Among the instantly recognizable memes that have posited themselves into hundreds upon hundreds of video games over the years: Continue screens, hit point meters, checkpoints, obligatory lava and ice levels, unbeatable difficulty levels, product placement, as well as weapon and health pack respawns. Where the uninitiated would see a stack of unidentified wooden crates, Strong Bad -- thinking like a gamer -- sees “a mountain of power-ups, ammo, extra lives, shields, and coins.” The reason these are all comfort food for a video gamer is because we’ve seen these objects implemented since Pitfall, Donkey Kong, and Mario Brothers (all of which are paid tribute in 8-bit Is Enough).
Amidst this increasingly Frankenstein-mashed appearance of the real world, Strong Bad also travels into developer Videlectrix’s Lawnmower Man-like mainframe. From that central hub, he has run-ins with another series favorite, Stinkoman, Strong Bad’s Japanese-animated version of himself, complete with some phrases whimsically lost in translation.
Also sometimes misplaced in this final episode is the hint system. Depending on your place in the storyline, it will either bombard you or abandon you with baffling aplomb. And while the game’s intention never was to stump players with headscratchers, the season finale still couldn’t fully uncork the occasional bottleneck. Also, the in-game implementation of a “light musket” (as opposed to a “light gun” like those used in games like Duck Hunt or House of the Dead) would frequently foul up subsequent actions in the inventory bar.
But the season finale is still a wonderful wrap to an eclectic first season. Memorable moments in 8-Bit Is Enough include seeing Strong Sad fulfill his ultimate desire to serve as a bottomless quest-giver; Strong Bad exploring the uneventful lives of Extra Lives waiting to play the game; and one difficult but stunningly smart puzzle that involves the relocation of a standard checkpoint to a more advantageous position.
8-Bit Is Enough is a surprisingly slow-to-start but satisfying capstone to an eclectic first season for Homestar Runner and friends.
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