To: The Game Industry|
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Fun, Funny, Amusing - Whatever
Date: Apr 2008
Humor is a rare element in games - in fact we don't even have a category for it on our site. Funny, humorous, comical, droll, witty, ironic, amusing, hilarious, entertaining, silly, clever, laughable, side-splitting - it's easier to experience than to define. Of more than 700 games reviewed by Games4Girls - I can count on the fingers of one hand games that I remember as being funny.
Pajama Sam - No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside (Humongous) - is filled with juxtapositions of un-likes, spoofs at current fads and delightful inside jokes for parents. A timid row boat, afraid of the water, is animated with a voice like Peter Lorre (an actor who played the villain in the movies from the '40s through the 70’s, - most memorably in the Maltese Falcon.
Spy Fox in Dry Cereal - another Humongous game - they were on a roll ten years ago. Titles tell - telegraphing the game's intent. The game is a spoof on the James Bond movies with codes found in fortune cookies and a suave spy dressed in a tux.
Dragon's Lair (Digital Leisure) - is about hazard humor - one outrageous trial after another. Our hero is flattened by rolling balls, poisoned by giant spiders, engulfed by boiling goo, crushed by a giant snake, zapped by lightning bolts, attacked by vampire bats -- all in wonderful colorful cartoons.
Sam & Max (Telltale Games) - are episodic games where the humor depends largely on rapid fire ridiculous dialogue from Sam, the tough freelance flatfoot, and verbal graphic jokes – a sign offering “Socks – buy one get one free”. The titles are often the big giveaway - telegraphing the episode's intent - "Abe Lincoln Must Die" , "Ice Station Santa". They must have great writers.
The Curse of Monkey Island (Lucas Arts) - is filled with quips, outrageous characters with amusing names that embellish the plot of boy rescues girl. Guybrush Threepwood, Haggis McMutton, Griswold Goodsoup come from the time when you could tell that the design crew had fun making the game.
OK - two Honorable Mentions:
Armed and Dangerous (Lucas Arts) - parodies the shooters n' blow-everything-up games - so funny that it makes warfare acceptable. No one will forget the Land Shark Gun.
Runaway II - The Dream of the Turtle (Focus Home Entertainment) - not your usual romantic tropic island - an assortment of females that ranged from smart, helpless, helpful and deadly, battling it out - but needed better writers.
You may have noticed that most of these games are ten years old. It may have been a gentler time, but we sure could use some humor now. Princess Bride will be released in a few months - the book was funny, hopefully the game will be too.
It isn't easy being funny - talk show hosts need their gag writers - even presidents retain humor writers. As game playing replaces movies and reading and increasingly becomes social interaction - we need them to become richer and more fulfilling. For now, I'll settle for humor - romance games will have to wait until there are more women in the industry.
If you, who are reading this, can add to my seven titles send the names to email@example.com and I'll make a list and send it out - maybe even make a category for humor.