Flower, Sun, and Rain
released on May 02, 2001
Flower, Sun and Rain is a PlayStation 2 puzzle adventure game developed by Suda 51. It was also remade on the DS for Europe and the United States.
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“he’d love to spend the night in zion / he’s been a long while in babylon / he’d like a lover’s wings to fly on / to a tropic isle of avalon” - digital man, rush
dense, layered, and easy to get lost in all the same as its island centerpiece, flower sun and rain endures as personally-tailored perfection in a video game.
some years ago when i was working my way through kill the past, a good friend of mine advised me to not bother with the completely optional and not at all mandatory lost & found puzzles, as “they suck and they ruin the pacing of the game”. as a matter of pride i simply decided to not heed that advice and go through the game solving as many of the lost & found puzzles as i possibly could. in doing so i’ve made the playthrough likely much longer and more drawn out than it should have been, but it’s only until as of writing this in 2023 that i’ve realized that doing these puzzles actually held some value to me.
flower sun and rain is a game of multifaceted allegory and metaphor, where no ‘truth’ is singular (despite what sumio initially says) and just about any way of reading into it is a valid reading. to me, flower sun and rain is a metaphor about a man unwilling to acknowledge the past and move on to the future; a man eternally stuck in the present. the titular hotel claims its stake on being a paradise to forget about time in, and like a moth to a flame, sumio does as much as he can to waste away in paradise for as long as he possibly can. he lets himself get distracted with the denizens and their issues, letting paradise pull him deeper into itself so sumio doesn’t have to think about the airport and everything outside of this paradise. 25th ward puts a wrenchingly satisfying end to this thread as his life outside of paradise has become completely void of enjoyment. in the end he lets paradise subsume him, never to move on again.
paradise as an idea is something i had touched upon earlier in my thoughts on kaizen game works’ paradise killer, which for anyone who’s played a decent number of suda51 games, can very much see the unabashed ktp cribbing it proudly flaunts. it is rooted in a need to escape human problems ironically caused by humans and the societies they’ve built up. in building these paradises, it comes down to exploitation of resources and people to cultivate these getaways and romanticizing a world fundamentally incompatible with the systems that even lets a vacation spot like this exist in the first place. vacation spots like the flower sun and rain hotel are inextricably linked to colonial structures thriving off of that exploitation. this brings flower sun and rain close to an idea proposed by writer mark “k-punk” fisher known as capitalist realism, in which he proposes that due to the sheer widespread influence of global capitalism, it’s believed that it is the only viable political and economic system and that it would simply be impossible to even begin to imagine any viable alternative. in that sense there’s no such thing as a true-to-definition paradise; it is at best only a temporary state of mind, but it’s one that a person can find themselves unfathomably lost in.
there’s probably not a lot of people who went out of their way to do the ds port’s lost & found puzzles, as they’re technically not really rewarding the player with any juicy lore or narrative revelations, just some stuff to look at in the game’s model viewer and maybe the satisfaction of solving esoteric puzzles that have nothing to do with anything. or so one thinks they have nothing to do with anything relevant. for the player to deliberately seek out the lost & found puzzles and forget about time solving them, it is, to me, the perfect way to reinforce the narrative flower sun and rain presents. sumio is a man who lets frivolous people distract him and seeks out these meaningless problems to solve for others, and for the player to do these lost & found puzzles, they act as an extension of sumio to drag out every second possible to indulge in paradise. one of the most potent executions of a ludonarrative tool i’ve seen in a video game, and it’s entirely done through optional puzzles that a good deal of the people who played this game likely did not do.
i don’t regret doing the lost & found puzzles. i think they’re the best part of the game.
i would sell an intestine for a remaster or just a port. ily suda