Some people say that comedy is all about the timing.
It’s probably what makes comedy in video games all that more difficult.
Fact is, the reason comedy struggles so hard in our favorite medium of choice is the fact that the player has so much opportunity to screw the joke up. Frankly, we are the genre’s worst enemy.
Try not to take it too personally.
Regardless of our own shortcomings, there are some games that do succeed in making us laugh. It’s those games, that elicit that continuous chuckle, that we are here to showcase for you today.
So, for those who may be interested, here are some of the best comedic games out there that DO get it right. [In no particular order…]
1) The Monkey Island Games
“That’s the second biggest monkey head I’ve ever seen!”
You could easily devote the majority of this list to games that Tim Schaffer made and/or had a hand in. Sadly, that doesn’t make that great of an article, so I am left choosing just one…series. The Monkey Island games were point and click adventure games created in the heyday of Lucasarts. In them, you were tasked with adventuring as Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate; as he was thrust into conflict with the evil zombie/ghost/pirate LeChuck. Whether you were using a rubber chicken with a pulley in it to cross a chasm or learning the ins and outs of insult sword fighting, Monkey Island was always finding new and absurd ways to make you laugh. If the idea of becoming “El Pollo Diablo,” doesn’t speak to you; you should stop reading here.
2) Portal Series
“The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak. In the event that the Companion Cube does speak, the Enrichment Center urges you to disregard its advice.”
For something that can only be described as a “first person puzzle game,” the Portal games have a wickedly dark sense of humor. What started as a small piece of the original Orange Box release, has now become it’s own large part of the Valve community of games. In each Portal game, you are tasked as Chell to complete different puzzle rooms using a portal gun. If that were all that it was, it wouldn’t be on this list. No, as you are going through each room GladOS, the AI architect of the facility, is taunting and belittling you the entire time. I cried when she called me, “fat.” I’ll never forgive her.
3) You Don’t Know Jack
“It’s like I always say, Player One, it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose as long as you get to play with yourself. Now get the hell away from the computer and go make some friends!”
Probably one of the more long running series on this list, You Don’t Know Jack is the game show that makes fun of you. Whether you are playing by yourself or with three others, the hosts of the show will always find new and terrible ways to insult your lack of intelligence. Underneath the game’s bevy of double entendres and dark humor is a well made trivia game that works great at parties. Just don’t tell your friends what’s coming. Trust me, it’s better that way.
4) Sam and Max
“Max: Mind if I drive?
Sam: Not if you don’t mind me clawing at the dash and shrieking like a cheerleader.”
Oh look! Another Lucasarts point and click adventure game! I promise this will be the last one. Sam and Max are a dog and bunny-thing that have their own private detective agency where they supposedly solve crises of world ending proportions…at least according to Max. They’ve been to alternate dimensions, stopped a homicidal Santa, ran for president against a giant robotic Lincoln, and may or may not have met the Devil. If not for another game on this list, this would be the most out-there entry here for obvious reasons. Sam and Max revels in its own absurdity, and it’s what sells the whole experience. Yes, the puzzles are hard and don’t make much sense; but where else are you going to be able to track down a frozen Bigfoot?
5) Conker’s Bad Fur Day
“Sunflower: Conker, honey, fancy going for a little bounce?
Conker: A bounce? (Looks at Breasts) Okay… now this is what I call a platform game!”
Probably one of the weirdest Nintendo 64 games ever released, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is one of the most crass, crude, and profane games ever released that generation. What makes it all the more interesting is that it didn’t start out that way. Conker’s first appearance was in Diddy Kong Racing as a happy go lucky squirrel, but the next time the public saw him he had a hangover, was fighting a giant singing pile of shit, and was flirting with everything that had a pair of breasts. The game’s humor comes from pure shock value; which is especially funny considering it came from Rare, creators of Banjo Kazooie. Regardless of the pedigree, Conker is a dark game, and not just because it has a terrible, terrible water level.
6) Goat Simulator 2014
I’m just going to leave this video here….
7) South Park The Stick of Truth
“There once was a maiden from Stoneburry hollow. She didn’t say much, but boy did she swallow.”
So this was the inspiration for the list you see before you now. I’m also going to refrain from spoiling any of it, due to how recently the game came out. The Stick of Truth may be the funniest scripted game released in recent memory. The humor is spot on, and that’s most likely due to the involvement of the show’s creators. Every moment, every cutscene is designed to make you laugh, and the majority of the time it works. The game is a love letter to the show and video games as a medium, and so anyone with an attachment to either can enjoy what it brings to the table. It is completely over the top and doesn’t pull any punches for the sake of censorship. All I can say is to just play this one…just not around your mom…she wouldn’t like this one.
8) Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 1
Just kidding. This game led me to hard drinking.
Jonny occasionally says things that may or may not be funny elsewhere…like Twitter. You can follow him at @errant_thoughts Feel free to make fun of him there.