Silverain Reviews: SakuraGame: Hell Girls

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: ,

Greetings and salutations over the last few years Steam either listening to its maturing user base (or simply motivated by money) has become slightly more lax in regards to more adult rated games that focus on sexual rather than violent content.
In this series of reviews I am going to be focusing on a small publisher SakuraGame (not to be confused with Winged Cloud who create the Sakura series of games), this small publisher has released a variety of cheap content of various genres ranging from simple erotica to undoubtedly a hentai game with quality wildly fluctuating between its smaller developer studios. 

Hell Girls is a R18 puzzle RPG created by SakuraGame that prioritizes match 3 strategy over speed, in a similar vein to other match 3 games such as Puzzle Quest the game is heavily focused around turn based combat by matching icons to perform certain attacks.
Coining a term from a fellow reviewer Athravan Hell Girls match system could be described more accurately as link & match in that you can make long chains of matches going in any direction with a simple premise of longer the chain, greater the effect. However simply creating a long chain is not enough each of the three available characters has a unique bonus that triggers from the special spellbooks that are created from long chains and often it is more tactical to make chain the length of the spellbook you need.
I certain agree with Athravans own comment that 'Making combos and setting up the board for something massive is genuinely entertaining', it adds a level of tactical depth to the match 3 genre that is often lacking. In addition each character is focused on a element and attack style theme with the ability to learn and equip various usable skills which add further options and variety, this also applies to the various mixture of foes who usually have 2 to 4 different methods of attack each making each monster encounter tactically varied and rather challenging when these monster types are grouped together in a string of fights in a single encounter.

Not all the mechanics are great however, the additional RPG element comes in levelling which increases your stats such as defence and damage as expect, as experience points are spent individually by each character while supporting varying ones play style it leads to a long grind for Soul and Money. It is also responsible for the sudden spikes of difficulty where certain encounters are simply impossible until the character has progressed several levels forcing you to replay levels even further.
Each level does have a series of typical challenges such as moves taken, items collected and number of enemies defeated so occasionally this does force a player back to these levels once their characters have developed to achieve a better rating. 
Further unlocks include alternative costumes mostly in the design of bikinis and other fan service outfits though each has its own powerful effect and downsides. There is no mandatory requirement to use these however and the default armour will serve quite fine.
The story in game is told sporadically and honestly rather badly if it wasn't for the steam store description I really would not know anything about it and even then it is rather vague:
Three mysterious families are blessed by the gods to give birth to girls with powers over fire, ice, and lightning every century.
Their powers are unknown to others, but they will be called by the gods to travel across Hell and Earth, slaying monsters to save the world from being swallowed by Hell’s corruption.
In game they have been referred to as angels by various NPCs or just hired as mercenaries by more eccentric ones. The little dialogue is cliché with cumbersome attempts to add sexual undertones and humour. One NPC I encounter was a budding alchemist who needed Orc 'fluids' with heavy suggestions that they fluid was semen. Given the (admittedly tame) fan service in the game I half expected one of the six images in the game to be of this 'collection'. Instead I was pleasantly relieved that after defeating the orcs she simply said thank you and taught my character a skill (though that adds all new questions of if these girls are the only ones with magic how are other teaching them magic skills).

Finally the visual in the game are quite good in all honesty, the 3d models for both the girls and the enemies are quite detailed with minimum clipping observed. The few scenes with artwork are of high quality but it is just a shame its all fan service and drives away more customers than it attracts.

  • Good quality if cliche artwork and character design, with impressive 3d model detail for its production value.
  • Enjoyable and varied mechanics with various levels of customisation.
  • Art gallery options.
  • Reasonable game length.
  • Easy to pickup and play, no punishment for failure.
  • Energetic and upbeat music.
  • Variation on the match 3 genre.
  • Publisher gives acknowledgements to those who helped with the game.
  • Steam Cards and Achievements.

  • Fan service is laughable and sadly stereotypical in design, too much and embarrassing for the average player and too little and tame for those looking for a more adult game.
  • Level grinding required.
  • Mechanics have variety but are rather shallow and many enemies are recolours with higher stats.
  • Sudden difficulty curves due to RPG elements.
  • Game occasionally forces you to play as particular characters against enemies that their playstyle is weak against.
  • Steam recommendations feed changed to focus on anime from playing this one game.

If you'd like to see more check out my video below:

If your looking for the decensor patch it can be found on the download page.

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Silverain Reviews: Cherry Tree High Comedy Club

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

Created by 773 Cherry Tree High Comedy Club mixes up the RPG Maker formula creating this RPG/Visual Novel crossover. Indeed Cherry Tree High Comedy Club is all but unrecognisable as an RPG maker game and is regarded as one of the most impressive examples of what the software can be used for outside of its more traditional game styles.

Comedy fanatic and high school student Mairu Hibisu has decided to set up a comedy club in her school, but the school rules require a minimum of 5 students to set up a new club and Mairu is 3 people short! Spring break has just started and Mairu has until the end of April to recruit the 3 new members she needs to start the club or her rival Chitose will have the last laugh! 
 Hard to believe this is a RPG Maker Game
The gameplay focuses on story through character interaction as you walk around town, meet people, and try to talk to them and make friends. Mechanically this is done by levelling your conversation skills in different subjects by reading magazines, attending talks or watching television/movies. Each of the 6 possible candidates that are introduced throughout the month the game takes place in have their own preferences in topics with some topics earning their friendship quicker while others simply waste the little time you have.
It should be said though that the conversation system is somewhat simple and in some ways quite unfair, the method of learning which topics are worth while for each person is down to a mixture of random chance through causal conversation (e.g. chatter that does not take time or contribute to friendship), educated guesswork from observing the various cut-scenes or simply using the option after which the result is recorded on the persons profile page in the options.
However as each major conversation option can only be used once per person other than the gossip option which can be used repeatedly (and is nearly useless) this information only helps in subsequent playthroughs, though the new game+ option is only accessible if a minimum of 3 people are convinced to join the club otherwise its a simple restart after 3 to 5 hours with none of the conversational skill levels or information gathered.

 I do like the various menus and huds in the game, the various comments often brought a chuckle
Speaking of skill levels even if you guess the favoured topics of your would-be members if the topics level is rather low you will have little gain in friendship making the most ideal method of play spending the early game addressing the additional minor needs such as completing homework on time, earning money while minimizing your fatigue level, and taking advantage of free methods of levelling topics before focusing on just 3 people to join the club.
The result of this is a average of 2 to 3 playthroughs to get the best ending where all six candidates join the club though as there is no player input to the story the player will be forced to repeatedly watch the same cut scenes and dialogue. 
The story isn't bad by any means, each character has their own goals and personal issues that they want to address but what stood out was that our protagonist Mairu Hibisu (or Miley Verisse in the westernised version) doesn't magically solve everyone's problems. In fact in most cases problems still exist but the various characters take their own steps towards fixing them, Mairu simply acts as a catalyst through her actions or occasionally a throw away comment that has a deeper affect than she realises. Its a nice alternative to much of today's story telling but does have the affect of making the game feel a little shallow and short with the Player an observer rather than having any actual effect.
For a game about Comedy and whose menus and descriptions are filled with small titbits of amusing descriptions the dialogue itself is relatively lacking in these regards in both the original and westernised versions with Mairu's outlandish behaviour often been used as a source of comedy (like most high school animes) but often falls a bit flat of the mark. In the westernised version is in the same vein as the Ace Attorney games more effort has been put into gag names and hand waving why obviously Japanese elements such as a shrine are in 'America' which might amused some players but personally this has always been a particular pet peeve of mine.   

  • Nice visual art style through the game and a clear informative hud with lots of little details that contain much of the games humour.
  • Visually attractive and clear in design for menus and most mechanics are explained adeptly in easy to understand tutorials.
  • Unique gameplay, suitable for younger audience.
  • Choice between westernisation version and original names and references.
  • New Game + Option (if completed with minimum requirements)
  • Steam Cards.

  • Music is short, lacks variation and obviously loops.
  • Average playthrough length dragged out by skill grinding, this is also made further problematic by the fact that certain conversation topics are far less useful than others and certain actions are quite pointless with little benefit.
  • Appalling westernisation version in spite of Ace Attorney inspiration.
  • Very little actual gameplay beyond "Go to location and select option" which quickly grows repetitive.
  • Very limited re-playability with the game easily completable in two playthroughs depending on which skills have been improved in the first playthrough.
  • Player feel like an observer to the character due to having next to no input on story events.
  • Money and items do not carry over in New Game +

TLDR: A wonderful example of what can be done with RPG Maker but with limited replay appeal and gameplay. Recommended as sales purchase.
If you'd like to see a more example of the game check out my video below:

Or alternatively the Lets Play can be be found Here

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