Gakuen NTR is a “pop” netorare eroge released by Atelier G/H this year, 2013. Who cares who wrote it, this is a nukige.
Our protagonist here is Fukunaga Yuuto, an average high school student. But wait, don’t close your browser window just yet: unlike the millions of other average high school student eroge protagonists Yuuto is actually pretty close to what real average high school students, at least the boys, act like. He thinks about sex all the time and would do anything to get laid. He’d screw anyone and he isn’t exactly discriminate about who he chooses to confess to. No highfalutin ideals about love here (though they do come up in a very shallow way once the routes start). Yuuto meets and befriends two like-minded souls, Yuusuke and Hirokazu. The first part of the game is driven by the humor generated by these three pure young men and their quest for pussy. And guess what: it’s genuinely funny. The desperation, perversion, and idiocy of the boys and their dirty humor is all really much funnier than what you’d expect from a nukige. Gakuen NTR also features the most hilariously awkward confession of all time. It’s rare that the lead up to the sex in a nukige is actually entertaining but it’s always appreciated.
Yuuto may be a realistic average high schooler but this is still an eroge, and so the two girls Yuuto ends up having a choice between are of course beautiful and popular, in fact they’re both gravure idols. One of whom likes video games and the other likes anime. Seriously. I haven’t mentioned them yet because they’re boring and shallow and aren’t really developed in the first sexless part of the game that’s supposed to serve as introduction to and development of the premise and characters. After you choose one of the two girls the second, main phase of the game starts: the sex.
The routes are nothing but sex. Sometimes there’s just a handful of lines between ero scenes, other times the breaks last as long as a couple of minutes. This frontloading of plot and character in the common route so the heroine routes can be nonstop fuckfests is actually a really good pacing strategy for a nukige. Of course there’s still some plot. This is netorare so it demands at least a minimum of plot. And a minimum of plot is pretty much what you get here. The premises for the routes are relatively novel though: Hina’s route involves going to a couple cafe (if you’re into NTR you should’ve heard of these Shambhalas by now) and Miya’s route has Yuuto move away and Miya use other guys’ dicks as substitutes for his while she has phone sex with him (the whole “getting fucked by another guy while on the phone with your boyfriend” may be one of the big NTR cliches but this twist on it is new and fun).
But let’s also talk about the problems with the netorare in this game. I think they can be summed up by saying that everything is too “easy,” though I suppose that’s to be expected in a game where a perverted loser gets his pick between two gravure idol schoolgirls with otaku hobbies. Apparently they’re as easy for other guys as they are for Yuuto. There’s really no reason why the girls start cheating on him. They basically turn into cock-loving sluts after they get their first taste of the dick (and these are girls who both initially say they want to save themselves for marriage, which I didn’t even realize is a thing in Japan). They even start cheating on the guys they start cheating on Yuuto with. Meta-NTR. But anyways, there’s no development behind the NTR so it feels flimsy and doesn’t give as much of that NTR feel as it could and should. Plus Yuuto never finds out that he’s being cheated on (other than the swapping in Hina’s route), which also diminishes the NTR feelings. Given all this I didn’t feel it necessary to play the non-NTR routes so I won’t talk about them.
The heroines are Mizuo Hina and Yuuki Miya. Hina is a shallow generic yamato nadeshiko. Miya is a shallow generic drill-haired ojousama. The latter stereotype is the superior one so I liked Miya more, for all that’s worth. The heroines lack even the small amount of depth I want in my nukige heroines. They lack developed motivations or feelings or affections too, so ultimately they’re just objects to be taken from the protagonist so the reader will feel the jealousy that generally underlies the appeal of this fetish. But the thing is, heroines, even—or rather especially—in NTR, are not merely objects. They exist to be loved, and in being loved the taking is that much more tragic and ultimately arousing. You can’t feel love for these girls so the NTR, the whole point of this all, takes a hit.
I already talked some about the protagonist Yuuto. And I said all there is to be said about him, really. He may be realistic at first glance but he has zero depth. He’s just a silly teenage boy, and after the routes start he loses any distinctiveness. Yuuto’s friends are similar in terms of youthful desperateness and horniness, but Yao Yuusuke is more suave and Majima Hirokazu is more serious.
The music is so generic I’m struggling to remember what a single track sounds like, and I just played some of the game a few hours ago. The title track is decent and actually serves as a great microcosmic representation of the game as a whole: it’s poppy and light but rough around the edges and cheap-feeling.
All the seiyuu suck.
You know, I followed this game pretty closely prior to its release. And for some reason from everything I saw I thought the art was going to be good. It’s not at all. When you’re actually playing the game you see it for what it is, all the bad proportions and stiff poses and awkward perspectives. Lots of times it just looks goofy as all fuck, not intentionally. Instead of normal sprites each character only gets a few but there are side portraits to display their changing facial expressions. These often display the wrong characters. Some CGs still manage to be hot, mostly Miya CGs, so that’s a small saving grace.
As usual for an NTR eroge, the quality of the ero is largely driven by the quality of the story that frames it. I’ve talked about the good and the bad in the story in Gakuen NTR. I’ve talked about how the NTR force isn’t particularly strong with this one. But the situations are novel enough and that counts for a surprisingly lot. The writing is economic in the good sense. The scenes avoid dragging on too long and the descriptions are the right brevity. I mentioned how things are too easy and this applies also to how the sex scenes progress into some advanced fetishes and how the girls are totally into them and rock-hard M from the get-go. Also there are a lot of repeated ero scenes. Some are repeated because at the beginning of each route you can choose whether or not to take the heroine’s virginity, which determines whether some scenes are actual sex or sumata. But in addition to that some subsequent scenes just reuse CGs and situations from earlier scenes. This is something that I find unacceptable in nukige, since the ero scenes are the whole point of the eroge. It’d be like a story-based game reusing plot points. It doesn’t work.
Pros: Legitimately good humor in the common route; ero gets the job done fairly well; I never thought of using an electric toothbrush as a sex toy until I played this eroge
Cons: Shallow characters and plot; bad art and audio
In a way this maker succeeded in creating a “light” NTR eroge like they were aiming for. The problem is it isn’t light in the right ways, or at least not in the ways I wanted it to be. It’s light on character and relationship development, motivations for cheating, overall sense of “netorare” as a concept/fetish, and logic in general. The quality of the overall production is also “light,” with poor art, rough writing, and forgettable music, plus typos in the script and errors in sprite display. Despite all this Gakuen NTR features some good humor in the common route and some refreshing netorare situations in the character routes. If the whole thing was done a little better this could’ve been a great game. As it stands it’s a mostly mediocre one.