It's time to rule the school
Our experiences in high school shape the kind of adult we become—for better or worse. We instinctively label ourselves unless we have a label applied to us, and shuffle into groups of like-minded friends. But teenage socialization goes far beyond huddles of “jocks,” “nerds,” and “preppies.” Lines blur, people change. High School Story, a mobile social/building game, successfully demonstrates how varied and dramatic life can become when you’re a secondary school student.
You play through High School Story as a teen who’s trying to tailor his or her own high school experience (if only we all could’ve been the ultimate masters over our years in high school). Your goal is to attract as many students as possible, preferably refugees from the snotty school next door. These new students need more than a chair and a ratty copy of The Catcher in the Rye, so you must adhere to their polite requests for facilities and materials. You also need to help them through the personal problems and paranoia that strikes every teen on occasion.
High School Story plays much like a typical social building game, but with a bookish twist. You enroll students from different cliques, including jocks, nerds, preppies, and several unlockable classes. Certain classes are necessary to complete certain quests, so it’s a good idea to enroll a variety.
You must build up your campus in addition to signing up students for your awesome school. You need to provide hang-outs, decorations, and other services. There’s also some learning going on or something, so you need classrooms that generate books. Books go back into leveling characters.
The gameplay in High School Story is pretty generic. Most of what’s offered has been done in other social games, so count on a lot of building and waiting. However, High School Story does have one notable twist: It’s a story-oriented experience, and you may find yourself becoming attached to its cast as a result. Movies and games are notorious for portraying teenagers as shallow machinations that are solely interested in food, sex, drinking, and sleeping, but the kids of High School Story experience triumphs, disappointments, and problems that you need to help them through via quests. It’s not exactly Degrassi High, but it’s enough to keep you playing to see how things work out. Plus it’s hard not to like a football player who listens to Disney songs—however hard he denies it.
High School Story’s graphics and soundtrack are relatively basic. The character models are cute, and feature amusing animations (jocks stop what they’re doing and flex once in a while). When you recruit a student, you’re given numerous customization options for skin and hair color, which is a nice touch.
High School Story’s familiar gameplay won’t win any awards for originality, but the game definitely has heart and a great sense of humor. Older players might not want to re-visit high school, but younger players will find a lot to relate to here.
- Good story and dialogue, surprisingly good sense of humor.
- Gameplay is basic social/building fare despite the high school theme.