Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “high school”

High School Story (IPhone App)

When you come across an abandoned lot, you decide to build your own high school.  Can you create the ideal place where everyone can just be themselves while fighting off the rival Hearst High?

I’ll be honest, the only reason I checked this game out is because I heard the Monster High characters would make cameo appearances.  However, let me say that I did not regret getting this game.  For those of you put off by the high school setting, let me tell you that it’s high school as it should be rather than how it actually is.  I told you that the Monster High characters make cameo appearances in the game and, let me tell you, it actually fits.  For those of you unfamiliar with Monster High, it’s about embracing all of the freaky flaws that make you who you are.  High School Story has a similar premise in that, no matter what clique you belong to, everyone will accept you for who you are.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a male cheerleader or a female nerd; nobody mocks you at this school.  Nerds hang out with jocks; preps can date gamers and so on.  Everyone has their own thing and, rather than being ostracized for it, the game celebrates the characters for it.

The game explores many themes such as the dangers of cyber-bullying and the discrimination girls face in the world of computers and video games.  One plot introduces an organization known as Girls Who Code dedicated to closing the gender gap in coding using the character Payton.  Another plot is about the girl gamer character, Sakura, and the prejudice she faces in MMORPGs for being a girl gamer.  I’ll admit that the game does sometimes run the risk of becoming an after-school special but they do so in very tolerable ways.  Some quests are just about the characters hanging out and having fun.  The game knows when to be funny and when to be serious.

The game play is similar to many simulation iPhone apps.  You send characters on quests and wait for them to finish.  The quests can take up to a few minutes to several hours, but the rewards are worth it.  You can collect books from the classroom, build dorms and collect money, send characters on dates and even party to get one of each type of classmate.

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Let me tell you that every type comes with a special side quest.  You can also build a library where you can meet a special character and complete vocabulary quests.

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However, like Hollywood U, once you finish the extra additions, the game begins to dull.  You just continue playing to see what goes on further in the plot.  I should also warn you that many of the extra additions cost money and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to experience everything this game has to offer.

This game is addictive and insightful.  I give it 7 out of 10; loses its appeal after a long while but worth checking out.

Fabulous: Angela’s High School Reunion (Gamehouse)

When high school students come to Victoria’s shop for prom dresses, it causes Angela to flashback to her own disastrous high school affair.  Now she wants to make up for it and that’s by having her own high school reunion.  Can Angela make up for her own terrible prom, or will the reunion be every bit as disastrous?

Anyone who’s even glanced at this game on Gamehouse’s website knows that Angela will end up in prison.  The spoiler is how she gets there, which I will discuss.  Let me say that it’s not entirely Angela’s fault, ‘not entirely’ being the key words.  Angela gets herself into this predicament by wanting to throw a reunion so badly that she uses the old rundown school building to have the party.  The building is a safety hazard as Angela’s sister, Emily, points out.  However, another fellow student, Janet, claims that her father gave them permission to have their reunion in this very building.  Janet is Angela’s former rival for Prom Queen and current rival for Reunion Queen.  Angela’s hatred for Janet is so great that she tries to cancel the reunion because of not wanting Janet to ruin her good time.  It gets so bad that Angela carries an idiot ball by telling Janet that she’s canceling the reunion.  You can bet that all this will do is encourage Janet to take over and that’s exactly what she does.

I’ll admit that high school is a subject I know very little about.  My parents had me home schooled after I graduated from middle school in order to spare me from what they call ‘their terrible high school experience.’  Neither one of them have ever been to their reunions because they claim that, when you do, it’s back to the old pecking order.  The people who attend are either reliving their glory days or trying to rub their success in the face of everyone who picked on them.  The only people who attend and leave happy are the former.  In the case of Angela and Janet, I said that their prom blew up in their face.  However, I didn’t explain how this happened.  I did tell you that they both competed for the title of Prom Queen.  As the alpha bitch of Snuggford High, the students favored Janet as Prom Queen.  Angela decided to run against her due to Angela and her friends wanting to become popular in high school.  Janet went so far as to manipulate two brothers against each other to ruin Angela, something that backfired on both of them.

Those who follow me remember when I talked about the double standard in the last Fabulous game, which the characters address but the story never fully discusses. Well, this one takes it a step further due to not addressing the double standard in this game.  As I said in the last paragraph, Janet played two brothers against each other in order to become Prom Queen.  However, what I didn’t explain is that Janet dated the popular brother, Matt, first.  Keith, the unpopular brother, would make moves on Janet while she dated Matt.  Keith clearly sees Matt as the evil brother and Janet as the sweet victim that he must rescue.  However, he doesn’t see Janet as a person as much as a trophy.  Keith ingrains himself so deeply in his fantasy that he refuses to acknowledge Janet’s faults, even when Angela points them out.  In fact, when Angela comes across Janet’s pregnancy test, Keith sees it after she leaves and assumes that Angela is pregnant with Matt’s baby.  However, instead of talking to Angela about it, he reports Matt to the principal to get him expelled.  When Angela becomes Prom Queen, reveals to the entire school and reporters that she’s pregnant.  Angela is not going to take this lying down and says that Janet’s the pregnant one, which shuts the school down and, in effect, cancels the prom.

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It also shows how unobservant Keith is by not recognizing that Angela shows no signs of morning sickness while Janet displays it on a regular basis.  As for Matt, they never really delve into his character, but the Principal does claim that Matt gets in trouble with the school.  Janet also hints that Matt has a wandering eye, but will always come back to her.  They never explore this, so I don’t know if it means that he cheats on Janet or he just flirts around.  He does refuse to help Janet with her election, despite expressing how important the Prom Queen election is to her.

Don’t worry, Janet isn’t innocent in this either.  As I said, she did play two brothers against each other.  However, one wonders how close those brothers really are if they let one girl come between them.  Anyway, Matt breaks up with Janet because he’s tired of how selfish she is.  When she manipulates Keith against Matt and Angela, pretending that she cares for the latter, Janet proves him right.  The years have not changed her as she goes as far as putting her own desires to become Reunion Queen over her daughter, Chloe, wanting to know who her father is.

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In the second paragraph, I mentioned that Janet lied about her father giving them permission to use the rundown school building for their reunion.  Yet Janet is so desperate to have the glory days a news report ruined, she lies to Angela and her friends.  However, in all reality, Angela didn’t exactly listen to Emily about the place being unsafe due to having the exact same desires as Janet.  The only difference is that Angela doesn’t have a kid, so she has more freedom to behave irresponsibly.  This doesn’t change the fact that Angela and Janet allowed their own desires to blind them to the danger of the building until it falls apart.  I can’t even begin to stress how lucky they are that no one died because of their own selfish desires.

I mentioned that Emily makes a cameo in the game.  She acts as the voice of reason for Angela, who refuses to listen to her.  I’m sure that many of you are aware that Emily is the star of Delicious, and Fabulous is a spinoff starring Angela.  Since Emily is the more serious and responsible of the two, her stories have a more calming narrative.  Angela, on the other hand, is more wild and crazy.  Therefore, her stories have a more wacky narrative.  It definitely shows in this story, with a couple of humorous moments.  Anyway, some people claim that over the top characters can’t carry their own story and, sometimes, this is true.  Anyone who’s watched the Friends spinoff, Joey, knows what I mean.  However, House and Sherlock are both over the top, yet are quite capable of carrying their own shows.  Despite what many people will tell you, in the writing world, there is no ultimate judge of good and bad.  Writing is an art, which is what makes it unique and, if there’s a right way to do it, all stories would be the same and people would get bored.  That’s not to say that there’s no wrong way to write because, believe me, there is.  As for whether Fabulous is doing well with their over the top main character, I think that they’re somewhat succeeding.  Angela is still trying to find her way and, like the last story, she’s making mistakes and learning from them.  Some might say that Angela just relearns the same moral she learned in the last game through different events.  This is what TV tropes refers to as Aesop amnesia, and believe me when I say it happens in real life.  There is a problem with Angela’s temporary love interests, the first being a cop, the second a model and the third one Matt Miller.  Though temporary love interests are quite common in fiction, Angela goes through these boys without dating the first one and the second one disappears with no explanation.  As for the third one, he does get an explanation in the end with a hint that he might get with Angela later, but I highly doubt it.

The game play is quite similar to many games in the Delicious franchise.  You get the required items, deliver them to the customers and check them out at the register.  Sometimes, you have to clean up after them and, in this game, you get a bonus at the end of the level for it.  Each level comes with a special event and some levels are just extra challenges for you to complete.  This game also features endless levels that really serve no purpose.  It’s the same with the challenge levels, because you don’t get any diamonds for completing the events.  This is also the only game past Emily’s Home Sweet Home where you don’t purchase gifts for any reason.  You do get to purchase upgrades for each venue in a style similar to Emily’s Christmas Carol.

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You also have to catch the mouse in each level and earn trophies in the form of yearbook photos.

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I did find one serious problem with the game play.  Believe me when I say that it deserves its own paragraph.  You know how Emily and Mary always cook in their games, Cathy always makes crafts, Maggie makes movies and Allison saves lives?  Well, Angela’s talent is sewing and, this being a Fabulous game, you’d expect her to be making clothes.  Unfortunately, Angela only sews outfits in the first venue.  Most of the game is about Angela and, in the second venue, one of her friends preparing food.

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This is a serious oversight and undermines the whole point of Angela starring in this game.  If you’re going to have most of the game play be about preparing food, you might as well have made this another Delicious game.  Hell, with a few tweaks, Emily could’ve been the star of this story with Angela being a side character.

This game is addictive, but pointless.  I give it 7 out of 10, a few good moments but doesn’t really feel like an Angela game.

Life Is Strange Episode 1: Chrysalis (Playstation Store)

When Max Caulfield returned to Arcadia Bay, she thought it would be just another typical high school life.

Unfortunately, for her, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only does Max find herself at the center of typical teenage drama, she also discovers that she has the power to rewind time.  Can she use it to save Arcadia Bay from an oncoming tornado, or will the power corrupt her?

After playing several Episode stories back to back with the main character being an innocent virgin losing her love interest to the slutty mean girl, this is a breath of fresh air.  While Max is still the virgin and Victoria, the mean girl, might be sexually active, it’s not as black and white.  For starters, Victoria does have more than two brain cells to rub together as demonstrated in the game opening.  She answers the question correctly, though still secretly brags to Max about it.  Max is also not completely against sex, despite being a virgin.  While she is capable of slut shaming and derides herself for it afterward, Max will also remark, after seeing posters promoting abstinence, that looking at that makes people want to have sex.  Even if she’s friends with a religious girl who believes this stuff, but doesn’t try to push it on Max.  In addition, there is a male Victoria, Nathan, and, unlike in several Episode stories, this game does not give him a pass because he has a penis.  Nathan’s not right in the head and, while it’s implied that he has a troubled past, the game does not excuse him for this.  He is every bit as irredeemable as Victoria and he’s not a love interest for Max to cure.  Depending on how you play the game, he’s an obstacle for both Max and Kate, the religious girl who’s good friends with Max, to overcome.  There’s also a character, Chloe, who listens to punk music and smokes pot but, unlike in many episode stories, you don’t lecture her on the evils of pot.

That’s her step-dad’s job and, let me tell you, he’s a real a**hole.

That’s right; this is not your typical high school game.  While Victoria is the mean girl of the story and the most popular, not everyone’s impressed with her.  When you talk to the skater boys, they admit that they don’t like her.  A teacher Victoria has a crush on, Jefferson, does not find her so attractive that he’s willing to break school rules.  Even Max’s geeky friend, Warren, isn’t interested in Victoria, though there are several not so subtle hints that he’s interested in Max while his friend, Brooke, is interested in him.  Did I mention that all three of these characters have stereotypical geeky interests?  This is another breath of fresh air, considering shows, such as the Big Bang Theory, where the boys all have geeky interests.  The girls in that same show, even the scientists, don’t like comic books and video games.  Max admits to owning Battle Royale and watching Full Metal Alchemist, though she hasn’t seen every geek thing out there.  You can even have Max read a poster about geek girls forming their own club and approving.  Max has geeky interests and has a tendency to zone out, ignoring everyone around her.  Therefore, you can bet that she’s someone I can relate to very well.

Speaking of being able to relate to people, this game has several scenarios drawn from real life.  I’ve already mentioned some details, such as abstinence groups, pot smoking and girls with geeky interests.  However, I’ve also said that not everything is black and white and it shows.  For instance, Victoria is not your typical mean girl character.  She is smart, as I pointed out earlier, and, unbelievably, she does have a sense of honor.  When you choose to be nice to Victoria, she agrees to take a picture she posted of you without your permission off the internet and tells you that this doesn’t mean the two of you are friends.  Don’t get me wrong, Victoria’s still screwed up, as she manipulates a friend of hers into shaming her roommate for posting an article she doesn’t like.  Victoria also takes several missing person photos of Rachel Amber and shows no concern for a girl who, for all she knows, could be in a serial killer’s basement.  The only thing that makes her less screwed up than Nathan is that she hasn’t killed anyone.  That’s right, Nathan actually killed someone and it’s how Max first discovers her powers by using them to save the girl he shot.  You do have the option of reporting Nathan to the principal but, since he’s the son of one of Arcadia Bay’s richest families, the principal won’t do anything about it.

Even if you do the right thing, you still get in trouble.

While Telltale did not make this game, it has a similar style.  For starters, you do make dialogue choices for Max.  If you pick the wrong thing, you can make use of her power to rewind time.  You can also explore several scenes and take pictures using Max’s camera.  Throughout the game, you’ll have access to her diary and phone, which you can use to check your messages, read character profiles and the story from Max’s point of view.

This game is intriguing and unique.  I give it 8 out of 10; amazing but doesn’t get a strong emotional reaction out of me.

Style Quest (Gamehouse.com)

Stella just bought her very own beauty salon.  Unfortunately, an arrogant girl wants to shut her down.  Can Stella manage to keep her business afloat?

I know the game sounds like it has conflict but trust me when I say that it gets over pretty quick.  Then we have this new mystery as we try to figure out who has a crush on whom.  It’s like a high school soap opera set in a salon.

The game play is what really makes it shine.  You take customers to each station and try to please them in time.  You can earn up to three stars depending on well you do on each level.  Trust me when I say that if you want to get three stars on each one, you might have to replay some levels more than once. 

In between levels, you can use the stars you earn to purchase upgrades.  You can even hire people for each station with the exception of the shoe drawer and the styling chairs.  I don’t understand why you can’t hire someone for the hair styling station and yet can hire someone for the clothes changing station.  Especially because the latter has a mini-game while the former doesn’t.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 5 out of 10; something to do when you’re bored.

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