PC Review: Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People – Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner

Telltale’s introduction into the Homestar universe is surprisingly strong..

Note: Review contains a few spoilers

Telltale Games brought Sam and Max back from the dead and turned them into a very successful and enjoyable two seasons of episodic games, the second season will also be reviewed shortly by us…so be sure to keep an eye open for it! Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People follows the same formula as Sam and Max but makes it their own with an impressive first episode, reacquainting us with Strong Bad and his “friends”, now I use that term very loosely when it comes to Strong Bad as he mostly hates them and will do anything to spoil things.

Of course, you need to have some understanding of the series to fully appreciate the characters and surroundings. Homestar Ruiner stays very true to that, which is always a good thing. Strong Bad starts out by checking his emails and gets one saying that he should “beat the snot out of Homestar” so Strong Bad goes to find him at a race track to give him a pummelling. Homestar is competing to win the “Race to the End of the Race” tournament and Strong Bad becomes peeved when he learns that he can’t compete, nor can he attend the after-party hosted by Homestar’s idiot girlfriend, Marzipan.

As with the Sam and Max games, Homestar Ruiner is another point and click game. It doesn’t do anything that groundbreaking, but the humour is definitely there. For instance, Strong Bad ruins Homestar’s life by doing a number of things. The first is convincing him that rubbing onions over himself will help him win “The Race to the End of the Race”, then he takes a shower when he notices how much he reeks, then you can steal his clothes from his locker, leaving Homestar no choice but to run away naked.

The game has a hint system that you can set to a number of levels, but I didn’t find it much help. Looking back, the puzzles are actually very simple but at the time of the first playthrough, you may wonder what the hell to do. For those of you in that predicament, Telltale has very kindly written a walkthrough on their website. Note: I had to play the game before its launch, so I didn’t have the luxury of a guide.

Apart from the main game, there are also a few side quests to do. There’s an arcade-style fighting game dubbed “Snake Boxer 5” which you can play, if you can find all pages of the manual around the game then you can unlock a new mode for the SB5. You can find clothes to wear and take photos of in a virtual photo booth, you can create a story based on one of Strong Bad’s comics and you can try and break all types of records. When you finish the game, you can carry on so you can find them all without the pressure of the main game.

When you had to go somewhere in Sam and Max, you had to click on your DeSoto and choose where to go. But in Homestar Ruiner, you can warp there through your own map. When you learn of a new area, you can place it anywhere you like on the map and then click on it to go there. Load times are minimal; I was actually quite impressed by how quick areas loaded. The areas look great and fit the series well, the game also provides a quick trailer of the next episode which should be out in a month or so and it looks like another great show.

After ruining Homestar’s life by making him have a criminal record for streaking, not winning the “Race to the End of the Race” and getting dumped by Marzipan, he turns up to live at Strong Bad’s house. Of course, this will not stand! So you have to reverse all that to get him to move back out, which is no simple feat. Not only do you have to go all stealthy into the King of Town’s Castle and steal his criminal record or convince Marzipan to take Homestar back, but you have to win “The Race to the End of the Race” against someone who can do the entire track in just a few seconds. Strong Bad will have to resort to dirty tactics to win that…

Voice-acting by Matt Chapman and co is superb and as authentic as the web series is. I would of course, recommend that you watch some episodes before playing Homestar Ruiner if you haven’t already. Sound effects are also top notch quality and the classic 8-bit noises are fantastic, I can’t really fault the audio quality of the game other than Strong Bad attempting to sing at the start and end of the episode.

The Verdict

Homestar Ruiner is a great start for the Strong Bad episodic games, it maintains the humour of the series while letting players create their own mayhem and it has a bit extra lifespan thanks to the side-quests, although those are for the real hardcore fans. It’ll be interesting to see what Strong Bad does next and if it can improve upon this fantastic beginning.