[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]ll right, it’s time to take a look at the first third of AJ Tilley’s visual novel Beach Bounce. And, while I’m quite aware that there are still two parts to be released by the end of the year I can’t help but wonder if splitting the game up into episodes wasn’t a bad idea. I’ll point out here that I have absolutely no problem with episodic games. I’ve played and enjoyed plenty that have gone this route. I just have yet to see a visual novel do this and I can tell you that after playing what has been released so far this is little more than a demo. At best.
Let’s get what they did right out of the way first. I backed Beach Bounce knowing full well that it wasn’t going to go into any deep philosophical debates. I backed it for face value, which was a slice of life game set at a beach resort with a bunch of beautiful ladies working there. And for that I wasn’t disappointed in the least. In fact, I found every single one eye catching and each had her own personality. Even if they seemed rather cliche.
But, unfortunately, it seems that most of the rest of the game fell flat on its face. I won’t bother talking about the repetitive music, which is pretty much standard for all visual novels. I tend to not really listen to it anyway. My biggest problem with Beach Bounce is twofold. The first is understandable due to the game being broken up into parts. It’s short. Incredibly short. I managed to finish it in just over an hour. $16 is a lot to ask for such little content. Even if more is promised in two-to-four months time.
The second major problem? The story. While I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare I was still holding it to at least the standards of most other dating sims out on the market. Beach Bounce in its current state has no substance. The characters are all one dimensional and fall for our protagonist at the drop of a hat. Even Rei, who can best be described as aloof, warms up to Tomoyo way too easily.
And don’t get me started on Sakura. She’s a lesbian. It’s stated more than once in the game, but when she suddenly takes a liking to Tomoyo it threw me for a loop. To try to fix this obvious problem Tilley, in his infinite wisdom, decided that she should say something along the lines of “I guess I’m just bisexual.” I’m sorry, but it don’t work like that. Trust me. And the sex scenes, edited for the Steam release, feel tacked on and just…weird. They either made no sense or made me so uncomfortable I wanted to stop playing. And as someone who doesn’t shy from the more risque games that’s saying something.
The scenes themselves are rushed. You barely get to know any of the characters during the first week and you’re supposed to spend several weeks together. I know it’s just a prologue of sorts, but for crying out loud try to make it so that the story flows better. It kept jumping around and I couldn’t tell what was going on half the time. That said, I don’t want to completely lambaste Tilley on a half baked game since it’s not even half done yet. At the same time, though, unless he ups his game the rest might fall as flat as this first part. I do hope that it does get better, but until then I recommend not buying Beach Bounce until the final part releases in December. For now it’s little more than an expensive demo.