[PC]Sakura Strasse – Review

Title: さくらシュトラッセ
Developer: Palette
Release Date: 25th January 2008
Age Rating: 18+
Length: ~20 Hours
Links: Official Website, VNDB

Ayase Harumi dreams of following in his late father’s footsteps and working as a chef in the family restaurant called Kamome-tei. To do this he dropped out of highschool and moved away to attend culinary school. However, one day he gets a call from his family telling him that his mother had collapsed and has been hositalised. Harumi immediately packs up his belongings and heads for home, although he ends up involved in some magical shenanigance on the way there.

Eventually arriving back to Kamome-tei and Harumi goes to see his mother, who it turns out isn’t severely unwell but will need to stay in hospital for a few weeks, meaning that the restaurant will need to close. Upon hearing these words, Harumi decides that he can’t allow his father’s memory to be tarnished by closing the restaurant and decides to take over as head chef while his mother is in hospital. While his mother agrees to this, there is only one problem – Harumi isn’t exactly the best of cooks.

Luckily (or perhaps unluckily), during his journey home he got involved in an accident involving the witch Marie, who feels a sense of guilt about seriously injuring him so agrees to help out at Komome-tei and it just so happens that she’s a great cook! So between our unexpected band of staff will they be able to keep Kamome-tei afloat?

My Thoughts

Being a bit of a Palette fangirl and also enjoying the last Nyaon x Kusukusu game that I tried out, it’s of no real surprise that Sakura Strasse was somewhere on my radar. With its cozy cafe setting, cute visuals and just a sprinkle of magic, did Sakura Strasse deliver on the expectations my previous encounters with the developer have set?

Rather than being a more story-heavy title from Palette like Moshiraba or 9-nine-, Sakura Strasse is primarily a romantic comedy with the slow development of the relationships between the characters one of the highlights. In this regard it’s more of a charage.

This means that the characters are probably the area of the game that is most important – if you lke them then the game will most likely be enjoyable to you since the overall story is there to compliment the heroines. That being said, I actually wasn’t expecting the protagonist Harumi to have such a defined personality – he’s a bit of a crybaby but his pasion for cooking really shines through and the reader can definitely tell how deeply he cares about his loved ones, despite his flaws.

Another area where the game, like many charage, is impressive is its common route. The introduction to the setting and characters was great and there was enough humour in this to keep you from getting bored. The cafe/restaurant setting itself was implemented well and felt very relaxing and a nice change of pace from the typical high school story.

Moving onto the heroines and it should come as no surprise that the german-born witch Marie is probably the game’s main heroine – the set-up of the plot involves her arrival in Japan and much of the common route revolves around her and Harumi’s relationship as co-workers. I actually found myself warming to Marie much more than I expected – the mix of her pure and kind heart, with her occasional otaku moment made her a real joy to watch. She also has, in my opinion, the best route in the game – a good mix of drama, romance and comedy with a satisfying ending.

Harumi’s (adopted, of course) older sister Yuuka is a university student who puts her studies on hold to help her family’s restaurant when Harumi decides to take over. She can be extremely strict but, as manager and accountant of Kamome-tei, she has everyone’s best interests at heart.While I do like older sister heroines, Yuuka was a little too harsh for my liking – her route wasn’t bad though!

Karin is Harumi’s childhood friend and ex-schoolmate who acts like a complete puppy around him. Despite her childish nature, she somehow manages to hold a part-time job as a waitress at Kamome-tei and her bubbly personality makes her quite popular with the customers. Whilst Karin’s affection for Harumi is clear to see, the game makes it clear that her immaturity makes it difficult for him to treat her as anything other than a child. Unfortunately, instead of actually giving Karin slow and meaningful character development, we get super forced bs in her route and it felt super awkward to me, which was a shame because she was cute.

The final heroine is Lulli – Marie’s feline familiar who joined her on her trip to Japan. Whilst she can be a cool character, her guard is let down around the stray cats in the alleyway at the back of the restaurant. Despite her reluctance, Lulli ends up becoming a waitress at Kamome-tei and is surprisingly competent at her role. I may be slightly bias because I really liked Lulli (her dere side is SO cute!) but I enjoyed her route quite a bit – probably second best after Marie.

There’s quite a collection of side characters in Sakura Strasse – from customers to Marie’s “friends” from her village in Germany, and most of them were actually pretty good/likable/memorable. Special shoutout to Chris & Claudia who were hilarious.

Whilst this game is 14 years old, I think the artwork from KusuKusu aged pretty well and still looks pretty cute. I enjoy the certain “softness” their artwork posesses. There’s a really good amount of CGs per heroine based on the length of the game, although I do wish there were some more group CGs.

With vocals provided by Hashimoto Miyuki & White Lips, it should come of no surprise that the songs in this game are of excellent quality. There’s also multiple insert songs which really added to the emotive scenes in the game. The rest of the BGM was of good, but not particularly memorable, quality.

I’ll finally quickly bring up thw game’s system – it was pretty standard but most of the choices were location-based and made obvious so no guide required.

Final Thoughts

My Score: 7.5/10

Whilst it’s not going to go out there and win any awards for a ground-breaking story, Sakura Strasse was overall a pretty enjoyable and relaxing experience with good characters, setting, artwork and romance. Sadly, Karin’s route let the game down a little but the other heroine routes were probably worth a read if this game is of interest to you.

Since you can only buy this game as a twinpack I do already have the fandisc so will play that at some point. I managed to grab the Palette games I was missing in their recent sale so I can finally stroke that company off my backlog soon!

Thanks for reading~

About Zettai Renai

Hello! ヾ(^-^)ノ Sometimes I write about Visual Novels. I particularly like cutesy/fluffy stories~ I also am eternally suffering in Enstars hell(˶′◡‵˶)
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