I felt as if I was stepping into uncharted territories…uncharted by the standards of this reviewer in any case. The realm of Free Country, USA and its inhabitants were a closed book to me, but as I received a free ticket to visit this strange land I thought I should accept in the spirit of diplomacy. It was an eye opening experience, but before we get to the details I should talk about the story behind this latest chapter of the Strong Bad games. It’s a story that both manages to be dramatic and yet totally absurd at the same time. In simple terms the King of Town has implemented a unfair e-mail tax that has caused the town to splinter into several different countries, some of which are right in the same house. As Strong Bad you’ll have to unite all these countries under yours -Strong Badia- to usurp The King of Town and reclaim your ancient birthright to send as many e-mails as you want.
That’s the basic story of the game so now would be a good time to talk about the game mechanics. Strong Badia The Free has the same universal point and click scheme that we’ve seen in adventure games since the days of King’s Quest and Maniac Mansion. It’s not -exactly- the same system all around though, as the conversation tree has been replaced with a pictorial system where players just click on the picture to start the conversation. It’s not as revealing as the system used in Telltale’s Sam and Max series, but it does speed up the gameplay as each option leads to no more then three responses usually. This trimming of the content means less time playing the game but it also means more time playing through the enjoyable parts. This upgraded does mean that it’s often less easy to know if you’re headed along the right path in a conversation but this is, after all, an adventure game.
Graphically this game was hard to call: they aren’t poorly designed, but are rather more like caricatures then anything else. All the characters have exaggerated features such as Bumps’s large mouth, Strong Bad’s big head and tiny body, and Strong Sad’s huge belly and elephant feet. The whole game has an absurd look to it. Fans of the Homestar Runner series won’t find the game’s graphics anything to complain about as they perfectly imitate the original Internet series. The environments in the game can be called minimalist, as it’s largely a green bordered field with several structures scattered through it (but you’ll rarely need to visit these more the once).It’s true that the game doesn’t break the mold with open ended gameplay but you’ll still find other things to appreciate here.
Even though there may not be much to see in Strong Badia the Free, that doesn’t make it a bad game…just a short one. As the creators of Homestar Runner and Telltale have collaborated on the game its writing is very well done, making me laugh out loud several times. Unfortunately this is a quality vs. quantity situation, but there are worse trade offs in the world. Strong Badia The Free is a very short game when played straight through, accounting for roughly three hours of play time. However, what is there will be appreciated by fans of the series and those who just prefer games that utterly refuse to take themselves seriously.
Strong Badia: The Free is another well made addition to Tellate’s adventure game catalog. It boasts colorful and cartoonish graphics, and a realigned method of gameplay that makes an already easy system of play even less complicated. This streamlining does make the game shorter and offers the players a more linear gameplay experience than other adventure games. These are minor problems because the game offers a humorous and user friendly experience, at a such low price Strong Badia: The Free will appeal to both casual gamers and adventure fans.