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I was really upset when The Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) cancelled Mystery Science Theater 3000. I had only discovered the show in 1997, but in a few short years it had already made an imprint on me. When the MST3k writers and performers took their talk-over-a-bad-movie formula to the internet with RiffTrax, I followed. In many ways, the format of putting out audio tracks for popular, modern movies worked even better. But RiffTrax really came into its own when it began acquiring the rights to movies that it could distribute itself. And that is a strength it carries over into RiffTrax: The Game.
Developer Wide Right Interactive understood what it was doing when it originally released What The Dub. That game had players watching public domain clips and then tasked players with filling in blanks in the audio with funny lines. A text-to-speech bot would then bring the players’ jokes to life. It’s a concept that immediately brings MST3k to mind. But for an actual game, it’s one that works better with RiffTrax.
And so that’s what WideRight made with RiffTrax: The Game. This game builds on the concepts of What The Dub in all the right ways. It has more clips — many of which come from RiffTrax’s library. It also has tons of professional jokes that are universally hilarious. And that unlocks the potential for a new game mode that makes it so much easier for anyone to have fun.
A party game that makes everyone feel included
I’ve spent a handful of hours with RiffTrax: The Game so far, and it has always provided consistent fun. The Write A Riff mode feels robust thanks to the thousands of clips included with the basic game. And Wide Right has done a great job of picking some of the weirdest segments from the RiffTrax movies to fuel player creativity.
There is something addictive about trying to make your friends laugh, and RiffTrax: The Game captures that. Even when I whiff, and that happens often, you move on quickly. And you get another chance to do something funny.
I think this setup empowers people to unleash their best jokes, but the game doesn’t hold your feet to the comedy fire. If you’re struggling but still want to participate, you can fire off a joke from one of the RiffTrax writers and stars. Before playing the game, I wasn’t sure if that would work. But these seasoned bad-movie-watching veterans almost always get the biggest laughs.
Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy perform all the riffs themselves, and their delivery really adds a ton to the experience. This is why the Pick A Riff mode is just as fun and viable as Write A Riff. In this mode, players get dealt a hand of random jokes. You can then play them over a clip however you want. This turns RiffTrax into something akin to Cards Against Humanity, and like that game, it can make anyone feel funny.
I will always have RiffTrax installed for my livestreams
RiffTrax also includes all the functionality you want as a livestreamer. You can enable your community to vote for their favorite jokes directly in chat. That means even if not everyone can play along, they can still participate. Also, this game is such a fun change of pace from anything else you might be playing. Because of that, I plan to keep it at the ready on my drive to open or close streams.
But don’t think you can only get fun from this game if you’re a streamer. It totally works if you just throw it up on the TV when you have friends over. And like Jackbox or What The Dub, you control everything from a phone. So the barrier to entry is miniscule.
A good game that should keep getting better
This is exactly what I wanted from an interactive RiffTrax experience. It’s excellent when a familiar clip comes up — I got one from Shake Hands With Danger last night.
It’s exciting to get to riff these movies myself. I also love hearing the brand new jokes from Mike, Bill, and Kevin. And at $10, it’s some of the most fun you can have with a group of people.
And for as good as it is now, it should keep getting even better as Wide Right and RiffTrax release updates with more clips and jokes. I’m going to check in regularly, but I’ll be back on day one whenever it gets new content.
RiffTrax: The Game is available now for $10 on consoles and PC. Wide Right Interactive provided GamesBeat with a review code for the purpose of this review.