Abyssal Pixels: Where Are All The Comedy Games?
As some of you might know, I’m a bit of a joker. I don’t take life very seriously so I try and crack jokes or just see the funny side of life. Life is so monotonous and crushingly depressing, that you need to have some laughs in order to not make you completely insane or suicidal. I like things to be funny and even of they are not supposed to be funny, I try to get some laughs out of it. The same can be said for my game preferences. I love comedy games that can really make you burst out laughing or just put a huge grin on your face. So far, there have been quite a lot of games that managed to do that to me, but for some reason, they have become less and less.
I think they best early example you can give for a comedy game is the original Monkey Island. With all the stupid shenanigans and the extremely lovable protagonist, you were always just a few steps away from a good laugh. I especially appreciated Monkey Island for being such a comedy focused game while still managing to have a strong narrative. It’s hard to be funny and craft an excellent story at the same time. Sometimes the comedy takes over and the effect of the story is completely lost. Such a thing happened to the game Matt Hazard: Eat Lead, which was a comedy focused game, but with a narrative so weak that it hardly warranted your attention.
Comedy games also have their bad seeds. A game like Duke Nukem Forever is the prime example of comedy gone bad. Look, I’m a fan of risque jokes that try and push that edge of offensiveness. Hell, it’s how I prefer my comedy. But Duke Nukem Forever was offensive on a whole other level. It offended my intelligence for the most part with the off colour jokes having no impact whatsoever other than “oh look how edgy we are” especially with the terrible rape jokes and boob walls. Most of its jokes were also references. Not parodies, mind you, which would have been just fine, but basically just saying “look at this thing that you know now laugh”. Duke Nukem Forever was a stain on games that attempted to be funny and I hate it for stooping to such lows.
Suda 51 accomplishes some excellent things with his games. Most of them are truly funny even if they are a little acid-trippy. The scenarios he creates are so ludicrous that you can’t help but burst out laughing even just for the ridiculousness of it all. Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadows of the Damned had so many priceless moments that I still consider them some of my favourite games. Suda’s recent escapades have been much more serious however, with Killer is Dead being way more abstract than it needed to be and that free-to-play shooter game looking like a brodude’s wetdream. Suda’s change of direction also highlights something that has been going on with games recently. There aren’t a lot of funny games anymore and the ones we have are pretty crappy, comedy wise.
It seems our comedy games are going more in a more “LOLRANDOM” direction than anything else. Games such as Goat Simulator is evidence of this. The game is made to be a comedy game, but most of the humour is just pie in the face, slapstick stuff and the aforementioned LOLRANDOM element. I’m not a big fan of this because I like my comedy to have some meaning rather than be a sequence of cheap laughs. I respect what Goat Simulator is trying to do, but they are influencing the industry quite negatively. You just need to look at the amount of “parody” simulator games to understand this.
Good comedy is a bit lost in our games. A game is either dead serious to the point of depression or the comedy is so codified that it loses all meaning. I’m anxiously awaiting the remake of Grim Fandango just so that I can get some good laughs again and that’s from a game that released in the 90s. All of the other offering are either poultry or just don’t appeal to my preference of humour. I don’t like “random” humour, but that seems to be the current trend for all comedy games. Maybe that’s due to their popularity on YouTube and developers think they can exploit this. It makes me sad to be fan of comedy games.
All I’m hoping for is a comedy game as good as Monkey Island to come along. At the moment it seems impossible with the current direction of humour, but a girl can dream.