Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner Review

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Descriptive Text Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games and Videlectrix

Platforms: PC and Wii
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 1.5 GHz Processor, 256 MB RAM, 32 MB 3D video card, DirectX 9, internet connection, Windows XP or Vista

Sometimes you just want to beat the tar out of someone (not the snot – the tar, or something else suitably less snotty), but when that someone is Homestar Runner, things are always more complicated than they seem. What begins with Strong Bad answering e-mails on Lappy quickly becomes an epic journey through Homestar Runner's town, with Strong Bad trying to reconstruct the life of an uninvited houseguest just so he can get back to punching snakes.

Kyle Ackerman

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner was developed in conjunction with Matt and Mike Chapman, the brothers behind Homestar Runner, and Videlectrix, the folks who made previous Homestar-related games. The game is entertaining (and often laugh-out-loud funny) for the average adventure gamer, but is a must-have for long-time fans of Homestar Runner. Thanks to the Chapmans and the infamous Strong Bad (an acquaintance of Homestar Runner with a nasty temper, wit like a mud-covered mattock and a Lucha Libre wrestling mask), the game feels like an interactive installment of Homestar Runner antics. An interactive episode with a solid tutorial in which the usual adventure-game inventory becomes a "collection of surprisingly useful useless crap."

Strong Bad checks his e-mails (a long-running joke), creates new "Teen Girl Squad" comics and interacts with the whole cast of characters from Homestar Runner's clique of friends (and enemies). If Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner has a real weakness, it's that many of the characters from Homestar Runner are represented, but have brief cameos so brief (even briefer than usual) that they are amusing to fans but puzzling to newcomers. The game stands alone, but in many places the jokes of Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner assume that you know much of Strong Bad's and Homestar's past history. Also, there's not nearly enough Trogdor the Burninator – a hedge and a broken game just don't cut it.

As an adventure game, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner isn't particularly difficult, and that's appropriate. Most of the puzzles are straightforward, just difficult enough to make you set your brain into motion to keep the plot going. But they rely on Strong Bad-style-logic – the logic of a mean-spirited but straightforwardly ironic guy – rather than the convoluted puzzle logic that plagues some adventure games. Yes, it takes Strong Bad ages to get around to actually pummeling Homestar Runner, and he seems to help people more than he should, given his projected image, but that's all in keeping with the adventure game framework. The game makes up for its simple puzzles with collectibles and side activities like the interactive Teen Girl Squad comics.

Mostly, Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner is entertaining because it gives us more of the Chapmans' creation. As Strong Bad, I got to talk with The Stick, visit StrongBadia (population: Tire), and enjoy a spectacular hole-digging montage. The dialog is pure Homestar Runner, with Strong Bad crying out things like, "The hedge is the disease, and I'm the placebo!"

If the game's graphics seem a little sparse, keep in mind that they are in keeping with the cartoon (and the Wii's capabilities). The game may have Wii-friendly icons and games that use the Wii's remote, but works perfectly on the PC, and looks much better at high, PC-capable resolutions. At $10 on the Wii and $8.95 for the first episode on the PC, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 1 - Homestar Ruiner is easily worth the price, providing more than twice the amount of entertainment you'd get from a comparably priced film. But the best deal of all is clearly Telltale's season ticket, where for $35 you can get the entire 5 part-season – assuming Telltale can deliver four more episodes to rival the first.

Telltale Games may have started out with the release of its adventure game adaptation of Bone, but quickly emerged as a powerhouse of adventure gaming and a pioneer of successful episodic content with the release of its Sam & Max games. Telltale Games' adventure business is now booming, and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People proves that Telltale has plenty of powder left.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 11, 2008 6:27 PM.

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