Check out some of these strange video games in this article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. Has anybody tried any of these?
The video game industry has a rich past filled with random weirdness. Arguably the most popular arcade game in history featured an anthropomorphic yellow hockey puck that ate dots and fruit while running away from ghosts with names like Blinky and Clyde.
But every once in a while, a video game comes along that’s so over-the-top strange that one has to assume that every person on the development team was on hallucinogens from sunup to sundown. This is a tribute to those products: the Nine Most Bizarre Video Games of All Time.
With so many trippy games to choose from, we focused on titles that were actually kind of fun to play. We also avoided licensed titles, such as Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball or Kool-Aid Man, which hopefully will get their own Top Nine list some day.
Argue our choices or make your own suggestions in the SFGate.com version of this story.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee (1997; PlayStation): Oddworld developer Lorne Lanning gets a lifetime achievement award for developing strange games. In this mashup of “The Muppet Show” and “Soylent Green,” Abe is an alien slave called a Mudoken, who discovers his meat-packing factory is developing Mudoken Pops! and leads a revolt. It only gets weirder from there. (Peter Hartlaub)
Alien Hominid (2004; Gamecube, PlayStation 2): This skewed take on Contra, from the alien’s point of view, began as an online Flash game and looks like a notebook doodle come to life. Perfectly charming, until the cute little alien – like Pac-Man, if he sprouted arms and legs – goes and bites someone’s head off. Castle Crashers, the follow-up on Xbox Live Arcade, comes close to deranged fun. (Erick Wong)
Frog Bog (1982; Intellivision): The first console games were reasonably straight-forward: two tanks shooting each other, two cowboys shooting each other, two spaceships shooting each other. … This stoner favorite featured pink and white frogs on a lily pad, jumping in the air and using their tongues to snag moths and fireflies. A simpler version also appeared on the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. (P.H.)
Rez (2002; for PS2): Imagine an abstract version of Tron on acid, where the inside of a sentient computer is a disorienting blend of wire frame and flat shaded visuals set to a pulsating mix of trance music. Yeah, it’s basically Space Harrier, but anything more complex and our minds would melt. (E.W.)
Grim Fandango (1998; PC): If Lorne Lanning is the Dr. Dre of delightfully bizarre game developers, then Tim Schafer is the Snoop Dogg. Schafer is also making the upcoming heavy metal-themed action game Brütal Legend. But Grim Fandango is his weirdest game – a strange mix of Aztec art, those old Choose Your Own Adventure books and “Casablanca.” (P.H.)
BurgerTime (1982; arcade): Either you’re walking over parts of a giant hamburger while anthropomorphized hot dogs, eggs and pickles chase you, or the burger’s a normal size while you’re the one who’s shrunken – which still doesn’t explain why some foodstuffs are alive and some aren’t. Or why they’re inconsistent in scale. Or why we’re thinking so hard about this. (E.W.)
Katamari Damacy (2004; PS2): Noby Noby Boy, the follow-up from creator Keita Takahasi, was a twisted contender for this list. But there’s simple genius in the original Katamari, in which rolling up a ball of junk that went from catching smaller items (erasers, mice, traffic cones) to bigger ones (cows, trees, skyscrapers) triggered some previously undiscovered pack-rat portion of the brain. (E.W.)
Elite Beat Agents (2006; Nintendo DS): You gotta believe that most music games will have a wacky premise. But in a tough situation, we could use a male cheerleading squad offering encouragement through their choreographed dance routines. And it’s because you really do want those aliens to go away, or that father to come back from the dead, that you’ll keep tapping along to the rhythm. (E.W.)
Seaman (1999; Dreamcast): This creepy-cool game featured a larva-like creature that eventually grew a face and would respond to a player’s efforts to feed and care for him by hurling insults at his “master.” Players could communicate with the creature – the narration was by Leonard Nimoy – using the Dreamcast microphone. When you eventually set the creature free into a nature preserve, it was a relief to be rid of him. (P.H.)