Just what you’ve always wanted to do: relive high school.
Kairosoft’s mobile management games are simple and easy to get into. Pocket Academy, the latest to hit the Switch, doesn’t change the formula all that much. It was fun seeing my school grow from humble beginnings to a sprawling campus, but the experience is fleeting.
Pocket Academy has you managing a group of students attending the Japanese equivalent of high school. You start out small, with a handful of students and one teacher. But as the years pass, the school grows from one small class to managing three separate grade classes. The things you need to have a successful school include scoring high marks for national testing, making sure grade 3 students pass their final exams to get a good job, sending clubs out for competitions, and making sure kids attend school and get motivated. It sounds like a lot to juggle, but it’s actually simple enough to get into and the game does a good job of walking you through everything.
While doing all of that, you also have to make money. By having the kids study and pass tests, you can also have them take exams that will help the school raise its tuition, thus putting more money in the school’s bank account. It takes a while to generate revenue, as my school was dirt poor and struggling to make money at first. But once I found my rhythm, the money started to roll in and I didn’t have any problem seeing my school grow. The game takes place over the course of 11 years (with each year taking about 30 minutes to an hour to clear), so you have plenty of time to get things down right.
Presentation wise, Pocket Academy has a bright, cheerful aesthetic. The graphics are colorful and the 2D sprite-based look is pleasing to the eye. The music is fine, but can be grating after a while. It changes with your school’s rank and when the school is given a new title, and that can take a while to achieve.This is one of those games where if you want to listen to a podcast while playing, that’s perfectly fine as you’re likely to not going to miss out on much. Hell, if you’re a few years in, it’s pretty easy to just let the game play itself while you grab a bite to eat.
I found myself enjoying the light fare that is Pocket Academy since it has just the right amount of depth and accessibility that make it a quality management simulator. It’s not super engrossing, and you can get the full experience in probably a weekend’s time. This is cool for those who like management games but don’t have the time to get truly involved in much deeper, more detailed games of a similar nature.