Computer games, Dating simulators


It’s May, and I’m still surprised that prom season is upon us. My high school prom was a week before graduation in June. So I’m always a little weirded out when cousins/friends’ kids/acquaintances start posting their prom pictures on April 1st.

All that to say, thanks to High School Dreams, I’m pretty prommed out, and I still have three in-game proms to get through. I figured out a way, though, to zip through days to get to prom faster: the player character can go to bed as early as 6:00 PM! Hurrah!


Eugene Moss

Stereotype: Nerd

Eugene was my initial favorite before being upset by the game’s biggest underdogs (more to come). It probably has something to do with a high school nerd being in the realm of possibility for me, even in a game where I have unlimited wealth and beauty. Also, look at him.

Aww, of course you would!
Aww, of course you would!

He’s adorable. Eugene is easily the best looking (best animated?) guy in the game.

Eugene’s storyline contains all sorts of intrigue: it starts off with a caper about missing photographs, transitions into a conflict with his female best friend (when will these guys learn?), and ends with a makeover and photo shoot–yours, sadly, not his.

In my review of Landon, I might have said or implied that pursuing Landon for his wealth and social status instead of his personality was a pretty shallow goal.


Eugene pays for the player character to go on a shopping spree.

In what universe does this kind of thing happen!? Your high school boyfriend says, “Hey, I need you to model for a photo shoot. Here’s $100+; get whatever you want.” It was pretty exhilarating. I felt like Lizzie McGuire during her brief career as a famous Italian pop star.

Even with that fun detail, Eugene’s friendship drama gets a little too real. Eugene’s best friend is this girl, Lucy, for reasons that are never made clear.
LucyLucy lashes out at the player character and steals Eugene’s photographs to prevent him from finishing his portfolio. Later, she crashes the player character’s date to tell Eugene how upset she is that he no longer has time for her, especially since he’s MOVING TO JAPAN.


Also, this happens:

Oh, Eugene...
Oh, Eugene…

Game developers: at no point have I ever said, “My high school dream is to be in a tenuous long-distance relationship.” Not once have I said that.

Depending on the resulting interaction, this can result in a big fight between Eugene and the player character. I must have been an awesome virtual girlfriend or something, because all I got was some confusing dialogue alluding to an argument toward the end of the game. No matter: Eugene makes up with Lucy and even lands her a date to prom, and he and the player character decide to make it work while he’s in Japan.

Despite the happy ending, this plotline hit a little too close to home. I’ve had this same thing happen to me, with many–including hair color, personality, and country–similar details…only I was Lucy. The first time I played through this game, the situation was still fresh, so for a while this game stopped being fun.

Yeah! High School Dreams!

Eugene’s biggest asset is his sense of humor. Everything that came out of his mouth was my new favorite thing. Not much for sarcasm, Eugene stuck with quips that had a self-deprecating edge. At first, it seemed fine; there’s nothing wrong with self-deprecation, especially as a way to beat your enemies to the punch. “Nice try, jerks, I already KNOW I’m bad at life! Joke’s on you!” As the game went on, however, Eugene’s little comments revealed a bigger issue: low self-esteem.

This–more than smoking and arrogance but less than blatant sexism–is one of my biggest turn-offs. I don’t see low self-esteem as a cutesy quirk, thanks to various friends, roommates, and family members. It’s a frustrating reality to have someone you love ask for validation every day, only to reject everything you tell them.

Strangely, the Eugene storyline is an inversion of Landon’s: Eugene can’t quite believe the player character would be into him. In that way, the relationship comes across as a self-congratulatory charity case; the way some of the dialogue is written, it almost seems like the player character is saying, “Look how awesome I am for accepting this nerd.”

Eugene’s interactions, humor, and generosity make his storyline better than Petey’s. If we’re talking favorites, though, he’s not my type.

Grade: B

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