Sakura Note is an adventure game for the DS that is available in Japan only. It was supposed to be released to the west but it wasn’t really seen as appealing to western markets at the time. It was made by Audio Games and it is their only release for now. The story was written by the same writer who wrote Glory Of Heracles and Final Fantasy 7.
You take control as a boy in 5th grade, you can name the character whatever you like. The story focuses on the boy being caught up in strange events between 2 towns. One has a blooming Sakura tree while the other one is dying and you must solve the mystery between two towns and stop the ghostly demons haunting you and your friends.
The story is odd with some of the plot points being caused by characters own reckless actions. The parents of the main characters are prime examples of narcissists as they are often really out for their own selfish interests in the game and the child is often a bargaining chip. The game has a no good deed goes unpunished mantra as the main character help out the grown ups with problems they should be really be solving. The supernatural stuff was interesting while the family melodrama could have been removed. There were other characters appearing on and off but added nothing much to the overall story.
The bosses could be done in one try. The strategy is just run around hit and kill the boss with a few hits. The combat is just so unnecessary and feels like padding. There were no hp bars for the bosses and that was a bit annoying. Most of the gameplay is walking from point A to point B, interacting with locals and occasionally collecting items on the way. You can choose to press the a button for a “brave” or the b button for a “evasive” action and pressing the right button earns you “tears” that is used to progress. Providing the right answers will increase your stats for battling bosses. You can use a shield to fight bosses, but that will give you less tears after defeating them. Sometimes you can find but rare Sakura blossoms to restore health.
The controls were simple and easy to learn and both the graphics and art work were well executed. I also like the musical score by Nobuo Uemetsu. Cutscenes are un-skippable even if you seen them before. There is also a lot of story that is locked off if you don’t interact with everyone. The game is really short and can be done in a few hours. The only replay value is with interacting with people and doing their errands to unlock another ending but that’s it.
It gets 3 out of 5 stars.
Visual novel fans may like this.