Observed by those who don’t play them, video games may all seem a little bit peculiar. Mushroom-eating plumbers stomping hammer-throwing turtles, ultra-violent military shooters whose protagonists bound across battlefields shouldering rocket launchers while hurling grenades and taking bullet after bullet to the chest, and of course the hordes of zombie titles that, like their lumbering stars, simply won’t die. For those accustomed to the rules of these digital worlds, though, this all makes perfect sense.
There are occasionally, however, a few titles that even the gaming elite would recoil from wearing an expression somewhere between “ermahgerd” and “turd sandwich”, and YouTube-based ZoominGames believes they’ve identified the cream of said crop. So let’s take a look at the channel’s “Top 5 Weird Games” one by one and see if they’re really they freaky affairs they’re made out to be. Oh, and did we mention that all five happen to have been made in Japan…?
- 5. Katamari Damacy (PlayStation 2, 2004)
Taking on the role of the son of The King of All Cosmos, the player is tasked with using a magical adhesive ball to roll enough game-world objects of increasing size (pets, trees, street lamps…) into an enormous ball in order to replace the stars that the alcoholic King accidentally destroyed during a drink-fuelled bender. While the setting and concept of Katamari Damacy (literally “clump soul” in Japanese) is undeniably bizarre, the gameplay itself is simple to pick up while being enough of a challenge to keep hardcore gamers interested. The game is also packed full of quirky humour, and boasts one of the best game soundtracks ever made. It may, in fact, even reside on this nerdy writer’s hard disk at this very moment. Weird? No doubt about it. Tons of fun? You’d better believe it.
- 4. Catherine (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360, 2011)
Regular readers and fans of anime horror will no doubt already be familiar with the twisted world of Catherine, a puzzle-based psychological adventure that tells the story of Vincent, a young man struggling with commitment issues and a possibly deranged secret girlfriend who somehow keeps finding her way into his bed at night. Plagued by nightmares of enormous block towers and anthropomorphic sheep scrambling to escape the clutches of demonic beasts taking the shape of everything from babies to bosoms, Vincent is faced with the same challenge every single time he drifts off to sleep: “If you don’t wanna die, you’ve gotta climb.” Genuinely unsettling, thoroughly entertaining, and most definitely very, very weird.
The Japanese version of the game was also so infuriatingly difficult that developer Atlus reigned the game in for Western releases–a fact that makes us feel a little better for including the title on our list of games we couldn’t quite finish.
- 3. Ka/Mister Mosquito (PlayStation 2, 2001)
Perhaps the tamest title to appear on the channel’s list was 2001’s Mister Mosquito, known in japan simply as 蚊 ka, which while giving players the chance to embark on an adventure to suck the blood of an entire Japanese family without being caught in the process still manages to look like something your little brother could play without too many eyebrows being raised. Well, apart from the levels that take place in the bathroom, anyway. Somewhat cutesy visuals aside, there has never been another game quite like Mister Mosquito, and getting to play as one of nature’s least-loved creations, buzzing around the room while stealthily lancing limbs, is not only refreshingly different but curiously good fun. Well worth checking out.
- 2. LSD Dream Emulator (PlayStation, 1998/PlayStation 3 digital re-release 2010)
Okay, now this is weird. Allegedly based on the dream journal of publisher Asmik Ace Entertainment’s Hiroko Nishikawa, the game’s levels are presented as individual dreams that the player must simply wander through and experience. There are no objectives, special moves or enemies as such, but there’s plenty to entertain, amuse and startle here, with awkwardly stacked objects like something from a modern art gallery, giant, leering faces that suddenly appear from nowhere, and some of the most psychedelic colour schemes we’ve ever seen. ZoominGames’ video voiceover jokes that perhaps the people behind this genuinely unsettling title may have actually been taking LSD during its creation in order to come up with such a twisted game. We on the other hand think they should just lay off the cheese before bedtime.
- 1. Seaman (Dreamcast, 1999)
Yes, that’s Seaman with an ‘a’ before anyone thinks the Japanese have completely lost the plot with this one. Fondly remembered as one of the Dreamcast’s most original and obscure games, Seaman is essentially a pet sim that puts players in charge of a bizarre fish-like creature that has a human face. The game shipped with a special microphone accessory that the player used to communicate directly with the sour-faced fish-man, often being scolded or insulted as a result, and still has quite the cult following both in its native Japan and abroad.
Some people point to the weirdness of games like Seaman as a reason for Sega’s ultimate downfall. We point to it as evidence that the Dreamcast was well ahead of its time, especially when figures like Leonard Nimoy (who provided narration for the game) were keen to get on board with such quirky projects.
We’ll leave you now with ZoominGames’ trailer in full. Be sure to us know if what you think of the channel’s ranking or if there any especially freaky gaming gems that you think the team here have overlooked. Happy gaming!