Saturday, 4 September 2010

Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People Series

Just finished all five episodes of Strong Bad and thought I would share what I thought of them. This is the second Telltale series I've played, the first being Sam & Max Season 1 which I also finished.

Strongbad's Free Episode
Just something worth mentioning, I've never spent any amount of time with Homestar Runner so I had no understanding of who all the characters were except for Strongbad who I knew as the main character. My first game was Episode 4 Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective which was made free for a limited time. Unfortunately this epiode featured Strongbad making a spy movie further confusing me as to who the characters really were as they sometimes referred to themselves as the characters in the movie and sometimes as themselves. I've not watched spy movies either so a great number of jokes and references were not clear to me.

I don't think Episode 4 was a good introduction to the world or characters as a result and I think its something they should have thought of before using as a promotional episode to entice potential buyers to purchase the game. It made me somewhat reluctant to purchase the series even when presented at US$5 at the recent special.

My second episode however was Episode 5: 8 Bit is Enough which was made free for one day only and that really saved my opinion of Strongbad particularly as I'm a retro gamer and really understood lots of references being made. It remains my favourite episode out of the entire season.

Mini-game with every game - Each game also had a simple retro style game which is funny.
Fairly clever and funny puzzles - Most of the puzzles are your usual quite interesting and I personally found the to be pitched at the right level.

Doesn't take advantage of the PC format to deliver better art direction - This is clearly a design choice but comparing this to Sam & Max's art direction, Strong Bad's creators seem content to simply create and realise their flash drawings in 3D. There is definitely a certain minimalistic charm to it but I feel they could have aimed higher or otherwise included more content in the game to make up for that. Take for example, Episode 3's map and film narrations everytime you conquered another 'land' or Episode 5's 8 bit environments patterned after various period in computer gaming history. more of these additional parodies could have made the game feel more exciting especially as Strong Bad normally walks around the exact same major areas in each episode. The main areas being his neighbourhood which unfortunately mimics the American suburban landscape.
Some secrets and clothes are time locked and you can only get them at certain times forcing you to replay the entire episode to get them - I don't think this is a good way of increasing replayability and it's even more annoying as some of these secrets require you to perform actions such as using two completely unrelated items together.
Game script needs even more optional jokes and funny sayings similar to Time Gentlemen Please! by Zombie Cow where nearly single combination of items will elicit some of clever response by the characters.
Requiring online verification could pose a problem for those without internet connections.

Overall, its a solid entrance into the adventure game market and if you're already a fan of Strongbad and the Homestar Runner series by all means buy it. The Strong Bad games are actually very well done and logical and I've actually had a great deal of fun. It originally retailed at $US30 Short length of each episode makes me feel that US$30 isn't enough. I bought it at at US$5 special and it was certainly worth the laughs but I don't think you should be paying more than say US$15 for the entire season.

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