First Impressions: Koikatsu Sunshine

I… did not expect to have my wishes granted.

When I reviewed Koikatsu, I was optimistic about the character creator and the mod-friendliness, but it left a lot to be desired as both a hentai game, a dating sim, and a combination of the two. I listed a lot of improvements that could be made, many of which have now made into Koikatsu Sunshine. I feel kinda bad in retrospect for being so cynical about the prospects of something like this happening.

Koikatsu Sunshine is a standalone sequel that released late in August this year. The story sees you and your classmates head to a tropical island resort, where you are again tasked with befriending the girls and helping them get used to intimacy. For reasons that are currently beyond me, you are effectively the only man on this island and thus, once again, get free, uncontested access to all the girls you could ever want.

I hate to start off negative, but my initial impression of the game was one of some disappointment. Sunshine is effectively compatible with character cards from the last installment, as well as any mods you may have used. However, few of my characters survived the conversion process in tact, with many lacking eyebrows, eyelashes, and noses, as well as having various details like eye color changed around. Yes, even with vanilla characters that did not use any modded content.

There are quite a few bugs like that right now, including some eyes not showing on characters in spite of seeming fine in the character creator, but it’s been reported that these are being stamped out asap.

This character had heterochromia in Koikatsu, but now just has two shades of green

Once you are actually on the island, the game appears to play much the same as its predecessor. You assign classmates to one of three accommodations (as opposed to classrooms) and each day you can freeroam around to explore the island and people’s bodies. The new island setting does still feel constructed from stock assets, but it’s a major upgrade over the school from Koikatsu. There is a lot of variety and the layout is far more complex, with secrets to discover and shortcuts all-around.

This coincides with a far more lively AI. Instead of clubs, each girl has a primary reason for their stay (relaxation, intellectual, being outdoors) as well as various activities they like to perform, which are spread across the island. My primary issue with Koikatsu was that the school became increasingly lifeless as you pulled girls out of their clubs to join yours, but nothing of the sort happens here. No matter how matter how much you play, you keep finding other characters all over the place, all doing their own activities or hanging out together.

Upgraded Clarissa

A final nice touch in this regard is that the game only loads in a set number of characters from the total available each day, so who you’ll be able to find and interact with varies each time. It makes each day feel a little more unique.

Interactions with the girls have also been improved a lot. It used to be super easy to max out any relationship by just farming stat points and then having the girls ask you questions about their personality, which was very shallow. Add in some sexual harassment and you could max out both the relationship and erotic meters in a single day, even on a brand new character. Koikatsu Sunshine drastically reduces the amount of relationship you build up through small talk and ditches the questions entirely, replacing them with topics.

You explore around the island to find topics of conversation, which are an expendable resource. These make talking with the girls a lot more interesting and diverse, but how much it boosts your relationship varies depending on the star level of the topic. Rambling about the local nature or souvenirs only gives a small bonus, but discovering the island’s greatest secrets makes for great conversation material. There’s a lot to this system, too much to get into for a first impressions, but I really enjoy it.

To list off some other general improvements:

  • Time actually moves now when you sleep or do activities.
  • Redundant outfit types have been removed, cutting down on how much you have to customize.
  • Island-themed activities with special dialogue.
  • New assortment of positions with more variety between them.

However, the game does also have some major shortcomings, some of which I highly doubt will be resolved in the initial bugfixes or even DLC. Most notably, the game lacks visual novel segments or story progression in general, most likely because there is only a single non-custom NPC on the island, the tour guide Hikari. You can romance her, but there aren’t any story beats and her dialogue is kind of weak. Adding some more generic NPCs to man shops and other locales would add some life to the island.

The game also offers little when it comes to new features and options. The character creator has barely anything new to offer, for example, but the real letdown is found in the newly-introduced mini-games. Instead of having activities just be a dialogue exchange, you can now do “some activities” with the girls as an actual, interactive event. As of now, however, this is limited to 3 copies of the exact same massage mini-game that doesn’t even work that well.

Other problems are consistent with the original Koikatsu. The game is still an enormous performance hog for how visually unimpressive it is, it’s still nearly-impossible to upset characters by being a sex pest, peeping tom or just being otherwise rude, and H-scenes have a habit of messing up depending on your avatar’s proportions.

After 3 years, I gotta admit that I am quite impressed with Koikatsu Sunshine‘s developments, even if I was hoping to see a little more in terms of story. Even the issues with the migration process ended up working in my favor, as they afforded me an excuse to spend an evening touching up older character designs, now that I have an increased mastery of the character creator. Once the bugs have been stamped out and all the mods are restored, I’ll probably transfer my last few characters and migrate completely.

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