Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People


Review by · November 13, 2009

Note: this review applies to all five episodes of SBCG4AP, for both Wii and PC. The differences in control scheme are negligible, but will be discussed within the text of the review.

Telltale Games are the new kings of graphic adventures, and they’re also the aces of episodic content. They’re taking beloved franchises of various stripes and making hilarious, engaging graphic adventures out of them. Of the franchises Telltale has taken on thus far, my favorite is Homestar Runner. Of course, we all know who the real star of the show is with that webtoon: Strong Bad. Hence the ridiculous name, Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People.

From August to December of 2008, Telltale released five episodes to download via PC or the Wii’s “WiiWare” service. After all five episodes were released, one could purchase them as one package; in fact, for the PC version, you could buy a physical copy of the game on DVD. Having completed all five episodes, I consider myself fortunate to have experienced one of the greatest things to happen to Strong Bad and his “friends.” But before I heap more praise on this game than the Poopsmith heaps dung on… more dung, let’s acknowledge the game’s flaws.

Where’d He Go? Where’d He Go? Where’d He Go?

SBCG4AP plays as a third-person graphic adventure, wherein you (usually) control Strong Bad as he walks around various locales in a 3D environment. Click where you want to go, and he’ll go there. Or, at least, that’s what is supposed to happen. In a very unscientific study, I tested how many times Strong Bad went where I wanted him to when I clicked the spot I thought appropriate. Sometimes, those places would be out of reach based on the programming (even though they looked entirely within reach). At other times, the game just set a bad walking path for Strong Bad, and he never got to where I sent him. I’d say that out of every ten attempts to click on something or someone, four give me a result other than what I want. That’s a 60% success rate, so that’s also the game’s Control score.

Note that, on the Wii you have the added challenge of aiming where you want to go, instead of using a mouse. This can be, in the words of Strong Bad, “problematic.” Generally, I preferred controlling the game on the PC rather than attempting to move our dashing shirtless anti-hero around on the Wii.

Videlectrix: Good Graphicketeers

Transitioning from the fully 2D world of shockwave flash to the 3D “Telltale Tools” engine went surprisingly well. However, there was little intention to make this game beautiful or even flashy. In many ways, the graphical capabilities serve a merely functional purpose, to tell a story. There’s nothing visually impressive about the character designs, and the environments are usually quite simple.

It should also be noted that the WiiWare version, in all its 480p glory, tends to have choppy animation and blocky, pixely artifacts. The PC version allows you to change resolution based on your computer’s specs. And of course, it doesn’t take a high-end machine to run this game. But even at its highest resolution, the game isn’t meant to be a visual tour de force.

With these two aspects of the game out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

I Said: Come On Fhqwhgads

The “Brothers Chaps” (Matt and Mike Chapman) have been doing this whole Homestar Runner thing for nearly a decade now. Matt does the voices of nearly every character; the major exception is that Missy Palmer voices the female character Marzipan. Just like in the web-based cartoons, the dialogue delivery is a big part of what makes these characters so memorable and so absolutely hilarious. A standing ovation on the voice acting in this game, indeed.

As for the music, it’s the same sort of intentionally cheesy, low-budget fun stuff that we find on from chiptunes to ’80s hair band metal, the music itself exists to make you chuckle. And the placement of the music is generally fantastic.

Sound effects are also well-done. In general, audio production on this game is one of its greatest strengths. I cannot count, by using all my fingers, toes, and miscellaneous appendages, the number of times I laughed out loud during this game. And much of that is due to the audio. But the presentation isn’t everything, of course…

And the Trogdor Comes in the Niiiight!

Each of the game’s five episodes comes in three sections. Here, I provide you with a brief synopsis of each episode.

Homestar Ruiner – The first adventure opens the same way many Strong Bad adventures do: with an email. The email asks Strong Bad why he doesn’t just beat the ever-loving snot out of Homestar if he dislikes him so much (this is very similar to the classic “Homsar” email, just missing the Homsar mis-spelling that inadvertently created said character). So Strong Bad goes out of his way to make Homestar’s life awful. Strong Bad succeeds, and as a result, Homestar decides to hang out at Strong Bad’s house, wallowing in depression, since everyone now despises him. Strong Bad realizes the mistake he’s made and works to save Homestar’s reputation, if only to get Homestar out of his house.

Strong Badia the Free – Arguably the most expansive and humorous of the five episodes. The KOT (King of Town) throws a tax on all incoming and outgoing emails. Strong Bad is put under house arrest for not paying his taxes in the first segment. In the second segment, after breaking out of his own house, Strong Bad attempts to rally all the citizens to secede from the King of Town’s rule and join him in a rebel movement on his home turf of “Strong Badia.” Unfortunately, the first part of his speech does better than the second, and everybody decides to create their own independent nation. Even Homsar has his own country, which, I promise you, leads to much hilarity. By picking up new items and gaining alliances with the other “nations,” Strong Bad eventually gets the power he needs to overthrow the King of Town. Of course, this plan backfires, as Strong Bad becomes the new “king” and finds he hates the job.

Baddest of the Bands – Strong Bad needs money to repair his generic “Fun Machine” (a home videogame console). To do so, he decides he’ll put on a “battle of the bands” and use the contest entry money to pay Bubs to fix his machine. He doesn’t gain enough money, though, so he also enters himself as an act in hopes to win the prize money. This episode features fictional band “Limozeen” as guest stars, and has some of the hardest puzzles to solve.

Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective – The long-awaited third movie in the Dangeresque series comes to life, and you play it! This graphic adventure takes place entirely within the context of the film. You’re not directing the film: you’re playing as though the film is actually happening, and you’re the lead actor, Dangeresque. There’s a lot of content in this particular episode, but like the Dangeresque films themselves, the plot doesn’t flow very well. The humor felt more forced in this episode.

8-Bit Is Enough – My personal favorite episode! Trogdor escapes from the arcade machine in Strong Bad’s basement. The lines of reality and virtual reality begin to blur, and all of the 8-bit characters from previous “Videlectrix” titles (found as web-based flash games on the Homestar site over the past few years) come to life in the game. Stinko Man, Rather Dashing, the “Algebros,” and others come to life. Furthermore, many Homestar Runner characters become videogame-ized. Marzipan turns into an angry, crate-throwing clone of Donkey Kong, for example. The final chapter comes with a surprisingly fun and “aweXome” ending. It’s quite fitting for a character like Strong Bad.

The weakness of the story in this form of episodic content is that it feels like the plot could stop at any given point, and that’s fine. Resolution exists at all time. There is no tension, and the only reason to move forward is to get more laughs. And I’m fine with that, but some gamers might not be. Also, if you have no prior exposure to the Homestar Runner cartoon and characters, the game’s plot and humor will be of little value to you. Many of its laurels rests on self-reference to older cartoons and memorable characters (such as Trogdor, with his beefy arm and wing-a-lings).

Screwin’ Up The Jumble Caper

In all of these episodes, puzzles are generally solved by using a kind of twisted logic that is common in graphic adventures. Pull items from your inventory, try using them on everything, and also be sure to talk to everyone multiple times. I had to turn to walkthroughs at least once per episode to figure out what I was missing. But, the typical satisfying feeling of figuring out each step of the adventure for yourself does go a long way, and that’s where Telltale really excels in their scenarios.

I should also mention that there are plenty of mini-games, and each episode also has an “extended play” post-game, in which you can walk around, find bonus items, and see/hear some new things.

OHHHH That’s The End!

In short, if you’re a Homestar fan, you should get these games. Get the whole package. Preferably for the PC, but it works fine on the Wii as well. If you don’t know your Homestar, spend a few days browsing, and if the time spent there makes you laugh a lot, then you have a reason to check out this game. I loved playing through SBCG4AP, but then again, I’ve been a huge Homestar fan since I personally discovered it in 2002. The site’s popularity has begun to wane in the last two or three years, but this game really revived my interest in the whole cast of characters.

Overall Score 82
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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.