20 Forgotten Old-School Video Games
Space Invaders. Asteroids. Pac Man. Many of the old arcade and home console hits are remembered fondly to this day. But some video games never caught on, thanks to poor graphics, bad concepts or use of the word “Algebra” in their title. Here are just a few of those lost to time, garbage dumps and obsessive collectors’ closets.
What some video games lacked in graphics they tried to make up for in personal growth. Hence this unearthed classic in which players broke through emotional and psychological barriers to find out the real reason they can’t find love, acceptance or a partner in science class.
You Vs. God
In the 1970’s religion was trending big thanks to such musicals as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Godspell” and the little seen “Fallen Angel: Learning to Walk after Plummeting from Such a Great Height.” Activision jumped on this bandwagon but created a game short on spiritualism and long on feeling utterly powerless.
Some arcade companies tried to target an older audience. Hence this video game which takes you through your own anus as you fire at ulcerations and fleshy growths, made all the more unpleasant by the fact players had to take a powerful laxative beforehand.
Haunted Fourth-Floor Walk-Up Junior Studio Apartment
Geared for recent college grads and anyone pursuing a career in the arts, this game failed to catch on due to its limited playing space, inability to convince a second player to go upstairs and an air mattress that served as bed, table and place for constant sobbing.
CLOWNS! SO MANY @#$%ING CLOWNS!
Second only to “The Knifing on Knife Hill: Knifer’s Edition” in sheer horror, this game never made it out of beta due to all the programmers screaming in high-pitched terror and wetting their pants so much that they warped the office chairs.
Oregon Trail: Gypsy Curse Edition
The makers “Oregon Trail” took the original game’s most beloved conceit—life is a hardscrabble, pointless nightmare that always ends in intestinal parasites—and kicked it up a notch with a curse that made even breathing a hopeless dream.
Initially bundled with the Nintendo NES (before the far more popular “Duck Hunt”), this game featured a bird flying closer and closer and CLOSER until it actually broke through the screen and attacked the player who—unarmed—could only throw bread and beg for mercy.
Which One Is the Square?
One of the very first video games, “Which One Is the Square” was hampered by RAM so low it could only make squares, no means of a player being able to answer, and an image that was permanently burnt into the screen if left on after pressing start.
Someone Was Here Before You and They Were AWESOME
It’s a first-person shooter without the gun as you wander through levels already littered with previously killed demons, letting you walk in the footsteps of a great player. If you ever wanted to pay $40 to be impressed, this was the game for you.
You Can Do It!
Designed to increase kids’ self-esteem, the game offered very basic math problems, a race with no competitors, applause for pushing any button and extremely detailed instructions for exacting cold, calculated, lethal revenge on anyone who ever looked at you funny.
Freakass Rainbow Land
An air & refrigeration repairman is tasked with rescuing royalty for no good reason in this side-scroller complete with sentient shrooms, fire-breathing flowers and a talking brownie inside a mirror-walled kewpie doll teetering on the edge of a teacup in a pirate ship sailed by a corn fritter festooned with talking medallions.
Super Fun Yugi Emperor Battle Infernal Blue 1
Who shall become Number One High Dark Master? Will it be Excelsior Emerito, son of Rannifan of the dreaded Synchro Consortium? Or will you smite your enemies and control Ghangshire with your Zan-Zan Pellets in this inexplicable Japanese-only release that was played successfully only once and purely by accident.
A programming glitch resulted in this early CD-ROM game in which you wandered around in an impenetrable fog as some unseen character kept yelling, “Is that you, Tom?” You would then keep typing “I’m not Tom!” Unless you were Tom, in which case you won.
One of the earliest movie tie-ins—and first Lego game—required you to build your own ungainly E.T. using mismatched square blocks before the vacuum cleaner sucked them up or you got bored and decided to build a rocket ship or racecar instead.
Before “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” there was this, in which the player had to own their own German Baroque Era keyboard, had to know how to read music and had to have the first two movements of Bach’s “Concerto I in D Minor” committed to memory because the game started mid-note.
The fun begins when NORAD gets a four-second warning about an incoming meteor the size of Greenland. After the immediate, catastrophic explosion the player gets a cheat code on how they could have saved the earth but no longer can.
This Gameboy cartridge combined the system’s two most popular titles for a game in which the player could only watch in terror as little Italian men fell screaming from the sky without rhyme, reason or an encouraging scoring mechanism.
Hoping to attract both sports fans and computer geeks, this basketball game pitted a chess rook against a fourth-level cleric to see who could score the atomic number of cobalt first. Only one unit was purchased and then hacked to make “Pac-Man Scrabble.”
Predating both “Tron” and “Tron: Legacy,” this game’s similar-looking characters made it impossible to tell if you were playing the good guy or the bad guy as you hurled a square disc at one another in the hopes something would identify itself as Jeff Bridges.
This cartridge came without a name, instructions or means of shutting it off. Instead the lone eye at the center stares unblinkingly until the player completely loses their mind and shaves off all their hair. Or you could just press “fire”, switching it over to “Frogger.”
So what is your favorite old video game? When was the last time you played it? Do you even call it anymore, just to see how it’s doing? It’s probably lonely and would love to hear from you today.