As the very definition of the complete journalistic professional, I have naturally done my research on the Retro Games Controller. My initial reasoning was to look up a couple of the games to make sure I wasn’t about to make a complete fool of myself by tearing into a game that was beloved by thousands. “I used to respect Jolly. It really seemed like knew his stuff. But fancy never having heard of Vangvard?! Or Mad Xmas! Let’s burn his house down.” This was all-too possible scenario I was obviously keen to avoid.
But after countless minutes of furious Googling (including occasions where I felt extra saucy and dared to visit the second page of results) I was drawing blanks. These games seemed to exist nowhere other than within the tiny confines of the controller. I did manage to find a result for an alternative version of Police vs Thief, but then that’s such a snappy, catchy title it wouldn’t surprise me if Rockstar dropped GTA and went for PVT instead.
Perhaps the controller doesn’t exist at all. Perhaps while I think I’m writing arch and terribly witty comments about macho chickens I’m actually giggling in a fetal position on a hospital bed while my wife sadly leaves her wedding ring on the pillow. Perhaps she’s delighted. Perhaps this was the plan all along. Perhaps she’s poisoning me. It’s certainly a more plausible explanation than someone intentionally making Police Dog Lasy.
Nothing captures the essence of speed quite like the vaginal discharge of chicken, which is why Lightning sticks some wheels on a pair of eggs and then places them in a terrifying highway pursuit. To keep the tension high, there’s a brief and yet incredibly irritating musical jingle that plays incessantly; when you press start, break, accelerate, crash, overtake, look at the screen, look away from the screen, use a respiratory system, have a thought, call the Samaritans or run screaming incoherently into the street desperately clawing for help at the nearest stranger.
177. Final Blood
“GET IN, a turret section!” A familiar cry from gamers from absolutely-fucking-nowhere, which is presumably why we find ourselves strapped to a gun with the turning circle of a tectonic plate firing nectarines at the horizon. Bonus points for the title which sounds like a kid in the playground inventing a sequel to Rambo. His Dad saw it when he was in America and it’s not out over here for another three years.
120. Baseball New
Bigger boy rounders has been around for over a hundred years now so could probably do with a bit of sprucing up. And what better way than by replacing the regulation ball with an object that appears to have the mass and density of a collapsing star. It’s also weirdly difficult to get the ball back to your pitcher, so for a good five minutes I got to play a piggy-in-the-middle simulator.
Abscondee is clearly an excellent word that should definitely exist. Unfortunately, it’s not to be but we’ll always have this maze navigation title staring the extra-terrestrial version of The Hamburgler collecting what appear to be pools of fermenting piss. Perhaps the bravest feature is that without rhyme nor reason, the buttons sometimes stop working. It’s the mystery that keeps you hooked.
50. Music Moment
Rhythm action as imagined by Hunter S Thompson; you play a dragon capturing notes in a bowl alongside a crow frozen mid-flight and a cloud twisted into a face from a half-remembered nightmare. To completely round of the experience of a trip administered by pouring acid directly in your eyeballs, the song, which is bewilderingly delivered by chutes marked 1 to i, cuts out after thirty seconds and starts again.
138. Hexapod New
The Retro Game Controllers widely celebrated Hexapod series naturally begins with Hexapod New. Here you control your Dad’s home brew kit which is taking a break from smelling weird in the airing cupboard to shoot the fuck out of some fish. That the title screens exclamation ‘Presents to Start!’ is the least confusing thing about this game speaks volumes.
139. Hexapod War
A quick Google tells me that a hexapod is a six-legged, mechanical vehicle which does little to explain why the only constant between the two games is the presence of fish. War is actually a less violent game than New and sees you navigating past eels wearing a heartbreakingly depressed expression and the Egyptian hieroglyph for water. Lol random!!! Xx
Painfully slow grape collecting game taking place in front of what appears to be a very stoned oak tree. Our hero transforms into a shit, then a retro-styled white shit, before eventually becoming a butterfly which leads me to believe that he might not be a worm at all. As the perennial name flipper Cat Stevens once sang ‘Oooooh baby baby it’s a wildworm’, and you don’t get much wilder worms than caterpillars. Them be some crazy fuckers.
7. Crystal Ball
Video games excel at stirring certain reactions from the human body; a rush of adrenaline, the eureka moment, shameful embarrassment; but few have dared to try and elicit the feeling of lying in bed after a few too many White Lightnings. Crystal Ball keeps your character dead centre and moves the map around him, perfectly recreating that sensation of staring at a ceiling which refuses to remain still. In the kind of move that no longer to raises a single hair on my eyebrow, the title screen reads “pindaball” which sounds like my children singing an Oasis song they’ve misheard.
126. Devildom Doom
Featuring the punchline to every Russell Howard joke, a ninja monkey, Devildom Doom is a rather ominous title for a fairly innocent little Bomberman clone. Another game that takes the brave decision to play out in deafening silence, the game over screen is also totally ineligible. This makes me wonder if the intention was to put the player in the shoes of Helen Keller, who of course famously, sure played a mean pinball.
Helicopters shuffling through the sky supported by bright green girders. Player names read John and Rose on the title screen but change to Sonson when you start playing. The kind of music you get in a Chinese takeaway. Donkey Kong’s head on the body of a spaceman. Heart, black pokeball, pink bag of money. I am the eggman. They are the eggmen. I am the walrus. Goo goo g’joob.
82. Fruit Pig
Not the alleged contents of the alleged basket sent to our alleged Prime Minister for hitting his dickhead target this quarter (allegedly), but one of those rarest of things, a decent game on this crappy machine. Featuring a rather elegantly animated pig (a phrase I hope to use more often in the future), the only minor misstep is that the title screen reads ‘Frutt’; which I believe is a soft drink from the 1993 Wesley Snipes movie Demolition Man.
Unfortunately not the game of running a moderately sized convenience store that we’ve all be clambering for, but a rip off of Nintendo’s universally derided and completely fucking awful Urban Champion. Reskinned so it’s now a pair of goblins fighting under a tree, it has the look of a drunken brawl on a Saturday night in Middle-Earth town centre.
2. Racing Fighter
Racing fiiiiighter! Featuring explosive high speed chase, missile based combat action!
Racing fiiiiighter! Includes intense 8-bit remix of classic party banger Ging Gang Goolie!
Racing fiiiiighter! Each playable vehicle contains a terrifying face on the roof!
“Woah! Check it out! It’s just like I’m staring into the abyss!”
Go go Racing Fighter! RACE-ING FIGH-TAH! Each sold separately.
From team that brought you Viewtiful Jooe and Ookami a stunningly awful platforming fuck ’em off that was presumably programmed by a sadist in the hours immediately following a long haul flight. A truly exceptional pile of shit, the aim appears to drive your motorbike past the disembodied head of Stewie Griffin so that you can collect a pig in a top hat. And your reward for enduring ten seconds of this hell? The first couple of bars of the infamous ear irritant Chopsticks. Really, really fucking awful.