It seems interesting that Strong Bad has been around for so long that it isn’t even odd that he is a shirtless, midget Mexican Luchador wearing boxing gloves. In the world that he resides in, this doesn’t seem odd, so when his Fun Machine (think original Atari, wood paneling and all) breaks down it is the natural progression of things to host a battle of the bands to raise money to fix it. This disregard for rational thinking proves to be one of Baddest of the Band’s defining triumphs.
With the third addition to this season’s line-up, Strong Bad finally hits his stride as the game’s universe finally seems to congeal around him. This may be only because all of the characters have stopped acting as if this is simply the tutorial level and have finally started to feel the right brand of insane for the retro-modern world they seem to live in.
This isn’t to say that this doesn’t come at a disadvantage though, as this game has significantly increased in difficulty since last month. Puzzles are put together in such a way that the player will fully know what they are supposed to do, but often have no idea on how to go around doing it, or how to go about doing it in the correct way.
This is balanced out with the inclusion of an official walkthrough that can be accessed from the moment that the game is released. This is ends up being rather beneficial because some of the puzzles seem to defy logic with the ways that they need to be solved, and don’t have any form of reasoning that could be based in reality. The included walkthrough is well written, but more importantly seems to be laid out in a way that makes figuring out what missteps where taken, and the best course of action of correct them, relatively painless.
The graphics of the Baddest of the Bands still feels relatively dated, but with the way that the Strong Bad cartoons manage to end up looking it is strangely fitting and accurate. The entire game takes place in what is supposed to be a fleshed out 3D world representing the cartoons, and while it does a pretty solid job of maintaining that ascetic during conversations or cut scenes, the moment that the reins of Strong Bad are handed over to the player the game has a tendency to show the strings holding it together.
This isn’t to say that the dated graphics don’t serve the noticeable purpose of allowing the game to run on almost any, current PC, which is a nice addition. The graphics scale rather well, also, which is greatly helped by the distinctive art style that Strong Bad brings with him. At the lowest graphic setting it is still clear what every item in the environment is without sacrificing that much detail. It also supports a surprisingly high widescreen resolution, 16×10, without any problems on mid-range gaming computers. Add on top of that, those same computers experience very little load time while playing this game and Strong Bad comes close to having zero problems in the tech. department.
Probably the greatest element of Baddest is the pokerfaced humor. Even though Strong Bad replies to emails asking for help with suggestions that would probably get someone killed, or the very least arrested, he seems to be the most well adjusted person in the entire world, which is saying a lot. Home Star Runner has no arms and constantly proves to be more excitable and fickle than a five year who has been fed nothing besides sugar and caffeine for its entire life, and Coach Z is a failed rapper that now coaches the non-existent “team” and lives in the locker room. Surprisingly all of the unique characters manage to deliver line after line of laugh out loud quibbles, normally pertaining to their rather pronounced character flaws.
The dialog scenes, which have all been amazing in the last Strong Bad games, prove to be the most spot on and humorous in this version than in the previous two. While not key to the game at all, it is interesting to point out that almost all of the unique voices that are done in game are performed by one person, the great length and character that each role has is truly unique, especially this time around.
This is all taking into consideration that the last Strong Bad game came out roughly a month ago and this episode has managed to follow closely on its heels. Each episode can be bought online, directly through Telltale, for around 9 dollars or the entire season can be bought for about 35. The game is also available on the Wii system, but those can only currently be bought by the episode and those cost about 10 dollars each making them a little more costly of an investment than the PC version.
Baddest of the Bands manages to do two things very well. The first is that it is a humor-filled romp through the world of Strong Bad that any fan of the cartoon will eat up, probably with the aid of the included walkthrough. The second is that it continually stays the course within its wacky cartoon environment, even when that means that puzzles are entirely more difficult then they need to be. While fans have probably already paid for the entire season long before this episode came out, people who are newer to the series can easily find something to hold their attention but may want to wait a little long for the series to congeal together in both difficulty and, hopefully, an overarching plot.