Fifteen Misleading Arcade Game Names
In order for a video game to be successful, it needs to have a good name. You could design the best platformer since Sonic The Hedgehog 2, but if you name it I Heart Cocks, few people are going to ever bother to play it. No, a game needs a violent name, something like Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, or Rampage. At the very least, the name should give you some insight as to what the game's about. BurgerTime may not be the most exciting name for a video game, but it gives a very succinct description of what the game is all about. Hell, even bizarre titles like Magical Cat Adventure and Ninja Baseball Batman present you with exactly what their names suggest. Unfortunately, not all video games deliver what they promise. Arcade games tend to be especially guilty of this; they lure you in with an intriguing marquee and then give something completely different than what you were expecting. I, for one, am sick of such bullshit. And so, I would like to take this time to examine fifteen of the most misleading arcade game titles ever. Prepare yourself for some major disappointment.
What It Should Be: A subtle game of seduction and defloration.
What It Is: An electronic slot machine from 1989.
If Dyna hadn't grabbed the Cherry Master name for its line of electronic slot machines in the late 1980s, I'm pretty sure it would have been a Japanese rape/dating sim by 1998. I've always found digital slot machines to be highly suspect. Establishments install them under the premise that they're more reliable than mechanical slot machines, but that's not the whole story. A slot machine is supposed to be a simple game of odds, but when mechanical spinners are replaced with digital code, the house can further stack the odds in their favor... and they do; Cherry Master has a dipswitch which allows you to choose how frequently the machine pays out. That means that Cherry Master knows whether or not you're going to win before you even put your money in. And while the machine only lets you toggle the general odds of winning, it'd be naïve to think there aren't additional cheats built into the machine. For instance, maybe the jackpot only gets paid out once every 500 wins or some shit like that. Every two years or so, a new Cherry Master model comes out, presumably to give operators increased control over the frequency and size of the payouts. The bottom line is that these machines are fucking stupid and so is anyone who actually puts money into them.
What It Should Be: Really fucking badass.
What It Is: Boring and shitty.
When Taito's Space Invaders was released in 1978, it became an overnight success of massive proportions and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the coin-operated pie. Over the next few years, Space Invaders would be imitated by many, with varying degrees of success. A few games, such as Namco's Galaxian, would manage to expand upon the original concept and become classics in their own right, but most of these games were unimaginative trash. For instance, take Universal's Cosmic series. Cosmic Monsters debuted in 1979 as an authorized clone of Space Invaders. Cosmic Monsters was pretty much just Space Invaders with different graphics, save one annoying difference: failure to destroy the "bonus" ship that occasionally flies across the top of the screen would result in the appearance of another row of enemies. Universal followed this up with Cosmic Guerilla, a Space Invaders variant where you had to stop aliens on either of the screen from abducting the humanoids in the center. When that failed to capture people's interest, Universal churned out Cosmic Alien, which was a complete fucking rip-off of the aforementioned Galaxian. And then, in 1980, Universal released Devil Zone, the fourth installment of its creatively bankrupt series. This time around, Universal abandoned the Cosmic name in favor of something that actually sounded cool, and if they had put as much effort into naming the damn thing as they had into making it, it could have been good. Instead, it's a shitty Galaxian variant that uses forced perspective to try and simulate a 3D plane. Lame.
What It Should Be: Yet another X-rated Qix variant.
What It Is: A fun Sega platformer.
The Japanese arcade market is home to many adult-themed video games, games that allow you to put down your hard-earned cash for the chance of MAYBE seeing porn. These games generally require you to color in all or most of a play area while dodging erratic enemies and have obvious names like Gals Panic, Lady Killer, Wonder Stick, or Miss World '96 Nude. So when I see a title like Flashgal, I immediately assume it's another shitty hentai game geared towards fat bespectacled Japanese men with pencil thin mustaches. However, such is not the case. Flashgal is actually a Sega game, which means the chances of there being nudity in it are about as good as the chances of Nintendo ever releasing a game called Dr. Mario: Enema Disaster EX. Instead, Flashgal is the story of Flashgal, a fashion-savvy crimefighter who bears a suspicious resemblance to Jennifer Beals' character in Flashdance. The game is hella fun, but it was clearly designed by someone with ADD: in the first level you're punching dogs in front of the Statue of Liberty, in the next you're on a motorcycle dodging monkeys and giant Coke cans, and in the next you're fighting deadly ninjas with your patented Flashgal samurai sword. This game could be considered the precursor to Streets of Rage, in that it has a similar theme and the heroine looks kinda like Blaze Fielding.
What It Should Be: A game about my dick.
What It Is: A horrible SunA platformer.
The first thing you'll notice about Hard Head is that it's absolutely awful to look at. The graphics have an amateurish "My Furst Vidio Game" feel to them reminiscent of the legions of forgotten shareware titles that found their way onto BBSes in the early 90s. Look at the main character, I can't tell if he's autistic or just poorly drawn. And look at that mountain in the first screenshot, it's fucking pathetic. But Syd, that's not fair! You have to a judge game in the context of the era! Good point, and for an arcade game released in 1985, Hard Head doesn't look half bad. Unfortunately, Hard Head hit arcades in 1988, the same year as much better looking games such as Altered Beast, RoboCop, and Ninja Gaiden. And the graphics aren't even the worst part. No, the worst part is that Hard Head is highly unoriginal, borrowing from everything from Bubble Bobble to Dragon Ball to Wonder Boy. In addition to being shitty in its own right, Hard Head is famous for spawning what is perhaps the most fantastically awful sequel ever made. In Hard Head 2, the main character turns and faces you and shows you his junk right before he dies. And no, that's not a joke.
What It Should Be: Incredibly gay.
What It Is: Mildly gay.
In the heyday of the arcade industry, bootleg games were pretty much par for the course. If you made a game worth playing the question wasn't if it would be bootlegged, it was how quickly and by how many different companies. So when SunA released a prehistoric Breakout variant called GoinDol that met with success in Japan, a company called ALSFTW decided to release an illicit version of the game overseas and make some fast cash. Despite being illegal and oft times poorly made, bootleg arcade games usually sold well for two reasons. First, they were sold almost exclusively as conversion kits, which meant that you could take the PCB boards out of old machines that weren't making money anymore and turn them into new games instead of having to buy completely new machines. Secondly, bootleg conversion kits were always significantly cheaper than legitimate ones. The first thing ALSFTW did when they decided to bootleg GoinDol was to set up a front company to cover their ass in the likely event of prosecution. Since the game they were copying had little cavemen in it, they named their dummy corporation Homo Sapiens. The second thing they did was change the game's name. This is where things went wrong. The ne'er-do-well programmers who worked on this project were lacking a lot of things. Scruples was one of those things; a firm grasp on the English language was another. Thinking of the cavemen once again, they decided to call their bootleg Homo. Needless to say, they were quite distressed and confused when their Homo Conversion Kits sold poorly. Serves them right for stealing someone else's work.
What It Should Be: A video simulation of the digital violation of two adjacent orifices on the female body. A hot simulation.
What It Is: A crappy tracing game.
Hot Shocker is the story of Dudley, a hapless little guy who must create red spiderwebs while dodging electrical currents and whatever the fuck those blue guys are supposed to be. Dudley is, ostensibly, a spider, but he looks more an overweight Grover. This game is a complete pain in the ass to play, because you have to move back and forth between concentric octagons while trying to dodge unpredictable enemies. You know how you pull that off? You don't. All you can do is move around in an equally aberrant fashion and pray to God you don't get electrocuted, lest you have to watch Dudley's unnecessarily long death sequence. Also, fire randomly appears along the edges of the web; that'll kill you too. Does this game sound like fun? CUZ IT'S NOT.
What It Should Be: A total sausage fest.
What It Is: A fairly cool shoot 'em up.
When you see the name Hotdog Storm, a few things probably spring to mind. You might assume that it's a gay porno, but you'd be wrong. Or perhaps you might think it's a second sequel to BurgerTime, but again, you'd be totally fucking wrong. Instead, Hotdog Storm is a pretty fun shoot 'em up that was only released in Japan. If you play one game on this list, play Hotdog Storm.
What It Should Be: A game about a Peeping Tom.
What It Is: I have no fucking clue.
Naughty Boy is the story of... well, I don't really know. It appears to be the story of a guy in a hard hat who fights monsters, ghosts, serpents, and robots all while attempting to burn down pirate castles by destroying all their flags. Does that make any sense to you? I'd really like to know where this game got its name from. I mean, there's nothing particularly naughty about burning down pirate castles; he's doing society a favor. The obvious explanation is that the game's title was mistranslated, like how Stubborn Monkey became Donkey Kong. But maybe that's not the case. I have a working theory as to where the game got its name. You know how Naughty Boy sports a construction hat? Well, maybe it's not just some ridiculous 1980s fashion statement. Maybe he wears that hat because his dad is a contractor. And maybe he's not burning down those pirate castles because he hates pirates. Maybe he's burning them down so that the pirates will have to hire his dad to rebuild them. That'd a swindle of epic proportions, one that would certainly earn the main character his name. Elaborate naming theories aside, Naughty Boy is a typical 1982 arcade game: simple, repetitive, frustrating, and mildly entertaining.
Pop 'n Bounce
What It Should Be: A hymen-breakin' bed-shakin' good time.
What It Is: A bizarre hybrid of Arkanoid and Bust-A-Move.
Games don't get much more Japanese than Pop 'n Bounce. It's got cute little animals, some gay little Pokemon type thing, and a random anime chick in some ridiculous outfit that no doubt caters to at least five separate subfetishes. The gameplay is nothing new or special, but Pop 'n Bounce is a highly competent ball and paddle game that has the advantage of being newer, prettier, and more fluid than most of its competition. Hey, it's better than Homo.
What It Should Be: Gay.
What It Is: Unbelievably gay.
Rod-Land is a game that puts 1-2 players in control of 1-2 fairy children who must rescue their mother from an army of vaguely threatening foes. Armed with nothing but your trusty rainbow shoes, you'll collect flowers, summon pink ladders, and make enemies tremble before the might of your enormous rod. Now look, I know what you're thinking: this game will probably turn you queer. And while that's probably true, homosexuality is small price to pay for the hours of fun you will get out of this game. If you enjoy classic platform games like Snow Bros. and Bubble Bobble, there's no reason you wouldn't enjoy this as well.
What It Should Be: You know that movie Captivity? Exactly like that.
What It Is: A blatant rip-off of Gauntlet.
In the wake of Gauntlet, Data East created a rip-off known as Shackled. Shackled featured larger sprites than the Atari classic, thus allowing for much more detail. Additionally, the mazes in Shackled were littered with prison cells, some of which contained helper characters who would follow you around and kill stuff; this mechanic would later be copied in Capcom's most excellent Magic Sword. However, this is the extent of the good things that can be said about Shackled. Unlike Gauntlet, where the level textures frequently changed, Shackled presents all of its levels in the exact same drab shades of gray. And if that wasn't depressing enough, the game has a glitch where you can get stuck on enemies if you rub up against them at the wrong angle. And since Shackled is a rip-off of a game that's famous for sending enemy hordes rushing at you, that's a really bad fucking glitch. If you get stuck on an enemy, there's only three things you can do. If you have any helpers escorting you, you can wait for them to kill the guy you're stuck on. If you don't have any helpers, you can wait for the enemy to be killed by friendly fire. And if neither of those things is a viable option, then you can sit back and wait to die. And since Shackled forfeits a traditional continue system in favor of Gauntlet's "more quarters = more health" system, you'll have to start over from Floor One. That, or you could just never play this game. That's the smart option.
What It Should Be: An uplifting tale of freelance gynecology.
What It Is: Meh.
This game disinterests me to the point where I don't even feel like writing about it. Basically, you run around your laboratory looking for random science-y stuff. Along the way, you jump over shit and spray monsters in the face with seltzer water. So basically, this game is boring as hell. Fuck you, Tricky Doc.
What It Should Be: Barely legal fun from that lovable cripple Larry Flynt.
What It Is: A billiards game from Konami.
Konami's Video Hustler isn't so much a game of pool as it is an exciting game of chance. In fact, Video Hustler is so exciting that it can only be properly described in the style of a 1950s movie trailer:
SEE! If you can use the inaccurate game physics to your advantage!
TRY! And figure out how many shots you have left!
GUESS! How long it'll take the obnoxious sound effects to drive you insane!
What It Should Be: An important lesson in potty training.
What It Is: Dig Dug's retarded cousin.
For years I had an emptiness inside me, one that conventional video games couldn't fill. Over the years I played through classic titles like Super Mario Bros. 3, Sonic The Hedgehog, Doom, Wrestlemania 2000, and Final Fantasy VII, but none of them left me completely fulfilled. You see, as I was stomping on Goombas and mauling Cacodemons, my innermost desire remained unsatisfied: I yearned for a game that would let me control a sentient floor care machine. But alas! Such a game did not exist... as far as I knew. A few years ago, I discovered that my prayers had been answered before I even spoke them; there was a game called Wiping released in 1982 by Nichibutsu starring (gasp!) a sentient floor care machine. The object of the game is simple: kill all the enemies onscreen. To accomplish this, you will need to uncarpet sections of the floor by moving across it and then lure the enemies onto the exposed floor tiles, because that's the only place you can blast them with your super water cleaning attack. So basically, it's just like Dig Dug except without boulders. Nichibutsu eventually realized that Wiping was a stupid name for a game, because they re-released it the next year under the far superior name Rug Rats.
What It Should Be: 33% less sexy than XXX Mission.
What It Is: A very generic shoot 'em up from 1986.
Out of all the games on this list, XX Mission is probably the most aptly named. That's because you'd have to down quite a few bottles of Dos Equis before you had enough patience to play through this insufferable pile of crap. In terms of both backgrounds and enemies, XX Mission is bland and sterile, offering nothing that you haven't see done better in Capcom's 1942. The game offers one innovation in the form two separate firing buttons, one for aerial targets and one for ground targets. Unfortunately, it only served to make an already dull shoot 'em up even more tedious.
Well, I guess that's it. If there's one thing you should take away from this piece, it's that a video game's name is often meaningless, misleading, or otherwise stupid. If there's another thing you should take a way from this, it's that you should go play Hotdog Storm right fucking now. If there's a third thing you should have learned from this, it's that Rod-Land is both ridiculously gay and ridiculously fucking awesome. If there's a fourth thing you should have learned, it's NEVER EVER play Hard Head. And if there's one final thing you should have learned it's that this is the worst fucking concluding paragraph ever written. Class dismissed. Get the fuck outta here.
Posted by: Syd Lexia