Strong Badia the Free


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    TellTale Games

Released:  September 2008

PC Requirements:   Windows XP / Vista, 1.5GHz Processor,  256MB (512MB recommended) RAM, 32MB 3D-accelerated video card (64MB recommended) Video card, DirectX 9

Additional Screenshots




by Becky


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 Telltale Games.

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 amusing.

Final Grade: B

September 2008

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