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Needs more Coach Z

Strong Bad dresses like a Mexican luchador and answers fan’s emails.  This may seem strange if it wasn’t one of the longest running internet cartoons in history.  Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People is the episodic gaming extension of this long running cartoon.  While it does manage to capture the feel of the weekly cartoons in both look and humor the game itself feels entirely too scatter shot in places, almost as if the motive was to throw out everything the plot could handle.

Episode 2 starts off just like any of the weekly ‘toon episodes, Strong Bad receives an email and promptly replies with a heavy mix of sarcasm and nonsense.  This promptly leads into some kind of crazy adventure that ends up involving the entire cast of available characters.  All of this is done in the classic point and click adventure mechanics that involve picking up almost any piece of trash that is laying around in an off chance that it might be used later.  A score card is present that lets the player know how many extras they have picked up since starting, which is a noticeable nod back to the early 90’s adventure games which had the same exact thing.

But the game isn’t all kickbacks from the birth of adventure games as Strong Bad has a map function that can be used to quickly travel between any of the areas in the game.  This is a life saver in several spots because it allows quick travel from any area to any other area in the game with a single click. 

Returning from the previous works of Telltale games is the rather straight forward hint system which gives players casual reminders of what they should be doing, and possibly what should have been done.  Strangely this cannot be turned off during play but can only have the frequency of the hints turned down so they rarely appear.  The problems with the hints also carry over from the Sam and Max games when Strong Bad confirms that you are on the right track to figuring out a puzzle, but not how you are failing to solve it correctly. 

Probably one of the best things about the game is how it continues to feel like an elongated version of a Strong Bad email.  Throughout the entire episode, the game continues to keep on a steady supply of humor and doesn’t let up until the credits have finished rolling.  This is, sadly, not true with the objects that can be interacted with in the game.  During the beginning of the game it seems like almost every object can be interacted or used in some way, but by the end of the game Strong Bad is literally trapped in a room with only two things that can be used in any way.

The sense of emersion is heightened by the way that the games graphics look exactly like those used in the cartoons.  The game does a remarkable job of laying out the world that Strong Bad and The Cheat live within.  The game never seems to have anything super clunky that seems like it would be out of place as is placed well with Strong Bad’s casual reaction as things seem to sort of just happen for one reason or another.

This is helped greatly as the two voice actors, (one for Marzipan, one for everyone else) return to give life to all of the characters (a fact that seems odd when taken to mean that this entire game is basically one person talking to himself for several hours).  The game seems to live for this as Strong Bad has full conversations with every character in the game, each giving several different responses depending on how many times they are asked the same question.

The game is not without its problems, the biggest of which is that it is entirely too short and overly easy.  Telltale does a very good job supporting their adventure games with an in-game hint system and available walkthrough for each game.  The problem is that Strong Badia the Free is one of the first games that didn’t have a single puzzle that felt difficult.  Strong Bad’s constant reminders and hints only seemed to serve as a reminding that I was on the right track and only when I left the mouse still for a minute to get a drink.  The easy difficulty combined with the game’s short length and Episode 2 ends up feeling amazingly brief to the point that it is easy to finish in a single day, with breaks in the middle.

The other main problem with Strong Badia is that towards the end of the game, things start to feel very scattershot.  In the beginning of the game this approach feels more entertaining when the levels are more condensed and meaningful and this can easily be passed off as wackiness.  In later stages, though, the areas start to feel empty and the wackiness feels more obscure and pointless.

Strong Bad Episode 2 is actually a very good game that is overly easy and entirely too short.  It should also be taken into consideration that this is Episode 2 of a five episode season, and things such as difficulty and length will probably be worked out within the next three episodes.  But as it stands now, with the Wii version costing 10 dollars an episode and the PC versions costing 9, anyone who is either a diehard adventure fan or devoted Strong Bad fan should probably just buy a PC season pass.  Everyone else should probably wait for the season to come closer to boiling before jumping in.

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