If you ask me about humor in video games, the answer definitely has something to do with a turd singing opera arias rather badly.. That’s right, perhaps my funniest gaming moment is singing poop! But isn’t that somehwat fitting, since humor is known to be a matter of taste?
If you go by that, however, you have to admit: Video gamers don’t really like a good dose of cheerfulness. After all, video games are rarely really funny. Of course, that doesn’t mean that video games aren’t fun and don’t provide laughs. I find a bank robbery that goes off the rails in GTA just as amusing as the ludicrous slapstick in Goat Simulator. Especially the latter shows well how games want to stress the laugh muscles: Often, it’s simply game mechanics that are purposefully chaotic, and entertain as a result. This is just as true for the spiked shell in Mario Kart as it is for gross surgeries in Surgeon Simulator.
Despite such laughs, when I think about whether I’ve ever played a truly humorous game, I immediately end up with Conker’s Bad Fur Day and the Great Mighty Poo. And it’s not just me.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a game that is historically remarkable. The originally cute platformer for children mutated into a game about a latently frivolous squirrel during its development time. For myself, it was an expensive investment, as the module was priced at an exorbitant 170 Deutschmarks. And yet I had to have it, because I had never experienced anything like Conker’s Bad Fur Day. The gameplay was somewhere between jump’n run and third person shooter, but that didn’t really matter. Because Conker didn’t draw its appeal from the exciting game sections or curious gameplay ideas – but rather from its sheer joy in anarchistic humor. Even if many jokes today drift very much into sometimes dubious ” lads humor”: 20 years later I can’t remember a game where the joke was more important than the substance. In the style of a movie comedy Conker carried me from gag to gag, not giving a damn what had to be done in between. I can’t answer anymore what I had to do around the singing stanza of the Great Mighty Poo, and probably the task wasn’t particularly challenging, fun, or clever. However, I can still effortlessly intonate the first verses of the singing poo today.
At the same time, I don’t even think Conker’s Bad Fur Day was exceptionally funny. I think it was fairly okay funny. But hey, where are the other video game comedies? Sure, Day of the Tentacle or Psychonauts were pretty funny too. But also always clever. But what I’ve simply been missing since Conker – a game where I’m allowed to be a bit ashamed of the dull humor, which doesn’t care about anything more than the punchline. Video games are essentially a form of entertainment. It’s a pity that it almost always takes itself very seriously. Because next to all the (pseudo) deep experiences and complex game mechanics, a shallow, interactive comedy would sometimes be just the evening entertainment to lure me to the gamepad. Even if it’s not a high-quality gaming experience, but just another load of poo.
Unlike cats, squirrels apparently only have two lives: Conker’s Bad Fur Day was not only released for the Nintendo 64, but also years later as “Conker: Live & Reloaded” on the Xbox 360. A successor was often demanded, but unfortunately never realized.
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