Review: School 26
Being a student can be tough. Moving from school to school numerous times can make that even tougher. School 26 has gamers playing as a teenage girl as she tries to make the 26th school the final one. Silicon Sisters’ debut title looks like a game fit for girls in the same age group as the one you play as. It is nice to see an unique title that doesn’t involve dress-up or make-up for young girls. But does School 26 have enough to satisfy even the everyday gamers?
The story of School 26 is a sort of normal one infused with some oddball quirks that make it somewhat enjoyable. You play as Kate, the daughter of two spiritual healers with a bad case of “got to move constantly,” as she tries to make friends at her new school. Being the daughter of spiritual healers gives Kate the ability to feel her classmates’ emotions. Without going into too much of the story, there are a few surprising twists that had me scratching my head. Kate’s classmates range from the social outcasts to the popular rich girls and jocks, not leaving out many of the same cliches you would find in high school. My favorite was the pick-up artist with the kind of awful pick-up lines.
Gameplay is not difficult at all, so this will be a good title for the younger generation to play. To move Kate, all you do is touch the screen with your finger and either hold it there or slide it. To make a choice during either a conversation or the game portion, you just tap the screen. Puzzles are initiated after striking up a conversation with a classmate. Not all conversations lead to the puzzle game. The choices you make during a conversation can gain you “Insights.” The goal of each puzzle varies from either going for the highest/lowest score to having all the tarot cards add up to a certain amount without going over. Insights allow you to flip a card over and see what number it is. The variety of the games is decent. At times, you will have to focus on two sets of cards that each have their own goal. You are given a randomly selected number on a face-up card to replace one of the cards in the set with. There are some bonuses, such as a one that changes the cards to the same suits, and ones that can really mess up the playing field by either increasing or decreasing the value of the cards you have.
The gameplay is not all puzzles, however. There are personality quizzes you can take that also increase your friendships with the characters who either have the same result as you or the ones whose results you correctly guess. You access these on the menu screen which looks every bit like a locker. Inside the locker, you have many features at your fingertips. There is a dossier on each of your classmates, the computer where you take the quizzes, a cell phone that you receive texts from friends, and a crystal ball that magically tells you which classmate is having a problem. Now I know when I was in high school that having dossiers on classmates was considered creepy, and a crystal ball just further proves that fact.
The art for the characters and backgrounds are cutesy and cartoon-stylized. It works well for the title and the platform it is on. They are clean and colorful as well. Each character has their own expressions and you can see the wide range of expressions/choices for Kate during conversations. Music is catchy and its volume isn’t too loud nor too soft. There are no vocals for characters, which doesn’t detract from the game at all.
Players will likely finish this game in a couple of sittings, depending on how long they sit down and play. I managed to play through the game in a few hours, pacing myself playing between thirty minutes to an hour at a time. You could possibly play through in one go. There isn’t much in the way of replaying, other than to max out your friendships with every character.
School 26 is a really great title, especially when others aimed at the same target audience rely heavily on fashion and ponies. Even for those who are not a teenaged girl, this Silicon Sisters’ debut is worth giving a try if you want something casual and cute. Playing this title has me anxious to see what the sequel (which should be available soon) has to offer.
|Platform: iPhone (reviewed), iPad, Android|
Genre: RPG, Card
Release Date: April 21, 2011
Developer: Silicon Sisters Interactive
Publisher: Silicon Sisters Interactive
ESRB Rating: 12+