So what can I say about this one? Col-o-nel Homestar is wonderfully ridiculous, and Strong Bad is completely unfazed by his actions. Homestar’s “Homestarmy” consists of Strong Sad (who I can understand wanting to go after Strong Bad), Homsar (who’s probably there because he doesn’t know any better), and a couple of inanimate objects. This series really does have a lot of objects considered to be characters – just look at the inhabitants of Strong Badia. And The Stick. And The Paper. Geez, there really are a ton of them when you think about it. On another note, lots of callbacks are present - mainly the painting from i love you and the box that originally read “eleven soaps” from fingers, though I like to think that “do you has what it takes” is a reference to “I think I has the solution” from Yello Dello.
So overall, this is definitely a solid email. It’s not a personal favorite of mine in the sense that I don’t have any huge attachment to it, but I can’t deny quality humor when I see it. And the next email is definitely a winner too, if only because of the massive amount of content it produced. Now it is my intention to sit down and write about video games for several hours. Well, hopefully not that long, but let’s take a look.
The first game, Secret Collect., (yes, there is a period at the end of the title for some reason), is clearly based on the standard appearance of an Atari 2600 game. I rather like the weird flashing walls that look way out of place with the rest of the graphics, because those totally existed. Just look at the title screen for SwordQuest. And then you’ve got the graphics that only look “kind of like” Strong Bad, aka, a red square. Granted, there were plenty of games that did at least attempt to represent the character, but then there were ones like Adventure which did not.
Next is StrongBadZone, which is sort of like a Vectrex game (though it also looks rather Virtual Boy-ish, given the color scheme). I’m not quite sure why this one doesn’t let you play as Strong Bad, when he was clearly playable in Secret Collect. and appears in one of the following games too. I’m not going to say much about the humor in most of these, because I think it kind of speaks for itself, but this is definitely the one that most people remember from this email, if only for “Your head a splode”.
The next game, Thy Dungeonman, strangely doesn’t actually feature Strong Bad at all, and, perhaps even more strangely, is the one that generated sequels. It’s one of those things that is barely even connected with the overall Homestar Runner universe, but is yet still part of the website. But anyway, this is clearly a parody of old text adventures like Zork that require a lot of imagination and patience, because your goal is often not very clear, and a lot of times, these games would be really challenging to actually complete because of obtuse puzzle-solving and requiring obscure, missable items. Thy Dungeonman is anything but difficult though, as we’ll see in a bit.
The final game shown is Rhino Feeder, which is probably my least favorite of the four, despite Strong Bad’s insistence that it’s incredibly cutting-edge. I guess that’s sort of the joke. I’m not quite sure what system this is supposed to be a parody of either, because it does seem to be a step above NES graphics, but it’s definitely not 16-bit. It’s actually more similar to the Atari 7800, which wasn’t necessarily better- or worse-looking than the NES, but had sort of a different visual style, and the sort of gradient at the top of the screen gives me more of an Atari vibe.
At the end of the email, you have the opportunity to try out all four of the games, probably making this the email with the most content attached to it, though website arguably beats it by a bit. I’ll be going over each of those games a bit more in-depth in a video at the end of this post, which will also cover the first of a couple other Videlectrix games released in January and February of 2004. A little bit of backstory here – Matt and Mike had been receiving emails with this subject for quite a while, and it took a while to get the creative jump to actually make the SBEmail. So when they made it, they basically got Jonathan Howe (the programmer for TROGDOR!) to make these games as well, which he managed to pump out in about three days. I guess he kind of got into a groove with those, and then proceeded to make a game called Pigs on Head a couple weeks after this email released, followed by Thy Dungeonman II another few weeks later.
Those two games are not actually on the Homestar Runner website anywhere, but rather, on the Videlectrix website, which launched on the same date as Thy Dungeonman II. (I’m not actually sure where Pigs on Head was playable before the site started, it may have temporarily been solely accessible through the “new update” button, if I had to guess). I’ll probably go over this site a bit more in-depth later on, but for now, let’s move on to another email that, surprisingly, does feature another video game, albeit briefly. It’s called the bet.
Dear Strong Bad,
Do you ever go over to The King of Town's place for dinner? If so, what's it like?
Ann Arbor, Michigan
a> Uh… nope. What, did you really think I’d ever hang out with the King of Town? Pff. Well, that answers that one. Until next week everyone, send me some emails that I won’t be able to answer in two seconds. [preeeeow]
That would be pretty funny as a one-time thing. But anyways, here we have a pretty decent email – nothing too outstanding, but it works well for what it is. Homestar’s bet was delightfully random, and the scenes with KoT went about how you’d expect them to, honestly. I guess the advantage to hanging out with an uncool person with a lot of food is that you get to have … well, a lot of food. Can’t really say no to that. The “putting mayo in the vent” prank was pretty funny too, and definitely one that would be horrible if it happened to me, because I hate the smell of mayonnaise anyway, even when it’s fresh. As for Typing Tutor, I only have one thing to say about it: it doesn’t have all the letters. Kind of seems like a bit of a flaw there.
Strangely, the highlight of this email is actually in the Easter eggs at the end. I usually don’t bother pointing those out any more, but definitely check them out in this one, because both are pretty funny. Butter-da is noh hush a bush push Leopold. And now for the next email, we have lackey. And I’m going to lead into this one by saying that I remember this being one of the most useless emails ever, but I haven’t seen it in quite a while, so maybe I’ll be surprised. Let’s give it a shot.
… Crap, I thought if I pressed Enter enough times, people would let me skip to the next one. Ok, I’ll at least say one positive thing about this email – the stuff Strong Bad was saying about The Cheat at the start (all of the stuff in quotes, basically) was actually pretty funny, if a bit long-winded. And the rest of the email was … yeah, pretty dumb, in my opinion. The “BC” jokes really overstayed their welcome (and were not actually funny to begin with), and I have no idea where the heck the idea for Doreauxgard (screw that spelling, btw) came from, or why anyone thought it was a good idea.
But apparently they liked Doreauxgard (look, can I just call you fhqwhgads?) enough to create an actual puppet version of it (not just the cantaloupe-on-a-pencil version seen in the Easter egg at the end of this email, but rather, one with an opening mouth and everything), which did not make an appearance on the website until 2008. It also has a Quote of the Week character head (basically a pre-loaded image in the Quote of the Week file that they pull when they want to use that character’s quote), despite never actually being used. That file is actually the only reason that anyone knows how to spell this freaking thing’s name. And that’s about all I have to say about this. The next one will probably be monumentally better.
As for the monument itself, I think the design sort of lost focus after the legs, but I can’t say no to the random palm tree sticking out of the side of it. It should have at least duct taped some aluminum foil to some twine, though. And aside from that, this email did actually lead to the introduction of Club Technochocolate (or the name of it, at least), and it also directly influenced my opinion on something in real life. Ready for it? The name “Kaitlyn”, and all spelling variations thereof. Seriously, after watching this email, I realized how freaking common that name is. I swear, every one of my classes in high school had at least one Katie in it, usually two. And it probably would have escaped my notice if not for Strong Bad pointing it out. Thanks a lot, guy. But getting back on track, I’ve still got a couple emails to get through, and the next one, much like these last two, has some stupid stuff in it. No, really, that’s the name of it.
I’d say more about this email, but like I already said, it’s pretty simplistic, and the humor doesn’t require any kind of explanation or analysis, it’s just two characters that play off each other well. It may not be the most memorable email ever, but it’s enjoyable, and you’d have to be a liar or thief to say it’s not. And those people go to prison. So now for something more elaborate, let’s head on to email #99, different town.
So… I’m trying to think of what I should say about this, but I think my imagination’s broke from this too. Lemme try to think of the best thing ever. Um… Exploding muffins. Well, that’s a step up from beef stew, at least. Still though, I seem to be running into this problem a lot with some of the better toons. I can talk trash about the ones that aren’t so good, and explain why I didn’t like them, but with the good ones, it’s usually pretty evident why people enjoy them. With this one, you’ve got plenty of fast-paced jokes and visual gags that go along with a pretty catchy song. The endcaps aren’t as great as the main song portion of course, but the conversation with Strong Sad about the bust of Bubo was still humorous.
I do have to disagree with Strong Bad about Homsar’s treatment being disappointing – I think the “modestly hot” variation was definitely more interesting than Coach Z wearing a jacket or Homestar … quitting? (I’m not sure what actually happened with him). Yes, Modestly Hot Homsar is creepy looking, but I think that’s sort of the point.
The one other thing I need to point out about this email is the origins of the actual song. People who know a decent amount of stuff about the site are probably aware of this already, but the song (sans lyrics) was written by They Might Be Giants. They did get credit within the email at the very end, but only in acronym format, so if you don’t know what TMBG stands for off-hand, then it doesn’t really do you much good. But yeah, this is the band’s first involvement with Homestar Runner, and definitely not the last. I’m not by any means a huge fan of theirs (the only thing I really knew them for prior to this email was “Triangle Man”, from the Tiny Toons segment, and even then, I would have never been able to tell you who made that song), but I do enjoy their work within this series, and would definitely seek out more of their songs if I actually cared about listening to music in general.
Alright, so that basically covers everything I planned on talking about here. With the exception of Thy Dungeonman II, which I’ll be going over next time, this at least gets all of January and February’s material out of the way, so I’m at least somewhat caught up now. But before we’re through, as promised, here’s my look at the various video games from SBEmail 94, plus Pigs on Head. Enjoy.
Links to the individual games:
StrongBadZone (original version)
StrongBadZone (Wii version)
Pigs on Head