Name: Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 3: Baddest of the Bands
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Wii, PC (Reviewed on Wii)
Despite the fact that I was in love with Telltale’s Sam and Max franchise, I’ve been consistently disappointed by the Strong Bad series. They are decent games, and I love the fact that point-and-click adventures are back, but the Strong Bad games seem to screw up in areas in which Sam and Max has always succeeded; pacing and game interface. Even so, I get excited every single time I hear that a new episode has been released. I’m annoyed that they aren’t as good as they could be, but damned if they aren’t enjoyable.
The plot follows Strong Bad, whose Atari console has recently decided to stop working. Local concession stand owner, Bubs, promises to repair it for a large sum of money, and Strong Bad has to come up with ways to get the cash. Getting a job, asking for loans, or committing otherwise judicially sound and boring acts are immediately tossed aside; so he decides to begin a Battle of the Bands to raise money. With Bubs's help, Strong Bad is able to organize the concert, and the player must guide him through his typical hijinks. The humor stems from the game's music scene, and the soundtrack is admirable for such a small-scale title. Most of the jokes hit, and it’s an entertaining experience.
The previous episode in the series, Strong Badia the Free, had plenty of good ideas, but fell victim to many of the point-and-click genre’s faults. Telltale has always done an amazing job with the Sam and Max series, so it was sad to see them lose their way with Strong Bad's needlessly oversized inventory and confusing objectives. Sadly, many of these issues persist in this most recent episode, Baddest of the Bands. Before even leaving his house, Strong Bad’s inventory had nearly a dozen items in it, many of which wouldn’t be used for over an hour.
There’s no reason to give the player things that they wont be using until later in the game during the introduction; this just results in a confusing experience. It also becomes a problem when the goals are muddled and unclear, and in Baddest of the Bands there are several issues with storytelling.
One section had Strong Bad trying to win a contest by making an album cover's art. After hearing about the contest, he found an old cover art he drew on, and mentioned how it was surely the best ever. Instead of being able to send that, he had to recreate it, but the game didn’t do a good job explaining this, so a good amount of time was spent trying to figure out how to put the cover in the mailbox, even though it wasn’t actually the goal. The actual outcome was about ten times more fun and much funnier, I just wish it were clearer.
Baddest of the Bands is a much better episode than the previous was. The plot is humorous, the writing is spot on, and the puzzles are fun when the game is cohesive, and it is more than it's not. If you picked up the originals this is an obvious purchase, and if you haven’t they are pretty good, just underwhelming for someone following Telltale’s games over the past few years. Buy them all, enjoy them, and hope the magic is reignited in the future episodes, we all know it’s coming.