Have you ever engaged a piece of media that wasn’t worth the mental energy you put into it?
Any media critic will answer that question ‘Yes’ just because of the sheer weight of the refuse labeled as ‘entertainment’ they have to shovel through week in and week out. In that, this corner of the Internet has been lucky overall until the last eighteen months or so. God, remember when Lexington Alexander and Nowhere Safe was as far as I thought this medium could fall? Those were good times, but times that were not meant to last thanks to a force I, admittedly, have underestimated: waifus.
No not ‘boobs’ or hentai: just anime girls overall. It ties into a much deeper thought process I’ve been having about the economy of low expectations and the work of AJ Tilley’s development group is contesting Winged Cloud for the throne of that particular market. I could easily spend another three thousand words chronicling the shallowness and vapidity of their catalog of work so far. However, that argument has to go up against how ‘soft-spoken’ and ‘cute’ Mineko is, how ‘fun’ and ‘adventurous’ Sakura and Aiko are and how ‘smart’ and ‘beautiful’ Yuuki is. The fact that none of these traits are earned on their own as independent and well-written characters is meaningless because they fit into a stereotype where, at one point, it was done well. Therefore, it’s fine for many, which means the low bar has been hit and anime girls again win the day.
If I’m starting to sound cynical, it isn’t intentional. There have been some interesting EVNs in 2015. However, like avoiding the doctor because you don’t want that strange lump in your chest to be examined, nothing good comes from ignoring bad games or what is often used as shields in their defense. And if the plans for this particular group of studios hold, just like with Winged Cloud before them, AJT/Dharker will be centering their plans on the unshakable waifu rock that surely hasn’t worn out its welcome in anime and manga by now. Wait it has? Does that mean I can avoid this review? No?
Luckily for me, this won’t be a typical review. I need to clear out my AJT review backlog and this was the easiest stop to make first based solely on the sheer lack of content. Therefore, I’m going to lay the typical review structure on the table and we’re just going to focus on the ‘story’ and character development Episode 2 tries to hit us with. It is worth noting here that Beach Bounce was not intended to be a trilogy and with all of the grace of a hammered Canadian lumberjack (I’m not sure why the lumberjack is Canadian either) was split into three parts in an absolutely insane plot to slowly raise the overall price of the game in order to force as many people as possible to buy immediately instead of waiting for the full game to be released.
Yeah: I haven’t forgotten about that.
Luckily, that plan seems to have gotten the boot as the negative reaction to the first episode of Beach Bounce froze the price in place for now. However, the fact that this game is still $15.99 on Steam is an insult to common decency and that slap in the face continues with Episode 2 that exists for no other reason than to pad the length of the game. Let me repeat that: Beach Bounce Episode 2 is the full game’s padding.
Oh the rays of sunshine and woodland creatures that spring from my withered shell of a heart when I type that.
To be fair, it doesn’t see itself as padding. Episode 2 attempts to fill out its run time by introducing a fantasy element to the proceedings through the character of Nymphadora Vonhilliger; a guest at the resort. Regardless of your choices, Tomoyo cannot attempt anything sexual with Nymphadora without blacking out. This probably has something to do with Nymphadora being a demon: more than likely a succubus. And no, I’m not spoiling anything with that reveal. AJT.com spoiled it THEMSELEVES when they released Beach Bounce Episode 1. In one of the teasers image for the Steam storefront, you can clearly see Nymphadora on the far right with black wings and horns. So what could have been an intense and intriguing moment is immediately rendered useless because we know what the cause of the attacks are even if they wait until the last episode to reveal it.
Even worse is that that same teaser image spoils the reveal of the final girl of the game: a mermaid. She is on your far left and is most likely responsible for the dreams Tomoyo has in the game of drowning. While we can argue all day whether or not this fantasy bend is necessary in a game that was not all that realistic to begin with, it doesn’t change the fact that this isn’t an issue caused by the writing team. Tilley, the producer, chose this production image and shot any chance of building tension in revealing Nymphadora’s true nature and pulling out a fucking mermaid as a potential sex option right in the face. And with the dreams and time with Nymphadora taking up most of Episode 2, what could have been a familiar little mystery that was, nevertheless, a welcome break from the constant wave of anime girls throwing themselves at Tomoyo’s penis was turned into trite BS right out of the gate.
Well done gentlemen. Well done.
Outside of this failed attempt at fantasy and mystery we have that continued wave of anime girls I mentioned earlier. The first wave of anime girls introduced in Episode 1 continue their rapid descent onto Tomoyo’s penis begins with Aiko. What starts off as a ‘sports date’ with Aiko kicking Tomoyo’s ass in as many athletic competitions as she can think of, she gets you to camp out with her and makes her move. Afterwards you’ll have the chance of adding Mineko to the buffet and while I joke about this in other reviews, at least those games try. Hell, some the Sakura games have tried to be more than just waifu buffets. It didn’t work out thanks to an overall lack of talent but even I, a noted critic of their work, can say that they tried in some of their games at the very least.
Beach Bounce? Beach Bounce isn’t even trying to be more than a checklist of stereotypes their audience might have wanted to bang at some point in their lives. The only character with any type of development or depth is Sakura; the easiest girl to get in bed with and that’s only because she’s so open about her sexual desires for Aiko and wouldn’t sleep with you if you were drunk. Oh and she the biggest cheerleader for Tomoyo turning the resort into his personal harem, but the overall point there is that as wobbly as it is, at least she has more than one leg to stand on. Everyone else? Their world began with their stereotypes and it will end with their stereotypes.
BUT, if all you want out of this game is for a busty athletic girl to drag you into the woods for a night of sweaty, passionate sex, or for a wild child to bang you on a Ferris Wheel you should still go somewhere else. As noted in my first review, I’m playing the Adult Version of Beach Bounce to track their writing of sex scenes and they continue to astound. So bad its hilarious, the sex scenes of Beach Bounce not only feature the worst writing of the game but the worst art as well as the girls are constantly twisted into ridiculous poses and stare blankly back at you like a broken automaton with their faces frozen in bland orgasm. It is a joke and deserves to be treated as one by anyone who has the bad fortune of playing this game.
And lastly, we have the catalyst for this entire game: Grandma Umi. Lest we forget, the entire reason for Tomoyo’s little vacation was to catch up with his Grandmother who was forced out of his life by his Father after the death of his Mother. Upon arriving to the resort, Umi falls sick and Tomoyo is barred from seeing her at all which he is perfectly fine with. I understand that as a Generic Male Protagonist, Tomoyo has a certain standard to live up to. But by shelving his Grandmother and backstory so quickly so that the player can rush to the buffet makes him, and by extension anyone who sees him as a Player Avatar, out to be an egomaniacal jerk. And this feeling gets turned up to eleven when Umi dies off-screen
You heard me. The last scene of the game is Yuuki and Tomoyo finally being allowed to see Umi just as she is about to die. They go in, she dies, Tomoyo basically shrugs the entire thing off; THE END. That is the last five minutes of this episode and it simultaneously made me rage out and laugh. There is no final moment or weight given to mark the moment. The scene would have been just as effective if it was written like, ‘Ashes to ashes, blah blah blah, LET’S GET BACK TO THE TITTIES!’ Because why should we be upset about some old lady dying, am I right? Not when we haven’t slept with Yuuki yet! And she is working so hard! Clearly she needs to unwind a little…with Tomoyo’s penis! And so do all of the other girls Tomoyo has had a chance of banging while the woman who was literally forced out of his life lies in a hospital room dying. Because that doesn’t make Tomoyo look like a jackass at all!
…Wait a minute: yes, it does. It makes Tomoyo look like a complete jackass and up to now he’s only been a bland tool. Worse than that it is crass, makes everyone involved in producing this script look like assholes at best because they used a death scene as padding which sours whatever enjoyment that anyone can squeeze out of this pound of elephant droppings. Unless the creative team does the mother of all cop outs and Episode 3 ends with all of this just being a dream, Episode 2 has ensured it can only seal the lid on the grave Beach Bounce has dug itself.
By the way, HusbandoGoddess has had the uneviable task of playing through Beach Bounce. If you’re interested in seeing how bad it can get first hand, check out her series!