Interview with 773
While preparing the launch of Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, Nyu Media took the opportunity to ask a few questions to Hizume, the representative of the doujin circle* ‘773’**, and shed some light on the circle, Cherry Tree High Comedy Club and their future plans.
* The Japanese term for an indie development group.
& now, for your reading pleasure, here is what Hizume kindly answered.
NM: Please tell us about your doujin circle ‘773’.
Hizume: A circle group is necessary to register with distributors or participate in events, so I have a circle name, but in reality it’s just me. When developing games, I find outsourcers for art and music as they become necessary.
NM: Tell us a little about the development of Cherry Tree High Comedy Club.
Hizume: It took about a year to make. As I just mentioned, I had help from outsourcers – a character designer, a background designer, a sound artist and programmer. My area of responsibility is the game design, the script and designing each of the different types of screens.
NM: The art and characters particularly stand out in CTHCC. Were these areas you put especial effort into?
Hizume: It’s a high school game, so I aimed for warm visuals with an accessible pop taste and modern (anime) feel. But I grew up watching ‘90s anime, so it probably feels a bit old in parts (laughs).
NM: The graphics, music and overall feel of CTHCC are very cheery and fun, but there is a fair amount of pathos in the main character stories. This seems unusual for a comedy-themed game – can you tell us the background of this?
Hizume: The characters’ stories unfold as you recruit them, but as I plotted interesting developments for each character, there ended up being a lot of points that had nothing to do with comedy (laughs). But that’s all part of adolescence too, so I’m happy to have kept them in.
NM: Is there any character in CTHCC that you particularly like & if so, can you tell us why?
Hizume: Fukumio Kusuko (Elise Faircloth) is my favorite. That’s not because she’s a shrine maiden – she’s fun because she looks cool, but she is actually an eccentric. I was wondering if this type of character would prove popular and sure enough she seems popular with Japanese players. She’s a sub-character in Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, but pretty important in the overall setting, so I’d like to have her make an appearance again in future.
I’m also interested to hear which characters overseas players enjoy the most.
NM: Is there a particular scene in the game that you like the best?
Hizume: Well, it’s more of a story than a scene, but I like Inubou Amane (May Bonbon)’s story.
Also, I like the opening scene between Hibisu Mairu (Miley Verisse) and Karasuyama Chitose (Octavia Richmond). You don’t often see this type of scene in this kind of games, so I quite enjoyed adding this.
NM: You made a spin-off to Cherry Tree High called Ai Ai Girls, but do you have any plans to make a sequel to Cherry Tree High Comedy Club?
Hizume: Actually, Ai Ai Girls is an official sequel (laughs). If you mean a game that uses the same recruitment system, I may make something based around the Smiley Girls (Grinmeisters) stand-up duo who set up the first Cherry Tree High Comedy Club several years before the story of the current game. Those two would probably already be a duo from the start of the game, and the game system would involve switching between the two characters and recruiting others.
Also, while not a direct sequel to Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, but I would like to explore the setting by creating other games based on Cherry Tree High School or the Cherry Tree Town.
NM: Please tell us about any other projects you are currently working on or future projects you have planned.
Hizume: Presently I’m creating Dead End Junction (DEJ) – it’s a visual novel based around a Western motif, which will take up my time for the rest of the year. Other than that, as I mentioned, I would like to make a character development game based around Cherry Tree High School in Cherry Tree High Comedy Club. I’d like to get started on that as soon as I have enough time and money!
NM: What is your impression of the Japanese doujin game market today?
Hizume: The Japanese game market is in a difficult period and I hear that indie games are struggling too. Unlike overseas, it’s common even for Japanese gamers not to have heard about doujin games. But the quality has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years and indie games have been appearing on platforms besides the PC such as smartphones, XBLA, etc. I hope they continue to develop from here. I’m very interested in opportunities to release my games in the large overseas markets as with Cherry Tree High Comedy Club.
NM: Please give us a message for anyone considering purchasing Cherry Tree High Comedy Club.
Hizume: I can’t read English, so I don’t understand the translation, but I’m looking forward to hearing what overseas gamers think of high school genre games, which are common in Japan. I would be happy to hear feedback from anyone who enjoyed the game.
773 Official Homepage: