Review: Cherry Tree High Comedy Club

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. When not thieving your breath with its lengthy name, Cherry Tree High Comedy Club seeks to do so with wittiness. Nyu Media teams up with Tezuka Productions to bring indie developer 773’s adventure-type to the West.

The official genre is listed as adventure, but I feel like that is the case only because the “date” in “date-sim” doesn’t fit. Friend-sim, then? Maybe slice of life-sim.

It was around this time last year that Nyu Media first announced its intention to courtship. Plans were laid to woo gamers with a salvo of titles ranging from bullet hell to action-fights. Among those, it was Cherry Tree High Comedy Club that really struck my fancy. When the time for release arrived earlier this year, I was too embroiled in personal projects to pay more than perfunctory attention to video games. Fortune apparently favors those who toil, as a Steam release has reinvigorated this title and merited a super-late but super-marvy review.

Upon receiving my review code, I wasted no time taking control of Miley—who quickly came to be called Messy Miley in my internal narrative; she’s a silly one, defined as she is by verve, several resident cowlicks and a penchant for comedy. Such a puissant penchant, in fact, that she’s charged herself with marshaling a rebirth of the high school’s once-famous comedy club. That, as you can surely deduce, is the game’s main objective. In order to achieve this, you must recruit at least three members by way of orange-haired persuasion, and at any cost! You’re given about five or six weeks to accomplish your goal or else . . . something happens. I’m not quite sure what that something may be, short of not establishing the club, as I did not fail in the task.

Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, which I am loathe to abbreviate as the severed figureheads (CTHCC) are grievously ugly, puts you to the task in the style of a date-sim without the dating. Instead of courting filles for first base and beyond, you’re befriending them with the intention of populating your comedy club. It does seem shady and disingenuous, doesn’t it? I didn’t, and don’t, care to question the implications. If you’ve played Persona 3 or 4, you’re familiar with the general concept.

So you go about doing this by passing the days improving your repertoire of conversation topics: video games, whodunnits, cooking, art, history and a gamut of topics any self-respecting deipnosophist would know. They can be advanced throughout the town of Cherry Tree by participating in activities ranging from movies to the arcade to reading the latest issue of En Vogue. As you explore the town, you’ll come to meet new people and appreciate the game’s almost unremitting buoyancy. Then you’ll brandish what you’ve learned to get to know the six potential recruits better, eventually unlocking dialogue scenes wherein some of their past or disposition is brought to light.

Spunky as she is, Miley should not claim sole ownership of this review’s spotlight. Those potential companions possess vim-inspired character of their own. While the cast will not be remembered for its complexity or impressive personalities, each member has been limned with the game’s theme in mind. They’re lightsome, likeable and all-around fun. Vivian, the vivacious Swede, is always aflutter with appreciation for the town and all its fresh experiences. Reticent Sara Croft is steered by Miley’s influence to open up and smile a bit. The discourse between these actors is equally charming, with treats sewn in for those who pay attention.

While you go about your discovery of Cherry Tree Town and its inhabitants, your activities will naturally pass the time. Morning/Lunchtime, afternoon and evening each hold the potential for one activity, so there is a measure of management required to complete the game successfully. I actually ended up recruiting my third member on the final day; just in time. That considered, I never really felt swamped or burdened by the calendar overlord.

It should be mentioned somewhere, so I suppose this plot of space is good enough. The soundtrack, while nothing special, goes down smooth. I’m especially fond of the dorm track; it has a very relaxed vibe.

I would recommend Cherry Tree High Comedy Club to anyone looking for a succinct and refreshing bit o’ honey. Notice the usage of succinct there: I did not use brief. While I only clocked three hours, I would not consider it brief. Brief too often implies something is short in the nasty way one would address inadequate bedroom performance. Succinct fits here. It’s warm in its passing, all bundled into a small but complete package. I’d especially recommend Cherry Tree High Comedy Club to anyone who found themselves delightfully surprised by Recettear—even those who would typically scoff at the styling therein. It isn’t a masterpiece; it isn’t even close. But it’s a good game, and that’s enough for me.

Cherry Tree High Comedy Club is pleasantly calming—a Springtime nap in the shade, and pleasantly calming is not a meeting of words many games inspire. So sit back, relax and enjoy a smile.