I’ve been a Homestar Runner fan since before Strong Bad started to check his email. I was on the site after the first Homestar cartoon was posted and I’ve been an avid follower ever since. It still astonishes me that after all these years the humor is still fresh and hilarious and only seems to be getting better. Once Strong Bad’s Game Cool Game for Attractive People
) was announced I practically swooned. When I learned it was a point and click adventure produced by Telltale, I needed new pants, and when I found out it was going to be episodic content for my episodic content lacking Wii, well, let’s just say I had to do a lot of cleaning up that day.
During that cleaning up time I had some time to think. What if point and click adventures are dead? What if it looks like crap? What if this is actually the point where Strong Bad and Homestar stop being funny? What if this game single handily ruins one of my favorite characters because it just plain sucks? I know Telltale did a great job with Sam & Max, but that doesn’t mean they’ll fulfill my dreams here. I was worried and concerned. Were the worries founded? Well, the game came out yesterday and I’m proud to say that even Trevor the vampire would be laughing at this one, despite the fact that he’s dead. Poor, poor Trevor.
Dear Strong Bad, you are awesome
. The real reason to pick up this game is because of the humor. If you’re a fan of the site or just Strong Bad’s emails, you’re going to be a fan of this. Half, if not more, of the pleasure derived from the game comes from wandering around clicking on things and hearing Strong Bad talk about them. The same retro referencing and nonsensical comedic attitude that permeates the site is in full swing here delivering punch lines that will make newcomers wither shyly away and go, “huh?” and leave die-hards rolling on the floor laughing. Not that newcomers to the series wouldn’t enjoy the game, but it is clearly designed for those in the know.
Every aspect of the game is played for humor. Even the tutorial on how to play is a hilarious mocking of tutorials in general with Strong Bad narrating the whole time and telling you how to control him. Meanwhile, Strong Sad is forced to play along in the mock-tutorial because Strong Bad has stolen his Sherlock Holmes spy glass. Interacting with the characters and insulting them (despite this not seeming to have a point) is a solid chunk of what makes the game really enjoyable. Even the small touches, like the fact that you can draw locations anywhere on the map or that if you speak while someone else is talking Strong Bad will shout above them and shut them up, are hilariously clever game mechanics.
The entire time the game’s comedy is being self referential too. Not only is one of the mini-games a hilarious Atari generation mock-up called Snake Boxer 5 (yes, you box snakes) but one of the side quests is to collect the brilliantly retro looking instruction manual for the game. During moments of extreme logic, a type of logic only used in point and click adventures where two items having nothing to do with each other in reality go together perfectly in the context of the game and solve a problem, Strong Bad even comments on how ridiculous it is that he is, say, pouring steroids into a hole he just dug. Like I said, it makes sense in the logic of the game…kind of.
Burninating the gameplay
. So let’s just ignore the humor for a bit, though I don’t know why any sane person would do that, but we will. The game is the first in a five part series that is going to be released every month on the Wii and PC. In this chapter, Homestar Ruiner, Strong Bad finds out that Homestar is competing in the Race to the End of the Race (a log, pogo stick and turtle are involved) and believes that he too should be in said race so he can win it. Sadly, registration is closed and Coach Z won’t bend any of the rules. Thus Strong Bad must go off and adventure in order to connive his way into the race and win all the sexy time ladies’ hearts.
It’s a pretty standard point and click affair, which in this modern day and age isn’t standard at all. Players point, click, use items and try to figure out why in the world they would ever need a box of chocolate covered packing peanuts. If you’re younger than 11 years old this is possibly an entirely new type of game to you. If you happen to be a retro LucasArts fan you’re going to be finding yourself in very familiar territory that makes you very happy.
The Wii is literally perfect for this type of game. Controlling Strong Bad takes one hand and the A button and the only time players need to use anything else is to skip scenes. Strong Bad is guided around a variety of scenes and locations by the simple click of a button for where you want him to walk, double click and he runs. Want to use something on something else? Click it in the inventory and it becomes the cursor, making interaction a breeze. Dialogue is also handled in the same manner. It’s so simple it’s awesome.
Telltale does keep the gameplay slightly varied with a few instances of Wii remote controlled action and a simple little stealth section, but in general players will be solving logic puzzles that don’t really use any logic at all. There are a bunch of mini-games scattered around too, like the aforementioned Snake Boxer 5. That game is fun for about ten seconds and worth playing more for the comments Strong Bad makes than the game itself.
Players will also get the chance to make their own Teen Girl Squad comics. This game is based around using Strong Bad’s ideas on killing the girls in order to get the most gruesome deaths out of them.
Finally, there is a sparse dress-up game, where gamers can hop into Strong Bad’s trans-dimensional photo booth and put him in crazy outfits that they’ve discovered while playing the game. Once they’ve done this players can send photos of the gameplay to their friends over the Internet. I call this the obligatory “Wii has Internet” feature and it’s relatively pointless. Again, the best feature here is listening to everything Strong Bad says when you put him in different clothes. In case you’re wondering, I had Strong Bad run around in a moustache and woman’s wig for a good chunk of the game.
Amazing 2 gigahert graphics!
I’m really impressed with this game graphically. The team at Telltale has really captured the style of the cartoon. Sometimes I wonder why they chose to go fully 3D when 2D would have sufficed and looked better in some instances, but overall the game is bright, vibrant and as good looking as the flash animations themselves. The bright colors and childlike atmosphere of Strong Bad’s world is captured perfectly and walking around Strongbadia for the first time, despite it’s small size, was a bit of a thrill for me (I got to meet tire!).
The game’s world is relatively small, though its length is perfectly acceptable for an episodic game, with only a few key locations like Strong Bad’s house, the King of Town’s castle, the competition track and, of course, the field where Bub’s Concession stand and the stick are located. You can easily hop anywhere via the map and there is no getting stuck in the same conversation over and over again since you can skip almost anything by pressing the B trigger. Telltale really knows how to put a game together that doesn’t annoy you with lots of needless running around and backtracking.
I noticed a few negligible graphic glitches when playing that sort of made me do a double take. Sometimes Strong Bad gets stuck running into corners or the screen flashes to the wrong place for a second when changing locations but they weren’t that annoying. The only thing that really stood out was that the game freezes at certain parts when you play it in widescreen. Really, it’s just a pain in the butt to save and reset my Wii, but a pain in the butt I was willing to deal with for the rest of the game. Hopefully, by chapter two Telltale has all the kinks worked out.
. You’re going to play this game because you want to laugh. There’s nothing new or revolutionary about it, but for ten bucks you’ll get more comedy out of this than Step Brothers or Pineapple Express, and you get to finally see how Homestar’s world is actually connected, which is not at all. Newcomers to the series shouldn’t be too afraid either. There are plenty of in jokes but the comedy is pretty much universal, though some people might not get it, and it seems to me like a great way to introduce someone who’s never heard of Homestar Runner or Strong Bad to their hilarious world. Players craving humor or point and click adventuring won’t be let down. Those craving depth and intellect, might want to look elsewhere.