Virtual realities have the potential to draw us into a world we’d never have envisioned, a world where the craziest things go and the normal rules of space, time and even basic human interactions don’t apply. Some people, of course, think the mark of a good video game is how realistic it manages to be, but others believe that the more outlandish a videogame is, the better.
And for that latter market, there’s no shortage of video games that are just flat out weird. In Silent Hill 2, for example, there was a secret ending that revealed a dog was controlling the events of the entire game. Although some games have a weird or funny scene, it takes a special kind of developer to make a video game truly bizarre, from start to finish. Here, we’re shedding light on the dark and murky corners of the gaming world to bring you the rundown on the 20 most bizarre games you never knew existed.
20. Zeno Clash
Zeno Clash is a first person brawler with solid mechanics – nothing particularly controversial there. But what’s bizarre about this game is the setting of the world. The inspiration for the world looks like it comes from a combination of a post-apocalyptic Native America and Mad Max. The characters are drawn from animals in our world, with odd twists that are enough to make us feel all ‘uncanny valley’. The bizarre bird-like humanoid protagonist Father-Mother is a creature that clearly comes from a twisted imagination, and it will haunt your nightmares.
19. Desert Bus
Desert Bus is only one of the games on the collection Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors for the Sega CD. In this game, you drive a bus that goes from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. What’s so bizarre about it? It requires eight real time hours of driving to make the trip one way.
There are no bathroom breaks either, as the game cannot be paused. All the while, the player must stop the bus from veering off the road as it constantly tilts to the right although the road is completely straight. This is either a fantastic test of human endurance, or a fascinating test to see how many people are crazy enough to give up eight uninterrupted hours of their life to win this pointless game.
18. Typing of the Dead
Typing of the Dead is a full retail release mod of 1990s arcade game, The House of the Dead 2. The original game is an action-packed gorefest, with characters running around equipped with guns to obliterate their enemies. What makes this 1999 mod so amusing and undeniably quirky is the wild contrast it poses to the scary, badass game.
Instead of using guns to fight your way through a horde of zombies you type. With a keyboard strapped to your chest, you must type correctly and quickly in order to survive the apocalypse. A few follow-ups have even recently been released, including a version for Apple’s mobile operating system, Flick of the Dead and Typing of the Dead: Overkill.
17. Deadly Premonition
Deadly Premonition is a survival horror game for PS3 and XBox that’s anything but predictable. Playing as York, an FBI agent investigating a small town murder, players quickly realize there’s something weirder than a simple murder going on in the town.
Players gradually learn the quirks of the townspeople and of York himself. York believes that coffee tells the future and he talks to an imaginary character named Zack – yet, those are not even the most bizarre aspects of this game. Revealing the most bizarre part of the game would be a major spoiler, so it’s best left for players to experience themselves.
16. Killer 7
SUDA 51 is the CEO of Grasshopper Manufacturer, and he’s a Japanese gaming manufacturer reputed in the industry for creating seriously bizarre games. Killer 7 was his first game introduced to North America and he has been making waves with crazy games ever since.
In Killer 7, gamers each play as a member of the elite Killer 7 team. In this game, every enemy pursuing you is seriously creepy. The ghost of one of the previous members follows you around with no eyes and a spooky voice. A man named Iwazaru follows you around speaking nonsense with a finger over his mouth while waving his other hand manically. In an even creepier twist, enemies are called smiles and have a spine-chilling laugh to announce their presence.
15. Hatoful Boyfriend
Weird and sometimes wonderful dating simulators are a well-established genre in Japan but a pigeon dating simulator is probably about as weird as it gets. This game was originally a flash game, released by the developer on April Fool’s Day of 2011, but the joke took off and was adapted into a full-length narrative.
The player takes on the role of a high school girl who goes to a school full of birds, in a decision-making narrative that unfolds into several potential endings. The objective is to romance one of the birds by the end of the year. Just when you thought the game couldn’t get stranger, there’s a secret ending that turns the game into a psychological horror. Despite the insane premise, this game really took off; since 2011 it has seen sequels and even a web series inspired by the story.
14. The Houchi Play
Purportedly a ‘sexy’ game, the premise of this video game has landed it the accolade of ‘creepiest video game ever’ according to many. In this Xbox 360 indie game you play as a creepy, apparently middle-aged, stalker who sneaks up on women dressed up as little school girls. The premise in and of itself is unsettling and even worrying. How do you ‘win’ at this game? By creeping up close enough without the girls ever spotting you. If you do particularly well, the anime girl at the end will be sitting in nothing but her underwear.
This game starts off with the player and the girl of his dreams getting married by a tree with a face. A suitably off-kilter start to what proves to be a seriously bizarre game. The goal of Chulip is to win the affection of your crush and get a kiss from her, though, which is so far, so normal dating simulation game.
The most bizarre thing about this game, however, is its characters. There are some characters with giant heads and exaggerated features like long teeth. These characters appear alongside others that just make no sense, like a telephone pole with a face and legs.
12. Zombie Nation
An early entry on our list, Zombie Nation was released in 1990. It’s a dystopian side scrolling shooter where you’ll play as a giant severed head of a samurai warrior that can fly and shoot eyeballs and spits at his enemies. The objective of the game is to save the United States from an evil alien but when you finally get to the United States, you end up destroying the places you intend to save.
11. Mr Mosquito
In Mr. Mosquito, release by Sony in 2001, you play as a mosquito where the main goal is to suck the blood of a family without being spotted. It’s a strange concept for a game, but the strategic aspect could prove popular – but of course, there’s a creepy side to this game, too.
Players have the chance to suck the blood of a woman while she’s taking a bath. If the mosquito is caught, you engage in battle mode. In order to calm down your pursuer, you have to hit the sensitive points of their body to make her relax and forget about your presence so you can go back to sucking blood. In 2008, before a few weirder games were released, this was listed in the top 10 weirdest games of all time by Game Informer.
10. Slave of God
Slave of God is certainly a unique gaming experience. This indie game – which lasts for only about eleven minutes – takes place in a nightclub. It’s basically nothing more than a nightclub simulator, but players have cited entering a near trance-state.
The game – which is offered online free – sees player enter a club and their senses are assaulted with loud pumping music and visuals that should probably have a warning for those suffering epilepsy. It’s an immersive interactive experience with no clear aim, but reviewers have raved about the visuals and the entrancing nature of the game’s production.
9. Night Trap
Night Trap was originally released in 1992, for the Sega CD. You play as a member of the SCAT (Sega Control Attack Team) and the gameplay and production values are entirely cringeworthy.
Why? Your job is to monitor surveillance cameras in a girl’s slumber party for enemies dressed in black garb – who you’ll earn are vampires – and activate traps to stop them. The surveillance footage in the game, in a questionable production decision, is live action video. It features real actors with questionable skills, making the whole game feel painfully dated and even laughable.
8. Muscle March
In Muscle March, players chase after a thief who is running through an undefined location smashing holes into walls. The objective is to match the shape of the hole and catch up to the thief.
While that premise isn’t particularly crazy, this game’s visuals have been cited as strongly homoerotic. Every playable character is incredibly muscular and shakes their butts as their run. While running, the landscape and background characters are noticeably wacky – some characters even look like slightly nightmarish Teletubbies.
7. Boong-Ga Boong-Ga
Boong-ga Boong-ga is a Japanese arcade game. The gameplay revolves around a prank that involves spanking people and sticking fingers into a person’s private orifices.
While that’s probably disturbing enough, it gets worse: The game cabinet itself boasts a rubber butt and fingers, so that you can perform those actions on the cabinet. Some of the characters you do this to include an ex-girlfriend, a mother-in-law and a child molester.
6. Japan World Cup 3
Japan World Cup 3 is a horse racing betting game that does not only include horses, but walruses and yetis as well. The horses themselves aren’t even normal.
The horses run on their hind legs swinging their arms in air while other horses are not even real horses. In the game, there are Trojan horses and horses that look like a mix between a wiener dog and a horse.
5. Katamari Damacy
Katamari Damacy may be the most well-known game on this list and that’s because it’s by far the very weirdest. As the prince of the cosmos, you must roll up your small ball of stuff into a big ball of stuff so the king of the cosmos can turn it into a star. The things you roll out start small, for example, an eraser or pencil. Once you get big enough you tend to roll up people, cows, buildings and much more. The visual style and upbeat music creates an odd mix that makes this game delightful to play.
Have you ever wanted a pet fish with a human face? Seaman was released for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999. The goal is to raise your pet from a fish with a human face to a frog with a face. What made Seaman unique was that there was a microphone you could plug into the Dreamcast’s controller and you could talk with your virtual pet. The conversations you could have with Seaman were inevitably bizarre – he always wanted to know more about your life…
3. Deus Ex Machina
This game was released in the mid-1980s for the Commodore 64, MSX, and ZX Spectrum. It was the first time a video game was released alongside a cassette tape with the soundtrack that synced up with the game. Combined with the visuals of the game and soundtrack, Deus Ex Machina becomes a psychedelic trip. This is indeed a bizarre game that needs to be played.
2. LSD Dream Emulator
LSD Dream Emulator is exactly what its title suggests. This game was based on a dream journal by Hiroko Nishikawa. There are no objectives set out for you and the purpose of the game is to explore the world and fill in the map you are given.
Each area of the game varies vastly from the next. Players are only given 10 minutes to explore before being sent to the start screen where they must make a choice to keep playing. This one could well be cited as one of the most surreal games in the history of gaming.
1. Cho Aniki
Absolutely the most bizarre game ever made, 1992’s Cho Aniki takes the number one spot. Cho Aniki is a side scrolling shoot em up much like Gradius, and the aforementioned Zombie Nation. However, the imagery sets this apart.
Cho Aniki is filled with strangely artistic homoerotic imagery, and it’s often named as one of the ‘gayest’ video games ever. Enemies are half naked men with lots of overtly sexual mannerisms and costume. The most bizarre thing about this game, perhaps, is that it has spawned a cult following and several sequels with the last one released in 2010 for the PSP.