Look, you know the drill – every year, a billion amazing and awful games come out, and every year, my well-intentioned co-workers totally blow their opportunity to write horrifically punny headlines for their reviews. I honestly don’t know what their problem is – it’s like they don’t even know how headlines work! If you aren’t eliciting an audible groan from your reader, you simply aren’t doing your job!
Lucky for them, I’ve got a metric buttload of experience writing terrible headlines, and I’m always willing to help a co-worker in need – whether they’re humble enough to ask for it or not! As such, I went back through this year’s reviews and selected 30 review headlines to analyze and improve. Let the edification begin!
Actual Headline: A Bit Too Elementary, My Dear Pikachu
Awesome Headline: More Like “Defective Pikachu”
Ben Reeves turned in an admirable headline for his Detective Pikachu review, opting for a Sherlock Holmes reference to convey that the game is too simple for its own good. Unfortunately, Holmes never actually said that line, so Reeves’ headline is wildly misleading, and may even qualify as Fake News®! Way to wage a war on the truth, Reeves – I guess we have to change the name of the magazine to Game Misinformer now. Anyway, my headline gets straight to the point while also busting out a sophisticated pun. Oh, it’s also not a dirty lie. Case closed!
God Of War
Actual Headline: Reaching A Higher Summit
Awesome Headline: Kratos Is Still Greatos – BOYYYYYY!
Another decent try, Joe’s thoughtful God of War headline alludes to the fact that Santa Monica Studio successfully created a new and more meaningful take on the classic God of War franchise, while evoking the imagery of Kratos climbing up to wherever the hell gods live so he can slaughter them all again. That’s pretty good – but way too subtle for all the old-school God of War fans who just want to rip dudes’ heads off and knock over ceramic ware while doing the nasty. There’s no ambiguity in my headline, which not only rhymes, but also references the game’s biggest meme – and as we all know, a meme is worth a thousand original ideas!
Actual Headline: Dripping With Unrealized Potential
Awesome Headline: The “y” Was A Big Tip-Off, TBH
Once again, Joe’s headline is respectable, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising seeing as he’s the reviews editor. “Dripping With Unrealized Potential” works on its own as a saying and accurately encapsulates Vampyr’s botched ambitions. However, it’s also a clever reference to the fact that vampires bite people, and then their blood drips out. Well, maybe “clever” is overselling it, but still a solid, multilayered headline.
My headline is more straightforward, and says what everyone was thinking – there’s no way a vampire game that purposely misspells “vampire” was going to be as good as fans hoped it would be. Oh well, at least they don’t sparkle!
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Actual Headline: Fighting For Glory
Awesome Headline: So Good You’ll O.D., See?
I’d love to give Joe crap for his boring-ass A.C. Odyssey headline, but mine’s a horrendous dud too. However, it’s not my fault! Given the series’ dubious track record, all of my A.C. headline puns have been honed to play off the double asses in “Assassin.” I’m like one of those Galapagos Islands birds that’s so specialized it can’t survive on the mainland anymore! That must be what happened to Joe here, too.
Actual Headline: Spinning An Amazing Web
Awesome Headline: Our Spidey Sense Isn’t The Only Thing That’s Tingling!
Spider-Man turned out to be a great game, and Reiner’s headline captures that on multiple levels. The “spinning a web” reference speaks to the game’s quality narrative and, ya know, Spider-Man, while the “Amazing” is both an indicator of quality and a reference to – you guessed it – Spider-Man again! We get it, Reiner! Spider-Man is great!
My headline conveys the same information and contains a Spider-Man reference as well – but it also serves as a titillating double entendre! It wasn’t an easy one to brainstorm either; I tried for 20 minutes to make the same joke about webbing, but there’s just no classy way to pull it off…
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze For Switch
Actual Headline: Don’t Miss It This Time
Awesome Headline: Not Even Global Warming Can Stop This Great Ape
Well, you certainly can’t accuse Kyle of being too subtle. I mean, I get that Tropical Freeze was originally overlooked and that people shouldn’t miss it this time, but you shouldn’t LITERALLY SAY THAT as your headline. Hopefully Kyle learns a thing or two from my replacement, which plays off another overlooked aspect of the game – that its title is clearly another brazen political message from Nintendo about the dangers of climate change. Not only does my headline convey that DKC is a great game via a hilarious and informative monkey pun, it also amplifies Nintendo’s environmental message to HELP SAVE THE WORLD. Time to step your game up, Kyle!
Actual Headline: Prickly Platforming
Awesome Headline: Fe-get It
This actually is an improvement for Kyle, though given how low he set the bar with the last entry, that’s not saying much. To his credit, Kyle’s headline has some alliteration going on, and also tells you that it’s a platformer. The only problem? It doesn’t actually tell you if it’s good or bad – just prickly. My headline doesn’t just clue you in to the game’s quality, it tells you straight-up not to play it, which is the point of all reviews. In fact, mine doesn’t even need actual body text – the headline says it all!
Sea Of Thieves
Actual Headline: Fun In A Shallow Pool
Awesome Headline: Hello, 911? I’d Like To Report A Robbery: Rare Just Stole $60 From Me
Here’s another swing-and-a-miss from Kyle. The “Shallow Pool” reference in his headline is a solid, aquatic-themed way of conveying Sea of Thieves’ limitations, but unfortunately, Kyle doesn’t build on it with a reference to peeing or any other bodily excrements. Even worse, he seems to have erroneously included the word “fun” instead! Maybe he meant “funk?” Either way, it’s quite the embarrassing mistake that somehow made it all the way to print.
My headline makes no such mistake, and also helpfully provides a script for anyone who somehow buys it anyway – you should’ve listened to me in the first place, but you’re welcome regardless!
[Warning: Do not actually call 911 to request a refund for Sea of Thieves. They are not pirate fans.]
Actual Headline: Teach Your Friends To Kill Each Other (WTF, Kyle?)
Awesome Headline: Better Than Krull…Probably?
I don’t even know what Kyle was going for with his amicicidal headline. Then again, I don’t know what I was thinking either – Crawl kind of sounds like Krull, so…good enough? Let’s just move on.
Actual Headline: If You Give A Mouse A Mission
Awesome Headline: Change The “O” To An “I” And That’s What This Game Is
Dammit Kyle, you’re not even trying anymore! Kyle’s reference to the beloved children’s book is even more clumsy and out of place than it was in Air Force One. And again, it doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the game! My review headline, on the other hand, turns my objective assessment into a fun little puzzle game for readers to figure out – even more fun than playing Moss!
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King
Actual Headline: A Love Letter To The Past
Awesome Headline: Psst…Wake Up And Play This Game
Moving on from Kyle’s headline embarrassments, clearly Shea isn’t doing much better. First of all, one glimpse at a screenshot for Blossom Tales will tell you that it’s a “love letter to the past,” so the headline basically isn’t saying anything the reader doesn’t already know. But more importantly, can we just stop calling things love letters already? Has anyone actually written a love letter in the past hundred years? People don’t write even normal, non-horny letters anymore! Most gamers nowadays probably won’t even get the reference – Shea should’ve gone with a headline like “A Sext To The Past,” and thrown in some eggplant emojis or something. God, I hate millennials.
Anywho, my headline plays off the “Sleeping King” subtitle to let readers know they should pay attention to this game, but without jolting them awake because that’s not good for the body. It’s informative and polite!
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee
Actual Headline: A Classic Evolved
Awesome Headline: For Sale: Nostalgia
Dammit, Shea, stop stating the obvious! Of course it’s a classic evolved – our readers have eyes! One look tells you it’s not the vomit pool of pixels that the first-gen Pokémon games were. My headline cuts through all the crap and labels these games as what they are: pure nostalgia cash grabs. Quit selling fans the same damn Pokémon games, Nintendo! Now let’s see how Shea is going to screw up his next headline.
The Swords Of Ditto
Actual Headline: Rise, Fall, And Repeat
Awesome Headline: Like That Clay Pot Sex Scene?
What the hell? That title is WAY too clever for Shea – Cork must’ve helped him out or something. Anyway, Shea’s headline cleverly plays off the fact that players continually die and respawn into Swords of Ditto’s world, while suggesting that it’s a little too repetitive for its own good. I’m not sure what that has to do with shampoo directions, but all in all it works.
My headline, on the other hand, goes all in on “Ditto” being a famous line from the 1990 supernatural romance hit, Ghost. Specifically, the headline references one the film’s most iconic scene, where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore incorporate a pottery wheel into their love-making. The scene is certainly steamy, which might suggest a high score, but they also ruined a perfectly good pot in the process, so that averages out to 7.25. I guess. Can we just pretend this entry never happened?
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine
Actual Headline: A Soulful Journey Through America
Awesome Headline: Move Over, Jesus!
Elise’s headline for Where The Water Tastes Like Wine gets across the basic premise of this narrative-focused indie game, and suggests it’s a journey worth taking. However, it doesn’t really scream “9 out of 10,” which is the score she gave the game. That’s a big deal! My incredibly concise headline gets that message across loud and clear, while also playing up the whole water/wine angle. When it comes to headline competitions, you can’t beat biblical!
The Room: Old Sins
Actual Headline: Exploring Every Old Nook And Cranny
Awesome Headline: I’m Not Even Looking For The Exit Cuz I’m Having So Much Fun In Here!
Reeves can come up with some pretty bonkers headlines, but I’m not a fan of this one. Mainly it’s because I’ve never liked the term “nook and cranny” – it sounds like something an old British baker would say. Even worse, Reeves’ headline as a whole sounds like something you’d DO to an old British baker. It’s just a gross, albeit honorable, attempt at conveying that you spend a lot of time in the game searching rooms for puzzle elements.
My headline plays off the same mechanics and, while wordy, does a much clearer job of telling you that it’s a good thing. Now, can someone lend me one of those MIB memory erasers? I’ve got some mental images of Mary Berry in my head that I would desperately like to forget…
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Actual Headline: A Noble Quest In Need Of Divine Intervention
Awesome Headline: King-Dumb, C’mon – Deliver Me From This Game!
Here’s proof that even I’m capable of flubbing a headline – or rather, that I’m capable of improving upon perfection! My original headline plays off of Kingdom Come’s religious themes to convey that, while it has some great moments, the overall experience suffers from inexcusable bugs and design issues. However, my replacement headline is just objectively better thanks to not one, but THREE world-class puns. Talk about the holy trinity!
Actual Headline: A Worthy Investment For Expert Executioners
Awesome Headline: It’s A Hit, Man!
Here’s another one of my own headlines that could’ve been better. Sure, it gets across that the demanding learning curve is worth it, and it contains a little bit of alliteration on the assassin theme – but that’s no excuse for missing such an obvious Hitman pun. Shame on me! On the bright side, at least the game is good enough to put the Sh-tman pun to rest. R.I.P. Sh-tman!
Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4
Actual Headline: Treyarch’s Gambit Yields Big Rewards
Awesome Headline: Black Oops, They Actually Made A Good Game This Year!
Tack turned in a serviceable headline for his BLOPS 4 review, calling out that the developer’s risky decision to forgo a story campaign for a new battle-royale mode really paid off. Unfortunately, it contains a big fat goose egg for puns. My ingeniously playful headline doesn’t just let readers know that the game is good – it speaks directly to the haters out there who believe that a good Call of Duty game could only be the product of a mistake. I don’t share that opinion, mind you – I just go where the puns lead me.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Actual Headline: A Champion Welcoming All Challengers
Awesome Headline: No One’s Super Sayin’ “Buu” To This Game – It’s Krillin the Competition! Trunks!
Poor Suriel didn’t stand a chance in this head-to-headline competition (GET IT?!). His headline points out that, despite the name, license, and general concept, Dragon Ball FighterZ is somehow good – and newcomer-friendly to boot. My headline, in contrast, attacks with a flurry of killer Dragon Ball puns that I only know because of one of my other ill-conceived columns. Granted, the Trunks reference isn’t my best work, but it’s a funny enough name to stand on its own.
Actual Headline: Taking The High Road
Awesome Headline: Well Owlboy Damned, This Game Is Great!
Suriel’s Owlboy headline certainly seems fine – as long as you don’t actually think about it for more than five seconds. If you do, you’ll realize that “taking the high road” isn’t actually an indicator of quality – it merely means not being a jerk. And most of the time people who claim to take the high road are only doing it to be condescending to whatever low-roader they’re lording it over, which is basically just being a jerk in a different way. What the hell is that headline even supposed to mean? Wait a minute – did Suriel mean “high road” literally, because you play as a flying bird creature?! Talk about high alright!
Regardless, I went with another hilarious pun that conveys the surprise and elation of how great the game is – and I didn’t even need to stoop to making a hooter joke! I think we all know “who” won this round. I can do this all day, guys!
Actual Headline: More Rough Than Diamond
Awesome Headline: In Need Of A Tetanus Shot. In The Butt.
Javy’s headline for Rust is just confusing. I mean, I get that it’s a play on “diamond in the rough,” obviously, but if it’s more “rough” than “diamond,” then isn’t it just bad? Actually, now that I think about it, isn’t it always more rough than diamond? It’s not like you’re ever going to have a giant-ass diamond that’s bigger than whatever crap it’s surrounded by.
My headline builds on what Javy should’ve used as his foundation – the word “rust.” And unlike Javy’s headline, there’s no philosophical confusion about how bad it is – and even if there is, the “In The Butt” certainly clears things up.
Civilization VI: Rise And Fall
Actual Headline: Shining A Polished Gem
Awesome Headline: Your Heartbeat Will Rise When You Fall In Love With Civ VI All Over Again
Here’s another confusing play on words, this time courtesy of Ben Reeves: You can’t shine something that’s already polished! It’s already shiny! What kind of monster goes around shining already-shiny gems? He’s only got four words in his headline, and two of them are redundant!
My replacement is admittedly wordy, but it offer a one-two “pun”ch on the name of the expansion, let’s you know it’s great, and establishes that the game was already a hit to begin with. You know, in case you live in a cave and don’t know what Civilization is – hey, that was its own organic play on words too! I couldn’t stop being clever even if I wanted to. Which I do! Seriously, this is becoming a real problem!
Super Mario Party
Actual Headline: Same Party, New Decorations
Awesome Headline: Spooper More-io Potty
Oh look, another blown headline from Shea. In this case the play on party decorations is fine and all, but it doesn’t convey that Mario Party is a horrendous piece of crap. In fact, you might even read that and come away thinking the game is alright! That just won’t do!
My headline has no such ambiguity about the quality – though I loaded in so many toilet-themed puns that it’s kind of unintelligible. Oh well, you can’t let legibility shut down a pun party!
Red Dead Redemption II
Actual Headline: An Open-World Western For The Ages
Awesome Headline: Rad Dude Re-daaaaaaamn!-ption, TOO GOOD!
What, you thought I was joking? I would never joke about a pun party! Look, if you want to be a good writer, you’ve got to learn how to cram as many puns into a single sentence as possible. Don’t worry if it makes sense – your readers will be laughing too hard to care!
Actual Headline: A Dazzling Reimagining
Awesome Headline: Yes, That Is An “I” Piece In Our Pants, But We’re Happy Playing The Game Too!
Wow, talk about a rare miss from Cork – “A Dazzling Reimagining” is about as blah as it gets! Granted, my reworking of the banana pants joke is a bit clumsy, but I think it gets all the relevant information across, so I’m giving myself a pass. I can do that, you know.
Far Cry 5
Actual Headline: Big Sigh Country
Awesome Headline: More Like Fart, Cry
Ahh, now here’s a classic Jeff Cork headline – that’s some A+ punnery that’s both relevant to the setting of the game, and also conveys its inferior quality. In fact, it’s almost good enough to forgive the fact that he overlooked an easy fart joke. Always go for the fart joke!
Fear Effect Sedna
Actual Headline: Dead On Revival
Awesome Headline: Fart Effect, Said “Nah”
See what I’m talking about? A fart pun trumps every other pun! Always!
Way Of The Passive Fist
Actual Headline: Straying From The Path
Awesome Headline: Wiff Of The Passing Fart
I’m really beginning to feel like people aren’t taking me seriously when I say that fart jokes are 100-percent ALWAYS THE ANSWER.
Actual Headline: An Epic Epoch
Awesome Headline: Fart – Not!
It even works for good games too! You can’t beat it!
Detroit: Become Human
Actual Headline: An Intriguing, But Flawed, Future
Awesome Headline: http://bit.ly/2rhZq6I
For whatever reason, Joe still remains resistant to us using URLs as headlines for some reason. Come on, Joe, it’s the 21st century! If any game deserves an avant-garde insult headline, it’s this one!
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30 Stupidly Punny Review Headlines For 2018