Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Point-and-Click Adventure Game Review: Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People - 8-Bit is Enough

Here at long last is the highly anticipated* review of the fifth and final episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, 8-Bit is Enough, by The Adventuress.

This episode takes place immediately after the end of the last episode. After Strong Bad says the trademark line of Dangeresque, "Looks like I'm going to have to jump", he jumps off of the couch. Unfortunately, he lands right into his Trogdor arcade machine, causing the machine to spark profusely. In typical Strong Bad fashion, he blames Strong Sad for breaking the machine and coerces his big baby brother into telling him how to repair it.

Unfortunately for Strong Bad, Homestar gets in the way of the repairs and inadvertently causes Trogdor and many other characters from Videlectrix video games to appear in the "real world" of Free Country, USA. This is where the fun really starts. Just like Sam & Max Season One's Reality 2.0 before it, 8-Bit is Enough is a fun satire of video game cliches. Here though, fans of the Homestar Runner universe get treated to some great injokes since Strong Bad visits video game worlds of the flash video game "company" Videlectrix, from the creaters of Homestar Runner, the Brothers Chaps. This is definitely a love fest to the fans, so a familiarity with the Videlectrix games is highly recommended. There is also some fun general video game injokes, especially in regards to Nintendo, probably as a result of both the Brothers Chaps love for the company and due to the fact that this series is made with the Wii in mind.

The game world has considerably expanded this time, as you get to explore both Free Country USA as before (but with 8-bit video game artifacts spread about). You also get to explore the inside of the video game world and interact with the Videlectrix games inside of the Trogdor cabinet. The map returns, and both Free Country USA and game world locations are marked there for easy access, thankfully meaning you don't have to keep going out into the field to find the cabinet to get into the game world.

The puzzles seem to be the most fine-tuned out of the whole season here. They start out fairly simple, then get progressively harder as the game goes on. There aren't any real nailbiters here like some of he classic adventure games, which is expected since its been mentioned difficult nearly-nonsensical puzzles is something Telltale wants to avoid. Some of the puzzles are a little off the wall, but thankfully they all make perfect sense once you put your mindset into the world of Homestar Runner.

One extra that didn't make it (and wasn't in the last game either, is Teen Girl Squad). Like I mentioned before though, the customizable feature didn't really work, and the pre-made Teen Girl Squad was the most fun out of the season. If Telltale can make the comics more customizable and more funny next season, they'll be a good addition, but as it stands, I'm glad that they aren't in there just for the purpose of being there. The rest of the extras are still here though, and the trend of using the extras as plot devices continues. In this game, the Funstation game and the treasure hunting shovel are both used as plot devices. It really feels that Telltale has finally found the right amount of gameplay vs. extras ratio, and I hope that if there is a second season, Telltale continues to integrate the extras into the main gameplay.

8-Bit is Enough is the strongest game of the season in my opinion. The gameplay is tightened, the jokes are top-notch, and the ending has the best end boss yet in all of Telltale's games, including those in the Sam & Max games. The only thing that brings the score down a little bit is that it is such a fan-service episode that pre-hand knowledge of the Videlectrix games is pretty much required.

Final Verdict: 4 out of 5

* Like Strong Bad's dubious claims, the claim that this review is "highly anticipated" may not be entirely true.

Tales of Monkey Island Episodes are out everywhere!

Lair of the Leviathan, the third episode of Tales of Monkey Island, is now available from Telltale's website. Also, the second episode of Tales of Monkey Island, The Siege of Spinner Cay, is now available in Europe for WiiWare! There's lots of Monkey Island goodness going around for everyone this month!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lucidity Trailer and Release Date

There is a new Lucidity Trailer at GameTrailers, with more gameplay footage and cutscene footage. LucasArts Workshop, the official LucasArts blog, also confirms the price. It will be 800 MS Points on Xbox Live Arcade and $10 on PC download services such as Steam. It will be available on both platforms on October 7th!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CSI: Deadly Intent Video Diary and Release Date

Gamer's Hell has a video development diary detailing environments and characters from season nine of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. They also have a release date for the game. CSI: Deadly Intent is scheduled to be available on October 20th, for Xbox 360, PC and Wii.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Telltale Seasons Only $19.99 This Weekend

Telltale Games Seasons on the PC are only $19.99 for this weekend only! If you've missed out on one of Telltale's seasons of Sam & Max, Strong Bad, or Wallace & Gromit, now is the time to pick them up!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day Monkey Island Madness

In celebration of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, both Telltale Games and LucasArts are having deals on Monkey Island games.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is now half off, and is available for just $5 US at Steam or Direct2Drive for this weekend only.

Telltale is offering Talk Like a Pirate deals too! Launch of the Screaming Narwhal will be completely free, and the entire series will have a drop of price to $29.95 on September 19th only!

So, if you haven't picked up any of the new Monkey Island games, this weekend is your chance to do so!

LucasArts Adventure Pack on Steam

The four LucasArts games available on Steam, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Loom, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and The Dig, are now available on Steam in a LucasArts Adventure Pack for only $9.99 US!

I haven't purchased any yet, so I'm definitely going to pick them up now. $2.50 per game is really hard to pass up! :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lucidity Officially Announced

GameTrailers TV aired on Spike TV, and Lucidity was officially announced. It's a puzzle platformer, where you don't actually control the little girl Sofi, but instead place objects in her path so she can keep moving.

Sofi is a little girl who lives with her grandma, but her grandmother is old and not doing so well. Sofi drifts into a sleep, and has to travel through worlds looking for her grandma. There are 30 main levels and 15 bonus levels which can be unlocked by collecting fireflies in the main levels. A price has not been announced yet, but Lucidity will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade and PC later this month.

I love games like these! I spent so many hours on Lemmings as a little girl, and I loved Doublefine's excellent flash game, Tasha's Game. My anticipation for this is really high now. :D

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

LucasArts Announcement Tomorrow

The Gametrailers LucasArts announcement happens tomorrow. As I mentioned in the last post, the LucasArts twitter page mentioned that it will be a new intellectual property, and the LucasArts blog has been hinting towards Lucidity.

However, the Gametrailers Preview shows blurred concept art from The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition when the secret announcement is mentioned.

The question is whether the Monkey Island art is hinting at something, or whether it was put there to throw fans off the scent. It's possible that a Monkey Island 2 Special Edition could be announced, but if that's the case it's curious that they showed Monkey Island 1 concept art. We'll just have to find out tomorrow. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lucidity, a LucasArts Puzzle Game, To Be Announced

I wasn't sure whether to post this here or not, since I tend to only enjoy the adventure games by LucasArts. But Lucidity, a puzzle game for the Xbox Live Arcade that was revealed to Joystiq by an anonymous source in July, sounds like the game I'd really enjoy. Then, later in July, Joystiq released the first screenshot of the game. The art style in that single screenshot looks beautiful, so my interest was piqued even more.

Now, LucasArts has opened a new blog called the LucasArts Workshop. On that blog is a picture of people dressed up as Star Wars Jedi. On the right side is Sofi, the little girl who stars in Lucidity. She is holding a puzzle piece. There are four pictures in total, each with a puzzle piece. 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, and 4.jpg.

Thanks to fajerkaos in the Mixnmojo comments, the pieces have been combined to show art of Lucidity.
It looks like Lucidity is just about ready to be officially announced by LucasArts. According to an August 17th post on the LucasArts twitter page, Gametrailers will release an interview with LucasArts president Darrell Rodriguez, where he will reveal a new LucasArts intellectual property on September 10. It certainly looks like Lucidity will be that new IP.

It's great to see LucasArts developing new titles with charming artwork again. My hopes for a LucasArts-developed adventure game are just a smidge higher now. LucasArts has officially gained itself back a fangirl. :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Purcell's Tales of Monkey Island Cover Revealed

Steve Purcell's Tales of Monkey Island cover art has been revealed. The art is a giant picture at the PAX game show. They are also selling the art in poster form at the show as well, so if you're one of the lucky ones who were able to get a ticket to the show, stop by the Telltale booth and buy yourself one!

UPDATE September 6, 2009: Telltale's Twitter page has a better image of the artwork up now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

LucasArts Rumor #1: Maniac Mansion SE

Here's a LucasArts rumor for a change! It is so fun to be able to post about adventure game rumors at LucasArts knowing that these rumors actually have a chance to come true now! :)

On July 4, 2009, Jan "Laserschwert" Hofmeister reviewed the Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition soundtrack. With the music that he was given was a file that was listed in the review as "Bonus Track: Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx Xxxx Xxxxx (Xxxx Xxxxx)".

On the Mixnmojo forums, ATM machine posted "I'm pretty sure the mystery tune is "Maniac Mansion - Main Theme (Rock Remix), which was confirmed by Laserschwert.

LucasArts has stated that if the Secret of Monkey Island special edition sells well, they'll consider creating more special editions. The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition is indeed selling well, landing the #1 spot for downloads on Impulse, Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and has been in the consistently in the top 5 in the iPhone App Store.

If the rumor of Telltale creating a Maniac Mansion episodic series turns out to be true, it's almost certain that LucasArts will re-release Maniac Mansion in some form in order to best maximize their profits on the series like they did with Tales of Monkey Island and the Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition. With Maniac Mansion being a non-talkie game, it's very likely that they'll release a special edition over releasing the original on Steam.

With both the Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition and the classic editions of LucasArts adventure games selling well on Steam, it's certain that Maniac Mansion will be re-released in some form in the future. With the chances of Telltale making an episodic adventure series based on Maniac Mansion being very high, the chances of Maniac Mansion getting a special edition are very high as well.

It would be great to see all of LucasArts non-talkie adventure games get the special edition treatment, but the first LucasArts SCUMM game would be a real treat. I loved the game on the NES, and I'd absolutely love seeing the game updated so modern audiences could enjoy it as well. :)

Telltale Rumor #2: Loom episodic series

After the last post about dramatic licenses, it's time to do another Telltale rumor feature!

Out of all the LucasArts properties, Loom seems the most unlikely for Telltale to choose for their episodic game model. However, recent comments have made the chances of a Loom episodic series coming into being increase dramatically.

In August 2009, in an interview with Total PC Gaming Magazine, when Telltale design director Dave Grossman was asked about LucasArts adventure game licenses, he stated "The one I always think about these days is Loom actually, and how ahead of its time it was. I think the problem with it at the time was that it was only two and a half hours long and now I find myself deliberately trying to design games that are only two and a half hours long. So I think... well, why not do that?"

Then, on September 3, 2009, in an interview with VG247, Telltale's CEO Dan Connors stated that Telltale was going to announce a new dramatic episodic series, rather than their usual comedy series.

Dan Connors said, “We’ve always believed that there was a chance to get there as well. We want to continue to evolve the genre. We’ve already evolved the genre in a lot of ways in what we’ve done with Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit… but we believe there’s a lot of head-room to make more dramatic advances in storytelling and drama inside of this genre.”

So, with Telltale deciding to take on more dramatic series outside of their already dramatic CSI series, and Dave Grossman wanting to do a Loom series more than any other LucasArts series, the chances of a Loom episodic series from Telltale actually seem to be pretty high.

I for one would love to see Loom continued. It's the one LucasArts game that I feel needs a sequel, since the original game ended on a cliffhanger. I just hope that if it does come to fruition, Loom creator Brian Moriarty will have an active role in the series.

CSI: Hard Evidence On Steam

Steam, Valve's direct download service for Windows, now has CSI: Hard Evidence available for nine US dollars.

This is the first time that any of Telltale's CSI games have been available for purchase through direct download services. Here's hoping that the game is added to Telltale's own download service, Telltale Now, along with CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder (Deadly Intent would be nice too in the distant future :)).

Mixnmojo's History of Grim Fandango

I've been contributing reader opinions on all of The International House of Mojo's LucasArts Secret History articles, but I keep forgetting to post about them here! >_< They are on LucasArts adventure game 13, not counting the first LucasArts adventure game, Labyrinth. The articles feature informative reviews by the Mixnmojo staff, opinions by readers of Mixnmojo about the games, behind the scenes interviews with the creators of the games, and a trivia section about fun stuff that you might have missed or might not have known about. Read the Grim Fandango Secret History, and then read the other Secret History articles in their review section. You won't be disappointed. :)

Also, Colin Panetta, the artist of the Grim Fandango header art in Mixnmojo's Grim Fandango Secret History article has updated updated his blog with a "making of" the header art and wallpapers for download.

New Telltale Games

VG247 conducted a phone interview with Dan Connors of Telltale.

In that interview, it was mentioned that Telltale will be announcing new titles within the next few months. According to Dan Connors, "There’ll be some combination of things. I think we’ll be sticking with some of the franchises we’ve worked with, and we’ll be announcing some new franchises, probably in some new genres as well, not just comedy.”

Sam & Max Season Three will almost certainly be among the old franchises, since Telltale had already announced that the new season of Sam & Max will debut this year.

It's interesting to note that Telltale is planning on working on a dramatic license. They have delved in more series licences before with their games for Ubisoft based on the CSI series, but never in their main episodic downloadable games.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

1UP LucasArts Reunion

1UP has posted a video interview of several former LucasArts designers talking about their time at LucasArts, and talking a little bit about what they are up to today (or at least as of 2008, when this interview was filmed).

It's a group discussion, and features Ron Gilbert (project leader of Maniac Mansion and the first two Monkey Island games, co-leader of The Last Crusade), Dave Grossman (co-writer of the first two Monkey Island games, co-leader of Day of the Tentacle, and design director at Telltale Games), Noah Falstein (co-leader of Fate of Atlantis), Bill Tiller (lead background artist on The Curse of Monkey Island, lead artist on The Dig, and founder of Autumn Moon Entertainment), Larry Ahern (co-leader of The Curse of Monkey Island), Mike Levine (lead effects technician on The Dig, and co-founder of Crackpot Entertainment), and Tony Hsieh (programmer on many SCUMM titles, also the project leader on Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi).

It's a great interview. The group talks about almost every adventure game LucasArts released, from Labyrinth to The Curse of Monkey Island, as well as several non-adventure games. They talk about the different climate changes in the management at LucasArts over the years, what killed adventure games at LucasArts, as well as what killed good games in general at LucasArts, and what almost killed the adventure genre. There is also an interesting bit in the middle of the interview that talks about cancelled games at LucasArts as well as games by the people in the group that never got out of the planning stages.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and watch the video. It's really a great treat for any adventure game fan. :)