I’m grouping these two games together because, quite honestly, they are basically the same game, just different stories and settings.
These games are basically about you arriving in a place – in High School Story, you pretty much arrive at a plot of land! – and it’s up to you to try and build the best school / university that you can. So you build dormitories, classrooms / workshops, admission offices, and party rooms and romance rooms. At the same time, you go through stories which can be good stuff, fun stuff, or serious stuff, and you gain experience, money, books (in High School Story only) and rings / diamonds. You can also buy clothes and change hairstyles, etc of all your characters (apart from the All-Stars / A-Listers).
You have a choice of three types of character that you’d like to be. In High School Story, you can a male or female Nerd, Jock, or Prep. In Hollywood U, you can a male / female Movie Star, Fashionista or Director. (And for those that are curious, I’m female (obviously) and a Nerd in High School Story, and Fashionista in Hollywood U). And yes, I’ve put quite a lot of my actual friends in-game. Dunno if they’d agree with the characters I’ve set up for them, but… *grins*
The game is free to download and play, I’m playing it on my Android tablet, and I believe it’s also available on Apple products, if that’s your tablet/mobile of choice. (I don’t judge!) However, there is also quite a lot of all-star characters, or optional storylines that are locked by rings (High School Story) or diamonds (Hollywood U). So, unless you’re willing to spend money to buy those items, you could find yourself locked out of a considerable amount of content. When some of those contents are time-exclusive, that add to the “sell” of the game, if you like.
There are two types of storylines. There are the main storyline, which is the only way you can gain levels, and there are the optional storylines, some of which will cost rings or diamonds, and those are about other incidental matters going on around school or university when you’re not going through the main storyline. Every part of the story is basically showing you a character’s top part of the body – you know, head, arms, torso – and text to read. Which is fine by me. You can see your fellow students walking around the plots you’ve bought, and you can watch them party or standing in the dating area with hearts around them. There are, in all the storylines that I’ve read, no special graphical pictures or anything like that. Which is… fine, I wasn’t really expecting that, but sometimes, it might be nice to actually see pictures of some of the things you do in game. I’m thinking mainly of the Photobooth / Amour sections. My character has been on dates with other students to what sounds like fantastic locations – for example, one date with Autumn in High School Story has her showing you her pictures and taking you to the locations that inspired those pictures. All you do is read the text. It would’ve been really nice if we could actually see those pictures and everything else as well.
When you unlock the dating areas, by the way, you can date any two characters – the game doesn’t stop you from dating same-gender characters, which is really good. Who am I dating in-game? Payton (High School Story), a female Prep main character, and Aria (Hollywood U), a female Celebutante A-Lister character. Oddly enough, I’ve seen blog posts that were matching named characters from one game to those in the other (so for example, Autumn is Addison in High School Story, and vice versa), and Aria is Payton in Hollywood U. So I chose the same character! *hee* I’m nothing if not consistent!
You are basically doing the same thing in both games. In one, you’re a high schooler (obviously!), and you’re building a new rival school to compete with another school, Hearst Academy, which has a reputation for being the best – as long as you’re in the right “group” of people. Their star player in sports, for example, is the son of the principal and so has a lot of say in who plays sports and who’s the only person allowed to be the star, and so on. There’s a bullying culture going on, and you decides that your school is going to be somewhere where everyone is welcome and everyone helps out. Of course!
Natually, that brings you in rivalry with Hearst and there’s a lot of competition between your schools. At least, for the first few levels, anyway. The latest storyline that I’ve just finished is the Pandora storyline – which starts from level 14 or 15, if I remember correctly – so I’m at level 17 at the moment. I imagine I’ve got a lot left to get through before I catch up with the developers! (The developers try to think of something new to add to the main storylines every Friday. They don’t do it all the time, but they are still working on those games)
In Hollywood U, you are a newcomer to the university and (unlike High School Story), for some reason it’s up to you to build up the university. Even though you’re just a student there, and part of the story is about you being under risk of getting kicked out of university. Go figure!
Anyway… Hollywood U, unlike High School Story, does cover slightly more mature content. I’m not saying you’re going to see sex and all that, but sometimes you do have a bit of drink (in game) and stuff like that. Currently, there, I’m on level 31, which is part of the way through the Silver Circle storyline.
Personally, I really like it, I love playing through the games, and reading what happens and everything else. And I think, for a free game, you do get quite a lot of items – you can party and get every type of normal character there is in the game. Only the All-Stars requires rings / diamonds. You can get free rings or diamonds, but it will take you a long time to get enough to afford some of those.
I do have some problems, though… Like I say, you can party and get pretty much any time of character without having to spend rings or diamonds, but… There are some very rare characters in High School Story that will take you ages to actually get them. I remember I had to keep partying the same two to try and get a female Hip-Hop. Took me the best part of a month before I finally got one. That is a massive joke, quite honestly. I got a horrible feeling it’s going to be the same before I get a Male Heartthrob…
Hollywood U is considerably easier – in the list of characters that I still need to get, I’ve got 6 left in total. At least, until level 38, it seems. But Hollywood U is very stingy with money. I was stuck saving up to get enough to buy a plot of land for over a week at one time. I even bought a new Workshop so I could level up two characters at once, and that’s helping. High School Story is better with money, oddly enough!
You do have to wait quite some time for everything to finish – some parties takes over a day before they finish and you find out who you got, some plots are now taking a week before you can buy them, and there some storylines that you’ve got to wait a day before they get completed. Again, I know that’s just so you might get persuaded to rush their completion by spending rings / diamonds. Still… Doesn’t bother me. I can just do it in the morning before work, and in the evening before I go to sleep, and work around those times.
But like I say, the main problem that I have with the game is that really, you are basically only reading text for storylines. Sometimes, it really would be nice to actually see graphics – still pictures, whatever – of what’s going on. Say you’ve gone out camping with friends, while reading the text, have the background of a campsite at night or whatever.
You also cannot change what your character actually is. If I had the choice, once I’d unlocked it, I would’ve changed my character to something more appropriate for me – for example, I’d be a Writer in High School Story.
Another thing that I would’ve liked is the ability to go back and re-read some of what you’ve done in the past, especially if you’ve spent rings or diamonds on these.
Still, while the downsides does knock down the rating a little bit, it’s still immensely enjoyable to me. I’d definitely recommend it!