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Review: Surviving High School

December 7, 2009


The Overview

IMG_0131 Want to live the life of a teenager going through high school? Want to see if you can make the decisions that will win you the girl or guy of your dreams? Pick your path and see if you end up a jock, a nerd, a popular kid or an outsider. Surviving High School plays out like a classic Japanese dating sim or a very complicated Choose Your Own Adventure story. You make choices about how your character reacts to different situations and the game changes the storyline around your decisions.

The Features

Every Monday there is a new episode to download for free. Their are extra episodes that can be bought as In App Purchases. SHS auto-saves whenever you pause (like, say, from a phone call) or whenever you exit the game. This helps immensely since the story line changes and adapts with every decision you make. SHS's has great western anime style graphics and decent sounds and music. Besides the main game of picking your way through the plot, there are also a bunch of mini-games that have an actual impact on the story.

The Breakdown

The GoodIMG_0134 Surviving High School's storyline is fun and engaging. I found myself not wanting to put it down just to see what was going to happen next. If you are in high school, you'll find some of the situations just as perplexing as real life. Though if you are a bit older, some things might make perfect sense (e.g. treat Beth nicely and come to her rescue a couple of times and she will break up with you and avoid you at all costs). You can easily keep your GPA up during quizzes as the game pauses after a teacher asks you a question. This gives you a chance to Google an answer before you are actually forced to answer. The Bad The mini games are not the best. Football is extremely abstract and more of a reaction tester. The word hunt game is extremely frustrating. The game does not respond to dragging across the letters well and makes winning that game difficult. IMG_0128 Since I share my iPod with two kids as their handheld game machine (who needs a Nintendo DS?), the thing I feel this game really lacks is slots for multiple players to save their stories. The dialogues only use the lower half of the screen so a lot of them require 'scrolling.' This might be a holdover from SHS's original release on other mobile devices with smaller screens. There is some confusion as to how long the weekly episodes will be free. The App Store description implies that there will be a new free episode every week. The in game Help screen says that you do not have to pay for episodes for a limited time - this makes it sound like weekly episodes will eventually require payments.

The Verdict

High school drama? Check. Fun gameplay? Check. Engaging story? Check. If you are into dating sims or choose you own adventure stories, Surviving High School will not disappoint. On a guilty pleasures note, I've bought all the extras episodes out to date...and not just to satisfy my 10 year old stepdaughter. :) Of course that does not mean this game is for everyone. If you are into good storytelling, fun dialogue, and deciding your own fate, Surviving High School is worth getting. Especially if EA keeps the free weekly updates flowing.

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