"It was somewhere around the middle of Baddest of the Bands that it became obvious the series was almost more sitcom than game. At the time, I was attempting to set a car on fire, so that I could take a picture of it for an album cover which I would use to win a contest to recruit celebrity judges. I needed celebrity judges to hold a benefit concert, raising money to repair my video game console. A worthy cause if ever there was one."
It was somewhere around the middle of Baddest of the Bands that it became obvious the series was almost more sitcom than game. At the time, I was attempting to set a car on fire, so that I could take a picture of it for an album cover which I would use to win a contest to recruit celebrity judges. I needed celebrity judges to hold a benefit concert, raising money to repair my video game console. A worthy cause if ever there was one.
That's when it came to me. It's not that the game isn't interactive enough, almost everything is controlled by the player. It's just the feel. The games come out often enough, are short enough, and just generally feel episodic. Once I realized this, the somewhat wavering quality of the mechanics didn't bother me so much. Sure, there are hits and there are misses. Some jokes are good, and some fall flat. But I was enjoying myself enough to keep playing
Sure, if you get out your magnifying glass, it's a step backwards in a lot of ways. A lot of the cool ideas from part 2 are gone, replaced again with the original map system, which as been nonsensically wiped. You have to discover everything again, even though you've been to all the locations already. Also, as the object of the game is to repair your broken fun machine, there's no clever minigame this time either, for a large part of the game. Just hunt those flags.
While pointless flag hunting shouldn't be a surprising inclusion in a point-and-click game, it just feels very artificial to 'discover' places you've already been. It doesn't seem like the game would be hurt very much by just letting you go wherever you want, and only be able to advance past the obstacles in each area by collecting the necessary items.
That's where most of the legwork comes in anyway, collecting various trinkets and carefully plotting out their usage. How can you use a can of cheese wiz to trick someone into working security at a battle royale of the bands? You have to use your noodle, often in unusual ways, and it keeps you on your toes. And in the end, it's still pretty good. It's entertaining and amusing and passes the time.
Baddest of the Bands doesn't push the envelope, but at the same time it doesn't plunge the series into the proverbial toilet. Plus, as usual, the experience is short enough that the little flaws don't take over the experience. At worst, it's an indicator that this series is probably going to be a roller coaster of quality, soring high at points, and dropping back down to mediocrity at others.
But if you don't examine it too much, the time you spend passes by unnoticed. The world has its charm, which is what keeps you playing at the end of the day. By now, it's easy to tell if this is your thing or not, and if it is, you won't be disappointed, even if it isn't the highlight of the series.
Freelance review by Josh Higley (November 08, 2008)
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