Dangeresque: The Roomisode Triungulate

PC, Mac

If you’re not familiar with Homestar Runner, then I envy you so much. It means that there are years of some of the funniest cartoons you’ve never seen, just waiting to be discovered. Or possibly, you did watch it back in the day, but you’ve not noticed the site has been reinvented to work in a post-Flash world, with new cartoons appearing over the years, as well as an archive on YouTube. There’s so much joy within.

Homestar is a school athlete type, light on brains and arms, but heavy on naive confidence. Around him is a cast of excellent characters, the most famous and popular being Strong Bad – an angry creature in a wrestling mask and boxing gloves. For many years, Strong Bad was the highlight of the site, answering reader emails in cartoons that spawned many series favourites, like Trogdor, Teen Girl Squad, and 20X6 (Twenty Exty-Six). And, of course, Dangeresque.

The key point is, Homestar Runner is still going, and that’s wonderful. Also still going is the series’ in-world video game developer, Videlectrix! In fact, last month it released a game! Dangeresque: The Roomisode Triungulate is a point-and-click adventure based on the Strong Bad character, Dangeresque, that most infamous of private eyes/crooked cops.

This is, of course, not Strong Bad’s first outing in video game form. 2008 saw Telltale’s episodic series, Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, made in collaboration with HSR’s creators, The Brothers Chaps. And they were splendid, most especially Episode 3, Baddest Of The Bands, which was co-written and directed by Sam & Max Hit The Road‘s Mike Stemmle. Episode 4, as it happens, was called Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective.

In fact, even this new game isn’t wholly new. In 2008, Dangeresque Roomisode 1: Behind the Dangerdesque was created for the HSR site, a point-n-click game made in the style of Sierra’s early ’90s adventures, in which Dangeresque had to solve a murder without leaving his office, in the most corrupt way possible. The Roomisode Triungulate remakes that original game, adding in full voice acting, new animation and a new interface, while adding two brand new, lengthier roomisodes. Yup, some 15 years later, the Flash game finally got its promised sequels!

The result is pretty fab. The first episode remains pretty much identical to the original version, but for some new ways to lose, and the rather significant improvements, most especially that it’s all voice acted now. Here, Strong Bad must “solve” a crime lest he be fired/murdered by The Chief (confusingly not played by The Cheat), by improvising with the items found in his office. This involves vomiting, faking photos with leftover Chinese food, and headbutting desks, as you would imagine.

The second roomisode is set at an intersection on the street outside Dangeresque’s office, where the PI’s friend Renaldo¬†(played by Coach Z) is trapped in their car with a bomb under the bonnet. It’s up to Dangeresque to defuse the bomb, via battling a raccoon, avoiding traffic, and ruining a guy’s attempts at an arcade game high score.

The third, and best, takes place in the restaurant headquarters of crime boss Perducci (the King of Town), and his muscle, Killingyouguy (Strong Mad). Four people want to see Perducci dead, and it’s up to Dangerseque to thwart all four assassinations, It’s here we finally see an appearance (of sorts) by Homestar, as well as cameos from The Cheat, Bubs, Pompom and Strong Sad. But no Homsar. At any point. So 0/10.

All three chapters play like good Sierra games, while are animated to look like LucasArts adventures. So you score points for solving puzzles, interacting with the world with three cursor interfaces – look, talk, and use. Every item has gags written for all three, so you’ll want to make sure you do so. Plus, in that early Sierra way, using every inventory item on every object often results in unique jokes, meaning you’ll really want to meticulously explore. Also like Sierra, you can die, although unlike Sierra it then immediately puts you back to just before that moment, making finding deaths a fun part of playing.

The LucasArts inspiration appears via how it’s drawn, the sound effects and music, and how the puzzles aren’t entirely irrational. The game really is an effort to pluck the best parts of the two.

I had a thoroughly good time playing, often laughed, and hunted down every last detail. I finished all three episodes just six or seven points off the full score, meaning there’s stuff I missed, but not a lot. Where I felt it did fall a little short was in its reliance on references, with too many callbacks to Trogdor for instance, in a way that Homestar Runner cartoons rarely ever did. Although, that was mostly true of the first and eldest episode. The other written aspect was an over-use of the one-more-word gag, where there’s the ellipsis before an awkwardly added extra word gets said. It does this so often that I began to weary of it.

That Matt and Mike Chapman are still making new Homestar content brings me so much happiness. It’s sporadic now, the two brothers having gone on to work on many other TV animations since, including a bunch of Disney projects. That they’re making entire games, albeit pretty short ones, is mindblowing.

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