How mad is it?
Savagely. Licensed music games are no big deal these days, but they’re usually rhythm games based around performing certain actions in time to a particular act’s music. Frankie goes to Hollywood however, is a conceptual platform adventure game based around the abstract essence of the band that gave us Relax and Two Tribes. Obviously. And while the likes of Britney will flirt with corporate sanctioned, focus-group designed provocation as long as it’s guaranteed not to cause a fuss, the real-life Frankie once received a TV and radio ban from the BBC for ‘obscenity’ and didn’t think twice about setting a video in a gay S&M club. Their rhythm game would have required some seriously interesting actions.
The game itself? In those pre-Rockstar days a motion-controlled gimp-punching simulator was out of the question, and so Ocean – the license-whoring British EA of its day – created an abstract adventure using the band’s faceless mascot as its lead. The goal is to complete tasks and minigames in order to top up the four personal attributes of War, Sex, Love and Religion and thus become a complete, real person. Doing so allows an escape from the mundane world to the Pleasuredome, thus ending the game. There's also a murder mystery sub-plot to be solved. Just like Columbo then.
How did they sell this lunacy?
With large hats and tea. It's the British way. It's almost disappointing though, that Ocean didn't employ the same marketing tactics used for the band's music.
It would be tragically remiss of us to include anything other than that video here. So here, as an example of exactly what Ocean was up against in adapting Frankie to the video game form (during a period in which gaming was still mostly done by kids), is the promo for Relax. The BBC didn't like it at all.
How mad is it?
Belligerently. Due to the likes of Hover Bovver and Gridrunner, you might already think that Jeff Minter's games are a special kind of crazy, but nothing has prepared you for this. His sequel to his own Attack of the Mutant Camels, (that game plays out a bit like the AT-AT battle from The Empire Strikes back, but with camels) RotMC turns video game strangeness into an all-out sensory assault. Howso? Well you play one of said camels on said side-scrolling, gun-toting revenge mission, and are ably assisted on your bullet-spitting death frenzy by a bullet-spitting pink goat.
Above: Yep, someone posted nearly an hour of it. See how far you can get before your brain capsizes
The goat can ride on your back if you want to let him, and doing so will concentrate your collective firepower. You use that firepower to shoot up telephone boxes, polo mints and flying toilets. The landscape is made out of floppy discs and Coke cans. The power-ups consist of class-A and B drugs and apples. The sound effects are all ravey samples and gabber beats, so your gameplay creates a real-time musical cacophony similar to a crack-head’s improvised 3AM Bontempi organ techno mix. You know, the one he dances to alone in the darkness of his basement to scare off those ravens who tell him to do bad things.
How did they maket this lunacy?
It does exactly what it says on the tin. Unbelievably.
Jeff Minter's psychadelic influence on your gaming habits doesn't end at actual games. He also wrote the music visualisation program for the Xbox 360, dubbed Neon. Though given that you can tweak those swirls and swooshes with the controller, maybe it is sort of a game. You know, if you have really low gameplay standards. Or if you're really, really mashed.
Above: Did you get to the end of this video? Are you sober? Are you really?