Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner review

Strong Bad
Strong Bad
The Good:
  • Excellent fan-service, with all the main cartoon characters making an appearance
  • Lots of amusing dialogue
  • Great voice acting
  • Light, simple gameplay is perfect for newer players
  • Available on WiiWare as well as PC.
The Bad:
  • Puzzles aren't terribly interesting or fresh
  • Story is weak
  • Game world is sparse in detail and fairly lifeless.
Our Verdict: More enjoyable for existing series fans, Homestar Ruiner provides a light, enjoyable experience that succeeds mostly as a platform for its humor.

When Telltale Games first announced that Mike and Matt Chapman’s Homestar Runner license would be the subject of its latest episodic series, the two divergent responses were either “Perfect! How brilliant!” or “What the heck is Homestar Runner?” For those who belong in the latter camp, Homestarrunner.com began as a humble (in size, if never in nature) website whose animated flash cartoons and ultra-retro video games went on to become a surprise Internet phenomenon. Now the cult favourite is finally ready for a video game of its own in the form of the five-part Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, which kicks off with the premiere episode, Homestar Ruiner. I say “video game” quite intentionally, as along with a PC release (the version reviewed here), SBCG4AP (for not-so-short) also represents the first ever adventure game to be distributed through Nintendo’s WiiWare download channel.

The series headliner and one of the brightest stars of the Homestar universe is Strong Bad, an angry, insulting, chaos-loving character who opts for a wrestling mask and boxing gloves as his daily garb. He’s a hypocrite, a word-mangler, a wanna-be badass. You’ll love him. The story here begins with a customary email challenging Strong Bad to beat up the crowd-loving Homestar Runner, a sweet-but-clumsy moron with a glaring speech impediment. Only too willing to oblige, this prompts Strong Bad to seek him at the track, since Homestar Runner is participating in the Free Country USA Triannual Race to the End of the Race (cue trumpet fanfare, as happens every time the race is mentioned in-game). Things don’t work out so well, though, and after many unfortunate events – mainly of Strong Bad’s own nefarious doing – Homestar ends up as an unwanted roommate, and so the new challenge becomes getting him out of Strong Bad's home.

Since Homestar Runner’s popular appeal extends beyond the niche adventure community, it’s clear that the first game has been aimed at genre newcomers. There’s a tutorial to ease you into the basic mechanics, and the relatively easy puzzles throughout the game make for a fairly mild introduction. And right from the start, even the menu screen offers players a taste of what makes comic adventure games great: varied, hilarious responses to clicking on mundane things. Hearing Strong Bad proclaim, with typical brash confidence, “Sav-eh-low-ad” when you hover over “Save/Load” is a fine example.

You don’t need to be familiar with Strong Bad to enjoy this title, but it certainly helps. Homestar Ruiner’s motley cast is a sweet mix of absurd and charming, and fans will be happy to meet up with old friends like Marzipan, the adamant hippie that dates Homestar Runner on occasion, and Bubs, the flipper-armed concession stand owner with a toothy grin, along with many other recognizable faces. These characters are equally likeable if seeing them for the first time, but no real effort is made to introduce them gradually. The game is simply a day in the life of Strong Bad, and whatever existing relationships and motivations exist among the characters will need to be learned on the fly.

Series fans will also find Homestar Ruiner filled with esoteric in-jokes, but to others it may seem strangely vacant, especially compared to the elaborately detailed, intellectually witty Sam & Max series. The prospect of turning a series of no-frills flash cartoons into a full-fledged adventure game world must have been a daunting challenge, and one that’s been met with only mixed success so far. The characters all have their quirks, to be sure, but the world they inhabit is lacking in any kind of richness or depth. The Homestar cartoons are quite funny, but they’re very short and have little of what you’d call a plot. That’s easy enough to pull off in a brief cartoon, but not so simple to revolve a whole game around. For example, Strong Bad is forever declaring himself incredibly strong, a genius, and good with “the ladies”. He’s absolutely none of these things, of course, but it becomes interesting when Strong Bad thinks Marzipan likes him. The running shtick of a character in denial is hilarious. Problem is, though, these running shticks get old. Part of the reason Strong Bad Email has been such a success on the website is because it deals with material outside of the Homestar Runner canon and puts a unique spin on it. Here all the events take place in the cozy but limited confines of Free Country, USA’s sparse environs.

Like the cartoons they’re based on, the graphics are simple yet appealing in their own way. What they lack in anything but the most meager detail and textures is made up for with the bold, bright colors and a style that’s clearly unique, like a children’s book gone wrong. If there’s a problem, it’s that they too begin to feel underwhelming before long. The simplicity is entirely intentional, but that means there’s only so much to look at, and the world you traverse often feels lifeless, full of unanimated, rudimentary backgrounds, and birds can be heard but not seen. There are several locations to explore after adding them to your ever-adjustable map, but the scenery will still start to look the same before long.

Continued on the next page...


What our readers think of Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner

Average
Readers rating

Good

3.5 stars out of 5
Average based on 2 ratings
Your rating
Log in or Register to post ratings.
No reader reviews yet... Why don't you share your review?

review

Adventure games by Telltale Games

The Wolf Among Us (Series)
PC, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

The Wolf Among Us (Series) 2019

This new season will begin a fresh story arc for its returning cast of characters, featuring the return of Adam Harrington as Bigby Wolf and Erin Yvette as Snow White.

» View all games in this series
Walking Dead (Series)
PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch

Walking Dead (Series) 2018

Clementine, now a fierce and capable survivor, has reached the final chapter in her journey. After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be her chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. Clem must build a life and become a leader while

» View all games in this series
Batman (Series)
PC, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Batman (Series) 2018

What would you choose: a friend whose unhinged approach to justice turns your allies against you, or a sworn enemy who will stop at nothing to see you suffer as your city burns? Based on the relationship you’ve built with John Doe, you’ll see one of two very different stories pla

» View all games in this series
Minecraft (Series)
PC, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Minecraft (Series) 2017

The home Jesse left so long ago, Beacontown, has succumbed to the iron rule of the Admin. Menacing guards patrol the streets, anxious citizens tremble in fear, and worst of all, everyone believes Jesse is responsible thanks to the Admin’s devious disguise. In order to save the city, the re

» View all games in this series
Guardians of the Galaxy (Series)
PC, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Guardians of the Galaxy (Series) 2017

As the galaxy is threatened once again and the stakes grow ever more personal, Peter must rally the Guardians against their greatest challenge yet: themselves.

» View all games in this series
Tales from the Borderlands (Series)
PC, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Tales from the Borderlands (Series) 2015

Rhys, a Hyperion ‘suit’ with dreams of being the next Handsome Jack, and Fiona, a Pandoran con artist looking to score her biggest ever swindle, are thrown together as unwilling partners in an adventure to recover cash they both think is theirs. The journey will take them on a wild ride

» View all games in this series
Game of Thrones (Series)
PC, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Game of Thrones (Series) 2015

Based on the acclaimed television drama, the six-part episodic series from Telltale Games tells the story of House Forrester. Caught up in the events of The War of the Five Kings, they are placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house

» View all games in this series
Law & Order (Series)
PC, Mac

Law & Order (Series) 2011

Starring a cross-series dream team of Law & Order characters past and present, players will take on the roles of both investigator and district attorney as they hit the streets to gather evidence and then enter the court room to prosecute the case. Choice and morality are key factors, and every

» View all games in this series
Puzzle Agent (Series)
PC, Mac

Puzzle Agent (Series) 2011

Continuing the story begun with the mysterious closure of an eraser factory in Scoggins, Minnesota, ace puzzle investigators return once again to the snowy midwest to help Nelson Tethers finally solve the mystery haunting the realm.

» View all games in this series
Back to the Future (Series)
PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii

Back to the Future (Series) 2011

Picking up a few months after the third movie left off, Marty learns that Doc is in trouble and only he can save him, with a little help from the time-travelling DeLorean.

» View all games in this series
Jurassic Park (Series)
PC, Mac, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Jurassic Park (Series) 2011

The game returns to Isla Nublar during the events of the first movie, with familiar locations and creatures to encounter, plus new areas to explore and new prehistoric beasts to survive in a game that combines fast-paced action, exploration and puzzle-solving.

» View all games in this series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Series)
PC, Wii

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Series) 2010

In five connected cases, team up with the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, along with help from FBI agent Gene Huntby, not only to solve some of the most gruesome crimes of Sin City, but also to take down a dangerous drug cartel.

» View all games in this series
Sam & Max (Series)
PC, Mac

Sam & Max (Series) 2010

In the finale episode of the season, an enormous, scaly, floppy-eared creature has put the city on high alert, and Sam assembles a crack team to stop him. To end the mayhem, they must venture...inside...the beast!

» View all games in this series