Thursday, 26 July 2012

Skool Daze - Sinclair Spectrum - 1985

Skool Daze is a quintessentially English game which takes a comic book view of school life.  You take control of a schoolboy called Eric, although you can change his and the names of the other main characters at the beginning of the game.  Armed with your trusty catapult, your task is to steal your report card from the safe in the school staff room.  You must do this whilst attending classes and trying to stay out of trouble.  For each misdemeanour you are given lines and are expelled if you collect 10,000.

The game instructions give steps which must be taken in order to reach your goal.  The first aim is to hit all the shields scattered around the school, either with your catapult or fists, in order to make them flash.  Many of the shields are out of reach so you will need to think of ways to hit them (e.g. you can punch a fellow pupil and use his prone body as a useful step to jump higher).  Once all the shields are flashing you have to shoot each of the teachers with your catapult and they will reveal their part of the combination to the safe.  The exception is the history teacher who is too old to remember his number so has had it hypnotically planted into his brain.  He will reveal his part of the combination if he sees the year of his birth written on a blackboard.

Once you have the combination you have to write it on a blackboard in the correct order to open the safe.  After retrieving your report you then need to hit all the shields again to prevent the teachers becoming aware of your deeds.

Skool Daze was an early example of a sandbox game and whatever you got up to all the other characters would follow their own routines.  The graphics are good, the sound fine and there is plenty of humour.  It’s a great game and can be just as much fun following the quest as it is running around getting up to mischief.

A sloppy conversion of Skool Daze was available on the Commodore 64. There was also a follow up available later in the year called Back to Skool.  In my opinion the quest in that game was too convoluted and lost the simple charm of the original.

The date of birth of the history teacher is revealed when the swot says what event happened in that year (normally a medieval battle).

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