Sakura Santa is a visual novel by Winged Cloud for computers, available on Steam. The reason I’m reviewing this is because it is available on Steam in the context that it is, in fact, a game. As this is the first one I’m talking about in the Sakura series, I guess I should explain a little bit about the series in general. Basically, this is an ongoing series of visual novel games, not necessarily related to one another, that seem to rely heavily on sexualized anime women and suggestive situations. They usually also involve some type of fantasy element to their setting and story. As visual novels, they don’t have much in the way of gameplay, but they will often have sections where you can choose from branching paths in the story. To be honest, the real reason I want to start talking about these is because I tend to enjoy them far too much. Then again, this IS a Christmas game so the timely release of this review feels a bit more justified… even if it feels just as perverted. As it is a visual novel, the story is most of the content, but I’ll try to keep from spoilers as best I can.
In Sakura Santa you play as a university student named Koji. He’s new to the town and doesn’t have any friends there yet. It’s almost Christmas and he has no one to spend it with. His family are all busy with their own plans even. So he wanders off to a nearby shrine. He helps an elderly, injured priest there with the upkeep of the place before making an offering and making a wish. He wishes for a cure for his loneliness. He then finds himself in the company of a fox spirit named Akina, who also resides at the shrine, that wants to repay his pure kindness. She asks him to come back and see her again. Afterwards he goes into town and runs into an old childhood friend, Itsumi, that coincidentally works at a café there. She also hasn’t made much for friends in this place so she wants to catch up with Koji. She doesn’t think she’ll have the time with the holiday rush at the café, but Koji offers to help out there in order to spend some time with her. Also in town he accidentally bumps into a girl dressed up in some festive wear that claims to be Santa. She’s trying to find her magic wand that she has lost. Koji helps her find it and as a thank you she offers to visit him when she’s not busy getting ready for Christmas. Three girls in one day. Thus, the stage is set.
The way the story unfolds after this introduction is up to you. With each day you get to select from three different activities, each one corresponding to one of the girls. You decide who to spend your time with on each day. The amount of time you spend with each will affect how the story goes. There are general models for each character, along with a few poses and expressions that will change now and then to fit the current situation and dialogue. However, there are also a few specific scenes where you’ll get to see a specific image drawn, typically a quite suggestive one at that. So playing through multiple times with different paths can get you some new images as well as an alternate story. It’s up to you to decide how you want to spend your Christmas. Only one thing is certain: You won’t be spending it alone.
My main interest in the game is pretty obvious. I saw hot anime girls. I couldn’t resist. I do think their designs are quite cute and sexy. Beyond that, I actually thought the characterization was alright in this one. I mean, there are still times when the characters can feel unbelievable in some of the things they say or do, but they seem to act and react in a relatable manner. No one feels like they make no sense at all. I find this especially true of the protagonist this time around. Koji has moments of both strength and weakness, but always seem to be honest with himself about it at least. I really appreciated it. It has a few nice features for convenience too. You can hit the skip button upon replaying the game so it will skip all previously read dialogue quickly until you get to something new or a choice. There’s a gallery too, which has pictures unlock once you see them from playing the game so you can go back and gawk at them anytime you want. I also think each of the three main stories worked well enough to be entertaining. I also liked how easy it was to follow each specific storyline. If you want to spend your time with Akina then you pick the top choices. If you want to spend time with Itsumi then you pick the middle choices. If you want to spend time with Santa then you pick the bottom choices. It’s simple. If you split your time evenly then you’ll get another outcome and series of events.
This story path is rather strained. The others all followed somewhat of the same story beats, but they at least worked well enough to seem relatively realistic to the context. In this one, however, it seems like all the girls start going crazy. Each one wants Koji’s attention and also his love. They start saying things that don’t feel natural even to their character, much less that of a normal human being. They turn mean on each other and are a constant struggle. The worst part is that the conflict isn’t even resolved in any way. The story here just ends with the girls still fighting over an indecisive guy. Other complaints are probably more minor. There are a few typos here and there. You can tell what they meant to put but those are still a little flaw. It may not be the strongest story if you’re used to more in-depth visual novels and are only checking it out for the story itself. A lot of the story has to repeated in order to see all the content, and sometimes it can feel a bit disconnecting because of that. There’s even a red herring choice at the start of the game that DOES affect a small bit of dialogue but doesn’t affect the progression of the story or the gallery completion. Doesn’t seem necessary. And as I mentioned before, this is a visual novel so there’s not much for gameplay. You just make choices and… I guess masturbate if that counts as part of the game. So on that front, it’s a pretty terrible GAME.
Yet, Sakura Santa is still a fun experience that I’d recommend. It’s a nice Christmas-themed visual novel that managed to keep the theme alive without sacrificing what you come to a Sakura game for. Besides, it’s always nice to feel like you’re making some type of connection with the girls you’re fapping to. It makes it feel a little less meaningless than porn… even if it’s about the same. A Google image search just doesn’t have the same feeling. It does what it sets out to do pretty well and I’ll applaud it on that. Oh, so THAT’S the sound of one hand clapping. But seriously, it’s not too bad of a time if you know what you’re getting into and want to get into that. It’s a bit like fap bait, except that once you’re in you’ll still have something to fap to. So the advertising is pretty honest. Get it on sale if nothing else. It’s worth a few bucks if you’re the type to appreciate it. Just… try not to feel too weird about wanting to bone Santa.