You can’t all say the one from Gal*Gun
I have a nephew who, in two weeks time, will be starting his freshman year in high school. The thought of that makes me feel fucking old but it also gets me thinking about my time in school. I loved school, going to class and hitting the books. The only problem was there were always other people around. People are the worst and high schoolers are the worst of the worst. I wish my nephew luck. These are about to be the most awkward years of his life. We all know that from our own experiences and the many, many video games that have been released over the years set in a high school.
Most of them are JRPGs, but for years gamers have had to endure the social constructs of high school while battling demons, exploring dungeons, or whatever other crazy quests developers tasked us with. In honor of back to school season, I asked my fellow Destructoid writers to name the video game school they wish they could have attended. Or maybe will be able to attend in some Never Been Kissed/21 Jump Street situation. After spending a few days in my thinking spot, I realized the most obvious answer to this question is Cool School High.
What? You’ve never heard of Cool School High? But it’s so cool, the word ‘cool’ is in its name and nothing says you’re cool like going out of your way to tell everyone that you’re cool. Cool School High is the setting of the forgotten NES…
What’s the opposite of gem? Dog?
Cool School High is the setting of the forgotten NES dog Ghoul School, where senior and punk rocker Spike O’Hara — Ireland represent! — has to save head cheerleader Samantha Pompom from demons and monsters that have taken over his school after Spike finds a haunted skull and brings it school. You know, that old story. Seriously, Samantha Pompom, Cool School High; if this game were any more 90s it’d come in Day-Glo packaging and include a coupon for $1.00 off a bottle of Sunny Delight.
So why Cool School High? Well, that haunted skull turned all the teachers and the football team in monstrous beasts I get to club to death with a baseball bat while wearing spring shoes. That’s pretty much what I pictured myself doing anyway any time I got a B on a math test.
So many video game schools are filled with students training to be adventurers or heroes, but not many exist for the other side of the fence. I’d normally jump on an opportunity to visit the former, but there is one example of a “villain” school I’d be happy to attend. Disgaea 3’s Evil Academy is dedicated to preparing its students to live in the Netherworld, which, given it kinda is a Netherworld itself, means that graduation is almost a guarantee that you’re set to succeed at that life. This already sounds way better than our American school system!
Evil Academy’s curriculum is also much more practical and less pointlessly strenuous than real school. In fact, it practically doesn’t even exist! The teachers all know better than to waste their time on classes students will never apply in real life (and also being “evil” means being lazy or something), so attending classes and doing homework is discouraged. Maybe that means studying has more appeal to punks, but I’m more interested in developing practical skills that will really shape my future. Like casting magic, or surviving gunshot wounds, or fulfilling my absurdly exaggerated power fantasies, or blogging about video games!
The one major downside — aside from an abundance of bullies, which is a problem we’re still trying to solve in real schools anyway — is only demons are allowed to attend. Meaning if I’m not born a demon, I’d have to die, get reincarnated into a Prinny, and swab a billion decks before I’d have the chance to enroll. But to drink the glass half full, that also means I’d eventually get a chance to reincarnate into a cool anime monster, like a mothman, or a dragon, or a mothman, or a wood golem, or maybe… a mothman. So, ya know what, it might still be a pretty cool opportunity in the end! I’d be in no hurry to start that process, though.
I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about schools in video games. I wasn’t really a good student and I basically hate everything to do with lectures, so I tend to just plow through school levels without a second thought. They are boring and bring up bad memories of high school. Still, one school that I wouldn’t mind attending would be the “Knight Academy” from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Not only do Link and Zelda both attend, but the rest of the student body is full of colorful characters. Groose becomes a loveable oaf, Fledge is a guy with confidence issues that hits very close to home, Karane is basically a reincarnation of Midna (from Twilight Princess) and Pipit is an asshole. There always needs to be an asshole, right?
I think the other thing that gets me is how the school is on an island in the sky. You can stroll over to the edge and look down on the world. It must be awesome to have that view every single day of your life. It would definitely make me more interested in P.E, that’s for sure.
Not too many schools in video games spring to mind, obviously save for the one in Rockstar’s excellent Bully but to talk about the digital school I’ve spent the most time in, we gotta go back a couple of decades, to a popular ZX Spectrum title. Released in 1985, David Reidy’s Back to Skool saw Eric, a trouble-causing ruffian needing access to the safe of his headmaster, Mr. Whacker, so he can replace his less-than-gleaming school report with a fake. To do this, the player has to guide Eric through the world’s longest school day, completing a series of lateral-thinking tasks in order to get into the staff room.
The mechanic in Back to Skool, pretty revolutionary for the time, was that Eric also had to manage all the requirements of The Happiest Days of Your Life, including following class timetables, dealing with bullies and hanging out with your crush. Ducking classes, stealing bikes, dropping smoke bombs and unleashing critters in the girl’s school were all part of Eric’s master plan to avoid expulsion. In a fun touch, the game also allowed you to rename the entire cast, so kids could insert their own teachers and friends directly into the action.
Back to Skool was innocent fun, far from the sociopathic war zone that was my real school life. Do you know we invented a series of “hilarious” moves that we performed on each other almost daily? Moves like “Kidney Failure”, where we kicked each other hard in the back through that little hole in the desk chairs, or “Take the Corner”, where if you saw someone idly leaning back on their chair, it was then your duty to sweep the supporting legs out from under them.
Happiest Days of Your Life.
This one is a bit of a cheat because the game was never released, but we can catch a few glimpses of it in video form. Project A-Ko is pretty much my all-time absurd teen action comedy anime film. A-Ko, the presumed daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, goes to school with a young woman who is physically identical to Kenshiro from Fight of the North Star, but that’s no big deal. Things don’t get really wild until B-Ko, a Lex Luthor-esque rich girl, brings giant robot suits of various sizes to battle A-Ko for the attention of C-Ko, A-Ko’s brainless-but-adorable best friend.
It’s almost entirely dude-free zone, filled with all the stuff that I loved as a teenage dude, and almost none of the stuff I didn’t love (namely, other teenage dudes). A-Ko built my hotrod and if I were her, I’d go to school seven days a week without complaint.
If we’re being honest, I wouldn’t mind going to one of the Persona schools, if only for the way they perfectly capture the stereotype of a tranquil anime high school, but I’d also be down with attending Danganronpa‘s Hope’s Peak Academy.
This isn’t to imply that I’d be any kind of “Ultimate” or something like that. If anything, I’d be one of the average kids in the general admissions section, but that would be alright, given that aside from the eugenics and other weird experimentation, on balance Hope’s Peak was an alright educational institution…at least until, well, everything happened.
At first, I thought I was going to answer Bullworth Academy, home of such esteemed alumni as Jimmy Hopkins, and the center of creative school hijinks and borderland violent psychopaths. But I can’t deny myself everything that I am currently feeling right now. I am knee deep in Monster Hunter hype, so what’s available for me? The Hunter’s Guild is more of an association for skilled laborers, but you know what’s still left for me to flexibly adapt as a school? The Wycademy, that’s what.
The Wycademy is an organization devoted to the study and understanding of ancient monsters, fossils, and extinct species. It’s basically a school for paleontologists, and the discipline of course includes the study of currently living specimens as well. After all, what better way to study the past than by studying the present? And while the Wycademy is filled with proper students, its also staffed by properly licensed hunters who also happen to be Wycademy scholars. And while yes, it’d be cool to say I’m a licensed hunter, who is also apart of a unionize agreement between the guild and wild felynes to be carted to safety whenever knocked unconscious while on the job, the study and discovery of fascinating ecosystems and biology would be quite the fun lesson. With creatures as old and unchanged as elders dragons like Alatreon to new and undiscovered species like Xenoj’iiva, the great outdoors and ancient fossils would make for the greatest classroom really.
Plus think of the physical education regiment involved to get hunters to reliably carry a great sword around!
No matter how rough the books get, the greatest thing about going to school is the memories you make with the people around you. One place that stuck with me recently is Thors Military Academy from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I and II.
Unlike the usual education facility that trains you to be a soldier, it doesn’t feel like you’re going through boot camp. Other than learning the ways of combat, you’ll go through classes that cover the history of the nation of Erebonia, along with the other general subjects. The thing that drew me to the place is its environment since the teachers aren’t like your typical drill sergeants. Heck, one of them has a tendency to hit the bars frequently. On top of that, she’s the best teacher in a video game of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Aside from its teaching environment, the campus gives me many chances to create my own moments. Whether it’s going on a grand fishing adventure with Kenneth Lakelord or encountering supernatural happenings in the Old School House, there’s plenty of activities to keep me entertained. If I get assigned to Class VII, then I can go on field trips with Rean and his buddies as we learn about the true issues that affect the country. Best of all, I’ll get my own cell phone that lets me cast spells and perform synchronized attacks with my party. During my downtime, I can play the card game called Blade with my senpai who goes by the name of Crow Armbrust. Of course, I’ll have to make sure that he doesn’t take 50 Mira from me.
Thanks to Thors’ faculty and students having colorful personalities, I felt at home in the vicinity after coming back from battling a boss in another part of the region. Let’s just say that my attachment to the place resulted in certain story scenes hitting me hard since it put a ton of things at stake. Just like them, I felt that it was a place that’s worth protecting.
Pixie The Fairy
I’d go to the Balamb Gardens mercenary school.
- You can become a SeeD!
- Play card games!
- Fight in uprisings against an evil sorceress!
- Get paid to walk around.
- Take tests to get a raise and get paid even more to just walk around.
- Your student instructor is into whips!
- You sacrifice your memories in exchange for amazing power from indifferent gods!
- Hot dogs!
- Your school can fly!
All these are positives for me, plus I can tell everyone to piss off, go to my room and never have to change from my introverted ways.