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)
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.
"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).
"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:
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.
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:
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)
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:
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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!
#5. The King of Kings: The Early Years (NES)
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:
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:
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)
"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?
"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.
He's in your heart, you fools!
#4. Harry's Legend (NES)
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:
"You'll never mistreat me again, now that I've figured out how to move my leg in a swinging fashion."
Kicking Lord Voldemort:
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:
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.
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.