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Flower Sun and Rain: Murder And Mystery In Paradise Review Package Art
Xseed Games

Flower Sun and Rain: Murder And Mystery In Paradise Review

Flower Sun and Rain was originally released for PlayStation 2 in 2001, and while the title saw the light of day in both Japan and Europe, it never made it to the American market. With a puzzle-based adventure storyline and colorful characters, the game seemed like a good idea for the Nintendo DS system, so it's no surprise that Grasshopper, with the help of development studio h.a.n.d., ported the game to Nintendo's handheld which, thanks to Xseed, has its first ever American localization. With a new subtitle, Flower Sun and Rain: Murder And Mystery In Paradise brings Goichi Suda's unique flavor to DS.

The original version was a very early PS2 title, so Flower Sun and Rain hasn't lost a lot of graphical oomph with its DS transition, especially since the visuals were heavily stylized, as are several of Grasshopper's games. The 3D character models don't always match up completely with the drawn character portraits, something the game itself admits in a fourth-wall-breaking conversation, but they aren't unpleasant to look at. The lower screen houses a map of the island displaying the player's location. Although this isn't as necessary as it might be in an action game, nor is it as pinpoint-accurate.

While Suda 51 himself wrote the lyrics to the game's opening song, a great deal of Flower Sun and Rain's soundtrack is comprised of rearrangements of orchestral tunes by composers including J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy and notably George Gershwin, whose songs share titles with numerous chapters in the game. Characters are "voiced" with the monotone gibberish typical of Suda's work, which is as annoying or attractive as it has ever been, depending on taste and mood. There are also several audio ticks that seem like quotes from games like Killer7 and No More Heroes, but since this title actually came first, it's more likely that those games have quotes from this one.

Flower Sun and Rain Island Map

Flower Sun and Rain concerns a young "searcher" named Sumio Mondo who is called to Lospass, a small island in the South Pacific supported heavily by the tourist trade. After a plane explodes in mid-flight over the island, Mondo starts reliving the day over and over again in Groundhog Day fashion, each time righting a particular wrong or changing some circumstance in order to stop the bombing.

Puzzles are the key to playing this game, and while hints are occasionally hidden in the game's background or through dialogue, more often than not, they are found in the Lospass Island guidebook and must be searched for within its 50 or so pages. The answer to every puzzle is numerical in nature, starting with one about Mondo's birthday, which is chosen by the player -- there's even a space to write it in the manual so it isn't forgotten later. Even answers that might not seem to be numbers actually are, and part of the game is figuring out which. In addition to story-based puzzles, there are also random "lost-and-found" items that are hidden across Lospass Island; unlocking these requires that a logic or math question be answered. These are completely optional but can be accessed after a mission has been completed through the game's main menu.

Flower Sun and Rain ScreenFlower Sun and Rain Screen

The game can be controlled by the buttons, but the touch controls work so well, it's really not necessary. Mondo is completely controlled via the lower screen, and all menus and inputs are handled via tactile contact, including the dial-based control board of Catherine, Mondo's briefcase-shaped computer, that plugs into various items, animals and people throughout the game's environs. Catherine can also be accessed at any point during the game, a change from the PS2 version, allowing for in-mission saves and consulting the guidebook at any time.


Flower Sun and Rain ScreenFlower Sun and Rain Screen

If there's one thing that Flower Sun and Rain definitely delivers, it's that typical Suda 51 charm and humor, filled with so many random pop culture references and off-the-wall humor that it's actually kind of hard to believe it's a Japanese-made game. While there's atmosphere galore here, the puzzles themselves are somewhat obtuse, especially the optional ones, which often feel more like doing math homework than solving a mystery. Fans of Grasshopper's original work will not be disappointed, but adventure game fans that don't have any previous experience with Suda's work may want to think twice about this one.

final score 7.7/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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