High School Days
| High School Days

They say time flies when you're having fun, but that's not really applicable to High School Days, which is a game where time flies because the clock in the right of the screen whizzes around faster than the waltzers at your local fairground.

Not because you're having fun, though.

It's our number one gripe with this game. Just as you're getting somewhere in a mission or with building up a relationship with another character, the school closes because it's 5pm. Then, just when you're trying to earn some money at the diner to pay a nerd to photocopy you some fake IDs, the diner closes too and you have to go to bed.

But before we start on what's wrong with High School Days, here's a quick a summary of what the game involves.

Playing as a random school kid (you get to name and design your character at the start) you simply have to make it through a school term however you see fit. If you want to attend classes and do well in the mini-games that represent them you'll build up your intelligence in the space of the ten-day term.

But you can also skip classes, hang out with the jocks or go to the mall and work on your appearance, building up different attributes. While interacting with other kids you can be nice to them and make friends, or abuse them to gain notoriety. In this respect, High School Days is a very open-ended experience which, while one term might fly by, is designed to be replayed in different ways each time.

There's also a Sims-style element to the game where you need to watch hygiene, toilet and food meters, and visit the appropriate rooms in order to top them up. None of this is a particularly big part of the game, though, seeing as if you top these up at the start of a new day you'll make it through to the end. Essentially, they act more as a hindrance than a proper gameplay mechanic.

Anyway, with your bladder empty you can go about visiting different parts of your school and environs by clicking on them on an overall map – a system that works in terms of speed of getting around but does nothing to create the illusion of a proper gameworld as games like Las Vegas Nights: Temptations in the City or Grey's Anatomy manage.

In fact, given that High School Days is a free-roaming game, this is another problem. With the tight time restrictions of each day and the constant loading of new screens (which can take a considerable amount of time) it doesn't ever feel like you have much freedom.

It's not that the game doesn't have the content to make it good. There's a fair amount to do – four different stories to complete by running errands for the different groups of kids in the school, and you can work in the diner serving tables to earn money for new clothes and gifts, too.

What the game doesn't do is link all of this together in a very satisfactory way. As each new day in the game dawns, the relationships you've built up with other characters are reset to zero and all of your progress, aside from the story missions, feels arbitrary. Once you eventually realise acts such as rummaging through bins and chatting up characters is just padding to create the illusion there's lots to do, you stop bothering.

This isn't to say High School Days is devoid of any gaming pleasure. The story missions are good and at the end of term you're given a little insight into what the character you've built up does when they leave school. So if you made them thick they'll be working in McD's. It's a nice touch, and one that does encourage replay. It's just a shame other elements of the game aren't as accomplished.

There are definitely better games in this genre on mobile already (the aforementioned Grey's Anatomy and Gameloft's Miami Nights spring to mind). If you really want to play a game that lets you humiliate school nerds, steal money from fellow students and generally relive your school days, perhaps you'll want to check it out. But everyone else should be aware that they'll find better elsewhere.

High School Days

It's got decent missions and lots of replayability but High School Days doesn't really match up to similar games already out there. It's occasionally diverting but its gameworld proves too restrictive and with not enough to do of any consequence
Kath Brice
Kath Brice
Kath gave up a job working with animals five years ago to join the world of video game journalism, which now sees her running our DS section. With so many male work colleagues, many have asked if she notices any difference.