Summer, the season of endless greenery, beautiful blue skies, and of course love. Suika ties all these feelings together to create a beautiful compilation of romantic stories.
Suika takes place in the small remote town of Tokiwa, where endless green fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Instead of focusing on a single larger narrative, Suika is split into multiple self-contained romantic stories, each one of them introducing a new cast of characters.
The first chapter follows Kazama Akira. After his parents split up he finally returns to the town he briefly lived in a long time ago. His love is slowly but surely rekindled as he meets up with his long-forgotten childhood friend. This chapter is not told chronologically, instead, it follows both the events in the past and in the present, and it has some powerful twists by the end.
Chapter two follows Kamishiro Souji and his growing friendship with his senpai Shirakawa Sayaka. Both enjoy painting and spend all summer together. But things are not so simple. She is tormented because of the loss of her mother and ostracized because of her father’s paintings.
The third story follows Masaki Yoshikazu and his complicated relationship with his girlfriend and sister. While the forth finally introduces the mysterious character who have been making their appearance since the start of the game.
Even though each chapter focuses on a new set of characters, characters from previous and even future chapters may briefly pop-up from time to time – It’s a fantastic way to keep things mysterious throughout.
While the chapters are self-contained they are all bound together by the same themes of growing relationships and overcoming social issues. The stories are mainly down to earth with a pinch of fantastical to spice things up.
For a romantic visual novel, Suika does know how to pull at your heartstrings. Under that coat of summer love, it has a lingering tragic atmosphere. It tackles themes of divorce, bullying and family issues. The game had me teary eyed in less than an hour but kept me glued throughout.
With all that being said the pacing is a bit hit or miss. The writing might seem a bit weak at first. The game often jumps from scene to scene, frequently skipping less important details. At the same time, some chapters tend to drag on for far too long for no apparent reason. It does require some getting used to, but after some time the game will lull you into its pace. What really takes away from the experience, however, are the noticeable spelling errors and subpar translation.
This release features additional translator notes to help people new to Japanese culture. However unlike in titles such as Steins;Gate here it comes in the form of an additional PDF so you will have to constantly shift back and forth if you are not acquainted with terms such as Josei Jibun, Manyoushuu or Mijinko.
Since the game is comprised of multiple self-contained chapters it takes the liberty of introducing numerous routes throughout. Whereas the first chapter has only one single ending, the following have multiple, some of which even depend on the choices you made in the previous chapters.
Suika is quite an old title. It was initially released in 2001 and was re-released in 2004 as Suika A.S+ which featured an extended scenario. The game made its way to English speaking fans in 2009 thanks to MangaGamer and it was coincidently also one of their first releases.
Aesthetically Suika is a beautiful looking game. If you are a fan of 90s anime you’ll feel right at home, with the giant eyes and shiny hair. The girls look lovely, while male characters more often than not look a bit wonky. As expected everyone except the protagonist and a handful of other characters are fully voiced. The voice actors do a phenomenal job conveying their characters’ emotions.
We can’t talk about early 2000s visual novels without commenting on their sex scenes. While Suika doesn’t shy away from these intimate moments between characters, they sometimes feel a bit out of place. Thankfully they tend to be few and far between, meaning they are never the sole focus of the game.
This sweet 2001 game is bound to put off more than a handful of people with its dated aesthetic and writing. But at the same time, the story is so endearing, and its atmosphere has an almost magical-vibe that the game truly feels timeless. If you decide to enter its world, it will be one summer you will never forget.