Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner and Strongbadia The Free demo round-up

October 4, 2008

The first thing you need to do is go to homestarrunner.com, watch a flash video, and see if you can stand the voicework. The regular-guys-doing-silly-voices style has a strong potential to grate so hard that enjoying this would be impossible. SBCG4AP is a point-and-click adventure in the classic style, but cut into smaller slices and presented episodically; this is why we’re reviewing the demos of the first two episodes here together. The tutorial, identical in both, is laugh-out-loud funny, particularly where Strong Bad turns his “wit” on the player. It’s a controlled micro-adventure-game, which keeps the pace up, an essential for laughs. The gag density is lower in the later game sections and more fall flat, but there are still good lines and funny moments like Strong Bad checking his email and the included mini-games, one of which manages to be a mash-up of Double Dragon and Brain Age.

The first demo, Homestar Ruiner, follows Strong Bad’s plan to mess with his friend, Homestar, by beating him in a race. There are several locations and characters, but there’s a worrying hint of familiarity already as some of the motifs seem re-used from Telltale’s Sam and Max games (the phone, the shop). The second demo, Strongbadia The Free, admirably mixes up the conventions in the first demo. It starts with a fairly simple escape-the-room section where Strong Bad has to bust out of house arrest, and then moves to a pastiche of a strategy game: every game location has seceded from the tyrannical King of Town and must be won over (via point-and-click interactions) into an alliance to defeat him. The demo ends as you take your first country, meaning that the setup and exploration of the country map is where you’ll spend most of your time, rather than in puzzling.

The normal adventure game niggles are all present and correct in both, there are vital items that look like incidental detail, there are puzzles that make some sense in retrospect but can only be solved by a real leap of logic, and you’re wearing boxing gloves yet have to engage in elaborate machinations to get past people rather than punching them, which might be your inclination if you get frustrated by any of the above. The hint system doesn’t help much, tending to state the obvious rather than give clues about the more difficult puzzle aspects. Neither demo lets you save, although both can be completed in one sitting without too much trouble.

Neither is a stunning demo, but if you like Strong Bad or adventure games both are worth adding to your inventory.

1/3 – For fans only

Tech Details:

Size: 70 MB, 110 MB

System Requirements:1.5 GHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, 32 MB DirectX 9 graphics card, Windows XP/Vista

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