Whenever you look at a list of the greatest ever ZX Spectrum games you will always find Skool Daze somewhere near the top. So when I heard that Mariusz had chosen to convert the game to the Atari 8-bit I couldn't have been happier! But rather than converting the Speccy original, he's actually picked apart the Commodore 64 versions instead, as both machines are 6502 based, but it's pretty much identical anyway, even when it comes to the graphics and sound!
For those of you that have never played Skool Daze before, you control a naughty school kid called Eric who is trying to steal his report card from the headmaster's office so he doesn't get expelled and subsequently scolded by his parents. To complete your mission you must solve several puzzles in order to get the code to the safe and make your way home. You also need to search the various classrooms for objects that might help you along the way such as peashooters, stink bombs and a water pistol. You are not the only kid in the school of course, there are other pupils too who would like to nothing better than getting you into more trouble and see you punished by the teachers. Great news though, you can also turn the tables and get the other kids into trouble too. The best way to do this is to catapult a teacher and run away, as the moment the evil educators turn round they blame the first kid they see! Not only this though, you can also get revenge on your chums by giving them a beating at breaktime! Skool Daze was one of the very first open world computer games where you could basically stroll around as you please playing the game as you wish. So although there is an ultimate goal here, it's never actually enforced.
Without doubt my favourite feature of the game is the way you can rename the other students and teachers at the start of the game to mimic your own school you went to as a kid! This helps relieve years of built up resent for that horrible teacher who gave you a detention for messing about in French class. Skool Daze is also far deeper than many other 8-bit games out there, mostly thanks to the open world nature of it and the fact you can pretty much play the game as you like.
There isn't much you can criticise here really, I suppose you could argue that they should have made more improvements to the graphics and sound to use the abilities of the Atari. But personally I prefer to have the authentic looks and sounds of the original ZX Spectrum version. I must also add that that this isn't a game you can play quickly, so unless you have a few hours to waste this isn't the game you want to load up.
There's absolutely nothing else out there like this on the Atari 8-bit, so that alone makes it worth playing. But not just that, Skooldaze is, for me anyway, one of the finest games to be released for the machine to date! The only way Skool Daze will be beat on the Atari is if Mariusz also converts the even more amazing sequel - Back To Skool.