The game plays a lot like Hotel Dusk, another game that I enjoyed that mixes stylized art with adventure mechanics. The protagonist, Sumio Mundo, is a professional searcher; people employ him to find things that don’t want to be found. He’s visiting the tropical island of Lospass (“Lost Past”–the game is full of oddly contorted English) for work; the owner of the local resort hotel wants him to track down a bomb that terrorists have hidden at the airport. Before he can even begin his mission, however, Sumio becomes distracted by events within the hotel and the plane explodes. The next day he wakes to find that time has reset; though he doesn’t realize it right away, he’s been given another chance to stop the plane from exploding. And so the game consists of a series of days, each occurring on the same date and each ending with the destruction of a plane. Each day Sumio is faced with a new puzzle, from the fantastic (“my room was rearranged by ghosts!”) to the mundane (“how can I get passed this guy who is blocking my way?”). Each puzzle is eventually solved by entering numbers into Katherine, Sumio’s rotary computer-in-a-briefcase. Jack Katherine into some object, enter the correct sequence of numbers, and proceed to the next day.
Like Michigan (and maybe No More Heros–I haven’t played it), Flower, Sun, and Rain is sort of nonsensical and funny. Or rather, it tries to be funny. As a non-Japanese who can just barely parse the excessive text in this game, the humor seems out of place to me. And the game is tough to play, not because the mechanics are hard (you don’t actually do much besides walk around and talk to people), but because the puzzles involve reading a huge amount of Japanese text. This game is just slightly beyond the level at which I can read in Japanese, so while I’m able to get enough to keep playing, I don’t always have much clue as to what the heck is going on. Of course, this is a Suda51 game, so confusion may be intentional rather than the result of my failed reading ability.
Flower, Sun, and Rain is headed to the DS sometime soon, which is a good thing. Not only is the laid-back adventure style a good fit for the DS (games like Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory have already proved this market), but it means that somebody will have to translate the damn thing into English. And though some of the sites on the net are complaining about the reduction in graphical quality for the DS version, I don’t think any of them have actually played the PS2 version; while the art style is excellent, the actual graphics look incredibly dated.
Flower, Sun, and Rain isn’t a horror game (at least, I don’t think it is–I’m only a few hours into it), but it’s a pretty interesting game from a pretty interesting designer who tends to make games that are hard to put into concise categories. I’m looking forward to playing this game on the DS when it comes out–even if it doesn’t make any sense, at least I’ll know that it’s not just me.