By Kieron Gillen on November 29th, 2007 at 6:24 pm.
Sometimes a developer does the right thing, and gives their game a good – nay, splendid – name so I don’t have think up a rubbish pun title. This is about as One Of Those Times as it gets.
I’d been half-following the game since I heard the name, but Leigh Alexander’s review informed me that they’ve actually released a demo for the School-set Jazz-Age-RPG that’s so arch that architects are considering putting a big platform across the top of it and using it as a bridge. While it isn’t out until early next year, and I suspect I’ll be writing more then, you at least need to play the demo from here. And if you need convincing, have a nose beneath the cut.
Anyway, Dangerous High School Girls in trouble is a casual-RPG, which gives you a choice of a mass of charming gels with different abilities. I went for the pictured Louise, who’s highly rebellious but not too popular. You gather your gang of girls and start moving around the faux-board-game set up. I say faux, because while it lifts the iconography, it doesn’t really work in a board-game fashion, rather using it to create a parlour-room ambience. You choose where to go next, discover who’s there, and then – well – get into trouble with them. Teachers can be engaged for their secrets. Other girls talked into joining your gang. Boys can be flirted with, and – if they’re not too much – become your devoted slave, taking the bullet from teachers when your sharp tongue gets you into hot water.
And there’s a lot of sharp tongues in it. It replaces the RPG combat systems with high-school specific activities. For example, you swap bon mots in the manner of Monkey Island, with the larger structure actually meaning the hunting for the perfect come back feels surprisingly compelling. Other conflicts – such as lying, uncovering secrets and flirting work in similar casual style subgames (Lying is playing a cup-game, the secret uncovering is a word-guessing one and flirting is a pattern recognition thing).
Here’s the flirting one, because it’s intrinsically the funniest.
As you can see, these are classier young ladies than you’d meet in – say – Spectrum Education-set Classic Back To Skool, so resorting to the early 1990s-Stafford Seduction method of sharing your bottle of Thunderbird and pretending you actually like Pearl Jam is out of the question.
Which is probably a good thing.
The demo has lots of content – certainly enough to get you into the plot, and feel terrible when they leave you hanging without discovering exactly what is the game adults play by themselves and especially annoyed that it doesn’t get done until next year. It’s already in the IGF, and while there’s some balancing issues I have questions about, like the girls whose adventures it charts, it gets easily forgiven with a lot of charm and chutzpah.
Also, I want to know whether Louise will ever get together with this obvious bad boy.
Ooh, those socialists.