High school and college can be difficult, but we always have video games to keep our brains in shape. Whether you want to learn magic, the Force, or the good-old “three R’s” (despite the fact that only “Reading” starts with an R), there are myriad schools where the price of admission is the tag on the game box.
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia – Ranger School
Why it would be awesome: Pokémon schools are sprinkled throughout the mainline Pokémon games, but it only takes around 10 minutes, if that, to see everything they have to offer. In Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, however, you spend the first hour or two training to be one of the titular Pokémon Rangers, making friends and learning the game’s mechanics from your teachers, many of whom you continue to encounter throughout the rest of the game. Getting to spend your school days befriending Pokémon and training to be a Pokémon Ranger would be any kid’s dream!
Why it would be awful: There’s no bones about it: Being a Pokémon Ranger just isn’t as cool as being a proper Pokémon trainer. Sure, you still get to hang out with Pokémon, but instead of having awesome battles, you have to draw circles around them to make them your friend, not your actual partner Pokémon (with a few exceptions). Being in Ranger School would beat normal school by a mile, but if you’ve found that magical portal to the wonderful world of Pokémon, why wouldn’t you want to go on a Pokémon adventure instead?
Persona 5 – Shujin Academy
Why it would be awesome: One of the best things about Persona 5 – and Persona in general – is your relationship with your friends, or “confidants.” Over the hundred-plus hours you can spend in the game, you become intimately close with each character, either platonically or romantically. Getting to hang out with Ryuji, Makoto, and Ann – in and out of class – would be fun, as would visiting palaces and changing the hearts of evildoers. A strong theme of Persona 5 is how awful the world can be, and trying to affect change. We have some power to create change in the real world, but getting to directly change the hearts of major jerks is a fantasy we’d love to live out.
Why it would be awful: Even after the physically and sexually abusive gym teacher, Kamoshida, is out of the picture, there are plenty of things to hate about Shujin Academy. High school usually sucks wherever in the world you are, but the Japanese school system is particularly notorious for evoking high stress, especially when it comes to the preposterously difficult college admission tests, for which many students dedicate their entire senior years preparing for. You even have to go to school on Saturdays! Add to that a corrupt principal, and we believe the cons far outweigh any pros.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy – The Jedi Academy
Why it would be awesome: Much like Pokémon, nearly every kid wants to be trained in the Force, learn how to wield a lightsaber and make rocks float. Not only would attending the Jedi Academy let you do that, but you’d also be under the supervision of Luke Skywalker himself! What could possibly go wrong?
Why it would be awful: A lot, evidently. Not only is the academy consistently attacked by the Sith, but some of your classmates – maybe even you – are secretly on the dark side. This can lead to awkward situations where you might find out your best friend has been corrupted, so you are forced to kill him, turning to the dark side yourself. School can be a cut-throat environment, but at the Jedi Academy, you can take that literally.
Lego Harry Potter – Hogwarts
Why it would be awesome: It might be cheating to use a movie tie-in to incorporate Hogwarts, but both Lego Harry Potter games are some of the best games within the franchise. The Lego version of Hogwarts also expands upon some areas where the movies rarely went, letting players explore almost the entirety of Hogwarts castle and find all of its many secrets. There’s a reason J.K. Rowling’s novels lit the world on fire, and it’s in large part because of how much her readers, young and old, dreamed of going to a school like Hogwarts. Magic lessons, pet owls, and hanging out with Ron and Hermione? What’s not to love?
Why it would be awful: If you’re going to Hogwarts while Harry Potter is there, there are some significant problems you may encounter. You’ll have some pretty awful professors, such as Snape and Umbridge, and others like McGonnagall (who are fair but strict) pile on tons of homework. During second year, you’ll have to worry about a Basilisk on the loose petrifying students. In the sixth and seventh years, your school is taken over by what are essentially magical fascists, torturing students if they’re disobedient or not “pure of blood.” On top of all that, since this is an older Lego game, every character communicates in weird grunts, so it’d be pretty hard to understand people.
Bully – Bullworth Academy
Why it would be awesome: Bully is one of our favorite Rockstar games, and for good reason. The game thrived under Rockstar’s signature open-world setting, featured surprisingly fun minigames that represented going to class, and told an engaging story that paints the protagonist as more than the title proclaims. Uniting Bullworth Academy’s different cliques would fulfill a certain type of power fantasy for some people, and outside of needing to go to class, you’re pretty free to explore the school and its surrounding area as you please.
Why it would be awful: As the game’s title might suggest, Bullworth Academy has its fair share of bullies, but also a number of other alienating cliques, such as the preppies, townies, jocks, greasers, and nerds. (Hey, what’s wrong with nerds, Bully?!) If you’re not getting beat up, you’re likely to be stalked, harassed, or even ignored, which can be just as painful. It’s a very real, very toxic environment to be in, and any perks of freedom or enjoyable classes get buried fast.
Professor Layton – Gressenheller University
Why it would be awesome: Professor Layton spends a surprisingly small amount of time in his games being an actual professor, usually hanging out with Luke and friends solving mysteries across Britain. However, the professor’s travels have occasionally brought him back to his day job, where he teaches not logic, as one might think from his affinity for the subject, but archaeology. The professor’s students universally love the class, and the other professors we meet seem to be equally qualified and talented. In addition to all this, Gressenheller University has a beautiful campus, borrowing a lot of architecture from real universities. It’s essentially Oxford, an elite school that has great professors and a lot of personality.
Why it would be awful: It’s an elite school. While the professors may be great teachers, they most likely have incredibly high expectations for their students. If you’re into that kind of life, then good for you! But for the rest of us, let’s be honest. Getting to be under the professor’s tutelage doesn’t make up for the stress associated with living up to his high standards.
Doki Doki Literature Club – School
Why it would be awesome: Though we don’t get a bunch of details about the game’s school, it seems to be a pretty standard high school. Doki Doki Literature Club is a light dating sim where you join the titular literature club and decide to spend time with one of the three main characters: Sayori, Yuri, or Natsuki. There’s also the club leader, Monika, but she doesn’t have any romance options. The characters are a bit clichéd, but it’s still nice to grow close with these characters, which would certainly appeal to a good number of people. (No judgment!) And who doesn’t love literature?!
Why it would be awful: Honestly, we can’t think of anything. The game is set in Japan, so there’s the aforementioned challenges that come with that. Otherwise, everything in Doki Doki Literature Club is so wholesome and cheerful that it’s hard to think of any huge reasons why you wouldn’t want to be a part of this game’s reality. We could stay here forever!
Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Officers Academy
Why it would be awesome: We’ve talked about how going to a magic school would be awesome, and the Black Eagles specialize in that, but in addition, those without an affinity for magic can also learn archery or lance-use from the Blue Lions and Golden Deer, respectively. Relationships, platonic and romantic, are integral to Fire Emblem, and as such each house has plenty of colorful characters to interact with who we’d love to meet in person.
Why it would be awful: These students, some of whom are as young as 15, are being forced into combat where they kill others and can be seriously injured if not killed themselves. Sure, it’s a fun time when you’re chilling with your friends at the academy, but is it worth the mental and physical anguish of war? Of course not! (And that’s all before the five-year time skip.)
It turns out most of the schools we were planning on attending have some pretty significant downsides. It’s a bummer, but maybe you should stop working on that interdimensional portal and start preparing for real school. It may not be as fun-looking as some of these schools, but it’ll probably benefit you more in the long run.
For more on the covered games, check out our reviews of Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, as well as our month of coverage on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order!