They can be a source of fun, of exhilaration, or utter fucking frustration when you fuck that fucking mission up for the umpteenth fucking time. *narrows eyes and glares at GTFO*
It’s easy to forget that games can be fun when guns deep in the latest grey and beige shooter, or getting attempting to survive as a civilian in This War of Mine. Bright, breezy, blue skies (we miss you 90s SEGA), bopping beats and bright colours. Hey, even Vice City was funny.
Inspired by the ever-joyful Quang from Asobi Tech, creator of MaoMao Castle (currently in early access on Mac and PC), we asked some gaming streamers what their happy funtime games are. Here’s what they said, starting with the man himself:
QUANG DX – ASOBI TECH
Don’t make me choose just one!
I think I am down between Bishi Bashi Champ and Outrun 2 SP. Both in the arcades.
Bishi Bashi for the giant coloured buttons you smack in the many ridiculous Japanese mini games that are fun on your own, stupidly good fun with a group.
And Outrun 2, for the deluxe cabinets you get to sit in, as you power slide your way around beautiful stunning looking roadways, which capture the exhilarating feeling of driving for fun. Combined with SEGA blue skies and that soundtrack…
Both home versions are good. But nothing beats playing them in the arcade. They leave me smiling every time.
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Simpsons Hit & Run.
I’ve loved The Simpsons for years and that game was just great fun. It had hilarious writing, all the Simpson landmarks and I always wanted to keep beating times and unlock everything it had to offer. It was just such a fun game all round and it’s The Simpsons so… How can you beat that?!
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BECKY FROST – SPECIALEFFECT
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The series is fantastic, the writing is excellent and the characters stay with you like old friends (and frenemies!). It’s one of those games I keep coming back to for another play through. The soundtrack is also some of the best videogame music I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing performed live.
Also you can shout ‘Objection!’ into the mic instead of a pressing a button and what’s not to love about that?
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Erm… at the moment the Telltale Walking Dead Games.
JOYOUS NOT MISERABLE PLEASE, KOOKIEE!
WELL. I LAUGHED A FEW TIMES.
Does Animal Crossing: New Horizons count? It’s cute and fun and relaxing. And other than the wasps, tarantulas, and scorpions it’s almost impossible to be angry at it. And it has such a sweet community, compare to most what you’d call “online” games. It’s refreshing.
I’ve been a lifelong artist; the earliest kind of thing I liked to draw was cartoons, including making my own comics. I always enjoyed classic cartoon animation from when I was little. I also worked as a games artist for a number of years, and actually saw a keynote speech from the lead animator of Cuphead at a conference. I remember the splash it made when it came out, and how well it captured the Fleischer animation style.
In the last couple of years I’ve really enjoy playing, and streaming, a number of hard games. Especially if they’re 2D platformers with hard boss fights, or tight timing, so Cuphead was a shoo-in choice. The vibrant world, the cute characters, the creativity of the bosses, it’s all great. Even if it got me a little salty at times 🙂
I find it a great way to unwind zipping through the universe and occasionally building a big old spreadsheet to track the progress of a delivery mission!
Lollipop Chainsaw. Because lollipops & chainsaws! It needs no more explanation than that.
My go-to happy game is Guild of Dungeoneering. Stick figure graphics, mostly monochrome, no bright and shiny colours. And yet the absurdity of the character classes and equipment, that can see your Mime picking up a cup of tea, a straitjacket and a disco tiara, all with their own bonuses, is an absolute delight.
And then when you inevitably get your minions killed, they get a plot in the Guild Graveyard and a pithy little epitaph from the Bard who provides all the narration. His songs highlight every major action you take in an acidic, appropriate and deeply amusing way. The music ties everything together.
It’s almost impossible to play GoD and stay down.
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Maybe the recent VR version, but Space Channel 5 Part 2 is my happy place. Ken Woodman’s Picadilly Brass provide the swinging 60s soundtrack with Mexican Flyer, Testuya Mizuguchi provides the simon says gameplay, and it all comes together with a guitar battle with Pudding from Channel 42.
ALSO SPACE MICHAEL who looks even weirder in high definition.
Up down left right, chu chu chu! Let’s dance to the end of the galaxy!
KITTY POWERS – GAME DEV DRAG QUEEN
I’d heartily recommend my game ‘Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker‘ to cheer you up when you’re feeling blue.
It’s got an endless supply of procedurally generated lonely cretins who are designed to make you feel better about yourself, and the dates they go on are a hilarious series of awkward situations that are bound to make you feel like you’re completely winning at life! Best of all, because it’s procedural you can play it forever and ever!
More seriously, the game is designed to not be boring by cleverly using randomised dialogue and minigames to keep it funny and fresh, and it’s all hand illustrated in a really pleasing 2D style, none of that plasticky looking 3D. Mwah!
BONUS HAPPY TABLETOP GAMING ACTION!
Jungle Speed (and there are other games that will fit this brief but Jungle Speed came out on top for me) is the kind of game that I LOVE introducing to people. Everyone knows snap. We all grew up playing snap and Jungle Speed is just snap on crack as I like to say.
It’s the kind of game that people get the premise of because of its similarity to snap, are at first a bit bamboozled by because of the varying rules, symbols and patterns but end up loving loudly. As in, once everyone’s got their heads in, it usually ends up in raucous laughter and spilt drinks. A game that can evoke such strong emotions of joy and silliness and is so easy anyone can play makes me very happy. 🙂
There ain’t no stopping Quang now!
We let Quang choose some honorable mentions because, frankly, there was no stopping him once he got going.
Bubble Bobble. For those cute as hell dragons, and the sheer variety of pickups, and levels. Oh and that happy tune.
Vib Ribbon, for having so much character in a vector animation. So much joy as they skip along the ever changing line to whatever song it has been given.
Tetris Effect, for immersing you into a mediative zen state, of falling blocks, creating order from chaos. In a orgy of particle effects and sound.
NiGHTS into Dreams for letting you perform aerial ballet manoeuvres, as you flow and chain together a score run, that widens your smile with each and every link, in its dream like world of colour.
OK I’m done there, You may wanna throw Peggle in there. For that raising scale as you light up the pegs. And the perfect triumph of Ode to Joy being played…
What are we missing? What makes YOU happy? Why is there so little Nintendo here?
SHARE YOUR HAPPY – WIN SOME GAMES
Tell us in the comments what your go-to happy games are, and we’ll do a reader list soon and give away some Steam codes too INCLUDING a copy of Kitty Powers Mathchmaker on the platform of your choice!
You’ve got until the end of June 2020 to get your happy games posted below and we’ll choose one at random to benefit from the joy of free games in their life.