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Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner (PC) artwork

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner (PC) review


"For those who didn't know, Homestar Runner is a long running internet comedy website revolving largely about a guy answering his e-mail. It's most well known for having oddly drawn and animated cartoony characters getting into all kinds of odd misadventures together in a surprisingly mundane world. I didn't know exactly what to expect in a game about this place, but in retrospect this has point-and-click adventure written all over it. And it is pretty fitting, I suppose. The game lends itself well to the genre, what with all the quirk and the word play. Everything's too goofy to make a convincing action game or, well, much of anything else."



For those who didn't know, Homestar Runner is a long running internet comedy website revolving largely about a guy answering his e-mail. It's most well known for having oddly drawn and animated cartoony characters getting into all kinds of odd misadventures together in a surprisingly mundane world. I didn't know exactly what to expect in a game about this place, but in retrospect this has point-and-click adventure written all over it. And it is pretty fitting, I suppose. The game lends itself well to the genre, what with all the quirk and the word play. Everything's too goofy to make a convincing action game or, well, much of anything else.

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People looks...well, fantastic is not the right word, 'convincing' maybe. The original website is all Flash, so it's very two dimensional. The game is 3d, but it has a very believable "everything seems 2d but really isn't" thing going for it. It actually looks like you're playing through an episode from the show, which isn't going to win it any awards for design excellence, but it's nice to know they cared enough to make it look right.

It sounds right too. The Free Country USA Triannual Race to the End of the Race is today, and our somewhat jerkish protagonist/tough guy Strong Bad (yes, that is his name) decides he wants to take part. Unfortunately, the sign ups ended a month ago, and so he has to puzzle his way into the race, and then clean up the mess he causes by getting into it.

There's nothing deep here, even by point-and-click standards, it manages to be shallow even in a genre that prioritizes being wacky over being deep. In the end you're just a guy in a wrestling mask wandering around a town with four houses, a castle, and a concession stand trying to get into a race. It's only really memorable because of its characters, and involves a lot of inside jokes. Realistically, unless you're already familiar with Homestar Runner, you're going to miss a fair bit while playing this game.

From the gameplay end, one of the best things about the game is that most of the puzzles actually make sense. While this wouldn't seem like a quality worth remarking on, point-and-clicks are infamous for having puzzles full of obtuse logic. What you have and what you need to accomplish are often so tenuously related that it may as well just be a crap shoot. Throw an item in your inventory at a puzzle, and when it doesn't work, try something else. Only when you select the right item via lottery does the game explain to you where it was going 'logically'. This is obviously aggravating, and this Game for Attractive people gets away from that.

Furthermore, your inventory is usually limited to a small number of things that are generally reusable. There are mission specific items, and your eventual objectives do tend to be obscure and fill inventory space, but for the most part, it stays fairly compact.

That said, the game is short, which isn't necessarily bad given its episodic nature, the problem is that it still manages to feel long even if a playthrough is only a few hours. And when I say 'feel long' I mean that with every bit of venom I can muster. Conversations are often laborious in their verbage, and cannot be skipped. Making a mistake in a puzzle often requires you to reinitiate an old conversation in order to try again, which leads to lots of repeat dialogue that begs to be skipped, and then mocks your inability to do so.

All in all, it's solid for what it is, but unless you really like logic puzzles involving everyday objects and cheating, the fact that it's a game will not make up for the fact that it's Homestar Runner if you don't enjoy the site. If you do enjoy the site, this game will be wonderful for you in spite of its flaws, which is probably what they were going for anyway.

Rating: 7/10

dragoon_of_infinity's avatar
Freelance review by Josh Higley (September 10, 2008)

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