Strong Bad's Quest for the Ultimate Game
Most of my readers are aware of my love for the website HomeStarRunner.com, which is an animated internet cartoon. Over eight years ago, two brothers started posting their animations online, and now they work full-time creating new content based on their own world of characters. These cartoons are not always safe for the kids, in my opinion, but then again, they're probably better than most of what's on TV for kids these days. Feel free to head over to their website to get an idea of the days of fun that await you, and one of my favorites is the "First Time Here?" link in the top right of the main menu. But this post isn't really about that, it's about games.
Strong Bad, one of the main characters on the site, is an avid fan of games. Like, old school. The cartoons are filled with old game references, from the floppy disk labels on Strong Bad's desk to this whole e-mail episode about how he'd make a game. Of course, it's even more apparent that the creators of the site are fans of old games, from silly arcade games like Trogdor to adventure games such as Thy Dungeonman and Peasant's Quest. But it isn't about these old games that run via Flash and look like you could run them on your 386, this is about the new hotness coming later this summer!
I'll be honest. I've played very few computer games in the last couple years, partly because I haven't had time to do so, and partly because not many games have stood out to me as worth my time. I have kept up a bit with franchises I've frequented over the years, looking at if Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 or 3 was worth buying and continuing to get games in the Myst series. I got SimCity 3000 a while back, but why get SimCity 4 if I can't even get anywhere in SimCity 3000? A friend got me a couple Grand Theft Auto games a year or two ago. I've only played them for a couple hours because I really don't have the time, but just driving around and exploring can keep me entertained for hours in those games, which is why I like them. Also, because I play games very little (mostly when I'm not connected to the Internet), there's little incentive to pay for a game that costs more than $10, or at least that's the price I hold myself to. (The other benefit is that $10 games usually work on your not-so-new computer.)
The other reason I've not played games is that they rarely make games of of the kind they used to these days. (Or, at least, I don't hear about them.) Another set of games I loved to play back in the day were kinda like Myst games, except generally more silly and more interaction with other characters. I enjoyed playing through King's Quest 7, the demo of Space Quest 6 numerous times, as well as even an old text adventure game called Humbug. Joe Bowar also got me into some LucasArts games like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and from there I got Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, another point-and-click game where Indy asks the right questions and pick up random items to get him out of scrapes and solve the ancient mysteries. During college, I got into the Monkey Island series, where wannabe-pirate Guybrush Threepwood goes on cartoonish, blundering voyages through the Carribean. Somewhat sadly, these games are no longer made anymore, or I might be playing them.
This brings me to this summer's excitement. The folks at independent game developer Telltale Games, which is founded by a number of ex-LucasArts employees, have teamed with Strong Bad and all the folks at HomeStarRunner.com to release a game based on the online cartoon. It's called Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People and it's fully 3-D, but it retains a simple point-and-click system. Throughout the gameplay previews that I've seen, Strong Bad and characters, all voiced by the characters in the cartoon, continue to make hilarious little quips. In most cases, it seems you control Strong Bad, who gets "missions" to do via e-mails, just like the cartoon. The game looks amazing and brings the 2-D animation to life in beautiful 3-D. I'm sure it's tons of silly shenanigans - for proof, just look at this infomercial-style teaser:
Another great deal is the price. I don't know exactly how long these games really are, but the game is distributed in "episodes" that take at least a couple hours to play through each. Each episode goes for about $9, and the entire 5-episode series will most likely go for only $30 or $35, if not less. In this day and age where game content is a bit slim and prices are high, I think these prices are aggressive and benefit from being a small, independent company who distributes primarily via the Internet, while still keeping the gaming experience exciting.
And, finally, I have to hand it to The Brothers Chaps, who created the Homestar Runner cartoons, for keeping true to their roots and staying independent. I've heard they've been offered the ability to be on Cartoon Network or get sweet placement elsewhere, but they did not want to change their style and compromise their product just to make a buck. In the same way, I'm glad they chose the able hands at Telltale Games to make their game instead of going for the big money by licensing an arcade game for EA. Also, it's great to have them so involved that they're doing all the voices and most likely contributing ideas for the game.
In conclusion, mostly because I've been a fan of Strong Bad, Homestar, and even Homsar for years, I'll probably get into SBCG4AP. I'm also going to have to check out more Telltale Games products, too, because I see they just announced some episodic games starring Wallace & Gromit, another set of hilarious characters I love (although it looks rendered instead of claymation, which is understandable due to cost but a bit disappointing). Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People's first episode will debut sometime in August, unless they push the date back even further.