Review: Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner

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Go lock up the entire season of Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People (SBCG4AP for short) right now, boys and girls. The debut episode, Homestar Ruiner, has launched on PC and WiiWare today and it’s every bit as totally awesome a “3D point-and-click-em-up adventure” as Strong Bad promised it would be.

Homestar Ruiner plays out like an extended episode of the popular Homestar Runner web cartoon series, following Strong Bad on an epic quest to beat the snot out of Homestar, which subsequently includes sabotaging his efforts to win the Free Country USA Triannual Race to the End of the Race, wrecking the planned victory party (which Strong Bad wasn’t invited to), ruining his relationship with Marzipan and making him a wanted man on charges of public nudity.

If you’ve been a fan of the Strong Bad cartoons, you’ll eat this game up and immediately begin craving the remaining four episodes (if you have no idea who Strong Bad is, hit up homestarrunner.com and watch him in action and/or try out the free Homestar Ruiner demo). The humor, voice acting, and graphics are all caringly translated from short webisode form to that of a fully interactive video game. Point and clicking Strong Bad around, chatting with all your favorite Homestar Runner characters (Strong Sad, The Cheat, Bubs, Coach Z, Homestar, Marzipan, etc.) and listening to Strong Bad comment on anything and everything around him in his typical sarcastic, poking-fun-at style is simply hilarious. That’s a good thing, too, because the bulk of the game is nothing but character interaction and dialogue. Puzzle solving does factor in heavily throughout, but it’s all of the collect-an-item-and-figure-out-where-to-use-it school of puzzle design — nothing too fancy or particularly difficult to solve.

For an episodic release, I am taken aback by how much content Telltale crammed into Homestar Ruiner. Completing the story takes something like 3-6 hours by itself depending on your knowledge of adventure games and how much time you spend taking in all of the dialogue trees with each character, and on top of that are all sorts of cool Easter eggs and side activities to discover. At Strong Bad’s house, for example, you can partake in some Snake Boxer 5 Atari-like mini-game action or sit at his drawing table to help him concoct new Teen Girl Squad comics. Hidden items and achievements are in abundance, too, like Snake Boxer 5 manual pages, prank phone calls and new costume items, and by finding these goodies you gain new levels of awesomeness (my current awesomeness rank is Flaming Shot Putter).

As this first episode clearly indicates, Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, just like the Sam & Max series, proves that classic adventure gaming is far from dead. When thoughtfully scripted and treated with the utmost care, point-and-click adventures can be as satisfying to play as any other type of game. Homestar Ruiner is a prime example of this, and we have Telltale Games to thank once again for keeping this timeless genre alive and kicking. If you’re totally awesome, attractive and up to the task of handling Strong Bad’s style, Homestar Ruiner (and surely the entire SBCG4AP season) is not to be missed.

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Pros:
+ Flawlessly captures the humor and charm of the Homestar Runner universe; presentation is top notch
+ Intuitive interface and map system eliminate the navigation tedium often associated with adventure games
+ 3-6 hours of story and ample replay value for only $9 is a bargain

Cons:
– Basic puzzle designs don’t put up much of a challenge if you’re an adventure game veteran

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PC, also available on WiiWare
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games/Mike and Matt Chapman
Release Date: 8/11/08
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!