Highschool Romance was the sixth of a total of seven visual novels put out by AJ Tilley in the year 2015. Despite putting out a multitude of short titles out in such a quick rate, Highschool Romance is actually a pretty good title. While Highschool Romance is not some type of extraordinary artistic masterpiece, it is not really trying to be. It is just trying to be a fun romantic story involving cross dressing and pseudo lesbian hijinks, and for the most part it does that well.
There are a few flaws and inconsistencies in its laid back approach and the characters are not the most three dimensional. However, it does still make for a fun read regardless and may be worth your money.
The story in Highschool Romance is about Shoji, a feminine looking boy about to start his senior year of high school. His family has frequently been moving around from place to place while he was growing up so he had to change schools often. As such, he is going to a new boarding school for his final year. Unfortunately, he was mistakenly assigned to an all girls school and was marked down as a girl, so he needs to pretend to be a girl in order to attend or otherwise wait a year until he can get to another school.
While the setup is fairly decent and provides a decent reason for why Shoji needs to cross dress, there are holes in the story. First of all, the mistake in the paperwork is never explained. It is clearly mentioned earlier that his mother did, in fact, mark Shoji down as a girl on the paperwork, but why that happened is never explained. Another hole in the story is how there is never a bulge in Shoji’s panties despite him never being taught anything about tucking, and how this never gives anything away.
The main focus of the game is instead on character relations rather than him adjusting to disguising himself or his school life. The character relations in Highschool Romance are fairly decent providing three routes. It is easy to tell that AJ was trying to keep things simple seeing as how there were only four characters in the game, those being shoji and his three romance options, Selina, Hoshi, and Lea.
Selina is a competitive and outgoing girl who is a bit of a loud mouth, Hoshi is the more bookish and quiet type, and Lea is the school principal. Neither character is particularly deep in terms of personality but the general story line of their routes is fairly compelling. My favorite of the three was Selina given that she expressed the most personality of the three.
One other small complaint is that the romances, while the main focus, tend to be somewhat rushed considering that there is not much to any of these characters. The only development any character has in the game is related to how they feel about Shoji and that is pretty shallow. The reason for why they like Shoji is also pretty vague given that Shoji does not have much of a personality himself. The latter becomes especially apparent during Lea’s route. The fact that it is a serious risk for a high school principal to be in a romantic relationship with a student is never addressed during her route and the romance is treated as normal.
Despite this, it is still fairly interesting to see how things turn out and to get a hold of each of the endings. Part of what made this interesting was simply because the game’s art style is very pleasing to the eye. The art has a more western cartoonish vibe to it which is a nice change of pace from the usual anime art style of most visual novels.
The music is also very beautiful, surprisingly so. In fact, I am tempted to say that music this good is out of place in a game like Highschool Romance. The title theme, for instance, sounds more like something one would expect from a Final Fantasy game than a light hearted cross dressing romance game. If a soundtrack DLC is ever released for this game, I can certainly recommend that.
One other thing that deserves praise is the ability to skip text you have already read. Granted most visual novels have this nowadays but it is especially useful for getting a hold of the additional endings in the game.
While I cannot say to expect much from Highschool Romance, it is the type I can recommend if one is interested in it. You are ultimately going to get what you came for; a light hearted romantic story based around some pseudo lesbian antics. The writing can be a bit shallow and amateurish in some areas but it is also fairly humorous and enjoyable to read. In general, I’d suggest picking this one up on sale if you are conflicted, and to just go for it and buy it if you already wanted to.
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Highschool Romance can be bought on Steam (here), MangaGamer (here), and on Nutaku (here). There is NO pornographic content in Highschool Romance and there is not difference between any of the versions, but both MangaGamer and Nutaku have NSFW Imagery on their sites.
This review was originally posted on GameFAQs on May 18th of 2016, and has been re-edited and given enhanced presentation.