Something that my friends know all too well, but I haven’t really talked about publicly, is that I have this ironic appreciation of Family Guy. Since at least 2016, I have been entertaining/alienating my friends by speaking in a half-decent Peter Griffin voice.
Family Guy is this weird thing for me. It’s not actually all that funny; it’s a show that tells 100 jokes, and 1 of them might land. Family Guy is completely abhorrent in its depictions of minorities. Is Family Guy incredibly racist? Oh yeah. Is it very homophobic? Of course. Is it extremely misogynistic? Definitely. Is it wildly anti-Semitic? Absolutely. Is it terribly ableist? For sure. Is the episode where Quagmire’s dad transitions into a woman the most transphobic thing I’ve seen on film that wasn’t amateur footage of a literal hate crime? Oh brother, you better believe it! Now, to its credit, Family Guy does punch up as well. Though the punching up is like more of a light jab, whereas the punching down is more like curb-stomping a dead body while the recipients family is forced to watch.
Family Guy is a show that me and my pronouns should absolutely hate, and yet, I find myself strangely compelled to keep watching “Family Guy Funny Moments” compilations during my downtime. There is something about this show, with its lack of real humor in favor of nonsensical cutaways also mostly lacking in humor, that causes the Quality Needle to break and wrap all the way back around. This is not a good show by any stretch, but I also cannot bring myself to dismiss it.
The Family Guy PSP game, on the other hand, is a lot more cut and dry. Cut and dry in that it sucks. It starts out boring, then becomes unplayable pretty quick, just like that time I played Konami Wai Wai World on Famicom.
Family Guy is one of those multi-genre games that were all the rage at the time. Peter walks back and forth punching children and the elderly like he’s in a side-scrolling brawler. Brian has to sneak around and avoid being detected, since dogs need to sneak, I guess. And Stewie shoots and does precision platforming. There might be other characters to play as, but I don’t know, I could not actually finish this game. Yes, I’m admitting it here: I was not up to the Family Guy challenge. Peter’s second brawler phase proved to be way too unfairly difficult for me to want to continue. It an arduous task that takes way longer than it really should. It’s like looking at the back of the box of one of those RPGs that were all the rage in the PS2 era bragging about its 80+ hour play time.
This is a difficult game because 1) the controls are terrible. Jumping, sneaking, punching, all a bunch of shit that barely works. Stewie misses platforms with the greatest of ease and trying to pull off Peter’s 3-hit combos are a headache. 2) Enemies tend to move faster than you, and during Peter’s level, have no hitstun. A brawler where all of your attacks are unsafe on hit, as you can eat a whole combo despite landing a heavy attack beforehand. The enemies in Brian’s stealth levels are completely blind, or can see you through walls. The point I gave up was having to fight wave after wave of bumrushing children and cops, only for a man in a clam costume to completely kill me.
Somehow, this isn’t the only time I’ve had a hard time fighting a clam in a game. Remember that time I had to fight a giant clam in Suikoden 1?
As much as I would like to write this game off as mere mercenary work, I can’t. The parts where I have to play the game are heinously bad. However, there was a genuine effort to try and make this like a playable episode of Family Guy. It definitely nails the “100 jokes, 1 of them actually good” style of humor the show has; the very first joke you hear is Peter referencing the time Mr. Belvedere sat on his own balls. It has dated references, like the line, “I’m going to do you what life did to Dana Plato!” which is very Family Guy-esque. There is a significant lack of joking about rape or racism, which I will chalk down to a publisher decision, as I imagine 2k is a bit more strict about that than the Fox network. But it still tries to maintain Seth McFarlane’s…uh…humor. Yeah, sure, we’ll go with that.
The one actual good thing about the Family Guy game is that the cutaway gags are represented as mini-games. That’s an actual good idea! If you succeed at them, you get a bonus that will help you out in the main game, like refilling health, gaining meter for special moves, or turning Brian invisible for a time (this one doesn’t actually work though). And the mini-games are just as nonsensical as the show. Why is Brian having to dodge an angry Abe Lincoln? Why is Stewie imagining a construction worker shooting another with a nail gun? Why does Peter have to shit in a port-o-potty in a Simon Says manner? Who cares.
A shame. I never want to go into these hating a game and stopping early, but I have no choice here. Family Guy is a terrible game that can’t even be enjoyed ironically, like the show. This is not freakin’ sweet, Lois. I’m holding out hope that we’ll finally get a good digital representation of the Griffin family once all those Family Guy skins get added to Fortnite. It’ll be a weird, yet fitting crossover, like when Negan was in Tekken 7, or when they added Mario to Super Smash Brothers!