When I heard about the politically-themed party game "Hail To The Chimp" last year, I was told it was for fans of "The Colbert Report."
In other words, "Hail to the Chimp" is for me. By hiring writers from political comedy mainstays "The Daily Show" and The Onion to pen the game, Mike Wilson, CEO of the game's publisher Gamecock Media, said, "We're specifically going after people who follow politics and find it funny... Only ours is funnier."
But is "Hail To The Chimp" funnier than the "The Colbert Report"? The satirical, late-night talk show features charismatic host Stephen Colbert and his deadpan comedy, wry wit and astute political observations. I watch it every night it's on. And I laugh. A lot.
I took Wilson's words as a challenge. So I conducted an experiment where I measured the laughs I had during the game and the popular TV show. And the "truthiness" may surprise you...
"The Colbert Report" LOLs
I watched eight episodes of the show (that's two weeks' worth) and counted each time I laughed out loud. Laughing out loud included everything from all-out convulsions to little chuckles. Basically, anything that caused me to make an audible giggle. The number of laughs for eight episodes went like this: 24, 20, 14, 20, 19, 34, 15, 17. (The 34-laugh episode was a particularly funny one in which Colbert interviewed Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.)
Full of jabs at President Bush, John McCain and Barack Obama, interviews with various political pundits and overall pop culture commentary, the average for a half-hour episode came out to be 20.375 laughs. Not an easy number for "Hail To The Chimp" to beat.
"Hail To The Chimp" Gameplay LOLs
I put a copy of "Hail To The Chimp" into my Xbox 360 (it's also available for the PS3). My plan was to play the game for 30 straight minutes, the length of a "Colbert Report" episode, and count my LOLs. Since I have no friends, I played the solo campaign where I was greeted by GRR News anchor Woodchuck Chumley's silly headlines and Rusty the Turtle's laughably unenthused directions on the game selection screen. There were a few giggles to be had there alone. "Hi there. My name is Rusty and I'm here to...[long pause]... it probably involves this screen." Three LOLs for "HTTC" before the game even really begins.
First I took the Ptolemy Challenge, where I played a series of mini games as the hippo Ptolemy of the Non-Stop Party party. I easily beat the other characters without so much as a chuckle as I clamored for clams (each mini game, or primary, involves some way to collect more clams, the game's currency, than the other candidates).
However, since Ptolemy won, I was rewarded with a Ptolemy cutscene where he was interviewed by a news anchor. The hippo referred to himself in the third person, and when he was asked if he wore boxers or briefs, he said he's all "commando." Add two snickers there.
But I still had 15 minutes to go, so I played another challenge. This time, I played as Daisy the Platypus in another round of primaries where my goal was to collect clams. Again, I easily beat the A.I. characters (they tend to be slower and often fall off the edges of the board). And again, not many laughs. The grand total came to about five for the half-hour.
"Hail To The Chimp" Cutscene LOLs
To be fair, they hired comedy writers to work on the cutscenes, not the gameplay. The game is supposed to have about two-and-a-half-hours of comical clips. As I played through the game, I unlocked at least a dozen of them, which could be accessed in the "On Demand" section of the menu. I decided to watch 30 minutes' worth straight in a row, which included "HTTC"'s fake news reports, political campaign ads and product endorsements.
And the result? Forty-eight laughs. My favorites included a product ad for "Prey Poppers," a delicious "prey-flavored" microwave snack that comes in "gazelle or zebra"; a commercial for recording artist/whale named Wadim, with hit songs such as "Sunshine on My Blowhole" and "Louie, Louie"; and an ad for "Princess Glamour Bot" a Barbie/Transformer-like doll that wears pretty dresses and fights "evil kittenoids from Cuddlebase 12." The clip that provided the most laughs was one called "Hot Coffee," which... well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
In this very unscientific analysis, I found that while "The Colbert Report" provides fewer, bigger laughs, "Hail To The Chimp" provided lots of little ones in cutscenes between its (repetitive) mini games. I think it's more for fans of political satire than for hardcore gamers, but it's definitely worth a play-through to see what comedic gems the game makers could come up with. So chalk one up for the "Chimp."