For years we’ve been hearing about how adventure games are “dead”. It turns out this isn’t strictly true, although at the time it was probably just wishful thinking. Oh, there were a few gems glittering amongst the dross of low-quality titles, but for the most part those early adventure games were a form of abuse.
During the 90’s we had a glut of dull adventure games where solving the puzzles required diagnosing the mental illness of the game designer. Playing them was like watching a fifteen minute movie, ten seconds at a time. And you’re not allowed to see the next fifteen seconds until you can guess the writer’s favorite flavor of baby.
So it was a relief when they stopped making them for a while. But it turns out adventure games didn’t actually die. They merely entered an inactive pupal stage before their metamorphosis into their modern-day butterfly form as episodic gaming treats. These gaming bon-bons only last a few hours, but they’re cheap and they come out at a regular pace. When I play one of these games I find myself wondering, “Why didn’t they do this ten years ago?”
While a few companies have been trying to do this episodic gaming thing, nobody has done it as well as Telltale Games. (Hint to Valve: Episodic gaming means more than just putting out a game every couple of years and putting the word “episode” in the title.) The Sam & Max series from Telltale has been consistently short, cheap, witty, fun, and frequent. (If you want to try it out, you can play a full episode for free.)
Now they’ve come out with a Strongbad game, which looks to follow that same pattern of rapid-fire release dates and hilarity. I couldn’t resist the temptation to put the two of them together, just to see what would happen.
It’s going to take a few episodes to sort this out. Do bear with me.
Shamus Young is a programmer and writer by trade, videogame nitpicker by inclination. If you have the patience for more of his ramblings, they can be found at ShamusYoung.com.