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Flower, Sun and Rain (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Flower, Sun and Rain on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Goichi Suda has already sent ripples throughout the world of Nintendo with both killer7 on the GameCube and No More Heroes on Wii. However, little do many fans know, but the man known under the pseudonym of Suda51 actually has several pre-Nintendo titles in his closet, one of which is Flower, Sun and Rain from the PS2 back in 2001, which sadly never got a release over in the West. Thankfully, after the success of Travis Touchdown's exploits, Suda-san and his team at Grasshopper Manufacture have teamed up with Marvelous Entertainment once more to not just resurrect the quirky puzzle-cum-adventure game set on a mysterious island for the Nintendo DS, but also give it its first ever airing in Europe. It would be rude to not at least give it a whirl after all this effort, right?

Welcome to Lospass Island, the tropical paradise where time is completely forgotten! Sumio Mondo, a Searcher by trade, has been hired by Edo Macalister, the manager of the island's only hotel, 'Flower, Sun and Rain', to complete a particular task using his innate talent to find absolutely anything, no matter how big or small. Sumio goes about doing this by following the process of 'Jacking-In' to a variety of objects and inputting codes deciphered from a wealth of obscure clues using 'Catherine', his trusty suitcase. If that all sounds strange in itself, matters take an even greater turn for the surreal and totally bizarre soon after, with our protagonist asked to investigate a terrorist threat that is currently plaguing the island. Whilst distracted by some other hotel guests, though, a plane flies by overhead and suddenly explodes. Yet rather than being too late, following this event Sumio oddly wakes up back in bed feeling dazed, picks up the ringing bedside phone to find Edo telling him breakfast is ready, staggers and falls onto the floor, sups his bitter coffee and begins what appears to be a very familiar day indeed. And so the time-warp shenanigans begin, with Sumio seemingly never able to reach the island's airport in time to prevent the plane from exploding, instead completing numerous other daily requests from hotel guests and people from around the island until the plane once more bites the dust and he re-awakens in bed and it is morning again.

Interestingly enough, the original Flower, Sun and Rain follows on from Suda-san's earlier games, Twilight Syndrome and the two Silver Case adventures, with plot points in FSR only making real sense for players of the other titles. However, considering FSR is first out of the blocks in DS format, with The Silver Case duo not expected until next year and as of yet no word on Twilight Syndrome or Moonlight Syndrome appearing on Nintendo's portable platform, it will be interesting to see what changes are made to the 'prequels' when they land in 2009. Hopefully Suda51 has a sure-fire plan to ensure gamers are not left clueless and it could very well be a case of re-writing elements of the games' scripts to make everything fall smoothly into place since Sumio is actually featured in the other games as well, albeit in a younger form.

Screenshot for Flower, Sun and Rain on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Visually the game is certainly a mixed bag, with strange-looking polygonal characters that are lacking in defined features, but look purposeful in their creation, adding to the quirky nature of the game's theme in general. As for the soundtrack, it proves to be an eclectic collection of specially remixed famous music, with new realisations of popular classics such as Ave Maria and Rhapsody in Blue bringing a familiarity to proceedings that really works in the game's favour since listening to them play away melodically in the background whilst having Sumio wander around the hotel and its surroundings, day-in and day-out, helps to wash away some of the mundane feeling and frustration that may otherwise have crept in if the soundtrack had indeed been teeth-gratingly awful. For music aficionados eager to know exactly what track they are listening to, at the start of each day the title is shown just before Sumio wakes for yet another bout of inane requests, stumbling out of bed, falling flat on his face, then supping on his increasingly unpleasant -tasting coffee before trying in vain to reach his final destination of Lospass Island's airport. The direction taken with the music really should be applauded as many of the remixes truly are fantastic and highly addictive in many cases. But the original tunes included cannot be ignored either. Overall the soundtrack element of FSR really does impress.

The game starts off in extremely serious fashion, with all the talk of terrorists and planes exploding (even if it does turn out to be the same plane on a daily basis…). But despite that there should be no reason to ever wonder if FSR is taking itself a little too seriously, thanks to the comical array of guests, some very strange goings-on in general, the unusual nature of the Searcher jobs dished out to Sumio (help a wrestler remember his inspiration, get a couple married, prepare cocktails for a drunk and sort out the island's electrical issues, to name just a few examples) and other little elements, such as comments made during conversations and the resulting reactions, plus even moments like when Sumio falls to the floor upon waking up each morning, as mentioned earlier (such a repeated action wore thin at times, but would then become laugh-out-loud funny later on). If that was not enough, the cleverly conceived script is certainly not afraid to poke fun at the game itself, with one young boy and his father actually pointing out that FSR's polygonal characters have big heads and hands that bear no resemblance to the 2D character art shown during conversations. They also make reference to how the majority of the soundtrack is lazy, relying on remixes of famous pieces of music from around the world and why Sumio has to solve puzzles using tips from a Guide Book of the island and a shiny silver suitcase called Catherine, whilst the question of why he is wearing what appears to be a funeral suit in such scorching sunshine is even posed! Everything is definitely tongue-in-cheek throughout, helping to keep the gamer plugging away without growing tired of the similar tasks each day as there is always something that forces a laugh or two from even the most stoic of players out there. Later in the game there are comments that then go on to point out that mysteries are the entire make-up and lure of Flower, Sun and Rain, so it needs to start cutting back on comical in-jokes and derisory comments towards the game itself! So just when you think the tom-foolery found in the script may go too far, its writer highlights they are in control of the situation. The translation work that has gone into this first ever Western version excels in every way.

Screenshot for Flower, Sun and Rain on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

So it has been established that Sumio is a Searcher and he uses Catherine the suitcase as a means of Jacking-In to various objects before inputting a code derived from numerous hints from people and clues hidden away in the Lospass Island Guide Book. And that is the main basis of the game! Everything can be controlled using the standard button format or the stylus, however the latter option is by far the better choice, with much greater precision of character movement, quicker menu navigation and code entering (via a safe-style dial, with a clockwise motion moving numbers forwards and anticlockwise backwards).

Rather than simply rinsing the same formula and repeating, once the climax of each chapter has been reached, and the subsequent plane explosion occurs in all sorts of different ways, the player is treated to an extremely zany sequence of events. The scene is depicted a young girl, Toriko Kusabi, wandering around, seemingly aimlessly, but each time it actually turns out that she is trying to find her cute little pink pet, Christina the Crocodile, who was born in the Far East and, as the game points out, likes to eat humans! These surreal breaks are accompanied by yet another addictive piece of music that lodges itself in your head and refuses to go away. Then it is time to roll back the clock and watch as Sumio once more wakes up, becoming more and more confused, and eventually frustrated, by his apparent lack of progress in achieving his goal of reaching the airport and completing the investigation into the risk of terrorist action.

Screenshot for Flower, Sun and Rain on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

In addition to the regular daily chores, odd occurrences and numerical puzzles that test your grey matter to the maximum on many an occasions, there is the side-task of 'Lost and Found' items. Each morning players can have Sumio wander over to his dresser table and check the regularly updated item list, with three new ones being shown each day. The twist is that it is not merely a case of going to claim said item. Instead FSR has players trying to figure out what the obscure clues mean, find the correct location and then jack into the particular object and input the right digits. If the day-to-day puzzles have been proving to be headache inducing, then the Lost and Found ones will definitely be nightmarish. However, those who thrive on challenge, and are in awe of the brainteasers found in the likes of the Professor Layton titles, will no doubt step up and get great value from what is on offer. Notes can be made on the in-game memo pad and you always have access to the highly informative Guide Book, which is crammed with data that never becomes apparent and can appear quite perplexing until a specific puzzle hits and then everything falls into place. And that sums Flower, Sun and Rain up quite perfectly - an extremely eccentric experience that eventually clicks, with everything falling perfectly into place, giving adventure game fans a wonderful treat.

Screenshot for Flower, Sun and Rain on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

It may seem cumbersome to certain sectors, but the pace at which the story is delivered and the complexity of puzzles that need solving, tied in with the very workable control set-up, make for an extremely entertaining experience.

Graphics

Basic use of 3D and very middling on the whole due to the overall style leaving most areas full of bland textures and characters appearing too blocky.

Sound

A very worthy soundtrack filled with remixes of popular, classic, memorable music, as well as new compositions that add to the overall atmosphere perfectly.

Value

Whilst not overly difficult or lengthy, FSR provides enough challenge and hidden extras to keep even veteran gamers ploughing through long enough to get good value for money.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Flower, Sun and Rain is most likely one of the strangest games available on DS so far, and yet in the same breath proves to be one of the most captivating experiences on offer. An addictive soundtrack, plenty of brain-teasing puzzles and a gripping story packed full of twists and humorous moments help make Suda-san's title a must-try.

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04.12.2008

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Developer

Grasshopper Manufacture

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (4 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Mar 2009   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date TBA   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Lol, definitely sounds strange, but with a decent enough story I'll check this out sometime. Good review + score!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's really crazy most of the time, but equally has enough serious moments to prevent it sliding into ridiculous territory.

Some of the puzzles are quite straightforward, but others can be so obscure it takes a lot of thinking through. A good balance, I reckon. Shame this will be completely overlooked by the majority...I wonder what RSG's expectations for it are?

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Shame this will be completely overlooked by the majority...I wonder what RSG's expectations for it are?

Probably expect it to do fairly averagely, though there are a few fans around. Really needs good promotion!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

That's true - it's the sort of game that could do well over time thanks to good word-of-mouth. Sadly Eurogamer totally disagrees with my score, since they gave it a 5/10!

We've got a compo coming up soon for readers to win 5 copies, plus hopefully an interview with Goichi Suda by the end of the month. I might even try to find time to do a Sumio Mondo character profile!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Wooooooooow!! Smilie
I clicked this link expecting a "gardening mama" style game with a 1/10 score but wow what a surprise Smilie
Didn't know Suda51 were making a DS game!

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Simon_ said:
Wooooooooow!! Smilie
I clicked this link expecting a "gardening mama" style game with a 1/10 score but wow what a surprise Smilie
Didn't know Suda51 were making a DS game!

Ya, this is his crazy-ass game for DS Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

And next year we'll have both of his 'The Silver Case' games as well, both of which are again adventure titles. Perfect for me as I love the genre! I wish Twilight Syndrome and Moonlight Syndrome would be brought to DS as well...they pre-date FSR and the two TSC games and features Sumio Mondo, as well as other characters from the FSR world, and the story links up.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Game sounds great, loved Suda51's previous efforts with Killer7 and NMH. All the little cultural references in each just make them. Killer7 was much better than Resident Evil 4.

Pitty this competition is going to be open to UK residents only. Any chance of changing that to all European or Western European countries?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Very cool how it all ties together. I didn\'t mention in the review, but some of the sound effects are the same as in NMH! A very nice touch for Suda fans. Apparently the hotel in killer7 is FSR...think I read that somewhere. Can\'t remember as it\'s yonks since I played k7!

EDIT: We can make this a Euro compo as we\'ll likely be sending out to the winners for a change, rather than the PR company doing it.

( Edited 06.12.2008 00:47 by jesusraz )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

hmz..sounds like the plot is a Lost-like muddle of strange things and events with a little time travel for good measure.
Now, I like Lost, but only because they started to wrap stuff up, and with a fixed end date, I know there will be a conclusion.

This however, I'm scared too much will be left hanging.

Please give our little random review show a try;
http://randomreviewshow.com/index.html
We have special effects and umm...stuff...
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Well, the more you get into the game, the more things start to tie together, but obviously next year's Silveer Case games will help to explain more of the back-story... Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Hi can someone please help. When dialog or conversation on screen I get weird noises. Is this correct or is my game faulty. Thanks

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Has anyone else been playing through this since it got released in the US? I'm intrigued if any US readers bothered to finally pick it up...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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