Brooktown High: Senior Year

Perusing the screenshots made available for Brooktown High: Senior Year, one might wonder at the miraculous gravity defying proportions sported by the young ladies of Brooktown. (And yes, that's including their extensively stylized heads.) Then as one ponderously considers the dangerously short skirts, the copious amounts of eye shadow, and the fiendishly alluring stockings, one might wonder where the parents are that're supposed to be keeping their amative young daughters in check. With all the male students being adorned with the chins of Adonis and graced with svelte pectoral might, one might wonder how anyone could end the school day with their pants still on.

Then comes across wizened fellow virtual Senior, Brent, who imparts these words, "It's true. Even the ugly people at this school are smoking hot. Maybe it's something in the water, or maybe the publisher thinks it'll sell more units. Who knows?" Touche Brent, touche.

Brooktown High isn't really the high school you remember. Gone appears to be the hazing, the ostracizing, the bullies, the awkward gangly growing pains of dozens upon dozens of you and your fellow classmates afflicted by puberty. It's all been tossed out to make the perfect playground to experiment with your high school fantasies of gettin' it on with that ever elusive opposite sex.

For some of you it may very well have been reality. If so, then you might not be Brooktown's target market. "High five! You've lived the great American dream." Alternatively, "Get back to flipping burgers you jock douche bag." And for a special few, "I'm so sorry; I thought you two would be together forever..."

So, the goal of the game is to get with the guy or girl who makes that funny feeling in your pants happen. Keep your relationship going and you'll have your dream date for the prom. Hey, you could even be prom king and queen. Of course you could also just mack it to every other living being on two legs with a pulse. The game features multiple endings so you can see the rewards/consequences of your virtual self 20 years in their future. Spooky to think about, ain't it? All the more reason to make your decisions carefully. And there will be many decisions to make. Welcome to the Dating Sim my friends, it's gonna be rocky.

To begin with, you've got a fairly comprehensive character generator. From gender to eye color, it's got you covered. How your stats are first generated comes through a short personality quiz, and we all know you've taken one at least once in your teen life. It's also kinda a Sorting Hat thing, where afterwards you'll find yourself geared towards the life of a nerd, a jock, a prep, and so on. If you've been rollin' with the d20s, you'll need some serious criticals to get with the cheerleaders. Likewise that cute girl with the glasses and the notebook might find your lack of brains disturbing. After that you've got a meager starting choice of clothing, and just like real high school, you'll be rated by your look.

Yes. That IS a banana in my pocket.

There're at least two dozen guys and gals to pursue, each with their specific cliques and personality traits, so how you get your groove on is up to you. Your clothing and your stats directly affect how potential mates will react, so learning the different equipment you'll need or the stats to level up should be a familiar concept to any gamer. Just replace the level grinding with gym class, the blacksmith with the mall, and so on. Dressing appropriately for any given situation is highly recommended, as the other students do seem to take notice of your recent pants-less streak. The prom, the beach, the seasonal changes in weather, and the latest fashion trends all call for a consistently updated and fresh look to your avatar. And knowing what each guy or girl likes in a personality could gear you towards going for that A+ in English. Avoid class at your own peril however, the hall monitor is a machine. No kidding, that freakin' robot will zap you to detention completely laying waste to your valuable free time.

That free time which could've been better spent playing the barely legal strip blackjack minigame. Speaking of minigames, like fellow high school simulator Bully, there promises to be more than a few available to aid with the stat building and adding variety to the daily grind of school, work, and pickup lines. The most notable being tongue wrestlin', bizarrely represented by guiding a pair of lips around collecting hearts while avoiding flying cellphones and your French teacher. Even more curious, you can practice this minigame alone in your bedroom.

All that aside, the real meat of the game is in the conversations and the flirting with the opposite sex. And this is where a dating sim lives or dies. The choices you have in the conversation raise or lower the interest level of the person in question. With a bit of luck and some fine schmoozing, you'll be together for walks on the park enjoying some PG-13 tongue wrestlin' in no time. Or of course you could always strike out and walk dejectedly home alone. Be sure to keep your main squeeze interested, cause it's a long year till prom night. That night of course being where your entire future will be determined. With all the different guys and girls to try your hand at, not to mention the rather large assortment of high school clinches to mask yourself in, there should be a lot of replayability for those keen to give high school yet another whirl.

Brooktown High models itself after one of those improbable Japanese dating sims you may have heard about. No, not the ones featuring animated pixel porn. And no, definitely not the ones featuring amorous tentacles either. The one title Brooktown specifically follows suit in is Konami's own venerable yet sweetly sex-free series Tokimeki Memorial. The developers at Backbone aim to bring that niche genre home with a western audience in mind by designing a look more in line with Bratz than manga. Dating Sims (outside of that endless stalwart The Sims) have never struck a homerun in America, but Konami's hoping that Brooktown High: Senior Year can tempt our equally desperate masses. Are these horny crossbreeds between Seventeen Magazine cover models and Troll dolls the teens to do it? We'll have to wait till May 22nd to find out.