Casual gaming sure has changed the rules. Whereas once, developers needed a few grand and a couple years' development time to get a game out, quick-'n'-dirty software can now be pushed out the door in the time it takes to devise a premise and code it together.
The utopian promise of this new frontier? Whip-smart coders can use games to pass hilarious commentary on their life and times, snapped up by savvy consumers and referenced in the sharpest of bons mot at their next cocktail soiree.
The sad reality? Cloth-eared dullards can foist any amount of paint-huffing pabulum on the public, knowing there's a limitless horde of mouth-breathing ignorami ready to guzzle it up like so much Baconaise. As we, for our sins, shall soon see.
Above: Justin Timberlake, honest
The game: An early pioneer of the “Pop Culture Assassin” genre, Sink N*Sync passed harsh judgment on the then-burgeoning boy band craze, prosecuting the phenomena's ringleaders (Timberlake, Fatone et al) for their crimes against culture. Apparently, said crimes involved hiding out in the wartorn Middle East and taking potshots at passers-by, the obvious solution being to take to the band with a sniper rifle.
The “jokes”: It's hard to be sure exactly where Sink N*Sync thinks its humor lies. Is it a “joke” that Lance Bass is not very tough, so it's odd to see him packing a Desert Eagle? Is it an “ironic gesture,” when "Bye Bye Bye" gets stuck in your head, to stick a bullet in JC Chasez' head? Look, no one expects Robert Christgau-levels of music criticism from their browser games, but this just doesn't make any sense.
Above: Also, is it petty to complain about those graphics? Because YIKES
Least hilarious “hilarious” moment: That would be about ten seconds after you start a game of Sink N*Sync, when you promptly have your ass handed to you by the teenage troubadours. Chris Kirkpatrick, in addition to having a throat of purest silver, can sling a pump-action shotgun with the meanest of 'em.
The game: Many of the best games do what they say on the tin. Ghouls 'n' Ghosts contains ghouls, and ghosts too; Twisted Metal gives you the opportunity to twist a goodly amount of metal; Marble Madness is about marbles and promotes madness. And Chris Crocker in Blender features Internet celebrity Chris Crocker (he ofLeave Britney Aloneinfamy), in a blender.
The “jokes”: Mr. Crocker is openly gay, so his cartoon lookalike wears high-heels. This is what we in the hilarity business call “opening with your best material.” He intermittently yells random phrases from the video that started it all; these are all impersonated, because Chris Crocker is notoriously litigious or something? Anyway, it's basically a comedy black hole.
Least hilarious “hilarious” moment: After the outspoken whelp has been thoroughly eviscerated, a pudgy bear crawls from his innards, exits the blender, and protractedly yells, “freedom!” Because that's not a “joke” so much as an “inexplicable thing that happens,” the action then fades to a black screen on which is inscribed the legend, “FREEDOM.” And that's the end of the game.