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H2O: Footprints in the Sand is a Japanese adult visual novel by Makura that was released on June 23, 2006 for Windows as a DVD; a version playable on the PlayStation 2 under the title H2O + followed on April 24, 2008 with adult content removed, but in its place will be additional scenarios and graphics not seen in the original release. H2O is Makura's first game; a sequel named Root After and Another was later produced in October 2007. The gameplay in H2O follows a plot line that offers pre-determined scenarios with courses of interaction, and focuses on the appeal of the three female main characters. There are two modes of gameplay, the Blindness Effect and Normal Effect, where the former plays on the fact that the protagonist is blind, and the latter mode removes the added element of gameplay the Blindness Effect has. The story is broken into three parts: the original introduction and meeting, following by a separation and reunion, and finally ending with the protagonist choosing one of the girls and spending the rest of the game with her.
A manga adaptation, drawn by Kira Inugami, was serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace between 2007 and 2008. A 12-episode anime by the animation studio Zexcs aired in Japan between January and March 2008 on the Fukui TV television network. Several music albums have also been released. The name H2O comes from the first letter of the three main heroines: Hayami, Hinata, and Otoha. Footprints in the Sand comes from a poem; the first part of this poem appeared in episode one of the anime and the second half in the final episode.
The gameplay requires almost no interaction from the player as nearly the entire duration of the game is spent on simply reading the text that will appear on the screen; this text represents either dialogue between the various characters, or the inner thoughts of the protagonist. There are three main plot lines that the player will have the chance to experience, one for each of the heroines in the story. The first time the game is played, only Hayami's plot line is available. After finishing Hayami's plot line once, the option to choose Hinata's plot line becomes available at the decision point in the early part of the game. Finishing Hinata's plot line will make Otoha's plot line available. The player must replay the game several times to view all three plot lines in their entirety. In contrast to visual novel adventure games where the text appears near the bottom of the screen leaving the rest of the window open for viewing the game's visual content, the text in H2O appears over the entire screen in a shaded, but otherwise transparent box. However, there is an option to hide the text in order to see the background without obstruction.
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H2O: Footprints in the Sand System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP
- Processor: PenitiumII 400 MHz
- RAM: 128 MB
- Video Card: DirectX: 8.1
- Hard disk space: 2.64 GB