So, I’m getting back into Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble a little bit. Like most modern CRPGs, it keeps track of your current goals and has a handy recap feature, so it didn’t take long for me to remember where I was in the ongoing story of Brigiton School for Girls and environs. The latest scandal: pogo sticks. The mayor has banned them, but his reasons are specious, and seem to be mainly an excuse to send a gang of toughs around to look for contraband pogo sticks and intimidate people. Meanwhile, the thrill of the illicit has brought pogoing to a clandestine new popularity. Most of the story is at this level of silliness, and this level of lightly-veiled sociopolitical commentary.
In fact, the one thing I dislike about the story the most is the fear of missing bits of it. To some extent, this is inevitable — the game features multiple endings, and I’ve already been through some scenes that can come to multiple conclusions, where failure to meet a particular goal doesn’t impede the plot. But you can also cut yourself off from opportunities — implicitly including opportunities for character advancement through mini-games — by concluding sections of the plot before you intend to. I’ve done a certain amount of backtracking to older saves just to check out what I’ve missed. Arguably this is the wrong way to play the game, and one is better served by playing it through straight multiple times.
The thing that’s really upsetting is when I’m cut out of a plot branch by nothing more than bad timing. This is essentially a turn-based game: time in the gameworld goes in discrete lumps of at least an hour, and sometimes more. The school buildings are only open at certain times of day, as are the buildings in town. There was one sub-plot where I encouraged two shy lovebirds to go to the town library at the same time. Rushing over there afterward to help things along, I was dismayed to discover that I had done this too late in the afternoon, and the library was now closed. This sort of restriction strikes me as a weakness in the game, liable to engender frustration.
On the other hand, the two of them were still in the library when I stopped by the next day. Really important plot events wait for you. But then, isn’t this just another kind of weakness in a timekeeping system?