Every year that goes by, more and more video games are released. As a result, the lengths companies will go to in order to stand out from the crowd steadily increases too.
From games about genitalia with feelings, to cardboard packaged as a video game, 2018 was packed with ridiculous moments, and here are some of the best.
An Amazing Bullshit Survey Told Us 84 People in the UK Have a Pet Called Yoshi
The best thing about this story is that, less than an hour after publication, the PR behind these statistics emailed Rich in a huff and insisted that the survey "was not bullshit."
Isabelle Joins Smash Ultimate
When Nintendo ended one of their Direct presentations in the summer with a CGI trailer focused on Animal Crossing’s mayoral assistant Isabelle wandering around her office, many thought their prayers had been answered: Animal Crossing on Switch!
As it turns out an Animal Crossing for Switch would get announced, but the first thing announced by the trailer was Isabelle as a character in Smash Bros.
Yes Isabelle, the cute and innocent, soft and cuddly, paperwork-focused friend to everyone. Isabelle was coming to Smash Bros, where Solid Snake can shoot her with a missile launcher or Cloud can smash her over the head with a sword the size of a human body.
While the reveal seemed ludicrous at the time, now the game is out she’s actually pretty fun to play. Her relatively indirect combat style, using tools from the Animal Crossing series, is a nice change of pace from more directly violent weaponry. Still, Isabelle in Smash Bros.? Even the fact we're now learning she can infinitely spawn assist trophies, and crash the game with her magical void, just makes it seem like there's some glitch in the Matrix.
The Rampage Movie Was Decent!
As Kotaku's Tim Rogers put it, "this movie is basically a cancelled Xbox 360 game." Take one reasonable 80s arcade hit, add a B-movie script, whizz it all up with Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson gurning and shooting guns... and it might actually be a half-decent night out. After you get over the initial surprise that Rampage ever got greenlighted, it further surprises by being so daft it's fairly enjoyable. I don't think I can do much better than Gita's summary of the plot's opening beats:
Rampage, the movie, begins at the climax of another, different movie, which is amazing to me. We begin in space (!) where a woman is being terrorised by a giant, mutated rat that she’s been experimenting on. The evil rich people on the phone tell her she can’t get in the escape pod unless she has the research samples, so she grabs them, but explodes upon re-entry to Earth, the mysterious canisters landing in various parts of America, conveniently. Then we meet The Rock, who is a wildlife preservationist who does not have human friends but is really tight with an albino gorilla named George. Ruh roh, turns out George picks up one of those canisters and starts mutating into an angry giant version of George! The evil rich people—who are just transplanted from like, RoboCop essentially, they are arbitrarily and aggressively evil capitalists—have sent Joe Manganiello and a bunch of contract militiamen to recover one of the other canisters, but it’s been opened by a wolf, who is now a giant murder wolf!
There's also a murder lizard that turns up at some point, and generally the Rock is either bonding with gigantic animals (the gorilla) or shooting at gigantic animals with gigantic weapons. It's that kind of movie. How weird it is that, considering all the awful game films we've had, one of the watchable ones comes from such unpromising source material.
Cliff Bleszinski's Studio Released Two Games in Less Than a Year Then Closed
Epic Games designer Cliff Bleszinski founded Boss Key Productions in 2014 and the studio's first game, Lawbreakers, was released in late 2017 to a generally decent reception... but not commercially. Lawbreakers had a seriously rough time of it, with playercounts rapidly dwindling, and despite the studio's efforts to save the game it was not to be.
What was a little odd was that Boss Key had a complete Hail Mary in reserve... a battle royale game! Radical Heights was in its early stages of development and had clearly been fast-tracked as much as possible since Lawbreakers' fate had become clear, but this of course left it very little chance of competing against the super-polished Fortnite or established PUBG. Playing the game is one of the oddest experiences I've had: a melancholy sense that this was a studio's last throw of the dice, overlaid with a neon cartoon style and frozen toothpaste grins. Shortly after release, Boss Key closed.
A Porn Star Revealed the US President's Schlong Looks Like Toad
What a timeline! Donald Trump has genitals. The best genitals! And this is what a porn star he slept with said about his piece of pork:
“He knows he has an unusual penis. It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…
I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart...
It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.”
Stop this world, because I want to get off. Is there an acid-washing service for childhood memories yet?
Fallout 76 Continually Fell Over Its Own Feet
Probably 2018’s most ridiculous game launch by quite a long way, from the moment it was announced until post launch, was Fallout 76. Revealed at E3 to the dismay of some as an online-only game, Bethesda’s plans for Fallout 76 went downhill from there.
During the beta people worked out it was incredibly easy to hack the game and run faster than your multiplayer opponents, then post-release a collector’s edition sparked outrage by swapping canvas bags for nylon without telling customers, and generally the game quickly acquired the kind of negative heat you don't ever want.
The strange thing is that, for a long time, a Fallout MMOG has been one of those fantasy games. But Fallout 76 wasn't that so much as an online experiment and, arguably, a title that needed a lot longer in the oven. Suffice to say that, had this been released as an early access title, people probably wouldn't have reacted so badly. As a full-price 'finished' release, it left and still leaves a lot to be desired.
Bowsette Got Everyone's Sexy Imagination Racing
Do you remember that couple of weeks earlier this year where the internet all finally agreed on one thing, and it was that they wanted to bang a pretty princess version of Mario’s long time nemesis Bowser? Forget the year of Luigi: 2018 was the year of Bowsette.
The origins of this weird tail (thangew) lie in a September Nintendo Direct, which revealed a port of New Super Mario Bros U for Switch, with some additional content. What sparked everything is the Super Crown, an item that the character Toadette can wear, which transforms her into a Toadette and Princess Peach hybrid.
Enter the wonders of the internet. An online artist called Ayyk92 created a comic in response, where Bowser put on the Super Crown and became a cute anime girl version of the character rather than a giant spiked turtle monster. From there the internet exploded with love for this gothic dragon lady.
It’s unclear why Bowsette took off the way she did, but a few fun spins on the concept kept this one-note fan character alive for longer than expected. Other characters got the pretty princess treatment, and we even at one point saw official concept art for Mario Odyssey where Bowser would use his hat to take control of Peach, creating a different but thematically consistent 'Bowsette' character.
Anyway: odd. But I’m glad the internet briefly came together in agreement on something, even if it was just how everyone got funny feelings from an unholy mashup of Bowser and Peach. Whatever would Freud have made of it.
Some Brits Made a Reality Cop Show in GTAV
Hideo Kojima Started Carrying Around a Cast of Norman Reedus' Head
I'm not really sure how much we can add to this one. At least Koj has stopped lusting after Stephanie Joosten and gone for someone more in his age range this time, though I'm not looking forward to seeing Reedus's weenus in the inevitable shower scene.
Nintendo's Big 2018 Innovation was... Cardboard
Of all the video games sold to gamers this year, only Nintendo had the confidence to sell players a big box of cardboard and tell them to go amuse themselves for once. OK OK I'm being reductive, but Labo is the kind of thing that it's hard to remember seeing for the first time.
Nintendo had triumphed with Switch, and we all eagerly awaited the next big innovation. Labo was announced at the start of the year, and was a real curveball: an interactive set of cardboard building projects of impressive complexity, which interface with the Switch and software to create interactive projects.
You can make a working piano which uses the Joy-Con to read which key is pressed, a house that functions like a tamagotchi with multiple interaction points, and even a full wearable robot mech suit used to destroy cities. Even now I'm thinking back and wondering if I really did build all that stuff. Labo never set the world alight in terms of sales, but it was a unique highlight on the calendar. Refreshing, relaxing, and like nothing else out there, Labo is Nintendo showing once more that the completely unexpected is often its own delight.
Porn Got Hacked Into Non-Hacked Mario Games
Nintendo is a family friendly company, and Mario games in particular you could safely let anyone of any age play unsupervised. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for a while with Mario Odyssey, and in particular the online Balloon Flight mode.
Hackers worked out an unpatchable hardware exploit on Switch, allowing them to hack the system with Nintendo unable to do anything about it. One of the things hackers learned how to do was upload a photo to use as a new user profile image...
Annd here’s where the porn comes in. With Mario Odyssey in particular, the game not only displays user icon images when playing Balloon Flight, but also supports any image being used as a user image, including grot. This means that, while it wasn't common, non-hacked users were seeing pornographic images popping up in their games. Yes: this is why we can't have nice things.
Genital Jousting Had a Legitimately Touching and Important Story Mode
Released way back in the start of the year, Genital Jousting on the surface was a silly game about penises trying to penetrate butt holes. It was a goofy party game with deliberately obtuse controls, where the whole idea was to stick a dick in a butt better than anyone else could.
So it seemed like we all knew what to expect from this one. But rather amazingly, the story mode turned out to be both in-depth and touching. If you don’t mind spoilers, you can read our full breakdown and analysis here, but to summarise Genital Jousting uses the medium of penis gags to tell a story about toxic masculinity, and how society's expectations of men can negatively impact their own mental health as well as their relationships with others.
It’s a moving story about healthy masculinity, and all the better for being so unexpected. Given all the grand male epics of 2018, the God of Wars and Red Deads and same old shooters, it is pretty bizarre that a silly game about dicks and bumholes goes to places that they simply don't.