Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People - Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner

The episodic insanity hits WiiWare, but is it any fun?

Posted on August 13, 2008 at 2:57 pm by Matt Simmons

For years the internet hit Homstarrunner has humored and delighted fans of all ages with its off-beat humor and colorful cast of characters. While the main character might technically be Homestarrunner, The weekly web-episodes of antagonist Strong Bad answering e-mails quickly rose to the top of the websites popularity. Strong Bad has spawned many famous internet sensations such Trogdor and the anime parody Stinkoman, as well has his sidekick "The Cheat" making numerous catchy songs. The creators of Homestarrunner ("The Brothers Chaps" as sometimes referred to in episodes), are big fans of the Wii and have brought all the trademark weirdness of the website into a full fledged game. As the title suggests, "Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 1 Homestar Ruiner", is the first in a monthly episodic series of downloadable WiiWare games. As luck would have it, they partnered with the only developer to do episodic games right: Tell Tale games.

Graphically the game uses a 3D cel-shaded style to bring the 2D characters to life, a feat that normally ruins licensed material from a 2D animated source. Here the difference is barely noticeable, probably thanks to simple-yet-pleasing style of Homestarrunner. The game also brings the Homestar world together to form a cohesive whole and includes just about every area shown in the cartoon whether there is any use for it in the game or not. While not every single square of the map will be used, its nice to be able to trek through Strong Bads house, or wander the countryside, passing by series landmarks such as "The Stick" and "Strong Badia".

While demoing the game at Comic Con, I had a chance to meet some of the development staff at Tell Tale games, and it was there they confirmed that "Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People" hit the roof of the WiiWare size limit. This shows in the jam packed audio department. The soundtrack is written by the creators on the trademark Casio keyboard sound. It is also filled to the brim with voice over work. Not letting anything go by, the game features not one, but multiple lines of dialogue for each encounter, adding to the immersive factor of the game instead of slapping you in the face with how tiny the WiiWare size limit is.

Much has been said about the game's humor, which is both inside jokes to the long running series as well as those of the fourth wall-breaking nature. This creates a nice balance for newcomers and series veterans; however, being a fan of the series will add a lot more to the experience. The gameplay is pure classic point and click adventure. What might be startling to many is the head scratching puzzles presented in the game. Those unfamiliar with the genre might get stuck and frustrated easily as the key to solving problems requires a little more outside the box thinking then simply finding the correct key card. Those who haven't forgotten the classic point-and-click adventure genre will likely be delighted to see that despite the more colorful aesthetic of the game, it is not dumbed down to appease the "casual audience". There are even two miniames within. Longtime fans of the website are no doubt familiar with the fake video game system, the Videlectrix, and the side series "Teen Girl Squad". Within each episode of "Strong Bad" a new Videlectrix game is included, this one being "Snake Boxer 5". There is also a mini game of Teen Girl Squad where you attempt to have each of the four girls die in some bizarre manner by selecting items for each girl to acquire in the next "panel". What this basically boils down to, is imagine a flash based dress up doll game, but instead of putting new clothes on, your trying to destroy each character with some common household item.

With games such as the Half Life 2 Episodes, Penny Arcade, and other such content being regulated to other systems due to memory limitations, its actually surprising to see a game like this appear on WiiWare. It doesn't quite seem to fit the mantra of WiiWare games supported by Nintendo, yet at the same time it's the perfect game for the service. It offers pleasing graphics, an expanding storyline, and a ton of presentation value. The only slight nitpicks are the aforementioned confusion the game can create when trying to figure out what to do next to advance the story, and the game has some slight loading. Nothing game breaking but a little annoying by the end of the game. Other then that, this game comes highly recommended.

Final Verdict - 8/10

Wii owners should consider themselves lucky that and Tell Tale games have given the Wii a bizzare yet awesome game series. It is well worth the investment and can be enjoyed by just about anyone without being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. If you are a long time fan of the cartoon, consider it a 9.