Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People PC, WiiWare Review
Has anyone else played a point and click adventure recently, has anyone else been saddened by its 101 short fallings? Have you then stated this disappointment to your friend only to hear them say “Man, try Sam and Max, its really good!” Gamer word of mouth and its choice of light hearted cartoon universes as a basis, have seen that Tell Tale games are slowly but surely marking themselves on the map, as one of the most interesting point and click developers out there. This incidentally, is why I found myself jumping at the chance to review their latest title, Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People.
Episode 1 – Homestar Ruiner
August 22, 2008
The game places you quite obviously as the lead character Strong Bad. For those not familiar with the animations, most episodes see Strong Bad receiving an E-mail from a fan on his outdated computer, and then replying in his trademark style. The same is true here, you start by answering the E-mail suggesting you should beat the snot out of Strong Bad’s long time nemesis, and generally nice guy Homestar Runner. After taking a relatively circuitous route, Strong Bad achieves his goal, despite the trials and tribulations along the way. I’ll say I giggled, and I’ll say I marveled at some of the attention to detail of the game, that sees some relatively funny dialogue being triggered, after doing an action as pointless as looking at some loose soil. And I’ll agree I enjoyed the characters remarking on some point and click adventure hallmarks. I.e. characters forgetting what you said to them 2 seconds ago, so they can repeat a piece of important dialogue again and again. But I have to review this as an actual game, for new comers, fans, and as an actually money worthy experience. And ill admit now, it falls short of entertaining…
In a universe of Wacky Oddballs, talking to Wacky Oddballs (and yes I am saying Wacky by waving my hands in the air and doing a Mighty Boosh quote) all sense of meaning and character interaction is lost. Point and Click adventures rely on your conversations with other characters forwarding the plot, or leading to something of significance. Sam and Max was set in a universe where everyone else was generally a lot more normal than you, and every ill timed joke and off the cuff comment, made sense and was made a lot funnier in the world where you were the idiots, and everyone else reacted accordingly. In Strong Bad’s universe, every character you meet is striving for the most annoying gimmick, and the lead characters most likable quality is how unlikable he is. Leaving the whole game with a sense of pointless time wasting, which is possibly the point?
If you could sit down, as a fan, and play 30 minutes of straight exploration and bizarre story telling with characters and surroundings you enjoy, it would be well worth your $8 or 1000 Wii points. But as is, it suffers from the standard Point and Click issue of leaving the next story trigger completely up to you to find. In other games, founded in reality it adds to the realism, but in a comedy game, you just want to enter the next funny event. And don’t need to be spending the next 10 minutes exploring everywhere you’ve already been, for a significant item, that wasn’t on the floor the last time you came here a few minutes ago.
The interface is idiot proof; the style is identical to the animations, which can only be good. There are some nice features, like Strong Bad’s self made map which sees you choosing the location of points of interest, which he then sketches in himself. There are extra’s to find throughout the game, costumes for you to wear, the Trogdor Arcade Game to play (Guitar Hero fame), teen girl squad drawings to manipulate, a secret cheat code for Strong Bad’s Snake Boxer video game, that unlocks a secret cheat level, I think? Plenty for a fan to explore and enjoy, emphasis on Fan.
Overall my suggestion would be, stick the game’s suggestions (hints) on high, enjoy it as a constant stream of brain-dead semi funny entertainment, in a universe you are probably familiar with, and get as much stress-free enjoyment from what admittedly, feels like a pretty polished episodic game. And be excited by the fact there will be one a month for a while to come… Or you could just watch all the video’s on Youtube for free, and have about as much fun.
If you liked this uneducated and ill-informed review, you will be overjoyed to hear that I will probably be following the next few episodic updates, so keep stopping by for the monthly addition’s to the this review. And lets hope I get proved hugely wrong, its rating improves, and I look like a giant pessimistic idiot. Gooday!
Update: Episode 2 – Strong Badia the Free
October 3, 2008
Strong bad is back, and not a moment too soon. The King of Town has taken one step too far, and it’s time for one brave soul to stand up against oppression and fight for what’s right.
Strong Bad along with every other main character has declared a patch of land as an independent nation, separate from the King of Town’s rule. But if they’re going to have any hope of overthrowing the King, they will need to unite their separated nations, and charge the castle walls together. Strong Bad has a mission.
Much like the previous episode, its point and click tomfoolery with a large amount of walking around looking for the next inventory item you need. Although this game does take seemingly more logical steps. Once you enter a country and explore it, it’s relatively obvious within the first few minutes that you don’t have what you need to complete the area, so you can quickly leave and keep the fun going, without having to backtrack over similar ground. The game builds quite quickly, and expertly manages to feel quite epic yet stupidly mundane at the same time. Culminating in a final board game like battle, with all supporting characters having specific skills you will need to use to succeed. Which sadly requires you to fail and repeat a few times, until you learn the characters significance on the battle field.
Once again, it’s a nicely polished episodic game, with a light hearted play style. But still feels very hit and miss with its humor, and its illogical tasks seem more trial and error, than intelligence related. I wish I could say that when viewed as a whole picture these episodes will combine into a huge arcing story, but they truly are episodes, small bite sized chunks of encapsulated entertainment. And the significance of them when gathered together is starting to look more and more questionable, and less and less tempting for purchase.
But this game has to be viewed in time scale terms, budget constraints and various other issues that limit episodic titles. And simply put, it’s still way up there with its competitors. If you are a fan of the humour, and you enjoyed the previous episode… Go nuts.