Title: Nursery☆Rhyme －ナーサリィ☆ライム－
Developer: Lump of Sugar
Release Date: 25th November 2005
Age Rating: 18+
Length: 10+ Hours
Links: Official Site, VNDB
After being accepted into a prestigious school, our protagonist Shizuma realises that he needs a place to stay. Luckily for him, his estranged childhood friends and their mother just so happen to run a dormitory and allow him to stay. After saving her from a sleazy guy at the train station, Shizuma has an unexpected reunion with the younger of the twins and thus begins his new dorm life. Living under one roof with 4 girls & the tsundere ojou-sama next door leaves the shy Shizuma in a bit of a predicament – just what awaits him this school year?!
Shizuma is the protagonist of the game and is Makina + Yukina’s childhood friend, although he hasn’t seen them in a number of years. He’s a pretty quiet guy and is very studious, often achieving some of the top exam scores in his class. His hobby is looking after his aquarium of fish.
Tomoe Yukina (CV Matsunaga Yuki)
Yukina is the older of the Tomoe twins and is the more mature of the pair, with a calming, almost motherly personality. She spends a lot of her time helping her mother with chores around the dorm and is very adept at cooking, cleaning & gardening. Unlike her younger sister, Yukina is not particularly athletic but is smarter. However, she has really weird taste in clothing, often chosing completely clashing colours.
Tomoe Makina (CV Kaneda Mahiru)
Makina is the younger of the Tomoe twins and has an energetic and bright personality. She’s the star of the schools “Sophie-Cross” team (think magical lacrosse) and is under the sports department of the school. Makina sucks at studying so often has to ask for her older sister’s help. She enjoys teasing Shizuma whenever she can and has a huge sweet tooth. However, she’s definitely not a morning person…
Tita Flawless Brandt (CV Yoshikawa Kana)
Tita lives next door to the dorm & is the twins’ childhood friend. However, Tita is extremely competitive and is always comparing herself to the twins, often referring to them as her rivals. She’s your typical ojou-sama whom is trying to help out her family’s business after her brother ran off to university. After a misunderstanding involving seeing her changing, Tita is not fond of Shizuma.
Shikishima Kururu (CV Nishida Komugi)
Despite her small stature, Kururu is actually in the year above Shizuma at school & is an honour student whom lives at the dorm. She’s part of the Lycan race – normally known for their athletic prowess but Kururu is actually a powerful mage. She’s very shy and quiet in front of strangers & spends much of her free time helping out at the school’s library committe. She carries around a talking cat plushie called Az that she “punishes” when he inevitably insults people.
Rin Lim Venus (CV Matsuda Risa)
Rin is a university student whom stays at the dorm. She’s from a well-known elf family whom are famous for their magic abilities, however, Rin lacks these completely. She doesn’t let this get her down though and is aiming to become a school teacher in the future. She works various part time jobs, including at a local cafe, but is incredibly clumsy. Rin is extremely terrified of men, to the extent that she faints in front of Shizuma.
Artwork for this game was handled by Moekibara Fumitake, whom I’m sure is instantly recognisable as being one of Lump of Sugar’s main artists having worked with them for the last 15 years.
Opening: True My Heart – Sakura Saori
Ending: Dearness – Sakura Saori
The game’s BGM tracks were composed by the group ave;new. They mostly work on theme songs but have on occasion worked on other visual novels, including various other Lump of Sugar titles.
Considering how old the game is, the system was pretty decently designed and displayed. I bought the anniversary re-package of the game, which worked fine on my Windows 10 laptop.
The game does have a lot of choices, with not all of them being particularly obvious so I would recommend a walkthrough.
Given that this game’s opening theme is one of the reasons that I found out about visual novels and got sucked into the genre it makes sense that I would finally get around to playing it, over 10 years later. Was it as cute and sweet as the cover and op suggest?
Playing this game delivered a huge dose of nostalgia for me – from the gaudy textbox to the upbeat BGM and the older style of artwork. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the game itself is bad, with many of the character interactions being fun (if a little generic). It has many of your usual chara-ge features where there’s your typical events – sports day, beach trip & summer festival all present and correct. It was actually interesting to see how little has changed over the years in that regard!
The set-up and plotline of the game are, again, a bit on the generic side but the addition of the magical elements did add a bit of intrigue to the game. I just wish that the game made better use of these!
Shizuma was a reasonable protagonist – he didn’t stand out as particularly good or bad, although he was on the donkan side.
Makina is definitely energetic to say the least and I found her koakuma side to be fun when it showed. Her route was definitely cute but definitely one of the more boring ones.
On the other hand, Yukina’s route was my favourite because of how different it was to the typical moege heroine route. She underwent more character development than the other heroines and it was very satisfying when her and Shizuma finally become a couple. As a character, I thought that she was pretty interesting & definitely had some cute points!
Due to my preference for tsunderes, Tita was the character that I was most interested in before playing the game. Unfortunately, her route had really bad pacing with the romance being really rushed in the latter half of her route. I feel as though the game didn’t really resolve her actual “problem” and instead focused on some silly random event. That being said, she’s still cute when she wants to be~
Kururu is downright adorable & her interactions with Az are hilarious! Her route was pretty good and brought up some interesting world-building to the game which I appreciated.
I didn’t really have very high expectations for Rin but she’s just so endearing that you can’t help but like her. The fact that she’s always trying her best despite her (ridiculous) clumsiness is just so sweet. Her route had better romantic development than most of the others but I feel that certain other story elements were brought up and then just kinda forgotten. It was still a decent read though!
This game has about an average amount of side-characters, with your typical stupid friend of course. None are particularly noteworthy but also weren’t annoying so that’s a bonus.
Okay, I’ll admit that I’m really bias for Moekibara’s art style but considering the age of the game, the artwork was of very nice quality. There’s also a good number of CGs for each heroine, although I wish that the funny SD CGs were included in the gallery!
As I mentioned at the start, the opening song for this game is iconic & is something I could listen to for hours. The ending song was also super cute. The soundtrack just reeks of nostalgia for some reason. Most of the songs are cute and upbeat but there’s some beautiful melancholy tracks there – particularly “Amaoto no Sasayaki” & “True My Heart ~Arrange ver.2~”.
Voice acting in the game was ~okay~, the sound quality seemed a little low but that’s probably an age thing. You get used to it though.
The game features 2 H-Scenes per heroine, with both being very near the end of their routes. These were (of course) vanilla and definitely on the more boring side prose-wise.
My Score: 6/10
With cute artwork and characters, Nursery Rhyme is definitely an enjoyable game filled with nostaliga. However, aside from Yukina’s route, the game is definitely more on the generic side so I wouldn’t rush out to play it. Annoyingly, this is the only Lump of Sugar game that isn’t sold digitally which makes it a pain to get a hold of a copy too.
Overall, I had a fun and enjoyable experience with this game and will be forever thankful for it pushing me down this rabbit hole. I’ll probably bump the other Lump of Sugar games I have up my backlog slightly – I really need to get around to playing Tayutama at some point!
Wow, never knew this got an anniversary re-release. Nursery Rhyme was the first VN that ever caught my attention – the soundtrack and artwork are really endearing in a mid-2000s sorta way – but I thought I’d never get to play it, given its age. My Japanese is about conversational-level now so might not be advanced enough, but wondering if it’s worth the plunge. Thanks for the heads up!
Also happy to read a vote of confidence for Rin’s route; she caught my eye design-wise, but the other English reviewers I read never actually completed her story. Main complaint seems to be that she’s a bit of a stereotype and the route was too boring to finish (apparently, Japanese audiences felt the same), but eh, I’m a sucker for meganekko.
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Hello, thank you for the comment!
Lump of Sugar have actually been re-releasing most of their older titles over the past few years & definitely don’t be put off by the age of a title! Most vns have official download editions that are compatible with more modern versions of Windows than the original.
This game is definitely on the easier side & conversational Japanese should be enough to understand most of this. I’m definitely an advocate of learning by playing!
Rin is super cute, it’s a shame other reviewers don’t appreciate her!