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

5. Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1985)

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. 

Bonus madness

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.


 


4. Revenge of the Mutant Camels
(1984)

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.

Bonus madness

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? 

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33 comments

  • LikaLaruku - January 31, 2010 8:44 a.m.

    I am baffled & confuse, good sir. @_@
  • jnewco81 - October 25, 2009 4:08 p.m.

    I remember having Flunky on the Spectrum - hard as nails and pretty unforgiving - as most games were way back then! Good fun though
  • super0sonic - October 25, 2009 7:57 a.m.

    Oh man I totally played the crap out of "Attack of the Mutant Camels" Man I forgot that game ever existed!!
  • theres1dentevil - October 25, 2009 1:01 a.m.

    i want a modern remake of hover bovver like yesterday. watched the vid and nearly died laughing. ace!
  • JohnDD - October 21, 2009 5 p.m.

    This is why I love UK and Jap games - US games are too RAWK AN ROLL! HELL YEAH I HATE Y'ALL British music in the 80s was pioneering, just like the 80s games scene (must have been something in the water back then). I like my games to be unique. Another great read from the Houghton - thanks.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - October 21, 2009 4:04 p.m.

    Yar: That's why I bought an American SNES in the early '90s and started importing.
  • Yar - October 21, 2009 3:53 p.m.

    This blog does well to illustrate why I don't like being a gamer in Britain. You lucky yanks over there got I-Ninja, Megaman Anniversary Collection, Earthbound, the SNES Chrono Trigger, and 3 Final Fantasy Games before FFVII. Meanwhile, we got... Hover Bovver. Hover Bovver.
  • noobeater - October 20, 2009 8:18 p.m.

    haha article made me smile, thank god many were before my time as i dont think i could stand it, besides the 90's were a peach of a decade to grow up in. Obviously us british rule with are tea and constant nagging and fish and chips and inferior dentistry, and looks like the british Gamesradar are becoming the leading gamesradar article writers. 'GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!'
  • IHateMakingUserIDs - October 20, 2009 5:27 p.m.

    Did anyone else see Barack Obama in the Flunky game? Look again, he's on the right, ridign the rocking horse.
  • Xplosive59 - October 20, 2009 3:02 p.m.

    gah these games make me feel bad for being british
  • crumbdunky - October 20, 2009 2:05 p.m.

    rxb-I'm surprised there was neither JSW NOR Manic Miner on this "inspired by the "real Retro" featyre from Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe from BBC the other night! Practically all of this can be pulled back to that TV show and that's no bsad thing when you think of the clever way around lack of 3D Sentinel managed at that time. Old British C64 and Speccy games are the muts nuts for me as far as retro goes even IF Jet Set Willy was broken in two places and you needed to glitch it twice(and know where to do it too) just to get to halfway through the damn game(just after The Banyan Tree level IIRC-could be wrong it's long time since I allowed this game to ruin my mood!). But even if it was criminally broken it was still hyper mad and imaginative and deserved a place here as a game some more folk would have played. Even the old £1.99 C64 games could be good AND mad. I remember a rip off version of Paperpboy crossed with NMX bandits type thing which wasincane and you got points for avioding city gents and grannies who would stick unbrellas and walking sticks into your spokes respectively. You could always rely on a mental celevration screen wit cool 8bit music too when you beat a game-usually with crap pretend fireworks too! We brits know what mental is-comes from being on an island surrounded by vountries you constantly go to war with for thousands of years. Paraniod invention I calls it! Recaptcha-nebraska bye
  • rxb - October 20, 2009 1:15 p.m.

    Ahh the good old days. I loved Ocean as a company they put some good Amstrad games out. Im surprised Jet set Willy didnt make the list. Ive meet Sir Jimmy Savile a few times. One time he had a Doctors ID card with a picture of Robert de Niero on it. True fact.
  • brickman409 - October 20, 2009 2:25 a.m.

    haha I should be drinking me some tea while playing a bitish game eh
  • Amnesiac - October 20, 2009 2:16 a.m.

    @TestDDs: PLEASE tell me you were trying to be a black hole of funny.
  • AMayer - October 20, 2009 1:49 a.m.

    Holy crap. British people are insane. I'm glad I live in America where the people are much less crazy. Ha, ya right.
  • Onedown - October 20, 2009 1:36 a.m.

    Maybe its just me but none of the videos are working. :/
  • TestDDs - October 20, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    @michaelmcc827 because your mom was a the top 7 of best times in bed last night
  • Unoriginal - October 20, 2009 1:07 a.m.

    Read the whole feature with Guru Larrys voice in my head. A good feature becomes better.
  • michaelmcc827 - October 20, 2009 12:06 a.m.

    why do I not care about this top 7 at all...
  • garnsr - October 19, 2009 9:54 p.m.

    John Pertwee's my second favorite Doctor, after Peter Davison. Odd song. The sheep video was awesome! Any chance any of the Brits will be on Talk Radar? This list definitely seems to need a British perspective to discuss it. There were a number of typos (presumably) in this, like saying our "allusions" were shattered, instead of illusions, and saying the music was the most "interested" part of Sentinel Returns. Aren't those the sorts of things we just heard that the American guys don't take lightly?

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