But sometimes, developers charge happily into the land of absolute insanity, letting their freak flags fly as they stretch their creative muscles to keep us on our toes. In an even more surprising reality, sometimes those gigantic leaps of faith are actually a heck of a lot of fun -- though sometimes, of course, they stink.
From grumpy, sentient fish to communist alien invaders, gaming's past is littered with weird games. Here are 10 that are certainly make the short list.
Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin
Windows Phone/iOS, 2012
Disgusting? You bet, but it's also not too shabby...for a game about exploring the inside of a dolphin, that is.
Sega Dreamcast, 2000
Rather than caring for a dog or cat, you tended to a human-faced fish, who eventually evolved into a human-faced frog-like creature. How? By talking to it using a special Dreamcast microphone (which wasn't exactly state of the art), although the grumpy little beast usually rewarded your efforts with derision and snarky comments. He also had a heckuva memory, remembering odd tidbits of your past conversations. Creepy, creepy, creepy.
Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom
You play Sir Cucumber, a knight charged by the late King Broccoli to conquer the deceptive Minister Pumpkin, who has kidnapped Princess Tomato and stolen the Turnip Emblem. You're aided in this quest by Percy, a baby persimmon, who helps you defeat the evil Farmies as you make your way to the Zucchini Mountains. Sounds tasty.
The muscle-bound misfits who star in this absurd Namco game just want to keep gobbling down their protein powder, but pesky thieves keep stealing it. Luckily, the thieves crash through walls in their haste to escape. Your job, should you be odd enough to accept it, is to match their poses and chase them down city streets, through pharmacies and into outer space. While it wins huge points for sheer weird muscle mass, it gets sand kicked in its face for its awful, shallow gameplay.
The story starts with a young boy being sucked into a toilet, undoubtedly setting sibling potty training back by several months in some real-world homes. From there, Toilet Kids lives up to its title by morphing into a scrolling top-down shooter, where the hero shoots enemies with — what else — his poop.
Xbox 360/PS3, 2010
When Naughty's not invited to Daddles' birthday party, he makes a gift anyway as a gesture of kindness. He's laughed at by other bears, though, sending him into a homicidal rage. It sounded, initially, like a fun twist on the action genre, but the game was eviscerated by critics, who made the developers of Naughty Bear a bunch of sad pandas by giving it a not-so-nice Metacritic score of 43.
The tagline for this 2011 game pretty much says it all: "Loving Father. Caring Husband. Secret Octopus."
It's a puzzle/adventure title developed by a team of students at DePaul University. You play as an octopus, posing as a human, who must collect items in order to build a mannequin to avoid a dinner with your wife. Sounds easy enough — but remember, you have no bone structure, because you're an octopus. A sequel, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, is coming out next year.
Communist Mutants from Space
Atari 2600, 1982
Imagine what players of this 1982 title must have thought. Playing off Cold War fears, the Space Invaders-like title warned players that aliens from the communist planet of Rooskee (no, really!) were invading democratic planets, whose inhabitants were converted into "Communist Mutants." As if that weren't enough, there was an evil overlord who had gone mad due to irradiated vodka.
Playstation 2, 2004
This puzzle/action game doesn't raise a lot of eyebrows today, but when it was first introduced in 2004, no one knew quite what to make of it. Rolling a giant sticky ball around a room to rebuild the stars? A binge-drinking King of All Cosmos? A 5cm tall hero? It was like nothing we had ever seen. The weirdness continued in a series of sequels, most recently Touch My Katamari for the PlayStation Vita, which saw the king in a fit of depression.
Playstation 2, 2002
Or at least that's the goal of Mister Mosquito, a Playstation 2 game in which players darted about as a bloodsucking bug trying to feast on a delicious Japanese family. Surprisingly, it's less disgusting than it sounds, featuring gameplay quirky enough to warrant halfway decent reviews -- and a LOT of itchy bumps.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Sega Dreamcast