Oh, man… Japan. Yes, Japan remains a source of bewildered amusement for peering western eyes. Sure, a lot of what we think about Japan probably consists of mostly hyperbole, but it’s not just the neon lights, dinner-serving robots, and school girls that throw about the peace sign like it’s the actual law that makes Japan seem so at odds with western civilisation… it’s the really strange practices that the country seems to embrace as if they’re, like, normal.
Things like maid cafes in which middle-aged men go to play board games with girls dressed like Alice in Wonderland, or those wacky game-shows in which people seem to actually enjoy the possibilities of mild injury. And how about those used panty vending machines, hm? Not intended for a woman in need of a change - noooo, that would be weird. Instead, they exist as a means of pleasure for your average guy craving an old pair of undergarments.
Then there’s Japanese video games, which seem to operate on a completely different level from those across seas. There’s the normal stuff, of course: Japan are renowned for their labyrinth-like arcades, which look like a lot of fun (in films and stuff, anyway). Japan, too, gave us Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, which (though entirely insane when you think about it) are recognised as some of the most accessible video game characters of all-time. And yes, Japan have innovated video games in places the western world might never have imagined.
But Japanese game developers have also gone batshit crazy on a good number of occasions - take a look at the video games we’ve assembled here, each one begging the question: “What has happened for these things to exist in the real world?”Next
1. I’m Sorry (1985) (Arcade)
It’s probably a good thing that everything doesn’t make sense all the time, otherwise we wouldn’t have movies by David Lynch or funny cat videos on YouTube – but there’s a line, and 1985′s I’m Sorry crosses that line, backflips over it, and then crosses it again whilst doing a crazy dance.
An arcade game resembling Pac-Man (but far less grounded in reality), I’m Sorry has you playing as former Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in something that supposedly served as a kind of Japanese satire, given that Tanaka was involved in a whole bunch of bribery scandals. Instead of fleeing from Pinky or Clyde, you escape Michael Jackson and Madonna. All in a day’s work for Kakuei Tanaka. What’s weirder, though, is that this thing was released in a few American arcades – what did those poor unsuspecting players think when they saw this? “Absolutely spot-on satire,” presumably.Previous Next
2. LSD (1998) (Playstation)
At least they got the name right: LSD was a 1998 game developed for the Playstation, in which (for some reason) the decade-long dream journal of a staff member at Asmik Ace Entertainment was turned into something you could buy on an actual disc and play at home. The game doesn’t allow you to do anything else but wander a huge, terrifying world inhabited by the very creatures of your nightmares.
It’s psychedelic as hell, what with its endless corridors filled with empty bird cages, floating elephant pits, and impromptu sumo wrestler fights. After about 10 minutes, your dream “ends” and you can start again. Every time you play, things will be entirely different – just like your brain, which gets a tiny bit broker.Previous Next
3. Boonga-Ga, Boonga-Ga (2001) (Arcade)
This game is actually Korean, but was made and distributed for a Japanese market, making it 100% Japanese for the sake of this article. Have you ever felt as though most games are missing a gigantic ass to slap? Yeah, so did the developers behind Arcade smash Boonga-Ga, Boonga-Ga, a game which has a gigantic fake posterior embedded within its cabinet. Firstly you select who you want to punish (of course), and there’s a whole host of all your favorite characters to choose from: ex-girlfriend? Mother-in-law? Prostitute? How about child molester?
Once you’ve selected whose buttocks you want to slap for a couple of minutes (“Mother-in-law!”), the game rates your whacking ability, scores you, and then prints a card detailing what it thinks of your sexual adequacy. If only Super Mario Bros. had done something like that back in the 80s. The weirdest thing about this, though, isn’t actually the game itself: it’s the fact that it’s based on a Japanese prank in which (and you can quote us on this) “two fingers are inserted into the anal region of the prankee whilst distracted.” Oh, you should have said – it’s just a prank.Previous Next
4. Chulip (2002) (Playstation 2)
Maybe Chulip was supposed to be all cute and innocent and the world’s harsh, relentless cynicism has worn down what was just a fun little game. Or not, given that the point of this thing is to go around kissing people. Like, everyone. In a town. Yes, you play an unnamed, down-beaten kissaholic who – having been rejected by the girl of his dreams for being poor – dedicates his life to just… well, yeah, kissing people. In a fashion not disimilar to that of “trial and error”, the aim is to find out exactly when said people actually feel like being kissed, because God forbid you try and kiss them when they’re not in the mood. Given that description, you wouldn’t have expected critics to throw around words like “frustrating” and “tedious” when describing Chulip, would you? Now go and give somebody a kiss, you silly pessimist!Previous Next
5. Love Death (2005-Present) (PC)
There are five Love Death games, all of which reach new levels of weirdness on their own terms: Love Death 4 is just about the most bizarre game ever invented, though, one that manages to be both creepy, perverted and, um, strangely innovative. Not sure what we’re talking about? This game has freakin’ penis detection. Before we get to that, though, let’s explain what the aim of the Love Death series is. Oh, well, it’s… uh…
In basic terms, the game has you wandering around Japan, slapping anime girls about and sort of forcing their clothes off, layer by layer. Players can use a built-in camera to detect their penis when doing such things in Love Death 4, which will allows them to interact with the game in ways we’re not comfortable writing about. Basically, you play a pervert, and you do perverty things whilst being a pervert. The game presumably gets its title from the act of falling for the girls and then proceeding to beat them with a baseball bat, though you can always get them on your side again by buying them nice things. Teatime, the company who make these games, also have a game series based around stalking a pretty teenager: Virtual Stalker. Hey, at least it doesn’t have death in the title.Previous Next
6. Muscle March (2009) (Wii)
Muscle March is an exercise in insanity, a Japanese video game so “Japanese” in its makeup that it might be used as propaganda against the country should a war break out or something. Muscle March can only be described as a “super-camp racing game”, one in which you play as a choice of semi-naked bodybuilders (or, if you like, a Norwegian polar bear) whose objective is to make holes in walls as you speed around tracks so colorful that even Hello Kitty! would vomit.
Eventually, you’lll have to squeeze through these same holes using motions from your Wii Remote. Besides that, the whole game is drenched in a bizarre, flamboyant atmosphere, and is set in a world where a Giraffe is telling you what to do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Giraffes are people too. Except they’re not.Previous Next
7. Super-Table Flip! (2010) (Arcade)
Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, so no wonder they’re finding new and innovative ways of cheering people up – this time from the comfort of an extremely loud arcade! Super-Table Flip! offers its patrons the chance to go absolutely crazy in a virtual representation of their living room as a substitute for doing it when they get home.
Here, your virtual family look on in horror as you take out all your anger on the kitchen table, achieved through banging on the arcade machine’s designated table top until you go super-nuts and flip the it over once and for all. Then soothing music plays whilst you view the physical damage you’ve caused in slow-motion. The psychological damage is left to your imagination (and your therapist).
What do you make of these bizarre games, then? Got any more you think could’ve made the list? Let us know in the comments section below.Previous