I realized in my last post that while I raged about what a douche Landon was, I didn’t go into enough detail about the story and gameplay. I’ll try to remedy that with this next post.
Fun fact: In High School Dreams, if you don’t buy a prom dress by the date of the prom, your mom will give you one. Apparently the $600 dress I bought didn’t qualify as prom material, which led to a nail-biting Best Dressed Contest where Petey and I won despite being “underdressed” (more to follow).
Another fun fact: Landon’s last name is apparently “Teenbeard.” Whose beard? Could that explain why he has seemingly no interest in the player character as anything other than arm candy?
Stereotype: School DJ? Is that a well-known high school demographic?
As noted above, Petey is the school DJ, something that apparently makes him desirable. As the player character’s friend Emily put it:
Petey loves music, gets Homer Simpson and Spongebob mixed up, and has mastered the mixed message. When asked why Petey blew the player character off, good old Emily replies, “He’s probably really shy.”
Props to the game designers for designing a realistic high school boy!
Petey’s main problems stem from this realism, a big one being his friendship with this girl, Izzy:
Izzy herself is harmless. She seems oblivious to any conflict she causes and usually has a good reason for it. That being said…
Issue #1: Izzy shows up on the player character’s first date with Petey and challenges him to a game of mini-golf. Petey tells the player character to walk home by herself because he can’t back down from a challenge and Izzy is his “best friend” and he “can’t dog her like that.” Before someone starts up a debate about the value and importance of male-female friendship, you do not ditch your date for a friend! Ever! Not unless your friend has stopped breathing or is bleeding from a massive head trauma!
Issue #2: This one’s a bit weirder… For some reason, Petey’s storyline is mostly about Izzy’s issues. The main plot focus becomes Izzy and her falling-out with Emily, and the player character and Petey scheme to get these two friends back together. While this drama goes on, Petey fades to the background. Whenever he is the focus, he’s either freaking out about the big DJ battle or acting distant and blowing off the player character.
It’s all very…high school.
What did the game trailer promise?
“This is my chance to be whoever I want to be, a chance to do it all the way I want, a chance to live my high school dream!”
THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT, GAME DEVELOPERS! THIS IS NOT MY HIGH SCHOOL DREAM!
Issue #3: This was something I noticed during my Landon playthrough: Landon alluded to some insecurities and family issues that were never addressed. In Petey’s case, he keeps bringing up his “grandmamma,” consistently uses past tense, and seems cagey whenever the player character expresses interest in meeting her. All the evidence points to his grandmamma being dead, with Petey either in denial or too embarrassed to share his feelings. I thought prom would be the big reveal. I waited for Petey to mention his grandmamma or say, “I have a confession to make.” Nope. Nothing. Never mentioned again. It was like it never happened.
THEN WHY ADD THAT SUBPLOT IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Issue #4: This is another issue that applies to all the guys. While the idea is for the player to live their high school dream, the player character ends up doing things purely to please other characters. There are meaningless side quests that involve buying a camera case for some idiot kid who keeps dropping his in the ocean–seriously, I hate this kid so much–or picking up your mom’s dry-cleaning; the main “romance” quest isn’t much different. Your goal is to dress the way Petey likes and help him win the DJ battle. Seriously, he owes you at least half the prize money for helping him. In return, he either takes you on halfhearted dates where he bails early or cancels dates completely to work on his music, quoting his possibly dead grandmamma all the while. Aside from going after Landon, a relationship with Petey provides the least amount of pay-off.
Where Petey has the jump on Landon is that he actually seems interested in the player character as more than a means to an end, if his painful flirty dialogue is any indication. Dialogue that, in fact, takes a turn for the risque whenever big cats are brought up.
Petey: I pegged you for a tiger.
Player character: You know what would make this kitty happy?
Me: AAAAAGH! PLEASE NO!
I can’t fault Petey for being a stupid (read: normal) high school guy. At the same time, I don’t think I could sell this game to my friends by telling them, “Remember that time you thought so-and-so liked you but he kept blowing you off? Well…”
This picture sums up my feelings about Petey.
Seriously, look at that outfit!
Take the crushed-velvet leopard-print tuxedo as a sign that you should choose someone better.