Sunday, 8 February 2015

Video Games High School: The ultimate training grounds

This was a wired bit of curiosity for me. I first saw this at a gaming event, gave it a look... one week later I was caught up waiting for the next episode of the second season (bypassing my old school's proxy in the process as it had some stupid limitations...). I don't usually watch High School Drama's as when I think of those words in the same sentence, bad memories of some of my sister's favorite shows and movies return... But unlike those, this does have some actual effort in it, especially considering it was just a small cast and crew working on it. But for now, with the final season completed, time to review Video Games High School.

While I don't do direct copy and pastes normally, this pretty much summarizes the plot:

"The series is set in the near future where video gaming elevates its best players to stardom by its position as the world's most popular competitive sport. Video Game High School (VGHS) is an elite and prestigious facility that teaches a curriculum of video games of all genres. The show's protagonist, BrianD, gains entry to the school after unwittingly defeating "The Law", an international first-person shooter star, on live television. The show follows BrianD and the friends and enemies he makes at the school, playing on standard tropes of school dramas with a video game backdrop. The show uses live-action scenes with the characters to show action within the games. The games depicted are inventions of the show, with the first-person shooter depicted named Field of Fire."

That pretty much is the set up for the three seasons as again, its a High School Drama. But one of the things I like about it is that all the characters have a "tong and cheek" aspect to them. You know they're stereotypes, they know these characters are stereotypes and they mock them for it, in comparison to some other shows where its all done with a straight face, just using generic laughter sound effects to tell you that it was supposed to be a joke. The Law and Drift King (should note, most of the characters are known by online names) are gloriously over the top and as such are two of my favorite characters, ShotBot is what C-3PO wishes to be and Freddie Wong (who does play "himself", but I honestly don't care, I love it when projects do these)... I'm just going to quote again: He is a world-famous rhythm gaming expert, teaches rhythm gaming at VGHS, and is the father of Ted Wong. In Season 3, Episode 4 he is killed off after he has a collision while riding his motorbike without a helmet. According to Ted, Freddie had no idea how to ride a motorbike." That should tell you how much of a played up ego the character has in this. The main cast, while I don't think are as comical, do still give a great performance, though their comedy comes from the situation, not the characters themselves. BrianD is the generic "wrong place at wrong time" character, making the bad decisions ect ect. Ki Swan is the generic control freak, Ted's the generic best friend, but makes bad decisions and you get the point from there. I honestly think the main cast are the worst part of this purely because of how generic they are. Again, their comedy comes from the situation, not the character.

Speaking of the situations, how do you make watching people play video games in this show interesting? By putting them in the actual games. Quite often, the characters would be in a game, obviously based on a specific, real game and using the animation and visual effects that look amazing for a project like this, even better then some multimillion dollar projects out there, to bring the games to life. Field of Fire is a parody of Call of Duty (but without the... questionable fanbase), Street Fighter, Minecraft, Mario Kart, Need for Speed (maybe?), the Pokemon Trading Card Game, Dance Dance Revolution, World of Warcraft and more, its even to a point where its a game in itself just spotting all the Video Game parodies in it. And they all look great. The settings, which are all live as far as I can tell, I don't see any obvious green screen use, look great from the campus to the in game worlds, you can tell that these were shot spesifically to showcase the world and the characters equally.

For a few short seasons of a online show, as a comedy, VGHS is brilliant because unlike other High School Drama's, its actually funny and doesn't need to tell you when its trying to be funny. You can probably marathon all the episodes in a day, they're that short, but unlike something like Ballard of the Crystal Empire, it doesn't need to be any longer. The finale ends on a satisfying note, no one unintentionally overstays their welcome and everything is, for the most part addressed. If you're looking for a time killer, watch some episodes, see if you like them. I'll embed the first episode at the bottom of this post for those who are curious, but for now, I need to wrap up the "week of fan projects" with Harmony of Heroes. See ya of Friday

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