Name: Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Platform: WiiWare, PC (Reviewed for PC)
Ever since Telltale announced their PC (and WiiWare) adaptation of the popular Homestar Runner video series I have waited, wondering what they would be able to pull off on the system. I was also curious to see how they would be able to take the Homestar Runner cartoons, which are usually 1-3 minute quotable shorts based in a world filled with odd characters, and adapt them into a video game series. I had faith, because Telltale has yet to let me down, but I was definitely skeptical about the game. Now, having played through the first episode, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner, I am happy to report that they did a pretty nice job.
The basic controls are nearly exactly like Sam & Max’s, involving pointing and clicking on different objects in order to interact with them. It’s a proven formula, dating back to the early Lucasarts titles of the 1990’s, and the revival is in full swing thanks to Telltale. There is plenty to do aside from working your way through the plot of the game, which follows Strongbad as he attempts to ruin Homestar’s life (in lieu of “beating the snot out of him”). Playing Snake Boxer 5, creating Teen Girl Squad Cartoons, The Cheat into the washing machine all serve as interesting enough distractions and extend the game's somewhat short playtime.
As a point-and-click adventure, the gameplay relies on well created puzzles in order to impose challenges throughout the game. It definitely feels unique, and thanks to some clever sections of the game it was made clear that Telltale has a little more planned for the series than I had originally anticipated. Stealth segments, which are a fairly untouched territory in the genre, serve as a welcome addition to the title, and the game can prove quite challenging as it approaches the end.
Some aspects of the game aren’t as well developed as the puzzles, and detract slightly from the experience. The game will occasionally give you a new costume piece of outfit to wear, upping the games collectible count significantly. Unfortunately, these can only be used in the game’s creepy otherworldly dressing room, and it feels a bit unnecessary because of that. You are able to take pictures of your character and send them to friends, but that doesn’t really make it any more than a very temporary amusement. The puzzles, while often humorous, also occasionally fall flat, leading to more “Oh, that’s what I had to do?” moments than hoped.
Even without intimate knowledge of the Homestar Runner universe the jokes definitely land, partially because much of the humor of the series is based in the world of the bizarre. While having background knowledge for the characters would definitely make the game better, Telltale carefully crafted around it, assuring that not knowing about “The Cheat” or “Coach Z” would never hinder your progress in the game. However, it appears that they weren’t able to perfectly hit their stride in terms of puzzle creation, and this episode definitely has some of the early-season jitters that the first few episodes of Sam & Max had. Even so, for fans of the series or the genre the purchase shouldn’t even be a question.