Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 2: Strong Badia the Free Review

Improved gameplay structure makes for a markedly better--and funnier--second episode.

When Strong Bad made his episodic-gaming debut last month in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner, his signature sense of humor was stretched disappointingly thin across the open-ended structure of the game. The second episode, Strong Badia the Free, has a more linear layout that not only makes for better gameplay, but allows the humor to get a foothold as well. These improvements make this adventure game both funnier and more fun than its predecessor.

Strong Bad's moves are significantly sweeter this time around.

Civil unrest flares up in Free Country, USA as the King of Town levies the kind of unfair taxes that make honest men dress up and throw midnight tea parties. Strong Bad lights the powder keg of revolution, and the land is soon splintered into a number of republics ruled by various familiar characters. As you struggle to unite the disparate factions under the serpent & tire flag of Strong Badia, you'll make your way through different areas and try to win over each newly minted monarch. To assimilate each territory, you'll have to find a few key items and figure out how to use them to persuade, intimidate, or bamboozle each unique ruler. The solutions are generally well hinted at, but you'll still chuckle happily upon reaching them. You have to complete certain areas before proceeding to others, and this progression creates a much-needed sense of pace that helps keep point-and-click fatigue at bay.

The story and structure provide the backbone of the game, and this support puts less pressure on the humor to carry the show. Whereas the first episode faltered by trying to squeeze new laughs out of a worn-out plot (Strong Bad messes with Homestar...again!), the second episode succeeds by creating a self-contained new plot. No longer forced to prop up weak gameplay, the jokes seem to find better places to fit in, and some of the lost comedic pacing is restored. Characters such as Strong Mad and Homsar create surprisingly amusing nations, and even the 8-bit FunMachine minigame (Math Kickers, featuring the Algebros) offers some entertainment value. Some tired jokes are still tired, but there's enough organic, well-wrought humor here to make you laugh often.

It's immensely heartening to see that improvements have been made on the subpar first episode, and it makes the future of this series look brighter. Developer Telltale Games seems much more on point this time around, and even adds a few nice presentation flourishes (like the triumphant WWII newsreels). There are still some disappointments--notably the lackluster final challenge--but Strong Badia the Free gets most of the important stuff right. It ends up feeling more like a proper game than a cash-in attempt, and should earn a look from anyone interested in a few hours of lighthearted adventuring.

The Good
Big improvement on previous episode
Solid foundation of structure and story
A good amount of laughs
The Bad
Anticlimactic final challenge
Some comedic miscues
7
Good
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Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People More Info

  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Wii
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 730 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Telltale Games
    Published by:
    Telltale Games, U&I Entertainment
    Genres:
    Compilation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Crude Humor, Mild Cartoon Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes