The (Mostly) Authentic High School Experience
Class of '09
The last time I covered a visual novel, I expressed my belief that a lot of them tended to be reliant on gimmicks, parody, or deconstruction to promote themselves, possibly due to a perception that the medium is so formulaic, you have to do something outrageous and attention-grabbing in order to stand out.
Evidently, I am far from the only person who thinks this way.
Class of '09 is a visual novel developed by SBN3, who, from taking a cursory look at their YouTube channel, seems to have at least some familiarity with anime fandom, given that quite a few of their videos parody some anime series or another. With that in mind, it seems that, in hindsight, it was only a matter of time before they turned their gaze towards a medium, that, despite having a lower profile, has some overlap with anime fandom.
As you can plainly see from the image above, this game advertizes itself as a "rejection sim," rather than a (in the creator's perception) ordinary, bog-standard dating sim. Furthermore, its Steam description is as follows:
This is the anti-visual novel. Instead of playing as some guy magically able to score with beautiful anime girls, YOU play the anime girl and create mass chaos in the lives of your potential "suitors". Earnest comedy, social accuracy, and late 2000's aesthetic await you in Class of '09!
Interestingly, the description for the Android version, released in January 2022, is almost identical, yet also takes a dig at mobile game ads:
Tired of those weird in-app ads of animated women going "oh~" after you compliment them?
Well this is the anti-visual novel.
Instead of playing as some guy magically able to score with beautiful anime girls, YOU play the anime girl and create mass chaos in the lives of your potential "suitors". Earnest comedy, social accuracy, and late 2000's aesthetic await you in Class of '09!
Its claim of being an "anti-visual novel" strikes me as a bit presumptuous, especially since the medium covers quite a wide range of genres and settings. However, it is still the high school dating sim that is most synonymous with the genre in the public eye, so I was still drawn to it regardless.
And then you have the trailer, uploaded a month prior to the game's release. I only realized this in hindsight, but the trailer does make the game out to be a subversion of the typical dating sim, not just through labeling it as a "rejection sim," but by swapping out Japanese high school tropes for American ones. (The ad for the Android release, on the other hand, doesn't place as large a focus on subversion, instead choosing to empasize its disturbing, darkly comedic content.)
Still, given what I had seen of visual novels up to that point, I went into it expecting a breath of fresh air.
- Hit The Ground Running (Intro)
Really sets the tone for the rest of the game, wouldn't you think?
- Nicole vs. Sexual Predators
I don't remember there being this many perverts in my high school.
- Nicole vs. Jocks
How many people outside of Canada are this interested in lacrosse, anyways?
- Nicole vs. Nerds
Hell hath no fury like a weeb scorned.
- Nicole vs. Normal Guys?
This route is disappointingly short, if you catch my drift.
- Nicole vs. the Photo Teacher
On the one hand, unsupervised photo shoot by a potential groomer. On the other hand, free food!
- Nicole vs. Social Obligations
Moral of the story: rejecting your suitors will just make them clingier.
- Final Words
- EXTRA: Nicole vs. Entitlement