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‘No Pineapple Left Behind’ simulates the ups-and-downs of public schools

‘No Pineapple Left Behind’ simulates the ups-and-downs of public schools

Filed inside: Games

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If you strip down a video game, you can classify it simply as interactive entertainment. Games immerse us in intense storylines, tease our minds with complex puzzles, and reward our hands with stimulating gameplay elements. But video games can be much more than just interactivity. Take, for example, No Pineapple Left Behind, a strategy game from Subaltern Games that makes a serious case for gaming as a form of artistry. In this particular case, I use the word artistry to describe a very creative and unique way to convey a message, rather than in the traditional sense of visual prowess. No Pineapple Left Behind is more than a simplistic strategy game — it’s an interesting and fairly accurate gaze into the world of public schools.

A school system is a living, breathing, ecosystem of learning (although it’s not as black and white as it may seem). In No Pineapple Left Behind, you’ll take on the role of principal. It’s up to you to ensure that your school receives proper funding from the government to continue operations. Unfortunately, funding is based entirely on grading, and the higher the cumulative grade of students, the bigger the payday. It’s the general assumption that schools are created for the benefit of children and offer them a safe and welcoming place to learn all they need to learn to function in a working society. This is not the case in No Pineapple Left Behind. You are driven by greed, and collecting mountains of money is your main purpose.

The gameplay for No Pineapple Left Behind is very simplistic. Your job is to hire teachers and place them in classrooms to teach knowledge-hungry students. This is done through a series of menus and sliders. Interaction between teachers and students is a lot like a very oversimplified version of The Sims. Each day, kids will flood into the school and head to classrooms. Days will vary in length according to the lesson plans, and you’ll be forced to adapt your strategy dependent on various factors. That’s where the “normal” aspects of No Pineapple Left Behind end and the rather weird symbolism begins.

Teachers come equipped with energy bars, magic spells, and lasers. These passive and active effects are used to help your students receive better grades. Passive spells will affect the entire class, while lasers can be directed at one student. Using these power-ups will consume a teacher’s energy. This energy is replaced the next school day, but how much is replaced is dependent on the teacher’s salary. Energy also affects how well a teacher’s spell or laser ability will work, so it’s very important to balance a teacher’s salary and ability usage. Perfecting the way a teacher expresses lessons to students is one of the keys of crafting a successful school environment. You’ll need to meet certain criteria to move on to the next school, and there are nine schools to master.

If you prefer not to spend all your time balancing budgets and paying teachers correctly, there is a rather handy shortcut you can take. Each child that attends your school comes with a humanity meter. If at any point that meter is reduced to zero, the child transforms into a pineapple. Children are unpredictable. They will often skip classes, suffer from fatigue, are cranky when they’re tired, and have many social issues to keep up with. This can throw a wrench in the machine, as disobedient children will surely earn lower grades, which means a lower payout from the government. Pineapples are the answer to unruly students. A pineapple has no social issues, never suffers from fatigue, and earns much better grades. If you find yourself struggling to bring in the grades you’d like, you can always steal your students’ humanity and turn them into obedient fruit.

This may seem like a whimsical and fairly adorable game from the outside, but it’s actually a rather telling release. Subaltern Games did a great job of bringing to attention the perils of the modern school system. Children are molded by teachers, peers, and other circumstances to be homework machines and learning masters. Sometimes in the quest for educational superiority, these kids can lose their way and fall victim to the overwhelming greed of some public schools. There is a lesson to be learned among the spiky fruits of No Pineapple Left Behind.

If you’re interested in getting more information about No Pineapple Left Behind be sure to check out the dedicated website here. You can purchase this unique dive into the public school system on Steam right now.

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Written by Russ Boswell

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