First-person shooters? Real-time strategy? Rendered 3-D graphics? Give me a break.
My sister collects Atari 2600 cartridges. Her alphabetized collection is the stuff of legend. While hanging at her pad the other day I pulled a handful of cartridges that can only be characterized as outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.
5. Name This Game and Win $10,000
Working in the game industry I have sat in on more than a few sessions of "what the hell do we name our product?" Kudos to these guys for booting the whole question to a bunch of disinterested grade-school-age consumers.
4. Fun With Numbers
I can say from experience that this gem topped my "please don't buy this for my Christmas present" list in the Eighties. Though "random problems" does sort of describe the arc of my post-2600 years pretty well.
3. Lost Luggage
I'd have picked this as the worst concept and title for a video game ever if it weren't for...
2. Tax Avoiders
Game -- or LIFESTYLE? You make the call. I suspect the vast majority of Atari 2600 players barely knew what taxes even were, let alone felt terror at the sight of a 1040 form. (No worries, though. The game itself is a stick figure sprinting between giant dollar signs, just like filing taxes in real life.)
1. Bachelor Party / Gigolo
"The world of adult video games is a most exciting concept," opines the manual for this legendary double-feature. Ostensibly a pornographic game, in actual execution the graphics and gameplay are so rough that one could give it to a room full of kindergardeners without fear of polluting young minds. Fortunately, the instruction manual gives a detailed play-by-play: "when the bachelor flies toward the women, his private parts (P.P.) are in an erect state." And who ISN'T down with P.P.?
Somewhere in Nishi-Tama, two hours from downtown Tokyo by train and local bus. Hiking along a stream I see the color of something man-made, half buried under fallen branches and leaves. Then I see the pattern. It can't be... A soft vinyl monster toy, apparently vintage, all the way out here.
Feelings a mixture of the bemusement of Al Pachino in Godfather III ("Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in") and the awe of Nausicaa encountering the husk of the Ohmu deep in the Sea of Corruption. I begin excavating. Empty eye sockets and toothy grin appear, like a Toy Story sequel gone horribly wrong.
Eleking. From the 1967 series "Ultraseven." Body filled with mud and cracked from years of exposure. I flip it and rub dirt off the base of the foot. The circular mark is unmistakable: Marusan, the show's first licensor. Is this an original edition? Out comes the iPhone for a quick scan of recent Yahoo auctions. How did a thousand-dollar toy end up here? Impossible to tell with this much damage. Left behind after a picnic decades ago to moulder here by the riverside? Hurled out of a car window in a fit of childhood pique, its original owner now probably older than I am?
I consider taking it back for forensic analysis but then decide to replace it back in the underbrush where I found it, hoping another toy freak finds it decades hence...