View Full Version : The Need for Comedy in Games

05-31-2006, 10:25 AM
1580Earlier this month, Gamasutra broke the story that Al Lowe, creator of Leisure Suit Larry, was coming out of retirement. Leisure Suit Larry was a success back in the day, and if you had never played it, you may have the impression that the game was all about sex. It wasn’t. The game itself had little to no sex at all. Instead it promised sex and it was that promise, along with risqué lines, and a bit of titillation that enticed people to try Leisure Suit Larry, but it was the humor that kept them coming back. And according to Al Lowe, it’s humor that is missing from today’s games.

His views on the current state of the gaming industry today are blunt and not without merit. He believes the gaming industry is in a rut, a copy rut. They look at what’s been done, and they create a copy of it, only each time it’s a little more expensive and a little “better.” There’s very little in the way of new types of games, new niches, and very little that will make most gamers take notice. Well, Al is on a one man mission to change all this. It’s his goal, with Sam Suede: Undercover Exposure, to bring humor back to gaming.

Let me put this way, the shelf is full of racing games and shooters, RPGs and action games. Where are the comedies? Look at Blockbuster in the video section and compare it to Blockbuster’s game rentals section. There's a huge hole on that shelf, and we're not going to try to fill it so much as try to start it, and I hope that at some point comedy games will be as common as comedy movies are in the movie section.

I think he may be on to something (http://gamasutra.com/features/20060530/murdey_01.shtml).

05-31-2006, 10:40 AM
Interesting read, I am looking forward to seeing more.

05-31-2006, 11:37 AM
I love comedey my self, and I would LOVE a funny game. Mario party sorta did that for me but I was laughing my face off for a different reason, oh and those wrestle games give me a good chuckle.

But a game that was ment to be funny...why not? Why hasnt any1 tried this?

05-31-2006, 11:43 AM
If anyone has a chance I HIGHLY recommend getting "A Bard's Tale" its a remake of an old amiga/commodore pc game and is incredible... the sense of humor thast the game has will outshine anything else you will play in a long time...

Cobalt Katze
05-31-2006, 11:43 AM
I absolutely agree. So many games these days are so hardcore and gritty that they're ultimately so involved with themselves that they don't get to lighten up at all. They get us so involved with the serious attitude that we take it, apropriately, very seriously. S'not to say that there isn't any humorous games, or that humor is necissary in absolutely everything. Nintendo is excelent at making us laugh, always with its usual absurdity. Likewise, Blizzard may owe some ammount of success to their sense of humour within their games. It's a multi-layered thing. A game doesn't have to be all laughs, but with at least a witty dialogue or something that can break up the tense action is always welcome.

05-31-2006, 11:49 AM
If I fancy a good laugh I always turn to the Discworld games. Terry Pratchett has an amazing sense of humour in his books and the games portray it very well with some great voice acting. The games are pretty good too, keep you amused for many hours :D

05-31-2006, 12:54 PM
Nicely put there Jym, Discworld 1 was in some ways a masterpiece...such attention to detail in both the animation and the voice acting. They managed to condense the jokes and plotlines quite nicely too.

Discworld Noir was quite disappointing though. What I've played of it (it never hooked me) it just didn't have the same atmosphere, the atmosphere I associate with Pratchett's series.

05-31-2006, 01:25 PM
I'd recommend the Grim Fandango. It's a puzzle game, kind of in the style of a Mexican film noir, with fairly dry humour :).

05-31-2006, 01:40 PM
Do you guys remember the Tex Murphy games? My all-time favorite comedy series. Under a Killing Moon, The Pandora Directive, and Overseer were all excellent. I never played The Martian Chronicles, but it was probably great as well.

I am happy to see Al come back, because the Leisure Suit games were exactly as he described them, very funny, with no real sex in the game.

05-31-2006, 03:54 PM
Reading everyone's comments, there's a pretty good explanation for why there are so few comedy games now: the dearth (death?) of adventure games and to a lesser extent single player RPGs.

Back in the day, a large percentage of adventure games were comedies. The aforementioned Leisure Suit Larry series, all the Monkey Islands (oh how I wish Sigil could fit insult fighting into Diplomacy), the oldschool LucasArts SCUMM games (Maniac Mansion, The Day of the Tentacle, Zak McCracken, etc), and even a lot of the Sierra games had a lot of humor.

Today there are very few adventure games released, period, and a lot of them are murder mysteries, if they aren't outright CSI/Law and Order licensees. With the death of Black Isle Studios and Troika, there are also very few RPGs that use comedy. I think the last funny game I played was Disgaea on the PS2. Unfortunately, most JRPGs are super-emo and take themselves way too seriously.

I really hope he succeeds.

Cobalt Katze
05-31-2006, 07:32 PM
Unfortunately, most JRPGs are super-emo and take themselves way too seriously.

Really? I find it to be totally the opposite. Most JRPGs have some really wacky stereotypical humor in them. Certainly a whole lot more colorful and lighthearted than most D&D-based RPGs.

05-31-2006, 08:35 PM
I must be playing the wrong JRPGs then, hehe. Please recommend a few that you thought were funny. I'm always in search of more games to play while waiting for Vanguard.

Cobalt Katze
05-31-2006, 09:01 PM
I must be playing the wrong JRPGs then, hehe. Please recommend a few that you thought were funny. I'm always in search of more games to play while waiting for Vanguard.

Lunar: Silver Star Story is probably one of the funniest RPGs I've played. The latest version of it is for PSX (original was on Sega CD).

The Grandia series (1 on Saturn & PSX, 2 on Dreamcast and PS2, 3 on PS2) always has a fair amount of humour in it, and probably has the best turn-based combat systems of any JRPG series.

Disgaea is an excelent turn-based strategy game that's packed with wacky humor, one of the most bizzare storylines I've come across. Alternatively, the other TBS games by this developer are great too (Phantom Brave, La Pucelle Tactics, Makai Kingdom, and Disgaea II is coming out soon, all on PS2)

Finally, the Shadow Hearts series for PS2 is an odd combination. Gothic horror combined with some downright weird characters. The first game was more serious, but the 2nd and 3rd really take the cake and are great turn-based RPGs to boot.

05-31-2006, 09:25 PM
Thanks. I only played the first Shadow Hearts. I'll check out the other two.

I've played all the NI games you mentioned. Disgaea is just plain hilarious. They've made an anime based on the game, but it is pretty bad. :(

06-01-2006, 08:12 AM
oh how I wish Sigil could fit insult fighting into Diplomacy

LOL yes, that brought back fond memories, sculking around Monkey island looking for the right pirates to fight looking for that all important retort. I actually think something like it would make a great easter egg in Vanguard, gaining the respect of a grumpy community of combative dwarves for example LOL. :D


06-01-2006, 12:20 PM
Someone mentioned comedy in a game, but not really part of the game. The unlockables, and side trails are funny in most games. Like Diablo II in the cow level. It was meant to poke fun at the RPG genre. Why is it that when a game wants to have unlocakables they add humor? They add fun to the game? Isn't the whole game supposed to be fun? Something to think about.

I also remember "How to Beat Up A Millionaire" on the PS one (or was is the Sega Genesis?). That game was a flop, but nice to rent for a day.