|System: Wii (WiiWare), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The puzzles have improved a bit, both in implementation and inventiveness. Some require multiple items or actions to solve, and events like the sword battle against Strong Mad's cardboard cutout tarantula beast and the neat board game challenge later in the adventure are excellent ways to keep things from getting stale. Puzzles are also still reasonably challenging without being overtly difficult. It's occasionally tough to discern the correct path ahead, but in such instances turning on the hint feature makes the few sticky moments bearable without totally giving everything away.
Extra goodies still abound in Episode 2, though the massive Trogdor arcade cabinet remains sadly unused and collecting dust in Strong Bad's basement. Like any good tool of foreshadowing, perhaps it will come into play by the end of the season. On the bright side, the SnakeBoxer 5 game in the FunMachine has been replaced with the greatly improved and even goofier Math Kickers (featuring Dex and Ryu, the Algebros). This mathematical beat-'em-up arcade game revolves around solving equations by using the corresponding bro (one adds and the other subtracts) to pummel ninjas and other baddies to end up with the correct answers. Also, Teen Girl Squad is back in the form of Cave Girl Squad - a prehistorically doodled version packed with plenty of new ways to get the girls maimed.
The diverse and truly bizarre cast of characters really brings the game to life. Providing some balance to the first episode, Strong Sad, Strong Mad, Homsar, Pom-Pom, and The Cheat get a lot more airtime in Strong Badia the Free. Conversely, Homestar Runner, Marzipan, Coach Z, and The Poopsmith play bit parts. The interactions between Strong Bad and the other characters are as wacky and hilarious as ever, and it's going to be interesting to see what new mayhem unfolds in future episodes.
Strong Badia the Free propels the series further onward in more ways than the premier episode. It's littered with plenty of subtle nods to the online cartoon series, while still being accessible to new players. The fresher elements improve on the firmly established vibe and gameplay, making this a solid follow up episode. We can't wait for Episode 3 next month: Baddest of the Bands. Rock on!
CCC Staff Contributor