As we inch closer towards a robot-controlled future, gaming is evolving at a pretty rapid pace. But a game doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect or memorable or even good in order to be groundbreaking. Here are five weird games that you didn’t know were ahead of their time.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Leisure Suit Larry had people clutching their pearls all the way back in the 1980s, revolutionizing the use of OMG DICK JOKES in video games. But that’s not the only thing the sex-starved hero pioneered — 1987’s Land of the Lounge Lizards used a crude form of age-protection — trivia questions that only OLD, LAME people would know — so as not to teach little Johnny about the digital birds and the digital bees too early.
Omikron: The Nomad Soul
Omikron: The Nomad Soul, also known as The Entire ’90s Boiled Down to Four Weird Words, was an adventure game featuring the music (and face?) of David Bowie. It was bizarre, dystopian, and surprisingly good, but the game was also groundbreaking in that it was a very early user of a reincarnation-type system — once your character died, you would be reincarnated in another’s body, giving a reasonable explanation for “continues” and whatnot. There was no explanation for the uncanny valley that David Bowie’s face was residing in, though.
The Virtual Boy
Okay, the Virtual Boy was a little bit of a garbage fire, mainly in that it actively induced nausea in many of its consumers, but you’ve got to admit, it got the ball rolling on VR. Let’s call it a necessary evil. A necessary, stomach-churning, eyeball-burning evil.
Another day, another chance to talk about the weirdest video game ever made. We’ve talked about it before, but to recap, Takeshi’s Challenge was a weirdly self-aware, impossibly difficult side-scroller(?) released back in December of 1986. The game was anything but intuitive, so figuring out its many, many puzzles would take an eternity, but one ingenious inclusion was a karaoke mini-game in which you actually had to sing into your controller in order to move on. Granted, it couldn’t recognize pitches, so you could actually just blow into the controller to have the same effect, but come on, did anyone get that far in Takeshi’s Challenge to cheat themselves out of a karaoke challenge?
Trespasser: Jurassic Park
Trespasser was the definition of “offensively bad”, often considered the very worst game of 1998. While a Windows-based game billed as a digital sequel to The Lost World sounds like a ‘90s-based Mad Lib, Trespasser was actually revolutionary in its lack of a Heads-Up Display, something that sandbox games would enjoy heartily years later. But let’s be real — its bread and butter is being a “digital sequel” in PC game form. Can we get more of that, please? A digital sequel to Pretty Woman, anyone?
What game-changing technology do you think was hidden in Bubsy 3D? Let me know on Twitter!