Thursday, October 30, 2008

Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People - Episode 3: Baddest of the Bands
Video game review by Sombrero Grande

There's been a wave of music-related games hitting the Wii recently. While Wii Music and Guitar Hero World Tour have been garnering the most hype, there's a smaller game that debuted this week through WiiWare that may have gone under most folks' radar. It's not a rhythm game like the others, though it is all about rocking. The question is, though, does it truly rock?

Episode 3 of Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People is titled Baddest of the Bands and it puts players once again into the boxing gloves of HomestarRunner.com's e-mail checking anti-hero, Strong Bad. If you've played the first two games in the series, then you know what to expect this time around. And I mean that in both a good way and a bad way.

Unfortunately, while the second episode introduced some cool new ideas and a story that turned all of Free Country U.S.A. on its head, Baddest of the Bands plays almost exactly like the first game in the series and introduces almost nothing new. In fact, there seems to be less to do in Baddest of the Bands compared to the previous installments. Many of the great mini-game diversions present in episodes 1 and 2 are curiously missing this time around, effectively providing less bang for one's buck. The story and gags feel more hastily assembled and less rewarding to uncover. Even the random comments that emanate from the Blubb-O's Drive-Thru Whale feel less random.

When Strong Bad's video game system breaks, he turns to the only guy in town who could possibly fix it: Bubs. In order to pay for the costly repairs, Strong Bad has to raise the funds by staging a "Battle Royale of the Bands;" this means gathering celebrity judges, other bands to compete against and some poor dope to work Security, and it's up to you to help him do it.

The gameplay in episode 3 is more of the same and little else. You'll visit the same locations as in the previous games and solve similar point-and-click adventure-style puzzles along the way. It's not that any of this is bad, per se, it just doesn't feel as fun as it did when it was still fresh the first two times around.

Baddest of the Bands may be the "baddest" of the Strong Bad games so far, but it's still a decent game and can be fun for fans of the characters. I would just recommend playing both episodes 1 and 2 beforehand, and only picking up Baddest of the Bands if you're really itching for more of the same afterwards. It would be one thing if episode 3 progressed a larger story forward, but it doesn't, and can, like each of the episodes so far, be skipped without fear of missing pivotal plot points before the next episode is released.

While I can't say I enjoyed Baddest of the Bands as much as I did Homestar Ruiner or Strong Badia the Free (my favorite installment in this episodic series so far), I can say I still did have fun with it. Hardcore Homestar Runner fans will get a kick out of even more inside references (remember Poodonkis?), but given that the fans are used to enjoying Homestar and Strong Bad goodness for free most of the time, paying 1,000 Wii Points (or $8.95 to download the game onto your PC) doesn't feel like you're getting as much for your dollar here as you could with the first two games.

Baddest of the Bands can be downloaded through the Wii Shop Channel or here for the PC. Incidentally, if your Wii system memory is as full as mine is, the folks at Telltale Games have put together a little website to help you deal with the issue (until Nintendo delivers us loyal purchasers of WiiWare and Virtual Console titles a proper storage solution).


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