Back to School Gaming that Doesn’t Suck

I just spent over three hours of my day on Monday registering for classes for the fall semester, which means that my summer comes to an abrupt end on August 24th. Those also going to college will start again around the same time, or maybe even unlucky enough to have already started. A crappy time, indeed.

That’s why video games are so great; in these virtual worlds, school doesn’t have to suck. In fact, school can be downright badass. So to help you take the edge off, here are a few games where being in school is where it’s at.


Sass-back isn't tolerated here

Sass-back isn't tolerated here

An obvious choice, sure, but I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention it. If you’ve somehow never heard of the game, it’s essentially a school-based version of Rockstar’s own GTA series. Of course, this concept scared the pants off of uninformed talking heads the world over; this despite the fact that the game was T-rated and didn’t feature anywhere near the same levels of violence and big-boy language as it’s M-rated counterparts.

What the games DID share, though, were what make Rockstar’s games so enjoyable — a world as explorable as it was believable, as well as a great story and characters. Although instead of massacring cops and civilians with Glocks, AK-47s, and rocket launchers you were given a slingshot, cherry bombs, and bottle rockets to fight off the school’s prefects and jocks. Kissing girls – or boys, if that’s your thing – replaces banging and robbing hookers. Jacking people for their bikes was the main mode of transport. Instead of answering your cousin’s asinine phone calls to go bowling, you went to class to dissect animals for biology.

And dammit, it was fun.

Rival Schools

This game was so overlooked that I forgot to include it in my list of PS1 games that need to be on PSN, despite the weekends I spent playing this game in the summer of 1999.

The important thing is that it be remembered now, and for good reason. You may have noticed over the years that Capcom publishes quite a few fighting games from time to time – 2D fighting games, to be exact. As it turns out they’re not so great at 3D fighters, except for one shining example: Rival Schools, a game that featured fighters from different schools and academies (duh) fighting to discover who’s been kidnapping students at their respective places of learning.

Like every other 3D PlayStation game, Rival Schools isn’t as pretty as she used to be. Like so many other great games of its era, though, the gameplay has endured. It improved on the mediocre-at-best formula introduced by Street Fighter EX by keeping super attacks (known as “vigor” here) and adding team attacks, while also adding juggling that Tekken players were so familiar with.

So why doesn’t anyone talk about this game anymore? Probably because it released in 1998, a year saturated with classic games. Resident Evil 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Parasite Eve, Metal Gear Solid, Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, StarCraft, Half-Life, Fallout 2, and the biggest barrier of all for a 3D fighter, Tekken 3. That’s a tough shell to crack.

X-Men Mutant Academy 2

This was fairly impressive in 2001, I swear

This was fairly impressive in 2001, I swear

This game makes it here for two reasons. First off, it’s one of the few X-Men games from the recent past that doesn’t make you want to bludgeon the person next to you with the console you’re playing it on. Secondly the game has the word “Academy” right there in the title. So there you go.

Readers Comments (3)

  1. Persona 3 Portable has some interesting school elements too. Although you either hate or love the game, just like any other RPG xD

  2. @Dreamer_Lion — I wanted to include Persona, but I don’t know anything about the series except for the school elements and didn’t want to talk out of my ass, lol.

  3. Nice picks. I remember playing an indie game called Math Sniper where it gives you a math problem, and a bunch of kids with numbers on their faces run out of a school and you have to shoot the kid with the answer on his face. Fun times. ;D

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