As the premiere season of Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People is quickly approaching its conclusion, the excitement over what promises to be a spectacular grand finale is steadily mounting. While there’s still another month to wait for the highly anticipated return of the awesome burninating power of Trogdor, players can momentarily satiate their thirst for Strong Badian wackiness with Episode 4: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective. Strong Bad’s venture into the realm of amateur filmmaking – complete with shaky cam, poor editing, and outrageously penned plot twists – makes for a delightfully demented diversion.
If there’s one thing SBCG4AP proves, it’s Telltale Games knows how to keep fans from getting bored. So far, no two entries in the first season are alike. By constantly introducing imaginative and warped ideas into each episode, Telltale has kept the series moving along at a steadily humorous clip. The solid underpinnings have stayed the same throughout the various installments, yet each throws in new unexpected twists to keep things fresh. Keeping in line with this momentum, Dangeresque 3 offers another wildly different adventure to dive into.
Strong Bad’s budding video production skills serve as the basis for much of the joke delivery in Episode 4. The game opens with Strong Bad and his pals having just completed the third indie film featuring himself in the starring role as Dangeresque – his bad-cop, sunglasses-toting, action hero movie persona. Once the whole gang has gathered into his basement for the premiere screening of Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective on a rickety VCR, you’re thrown directly into the movie itself. The film has Dangeresque (Strong Bad) and his partner seeking peril and fortune in an attempt to recover a secret formula to save the rainforest for Cutesy Buttons (Marzipan). The plot then devolves into a crazy mess that sends the rough around the edges hero gallivanting across the world on various rescue missions.
Amazingly, 99 percent of the game takes places within the film, but it’s really quite entertaining to see many of the typical locales and residents in Free Country, USA, re-worked for their new role in the Dangeresque flick. Indeed, many of the locations from the past episodes make re-appearances, but they’ve been laughably “re-decorated” and decked out with assorted props to provide all-new settings for the movie. Whether it’s the marker-jungle scrawled onto the fence (complete with assorted houseplants for added effect) to turn Strong Badia into Strongborneo, the numerous cardboard cutouts used for scenery, or the gray construction paper taped to the walls of Strong Bad’s basement to make it look like a secret space hideout (located on the sun), you’re likely to get more than a few chuckles from seeing how everything is transformed.
The comedic way Episode 4 features a story within a story is even more intriguing. All of the roles in Dangeresque 3 are played by different characters from the Homestar Runner cartoon who have been previously featured in the Strong Bad episodic series. Their acting abilities are extremely sub-par, which tends to amplify the game’s funnier moments. At different points in the film, characters forget lines, mispronounced names, and ad-lib frequently. The movie is riddled with hilariously bad edits and cheesy, low-budget special effects. Fans of the webcomic and the gaming series will undoubtedly find moments of sheer preposterous brilliance in this episode.
Due to the cinematic feel of the episode, the adventure flows more steadily than in some past installments. The puzzles still seem to be falling on the easier side lately. While most are reasonably enjoyable and straightforward, there’s one in particular later on in the game that requires you to interrogate the same character in five “different” locations using the same four questions over and over again. This seems a little unnecessarily irritating. Still, the game has its shining moments. One that immediately comes to mind is a scene where Strong Bad has to figure out how to leap from the top of a car being chased by Killingyouguy (Strong Mad) to a helicopter floating just out of reach by using the vehicle’s voice automated defense systems.
This time around, the Fun Machine is actually a little more integrated into the game; it even plays a role in the film. The retro-inspired game this episode, Space Circus Catastrophe, has you jetting through space to avoid asteroids, while blasting diabolical space clowns and saving other denizens of the space circus. Sadly, there’s no make-your-own Teen Girl Squad comic option in Episode 4. This seems to be a trend, since the previous episode included the comic in the game, but didn’t allow you to make your own. To balance this out, the extended play mode unlocked after beating the main game is far more robust than those in previous episodes. You’ll be able to visit any of the locations in the game and check out funny behind-the-scenes interviews, bloopers, and outtakes from Strong Bad’s Film
Dangeresque 3, the episode and the low-budget movie, is a great surprise. It takes the game in an unexpected direction, offering another round of fresh variety to keep the standard point-and-click adventure mechanics from growing tiresome. Many who’ve been following the series from the beginning will find it’s the best episode so far. However, it’s likely to be unseated by the fifth and final episode, 8-Bit is Enough. It sounds like Telltale is pulling out all the stops to deliver the goods in the season finale. The appearance of Trogdor will no doubt signal the burninating apocalypse. SBCG4AP has had a strong run this year, and it provided a pleasant respite during the downtime for Telltale’s other beloved adventure game.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Just as good as before. 3.9 Control
No improvements and no issues. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Great voice work and Dangeresque music. 3.7 Play Value
This episode is one of the best in the series. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.