How meta should you get? Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 5: 8-Bit Is Enough asks this question, and answers it with something to the effect of "plenty meta, thank you." In it, you'll get sucked into video games... but will you survive? (Yes. You can't die, and the game takes care to remind you of this fact.)
8-Bit Is Enough
$10 (1000 Wii points)
While the previous adventure focused on movies, this one is video game-centric. Not only will you see numerous parodies of numerous major games over the past 30 years, but you'll also encounter numerous references to the games played in the previous four episodes of the series as well as the online animated cartoons. If you're a gamer, this episode was made to make you happy. Since it can also criticize itself, this may be a notable first for video games.
Nothing new to see here, really. Point, click, get, laugh.
Graphics & Sound & Gameplay
The "sets" are recycled, as are various textures. The game also adds numerous new areas based on 8-bit video games, so you can go into a level that's essentially Mega Man, another one that borrows heavily from the first King's Quest games, and so on and so forth. The extent to which classic pixelly 2D games are translated into somewhat three-dimensional environments is pretty impressive, it's almost a crying shame that this sort of look and feel will remain solely in this title. I mean, who hasn't wanted to see a high-def-era game with a character made up of what appears to be 20 or so pixels? To merely call it "great" would be to do it a disservice.
Music and sound for this episode were designed to mimic the arenas in which Strong Bad explores. I'd say someone had studied Capcom music and PC blips nicely for this one, plus there's the usual voicework and background music for the "real world" settings. For whatever reason, some of the levels have very short songs, so the tunes may loop faster than you would prefer. This was certainly the case while our crack reviewer team worked through this one.
There weren't too many new twists here, or rather, we're not going to spoil the ones that come up at the end because it's a delightful surprise. The bulk of the game follows the same sort of thing you're now used to, although the sheer amount of in-jokes and references included may be aimed too much at the gamer hardcore elite. If you haven't seen the movie King of Kong, the concept of a quest in which you have to hit a kill screen in a game may go over your head. (Have you seen that movie? You should see it.)
Aside from the "final stage," which replicates one of the most famous games of the end of the 8-bit era, there's the Gel-arshie's Pro Fruitboarder. It's not easy to take jabs at shovelware, bad licensed games, and food product-mascot titles, but they somehow manage to do it all in this really awful take on Cool Spot/T&C Surf Designs/etc. You move around, you do some tricks, and you probably don't much care for it.
After you finish the actual game and unlock the "Extended Play" mode, you're allowed to finally play the Trogdor the Burninator arcade game which has been taunting you for the previous episodes. The good news is that it's fun and has a distinct texture that doesn't match the other video games within the video game. Unfortunately, it's little more than a glorified whack-a-mole, where your character sets fire to peasants. It's a fun little diversion, but like many of the Videlectrix games, it's not going to keep you busy for too long.
Is It Worth It?
YES. Sort of. It's not as accessible as the previous entry of the series, but it's a good time, even if it does end somewhat abruptly. If you're the kind of person who seeks out a site named 16bit.com as the filter for your video game news, odds are the jokes and gameplay are aimed squarely at the likes of you. Your significant other may not necessarily get all the gags, but the majority of the game is fairly accessible and the whole "oh no I got sucked into a video game" plot isn't particularly hard to grasp. It's a shame that the areas in which you have to play various games-within-a-game are in the same point-and-click style you're used to rather than switching to a classic console run-and-jump or some other type of gameplay, but I guess there's always next time.
...assuming there is a next time, that is. At press time, this is the final title in the series and Telltale has not made any announcements surrounding a second season of these games, but we're all hoping to see more. When Nintendo described the Wii as a sort of family entertainment machine where people could sit around and enjoy a game together, this is the sort of thing they were probably hoping developers would make. The five games in this series are absolutely the most fun we've had on the Wii so far, so if yours is gathering dust I absolutely have to suggest you download these games and enjoy.
May 27, 2009