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RiffTrax: The Game is already one of my favorite gaming experiences ever. Sure, that is because I got to play with the RiffTrax crew, who are deeply responsible (liable) for my sense of humor thanks to many of their efforts contributing to Mystery Science Theater 3000, but it’s also because the game makes everyone feel capable of landing a joke.
Developer Wide Right Interactive announced this spinoff off of its What The Dub game in March along with the team at RiffTrax. It debuts May 5 for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and Steam. And that will get you 250 movie clips from the RiffTrax vault, which includes some true stinkers like Rollergator and the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space.
On its face, the concept is one that should immediately resonate with fans of RiffTrax or MST3k: players watch a bad movie clip and then get a chance to fill in a blank with their own joke. Everyone then watches the results in a random order before players vote for their favorites. Whoever ends up with the most points after five-or-so rounds is the winner.
I played with the RiffTrax crew, and the concept works even better in practice. It helps that this game isn’t pulling only from public-domain content. But it’s even more important that Wide Right added aids — and even entire modes — to facilitate the humor.
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If you cannot think of a joke for a Riff, no worries — the RiffTrax writers contributed 2,000 of their own. And since this is a party game and you are likely playing for the laughs, it’s great when players sprinkle in those professional jokes. They are truly hilarious.
But RiffTrax: The Game also separates itself from What The Dub in a crucial way. It’s not always about dubbing over what a character is saying. This opens up some different paths for commenting on and joking about what is happening on the screen on a more meta level.
Two smart and inclusive modes
RiffTrax: The Game has two primary modes of play. In “Write A Riff,” everyone watches a clip and does their best to write a joke for the text-to-speech bot. If you cannot come up with anything, that’s when you can let the computer pick a related joke for you. “Pick A Riff” mode, however, is much more like a card game. It hands out a random jokes (that the RiffTrax team wrote and recorded) to all players. You then have to play them to clips that might have nothing to do with anything written on the cards.
It is much more random, but it also worked very well in my experience.
“One of the fun things about this format of the game is that it really encourages anyone — even if you’re not a fan of RiffTrax to start with — to join in and have fun and do well,” RiffTrax star and writer Kevin Murphy told GamesBeat.
What works especially well is that card-game mentality. You’ll have some jokes that work in all situations and some that need the perfect clip — the key is knowing when to play each. That leads to non-sequitur situations that had everyone I was playing with cracking up.
“Between the clips and the jokes, it feels like it’s sort of a sandbox that we built for people to play in,” RiffTrax senior writer Conor Lastowka explained. “It’s really fun to watch pepole play in that sandbox.”
I’ve since played the game again with some friends, and we experienced that anything-goes humor ourselves. And we’re already planning to make it a regular part of our game nights.
The good news on that front is that the RiffTrax team is already open to making more content for the game if possible.
“We’re probably going to add to this — if that’s not letting the cat out of the bag too much,” RiffTrax star and writer Bill Corbett said. “Maybe do like a holiday expansion pack since we have a million Christmas movies lying around.”
So start planning your jokes for Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny now.
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