Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 3 - Baddest of the Bands Review

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Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People 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

The Fun Machine is broken. Strong Bad's ancient game console that plays Videlectrix games, that is. And while that's a hard thing for Strong Bad to endure, it's all good times in the latest episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. Strong Bad isn't the kind of guy to take a job to earn the great big bag of cash he needs to pay for the repairs (let alone purchase a newer console). Instead, he's got a convoluted plan that has him staging and winning a battle of the bands with all the cast from Homestar Runner. Along the way, he'll even worship at (and desecrate) the altar of his favorite licensed hair band, Limozeen!

Kyle Ackerman

With the release of Baddest of the Bands, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People is more than halfway through the run of its first season. At $9 an episode on the PC ($10 on the Wii) and $35 for the whole season, I can say that it's worth paying for a season pass, but the purchase is not as clear cut as we all would like. Baddest of the Bands is a strong episode, introducing plenty of new locations, new unlockables, and the ability for Strong Bad to rock out at will. So don't, by any means, believe that I think Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People is bad. It's not.

However, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People will never be as good as Telltale's Sam & Max. It's simply a pacing problem. The freelance police's humor comes from bizarre juxtapositions alongside lighthearted and unnecessary violence. That works gorgeously in an adventure game. The humor from Homestar Runner, something that started primarily as animations, requires timing. And at some point in an adventure game, the timing is going to drag. Combine that with insanely easy puzzles to ensure a casual audience on both the Wii and the PC, and you undermine some of the humor from the Homestar Runner universe. In an animated sequence, Strong Bad is hysterical. In an adventure game, sometimes he's just a bastard in a wrestling mask wandering around saying the same thing over and over again.

Baddest of the Bands turns out to be better than Strong Badia the Free and not quite on par with Homestar Ruiner. The hair band jokes are great, even though there's no "Teen Girl Squad" and the Trogdor arcade game still isn't playable. There's lots of cool new stuff in the environment to explore (check out Strong Mad's closet), but I find myself caring less and less with each passing episode about collectibles. They just don't feel important. And if I don't care, I don't collect them, and that means less play. Plus, there aren't as many Strong Bad e-mails this time. Sure, I can go to the Homestar Runner site for them, but they're one of the elements of the past two episodes I really enjoyed.

All of that said, the (admittedly simple puzzles) in this episode run the gamut from cruel and unusual food metaphors to cruelty to animals, and it's all fun (although it's a little strange that Strong Bad needs a Polaroid camera when he's already using the Snappy 1000XI). Really, Baddest of the Bands is another comfortable romp with the same cast of characters. In case you've ever wondered what sort of instrument Homsar plays, you get to see. Want to see Strong Bad rock out? He does so everywhere. Want to see Trogdor? Well... the Burninator still hasn't shown, but that doesn't stop Strong Bad from abusing The Stick.

So how can Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People improve? It would be more interesting as a game if the puzzles were more challenging, but that might alienate the non-adventure-gaming Homestar Runner fans. It could also involve fewer puzzles and be more like an animated episode, but that's already available at the Homestar Runner site, so what would I be paying for? Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People has an identity crisis to work out. It has to decide what it wants to be when it grows up – if something starring Strong Bad can ever grow up.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on October 27, 2008 12:01 AM.

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