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January 7, 2008

Strongbadia is a wonderful vacation spot

When I saw that one of our required texts was Strong Bad's email, my jaw almost hit the dang floor. While it doesn't shock me that Dr. Jerz is a Strong Bad fan, I did find it awesomely hilarious that SBE, for all intents and purposes, was used in an academic setting. It reminds me of the few times I have been able to use both Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary as academic sources.

I have been a fan of Homestarrunner and Strong Bad for, well...pretty much since about email 25.

I remember watching this long, long ago when it first appeared on HSR. You have no idea how much time I have wasted playing the games included in the email as well as the numerous others on the HSR website (Population Tire is a fun game).

I always enjoyed this email because it very much discusses some of the issues surrounding videogames - the battle about visuals vs. gameplay vs. story, etc. I've always been one of those people who make the claim that graphics are not everything. I mean, c'mon. I've played through the entirety of Peasant's Quest with a score of 144 of 150. That is nothing but a 5x5 matrix of simple design and text adventure with small visual representations. Just because it isn't pretty doesn't mean it doesn't have value.

Of the four available games, I spend a lot of time playing Rhino Feeder and Strongbadzone. Not that I don't enjoy text-based adventures or Atari-2600-like games such as Secret Collect, but I enjoy the others a little more, for reasons I can't explain except for the absurdity of the games (feeding a rhino and heads-a-sploding).

Starting with Rhino Feeder, I can't help but chuckle at the simplistic appearance, but interesting play mechanic. It ties into what Koster says about us finding patterns, too, because we attempt to find some logical pattern to the food appearing or where the snakes will come from and where they stop. Our brains immediately start analyzing where the obstacles are and we try to find the path that leads us to the food and back to the dish.

The game may look like total crap (although the tiny Strong Bad is awesome and the Rhino is totally boss), but it is still fun in it's simplicity.

Strongbadzone, too, is glorious in it's simplicity. While the game is terribly reminiscent of the awful 3D vector games of the Nintendo Virtual Boy - the idiocy of having some spikey-haired shield guy is great, and the simple pattern of block-moving is incredibly fun - not only do we challenge ourselves to play pong with the geometry lesson flying at us, we are also trying to achieve the total destruction of Strong Bad's vector head.

I suggest everyone give a round of time to some of the other games on the site - even for those who own a Nintendo Wii, HSR has been kind enough to retool some of their games for use with the Wii's internet browser and Wii remote.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at January 7, 2008 9:15 AM


Yes, I enjoyed Peasant's Quest, too... an excellent spoof of the early entrants in the Sierra Online King's Quest.

I probably came across the English paper e-mail first, and I think Homestarrunner.com was probably the first time I really noticed what Flash animation can do. Previously every time I had encountered it was as an annoying advertisement, so I disabled Flash in disgust on my computer. Now I have a plug-in that lets me load and block more selectively.

I suppose I could have put together a similar lecture, where I play through some older games and say pretty much the same stuff that Strong Bad says (only not as funny). But why reinvent the wheel? This animation is a good introduction to the genre, even if the games are all exaggerated re-creations of imaginary games. They still give everyone a flavor of what each of the game styles was like (and how each can still be fun).

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 7, 2008 1:08 PM

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