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Flower, Sun, and Rain - It's such a lovely place

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I finished Flower, Sun, and Rain three weeks ago. At first I felt like, "What is this shit? Why would you make this?" I suppose I still wonder the first question. This game is just a constant exercise in tedium, I almost regretted starting it, but I wanted to play this Suda game I have been putting off.


It plays like a broken ass Professor Layton with tons of walking, open space, and other nonsense. Every single puzzle consists of randomly choosing the right wire to tap into a human, a radio, or piano or whatever the hell and then slowly turning a dial to put in a series of numbers. All of the puzzles come from a guide book or often vague hints that you can only view in your main hotel room. You are supposed to take notes, much like Layton, but there is no eraser, there is only delete the whole page. So don't fuck up your notes. The puzzles range from incredibly simple to obscure nonsense where you need to read a guide. Often the issue is you have the answer but you have no clue what order you are supposed to enter the numbers into the basic answer system. The game sometimes starts making fun of this system by just telling you that you could just guess at some points instead of bothering to figure it out.


Lots of games break the fourth wall to poke fun at itself, but FSR does it in a very oddly brutal way. It's like Goichi Suda has very well accepted this game is a piece of shit and makes fun of everything from the blocky graphics, the nonsense way you solve puzzles, the amount of walking, the stagnant plot, and the disconnect with the nice portrait art and the ugliness of everything else. It waits until halfway through to do this and I felt a certain kinship with a poorly designed game that also understood all of my frustration with their poor design. Wat? Also, this leads to the main character

punching a kid in the face in slow motion, totally worth the price of admission alone.


Anyway, you can actually have fun with this game. The narrative is a lot of fun and the dialogue is fucking bonkers. I love it. People say bizarre things and the plot is strange but also somewhat grounded. Maids in the hotel hide under your bed "to think" and the main character is so passive with all of these looney things that he calmly accepts that she is indeed under his bed thinking, even if it's creepy. The main character (who is named Sumio Mondo) also likes to shout the same catchphrase before every puzzle in a somewhat long Team Rocketesque manner. This is unskippable every time you start a puzzle. At some point a luchador barges into your room while you are solving a puzzle and shouts a new catchphrase which Sumio the decides to adopt the rest of the game. They don't really discuss it, it just happens. That's probably where I stopped hating this catchphrase and simultaneously fell in love with the game.


The story gets a little bit more heavy as it goes on, but still not really in a sensical way. It's very similar to Twin Peaks but much more stylish with a lot of characters who are incredibly passive towards each other and their motivations instead of melodramatic soap opera stuff. The only issue I have with the narrative is that some of it apparently requires some knowledge of of the Silver Case series, which Flower, Sun, and Rain is a spin off of. Apparently many of these characters are reoccurring and the story will often assume you just know what is going on. For whatever reason not one Silver Case game has an English translation but FSR does and the wikis on the narrative links are pretty sparse. So that sort of sucks. Maybe one day I will be able to play Silver Case and it will shine some light on some of the bizarre plot points, but I will go ahead and guess probably not.


Also to make this game the most enjoyable do not play past the first hallway in which you are allowed to run at the very beginning. You have to leave your DS on for a long period of time with the d-pad/analog stick pushing the character against the wall in an endless run. The game has a step counter as a "gameplay element" and the step counter unlocks things like finding where the puzzles are in the room or most importantly a fast run. So try to accumulate 100,000 steps before embarking, because the basic run is painfully slow.


I don't think I've ever played such an enjoyable piece of shit game.

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This game. This fucking game.


I never played a commercial console game -- a game funded, manufactured, and shipped to stores -- that so actively despises the player the way Flower, Sun, and Rain does. Rubbing your face in constant failure. Stretching out fetch quests to their breaking point.


Mid-game, when you finally leave the hotel, the roads of the island start opening up, but the game forbids you from driving your car. So you run. The same run that felt so slow in the confined space of the hotel, now even worse as you're trudging back and forth along these massive highways while entire movements of Gymnopedes play out. Your eight directional movement rarely aligns with the camera, so you have to constantly course-correct as you run back and forth, a design choice which strongly evokes Desert Bus.


(Oh,and only cheat the step counter if you want to subvert the designer's full masochistic intent, Davey Wreden.)

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Haha, but Noyb, there's no way I could have made it without cheating the step counter. The amount of running does have a comic pay off with that bike thief stuff though!


That's another thing, it takes more than half of the game to just leave the hotel. When I realized that, I also started loving it more. Just being so fallible is hilarious to me.


Perhaps this would have been a great game had it been designed well as an actual adventure game and not some number inserting thing. Also do you understand any of what's going on with Toriko and her pink alligator?

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