Some games are great fun for the whole family. You can play them in front of Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Aunt Gladys, and nobody would bat an eye. Super Mario may engage in level after level of the first-degree koopacide, but fortunately, Nintendo had the good sense to keep the mayhem safe and sanitary. Even fighting games are pretty safe to play in front of any crowd.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Stick of Truth
If you know anything about South Park, you already know why video games couldn't possibly be played around parents, except maybe the absolute most open-minded among them. Even then, they're likely to wince at least a few times over Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, RPGs that may actually be ruder than the show at times.
Stick, for example, features a scene where your character, the New Kid, gets shrunk down to the size of a mouse. This lets you enter your parent's bedroom for a quest, except they're actively ... enjoying each other. The game censors absolutely nothing, meaning you hear every moan and scream of ecstasy from your folks. Worse, during a boss battle, your father's dangly bits come flying right in your face, and once again you see absolutely everything.
Elsewhere in the games, you fight a giant mutant fetus, pedophiliac Catholic priests, and eight-year-olds dressed like Hooters girls. You enter a locked lair using the password "f**k you Mom," summon Jesus to mow down your opponents with a machine gun and watch the New Kid's parents get drunk and high while domestically abusing each other. That's to say nothing about the New Kid himself, who has the power of epic farts. That's right — you can harness gnarly, nasty gas attacks to destroy your enemies, and even control time. Save these games for when Mom and Dad are at the store.
My Name Is Mayo
My Name Is Mayo might be the single most pointless "game" of all time. You have one goal: to open a jar of mayonnaise. You do so by clicking on the jar, over and over again. That is literally the entire game, which is honestly more of a surreal, absurdist art statement than anything else.
The jar, for reasons beyond understanding, wears various outfits throughout your quest to click it open. Sometimes it wears a bra and panties. Other times, it wears a pink Lyft mustache. Sometimes it rocks a guitar, and yet still other times it's stuck inside an armpit. Also, like any game these days, there are achievements to be earned in Mayo. None are too complex, mainly because every single one is "click the jar of mayo X number of times." It never varies beyond that one goal.
If you're patient enough and can click the jar 10,000 times, you will successfully open it, beat this very random game, and your life will finally have meaning. Meanwhile, if your parents see you play this long enough to win, they'll have but one question: "Do you need us to find you something to do?"
Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem was never a family-friendly franchise — when your formula is "Doom plus fart jokes and hot girls," it's kinda hard to be. But Duke Nukem Forever turned that formula up to 11, to the point where it was almost uncomfortable, even to many of his fans.
The plot, as it were, is about aliens stealing every hot girl on Earth, and Mr. Nukem needing to get them back. The problem is that the world had changed a lot between Forever and the last Nukem game, which came out 15 years prior. Now, lazy "sexy girl" jokes are mostly passe, and Nukem's gags aren't even his. Take this scene, where he's macking on all the gorgeous women in his apartment — everything he says is something you should only try on a woman if your goal is to go home alone.
The actual gameplay isn't any less embarrassing, as you literally start the game by peeing. It's then revealed Duke is paying a Duke Nukem game as two girls are, well, beneath him. You'd do better to play Doom around your folks.
Catherine's box art alone (a shapely woman removing her top, a guy trapped between her breasts, and sheep, for some reason) is enough to make parents wonder what exactly you're playing. Then you actually start the game and it gets more awkward, as you then need to explain the story.
In short, you're a guy engaged to a proper woman named Katherine. A wild woman named Catherine (with a C!) shows up and seduces you — but then it turns out she isn't really a woman. Rather, she's a nightmare succubus who condemns cheating men to a deadly underworld tower, so only faithful men will survive. You must enter your own nightmare and scale the tower to escape, at which point you'll get to choose human Katherine or demon Catherine. Depending on your actions in the game, you could marry one or the other, wind up with neither, choose neither, and instead become a space traveler, or overthrow the ruler of the Underworld and rule it alongside demon Catherine. "Beat Bowser, save the princess" this is not.
If your parents can actually stick around and watch the game, they'll see it's not nearly as sexual as the box art makes it seem. It's much more of a horror game than anything else, as Catherine is basically Freddy Krueger with curves. But good luck getting them to really understand it.
A remaster with a whole new character and plotline, Catherine: Full Body will haunt the PlayStation 4 on Sep. 3, 2019. Don't tell your parents you're thinking of checking that out, either.
Butts are the game's real name, and it is indeed all about butts. Good luck getting your folks to play any more games with you after this one.
You don't play Butts so much as experience it. It's a virtual reality game where you slip on the VR headset and, for a little over two minutes, are subject to a wacky blue guy with a dadbod gut and a giant behind dancing around. He comes across a bad red guy, cheers him up with more butt-dancing, then the two fart confetti and hug. The end. Sorry for the spoilers.
Butts' Steam page, cheekily enough, describes the game as "an animated VR short about love, trust, and learning what it means to be truly free." That's certainly one way to say "cartoon butts." The above video is the entire game, but if you've got a VR rig and want to experience Butts the way the butthead who designed it intended you to, it's only 99 cents. That still might be enough for your dad to take you aside and lecture you about the value of a dollar, however.
Who's Your Daddy?
If you really want to make your parents uncomfortable with a game, show them Who's Your Daddy? a game about a baby trying to kill itself. What parent doesn't love being reminded of their worst nightmare?
In Daddy, you can play as the baby, where your goal is to wander your spacious home and find the perfect way to die. This involves evading your father and trying to play various deadly games, like drinking cleaning products, putting forks in light sockets, drowning in the tub, and chugging pills. Die and you "win." Or, you can play as the baby's father, with the goal now being to make sure your child doesn't die horribly. You can do so by locking cabinets, covering up power outlets, and completing household chores that will give you superpowers like invisibility and seeing through walls. Eventually, your baby gives up, decides it's easier just to live, and you win the game.
Whichever route you take, good luck getting your parents on board, especially if you play as the father and lose. You've likely given them serious reservations about your abilities as a real-life parent.
As delicious as potatoes are, there's very little "thrilling" about them. Then there's Potato Thriller, a horror game about the search for a serial killer called the Potato Man. He's not called that because he leaves a potato next to his victims' bodies–he is literally a potato, he deep-fries his victims, and potential victims include anthropomorphic hot dogs, walking noses, and living lemons. It's basically Resident Evil on mushrooms.
In the game, you have to both track down the Potato Man and escape his wrath, and the game's setup can be legitimately scary. The house you're in is dark, random noises and jump-scares increase the tension, and the Potato Man himself is just plain unsettling. He looks like Mr. Potato Head from Toy Story, but if Sid owned him instead of Andy. Plus, he talks in a computerized monotone that suggests Stephen Hawking has gone rogue. It's the audio equivalent of a ransom letter made out of newspaper clippings, and it's quite unnerving. Your parents won't like this game. And if they do...run.
Soda Drinker Pro
If you enjoy soda so much that you'd play an entire game about drinking the stuff, then perhaps Soda Drinker Pro is for you. Just do everyone a favor and not tell anyone.
In Pro, you drink soda. That's basically it. The hook is all the weird, surreal, possibly-drug-induced places you get your glug on. You can drink your soda at the beach, in space, inside a mouth, among some giant mushrooms, inside many scenes straight out of a surrealistic art installation, in the desert, and in front of a bearded guy dressed like a soda, among many other baffling places. You move from one area to the next once you've finished a soda, and when every area has been visited, you win. Your parents, who likely tell you at least once a day to stop drinking so much soda, will be thrilled to see you've made it a part of your hobby.
You might be able to regain their favor with Pro's trippy game-within-a-game, Vivian Clark, a series of super-weird, but super-fun mini-games. Whether you're side-scrolling and collecting items, traversing the first-person dungeon, battling enemies that look like Alice In Wonderland outtakes, or simply wandering around as what appears to be a drop of soda, Clark works to silence anyone watching you play a soda-drinking simulator and wondering why you're even bothering.
Far from a video game adaptation of the Saturday Night Fever sequel nobody liked, Stayin' Alive is yet another opportunity to remind your parents about the impending deaths of loved ones. With Who's Your Daddy, it was the death of their child. With Stayin' Alive, they get to ponder their own mortality.
In Alive, you play as one of two teams: old people who want nothing more than to die or nurses who want them to live. If you play as Team Wanna-Die, you run around (or rather, wheelchair around) and collect items you can MacGyver into lethal tools. Turn a toothbrush into a razor, a lighter into an explosive, or just plain set yourself on fire. Each death nabs your team a point. Meanwhile, Team Not-Your-Time-Yet races to craft cure for their patients' self-inflicted ailments. For each old person they keep from dying, by safely wheeling them to a sedation unit, the nurses earn a point. Once the time expires, a winner is declared based on how many old people died, unless they all die or are all saved. It's the most fatalistic game of tag ever.
If you think your folks can handle old people happily burning to death with chill and good humor, go ahead and play this in front of them. If you have any doubt, though, just play Skyrim instead.
Henry the Hamster Handler
Hamsters are pretty adorable and lovable. Henry the Hamster Handler, on the other hand, isn't, and it certainly won't do anything to endear your parents to your favorite pastime.
The titular Henry is a professional hamster handler, and he only has one hand for some reason. The hamsters have broken loose and it's your job to find them before they die terribly. This is extra difficult because these hamsters are particularly brainless and walk right into every death trap they possibly can. You, rather than just scooping them up and throwing them in a cage like a normal hamster handler, push various buttons and manipulate machines so the hamsters march themselves to safety. Imagine Lemmings, but with more cuddly creatures getting squashed to a bloody pulp or burnt alive if you suck at your job.
Your parents might get a kick out of this VR game, but only if they hate hamsters. If they love the cute little buggers, or even if they just hate the idea of animals violently and needlessly biting it, firing up Henry will likely result in nothing but dirty looks.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
At first glance, Wolfenstein: The New Order seems like the kind of ultra-violent Nazi-killing fun that the whole family can enjoy. Sure, there are plenty of missions that come down to some blood-soaked neck-stabbing action, but at this point, that's the sort of thing that parents should be used to from video games.
That said, there's a problem here that comes from the pretty abrupt tonal shifts that often occur during cutscenes. Specifically, there's a part a few hours into the game where you're on a train. For a game that eventually has you battling Nazi spacemen on a moon base, things get pretty tense when you're confronted by Frau Engel. Describing her as "sinister" only scratches the surface and the scene where she tests you to see if you're Aryan enough by making you choose between seemingly random photographs, while also giving you the option of grabbing a gun and trying (and failing) to fight your way out of the situation is the kind of thing that'll have you leaning forward in your seat to see how it all works out. And then immediately after, B.J. heads back to his room and launches a shock-and-awe invasion to the bone zone.
That's the kind of gear shift into a sex scene that can make mom and dad's interest in this psychologically stressful game a little uncomfortable.
When you get right down to it, it's hard to believe that Midway's Revolution X is actually real. An arcade shooter set in a dystopian future where a fascist government called the New Order Nation has taken over and outlawed rock 'n' roll, the game calls upon you to save the world by rescuing the kidnapped dad-rock icons of Aerosmith by killing everyone you can with a gun that shoots CDs. If every word in that sentence made you feel more and more like you were having a stroke, don't worry. That's normal.
With its insanely ridiculous premise and downright relentless graphics, it's still a pretty fun game to pop a few quarters into if you run into it at an arcade somewhere. Just make sure that your dad's not around when you do. It's not the violence, and it's not even the sight of Playboy model Kerri Hoskins in a dominatrix costume as the game's end boss, Mistress Helga. The real question is, do you really want to run the risk of hearing your old man sing along to an arcade game's rendition of "Sweet Emotion" or, God forbid, "Dude Looks Like a Lady?" That's a sight (and sound) that could haunt you to your grave.