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Posted by eddierichards on Apr 11, 2011
Strongbad’s Cool Game For Attractive People (Telltale Games – PSN)

Strongbad’s Cool Game For Attractive People (Telltale Games – PSN)

Hmmm.

Welcome to ‘Strongbad‘ – A ‘Point-and-Click’ game introducing our wrestling mask-wearing protagonist of the same name, who has very little to do but make prank calls, trim hedges, steal from his friends, insult them, and talk. A LOT.

Spread over 5 episodes, you are invited to a small, cutely-drawn world, where it is your mission (should you accept) to do such things as repair Strong Bad’s Atari games console (called ‘Fun Machine’ here – and somehow, playing it is more fun than anything else, but not by much) or act out a spy movie with his friends. Kid stuff.  Each episode features a new adventure for our hero in the home-town he calls ‘Strongbadia’, in a title which is pretty basic, to be fair – and not very good at all.

To refer to Strongbad as ‘Kid stuff’ is a little unfair, because it’s definitely not aimed at children. No sex and violence to keep the little ones away from, but rather, the script tries to be clever with big words and ‘jokes’ that the youth aren’t going to get. Even if they did, they would not be impressed. They would actually be fast asleep, or running off to read a book, or do housework, perhaps. In general, I have no idea who this game is made for.

The graphics of Strongbad are cute, bright and full of colour and in general, nice enough. Cute title screens, with my personal highlight being the 70’s cop-style intro to ‘Episode 4: Dangeresque 3’. It’s all reminiscent of PaRappa the Rapper in looks, but rather flat and unattractive by comparison. Almost every character in this game reminds me of a character from something else: Strong Bad himself runs about dressed up similarly to Marvel Comics’ Deadpool (And bloody hell – he talks as much as he does, too.) and whilst his small friend ‘The Cheat’ could be picked out from a line-up of Pikachus, he looks enough like one to make Shigeru Miyamoto’s spider-sense tingle (or Rumble Pak.. Rumble).

To talk about the game’s audio prowess is very difficult. There’s nothing there. It’s like looking into Peter Andre’s head. The silence is deafening. Move into a new area, and you’re likely to hear a small 20-second jingle.. Then.. SILENCE. If it wasn’t for the speech, I’d turn off the TV’s sound and switch on my radio. As for the speech, every character’s voice quickly becomes irritating. Strong Bad is the worst offender though, who whilst sounding like Rip Torn (see Men in Black, or the Larry Sanders Show) never seems to shut up. He’s full of ‘cool’ jibes and insults which are just not funny and his delivery of one-liners is painful and cringe-worthy. I hear crickets the whole time.

Conversations with people also serve to irritate. Strongbad and all his friends often only have 2 or 3 sentences of recorded speech to get through, and it’s difficult to know when a chat has ended. You must press X until you begin to hear dialogue repeat, and then back out with the Square button, as there is almost never any indication of when the banter has ended.

This ‘Cool and Attractive’ game plays like a canoe full of bricks. It’s easy to get a bit muddled as to what to do next – not so much in that where you must go isn’t obvious, but more because of how annoying it is to find the right place to stand and interact with something. In any instance you’ll be standing right next to one particular object, like a front door, say, but yet you can’t immediately press ‘X’ to come into contact with it. This is because A: it’s not highlighted on-screen as an active item, so you’ll have to move around a bit, or hold the analogue stick in a certain direction until the word ‘Door’ shows up – and B: every other object on-screen is highlighted, so pressing X now means you are going to automatically stroll to one of them, and not necessarily the closest one. Despite being able to stop yourself wandering off (if you react quickly enough), it’s still a major gripe.

There’s a moment early on when one character throws away a mobile phone (why he had one is odd, as the world must be populated by a maximum of about 10 people..) you pick it up but using it is a real pain. You need to either stand in an area where no other interactive items are highlighted (good luck with that – there’s not many places where this is the case), or hold the analogue stick and move around until the word ‘StrongBad’ shows up in front of your little avatar’s chest, and quickly press X before you move too far, and his name goes again.

A great deal of the time, you’ll fulfil a task, watch a short movie, and the moment it ends, well.. nothing. You just saw one guy freak out, when another ran through the village naked (I’m guessing it’s a village – there is no indication or detail on your whereabouts.. But, yeah it looks like a village) and once the sequence is over, it’s like nothing happened. Only by moving around the map will you realise that ‘A is now here, and B is now not there’.

To be fair the games improve with each episode. But it’s all miserable. The interactivity issue is never sorted out, and it’s always dead enough to cure insomnia. Your enjoyment here all depends on one’s perseverance, patience, and ability to stay awake.

There is no sense of achievement, and no appeal. Nothing will bring me back to it. You wander around, pick up this item, steal that one and talk. At least Starfox Adventures on Gamecube was nice to look at (and listen to) during its’ similar torture.

I’d stand a better chance of overlooking Strongbad’s utter woe if it was for a young age group, but my kids would disown me if I bought this for them. I can only surmise that this should come with a ‘Stoner’ rating. It looks and comes across very much like a game made with stoners in mind.

I would love to be able to be nice, but I can’t. I guess loading times are great, but there’s little to load. I WANT to laugh at Strongbad’s attempts at humour, but nothing about him is funny. At first glance, I felt like it was all meant to be poking fun at stuff; all it’s slip-ups in voice-acting, script, and so on, look to happen on purpose, but very soon after that first glance everything comes across as just plain shoddy, and it leaves you feeling that perhaps said slip-ups are there unintentionally.

To summarise: Strongbad’s Cool Game For Attractive People is not cool and as attractive as I am, it’s not for me. In fact, should you ever decide to give this game to an attractive person, you deserve to be made ugly.

 

 

 

 

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