As a side project and distraction from LB! not releasing, I decided to pick up a game by one of the Summer Pocket writers as to get a feel for what to expect. I ended up getting Hatsuyuki Sakura directed and written by Niijima Yuu. It’s obviously not enough of a sample size, but it’s something.
The most unique part of the writing was the exposition in that there was barely any of it. I’d describe Hatsuyuki Sakura as a thriller/mystery thing, and most of that comes from the characters knowing so much more than they tell you. Most of the game is dialogue, so you don’t learn anything that the characters wouldn’t tell others. For an example, we have the character Ran. For the “prologue,” which is maybe 5 hours long, you don’t learn anything about her other than her being a loli who lives in MC’s house; she also regularly beats him up for being a fucking alcoholic. The game is very dreary, and this lack of information always make the characters seem distant. I could see this atmosphere being fitting for the pirate hunt or something.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the comedy… The comedy is by far the weakest part of the writing; I’d say it works maybe 30% of the time. While it’s not as far as I thought it would be, HS definitely goes into generic trash eroge territory a lot of the time. Its main form of comedy, however, is word play. This seems like the writing aspect most likely to make it into SP, though the awful puns pretty much only come from the protagonist and main heroine, so maybe it was just meant to be their thing. Anyway, we’re talking physically painful puns here, but when the word play was good, it was really good. I would feel really bad for anyone tried to translate this game. If Kai could manage to filter away the 70% of bad word play, Niijima’s writing in SP could be really cool because I love good word play.
I’m not sure how large an influence Niijima would have over the plot of SP since he’s not the director, but apparently he has a thing for tragedies. Hatsuyuki Sakura is definitely that and supposedly Natsuyume Nagisa too. I also really like how HS handled the cancerous token loli. She had a really dumb comedy schtick, but her route was interesting. It was very funny how the MC doesn’t actually have sex with her as a loli. The only loli sex scene is her in imagination, and it’s hilarious because her only reference to how sex works is a manga. She calls her vagina “The Spring of Happiness,” while imagination MC’s dick is “The Elephant” complemented by him making elephant noises. SP is probably not gonna be 18+, but a sarcastically written loli route is always welcome.
In general, Hatsuyuki Sakura was okay. It lacked emotional impact a lot of the time; I’m not sure if it was the writing or the music or what. I’d have to re-read it to figure that out.