• Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People


  • Graphic Adventure


  • Telltale Games


  • Telltale Games

Release Date:

  • July 2 2009 (Complete PC Release)


  • Windows, Wii, OS X, iOS, PS3

Box Art Credit:

  • Mobygames

Systems Used:

  • New PC with Windows 7, Wii

On Wikipedia:

Back in 2010, I decided to try to honor a less-then-perfect (to put it lightly) year, 2005, on my blog with the strong and good memories I wanted to hold onto. It was not the best of times by any means, solidly in the middle school era, but there were things I liked and cherished. Like spring of 2013, there are games (well, just one) from those era that won't be covered yet because I'm not entirely sure to come to terms with that point in my life yet. Any, one of those things about 2005 was the fact that 2005 was the peak of my love of Homestar Runner, which you can read about on my old blog linked (itself highly dated in many ways), but around 2008, they partnered with Telltale Games to make a full episodic video game series. It was probably around 2009 when I downloaded (through WiiWare) and played the first episode (Homestar Ruiner), so this review will tend to cover that and my current replay on a PC. The other ones I'll probably post an addendum to later down the line.

Ah yes, the Graphic Adventurer's dilemma. A huge amount of items and no idea what to do!

What kind of bothered me about the original Wii play through was that even though the writing was good, at least for late-era Homestar Runner (there were times that I genuinely laughed, such as a flashback showing why Strong Bad isn't invited to Marzipan's parties anymore), but the graphics felt all wrong. I'm used to the distinct Flash animation Homestar Runner was born out of, therefore seeing a 2-D style 3-D polygons seems wrong. It would be a bit more interesting if it was a Flash-styled full game in the same visual style (in a larger resolution, of course) but it's not. It also seems to have a problem with lip-syncing. Is it that hard to sync a voice to maybe six mouth frames and appropriate shaking of the polygonal character? My CD-ROM edutainment games I used in the mid-1990s had better lip-syncing than this! If I could say one thing, at least it makes more obvious that Strong Bad's own "country", Strong Badia, said to be in a field behind the Dumpsters, has flattened cardboard as the territory, as the cartoon just appears to be plowed and loose dirt (having cardboard makes it more obvious as to why there's no plants growing there).

The second thing to note is that although it's a graphic adventure game, it's so toned down. Most of the action is just one click, there's no "Look at" or "Open" or "Use", and most of what you need to do involve talking to the right people and using the right items. In terms of difficulty, it's quite low. The classic graphical adventures of the 1990s had a diverse set of things to do with items, like "Look at" or "Open" or "Use". You can LOOK AT the mailbox and perhaps get a snarky quip about the efficiency of the U.S. postal service, OPEN the mailbox to get the Supermarket Coupons you need later on for some other task, or USE the Baseball Bat to destroy the mailbox for something to do later (LucasArts games were often known for their madcap chain reactions). Telltale Games (the spiritual successor of classic LucasArts in many ways, as by that time, the now-defunct company was making exclusively Star Wars titles) has the same spirit of that sort of thing but misses the mark in many aspects. They at least understand the principle engineered in Sam & Max Hit the Road, where dialogue trees are chosen by choosing what to discuss instead of saying it, as reading the lines to choose to say kind of ruin the joke, especially for old games without a speech option. Speaking of dialogue trees, there's also parts where you can select "Angel" Strong Bad (say something faux-nice, often a back-handed compliment) and "Devil" Strong Bad (say something obviously mean). These are mostly to get a reaction out of characters and they have no bearing on any sort of "morality meter" or whatever.

The third thing to note is I can't get over how much greater control this game has with a mouse as opposed to a Wii remote. Keyboards, D-pads, joysticks, and even touch screens have their strengths and weaknesses, but by and large, the Wii remote is probably one the stinkiest control methods of the modern era (which, by the way, was one of the comparisons and complaints back in 2006, but at that time, the Wii hadn't had a chance to try and prove itself yet).

The fourth thing is that despite being a "new style" graphic adventure game, it still runs head first into amassing a large variety of items and locations but have no idea on how to use them. This is one of the things I liked about The Shivah because you DIDN'T have to deal with those things. By the way, the "Aldi bag full of melted candy bars" line in that review does come from the world of Homestar Runner, though not this game in particular...it's from an old "Strong Bad Email" from 2003. I had to consult a walkthrough to try to get out of my slump after I exhausted all my options on trying every item in everything, then it turned out all I had to do was watch a TV (which was hidden in another part of the house) to advance the plot.

Other than that, it's alright. Most of the music seems to be looped from the sound bytes used in the cartoons. For instance, from the get-go, you can access a CD player that has a number of short tunes, and one of them (said to be one of The Cheat's "Latin rhythms") is from the email "pet show" (link goes to HRWiki, not direct Flash link). The game appeared right as updates at HomestarRunner.com ground to a halt, but it didn't feel like they pulled out all the stops on it to make a grand finale, and that's probably why it felt so weak, at least from what I remember playing. Like I said above, I may make further notes (remember, there's four episodes I never played at all), but to end this review: I strongly recommend that unless you have hearing difficulties, turn off the closed captions. This is from someone who leaves the closed captions on when watching Netflix shows, so...definitely do it. The next paragraph concerns Episode 2...

Remember all those nice things I said about the first episode, Homestar Ruiner? Yeah, well, you can just about forget them. Strong Badia the Free is definitely far weaker than the first episode, and although the game itself is far worse: it's simultaneously easier and more frustrating in parts, the crux relies on an out of character moment by the King of Town, and remarking that it is out of character doesn't make the problem go away. In the Homestar Runner universe, the Municipality, with the emblem of a Darth Vader-like King of Town logo and the Poopsmith in riot gear, was part of an extended joke where Strong Bad imagines his head being separated from his body. Here, the KOT demands an email tax (in the form of snack cakes) and both the King of Town and the Poopsmith (in the "Pooper Trooper" outfit) burst into Strong Bad's room and put him under house arrest with an explosive collar. The connection with the previous episode is poor, with the only reference is that the King of Town eats Strong Bad's map from the last episode. None of the lines were particularly entertaining unlike the last episode which set me up with high hopes, the Homsar Reservation was also another out of character moment as who Homsar is established to be, and so forth. Nothing really worked, and the whole climax leads up to a board game where you try to prevent Homestar from reaching the King of Town. The other big weakness is that the game makes use of the BMW lighter, common to the series, but it's not recognizable because they had to remove the BMW logo...and nothing is said about it. You'd think there could be one quip about how the lighter was vandalized, or a fourth-wall attempt at explaining a possible cease and desist, but nope!

Another feature in the first three episodes is a mini-game where you try to make "Teen Girl Squad" comics using pre-existing traps in scenes that require it. While this is technically well done, SBCG4AP forgets that what made the first few TGS episodes funny was not killing all four off but rather the absurdity of it all. It's here that the general decline of writing of the cartoon rears its ugly head.

February 3, 2016 (original), February 21, 2016 (adding Episode 2 and TGS paragraph)