Most of us have become completely numb to the weirdness of video games. From the 1970s on, it's been like "So he's a yellow circle being chased by ghosts while he eats? Seems pretty straightforward." Yet there has always been an underground video game scene where the truly messed-up stuff lives. You'll find it in Japan.
That's where they have games like ...
#6. Takeshi's Challenge: The Game That Hates You
In 1986, the company that created Space Invaders teamed up with Japanese actor, director, comedian, poet and badass "Beat" Takeshi Kitano to create a game for the Nintendo Famicom based on his ideas. The only problem? Kitano hated video games, and apparently decided to use this opportunity to make sure everyone else did, too. Oh, and reportedly he was drunk during the single meeting where they came up with the game, so there's that.
If you ever select the second option, Kitano flips you off and the cartridge wipes itself.
Takeshi's Challenge takes place in a city where everyone hates you, but that's OK, because you hate them, too: The game gives you the ability to repeatedly punch everyone you come across into a bloody pulp, from defenseless women and old men to violent cops and yakuza. You even have the option to punch the password menu, which results in a "game over" screen before you even start the game.
The only way to make progress in Takeshi's Challenge is by quitting your job, divorcing your wife and getting drunk until you pass out, but they never give you any indication that this is your mission -- the game assumes that these are the things you'd normally do anyway. Once you've done all that, you get to the karaoke section, where you literally have to sing into the built-in microphone in the Famicom's second controller until your audience gives you three consecutive "greats," which can take over half an hour. Or, you can say "fuck that" and go spend your money on something else.
Judging from all the punching options, we're suggesting a good psychiatrist and a lawyer or two.
Anyway, once you've passed the karaoke challenge, everyone in the bar will start punching you. If you survive the beating (that is, kill everyone), an old man will hand you a blank piece of paper that needs to be exposed to sunlight for an hour if you want a map to appear. And then you have to do exactly that: choose the "expose to sunlight" option and wait exactly one hour without touching the controller. If you so much as press a button during that hour, you have to do the karaoke challenge again.
A testament to how much the game hates you: It's pretty much the only thing in the game you can't punch.
The map, it turns out, shows directions to a treasure island in the Pacific, so naturally you have to take hang gliding lessons and fly there yourself while UFOs shoot at you. Assuming you can master the sadistic hand gliding controls (it's extremely easy to crash into the ocean), reach the island, find the treasure and complete the game, you will be rewarded by ... a black screen with Kitano's face and the words "The end."
We take it back -- this may be the greatest thing in the history of video games.
That's it. However, if you wait five minutes on that screen, you unlock a special secret message from Takeshi Kitano himself:
An ending like that would have made Final Fantasy XIII worth playing.
That's from a fan translation of the game, by the way (it never made it to the U.S. for some reason), but yes, it's accurate.
#5. LSD: Dream Emulator
LSD: Dream Emulator is a 1998 Japan-only PlayStation game that simulates what it's like to be in a dream ... if you're in the habit of eating spicy food and watching Twin Peaks before bed every night, that is. Otherwise, how do you explain this shit:
Did we say spicy food? We meant mescaline.
Oh, now there's something totally normal. The fingerprint face sideways vagina man dream.
The game is based on a dream journal kept for over 10 years by the member of the developing team we are most afraid to meet. It consists of a massive open world like Grand Theft Auto, if GTA were filled with inexplicable things rendered in Mario 64-type graphics. There is no dialogue whatsoever -- the only actions you can perform are walking, looking and shitting your pants in terror.
"Probably shouldn't have chased that mescaline with opium."
Every time you start the game, you appear in a different location. These locations range from bright-colored psychedelic places filled with bizarre objects and characters:
If you have a religious debate here, it undoes creation.
To dark, mostly abandoned landscapes:
Bumping into anything or anyone will cause the screen to fade and teleport you to another random place. After a while, you might start seeing the same places again, so the game keeps it interesting by doing things like replacing doors with women's faces or filling the walls with eyes that slowly follow you as you walk past.
Each dream lasts 10 minutes, at which point you're sent back to the main menu and given the option to start another one. However, there are also more abrupt ways to "wake up," like falling off a cliff, coming across certain objects ... or running into the Grey Man, a faceless gentleman in a black raincoat who can show up anywhere in the dream world and is the only one who can kill you.
In real life, we mean.
The only objective here is to explore this dream world until you either get bored or your actual dreams turn as terrifying as the game, at which point it becomes redundant (once you've been Incepted, it has fulfilled its purpose). Also, apparently the LSD in the title stands for "Lovely Sweet Dream," but you already knew that.
What else could it possibly stand for?
#4. Mister Mosquito
Mister Mosquito was the first game in what the gaming industry probably hoped would be the brand new genre of mosquito simulators, but for some reason it didn't really catch on. As the eponymous Mister Mosquito, you fly around a typical Japanese family's house biting people, sucking their blood and generally annoying the shit out of everyone while trying to avoid getting squashed or sprayed.
The 1890s prequel to this game had a higher body count than every GTA combined.
Your mission in Mister Mosquito is to fill and hide little tanks of your victims' blood throughout the house, like an insect version of Dexter or something. The idea, essentially, is to help the mosquito store blood to survive the winter while being as much of a dick to the humans as possible. The game was released for PlayStation 2 in 2001, but it didn't do very well in any market ... except Japan, where it was actually a huge hit, for some reason.
Ah, we understand, now. Sucking the blood of a sleeping teenage girl. Gotcha.
Oh, right: It's also a pervert simulator. The family consists of a mother, a father and the obligatory attractive teenage daughter, who you can follow around and watch as she sleeps, exercises or takes a bath. All of this without her knowledge, of course, because if you're caught trying to bite her, you'll be killed.
And if you're caught playing this game, your name will be put into a government database.
Assuming you decide to actually play the game instead of just using it to stalk the daughter from afar, there's also a "Battle Mode" that you go into when the humans catch you flying around, where "To calm them, the player must hit a number of pressure points, relieving them of tension" (because obviously, we all know how relaxing being pestered by a mosquito can be).
And finally, if you complete all the levels, you're treated to a special cut scene where the humans are taking a family photo, despite having their faces covered in horrible mosquito bites. The photo is then further ruined by the unusually large mosquito photobombing them (because, again, you're a dick).
But it's mostly about the creepy voyeurism.