It's All In Good Humor

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I found the part in Book of Unwritten tales where you bury the (willing) grim reaper alive to be hilarious. It was just one of those moments where I had to think really hard how I got into this situation.
I don't know, it's funny to me.

The last time I had a good laugh in a game was in Assassin's Creed Revelations when you speak to Desmond's British friend, and he compares Europe to herpes or something.
Desmond's friends sound like they're shouting there lines at me, which just makes it funnier.

-Drifter-:
I was a bit surprised to hear mention of Armed and Dangerous. It was great fun, but it seems scant few have actually played it.

Unfortunately, it's a little dated now. Shame, as the film clips are a big part of it, but the animations look god awful. If any game needs a HD remake...

That said, I enjoyed it. Hell, I bought it as soon as I heard it had a gun that shoots sharks.
image

Also I'll mention Stubbs the Zombie, which I also enjoyed in spite of its short comings (and its tendency towards cheap, toilet humour).

Scrustle:
I think sarcasm gets a bad rap for being "the lowest form of wit". Sarcasm can be quite nuanced sometimes. I agree though that referencing things is probably truly the lowest form of "wit". It basically amounts to "hey, here's a thing you know from somewhere else!". I admit I laugh to it a lot of the time because it's like an in joke. It's not exactly the cleverest thing in the world though.

I think Death has a bit of humour about him though. He doesn't take everything so seriously.

Also I love the sound of a Blackadder game. Someone needs to get on that right now.

I find the major issue with referential comedy now is that they highlight everything, with bells and whistles, big n' bright neon lights and a laugh track to makes sure you didn't miss it.

There was a time where subtle references (which I believe is Yahtzees gripe) were something special for the eagle eyed viewer.

Can't speak for others, but I fondly remember playing games 10+ years ago where they would have some secret room, or maybe a particular character/item, maybe some spoken lines/written text that that would be referencing something else. But it would be an aside, something to be noticed by those in the know.

Now, as I said already, there is a fucking fan fare for every reference. Some games still get it, they craft a bit of scenery to blend into the world, but to a passer by in the know would have significantly more meaning then someone who isn't. Maybe an encounter with some random NPC that to some is just another NPC spouting generic NPC phrases, but to those clued in offers some witty line about another series or maybe even self-referential.

Alas, the lowest common denominator drags bar even further down. Its numbing to say the least.

Well, I'm right now in Guild Wars 2 fanboy mode (give it a week or two and it'll subside), but I think the designers had a nice deal of fun with the Asura's storylines and dialogues. Though I admit, most of the funny stuff is again in background events and conversations of NPCs.

Also, while I'm fanboying let me mention one of my fanboy crushes that never subsided, Sacrifice. The player character was a 'thou shallst' spouting straightman, but you had a fun sarcastic sidekick. Plus the gods were a lot of fun. Add that to some imaginative units with some of their own funny dialogue (does the unit that has 'I find my lack of health... disturbing' as his dying soundbyte count as referential humor? They do at least make an actual joke from it) and you had a fun little experience. But I think it's from about the same era as armed and dangerous.

Forsooth, methinks you are no ordinary talking chicken!

Wait, hang on, so we're making a distinction between a running gag and a self-referenctial gag, right? I seem to recall the writers of Black Adder were pretty fond of the former. Though they were all funny on their own merits, so... ok.

Also the metaphysical, keep-dancing-around-the-same-topic-to-go-to-deeper-and-deeper-layers, kind of humour seemed to work pretty well for Bill Hicks and that other fellow. Wossname. Roman poet who hated women and greeks. Juvenal, that one.

I don't disagree with you that the jokes you lambasted in the game you were talking about whose name I've already forgotton, we'll call it "Forced Parody 5: The Clickening", probably weren't funny. Only that you may not quite have gotten to the nub of why they weren't funny.

What's the difference between, say, Withnail saying that he's gone on holiday by mistake and a bloke farting? Both contain a sensible premise, a bloke just being and a man who is on holiday, then there is a twist which squeezes out the mirth; flatulance/man on holiday is miserable.

The first is undoubtedly funnier though, all because of the build up (why the man on holiday is miserable) and the complexity of that build up, how it engages us on multiple emotional levels. The bloke farting could have build up too, but is it likely to engage us emotionally? Perhaps, though in isolation we've all had shit holidays that we wanted to escape from and feel far more than we do about breaking wind.

I feel like I may be about to tip over into some diatribe about games being art so I'll stop there. Suffice is to say that it is unjustified to simply write off some forms or approaches to humour as it all comes down to the emotional potential of the effort.

Apart from puns though. Puns are objectively shit.

The helmet in Duke Nukem Forever is the DOOM guy's helmet, actually. It's funny because Duke 3D was cut from the same cloth as DOOM, he just didn't wear any armour (yet was about as penetrable to bullets).

*sniff*

But isn't "clashing a comedic tone with a dramatic one" what creates black comedy along the lines of the "Portal" series? And speaking of black comedy, the Fallout games are pretty funny when you read between the lines.

Am I the only person who noticed Yahtzee spelled "humor" the American way?

I think I Wanna Be The Guy has an interesting approach to humor. The sheer absurdity of it's difficulty forces you to laugh at yourself again and again. And I do believe it manages to cross the border from the dulldrums of referneces to actuall parody, at least some of the time. For example, the scene where The Kid and Dracula repeat the infamous SotN dialogue isn't what makes it funny (although Kid's squeaky voice makes it amusing), it's that the goblet Dracula throws at the end can kill you just like everything else in the game. And the timing is perfect as well-if you don't move, the goblet hits you just as Dracula finishes saying "WHAT IS A MAN?!" "*death soundclip, Game Over riff*" Humor, like many subjective feelings, is all about timing.

hermes200:
Ok, maybe I am in the minority here, but I was surprised to find the humor in Brutal Legend pretty damn good. Specially surprised since I am not a big fan of Heavy Metal or Jack Black...

It is good, and I may be wrong but I don't think most people complain about the humor when they complain about Brütal Legend. It seems the gameplay was perceived as the major problem. I, however, love the game.

Also, Jack Black's performance is quite good. He really created a voice for the character, instead of simply doing the same "Jack Black persona" as in most movies he's in.

It's been said in this thread before, but I'll say it again so that it sounds like there's some consensus here.

The Bard's Tale remake from a few years ago had its heart set in the right place at the very least, coming up with a logical yet humorous explanation for most of your standard RPG behavior.

The interplay between Cary Elwes' nameless bard and Tony Jay's irate narrator is also endearing.

Is it a fun game? Sure. Is it a deep game? Well...no. It's a hack and slash RPG that decided Diablo was too nerdy and cut out much of the character progression and role customization. There's plenty of button mashing combat to be had, but it's brief enough that you end up feeling like you're merely hammering on the fast forward button to get to the next bit of dialogue the designers are oh so proud of.

I think it falls into that Killer7 type of game, in that both titles should be experienced on a wider scale, so long as the audience knows that the mechanics aren't quite as entertaining as the rest of the presentation.

Err, well yes... my basic opinion was that "Unwritten Tales" seemed derivitive. To be honest fantasy parodies are a dime a dozen, going back to the dark ages of "Bored Of The Rings" (and probably before that) in pure text, and then of course you've literally had dozens of games doing the same basic things with fantasy tropes, which is where I disagree, since pure comedy, especially in adventure games, is REALLY common. As far as fantasy trops go, you can go back to things like the old "Spellcasting 101" games, and even recently we've has things like "Grotesque Tactics" (two games, Evil Heroes, and Dungeons and Doughnuts). When it comes to comedies in game form... there are just so many going back to things like "Space Quest" and "Rex Nebular & The Cosmic Gender Bender" to more recent fare like "Saint's Row 3" which is pretty much an absurdist comedy from beginning to end.

In paticular when it comes to the adventure game genere, I think comedies are almost as common as hydrogen molecules. To me the purely serious ones tend to be what sticks out, I guess because the very nature of the games (absurd solutions to absurd puzzles) doesn't work well when taken seriously for the most part.

Darth_Payn:

duchaked:
I feel like if anyone DEATH should be allowed to morose all the time lol :P

unfortunately it seems the opposite of a super serious lead character just leads to an annoyingly sarcastic and smugly overconfident character

Yes, DEATH should be grim and grumpy, but that should make him the perfect straight man to anything else.

While unrelated I always liked the way Neil Gaiman did Death in "Sandman" and I was hoping it would inspire more similar takes on it than it did.

Farther than stars:
But isn't "clashing a comedic tone with a dramatic one" what creates black comedy along the lines of the "Portal" series? And speaking of black comedy, the Fallout games are pretty funny when you read between the lines.

Black comedy typically has to do with the subject matter and it involving bad things within the realm of possibility happening. It includes things like grim, gallows humor, or at the low end dead baby jokes and the like.

Q: What's the differance between a truckload of bowling balls, and a truck load of babies?

A: You can use a pitchfork to unload the babies.

That's a form of black humor.

Portal achieved black humor through the context of the jokes in the setting, silly or overly benevolent things like being baited with the promise of cake in the context of a lab full of death traps for example. Differant style, same thing. The "black" portion being due to the lethal nature of the setting and the actual jeopardy present in context. In some ways similar to how you could actually use a pitchfork to unload a bunch of babies (stabbing and heaving them) it's within the realm of possibility, and thus brings that rather sick image to mind which is just plain wrong, but remotely possible. :)

Mouse One:
I'm trying hard to think of actually funny games, but the Portal series is the only one that comes to mind. Even Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (free online now, thanks BBC) was mostly amusing more than downright funny. And Douglas Adams wrote the text!

Maybe it's just a pacing thing. Videogames have a pace somewhat determined by the player, so that's going to interfere with the timing of a joke. But it isn't a complete show stopper, as Portal demonstrated.

Too bad. I prefer laughing to super serious. I play games for entertainment.

Hmmm, well games like "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" and similar works tend to fail because anyone who buys them already by definition knows the source material well enough to already know (or predict) the gags as they happen. Things like "Monty Python's Complete Waste Of Time" pretty much followed this pattern.

That said, for relatively funny games your liable to mostly only find really old ones, today things have just gotten too politically correct (fear of offending someone) to really be funny. Also admittedly the funniest games in many cases seem to be some of the least well designed. The game "Keef The Thief" (chances are you've never heard of it) had some really good moments, but it could almost be painful to play even when it was new.

While the game was hardly a success, there was also a game called "Starship Titanic" that was written by Douglas Adams, which might fill the void if you could find it, since it covers the same kind of humor as "Hitchhikers" while not simply re-treading the old material. Likewise there was a "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" game at one point if your a Spider Robinson fan.

I'm guessing you've already tried the well known ones (Quest For Glory, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Monkey Island, Spellcasting 101-202-303, Kingdom O' Magic, etc...).

For freeware if you like political satire look up "Liberal Crime Squad", which is a combination roguelike/management sim, where you take control of a pro-liberal terrorist organization.

Nimzabaat:
I think that the back and forth between Isabella and Aveline (Dragon Age 2) was some of the funniest stuff i've heard. Actually most Bioware games have really funny bits in them. I also quite enjoyed the dialogue in Hunted: The Demons Forge.

I totally agree. Garrus was outright hilarious at times, so was EDI.

Let us be serious, I am probably the least funny person in the world, but even I know most good comedy breaks down to Expectation and Reality not meeting up in some way. There are lots of funny people, you'd think games could easily access that resource.

Fallout's got humorous bits. And what's wrong with sarcasm!

There definitely have been numerous games in the past that were able to get much better laughs out of me than anything today. I think part of the problem may be something Yahtzee has brought up about today's games: they play everything far too safely. Even Sleeping Dogs (according to my other favorite game reviewer) supposedly takes very few risks. And don't get me started on Duke Nukem Forever; for a game that used referential humor to make fun of Halo, it's painfully ironic how that game seemed to be trying so hard to BE Halo.

It would be interesting in the future to see an Extra Punctuation article about HD re-releases; I'd be interested in seeing what Yahtzee thinks is the line between solely re-releasing a game for making more cash (although that's always to some degree going to be the main motive) or also doing so to give more exposure to an underrated gem of a past console generation. We've already got the Jak Trilogy, the "ICO" and "Shadow of the Colossus" collection, the Sly collection, two God of War collections (with a third on the way), and the impending HD re-release of Okami and the Ratchet and Clank collection.

Therumancer:

--snip--

My point is, that "realistic" aspect is dramatic in nature, wouldn't you agree?

Farther than stars:

Therumancer:

--snip--

My point is, that "realistic" aspect is dramatic in nature, wouldn't you agree?

Not really, because it doesn't require any drama, just a degree of plausibility. I wrote things badly I guess. It's sort of like the baby joke I put up, there is no drama or tension there, it's just gross and wrong, and can pretty much be pulled out of everywhere.

The point is that Black Humor is a general thing, as opposed to referring to something very specific. It covers a lot of differant kinds of jokes and comedic set ups, it can involve Drama, but doesn't require it.

You'll notice a lot of stand up guys will use "pitch black humor" as a description of their routine, largely because of the subject matter and how it's likely grounded in reality, their routine however doesn't involve any real drama or build up at all, since they are just a dude on stage.

Therumancer:

Farther than stars:
My point is, that "realistic" aspect is dramatic in nature, wouldn't you agree?

Not really, because it doesn't require any drama, just a degree of plausibility. I wrote things badly I guess. It's sort of like the baby joke I put up, there is no drama or tension there, it's just gross and wrong, and can pretty much be pulled out of everywhere.

The point is that Black Humor is a general thing, as opposed to referring to something very specific. It covers a lot of differant kinds of jokes and comedic set ups, it can involve Drama, but doesn't require it.

You'll notice a lot of stand up guys will use "pitch black humor" as a description of their routine, largely because of the subject matter and how it's likely grounded in reality, their routine however doesn't involve any real drama or build up at all, since they are just a dude on stage.

I guess it depends on how you define drama. See, personally I'd call pitchforking babies to illustrate your joke relatively dramatic.

JPArbiter:
so where would Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard fall into in this? the game had thoroughly bland mechanics, and was was extremely referential, but it did so in the same way that Mel Brooks movies are referential, and that made it a genuinely funny game for me.

Oh wow, someone else who's played that. I'd forgotten about that game. Really, that's how to handle humor in games, true enough--but then, parody like that is almost always appreciated. Still remember how overpowered the super soakers were. Shame about the game mechanics, though.

I wonder if you've played Chibi-Robo for the Gamecube, Mr. tzee. You've never mentioned it on the show and it seems like it would be an experience you'd want to have. It's approach is almost completely antithetical to the average game experience as your main objective is to make the other characters happy. It's a platform-y adventure game with quirky characters, a unique soundtrack, and a surprisingly serious message about energy consumption and family. Also, it is very funny, or at least I found it so.

You know, the last AAA game that was actually fairly funny to me was Painkiller, oddly enough. The cutscenes were so terribly bad that they actually worked in its favor and could have been called comical

OK, so Book of Unwritten Tales didn't work for you, but did you try Deponia? I've only seen the trailer and read a few reviews (averages about an 8-8.5/10) but it looks pretty funny- main character Rufus is an unrepentant jerkass butt monkey who deadpans the line "I am like herpes, the cool version of herpes," and proves that he can navigate in the dark by ecolocation by successfully identifying a wall after smacking face-first into it. It's a game I'm thinking of checking out after I'm done with the Monkey Island series.

Nimzabaat:
I think that the back and forth between Isabella and Aveline (Dragon Age 2) was some of the funniest stuff i've heard. Actually most Bioware games have really funny bits in them. I also quite enjoyed the dialogue in Hunted: The Demons Forge.

Lets not forget Varric. Everything from his petnames for everyone, to his 'relationship' with his crossbow, to how he had another character (usually Aveline or Feneris) play straightman. That bit when you confront his brother after the botched expedition (or at least the start of it) was priceless.

Though the side quest where you have play wingman for Aveline had to be the funniest thing in an RPG. So was the "Free-Marsh" gag with Anders and Varric.

On another game though, I was playing through Skyward Sword, and shit does it get funny at times. Meeting Batreaux was one fun moment, as was Groose's first time on the ground at the Sealed Temple.

Therumancer:

... a game called "Starship Titanic" that was written by Douglas Adams, which might fill the void if you could find it, since it covers the same kind of humor as "Hitchhikers" while not simply re-treading the old material. Likewise there was a "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" game at one point if your a Spider Robinson fan.

Thanks for the suggestions. I've always wanted to play Starship Titanic, but haven't figured out how to get/run it on a modern system. Terry Jones had a big hand in it, if I remember correctly.

Didn't know about a Callahan's videogame. Not the first story series that springs to mind for a game adaptation! "You are in a pub. An alien walks in. You a) listen to his life story and solve his problems via the magic of talking b) tell a pun so bad it's...well, still bad pun or c) have a drink"

Welp, I suppose I need to be the one with all the persona bits, eh? Though there is way too many to chose from, and you should play the games anyways *At least the 3rd and 4th, but the first 3 are pretty awesome as well*

Such classics include:
Operation Babe Hunt
"I will execute you ALL!"
Mystery Food X
and King's Game.

Darth_Payn:

duchaked:
I feel like if anyone DEATH should be allowed to morose all the time lol :P

unfortunately it seems the opposite of a super serious lead character just leads to an annoyingly sarcastic and smugly overconfident character

Yes, DEATH should be grim and grumpy, but that should make him the perfect straight man to anything else.

haha people could be like "oh don't be such a downer, Death. despite the war there's a lot to forward to in life-ohhhh wait nvm"

Mouse One:

Too bad. I prefer laughing to super serious. I play games for entertainment.

what does that even mean?....so do I and I like serious stuff

I dont think being funny has to come at the expense of an engaging story or being emotionally invested

like Preacher...that was hilarious but also sad at times..but then that was a comic

Portal I guess it a good example...

Phuctifyno:
Well, you've got the South Park RPG to look forward to. Fingers crossed.

I'm going to make the most Jewish character possible in the game just to see if Cartman gets even more pissed off.

Mouse One:
I'm trying hard to think of actually funny games, but the Portal series is the only one that comes to mind. Even Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (free online now, thanks BBC) was mostly amusing more than downright funny. And Douglas Adams wrote the text!

Maybe it's just a pacing thing. Videogames have a pace somewhat determined by the player, so that's going to interfere with the timing of a joke. But it isn't a complete show stopper, as Portal demonstrated.

Too bad. I prefer laughing to super serious. I play games for entertainment.

The Penny Arcade games are downright hilarious. Then again, they're written by a guy who is professionally funny, but if you don't enjoy his sense of humour you won't enjoy the games. Personally I thought it was brilliant how thy conveyed comedy and timing through dialogue boxes and facial expressions.

I'm guessing that's why he liked the dialogue in Driver San Francisco, I especially love that one bit when the main two guys are arguing and they keep overlapping each other but then the world freezes, and when the world goes back to normal and the main character is freaking out the other guy is still in argument mode and he says one last funny line before he realises something's wrong. Its a great sequence.

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