HomeReviews0.5/5 ReviewBeautiful Sakura: Surfing Club Review

Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club Review

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Chuffing heck, so this is the future, is it? Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club. This is what we have to look forward to. It’s what will happen when our glorious AI overlords take over and regurgitate our culture back into our mouths like we’re a battery of dead-eyed birds. 

There’s no surfing club in Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club. There’s nobody called Sakura, either, and we certainly can’t comment on whether she might be beautiful or not. We presume the title was spat out after asking ChatGPT what a successful visual novel should be called. There’s a Sakura Swim Club on Steam, so ChatGPT probably just pointed at that game and said “there you go matey”. 

beautiful sakura surfing club review 1
There ain’t much surfing going on in Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club

Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club is a visual novel. Now, it’s easy to roll your eyes at visual novels, but there are exceptionally good ones, written by exceptionally talented people. Doki Doki Literature Club is a great example. 

Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club, however, is not exceptional. At least, not in a positive way. And it’s most certainly not made by exceptional people. In fact, we wonder whether it was made by people at all.

I’m hoping we have a screenshot to illustrate our point. Look at any of the art for Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club, and scan across to the characters’ fingers. In most of the shots, they are creepy salad fingers, contorting in inhuman directions. These are a telltale sign of AI-generated art, which has a notoriously hard time drawing digits. Now, you might have your own views on AI-generated art, and whether it constitutes art at all, but – no matter which side you’re on – you can’t deny that in this example it looks like unmitigated arse. 

So, we have Michiko, a red-headed schoolgirl, posing and re-posing with almost every press of the A button, her fingers unfurling like octopus tentacles. It’s a nightmarish slideshow. Here she is staring at you with a ribbon-finger in her mouth; here she is bending over suggestively; here she is offering up some side-boob in a bikini. The face rarely changes, but the body morphs into a new position like a modern retelling of Lawnmower Man. 

There’s a story, but – oof – it’s a monumental duffer. We’d have claimed that it was written by AI too, if it wasn’t for its bizarre and long-winded spelling of words like ‘déjà vu’. It is the hero’s journey of one man, meeting a new girl at school, falling in love, and then finding out she has an identical sister that is – shock and horror! – just as hot, if not hotter. He now has to choose, as they both want to grasp him in their curly-wurly fingers.

beautiful sakura surfing club review 2
We do have proper curly wurly fingers though

We need to linger on the narrative a little longer, so that the true awfulness can come into focus. Kaito, the main character and – unfortunately – you in this story, is a buffoon who can barely get a sentence out. When he does, it’s some leery gubbins about Michiko being very, very hot. She laps it up of course, because the author’s clearly learned everything about women from Pornhub. It’s as offensive and objectifying as you might imagine.

Now, you might think that Yuuki, the sexy sister, would bring a spot of choice to this visual novel. Clearly, if Kaito is choosing between two sisters, then you would get to actually make that choice? Well, colour us amazed, as there is only one choice in Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club, and it’s whether or not to get out of bed. It doesn’t matter which you choose: you get out of bed. So, Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club sets up a premise of a guy, caught between two suitors, and you don’t even get to choose which one he sleazes after.

In fact, it ends in a cliffhanger. No one gets to choose. The game suddenly ends, because clearly Cropware (crapware, amirite?) felt like there was someone invested enough to care about the cliff it’s hanging off. It might have worked in a twisty, longer romance, where the will-they, won’t-they tension was off the charts. But Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club is five minutes long. Five minutes. 

Now, you can’t achieve all that much in five minutes. We can probably get to our nearest local shop if we jog. What you absolutely can’t do in five minutes is tell a love story, let alone two of them, and you certainly can’t deliver a game experience that warrants £9.99 of your hard-earned British sterling. Certainly not in this financial climate. 

beautiful sakura surfing club review 3
You might be tempted, but you should give this a miss by a mile

It doesn’t even function properly as a visual novel. You can’t save, which makes sense we suppose, considering it’s shorter than an episode of Bluey. But it also forces you to stop and read everything at a snail’s pace. Pressing A barely speeds it up, even after fiddling with the options menu. And it’s unreadable in places, with shocking spelling errors that the AI surely could have sorted.

Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club, then, has an awful lot of cheek. And not just in the swimwear sense. For £9.99 it wants to offer you five minutes of visual novel gumph (and we should remind, it’s poorly edited and misogynist gumph), set to thirty or so AI-generated backdrops. It can’t be arsed to offer you choices or branching, and ends without actually including, you know, an ending. 

Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club is perhaps the most cynical, half-hearted attempt at weedling £10 out of someone’s pockets, and no amount of baby-oil and AI-generated creepy-fingers can justify its existence. If this is the future of gaming then stop the bus, because we’re getting off. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • I literally can’t come up with a single one
Cons:
  • Art is soulless AI-generated pap
  • Story is grubby
  • Ends after five minutes
  • …and ends without a true ending
  • Poorly edited and pants usability
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PC
  • Release date and price - 6 September 2023 | £9.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>I literally can’t come up with a single one</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Art is soulless AI-generated pap</li> <li>Story is grubby</li> <li>Ends after five minutes</li> <li>…and ends without a true ending</li> <li>Poorly edited and pants usability</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PC <li>Release date and price - 6 September 2023 | £9.99</li> </ul>Beautiful Sakura: Surfing Club Review
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