The (Digital) Breakfast Club
Namco High is the latest video game to come from ShiftyLook, the online branch of Namco Bandai which reinvigorates several of the company’s various, more latent intellectual property as webcomics and cartoons. It’s only fitting, then, that in this browser-based dating simulator from the creator of Homestuck, you get to pal around with various characters from ShiftyLook’s comics and beyond.
Well, they tout it as a dating sim, but from what we’ve played, that’s a little bit of a misnomer. You get to engage and interact with numerous characters (15 on the Namco side, three from Homestuck), but things never get deeply romantic. They do, however, get rather humorous in a way which feels rather reminiscent of Capcom’s Ace Attorney series—which is never a bad thing.
You take on the role of a gender-neutral Cousin from Katamari, which you can rename anything you like, and you find yourself in detention with the odd crew of what Principal Dig Dug and his detention supervisor, King, call a group of “delinquents”. Before long, though, you come to find out that your fellow captives aren’t so bad after all.
Each has their own plotline which weaves throughout the story, and you can bounce from one to the next as you please. Will you try to find out what Aki’s secret is, and why she keeps disappearing all the time? Will you hang out with Anti-Bravoman and see what lies beneath his dark, brooding façade? Perhaps you can help Mr. Driller reconcile with his father, the principal? Or maybe you can help Galaga Ship realize that it’s really what’s on the inside that counts?
Of course, whichever you pick, the game’s central theme remains pervasive throughout: Be true to yourself. (Waka-waka-waka…)
One small hang-up that a player is bound to run into is that the bulk of the game’s characters are locked behind a paywall; nine Namco characters (who can be purchased individually, in sets of three, or as part of the all-in-one Deluxe Pak) and the three Homestuck characters (who seem to only come with the Deluxe Pak purchase), to be precise. The remaining six characters still provide a decent experience, and a more than sufficient sampling of what you can expect from each character there is to be unlocked. For what it’s worth from our experience, the characters we were the most interested in interacting with were indeed paid characters—but at least Galaga Ship and Anti-Bravoman fall on the freebie side.
The other thing which may or may not bother some people is that on the whole, each character “campaign” can feel a bit short—it shouldn’t take you much more than half an hour per character, going at a slower pace. Mixing things up as you go prolongs it, of course, and even going straight through should net you about seven and a half hours of content, so that’s not too bad at all.
Overall, it’s hard to find much in the way of glaring flaws in Namco High. It’s a silly, fun experience all the way through, and definitely worth checking out.
Oh, and one other thing: We haven’t really looked at Homestuck before, but Terezi certainly makes a persuasive argument for checking it out.