Written by Flamecaster, edited by Otaku Apologist

“Sakura Santa”, developed by Winged Cloud. An ecchi Christmas visual novel starring three girls getting together with an oblivious, uninteresting male protagonist. Available on Steam for $9.99. Released on December 21st, 2015.

Winged Cloud doesn’t exactly have the cleanest of track records when it comes to releasing interesting stories. Their series of Sakura games has always, almost unanimously, been praised for great, sexy artwork and a gratuitous amount of ecchi content. The praise usually ends there. What’s worse, for all that cockteasing present in the majority of Winged Cloud’s games, only two have had any real sexual content. Does “Sakura Santa” follow the same trend? Let’s find out.

STORY

The very first minutes of “Sakura Santa” introduce the lead male Koji, a young Japanese college student living alone. Koji feels depressed that he might be spending his Christmas break alone. If you happen to forget that he’s alone for the holidays, he’ll make damn sure to remind you at least four more times before his introduction is done. Better get used to Koji’s loneliness, as his pervertedness and low social status are his only defining traits. Koji decides to go on a walk that ultimately changes his life forever. He encounters three special girls: Akina, a sassy fox spirit with a huge tail and rack to match, Itsumi, Koji’s childhood friend with whom he shares an unresolved romantic past with. The third girl is Santa, a blonde girl dressed in a revealing Christmas costume. She’s so mentally disturbed, she claims to be the real Santa Claus.

Koji doesn’t seem too surprised by the existence of spirits, yet he’s completely dumbfounded by a girl equipped with a Santa Claus costume and magical powers. This scene was only the beginning of the inconsistencies I experienced while playing “Sakura Santa”. The characters’ personalities are as inconsistent as the game’s story structure.

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After the character introductions are done, the player can choose the girls he will spend time with before Christmas. I have to say it’s very generous of the game to offer the choice of three character routes, with the fourth being a harem route. For a game that’s only four hours long, that’s commendable. Each route, excluding select expections, handles the dialogue between the characters in a ham-fisted manner. Most of Koji’s verbal exchanges  with the girls are mundane and soulless. The only interesting interesting thing are the occasional anime tits. Sakura Santa does not marvel with its whimsicality, and the writing staff’s every attempt at comedy falls flat on its face.

The failed attempts at humor are nothing compared to the forced drama in each route. With very little build up to begin with, every dramatic moment is resolved almost immediately. It’s immensely hard to feel any sense of engagement with something so tacked on. It’s not all bad, though: In a few scenes featuring Akina and the majority of the events where the girls interact, there are some special, even amusing moments. The quirky natures of the girls play off each other well in those scenes, and you can really feel their chemistry. If only Winged Cloud refined that kind of writing for their future games.

GAMEPLAY

Sakura Santa is a visual novel. You click the screen to “turn the page”. Use several save slots to save your progress, and load back to them to play out different story-branching choices presented in dialog.

The game has plot holes. Since the player doesn’t get locked into a route until near the very end, it’s possible to freely hop between routes from the choice screens. I played through the game, trying out tens of different choice sequences, and noticed that in some of them, Koji references events in dialog that didn’t actually happen within the particular sequence. Unless Koji is jumping with his consciousness in time a la “Steins; Gate”, he shouldn’t have knowledge of events from other routes. Given how short “Sakura Santa” is, it’s surprising how Winged Cloud didn’t catch such glaring mistakes during testing.

GRAPHICS

The character artwork by artist Inma, is once again outstanding. It’s the best part of “Sakura Santa”. The artist did their absolute best making all the girls look attractive. Supermodel curves accentuate the girl’s huge busts, plus soft-looking, round butts make the characters ooze sex appeal. Similar to Senran Kagura main character artist Yaegashi Nan, Inma has a real talent for making the girls look amazingly soft. You just want to jump in the game world to squeeze and fondle the girls’ juicy, meaty bits. The only two criticism I have of the character art in “Sakura Santa” is that the girls’ breasts vary in size between the event CGs and their regular sprites. During normal dialogue, the girls could use a few more facial expressions.

VOICE ACTING AND SOUND EFFECTS (SFX)

Sakura Santa has no voice acting. There are no sound effects to speak of.

MUSIC

For a game set during Christmastime, Sakura Santa doesn’t have many tunes that go along with the Christmas spirit. A few jingles here and there would have made the game feel more festive. The soundtrack is basic fodder, that doesn’t grate on you. Many of the tracks don’t evoke any kind of Christmas spirit or resemble any holiday classics you might be fond of. It’s all uninspired, dull bullshit, like the rest of the game.

HENTAI

“Sakura Santa” is yet another Winged Cloud title that would rather tease you, and leave you with blue balls. Ever-present and frequent panty shots, coupled with bare asses and breasts, only do so much. The girls refer to Koji as a pervert on several occasions but considering that both Akina and Itsumi often hit on him, I’m going to point a finger, and say they’re both huge hypocrites. I won’t reveal too much about the raunchy events that transpire in-game, so you either have to take my word for it, or the play the game yourself. Personally, I suggest you do not opt for the latter choice. At the end of the day, all the teasing and great art will not make your dick, or any other organ you may have stand at attention.

CONCLUDING WORDS

Sakura Santa has a dull, lifeless story, and undeveloped characters. The constant cockteasing Winged Cloud endlessly regurgitates, is not enough to get you off. Great art does not make a great visual novel. It’s annoying as a reviewer, to read through a story full of uninspired padded fodder, with so much potential for real imaginative eroticism left unexplored. Winged Cloud has a bad habit of focusing on the “outer packaging”.

You can download Sakura Santa at Steam for $9.99.

Graphics

8/10

    Gameplay

    5/10

      Story

      4/10

        Music

        5/10

          SFX

          1/10

            Hentai

            4/10
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              https://i1.wp.com/hentaireviews.moe/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Sakura-Santa-Review-05.jpg?fit=1024%2C576https://i1.wp.com/hentaireviews.moe/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Sakura-Santa-Review-05.jpg?resize=300%2C300FlamecasterReviewschristmas games,ecchi,eroge,sakura santa,visual novel,winged cloudWritten by Flamecaster, edited by Otaku Apologist “Sakura Santa”, developed by Winged Cloud. An ecchi Christmas visual novel starring three girls getting together with an oblivious, uninteresting male protagonist. Available on Steam for $9.99. Released on December 21st, 2015. Winged Cloud doesn’t exactly have the cleanest of track records when it comes to...Hentai Reviews
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