the Mouth of Madness:
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
Real Sound (Saturn)
Chalk this one up under weird-ass games that never made it to the US. :)
Kenji Eno is pretty much universally acknowledged as being one hell of a game designer, although most Americans probably haven't played too many of his games. That's pretty much because he's a total screwball. He makes great games, but if you're not open-minded, well…you'll have a tough time swallowing some of these. Enemy Zero is a perfect example of this, with its strange mix of Doom and FMV styles of gameplay, but the ultimate proof lies in Real Sound.
No, it's not an internet broadcast thing…it's actually a game for the Saturn…with no graphics at all. Being the old-school text adventure fan that I am, I had to try this thing, so I managed to find an import copy a while back, and while I can't get the most out of it (It's Japanese!) I gotta admit…it's pretty damn cool. The concept is that you have to control the game without graphics, but instead relying entirely on audio. There are parts of this that made its way into Enemy Zero (and really helped strengthen the game, IMHO) but this is it at its purest. If you're willing to try something really weird…check this one out. :)
Oh, and supposedly there's a sequel in the works for Sega's swanky new Dreamcast system. Sign me up for a copy when it becomes available…I can't wait to try it with some serious stereo support.
ET: The Extra Terrestrial (Atari 2600)
Everyone who had an Atari 2600 knows this game, and it's really legendary…it has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, and probably will stand the test of time as being one of the worst movie tie-ins in videogame history.
Here's the idea, right: you play E.T. the ever-so-cuddly alien from Steven Spielberg's movie. For some reason, you’ve got to assemble the pieces for E.T.'s "phone home" device before his "energy" runs out. Do that, and a giant spaceship comes down and rescues him. Of course, once you've done that you get some "points" and get to do it all over again.
The game's problem lies in the fact that once you actually manage to finish a board, you're so pissed off at Atari for making the damn thing that you don't want to do another level. Whee. Personally, I couldn't understand why (and remember, I was what…six when this game was released?) E.T. would board the ship, only to have all his stuff thrown around the game again so he could go get it. Sounded like hell to me…
The legend behind this game is that five million copies are buried somewhere…I'd like to go on the expedition to find that site. Just to know for sure. ;)
Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Heads or Tails of It (PC)
Man, do I love this game. It's so hideously corny, that it's just a major boatload of fun to play. Of course, I was an English major for a while…don’t trust my opinion.
Nord and Bert was released towards the end of the reign of Infocom, and therefore was missed by a lot of people…it's not quite as great a game as some of the Zork titles, and it can't come near my all-time favorite, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but man…it's a wacky fun, weird-ass game.
The basic idea of the game is to figure out just which cliché, pun or homonym is being used in each puzzle. You'll have to go to the bizarre bazaar, figure out how to turn, "happy Sam into a sappy ham" and probably give yourself a headache. If there ever were a "Bizarro World: The Game" this would probably be its sequel. Highly recommended…if you can tolerate the cheeze, and don't mind games with no graphics. :)
This was the game, where the first time I saw it, I actually uttered the words, "what the f#%k is that?" Here's the idea. The original Nintendo Entertainment System came with two controllers, a light gun, and…R.O.B the Robot. Yes, R.O.B. the Robot. R.O.B. (which stands for Robotic Operating Buddy…ugh) was a silly little thing thrown in to make the box really, really damn big (actually it was apparently stuck in to get the NES into toy stores…but I still think it’s the other reason) and only had two games made for it, only one of which I ever saw. Gyromite was the game, and jeez…was it stupid. It was kinda like a side scroller game, although whenever you got to a door, you'd sit there and watch this goofy contraption next to you take a bunch of chips and move them from one place to another.
As a result of this, the game wasn't exactly…action packed. It took me and a friend of mine about twenty minutes of mind-numbingly boring gameplay before we discovered that it was much faster just to unplug the damn thing and use the second controller to act in place of the robot. Pressing a couple of buttons did the exact same thing as having this gratuitous piece of crap do its schtick. Of course, once we did that, we quickly realized that without the robot to impress us, there wasn't any game to be found. Yowza. And how many millions of NES units were sold? This thing made me very proud that I owned a Sega Master System. ;)
Well, that's it for my lists, kids…hope I managed to bring back some memories…I try. Next week I'll be back with more crazy crap, so come on back! And a big thanks goes out to the following sites for helping me do some last-minute fact-checking in the last few weeks: ClassicGaming.com, AtariHQ, and the unofficial Infocom Homepage. Check those sites out…they're all great.
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames. He's really very normal once you get to know him.
Credits: From the Mouth of Madness logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it...or we'll just forget about you. Let's see how you like it.