As the crowd of skateboarders cackling at their friend with a new groin injury can tell you, comedy comes from pain. Pain and surprise. That's why it's so hard to make a funny video game. Players are already primed to be surprised and challenged and beaten down, so most attempts at humor just get absorbed into the ongoing buzz. Clever writing and visual jokes help, but only as rest stops on the main highway of tension. It takes a special kind of genius to make a player laugh through pure, unexpected wrenching of gameplay conventions.
On a totally unrelated note, there's a brand new Karoshi game! Super Karoshi, the fifth chapter in this series of suicide-themed platform-puzzlers, is also one of the best. Creator Jesse Venbrux, who never met a bloody impalement he didn't like, has found a happy middle ground between the anarchic surrealism of the second Karoshi with the twitchy puzzles of Factory and Suicide Salaryman.
The basic controls are [left] and [right] to walk, [up] to jump, [R] to restart a level. The only rule for escaping these rooms of death is that you have to find a way to die. But beyond that, the rules twist like a hillbilly in a hurricane. Every time you think you've got it figured out, the sheltering sky of cause and effect develops another crack, until your every gamer instinct has turned against you.
Your new ability — to transform into an indestructible, flying, Super Saiyan alter-ego when you collect a certain emblem — is dubious comfort in a game where the goal is to kill yourself. For the tortured soul, immortality is a curse. Your only solace is to put your corporate lemming co-workers out of their misery before doing yourself in with the aid of a chunk of kryptonite. TGIF, guys. Catch you on the other side of oblivion.
Kyle E. Moore - It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a... OW! Ew... is that a spleen? Super Karoshi definitely mucks about with the gameplay mechanics more than its predecessors, and for this strange series, that's saying something. Yet despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you, this also feels like one of the least challenging offerings to date. Considering that the Karoshi games have never been what one would call easy, this means it's a little more accessible than most, giving newcomers an opportunity to get excited about the franchise. Okay, brb, got some spikes calling my name.
SonicLover - Remember when we reviewed Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman a while back? Super Karoshi is like that, only a lot more creative. There's a lot more thinking outside the box (literally in at least one case), and a lot less raw puzzle-solving. I feel that this is a step in the right direction for the Karoshi games, even though I haven't played any of the downloadable ones. I see they kept the 'K' puzzle, though (you'll know it when you see it). I enjoyed every minute of Super K.
Artbegotti - Some games are like a piece of bread. The more you play them, the quicker they become stale. The Karoshi series has proven itself to be more like a piano, becoming better the more you play it. As this is the fifth Karoshi game in the series (you can follow the in-game links to view previous episodes), veterans might see some similar puzzles to past editions, but will still find new life in a game that probably shouldn't be compared to bread or pianos, because neither are very relevant.
Dora - Never having played any of the previous Karoshi games, picking this one up was for me a lot like listening to half of a conversation about gorillas. It's weird, it's confusing, maybe a little scary, and you're not sure whether it would be polite to laugh or not. But once I stopped trying to "get" it, the more fun I had with it. For a game whose sole premise is to do horrible things to your willing, muppet-faced pixel counterpart, it's surprisingly devious with its puzzles. After every puzzle completed, I sort of wanted to pat myself on the back for figuring it out, but I suppose a pit full of spikes is just as satisfying.