Foreword: Being busy with schoolwork, I was originally planning to post this a week ago…
Yeah, it kinda got delayed LOL.
But if you guys are patient enough, I’m going to put up another–more sophisticated review for WA2, seeing how the craze for it is a lot bigger than I thought… (Frankly, my previous review kinda sucks)
Nonetheless, along with the Himegami title I reviewed rather recently, this is another Chuablesoft game. However, the catch is that this title is much older, but in my opinion, was a very good title.
Almost equal to the game “Astraythem” in terms of quality, this title also supports my theory that with Chuablesoft games with the brown logo that shows “A Medicine for your Mind” really has a strong theme, LOTS of symbolism, analogies, and most importantly, a great story.
Despite this, this game also has its flaws that I found to be disturbing, and will try my best to explain as I go along.
May this be a lesson to all individuals–for the few games that Chuablesoft has, it only takes the logo as you start the game to determine its quality.
Title: Sweet Robin Girl
Release Date: February 25, 2011
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v5296
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=688510
Game Type: Slice of Life Drama set in the European-style environments with the theme of “relationships”
Summary: Sydney is now alone. After his mother died and his fiancee ran away from him, all he had was his messy store “Tomarigi” (とまり木) [Lit Trans: Stopping Tree, or a tree that often houses birds temporarily], and an enormous amount of debt that he couldn’t do anything about since his store wasn’t making any profit and he had no will to work.
As his limit presses him, he is told that he needs to sell his store to finally declare bankruptcy–he does not want to do this because this was his mother’s store.
However, there was also a bit of hope. If Sydney houses a certain group of homeless girls, some mysterious individual will clear the debt entirely and even offer the living expenses of the girls as well. Finding this extremely suspicious, and also becoming angry at the fact that Sydney thinks the individual is trying to turn his shop into a whore-house, Sydney immediately rejects the idea and storms back to his house, completely drunk and helpless with nothing to do.
As he approaches, he spies four girls standing around his front door. Finding this strange, talking to them showed that these four girls had no where to go, and was only walking around. Sydney originally thinks that he cannot help them in any way, but as he saves one of the girls from a rushing car, he then falls unconscious due to his binge drinking. This encourages the girls to drag the drunken man into his own house to nurse him back to health.
And thus begins the story of “Sweet Robin Girl”, where Sydney finds that despite his circumstances, he wants to protect these girls with all his power. However, just as the name “Stopping Tree” suggests, he can only be a place of comfort… And nothing else…
Did someone say Tree?
Story Length: Slightly Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Relatively Easy
Comments: With choices pretty clear-cut, all you need to do is to earn the favor with all the girls as much as possible. The Final Split occurs during the Halloween event, where if you did everything properly, you should get all four girls to appear, as well as a “forever alone” choice that leads to a bad end. Nonetheless, save here and enjoy the rest of the story. For each character, you should note that at the most important point (aka, climax of each route) you are forced to make a decision again. I’ll leave you up to what you should choose, although it’s actually kinda obvious which one leads to a good route and which one will be a bad route)
Character Design Rating: 5/10
Story Rating: 9/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rating Comments: A superior game, this rating stems mostly from the great story that encompassed the entire title. All the routes are DEFINITELY worth your time, and as with other “good” games, I enjoyed this game thoroughly.
The only problem I have are the character designs, where each character was a bit ambiguous. By this, I mean that there was really nothing “attractive” about them, while the interaction between the characters (and subcharacters) seemed a bit awkward. In addition, there is no “inciting” of emotions–the girls (as well as Sydney himself) seems to fall in love randomly and suddenly.
This might seem like a biased opinion coming from me (since I love it when games have voiced protagonists), but Sydney’s voice was also one of them. In the storyline, he’s a very friendly, sometimes solemn, and generally easily agitated. However, his voice, on the other hand, is all solemn–it doesn’t seem to reflect his actual personality well. This is slightly different in Astraythem, where the protagonist “Tsukumo” is highly one of those “oh-so-serious” types… So his voice matches up with his personality.
But they certainly look like they’re having fun :)
Character Summary: Regardless of what anyone says, the age group of these heroines seem to be anywhere from 10 to 15, according to their speech patterns and physical proportions. Their past is “hazed” in a way, so no one can really detect their true age, but it’s true that it felt weird watching these girls’ H-scenes.
First is Fiona. Arguably the oldest in the group, this girl is very calm and composed, and also very polite. Despite this, she seems to act as the “leader” of the group of girls, and direct them to Sydney’s shop in the beginning of the story. In this particular beginning scene, she also carries a violin case dearly, which suggests that she can not only play the violin, but is very proficient at it (why else would a homeless girl carry one?).
Fiona is the girl that Sydney saves in the beginning scenes, and perhaps because of this, is the very first ones to fully open her heart to him.
Fiona’s past is slowly revealed to be similar to Sydney’s–she lost her mother to the same plague that Sydney lost his mother to, and since they both play music (Sydney-Piano, Fiona-Violin), they end up playing the song “Sweet Robin Girl” often. In all the other routes presented, it is also shown that the person responsible of clearing up Sydney’s debt has a relationship to Fiona–with her own route describing such a relationship in the greatest detail.
Next is Elen, a haughty girl perfect for the “tsundere” role of the story. She does not have any memories of her past, but found herself on the streets with nothing except for the choker that she’s been wearing. Traveling alone, she first “started” the group by meeting with Pris somewhere and traveling with her. Fiona was the 3rd member, and Meg was added last.
Highly responsible and self-conscious, such a personality is what originally seems to attract Sydney–who learns quickly that this personality is only a large protective shell for a fragile girl who is always uncertain and scared about learning her past–despite actively searching for it.
Elen is also very skilled at cooking, being able to recreate high-quality dishes just by tasting them once. She soon takes over the role of the cook for both the 5-member family and the restaurant, and continuously wonders if this ability has anything to do with her past.
Elen’s route has a lot of symbolism, the main one being the choker that she’s wearing. As other elements are added into her story, the reader can see that various elements that Elen comments on will connect to a final “recollection” of memories at the climax of the route.
Next is Pris! Her actual name is Primrose, but since that’s too long to pronounce consistently, the girls, Sydney, and Pris herself prefers the shortened version of her name.
Arguably the youngest within the entire crew, her physical traits as well as her personality suggests that this young girl is no more than 10 years old. Despite her young age, she is extremely talented at drawing, and even draws the trademark picture of “Sweet Robin Girl”–the four robins perching on the tree.
Pris’s background involves her mother dying and her father suddenly leaving the house–to not return for several months. Pris originally left the house to search for her father, when she met Elen and decided to go along with her.
This bright and cheerful girl (who’s also pretty oblivious) becomes immediately close to Sydney, and her charm attracts not only Sydney, but guests to come to the old restaurant to relax.
Pris’s route involves the sudden return of her father. He returns after he recognizes Pris’s picture that was submitted to a contest. However, the reader is given a huge shock–her father is a worthless piece of trash. Despite the diligence and honesty of the daughter, the father is sly, deceptive, and ignorant. This contrast makes the reader’s heart ache as Pris continuously hopes “…we (Pris, her father, and Sydney) can live together”, but it’s only a matter of time until the full grown adult betrays a young child so many times, that Pris starts to question many things around her.
Last is Meg, a tomboy-ish girl who is shown to be very apathetic and only attentive to food or money. While this trait may make readers not feel as much attention for this girl, Meg may ultimately build up affection the greatest throughout her route.
Because she doesn’t have any family and was alone, Meg lived day to day by stealing other people’s money off the streets. She was exceptionally skilled with pickpocketing, but when Sydney finds out about this, he is highly devastated. With his pride of a merchant on the line, he tries to convince Meg that she shouldn’t steal, but since the two have such a different paradigm, the girl refuses and runs away–to return to her stealing life one more time.
Karma gets Meg good as she is then caught by a group of men, who plan to rape and beat up the poor girl when Sydney comes in and begs to hit him instead of the girl. Other characters finally stop the group of men from attacking Sydney, and Meg, who is startled so greatly by Sydney’s action, makes a promise to never steal again.
This heroic action by Sydney then attracts the once-apathetic girl to become jealous of any woman who approaches the protagonist, including a character that may shock the readers. As with Elen, Meg’s story is filled with the theme of “promise”, and involves an old silver watch that Meg buys for Sydney when she asks him out. However, the same watch becomes the breaking bond for the two, as both characters then start to live their days with regret and sadness.
Pris may only be 10 years old, but her mindset is very mature–even comforting to the protagonist.
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: With the story completed, there’s one “short story” that explains the disappearance of Rachel (Sydney’s Fiancee and lover), but also mentions that he was able to “rise again with the help of his current lover”. The short story does not reveal which one of the four girls is the mentioned “lover”, and seems to challenge the reader to make a guess.
Nonetheless, let’s get into the details. The major element that killed the character design is as suggested, the fact that a grown man falls in love with a girl well younger by at least 10 to perhaps even 20 years, despite still dragging the memories of his fiancee who ran away from him. I also didn’t appreciate that there was little to no “transition” for Sydney to falling in love with the girls (although the vice versa was clearly explained). Aka, the game explains the progress of the girls finding Sydney attractive, but the opposite is not done–it is unclear why Sydney fell in love with the heroines.
They look more like a father and daughter to me
Affection for the Characters: Moderately High
CG Quality: Slightly Low
Music Quality: Moderate
Conclusion: An above-average game by Chuablesoft! While it’s a great story compared to Love-la Bride or Himegami, I would still have to say Astraythem is better in terms of quality.
Now I’ll have to go finish Spice because gangrelion told me that was the best. Let’s do this!
Wait, I have to study (cries in a corner)