Creativity and nostalgia have a difficult relationship. There’s nothing wrong with standing on the shoulders of giants, and the best games borrow a little bit from the past before reinventing the future. Then again, sometimes people are just stealing like wow. There’s plenty of space in between – creative remakes of a game, subtle homages to predecessors, and the occasional easter egg to make a veteran gamer smile at the joke. The following games take a little of all of these categories, consume horse steroids, and make us think Deep Thoughts about video games. Sure it’s all pretty nerdy, but think of it this way: If you get all of these jokes and references and can still go get laid, you’re retroactively giving a wedgie to every jock who picked on you in childhood. Nerd love, bros.
Abobo’s Big Adventure
There’s been a couple games that go on the whole Quentin Tarantino route of video-game making, notably the so-simple-but-so-good Super Mario Bros. Crossover. And cameos happen all the time. But few games have assembled such a perfect gallery of characters, levels, bosses, and even cheat codes that will unlock NES memories many 80′s/early 90′s kids forgot they had. And while you can’t fufill every childhood fantasy, there’s definitely opportunity to say, kill the old man of Zelda, or actually punch Donkey Kong in the face – with achievements for both! Best of all, it’s totally free, so go play and come back in an hour or two.
I Wanna Be The Guy
If not quite as jam-packed with nostalgia as ABA, I Wanna Be The Guy is more of a tribute to the hard-wired mechanics of video-games that we forget we know. Of course you don’t trust a block with eyes hanging out in the ceiling. Of course a roast turkey sitting on the floor is good to eat! (Note: only true in real life while drunk.) IWBTG makes sure that every single thing you know is wrong. Dead wrong. And while ABA presents a fun and twisted revisit of old enemies, IWBTG gathers nothing less than the most evil enemies possible. A screen-filling Mike Tyson? Mecha-Birdo? Those god-damned-satan’s bastard-birds of hawks from Ninja Gaiden? All here. This is a video of someone doing a speed-run of the game, in which they somehow know exactly how each twisted, evil screen is going to trick you in every possible way. This, on the other hand, will likely be a much better approximation of your first time playing.
Game Dev Story
For a big change of pace, Kairosoft’s bizarre little RPG is a game about…making games. You have a video game company with employees, each with their own stats, and you actually, really, seriously, level them up to become an elite team of video game programmers. Hire mercenary composers! Unlock masked wrestler game engineers! Send your head programmer on a spiritual retreat to unlock new game types like “ninja”, “puzzle”, or “poncho”. (wait, what?) You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll do everything you do in a normal video game except for kill anything. Although maybe the Musical Pirate game you design involves killing in the game, and by targeting it at the youngest age group, you’re being the most violent person of all!??! Whoa.
There’s really not a great parallel for Forumwarz. It’s a game about the internet, particularly the kind of internet that Your Parents Warned You About and all of the /b/tards that live for trolling and inventing things like Pedobear. Taking the piss out of the world’s unimaginably bizarre messageboards and anything else sad on the internet that can be mocked, Forumwarz literally makes it all a game. As you hack and spam messageboards for a mysterious government agent who’s paying you big loot, you become a double agent, learn new dumb powers, and can eventually become a master in any number of trolling classics: Camwhore, Troll, Hacker, Permanoob or Emo Kid – choose wisely! And if none of this sounds familiar, let’s just put it lightly – not a second of this is even remotely safe for work.
If it’s the least entertaining game of these five to actually play (not that you can, anymore), then Cow Clicker makes it’s name by being the best mockery of a game style that severely needs to be mocked. As lovingly summed up elsewhere, Cow Clicker was the creation of a rogue video game maker who was making odd games on the fringes of the market, focused on art instead of reward systems. But his legacy was cemented with this parody of Farmville-style Skinner Box rewards – the bastardly pyramid schemes that your long-forgotten high school classmate sends you every week on Facebook. Join my vampire mafia! Help me collect fairy crystals? Send me a goddamn hoe for my virtual farm! Cow Clicker was just a cow that you clicked on, and an idiotic set of rewards for doing so. It was supposed to be a joke, but people actually played it religiously. We can only hope they were all in on the joke, but maybe it doesn’t matter – if you have fun playing a game designed to make fun of games, what does that mean? Holy meta motherload.