Memes can be found all over the Internet, but there’s no denying how lazy and tired they are. When a video game uses a meme, they substitute quality writing and humor for something that will likely be outdated by the time you read this list. The following games might have their merits, but they are ultimately ruined through sloppy use of these references.
The Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac pays homage to The Legend of Zelda’s top-down dungeons, and that would normally be OK. However, almost every weapon in the game is a reference to a meme of some sort. Some are especially dated — the laser-spewing power-up Shoop da Whoop dates back to 2007.
The folks behind Guacamelee! must have logged some serious hours on reddit. In the first level alone, dozens of image macros and video game references dot the landscape. This also seeps into the gameplay — certain battles and objects are copypasted from other titles. It is one thing to take inspiration from other games, but outright recreating them makes players crave the original source material instead.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
This one is technically cheating, as Scott Pilgrim’s source material prides itself on its “homages.” However, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game feels like a poser, throwing in a bunch of game mechanics and references without rhyme or reason. Put simply, its spritework cannot hide the fact that we’ve seen all of this before — many times.
Lab Zero’s Skullgirls was designed to be a love letter to fans of fast-paced 2D fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom and Guilty Gear. The trouble is, every single character in its roster is prone to dish out moves with roots from other games. It’s one thing to base an attack off of Wolverine’s “Ballistic Barrage” or Dio Brando’s steamroller — it’s another to have the player mimic it outright and even say the move out loud word for word.
By far the worst offender on the list, the script writers for Borderlands 2 basically copypasted the front page of 9gag and called it a day. As a result, the game doesn’t have a personality of its own, relying on the half-baked jokes of others. Full of memes old and new, the writing in Borderlands 2 isn’t just annoying — it’s downright embarrassing.