Snow Drop Review

Contributed by J. Sarunski aka Unicorn

Snow Drop

A storytelling hybrid of a dating sim and an multi-ending-adventure. The whole story is divided into a schedule. At the points in time, when only one event happens, the main character will usually be there and these events are always part of the story.

When several events happen at the same time, the player has to choose, which place to visit and to decide by this choice, what event he will see (and thus becomes also part of the currently told strory). The remarkable difference to a multipath-adventure like TCI (Tokimeki CheckIn!) at this point is, that a decision at one point does usually not block the paths to following events. Missing a key event may alter the action happening in an event to some extent, but the general schedule (who is where at what time) remains the same, regardless, where the main character has been before.

The families Sasazuka and Karasuyama are neighbors and friends a long time. They even go each year to the same resort on skiing vacation together. This year, the children of both families are all 18 years old or older, so the paarent-couples decide for themselves to have a second honeymoon each on a hotel instead and send their children off to the usual resort.

After a almost live-threatening walk to the resort, these four young people (the sisters Keika and Kyoka, Honami, the younger sister of the main character and Minoru, the main character) arrive at last at the resort and have now time for enjoying the food at the lodge and the fun on the slopes. But the memory of a forgotten incident in the common past of these people pops up and changes a simple skiing vacation into a sometimes scary but also romantic fairytale, that rivals the ghost stories, the innkeeper of the lodge loves to tell.

As said in the "Genre"-point: usually more than one event at a time are scattered over a schedule of 5 days and usually 6 points of time a day, when events at the same time will happen. At this times, the backgrounds of the available locations are shown as thumbnails (o.k. very big thumbnails) and the player has to pick one of the location to go there and see what may happen by clicking the image of the location. The rest of the days are a linear story, that at some points also leave important decisions (textual choices of possible actions) to the player, that at first seem to have no impact on the story.

Once again, the soundtrack is way above average. 15 themes expressing different moods, are played according to the current situation in the story. 2 songs, sung by "Ive" (one of them in 2 variations) and a brilliant (original japanese, of cause) voice-acting complete the soundtrack of this game.

After comparing the on-screen-graphics of this game with the graphics of TCI in an artbook, it looks like, they have the same quality, so they are graphically at the top, regarding the currently (and soon) available bishoujo-games.

Only the fact, that here some of the special scenes are redrawn with the same characters, but with different expresions of them, gives this game the slight advantage of changing expressions even in special scenes by using the different variants of the graphic according to the story, while TCI has this feature only in "character pasted on backgroud"-scenes (not to mention: this technique is also used in Snow Drop at the "selectable locations", as far as no special scene is currently shown).

No Animations, except the changing expressions on fixed backgrounds (and sometimes even in special scenes, as discussed before).

User Interface:
As in TCI, the graphics are displayed fullscreen and a transparent window, containing the current discription of the situation or the english translation of the currently spoken text is diaplayed on top of it. This window is the center of interaction between the user and the program regarding the storytelling part. It contains also buttons for going back and forth in the displayed text, a button that repeats the spoken text and the SKIP-Function, that diplays all the following text until the next decision, the player has to make, without stopping or playing the voices.

Also, the textual choices of current actions are displayed in this window and chosen by clicking or the usual keys (cursor keys for selectingthe option, RETURN for confirming the selection).

When the player has to choose a location to go to, the backgrounds of that locations are displayed and by clicking one of these graphics, the player decides to go there and to watch (or participate in) the event currently happening at that place.

At any time, moving the mouse to the top of the graphic cally up a menu sliding in from the top of the screen. This menu contains the function for saving and loading positions of the game, changing settings and quitting the game (either completely or to the main menu). Up to 30 slots for saved positions are available.

The graphics of each special scene, become accessible in the CG COllection, after been seen in the game. Also, the key events of the story are gathered in a similar manner in the Event Collection. Last, not least, the Sound Collection offers an opportunity to play and listen to the tunes and songs of the soundtrack.

My Personal Opinion:
Another great game, that was really fun to play and had also a storyline with characters, quite better developed than the ones of TCI. A slight advantage in the graphics department and an almost equal quality in the soundtracks. This summary suggests this game to be regarded even better than TCI, right?

Again, things are another way, than they look like. In comparison to TCI, this game tends to keep it's secrets hidden as long as possible and at all costs, even, and that is the point, at the cost of annoying the player. On the other hand, the reward for breaking this resistance of the game is a really good witten and touching story, that in the end was worth the efforts of getting to it.

Well, I admit, it was quite a challenge to get to the special endings, particularly because I got fooled by the game several times:
- I never thought, a trap keeping me from my goal, could be this attractive
- I assumed a constant schedule throughout the whole story
- I alway concentrated on one girl in order to avoid any jealousy or hurting her otherwise
- I completed the Graphics Collection and the Event Collection, so I thought, I have seen all possible endings
Of cause the real endings were more than just a compensation for all the troubles, I had to go through (starting with exploring and writing down the whole schedule in order to make choices that head in a certain direction), but a feeling of being cheated by the game (or rather by the design of the gameplay) remained and was confirmed by the frustrations of other players that still desperately search for other endings than the normal one.

On the other hand, there is a storyline, that good developed, that it becomes almost believable, even though it features supernatural beings. (Well, maybe, I am a dreamer who would very much like to believe such a story anyway. This may be a cause why I could melt very fast with the main character and found the way to the other endings after a reasonable amount of tries.) The story is, as I said very well developed, but this is also a double-edged sword, because a good developeded storyline usually leaves only small space for flexibility about the possible endings, while the shorter and less developed stories of TCI were easier to play and more fun, because for every girl there was at least one good ending possible (although, it was far from realistic, that every girl would fall in love with the protagonist, depending on his actions) and happy endings were not necessarily just the usual "peace, joy, pancake"-endings (Ah, ending#17: "Love & Order!") made TCI still my favourite.

Regarding the best endings, the best ending of Snow Drop slightly surpasses the best ending in TCI.

Final Point:
For me, Snow Drop and TCI are games that are "must have". TCI was a lot of fun, but Snow Drop on the other hand was really heartwarming (a game for cold winter days, so to say ("Yes, I played it in January 2002, directly before my own skiing vacation." and "No, I have seen no white flowers there, as much as I was looking for them.")).