An involving story is as integral to the modern gaming experience as it is to any novel, television drama or movie. For the modern developer there are high expectations that to properly supplement a fun gaming experience there must be an interesting storyline behind it. Gamers want a reason to battle with monsters in Final Fantasy, race souped up cars in Need for Speed or pretend to be a rogue dark elf in Elder Scrolls Oblivion. However, the mere fact that modern games require a plotline does not necessitate the need for that plotline to resemble anything like the creation of someone with full control of their rational capacities.
Games are a form of entertainment that attracts nutty, innovative designers who seemingly enjoy the bizarre. The audacious Wii serves only as an indicator to the craziness of the Japanese gaming designers. Games are now at least equalling, if not exceeding, the mental factor of books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or movies like Oldboy (very bizarre instances of their genres). In fact the whole proposition of playing a game, of taking part in an other-wordly experience, quite frankly is bizarre – especially when that experience involves any of the games I have listed below.
Here at bit-tech we like the bizarre, in fact we don’t just like it, we love it. Colour explosions, strange plot deviations, weird and wonderful creatures and barmy concepts are all the ingredients to what make gaming so brilliant. As with all things, some designers go one step too far, often taking with them their games into the land of lunacy. Here we have our top 10 most bizarre gaming plotlines to pound your cranium.
Warning: plotline spoilers ahoy!
10: Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Dead or Alive has gone through many evolutions as a fighting game, but is most famous for its large breasted, fighting ladies who bounce around the screen while kicking each other. However, a design genius decided that rather than have the girls fighting one another, why not get them playing with one another? Thus Beach Volleyball was born, but not content with that dodgy premise Tecmo also decided that this game needed a storyline.
So the story of Zack Island begins: Zack, a Muay Thai kick boxer wins the DoA 3 tournament (On his Xbox? -Ed) and decides to go to the casino to have a little flutter. A few cocktails and rolls of the dice later and Zack has won himself a small fortune, which he uses to buy an island. Zack, ever the playboy, decides to invite all the DoA girls to the island falsely claiming he will host a fighting tournament - instead, he plans to just ogle them all for days on end.
For some bizarre reason, despite the fact that the girls are expecting a tournament where they can kill each other, they seem more than happy to just lie back and accept Zack’s hospitality. Before long, girls, whose previous aim in life was to kill one another, are all merrily frolicking around, splashing in the pool one minute, sunbathing (the game where everyone tries to twist the camera to get a sneaky peek) with a bit of volleyball, ball-bouncing fun on the beach.
Murderous hatreds become petty dislikes between the girls as DoA goes all Butlins. Unfortunately, a previously undiscovered volcano erupts and the island is destroyed - luckily nobody was hurt. Who knows, they may even make it for a sequel. If that doesn’t float your boat (or bikini-powered Jetski), you could always check out this hilarious movie conversion trailer - Dead or Alive: The Movie looks like it may just be better than Van Damme’s (1994) Street Fighter offering…. Just.
9: Final Fantasy IX
The developers of FFIX wanted to get back to their fantasy roots with this game and so decided to turn you into Zidane - no, not the French headbutting football captain, but instead a monkey-like character who has a long tail and cat ears. Zidane’s compatriots are easily as weird as the rest of the French team: a dwarf named Vivi, with nothing but two bright eyes and a shadow for a face, a princess and a massive clumsy Knight. This odd collection of characters provided a different Final Fantasy experience from both VII and VIII which earnt it a luke-warm reception in the gaming world.
I loved it, however. Gone was the moody lead male and in came a sprightly new tail-waggling character. The realism of the previous two big selling games was dissolved into fantastical castles full of brilliant, vibrant colours. The storyline's craziness can be summed up by its ending. Rather than just tell all his compatriots that he is in fact alive, lead character Zidane decides to instead secretly take part in a play in front of his beloved Princess girlfriend, who has been suffering unimaginable amounts of grief over her love. As the play carries on Zidane finally reveals himself to everyone and partying ensues, all the characters happily celebrate… All except Vivi, who has gone off to make sons out of the mist. If that’s not bonkers then what is?
To be completely fair most of the Final Fantasy series partake in some bizarreness, be it the odd sub-games, funny looking characters, magical locations or the fact that everyone wants to fight each other with magic and over-sized swords. I haven’t even mentioned the Chocobos, the big yellow Ostrich creatures used to get around. With the dawn of a new console generation this writer hopes for more of the same from the worlds most popular RPG series.