Video games have an ability to make us feel things that very few forms of media can. They can make us cry when something happens to our favourite character, make us happy when we get to the end of a particularly difficult section of a level, and even make us laugh out loud when their character make a funny reference, tell a joke or even fall flat on their face.
This top ten list celebrates some of the game that have made me laugh over the years, some of them I’m sure you’ll agree with, and some of them I’m just as sure you won’t. This is my list, not a definitive list of THE funniest games ever made and, as such, it’s a personal opinion. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want you to get involved in the conversation, feel free to comment at the bottom of this article with which games are in your list for the “Funniest Games”, which moments do you absolutely love? Perhaps it’s just a single character that you like. Either way, we’d love to hear about it, so comment away!
But now, without further ado…
10. BORDERLANDS 2:
When the first Borderlands was released back in 2009, it had its funny moments. People could play they game and chuckle to themselves about the little in-jokes and subtle references that Gearbox had managed to get into the game, however, nothing could have prepared people for what they were about to face once the 2012 sequel was unleashed onto the masses. Great big belly laughs were suddenly a common occurrence, people had their favourite characters as if they were watching a favourite TV show and the laughs never died down all the way through until the end of the game – even into the DLC.
Whether you gravitated towards the Southern drawl of Scooter and his Catch-A-Ride locations, or Tiny Tina and her crazy ‘Alice in Wonderland’-esque tea party, there’s no doubt that it’s almost impossible to go through a single play-session of Borderlands 2 without howling to yourself at least once; the moment when Scooter admitted to watching my character in the bathroom being one such highlight. There are many other obvious instances, way to many to mention here, but I’m sure everyone has their own favourites, so feel free to mention them in the comments.
09. RATCHET & CLANK: QUEST FOR BOOTY:
If you ask me about my favourite game series’ of all time, one of the games on that list will invariably be a game from the Ratchet & Clank series of games. Something about the Pixar style humour (where a joke is clearly for kids, but there’s darker undercurrent that’s aimed squarely at the adult audience) has always struck a chord with me. There have certainly been some bad games from the duo over the years – this year’s Q-force being one that springs instantly to mind – but despite the fact that some people played it down, the download-only’Quest for Booty has always been on the top of my pile.
A lot of the admiration comes from the fact that Rusty Pete is once character that I’ve enjoyed ever since his introduction within the game, and the fact that he narrates most of the game, in his typical humorous style, cemented my love of the game. The fact that it was the first of the Ratchet & Clank games to grace my collection probably played a large part in that too, although there’s no denying the amount of sheer fun and humour that encompasses the entire game; short as it may be.
08. BRUTAL LEGEND:
Brutal Legend was always going to be a game that I (mostly) enjoyed – the strange RTS sections of the game notwithstanding. The heavy metal soundtrack almost guaranteed that I’d be picking it up, being a lover of that style of music myself, but when I found out that comedy actor Jack Black was to be part of the development, and that he would be bringing his particular brand of humour to the show, I was on board all the way. For the most part, and in the sense of the story at least, none of that stuff let me down. From the moment the game starts and Eddie Riggs (Jack Black’s character), after slaughtering a room of enemies, laments about the fact that he may have just slaughtered a room of “hot chicks”, I knew that the humour was going to be right down my alley.
The game doesn’t let up either, during the entirety of the playthough. We get heavy metal legend Rob Halford playing not one, but two characters – one based on himself and another based on, essentially, a “What-If” Judas Priest turned glam rock – which will make both heavy metal fans and non-heavy metal fans literally laugh out loud; although the former would clearly get more out of it. Brutal Legend is a hugely hilarious game to a heavy metal fan, as it should be to anyone, and if it wasn’t for the frankly silly RTS sections, it would be easily one of my favourite games of all time.
07. LEGO THE LORD OF THE RINGS:
The LEGO series of game, like the Ratchet & Clank games, are a staple of my video game collection. I could just have easily put quite a few LEGO games on this list as most of them have made me belly laugh in one form or another, but I thought that would be unfair to the other genuinely funny games here, so I refrained. Whittling the list down to just a single game wasn’t a simple task either and I eventually landed on LEGO The Lord of the Rings not only because it’s one of the best examples of a LEGO game, not because it’s one of the only games that my wife will agree to play co-op with me, but because of one reason and one reason alone: the Riders of Rohan have dancing horses that dance around the player during one cut-scene and not one person mentions it. I was laughing so hard I thought I was dying.
While that one section of the game did almost kill me, there are plenty more areas where LEGO The Lord of the Rings will garner a laugh from even the most discerning of gamer or die-hard Lord of the Rings fan. The way that the developers used lines from the film, but fit them into humorous moments which weren’t even funny in the film adds to the traditional LEGO charm. If you’re a fan of LEGO games, and a fan of Lord of the Rings, and you haven’t played LEGO The Lord of the Rings yet, you really are doing yourself a disservice.
06. PORTAL 2:
When the first Portal was released, and became the massive success that it ended up being, nobody could have predicted it. This small puzzle game that was included on The Orange Box – whose standout title was supposed to be Half Life 2: Episode 02 – suddenly found itself thrust into the spotlight, introducing the menacing, homicidal, but entirely lovable A.I. Known as GLaDOS onto the world’s unsuspecting populace. Portal 2 was always going to be the “difficult second album”, it has a lot to live up to, especially in the comedy department – and that’s before we even start to mention Jonathan Coulton’s amazing ‘Still Alive’.
Portal 2 was released to widespread admiration, the comedy being expanded with characters voiced by Stephen Merchant and J. K. Simmons (Wheatly and Cave Johnson respectively) while also expanding the story to make the humorous elements feels much more grounded in reality. Instead of having a crazy computer shouting insults at you, you now had an invested interest in the world around you, and what happened to Aperture Science. Hardly a moment goes by in Portal 2 when you’re not at least grinning like the Chesire Cat – whether that’s at something that GLaDOS or Wheatley have said, or whether it’s at the sadistic nature of some of the game’s puzzles.
05. SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD:
The Saints Row series of games have needed to grow on me over time. At first they always felt like they were attempting to be something they were never going to be – Grand Theft Auto – but with each subsequent incarnation they have gotten more and more comfortable in their own skin, eventually getting to the point, in Saints Row: The Third, when they just said “you know what? We’re going to do things our way, and it might not always make sense!”
From the moment the first game starts up, and you’re greeted with a parody of both 2001: A Space Oddyssey and Star Wars within the first thirty seconds, you know you’re in for something that might not be quite what you’re used to. The game never really lets up either. The Saint Row series will never live up to something like Grand Theft Auto in the gameplay stakes, but its heart is in the right place and the crazy, all-out madness of it all would wipe the floor with GTA any day of the week, and it will always make it onto a list of the funniest games, just because I can face-plant a granny, then strike a pose. All while wearing a silly hat and waving a dildo bat. Madness.
04. THE BACONING:
Some of the funniest moments in gaming come from the references to other media, whether that’s a reference to a film, a comic, a TV show or even another game in the creator’s career. There are a couple of games on this list that don’t shy away from the not-so-subtle references – and that’s probably the reason why they’re on here – but one game that absolutely excels at it is The Baconing and, as one of the titles in the DeathSpank series of games, and the brainchild of Ron Gilbert, it’s no surprise that it’s on here at all.
Even the synopsis of the game shows how absolutely mental The Baconing is as it follows the quest of DeathSpank as he attempts to take down the Anti-Spank; a creature that was created when DeathSpank attempted to try on all of the Thongs of Virtue (items from a previous game) at the same time. The game starts as it means to go on too, and as one of the only games in recent memory that I’ve not wanted to stop playing even after completing the game, it’s excellent in the gameplay area as well as the comedy.
03. FABLE II:
As someone who pretty much grew up watching Monty Python sketches, Fawlty Towers and the many other TV shows and sketch shows to come out of the comedy troupe all British citizens know as Monty Python, the particular style of humour on show in the Fable games have always had a special place in my heart. Fable II was the epitome of that, even going so far as to secure the vocal talents of people like John Cleese and Stephen Fry, which almost guaranteed that anything that came out of their character’s mouths was going to be pure gold. It helped that the writing was great too though, of course.
The story in Fable II, in general, has its downfalls – some of them particularly large – but the comedy throughout the 12 – 15 hours of gameplay always had me coming back for more. Lionhead have never shied away from getting decent voice actors to cast their characters but Fable II was really the cream of the crop. A lot of people can even still quote their lines today, which is something that can’t be said for a hell of a lot of other, highly forgettable games that hit the shelves with alarming regularity.
02. NAUGHTY BEAR: PANIC IN PARADISE:
The first game in the Naughty Bear series didn’t garner much attention and, to be honest, it was a little bit of a mess. With that in mind you can understand why I wasn’t very excited when I started to review the sequel – Panic in Paradise. However, what I ended up playing was a hugely accomplished little downloadable game that was genuinely hilarious in parts. Again, the references to TV shows (etc) played a massive part in my affection for it, especially the section of the game where I was allowed to use a Stargate (Yes, THAT Stargate) to kill an unsuspecting bear. I was sold from that moment on.
The multiple different ways you have available to kill the bears in each of the levels, some of them actually being quite gruesome, adds to the overall fun factor of the game. The experimentation that’s afforded to the player, coupled with the finally getting to see the fruits of your labours, makes for some of the most satisfying gaming moments in recent memory. Couple that with the fact that this is stuffed bears mutilating and murdering each other and you’ve got a game that instead of being dark and horrific, is light-hearted and extremely humorous.
01. THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND:
There are very few games out there right now that can gain the amount of genuine love and affection that the original The Secret of Monkey Island did. I still remember going around to a friends house, and being in hysterics over some of the lines that were coming out of his embarrassingly old PC. We didn’t even understand half of what was going on, but it was still huge amounts of fun, and funny too. The charm of The Secret of Monkey Island lies in exactly that. If you play the game again now, something that you didn’t find funny 20 years ago (because you didn’t understand it) is now funny, and you get to feel that joyous experience all over again.
If the later entries into the series maintained that same charm and humour that the first one did. Even to this day, if someone asks me which point and click adventure game they should play, I’d tell them about The Secret of Monkey Island. It’s not perfect – few things ever are – but it’s got something about it that is almost timeless. Pure comedy doesn’t age, and that’s something Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert got down to an art with The Secret of Monkey Island.