Apr 22, 2011
School 26 was a very unique experience, as you quickly realize this is a game meant for something far different than the traditional gaming audience. This puts you in control of a girl named Kate – her parents are some kind of new age empaths that keep moving to find the right ‘spiritual energy’, and have moved 25 times in the last 10 years. Now Kate is at school #26, without having ever really made friends at any of her old school. So, her parents tell her tha if she makes friends here, they will stay there. So Kate sets out to make friends with some people at her new school, using her empathic abilities she learned from her parents to curry favor with her new classmates, and to get them to trust and befriend her, all before prom.
The gameplay consists of three different segments: first, in conversations, you have to reflect people’s emotions to get them to like you, using one of the emotion icons. Second, there’s a card drawing game, where you have to use numbered “tarot cards” to match a certain requirement, like getting the lowest score possible, or getting to a certain value of all cards without going over, and you can earn peeks at cards by earning them in the conversation side of the game. Third, there are personality quizzes that you can take, and then you can earn brownie points by answering which personality types the other friends are.
School 26’s story tackles all the hot button teen issues: Steroid abuse! Teen sexuality! Underage binge drinking! I was really quite surprised that the story went the directions it went to – its far darker and far more interesting than you might expect when you first hear the game is based in new age mysticism. The artwork is well-designed, and shines on the high-resolution screen of the Samsung Galaxy S. As well, the personality quizzes, the parts of the game with the most interactivity, can be shared on Facebook with your friends.
This is a game with a limited appeal, though – it definitely seems like a game that is designed more for a teen female audience, rather than for the average gamer – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as that audience definitely needs more games designed for it, but it certainly left me feeling like a fish out of water. There’s actually very little difficulty to the game – the conversational emotion matching parts are easy to play as you pretty much just have to match the color of the background of the character you’re talking to with a similarly-colored emotion and you’ll be gravy, even if the proper emotional response repulses you. These parts could be far more interesting if there was some kind of interactivity, or if there was a major influence you could provide with your responses. Also, I wouldn’t be crying if Isabella got thrown in front of a bus. The ‘tarot card’ parts are pretty much just random luck of the draw and memorization of where specific card values are. The only really challenging parts are the personality quizzes, as you have to infer how certain characters reacted.
School 26 is certainly unlike anything I’ve ever played, probably due to the fact that games like this aren’t marketed towards me. However, it definitely surprised me at times, especially in its story. While I feel like a little more interaction could make the game more engaging; at times I felt like I was just along for the ride, and trying to adhere to what the game wanted rather than how I wanted to play the character. While I’m probably the last person to say who should play this game, but for younger members of the fairer sex, this might be an interesting pickup for Android.