While in a charity shop earlier today my attention was drawn to a box of reduced books. The 1993 gaming joke book Mirthful Kombat was perched on top of the pile. Price? A measly 10p. I felt guilty spending so little in one transaction that I threw a few extra coins in the charity box out of common courtesy.

book

The cover features an illustration of the Mortal Kombat logo, despite the fact that there isn’t a single joke about the blood-soaked brawler. In 1993, MK was the talk of the town (well, playground) and so I assume the publishers thought it would help shift a few extra copies. Fellow fighter Street Fighter II gets a couple of mentions, but literally just that.

The majority of jokes are about the Super Mario Bros. with punchlines involving either plumbing or pasta. Puns based around Sonic the Hedgehog’s name – and the fact that he’s a hedgehog – are common as well, plus lots of GameBoy/Nintendo wordplay. Dozens of punchlines entailing the word ‘beep’ too, oddly.

joke

It all seems rather odd – think about how many classic games were released in the early ‘90s, yet the writer (John Byrne) chose to stick with just a handful of subjects and characters. All signs point to Byrne being a non-gamer, then.

While reading Mirthful Kombat from cover to cover during my lunch break I shared a few select cuts on Twitter. The fact that I considered these to be some of the better examples on offer speaks volumes about the overall quality. The illustrated jokes aren’t any better. In fact, they’re impossibly worse.

If, for some mad reason, you want a copy of Mirthful Kombat to call your own then you’re in luck – copies are available on the Amazon Marketplace, starting at 1p. That’s 9p less than I paid!

Be sure to read the user reviews. They’re more amusing than the book itself.