Like Ishaan, I recently got the opportunity to sample one of the Anime Central visual novel demos from MangaGamers. I decided to give Suika A.S+ (Circus), the only censored demo of the three, a try, since I prefer standard, all-ages visual novels. Suika A.S+ Circus is an adult game, but the MangaGamers version is censored so the H-images do not appear
First, a bit of background. Suika A.S+ was originally an adult PC visual novel called Suika. It was so successful that it received all ages PC, PlayStation and Dreamcast ports. After that, Suika A.S+, an uncensored and expanded version of the original game, was released for PCs. That once again spawned an all ages PlayStation 2 port. . The version MangaGamers has translated and released is a censored version of the Suika A.S+ it includes the H-rated scenes’ text descriptions, but does not have the images.
Suika A.S+ features a story that doesn’t center on one protagonist and his harem of attainable women. Instead it focuses on Tokiwa Village, and the relationships of four men, Hiroshi Inaba, Akira Kazama, Souji Kamishiro and Yoshikazu Masaki, with the women in their lives. There are four chapters and a prologue, with each chapter focusing one man’s storyline. The only exception is Hiroshi, who stars in both the prologue and the final chapter.
The demo I played begins with the Hiroshi Inaba prologue. He’s come to Tokiwa Village for a visit and is talking about his deep feelings about summer and enjoying a walk, savoring his surroundings. This introduction also reveals to the player that his sister, Chitose, has medical problems and he developed superstitions surrounding the Tokiwa General Hospital to keep her healthy and safe. Through this brief segment, the player learns a bit of background about Tokiwa, and also meets Itsuki Minase and Sayaka Shirakawa, the two heroines from Akira Kazama and Souji Kamishiro’s stories.
We also meet Hiroshi’s mystery girl in the prologue. He hears a ringing noise from behind him. When he turns to see what it is, he sees a girl with long silver hair and a cape running away. You then have the opportunity to make your first decision – whether or not to pursue her. After that, you learn that his visit this year is more than just a yearly constitutional to visit friends and family – Hiroshi’s father, one of the richest men in the village, is ill.
After a brief resolution, the demo then continues with Chapter 1. Akira Kazama and his mother are returning to Tokiwa for a visit. Akira visits the shrine while he’s there, and gets entangled with the miko Itsuki Minase and her twin sister Sayo, two girls he’s known for a long time.
I noticed something in the Suika A.S+ translation that Ishaan also discovered in the KiraKira translation – at times it was awkward to read. There weren’t any spelling errors, but there were a few grammatical ones. Plus some things were worded awkwardly. I could still understand what was going on what being said, but I wish MangaGamers had hired an extra editor, as sometimes and extra set of eyes come in handy in discovering errors.
Even the introductory messages contain errors. “In order to maintain the proper atmosphere of gameplay some Japanese words were remain untranslated.” That isn’t a good sign. Another one of my favorites was, “The person was getting farther while swinging around eye-catching silver hair.” While the rest of the context makes you realize that the person was getting further away, her silver hair swaying as she ran, alone it sounds like the person running away is carrying silver hair that she’s whipping around.
One thing I did like was the explanation of Japanese terms. For example, after Hiroshi runs into the miko Itsuki in the prologue, a small footnote appears that states what a miko is. It’s a helpful addition for people who aren’t familiar with Japanese words or customs. The original Japanese voice acting is also retained, as is the original opening theme.
Unfortunately, my experience with Suika A.S+ (Circus) didn’t go as well as Ishaan’s with Kira Kira. I don’t know if it was because I’m not the target audience, the translation was awkward, the text appears one sentence at a time or there were so few choices to make while playing/reading, but I couldn’t get into the Suika A.S+ (Circus) demo. The background music was rather commonplace and didn’t grab me like the themes from other visual novel games (like Hiiro no Kakera). There also seemed to be extraordinarily long stretches where you’re just staring at stock backgrounds while reading expository information and narration. I found myself getting bored, and endlessly tapping to get through all the exposition. Then, I’d realize I missed something somewhat important, and had to go back and consult the log. Even worse – in my frantic clicking to just get through the stagnant parts, I’d pass up one of my few chances to influence the story by accidentally clicking one of the answers.
I personally didn’t really get much out of the Suika A.S+ (Circus) demo, and stopped playing shortly after Akira broke the shrine bell in the first chapter. I’m thinking it’s partially because I prefer more interactive visual novels and partially because there are such long stretches with nothing to do but stare at stationary, unappealing background images and read. It was created with male players in mind, so perhaps a male player who enjoys doing a lot of reading and clicking would take more away from the game. I’d recommend putting the game on auto though – you don’t want to wear out your mouse.