Flower, Sun and Rain
Unless you're a masochist, you'll never beat this game.
Flower, Sun and Rain was initially released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan in 2001. Designed by Suda 51 and his team at Grasshopper Manufacturer (the same team behind Killer 7 and the likable No More Heroes), it gathered a small fan base despite its complicated story. Now the game's available for Nintendo DS, but time hasn't been kind to it.
In the game, you play Sumio Mondo, a detective summoned to the Flower, Sun and Rain resort on Lospass Island. It seems the locals fear a terrorist attack on their airport, but that's just the beginning. You run into problems over the course of the game, and somehow see the same bomb going off day after day until you eventually figure out just what the heck is going on. Think of it as a non-comedic Groundhog Day.
Helping Sumio out is his helpful all-in-one briefcase that he named Catherine. The case allows him to jack into objects and characters in order to get clues to unravel the mystery. You access the clues by completing a pair of mini-games. First, you'll need to access a number of random colored plugs, picking the right one in order to access an LCD number screen. From there, you'll spin the numbers around and find the right combination. Unfortunately, these games rely more on luck than skill, so don't be surprised if you become frustrated.
Suda 51 would've been wise to include some sort of Catherine tutorial, rather than "hey, guess how this works". Dedicated players may find something to enjoy, but everyone else will probably be too disappointed to care.
Even worse, the game hasn't aged well. The graphics weren't touched up and are just as muddy and low-res as the PlayStation 2 version. There are some unique characters, but the sloppy and unappealing 3-D interface turned us off.
However, we did get a kick out of Flower, Sun and Rain's audio. The music is diverse and fun to listen to, with a variety of acid funk and jazz. The gibberish voices are annoying (think MySims meets schlocky drama flicks), but it fits with the game's humorous dialogue.
Although Flower, Sun and Rain shows signs of innovation, it's much too confusing to enjoy. There is originality here in spades, but the experience lacks direction. Skip it.
What's Hot: Humorous dialogue, great story (even with a bit of nonsense), different than most DS games.
What's Not: Muddy graphics, mini-games lack variety, no tutorial, backtracking gets old.