Surviving High School

 
(i)

 

Smart and funny teen soap opera with some mature scenarios.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As the game allows the player to direct the flow of the storyline, messages received may vary. Some are questionable, such as the idea that watching television is necessary to be popular (so that you are familiar with pop culture). But even messages like that are tempered because in this game too much TV-watching can lead to your grades dropping or athletic performance sagging. Storylines also promote friendship, loyalty, acceptance of differences, forgiveness, and lots of other great stuff. And there's plenty of focus on the importance of exercise and studying. While the opportunity to be a poor student exists in the game, many comments and events in the game make it obvious that it's better to be a good one.

Positive role models

For every kid in the game who suggests you work out or spend some extra time studying, there's another who tries to start a fight or tempt you into skipping class. What you do in the game is your choice, but there are always consequences to every action. Skipping class may make you a slightly more popular with certain kids, but your GPA may slip and your dad may not buy you that car he promised.

Ease of play

Most of the time, you're simply choosing from a list of possible lines to say to people, but many events are played out through either word games or quick-tap reflex games, all of which start off relatively easy, but become gradually more challenging as the game goes on. The quizzes, which are very much like actual high school quizzes, can be quite tough sometimes (Do you know the last ruling dynasty of ancient China?), but failing just means you need to do homework for extra credit.

Violence

There are a few points in the game in which fights take place, but those fights are not depicted visually, and are only "acted out" through Boggle-type word games in which players search for terms like "punch," "shove," or "dodge." Depending on their choices, players may also come across jokes about horror movies that the characters watch, with references to serial killers, zombies, etc.

Sex

A big part of the game revoles around dating. Characters consistently refer to the "hotness" of others, and opportunities to "make out." Kisses between teens are described verbally in the game, but never shown. One story arc can involve a date in which the male protagonists spends the night in bed with his girlfriend, but the scene ends with them merely snuggling and saying they should get some sleep. There are also scenes in which students may catch faculty members kissing and engaging in some randy talk ("Bite my ear, you saucy strumpet") which is meant to be humorous.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Surviving High School touches upon some realistic aspects of teen life--dating (and the physicality associated with dating), cutting class, fighting with bullies -- that may give certain parents pause. One possible scenario has a boy snuggling with a girl all night long. Whether or not such behavior occurs in the story depends upon the player's choices. Understand, though, that nothing graphic is ever shown on screen, and pretty much all behavior in the game has its own consequences. In fact, the game can be looked at as a lesson in the importance of making good choices. This game is only available on the Nintendo DSi as a download.

What's it about?

The main storyline of SURVIVING HIGH SCHOOL follows a new student at Centerscore High in his attempts to make friends, find dates, keep up his GPA, make the football team, and maybe even become Homecoming King. Exactly where the story goes is up to the player who is constantly asked to make choices based on the situations he finds himself in. As the story progresses, the player will have to take real quizzes for schoolwork, as well as play word games to advance past situations as varied as dancing in a mosh pit to finding a missing lizard. Football games are played through a fast-tapping reflex game, so even people who know nothing about real football can succeed. Once the main storyline is finished, you can play through eight bonus episodes that center around supporting characters from the main story. Some of these have slightly less realistic plots and put teens in situations like dealing with a mafioso thug or searching the basement of the Globe Theater for a lost Shakespeare play.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Surviving High School is basically a playable teen soap opera, but that description doesn't give it enough credit. The characters are incredibly well-drawn (and not just visually), the dialogue can be very funny, and the plot can even be surprisingly touching in parts. Teens will definitely be engaged--and probably unwilling to put the game down between episodes. The inclusion of very real educational material is surprising, but laudable. And the tap-style football games (quickly tap the highest yardage numbers as they appear) makes the game palatable for non-jock types (who are probably a big part of the audience). Although the protagonist is a male by default, girls will probably also be interested in playing--and several of the bonus episodes have female protagonists. The game flirts with some ethically challenging scenarios, but that only makes it more appealing and, frankly, more relevant. Teens who are into the interactive story format should absolutely love Surviving High School.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about dating. What is an appropriate first date? Is it okay to kiss someone one the first date? In one possible scene, the protagonist spends the night with a girl he's been dating for a few months. Is that acceptable? Or inappropriate?

  • Parents can also discuss how much tolerance or acceptance of differences there is at their children's school. In the game, there are several characters who are initially judged incorrectly. Assumptions are made about people based on their appearances or a single comment or action. But those assumptions can be proven wrong. How can such pre-judgments hurt people? What can you do to be more open with people who may be different from you?

  • Parents can ask their children about the choices they made in the game. Are they the choices they would make in real life? Do they try to put themselves into the situation and answer questions realistically? Or do they prefer to live cathartically through the game and make choices they would never make in real life? Is it fun to try  both?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DSi
Price:$8.00
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:April 16, 2010
Genre:Simulation
ESRB rating:E10+ for Suggestive Themes, Violent References (Nintendo DSi)

This review of Surviving High School was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 8 years old January 28, 2012
 

reply to tanshep

hey tanshep,it is on the dsi ware (dsi shop)and not bad.
Parent Written bytanshep August 20, 2011
 

Where is it available?

Can't find it on Amazon or ebay!
Kid, 10 years old August 22, 2010
 

zzzzzz.....

Beat the main storyline now its super boring : /
What other families should know
Too much sex

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