Foreword: Well, this game’s from Chuablesoft, a company that I find very favorable for creating thought-provoking and sometimes philosophical games. I couldn’t resist myself as a friend suggested this title to me, and decided to play it over the spring break.
Sugar + Spice, or shortened to “Shugaspa” (しゅがすぱ) was actually a rather inferior game. Note that from Chuablesoft, I’ve played 5 games: Astraythem, Sweet Robin Girl, Wagaya Himegami, Love La Bride, and this title. Having played those titles, I would rate “Astraythem” to be the best game out of all 5.
The prime reason I rate this game as “inferior” is because it felt as if this game was incomplete. The beginning starts out strong, but gets weaker as the game goes along, and the fact that “complex game elements” (which I’ll get to in a bit) made the game a bit more tedious than it should’ve been was not a good factor. The game also throws out some of its most important elements in most of the routes, such as its theme “Sugar and Spice”.
Nonetheless, it’s still better than some of the more recent Chuablesoft titles so I don’t think I can complain too much…
Title: Sugar + Spice
Release Date: September 28, 2007
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v421
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=385845
Game Type: Romance Novel revolving around an amnesic protagonist
Summary: “Who are you?” Are the first words that the protagonist hears when he wakes up. He is facing someone who looks like a doctor–wearing a white gown and looking at him with sharp eyes.
For a moment, the protagonist doesn’t remember anything. His name, his relationships, and his past. All he knows is his Japanese, which at least allows him to speak with the person in front of him, who claims that he is suffering from a strange variation of amnesia, where his basic survival knowledge is kept intact, but his memories are “sealed” away by a trauma–as if he didn’t want to remember it.
Sending him back to the waiting room shows that a person named “Aya” calls him “Ma-kun” and tells him about his past, like the fact that his name is “Kazuma”, and his parents are overseas studying architecture.
As Kazuma struggles to adjust to the environment he’s placed in, he will encounter 5 girls he becomes very close to: Uta, a strange girl who seems to lie all the time; Yumeji, a calm and well-behaved girl; Haneru, an athletic and bright girl; Ai, Kazuma’s childhood friend who is extremely intelligent; and a transfer student named Tsukasa, who becomes close to Kazuma since she becomes his next door neighbor.
Sleepover with the next-door neighbor…
Story Length: Slightly Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Difficult
Comments: So for a few hours as I started this game, I was wondering why the hell I kept hitting the bad end. Finally giving up after the 4th bad end, I went up to the walkthrough only to find that I was doing the right thing, it’s just that in the “small story” selection menu, I had to drag and drop a heroine sprite into the “Kokoro Lake” to trigger a confession event.
Despite this, it was hard even to find the right time for that trigger, since being too early = fail, and being too late = some CGs missing.
In addition, while the CGs aren’t difficult to unlock, some “short stories” require specific actions, so I simply ended up using the walkthrough for the entire game.
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 3/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 4/10
Rating Comments: Yes, you should be surprised, especially for the story rating. The beginning parts of this game starts out strong, but started to suck as I went along. There’s a true route, except it doesn’t have any significance but to give an extra “Christmas CG”, and the game leaves a LOT of holes in the end–such as the unexplained “What kind of event made Kazuma want to seal away his memories”, as well as leaving the reader wondering what Takamine (Kazuma’s doctor) meant as he said it was the 5th time having this conversation in the beginning parts of the story.
I’ll get to this in the character summaries, but the “best route” in this sense, was Tsukasa’s. This is because her route corresponds to the theme “Sugar, Spice, and all that’s nice”, with the additional factor that she’s probably the “little girl” suggested by the Opening Movie (the other characters are far from “little”).
Right. Onto character summaries.
Uta (Nickname “Hamo” from how Uta = Singing = Harmony) is the first heroine he meets, after he escapes from the hospital in an effort to explore his surroundings. To his surprise, Uta starts to cry in front of him as soon as they meet, and this haunts the protagonist for several weeks. As a girl who seems to lie all the time (she even lies to him when they first meet!), Uta is a comical character who tricks Haneru (as well as Kazuma) into believing many things that are false. Despite this, Uta is a character who cares deeply about her friends, and will refuse to lie about anything that she considers “important”.
As a character who is extremely skilled at cooking (and enjoys it too!), Uta finds herself more chubby than the other heroines, and this allows other characters to retaliate for the lies she spills out. She’s also the only character who frequently plays along with Kazuma’s “sexual approaches”, as well.
Ultimately, Uta becomes involved in a love triangle with another character.
Next is Yumeji (Nickname “Jiji” from both her surname and given name ending with the character “ji”). This character is introduced in the very beginning to suddenly burst out crying similar to Uta, when Kazuma visits the Kokoro Lake. Again startled by this behavior, Kazuma strongly believes that this has something to do with his lost memories, but is not able to bring it up even as Yumeji joins in the crew.
Solemn and polite, it is immediately shown that Yumeji is popular with the guys. That’s why then there’s an athletic festival, Kazuma’s class proclaimed that the MVP will get a kiss from her!
As anyone would expect, Yumeji is the character involved in the love triangle with Uta. The relationship of her, Uta, and Kazuma are revealed to the greatest extent in her route, and it is hinted by the game that Kazuma’s amnesia has something to do with this love triangle.
Despite one of my favorite CVs voicing this character (Oto Agumi), I didn’t find Yumeji too attractive. Perhaps this is because I expect Oto Agumi’s voice to be associated with more of the amaenbo or younger characters instead.
Third is Haneru (Nickname “Pyon” from how her athletic abilities makes it seem as if she hops (onomatopoeia: pyon) around). Generally friendly, Pyon becomes a major comical character due to her ignorance which makes her an ideal target for Uta’s lies. Throughout the game, Pyon becomes a victim of these “lies” and ridiculed continuously.
Her ignorance is also matched up with her being unable to also lie, and this causes her even more trouble. As an example, her innocent remarks will imply that Uta is fat without her realizing it.
Despite all this, Haneru ironically has the largest breast size in the group, AND she isn’t proud of it since it “gets in the way when I run”. Regardless, her breast size is thoroughly exploited by Kazuma, who always sees her as an athletic rival.
Also largely uninteresting, Haneru’s route mostly involves her family problems and how Kazuma reacts to them.
Then we come to our tsundere (?) osananajimi Ai. Introduced to be Ayane’s younger sister, this character originally holds an extreme hatred for our protagonist who does not remember why he made Ai mad. As he lives in her house for a few months (as a safety measure, since it’s dangerous to leave an amnesic student by himself), Kazuma genuinely tries to be friendly to Ai and learn about himself from her. However, Ai refuses to even talk to him.
This doesn’t deter our protagonist, and his continuous approaches seem to have an effect on Ai’s cold hatred, and despite still holding some reluctance, Ai also becomes added to the group of friends with the nickname “Miyanma”, a slurring of her surname.
Ai is extremely intelligent. This allows her to continuously achieve #1 in the school rankings in all subjects despite seemingly not studying. In addition to this, she is very knowledgeable even about various things that Uta would lie about.
Ai’s route mainly involves Kazuma’s relationship with her and boxing. The reason why Ai originally acts cold to him is also revealed in her route, and its reason may surprise the reader quite a bit.
Last but definitely not the least is the pure and innocent Tsukasa. She is like the mascot character of this game with her “little girl” characteristic, and also seem to correspond to “sugar, spice, and all that’s nice” theme more than the other heroines.
Originally the neighbor of Kazuma, he actually mistakes this girl to be a boy. This misunderstanding makes Tsukasa very angry, and causes her to ignore Kazuma completely. Kazuma, on the other hand, regrets his mistake sincerely. Because of this, Kazuma approaches this girl feverishly, and his efforts are rewarded when he protects Tsukasa from a wolf.
Tsukasa then becomes a good friend to Kazuma, and only then are more things revealed about this girl: she loves music (she’s even shown with headphones!), and is a wealthy ojousama from Europe! Despite this background, Tsukasa eagerly joins the band that Satou and Kurokawa invites her to, and requests that she be treated normally even when her background.
The one thing I really like about Tsukasa’s design is that because of her background as a Westerner, her CV is made to voice her with a slight accent. Tsukasa’s pronunciation of westernized words are very clear, and this was one of the good things I found about her.
Also, she also enjoys Dr. Pepper. Hands down favorite character from this game.
The four-member band!
Sexual Content: Moderate and unnecessary
Comments: Yes, this title was good. Yes, this title had a lot of plot and great moments, but that was it. Similar to Sweet Robin Girl, the game would present a lot of paradigms, but not follow through with them. In this title, the philosophical question “What are girls made of?” is answered with “Sugar and Spice, and all that’s nice” (At this point, I was reminded of Powerpuff Girls, and restrained my urge to shout “and Chemical X!”), and has the protagonist wondering what that “all that’s nice” consists of. However, in the end, that question is thrown out the window as the game focuses more on the story that relates to the protagonist’s past instead.
I’m really not sure why this got a fandisk and a sequel. I mean, I guess the game was pretty good at the time of its release, but with titles like Astraythem, I can see Shugaspa being buried in the glory of better games. My best guess for this title being inferior is that it’s one of the earliest Chuablesoft titles, and they’re only getting the hang of how to create a “good” game.
Ai should really just go to a public pool instead
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 2/10. Personally, I’m not too much of a fan of Ginta’s art. Compared to more recent work like Astraythem, the artwork falls significantly in quality.
Music Score: 4/10. Same with the music. I don’t think I need to explain much.
Conclusion: A surprisingly inferior Chuablesoft game in the sense it was highly incomplete. Holes in plot are frequent, and I actually spent several hours struggling at why I was getting to only the bad end. Character design is above average, but can be a lot better. While I mostly compare this game with Astraythem, it’s still better than newer Chuablesoft games like Himegami or Love la Bride.
Good job, mother nature!
Now I’m actually curious to its sequel, “Sugar + Spice 2”. If anyone has played it, please let me know of what you think.