Video games aren’t typically associated with good humor, mainly because their attempts at comedy usually fail. Ever since the lame pizza jokes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES incarnation, video game comedy has lacked an essential sense of timing and…well, funny. Things are looking up, however. Here are four modern games that were as funny as they were fun to play.
1. Psychonauts – Tim Schaffer’s 3D platformer debuted on the original Xbox and PS2, to rave reviews and lukewarm sales. Yet, in spite of some mainstream indifference, the game gained a cult following for its telling of a classic boy-solves-disappearing-brain-scandal story and incredible sense of both comic timing and heart. It didn’t hurt that the gameplay was excellent, either. Tim Schaefer is no stranger to funny games, and will release the Jack Black-voiced Brutal Legend some time in 2009.
2 Conker’s Bad Fur Day – Another cult hit, Conker debuted on the Nintendo 64 with a followup on the Xbox. A foul mouthed cartoon character trying to get back to his girlfriend after a night of heavy drinking, Conker’s Bad Fur Day brutally mocked video games in general with more than occasional potty humor and cutting one liners. Originally developed by Rare as a kid’s game, something went very wrong–or very right–during production, resulting in one of the funniest and most unexpected games on the N64.
3. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal – The focus of the Ratchet and Clank games is on the weapon-heavy gameplay, but none of the games would have caught on in the first place if it wasn’t for the excellent humor, which usually revolves around double-entendres and physical humor that both kids and adults can identify with. It’s not as kiddy as the art style suggests, yet for the most part very family friendly. Ratchet and Clank is also Sony’s flagship vehicle, proving that funny isn’t just confined to cult-sensation games.
4. Portal – Portal was included with the Half-Life Orange Box, an Xbox 360 and PS3 disc that included multiple Half-Life engine based games. It was initially intended as simply a bonus for buyers, but it soon became the reason that many of Orange Box’s purchasers picked up the title in the first place. Centering on puzzle heavy gameplay and a unique weapon, the portal gun, Portal was impressive technically and from a game-making standpoint. However, it would have been nothing without GLaDOS, a down-talking, evil box that berated the player as he tried to solve each puzzle. Portal’s gameplay may have been addictive, but GLaDOS’s humor is what hooked gamers in the first place.
What are your favorite funny video games? Post in our comments section below.