Warning: this post contains strong language, as does the album being discussed and reviewed.
For the better part of this decade, Game Grumps Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan have been jamming out together with Dan’s Ninja Sex Party bandmate Brian Wecht to deliver The Lonely Island of video games.
Dick jokes about Kirby and spoofing how much Luigi sucks became normal in the gaming community after the release of the first, self-titled, album in 2013. A sequel in the form of 2014’s “Player Select” swiftly followed the original release’s popularity, and for five years since then, let’s play viewers, comedy music fans and gamers have been wondering when the Triforce would be completed.
Way of the Hero Leads to the TryForce
“The TryForce” finally released in April of this year, bringing with it some major additions, including, most notably, the backing band of TWRP, the same group that performs the majority of the instruments for the past three Ninja Sex Party albums.
As can be expected, the musical range and production value on this album is leagues above Starbomb’s first two forays into comedy music. While Dan and Brian are musicians by trade, Arin was new to the rap game when he first started performing for “Starbomb.” In the five years since “Player Select,” Arin’s showing the most noticeable musical improvement on “The TryForce.”
His rap portfolio has become more diverse as he draws from classic influences, including a somewhat overbearing, yet hilariously over-the-top bellow in the “Blowing the Payload” song about the Overwatch characters ruining people’s lives in attempts to help them.
In “Welcome to the Mario Party,” Arin takes a note from his lustful jokes from Game Grumps and goes all the funky way with it by harnessing the power of Snoop Dogg himself. Both his and Danny’s voices are filled with unironic sex appeal, which makes the comedy found in the lyrics hit even harder.
This song in particular is a prime example of Starbomb’s brilliance. TWRP’s synthesized vocal opening sets the tone perfectly. Arin’s impersonation of a coked-out Sonic is arguably more on point than some actors who’ve actually portrayed the blue blur in movies and TV shows past. It’s essentially a “Super Smash Bros.” song without relying on the restrictions of even the Ultimate roster. Joking about Pikachu is easy, but giving a nod to the niche Professor Layton series shows how dedicated this group is to gaming culture.
Video game comedy is only superficial if the jokes are always about injecting family-friendly franchises with drugs, sex and profanity. So when a song like “A Boy and His Boat” comes on, it’s evident these guys know Starbomb’s bread and butter is poking fun at the actual quirks of games.
For the group’s third Zelda song to date, they’re joking about the unreasonable amount of items Link is supposed to carry. Between making references to The Wind Waker and sending out smooth drum beats, the band’s super specific descriptions of oddities Link has to carry from the real world deliver spot-on ridiculousness.
It’s impressive how far Starbomb went this time around, and with how much the Game Grumps crew does day-to-day, it’s no wonder fans have waited five years for this album. Guest star Brian Walters’ voice as Sora in “The Simple Plot of Kingdom Hearts” is downright hilarious; the four animated music videos the band has released so far are undeniable kinetic fun; and each member of the seven-person comedy group gets chances to shine throughout the 14-song album.
Trying to Force It
As far as criticisms go, not every song is as good as the shining moments I’ve already described. Four songs are essentially just brief comedy sketches, and while I personally find “Donkey Kong Joonyer” stupidly funny due to Arin’s absolutely insane voice acting, that song is for a more immature audience at heart. Like the Transformers-inspired “Robots in Need of Disguise” track from the “Player Select” album, “Vegeta’s Serenade,” while smooth and nice-sounding overall, also feels out of place on an album that is otherwise totally about video games, and not anime.
Odds are, however, that each listener will find at least one track that resonates with them. Whether “Hardest Fucking Game in the World” reminds you of the rage experienced when playing Dark Souls or “A Wild Guitar Solo Appears” makes you think about just how many crazy Pokémon designs have graced Nintendo systems, “The TryForce” is surely a memorable farewell to the most legitimate video game comedy band out there.
Follow Eric Zavinski at twitter.com/EZavinski
I’ve been playing Nintendo games since I was 3 years old, and my earliest memory is watching my dad play Super Mario 64.
Since then, I’ve become as big of a fan as you might imagine: YouTube video projects, fan fiction, owning just about every amiibo — you name it!
I’m also a stalwart defender of underappreciated games like Skyward Sword, Other M, Super Paper Mario, Star Fox Adventures, Star Fox Zero and more. I love to see passion in a gaming product, and my desire on this site is to share a similar passion in what I write.