"Video games will rot your brain," said one of my elementary school teachers. Well, Mrs. You're-A-Fictional-Placeholder, they haven't managed to empty out my skull yet, but that's not for lack of trying.
To commemorate the lack of summertime learning, here are 15 dumb games, full of explosions and frogs and explosions and goats and explosions and 50 Cent and more explosions. These games are utterly stupid—and utterly wonderful for it.
Summertime and the living's easy, so make sure you apply SPF 50 before you sit in your office all day. We wouldn't want you to get a monitor burn.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
You can't spell "Summer" without "Summer Blockbuster," or something like that, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is like every dumb '80s summer blockbuster combined into one stupid video game. One-liners, lasers, neon color scheme, synths, bandannas, muscles, even dinosaurs—it's all here, slapped on top of Far Cry 3's rock-solid, first-person shooter foundation.
Just Cause 2
Just imagine: You're lying on your own private beach, Daiquiri in hand, soaking up those UV rays with the smell of suntan lotion hot in your nostrils. You've never been so relaxed in your life. Your town is thriving, your tourism industry is booming, and then some jerk crashes his speedboat into your mansion, ejecting at the last second by grappling onto the roof, and then parachuting away to freedom.
Just Cause 2's Panau is like the seaside resort of your dreams, except everything blows up and you have a limitless supply of fighter jets.
Jazzpunk is like a weird nightmare of a sketch comedy spy thriller where everyone speaks with a mouthful of mashed potatoes and all the dialogue is bad jokes. For instance, the man with a TV for a head who says, "I threw my remote away years ago. How dare they try and control me." Bring your metal detector to the beach and you're liable to find a mammoth, trapped in ice. Degauss carrier pigeons in order to continue your Cold War-era spy hijinks.
It's weird. It's hilarious. It's stupid. It's summer.
It's an edutainment game! Seriously! No secrets here! Absolutely zero Easter eggs for you to discover. I promise!
Okay, I lied.
Mere words don't do this game justice, so just go play it. Frog Fractions is ridiculous, free, and it plays in your browser.
Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective
Here's another from the realm of "Weird browser-based games." Bubsy 3D is canonically accepted as one of the worst games ever made, so of course Arcane Kids used it last year as the basis for their surreal acid-trip of an adventure known as Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective.
There aren't enough swears in this world for me to convey the insanity of this Bubsy 3D tribute. You can play it here.
I'm pretty sure the design doc for Shadow Warrior was just a binder full of inappropriate jokes followed by the words "Swords are cool." And that's okay, because swords are cool. Shadow Warrior is a reboot of the pretty offensive '90s twitch shooter of the same name, and you'll know exactly what type of experience you're getting into as soon as main character Lo Wang breaks into an awful sing-along version of Stan Bush's "The Touch." It helps that the game was developed by Flying Wild Hog, so in amongst all the stupid humor is an exceedingly polished shooter.
Falling Down is a great summer movie. Postal 2 is not a great game, but it is about the closest thing we've ever had to Falling Down: The Video Game. Do menial tasks. Encounter racists and weirdos. Try not to flip out and murder everyone when you're charged 85 cents for a soda. And, uh, meet Gary Coleman and use cats as gun silencers.
Kerbal Space Program
"And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air." Thanks to Kerbal Space Program, your fledgling spacecraft can fulfill both those lines. Kerbal Space Program can be a very serious game if you want, but I mostly use it to watch my poorly-constructed death traps blow up in spectacular fashion.
50 Cent: Blood in the Sand
You can't get dumber than a video game starring 50 Cent, which is why this Xbox 360/PlayStation 3-only game is making this PC-centric list. Here's the Wikipedia description:
"The game is set in an urban warzone in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, where 50 Cent and G-Unit have been hired to play a rap concert. After the concert the promoter, Anwar, is unable to pay them the US $10 million in cash he promised, but relents after being threatened. However, instead of the cash they were promised, he gives them a diamond-and-pearl encrusted human skull. This is promptly stolen by a paramilitary group led by the terrorist Kamal."
In other words, it's great. Honorable mention goes to Wu Tang: Shaolin Style.
This is the one-sentence pitch that sold me on Darksiders: "It's like Zelda, except you play as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and when you get on your demon horse it comes out of the ground underneath you."
Are you sad you're an adult and can't really get away with heading off to summer camp anymore? Are you nostalgic for the days of awful cafeteria food, campfires, canoes, and maniacal counselors who tried to kill you with their mind powers?
Just set up a tent in your living room, eat a bunch of trail mix, and play Psychonauts all day.
"Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty." Every time you boot Burnout: Paradise you're going to hear Guns N' Roses, and every time you're going to think of how nice the weather is outside, how you're wasting your life on games, and then you're going to crash cars in Burnout: Paradise until the sun sets. It's just that good—and it encourages you to wreak all sorts of destruction as you race around its open-world setting.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
You go to Mexico with your robot dog. You wear a mariachi outfit. You make sweet, sweet music by dismembering robots with a sword, while a megalomaniac yells at you about American supremacy.
School's out for summer, meaning we have to hear that Alice Cooper song about a billion more times before those damn kids get off our collective lawns again. If you just need to get back into class, though, you can always pick up Bully, a.k.a. Grand Theft Auto: Prep School.