Mike Drucker is a stand-up comedian, writer for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and a co-host of the How to Be a Person podcast. You can berate him for his many ill-considered life choices via Twitter.
I'm gonna be real, real honest with you. I got asked by another website to do a top ten list and then on the same day, Giant Bomb asked me to do a list. And y'all, I'm suddenly feeling like Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. I want to do both. I want to have both.
So here's what I did. Since the other site (WHOSE NAME I SHALL NOT EVEN UTTER) asked first, they got the “GameStop Employees Probably Know These Games Exist” list. And Giant Bomb gets the list of my favorite under-the-radar games.
What I'm saying is that if this was The Notebook, I'd want to be an old woman dying in the arms of Alex Navarro. Who also dies. I'm sorry, Alex. That's just how this works. But we're both still young (ish?) so we've got time to settle debts and make our peace with God.
Honesty number two: I was up until 3 AM watching Star Wars last night, so I've got no idea what the fuck I'm writing right now. The movie was good, but not perfect. Giant Bomb would probably give it a Fun Factor of 4.5, but a 3.0 on Control and Sound.
Here's a list!
Honorable Mention: Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars is a lot like sex. It's fun, but sometimes it feels like I'm just responding to a tennis ball on a green screen that I added a woman to and then I found out it's my sister. Also, when it's good, it's great.
And when it's bad, it's still kinda fun. Battlefront is not really a good game. But I'm also a fan of Star Wars and enjoy shooting games that don't require 20 hours to enjoy. It's a fun, stupid game that I'm very bad at, often crashing my X-Wing into my own troops. But I enjoyed it, so I think that makes it kinda okay?
I dunno, man. At this point, my threshold for EA games is like, “As long as they don't punch my mom and charge her $60 for it, I'll consider this a success.”
I'm not really good with money. So when I saw this game on Steam for 99 cents, I was like, “Sure. I'll never have a family, so saving money is just putting off the specter of death anyway.”
What I got was a game where you shower with your dad. Or a bunch of dads, really. I don't know what I was expecting. It would've been far weirder if Euro Truck Simulator had showering dads. Then again, Europe is pretty open. Oh my God, stop typing.
I will say that this is a game that everyone wants to play. I work with a lot of people who don't play games all the time, and when you say, “Hey, you want to play Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015,” they're far more down than you'd initially assume.
Also, it's fun and it's got pixel dicks. So check off those two boxes if you're holiday shopping.
I'm a sucker for cheesy sci-fi racers, and Mach 5 Vehicle E-Cigarette hits all the right beats. It's challenging, it's beautiful, and the physics feel right. Unfortunately, it's called Go Go Spaceship Hologram, so nobody is going to buy it unless they already know about it.
Story time: When I was at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I was a pretty big deal. In fact, I was such a big deal that I actually ran a Dragon Ball Z roleplaying game for the people who were willing to talk to me. Dice were banned in the school as “gambling,” so we used random number generators on our graphic calculators to work out the combat. Oh, none of us ever got laid. Except for one guy who ended up having a kid and dropping out. What a double edged sword life is, right?
Dragon Ball Xenoverse isn't a great game by any means, but it reminds me of the crazy high school days of making up your own bullshit stories and throwing them at established characters. It never makes sense, and none of it really counts as anything important--but it's fun. I also never figured out if I'm supposed to be attracted to Frieza.
7. Her Story
Her Story is a good game that requires a pen and a notebook and some coffee and a grim determination to be a detective. Then you get asked by your co-workers why you're watching videos of a woman talking and you're like, “No, I'm solving a fake mystery!” and they're like, “Okay, but it's just a woman talking,” and you're like, “NO, IT'S FUCKING ART.”
Her Story's mileage really depends on your willingness to give in to the story. It can be cheesy. And some of the twists are telegraphed a mile away. But it's the first game that felt like a real, actual mystery to me. You don't walk around a room waiting for your character to look at a clue. There's no real “walkthrough” of the game, per se.
You just keep taking notes and writing down ideas and then you crack a mystery about a pretty fucked up family situation.
Also, the computer interface looks like Windows 95 and because adulthood is horrible and lonely, any type of nostalgia appeals to me on a really deep, sad level.
Who doesn't want to seduce boy pigeons?
Okay, Hatoful Boyfriend isn't just about seducing boy pigeons. It's also a weird story about tragedy and loss and an apocalypse that led to a thorough distrust between birds and humans. And also it's about seducing boy pigeons. Sexy, sexy boy pigeons.
It's one of those games that keeps twisting and turning and getting stranger. I mean that. It's one of those few games that's simultaneously not and very much is what it seems like it is.
5. Dot Arcade
Dot Arcade is what video games would look like in BioShock.
That's about as well as I can sell it.
I could tell you that the games are fun or that the cabinet art and music replicate a nostalgia that never existed, but all that is summed up in the above. It's video games for the people of Rapture. Simple, weird, little arcade cabinets that never existed. If video games were invented in the 1940s.
Oh my God, you own a Wii U and need games. Just buy it.
Undertale is Undertale. GameFAQs loves/loathes it. You already know about it and have a very strong opinion of it. It's either the greatest RPG of the year and an adoring throwback to the JRPGs of old, or an annoying, self-involved project that's the video game equivalent of a precious child on a sitcom.
Honestly, it's both. I really liked Undertale, but your mileage is gonna definitely vary based on how you feel moment to moment. And it's still not Earthbound, just like nothing is Earthbound and nothing will be Earthbound despite how much everything wants to be Earthbound.
But is it amazing? Yeah. It really is.
Another walking simulator? Oh, Drucker, you BBW SJW!
Fuck it. I like walking around and getting told a story while interacting with an environment. And this story is one of the more unique ones a game has told. There's something really melancholic about walking through someone's art and understanding that two people are falling apart. It's powerful and makes you consider why we art. Is it for fun? To show to others? To feel good about ourselves?
It's one of the few games to ever make me think, “Why the fuck do I even do what I do?”
2. Rebel Galaxy
Back to the fun shit!
You like the show Firefly? Sure, you do! This is Firefly, the game. Not legally. But that's what it is.
You listen to country rock and rob space pirates and make deals on weird planets. It's one of those “lose a few hours because you're doing absolutely nothing of importance” games. It sounds far better than it should, it looks far better than it should, and it plays far better than it should.
1. Duck Game
I know I've done this a lot this article, but the Duck Game is like Smash Bros. and Hotline Miami and Team Fortress combined. That last part is just regarding hats. There are a lot of hats. And oh, do you want the hats? You do want the hats.
What I genuinely love about the Duck Game is that it moves so fast. You die, you're out. But good news: A new match is starting up immediately after that. It's this insanely cruel multiplayer game that wants you to keep trying again and again and again.
I've noticed people on the Internet playing it up like it's a “fake” good game. Almost ironically playing it. Which I think works for Adult Swim Games' marketing strategy, but undersells how much fun this thing really is.
Seriously, I know this isn't a game at all but you should really be listening to Hamilton. Or if you've got connections, go see it. It's the best musical ever. Don't give me some Les Mis bullshit. I dreamed a dream that that shit's over, son.
“But Drucker, I'm here for video games and I don't like musicals.” Just trust me. It's good. It's also on YouTube and Spotify, so you don't even need to buy it. Just listen to it. It's free. Do it.
It's a hip-hop musical based on the life of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton and it works. I know it sounds like it's going to be some educational trash you'd hear in the third grade, but there's violence and sex and HERCULES FUCKING MULLIGAN.
Promo photo credit: Mindy Tucker