Highschool Romance
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Highschool Romance is a lighthearted slice of life visual novel with a rather small cast and very short story. Despite not taking very long to complete and not really covering any new ground it does manage to be quite entertaining. There is some fanservice, but overall the game is quite tame considering the subject matter.

Gameplay: The game is short and the story not exactly original, but it is interesting and well written.

Graphics: The unique visual style takes a while to get used to, but does fit the game.

Sound: No speech, but a few of the audio tracks are rather good

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Highschool Romance

Developer: AJTilley.com | Publisher: AJTilley.com | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Adventure / Indie / Visual Novel | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / MangaGamer

With parents who work for the government and are always off on business, Shoji the lead character in Highschool Romance has gotten pretty used to changing schools. What he did not expect though was his mother labelling him as female on the enrollment form for his latest school. This would not have been such a big issue were it not for the fact that it is an all-girls school and he can’t get a hold of his parents. With it being the start of his final year of high school Shoji has no choice but to accept the suggesting of his new principle and pass himself off as a girl.

What follows is the adventures of Shoji as he learns how to dress like a girl and blend in with the rest of the students. Fortunately for Shoji he already looks very feminine and all it takes is a quick hairdo change for him to disguise his gender. After the initial shock of parading around in skirts and panties wears off Shoji finds himself drawn to two very different classmates. Hoshi, the class rep, is a shy and serious girl who rarely socializes while Selina is loud, athletic and loves to have fun. Both girls take a liking to Shoji, so players must help him choose who to spend the most time with. While the routes for each of these girls are rather straightforward to complete, there is also a third potential love interest for Shoji to discover and wooing her is a little bit more complicated, but definitely worth the effort.

Highschool Romance doesn’t exactly cover any new ground with its story and is much shorter than similar titles, such as Princess Evangile, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. The slice of life story moves along at a brisk pace and leaves very little room for fluff, so most players will be able to complete each route in about an hour or two. The events are all viewed from Shoji’s perspective and most of the scenes takes place at the school. However, there are a few times where Shoji ventures to the shops or homes of other characters for a much needed change in scenery.

Speaking of the scenery, Highschool Romance forgoes the usual manga visual style favored by the genre and instead opts for something a little more western. This might be a big deterrent for some players, but personally we quite enjoyed the style. It takes a while to get used to the look of the characters, but the art style definitely suites the theme of the game and helps to distinguish it from other visual novels.

The artwork was done by Enrique Bolatre, who also worked on the 2D fighting game, Skullgirls. Considering the storyline there are obviously a couple of very outlandish scenes, but overall Highschool Romance ended up being a lot tamer than what we expected. There are a couple of CGS that are very ecchi, especially on Lea’s route, but for the most part the game shies away from anything sleazy.

Highschool Romance runs on the Ren’py engine and features a very polished interface. Anyone who has ever played a visual novel before will feel right at home and even newcomers will have no trouble clicking through the text and performing functions like saving or loading. The game doesn’t feature any speech, so prepare for quite a bit of reading, but since everything is well written this doesn’t feel like a chore. After completing all three different routes we only spotted a couple of errors in the text and none of them are too serious. We should also mention that all the text in the game is displayed in bold on a red background, which might cause issues for some players. The soundtrack isn’t too bad although there are a couple of tracks that feel like they don’t really fit in that well. The game also features a gallery viewer to check out the CGs, but no audio player to listen to the soundtrack. In addition, sound effects are functional, but not exactly abundant.

Although Highschool Romance might look like a game that will only appeal to players interested in guys dressing up as girls the story is actually entertaining enough for broader audiences. Its relatively short playing time counts against it, but we can recommend it to anyone looking for a short, but engaging title to pass the time with. Since it doesn’t require a huge investment in time to complete it is also a good starting point for people interested in the genre.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 1.66 Ghz
  • Memory: 500 MB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX compatible card
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8 or later
  • Processor: 1.66 Ghz
  • Memory: 500 MB RAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04
  • Processor: 1.66 Ghz
  • Memory: 500 MB RAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space

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