The Japanese have brought us so much: floppy disks, Walkmans, DVDs, robots, karaoke, umbrella ties, school-girl underwear vending machines.
Over the years, both in terms of technology and thanks to their unrestrained creativeness, they have also helped shaped the videogame industry.
However, there are some games that the Western market never quite understood. Lets take a look at some of the most ludicrous games to come from Japan.
In this gem of a game, you can finally see what life is like as a high-pitched, blood sucking mosquito. Although it’s difficult to know whether its "fun interactive science" or "creepy voyeur perversion".
As Mr Mosquito, the game’s protagonist, you live amongst a lovely family called the Yamadas; there’s generic Dad who wears a suit, mum who wears an apron, and then a young daughter who refuses to wear any pants. The aim of the game? To stalk around the house drinking blood from these people via particular parts of their bodies.
Throughout the "game", players will need to use strategy and stealth as their victims will attempt to swat and kill you. Thanks to Mr Mosquito being around 84 times the size of a normal mosquito, he can interact with real-life objects too, in an effort to calm or distract his prey. Drain enough of the red stuff and you win.
Possibly the weirdest thing is that no-one seems to notice a massively oversized, yellow armour suited bug flying around the place. If I were Mr Yamada, I’d just set fire to the house and count my losses.
This game is pretty amazing. In fact if you own a Nintendo Wii, you should stop reading this article and download it immediately. Released as WiiWare in 2009, Muscle March is a psychedelic, homo-erotically-charged explosion of Japanese brilliance.
The entire game involves you holding your Wii-motes and striking body builder poses for hours, while listening to upbeat, high-pitched dance music with indiscernible lyrics. It’s basically what every kid is wishing for this Christmas.
Of course, the game does have a plot. In Muscle March there's this thief who steals your favourite tub of protein powder and hoons off through a number of environments. In his protein infused rage, he crashes through walls and buildings leaving a particular body shaped exit hole. In order to pursue him, you must mimic the same body shape in order to fit through the gap.
Pretty logical really, especially the semi-nude, oiled up man-train part.
Sadly, this anger management simulator can only be played at a few, hard-to-find arcade parlours around the world. Super Table Flip is a stress-relief game where you can finally stand up and throw your dining table across the room - right into the face of your wife, kids, co-workers and friends at your wedding!
It’s what any middle-aged man has always wanted to do - but this way you don’t get arrested. It’s not just about the table flipping either. Players can warm up and get some atmosphere going by slamming their fists on the table and wait for that perfect opportunity to shower everyone with the contents of your table cloth.
The climatic moment of rage is even replayed over and over, with classy slow-motion effects (like the Matrix) so you can witness the shocked expressions on everyone’s faces when you finally lose your blob. The actual arcade cabinet itself is a work of art too - the entire controller is just a miniature table edge, on a hinge. I want to find this game so bad.
Japan World Cup 3
This game really deserves a much better title. While it might sound drab and unoriginal, the game itself is probably one of the most insane pieces of interactive entertainment I’ve ever witnessed. Yes, it’s a horse racing simulator. But one that has been dreamed up by some sort of deranged lunatic taking every drug-like substance known to man.
Players can pick their racer and lodge bets before watching the competition - which all sounds pretty mundane. Until you see what the racers look like. In Japan World Cup 3 you’ll come across yetis, walruses, giant wooden Trojan horses, two headed horses... even a giant can with human legs.
To make matters worse (or better, we’re not sure) - the racers will also swap riders. You’ll see a yeti riding a walrus, or two horses team up and start whipping each other. The game makes absolutely no sense and we can’t even figure out how you win. But this is definitely a game where winning doesn’t matter. Japan World Cup 3 possibly doubles up as mental health therapy for anyone with a gambling addiction.
Ski Jumping Pairs
Another pseudo-sports game, Ski Jumping Pairs is a ‘pachinko’ title (part arcade, part gambling game) that was ported across to the PSP and PS2. It is difficult to describe, although it would appear that Japan really don’t understand what the Winter Olympics are all about.
Each challenge starts off as you might expect, with a skier at the top of a steep snowy hill, with a clear runway and a ramp at the end to launch themselves from. Although it’s not one skier, there are three of you all riding the same skis and one of which is either a small child, or a midget. Yes, it sounds odd.... but then things REALLY start to get wacky.
About half-way down the hill, two of the skiers (including the midget) jump off leaving the front skier to hit the ramp and soar through the air - just like normal ski jumpers. Except for the fact that they then pick up, and throw the midget down the hill, while the jumper has to catch them in mid-air before scoring a touch-down.
I really wish this WAS an event in the Winter Olympics because I would totally watch it. Japan would also win this event because people take these pachinko games pretty seriously over there.