Editorial: Local Multiplayer Is Not Going To Die

By David Toler

If you run in the gaming scene long enough you will eventually hear some version of the phrase “Online killed couch multiplayer.”And it seems logical right? If you can do something at home why bother with the trouble of going outside your house to do it.

Well I don’t buy it. Whether in person or online I constantly hear the desire for games you can play while hanging with your friends and shooting the shit with the people that matter most. I believe that gamers have not lost the desire for couch co-op; instead, I think couch multiplayer is being neglected by the industry.

Lets start by attacking the premise that, “people do not want to play couch multiplayer because they can play games online.” Fortunately for us, this last generation of Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii provides some very strong data points for me to cherry pick to show that online and couch gaming can exist hand and hand. Let’s start with online gaming. Everyone knows that Call of Duty, more specifically online Call of Duty, dominated the gaming market. Billions of online hours have been logged by couch warriors worldwide. Screaming obscenities at people over Xbox Live was basically the national pastime. But at the same time that online FPS games were taking the world by storm another gaming revolution was taking place in the form of the Wii.

The industry was told early on in this console life cycle that most gamers would choose online over in person. But gamers didn’t choose between them, they played BOTH. And that’s the heart of this issue really, online and in person multiplayer are not mutually exclusive.

That being said, there does seem to be fewer popular couch games coming down the pipeline then popular online games. Now, while I can say for sure that there is still a demand for couch multiplayer and I can point to specific games to back up that statement (like Smash Bros.). I can only give you my speculations for why so few modern examples seem to take the gaming scene by storm.

My first theory is a simple one: new couch games have trouble competing with older multiplayer classics. Sounds crazy, right? But this is a common problem in the pen and paper/ board gaming world. What typically happens in this community is that one game explodes in popularity and dominates that particular genre. It is played at conventions and passed around among groups of friends for years. Once a game reached this level of saturation it becomes difficult for new games of the same genre to make any headway. Think about the last time you heard of a sword and sorcery pen and paper game that was not D&D.

Now in modern online video games, market penetration is not the biggest factor in keeping a game alive. It does not matter if a fan base for a game is small and dispersed because they can all connect online. If only 10,000 people in the whole world play the game you like over the Internet you can still find a server to play on. It might take some work, but there are many online games with very small communities that survive because all its members can just hop online wherever they are.

But imagine those same 10,000 people around the world trying to keep charades alive. A lot of the fun of charades comes from every player being in the same room. So when you can’t consistently get live players together interest in a game like that dwindles. This circles back to why D&D has been king of the tabletop hill for so long. When you want to play a pen and paper fantasy RPG, and you can only play with people located in your general area, you are forced to play D&D because that is the game that everyone knows how to play. By their very nature couch multiplayer games have these same problems. When you have a bunch of friends over and you want to play a racing game that everyone knows and everyone enjoys, you are playing Mario Kart.

 This leads me to my more abstract argument for why a game succeeds or fails as a couch co-op game. When it comes to local multiplayer simple game design is often better. When you have a bunch of people hanging out and having a good time you don’t want to break the flow of a party to teach everyone how to play Starcraft for an hour. Now don’t get me wrong, Starcraft is a great game, but it is not a pick up and play game. Starcraft is a good book that you read over many nights. It really requires your full attention. It is not a popcorn horror flick you throw on in the background of a Halloween themed party.

 Think about introducing a complex game like that to your average group of gamer friends. There will be the one guy who is great at it and will win most of the time, a few average players who will do OK from game to game, and some new players who won’t fully understand what’s going on. It is hard to have high energy shit talking and exciting back and forth moments in this situation. Most of the time the players just kind of durtle around until the player that usually wins, wins. Compare this to a game with simple mechanics that can be picked up by everyone quickly.

 Many of the Nintendo 64 era classics that are still heavily played have this pickup and play style. No long game mode or class setups. No complex hard to explain mechanics or level design. Many of these old games like Mario Cart 64, Golden Eye, Smash Bros, old wrestling games, Tony Hawk, Bomberman, Worms, Power Stone, and others like these are ideal for party environments. They are easy to teach and learn, quick to setup, and have enough depth to keep people coming back.

 Now I don’t want you to think that we are stuck with these old multiplayer games for all time. But I do think that we will be stuck with them for a while. The current trend for triple-A game design seems to be leaning towards more and more complex multiplayer setups. Whenever a developer shows off their new online multiplayer game they talk about all the options players have for things like character load outs. Look at all these menus you can scroll through, they say. This game have so many menus! But menus don’t make for a good local gaming experience, when my group of friends pop in a video game we want to get right to the good stuff.

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Top 10 Overlooked Fighting Games

Street Fighter II. Marvel vs Capcom 2. Garou: Mark of the Wolves. In the world of fighting games, it can be hard to stick out from the pack. If the players don’t take to you, you’re doomed to languish in obscurity. But some of these forgotten titles deserved better. In fact, many of these forgotten fighters downright rule, but never got the chance to shine. So, here’s a handy dandy list of wonderful fighting games that are truly underappreciated. In a better world, these games would have been bigger.

10. Asura Buster: Eternal Warriors

The sequel to 1998’s Asura Blade: Blade of Dynasty, this fantasy weapon based fighting game pitted characters with names like Goat and Alice! (yes, with an exclamation point) in battles for supremacy in a post-apocalyptic world. Asura Blade was a fast and frantic fighter that emphasized tactics, with guard breaks and roll recoveries being featured to help players get the leg up on their opponent. The game also featured a mechanic known as “Last Chance,” which brought a fighter back to life after being bested in combat and allowing them limited time to turn the fight in their favor.

Asura Blade wasn’t the most innovative game on the block, but what it did, it did well. Fights were a blur of blades and projectiles, and made sure the players would be on the edge of their seat the entire time. The roster of characters included the requisite ninja, a mysterious katana wielder, a spunky protagonist, the sexually ambiguous fighter, and so on and so forth. So while Asura Buster didn’t exactly blaze any trails, it managed to ape enough from other games to make itself fun.

9. Rakugakids

N64

Rakugakids had a fun concept, wonderfully designed characters, and managed to be a fun fighter on a system not known for it’s fighting games. Unfortunately, it never made it stateside, so it didn’t get the exposure it deserved. Rakugakids (“Rakuga” is Japanese for graffiti) was about a group of children discovering a magic box of crayons, two of which were stolen by the neighborhood bully. Eventually, the kids figure out that anything drawn by the crayons will come to life, which obviously leads the children to creating wacky characters to fight each other. Pretty standard stuff, really.

With out there characters like Marsa (a living chicken hat on top of a little girls head) and Beartank (a bear… that is also a tank), Rakugakids prided itself on being different. So different, in fact, that it was made for the N64, which has gained a reputation as being a terrible system for fighting games. Despite this, Rakugakids managed to be genuinely fun, and offered fast fights that played similarly to Capcom’s acclaimed Vs. series. Add a groovy surf rock soundtrack and wonderful animations on top of that and you have a game that deserves a play.

8. The Rumble Fish 2

Arcade

With a nonsense name like The Rumble Fish, this game was doomed to failure. But underneath the stupid title lurked a fun 2D fighting game with stylish presentation and lightning fast gameplay. Long before Marvel vs Capcom 3 brought 3D graphics in a 2D fighting game to the spotlight, The Rumble Fish was blazing a trail by featuring detailed 3D characters constrained to a 2D plane. The game’s main draw was the Offense and Defense gauges, which allowed for offensive and defensive super moves, natch. This made for gameplay that relied upon using both bars tactically, keeping gamers on the edge of their seats. The roster was filled with well designed fighters such as Boyd, an old man in a Hawaiian shirt with a bird living under his straw hat, and Bazoo, an 8 foot freak who is used for sport by a shadowy conglomerate.

While the original The Rumble Fish was a great game, it’s sequel improved on it’s mechanics in every way. Unfortunately, while The Rumble Fish was ported to PS2, The Rumble Fish 2 stuck to the arcades, so it never got widespread exposure,which is a damn shame.

7. The Fallen Angels

Arcade

Here’s a weird title. Released by Japanese arcade staple Psikyo in 1998, the game’s main draw was it’s emphasis on realism, or as close to realism as you can get in a 2D fighting game. The game featured no energy projectiles or flaming uppercuts; in fact, only three characters in the game had projectiles, and even then they were using pistols and missiles. This made for up close and personal fights, and a big emphasis on tactics. Unfortunately, the game didn’t get a wide release and eventually faded into obscurity. The Fallen Angels is so shrouded in mystery that fans believe the game was released before it was completely finished, with four partially finished characters being found in the games code. No one has been able to confirm the finished status of the game because no information on the creation of the game exists in any form.

While the game is next to impossible to find, for fighting game enthusiasts, it’s worth getting your hands on.

6. X-Men: Next Dimension

As a lifelong X-Men fan, I’m a little skewed in opinion about this game. It’s not the most polished 3D fighter there ever was, the gameplay is on the easy side. But damn if it’s isn’t fun. The next-gen sequel to the PS1 X-Men: Mutant Academy series, X-Men: Next Dimension was a 3D fighter that wore it’s inspirations on it’s sleeve. It had a chain combo system similar to Darkstalkers’, a parry system like the one found in Street Fighter III, and it had massive stages that fighters could knock their opponents into different sections of a la Dead or Alive 3. Throw these elements into a pot, add more X-Men than you could shake a stick at and, baby, you got a game going.

The game even featured a full fledged story mode, loosely based on the epic Zero Tolerance storyline. Fights book ended by cut scenes would present the sweeping story of the game, pitting the mutants against Bastion and his army of Sentinels. Sure, it’s not Shakespeare, but at least it makes an honest effort to having a story. X-Men: Next Dimension isn’t the best fighting game for PS2, but it’s an overlooked gem. Fighting game fans and X-Men nuts should definitely give it a go.

5. Rage of the Dragons

Neo-Geo

The story of Rage of the Dragons is a strange one. Created by the Mexico based Evoga, Rage of the Dragons was originally intended to be the sequel to the similarly forgotten 1995 Double Dragon fighting game. However, Evoga was unable to secure the rights to Double Dragons, so the game was redesigned as a homage of the beloved series. Regardless of the source material, Rage of the Dragons is an excellent Neo-Geo fighter.

Like Marvel vs Capcom 2, Rage of the Dragon is based around tag team gameplay, with fighters jumping in and out of the skirmish. The gameplay isn’t groundbreaking, but what it does it does well. Rage of the Dragons also featured a unique juggle combo system called “First Impact.” When activated, the player would key in buttons as they appeared on the screen for a convenient dial-a-combo. The game also featured wonderful characters, with a Jim Kelly-esque martial artist, a Catholic priest, and a break dancing car mechanic being but a few of the fighters.

Rage of the Dragon’s has built up a cult following, but is next to impossible to find in America. Get your hands on a ROM and see what all the fuss is about.

4. Slap Happy Rhythm Busters

Playstation

Yes, Slap Happy Rhythm Busters. God bless Japan. This bizarrely titled game was released in Japan for the Playstation, and sadly never found it’s way stateside. This is a goddamn shame because the game is positively bursting with personality. Slap Happy Rhythm Busters was cel shaded and vaguely inspired by the look of graffiti. Because of this, the roster is filled with colorful and crazy characters, such as a fighting trash collector, a punk taxi driver, and a cleaver wielding snowman. Slap Happy Rhythm Busters is essentially Jet Set Radio as a fighting game, and that is awesome.

What really sets Slap Happy Rhythm Busters apart from the crowd is the games use of rhythm elements. When a character has stored three super bars, they can utilize their “Beat” move, which is basically a super move that requires the player to push buttons in time to music, a la Dance Dance Revolution. With each successful button press, the move will increase in damage, allowing skilled players to bust out life bar draining attacks.  It was an innovative idea, and while the move got tiresome after a while, it was fun to see something new in the fighting genre.

3. Battle Fantasia

It has long been a tradition in the gaming world to take a genre that doesn’t normally have RPG elements in it, jam some RPG elements in it, and call it a day. Battle Fantasia does just that by combining the vastly different fighting and RPG genres, but it does so in charming style. Set in a fantasy world inhabited by the likes of bunny wizards, pirates, dwarves, and gunslingers, Battle Fantasia sets itself apart from the competition with it’s interesting setting and fun characters. In true RPG form, every character has different HP and MP, with big characters having lots of HP but little in the way of MP, and vice versa.

The game is also a joy to look at, with wonderfully crafted 3D characters duking it out on a 2D plane. While it was developed by Arc System Works, Battle Fantasia isn’t as fast as games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. Instead, the game emphasizes parries and the “Heat Up” technique, which allows fighters to regain HP and buff their attacks, like using a potion in an RPG game. Battle Fantasia managed to slip under the radar, but it’s a fun, technical fighter that really deserves another look.

2. Martial Masters

Arcade

No, not Eminem (jokes! VideoDunce has got ’em!). This Chinese developed fighting game was quietly released into arcades with no fanfare in 1999. The game slid under the radar and eventually faded into obscurity, but it deserved better. Martial Masters is an excellent fighter that plays similarly to Street Fighter III, and features some of the best character animations of the time. Seriously, we’re talking Garou levels of detail here, people. The game is a fluid fighter that puts a strong emphasis on crazy big combos, with just about every move being comboable. While the gameplay delivers, the characters are less than memorable. They are all well animated and full of awesome moves, but the developers gave them all incredibly generic names such as Tiger, Scorpion, Crane, and everyone’s favorite, Monk.

All jokes aside, Martial Master stands out as one of the best fighters of the 90’s arcade scene, and it is criminal that it didn’t get a wider release. Do yourself a favor and seek this one out.

1. Project Justice

Full disclosure, Videodunce readers: Project Justice is my favorite game of all time. So when I put it at the top of this list, I concede that I’m a little skewed in opinion. But how can I not be with a game as awesome as Project Justice? The sequel to the phenomenal Rival Schools: United By Fate, Project Justice pits teams of three composed of various anime character archetypes and high school stereotypes against each other in high flying, combo filled white knuckle brawls. Project Justice is the closest video games have ever gotten to being an honest-to-goodness playable anime; characters knock each other into the stratosphere while throwing giant energy projectiles and spiking opponents into the ground so hard it leaves a crater.

Where Project Justice really shines is it’s crazy characters. Synchronized swimmers, camera wielding journalists, hadouken throwing teachers, evil tennis playing little girls, giant boobed American stereotype cheerleaders; every character is wonderfully designed and absolutely ridiculous. Project Justice also features a great story mode, that allows players to follow the adventures of the various schools as they deal with the metal-clawed pretty boy Kurow and his Reverse Society, who seek to throw the schools of Japan into disarray.

Project Justice is one of the greatest fighting games ever made, and the fact that it hasn’t received a proper sequel is downright criminal. Sure, characters from the game have popped up in various Capcom Vs. games, but it’s not enough. Get your hands on this fantastic title and see why Capcom needs to get crackin’ on a sequel.

The new Wolfenstein is Inglorious Basterds meets Iron Sky

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type: The new Wolfenstein look awesome. Ever since the original Castle Wolfenstein rocketed to fame, the series has survived through mediocre title after mediocre title. Whether series star B.J. Blazkowics was fighting Nazis or Ghost Nazis, gamers responded with a resounding “Ho-hum.”

But Wolfenstein: The New Order looks to mix up the formula. Oh sure, there’s plenty of Nazi’s to shoot. But instead of sticking it to the Führer by helping the allies win World War II, The New Order takes place in an alternate universe where the Nazis won the war and have gone on to conquer the world. Also, they’ve got giant spider mechs, because why not.

It is in this hellish world that B.J. recovers from his convenient amnesia and decides to join the resistance to topple the Nazi regime. But B.J. is out of touch. He finds himself in a world that has Nazi watchtowers on every corner, with terrifying mechs patrolling the street to keep the peace.

Unlike previous entries in the series, Wolfenstein: The New Order puts a heavy emphasis on story. MachineGuns says that they turned to books such as Phillip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Tower” and movies such as Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” to help establish a tone. The game takes a hard look at the possible ramifications of a Nazi victor, while also keeping their tongue firmly planted in cheek. While you might see the effect the Nazi dystopia is having on the populace one minute, you’ll be looking at pictures of Nazi’s on the moon and disintegrating bad guys with ray guns the next.

This change in tone helps The New Order to stand out from previous entries in the series. Realizing that it’s a game about Nazis and Mechs, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The game  features villains with names like Dr. Deathshead that are so evil that it borders on cartoonish. When B.J. isn’t being pursued by Dr. Deathshead, he has to contend the scheming, psychotic Frau Engel, the leader of the  Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), who will do everything in her power to see B.J. dead.

To help him deal with the Nazi scum, B.J. will have a wealth of weapons at his disposal. Along with regular machines guns and pistols, The New Order will also feature futuristic weapons that can turn the tide of battles. But the mystery of The New Order lies in how the Nazi’s managed to develop such futuristic technology. Seeing that the game is set in the 1960’s, how have the Nazi’s managed to create robot dogs, mechs, and ray guns? As the game progresses, the developers promise that players will learn the shocking secret behind the Nazi’s technological rise to power.

In the Wolfenstein: The New Order, B.J. threatens Nazis with chainsaws, mows down gasmask-clad Nazis with laser guns, and stabs Nazis in the throat, and it looks like ridiculous fun. Wolfenstein: The New Order has got VideoDunce excited for what is sure to be a crazy fun game. Also, it’s got Nazi’s on the moon, so what’s not to love?

Deep Cutz: Double Dragon Neon

Deep Cutz highlights great video game music that you should check out!

The recently released “bro-op” brawler Double Dragon Neon is delightfully ridiculous, reveling in it’s old school ways and it’s wacky action. Coming along with side scrolling brawlers are waning in popularity, Double Dragon Neon brings the beloved franchise into the new century while firmly wearing it’s influences on it’s sleeve.

The soundtrack of Double Dragon Neon is particularly wonderful, sounding like an amped-up version of a 90’s arcade beat-’em-up. Composed by Jake Kaufman, the soundtrack will have you tapping your hands while you tap the heads of bad guys.

The whole soundtrack can be found at Jake Kaufman’s Bandcamp page, where it is available for a free download in it’s entirety. Check it out!

https://virt.bandcamp.com/album/double-dragon-neon

Kickstart This Shit, Internet!: Classroom Aquatic

Kickstart This Shit, Internet! is a weekly article spotlighting great games on Kickstarter that haven’t hit their funding yet

It’s here: test day. You thought you had studied enough. You told yourself you were ready. But as you stare at your test, your mind goes blank and panic sets in. Also, you’re in an underwater classroom surrounded by dolphins.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

In Classroom Aquatic, a self described “cheat-’em-up”, the player must cheat off his surrounding dolphin students in order to net an A. But be careful! Your classmates know your porpoise (heh) and they aren’t keen on you cheating off of them, so you’ll have to utilize distractions and your wits to nab the answers.

But it’s three strikes and your out. If the teach sees you or your classmates catch you, it’s game over. If you manage to not get caught and you get all the right answers, you win!

Additionally, Classroom Aquatic will utilize the Oculus Rift, which will really immerse you in the high stakes world of underwater classroom cheating.

As of this writing, the game is at $6,838, far short of it’s $30,000 goal. With 18 days to go, it’s looking grim, but not if you kickstart this shit, internet!

Chroma: The musical FPS from the makers of Guitar Hero

Yes, you read that right. Harmonix, makers of acclaimed music-centric games such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Amplitude have revealed their latest game Chroma, in which music is literally your weapon. While the game is still in the very early stages of development, what has been revealed has got VideoDunce practically salivating at the potential.

In Chroma, players will suit up as futuristic warriors who are pitted against each other in cyberspace arenas. The battlegrounds look like Tron and Blade Runner had a baby, and it’s an absolute treat for the eyes. As these future warriors duke it out, the arena will be alive with the sounds of music. But unlike The Sound of Music, this is quite literal. Each stage will possess a specific soundtrack that will affect the shape of the level, with mountains jutting out of the ground when the bass drops, or an earthquake consuming the level when the chorus comes in. The music will affect the flow of battle, forcing players to learn how the songs affect their surroundings to get a leg up on the competition.

But it’s not just the arenas that will be a slave to the rhythm. Weapons will also incorporate music in unique ways. Sure, there are machine guns and sniper rifles that work the same as machine guns and sniper rifles you would find in other games. In Chroma, machine guns will look and sound different depending on the music, twisting and shaping itself to the rhythm. Grenades can be thrown, but they will only explode on the musics backbeat, forcing players to find the rhythm and use their grenades at the appropriate time.

Chroma will also reward players who move in time to the music. Players will jump higher when they jump during a downbeat, or sprint further when they sprint during a downbeat. By utilizing jump pads spaced throughout the arenas, players will be able to ride the rhythm and use the pads to quickly navigate the arena. Just think, a player could be hot on your heels, and if you time your jump to the rhythm while being in a particular area of the map, you could soar into the air over a hill just as it forms, landing behind it just in time to round the opposite corner, pop out behind your pursuer, and plug him in the back.

​The Creators of Rock Band Are Making A Musical First-Person Shooter

Chroma puts players into teams, and gives players five unique classes to choose from. Players have an assault class, a support class, a sneak class, a tank class, and an engineer class. Each class will have specific perks, and will have interesting ways to utilize the music in levels. For example, the support class is equipped with a healing gun, similar to the Medic in Team Fortress 2. When you use the gun in time to the music, the healing properties of the gun will be amplified.

Harmonix has said that the game is going to be free to play, with minimal microtransactions to worry about. Players will be able to take Chroma for a spin as early as next month, when the alpha will be unleashed upon the public. For those who wish to sign up for the alpha, head on over to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ChromaAlphaSignup

Top 10 Weirdest Games Starring Food Company Mascots

As long as there have been video games, there have been companies hungry (puns!) to get their mascots into video games. Companies such as McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, and Burger King are but a few of the big names that have had video games made starring their mascots.over the years. Join VideoDunce as we look back through the years at some of the weirdest attempts at video game synergy ever.

10. M.C. Kids

The first game on the list and I’m already cheating. M.C. Kids doesn’t technically star McDonald’s iconic hamburger shilling clown; instead, it stars two kids named Mick and Mack who are tasked with returning a magical bag to Ronald McDonald after it was stolen by that darn Hamburglar. To accomplish this task, the M.C. Kids venture into McDonaldland, which is surprisingly not filled with obese women in rascal scooters and diabetes. Instead, it’s a magical place inhabited by the loveable McDonald’s characters. The M.C. Kids must run, jump, duck, and fight enemies in order to defeat the Hamburgler, and make the world safe again for terrible burgers and soggy fries.

9. Yo! Noid

Remember the Noid? The weird red spandexed, rabbit eared pizza ruiner appeared in dozens of commercials for the pizza giant in the 80’s, taking the blame for smushed, cold pizza. When you got these Noided pizzas, you would be annoyed. Geddit? A-Noid? Hur hur hur. And yet, the Noid was rather popular. So popular, in fact, that he ended up starring in two games on two seperate systems. The most bizarre was Yo! Noid, an NES game from Capcom that put gamers in the shoes of the Noid. The Noid was enlisted by the mayor of New York City to stop his evil doppelganger Mr. Green, because why not. What’s interesting about the game is that Yo! Noid is just a reskinned Japanese game known as Kamen no Ninja Hanamura, which had absolutely nothing to do with pizza. Capcom took the game, put a fresh coat of paint on it, and released the game stateside as Yo! Noid, leaving Kamen no Ninja Hanamura to languish in obscurity.

8. Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool

Ah, Chester Cheetah. The ultimate 90’s snack food mascot. Because the 90’s were all about being extreme, Cheetos took it’s outdated mascot, threw a pair of sunglasses on him, and made him a motorcycle drivin’, bungee jumpin’, skateboard ridin’ cool guy. Thanks to marketing, it was now cool to eat a snack that left a thick layer of orange dust on your hands. Chester Cheetah became so popular that he starred in two video games, Chester Cheetah’s Wild Wild Quest and the hilariously named Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool. The latter found the mascot engaging in some standard side scrolling action, while occasionally jumping on his scooter to take down bad guys. Too Cool to Fool was so cool, in fact, that it didn’t have time to spell check it’s instruction manual, which led to gamers being graced with the wonderful phrase “As is Chester Cheetah way, is one-person play.”

7. World Gone Sour

Just when you thought company mascot games were a thing other past, along comes Sour Patch Kids to prove you wrong. In World Gone Sour, you play as a Sour Patch Kid who has but one goal in life: to be eaten. After the bag he inhabits is purchased by a movie goer, he comes tantalizingly close to his life’s goal, only for the potential eater to trip and drop the Sour Patch Kid in the trash. From there, he embarks upon a journey to be devoured, even though no one wants to eat candy that’s been in the garbage. Along the way, he encounters Sour Patch Kids that befell the same fate as our plucky protagonist and have become sour, lashing out at the world that has forgotten them. For a game based on a mediocre candy, it puts a surprising amount of effort into the story. Also, added bonus, Method Man did the official theme song of the game, World Gone Sour (The Lost Kids.) I know Wu-Tang is for the children, but this is ridiculous.

6. Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid Man is a giant anthropomorphic drink pitcher that bursts through walls to deliver refreshment to children. The game practically makes itself, right? Or so you would think. Instead, Kool-Aid Man for the Atari 2600 tasks players with using the thirst quenching powers of Kool-Aid to satisfy the Thirsties, who are using comically long drinking straws to drain the water from a pool. This is accomplished by crashing a red drink pitcher into tiny balls, but only when that ball is drinking, otherwise the player will get hurt and die. So blatant was the advertising in Kool-Aid Man that it was offered to impressionable youngsters for free by mailing in 125 proofs of purchase.

5. Cool Spot

You know the dot between the 7 and the up on cans of 7up? So desperate were the folks at 7up for a hip, fun mascot that they gave that dot arms and legs, slapped some sunglasses on him, and called it a day. Imaginatively, he was named Spot, and he somehow starred in FOUR separate video games. And against all odds, one of them managed to be pretty good. This is mostly due to the fact that Cool Spot was developed by Shiny Entertainment, they of Earthworm Jim fame, who used the same engine on Cool Spot that they utilized on the SNES Aladdin game. This lead to Cool Spot being a surprisingly fun platformer that saw the 7up spot embarking on a side scrolling adventure, shooting fizzy bubbles to vanquish enemies. The game was well regarded, and even managed to nab an award for “Best Sound” from Electronic Gaming Monthly. Impressive for a game based on a lackluster soft drink.

4. Chex Quest

Someone somewhere saw the demon slaughtering gameplay of Doom and thought it would be a great way to advertise cereal. Thus, Chex Quest was born. A total conversion of Ultimate Doom, Chex Quest was a non-violent shooter that pitted a man outfitted in Chex cereal armor against the Flemoid aliens, utilizing his “zorcher” to peacefully teleport the aliens off planet. A game that was previously about blowing enemies to pieces with various weapons became a child friendly game that shilled terrible cereal. But the game did it’s job, helping the fledgling cereal brand to see sales jump by 295%. A sequel was eventually created, but it’s the original that has managed to stay popular. Chex Quest has a surprisingly large cult following, with some devoted fans even setting up online deathmatch arenas for the game. Not bad for a game that was packaged with cereal.

3. Pepsiman

Leave it to Japan to advertise a soft drink by creating a faceless superhero clad in a skintight Pepsi suit that only communicated via terrifying fizzing noises. Pepsiman was always running to people who needed their thirst quenched to deliver satisfying Pepsi, only to immediately be hurt in a ridiculous way afterwards. The commercials were wildly successful, leading to the creation of a Pepsiman video game. Released for the Playstation, the game put the players in the shoes of the titular Pepsiman, who would have to run through stages collecting cans of Pepsi all while avoiding various obstacles. Along the way, Pepsiman would get stuck in trash cans, hop on skateboards, and engage in various other wacky antics. During these stages, the players were treated to a soundtrack entirely composed of remixes of Pepsiman’s theme song. At the end of each stage, players were treated to a video of a portly American man who would yell out nonsensical Pepsi slogans. From all reports, the game isn’t half bad, but damn is it weird.

2. Darkened Skye

On the outside, Darkened Skye appears to be a generic fantasy action adventure game. You play as Skye, a young woman who must save the world of Lynlora using the power of magic. But once you get into the magic system, it’s revealed that only one tasty treat possesses the ability to amplify your magical powers: Skittles! Surprise, bitch! Yes, Darkened Skye is one big Skittles advertisement hidden under a fantasy game. Literally nothing in the game relates to the fruity candy, outside of it’s use in the magic system. Seeing that the box art makes absolutely no mention of Skittles, gamers were understandably surprised to find the candy in the game. While undeniably weird to make an entire game with the express purpose of sneaking in candy advertisements, you gotta give Skittles props for not going the obvious route to sell their candy.

1. Sneak King

Back in 2006, Burger King had the truly brilliant idea to release three games for the then-relatively new Xbox 360. The games would be budget priced at $3.99, and would be available at all Burger King stores. The games sold like hot cakes, even though they were all godawful. But one managed to stand out from the dreck due to the absolute weirdness of the game. Starring The King, the terrifying giant headed mascot of Burger King, gamers were tasked with sneaking through levels and surprising people with delicious Burger King food. Each character had a “Hunger Bar” displayed over their heads which would diminish from green to red, with red leading to the character passing out, and The King failing the mission. Thus, the race was on for the player to complete each level in time while racking up a high score based on speed and performance. The King could also take cover in various items, popping out of trash cans and bushes to surprise unsuspecting people with a delicious Whopper. Though VideoDunce questions who would accept a hamburger from a terrifying monstrosity popping out of a bush, Sneak King had no time for logic. It was awful, sure, but Sneak King managed to be memorable due to it’s sheer weirdness.