Class of ’09: The Re-Up is a western visual novel from comedian SBN3, that follows a high school girl in the late 2000s.
But this isn’t the “run to school with toast in your mouth” type of high school drama. Basically everyone in Call of ’09: The Re-Up is a terrible person. I mean it, there’s hardly any character that doesn’t show themselves to be some kind of awful.
So if everyone’s terrible, does that include the player character Nicole? ESPECIALLY Nicole.
Class of ’09: The Re-Up
Publisher: SBN3, Wrath Club
Platforms: Windows PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: June 2, 2023
Price: $14.99 USD
Western visual novels (VNs) generally tend to fall into one of two types. First are “deconstructions” of the genre that take potshots at the trite romances and simple gameplay of VNs; and second are ones that uncritically imitate Japanese VNs with high school and ecchi cliches.
Call of ’09: The Re-Up is in the first category, but while it may be wrapped in cynicism, once you get passed all the edgy PR that really wants to remind you that this isn’t like those other baby dating sims, you get a game filled with funny one-liners and the sort of crass humor we all pretend not to enjoy in polite company.
It’s difficult to tell how sincerely the developers treat it as a deconstruction, since you can argue that it makes fun of the fact it’s a deconstruction, so we’re working on possibly multiple levels of irony here.
Nicole is our playable and self-described “hot girl”, which sets the tone for the story. Well actually, what first sets the tone for the story is a small preamble about how much her life sucks living in suburban Northern Virginia (NoVA); and in her defense, she has a lot of valid complaints.
Class of ’09: The Re-Up is technically a sequel, but it’s a standalone sequel. All we need to know about Nicole is that she has a troubled past, she just transferred, and she’s incredibly selfish and narcissistic.
As a “hot girl”, there’s a world of possibility open to Nicole and the game isn’t shy about creating the opportunities to flex her social leverage. As Nicole, you’ll encounter morally gray choices such as being accessory to a hate crime, convincing a lonely nerd to jerk himself in public, and selling your body on Facebook. For the sake of all involved, I hope “based on real events” is just bait.
Class of ’09: The Re-Up is by no means a half-baked game. It has humor, it has an edgy story, it has cute artwork, and most of all a phenomenal voice cast.
We’ve got the talented Elsie Lovelock as Nicole. Lovelock is also known for her work in Huniepop 2 as Abia Nawazi. There’s Kayli Mills as Jecka. Mills has also voices Daria in the recent Rune Factory 3 Special, as well as Yunyun in KonoSuba.
These are the two characters you hear the most but there’s also:
- Lyle Rath
- Joshua Tomar
- Anne Yatco
- Kira Buckland
- and more
I rarely call out a voice cast unless it’s a big name in a Japanese game, but Class of ’09 took a page from Huniepop and used talented and memorable voice work to really make the game stand out.
All the artwork is invested in the characters and a select few CGs (mostly in endings). Which is fine, who cares if the backgrounds are just stock images with a blurry, cartoonish filter of them? I’m not being sarcastic, it’s fine, it takes nothing away from the game.
Similar background aspects like music are also fine and just kind of there. But in most games that’s just fine. Not every VN will have a Narcissu level soundtrack and that’s okay.
The biggest reason to play Class of ’09: The Re-Up is for the humor, there’s something intrinsically funny and subversive about the humor in the game. Subversive doesn’t necessarily mean deep, but it’s for some reason unexpected when you hear hot girls be utterly foulmouthed and candid. You saw this kind of humor a lot in Huniepop with its iconic lines like “thanks for the sex homie”.
In fact, this game seems to actively lampoon depth in storytelling. Nicole never learns her lesson, many of the side characters are one dimensional, but even these aspects have their place storytelling-wise. This game is so good that many of what appear to be flaws are probably done on purpose and it works.
Class of ’09: The Re-Up is on so many levels of irony it’s hard to find fault with it because it’s hard to tell what’s an intentional storytelling device and what’s not.
Is it a story about how superficial the adults in Nicole’s life are? Is it a story about how we failed the youth of that decade? Or is the writer going to laugh at me in our Twitter comments for being an absolute moron looking for deeper meaning in this game? I don’t know, and that’s half the fun.
Ultimately, Class of ’09: The Re-Up is edgy without being an uninspired deconstruction (in hindsight, the over the top trailer making fun of typical VNs might actually be a joke at the expense of deconstructions, like I said earlier we’re on multiple levels of irony here).
If you like edgy humor? Great. If you just want to be a hot girl trying to solve hot girl problems. This is the game for you. It’s crude, it’s funny, it has fantastic voice acting, and despite what little there is to find fault with; I had the most fun with a Western VN I think I’ve ever had. I just wish there was more.
Class of ’09: The Re-Up was reviewed using a code provided by SBN3. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. Class of ’09: The Re-Up is now available for Windows PC (via Steam).