Off to a weird start
Launch games. Often times these are the only titles you get to play while anxiously (or bitterly) awaiting other games to come out during the months-long launch window. Some launches are more fruitful than others. If youre lucky you get genre-defining games like Halo: Combat Evolved or Super Mario 64--or at least a dozen or so above average games to choose from on day one.
And then other times well, early console adopters can get into some downright strange stuff. Whether its the turn-based collectible card game or a puzzler about synchronizing firework explosions, these launch titles prove that whats first released on a console can be genuinely odd. Like, robotic rabbit odd.
Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy | Atari Jaguar
McFur has two main things in common with the Star Fox series: anthropomorphic animals (in this case a lion, jaguar, and lynx) and spaceship combat. Lead felines Cutter and Trevor mean business on their quest to rid the Crescent Galaxy of Odd-It, an evildoer who wants to make the rest of the galaxy odd like itself. Yup, general weirdness is the antagonists driving force behind galaxy conquest.
OK, so maybe Odd-It doesnt pose as great a threat as other galaxic dominators like Fox McClouds arch nemesis Andross, but at least theres a point to the entire side-scrolling shooter. Unfortunately, the game was rushed and doomed like the Atari Jaguar console it launched on. Interesting side note: McFur was the only title available on launch for the Jaguar aside from a pack-in title. This makes every other console launch look like a Christmas morning.
Metal Gear Ac!d | PSP
What makes Ac!d so odd doesnt have anything to do with the games story or setting (every game in the stealth series is downright weird). Instead, the strangeness comes from the way players control Solid Snake during his adventure--cards. Ac!d is played by building decks of cards to perform actions ranging from sword slices to donning stealth camouflage. These cards are earned by spending moolah on packs with different themes based on past games in the series, as well as other Hideo Kojima hits like Boktai.
Not to scare every fan away, Ac!d also contains all of the Metal Gear staples: a wacked out story with a psychic and plane-stealing marionettes, outrageous boss battles, and lots of sneaking. The gameplay was perhaps an unexpected decision rivaling the change in lead character in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but the appeal of unlocking cards referencing the series long history, and other Konami classics, is a blast.
Feel the Magic XY/XX | DS
Feel the Magic contains a love story Nicholas Sparks could only write during a fever dream. The hero vies for the love of a lady he just met while trying to fend off a rival who is hell-bent on gaining her affection in nefarious ways. Thats not too out of the ordinary, but the provocative scenarios are. The game is littered with a bunch of sexually-charged situations full of scorpions, stampeding bulls, and other oddities like the Rub Rabbits. Who are the Rub Rabbits? Well, theyre men who wear rabbit ears and help others acquire true love... or something. Shenanigans full of rubbing, blowing, and tickling ensue.
Though essentially a short collection of minigames in the same vein as the WarioWare series (but featuring less flatulence and garlic eating), Feel the Magic is an interesting romp with possibly the quirkiest love story in gaming history. It even spawned a sequel that upped the ante with what situations Sega would throw at players, like avoiding sumo wrestlers on an escalator. Thats just another day in finding and keeping true love in Segas world.
Blue Stinger | Dreamcast
This is what you get when you take gameplay mechanics from Resident Evil circa 1998 and combine it with a hefty dose of anime. Blue Stingers story starts out with the theoretical extinction of dinosaurs by meteor. Another giant rock of destruction falls from the sky and lands on Dinosaur Island (an island that pops up where the old meteor landed). In true video game fashion this sets off a chain of events where mutated monstrosities are out to have you for dinner while you try to figure out just what the heck is going on. Plenty of health-replenishing soda and snacks will be consumed during your stay on the island.
Aside from inadvertently expressing the dangers of meteors hitting the giant rock we live on, Blue Stinger also presents some of the craziest scenarios in survival horror history. Some of them contain a god-like being. Another involves something that may be a rejected fire Pokmon usurped of his inclusion in the series by Charizard. Its a strange adventure.
FantaVision | PlayStation 2
Mention a puzzle game and most gamers will think of blocks. The shape is, after all, quite synonymous with the puzzle genre thanks to the giant that is Tetris. FantaVision nestles quite nicely into the same genre, but it uses something a bit more exciting (and volatile) than blocks: fireworks. The bright bits of exploding powder and metal salts that mark the Fourth of July are used in FantaVision to create what is a unique puzzle game.
Using a cursor you match firework colors. Lining up similarly-colored fireworks results in points. The more you line up, the more points you earn. Doing so also creates a prettier light show. Fail at connecting the many different colors and types of fireworks and you have a display that would only bring shame on New Years Day. Perform like a firework-lighting savant by setting off more Peonies and Willows, and you have a performance thatd put Disney Worlds Epcot out of business.
Face Raiders | 3DS
When the 3DS launched, people were curious about what 3D brings to the gaming table (and they still might be wondering today). If there are arguments to be made for the merits of 3D games, then Face Raiders should be at the forefront of it. Included on the system software at launch, Face Raiders takes a simple concept (first-person shooter) and puts a fresh twist on it with its augmented reality capabilities.
Players can take photos of themselves, their cat, spouse, or whatever, and then watch as it transforms into a little flying, helmet-wearing orb. These enemies zip around whatever setting you happen to be in. If youre in the bathroom, theyll fly out at you from around the toilet, cackling as they try to attack you--sometimes with a kiss. Its simple, but it uses the handhelds camera, gyroscope, and 3D features in a nice little package perfect for showing off what the 3DS is capable of.
Street Fighter: The Movie | PlayStation
Lets be honest: the Street Fighter movie may be laughable, but its still stupid fun when you have an evening to kill and popcorn to eat. Lets be honest once more: the game based on the awful film should be electrified by Blanka, diced up by Vega, and kicked into nothingness by Chun-Li. The real ones; not the weird models from the film used for this fighting game.
Street Fighter: The Movie is just as hard to look at as it is to play. Fighters look like their movie models (and really, Jean-Claude Van Damme is a handsome gentleman, so you wouldnt think this is a problem), but polished with a heavy coat of ugly. The game just looks awkward. Try to watch Ken spinning in the air as proof. Everything about the game just seems a bit off--though of course this happens when you photograph the actors in weird poses. It did, however, have a story mode with branching paths, something always welcome in a genre light on storytelling.
Jumping Flash! | PlayStation
Fusing the first-person perspective with a 3D platformer seems like a recipe for disaster not even Cooking Mama can save, but thats exactly what Jumping Flash! did--and it works. Players take control of robotic bunny Robbit on his mission to stop an evil astrophysicist from splitting Crater Planet apart. Unlike 3D platformers of that followed, like Super Mario 64, the sense of scale created by Robbits leaps into the air bring a feeling of excitement as the landscape shrinks. The game was popular enough to spawn a sequel, and is available right now on the PlayStation Store for those who may have missed out, or want to relive what its like to control a robotic bunny death machine, laser beams and all.
But new players beware: Robbit doesnt really look like a bunny, or at least one you should ever get near in real life. Demonic red eyes aside, if you can get past the sometimes dizzying point of view, the title provides something that hasnt been seen since: a cybernetic bunny in a life-or-death showdown against a dragon. And you thought your Skyrim character was tough.
Pen Pen Trilcelon | Dreamcast
Many have tried and failed to create good racing games where all of the racing is done on foot. Pen Pen nails it about as well as any game can. Sporting a creepy set of floating eyes and a penguin mouth as your mode selection tool, the game tries its best to show off a distinct style right off the bat, and keeps up with its silliness throughout with its colorful courses.
The Trilcelon is modeled after a triathlon in that it has three events during each race: sliding via belly, wobbling about as quickly as your grandmother speed walks, and swimming--all of which can actually be quite enjoyable. Less so are the bizarre aesthetics and animation. The Pen Pen (penguin-like creatures) you race against look like they came straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon meant to give children nightmares. They then slip around on the ice as though theyre having a seizure.
Tank! Tank! Tank! | Wii U
A port of a Japan-only arcade game, this Wii U launch title is all about action. Players control (big surprise) tanks in a variety of modes enhanced by playing cooperatively. The mission: destroy giant mechanized creatures within the specific time limit. Gorillas, spiders, dragons, and many other enemies pulled straight out of Kaiju films--some rather obviously modeled after Godzilla baddies like three-headed dragon King Ghidorah--are all in need of smiting.
Tank! Tank! Tank! is not only unique for having far too many exclamation points in its title, but also because it offered a free-to-play option after the game failed to gain any sales traction, possibly due to faulty tank treads. Theres really no excuse not to jump into the mishmash of mecha anime aesthetics, Earth Defense Force scale, and Kaiju tropes (monsters attacking cities, anyone?). The game didnt receive the most positive critiques, but it at least used the GamePad in a neat way, such as shouting out updates during missions, because you werent already nervous enough staring down eight-legged monsters.