Wednesday, October 01, 2008

SBCG4AP: Episode 2

I've got a lot of love for Telltale Games, but I'm getting a little frustrated with their Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People series.

I mean, I'm having buckets of fun with the things. These are good games. You should buy them. It's just that they should be better.

Episode 2 (entitled "Strongbadia the Free") is out for PC and Wiiware. Actually it's been out for a few weeks. And while it's often funny and usually fun, it's full of little things about which, dammit, Telltale should know better.

First up is that, like the first game, there are a bunch of lists and collections to complete during play. Completing these side-goals increases your "rank", although doesn't do much else. That's all right - finishing a list is its own reward. Unfortunately, maxing out your collections involves doing certain things at the right point in the game. The game goes into an "extended play" mode once the story's over but that's not much use as you can't regain items you've used up, or revisit earlier states of the game. Starting a new game resets your collection, and besides, maxing out the lists isn't so inherently entertaining as to justify an entire second play-through.

The game also has the feel of being poorly planned. There are regular setups for quite extended puzzle sequences that look as if they were cut down for time and budget reasons. One area requires you to demonstrate your "dance skills and style", but upon solving the "style" challenge the dance skills are never really tested, despite there being the option to ask characters for dance tips. Another sequence, which involves Strong Sad drinking some dubious water, definitely feels like a puzzle was cut out.

The story revolves around the King of Town introducing an email tax, and the various inhabitants of Free Country USA subsequently rebelling by forming their own kingdoms. However, what one would expect to be the most dramatic and hilarious scenes are missing entirely; the rebellion happens off camera, as does Strong Bad's climactic assault on the King of Town's castle. It again feels like the developers simply ran out of time and money (which they probably did).

Lastly, there's no consistency in the "click for flavour text" area. Some items you can keep clicking on for more information (and occasionally plot progression) while others yield the same result every time. The game should have consistently implemented a "two results for every item" policy, so that once you've clicked on something twice you don't need to do it again. It's really irritating to be punished for experimentation with repeated dialogue.

Anyway, despite these gripes, SBCG4AP is still pretty fun. Hopefully Telltale will keep ironing out these problems as the series progresses. Fingers crossed.

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Maybe there'll be a Director's Cut version made available when they release the entire series on Disc. I'd buy that.