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REVIEW / Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! (PC)

 

Ever try to start your own activities club in high school?  It was fun getting all of the people together, but the hard part was keeping everyone interested and trying to ensure that meetings were productive and that the club objectives were being met.  In Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls!, the sequel to the popular slice-of-life adventure game Cherry Tree High Comedy Club by developer 773 (pronounced “Nanami” in Japanese), these dilemmas and more are what you will have to face in order to make the Cherry Tree High Comedy Club a success.  This game of sorts picks up the story right where Cherry Tree High Comedy Club left off, but this time out, is presented as a non-branching visual novel.

 

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Mairu is the comedy Club president. She can be brash at times but has uncanny comedic timing.

 

Main character Mairu and her friends, having had some troubles in securing a sponsor, have been successful at re-opening Cherry Tree High’s Comedy Club and now that they have done so, it is time to take their responsibilities seriously.  It won’t be easy being taken seriously by the entire school, however, as Mairu’s nemesis, Chitose, is intent on closing them down and will do whatever it takes to make the Comedy Club look bad.  In addition, there are other clubs in the school that the Comedy Club must compete with for the title of Number One Entertainment Club, making matters that much worse.

 

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The number of characters that you meet at Cherry Tree High is quite large.

 

Gameplay in Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! is very simple.  Your sole interaction with the game is pressing any button on your keyboard to advance the dialogue.  That’s it.  This is an interactive novel that feels like it is filling in the story between two actual games even though there hasn’t been an announcement of a second game at this point.  The onscreen action takes place in a small window with set pieces that reminded me of watching a play.  Characters will enter stage right and exit stage left all while delivering their lines and acting out their parts.  It is a really cool way to present manga for those that want a different, semi-interactive way to experience the story instead of just reading static pages in books.

 

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Locations in the story range from a temple and a shopping mall as well as the school itself and Mairu’s home.

 

The graphics in Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! are done in two different styles which complement each other very nicely and makes for a cool presentation of the story.  The backgrounds and the characters in the scene’s mid-ground are done in a cool 16-bit animation style that looks a lot like what you would see in the SNES days.  When characters are speaking dialogue to one another, they are presented in the foreground in hand-drawn manga style artwork and a dialogue box below them that adds more detail and brings the characters to life.  These two styles combine to create a visual novel that grounds itself in the video game world yet presents its content in a manga inspired format that complements the story and helps to build the world that Cherry Tree High resides in.

 

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There are seven main episodes and five sub-episodes for a total of twelve comedy packed episodes.

 

This type of linear, interactive novel is a great way for studio 773 to flesh out the world of Cherry Tree High which offers a good amount of content (there are twelve chapters) and could possibly spawn more games in the series.  I loved the music that played in the background as it is very upbeat and there was a good variety of tunes but depending on your reading speed, it may get a little monotonous hearing the looped tunes that play in a particular chapter.  The story is silly and fun but you can only advance in the story and can’t go backwards so if you missed something or hit a key accidentally on your keyboard, the only way to go back is to start the chapter over from the beginning.  Other than those small issues, Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! is was a good read and I hope that there will be other stories that 773 chooses to tell in this interactive format.

 

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