19 Bizarre Video Games That Actually Happened

Flickr // CC By Andrea Vena
Flickr // CC By Andrea Vena

It's no surprise that some video games are strange—like, say, the one about a boy dressed like a chicken who rolls eggs into enemies. But where some games are strange, others are downright bizarre. Sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself, "...why?"

1. Shaq-Fu (1994)

Shaq-Fu was released in 1994 for SNES and Genesis. The game centers on basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal after he is transported to an alternate dimension where he must save a young boy from an evil mummy. Unsurprisingly, it has been widely regarded as one of the worst video games of all time. There is even a website with the sole purpose of wiping the game out of existence.

The game was so horrible that it became legendary, and some people felt it was necessary to make a sequel. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, we can look forward to seeing the new game, Shaq-Fu: Legend Reborn, launched on a variety on consoles. Lovers of so-bad-it's-good video games rejoice!

2. Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City (1994)

Here’s another basketball star-themed video game courtesy of EA Sports. In this one, Michael Jordan discovers that the Chicago Bulls have been kidnapped by an evil scientist. You play as Jordan and roam the streets of Chicago, collecting keys in order to find them. Naturally, there are monsters you need to defeat, and, because you’re Michael Jordan, you defeat them with basketballs. These balls vary from ice balls to grenade balls.

The game was an overwhelming failure. It made it onto the 100th issue of Nintendo Power’s top 10 worst games of all-time list (Shaq-Fu is on there too).

3. Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! (1994)

This game is (very loosely) based on the Tim Allen sitcom. You play as Tim "The Toolman" Taylor and defeat dinosaurs and mummies with power tools. This video game is (or attempts to be) an ode to masculinity. The instruction manual simply states, “Real men don’t need instructions.” It ultimately was a failure, probably because it had almost nothing to do with Home Improvement.

4. *NSYNC: Get to the Show (2001)

After popping this game in, Player 1 has the honor of being named *NSYNC's biggest fan. This entails driving the boy band around and doing menial tasks for them. After completing all the mini games/slave labor, the player is rewarded with a "live performance" from the band. 

5. Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1990)

This SEGA effort is based on the movie of the same name. Mr. Big, an evil drug dealer, is up to his usual antics and is stealing children. It's up to Michael Jackson to save the day... with dance. Jackson can also throw his hat at enemies, and if he saves the correct child, he can turn into a robot that shoots lasers from his eyes. Just like in the movie!

6. Kool-Aid Man Video Game (1983)

This game, for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision, had very little to do with busting through walls and disturbingly revolved around drinking from a swimming pool full of Kool Aid that also served as Sir Punch's life bar. The object of the game was to quench the thirst of thirty "Thirsties" using the pool of life matter. Confused? So was everyone who ever played it.

7. Coca-Cola Kid (1994)

This one never actually made it past Japan. You play as the mascot Coca-Cola Kid, who was the very embodiment of all that is cool in the '90s (check out that backwards hat and skateboard). The game is a transparent advertisement for soda, but you may recognize the plot: someone (his teacher) is kidnapped and you have to defeat enemies (by kicking them) and rescue her. Oh, and health is restored by reaching for a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola. I assume that all mascots are fueled exclusively by the item they are shilling, so no objections here.

8. March of the Penguins (2007)

While a surprise hit in theaters, you'd never expect March of the Penguins — a documentary about the bleak lives of emperor penguins — to translate into a fun video game. They tried, however, and in the game, you place objects in front of penguins to assist their march to the breeding ground. 

9. & 10. McDonald's Treasure Island Adventure (1993) // Ronald McDonald in the Magical World (1994)

McDonald's has a surprisingly large collection of video games that you probably don't want to play. McDonald's Treasure Island Adventure is unapologetically capitalistic. Ronald McDonald goes around beating up tomatoes and penguins until they give up their pieces of the treasure map. This game is ruthless.

In Ronald McDonald in the Magical World, Birdie, Grimace, and the Hamburglar are sucked into a — you guessed it — magical world. It is up to Ronald McDonald and his magic umbrella to save them. Aside from clobbering small animals and collecting keys, the player also has access to two fast-food themed mini games

11. Razor Freestyle Scooter (2000)

"They're not just for transportation anymore," the game declares. An evil robot has kidnapped your friends and it's up to the player and his or her choice of Razor™ scooter to save them. UFC fighter Tito Ortiz is a playable character, for some unknown reason. It plays somewhat like one of the popular Tony Hawk games, but with a decidedly less cool sport.

12. Grey's Anatomy: The Video Game (2009)

Who exactly is the demographic for this video game? Moms with kids who don't use their Wii anymore? The game is set up like a five-episode story arc and focuses on working in the hospital while trying to manage interpersonal relationships. The actual writers of Grey's Anatomy collaborated on the game to give it a similar feel to the show.

13. Alf (1989)

Alf had every possible form of memorabilia, from trading cards to slippers, so naturally they made a video game. In it, Alf makes half-baked jokes while searching for fuel for his spaceship. At the end of the game, Alf parks his space scooter on the moon's face and repairs his ship.

14. Wayne's World (1993)

Like many of titles on this list, the Wayne's World video game did not feel obligated to use its source material's plot in any way — it's much easier to just transport the characters to another universe with monsters that need to be defeated. Garth is kidnapped by a purple blob and now a bobble-headed Wayne has to fight evil bagpipes and Robo Elvis to save him with a guitar that shoots sound waves. Halfway through the game, the player is treated to the 16-bit version of the headbanging scene with a chiptune version of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

15. Playboy: The Mansion (2005)

The Playboy video game offers a voyeuristic look into the life of Hugh Hefner. It's like the Sims, just with more naked women. In the game, Hefner is just starting his magazine business and it's up to the player to build it into the pornographic empire we know today. The idea is to balance friends, romance, and business. Hef needs to hire writers, direct photo shoots, and — most importantly — throw parties. Soirées can be thrown at any time and the player needs to only specify the attire (usually lingerie).

16. Bible Adventures (1991)

The Bible comes alive as you play as David, Noah, and Miriam in this religious adventure. The game is separated into three games: Noah's collection of animals for a mandatory spin on his boat, David's exciting world of shepherding, and Miriam's dangerous trip to the Nile. Cracked named Bible Adventures the 19th worst NES game of all time.

17. Square's Tom Sawyer (1989)

This game was named the fourth most racist video game of all time by UGO, and it was banned from the United States. The character of Jim is portrayed with large lips and skin the same color as the black screen. 

18. Yo! Noid (1990)

Though the 1989 DOS and Commodore 64 game Avoid The Noid had players delivering pizzas and dodging the annoying Domino's Pizza mascot, this 1990 game for NES let the player act as the monstrosity. Noid traversed through New York using a yo-yo to battle his evil duplicate, Mr. Green. Yo! Noid was essentially a modified duplication of another Capcom game from Japan called Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru. In case the pizza-eating contests at the end of the levels didn't make the player hungry, the game came with a whopping dollar-off coupon for Domino's. Though back in the early '90s that was, like, a dollar fifty.

19. Seaman (1999)

Truly the most disturbing video game on this list, Seaman is a virtual pet simulator for Dreamcast. Leonard Nimoy narrates, and the game's producer, Yoot Saito, lends his likeness for the face of Seaman, a talking fish-man hybrid. Seaman starts as an egg and the player can raise him to eventually become "Frogman." Other stages include: Gillman, Podfish, and Tadman. The mutating fish needs constant reassurance or it will die. Despite being dependent on the player, it does not stop him from insulting his caretaker. The game boasted state of the art voice-recognition and had a lot of hype and success in Japan.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

Apple
Apple

During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

1. Apple AirPods Pro; $219

Apple

You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35

Sony

For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46

Sony

This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. Jashen V18 350w Cordless Vacuum Cleaner; $180

Jashen

If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

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6. Evachill Ev-500 Personal Air Conditioner; $65

Evachill

This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

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7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120

Gourmia

The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

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8. Townew: The World's First Self-Sealing Trash Can; $90

Townew

Never deal with handling gross garbage again when you have this smart bin helping you in the kitchen. With one touch, the Townew will seal the full bag for easy removal. Once you grab the neatly sealed bag, the Townew will load in a new clean one on its own.

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9. Light Smart Solar Powered Parking Sensor (Two-Pack); $155

FenSens

Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

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10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46

Noerden

Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

iStock
iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.