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Brooktown High: Senior Year review

AT A GLANCE
  • Dialogue isn't half bad
  • Characters are cartoon sexy
  • Finally scoring
  • Off-their-rocker behavior
  • Three useless mini-games
  • Missing in-game Spring Fling

Just like the lovable-yet-undateable best friend character in every single teen date movie, Brooktown High: Senior Year has a heart of gold and a fatal flaw. Actually, it has several flaws, but the big one is that it recreates the erratic conversations and neurotic mood-swings of the teenage psyche too well. In other words: these babes are all crazy, and the bros aren't far behind.



Why else would the bikini-clad blonde invite you to the beach, then hate every outfit you wear (even the swimsuits the game tells you are perfect for the beach), then invite you to the make-out cave, but ditch you no matter what you said? Why else would the blue-haired goth hottie tell you she loved you on Saturday, ask you on Monday to make out and take her on more dates, and then stubbornly refuse to actually go on the requested date no matter what you said or which of the eleven possible date sites you invited her to? And why, oh why would she finally walk away with the request that you not wait too long before asking her out again? The answer is simple: somebody is off her meds.

Granted, things start off okay. You create your character - male or female - and choose a few personality attributes. Then, it's just a matter of choosing your clothes and making friends with the 20 other students at school (ten boys, ten girls). Your ultimate goal? Find your life partner... or at least someone to help you out with that whole "not having any sex" thing.

But you quickly discover that your goal is a tough one because nobody makes sense, and there's a lot of other stuff that just seems broken. Loading screens are a constant drag, and you can only talk to other students in person before class on Monday morning - you can squeeze in maybe four conversations, tops. Then, the entire week zooms by in a cut scene and, if you've earned a person's phone number, you can call them on Saturday morning. That's it, and it's so weird we wonder if it was supposed to be different, but something went wrong.



Then again, not talking to people is sometimes good because there are about a zillion moments when the tone of your conversation choices is unclear - such as when you must decide between mentioning "blue hair" and "sausages," - one is an insult and one a compliment, but how can you tell which? Other times, your dialogue choices are out-and-out traps. For example, we had a discussion in which the only options were to either insult the girl or ask her out - one of which made her mad, the other of which forced us to cheat on our girlfriend - who immediately found out. This conversational minefield is compounded by the fact that Brooktown rations out only one saved game, so you can't just make a new save and try both choices.

Incidentally, one choice we're 99% sure you never get is that of an alternate lifestyle. Boy avatars can date girls and girl player characters can obviously date boys, but we couldn't find any way to initiate a same-sex relationship. It's not as if the conversation trees would need to change (you could just choose an orientation at the same time you pick your gender), or that there would be graphic depictions of PDA to potentially offend conservative folks - even kisses are replaced by video montages of roses blooming, rockets lifting off, and so on - so we're kind of at a loss with that one.

It's nice that Brooktown has a stat system that evolves over time, and that your skills in the four stats - charm, originality, athletics, smarts - are tied into how much you study, which after-school activities you join (all are non-interactive cut scenes), and whether you play the three lame mini-games or not (blackjack, a dancing game, and a weird kissing game where you grab hearts, avoid other obstacles, and spray breath freshener). But it sucks that whatever skills you aren't focusing on constantly plummet. Brooktown has obvious charm and we do hope for a sequel, but it's going to need to hit the books hard before we'll give it a passing grade.

More Info

Release date: May 22 2007 - PSP (US)
Available Platforms: PSP
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami, Backbone Entertainment
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling, Strong Language

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