#101 Skool Daze

Posted: 10th January 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

208th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: ZX Spectrum
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: David Reidy
Publisher: Microsphere

Skool Daze… misspellings intentional, I’m sure. In typical Bully/Canis Canem Edit fashion, you go back to your childhood to play a not-very-holy schoolboy. The difference here is that this game came out about 20 years earlier than Bully, making for some obvious differences.

In a game I’m sure most teachers won’t approve of (damn right), you have to get the code to get into your school’s safe (in the teachers room). You need to do other stuff to get it, but yeah… Fairly simple, I suppose so far.

Our Thoughts

Here’s where it slows down. The ideas here are similar to Bully – bad kid trying to survive in a school world… shifting the blame onto others and surviving unscathed. There’s a number of differences though – twenty years really do make a difference.

You start off really just getting used to the controls – walking around, going the right way, where to go and find the places you shouldn’t go. Once you get past that, it sort of starts. You need to hit shields, as when they’re all flashing, stunning teachers gets you part of the code you need to get in the safe and change your report card. There’s a couple of options to do so. You can jump and fire your catapult, the latter being good for distractions but netting you punishment. You can write on the blackboard (something your fellow students do, with an alarming amount of errors – I think ‘skool daze’ might actually appear in there) and punch kids if they get too annoying. Not too difficult, but as the controls aren’t as intuitive, they take some time.

Punishment is worth mentioning – rather than lifes, you have lines. Once you have to write 10 000 of them, you lose the game. Different teachers also give out different amount of lines for different offenses, which will make things a bit more interesting. In an attempt to build up some form of sympathy for the protagonist there are certain situations where only you will receive a punishment whilst others get off with nothing. An example of this is during geography class where the game designers built a room where there are not enough desks for the students (a comment at the overcrowded school system or a stupid mistake… who can say). During class you will repeatedly find yourself booted out of your seat by other students and yet only you receive lines you being without a desk. There even lines for sitting on the floor as you lie there spread-eagled having been punched out of your seat… not exactly my idea of fair and that really is the point.

To be honest, I found surviving tough enough in this game. I may have touched a few shields, but you’re spending so much time going from place to place, not get caught, and actually avoiding lines that it’s quite difficult to progress in the game. It means we didn’t see as much as we could, but it felt difficult to build up the patience for this game. Aside from sound and graphics not being appealing – something that doesn’t always need to work against a game – it’s just not as interesting a game to me. It may not have helped that we already covered the fantastic Bully that this just fell on deaf ears.

The controls are awkward and feel inaccurate. Lines get given too easily at times – be kicked out of your chair and you can get them before you realised it happened (and no, the graphics don’t help, as it might mean you’re just inside a lot of black pixels). There’s few places to hide to skip classes. Dinner time… just consists of you standing in the hall for a bit for some reason (to feast on Krusty-brand imitation gruel).

There’s a few nice touches in there – writing on the blackboard is a nice touch – but I don’t really feel that naughty and my goal just doesn’t really seem to work. The whole experience never came together for me – a shame, as it feels like there’s something in the concept. Not even open world like Bully, just a bit more interesting stealth and action-based gaming than what we get in here.

Final Thoughts

A number of interesting things (such as a neighbouring girls school) were added into the sequel to Skool Daze and these changes do sound like they could have exerted a positive effect. On paper this is a really interesting game but it is really hampered by the ravages of time and an incredibly clunky set of controls. Just pick up Bully and be done with it is the tl;dr of this to be frank.

  1. […] again, to unclear gameplay, dated graphics and no help when you start. Yet, unlike Skool Daze four days ago, here it […]