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Going Back to the Best and Worst Schools in Video Games

Zarnyx and Peter Tieryas

"School's Out for Summer" are the rockin' lyrics that will be relevant again in May and June of 2015. As kids are gearing up to head back to those hallowed halls of higher education, or wallowing in self-pity at their desks as we speak, here are some of video games' best and worst classrooms and schools that heroes and NPCs alike have had to endure.

Archaeology, Tea and Puzzles at Gressenheller University in The Professor Layton Series


Located in who-knows-what-century-or-alternate-reality London, Gressenheller University is home to one of the most brilliant, renowned archaeologists in the world. Not much is known about the course work offered at Gressenheller, or the other professors for that matter. However, I have come to the conclusion that admittance may be as simple as assisting Dean Delmona in solving one of his granddaughter's puzzles. Also, the good Professor Layton is often off traveling in his pursuit of adventure surrounding various archaeological mysteries of the world. So chances are you will become very well-acquainted with substitutes. ...Save your picarats to attend another University.

Soaring in Skyloft's Knight Academy in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Skyloft is a beautiful place. A little bit too high up in the clouds for anyone's liking, but who needs to worry when passing the Wing Ceremony will allow responsible knights to ride on the backs of some really, hideous bird like creatures called Loftwings. Oh, calm down. They're gentle, good-natured and brightly coloured wonders of the sky! I still stand by the fact that they're kinda ugly in the face, but that's not the point! It's still a pretty cool school. It's not without its problems though. For one, it's overrun by the mean kids who are destined to become your friends (frenemies are just the best, aren't they?). There's also the little problem of the ghostly hand in the bathroom facilities asking to spare a square. And of course, the girl you really like also happens to be the daughter of the Headmaster of the academy. Which, shouldn't be a problem, necessarily...right?

MY Final Fantasy VIII School, Balamb Garden, Can Fly. And Yours?


Who wants to be a member of SeeD? Apply now to the Balamb Garden military academy where your final exam will be an assignment to infiltrate an invading country in a plot as convoluted as your classmate Squall's bad attitude (unless you're into that kind of thing in which case, it's perfect). As far as schools go, Balamb Garden is pretty amazing. It has a unique training facility where a T-Rexaur can bust up your party, in the name of learning, of course. There's also fights against fire demons like Ifrit as part of your initiation. Plus, Balamb Garden flies, making for a unique field trip experience. Really that's all the reason you need for cool school bragging rights.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2's St. Ivalice's Taught Me How to Use Magic, School Unnecessary


"This summer I'm going to play video games non-stop, get my warrior to level 75, and oversleep in the morning." When I was at school, I used to spend all my free time in the libraries. One day, I found a thick tome with pictures of swords and wizards. I wrote my name in it and got transported to a world called Ivalice where I became a 2D sprite and fought a Crushatrice. I learned how to use magic so that I no longer needed to go to school. Instead, I wrote all my adventures in a Grimoire of the Rift which was sold to a multinational corporation and branded into a franchise so that I am now a millionaire and a magician too. That's my final and only fantasy come true.

Cheating 101: The Star Trek: Star Fleet Academy | Klingon Academy Way


There's an easy way to pass the Kobayashi Maru without cheating. Just change the time continuum by blowing up Klingon using red matter in a time jump before the ship hit gravitic mines and got stuck in the Neutral Zone. The Klingons wouldn't exist rendering the whole situation moot. On the other hand, you could go to Klingon Academy started by General Chang and face the Klingon version of the test. In that scenario, you'd ask the Borg to jump back in time and send their Borg Cube to assimilate Earth instead of attacking in the present like they did in Star Trek: First Contact (instead of going back in time after their entire Cube was destroyed). In both scenarios, you'd pass the test with flying colors.

Hints at Education? Or Just Classroom Drama? Probably the latter in Tomodachi Life


Moving into apartments, hanging out with friends while playing the Wii U, or just chilling out at the fountain with your guitar and a few fans is all good. But sometimes, these interactions can lead to something a little more and those pesky romantic feelings might start getting in the way. Confessions of love can happen anywhere—at the park, at the tower, on the beach and my personal favourite, in the classroom. That's right. Even as an adult, moved out and on your own, what better way to express your interest in someone by telling them in an empty classroom? Hey, it's not as though adults do not seek higher learning either (as we should because knowledge is power and we could always use a little more). But I have serious suspicions about this classroom setting in Tomodachi Life. Where is it exactly considering there is no school on the island? Are we only using it to confess feelings in a symbolic display of first love, high school sweethearts and after-school activities? Whatever the case may be, this phantom classroom has left many broken hearts from countless rejection scenarios; and many hearts a-flutter.

Education in Danganronpa? Psh. More Like Murder's Afoot at Hope's Peak Academy


If there's anything television and novels have taught us, it's that lottery systems to be 'a chosen one' probably results in a trial of murderous proportions. If murder is not the curriculum you wish to study, you may want to reconsider attendance at Hope's Peak Academy. Living in the school forever could be that option you're looking for but who's to say your fellow classmates wouldn't want to graduate? And when graduation could involve your life being on the line, well… good luck!

The Dreadmaster Roll Call at Swinedimples Academy in Dragon Quest IX


Old School takes on the meaning you always thought it would. Teaching methods include being schooled by the ghost of the school's founding father. A ghost who really just wants the best for the failing Swinedimples by doling out strict punishment to whip students into shape! Sir Sternivus Swinedimples may have turned to a demon Dreadmaster in order to do so, but really it's just that he cares so much. A fygg may have also been responsible for the transformation but that's neither here nor there. All that really matters is that learning in the dungeon full of poisonous rooms and musty books from an ancient library teaches new students at Swinedimples to pay attention. Or else.

The Shadows at Gekkoukan High School are Creepy in Persona 3


If there was a solid reason to not attend high school, Persona 3 would be your doctor's note. Of course, that note would read: Please excuse this child. Trauma from events during the Dark Hour has led her to have an extreme phobia of shadows. Okay, so maybe that would lead to some serious questions about your doctor's ability to practice medicine. But you'd know. You'd know that Gekkoukan is a pretty average high school during the day—full of wonderful after-school programs and problems, that one French foreign exchange student, and some pretty cute classmates. But when the Dark Hour descended, that's when your high school would reveal itself to be the nightmare it truly is! A twisted structure. Shadow monsters. Blood-stained halls. But how to sell that story when everyone else is oblivious? Guess you'd just have to suck it up and go there.

Oh wait! Your excuse to get out of it all could be that you were at the receiving end of improper (albeit inadvertent) conduct on the part of one of the school's faculty, when all you were trying to do was play an MMO on your days off.


Demon Baby Classmates at Midwich Elementary School in Silent Hill


Do you remember kindergarten? Was it a little like the school in the film, Kindergarten Cop starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? Were there subconscious projections of your greatest terrors and fears, distorted by corrugated walls and corpses in the toilet stalls? How about killer babies with knives, teachers named after members of Sonic Youth, and a health notice that "Hell is coming" in the reception area? It gives new meaning to that old book title, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (the Silent Hill version is very, very different).


Santa Destroy High School: The Place for Assassins and No More Heroes


In a school where a part of the motto is "only the strongest survive", Santa Destroy is as tough as they come. There's also that decaying former school house on the property —condemned, unsafe and easily accessible—that is probably filled with all sorts of health hazards and ready to collapse on the heads of inquisitive students. Additionally, there's the minor issue that being a student there could also run you the risk of being murdered by your assassin classmate. Man, as if high school is not hard enough as is…

Toughen Up at River City High in River City Ransom


High school can be tough, especially with cliques like "The Jocks," "The Squids," "The Generic Dudes," and gang leaders who will kidnap your girlfriend. Fortunately, River City Ransom teaches students two important lessons. One, violence solves all problems. Beat people up, take their money, upgrade your powers, or chill with some conger eel sushi from the dimes you purloined from your fallen rivals. Two, the power of reading is incredible. Read a book to master martial arts like Dragon Feet and Karma Jolt, something the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took a cue from. The enemy response to a foot in their mouth? "Barf!"

Who's the Number One Bully at Bullworth Academy?


Who to trust when your "friends" throw you under a bus to assume power for themselves? After all the hard work you put in and gained the respect of every group too. All of these warring factions really show that love isn't a battlefield, but love of power sure is. The gorgeous architectural design and all that money pumped into the boarding school really helps to cover up the grimy, underhanded behavior of your typical school cliques. Well, it tries to anyway.

Zombies Rule at San Romero High School in Lollipop Chainsaw


That normal California sun sure heats up that abnormal zombie flesh. It probably makes things smell a whole lot worse. Roaming the halls of San Romero High School to get away from it all is probably not going to help much when your classmates have all turned to zombies. Your best bet? Be a popular kid and befriend the cutest cheerleader, Juliet Starling. Though, a fair warning would be to not get too close because she's been known to go to extremes to save the ones she loves. Just ask her boyfriend's head, Nick. Hm. On second thought, something tells me staying far away from San Romero High School might be for the best.

School: Good For Learning, Better for Skating. So Says Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2


I've never been able to skateboard and have scarred knees and wrists as proof. All my fellow students could board, do tricks, and impress each other with their prowess. I hadn't thought of school as an obstacle course to grind on, do flips, and jump off quarter pipes. The winner scored the most points. Even if I lost, I never minded because Tony Hawk reminded me that life was a matter of experience, talent, guts, and luck, but if you lacked those, good finger reflexes was all you really needed to score that hidden DVD bonus.

  • Zarnyx terrorized her college roommate by playing "Aerith's Theme" on repeat. She still does it to this day whenever they meet. She can be found on TAY, and TAY Classic - handing out TAY Tutorials like Off-Campus Party Fliers.
  • Peter Tieryas nearly flunked high school because he was playing videogames. He writes about classes he wish he'd gone to at tieryas.wordpress.com

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