Saturday, September 04, 2010


Okay, so I’m a terrible nerd, but I can’t help it, some strange games really pull me in. When visiting the Diving Bell Adventure Pub today, I stumbled over a thread about a game other gamers there couldn’t really make their mind up about.

Well, normally the people I meet with in the Pub are gamers like me, mostly casual games these days, but also other stuff, such as ‘real’ RPGs or classical adventures. Quite some of us also have a soft spot for strategy games or time management. “Academagia” doesn’t really fit in any of those categories. It’s an old-fashioned game which looks like an accountant’s delight. Like this:

This is a screenshot I took from the game. You spent most time with the calendar, plotting the week. Attending classes in the morning and afternoon Monday to Friday, then studying or training in the evening (or doing one of the other things you can do after a while, by expanding your knowledge and skills through training).

With my current (second character) I learned about the great powers of bureaucracy. He’s helping the clerks once a week for money, but it’s also a great place to learn about bureaucracy, so he was able to get another student’s allowance cut down by using a bureaucratic manoeuvre that’s not part of the regular schedule. (That guy deserved it, he tried to blackmail my character and told a teacher lies about him to get him into trouble when my character didn’t want to pay.)

You have to balance out between hobbies, friends, training for courses and other things that could come in handy. Oh, not to mention classes and exams (halfway through the year and finals). My character actually did well, no halfway exam under 50, one even at 70 (that’s pretty good, considering you usually don’t get more than 100 or a bit more on the finals).

The game looks good, plays good and is something you can play again and again, because you can do so many different things. Example? Through the character generation alone you have oodles of things to choose from. Something special happened when you were born? What did you do before you went to the Academagia? What family do you come from and what position do you hold there? What familiar do you have? What was passed down to you from friends or relatives? Did you have an adventure or do something special on the trip? And finally: Which college (of five) are you in and what academicals (six out of thirty, some are a must for some colleges) are you going to take?

The game also develops differently every time. You will spent different amounts of time studying, you will train different abilities and you will encounter different random situations. You will make different friends and enemies each time (although you will encounter the same students – a lot of them – and teachers each time).

There’s a lot to do at Academagia as well. Studying and training the character’s abilities are one thing, but you won’t have much fun that way. A character can also make friends (and enemies), go for adventures, shop (provided they’ve gotten enough money), work at the Academagia for money (in various jobs) and do a lot of other things. So you have to set priorities. Do you want the best marks? Then you’ll be spending most spare time studying and training the abilities which are part of the academicals you have taken. (But still take some time with the abilities running under ‘Befriend’ to be able to make successful friends and the ‘Schoolyard Education’ that will help you get along.) Do you want your college to win the cup at the end of the year? Spent a lot of time competing to gain you college merits. Do you want to have a lot of fun? Go on adventures (the game features 100 of those).

Of course, if you don’t spent any time studying or training for your academicals, chances are you will not pass the exams. But you don’t have to get the highest marks, either, as long as you pass. It’s all up to you and to your ideas.

Academagia is a game that can keep you occupied for a long time – if you look behind the old-fashioned gameplay and see it for the life simulation it really is.

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