Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Review: Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! (PC)

~Laugh, and the world laughs with you~

Cherry Tree High is a much loved slice-of-life adventure game released on PC a few years ago. Its humorous characters & story, coupled with its simulation gameplay that allowed you to partake in activities, meant it was a hit amongst doujin fans in the west. Some folk though didn't appreciate how the release was westernised, and now we have the de-westernised release via Nyu Media with an added surprise. A short & sweet visual novel based sequel has launched alongside the re-release and that's what we are going to take a look at today.

As the Visual novel is a follow-up to the proceedings of the original, it picks up from where the story was left. Mairu and friends have successfully re-opened the club Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, and they actually need to act like a club as Mairu’s nemesis Chitose hasn't given up on closing them before they begin. Thats not all either as a rivals have emerged in the Classic Comedy club, headed by Mairu's self proclaimed rival in Imari Kobayashi (one of 3 new characters added to the cast) A new transfer student, Ai Fujino (another new character), takes an interest in the Comedy Club forms the main crux of the story alongside Mairu's efforts to keep the club running. Ai Fujino, an idol looking to attend normal school without causing a fuss, quickly takes interest in Mairu & its not long till they both form a new comedy duo. There is one more new character to mention, Utena Katakura, who was the supervisor for the original comedy club before it was closed and now supervises the club again. As this new release is a kinetic novel, there is only a singular path through the games 7 main story episodes unfortunately. Remember the short & sweet in the introduction? Thats how this game plays out. The 7 main episodes only run for about 10-15 minutes each, which leaves a running time of less than a couple of hours. The unlockable sub episodes help to beef out the playtime a little though, and as is usually the case with kinetic novels - a shorter runtime is usually best. The 'Sweet' comes from the games story & cast. Its as delightful as the original, chock full of jokes worthy of a chuckle and well written interactions between characters, and should definitely keep fans happy. Its still a little disheartening that the day-to-day activities of the original aren't included in this new release to add a little something extra.
Once all the main story episodes are done with, there's sub episodes that can be accessed. These offer up more time with characters that don't feature as much within the main arc of the overall story during the main episodes. For example, 'Fruits Basketcase' sees Amane & Ravian pestering the other characters into tutoring them on numerous subjects after finding themselves on the after school society due to slumping grades. Another episode titled 'The taming of the shrew' tells of how Yoshiki is caught peeking at the girls dorm by Kaoruka, and upon being reprimanded by Miss Utena decides to use his 'investigative' skills to find out all he can about the teacher. The final episode is a fitting encore for the game, with the prospect of another installment teased by Imari. These sub episodes are similar in length to the main episodes, some are shorter, and 5 are gradually unlocked. Its a shame that nothing else is unlocked at upon completion as there isn't too much to bring a person back aside from sampling the games story again. Altogether your looking at 2-3 hours of 'gameplay', which doesn't seem much, but it is alleviated by the titles cheap price (or as a freebie for owners of the original) There's no shaking the feeling though that this feels like a 'taster' of something bigger that may be coming for the Cherry Tree High series, with the price & length of the game feeding that thought. Even without the gameplay of the original, there's still a lot here to like for those seeking a light-hearted affair or change of pace.
With regards to presentation, things are just as bright & cheerful as the visual novels punchlines. The characters moe stylings, coupled with a punchy colour palette, ensures the visuals & story compliment each other perfectly. Sprites are detailed well, with the amusing moe expressions helping get across some of the stories more amusing moments easier. The new characters fit in perfectly with the old cast too, for those worrying about any continuity issues with the other characters. If you've played the original Cherry Tree High then some aspects may may seem a little new, as this sequel is based on the de-westernised version of CTH that has just seen release as well, but aside from some locales & names - its all relatively similar. Even though the 'simulation' aspect of the original is removed, the sprites are still animated as such & will walk around locations during conversations which keeps things ticking over. If theres one aspect that's lacking then it may be on the audio side of things. There are no voiceovers for the characters at all it seems, which kinda sticks out like a sore thumb for myself as almost every visual novel I've sampled recently has voice acting (good and bad) but doesn't hurt the overall presentation as whats onscreen is fairly lively. Luckily the games music makes up for that omission a little, remaining cheerful & upbeat at all times - even when the change in mood brings a change in atmosphere. Its not the most expansive game with regards to its presentation, but its nice and cheeful
As has been alluded to during the review, this game is pure short & sweet goodness. The small entry price (currently at £2.79 on Steam) means its easier to overlook the downsides of the title, which are mainly the lack of unlocks meaning replayability is low & the short runtime. If all your looking for is something cheap & cheerful to keep you occupied for a few hours, then this visual novel will fit the bill easily though and fans of the series in particular will be happy with whats on offer.


Who Should Buy This?
  • Cherry Tree High fans
  • It features a cheerful story and humorous cast
  • Your looking for something short & sweet
  • It only costs £2.79

Who Should Avoid?
  • If your expecting the originals gameplay, its not here.
  • Kinetic novels don't do it for you. 
  • Runtime & replayablilty are key factors for your games
  • You prefer VN stories that are a little more serious

Review Copy Provided by Nyu Media

1 comment:

  1. Not a fan of Kinectic Novels plus the game looks like it was ported over from the DS. Oh well at least I finally picked up "Planetarian" and "Go! Go! Nippon" on STEAM on sale :)