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Video Game / High School Story

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It's the first day...

High School Story is a 2013 Android and iOS game which allows the player to build a high school to attend. It's developed by Pixelberry, the creators of Surviving High School (with which it also shares a universe and several characters). The player creates a student and then helps direct the development of the school by building classrooms, purchasing books, and admitting more students. Quests can be completed to upgrade the school, help out a fellow classmate, or just advance the plot.

At its heart, High School Story is a Breeding Simulation Game that uses the same mechanics as games like Dragon City or Skytopia or even some aspects of Monster Rancher, though the trappings are different: instead of breeding two creatures to combine their types, two students will throw a party and will meet a new student dependent upon which clique they belong to. Instead of spending a few hours warming the egg in a hatchery, the new student must spend a few hours filling out forms in the admission office.

The game now has a spinoff called Hollywood U where your character there is a student at an acting school, and a Visual Novel Broad Strokes sequel (explained in game as a potential future), High School Story, as part of Pixelberry's Choices collection.

On August 10, 2022, the game finally shut down after 9 years, with in-app purchases disabled on July 20.

High School Story contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Zig-Zagged. While you can have members of the student government, they themselves are not very powerful. You, on the other hand, seem to be the entire board of education condensed into one little teen.
  • Adults Are Useless: Two teenagers in a parking lot are entirely capable of starting a school on their own. It just builds from there.
    • When Hope is bullied on her school's website, the principal demands that she show proof of the bullying before he will do anything. This despite the fact that it's the school's website and he should be more than capable of accessing the public pages where other students were posting about her. There's also the fact that it went on publicly for months and absolutely no teachers or moderators took notice.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Your musician gets subjected to this from the other students after a music test results in the school's power being knocked out at an extremely inconvenient time for a number of active school clubs at that very moment.
    • Your hacker falls victim to this after it's revealed that they used their skills to, among other things, alter Wes' grade to an A (which Wes is pissed about because he didn't earn the grade himself) and adjusted Principal Warren's flight plan to get him to spend time with Mia (which your main character points out is a sensitive issue for Mia).
    • Your main character also gets this treatment during the Ace storyline thanks to some skilled manipulation on Ace's part, to get your school and the district council against you.
  • Aloof Ally: Sakura and Wes both start out this way.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kara of Hearst and Lacey of Athena.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: One ring-purchased quest series has the students go on a field trip to Magic Funland, an obvious Expy of Disneyland, complete with appearances by beloved childhood character Mikey the Magic Moose. However, Disney also exists in the HSS universe, because it’s been explicitly mentioned by Payton and Julian on separate occasions.
    Wes: (upon learning of the spooky ride in Magic Funland) So it’s like a haunted mansion?
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: For leveling the player character and non-main characters up to 4, 7, and 10. Inverted when you need to buy specific clothes for certain quests.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Some quests can take as long as 24 hours to complete, collection of books from the Classrooms can take up to 23 hours, and unlocking of plots to expand your school can take as long as a week or longer. In other words, unless you're willing to waste Rings and real money to speed up the completion time for these things, you have no excuse not to actually live in the real world.
  • Becoming the Mask: In the auto club quest, the main character infiltrates the club to help Autumn with an article for the school newspaper, but ends up developing a love for cars and real friendships with the auto club members.
  • Beta Bitch: Mia, at Hearst High. When she transfers to your school, she becomes a Former Friend of Alpha Bitch.
  • Black and Nerdy: You can naturally make your own nerds black, Ambiguously Brown, or Asian and Nerdy as you please.
  • Book Ends: The game starts with Autumn and the main character holding a conversation right when you're preparing to start accessorizing your school, with Autumn saying that you can make it the best school ever. The game's final quest, "The Perfect Day," ends with you and Autumn having a conversation as you head into school for another day of classes, expressing optimism about what the future has in store.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point, someone will mention that they've been playing a mobile game where you manage your own school.
    Payton: It's so meta!
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: You can spend real-world cash to increase your amount of Coins, Books, Pencils and Rings to breeze through the game much more quickly.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Some quests require you and your classmates to wear specific outfits before you can start. You can easily change them back.
  • Characterization Marches On: In Surviving High School, Autumn was an all-around artist, but her true passion and specialty was photography. Here, however, she's almost always shown painting and her photography skills are rarely brought up anymore.
  • Clear My Name: After you and your classmates are caught with fireworks in your parade float, you go on a lengthy and dangerous quest to find the true culprit, who actively thwarts your efforts at every step.
  • Competition Freak: Sakura, big time. Not only does she play (and own) pretty much every game ever, but when Payton did a magazine quiz about high school experiences, Sakura became extremely disgruntled when she realized others had more "points" than her for doing things like throwing a Wild Teen Party or making out in class. She immediately ropes the player into helping her rack up these points.
  • Costume Porn: A lot of the outfits you can unlock and purchase, for both male and female students, are gorgeous. That also includes some of the outfits specific to certain student types.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Sakura just happens to always have a video-game token with her in case she needs to use it as a makeshift screwdriver while sneaking through air-vents. Likewise, Julian just happens to always carry a snail around with him to use as a tool in a game of Truth or Dare.
  • Crossover: With Hollywood U Rising Stars, with which it shares the same universe. In October 2015, it had one with Monster High.
  • Cross Player: Sakura played as Male!Shepard and romanced Tali.
  • Curse Cut Short: During one main-story quest where Sakura has to deal with some sexist online gamers with whom she's sharing a guild, this exchange occurs:
    Sakura: Now pull back, BromegaMan! They’re trying a final push!
    BromegaMan: No way! I’m not running away like a little GIRL!
    Sakura: I said PULL BACK!
    BromegaMan: And I said NO, you stupid b— (interrupted by the in-game war-horn)
  • Cyberbullying: The game features a quest line called "Hope's Story" about cyberbullying. The Cybersmile Foundation is referenced in the quest.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several side-quests, including ring-purchased quests, focus on certain members of the main cast, and of course the personal help-quests for your classmates showcase the issues they have to contend with and that your main character has to help them resolve. It's not just limited to your school, either, as "Hope's Story" focuses on Julian's sister Hope and her having to deal with cyber-bullying, and "Hearst School Story" has you experience a day in Max's life from his point of view.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Several times during your movie star student's help-quest, it's revealed that Hollywood has made them extremely Wrong Genre Savvy about a number of the typical high school expectations. Among other things, the movie star removes a nerd student's glasses while expecting the nerd to suddenly become extremely hot, only for the nerd to be Blind Without 'Em.
    Nerd: Crazy as this sounds, some people wear glasses TO SEE.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Mia had to learn the hard way why she wouldn't immediately be popular at your school. Kara also seems to be defrosting hard, actually being civil to your friends when she breaks up with Max.
  • Developer's Foresight: While it's certainly possible to pair any two students together as a couple, an exception is made for siblings Talia and Tariq—if you're selecting one of them to be part of a couple, when you're going to select the other half of the couple, the other sibling will be blocked from selection.
    • Santa can't date anyone because he's older than any student.
  • Detention Episode: In the Lockdown quest, you and your classmates are subject to detention after being caught with fireworks in your float. Detention is portrayed as mind-numbingly boring, but it's trivial compared to the punishment you face when your attempts to prove your innocence are thwarted.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: In her introductory quest, Janey tries to keep the main characters and Max from lingering too long around a certain section of the local woods where the Gloombrute, a local Bigfoot-like creature, is said to have attacked a campsite. Actually, it's because she doesn't want them to know her family's mansion is located nearby—she's Secretly Wealthy and not happy about it.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Sakura first appears when you first meet Nishan, then disappears for quite a while until the story requires her to be recruited.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: During the Expelled quest after you've been expelled from your own school, while lunching at Hearst High's cafeteria, the main character is given the cold shoulder by all the school's cliques and ends up having to eat in a bathroom stall.
  • Egg Sitting: One of the time sensitive quests has the player character and their significant other do this for home ec.
  • Epic Fail: Autumn's attempt to play Legend of Clan Craft ends this way. She singlehandedly kills her entire team and seems very confused by the fact that there are no ducks in the game.
    • Your attempts to expose Razor for planting fireworks on your float in The Mastermind end this way. You not only get kicked out of your own school, but all of the evidence you collected is discredited.
  • Escalating War: One quest sees your main character helping Calvin and the Band Club in their prank war against the Orchestra Club. You mess with the Orchestra Club's music sheets right before they're scheduled to have a practice session...they retaliate by stealing the Band Club members' shoes right before the latter group is to play at half-time...then both groups try to play their respective sets of music louder and louder to drown out each other...and the music blend ends up being so harmonious that both sides temporarily call a truce and finish the music in style.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Ezra's "smoulder" apparently works on Julian even when he's targeting the cute Heartthrob across the dance floor.
  • The Everyman: The player character, obviously, since they are based on you. They still don't really follow the stereotype of their chosen clique though.
  • Everyone Is Bi: You can pair up any two students and send them on a date. This includes NPCs who may canonically have a straight crush.
    • Katherine is the closest thing to a definite canon example. She used to have a thing with Zero, but also has a lot of flirty scenes with Mia in later levels. After Katherine joins your school, if you have her date Mia, they will almost immediately be acknowledged as a couple in a main story quest.
    • At the Fantasy Photo Booth, all of the canon characters will date your character, regardless of gender.
  • Experience Points: There are two sets of experience points you can earn. In-game, you fill up the experience bar at the top of the screen by completing main-story quests; in terms of the Google Play-Store, you can get experience through this game by completing specific achievements (for example, leveling a Nerd to Level 10 gives you 500 XP in the Play-Store).
  • Fallen Princess: When Mia helps you out because she thinks her fellow cheerleaders' pranks have gone too far, the others ditch her. She transfers to your school and has to learn how to actually be nice to people in order to become popular again, instead of just assuming that everyone will automatically love her.
  • Food Fight: On a few occasions, one of these will break out in the school cafeteria for one reason or another. During a main-story quest, Julian deliberately triggers one of these to distract Professor Edwin while the main character sneaks into her office to get some important materials.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • The Auto Club help quest is not really a "help quest" as compared to every other help quest. Instead, you are trying to learn more about the club for a newspaper article.
    • The Goth isn't the one who needs help resolving an issue; your friends question the Goth's gloomy style and try to get them to try things.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Autumn and Sakura, and this is brought up in a quest when they have to do a project together, as while they hang out with a lot of the same group of friends, they don't necessarily do it at the same time. They are two very different people and the quest is all about reconciling those differences.
  • Fun with Homophones: Causes some trouble between Nishan and Payton in the Pi Day quest, where Nishan wants to celebrate the titular mathematics-themed day, but Payton misinterprets it as a celebration of pie (i.e. the pastry), which isn't helped by neither of them outright explaining what they mean. While the misunderstanding eventually gets cleared up at the end of the quest, Nishan then starts talking about throwing a possible party to discover the origin of genes (genetics), which Payton proceeds to think is referring to jeans (clothing).
    Main character: Oh boy...
  • Geek Reference Pool: The pool is fairly wide, as expected from the devs, but the way the questing system works, all your Nerds are interested in all facets of nerdery. Except if your main character is a Nerd, in which case you'll be surprisingly ignorant of a lot of things.
  • Gender-Inclusive Writing: Instead of making sure students are referred to with the appropriate pronouns, the game just avoids saying "he" or "she" entirely. This is important especially when someone is referring to their ex, as the game has no way of knowing if you believe a certain created student is entirely straight, gay, or bi, even if they are currently dating someone.
  • Genki Girl: Payton, big time.
  • Girl Posse: The cheerleaders of Hearst High.
  • Heel–Face Turn: You'll be recruiting a lot of students from Hearst High, though how much of a heel they originally were does vary quite a lot. In the case of Autumn and Payton, they were nice people to begin with, they just had to be convinced to (or in Autumn's case, convince her dad to let her) transfer to your school. Probably the biggest case is Mia, who was the Beta Bitch of Hearst before she developed a conscience and turned against them, including her Jerkass brother, Max.
    • Although she doesn't transfer, Kara becomes a better person to a degree and starts hanging out with the main characters, although she still has some questionable morals and only Nishan initially trusts her.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You get to name your main character whatever you want at the start of the game, and you can also change the names of the non-main-character students at any time.
  • Heroic BSoD: A couple of times, across different quests.
    • During the Pandora storyline, Nishan becomes almost like a walking zombie after Pandora manipulates him, Sakura and your main character into missing the CAT exams, which he'd spent a good deal of time trying to prepare your school to take.
    • Again during the Pandora storyline, Autumn breaks down sobbing on your main character's shoulder when Pandora steals Autumn's mother's locket, then returns it in pieces despite you fulfilling the villain's requests to get it back.
    • In the Ace storyline, your main character has an emotional breakdown outside the entrance to City Hall when the school district council elects to shut down your school, through Ace's manipulation.
    • This sometimes happens in some of the quests to help different students. For instance, your Homecoming student will BSOD at the realization that their efforts to make Homecoming more exciting have only alienated your school's students, something that had also happened at their previous school; while your mascot will freak out during an important game against another school when their mascot showcases a video of your mascot's earlier humiliating failures at performing gymnastic stunts.
    • In the Expelled quest, almost all of the main characters BSOD once they're expelled from your school.
  • Hidden Depths: Several of the main characters, and even a few of the villains.
    • Autumn, in addition to being very artistic, is also revealed to be very athletic.
    • Payton, who appears to be, as your character puts it, "all about parties and drama" while caring a lot about getting shelter animals homes. She is actually adopted, so she sympathizes with them. Also, when you're helping her with @AskPayton, your avatar at one point will assume that she's about to suggest solving an academic problem with a party (as she's been doing multiple times already), only for her to say that school is important too.
    • While Julian loves to revel in the fame that comes with being your school's star football player, he also worries about being seen as a Dumb Jock, something that's not helped by his low grades and his verbally-abusive father.
    • Mia can be quite a bitchy character when she's not being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but at the same time she's shown to be very deeply affected by being The Unfavorite to her father. There's also her issues with her eating disorder, which she's shown to still have to monitor closely even after the end of "The Yearbook."
    • During the quest where you meet Phoebe, Heart High's prom queen, she's shown to be very deferential and elegant, possessing all the traits that a prom queen is expected to have...but at the same time she's revealed to be an Action Girl at heart, under pressure to conform to the stereotypes that come with her position. The same quest implies that Kara is likewise affected by having to conform to expectations, even giving Phoebe a pep talk to just be herself—although how much of that is genuine and how much of it is self-serving manipulation is left ambiguous.
    • Even Max gets to have some of this too. Sure, he's a selfish Jerkass who'll throw anyone under the bus to have his own way...but as "The Yearbook" reveals, he's very protective of Mia, despite their Cain and Abel dynamic, following her struggles with her eating disorder. "Hearst School Story," which has you experience a day at school through Max's eyes, also reveals that he really wants his dad, Principal Warren, to come watch him at his football games, and him being disappointed when the man doesn't show.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Mia is canonically not straight, but it's easy for an inattentive player to not notice this. She mentions her ex twice, but only uses the pronoun "she" once. She also has quite a close relationship with Katherine (whom Pixelberry introduces as Mia's ''very special friend'') and if a player put them together as a couple, they're acknowledged as such in the main story quest, but their relationship could be seen as just a very close friendship. And even though there are several strong hints and double entendres about Mia not being very interested in boys, it's always done very subtle, and never mentioned outright. Most likely this is done so that players who have Mia paired with a boy won't feel bad, but they could've easily been clearer about her not being straight and just avoided mentioning what exactly her sexuality is.
  • High School: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • High-School Dance: Seems to happen around once a month.
  • Hippie Parents: Implied with Sakura's parents.
  • Holiday Mode: Each update that's made available at certain times of the year will result in the loading screen and the in-universe map altering to reflect the holiday at that time (Halloween decorations in October, Independence Day themes around July, Christmas scenery in December, etc.)
  • Hurricane of Puns: Many of the poll responses do this. For example, the answers to "Which of these foods do you like the best?" are as follows.
    Naan can compare to the joys of Indian food.
    I wanna taco 'bout how much I love Mexican food!
    You should give this Satay a Thai! Like... a try. It's a pun.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Downplayed. The students date and make out, but the game hasn't referred to anything beyond that.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: When the school forms a soccer team, Sakura is chosen to be the goalie because she has the best reflexes - never mind that the fine motor skills she honed in video games are only tangentially related to the gross motor skills required in sports.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: The main character says as much during Mia's personal help-quest, when she expresses frustration at her father cancelling her sweet-16 birthday party.
    Mia: I'm so mad I could punch a kitten in the face!
    MC: Okay, let's just calm down and pretend you didn't just say that.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: It registers when quests and other requirements are completed within their specified time limits, even if you haven't played the game over a period of hours or days.
  • The Inspector Is Coming: Your school will eventually be inspected by a trio. You have to come up with ways to impress them, such as putting on a play for one who likes Shakespeare.
  • Insult Backfire: During the quest in which you first meet Koh's ex-boyfriend Razor, your band camps outside his apartment and sings all kinds of impromptu insults, in addition to playing the music really loudly, in an effort to aggravate him...except he's a fan of loud rock music and actually likes your lyrics.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: One Christmas-period quest, "It's a Winterful Life," explores what would have happened if your main character had not gone about setting up your school. Among other things, Hearst High would have extended an auditorium onto the premises where your school would have stood, Autumn's deeply depressed, Payton's a snob, and Julian is Max's number-one lackey.
  • It's All About Me: Max, in spades. But the worst example is where your school has to put on a banquet for Hearst, due to a lost bet. It's meant to be a Hearst victory banquet, but Max makes demands for it to be a Max victory banquet, demanding ice sculptures of himself, his favourite expensive foods, and requesting your crush to clean up a mess he deliberately makes.
  • It's Up to You: Let's face it: without the main character, nobody would have a date, the football team would amount to Julian alone, the cheerleaders wouldn't know what to yell, there would be no books for class, and this high school wouldn't exist.
  • Jerk Jock: Max and the other football players at Hearst High. Julian was one before he transferred to your school, but he's matured since then.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mia and especially Sakura. Wes, too. They may be rather haughty at times, but woe betide you if they spot you picking on their friends.
    • Koh more than anybody else, she has a tendency to punch first and ask questions later, but she is extremely loyal to her friends.
  • Knowledge Broker: Wes. He knows all the ins and outs of every high school, and naturally will tell you...but it's gonna cost you.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Class Clown: My friend founded their own school. Who does that?
  • Loners Are Freaks: Julian's opinion of Wes (initially).
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: After transferring to your school, Wes comes up with a plot to get back at Hearst High and leads everyone, despite being a consummate slacker. Part of the plot is getting everyone to accept him as part of your group.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Mia has shades of this once she joins your school and is no longer the Beta Bitch at Hearst.
  • Love Triangle: Plot points reveal that Payton, Julian, and Autumn are in one, with all three being friends and varying amounts of romantic attraction between Julian and the two girls. This happens whether any or all of them are dating each other or other classmates. However, in gameplay, couples are either dating loyally or entirely unconnected.
    • Another one occurs between Koh, Wes, and Autumn when Koh transfers to the school.
    • One is developing between Sakura, Nishan (who's in the middle), and bizarrely enough, Kara.
  • Make-Out Point: The Isle of Love.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Sakura is extremely competitive and confrontational, especially when compared to the meek Nishan, who she is occasionally hinted to have a crush on. In fact, Nishan even has her playing the bad cop when he tried to interrogate the Athena girls about Pandora.
  • The Matchmaker: You, of course. Some quests even tell you to send couples on dates (or break them up) for pretty much no reason at all.
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: If you choose to break up a couple, their relationship-ending fight may be based on such "major" issues as disagreeing over whether a single movie is awesome or just okay (not even bad; average is worse than bad).
  • Missing Mom: Autumn's mother died a few years prior to the start of the game, and it's still a sensitive issue for her, especially since the event has caused a rift between her and her father. On the other hand, there's Mia's and Max's mother, who's still around but has never shown up in the game and has only been mentioned once with the implication being that she's divorced from Principal Warren.
  • Mouthful of Pi: During Phoebe's introductory quest, one of the options for your talent show act is to recite one hundred digits of pi. Like the other options, it doesn't get you any trophies, but it makes you look smart.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: A fiction book you can order for your classroom is Nishan's Love Life. Not only is it grouped with other fantasy tales, but it's also the shortest one in the bunch. You can't even make up a love life for a nerd!
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Done twice in the Expelled story arc. Razor's already succeeded in getting the main character and friends framed and expelled from school; but by seeking out the MC to gloat about it, he inadvertently tips off the MC as to where he's hiding his stash of illegally purchased fireworks. Then, near the end of the arc, his decision to abandon Jack at the blowing-up warehouse prompts Jack to tell the cops the truth about the frame-up, leading to Razor's arrest later.
  • No Going Steady: Discouraged by the game; you get a small monetary reward each time you strengthen the relationship of a couple, and constantly breaking them up to change partners will keep you from getting any premium currency when they finally fall head-over-heels in love.
  • No Loves Intersect: In gameplay, at least. Two students who go on just one successful date are considered a couple and cannot date any other students without first breaking up.
  • Odd Friendship: Koh and Kallie. Koh is the main characters' resident rebel, anti-authoritarian, quick to punch first and ask questions rarely, abrasive and ready with a sarcastic quip for every occasion, and a biker who fits in just fine with rough crowds. Kallie is shy, owner of multiple plush-toys, not good with large crowds or social scenes, extremely sheltered due to having Helicopter Parents, and possessive of a very extensive vocabulary of big words. Despite this, the two girls get along quite well, with Kallie even looking up to Koh as a Cool Big Sis and Koh giving Kallie a leather jacket (granted, their initial association in-game started off on rocky footing).
  • One-Gender School: Athena Academy, for girls.
  • Perspective Flip: "Hearst School Story" has you playing as Max, showing how a typical day goes for him, including his interactions with fellow students and teachers at Hearst High and how he handles being his football team's star player, plus his interactions with Mia and the main character and his desire for Principal Warren to attend even one of his games.
  • Picture Day: One quest revolves around the characters having to take part in this. One of the goals is to get Koh, Perpetual Frowner extraordinaire, to smile for her pic.
  • The Pig-Pen: One reason for couples to break up in this game is that one half of the couple may be this.
    Student 1: You’re breaking up with me?! Why?!
    Student 2: How can I put this delicately? You...stink.
    Student 1: So maybe I haven’t been very attentive lately, but I wouldn’t say that I stink at being—
    Student 2: No. Like, you stink. You smell bad. You need to take a shower. And use deodorant. And soap. And burn your clothes.
  • The Power of Friendship: Many plots are punctuated with speeches about how students at your high school constantly have each other's backs and support each other in spite of their differences.
  • Product Placement: One quest chain you get in level 6 is basically an advertisement for Choices: Stories You Play back when it was new and only had three stories at the time.
  • Randomly Drops:
    • The poll questions you answer give out different rewards, ranging from as low as 110 Coins, 15 Books or 1 Ring, to as high as 1 million Coins, 100,000 Books or 1000 Rings, and everything in between, and there's no way to predict how much of which item you'll get. The game encourages you to answer as many poll questions as you can in order to get more of the rarer items.
    • The Rewards Center in the Weekly Goals tab gives you random gifts from both the Regular Gift and Premium Gift boxes (both of which can only be purchased using Tickets, which you gain from completing the Weekly Goals). The Regular Gift box gives you items that can be purchased with Coins or Rings at a cost of 10 Tickets, while the Premium Gift box gives you only Ring-costing items at a cost of 50 Tickets, and it is possible to get a rare student (including a Homecoming Girl or a Prom Girl) or up to 250,000 Rings through this avenue...but it's just as easy to get an extremely common outfit you don't need, so spend your Tickets at your own risk.
  • Rogues Gallery: While the main cast of characters are regular teens attending high school as opposed to being superheroes (except in Nishan's fan-fiction), they do have to face a small but still threatening number of enemies, most of them hailing from Hearst High, the school which opposes your school from the moment of its inception at the start of the game. Those hailing from Hearst include Max, Kara, Natalie, and Principal Warren on a more low-key note (as in, his actions only affect your school during your Rebel student's help-quest, and Mia during your Dream Date scenario with her); while other antagonists include Asher, Jack Carver, Razor, and Pandora. It bears mentioning that many of these individuals not only do stuff that goes against your school as a whole, but also stuff that opposes specific characters in your main cast as well; Max is a persistent thorn for his sister Mia and his rival Julian and has also bullied Nishan in the past, Kara behaves spectacularly bitchy to Mia, Asher is on both your main character's and Julian's hate-lists due to his treatment of Julian's sister Hope and her friend Chelsea, Jack has a longstanding rivalry with Ezra, Razor is Koh's evil ex, and Pandora has been known to manipulate and bully Katherine. Depending on how you view the character interactions during game-play, Professor Edwin and Zero may also count, given that the former can come down rather hard on the students at times (though she's usually a Reasonable Authority Figure on a good day) and the latter treats Sakura's concerns about sexism in competitive gaming very shoddily at one point in the main quest. Then there's Bartholomew de la Cruz, who's described by Wes as being rather cutthroat when it comes to politics and has admitted to having selfish reasons for helping you get on the district council and who actually turns the entire district against your main character and almost gets your school shut down, though you have the option to forgive him and unlock him as part of your student body later.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Whenever quests require you to wear something professional, a common choice is the Prep School Uniform.
    • The Rebel help quest has your school being forced to employ a uniform policy.
  • Screwed by the Network: In-universe example. The Nerd quest has their favorite show, Lightning Bug being cancelled, and them calling the network a bunch of money-grubbing jerks.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Max is the son of the principal and naturally runs Hearst High.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Most of the kids at Hearst High are from very rich families and are used to being able to boss around everyone.
  • Self-Insert Fic / Write Who You Know: Players are encouraged to make students who resemble themselves and their friends, and then to link students to their friends' Facebook profiles.
  • Shared Universe: With Surviving High School, and probably Cause of Death, by extension. Of course, they also share a universe with Hollywood U, their college spinoff.
  • Shout-Out: There are lots of references to TV shows, books, and movies, usually under the auspices of a Bland-Name Product. The staff mentions that many of them are big gamers, which explains all of the game references. Find them all here.
  • Squee: Kimi of Twin Branches punctuates her sentences with "Squee!" when she's happy or excited. Payton also gets in on it occasionally.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: One main-story quest has Sakura being forced to deal with other online gamers who have this basic attitude toward her just because she's a girl. They make their views clearly known in the text-comments they type on the screen during one game.
    MC: "Get out of my fort and back in the kitchen!"
    Mia: And a follow-up saying "Make me a sandwich!"
  • Stuff Blowing Up: For Friendsgiving, your Nerds cook baked potatoes with science. Explosions are science!
    • In the Moment of Truth quest, Razor's illegal fireworks warehouse explodes after you set off a few fireworks to attract police.
  • Sudden School Uniform: During the "Rebel with a Cause" quest, the district makes everyone in your school wear very "expensive" uniforms (which are really just the prep school uniforms). Everyone who takes part in the quest, asides from Autumn and your rebel, must start the quest wearing the uniform, and the other main characters do not participate until the uniform is abolished.
  • Supreme Chef: The recently-added Foodie classmate type proves to be this. Your Fast Food classmate has this going for them as well.
  • Temporary Online Content: Certain limited-edition costumes will be gone for good if you don't get them within a certain time limit. Also, you won't be able to play the time-limit quests again if you let their time of availability run out before accessing them.
  • Textbook Humor: You don't get to read the actual textbooks, but they have titles ranging from The Gastronomicon to How to Use Spelpcheck.
  • There Are No Adults: You don't see them, at least. Occasionally one shows up for plot-related reasons, but you always hear about it second-hand from other students telling you what the adult said or wants.
    • Invisible Parents: Some of your classmates may talk about their parents, but they're as invisible as other adults. The only parents to appear so far are Ace's, who only appear in the last quest of Ace's story, and Asher's father, who serves as the main villain for one series of quests.
    • So far, the only adult to ever get a full model and dialogue in the main quest is Professor Edwin, and she's not even from your school. She also shares an outfit with the female Student Govs. She even lampshades how the faculty presence at the school is almost non-existent, a concern of hers at first.
  • Those Two Guys: The Student Govs. The game even lampshades this in one of the messages on the loading screen. Subverted in that they occasionally appear separately.
  • Training from Hell: Your mascot gets subjected to this from two of your jocks, to help him/her get over a fear of falling. What does this training consist of? Jumping off a trampoline and landing properly on the ground over and over and over and OVER.
    Mascot: YAAAAAAAAAAAAH! (lands awkwardly on the ground)
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: Nishan apparently has "Photoshop Ninja and International Man of Mystery" on his.
  • Tsundere: Sakura, especially to Nishan.
  • The Unreveal: During the Ace storyline, you have to deal with the protest actions of a group called NEW START, which consists of students at your school who are dissatisfied with the main character's representation of them on the district council. It's never revealed just who the members are, however; the most you hear about them is where Ace says they're a rather small group, six members at most.
  • Very Special Quest: "Hope's Story" is basically a days-long Public Service Announcement about cyberbullying. The cynic may also describe it as a days-long Product Placement for the Cybersmile Foundation.
    • World Water Day, likewise, is a quest about convincing your classmates not to waste water and electricity because people in other countries are dying due to a lack of clean water.
      • This arguably becomes a Broken Aesop in another questline, where a full-on water war ignites in the school.
    • The Yearbook is not just about taking photos for your yearbook; it's also about Mia battling an eating disorder.
      • As this is potentially triggering, the quest is divided into two halves and either the second or both sections can be skipped.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: You can change the outfits of your avatar and the non-main-character students. As it relates to the main characters (Autumn, Julian, Payton, etc.), for a long time they couldn't be customized, although the game would change their outfits for special occasions or holidays; recent updates have provided alternate costumes for them (some with different hairstyles), but nearly all of those can only be unlocked with Rings.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Your Jazz Club student's parents don't approve of their playing jazz, preferring that they instead play classical music so as to get a prestigious music scholarship. Helping the student to overcome this hurdle forms part of that specific help-quest.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    Wes: You're not a bully, (player's name). Don't do this.
    • During the storyline in which you, Payton and Nishan work for Asher Rollins' father's baking company, Nishan gets this twice from both you and Payton. First, when you discover Mr. Rollins is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who ruthlessly crushes smaller companies to keep his stranglehold on the local pastry monopoly, Payton chews out Nishan for wanting to continue working for the company even after knowing all of that...then later the main character angrily calls out Nishan for only caring about the power that comes from working for Mr. Rollins and not caring that Mr. Rollins is planning to bring a lawsuit against Payton's already cash-strapped family because she went back to selling your cookies at your school instead of on the company's behalf.
    • During the Expelled questline, Professor Edwin gives you this after finding illegal fireworks planted in your locker.
  • Worth It:
    • Phoebe makes this declaration after finally being able to shed her Incorruptible Pure Pureness facade and revealing her Action Girl abilities during her pageant performance, despite the disapproval of Professor Edwin and ultimately losing the pageant crown to Kara.
    • Your Punk Rock student's band goes to play for a rather conservative venue, but initially play soft-rock ballads instead of the hardcore stuff they're more used to. Eventually they rebel and start playing their preferred tunes, getting mixed reactions from the crowd and ultimately getting thrown out...but the smiles on their faces indicate their belief that being true to themselves was worth getting canned.