Live-action video started to turn up in games around the early '90s, introducing gamers to countless actors who weren't good enough to perform at their local renaissance fair. Harvester was one of the first to use those live-action graphics to depict ultra gory scenes in what seemed like almost every frame.
You play Steve Mason, a man with amnesia who wakes up in a small town called Harvest who has to figure out what he's doing there and what's behind the town's mysterious Order of the Harvest Moon. In order to get to those two truths, he'll have to wade up to his balls in a river of blood, sinue and baby guts.
The game got slapped with an M rating before it even hit the shelves and caused quite a stir among game activists when a trailer appeared at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show. Bans quickly followed across much of the video game-playing world.
So How Bad Was It?
The game promotes equality by giving every character an equal chance of being tortured, stabbed, shot, disemboweled and chopped up into little bite-sized pieces, which isn't an abstract description since the game also featured cannibalism.
There was violence against men, women, children, old people, young people, fat people, thin people, authority figures, teachers, children--even babies.
Here's what happened when you got shot ...
Here's what happened when you got stabbed ...
And here's what happened when you got your head bitten off at the neck by a man-eating plant ...
Probably one of the most offensive games of all time was on one of the least technologically advanced video game systems of all time, proving that technological limitations can't stop someone from pushing the envelope way, way too far. After all, how many rape-based games are out for the Xbox 360?
The game was created by Mystique, a company that manufactured pornographic video game titles for the Atari 2600. The company obviously didn't do very well since they went under after making only three games, and we're assuming the 4-bit pornography market wasn't fiercely competitive.
So How Bad Was It?
The player took control of a naked General George Custer, who had to cross a battlefield of falling arrows in order to rape a Native American woman tied to a tree.
We're not quite sure who we'd like to talk to most: The guy who came up with the idea, or the guy whose job it was to animate General Custer's flapping boner as he walked.
Even the most violent video games have some kind of purpose for the gore. It heightens the feeling of danger in the game or drives the story and, Texas Chainsaw Massacre aside, it's usually done in the name of defeating evil. Chiller, on the other hand, lets you torture people for no apparent reason other than you have a handful of quarters and very poor parental supervision.
So How Bad Was It?
This arcade game was created by the people who brought you the arcade version of Death Race, and was played with a light gun. Basically you would shoot at innocent people who were already bound and gagged on various torture devices. That was it, your goal was to bloody them up as much as possible. For points.
In this game, you're not just evil. You're evil's red-headed stepchild. You can shoot at men, women, decapitated heads, lifeless arms and limbs, a nun and the occasional monster. You can mash someone's head in an apple press, feed someone to an alligator and throw their nerve-twitching body parts in a river of hot lava.
Image courtesy of Ironic Consumer.
And if you get through all the levels, you play a bonus slot machine level for a chance at a free game. So not only does it weaken your moral fiber and squeamishness on inflicting pain in others, it also teaches you the wonders and joy of casino gambling.
Before you go wishing for the good old days, take a look back at The 6 Most Ill-Conceived Video Game Accessories Ever or The 10 Most Irritatingly Impossible Old-School Video Games. For a fly on the wall look at the drug addled minds that came up with these ideas, watch Video Game Pitch Meeting (1979).