Archive for the 'comedy' Category

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

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One

May 21, 2008

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness: Episode One is a hybrid RPG/point-and-click adventure game that follows the characters from the Penny Arcade webcomic as they take on a Lovecraftian quest. The demo is limited to the tutorial section of the game, and consists of a handful of fights against repetitive enemies, plus a few cutscenes and some dialog “trees” (actually, all the branches arrive at the same place). This is coupled with the standard adventure game pursuit of clicking on every available object, which rewards the player with funny dialog or descriptions, occasional bonuses like concept art, and items like heals and potions. These latter objects are useless in the demo, as the enemies are too weak to be a challenge, particularly since the real-time combat system allows blocking their attacks. Not only that, but the demo refuses to let any of the characters die, healing them if they take any significant damge. Only the final fight is at all interesting, managing a party of three against a full gang of opponents can be enjoyably hectic. The presentation is great; fans of Penny Arcade will get some laughs and appreciate seeing the characters and style in another format. Non-fans won’t get anything from the demo.

1/3 – For fans only

Tech details:

Size: 210 MB (preloads the game)

System Requirements: 1 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, 64 MB GeForce 5200/Radeon 9500/GMA 950, Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Linux, OS X 10.4/10.5

Bad Day LA

August 16, 2006

What if all the media scaremongering about disasters and terrorism came true? This is the premise of Bad Day LA, the story of one man caught up in a string of natural and man-made disasters. A half-insane, homeless man at that. The protagonist of Bad Day LA has more character than a dozen generic videogame heroes, and the demo is slick and funny, mixing political humour with crazy characters and some gory slapstick. The demo is sadly short, just one level with some tutorial elements and a handful of mission objectives. In the demo level terrorists have crashed planes loaded with zombifying bioweapons into LA, causing chaos. Your tour through the wreckage includes healing injured people (most memorably by jumping up and down on the chest of a heart attack victim), putting out flaming pedestrians with your fire extinguisher, using the extinguisher to dezombify people by blowing away the clouds of toxic gas, shooting terrorists, zombies (if you don’t fancy saving them) and crazed dogs, and escorting a conveniently immortal sick little boy. Varied, well executed and fun (aside from the invisible walls), but ends much to soon.

Score: 1/3 – For fans only

Tech Details:

Size: 270MB

System Requirements: 1.6GHz CPU, 512MB RAM, 64MB DirectX9 video card (Radeon 8500/GF 5200 or higher), Windows 2000/XP, 1024×768 screen resolution