Foreword: Omigosh, I am so sorry! It’s been over a month without any kind of posts from me, and I really did not play any games to actually write a review about. Like, the entirety of last month was either nukige or MMOs for me, and now that school’s starting back up for me, I’m expecting even less time for review writing.
A bad news is that I am genuinely contemplating on stopping the writing of reviews because of how busy everything would be, and just enjoy the releases like a normal player, but then there would be no fun in ranting about the bad games or praising the good ones!
Alright, right onto this title, called “Natsuiro Recipe”. To be perfectly honest, I came here for the food (like what most of us do when there’s an organization meeting at your college). As a competent cook myself, I was curious to know how the game would incorporate the themes “summer”, “food”, and “romance” into a single game.
In short, they did do a very decent job at this fusion of themes, but they also missed out critical portions and being the asshole of a critic I am, I’m here to thoroughly exploit that and hopefully get the readers to laugh as well.
Title: なついろレシピ (Natsuiro Recipe) [Summer-colored Recipe]
Producers: Pulltop Air
Release Date: May 29th, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v16515
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=842088
Game Type: Romance Novel with themes of “Food” and “Summertime”
Summary: Takefumi is a boy who never thought he belonged anywhere; he was always being dragged around by his dad and frankly getting tired of it. As he had nothing to do after graduating college, a letter addressed to his father in Hong Kong arrives at his home.
The letter is written by a girl who claims to be the hidden daughter of Takefumi’s father. Takefumi, who is already aware of his father’s bad habits of hooking up with random women, takes this to heart and decides to visit this girl in the rural countryside to apologize and do whatever he can.
This strange, beautiful, but lonely girl has no one to trust, but with Takefumi’s support, she starts smiling again. Despite this, Takefumi decides to take a step further, and to re-establish the restaurant of Yuzu’s now-deceased grandmother, which was extraordinarily important to the young girl.
The restaurant’s special fried rice! Most of the beginning scenes show Yuzu and Takefumi trying to replicate this popular recipe, but having something missing each time.
Story Length: Slightly Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Very Easy
Comments: So the game is very easy since all the choices have the heroine’s name in it. There are extra H-scenes, but these also open up automatically as you go through the story, so just one save at the 1st split will be sufficient.
Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 6/10
Protagonist Rating: 7/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 7/10
Rating Comments: Amazing character design can be seen in this game, where all the heroines are very colorful with various cute traits that’s sure to put a smile on your face. Whether it’s the loli-character Kogomi trying to straighten out her older sister or Yuzu having so many wrong lifestyle choices. Although I can also confidently say that other characters like Ryouka was greatly lackluster and was more fitting as a subcharacter instead.
Story rating falls a bit. Even with all the humor, bright atmosphere with smooth transitions, the game seems to insist on the atmosphere of “summer” when presenting this story, by sometimes “skipping” one year to the next year for the next portions of the story. While it is pretty OCD-inducing to have a story that only displays “summer” (even if that’s the theme), the game also doesn’t show a physical growth in all of the characters even with this time-passing, which was another minus on their part. Characters often say “It’s been X-years since you’ve come here” when speaking with Takefumi, and that was really the only clue I had when trying to figure out how long the heroines and protagonist knew each other for.
The “Departure” of the deceased souls that the countryfolk watch. It’s quite beautiful I think
However, the game still does have a decent protagonist, who is prejudiced and assumed to be a mean person, but actually has a heart of gold. Takefumi is also very calm in correspondence to his age, and being a skilled cook earns him the respect of everyone around him. He also participates in a bit of comedy as well, although I wished he would be a bit more loose and carefree (although that would happen to the dismay of Yuzu).
I think as they are, the two are a great match.
Not surprisingly, Yuzu is the central and main heroine of this game. Considerably more focused than other characters, her route also follows this pattern and is more superior, giving enough time to develop the relationship between Takefumi and Yuzu. The taboo of them NOT being siblings was also greatly appreciated, which highly contradicts today’s charage/nukige titles that include incest almost as a set pattern without any form of explanations.
Aside from these traits, Yuzu is also very colorful herself, as she is originally displayed to be a sad, frail, and lonely character, but not so around Takefumi, when she is always smiling, joking around, or being bashful of his actions. Her love for instant ramen and a horrible cook directly contrasts with the game’s themes was another attractive trait, and how this girl is always trying her best makes the reader sympathize with her more.
Yuzu is actually very quick to accept Takefumi as her blood related family member, and rapidly becomes even dependent to him in certain scenes. This correlates to her uncertainty and fear of being alone, and causes the reader to sympathize even more with the character. In this sense, Yuzu was superbly designed.
Because of her past, Yuzu often becomes upset if Takefumi is gone without her notice.
If I had to point out something bad about her as a character, I’d say that she’s TOO useless. Of course, her clumsiness is definitely a factor that contributed to building affection for her, but there’s little to no scenes where Yuzu is actually in action like a central heroine should be, and even Takefumi’s affection for her was “rushed” by outside factors.
Next is Suzuna, a comical character who is very energetic and actually the 2nd person to interact with our protagonist. They first meet when Takefumi comes out of the house with an axe to split wood, but Suzuna and Kogomi believe that due to his looks, he killed Yuzu with the axe and was hunting down more people.
Kogomi: Don’t worry, We can take him, Onee-chan!
They learn that this assumption was completely wrong, and as Suzuna interacts with Takefumi in multiple parts of the game and even help him and Yuzu rebuild their grandmother’s restaurant, she also becomes very trusting of our protagonist.
Suzuna’s route is considerably inferior to Yuzu’s, in the sense that it’s about her trying to apply for college yet having no idea what to do. Our protagonist fortunately learns of her ignorance quickly and acts to help this girl who didn’t even prepare anything for entrance exams. However, as college will force the girl to move out of the countryside, Suzuna now has to choose between her own future, or her family and friends.
Next is Kogomi, the loli-character who is ironically more mature than her older sister shown above. Her level of maturity is shown by her constant efforts with her parent’s lettuce farm, and like Suzuna, Kogomi becomes very trusting of Takefumi as she sees how hardworking he is.
The good points of Kogomi’s route is that it goes into detail of Yuzu’s past when her grandmother died, of howYuzu was always apologizing and afraid of the people of this countryside. While short and seemingly insignificant, this “reminiscence” scene was greatly appreciated to support Yuzu’s character design.
Other than that, however, Kogomi’s route is also pretty boring at least until Kogomi finds out a certain secret that Takefumi was holding. This makes her start to become suspicious of the protagonist, and becomes cautious around him, despite the fact even she herself put absolute trust in this young man.
The last and probably the least character is Ryouka. Unlike the other characters who were original and colorful, Ryouka was actually pretty boring and generic as a character, being the “solemn” character who seems to be highly able and independent, but “unexpectedly” (I put that in quotations because it’s so freaking obvious) has a cute side.
Like Suzuna’s route, Ryouka’s route is also quite insignificant or at least lacks impact because it’s all about her fighting with her grandfather about her future. Her grandfather is a peerless hunter and knows extensively about “gathering from Mother Nature”, but wishes for Ryouka to live the life of a normal girl. On the other hand, this calm girl wants to become a hunter like her grandfather, purely because she loves nature and living in it.
This stubbornness of the two characters then drags in Takefumi who takes it upon himself to solve. How will he do that? Of course, food! That’s the main theme of this game, right?
It’s actually a DAMN good idea to have something to eat when playing this game, mainly because the food presented looks so freaking good, your stomach starts to beg you to eat.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: So in general, the characters were great, but the story was not. The game jumps through time pretty much unnecessarily, and on retrospect, the game revolved too much around “food” for there to be a proper “romance development” between the two characters. In addition, I thought that some H-scenes were also pretty unnecessary.
It was an interesting take, though, of how the company decided to include CGs of food and a relatively descriptive explanation of how to make it as well, which was quite interesting to read. It would be nice if they released the recipes like they did in a certain charage whose title escapes my memory for now.
I-I-I’ll remember it later!
I actually have somewhat of a bias for these kind of settings too, you know, of the rural areas? It really gets off all the technology and modern day society that’s prevalent in other games, and even “school-life” wasn’t a theme here. Wow!
Affection for the Characters: High
CG Score: 7/10
Music Score: 5/10
Conclusion: Quite a decent game from Pulltop Air. While I was really drawn to its advertisement of “foodporn”, the characters are great while the story isn’t cringe-worthy like other titles. It’s nothing too extraordinary, but if you want some “food porn” with a relatively heart-warming story, this game is for you.
My recommendation for players considering this game is to go through Yuzu and Kogomi’s routes and leave the other two as an “optional”, since the former two contains most of the story elements and well worth your time.