Funny To A Point – Jeff M's Most Anticipated Games Of Summer
We've been sharing Game Informer's official picks for the most anticipated games of the fall all week, but as any competent horologist can tell you, we've still got a few weeks of summer standing between us and the gaming cornucopia that the changing seasons bring. That's why, in my continued selfless service to the community, I've taken it upon myself to round up all of the great games of summer that you can start playing right now. What's that you say? There aren't any? Ah, crap...
Look, I get it, developers – summer is a lousy time to release a video game. People don't want to sit indoors and stare at a television when they can be out stuffing copious amounts of barbecued meat in their face or frolicking on a beach like all the happy families in Jaws.* Even I struggle with gaming in the summer, and I'm getting paid to do it! It makes perfect sense that you'd rather take your chances in the fall, when consumers start looking for winter-hibernation entertainment and gearing up for holiday shopping sprees.
There's just one problem with that: I've got a column to write! And unlike you, I can't just postpone Funny To A Point until November, when all the other humor columns are coming out and people are trying to decide which humor columns to get their friends and family for Christmas. If I don't have new games to play, I don't have anything to write about, which means I have to start making crap up. And being brilliant is a lot of work!
Even worse, I've already promised my readers a round-up of summer games to play, and like all statements on the Internet, I'm now obligated to ensure that it's 100-percent truthful. So, what do you say, guys? Can we just release some of the big fall games early? Call of Duty? Assassin's Creed Origins? Hell, I'll even take Knack II. No?
Fine. I'll do it myself: Here's my legally accurate list of 10 games I have played during the summer, that I am now anticipating playing again because I have to. You're WELCOME.
No, I didn't grow up with my own damn horse like some pampered trust-fund baby – I'm talking about the basketball game. I lack the height and coordination to play real basketball (one-on-one matches with my brother usually ended in embarrassment for both of us – though I've seen worse), but standing in one spot and hurling the ball in the general direction of the hoop? That I can do! Of course, since we were kids, we usually opted to spell out something a little more colorful than "Horse," like "Crapbag" or "Butthead." In our teenage years, we opted for "Whores," which is still a clever** bit of wordplay.
Whatever the target word was, matches inevitably devolved into attempting the most outlandish trick shots possible, like heaving the ball over the roof of the house, or behind-the-back shots from the middle of the street. The only reason Horse doesn't rank higher is because if I break anything with a wild throw nowadays, I'm the one who has to fix it. Being an adult sucks.
I probably could've scored some major Dude Points by listing real fishing here, but I'm legally obligated to stick to the facts, hence the quotation marks. In this case "fishing" is a game my nieces and nephew play during our annual family vacation up north. The kids dangle clothespins tied to strings over the second-story railing in the cabin, then wait for an adult to clip something on and give it a tug. Seeing their excitement as they reel in a stuffed animal/pack of fruit snacks/dirty sock (that one always gets laughs) is priceless. At least it is the first 10 times – then it becomes a game of looking for someone else to take over fish duty. Oh well; it may not be as manly as real fishing, but at least I score some Uncle Points.
A true modern classic of backyard gaming, Cornhole is a lot of fun – and not just because of the thousand immature jokes the name affords. Like Horse, Cornhole tests your motor skills without any of the exertion of an actual physical sport. The game consists of trying to throw small beanbags through a hole on a raised wooden platform (or at your opponent's head if you're losing badly enough). It's essentially Horseshoes, only a lot more practical – I mean, where do you even find horseshoes nowadays?***
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Cornhole. On one hand, it's a great, carefree game to play with friends and family on a nice summer day. On the other hand, I never seem to get better at it, which drives the competitive gamer in me crazy. Also, it seems to attract its share of bro-holes, who take the game way too seriously. Then again, if you do get stuck playing against one of those guys, at least you'll be armed with enough beanbags to pelt them into next week.
#07 #0: JARTS
Another spin on Horseshoes (seriously, what's with all the horses this week?), Jarts also entailed trying to best your opponent by throwing objects into a hole – only this time the hole was a large plastic ring, and the objects were giant, deadly darts. Fun!
We used to play Jarts all the time up at my grandparents' cabin – it was only until I was much older that it dawned on me how ridiculously dangerous they were. And boy were they ever! Over 6,700 amateur Jartists were hospitalized with injuries from the game over a 10-year period. I don't even want to know how many innocent pets got harpooned! It doesn't change my nostalgia for the game, but in the interest of consumer safety, I'm striking Jarts from list – you and your friends should stick to Cornholing each other. Heh.
#06: Frisbee Golf
Ah, the one form of golf that doesn't end with me angrily throwing my club into a water hazard (sadly, mini-golf is not exempt from that list). I've already established that I'm not the most coordinated person, but even I can't screw up throwing a Frisbee. Hmm...I'm just now realizing how similar lawn sports are – you're basically doing the exact same thing in all of them. However, Frisbee Golf at least involves going to an actual course that you walk around, which makes it feel like more of a legitimate sport. Well, at least until you get stuck behind a group of stoners...
Leave it to the Italians to come up with a more elegant sport than just chucking an object at another object. In Bocce, you roll an object at another object – that's way classier! This is another popular family vacation activity, although the rustic setting adds a few unintended challenges, like having to avoid various roots, holes, and a wicked slope that leads straight down into the lake. I'm also obligated to try and knock someone else's ball away from the pepperino**** at least once every match, only to miss by an embarrassing margin and watch as my ball rockets away into the forest. Bocce!
Don't bother trying to google Handyslap, because you'll probably just end up with a bunch of perverted Glover fan-fiction that I definitely didn't write under a pen name. This was a game my brother and I invented at our grandparents' house one day, and it quickly became a favorite competition among the two of us whenever we visited them (they didn't have a lot of toys). Handyslap plays a bit like tennis, and uses a tennis ball – not a gigantic one, though. However, instead of a racquet, you slap the ball with your hand (duh), and it's allowed to bounce twice instead of once. There's also no net, and the "court" dimensions were dictated by the pavement slabs of the street outside their house. Handyslap ranks as high as it does on this list mostly due to nostalgia; nothing is more fun than making up your own game as a kid, and we spent a lot of hours playing it – not to mention chasing runaway balls down the street.
Another made-up game we played at our grandparents' house, Pushy/Trippy wasn't nearly as refined as Handyslap, but it was a marvelous test of a competitor's strength, endurance, and a tolerance for skinned knees. One half of the front yard was reserved for trying to push your opponent down, the other half was for tripping, and the sidewalk in-between was more or less just a super-dangerous hazard zone. Pulling, hitting, or grabbing an opponent was expressly forbidden, but involuntarily including your younger sister in the game was permitted. There was also a scoring system in place, though most matches just continued until someone got hurt. Come to think of it, my grandparents did a terrible job supervising us...
#02: Crazy-Fast Adult Go-Karts
Childhood nostalgia can't beat tearing around corners at 45 miles-per-hour in a go-kart that's technically designed for adults, but requires you to completely lack the common sense of adulthood to even get in it. I went go-karting last weekend for my soon-to-be brother-in-law's bachelor party, and it was a ton of fun – like Mario-Kart-in-real-life fun. In fact, I can't think of another activity that so closely captures the reckless abandon of a video game...at least not a legal one.
I didn't have the best lap times out of the group, but I dare say I had the most fun, primarily because I stuck to the same racing maxim I follow in video games: if you're in control, you're not going fast enough. However, all the power-sliding (which I don't think you're supposed to do in real-life, but whatevs) and guardrail deflections (which you're definitely not supposed to do) took their toll – my entire body has been bruised like an overripe peach for days. Some of the bruises don't even make sense; the hard-plastic bucket seats did a number on my back and shoulders, and the seatbelt left marks on my hips, but where the hell did the bruise on my inner thigh come from?!
While go-karting is probably the most fun activity on this list, I don't plan on going again anytime soon. Screeching around the track made me feel like a kid again, but the subsequent three days of groaning every time I move? Not so much...
#01: Swimming Floating
Despite living in a state that offers 10,000 opportunities, I rarely get to go swimming. However, it remains one of my favorite activities; nothing says summer like chilling in an outdoor pool on a hot afternoon (lakes are less relaxing thanks to my phobia of things swimming underneath me, which may or may not have been spawned by that damn eel in Mario 64's Jolly Roger Bay level).
Once again in the interest of complete accuracy, I can't really call what I do swimming. I mean I can swim if I have to – like if a shark is closing in or I need another beer – but otherwise I'm perfectly content to float around until I look like one of those godawful abominations people sometimes mistake for pets. It's not the most exciting summer activity, but it beats staring at your calendar while you wait for fall to get here.
****I'm pretty sure that's not what it's called, but I can never remember and Pepperino definitely sounds Italian, so good enough. (back to top)