Inside Pulse 12

Review: Cherry Tree High Girls’ Fight (PC)

cherryfightcoverCherry Tree High Girls’ Fight
Publisher: Sekai Project
Developer: 773
Genre: Simulation/Strategy
Release Date: 06/13/2016

How do you follow a couple of games about the wacky misadventures of a high school comedy club? Well, according to 773, the only way is to make them fight for our entertainment!

Cherry Tree High Girls’ Fight (I’m just going to shorten that to CTHGF from now on) is a simulation game where you manage a team of three high school girls. Each week, you’ll train the girls in various styles and techniques before sending them off to battle other girls in an MMA style event. The ultimate goal is to have the most points at the end of the season and make the finals.

cherryfight1At the outset, you’re introduced as the new gym teacher for Cherry Tree High. Almost immediately, you’re given the job of managing a team for Girls’ Fight. With little information to go on, you’re meant to choose three girls and get started. There’s very little story here, but you are allowed to talk the girls about various subjects in a bid to get to know them better. Since the cast is about a dozen girls, you’ll have to play through the game multiple times in order to get to know them all. Beyond that, the game is as shallow as it sounds. This is one time you won’t have to worry about your athletic club having to save the universe from aliens or ancient evils. If you win, you get a trophy. Hooray!

Visually, the game is a dud. The game runs at a low resolution and they had to patch in the ability to full screen it. The models look all right enough in terms of art style. However, they appear grainy and don’t animate. The other visual aspects of the game include basic menus, blurry backgrounds, and some generic effects. The most complex effect is likely the cards burning after you play them. There’s just no visual flair here.

As for the audio, it’s all about the music. There are some rings and smacking sounds during training and fights but that’s about it. For music, the game keeps to high energy rock/pop tunes. Each girl has her own theme song that plays during battle, and there are a handful of more relaxed tunes during the week. There are no spoken lines or voice clips. It’s fine enough. None of the tracks are catchy enough to get stuck in your head, but they’re not unpleasant either. You can play with or without the sound and get pretty much the same experience.

cherryfight2Gameplay is broken up into two sections; training and battles.

During training, you have a few different options. You have an allowance of action points. These can be used to talk to the girls or explore the school. Talking to the girls lets you know more about them and helps increase some hidden meter for their motivation. Exploring the school lets you discover more topics for discussion. After that, you need to schedule your training for the week. Each girl can spend up to three actions. Most of your training options merely level up one of your stats. For example, jogging increases overall health points. You can also rest if a character needs it, or try to learn a new move. When you’ve set the training for the day, you simply hit a button and the results are shown to you. Then you move on.

Battles are tricky. While the fights are technically three on three, you have to choose an order for your characters to battle. Each girl fights until she’s out of health points. Then it moves down the line. If you beat all of your opponents, you win. If you run out of girls, you lose. If the time (shown in rounds) runs out, it’s a draw. There’s little strategy in choosing your order. There’s no way to know who you’ll be facing, and you can’t swap out anyway. It might be best to throw your best character out first in order to attempt to deal damage quickly.

Each of a fight’s twenty rounds in split into three phases. You’re given five random cards that represent different fighting techniques. You pick one for each phase and then compare with your opponent. The best card/move wins. These cards are numbered one through five. When you play a card, you then need to pick a move. For example, let’s say you play a punch card. A list of all of you various punches will show up. You pick the one you want and that’s the move your character will attempt. Each move has a level, also one through five. Lower level moves are easier to pull off, while higher level moves deal more damage. The level of the move combines with the number on the card to figure out your total. If your total is better than your opponents, your move hits.

cherryfight3Here’s where we start to see some problems. The cards you get each round are completely random. You don’t build a deck, you don’t have a way to influence your draws, and you can’t toss unwanted cards. That means if your character is specialized to fight using punches, you’ll need to draw punch cards. More importantly, you’ll need to draw high level punch cards. If those cards don’t pop up, you’re kind of in trouble. A way to combat this is to teach your character new moves in other disciplines such as rush, throw, and grab. However, those moves take time to learn, and utilize different attributes that you’ll have to train. You’re kind of forced to specialize and hope for good cards, or dilute your attacks for the sake of versatility.

There’s also no way to know what you’re opponent is going to except in rare circumstances. Each round, you may or may not get to see one of your opponent’s plays. You’ll see the type of card they’re playing as well as the card value. You just won’t know the move. This feature is helpful when it pops up, but there’s no way to get it intentionally. So normally, you’ll just have to play a card and hope it beats your opponent’s.

What this boils down to is a system based solely on luck. True, card games always depend on luck, but there’s usually some level of player input on how much. In trading card games, you build a deck with your own cards. You have an idea of what you’ll get. In this game, you just have to hope the game is kind to you. What this creates is a system where you don’t feel good about winning. You don’t feel as if you’ve skillfully played or properly prepared for the battle. You just got better cards.

cherryfight4What little strategy exists in the game is mostly regulated to attacks that can damage limbs. If you successfully land an attack against a limb, it will become injured. This decreases an opponent’s damage output with attacks that use that limb. Hurt arms do less damage with punches and so on. Of course, you still have to draw a good card that has a limb damaging move on it.

Running through the game once will only take you three to four hours. Training each week takes only a couple of minutes, and the rest of your time will be in battle. Battles are slow thanks to bland animations and speech bubbles for each attack. As such, they can go up to twenty minutes at times. The good news is that you only have up to eight fights in the game. You’re also encouraged to try out different team combinations in order to get to know all of the girls. Finally, there are two difficulty settings depending on your need for challenge. If you get into the game, it’s not too unreasonable that you get a few playthroughs out of it.

Now for some miscellaneous stuff. The game doesn’t teach you how to play well at all. You’re thrown into creating your character and choosing your team without any idea of what your choices mean. The battle system isn’t properly explained in the game. The publisher had to put up a manual that you can find online so that people could properly grasp the systems. On top of that, the results page for each fight features ads for other games by the publisher. If you click on them, it will take you outside of the game to a website. While this would be tolerable as a main menu option, it is not acceptable in-game.

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjack1-150x150CTHGF simply doesn’t impress on any level. The graphics are below par, there’s no real story, and the gameplay is based entirely on a random element. Even if you masterfully train your girls, you can still lose to a series of bad draws. As a result, this is a game is boring at best and frustrating at worst. It can be safely avoided.

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