The Top 7... Maddest British old-school games

And you thought Japanese game design was weird? Ha!

Howmadis it?

Ostentatiously so. It’s a Royal servant simulator. Nothing in gaming could be more fundamentally British than that. Unless of course there had been a game on the Amiga based around trimming a gentlemanly moustache using mouse clicks, which unfortunately there wasn't.

As the archetypal bewigged royal courtier (with bizarrely 18th century stylings)it's your job in Flunky to carry out tasks for 8-bit representations of the actual Royals, working your way up the hierarchy with the aim of eventually reaching the Queen. Whether thisis part of a elaborate assassination scheme sub-plot isuncertain, but along the way you'llrun into Princes Charles and Andrew, Princess Diana and the Dutchess of York, all rendered in grotesquely caricatured fashion. Also, Dianais bald. For some reason.

How did they sell this lunacy?

With the promise of violent suppression by an aristocratic over-class.

Bonus madness

Flunky designer Don Priestlyapplied his trademark “CHRISTTHOSESPRITESAREMASSIVE!” style to a few high profile licensed games, including Popeye and Trapdoor. In a stunning case of “Why did you license that?” syndrome, he also made a game based on comedian Benny Hill. Yes, heof the skimpily-clad women and perpetualdouble-speed chases.And because, as we all know, said scantily-clad women and double-speed chases are the be-all and end-all of British comedy, here is one of those chases:

How madis it?

Pioneeringly nuts. So you’re this robot, right? And you’re being watched by a deadly Sentinel robotwho stands at the highest point on the map and absorbs your energy, presumably with his LAZOR EYES or some such deadly robot technology. But he can only do that if he can directly see the square of the map you’re standing on. From above. Obviously. With his LAZOR EYES. But it seems that this is just how robots roll, as you can do it too. So you’ve got to get higher than him, view his square and absorb the crap out of him instead.

Jumping however, is not how robots roll. The only way you can elevate your ‘bot is by absorbing the energy of trees from the landscape and converting it into boulders, which you then stack around the map. And then you put a clone of yourself on top of them. And then you Quantum Leap into it. And then you reabsorb your old self. And keep going until you get higher than The Sentinal and absorb his face right off.

It’s a stealth RTS platform game with elements of board games. It’s moody and unbearably tense. It used 3D worlds before 3D was even possible and it's generallybloody brilliant. The Sentinel, we salute you, you magnificent lunatic.

How did they sell this lunacy?

With a clear knock-off ofthe best shotin the entirety of Blade Runner, but it didn’t matter.

Bonus madness

In 1998, The Sentinel returned with a sequel called, um, Sentinel Returns, on PC and PS1. Being released in the late '90s of course, thingsin this version aredarker and gloomier, with a trippy yet grim visual style remeniscent of Clive Barker and H.R. Giger. The most interesting element of its poundingeldritch darknessthoughis the soundtrack, which was written by king of oppressive '80s synth John "I invented Michael Myers, you know" Carpenter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.

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