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Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode One Interview/Review

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode One Interview/Review
Interviewee(s): Mark Darin, Lead Designer of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People introduces episodic gaming to WiiWare, a new style of distribution for Nintendo Wii. With our review format, we decided to critique the episodes in a different, entertaining manner. We have addressed the strengths and weaknesses of Episode One, "Homestar Ruiner," with Strong Bad game designer Mark Darin.

First off, we are thoroughly impressed with the presentation of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. The graphics stay true to the flash cartoon series, presenting the characters and environments with crisp visuals. For example, the opening screen appears exactly like the site, with sidebars for saving, settings and such. The amount of dialogue, especially for a 43 MB WiiWare title, is astonishing. How were you able to pack so much into such limitations?

Mark Darin: As far as I know it was stomped on by elves with large shoes every night until we were magically able to make it fit. There has been an awful lot of behind the scenes magic going on to squeeze this game into the 40 megs of space we are allotted. Incredibly, we did not have to cut any content from the original design to achieve this!

Even with some cool environments, the second half of the story retreads back to the race course and Marzipan's. Will the next episode create new locations or will we be going back once more?

MD: For future episodes, you will be seeing some of the same environments and some new or altered ones as well. Much like in a TV sitcom, you see many of the familiar iconic locations several times. That's where these characters live after all. Like Friends' Central Perk café or Seinfeld's apartment. At the same time, we do know that gamers want to explore new areas so we'll definitely be allowing you to see new things in each episode.

The flow and story of Homestar Ruiner nail the Chapman Brothers' universe very well. For example, Strong Bad has a rave switch that throws his room into disco ball and multi-colored light goodness. We also get to see a plethora of Homestar Runner characters, even smaller roles for the Poopsmith and Pom Pom. While the title caters very well to Homestar fans, those unfamiliar with the series may have some problems. These newcomers may not understand to constantly check Lappy for e-mails or know why Strong Bad is wreaking havoc on Homestar's life. Do you worry that new players may be alienated or put off because they may not initially understand the characters and their antics?

MD: Our play tests have always include people who are regular fans as well as people who have no idea what a "Strong Bad" is. Even without an in-depth knowledge of who the characters are, the humor still comes across. The first episode takes the time to define the characters' relationships to one another; Strong Bad wants to beat up Homestar, Strong Sad and Strong Mad are Strong Bad's brothers, Marzipan is Homestar's girlfriend. It really doesn't take much to jump right in and start laughing!

The controls, in general, are compact and easy. We never had a problem understanding how to control Strong Bad or use new objects, especially thanks to a novel tutorial. Our complaint, though, relates to Strong Bad having trouble maneuvering certain areas, such as his house. We found the walls getting in our way on several occasions. Will this issue continually be refined with each episode? How will you smooth out this problem?

MD: We have found that many people have different ways of navigating around the environment and some are trickier than others. We are always working to make the controls as intuitive as possible. Currently the main ways to get around are by clicking on objects or clicking on the ground where you want to walk. Occasionally clicking on a blank wall or sky might have unexpected results. It's certainly something we are working to improve as we go.

We enjoyed the plotline's gameplay variety, such as when Strong Bad sneaks through a stealth mission at the King of Town's castle. Can we look forward to other game genres being added to the mix in future episodes?

MD: Early in the design phase we definitely had our eye on varying the game play from time to time, so you'll be seeing that variety in future episodes as well. At the same time, we didn't try to cram other genres in there just for the sake of doing it. If the story suggests a type of game play that fits, we'll pursue that. Otherwise, well, don't fix what ain't broke!

For a point-and-click adventure, Strong Bad's replay value is "so good," thanks to extras like the Teen Girl Squad episodes and collectibles like the photo booth costumes. We hope this trend continues throughout the season. Will these same aspects appear again, or can we look forward to other collectibles?

MD: We put a lot of effort into including elements that extend the game play and replay value. I have stressed that I wanted to create an adventure game that doesn't force the player to stop playing just because the story has come to its conclusion. So even after you finish an "Extended Play" mode is unlocked that will allow the player to continue the game in attempt to find all the secrets, replay the mini games, etc. You'll be seeing new replayable mini games in every episode, along with new hidden costume items, episode specific "Awesomeness" achievements, new collectibles, and plenty of other hidden secrets!

All in all, the first episode of Strong Bad, "Homestar Ruiner," is a solid first entry for the series and definitely recommended for download. Telltale Games will release a new episode, for 1000 Wii Points, each month.

We would like to thank Mark Darin, once again, for taking time out of his schedule to chat with us.

Staff Avatar Evan Campbell
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"Real men don't fight — they sing!"

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