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Recommendations for Sufferers of Portal Withdrawal

by on June 4, 2011

Illustrations by Emmy C. Used with permission.

If you haven’t played Portal 2 yet, you need to get on that. If you’re the kind of person who would read a site like this, you’re the kind of person who would enjoy a game like this. In fact if you don’t own an XBox 360, PS3, or even a computer, you need to buy any one of those things just to play this game.

I’m just amazed they’d make something like this in the first place, let alone that it’s so popular. Usually, American first-person shooters are the opposite of my tastes….loud, mindless, unoriginal, grim and serious, with almost every color except the gratuitous blood being a shade of gray. Portal 2 is smart, vibrant, clever, rated E for Everyone, and most miraculously funny. Constantly. I love funny video games and they’re ridiculously rare.

Portal 2 is one of a kind. The writing, voices, graphics and play control are all the finest currently on the market, but what really blows me away about it is that it never stopped introducing new gameplay elements. I kept getting further along, finding a new kind of goop or tube or beam and thinking “this is the last one, they’ll HAVE to start recycling them by now.” But no. It kept on surprising me with every puzzle until the very end. I haven’t had a game do that since….well, I’ve NEVER had a game do that. Even the legendary greats like Mario and Zelda had to reuse a suit or a power-up before the credits. Portal 2 never ran out of inspiration (especially amazing considering this is a SEQUEL). That’s nuts.

If Portal 2 has a downside, it’s that it eventually ends. When you finish Half-Life 2, you can play any of the other 15,274 FPS shooters in existence. When you finish Portal 2….there are no other humor-based first-person portal-shooting puzzlers with evil talking robots to turn to.

Finishing Portal 2 left me with an itch to test that I couldn’t scratch anymore. If you’ve finished it you’re probably feeling what I’m feeling. The rest of you will be in the same situation soon enough. What can we do? Where can we get our jollies?

You know…..When you think about it, it’s not like funny video games haven’t existed at all.

LINK’S AWAKENING was the first Zelda game I ever played, or for that matter bought independently. (I had watched other people play Zelda before then, but….) It still remains my favorite in the series, and not just because it was my first, but because it’s the funniest one by far. Koholint Island is an egg-capped volcano topped with all kinds of strange personalities, such as the Dr. Wright lookalike who writes love letters to a goat. The goat is sending him back photos of Princess Peach and claiming to be her, which is just delicious. Then there’s those stupid kids, Marin’s handling of the crane game, and Madame Meow-Meow’s “reward” for Link (we need a 3DS remake just to see that more clearly). I know someone who still can’t stop laughing about the alligator who says he “collects rare and unusual canned food.”

To add extra humor, play the original black-and-white version….the one with the notorious bug that lets you step through walls and mix up the graphics. There is an entire unlicensed Emmy C. made out of battling old ladies and monsters made of Kirbies.


Back in the late 90’s, there was once a company called Working Designs that published JPRGs (mainly the Lunar series) with all the trimmings, including but not limited to a cloth map, a soundtrack CD, a behind-the-scenes documentary and a real-world representation of whatever pendant had the power to destroy the world that time. They put more effort into translating Japanese games than anyone before or since, except…for the translating part. Y’see, Working Designs often took great, gigantic, gargantuan, elephantine liberties with the original scripts.

Best Translation Ever.

It’s not that Lunar was bad without it — it avoids a lot of JRPG annoyances like random battles and the art (originally for Sega CD) is great for its time. But this game has been translated before and since, and  I can’t bear to play any other version of it but the completely wrong, messed-up one. This translation makes this game for me. I need the guy in the Cave of Trials to talk like Austin Powers. (He does.)


If you want to play Ocarina of Time, there are plenty of other ways to do that now. The real reason to hold onto your N64 in this modern age is summed up in one brand name: RARE. Rare was partially owned by Nintendo during this period and their most inspired years were spent on the N64. Due to legal entanglements, many of these games have never been re-released. More importantly to this discussion, these games are some serious FUNNY!

Banjo-Kazooie may have been the better game, but I’ll always be partial to Banjo-Tooie, its sequel. Not for the 10-a-second framerate, but for the hysterical British wit in every cutscene. Conker’s Bad Fur Day came out a few months after Tooie and was even more hilarious — and like Portal, it’s one of a kind (the “sequel” on the XBox was the same game only censored. No, they’re not the same Rare over there). Even Donkey Kong 64, Rare’s most tedious title, is made a little more bearable by having the best writing and dialogue of any DK game released. They were on fire back then.


During the heyday of point-and-click desktop adventure games, Lucasarts specialized in comedy, bringing us classics like Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango, and the Sam and Max and Monkey Island series. Years later, a small company named Telltale Games revived the latter two in the same format, with no loss in quality. From there they’ve grown from Strong Bad to Wallace and Gromit to Back to the Future, and most recently became successful enough to put all silliness behind them and announce a licensed game based on “Law and Order: Los Angeles.” I hope they saved the receipt on that purchase.

Even if Telltale gets all serious on us from now on, there’s a lot of material there to play through, and odds are you haven’t gotten through it all. I have to confess, though, that neither have I. I own several Telltale titles but still haven’t gotten around to playing any of them. By putting them on this list I’m going on the word of others that these are truly humorous adventures; no one’s ever told me otherwise anyway.


I waxed at length about Gitaroo Man on some other defunct site a long time ago, but second quest still stands. It’s a masterpiece of spontaneous mechs, diaper-wearing devils, men named “Miranda” and the swankiest character of any game in history, Mojo King Bee. There were no sequels unless you think a PSP port of the same game counts. This is another one-of-a-kind. …There should be an orphanage for all the funny games with no family.

While I’m on the subject of music games, PaRappa should also be mentioned.
I can still recite quotes from that one verbatim.

Comments? Suggestions? Annoyed that I forgot EarthBound? Sound off on your favorite humorous games by hitting the Comments link below. For science. You monster.

Some people think I’m a turkey.

But I’m a chicken, got it?

Ya beef jerky!

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