Formats: ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64
Whereas games are nowadays often designed to have worldwide appeal, back in the ’80s many titles for the likes of the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad were rich with British cultural references for that era. There was Flunky, a game set in entirely Buckingham Place; a platformer featuring British legend Roland Rat; and a beat â€™em up based on Spitting Image. Then there was Skool Daze – a game thatâ€™s very hard to pigeon hole into a certain genre, and set inside a quintessential British school. Youâ€™ll find no mention of jocks or principals here.
The publisher even saw fit to use artwork that looked incredibly similar to The Beanoâ€™s Bash Street Kids on the cover, which I assume was done to dupe people into buying it. Not that they were duped – Skool Daze is still a fun game to play today.
Playing as Eric, itâ€™s your job to nab your school report card out of the school safe before it gets sent home. The way that you achieve this is rather bizarre – you have to touch all of the shields that are displayed on the school walls, either by jumping up or bouncing a catapulted projectile off the teacherâ€™s head as they walk underneath.
If Eric gets caught breaking school rules, â€˜linesâ€™ are handed out by the nearest teacher. Get over 10,000 lines and the game is over. Sometimes another character in the game – such as the school bully Angelface, or your supposed chum Boy Wander – may fire a catapult and knock a teacher over and move out of sight, causing you to get the blame. That’s realism right there.
At the bottom of the screen youâ€™re told what class youâ€™re meant to be in. Classes only last a few minutes; the teachers – which include a science teacher wearing a lab coat – tell you to hurry up, settle down and find a seat before rattling off a few questionsâ€¦ all of which the school swot Einstein answers. Amusingly, some classes have more students than chairs so you have to fight for a seat. You can also write stuff on the blackboard. Sometimes Boy Wander would go into a room during â€˜play timeâ€™ and write â€œWheelie is Greatâ€. Wheelie was another game from the same publisher, if you’re wondering.
Fun could be had from changing the names of all the characters at the start to names of people you went to school with. When I used to play this with a friend I would go out of the room while he typed the names in, and then burst out laughing when seeing the name of one of our real life school chums flash up on the screen.
A sequel, Bak to Skool, was released shortly after and offered an additional building to run anarchy in – a girlâ€™s school. Itâ€™s never as fondly remembered as Skool Daze however. Did it offer too much of a good thing? Perhaps.