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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

GameTap / TellTale Games

 

Developer

TellTale Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 11, 2008

 

 

‑ Magnificently brings the world of Homestar Runner, including its classic humor and unique art style, to the gaming community

‑ Finding all the hidden ďEaster eggĒ items gives gamers reason to continue playing after completing the story

 

 

‑ Navigation is sometimes not easy, with a few hidden walls frustratingly impeding Strong Badís seemingly clear paths

‑ Some puzzle solutions rely on the luck of serendipitous discovery rather than the usual point & click adventure logic

 

 

Review: Sam & Max Season 2 (PC)

Review: Sam & Max Season 1 (PC)

Review: Viewtiful Joe 2 (GC)

 

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Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner

Score: 8.5/ 10

 

When choosing its next episodic gaming franchise to follow in the successful gumshoes of its Sam & Max series, the choice for Telltale Games was an easy one: Homestar Runner, based on the extremely popular website cartoon, www.homestarrunner.com. Easy, because Homestar Runner features the same smart-alecky tone and acidic humor as Sam & Max, with a plethora of familiar characters that have a strong following amongst hard-core aficionados who will absolutely love this new series, as did the legion of Sam & Max fans.

 

homestar ruiner          homestar ruiner

 

Just like the above-mentioned Sam & Max series that recently completed its second season, Telltale Games has another great point & click adventure hit with the release of Strong Badís Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner on the PC (and also on the Wii via a WiiWare download).

 

Using a simplistically unique, cartoonish art style, the series is populated by the bizarre and strange folks that have starred on the website for years, including the gameís main character, the mean, pompous little Strong Bad, who wears a Luca libre mask along with boxing gloves.

 

As in Sam & Max, the gameplay is strictly old-school point & click adventuring, searching the gameís landscape and various locales for hidden items, then finding the right combination of items used at the appropriate time to solve the gameís

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challenges and puzzles and advance toward the gameís ending. Once more exactly the same as the Sam & Max series, Strong Badís Cool Game for Attractive People will be presented in episodes, with five total comprising Season One. Each should follow the modus operandi of Sam & Maxís adventures, offering two to four hours of gameplay in each episode.

 

So you the gamer are given the role of Strong

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Bad, who doesnít like the dimwitted Homestar Runner very much. On a whim, Strong Bad decides todayís the day to beat the snot out of Homestar. Instead of freeing Homestar from his nasal cavityís mucus content, however, Strong Bad decides instead to ruin (where the ďRuinerĒ in the title Homestar Ruiner evolves from) Homestarís chance to win the Tri-Annual Race Until the End of the Race while also spoiling the celebratory party Homestarís girlfriend Marzipan has planned to honor Homestarís expected victory.

 

However, Strong Badís plan backfires, because after ruining Homestarís chance of winning and obliterating Marzipanís party plans (which in turn causes her to get extremely mad at Homestar), Strong Bad gets an unexpected house guest with no plans to leave Ė Homestar! So Strong Bad has to basically do the opposite of his previous deviousness in order to rid Homestar from his home: he must help Homestar win the race and reclaim Marzipanís good graces.

 

Controlling Strong Bad from locale to locale (of which there are many) is easily accomplished using an on-screen pointer (as in all classic point & click gameplay) with the computer mouse (this reviewer even found the navigation easy using only a laptop touchpad). As easy as it is to traverse from place to place, however, there are too many invisible walls that impede Strong Badís progression around certain seemingly innocuous obstacles and environmental features.

 

homestar ruiner          homestar ruiner

 

But overall, the movement from location to location isnít difficult, and is made even easier by just calling up Strong Badís hand-drawn map and clicking on the desired go-to point a gamer wishes to visit. Getting thereís easy, but the puzzles are challenging once Strong Bad arrives, and are much more fun to solve than some of the difficult and cryptic ones that anybody thatís played the Sam & Max episodes have experienced. As expected, the solving relies on the combining of the correct items in the right spot. Some are definitely easier than others and a few fall into the Sam & Max variety of needing serendipitous luck to solve, but taken as a whole the puzzles offer a just-right amount of toughness without becoming annoyingly complicated.

 

Along with the entertaining puzzles are plenty of hidden Easter eggs strewn throughout the landscape. Using his trusty metal detector, Strong Bad can discover little goodies like trading cards and Videoelectrix instruction manuals. Other items are hidden under boxes. There are also a few mini-games that Strong Bad can play, including the Videoelectrix Computer System game, Snake Boxer V, in his bedroom. He also has his Lappy 486 computer, where he receives and answers his patented e-mails as only Strong Bad can with his wisenheimer attitude.

 

All of the action is presented with the same high quality visual styling that anybodyís that visited the Homestar website even once will immediately appreciate for its colorful yet simplistic approach to animation. That also helps run the game smoother on lower-end PCs that might struggle with more graphically enhanced games, making Homestar Ruiner more accessible to the casual gaming masses.

 

Just as with Sam & Max, itís the sarcastic humor that is a trademark of the Homestar Runner Web cartoons, and itís here Homestar Ruiner full-force, driving the storyline along with hilarity until itís conclusion. If youíre a fan of sarcastic humor, there are plenty of laughs here, especially for the Homestar Runner fanatics.

 

The kickoff episode to the five-game first season of the newest Telltale Games episodic point & click adventure franchise, Homestar Ruiner will be embraced wholeheartedly by the Homestar Runner community at large, as well as those not quite familiar with the website. With fun puzzles and a funnier story in yet another of its game series, Telltale Games has shown everybody that the success and quality of its Sam & Max franchise wasnít just a fluke, and that any developer/publisher that is interested creating episodic gaming has only to look Telltaleís way on how to do it right.

 

‑ Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(August 17, 2008)

 

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