Based on the Homestar Runner web phenomenon, Strong
Badís Cool Game for Attractive People is a tongue-in-cheek cartoon
style adventure game. Strong Badia the Free is the second episode
in a five part series.
Anarchy, State and Utopia
This episode begins with Strong Bad typing responses to emails. Anyone
can write to him, though thereís no guarantee of a response. The reason
for Strong Badís unresponsiveness is now clear. The King of Town -- a
self-absorbed Santa Claus impersonator -- has imposed a tax on email.
Strong Bad is a tax deadbeat!
The authorities move with ruthless speed. They constrain Strong Bad
with a collar that triggers an explosion if he leaves his home. (You can
watch him being blown against the wall as a blast pattern spreads across
his red mask.) Friends and family members gather outside his house to
protest. Strong Bad swears terrible vengeance upon ďThe Of Town.Ē He
plans, not only an escape, but a political revolution as well.
The overall ethos of Strong Badia the Free is difficult to
describe. Itís what might happen if someone took the eccentric character
portrayals from the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon, combined that with a
Samurai Jack episode, and then tossed in a short, shirtless George S.
Patton. Itís wildly creative, random and strange.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Strong Badís voice is one of his greatest assets, defining his
rough-and-ready character. Throughout Strong Badia the Free, our
hero rages at his reluctant recruits and casually insults anyone who gets
in his way.
Other voices occupying the game are a mixed lot. One voice is meant to
be annoying and succeeds a little too well. Thereís a perky female voice
that sounds like a mother scolding her children, as well as some bubble
language and squeaky nonsense syllable voiceovers.
Strong Badís explorations are accompanied by techno music that suits
each area. Sometimes the music is martial, and other musical themes show
Asian and folk influences. At times the music unabashedly achieves an
elevator muzak ambiance.
As for other sounds -- the floating rock emits spacey vibrations,
birdcalls resonate throughout the purple dawn, and most of the fires set
by Strong Bad crackle rustically.
The Second Sex
In one of the weirdest parts of the game, Strong Bad wrestles with his
ambivalence toward women. With one exception, the female characters in
Strong Badia are stick figure drawings on a cave wall. Strong Bad
gleefully destroys each girl using various objects. Adorable bunnies and
baby birds, for example, can morph instantly into deathtraps. It isnít
clear whether our hero hates ďcutenessĒ or cheerleaders -- perhaps both.
The stick figure serial killings are optional for those too tenderhearted
to indulge (or too stick-in-the-muddish).
Being and Nothingness
The environments in Strong Badia the Free are colorful and
minimalist Ė like the set of a Samuel Beckett play with Pop Art
influences. In this projection of reality, kitchen appliances make good
soldiers and a photo booth conjuncts time and space at the edge of the
universe. Communication with a typo in a bowler hat must be restored, the
ultimate level of coolness on the dance floor must be achieved, and a
battlefield -- condensed into a board game -- must be traversed. And then
thereís ďMath Kickers,Ē a retro combat game where you solve equations
while fighting ninja warriors. This optional mini-game is reminiscent of
the math edutainment games I bought in abundance about ten years ago.
Playing it evoked waves of nostalgia.
Itís no clichť to say that this is a game that youíll either love or
hate. The humor may grab you and never let you go. Or, alternatively, you
may wonder if the game creators are a trifle daft.
Strong Badís journey through Freebadia: The Free is somewhat
brief, though the future will certainly bring another chapter in his life
story. Iím looking forward to the unfolding of this archetypal drama.
Quick List for Strong Badia the Free
This is the second episode of five in the new Strong Badís Cool Game
for Attractive People series. Itís a cartoon adventure starring Strong
Bad, a bantamweight rabble-rouser wearing a laced up lucha libre mask. It
includes a cast of other oddball characters.
Voiceovers are bad to excellent. Very good writing, lots of sarcastic
remarks, some mild vulgarities. You can right-click through the dialogs.
Colorful, cartoonlike environments. Point-and-click interface.
Navigation is smooth. Third person perspective. Thereís a helpful Hints
feature and an optional opening tutorial.
Inventory based challenges, a board game challenge, a fill-in-the-blank
puzzle, story pattern manipulation, and an optional ďmartial arts and
mathĒ game. No mazes, no sliding tile puzzles, no color or sound based
challenges. One mildly time-sensitive challenge.
One early glitch in which tweaking the settings to the highest
resolution widescreen mode resulted in a blank screen, making reverse
tweaking problematic. Only four save slots, one of which is an autosave.
You cannot die.
This game is available via download at
Strong Badís Cool Game for Attractive People: Strong Badia the Free
is aimed at fans of the Homestar Runner animated internet cartoons and
Strong Bad emails. Adventure gamers who enjoy a whimsical story with
absurd characters and a dose of political incorrectness will also find it
Final Grade: B
design copyright ©