6. Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors
Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors is a video game that was intended to be released in 1995 for the Sega CD, but was never made available for purchase. The game stars the comedy-magician duo Penn & Teller. It is regarded as the official video game of Penn & Teller’s comedy video Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends. In recent years, Smoke and Mirrors has gained a significant following over the Internet, after being featured on various websites dedicated to unreleased video games.
Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors is composed of several small mini-games and magic tricks. All of the games are designed to help the owner trick their friends in a variety of different ways. The game contains many mini-adventure challenges. The best known and most used mini-game is called Desert Bus. The realistic objective of Desert Bus is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. The video game takes place in real time and the bus in not allowed to exceed 45mph. In order to complete the task, the user must play the game nonstop for 8 hours, and it doesn’t have a pause option. The bus contains no other passengers, no scenery or other cars. It also veers slightly to the right, so it is impossible to tape down the controller button and finish the task. If the bus fails to stay on the road then it will be stopped and towed back to Tucson, also in real time.
If you complete the task and make it to Las Vegas, then you get one point and the option to return the bus to Tucson. The scenery never changes, but approximately five hours into the first trip to Vegas, a single bug splatters on the buses windshield. On the return trip home, the daylight fades with dusk and at one point the bus travels on a pitch-black road being guided by headlights. Penn & Teller have suggested that Desert Bus was meant to be used in video game competitions, with the winner gaining a free trip on a party bus between Tucson and Las Vegas.
In 2007, the first Desert Bus for Hope marathon was conducted. The goal of the marathon was to raise funds for children’s charities. Four players continuously played the game, while raising donations. On November 20, 2009 the 3rd annual Desert Bus for Hope marathon was held. The drivers reached a record breaking 14 points before the bus crashed. The marathon lasted 5 days and 16 hours, and raised a total of $140,449. The Desert Bus for Hope events have raised a total of $233,678 over the past three years and another marathon is scheduled for November 2010. Some of the other mini-games included in Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors are Mofo the Psychic Gorilla, Buzz Bombers, What’s Your Sign, Sun Scorcher, and Smoke and Mirrors.
5. Communist Mutants from Space
The Atari 2600 was a video game console that was released in October of 1977. In the early 1980s the Atari 2600 was very popular and widely distributed around the world. In 1982, a U.S. company named Starpath developed a new video game named Communist Mutants from Space. The game was made for the Atari 2600 and was compatible with the Starpath Supercharger. The Starpath Supercharger is an add-on component that is used to expand the capabilities of the Atari 2600. The Supercharger gives the Atari system higher resolution graphics by multiplying the consoles RAM from its built-in 128 bytes to 6,272 bytes.
The plot of Communist Mutants from Space revolves around a group of aliens from the communist planet of Rooskee. The deadly aliens are on a mission to attack and destroy peaceful, democratic planets and turn the inhabitants into “Communist Mutants.” The game is played in a similar manner as most space invader games created during the 1980s. The player is given a cannon gun which they use to destroy all incoming alien invaders. In the game, the communist mutant armies are controlled by a leader, who is known as the Mother Creature. The ultimate goal is to destroy the Mother Creature and rid the planet of the communist mutants.
In another storyline twist, the Mother Creature is said to have gone insane due to irradiated vodka. Communist Mutants from Space has been categorized as a propaganda video game, as the Cold War was really heating up in 1982 and 1983. Interestingly, the game has a hidden easter egg. If you hold down the fire button and then press the power switch on the Atari 2600, it will cause the “HI” on the high scores screen to change to “SHL,” which are the initials of the games programmer.
4. JFK: Reloaded
The online gaming world has really exploded in the last ten years. Thousands of computer games have been developed and released under various platforms, with the most common being the biggest company, Microsoft Windows. In 2004, a Scotland-based business named Traffic Games released a game titled JFK: Reloaded. According to various inquiries, the company has said that the game’s purpose was to establish the facts surrounding what happened on November 22, 1963 in Dealey Plaza. This was done “by running the world’s first mass-participation forensic construction.” The goal of the game was to help prove whether Lee Harvey Oswald had the “means and the opportunity” to kill U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
JFK: Reloaded places the games user in the role of Kennedy alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The player is scored on how closely his shooting matches the report of the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission was the group of government officials assigned to investigate Kennedy’s death. They ultimately named Lee Harvey Oswald the sole gunman. The game is difficult to master because each bullet you fire has a random probability of where it will hit, making it is impossible to predict precisely where the bullet will land. This means that there is a lot of luck involved with gaining a perfect score, especially in regards to the “magic bullet.” Over the Internet, many people have argued that JFK: Reloaded is not a game, as much as a controversial simulation of a historical event. However, various gaming websites have reviewed it, with some positive reviews.
The majority of people feel the game is in bad taste. JFK: Reloaded even garnered a response from John’s brother, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who called the game despicable and questioned why it was ever allowed on the market. People have argued that the game’s manufacturers were only interested in making money. Upon release of JFK: Reloaded, Traffic Games ran a contest that paid the person with the highest score a prize. Ultimately, a man named Stephane Krupa won $10,712 with a score of 782 out of 1000. The game is no longer available on its original website. However, various computer programmers have altered the game over the years, and some versions include a motorcade, while others allow you to shoot from the Grassy Knoll.
3. Hong Kong 97
Video Game System: Super Nintendo
The Super Nintendo or Super Famicom is a 16-bit video game system that was distributed all over the world in the early 1990s. The Super Nintendo was an advanced piece of technology and ended up being the best selling 16-bit video game console, eclipsing the highly competitive Sega Genesis. In 1995, a Japan based company developed a game for the Super Nintendo named Hong Kong 97. Since the games release, it has gained a considerable following in Japan and Taiwan. Hong Kong 97 is routinely included on lists documenting the poorest quality video games, but many people feel that the game is so bad that it is good. The game is controversial and contains many racial undertones.
Hong Kong 97s storyline is set around the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997. On July 1, 1997 the United Kingdom officially returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule. The introduction to the game claims that at this time in history many Chinese people moved to Hong Kong, thus increasing the areas crime rate. In response to this, the game develops the character Chin, whose job is to wipe out all of the 1.2 billion Chinese people. Chin is portrayed by Jackie Chan on the box and is described as a relative of Bruce Lee who is represented by British politician Chris Patten. However, the Chinese have developed a plan to bring back the dead “Tong Shau Ping” (Deng Xiaoping) as an ultimate weapon.
Deng Xiaoping was the longtime leader of the Communist Party of China that passed away in 1997. After the introduction, the game immediately starts with Chin trying to avoid and kill the Chinese populace. The game is not very long, but extremely difficult to master. The final boss is actually a picture of Deng Xiaoping’s head. Hong Kong 97 can be played in English, Japanese, or Traditional Chinese. In the English version, the first two sentences of the game are: “The year 1997 has arrived. A herd of fu**in’ ugly reds are rushing from the mainland.” A company named HappySoft Ltd. distributed the games themselves, but few retail stores purchased copies, so they are extremely rare and valuable.
2. Mystique Games
Video Game System: Atari 2600
Mystique is one of the first video game companies that attempted to use sex to sell games. In the early 1980s, Mystique developed many pornographic video games for the Atari 2600. Some of the most popular were Custer’s Revenge, Bachelor Party, and Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em. These three games are known as some of the fist pornographic video games. They were extremely controversial and contain many racial and sexual stereotypes. The company Mystique went out of business during the video game crash of 1983, but many of their games have gathered a cult following over the years.
The most recognized Mystique game is Custer’s Revenge. In the game, the player controls a man with a cowboy hat named Custer, which is an obvious reference to General George Custer. Custer is naked and has to overcome many obstacles in order to have sex with a crudely depicted Native American woman. The woman is shown with large breasts and is tied to a post. Once the obstacles are completed, a visible erection appears on Custer and he continues to have sex with the tied up woman. Almost immediately the game received strong criticism from Native Americans and woman’s rights organizations. Many claim that it is a clear depiction of rape, while others pass it off as only a game. The Native American woman is given the name “Revenge” in the game. The booklet for Custer’s Revenge famously states “if the kids catch you and should ask, tell them Custer and the maiden are just dancing.”
Bachelor Party is a Mystique game that was loosely based on the 1984 comedy film starring Tom Hanks. Bachelor Party is a simplified version of the game Breakout. Breakout is one of the first video games ever made and is similar to pong. A large collection of bricks are situated on the top of the screen and the user has to bounce a ball and destroy all the bricks without letting the ball hit the bottom of the screen. However, in Bachelor Party the ball looks like a nude male body, while the bricks are females. The naked males also bounce from left to right, rather than up and down. The game is very simple and the goal is to let the bachelor have a final fling with a room full of nude women. A reversed version of the game does exist, it is named Bachelorette Party.
The dirtiest pornographic game developed by Mystique is named Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em. The game was released in 1982 and originally was an extremely poor seller, but with the expansion of the Internet, the game has become a cult classic. However, similar to other Mystique games, Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em is regarded as one of the worst quality video games ever made. In this pornographic game, the player controls a pair of nude women who move back and forth underneath a building. On top of the building a man with a large penis is masturbating and the player’s objective is to maneuver the women so that they can catch the man’s semen, which is colored yellow before it hits the ground. To make things a bit worse, when the player is successful, the two women look at the screen and lick their lips. In the game, a score of 69 points and every 69-point interval receives a free guy. The gender reversed version of the game is called Philly Flasher and it includes two men who are trying to gather drops of breast milk lactated by a witch.
1. Super Columbine Massacre RPG!
Super Columbine Massacre is a role-playing video game that was developed by Danny Ledonne and released in April of 2005. It was made available on April 20, which was the 6th anniversary of the school shooting. The game was released as a freeware and a donation of $1 was requested upon download. Danny Ledonne originally attempted to avoid controversy and the game was released anonymously. However, after a donation was made through PayPal, Ledonne’s identity was made public and he began to receive calls from mainstream media outlets. In the game’s first year of release, it was downloaded only 10,000 times, but after it became a large news story in the United States, the game exploded with over 400,000 downloads.
Super Columbine Massacre recreates the events surrounding the 1999 Columbine school shooting. The game’s players assume the role of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and ultimately act out the massacre. Super Columbine Massacre has a pretty extensive plot, and starts as Eric Harris’ mother wakes him up on April 20, 1999. Harris phones Dylan Klebold, and the two meet in Harris’ basement to plot the attack. The two boys think about their past bullying experiences. They make a video and load up their bags with guns and bombs. Once the pair arrives at the school, the player has to enter the cafeteria and plant bombs without being detected by the school’s video cameras. After the bombs fail to explode, the goal is to enter the school and shoot as many innocent people as possible.
At the end of the first part of the game, the two gunmen commit suicide. The second part of the game places Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in hell. The pair continues by fighting demons, monsters, and Satan. They also travel to the Island of Lost Souls and meet historical figures J. Robert Oppenheimer, JonBenét Ramsey, Malcolm X, Ronald Reagan and John Lennon. The media reception to Super Columbine Massacre was generally negative and many people were offended by the game. Victims of the shooting came forward to express their disgust with Danny Ledonne.
In many interviews, Ledonne claimed that the game was made out of respect for the memory of the victims and that he personally knew a girl named Rachel that died in the massacre. In Super Columbine Massacre, players have the option of killing Rachel over and over again, which is disturbing. CNN labeled the game as something that a subculture that worships terrorists would play. Other people praised the game for opening up the dialogue about the problem of school shootings. In September of 2006, a man named Kimveer Gill killed Anastasia De Sousa and injured 19 students at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After it was revealed that Gill was an avid player of Super Columbine Massacre, the game was taken down from its original website.