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The Antstream Arcade Archive: Back To Skool

In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive series, we take a look at another specific game from the

Antstream Arcade Retro vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay and tips. This week, with kids everywhere finally returning to education, we proudly present Back To Skool, the ground-breaking ZX Spectrum classic from Microsphere and Alternative Software.

So what is it about?

Back To Skool is the sequel to Skool Daze, and created by the same team as the original. While the game follows on directly from Skool Daze, it contains a hugely expanded game world, with another school (or should that be skool?) located next door, chock full of – gasp – girls! The player again takes on the role of naughty school kid Eric who, having successfully purloined his damning report from the headmaster’s safe in Skool Daze, must now return the heavily-doctored document to the school. To help him, Eric can utilise his nifty pedal bike and a powerful water pistol, while his doting girlfriend Hayley will take care of some of those pesky lines for him. But Hayley won’t put up with Eric’s antics forever – accrue too many lines and it’s expulsion for this renegade student!

The happiest days eh? So how do you go about returning this – ahem – slightly altered report?

It’s a step up from the simple codes of the original game and involves Eric getting involved in all sorts of mischievous escapades. Key to success is Eric’s water pistol and the bike, both of which must be acquired before the report can be returned. You’ll also need some sherry and a stink bomb, which can be obtained by searching the classrooms and performing some heinous tricks such as releasing mice in a crowded girl’s school!

Crikey, he is a bit of a tinker that Eric, isn’t he? What about the other kids?

Yes, he is, and Eric’s three distinct classmates from Skool Daze return here. There’s the cool tearaway, Boy Wander; school bully Angel face; and swot Einstein, who never misses an opportunity to get Eric into trouble. Making her debut in Back To Skool is the winsome Hayley, the heroine and object of Eric’s desire. A range of smaller children, both boys and girls, mill around in each school.

Someone must be keeping order here – where are the teachers?

Oh, there are plenty of teachers in Back To Skool, and most of them will be familiar to anyone who

played Skool Daze. The insouciant Mr. Withit strolls around the corridors and classrooms with his hands in his trendy blazer, while science teacher Mr. Rockitt continues to espouse the virtue of creating dramatic explosions. The prehistoric history master Mr. Creak is just about still with us, while the demonic Mr. Wacker patrols the school, cane at the ready should an errant pupil cross his path. Over at the girl’s school we have a sole matriarch in Miss Take, who’ll plague Eric with lines should he stray into her domain.

So what makes Back To Skool so special?

Gosh, where to start? As in Skool Daze, all the character names can be redefined at the start, adding a memorably personal slant to the game. It’s also presented in an open-world style of gameplay that was largely unknown in the mid-Eighties: the player can stroll around, attending lessons as they see fit, nipping off to get up to no good whenever the mood takes them. The game’s graphics are more-or-less identical to the original, but with the additional school next door as well as the added range of things to do, Back To Skool is a wonderful and very Eighties mix of schoolboy frolics and romance.

Right, I’ve signed up to this adolescent caper – any tips to get me started?

You must locate the water pistol and stink bomb in order to progress – these are hidden inside separate random desks in the boy’s school. Also vital is the bike, which is chained up, and each teacher holds a number of the lock’s four-digit code. To get them to reveal this, squirt water into the cups above them as they pass, then write the code on a blackboard.

Gotcha. Is there anything else like Back To Skool on Antstream Arcade?

We also have the first game, Skool Daze, available to stream and, if you fancy playing a graphically-

similar game, there’s also Contact Sam Cruise, a detective adventure with a film noir feel.

I’m ready to cause mayhem!

That’s the spirit! And talking of spirit, don’t forget to slip the sherry into the headmaster’s tea – chasing after Eric is a stressful business after all!

Thank you for reading - watch out for another blast from the Antstream Arcade Archive soon!

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