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PSP  header logo

Brooktown High: Senior Year

For: PSP

Smells like teen spirit

Product: Brooktown High: Senior Year | Developer: Foundation 9 Entertainment | Publisher: Konami | Format: PSP | Genre: Adventure, Simulation | Players: 1 | Version: US
Brooktown High: Senior Year PSP, thumbnail 1
Report cards are out and Konami isn't going to be pleased. Brooktown High, the company's darling little dating simulation, has been cutting class and failing to turn in homework. And despite all its initial promise, Brooktown High can only blame itself for its low grade, which is due largely to its completely underwhelming gameplay.

Your goal in Brooktown High is to land a date to the senior prom. (That's essentially a 'school's out' party – yes, Rest of World, we're in the U.S. of A. with Brooktown High, so all those Americanisms you've picked up from a lifetime of Dawson's Creek, Friends and The O.C. might finally come in use).

As the new kid coming in from Ohio, making your mark at the ocean-side academy won't be a stroll on the beach. Build relationships in order to boost your popularity though, and you shouldn't have any trouble getting attention. Throughout the year you can go out on numerous dates, but your ultimate endeavor is securing a partner for that final school dance following graduation.

Brooktown High lets you visit or revisit secondary school using a character of your own fantasy, so you can leave your own real-life teenage insecurities at the door. When you first boot up the game, you'll take a short questionnaire to gauge your character's core attributes: smarts, originality, charm and athletics. Your answers to the thinly-veiled questions determine your starting stats, which in turn influence your social standing among the school's preps, jocks, nerds and rebels.

It's fairly easy to select answers in order to lump your character into one of the social classes. For example, when asked, "Which of these girls do you dig?" and the options are a trio of jock, nerdy and rebel girls, it doesn't take the class swot to see that you can effortless gain standing with whatever social class you want based on your selection.

In addition to calculating your attributes and forcing you to fit into one of the four social stereotypes (actually, perhaps you shouldn't leave those insecurities behind), you can also shape your character's physical appearance. There aren't a ton of options available, it turns out – a few different skin tones, a handful of hair styles for boys and girls, and the ability to adjust height and weight. You can also set your character's animation type – its so-called 'emotype' – which basically makes him or her appear sexy, shy or confident.

You can engage other students in conversation, selecting different phrases with the PSP's face buttons. Getting on someone's good side is extraordinarily easy – simply say what they want to hear. There aren't any repercussions in patronising a jock, for example, and then reversing your attitude a moment later when talking up a nerd. The simulation mechanics are not sophisticated, leaving Brooktown High less a compelling social experiment and more a lesson in sucking up.

There's little chance your character will stand out terribly much from the pack anyway due to those limits placed on customisation. This doesn't mean that appearance isn't important in Brooktown High; on the contrary, your choices have a direct impact in how other characters perceive you. Your physique, emotype, and whatever clothes you're wearing will all be judged whenever you speak to another character.

Throughout the game, you're given the opportunity to dress your character for school, dates, and other significant events, and what you select can have a tremendous impact on your social life. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt to the winter formal, as an example, will bring your reputation down faster than a sissy's grade in metalwork class.

Buying clothes from your computer at home helps to keep your wardrobe varied. And unfortunately you're likely to get more pleasure out of coordinating your character's fashion than any other element in Brooktown High.

You pay for new clothes from allowance money or income from weekend side jobs. Taking a part-time job, however, means dropping out of any extracurricular activities you might be involved in such as the astronomy club or the beach volleyball team.

It's a tough choice, but for the wrong reason – neither the jobs nor the after-school activities are particularly entertaining. Instead of involving you in a clever mini-game suited to the activity, the game merely shows you an animated screen each weekend that you work or attend a club.

You can get a dose of mini-game action in Brooktown High if you want, but we advise you play hookie. A few mini-games unlock as the year progresses such as the blackjack clone '21 Knickers', a button-pressing dance-a-thon called 'BoogieTron 5000', and the dull kissing game 'Tongue Twister'. When doing your homework is more appealing than these, you know the final bell has rung for Brooktown High.

Visually, Konami's dating sim tries fairly hard, with expressive characters boasting a wide range of animations. The environments look equally good, but with only a handful available in the game it's hard to justify more than a just above-average mark. When you account for frequent loading, Brooktown High earns itself a solid C. But sadly you can reduce that to a D for its occasional crashes when the game has difficulty saving to your Memory Stick.

We'd certainly scrawl 'Could do better' onto Brooktown High's final report. There's a lot of potential here, but too much goofing around and not enough action leaves the teenage dating simulator best left alone.
Brooktown High: Senior Year
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 1 June 2007
Less an adolescent social simulation and more a lesson in pandering, Brooktown High fails to make the grade
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