On a day of mirth and practical jokes, it's time to look back on some funny games
April 1, 2010
On a day of mirth and practical jokes, it's
time to look back on some funny games
By Louis Bedigian
In honor of April Fools, a GZ writer looks back on some video games that made him chuckle.
Video games are still years away from producing the same kind of laughs that can be found within a sitcom or a great film. But over the years, there have been a few games that were capable of delivering true comedic entertainment. They don’t come around too often, and they rarely achieve more than a “niche” status in the area of sales. But for anyone who actually plays these classic games, the comedy is impossible to forget.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts Series
You have to be a Disney fan to appreciate this series’ humor. But then again, who isn’t a Disney fan? These charming, intelligent, extremely well-written RPGs have had only two offerings (the rest are technically offshoots), and yet Kingdom Hearts has already become one of the best role-playing franchises. The Square Enix-developed characters bring a serious element to the story, while the Disney gang – everyone from Donald and Goofy to Pluto and of course Mickey Mouse – is inherently hilarious. Whenever Chip ‘N’ Dale plays a role in saving the world, laughter is guaranteed to follow.
Psychonauts is not a game people tend to remember for its comedic antics. The gameplay – so original, even by today’s standards – is why the Tim Schafer-developed masterpiece received endless acclaim. But underneath the great controls, inventive puzzles and breathtaking level design is a story that players can easily relate to. The characters are meaningful, believable, and are unusually funny. But unlike most comedies, in video games or anywhere else for that matter, Psychonauts’ humor isn’t created by obvious scenarios. Rather, its comedy is an unexpected (and often dark) element that is blended into the rest of the story.
Anime clichés are commonplace in video games, particularly RPGs. People might hate them, but it has been hard to complain ever since the first Disgaea arrived. After all, without bad storylines, typical villains and cheesy heroes, what else would Disgaea have to make fun of? Clichés born from video games? Oh, it does that too, brilliantly and hilariously with memorable characters and more laugh-out-loud moments than anything Cartoon Network has to offer.
The Bard’s Tale
Like Psychonauts, The Bard’s Tale is a rarity in video games. With a marketing campaign that hyped the hero’s quest for “coin and cleavage” (as opposed to the usual save-the-world nonsense), The Bard’s Tale pulled its sense of humor from a wide variety of sources. Fairy tales, comic books, RPGs, and even cartoon musicals appeared to serve as inspiration for this game. The results were unforgettably hilarious – one play-through and you’ll wonder why this hasn’t been turned into a full-fledged franchise.
Paper Mario / Mario & Luigi Series
Both of these series have had their share of stumbling blocks, but there’s no denying that they have produced some of the most hilarious scenarios ever seen in video games. Nintendo has used these games to tell a different kind of Mushroom Kingdom story, one that often makes fun of the Mario-saves-Peach tale we’ve been hearing for 20 years. Who could forget the talking Goomba from Paper Mario 2, the intro to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, or the Mario/Baby Mario lunacy of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time?
Conker’s Xbox remake was very well received.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Can a foul-mouthed squirrel be funny? That’s debatable. But at the time of Conker’s release, few developers were willing to push the boundaries for what could be said and done within a video game. With this game, Rare stepped forward and proclaimed, “If South Park can do it, so can we.” The resulting action/adventure was a bloody and vulgar mix of shock-and-awe moments that were elevated by intense, shooter-inspired gameplay (a first for the platformer genre).
Unlike other titles with adult humor, Conker was purposely designed to look like the kiddie games Rare was known for creating, most notably Diddy Kong Racing and Banjo-Kazooie. This was a sneaky way for the developers to employ their mature comedy, which was loved by those who grew up playing Rare’s many family-friendly releases.
These games are funny in their own special way.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto Series
If you haven’t played much of the Grand Theft Auto series, you might be surprised to hear that its gruesome murders and assassination attempts could be considered a form of comedy. They’re not. But with the most vicious assaults, ridiculous drug deals and the most blatantly evil bunch of characters from any game, you can’t help but laugh at what this franchise has produced.
Abe’s Oddysee Series
What’s funnier: the words of Lorne Lanning (Abe’s creator) or the game itself? I’m not sure. But there was definitely something amusing about Abe’s dangerous adventures, which forced him – and later, the frail and quirky Munch – to battle the most ruthless species on the planet.
NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii
Not a very funny game, but the Peach fake-out toward the end was one of Mario’s most memorable scenes yet.
Another game that isn’t too funny. But watching someone repeatedly call their virtual dog’s name with no response? Now that’s hilarious.