Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective is perhaps the ultimate in-joke. It springs from a running gag on the Homestar Runner website, involving Strong Bad's amateur film productions Dangeresque 2: This Time, It's Not Dangeresque 1 and Dangeresque 1: Dangeresque Too?. The third part of the trilogy has been promised by Strong Bad for about five years now, and finally in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, he's delivered. While the game itself is perhaps best enjoyed by fans of the series, it's also got enough charm to draw pretty much anyone else in who has ever held a video camera in their hands and dreamed of what was possible.
The game begins with Strong Bad sitting everyone in town down in his basement to watch his latest masterpiece on VHS - Dangeresque 3 of course. In this spectactularly amateurly made feature, hard-boiled corrupt detective Dangeresque is faced with his biggest case ever. We could try explaining it to you in detail, but honestly it still probably wouldn't make much sense. However, this lack of sense is actually what makes the story so hysterical. All we can tell you is that it involves nunchuck guns (the only gun that is never truly out of ammo), half of a broken paperweight, a secret formula that can save the rainforest and Dangeresque's arch-nemesis, crime lord Perducci. It also involves a lot of jumping.
In terms of actual gameplay, this episode is once again identical to the rest of the series as a classic point-and-click adventure game. The charm this time around comes from the over-the-top atmosphere of the game. Essentially, Dangeresque 3 is a zero-budget film with all of its props and sets either made out of cardboard, or raided from the crew's basements. Souvenirs become precious diamonds, a stick becomes a rare and exotic tree, hobos unwittingly become actors, and one location in particular stands in for about five different countries, each differentiated by a single stereotypical set-piece. Quick cuts between actors and inanimate objects serve as stunts, and often the actors forget their cues or simply don't realise the distinction between fantasy and reality.
The scope of Dangeresque 3 could also be described as 'tremendous'. As Dangeresque, you'll literally travel to all corners of the world, find mystical objects, deal with several underworld bosses and get caught up in high-speed chases. There's hardly a moment that goes by in the game that isn't memorable, simply for the inventive ways that they are presented, and we'll refrain from spoiling them here. That said, there are a couple of puzzles in the game which are annoying, not because they're necessarily hard, but because they subvert what you're expecting from an adventure game without properly explaining that they're doing so. However, once you get into the spirit of this episode and learn its ins and outs, you'll be able to breeze through in about 2 to 3 hours, about the length of a real movie.
The presentation of the game is also a step above the rest of the series. While locations are re-used over and over, they're re-dressed in consistantly amusing ways. You can always expect that the more spectacular the location, the more minimalistic it will be, such that places like Brainblow City consist entirely of one badly coloured cardboard backdrop. The voice acting is once again top-notch, but is purposely stilted this time around, as the characters of Free Town USA rack their brains to remember their lines, and more often than not disagree with them as well.
Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective is probably the first episode since Homestar Ruiner that is likely to draw new fans into the world of Homestar Runner. The game is simply extremely funny, and is of the same quality of the website's best works. While it mocks Strong Bad's poorly written and hastily constructed cop-movie fantasy, it's also a love letter to those amateur videos we made as kids, replicating the cool movies we had seen and tried to reconstruct with whatever was on hand. The gameplay isn't earth-shattering, but it doesn't get in the way of the experience that the developers are trying to create either. Rather, you'll just get caught up in the world of Dangeresque, and before long you may find out that you have to jump...