If we dig across the variety of modern indie game titles, we will surely stumble upon some unexpectedly strange and obscure games. Back in the 1980s, the video game market was limited by the capabilities of consoles and by the production capacity of game developing companies.
Among the small number of games that were published every year, there were only a few that were decent enough and playable, games such as Space Invaders for example.
The majority of them ended up discarded after only a few seconds of gameplay. But some of them, besides being terrible, kept the attention of players because of their weirdness and audacity. Here are some of them.
Communist Mutants from Space (1982)
Even the name of this game sounds suspicious and makes you wonder what it’s all about. Communist Mutants From Space was a game created by a company called Starpath for the Atari 2600 console. In its structure and graphics, the game reminds one of Space Invaders, but the plot here was enriched with an “amusing” twist.
A group of aliens from the communist planet of “Rooskee” are determined to invade the Democratic planets and turn all the inhabitants into “Communist Mutants.” The aliens are lead by the Mother Creature (Mother Russia?) that has gone mad from drinking too much irradiated vodka. The goal of the game was to pass all the levels, destroy all the mutants and of course, the Mother Creature.
Pepsi Invaders (1983)
Another game inspired by Space Invaders appeared in 1983. This one is really rare, and it is called Pepsi Invaders, also known as Coke Wins. The game was made for the Atari 2600 console, and it was (of course) commissioned by The Coca-Cola Company. The game was basically a redesigned version of the Space Invaders game, with only a few changes.
Instead of the original six aliens, the rows contained the letters P E P S I and a little alien at the end. The goal of the game was to shoot as many of the enemies and pass as many levels as possible in the three-minute timeframe. Only 125 cartridges were produced, and those were given to delegates at the 1983 Coca-Cola sales convention in Atlanta, along with an Atari 2600 console. Surviving copies have fetched prices up to $2,000. The Pepsi Invaders game has been declared as on of the rarest and most collectable games in gaming history.
This video game fulfilled all the promises it made in the title! You are literary a waste collector, and your task is to collect garbage from bins and to empty them into a garbage truck that waits for you on the road.
It sounds really boring, but the game was actually really respected among gamers from the time. It had a cheeky humor and joke references to consoles and games from the time.
It was made by New Generation Software for the ZX Spectrum and The Commodore 64 consoles. The Trashman had seven levels or seven streets with different levels of difficulty. Players started from the bottom of the street and had to clean the trash bins in front of every house. Sometimes a homeowner would let you in and give you booze for a job well done. It was surely a magnificent game!
The Great Giana Sisters (1987)
In 1987, the German game developing company Time Warp Productions and publishers Rainbow Arts decided that the Super Mario Bros “are history” and produced an obvious rip-off, with a slightly different (but still Italian) name: the Great Gianna Sisters.
The game was so similar to the legendary Mario Bros that rumors were heard about Nintendo suing the developers. The original version was released on Commodore 64, and later the game was made available for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, and Atari ST. The main character of the game is Giana, a girl lost in her nightmares, traveling through 32 dungeons and looking for her sister Maria.
If the player manages to get trough the final battle, Giana will be awakened by her sister Maria. Despite the alleged Mario Bros lawsuit and controversy, the game received mostly positive criticism from the players and it was rated as one of the best Commodore 64 games.
Tongue of the Fatman (1989)
The name itself raised a lot of eyebrows and placed this specimen in the hall of fame of weird video games. It was also known by its slightly less terrible names: Mondu’s Fight Palace on the Commodore 64, Fatman for its Japanese release, and Slaughter Sport in Sega Genesis.
The game was developed by Activision and published by Sanritsu. If the cover art wasn’t weird enough, the gameplay was definitely filled with weirdness.
In this fighting game, players got to choose from a variety of strange alien characters such as human shaped bacteria colonies, a large testicle with arms, the Fatman himself (with a tongue getting out from his stomach), or some nice, shark-looking monsters. To make things more annoying, giant alien heads would pop up during the fights and makes your gaming experience even worse. Fatman received a lot of negative reviews, but at least it ended up in PC Gamer magazine’s list of the “15 Weirdest PC Games Of All Time.”
Ninja Golf (1990)
The word “Ninja” has been stamped on many products through history, as if it has some magical power to make terrible things look and feel better. Here is one example from the gaming world, a game called Ninja Golf.
It was designed by BlueSky Software for Atari 7800, and it combines the “Beat ’em” up genre with golf gameplay. It’s pretty self-explanatory: you are a ninja, you start by aiming your golf ball high, and then the ninja fights his way through a monster-infested golf course (monsters include giant frogs, giant sharks, and snakes).
People had some strange fascinations with ninjas back then. Besides this “remarkable” ninja game, there were also few others such as the Ninja Hamster (1988), and Ninja Scooter Simulator (1988).