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virtual schoolv0point5 vs. Pepsi Ranger
virtual schoolv0point5
Shadow_outlaw_X aka Chappell J
Download: 539 KB
Pepsi Ranger
Review # 2 for Pepsi Ranger
Them's Fightin' Words
    When the bells ring, so shall the butt of a fifteen-year-old be placed in a desk chair. This is the battle cry of a new generation of adventure. That's right, the fields of gold have died. The oceans of treasure rolled away. The cities of mystery transformed into a town of commercialism. The new dungeon of terror comes in the form of high school. Yeah.

Okay, well, that doesn't tell a whole lot I suppose. So, what is this game all about then? It's simple really. It's a game about Chappell. That's right, it's all about Chappell. But, who is Chappell? Is he a muscle-bound hero with an axe and a chain? No. Is he a Roman god who shoots lighting out of his butt? No. Is he a blonde guy with sunglasses and a stick of deodorant? No. He's a high school freshman who wants to ditch class and pick up chicks. That's pretty much it. No swords, no magic; just high school. That, and a whole bunch of music CDs.

So, why should we care about this game? There are no world conspiracies, so what good is calling it a cliché? There are no weapons to get, so what good is calling it an adventure? There isn't any kind of linear story involved, so what good is calling it an RPG? This is of course the reason why we should care about this game. Very few games on the OHR can claim to have such originality, so naturally this is one to consider checking out (or at least care about). This isn't to say all original games are awesome. But, when one style gets old, why not see how another pans out?

And so we begin with the game's strong points. Chappell has an ego to develop. Okay, what's that supposed to mean? Again, it's simple really. No hero should be wholly good or sadistically bad. A true hero should get to choose who he is in spirit. And Chappell most certainly gets to choose. For example, he has the choice to either run from the school bully with lung cancer, or fight him. There is no set script for the player to follow. It's one or the other. If Chappell fights and wins, he gets his picture in the yearbook. If he fights and loses, I think the game ends. If he chooses to run from the bully, then I'm guessing that makes him a nerd. But, what if he becomes a nerd? Does that hurt his popularity? Think about it. Has becoming a nerd ever helped anybody's popularity? Okay, so his life falls apart by running from the bully (in theory). But, never fear because Chappell can still beat up other nerds. Isn't that always a lovely sight? I mean to watch one nerd beat up another. I'm not suggesting that this game promotes nerd bashing or anything. Well, it doesn't seem to say it's bad either, except when a girl at the back of the bus refuses to kiss Chappell because he pounded a kid into submission. But, nevertheless, he has the option to fight either bullies or nerds, and his yearbook popularity becomes effected by that.

This brings up good point number two. The game is so diversified (or at least it promises to be when it's finished), that the outcome depends on practically every choice that's made. Therefore, each experience should ideally be different than the one before. This doesn't mean that a profound story will develop every time the game is played. The truth is the demo is so limited right now that there is very little diversity to offer. However, to play the game once is still not playing it twice, and playing it twice is better than playing it twenty times because there isn't twenty different paths to choose as far as I know, but the player can definitely have at least two unique experiences when giving it a worthy chance. Of course, three times is the charm, but whatever.

Good point number three comes in the form of characters. Each character is unique enough to add personality to the game, but not so unique that the player becomes lost in the realm of non-sequiterism. For instance, each bully has either a French problem or a smoking problem. Yeah, they're definitely thugs, but they're consistent in their thugness. The nerds on the other hand are very nerdlike. They remind Chappell that he must be punctual to class because that's just the way it has to be, and they don't fight back when taking a beating. This isn't to say that there shouldn't be a passive bully or an aggressive nerd, but to keep everything in sync with the stereotypes keeps the player from getting too mind-whipped. But, this isn't to say that every character fits squarely into a stereotype. Chappell's sidekick Mario happens to be a pimp who hangs out in high school classrooms. One of Chappell's lady loves surprisingly turns out to be a fat slob of a girl who likes to (use your imagination...actually don't). Okay, it was a surprise until I ruined it for you. There are also normal people in the game who appear from time to time, like a girl who loses her locker combination, a senior who cuts class, and a teacher who lets his students socialize instead of learn to name a few things. Again, the characters help make this game shine.

And, if that were not enough, Chappell can even ditch school altogether if he wants. Who says high school is the only place to go between the hours of seven and three each day? Even though he is endanger of getting suspended if he's caught, Chappell can elect to go cruisin' around town to visit places like the mall and McDonald's to name a couple things. So, even though this game does not promote the ethics of responsibility, it still has a great concept.

By the way, the fact that the song "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by the Police is playing on the radio right now just seems appropriate to me. Thought I'd throw that in there.

But, what prevents this game from being excellent? Let's start with the poor quality stuff. As usual, the thing that makes any game lack in goodness is its graphics. And this game truly stumbles in its graphics. When I think of good graphics, I think of Paris. When I think of these graphics, I think of Kindergarten. If it's not ripped, it's bad. I'll leave it at that. Play the game and judge for yourself.

Problem number two deals with continuity toward reality. To elaborate on what I mean, think of the nature of a school bus. Those who have ever ridden a school bus will know that it's practical for both efficiency and economy. However, the bus in this game is only practical for efficiency. Here's what I mean. Chappell has to get to school by a certain time if he's to avoid punishment (except on the first day). Now, there is no reason why he should absolutely have to take the bus to school because it's a nice sunny day outside, and there's nothing quite like taking a brisk walk in the early morning sunshine. However, taking a walk to school means running late, so the only logical solution is to take the bus. But, the bus costs some money to ride. What? Yes, that is correct. In Chappell's world, riding the school bus costs more than riding the city bus. But, school buses are free to ride, aren't they? Yes they are, but not this time. So, needless to say, that's kind of weird, even for a video game, and I think it would be wiser if the author made Chappell spend something else to get on the bus. A thought that came to my mind was that maybe a bully could demand that he give up his lunch instead. If he doesn't have lunch, he gets thrown out the back door. See, simple economics. Another thing that I found to be just plain odd was the number of blue dogs that ran around town. First of all, why are there blue dogs running around town? The purpose they serve is to save the game, but come on. Blue dogs? I'd think blue mailboxes or Chappell's locker would be better. Blue dogs and talking dogs kind of take away from the reality of growing up.

Anyway, that's all the basic stuff. There is also a big problem with bugs. No, not blue bugs, but scripting bugs. It seems that this thing is plagued with so many problems t hat if there was originally an ending to the demo, it got lost somewhere. I tried everything that I thought was possible, but the best I could do was go to one class, go to the gym, mess around with my locker, and visit the restroom. Granted, there were other things I could do here and there outside of school, but the class schedule was only limited to first period, and the gym was the only other open room in the high school that could've feasibly been a class period. Of course, the problem with the gym was that the punching bag sent me back to Chappell's room, which truly made no sense to me. But, at least the music got better in the crib, so it wasn't terrible. I just wish the map's tileset didn't take over the screen once I was done doing nothing with the punching bag.

Last thing to mention before I wrap this up is the nature of the demo versus the full game. Both the game and the readme file talk about a bunch of things that will be available in the final version, like jobs, and girls, and camping trips to name a few things. And I think it's fine to make these things available in due time. The problem I have is A) nothing much happens in this demo (at least not super well), so I'm not sure why I should expect a high quality production when it's finished, and B) in order to play this game when a lot more happens, I'm expected to shell out ten bucks for it. If I remember correctly, the last (and only) OHR game to cost anything to play was Fat Frog, and we all know how eager people were to pay for that one. The point I'm making is that this game is decent, but not for financial purposes. I hope the author reconsiders this before releasing the full version because every game I've paid money for had to earn it from me, and very few OHR games are able to pull that off in today's world. Well, that's my ten bucks...I mean two cents.
Final Scores
Graphics: 2.5/10.0
Let's just say that the graphics are not outstanding. Most of the maptiles come across as scribbled and blocky. The characters are not the least bit attractive (especially Stacey the fat girl), and the battle backgrounds are...I'll just keep this one to myself. The only thing I kinda liked about the graphics was the way the school bully was drawn. Don't get me wrong, it's as ugly as the wart on the end of a witch's nose, but it's got an acquired appeal to it. Anyway, that's all. No awards for this one.
Storyline: 7/10.0
There is no story to speak of because nothing really happens, but the concept of putting a character into real life events and satirizing them a bit earns a healthy score in my opinion. Granted, I can't give super high marks for story because as I said before, nothing happens, but the originality will give it a minimum of five, plus whatever I think it would've deserved had there been a knight slaying a dragon somewhere.
Gameplay: 3/10.0
There are far too many bugs in this game to say it deserves a worthy gameplay score, not to mention that there are so many closed areas that the temptation to see what's behind them becomes flat out annoying. I will say that the game clock adds to the challenge, so it helps the score a little, but the clock is irrelevant in this demo since the character doesn't get in trouble for tardiness on the first day, so forget that bonus.
Music: 7/10.0
I really don't like listening to default OHR music in any game that doesn't include hamsters, but fortunately this game only uses it half the time. The other half utilizes the wonderful technique of ripping popular music, which I personally like if it's done the right way. The thing I appreciate most about this game's use of ripped popular music is that it uses it in the form of CDs that the player can elect to listen to whenever he or she wishes (kind of like in real life). So even though the score for music should automatically drop four points for using hamster music, I'm gonna give three of those points back for using the other stuff in a creative way, and that last point will be returned because the author chose songs that translated well.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Thoughts
    This game is filled with so many flaws that it's disgusting, but the humor and style more than make up for that, so I would still agree that it's worthy of a few minutes of your time. It's not like you'll waste more than twenty minutes or so playing it, so there shouldn't be any real reason to be disappointed. I will say that games like this should only be released as a full version because demos cannot do it any kind of justice, but for what it offers, it's not too bad. It's not too good either, but check it out anyway because you're not likely to see anything else like it for at least a few months.  

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