About a year ago Skool Daze was released and was a highly acclaimed game. Back to Skool has you once more playing the part of the mischievous Eric, and is a follow on from the last game. The object of Skool Daze was to steal your terrible school report; now a new term has started, you have spent the hols forging a glowing report for yourself, and must sneak it back into the headmaster's safe.
A couple of years ago your big brother encountered the same problem and he has very generously lent you his copy of the School rules, on which he has scribbled a few notes in invisible ink. Holding the paper over a fire made from the swot's cap reveals some hints on how you can go about achieving your task - and Microsphere have kindly printed them on the cassette inlay to help you get started.
On loading the game a 10 second countdown commences and if you press a key during this time then you can select from the joystick options or alter the names of the characters in the game. Once you have finished this, then the game itself starts with you in the playground controlling Eric.
As might be expected, Eric is still a true Menace and much use of catapult, stink bomb and water pistol is required to progress through the game - you start off with the catty, but will have to find other weapons en route. Teachers roam the corridors and classrooms, always eager to dish out lines and generally be obstructive. While you don't have lives as such, collect too many lines and the game ends.
Over the holidays, a few building alterations have been completed. There is now an assembly hall where the Headmaster puts the whole school in detention etc. Also the science room has expanded and it is from here that frogs are obtained - very useful in the Girls School down the road! You have to venture into the other school in order to get the key to the safe. In this game you also have a girlfriend: appropriately enough, you have a kiss option... There's also a bike available, which starts off locked to a tree - a bit of teacher torturing is needed to collect the combination to the lock, but once the bike's free you can cycle around performing a range of stunts.
One of the most innovative features in both Skool Daze and Back to Skool is the way in which you have to interact with other characters in order to complete the game. Eric has the ability to punch other school chums (including the girls) as well as walk, jump, ride the bike and write on blackboards. In order to complete your tasks you inevitably have to 'bunk' off lessons, which can mean the Swot telling on you and thus a lot more lines - but then if you are extra nice to your girlfriend then she might do some of them for you. A status block at the bottom of the screen lets you know your score so far, the number of lines you've collected and the high score so far. As you enter classrooms they are identified for you via a message at the bottom of the screen. Calls for assembly, playtime and other hallmarks of the school day also appear for your guidance.
Control keys: Q/A up and down, O/P left and right, F fire catapult, C catch mouse/frog, D/U drop stink bomb, G shoot water pistol, H hit/punch, J/L jump/ leap, M mount bicycle, R release mouse, S sit/stand, T throw away water pistol, W write
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor and Interface 2
Keyboard play: lots of keys but they are very responsive
Use of colour: very good with few attribute problems
Graphics: excellent characters plus detailed backgrounds
Sound: not a lot, but it is used reasonably well
Lives: after gaining 10,000 lines you are expelled
Screens: scrolling playing area
'Skool Daze was one of the best games of 1984 and I'm sure it would still be a hit if it was released today. Back to Skool continues the formula but extra dimension has been added to the game. This game is very playable from the word go but it takes a lot of practice and a lot of time to get anywhere. As for the graphics, they live up to the standards set by Skool Daze, indeed they have been improved upon and the extra playing area makes it a delight to look at. This is a very involving and tough arcade adventure, yet it's very simple to actually play. Overall it is a fantastic game that is well worth the asking price.'
'I thought Skool Daze was a fine game on the Spectrum and it's one that still 'perplexes' garners a year after its release. The sequel sees a much improved 'skool' with more detailed classes and pupils and better scrolling, The game also has a girls' 'skool' which works really well in relationship to the plot. Back to Skool is the sort of game which you can play many times and 'mess about' with just to find out what you can do. You're supplied with plenty of armament - water pistols, stink bombs, catties and the like which are essential parts of the game. I really loved this game. Go out and buy it.'
'Though a little overdue (a year overdue to be precise) Back to Skool certainly proves itself as a worthy successor to Skool Daze. Despite the initial similarities between the original and follow up you soon realise that Back to Skool has far greater depth than its predecessor. Some of the problems and solutions will require a great deal of thought indeed. The graphics are just as effective as the original - in fact the backdrops have been improved. Microsphere have come up with a winner here, helping old crumblies like me to remember the best days of their lives. Well worth a look.'
Rachael Oh God, 'orrible Eric's back! Why they didn't expel him at the end of last year I'll never know - he makes that Adrian Mole of 4C look like a saint. But he didn't end his Skool Daze when he stole his report and now he has to sneak it back into the headmaster's safe. That's not just a question of catching masters with a crafty catapult either. Oh no, the alterations to the building have made life a whole tot more difficult and he's even saying he'll come over here into the girl's school. And do you think that the threat of lines from our headmaster will stop him? No! He'll just suck up to his girlfriend and get her to do them.
The reason he's coming over here is because the key to the headmaster's safe hangs round the headmistress's neck..., and well be gossipping about that behind the bike sheds, I can tell you! But the spotty little Rambo is well armed and he thinks it's funny to release a frog or a mouse here.
That boys school still looks like an ant colony and all the old masters, ugly as paintings, are back trying to keep Eric where he should be. Only Eric has to get the bike and get the teachers drunk and to do that he's got to get our headmistress's sherry - which gives him even less time for studying than before.
I've always found Eric a bit uncontrollable and there are times when he seems to be going his own sweet way. And the masters are as bad as ever. They don't give you time to move before dishing out even more lines, which might mean that Eric's education comes to an abrupt end. But on the whole I'm sure he'll live to try again, and a lot of people won't be sorry.
I will though. You see, I only know so much about Eric because.... yes, I'm his girlfriend. And if he asks me to write out any more lines I think I'll hand him over to the head myself.
A gem of a game which almost defies categorisation. As Eric the rebellious schoolboy you have to bash up your pals, bowl over your teachers and release frogs in the neighbouring girls' school. Terrifically funny, with packets of clever puzzles. Down wiv skool!
ERIC'S BACK again for a new term at school, and the catapult bullets are flying as thick as ever. In Skooldaze, Eric had to steal his rotten report from the Headmaster's safe. Now he's had all summer to forge a new, glowing version. The problem is, how to get it back in the safe again.
Over the break, there've been a few changes at school. The same old masters, Mr Wacker, Mr Withit, Mr Rockitt, and doddery old Mr Creek still dish out the lines as angrily as ever, but the school has been considerably enlarged. There's a girls' school on the other side of the playground, and Eric's got a girlfriend of his own.
And as well as the catapults and good old fistfights, Eric has access to stink bombs and water pistols to create his own special mayhem. All his old friends are there, such as Angelface the bully and Einstein the sneaky swot, and it's as big a riot as the original Skooldaze.
The task of getting the report back in the safe would be impossible if it wasn't for Eric's big brother, who has thoughtfully provided notes on how he achieved the same feat two years ago. It seems you've got to get the masters drunk on the Headmistress' private sherry in order to reveal the combination for the science storeroom where the frogs are kept.
"The gurls' hedmistris hates frogs" says Eric's brother. So nobble the old bat with the frog and... ah, but you can't do that unless you have the bike, and the bike's chained to the conker tree, so you'll need to get Mr Wacker to open a window by letting off a stinkbomb...
The graphics are fabulous, still the same cartoon-like boys and masters lurking in the corridors, the same melee at dinner, the same scramble for seats in overcrowded classrooms. But there's more variety on top of that - a much larger playing area, horrible little girls with hockey sticks, an impressive array of impedimenta in Mr Rockitt's laboratory, desks that open now to reveal water pistols and stink bombs, and so on.
Although it's extremely difficult to get far into the quest, that won't stop you having a good time. It's fun just trying to stay out of trouble - if you get ten thousand lines you're expelled, and what with the fighting and time- tables to be reckoned with, you're hard enough pressed just to get to your History lesson on time, or make it back to assembly from the forbidden classrooms of the girls' school. Microsphere has taken pity on Eric though - he might persuade his girlfriend to help him out with the lines.
Meanwhile there's Einstein's incredible knowledge of dates to envy, Angelface's knockout fists to avoid, and lots of incidental mayhem to raise a laugh from spectators as well as players.
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
It seemed Microsphere didn't want us to review this game. Requests for a review copy fell on deaf ears. Still we went out and bought a copy to find out if Microsphere could follow their mini-hit of last year, Skooldaze.
At first glance Back to Skool looks very familiar.
But exploring further into the game you discover there's a bit more to Back to Skool. The scenario goes like this. You managed to steal your school report during the last days of term and spent the whole holiday forging teachers' signatures to make yourself look really smart, sweet and helpful. All you've got to do is get the report back to the Headmaster's safe without anyone finding out.
All the old teachers featured in Skooldaze are back, plus the bullies, swots and other pupils you came to love in the original game. You can change the names of all the characters if you wish, at the start of the game.
In Back to Skool you aren't limited to the interior of your school like the first game. You can actually get out into the playing fields or pay a visit to the nearby girls' school to let the odd mouse cause chaos. Mice and frogs play a big part in this sequel!
Like Skooldaze you must avoid getting too many lines - given by the teachers and the Head if you're found doing something you ought not to be. Get over 10,000 and you're expelled.
Also, like Skooldaze, the teachers speak to you in speech bubbles - when they give lines or ask questions.
You can explore the three floors of both schools at will.
You are armed with a catapult - and can find other "weapons' by searching through desks in both establishments. Water pistols and stink bombs are useful.
The graphics are not bad and the animation of the characters is pretty good - although the game does tend to stop dead for a couple of seconds when instructions - which appear in the box at the bottom of the screen - appear.
There's more to Back to Skool than meets the eye. If you were a fan of Skooldaze you'll enjoy this follow-up.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB