Disclosure: A review copy of Beach Bounce was kindly provided to LewdGamer by MangaGamer.
I find myself to be a person that wears their emotions and thoughts on their sleeve, which, in the long run, helps me to express myself without sugarcoating anything. Even though the experience I am about to describe was overtly a miserable one, I am glad AJTilley’s newest erotic visual novel Beach Bounce exists. It allows me to be completely honest about how crap it is.
As has become a tradition for most of my LewdLook, I first have to explain myself why I decided to use this article format instead of a full review for Beach Bounce. If I were a mean and bitter person, I would say that this particular VN defies reviewing and is best left in a deep and dank cave so that no one would ever gaze at it. My issue with it is much more elementary. Beach Bounce is simply an unfinished, raw product that just so happens to smell putrid. The game is set to have three episodes down the line, and what I played is just supposed to be a prologue to the whole series. Even as an introductory title, Beach Bounce fails on so many spectacular levels it’s almost baffling.
The first problem with the game is blatantly obvious within the first minute of starting the game: our protagonist, Tomoyo Oshiro, doesn’t waste time in dumping his life’s story at the player, leaving almost no important detail out. While I do believe it is important to establish what kind of character the main lead is at the beginning of the game, the way Beach Bounce does it is incredibly forced and rushed. This theme of forcefulness and hastiness seeps to other aspects of the game, and as you probably already have guessed, it’s not to the VN’s credit.
When Tomoyo stops his lengthy, yet ultimately unnecessary exposition, we learn he’s heading to the titular Beach Bounce, a Japanese beach resort owned by his estranged grandmother. As scenes transition at breakneck speed, the player soon finds out his dear grandma has overworked herself, and we volunteer/are forced through circumstances to go and help out at the resort. There we meet the title’s small cast of “romanceable” girls. Yes, those quotes were intentional, as what Tomoyo goes through in one week of game time is as far removed from romance as it possibly can be. All of the female cast feel like cardboard cutouts of anime tropes, lacking depth or any kind of endearing traits. Our protag isn’t an exception from this rule. I can only assume the story’s writer tried to make him the proverbial “good guy” that follows a rather vaguely defined set of moral rules. What he is to me, however, is a complete wet blanket of a character that doesn’t just ruin any fun the reader could have, but also his own interactions with other characters.
Speaking of character interactions. Besides the grating amount of in-your-face exposition the game throws at you, it also forces you to experience some of the most unnatural and forced sounding dialog that you’d only experience in someone’s 3rd-grade Naruto fanfiction. I didn’t feel engaged by any event the story had to offer. If Beach Bounce was a book, I would have put it away upon reading the first chapter and would never look back. Seeing how I readily volunteered to cover this game, that choice was not one available to me. Going back to my original point, almost every line of text in the game sounds robotic, and as sure as the day is bright, you would never encounter these kinds of conversations in real life. For a game promoting itself as a “slice-of-life adventure story” not being able to emulate that aspect of life is a cardinal sin.
Just when Beach Bounce couldn’t get any worse, it threw a curveball at me that cracked my skull and scarred my psyche. Now, you may be wondering just what could have been so bad that forced me to use such an analogy. Two words: Forced drama. Yes, AJTilley decided to go so low, they included a bit good ol’ and out of place character drama into the intro chapter of their game. A terminal, incurable, and unknown disease befalls Tomoyo’s grandmother, and he also learns that the father of the two of the game’s heroines has been leading several double lives just after that. At that point, I was so past caring about the game’s story and just went along the ride just for the train wreck.
The first episode of Beach Bounce has several different routes the player can take, which ultimately end in bedding one of the girl’s working or otherwise present at the resort. The events in the routes aren’t very varied, and what mixes things up are just single lines of text that add nothing important to the story. There are even some events that are such an obvious attempt at useless game length padding, it’s almost insulting to your intelligence.
Despite the visual novel being only about two hours in length, the creators still managed to dig themselves a plot hole or two. At a point in one of the routes, the protag mentions a piece of information about two of the girls he could only learn in if he took part in an event from a different route. Unless Tomoyo can transfer his consciousness back in time, much like a far better VN title, he would have no way of knowing that particular detail of the girls’ backstories. With the story and character problems finally out of the way, let’s move to a different segment of issues plaguing Beach Bounce, or as I call it, I’d Rather Drink Bleach.
Have you ever played visual novel that had technical issues on top of terrible grammar and spelling mistakes every few sentences? I never had such a displeasure until Beach Bounce! I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the game had absolutely no editing done to its script. It feels like it has been written by a non-English native writer that had way too much decision-making power. How else would those issues slip by quality control or any editing staff? One of the aforementioned technical problems that slipped into the final release is an issue with some scenes repeating themselves without music after making choices where to go in the beach resort. This is something that happened at least three times during my first playthrough. It’s quite possible that the 18+ MangaGamer release I’ve been playing hasn’t implemented some of the patches I’ve seen the Steam release get over the past few weeks that could have fixed this issue. As confirming this requires playing another version of Beach Bounce yet again, it will forever remain a mystery to me.
While the visuals of Beach Bounce are the game’s strongest point, they still can be quite inconsistent in both quality and anatomical correctness. On one hand, you have some CGs that look quite gorgeous and pleasing to the eye; on the other hand, you have skewed anatomy and questionable use of perspective. Sadly, what little good I had to say about the game’s graphics does not apply to the sound design and soundtrack. A maximum of three—maybe four—short and repetitive tracks play ad nauseam, and you soon learn to ignore them as they don’t really add any tension or anything else to the overall experience. The game has no miscellaneous sound effects to speak of, lacking even the most of bare basic ones like doors opening/closing, bells ringing and even something as simple as kissing sounds. Maybe a bit of voice acting could work in Beach Bounce’s favor, but of course, that wasn’t implemented either.
Lastly what should be the crème de la crème of the adult version of the game is luckluster, brief and simply lazy. The few sex scenes you get in Episode 1 are incredibly short and surprisingly undescriptive compared to other eroge titles. In other visual novels with erotic content, the protagonist would usually describe what they are doing with their partner with an inner monologue in great detail. Tomoyo is mute throughout the whole experience, whereas girls spout stock pornographic phrases at you intermixed with “oohs”, “aahs” and “I’m cumming!” The CGs during the acts don’t even show any penetration: The girls usually just lie there have their clothes removed piece by piece until they are naked, and finally get cum on them to show Tomoyo indeed got his dick out and did the act. I had my hopes up way too high, thinking porn could redeem Beach Bounce in some way.
Please stay ended, Beach Bounce.
The game ended as it started: not with a bang, but with a whimper and a barely audible “ayy lmao” that can be heard somewhere in the distance. Upon reaching the ending, the screen instantly turned to black and the developer started promising me more free content coming in future episodes. Frankly speaking, if the quality of Episode 1 is a good indicator of what’s to come in the latter installments, I’d rather have someone lobotomize me now so I can be spared playing them.
Beach Bounce is almost everything that can go wrong with an independent visual novel production. It’s uninspired, badly written and downright lazy at times. The adult version of the game found on MangaGamer costs around $18. With the game currently being more than a below average experience, I cannot, in all honesty, recommend it to anyone. You will probably have more fun going outside and playing at a local sandbox instead of at the trashy sands of Beach Bounce.
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