School’s back in session on this exclusive Nintendo DS game. This good roleplaying title glimpses into a teacher’s life including lesson planning, child behavior and performance demands. Miss April starts her instructional work in a new town with a retiring principal who acts as the tutorial character in the first couple weeks. Players must increase student knowledge by completing tasks in subjects like writing, science, math, biology, geography, and history. Players need basic knowledge in each subject to complete the well-incorporated tasks including filling, shaping, and playing virtual instruments. When the points/bonuses stay high, then students take an interest and give feedback at the end of a lesson. Older players in the 6- to 14-year-old range need a deeper relationship/knowledge system and higher difficulty levels, but this title satisfies the younger player niche well.
After hours, teachers can create the best learning atmosphere, practice lessons or, gulp, clean. The cleaning element does give some needed recognition of teacher devotion, but in the game, players won’t get consequences on whether they straighten those desks or sweep away dust. The sole incentive for cleaning is finding students’ lost items (ball, etc).
The beginning cache of students is only four, but the challenges and satisfaction increase as players progress through the school year. New students are usually announced at the weekly staff meeting, occurring at the end of Friday. This meeting also informs players of weekly subject features and professional performance assessments by managers who fund the school with money based on a player’s point total throughout the week.
Expanded teacher roles and bonuses would enhance the game more. Miss April should have more control and decision-making elements. At the end of the day, Miss April corrects a random student’s work and the lesson plans fit well, but the surface-only interaction on field trips and recesses are lacking free style control and uniqueness. The free style chalkboard writing registers well, so why not expand that element into full words and even original student art works or decorations Miss April could put up in her room. Players could get bonuses for these “extra credit” activities too.
Recess with several more minigames that the teacher also plays would boost the lacking physical education elements, but it’s not likely that anyone playing this game is actually doing those activities anyway. Scheduling field trips at the end of the day on Friday versus Wednesday morning gives players a minimal advantage of just having a break. Teachers do celebrate special events like birthdays, holidays and the last day of school, but again miss the opportunity of enhancing the overall experience.
The multiplayer mode supports up to four players with a single card and delivers some nice gameplay variety when the daily school routine tires. Changeable music would also help alleviate some light monotony. The game doesn’t have a high replay value, but has numerous characters with basic storyline developing as Miss April guides them through various classes.
Deeper statistics, including relationships with other students and the teacher, knowledge progression, etc., would give players more satisfaction and meaningful results. Still, this title still works on a basic level and would make a great catalog addition for future educators.
Imagine Teacher is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.