King ordered?

“Cut them down.”
“Only forgive Lulu.”
> “Forgive them both.”

Like really, why would you ever pick the first two options? To be fair, 切り捨てる can also just mean “cut off and abandon,” in addition to “cut someone down or slay.” I don’t fully remember the previous line, so it might not be as threatening, but the “as ordered by the King” part implies a heavier toll. But yeah, looks at those two tiny adorable faces and tell me you could cut them down ; _;

Bitch:
“Stop apologizing already, okay? It’s not my style to make girl’s cry. I’ll believe you.”
Elina:
“I knew you’d forgive those two with how gentle you are with girls, hehe.”

Elina seems to be in agreement with us, which means she might have stopped us if we tried to do anything bad.

For now, Marian decides to stick with us:

Marian:
“I’ve… decided. I’m going to confront Calkram myself and hear it from her!”

Lulu still doesn’t believe Calkram could do wrong, so she runs off on her own. However, the mysterious dark elf has something else in mind:

Gilma:
“Just hang out here for a while and wait for your friends to arrive. Okay, Lulu…?”

Somehow all this happened in front of our party as they went forward as they run into the room with Gilma.

Gilma:
“You’ve finally arrived.”

Things have taken an oddly sexy turn with a dominatrix elf with a latex-like top, a collar, and a whip with a captive maid trussed up to the dungeon wall.

Lulu:
“Mistress Gilma, please… forgive me…”
Gilma:
“You girls have all been very bad. Girls like you need a strict punishing.”

This was a porn game, you’ve got to remember. I can feel the threatening eyes of the Playstation rating board glaring daggers from just outside. So Gilma does what she can while keeping an eye on the game authorities.

Without any hesitation, Gilga slapped the bound Lulu across the face.

The rating board nods in approval as she explains the whip is not really a whip, just an obedience motivator.

Around that time, a magical beast rears its head and snarls at the heroes.

Marian:
“Gilma’s always been Mistress Calkram’s beast tamer assistant!”
Magic Beast:
“GRWAAAAWAAWA!”

Oh hey, copy paste monster! Now just remember everyone, you’ve got to break the crystals or the beast will just keep coming back!

No that’s not right, Elina, good try. Marian is a gem, but not the right one~

Bitch confronts Gilma, cutting down the magical beast just to watch it come back.

Gilma:
“Both me and my beasts hate men, so you won’t get any mercy from us!”

Bitch quickly scans the room, noting several possible gems. Without much to go off of, you’re forced to make a decision!

Which gem is the important one…? I’ll have to choose between the blue one on the pedestal or the ones in the wall.

“Blue orb on the pedestal.”
> “Head for the wall.”

You break a few on the wall, but then she screams at you to stop at a certain one. The evil villain yells at you not to do something, so of course you do it!

Gilma:
“I even told you not to crush that one… It’s your own fault, blame your own stupidity.”

Apparently that one was a paralyzing poison for some reason.

The last thing I saw as my consciousness faded was Gilma licking her lips as she bound the other two girls to the wall as well.

>///<

Okay so time travel back, we don’t break the orb that kills us and instead break the one that kills the beast. Now without her fangs, Gilma escapes from the room. Before we give chase, we take a minute to free Lulu from her shackles and head out.

However, the party hears a bloodcurdling screen just outside the door. As they look out, they see the shadow of someone running away.

Bitch:
“Was that Ballnog!?”

Bitch didn’t get a good look, so he can’t say for sure. But it’s possible Ballnog is tailing them and finished her off for reasons unknown. However, something strange happens with her body:

Right before my eyes, Gilma’s body began turning into a wild flower you’d see in the forest outside.
Marian:
“Gilma… She’s returned to her original form… She was a being created with magic by Mistress Calkram. Now that she’s dead, she’s returned to what she was.”

So you’re telling me Calkram specifically turned a flower into a sadistic woman that ties up girls and has her way— slaps them in an age-appropriate way until they’re good again? I feel like we’ve learned more about Calkram here than anywhere else in the game to be honest. Good for her, good for her.

Anyway, you find Emmyrea.

Oh the princess? Oh yeah, she’s just in that room eating cake.

“Hello!”

We find Princess Emmyrea happily relaxing in a weirdly nice room with a sunlight window despite being in a cave. We run up to her, tears in our eyes, but she’s utterly confused. Elina tries to explain to her what happened at the castle.

Emmyrea:
“I don’t believe any of it, it can’t be. Calkram has been nothing but a gentle host. She said that my father was aware of all of this and she just wanted to startle me by transporting me here suddenly with magic. There’s no way he was cursed by her!”

Something is definitely going on here, but who knows what at this point… After seeing the grave look on Elina and Bitch’s face, she begins to have some doubts that maybe the kidnapper isn’t the good person?

Emmyrea:
“I’ll go talk to her at once!”

We try to tell her it’s dangerous, but she stubbornly refuses to wait in the room as we confront the witch.

I mean, can you say no to that face?

As they walk further in the castle to Calkram’s room, Emmyrea keeps looking around curiously at things in the room. At one point, she spies a painting on the wall that for some reason she just has to touch. This triggers a trap that drops a rock on her, but Bitch manages to pull her away just in time.

Emmyrea:
“Y-yes, I’m fine. Just a little startled, is all. You really are our country’s top knight, aren’t you Bitch?”

After Elina scolds the princess, the party keeps walking, only for Emmyrea to once again be curious about a vase. You’re given the option to intervene or not.

If you don’t intervene, you keep walking only to hear the sound of it shattering on the ground. Elina comes stomping back and yells a storm at the princess.

sadness intensifies

If you do intervene, she goes full princess on you:

Emmyrea:
“Your job as a knight is to protect me in the event that anything happens and that’s it. Voicing your opinion is not part of your duty.”
I’ve never heard her talk so directly before. I always thought she was a gentle and kind princess… I guess she’s a tomboy like the others, huh…

Comedic scenes aside, we’re at Calkram! That was oddly quick, I think?

That room was different from the others. It was a large room that felt like it was used for various rituals. The ceiling was high up, and the cool outside air chilled the room.
I couldn’t convince myself that this was the same person with that cruel smile who cursed the king that night.

Calkram felt more like a mother confronting her children than an evil witch at this point. Most of this scene is this single portrait, so I’ll just translate them under one picture.

Calkram:
“I’m not mad at you, Lulu. I’ve been watching you from here this entire time. I know you tried to follow what I asked all the way until the end.”
“Marian, what a troublesome child you are. Sneaking out of my sight to go bathing in the lake like that…”
“I’ll forgive you, even after all this, if you come back to me.”
“As for you knights, I do apologize, but I can’t have you leave now. I don’t plan on killing you if I don’t have to. You may have killed my precious Gilma, but that was her mistake.”
“That detestable king’s life will end in just a few more days. You’ll remain in this castle until then. After which, you’ll be free to go. Well, except for Emmyrea.”

Suddenly, the doors come crashing down and your party is trapped in the room.

Calkram:
“Emmyrea. I’ll tell you everything once this is over. Once you know the truth, you’ll wish to stay here with me, I’m certain.”
Emmyrea:
“…you tricked me, didn’t you Calkram!? You were so kind to me, told me unimaginable tales, showed me brilliant jewels… Was that all a lie!?”

Naaaah, it was a friendly kidnapping! A surprise roadtrip!

Calkram:
“I did not lie to you, but… you wouldn’t understand, no matter what I say here.”
“I’ll at least say, that man committed a grave crime. Crime deserves punishment, so I laid a curse on him.”
“That man was a villain who used others as a stepping stone and threw them away after. I wished for that cold-blooded human to taste the anguish and despair those people felt.”

Elina, unmoved by her words, charges Calkram with her sword. However she repels the sword with magic, sending it clashing on the floor.

Suddenly, Princess Emmyrea grabbed Elina’s fallen sword and dashed at Calkram. The borrowed sword plunged deeply into Calkram’s left arm.
Emmyrea:
“Y-you’re the one whose evil, Calkram… My father is the most gentle, kind man I’ve ever met. Your slander against him is nothing but lies…”

Man, Emmyrea comes through in a pinch. For a character who eats cake and breaks pots, she took that flash of anger and used it. However, Calkram defiantly stood up for her actions.

Calkram:
“He had years to reflect on his actions and atone for his sins. Instead he just lived on like nothing happened. I do not plan on releasing the curse on someone like that. But if you kill me, you can undo the curse that way.”
She’s already lost the will to live. That’s the impression I got from her voice.
Calkram:
“…well then. Come at me, Bitch! My life is yours to take.”
…why did she curse the king?
…why won’t she just tell us what happened?
She wants me to kill her to dispel the curse while this web of mysteries still hangs over everything. Just what should I do…?

This tense scene gets more tense with the option on how to act. It seems pretty clear there’s some truth here. I’m not certain killing her would end the curse, or that she’s even evil. So I had Bitch stay his hand.

Elina:
“If you want to die that badly, I’ll kill you myself! Bitch, give me your sword!”

Elina steps forward during your hesitation, unwilling to doubt her king. She looks at you, demanding you hand over your weapon.

Calkram refuses to move from her spot, as if she’s wishing for death.

Second chance, once against I refuse to relinquish my sword. When suddenly…!

Nothing like a maid with a broom to break up the tension~
Lulu:
“Master Bitch and everyone else, I’m sorry, but I won’t let you kill this person!!”

A secret exit opens up and Lulu ushers Calkram to safety. The party tries to follow, but you end up back outside the cave and in the forest. Calkram is nowhere to be seen, but Lulu for some reason stays behind. It’s dark, so you head back to the cave where this blog post started for the night.

Marian didn’t do her usual badmouthing that night, and even Emmyrea, who probably never cooked by herself, helped scrounge up something to make some kind of dinner.

As everyone was eating, Lulu decided it was time to speak up.

Lulu:
“I’ll tell all of you the truth.”
“…everything started 10 years ago. At the time, the royal family had one young prince. He fell in love with a noble woman who would frequent the castle. But the king would not permit the prince’s love, so he forced them apart. The prince was then set to marry a foreign princess, and the girl a separate noble family. That prince is the current king. He married the princess, but no kids were born to him. However, he learned the woman he once loved had given birth to two kids. He asked his wife to let him adopt one of the daughters from her. Of course, his wife was bewildered at the proposition. The woman was happily married and loved her child.”
Lulu:
“The older sister Philia, who loved her baby sister very much cried in protest at the idea of handing her over. But she reasoned that her sister would be raised to be queen and that she’d be happy that way. In the end, she gave in and let her sister go. A few days later… her family’s mansion was attacked at night.”
Lulu:
“The ones who attacked were the country’s knights. They killed not only her parents, but all the servants as well, before burning the mansion to the ground.”
Lulu:
“It was proclaimed by the king as an execution for treason. She knew her parents did nothing of the sort. It was obvious, even for a child. In short, the king had betrayed them. Her parents were dead, her house was burnt to the ground, and the country blamed it on them. That day, Philia lost everything. She continued on without any life behind her eyes, like she was constantly sleepwalking.”
Lulu:
“And thus, she wandered into the Devil’s Forest. The forest was full of danger, but that didn’t matter to her. She was as good as dead, anyway. But, someone was there to save her. That was the previous Great Mage Calkram.”
Lulu:
“That’s about all of it. Philia trained under the previous Calkram, then when she passed on, Philia succeeded her title. And Emmyrea, you are that sister of hers… Mistress Calkram– no, Mistress Philia had to pull her precious sister from the king’s vile hands.”

My god this whole scene was so serious and captivating I had to capture it in full without jokes. This is where I left off like, more than a month ago and I wrote this whole blog post in several hours just so I can finally get back. I’m assuming this is the truth and that’s how the game will go, but I will lose my shit if it turns into another lie and the king’s actually got his own side of the equation.

AND WHAT’S UP WITH REDRICK AND HIS WARM BALLNOG!? I have to know!

If you’ve stuck around to the end of this, thank you for reading! I hope I can make your second-hand playthrough of Emmyrea worthwhile, for I’m invested at this point! I think I’ve been writing this for like, six hours, so I’m gonna face plant~


Emmyrea #1: A Fantasy Adventure I Wish I Could Fix the Spelling

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.

It’s spelled that way on the cover, I can’t possible fix it…

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:

There’s no way you didn’t see this coming

Actually starting the game, we get the standard fantasy beginnings:

“In a time different than ours, in a world of swords and sorcery, beasts and fairies, lies the world of Astoria.”

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.

Her dress patterns look suspiciously like Gilgamesh’s, but this game came first…?
How could he have the originals of all treasures when he stole from Emmyrea of all games!?
Calkram:
“I am known as the Great Witch Calkram. I live in the Northern Forest, or as you all call it, the Devil’s Forest. I’m here to participate in today’s meeting.”

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.

But suddenly…!

In the blink of an eye, Calkram photoshopped a transparent version of the princess into her arms!

King Balshia:
“…E-Emmyrea…!”

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.

Calkram:
“You will suffer for several days before finally reaching a very painful demise.”

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:

She’s got a nice face and great style, but she’s always wearing that heavy armor with a lack of sex appeal… wait, now’s not the time for that!

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:
“I-I was in the Princess’s chambers reading her a book when a strong flash blinded me. When I could see again, she was nowhere to be found…!”

Elina immediately proposes to go after the witch, to which we have some reservations:

Hey hey, Elina… Do you really think a female knight with no combat experience can make it out of a forest filled to the brim with demons alive?

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:

I chose the young Eddy and the Veteran Henry to join us.
Andy, a newly-hired magician aide to the royal family, joined as well to guide us through the forest.

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.

Why was Elina made the Captain of the rescue squad when she has no combat experience and little achievements? Word around has it that she begged for the position.

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:

Elina:
“Henry! I am not yet tired myself! We’re in a hurry here, this is not the time to be resting!!”

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.

Elina:
“You say some really smart things sometimes, Bitch.”

While they rest, Elina manages to shout some more since she’s really enjoying this leadership with no plan thing:

Elina:
“Are you mad that I’m the Captain? A woman with no combat experience like me could never possible lead us to victory, is that it!?”

Eddy calms her down between voracious bites of food:

Eddy:
“We’re not worried about that, please remember we’re fighting the Great Witch Calkram!”
And just to show you how bad this guy’s lines are, I opened up the game files to find this line delivery. All while stuffing down food.
I’m no sound pro or anything, but seeing all his lines nearly peaking like that really doesn’t seem right.

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:

Bitch:
“Redrick… and Balnog…”

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.

Elina:
“Don’t fuck with me, Bitch!”

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!

Elina:
“Don’t order me around, Bitch! I’m the Captain!”

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.

It’s Balnog.

Redrick:
“Did you really lose 3 party members to a single 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.

SMACK!”
Elina’s slap flashed through the air faster than my fist.

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.

Redrick:
“F-fine! Go ahead and get eaten by monsters for all I care!! Ow, ow, ow…! B-Balnog, we’re leaving!!!”

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.

Elina:
“I’m sorry, it’s all my fault. I’m… not qualified to be the Captain…”

I mean, I knew this turn of events was coming, but wasn’t expecting it so soon. This game is really going quite fast!

Elina:
“That’s why… I want you to call the shots going forward. I’d like you to be the Captain.”

Good ol’ Captain Bitch, has a nice ring to it. We get a choice here, it’s a difficult call:

Urgh. When she looks at me with those eyes, I can only say:
> I’ll do it.
I’ll do it.
I’ll do it.

Really riveting choices, I’ll have to try the other branches on another game~

“Most of our friends are gravely injured or kidnapped, but I had character development! :)”

As your first order, you tell the group of Elina to keep going forward to an opening in the trees.

And then suddenly the game gets weird.

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…?

This hideous monster brushes its teeth and sees a dentist, food for thought.

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~

Elina:
“You did it, Bitch!”

The new girl rushes in to hug Bitch, wearing only a single unfastened robe the Playstation ratings board found for her.

A single thin robe clung to her body, dripping like she just got out of a bath. Yes, just one piece of cloth! Her body looked like it’d break if I hugged her too strongly. Her slightly pink uncovered legs and possibly still developing modest breasts pressed up against me.

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.

Girl:
“Huh? N-no, it’s nothing. Just that this is kinda nic–nonono, not that, I, uh, well–“

Seems she’s instantly fallen for the main character after he saved her, as expected from a visual novel like this.

Girl:
“I’m sorry about the trouble I caused. You may call me Marian Malsed.”
Bitch:
“She’s got a point (about your armor being stiff). Elina, you should try ditching your armor sometime and dressing up like this girl! You’ll feel so much better!”

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:

Bitch:
“Well, of course I know your outfit, you’re a…”
Waitress
A normal girl
> A convenience store employee

All of these are terrible answers, but of course I had to select the one that makes the least sense.

Marian:
“NOT. EVEN. CLOSE! What even is a convenience store!?”
Bitch:
“You don’t even know what a convenience store is!? It’s a… wait, what is a convenience store? That work just popped into my head for some reason…”

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!

Marian:
“W-whaaaaat, flowers weren’t supposed to come out~ Why didn’t you become a frog!”
Elina:
“HAHAHAHAA OH MY GOD, you use such cute magic. Hahahahaha…!!!”

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?”

Elina:
“Bitch, really? Why are you taking her suggestion!? She’s clearly mistaken!”

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.

Merian:
“We’d like you to decide which of us will be cooking…”

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:

Elina:
“B-Bitch is just a close friend, come on~…”

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.

Merian:
“Oh in that case, I could guide you two to Mistress 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:
“…what’re you doing, Bitch?”

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 wonder if we’ll be able to figure out all the mysteries of that girl. I wonder how the King’s condition is. And most of all… I wonder if Princess Emmyrea is safe…?

I’m sure Emmyrea is madly in love with you for no reason, but we’ll find out next time! See you soon!

“Snow,” Also Known as Budget Kanon Part #1 (Sumino’s Route) – Games in Progress

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~

Before we begin, I want to shout out the recently revived translation effort for the game here! If this game seems up your alley as you read this, consider volunteering to help keep the project moving!

Some apologies ahead of time:

  • 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.”

(if you like dragon princesses, boy, have I written the book for you~)

Alright, well that was–

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.

It’s this girl, I’m not showing the actual picture though > .>

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.

Woman: “GYAAAAA!!! THE GHOST IS TALKING!!!”

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.

Little Girl: “What’s your name?”

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~.

In case you’re wondering, anman are steamed hot buns filled with sweet red bean paste. Yes. anman are important to the plot. No, I’m not kidding.

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~

Kanata: “What do you want from life?” Meiko: “To be the one to make your coffin–!!”

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.

Girl: “It’s you again, the panty-peeping pervert ghost!!”

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.

Girl: “Looks like we’re stuck searching for nuts again, huh…”

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.

“Just a little boob touch, as a treat..”
“No, I shouldn’t do something like that.”

For this part of the story, Sumino’s on full adorable blast with the full range of 90s anime girl noises:

“he-heUuuuUuuuuuuUuuuu~~~~” translates to “we just escaped a blizzard and I’m cold and tired.”
“Euuu Euuu” is a complicated one that expresses a huge range of Sumino’s emotions, from “we’re trapped in a blizzard and I’m panicking” to “the boy I love agreed to go on a date with me.” If you watched or read Air, it’s like “Gao gao!”
“do-dododo-dodododododo” is when your anime girl runs out of batteries.

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:

Your fiancé is asleep. Do you
“Give her head pats”
“Kiss her”

And more weird ones:

“I’m going to try licking her thighs while she carefully cleans my ears.”
Sumino: “A-Awawawa~! Blood is shooting out of your ears~!!”

Sumino also sets up March 3rd as the date to try on their custom-made wedding dress. The future looks bright.

Sumino: “…dehehehehe”
Sumino: “I waaaaaaaaaaaab youuuuuuuu~~~~! <3”

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:

Sumino: “Huh? …wait, didn’t I make the same meal for breakfast this morning?”

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.

Sayori: “I might have made her mad on accident. I jokingly said ‘what, going senile already?’ and she sulked and stormed off.”

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.

Sumino: “E-ehehe… T-thanks Kanata-chan.”

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:

Sumino: “I’m sick… aren’t I?”
“Tell her the truth.”
“Lie.”

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: “…”
Sayori: “…s-stop your fussing right this instant!!

Sumino’s unable to comprehend what happens and continues her tirade.

Sumino: “Uwaaaa!! I didn’t eat anything!! You never fed me!!”

Eventually, Sumino wears herself down and passes out at the table, leaving Kanata and Sayori sitting together in silence.

Sayori: “…I’ve never raised a hand to her before…”

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: “GOD DAMNIT!!”

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.

Kanata: “With this… we can still be happy together…”

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:

“Think that everything would be better if it was all a dream.”
“No, we have to stay positive.”

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.

Kanata: “If this is all I had ahead of me in life, I shouldn’t have been saved from that rockslide. Why was I saved?”
“Throw everything away and head back to your old home.”
“Even so, I’ll stay and help Sumino.”

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.

BAD END

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.

Sumino: “Walking hand-in-hand with Kanataaaaa-chaaaaan~~”

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.

Kanata: “We’ll all be happier forgetting about all the forgetting.”

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: “What about… anman?”
Sumino: “Anman for breakfast? I can really have that!?”

She’s back!

Kanata: “Maybe the gods really do exist then.”

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!

“I love you <3”

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.

Kanata: “What I really wanted… was Sumino’s radiant smile…”

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!!

Sayori: “Forget about the dress and rest, Sumino! The dress isn’t going to run away.”

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?”

Yes. Yes it does.
Sumino: “Kanata-chan… Ple…ase… We need to… go today…”

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.

It doesn’t help that Sayori was replaced with a giraffe at this point.

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.

“Welcome home…”

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!?

Snow’s not ending anytime soon, is it…?