8-Bit Is Enough, the fifth and final installment in Telltale Game's episodic adventure series Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People recently (December 15, 2008) launched in North America, but has yet to be given a solid release date for Europe. In the meantime, then, we're going to be taking a look at Episode 4: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective from the point of view of someone who missed the first three episodes and, indeed, the Homestar Runner internet cartoon upon which they are based.
For those who are new to the series, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People takes the form of a point-and-click adventure game, a la Monkey Island. While titles such as the Broken Sword series have proven in the past that the genre can work well on consoles, the majority of adventure games still feel most at home on the PC. The Wii Remote is arguably the first controller (excluding the DS' touch screen) to challenge that. Combined with simple and bold artwork, this control scheme makes for an experience that feels very much like a high resolution flash game. Whichever version you choose to pick up, you can rest assured that the core gameplay mechanics are as successful as ever. In fact, the decisive graphics are particularly good at differentiating between what is interactive and what it's not, subsequently minimising the need to click everything in sight so as not to miss anything important.
In addition to being the name of this episode, Dangeresque 3 is also the title of the third installment in Strong Bad's home movie series. Strong Bad stars in each movie as Dangeresque - an all purpose character who takes on the guise of a private detective for the duration of Dangeresque 3. Episode 4 actually takes place almost entirely within the confines of said movie, a fact that leads to a veritable slew of movie gags with references to everything from Lethal Weapon to Indiana Jones and beyond. For a series renowned for its inside jokes, these provide a welcome source of humour for those that aren't intimately familiar with the Homestar Runner universe. A few videogame and music references help to round out the package, but that's not to say that Strong Bad is never amusing in his own right.
While we obviously don't want to give away too many particular details, the in-film setting is not only supplemented by direct movie references, but also a variety of less specific comedic antics. For example, how does the director of a low budget movie deal with the prospect of an epic chase scene, a screen-filling monster battle, and a story that spans multiple continents? The answers prove to be hilarious whether you're a Homestar Runner fan, a movie buff, or none of the above. Chuck in some excellent dialogue (enhanced by fabulous voice work) from characters posing (often, unconvincingly) as actors, and you've got a well-rounded package that should be able to squeeze more than a few laughs out of all but the dullest of players.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Dangeresque 3 often feels less like a conventional game and more like an interactive cartoon. With the exception of a few imaginative puzzles and a rather dull space-based mini-game, the game's real appeal lies in its atmosphere and humour. While the same can be said of many adventure games, Strong Bad takes things one step further. That's not necessarily a problem, but it might serve to limit the game's appeal for those that prefer a more hands-on experience. If you're new to the Homestar Runner universe, you might also want to take in a few of the online cartoons - which you can do on HomestarRunner.com - to get a clearer idea of whether or not this particular brand of humour is to your liking.
The imaginative puzzles and rather dull space-based mini-game take a back seat to humour and style, but they work well when they need to.
Strong, bold, and colourful. The visuals are true to the cartoon series' roots and serve particularly well as a backdrop for a point-and-click adventure.
The voice overs are immaculate, and the soundtrack is subtle but well suited to the faux mystery thriller vibe.
1000 Wii Points will get you a solid few hours worth of entertainment, but replay will be mostly non-existent for all but the most die-hard fans of the franchise.
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Strong Bad Episode 4 succeeds in appealing to a variety of audiences, and ultimately offering a worthwhile way to spend a thousand Wii Points. If you're a fan of the previous three episodes then you've probably picked this up already, but if you're among those that have been holding off on the series thus far you can rest assured that there's enough universal humour here to appeal even to those who only know Homestar Runner as "that thing on the Internet with the weird looking characters."
Perfect review of the game Karn, really nails what it's all about. Having played the previous three and being slightly disappointed by Ep.3: Baddest of the Bands, I definitely found this to be a real return to form.
It's very true that the game has more of a universal appeal thanks to its movie direction and the open-endedness of the script, avoiding being too reliant on the Homestar Runner archives as a source of its humour, thus alienating a potential new audience.
I'm just about to start of Ep.5...can't wait
Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
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Awesome stuff - Really want to get into these games, and hopefully can do soon. Good review & score Karny Karn Karn
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Still lack the Nintendo Points to pick this up, will get this and WOG in the next week hopefully.
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Once I get some cash after Christmas, I look to download this series. Seems like a great set of games. Nice review Karn!