Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Games for Adults: Space Pirate Sara

Space Pirate Sara Review

                As strange as it may sound to say this, even us eroge players can have guilty pleasures in this genre. For me for the longest while it was from Black Lilith’s games partially because at the time I couldn’t really come up with a good sounding justification for liking the rape genre of dark eroge and I admit during my early years with VNs I was kind of a snob about them giving more favor to the story driven games. Fortunately I grew out of that phase and now enjoy this company’s games with very little guilt these days so when Mangagamer announced their partnership with Lilith Soft I was very pleased. While it probably would be more appropriate to start with their first localized release we’ll instead be looking at the latest of them: Space Pirate Sara, released in Japan by Black Lilith August 24, 2007 and localized by Mangagamer December 26, 2014.

Pros: Interesting story, likable main character, good artwork, good voice acting, nice diverse amount of ero scenes.
Cons: No sequel.
WTF?!: I wonder if Cecil and Karin are secretly avid D&D players…

                You play as Sara Scorpion, a renowned space pirate on the hunt for a long lost sword of great personal value to her. Upon getting a lead on the sword’s location after doing a job for a powerful duke, Sara discovers it in the hands of a pair of twin aristocrat girls who own a resort planet. An attempt at stealing the sword ends in failure and Sara is left at the mercy of these twins with her only hope of escape and obtaining the sword lying in the instructions she gives to her right hand man and only remaining ally Hans to work on stealing the sword while she endures the twins’ torments. 

                Okay I know how the plot sounds but that’s the thing with Black Lilith that makes it so appealing. It brings me back to why I finally found a justification for enjoying the rape genre: it’s basically like enjoying the exploitation flicks of old. They’re low grade and cheap but the ones fondly remembered are the ones that had some love and effort put into them, and Black Lilith I consider to be the eroge equivalent of those movie makers who  knew what they were making was schlock cranked every aspect of that up to eleven and just let their creations be the delightful mental junk food they’re meant to be.

                SPS may have a plot designed to show ero scenes, but the plot itself is an interesting read. There’s some good action scenes in the beginning and ending and we actually get some decent villains in Karin and Cecil as the writing does a good job at making them intimidating. More importantly Sara herself is likable with a decent backstory (for this kind of game anyway), she has some good interactions with Hans (and even on occasion Sylia) which helps make their (surprisingly platonic(only referring to Hans there) relationship so believable and her narration helps to enhance not just the ero scenes but also the key scenes from what we the readers come to learn about her captors as the plot moves forward to the heist aspect of the story.

                Speaking of which one of the interesting aspects of the game is the puzzles that are encountered in between each set of ero scenes where Sara directs Hans through the twins’ vault. Each one is interesting in how they’re set up and you do actually have to think a bit if you plan to solve them without the use of a walkthrough. Of course failing leads to a bad end sooner or later but I can say since this is a Black Lilith game they make losing worth your while too.
                About the only real flaw I can say this game has in the writing department is that the game ends and there hasn’t been even a hint of a follow up. I won’t spoil anything but I will say that while the good ending ends on a satisfying enough note there’s still quite a bit you’ll wish could be further explored. This includes a few hanging questions about the twins and the lore reveals at the end, what’s next on Sara’s agenda, and what’s in store for Sylia? Sadly the chances we’ll see any of these questions answered are about as likely as a film or TV adaptation of the Thrawn trilogy.

                In the area of presentation SPS does pretty well. The artwork done by renowned doujinshi artist Seura Isago is good both for the character portrait art and even more so for the ero scene CG. There’s even some nicely drawn space ship CG that really makes you wish there’d been some more space battles in the story. The voice acting is really good the best cases being Sara’s VA: Emi Motoi, who some of you may recognize as Chou’un/Sei from the Koihime Musou series or for fellow veterans Maria from Private Nurse; plus the VA for both Karin and Cecil: Yuuki Kajita who some of you may recognize as Nao from Resot Boin and its prequel (I’d mention her role in Harem Party, but I think most of us are trying to forget that game…). In both cases it’s tied to how well they bring their characters to life, the former in helping make her character and the latter in how well her voice acting helps to make the twins intimidating in certain scenes. The music is fine but not particularly memorable.

                As for the ero scenes they’re good in the art and voice department and have quite the varied amount for you to see. Basically each in game day has Sara choose what type of “training” to receive from the twins and of those three choices there’s quite a variety there too. Since you only get three days there’s quite a bit of replay value in that along with the scenes you’ll get with each type of bad ending depending on which type you focus on.

In Conclusion:
                Space Pirate Sara is an enjoyable little dark nukige that manages to have a decent enough plot and characters sandwiched between all its ero content. While certainly not the best of these cases it’s still worth looking at provided the dark genre is your cup of tea (if not this probably isn’t going to change your mind) and of the Black Lilith games available in English right now I can say it’s the best of them. Plus, who knows? Maybe high sales in the west will persuade someone at Black Lilith to make us a sequel…even if that is about as likely as Bioware making KOTOR 3.

Final Score: 7/10 Great
Author Recommendation: Buy it Now.

                As for the anime, it’s a decent adaptation even if the art style is jarringly different from the games. The action scenes it shows are pretty good and there even some scenes unique to the OVA. Strangely there’s an alternate/extra ending which I think was designed to give a bit more closure to the stuff concerning the twins but it’s a little too short to have much value as a possible addition to canon (or H content). I recommend playing the game first.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read. Ironically, the non-HCG and character sprites are much more appealing than the HCG. It's kind of too bad this is a pure nukige, as the premise seems interesting enough that they could've gone elsewhere with it.