6 Japanese Video Games That Will Make Your Head Explode
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 ...
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.
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?
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.
Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest: The Geometric Animal Breeding Game
Animal Leader was a game developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 console that was so bizarre, they decided they wouldn't even bother trying to sell it outside Japan. However, the game was later picked up and translated by another company for the GameCube, and they renamed it Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest, since it's supposed to be based on the concept of natural selection (if Darwin had been extremely high when he came up with it, or just Japanese).
The game is perfectly summed up by its trailer, where we can see a group of little cube-shaped pigs peacefully playing together ...
Japanese pork chops are shaped like Wendy's hamburgers.
... when a larger cube-beast barges in and freaking tears them apart.
Seriously, watch the trailer so you can hear the blood-curdling screams of that pig.
And then the horrifying silence as its head snaps off.
That's literally what the game is about: You start as a little cube-piglet and slowly evolve into something bigger and scarier by fighting other animals, violently ripping apart their limbs and eating them to gain their powers (if that's not how real evolution works, it should be). The objective is to become strong enough that you can take on the King of All Cubivores, eat his limbs and take his place. This game is "E for Everyone," by the way.
The only part the trailer doesn't mention is the cubic animal boning.
"So leave us alone. So I can whip out my bone. You can tell by my tone. We'll be fucking."
Seriously, once you've eaten enough body parts and completed the level, you can enter the Love Tunnel, which isn't even a euphemism, because there are literally female cube-animals waiting inside to let you penetrate them. The more "raw meat" you've collected through the stage, the sexier you are to the females and the bigger your orgy becomes.
Seven hours later ...
And that's not even the most disturbing part: Once you've literally boned yourself to death, you see the corpse of the cube-animal you were just using lying outside the Love Tunnel as you take control of their slightly more evolved offspring. From now on, we're just going to assume this is how Pokemon evolve off-camera, too.
You can't tell, but he died with a smile on his face, and a massive square boner.
Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire Is All Jackie Chans, All the Time
Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire: Legend of Jackie Chan is an upgraded version of a previous Jackie Chan arcade fighting game, The Kung-Fu Master Jackie Chan, rereleased after people complained that the game didn't have enough Jackie Chan in it. The logical solution would have been to add Jackie Chan as a playable character, since previously you only got to fight him. However, the people who designed this game did not operate under conventional logic, but on some higher Jackie-Chan-powered level of consciousness, so they decided to add not one Jackie Chan ...
This is the "I've clearly just farted" Jackie Chan.
... or even two Jackie Chans ...
And then we have "Traffic Control" Jackie Chan.
... but three separate Mortal Kombat-style playable Jackie Chan characters with different outfits, powers and personalities.
And finally, "Fuck if I know" Jackie Chan.
And yes, you can make Jackie Chan fight Jackie Chan and then go on to fight against Jackie Chan, who incidentally is still the final boss (or rather, the three final bosses). The number of Jackie Chans in the game also corresponds with the number of Jackie Chans in the full title, The Kung-Fu Master Jackie Chan: Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire: Legend of Jackie Chan, which probably has some deeper meaning.
The other characters aren't actually real, but nobody ever found that out because nobody ever selected one.
The implication of all this is that in this game, Jackie Chan is omnipresent, omniscient and possibly even omnipotent. You see, unlike other fighting games, this one makes it perfectly clear when you beat Jackie Chan that you didn't actually beat Jackie Chan -- when you win a fight, he immediately jumps back, having sustained no harm, and says something like "Good fight!" or "You're getting better!" which sounds especially deranged when he's saying it to himself. Meanwhile, all the other characters simply lie on the ground in the same situation, dead or defeated.
"Good job. But evidently not good enough to dampen my enthusiasm of your 'victory.'"
And if you complete the game, the final ending for all the characters is exactly the same: Jackie Chan. Just ... just Jackie Chan.
"Finish jacking your chan, turn this game off and think hard about your choice in fetishes."
Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou
The plot of Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou, a 1995 first-person point-and-click PC game, is pretty simple: Your character has lost his soul, so he borrows the soul of a friend for 49 hours and sets off to the island of Tong-Nou to recover his own. Seems pretty straightforward ... but it's not like the absolutely pants-shittingly terrifying trailer bothers to mention any of what we just said.
It's the version of The Brady Bunch they make you watch in hell.
The game itself isn't any saner. The "island" of Tong-Nou is actually a giant green glowing head floating in space, which is modeled after the lead designer of this game. You can enter the head through any orifice, so in that sense it's a good thing that he didn't decide to include his whole body, we guess.
This may be a little awkward ...
Entering the head takes you to a series of long mazes filled with Myst-type logic puzzles that lack any logic. For example, in order to get an item from a character called the King of Life (actually a floating eye-thingy), you have to throw an ant at him to make him sneeze, then you can climb inside of his mouth and meet a smaller version of him, who will ask you trivia questions. We're pretty sure they use a similar puzzle to test people for schizophrenia.
Also, apparently this is what you look like.
As you wander through the mostly empty halls inside the giant head island, you will randomly bump into a small creature who runs frantically from side to side chanting "fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun" in a high-pitched voice and giving you cryptic clues. It would be almost whimsical, if he didn't look like this:
"Dear God, man, don't pet him! He'll take your whole arm!"
Other characters include a creature named Pang-Xie who "dines on his own legs" and a beast with three minds that appears in front of you, becomes depressed and kills itself within 10 seconds. You also die constantly, by the way, but that's OK: Every time you're killed, you are reincarnated as someone else in the "Tree of Life," which actually looks like a pretty pleasant place ...
It's a geyser that ejaculates troll dolls! Run!
... until a hand grabs your face out of nowhere and instantly kills you again. You actually have nine different lives to choose from, three of which are instant deaths, if that makes any sense.
The game's creator made an even more bizarre sequel called Chu-Teng or Chuuten, but apparently nobody has played it and survived, because there's little record of it online. So what other games has this guy worked on? Well, he also helped in a little PlayStation game called LSD: Dream Emu -- wait, shit, now it all makes sense.
For more reasons we'll never fly to Japan, check out 6 Japanese Subcultures That Are Insane (Even for Japan) and 9 Beloved Characters Made Horrifying by Japan.