Sakura Nova is yet another entry in Winged Cloud’s Sakura series. As long as people keep buying the series, they will most likely never change a thing.
Winged Cloud continues to garner infamy over its Sakura series, with bland characters, non-existent stories, and lack of actual sex scenes being the most common complaints. For Sakura Nova, Winged Cloud appears to have taken some of that feedback to heart. Sakura Nova is a tad longer than the other Sakura titles, and that added length is due to an increased amount of sex scenes. While it may sound like they’re finally getting their act together, there is most definitely room for some more improvement.
This is never something you want a girl to ask.
Sakura Nova puts readers in the role of Hikage. He’s not your cliche, talentless loser that normally stars in many VNs. He’s actually the adopted son of the kingdom’s strongest knight, Zero. While Hikage is still a cadet, Zero’s lifelong mentoring has made him stronger than current Royal Knights. The game starts off with Hikage meeting his new teammates, Kaguya and Arisa, in a compromising situation. The confusion is cleared up when their instructor arrives and explains how it’s alright for them to be half-naked around each other because they are a team, and teammates are like family. Like brainwashed cultists, they accept this idea as true with little resistance. From this point on, the plot stagnates and never picks back up. Story events seem to be just pieced together. They have little to no correlation with one another, and the order at which they occur is completely negligible.
Don’t worry, this is completely normal. I do this with my sister all the time.
Sakura Nova is a nukige delivered in an eroge visual novel format. There is a very important reason why this is a bad idea: If you don’t have writers with the talent to create a riveting story, then you keep the story parts to a minimum to avoid boredom. Porn stories are, at their worst, short and terrible. They are used as filler to connect one scene to the next. Being a visual novel, Sakura Nova has a ton of story. Rather than offer its excellent visuals with a short and sweet story to guide the reader along, it makes you wade through endless, boring text to give the illusion that it’s offering something more robust. If a restaurant has the greatest tasting beef, and they decide to serve a tiny strip of it on a huge bun with a pound of lettuce, people will forget about the meat and only remember lettuce. Instead, just serve the meat by itself and call it filet mignon.
YES! This is what I’m here for.
The character interactions are much better, but they still take queues from the porn story handbook. The two girls are both virgins, but act nothing like what you might expect from a virgin. While barely knowing the MC, they are the ones who initiate sex, and they do this in the same manner that a normal person would offer a guest a cup of coffee. There is no sexual tension, no build-up, just, “hey, let’s have sex.” I could forgive this incredibly cheesy dialogue if the main story wasn’t so drama-ridden. Instead, the ill-fitting dialogue just catches you off-guard and breaks your immersion.
Just like that, eh?
This brings me to the impossible suspension of disbelief. Sakura Nova constantly challenges readers to remain invested in the story, but these sex scenes certainly don’t help matters. When a virgin girl just survived a monster attack, her next course of action is probably not going to be to fuck a person she met the day prior. If she did, one would expect her to at least leave the dangerous area where she was just attacked before getting her freak on. I couldn’t help but cringe when Kaguya, the sheltered, virgin aristocrat, offered her body as thanks to the MC just for letting her spend the night, but I died inside when she defeated a water monster with fire magic. Whoever wrote this wasn’t even trying.
Says the girl who used fire magic on a water sprite.
Compared to past Sakura games, the sex scenes have definitely improved. Surprisingly, the writing quality picks up here as well. Another thing I noticed was the amount of verbal consent. The MC practically had the girls sign contracts in blood to confirm they wanted sex. Then again, he may have just been really caught off guard by how arbitrarily he was offered sex in the first place.
Rather than the bland ecchi scenes you may see in Sakura Santa, Sakura Nova blesses your eyes with several scenes of full penetration and cumshots. It would be nice if the scenes had minor variations for facial expressions and even ahegao moments, but what they do offer is greatly appreciated. Although these scenes were written in lovingly lewd detail, I still preferred the visuals in the tentacle rape scene.
I’ll save you as soon as I get to see these tentacles do something interesting.
Now, I apologize, but I’m still not done beating the story into the ground — specifically, the choices and dialogue options. Typically, visual novels offer the reader some indication of how decisions will impact the path of the story, but aside from one obvious dialogue option, “whose boobs are better,” the choices presented are random at best. Many of the choices have seemingly zero consequence, while others make a stealthy, but powerful effect on your relationships. This becomes incredibly frustrating when you get stuck with a girl you weren’t even trying to pursue. It also makes unlocking all of the CGs a nightmare.
Not joking, your choice here will have a dramatic impact on the ending you get.
If you’ve played any other Winged Cloud game, you’ll be very familiar with the art, and the artwork is no less impressive in Sakura Nova. The only real complaint is how they put endless text over a single image. It’s not too terrible during the sex scenes, but the problem is when they do this during the story segments. The story will drag on for so long with the same background image, that the image they display is no longer representative of what’s taking place in the story. This is a common flaw in visual novels, but it doesn’t mean we should continue to tolerate it.
No. No she’s not. In fact, she’s smiling!
All in all, you can do much worse than Sakura Nova. I wasn’t running into constant grammar errors, and it has all the basic functionality you’d expect from a visual novel. There was one minor bug where Arisa magically appears in her uniform after having just been naked, only to have the nude character sprite replace her a moment later. This aside, it’s very polished. The voice overs, although censored for certain words, offer some great moaning during the lewd parts. The lewd scenes themselves aren’t bad, but they lack variety, and reading through the awful story to get to one can feel like an eternity. While Winged Cloud still hasn’t hit the mark, Sakura Nova is a step in the right direction.