Train. Fight. Win... with Gusto!
Cherry Tree High Girls' Fight is a rather imaginative visual novel game developed by 773 and published by Sekai Project. You play as the new gym teacher hired at Cherry Tree High and as the gym teacher, you are tasked to assemble a team of three girls to enter the Girls’ Fight, a schoolwide mixed martial arts tourney.
The game starts with you selecting your name, difficulty (easy or normal), and two manager traits that give you little detail as to what the stats boosts will do. At first, I knew I was going to look back at this decision and curse for not knowing what I was doing, but as the game progressed, I enjoyed the aspect of not knowing what I was getting into.
After the traits, you are given a list of 15 characters to select and choose your team of three.
The character roster seemed large and left a fair amount of replayability to the game if you wanted to start over with different girls. Each girl has a particular personality, and the short description you get from the selection menu barely scratches the surface of their character. Each character has a depth of dialogue, and when you can only pick three, you might find yourself wondering what others might do and say and how they react to the story. I say kudos to those who worked so hard to develop so many characters. On my first file, I went with a 100-pound girl dreaming of being a sumo wrestler, a girl bound to a wheelchair who talks with another entity, and a girl who believed her father built her as a cyborg. Again, I had no idea what I was doing at that point.
However, I really enjoyed not knowing what each character’s strengths and weaknesses were because it felt like I was part of an anime; the new coach on the scene that has to assemble an unknown group of girls to win a school competition. As you train your team, more dialogue options become available, you learn more about each fighter, and the bond and unity of your team grow. Every Friday in the game, you get to test the training that your team has done in the Girls’ Fight competition.
Sadly, the combat for this game is a little lackluster.
It essentially boils down to the card game War, where the higher number card wins. Each round (the matches are limited to 20 rounds) you get a hand of five cards with values ranging from 15 with five being the highest. Each card you can get represents a certain move set for that character, and if you select that card, you choose a move from that set. For example, if you pick a kick card, you get a set of moves related to kicks. With training, you learn more moves and more complicated moves to choose from, but the complex moves have a chance to fail though they do more damage if they land.
This is where I draw my concern. In the later fights of the game, when the rounds are limited, you can’t afford a weak little punch that knocks a sliver of health off the enemy. But part of the combat is strategizing defensive moves along with offensive which I am not good at, yet. Even though I am not a big fan of the way the combat is done, it still can leave you with some high tension moments, especially when down to your last fighter. You can really get into it.
Overall, I enjoyed Cherry Tree High Girls' Fight. The story starts fairly standard, be the best team in Girls’ Fight, but leaves nice little bread crumbs of something darker to follow. The art is pretty and well done. Each character has an outfit for training and an outfit for fighting and the little details in each costume really accents the character.
My favorite part of the art is that the characters, even though they are all girls, are not over sexualized and are modestly dressed for anime/manga standards. The combat can be fun and frustrating, but it doesn’t seem to fit the style and imagination of the rest of the game. Recommended to those who enjoy visual novel/stories and fighter training.