Fan service is great. Done well it’s entertaining, aesthetically pleasing (yes, it’s nice to look at pretty people), and tends to make a game, and its characters, more memorable. That’s why Good Smile Company can make figures of those characters, and sell them for $500 a pop. The fan service makes the fans care. However, fan service in isolation does nothing. If you haven’t got a reason to be a fan in the first place, fan servicing up the character’s not going to do much. My thresholds here are really low – I think Nekopara is a delight and I’ve put ungodly hours into Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, for example – but if a game doesn’t give me a reason to care for the characters and therefore want the fan service, I tend to tap out. Beach Bounce Remastered is an example of this.
This game exists exclusively to provide you with images of girls spreading their legs. I’m not even joking about that; that’s the very specific aesthetic fetish that Beach Bounce has. In fact, in one instance, when you meet a girl for the first time she’s lying on the ground, with her legs spread. They don’t even make you earn such an overtly sexual “reward.” This isn’t an adults-only game (Nintendo is a fan service free-for-all these days but it still stops short at that), but Beach Bounce is exclusively about sex and – I really can’t stress this enough – if you play this you are going to see a lot of spread legs, with the camera very much focused on that. That’s the motif that the developers have done to ensure that each “character” in the game is a sex object in the absense of explicit naked mambo scenes.
The plot – if you could call it such – spins around a guy that has stepped up to the plate to manage a beachside resort after its owner – his grandmother – gets sick. This resort is otherwise exclusively staffed with big-breasted women, and the beach location is convenient in ensuring that they spend a lot of time wearing swimwear. Also – these women are all horny as all hell. Your first “friend” in the game is French kissing you by your second day on the job. She’s not the girl that you meet spread-legged. That’s a different girl, named Nymph (the developers really gave up the pretense with this one). The token tsun, meanwhile, does take some winning over, and it’s a few more days before she gets wet at the mere sight of you, but hey, it wouldn’t be much fun if you didn’t have to work for at least some of the girls, right?
Because the girls all go from meeting you to shoving their hands down your pants in about fifteen lines of text, there’s no character development in Beach Bounce Remastered. In fact, there’s no sense of character at all, beyond “thirsty,” and the most broad-stroke character cliches beyond that. I suppose if your one and only interest in characters is what’s between their digital legs, then this game scratches an itch, but with all of my favourite fanserviced-up characters from other games, I like them as characters first and then I enjoy the fan service. Aside from Nymph, I can’t even remember the names of any of this mob as I sit here to write this review… and I only remember Nymph because it’s an appropriate character description rather than an actual name. This all has a point: because I didn’t care about any of these characters whatsoever, I also found the fanservice completely uninteresting and therefore, the game’s one goal – to be sexy – is completely lost on me. When Marie Rose does her pole dance in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, I’m watching intently. When one of the girls here ends up in lingerie and handcuffed to a bed (naturally, with her legs spread)? Nah. One time I was fairly tired as I was playing this and I actually dozed off. That usually only happens with Call of Duty. Not fan service games.
I should emphasise that I think the art is fine. I know on the stream (above) I talk about the character designs being a bit odd on account of their oversized heads, and the game’s habit of randomly undressing and redressing the sprites, but it gets the job done and some of the characters are quite pretty. The backgrounds are nice too, and in the context of a more rounded visual novel I would have liked exploring a beach-side resort like this. The writing is in desperate need of an editor, but the visual production of the game, as a low-budget thing with a large roster of characters in the harem, is perfectly adequate.
There’s also a fair bit of decision making to make along the way, and while I’m never going to turn down a good kinetic VN, I do like decision trees in VNs – particularly when “dating” is the focus. I’ve played plenty of games that get the decision making process wrong, too, where I have no idea what impact my decisions will make until after I’ve made them. Here, though, it’s all clearly communicated and because the characters are so shallow, it’s actually pretty easy to guess which responses will get the right response on the first attempt.
Neither the competent structure nor reasonable aesthetics are enough to save Beach Bounce Remastered. Once again: fan service is great, when it’s in service of something. A game like Max’s Bigger Bust, despite being all-in with the fan service, writes in plenty of excellently Australian humour to contextualise it. Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation is one of my favourite visual novels of all time, and it, too, is very heavily focused on fan service, while still giving me a reason to actually want to see the girl’s skirts blow up (I heart you Tohka). Beach Bounce Remastered has absolutely nothing going for it, other than those spread legs. It’s utterly boring.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb