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2017-10-03

Space Pirate Sara Review

Title: Uchuu Kaizoku Sara
Original title: 宇宙海賊サラ
Alias: Space Pirate Sara
Release date: 2007-08-24
English release date: 2014-12-26
Developer: Black Lilith
English publisher: MangaGamer

Out of all officially translated "Black Lilith" nukiges, "Space Pirate Sara" probably appeals to the narrowest demography of perverts due to its content, which probably resulted in it never getting a sequel. Nonetheless, I found it one of the most enjoyable visual novels from the said company I have recently played.

MangaGamer has sadly released only three Lilith novels to the Western market, before stopping - might be the endeavour didn't pan out and wasn't successful financially. Out of those three, "Valkyrie Svia" was the tamest work, which also suffered from serious translation issues. "Armored Warrior Iris" was really good, but centered mostly on sex with monsters and didn't focus on any single fetish, unless you consider monstrous johns to be a fetish, which is a valid point of view. Now it's time to tackle "Space Pirate Sara", which has a strong focus on one particular fetish, which is incidentally one of my favourites.
The captain and her XO.
Before starting the game I knew little about it and had a misconception I'll be playing as a villain. That's not really true - while our protagonist Sara Scorpion is mostly an anti-hero, she is no villain and a very compelling character to serve as our point of view.

Lilith makes a good decision not to infodump us with the characters' backgrounds and motivations from the very start, but feed them to us over the first few hours of gameplay. We start the game, as Sara stages an ambush for a certain brash female knight Sylia, and after a brief fight manages to apprehend her. She sells Sylia to a fat perverted Duke of Blankenheim for information about a treasured sword she's been searching for. Apparently the sword is safehoused within a tower-vault of a certain Baron Gielen on planet Caribbean. We don't know why Sara is searching for a sword (maybe she intends to sell it) or what's her personal beef with Baron Gielen (and there is one), but we will eventually learn such details bit by bit, including the fact that Sara is not actually who she pretends to be.
Slasher smiles (TM).
And so, Sara flies her battleship Elfenbein to planet Caribbean. Man, that brings me back to that time when Bill, the Galactic Hero arrived on planet USA... but I digress. Anyway, Caribbean is a resort planet with beautiful beaches, and probably bitches too, considering it's a vacation spot for the galaxy elite. All the richest and most corrupt arrive there to partake in the goods provided by Baron Gielen, or rather Baronesses Gielen, as they are actually twin sisters ruling this domain.

Of course the mission to rob the Baronesses goes pear shaped, and of course Sara is captured - after all, this is a Lilith game. No one expects subtlety from them. Strangely, SPS is actually unusually subtle. Most of the time when I play Lilith games I end up rooting for the villain, even if I'm not playing as one. The villains frequently end up more interesting than the heroes, and the bad ends where the female characters end up broken sex slaves are more appealing then the good ends. That didn't happen to my while playing this particular game. Sara's backstory is positively tragic and is presented in such a way, that makes her a very relatable lead.
You are completely right.
I also commend Sara's approach to sexuality, as unlike other Lilith's female characters, she is not as concerned with every separate sex act, but rather the outcome of the whole training. Sara doesn't scream "No, I don't like this! I'm not cumming!" when in the throes of an orgazm, and is quite honest about her feelings regarding all the sexual acts. That is a direct opposite of a certain female ninja in a purple outfit, who shall forever be not named. Add to it Sara's heartwarming friendship with her second in command Hans, and you actually want this duo to overcome their obstacles.

And obstacles there will be aplenty, considering our main antagonists are perverse, sadistic, and maybe even immortal twins with a penchant for wild mood swings. Oh, and did I forget to mention that they are also futanari? I did mention that this game mostly focuses on one specific fetish. Twins Karin and Cecil have captured Sara and gonna train her sexually until she is a broken toy for their amusement. No surprises there... The training will last for four days and our protagonist can actually choose what kind of training she prefers; this is a mechanic very similar to the one employed in "Armored Warrior Iris", where the protagonist could choose her own clients. Either way, whatever you choose, more than a third sex scenes in the visual novel involve futanari in one manner or another.
Sex with twins... At the same time.
As a huge fan of futanari I was deeply satisfied with SPS h-scenes, which start with a bang... gangbang that is. Lilith went all out to satisfy us futa lovers and the sex scenes reflect that. There are futas on both giving and receiving end, futanari on futanari, male on futanari, female on futanari, futanari on female and so on. I was missing only futanari on male, but I forgive Lilith for that oversight. Moreover, in direct contrast with other games from this company, there is a virtual absence of sex with monsters. There are only three scenes fitting the description and they have some of the best written erotic content in the game. I'm not really a beast fetishist, but these scenes really did it for me.

One of the monster scenes with a lizardman has a very unusual writing that not only serves as a proper fapping material, but at the same time serves a great characterization of our protagonist. During that scene, Sara not only transforms from a victim into her self-assured cocky self, but at the same time deals a massive moral blow to her enemies by completely reversing the situation she was put in. Another scene, with a tentacle monster, serves to really flesh out the antagonists in an unflattering manner. It finally reveals to us how deeply broken, how psychotic the twins are, as they rapidly switch their moods between menacing and caring, between sadistic and well-meaning.
Japanese cannot spell.
Unfortunately, for all their psychosis, the twins are not particularly good villains and I conjecture, that is because there was never a sequel to "Space Pirate Sara". The sequel was clearly intended, as the current visual novel leaves quite a few plot threads hanging free, but it still hasn't manifested. Baronesses are quite obviously directly inspired by the story of Erzsébet Báthory, as they preserve their perpetual youth by absorbing the life force of their serving girls, not to mention that the last dinner conversation has strongly implied them to be a few thousand years old, dating back to the origins on knighthood. Hmmm... the text points a specific attention to apples on the dinner table while that particular conversation happens and "apple" is a precursor word to "Avalon"... Yes, I think I'm on to something, but Lilith never got to explore that particular line of inquiry further.

Nonetheless, I would also like to point your attention to a particularly interesting fact about this visual novel. None of the named male characters are ever sexually involved with any female characters within the story. All the sex scene participants are unnamed johns (or janes), or monsters, or named female and futanari characters. Duke of Blankenheim never gets any pussy on screen and we get a strong implication why that is near the end of the game, while Hans, Sara's mentor, confidante and a fellow knight, is allowed to roam free within the castle as a joke and the Baronesses do not involve him in any of their sexual games. Which is their loss, as Hans is no twiddling his thumbs while his friend suffers and seeks for a solution to the current problem.
Ouch.
Enter the dual plot nature of SPS. During the day we follow Sara's "training" and sexual abuse, while at night we follow Hans and his effort to breach the tower-vault, where the treasured sword is interred. The night story also introduces minor gameplay elements, as in order to unlock every floor of the tower, Hans has to correctly solve quite challenging puzzles. Solve all the puzzles right and obtain the sword, and the true ending is yours. There are additional three "sex slave" endings if Hans fails in his endeavour, and an additional "game over" bad ending. I suppose I would almost prefer some of the bad endings more than the true end, if I didn't like Sara so much. :-) All in all, I took almost exactly 8 hours to complete the game completely with all endings and CGs collected.

Graphically the novel looks markedly different from any other Lilith game, and there is a reason for that - its main artist was Seura Isago, who only ever did this one game. I loved the look of the game and the character art. As a big boob fan I appreciated the character models of Sara and Sylia, plus the pettanko look of the main antagonists is also quite delicious. Voice acting was also really really good. I would especially like to commend Andou Ryuu for her performance as both of the twins. Seriously, she managed to give such distinct voices to Karin and Cecil, that I could tell them apart even with my eyes closed. At the same time the background music is quite lame, but that is a feature in every Lilith game.
Solve the puzzle.
Many of the English translated games from this particular company suffer from, let's say, lackluster translation effort, but luckily this is not the case with SPS. Unlike "Valkyrie Svia", SPS was translated by the same guy who did "Armored Warrior Iris", and it shows. I couldn't find any particular fault with the translation and could read the novel without trying to decipher every sentence.

Anyway, I really enjoyed "Space Pirate Sara" and would recommend it to anyone who isn't turned off by futanari sex scenes. Even then try it, maybe you will become a new convert...
Come on. It's a free sex education.
Oh, I knew I almost forgot something. :-) There is, of course, an H-OVA adaptation of the game (what Lilith game doesn't have one). As far as adaptations go, it's quite a competent one, even though the animation is quite frequently sub-par. It follows the main plot points quite closely, but obviously sacrifices some of the most interesting plot points of the game in favour of more sex. It even introduces two idiot sons to the Duke of Blankenheim, just so they could sexually abuse Sylia for additional perv points. The characterization also suffers, with Hans almost completely cut from the animation and twins themselves basically reduced to cackling two-bit villains. Still, it's better than some other games got, so I'll abstain from recommending OVA or not.

Links of Interest

Visual Novel Database
Official Japanese site
Official English site
"Space Pirate Sara" walkthrough
My Anime List page

Final Verdict: 82%

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