Different from previous MOONSTONE titles, Natsu no Iro no Nostalgia throw away all that poorly written love-comedy silliness in favor of a more realistic psychological drama and suspense…or at least, that was their original intention…
The only person Orikuchi Ryouto can consider his family is his little sister. As this wasn’t enough, after getting himself involved in a certain incident, he got a strange Synesthesia ability to perceive people’s emotions as colors, which made he get even farther from other people.Ryouto had hope he could start a new life far away on the countryside in a small town where he and his sister grew together. Although three years had gone by since they had been away, they were still well-received by their 3 childhood friends, and as the only boy, Ryouto once more became the center of the group.However, there was something suspicious about the atmosphere in that place. It was like everything was too perfect. But once they noticed, it was already too late! They got trapped inside the Labyrinth, a dream world created by one of their friends. In this world, they will never age, get sick or die, since everything gets reseted to the same day, except for their memories. As long as they wish, they can bring anything they need into the Labyrinth, and aside from Ryouto and the 4 girls, there are only “dolls” playing the role of citizens, to make their lives feel more “real”, but there’s no risk those will ever bring any harm to them. All those convenient conditions are the reason why this place is also known as “Eden”. How will Ryouto react to his new life? What secrets are hidden behind this paradise?
Manadzuru Misaki is the (fake) main heroine. She had problems with her father and older brother, which inspired her to make herself stronger through Kendou, which also gave her a strong sense of justice. She had a huge crush on Ryouto since they were really young.Since her childhood, Shinjyouji Ayane always played the role of “everyone’s big sister”, even though she is not the “leader” anymore, as she is working as a maid at Shouko’s mansion. She has great respect for Shouko as she is really attached to her Eden. She had problems regarding her step-sister, since she rivaled her for Ryouto’s affection.Orikuchi Miu is the protagonist’s little sister. She didn’t realize this yet, but the love she feels for her brother has long passed the line of normal siblings and has reached the level of obsession, to the point she becomes aggressive towards anyone who dares to get too close to him. She feels Eden is the perfect place for her and Ryouto to live.Maniwa Shouko is the true main heroine. As the creator of Eden, she is known as “the girl of the genesis” or just “Eva”. She loves her mother very dearly and would do anything for her. She hates men and is the only girl in the group who doesn’t have a huge crush on Ryouto since the very beginning. Nevertheless, she considers the protagonist to be an exception and wants him to become her “Adam”.
What at first seemed to be a regular school love comedy turned out to be a mature & gritty story! Our characters are trapped in a world full of facades in order to escape the harshness of their reality. They can escape from the Labyrinth anytime they want, but they need to wish this from the bottom of their heart, which can’t be done until they have truly surpassed all their hardships. But this will not be easy, since Eden’s unique characteristics can bring forth their greatest fears in physical form to torment them.I’ll be damned for ever underestimating the ability for Eroges to have good plots! This feels like something out of Persona 4! With the shadow world and heroes facing their true-selves, and I love this stuff! What a great premise! Unfortunately, there’s another reality behind this game.While this game is certainly much more mature than their previous attempts at a serious story, In the end, Natsu no Iro no Nostalgia is still limited by the same “commodities” you usually see in Galges. For example:“Oh No! This girl was raped by her own father! What a serious problem! I’m sure it will be really hard for her to overcome this!”. “But, wait! Even though she was raped, she was still a virgin all this time! Which means she is still pure! HOORAY!”.There’s also: “Oh No! This innocent little girl might have murdered a man in the past!”. “Ah! Never mind! The man was dead long before she found his corpse, so she isn’t a criminal and doesn’t need to repent for anything! So much happiness!”. As this wasn’t enough, the only villainous figure you get to see in the game is extremely cartoonish, just like all the supposedly complexity of the heroines.There’s also a bunch of predictable twists that really bothered me for how the writers insisted to keep those a secret like it was something super original and unexpected. Like Shouko’s mother. I’m sure anyone who even just heard about Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock can guess this twist, but even if you live under a rock, I believe one can guess this by the fact Shouko keeps repeating there are only FIVE people living in their Eden. If you’re able to count to 5, you probably saw this coming from a thousand miles away:What first seemed like a more serious drama is actually just the usual Hentai fest with simple resolutions for complicated problems. There’s someone in a deep coma state? Don’t worry, she is quickly cured by the power of friendship!The scenario is divided into 2 introductory chapters and 3 chapters for each specific heroine route. The first specific chapter centers around presenting the heroine’s problem and advancing her relationship with the protagonist until the point where they become lovers, usually ending when they have their first sexual intercourse. In the chapter, however, the game pretty much becomes a Nukige, with a bunch of sex-scenes being thrown at you out of nowhere for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Which means the third and final chapter needs to rush through the climax and resolution.The second chapter in a heroine route is not the only thing that makes this feel like a Nukige, though. There are many other things that exist for the sole purpose of making the game more “fap-friendly”, like: They need to have Ayane as a maid because it’s fetishlicious and it shows off her giant breasts. They also need to have a day off to go swimming because this gives the opportunity to take a look at their swimsuits or even to take a glimpse of their naked boobs!Wait! I almost forgot! The game tries to draw your attention by using a bunch of graphical gore and some disturbing imagery right at the beginning. Which is a shame because, while those certainly add to the shock-value, the writers did a horrible job at writing a context behind those scenes to make them scary. It seems like they were too worried about keeping their heroines “pure” and “cute”, which really isn’t a good match with horror elements.The two characters who are mostly responsible for the horror aspect are Shouko – the mysterious lady who pulls the strings in this doll-house-like world, and Ayane – her loyal servant who works as a crazy maid. None of them were ever able to make me feel apprehensive or scared, as they never impose a real threat to the hero. Ayane is too delicate and boob-tastic for that, because most of her scenes are about making her desirable.Shouko is the most pathetic one when it comes to this, because she is TOO DARN CUTE! Unless you have a special condition that makes you afraid of cute things, she will never creepy you out! Specially because her scary act sums up to her “ku ku ku” laugh and her monotone voice. “Oh no! My boring high school teacher suddenly sounds really scary now!”… Know what more was left out from most of the game? Ryouto’s ability! Synesthesia is such an interesting ability that even exists in real life, but it is never brought out again until the very end of each route and it never plays a big role in any development. Figures! After all, how useful an ability to read people’s emotions can be when there are almost no people around?
Now, that’s one thing I can’t complain about in this game! Those who got this game looking for a “main dish” are in for a treat! The art by Ayamakaze Arashi certainly got a huge improvement in comparison with his first works for MOONSTONE! All those girls look sexy, cute and…Yeah! Sometimes, the art gets sucky all of a sudden. I don’t know exactly why, maybe those bad ones are made by an uncredited assistant, or maybe, at some point during development, Ayamakaze got in a slump…It happens!I would also like to know what’s wrong with Shouko. She spends most of her time feeling her stomach like she is in pain or something…Ok! I know this is actually the pose she uses when she is holding her rabbit plushie, which really doesn’t work without said rabbit. Those Eroge guys should be more ashamed of themselves when recycling graphics.
Nothing too special. I did see many people complaining about Miu’s voice, saying her voice is really annoying, but I don’t quite understand what’s wrong with it. For me, it’s as average as the voices for the rest of the cast.
There was definitely some music in this game, but those BGMs didn’t make much for me, so I don’t really remember those too well. It’s just the “by the book” soundtrack for Galges, with some piano for emotional moments and acoustic guitar for joyful slices-of-life. It’s what the group Solfa does best and many other Galge composers do as good.
Now I remember why I was playing all those charages with nearly no plot, they are usually harmless. Sadly, I can’t say Natsu no Iro no Nostalgia is harmless, because it goes out of its way by trying to give a complex story to its players, and when it fails miserably, I believe many will be more than disappointed with this pretentious writing. Some may even get offended by it, since it plays around with serious themes like rape, pregnancy and abortion. You may still get some enjoyment from it if by turning your brain off to pay attention only to the Hentai content. Even so, you might still get bored with the narrative, since they are always saying “This is my story” or “it’s her story”. They also nod all the freaking time, so I bet you will definitely learn the term “うなずいた” once you end your playthrough. See? Now you can’t say stupid Eroges don’t teach you anything…