The Strong Bad episodic series almost comes to a close with a bang. Well, most of a bang, and then a peculiar fizzling out. It begins with a scene following on from the end of Episode 4’s Dangeresque. Strong Bad falls into his Trogdor arcade machine and bangs his head, apparently causing the machine to come to life and start marauding around the neighborhood.
Anyone familiar with the Homestar Runner world will know this has to be some manner of nonsensical dream, giving the game the freedom to be a lot stranger than before. Videlectrix, the semi-fictional games studio, gets its chance to shine with Strong Bad able to digitize himself and enter their games.
This means fan favorites such as 20X6 and Peasant’s Quest make welcome appearances, spoofing in turn Japanese manga games and late ’80s adventures, with appropriate graphics. This allows the game to become a gentle satire of games at large, poking fun at all sorts of genres, and most especially the point-and-click-adventure.
The result is one of the highlights of the short series, with some spectacularly silly puzzles and fantastic dialogue. One challenge involving a spoof of checkpointing is particularly elegant, and stands as an example of why these games have been leagues ahead of their peers. There’s a slightly sprawling nature this time, which means if you do things in a certain order you can solve puzzles without quite knowing why. But fortunately the overall goals – fixing the Trogdor machine, defeating Trogdor the Burninator himself – are always clear.
Alas, the ending is terrible. A sudden, bizarre anticlimax, as if time ran out. Why no song? Why no cheesy spoof epilogue? Most of all, why didn’t it end with Strong Bad at his computer, answering an email? A sad end to one of the better point and click adventures of the last million years.
Jan 6, 2009