Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! is a genre-bending puzzle-role-playing game in the style of a board game. It was released in 2008 for PC and Mac after over two years of development. Created by independent designer Keith Numitz of Mousechief Co., Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! has won many awards including the Casual Games Assosiation’s 2007 award for Most Innovative Game, and numerous Game of The Year awards from GameTunnel.com including their Innovation Award. The game was also a finalist at IndieCade 2008 and was the only independent game nominated for Best Writing in a Video Game at the Writers Guild Awards in 2009. Its competition included Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Tomb Raider: Underworld, Fallout 3, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
The simplest way to understand Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! is to think of it as a board game with a narrative. Rife with satire, the game takes place during the 1920s in Brigiton, USA and its high school (all fictional locations, of course). At the start of the game, players select a girl from a list which will be their main character. Each girl has a different personality and attributes which are represented by the suits in a deck of playing cards. A character’s strength in each suit determines their effectiveness in the mini games that are played when interacting with other characters within the game, such as “Taunt”, where two girls exchange insults and retorts until one of them is shamed or embarrassed into defeat. Not long after beginning the game, the main character will be able to recruit up to three more girls who can perform tasks and interact with other characters just as the main character can, though their attributes are usually considerably lower. Although it’s completely optional, recruits can level up through mini games to raise their attributes just as the main character can. They also play a role in the game’s story by participating in “powwows”: conversations within the party to discuss their mission and what to do next in their quest to reject conformity, tear down social barriers and shake-up the establishment.
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! took a little while to “click” with me. For quite a bit I wasn’t sure that I was playing the game correctly. It turns out, I was! It really is that simple. The game is a collection of mini games, and although it’s a small collection, it’s also a unique and ever-evolving one with a difficulty curve that scales as the story progresses. And that’s where Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!’s strengths really lie: the story. Witty dialogue and interesting sub-plots are your nugget-sized rewards for completing mini games. This unique structure coupled with a save-anywhere feature makes Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! a great pick-up-and-play game, if only for a few minutes at a time, which is how I most enjoy playing.