WiiWare and Virtual Console Roundup

Strong Bad Episode 2, Helix, Jumpman, Boulder Dash, Sonic.

Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People Episode 2: Strong Badia the Free

  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Wii Points: 1000
  • In Real Money: GBP 7.00 / EUR 10.00 (approx)

With their Sam & Max episodic adventure, Telltale's razor sharp comedy instinct was eventually dulled by the repetitive nature of the tasks and locations on offer. Concerns that Strong Bad may follow suit aren't quite alleviated by this second episode, which reprises several locations from Homestar Ruiner, but the structure of this new series is such that it's not as problematic as it might have been.

This time around Strong Bad, the wrestling-masked, boxing-gloved belligerent anti-hero of the saga, has been placed under house arrest by the King of Town for failing to pay his email tax - one cream cake per email sent or received. After a short introductory puzzle which involves getting rid of the electronic collar around Strong Bad's neck, you're off on a quest to overthrow the king and crown yourself monarch of Strong Badia.

Trouble is, all the other characters have set up their own countries as well, and to unite them all under your banner you need to travel through each in turn, fulfilling certain objectives to earn their allegiance.

sb

Straight away, the experience is a lot more linear than the enjoyable ramble of the first episode. It's also a lot more straightforward, and so probably won't last experienced gamers as long. At least, the main story won't take you as long. As before, there's a ton of additional stuff to find, hidden jokes, fun collectibles and unlockable arcade games to play with.

It's here that Strong Bad separates itself from the herd. While there will be points where you'll start to feel tired of wandering back and forth between the same scenes, boredom can be staved off by simply exploring for something else. Unlike Sam & Max where random scenery items might trigger an amusing one-liner, here you're just as likely to uncover lengthy comedy tangents and playable extras.

Much still depends on how funny you find the Homestar Runner web cartoons, but Strong Bad remains an episodic experience well worth making time for each month.

8/10

Helix

  • Developer: Ghostfire Games
  • Wii Points: 1000
  • In Real Money: GBP 7.00 / EUR 10.00 (approx)

Do you like the concept of Samba de Amigo, but aren't quite ready to fork out on a full price purchase? Or maybe you enjoy waving your arms in time to music, but find games with too much character or personality overwhelming and scary? Either way, this would appear to be the game for you - a no frills rhythm game in which you match the movements of a robot while generic dance music pumps away.

helix

You'll need two remotes to play properly, though the game does let you play with just one - at the cost of half the available points. The robot, which looks uncannily like the ones that prompted Will Smith to exclaim "AW HELL NAW" in I, Robot, performs a move and then you repeat it as a bar passes over the top of the screen. Start your flailing at the start of the bar, and make sure your arm is back by your side at the end. Bingo. You are a superstar.

The motion recognition is up to the task, most of the time, and you can calibrate your remotes to make it even more accurate. Even so, experienced Wii players will soon work out the minimal movements which can be used to trick the system. Not sure why you'd do that, but there you go. The soundtrack, meanwhile, is made up of techno and trance acts you've never heard of, and the incessant generic tunes grate all too soon.

Helix is certainly serviceable, in that it features music and gameplay involves moving in time to this music, but there's no atmosphere, no energy, no life to the thing. Much like its robot host, it's a bare bones facsimile of something with a lot more soul. Samba de Amigo may cost four times as much but even in its slightly disappointing Wii incarnation, it's still four times as much fun as well.

5/10

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