Pico's School

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Pico's School
Pico's School (1999) screenshot.png
Developer(s)Tom Fulp
Publisher(s)Newgrounds
Programmer(s)Tom Fulp
Composer(s)RealFaction
EngineAdobe Flash
Platform(s)Browser
ReleaseJuly 25, 1999
Genre(s)Point-and-click adventure, light gun shooter
Mode(s)Single-player

Pico's School is a 1999 Flash game developed by Tom Fulp for his website Newgrounds. At the time of its release, it was "one of the most sophisticated" browser games, exhibiting "a complexity of design and polish in presentation that [was] virtually unseen in amateur Flash game development".[1][2] It has been widely credited with kickstarting the Flash games scene and helping launch Newgrounds "as a public force".[1][3][4]

The game is a point-and-click adventure/shooter inspired by the Columbine High School massacre, putting the player in the shoes of the titular Pico, who has to fight a group of stereotypical goth kids who have killed his classmates.[4]

Plot[edit]

During a school lesson on apples and bananas, Pico's classmate Cassandra interrupts the class to denounce the American education system, which she believes to be "bullshit", before opening fire upon her fellow students. Pico blacks out during the chaos, managing to escape the classroom only to discover the majority of his classmates have been killed.[5] As Pico fights the goth kids, he discovers they are being manipulated by Cassandra. Cassandra is then revealed to be an alien, and Pico must defeat her.

Gameplay[edit]

The game lets players choose multiple pathways through the school's halls, have conversations with surviving students, and engage in enemy fights, all driven by mouse clicks.[2]

Development[edit]

Tom Fulp stated in an interview that he was inspired to make the game following a variety of angry e-mails sent to his website Newgrounds following the Columbine massacre, many of which would blame internet websites for distributing offensive content.[6]

The game was developed in Flash 3 prior to the advent of the scripting language ActionScript, which almost all subsequent Flash games would use. To simulate stored data, Fulp claims to have created a complex web of movie clips to simulate in-game variables, an innovative technique which created a considerable strain during highly interactive sequences, such as boss fights.[1]

On April Fools' Day 2021, the original Pico's School was replaced by Pico's School: Love Conquers All, a re-telling of the story in which the massacre never happens.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Official banner for the yearly Newgrounds event "Pico Day", named after the protagonist of Pico's School, depicting Pico shaking hands with the other Newgrounds mascot, Tankman, with various other popular Newgrounds characters in the background

An article published by Spin referred to the game as the work of a "sick genius".[6] Andrew Lerner of Troma Entertainment commented that when he first saw the game, he laughed so hard he almost wet his pants. Troma Entertainment were reportedly at one point in talks with Tom Fulp about making a movie based on the game.[6] A contemporary write-up of Newgrounds on the Japanese tech site Impress Watch by Mie Aoki recommended the game and called it a good way to test how stuck your mind is in elementary school.[7] In a 2020 article, Wired called the game "irreverent pulp".[8]

Tom Fulp, the game's creator, has referred to Pico's School as a "real defining moment for Newgrounds".[9] The game was "hailed by many as the pinnacle of Flash [3] 'programming'" and is said to have "offered a first model for the type of point-and-click interactivity that would become a standard".[1]

The titular Pico would go on to become essential iconography for Newgrounds, being featured in a number of games and animations.[10][11][12][13][14]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel with the working title Pico 2 was under development for a number of years since 1999[15] as a collaboration with part-time animator Jose "MindChamber" Ortiz but was cancelled without an announcement sometime in the 2010s. Two prototype versions were made available to supporters of Newgrounds in 2016. The Kickstarter for popular rhythm game Friday Night Funkin' (which features Pico as a recurring character) promised to finish and release Pico 2 should its Kickstarter reach $5 million in funding, though this goal was ultimately not achieved.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Salter, Anastasia (2014). Flash : building the interactive web. Cambridge, Massachusetts. pp. 74–75. ISBN 9780262028028.
  2. ^ a b Williams, Andrew (2017). History of digital games : developments in art, design and interaction. Boca Raton, FL. ISBN 9781138885530.
  3. ^ Moss, Richard C. (7 July 2020). "The rise and fall of Adobe Flash". Ars Technica. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b Salter, Anastasia; Murray, John (29 November 2014). "How Flash Games Shaped the Internet". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  5. ^ Fulp, Tom. "Pico's School". Newgrounds.com. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  6. ^ a b c SPIN (magazine) February 2000, p. 54
  7. ^ "とにかく殺っとけ! バカゲー勢揃いの「Newsgrounds」". internet.watch.impress.co.jp. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  8. ^ D'Anastasio, Cecilia. "The Ragtag Squad That Saved 38,000 Flash Games From Oblivion". Wired. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  9. ^ Fulp, Tom. "Pico". Newgrounds.com. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  10. ^ Wery, Jackson. "Friday Night Funkin' Fondly Recalls Flash Games". TechRaptor. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Flash game portal Newgrounds turns 20 years old today". Destructoid. 25 April 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  12. ^ Lee, Jared (13 January 2018). "How Newgrounds Changed the Game". Super Jump Magazine.
  13. ^ Psycho Goldfish (4 May 2007). "100th Review!: Pico's Surprise Party". Web-Game Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 July 2008.
  14. ^ "Flash Games as told by Flash creators #15: Shawn Tanner". Medium. 10 January 2021. In the early days, flash games were usually just interactive stories. Click a button, watch an animation, then repeat. For me, it wasn't until Pico's School came along that I realized things could be pushed further. It had a map and a (somewhat) persistent game world. You could open and close individual lockers in the hallway. There were small cutscenes, interactive battles, and even secret items.
  15. ^ Fulp, Tom (26 September 1999). "September Updates!". Archived from the original on 28 November 1999. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Friday Night Funkin': The Full Ass Game". Kickstarter. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)

External links[edit]