Thursday, February 18, 2016

No Pineapple Left Behind Gameplay Review

I'm playing No Pineapple Left Behind, a school management simulation by Subaltern Games.

As principal, schools must be managed to turn a profit while achieving tedious, annoying objectives. The student population consists of humans and pineapples. While humans have a set of personal traits, social traits, and quests that affect their grades (usually negatively but occasionally in a positive way), pineapples only take tests and get grades, making them far easier to manage (the satire being that school districts treat students as “pineapples”, simply a number that takes tests, a depressing reality I can attest to as a high-school teacher). Parent phone calls also give daily learning objectives for specific students. Teachers are hired to cast spells (lessons) on their students, which will increase grades while decreasing humanity (slowly turning all students into pineapples) if successful; spells have a higher chance of success if the teacher has more energy, which is replenished based on salary. Lasers can also be used to alter the attributes of specific students. Experience earned while teaching can unlock new spells and lasers. The interface is a bit limited with the ability to display only one informational screen at a time. A careful balance of successful spells and adjusting teacher pay to the minimum required to replenish just enough energy for the next school day (or simply firing them for no reason and replacing them with a cheaper alternative, another commentary on the current state of public education) is the key to budgetary success. No Pineapple Left Behind is a successful satire of education, but repetitive strategies and frustrating objectives make it less successful as a game.