Sakura Santa – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Winged Cloud and published by Gamuzumi, Sakura Santa is the latest entry in the Sakura visual novel series, this time with a cute (and lewd) Christmas twist just in time for the holidays. This title is available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. A link to the game will be at the bottom of this review if you want to check it out for yourself.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Gamuzumi for providing the copy of Sakura Santa that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Mature Content Warning: Sakura Santa has been rated Mature, as the title contains sexualized imagery, sexual themes and coarse language. If you are under the recommended age for this release, or find this type of content offensive, please proceed at your own discretion.

Now with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story.

Story – Koji is spending his first Christmas alone, which has him feeling a bit down. After moving from home to go to his dream university, he has discovered that his life can be rather lonely. Feeling distraught, he wanders to the local shrine and makes a single wish, to have someone special to spend Christmas with. However, this wish causes quite the dilemma as he meets three unique girls, with each of them wanting to spend the days leading up to the holiday with him.

Gameplay – Sakura Santa is a traditional visual novel experience, following the adventures of the protagonist as he meets each of the three girls. The events that occur with each character are influenced by the decisions made by the player, following several story threads that lead to multiple endings. This means that a single choice can alter the outcome of a character route, with changes to the story being either positive or negative.

Like the majority of visual novels available on the Nintendo Switch, the plot threads that the player follows have special CG arts that will appear when specific event choices are chosen. Beware though, as events can be missed and the special scenes can be skipped, with important plot details being missed if the wrong choice has been chosen. This means multiple runs through the story are necessary to obtain all endings.

The variety of options available to the player, along with the different potential endings that can be reached add to the replay value that this release offers. The opportunity to see a new CG art scene, uncover potential romances and experience different storylines makes this a rewarding story experience. Having several  different outcomes makes this a rewarding experience, with narrative threads that don’t feel too long or short with each run.

Presentation – the visuals for this title is pleasing to the eye, with a cute and expressive anime style art that works very well for the story. The character designs, backgrounds and CG scenes are drawn beautifully, with some rather risqué art that can be unlocked and viewed later in the gallery. The music is pleasing and fits each of the story scenes, rounding out the whole experience even though there is a lack of voice acting, but that isn’t an issue.

Final Thoughts – I enjoyed my time with Sakura Santa, getting engrossed in the story and the festive themes that were present throughout. While this title may have its limitations, due to being a Christmas story I can still recommend it to everyone that enjoys a saucy visual novel. The artwork is beautiful like the rest of the Sakura series and this is another standout release from Gamuzumi, adding to their growing library of excellent releases.

In the end, I give Sakura Santa a final score of 4/5. This is another excellent Visual novel from the team at Winged Cloud, with beautiful visuals and an engrossing story that really pulls the reader in. There is a lack of voice work for the characters and the occasional typo, but they don’t detract from the overall experience. If you want to check this out for yourself, a link to the game will be below.

Please Note: there is a discount on Sakura Santa of 20% until January 5th 2022, so there is another little incentive to check this title out.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

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