The Sagara Family (PC) review
"Learning about each of the Sagara women really does become an enticing mystery, made all the sweeter by the occasional chance to fool around with one under the sheets, or on the couch in the front room, or in the bathtub. Even after you’ve finished one trip through, it can be fun and rewarding to play through again (and again) because just a simple choice here or there can affect so much."
The thing I like about Yusuke, the protagonist in The Sagara Family, is that he’s not scum. As closely as hentai games seem to permit, he follows a decent path that involves treating women and other human beings with respect. He gets points for that, so far as I’m concerned, and the game in which he appears gets points for showing me hot girls wearing absolutely nothing.
As the game opens, Yusuke is moving into a house where he will be staying while he attends the local university. His father called in a favor, and as a result the horny young man will be living with four sexy girls around his age, as well as a sexy mama named Maria who looks not a day older than thirty (she’s actually closer to forty). However, not all is as it seems. Each female has her own personal demons, and as the hero of the game it’s your job to find out what they are, and also how you can have sex with your lady of choice. Like I said, this is a hentai game.
The first of the girls Yusuke will meet is Ruruka. As the game’s publisher is quick to point out on its web site, all sex partners featured in The Sagara Family are eighteen or above. Even so, you’ll probably find that she acts about like you would expect from a 14-year-old. At one point, upon finding that you have interest in her baby girl, Maria even asks if you like lolitas. As long as we’re clear on where things stand in that regard, I should also mention that Ruruka is also very horny. But then, so are her sisters.
The first girl you’ll actually see when you begin playing the game (the plot sometimes jumps around unexpectedly) is Sanae. Her innate horniness is not immediately apparent. She has flaming red hair and a temper to match, but what is she hiding underneath that cool exterior? Yusuke at times wants to know, but every chance at intimacy or just an honest conversation seems to lead to a knuckle sandwich to the face. If he could ever find the reason for her vulnerability, maybe he could gain her trust and… leverage it for some crazy sex.
Sanae isn’t the only one with hidden motivations. Arisa, the quiet one, hides enough secrets to fill book after book. She spends most of her time separated from her siblings and Yusuke, preferring instead to sequester herself in her room. If Yusuke could just figure out why that is, maybe he could take kinky to a whole new level.
Of course, it’s much easier to aim for the girls who keep themselves in plain sight. Maria’s final daughter quickly gains Yusuke’s attention because of her sexy but mature persona, and because she has such large breasts. She works as a nurse at a local Kindergarten, and it’s her job that serves as the source of most of her problems. Like the other girls, she’s wrestling with personal demons caused primarily by the game’s main villain, a fiend known simply as ‘The Director’ (he’s basically a principal, if you’re looking for an American equivalent). Even worse, she’s not sure she hates the disturbing old man’s advances so much as she knows she should.
So there Yusuke is, living in a house with Maria and four lovely ladies, trying to figure out how to survive college and emerge with a well-used penis. That’s where you come in. By clicking through menus and choosing from multiple choice junctions at various stages in the game, you’ll be able to guide Yusuke toward romance with his desired conquest, all while keeping one hand free for other pursuits such as snacking on tasty potato chips. This much is standard. And so the question is: how well does The Sagara Family break the mold? Not very well, actually, but it doesn’t matter so much as you might think.
There are any number of approaches a game within a well-established genre can take. The Sagara Family chooses the most obvious path, in that it simply polishes everything that has worked before. The result is a dazzling final product hentai fans are sure to eat up like so much honey. Notice my clever use of the term ‘honey.’ You’ll get it if you get to see Yusuke sipping from a honey pot in the game.
Yes, the ridiculous names for various parts of the human body are in full evidence here. You get to read them on the screen in generally-competent English, and you get to hear the girls whimper and moan as they say them in beautiful Japanese. Some terms are vulgar and some are just amusing, but the tradition carries through.
Sex scenes also remain traditional, for the most part, with a few exceptions sprinkled throughout. Yusuke really likes to hear the girls talk dirty, so things generally begin with some penetration before he threatens to stop if the girls won’t tell him just where they like to stick his unit, or member, or barrel or whatever the translators decided he wishes to call his penis at that particular moment. For the most part, the scenes are then illustrated with still frames that picture the girls in various poses, with Yusuke generally present somewhere in the midst of the proceedings (though not always).
However, there are more than just the still-frame scenes. A total of twelve animated scenes are also available. They aren’t more than a few frames stuck on repeat, but the effect is erotic just the same. Animated, bouncing breasts always make for a welcome treat.
But it’s not the small touches that made this game work for me. Instead, it’s the manner in which the story unfolds. Like other games of its type, The Sagara Family only has a few places where you can affect the outcome. However, these are put to excellent use without making the game’s world feel inconsistent. Learning about each of the Sagara women really does become an enticing mystery, made all the sweeter by the occasional chance to fool around with one under the sheets, or on the couch in the front room, or in the bathtub. Even after you’ve finished one trip through, it can be fun and rewarding to play through again (and again) because just a simple choice here or there can affect so much. On one trip through, you might have been so busy with Emiru that you couldn’t solve the mystery of Sanae’s missing panties. Be sure to check on that the next time through, and you’ll find that the reason behind their disappearance doesn’t change things drastically; it just adds that much more depth.
Refreshingly, not all choices are ambiguous, either. When Ruruka is keeping you company in the tub, it’s nice to see an option to ‘Do Her’ and another option that makes it clear there will be no playing around at that particular moment. Ultimately, you’ll find there are ways to fall into happy relationships with each of the girls (sometimes more than one at a time). It’s the manner in which you do it that feels so rewarding. Yusuke can be nice, or he can be somewhat bull-headed, but it’s always easy to see that underneath it all, he has a good heart.
But wait, I can see some of you squirming, anxious to ask questions. Is there bondage? Do any girls get raped? What about anal action? Yes, yes and yes. But when it comes to the truly nasty stuff, Yusuke actually plays the hero. I know, this may seem surprising if you’ve played games like Hitomi: My Stepsister where the ‘hero’ is anything but. However, you needn’t worry that the racier scenes aren’t present as a result of Yusuke’s purity. Instead, the developer chose to let The Director be the nasty one. And so it is that as he tortures the women you love, you get to see them naked before you rush in to save the day, time and time again. Everybody wins.
And really, the same could be said of anyone who gives The Sagara Family a try. If you like seeing really cute girls pose provocatively and even squirm for you in animated clips, you’ll like what you find here. If you like a twisting plot that helps to create a truly intriguing setting that actually lives up to its potential, this is your game. And if you like to know that you’ll have plenty of stuff to unlock, well, let me assure you that this game will keep you busy for hours on end. If you’re the type, this game will have you filling a trash can with used Kleenex tissues for months to come. Yusuke would be proud.
Staff review by Jason Venter (March 19, 2005)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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