I gotta admit, Homestar Runner was a huge part of my college days. Every Monday my friends and I would eagerly wait for the latest animated Strong Bad email to be posted so we could watch and quote it for the rest of the week. Though I stopped following the site in recent years, I was still very excited when Telltale Games announced an episodic adventure game based on the Homestar Runner characters and world. After a two month delay, the first episode was finally released yesterday on Wii Ware and for the PC.
What I liked:
- Presentation – It’s obvious the creators of Homestar Runner were heavily involved in the creation of this game, as the writing and voice acting are straight out of the website. It plays like an interactive Strong Bad email and that’s what fans of the site want. The menu of the game is even structured the same way as the site.
- Controls – Point and click adventure games are perfect for the Wii. I played the game lounged on the couch with the Wiimote in one hand like a TV remote. It was surprisingly relaxing and natural.
- Graphics – Though the game isn’t in high definition on the Wii, the “2.5d” graphics are well suited for the console. The simplistic, cartoony style of the web-cartoon is held intact while also offering the smooth interactive animation that 3d modelling brings to the table.
- No dying – It’s never fun to have to continually save and reload in order to try out new solutions. Fortunately this game does not go there.
- Quick Jumping – Being able to warp to any location on the map was a huge time saver and helped out with the need to backtrack several places.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Obtuse puzzles – I got stuck in the game several times as it wasn’t quite apparent what my next goal was. Some of the tasks in the game aren’t very free-flowing and natural. Fortunately there’s a walkthrough conveniently placed on Telltale’s site so you can easily get “unstuck,” although it did feel like cheating.
- Tedious gameplay – Adventure games are by nature tedious, as oftentimes you need to resort to trial and error in order to progress. Though SBCGFAP is not an egregious offender, there is room for improvement. I hated how Strong Bad walks so slowly. I wished I could have held down a button to make him run faster. EDIT: Thanks to the many people who notified me that you can make Strong Bad run by double clicking/pressing.
- Dependency on prior knowledge – The humor and charm of SBCGFAP is almost entirely dependent on knowing the characters and references to the web cartoon. I didn’t understand the Whale Drive-Thru reference, but smiled knowingly at the tire in Strong Badia.
Things I didn’t care for:
- Mini Games – There’s a Snake Boxer 5 mini game that you can play in-game on Strong Bad’s Atari system knockoff as well as a Teen Girl Squad comic creation game. I didn’t really care for either, as I’m more of a main story kind of guy, but they’re there for you if you like that sort of thing.
- Photo Booth – You can pose Strong Bad in different costumes and take screenshots to send to your friends on the Wii Message board. A fun novelty, but not too compelling.
- “Achievements” – You will receive medals and commendations for collecting certain objects in the game. Without a tangible reward for doing so, I just didn’t feel compelled to go on scavenger hunts.
Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People is a fairly average adventure game on its own. The characters and world are what makes it stand apart from others. If you’re a big fan of the series, definitely buy this game as you will most certainly enjoy it. The writing for this game is equivalent to an above average Strong Bad email. It won’t blow you away, but won’t have you cringing, either. For those unfamiliar with the Homestar Runner world, watch a few of the cartoons (preferably from the early years) and see if you would enjoy it. The characters have great personality and lend themselves well to be the stars of an adventure game.
I played the Wii version of the game and it took me about 2 and a half hours to complete. At a $10 price point, you’re looking at about the same cost of entertainment as a movie ticket. If you don’t like adventure games or the Homestar Runner characters, you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. PC owners pay only $8.95 for the first episode ($34.95 for a season pass of 5 episodes). There’s also a demo you can download here for the PC if you want to try it first.