Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook

Unlicensed video games exist to fulfill impossible fantasies -- I'm pretty sure that when I was a kid I had a bootleg copy of Street Fighter II where you could literally fill the entire screen with Hadoukens, and a pirated version of Tiny Toon Adventures where Donatello and Fred Flintstone apparently attended Acme Looniversity together (my two greatest childhood dreams). These shitty knockoffs gave us the gameplay experiences that the real game companies couldn't or wouldn't give us, like impossible ports, badass kung-fu versions of kiddie characters, or 8-bit boobies.

Or at least some of them did. Other unlicensed games seemed like they could have only been summoned into existence by the sort of kid who got beat up by Magic-card-collecting nerds (so, no one). Bear in mind that most of the games I'm about to show you were made in the '80s or '90s, way before technology advanced to the point where any 12-year-old can hack a Mario game and replace everything with Nazi penises -- these atrocities took actual effort to create, even though their only possible use is being made fun of 20 years later.

7
Titenic (NES)

youtube.com

OK, who saw Titanic and thought, "Yes, this should be a beat 'em up game for the Nintendo Entertainment System"? I'd seriously like to know, because I won't find out until I'm face to face with that person whether I'd like to punch him or shake his hand. Probably punch him, which is what you go around doing to all the random cooks, sailors, maids, old ladies with shotguns, and other passengers that you come across in this game, all presumably just desperate to survive the sinking of the mighty Titenic and see their families again.

youtube.com
"Make way for the king of the world, bitch!"

Of course, you also have to defeat all the killer rats, bats, snakes, and chickens that historically plagued the ship. To achieve this, you must control, depending on the stage, two-fisted Jack Dawson (an uncharacteristically beefy Leo DiCaprio) or ax-wielding Rose DeWitt (just as Kate Winslet portrayed her).

youtube.com
"Hey, I found a whole bunch of extra lifebo- AAAARGH!"

As is usual in these types of games, it's hard to decide which character is better. On one hand, Rose has a fucking ax, but on the other, Jack does this when you leave him idle:

youtube.com

So it's a real "Ken or Ryu?" situation. Oh, and they're not the only characters taken straight from the movie: Most of the bosses are Rose's fiance, "Carl," with different-colored suits.

youtube.com, youtube.com
You don't get to fight the iceberg, sadly, but you can do the next best thing: repeatedly kill Billy Zane.

I'm not sure if this game is called Titenic because they wanted to throw off James Cameron's lawyers or because they seriously thought that's how the name of the ship was spelled. Considering the quality of the English narration you get between the levels, I'm leaning toward the latter option -- you can still get the gist of the story, though:

youtube.com, youtube.com
The text is directly translated from the Japanese lyrics of "My Heart Will Go On."

The game also informs us in the epilogue that "When this accident happened, there were one thousand and five hundred passengers fell into the ocean, only six lucky passengers survived." Yeah, because Jack and Rose murdered all the others.

6
Hong Kong 97 (SNES)

youtube.com

If there ever was one topic that cried out for a Super Nintendo adaptation, that's the transfer of sovereignty between nations in the second half of the 20th century. I'm surprised there aren't more games on the subject -- as of now, it's just Hong Kong 97, a stern 16-bit warning of what will inevitably happen once Hong Kong is transferred from the United Kingdom to communist China in 1997:

youtube.com
How do you expect them to stop being ugly if you won't let them practice aerobics in the street?

With commies crowding the streets, the government of Hong Kong has no choice but to hire Bruce Lee's relative, Chin, to murder the citizens of China. All 1.2 billion. Unfortunately, it looks like they got gypped, because this is clearly Jackie Chan.

youtube.com
The same font was used in another SNES game about a mass murderer.

Any game would struggle to be half as entertaining as that introduction, so this one didn't even try -- it consists of your character standing over a static background as a stream of communists rains down on him. Shoot them to survive; get touched once and it's game over, at which point you're treated to a real photo of a corpse with the words "CHIN IS DEAD." All of this happens while a hellish five-second clip of a cheerful Chinese song plays in an endless loop.

youtube.com
"Mr. Prime Minister, I've just played a game. Call off the transfer."
"Yes, Your Majesty."

The available backgrounds include a photo of Chairman Mao, Maoist propaganda posters, and the Coca-Cola logo (presumably they were hoping for a sponsorship). Do this long enough and you'll reach the boss: the disembodied giant head of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, turned into "the ultimate weapon" by communist science. Note that Deng was alive when this game came out, so they correctly predicted his death.

youtube.com
And subsequent transformation.

Dodge the giant head's attacks and eventually it will blow up with the potency of half a dozen nuclear explosions ... which you know because they literally show you half a dozen nuclear explosions.

youtube.com
Whoa, it's just like the Death Star before the remaster.

And then ... do it all over again. The game starts over. You didn't beat it, because it can't be beaten. So what the game is really about is the futility of resisting the spread of communism, I guess. HAIL MARX!

Continue Reading Below

5
The King of Kings: The Early Years (NES)

youtube.com

The King of Kings is seriously like something Rod and Todd Flanders would be shown playing in The Simpsons, only worse. It's supposed to be an educational game to get children interested in the Bible, but all it does is convince anyone who plays it that if there is a God, he doesn't love you. This is basically Jesus: The Game, and the worst part is that you don't even control Jesus -- you can play as the Three Wise Men on their way to see the Messiah:

youtube.com
According to this game, they kept having to stop because their camel wanted to spit on lizards.

Or Joseph of Nazareth swimming in some rapids:

youtube.com
He got into extreme sports immediately after finding out he was technically God's dad.

Or even Joseph's donkey, but not as Jesus himself, because I guess that would be blasphemy. And as Jesus once said, "Thou shall release electronic entertainments based on Me, but illegally and of the poorest possible quality, and I shan't be playable in them." (Miguel 17:1)

youtube.com
"Verily, the graphics shall look not unlike a butt."

The game has few enemies, and most of them are rocks, probably because the whole "turn the other cheek" thing also applies to ninjas and guys swinging chains. Occasionally you're assaulted by biblical trivia questions like "Who was the mother of Jesus?" or "The baby Jesus was wrapped in ... " but they always include the exact passage that has the answer, so you can just take out your pocket Bible and check that shit out super easily. Where's the challenge in that, I ask? Mostly, you go around collecting frankincense. Why does Jesus need so much damn frankincense, anyway?

youtube.com
"Not enough frankincense. BONUS: Eternal damnation."

Really, even for a religious game, this is a terrible disappointment. You may have noticed in the menu screen above that the third game mode is called "Jesus and the Temple," which brings forth the mental image of J.C. throwing roundhouse kicks to expel the money-changers from the place of worship ... but no, it's actually about the time Jesus got lost in another temple as a kid and Joseph had to jump logs and avoid killer bees to find him.

youtube.com
He's in your heart, you fools!

4
Harry's Legend (NES)

youtube.com

A Harry Potter game for the original Nintendo console seems like a temporal anomaly. By the time the world found out who the hell Harry Potter was, the Dreamcast was already out and the PS2 was on its way -- I'm pretty sure most kids reading those books didn't own an NES, or know what it was. And yet, here we are. In this loose adaptation of the first novel, Harry discovers the real magic inside himself: the magic of kicking shit. He goes around kicking his abusive relatives:

youtube.com
"You'll never mistreat me again, now that I've figured out how to move my leg in a swinging fashion."

Kicking Lord Voldemort:

youtube.com
Yes, this game accomplished in three stages what the movies did in 20 hours.

And kicking these pink midgets that you fight (for some reason) in the head:

youtube.com
The anti-little people message is a lot more overt than in the novels.

You also have to fight rats, bats, and ... hey, wait a minute.

youtube.com, youtube.com
Bootleg-ception?

This is a Titenic ripoff! It's an unlicensed copy of an unlicensed game -- even the music is exactly the same. Is there no honor among pirates? I'm too disgusted to continue, let's move on to the next one.

Continue Reading Below

3
Gulf War Games ... from Both Sides (NES/Mega Drive)

youtube.com

If you were a kid in the early 1990s, you might have been a little too preoccupied determining which one is the best Ninja Turtle or marveling at the universal fact that Michael Jackson can do no wrong to even notice that there was a little war going on in Iraq. Unless, that is, you happened to own Operation Secret Storm -- an action game designed to fill you in on all the relevant details of the Gulf War conflict through your Nintendo. The game stars a brave American operative identified only as "George B.," although I think we can all guess who that's supposed to be.

youtube.com
Looking good for 95, Mr. Burns.

George is sent to Iraq as a one-man invasion force to "save oil refineries in the Gulf," which you accomplish primarily by beating the crap out of every vaguely Arab-looking person that comes into your path. Your enemies range from dudes with Freddie Mercury mustaches to straight-up 1,001 Nights stereotypes -- as in, you'll literally bump into people with turbans flying on magic carpets in this game.

youtube.com
Aka the main reason the U.S. had to bring surface-to-air missiles to the Gulf.

As he makes his way across the country, George will visit many exotic locales, from oil refineries to Iraq's famous pyramids. He'll even locate those elusive chemical WMDs and kick them in the face. Because they have faces, because they are fire demons.

youtube.com
"I'm just shy, is all."

Eventually George reaches the final boss, "Saddam Insane," and learns his terrible secret -- Iraq's president is actually a helicopter disguised in the shape of a man. Or vice versa.

youtube.com
How did this GIF from Hot Shots! Part Deux get here?

After defeating Saddam (both of them), your only reward is an unceremonious "Game Over" -- that shows you how much America cares for its heroes. By the way, 12 years later, Iraq retaliated with a bootleg war game of their own: Iraq War 2003 for Sega's Mega Drive, where you control a static tank shooting down the U.S. Army's "cosmically air attack," because "Guard the Iraq is your holy duty!"

segaretro.org
"Let's give Bush a mustache to make him look sinister."
"No! You overdid it! Now he's a manly warrior!"
"NOOOOOOOOOO!"

2
Wally Bear and the NO! Gang (NES)

youtube.com

For a video-game-playing kid, Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is the worst kind of deception. On the surface, this looks like a regular game about a cool, shades-wearing, skateboard-riding bear. He's wearing a sideways cap, for Christ's sake. So obviously you start playing it, but slowly you begin to sense that there's something deeply wrong with this game.

youtube.com
OK ...?

Something deeply, deeply wrong.

youtube.com
Oh, no.

Yes, behind its radical cover, this game is actually about overcoming peer pressure and saying no to drugs -- Wally Bear is a fucking narc. At the end of each level, you're presented with a valuable life lesson straight out of a Power Rangers PSA, most of which are delivered in creepily deserted subway stations or strange ziggurat-like structures:

youtube.com
You don't see shit like that when you're sober. Wally, you hypocrite.

In fact, the game was originally supposed to be called Wally Bear and the Just Say No Gang, but the company apparently didn't feel like forking out the license fee to use that phrase (they didn't want kids to lay off drugs that much). Trying to teach children about this stuff through video games isn't necessarily a terrible idea, but at least be a little more upfront about it, otherwise they'll feel betrayed and start doing crack. The unlicensed NES title Raid 2020 had a much better approach, starting with its title card, which includes a machine gun and the phrase "WINNERS FIGHT DRUGS."

youtube.com
"SIMPLY NOT DOING DRUGS IS FOR WIMPS."

In this one, which incidentally is by the same company as the nonviolent Jesus game, all you do is shoot drug dealers to death with your laser gun while avoiding deadly bird poo.

youtube.com
Just like a real narcotics officer.

Your mission is to murder every single motherfucking drug dealer in the city -- all of them. Also all the birds and the bugs and the occasional shark. Show the tiniest shred of mercy toward any living thing and you'll be thrown back into the stage. See, Wally Bear, that's how you send a message.

youtube.com
"Al isn't a drug dealer, I just hate him."

Continue Reading Below

1
Windows 98 (NES)

youtube.com

This is literally what it says up there: Windows 98 for Nintendo. Someone made a bootleg version of the Windows 98 operating system to be used with the same console you played Duck Hunt on, because human culture is over and we're living in some kind of strange overtime. And, yes, it's better than Windows 8, haha (let's get the obvious joke out of the way quick). Using your trusty square joystick for navigation, you can look at your desktop:

youtube.com
It has a working Start button, thereby making it better than Wind- shit.

Click and open folders:

youtube.com
Just don't open the NES emulator inside or the universe will explode.

Look at the pictures of Pikachu on your hard drive:

youtube.com
And yes, he's naked in all of them.

And even open Internet Explorer and browse the World Wide Web:

youtube.com
Two percent of Cracked readers are seeing this from there right now, according to our stats.

Of course, the game isn't really doing any of that stuff -- you can tell because Explorer didn't take five minutes to open. This isn't actually a functional operating system, you dummy; it's just letting you pretend to do those things because you're hopelessly lonely and it pities you. As baffling as this is, it's made even more baffling by the fact that someone also made an NES version of Windows 2000 that adds Solitaire functionality.

Hey, I wonder what happens if you enter the Konami Code during the intro screen ...

Microsoft
Probably.


Maxwell Yezpitelok is in Chile, and also Twitter and Tumblr!


Do you have a cell phone with a camera? Then you're halfway to winning our pocket film contest. Bust out that phone and show us the funny in 30-seconds or less for your chance to win. Check out the contest details and submit here.


To turn on reply notifications, click here

421 Comments

Load Comments