As a PlayStation Mobile title, Sakura Flow has a lot in common with BallFlip, one of the other four PSM games released through the PSN Store on the same day. It was part of the first wave of games released to use the PSM version of Unity, and as with BallFlip and a third out of the five games, it’s a variation on the endless runner theme…
Before I even had a proper chance to look at the game I have to be honest and say that I was starting to grow weary of endless runners at this point in my day of enjoying the new PSM releases from the Store. I don’t mind playing this type of game and some have been great fun to play but three new ones in a single day can become tiring and repetitive so each one has to be able to keep my attention or very quickly I’ll expect myself to want to move onto something else. Perhaps I was being overly harsh on the game before I had even started but it’s easy to feel jaded when you have seen so many of these games in such a short space of time.
There’s no particular plot or reason for what you are doing in Sakura Flow (unlike some endless runners that construct a story around the gameplay). Instead, you take control of a flower that is bouncing and floating over a series of ever-moving platforms in a side-scrolling environment. Simply touch the screen to jump, and again for a second jump / speed boost although these are limited so they need to be used sparingly. There are three different types of platforms – plain which have no impact on your movement, blue which slow you down and red which speed you up. There are two items that you can also collect along the way – booster tokens (to enable you to double jump / obtain short speed boosts) and bonus tokens to increase your score and that’s basically it.
There isn’t really a lot that I can say about this that hasn’t been said before about countless other similar games before it. Visually it looks attractive enough with what is obviously a traditional Japanese garden influence – a temple at the start, flowers and trees scrolling past in the background with a city and mountains in the far distance, leaves floating past in the air with the Vita coping with the multiple layers of scrolling comfortably. The only real disappointment visually are the platforms themselves which are rather bland and stick out from the rest of the game. In contrast, the sound is something of a let down with little more than a couple of sound effects of wildlife and wind whistling past as you play. Whether it was intended to create a serene atmosphere I’m not sure but it doesn’t quite work when the gameplay speeds up…
As I said earlier, I don’t mind playing endless runner games in all their variants be they 3D or side-scrolling, contemporary or futuristic, no matter what additional tweaks may be added to the basic game concept but this one doesn’t quite gel for me. I never found the controls to be particularly responsive and it always seemed as if there was a lag between touching the screen and the flower responding. It’s certainly not a bad game but I found that it became monotonous very quickly and the lack of a high score function meaning that there’s no record of your past achievements to give you that incentive to return to better your scores hinders the game further. The random placement of the multi-coloured platforms, while a novel addition to the game, also added unwelcome frustration as all too often I found games ending when I found my flower accelerated into the side of a platform leaving me little or no time to react.
It was a welcome sight to see a developer trying to add something new to the genre, and certainly I applaud the visual style taken by Sakura Flow, but it just didn’t quite come together for the finished product.
At A Glance
- Title: Sakura Flow
- Publisher: Like A Falcon
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 52Mb