So, I figured I’d try this list thing again. This time, though, I’m going to focus on something a little more uplifting. I enjoy epic games as much as anybody else, but I also enjoy a game that can make me laugh. I think that these games tend to get overlooked when compared to the bigger action titles out there, so I thought I’d talk a bit about five of my favorites. So, yeah, here we go…
5. World of Goo
World of Goo is a puzzle game without too much dialogue, so maybe it wouldn’t be considered by many to be among the funniest game out there. However, what dialogue there is is often pretty brilliant in my opinion. Throughout the levels, there are messages left by the “Sign Painter” that are sometimes hints, but there more likely to be strange or snarky comments. He also has a penchant for breaking the fourth wall, such as referencing other games or saying that he’s “glad the game isn’t in HD or anything”. I also enjoy little gags, such as one sign that was underwater just reading like a person gasping for air. Some of the level concepts themselves are also pretty funny. During the conclusion of the game’s internet-based chapter, you get into a lengthy conversation with a sentient search engine that is somewhat of a parody of similar dialogue trees in other games. And then there’s the level where you have to grind the “ugly” goo balls to bits so that the “beautiful” goo balls can escape to safety. Yeah, there’s actually quite a bit of social commentary going on this this game. The whole plot is a reference to consumerism and how it affects society. So, yeah, there’s that.
4. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Generally, the Mario games are more whimsical and wacky than actually funny. The Mario RPGs tend to be exception to this, probably because they’re the only Mario games that try to tell stories more complex than “rescue the princess”. Bowser’s Inside Story is one that I really enjoyed, largely because I love the concept of Bowser being the main protagonist. He’s not a very complex guy, but he’s just so self-centered. So, it’s really funny to see him unknowingly working with his eternal rivals to save the Kingdom (for entirely selfish reasons, of course). It also helps that this game has a great main villain, Fawful. He’s strangely effective as villain, able to take over both Bowser’s Castle and Peach’s Castle with relative ease. Despite this, he’s entirely insane and he doesn’t really seem to understand how language works. His dialogue is comprised entirely of Engrish-y gibberish that only kind of makes sense. Really, this is probably the funniest Nintendo game I’ve ever played.
3. Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People
Really, this one almost feels like cheating. I’ve been a fan of the Homestar Runner flash cartoons since sometime in middle school, so these games automatically had a large amount of appeal for me. And they managed to capture the bizzare humor of this series perfectly. Really, this is one of the best examples of licensed games I’ve seen. There are five episodes and each of them feels like just like an extended Strong Bad Email. The plots are pretty funny and they get increasingly stranger as the series goes on. There’s one where Strong Bad’s house is taken over by the King of Town and each of the other characters decides to make their own nation, one where you have to win a battle of the bands (hosted by Limozeen), and one that’s done in the style of Strong Bad’s Dangeresque home movies (complete with horrible acting and special effects). My favorite, though, is the final episode where the real world becomes entangled with the world inside Strong Bad’s vintage video games. This allows for several characters from the site’s flash games to become involved, such as Trogdor, Stinkoman, and Rather Dashing from Peasant’s Quest. It also turns the game into a parody of video games of all genres. The “awesome graphics” in the N64-styled final boss battle were pretty great too.
2. Portal/Portal 2
Yeah, I’ve already talked about these games a few times. And, yeah, I know they tend to get overexposed to the point that people think that they’re overrated. But, I can’t help it. I really do think that these two games have some of the best writing in video game history. There are a very small number of characters involved, but all of them are hilarious and work perfectly within the plot. Hell, the first game is essentially you listening to GLaDOS slowly grow more homicidal for the entire length of the game. If the character weren’t so well-written, that would get annoying really fast. But, it totally works. The sequel expands on the universe and concepts set up in the first game and I was entertained by every second of it, right up to its amazing conclusion. In fact, I actually think it’s better that the first one in pretty much every way. Almost every line in the game is funny and it didn’t feel the need to rely on the same jokes that the first one used (aside from a few quick callbacks). I know these games get an insane amount of hype in the gaming community, but I think that definitely happens for a reason.
I would say that Psychonauts is definitely my favorite funny game because it’s the only game I’ve played where the humor is the defining reason why I like it. The gameplay has a few issues, some parts are a bit infuriating towards the end due to a sudden difficulty spike, and I even encountered a few serious glitches that made me have to reset the game. Hell, once, the game froze up while trying to load the final boss battle. And that was after an absolutely ridiculous platforming section that I barely managed to get past. But, I didn’t really care. I could look past those faults because the game is really that funny to me. Something about it fits perfectly into my sense of humor. Every level takes place in a different person’s head and has a unique concept attached to it related to that person’s mental state or issues. And pretty much every one of them is genius. This is the only game I can think of where you play through a Godzilla-parody in the mind of a monster and then, in the next level, you’re unraveling a conspiracy in a deranged suburban neighborhood run by evil girl scouts. There’s also a boss fight against a critic who throws scathing words at you, an insane dentist who’s trying to steal brains, and a world that’s a mix between a high school, the running of the bulls, and a black velvet painting. All of these ideas sound completely ridiculous, but this game makes them work. This is something I’ve found with all of the Tim Schafer games I’ve played. No matter how ludicrous the concept, the games always somehow work.