It’s hard to do a good parody in any medium. Just look at all the horrible movies that kept pouring out after the first few Scary Movies came out. And that’s even harder with video games when you need to hold someone’s attention for up to dozens of hours and have fun playing the game, not just a throwaway joke.
But some games pulled it off with flying colors. The titles on this list not only toast lovingly respected games and genres, but they’ve also become popular in their own right. So let’s take a look at some of the best games that make fun of other games.
10/10 diving kick
Look, fighting games are complicated. Trying to dish out the perfect combo requires precise input and sometimes even hours of practice. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we just had to push a few buttons? Divekick agrees.
In Divekick, there is exactly one move your character can perform: the dive kick. Each character’s dive is different, but the player’s execution is the same. Just jump and kick. The whole game is a loving mix of fighting game tropes, including a Shoto lead and his rival, aptly named Dive and Kick, respectively.
9/10 Achievement unlocked
With the release of the Xbox 360 came a new feature that changed video games forever: success. Each game now had specific tasks that resulted in a small ping intended to send extra dopamine to a player’s brain. These can be simple, like performing a jump, or complex, like perfecting every possible challenge in a game. Achievement Unlocked focuses on the former.
Originally a Flash game (back before app stores destroyed this wonderful part of the internet), the first Achievement Unlocked lets you control a blue elephant in a single room with the sole goal of completing all 100 achievements. It’s easy to execute and a lot of fun if you have an hour or two to kill.
8/10 Kid Dracula/Splatterhouse: Wanpaku graffiti
When someone criticizes something you’ve worked hard on, it can be easy to take it personally and complain about it. However, it is much more interesting when the minds behind the original product react with further creativity. And that’s exactly what happened with Kid Dracula and Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti.
Both games are responses to public complaints about the gothic, macabre, and gory nature of Castlevania and Splatterhouse. In response, both games’ parent companies, Konami and Namco, released these more family-friendly versions of their respective classics. The weirdest part? Kid Dracula is now actually considered part of the Castlevania canon.
7/10 pawn search
Before games had realistic 3D graphics and cinematic storytelling, the best way to experience an epic story with video games was by playing a point-and-click adventure. These games created seemingly vast worlds in which players controlled a hero while solving puzzles by taking every item in their inventory and applying it to everything in the room they were stuck in. It was boring but oh so satisfying.
Peasant’s Quest captures that energy perfectly. Originally a joke in a StrongBad email (ask anyone born in the 1990s), The Brothers Chap decided to take that joke and turn it into a full blown game. Peasant’s Quest takes on King’s Quest and follows Rather Dashing as he attempts to defeat Trogdor The Burninator. The jokes are solid and the puzzles frustrating, which might not make for a great adventure game, but it’s everything you’d expect from a point-and-click spoof.
6/10 No more heroes
Whenever Suda51 makes a game, you take risks. While this may be divisive for some players and critics, it guarantees you’ll always have a memorable experience. This is absolutely true for all games in the No More Heroes series.
The No More Heroes games are a broadcast of the broader pop culture and action media in general, whether it’s a movie, video game, or music. The most American name of all time, Travis Touchdown must constantly fight his way to the top of a leaderboard of assassins by killing them all. Along the way, these games will also poke fun at Kamen Rider, Marvel, Rocky 3, and Super Smash Bros. Each of these games are incredibly weird and some of the best third-party experiences on Nintendo consoles.
5/10 The Space Tribute
Games based on existing traits have been around for as long as video games have existed. In fact, the original Donkey Kong was supposed to be a Popeye game. These are usually sloppily done and meant to make a quick buck, but that wasn’t the case with The Room Tribute.
Based on the infamous film The Room, The Room Tribute was an April Fool’s joke released on Newgrounds in 2010. It’s a point and click adventure game in which you play through the plot of the movie. However, the creators added a lot of content to tie up loose threads from the film and fit in cut plot points. For a game designed to poke fun at bad games based on good movies, the team at Newgrounds took a bad movie and made a great game.
4/10 Trombone Champ
It can be difficult to get into a rhythm game. Whether you’re playing Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, or even Parappa The Rapper, it’s going to take practice and dedication to hit every single beat. Trombone Champ laughs at such games.
Instead of buttons being pressed in rhythm, Trombone Champ lets the player mouse over musical notes representing the trombone slide. Instead of flashy characters on stage, the player is represented by a Mii mockup and a fevered visual dream behind it. While DDR and Rock Band have you feeling like a superstar, Trombone Champ captures what really happens when you give someone a trombone for the first time.
3/10 Space Quest 4: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
Space Quest is another point and click adventure series that is considered a classic of the genre. The sci-fi equivalent of King’s Quest, Space Quest follows Roger Wilco: an intergalactic caretaker. And the best game of this series is undoubtedly Space Quest 4: Roger Wilco And The Time Rippers.
Space Quest 4 is unique in that it uses time travel to poke fun at the broader sci-fi and the Space Quest series itself. Roger is being chased through time by Sludge Vohaul, who came from the game Space Quest 12: Vohaul’s Revenge to kill him. As he flies, he is sent into the future to Space Quest 10: Latex Babes Of Estros, a parody of Infocom’s Leather Goddesses Of Phobos, and then back to the original Space Quest. It’s wonderfully fun and one of the smartest uses of time travel in video games.
2/10 South Park: The Stick of Truth
South Park may be a divisive franchise, but there’s no denying that they often meet parodies. And in 2014, Matt Stone and Trey Parker proved they could do it in any medium with South Park: The Stick Of Truth. This is an RPG told not only from South Park’s point of view, but from children in general. The most powerful item in the universe is of course a stick which the kids think is powerful and all the costumes are handmade. They’re just a bunch of kids playing in their backyards.
Most people will say that the sequel The Fractured But Whole is a better game overall with more strategy and a better story, but The Stick Of Truth is a perfect parody of the classic turn-based RPG that many players have come to love. So it deserves a spot on this list.
1/10 The Stanley Parable
Video games are all about choice. You are in constant control of your character and it is up to you and your choices how you progress through the game. Or are you? Most games have everything laid out for you with missions that have definite objectives, checkpoints, map markers, and a set way to beat them. In many games, you have even less initiative, with a set story to follow.
The Stanley Parable satirizes that sentiment perfectly. With a narrator telling you what to do at all times, getting past this “game” can be very easy. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can ignore him and go your own way… or can you? It’s funny, intriguing, and a loving homage to gaming in general. It’s everything a video game parody should be.
NEXT: Games to play if you like the Stanley Parable