There are a lot of games that let you do weird things. That’s the power of games, after all – to let the imagination run wild and permit the audience to indulge in any fantasy it desires.
And some of those games try to go one further – not to anticipate and realise our wishes, but to navigate them entirely and just go completely nuts. Sure, everybody wants to fly (an ability that surprisingly few superhero games actually let you try), but did you ever want to turn somebody into a sheep? No? Well, Ratchet And Clank has you covered regardless. If you ever wanted to hit monsters with Christmas tree decorations, Pokemon is here to oblige. I mean, you probably wouldn’t ever feel the need to do so without prior knowledge of that opportunity, but it’s here regardless.
And some games go weirder, to the point where you can’t really explain those gameplay options without a buttload of context backing them up (the commonly-accepted scientific measurement of context, that is). Here are 5 bizarre gameplay abilities that needed a lot of explanation behind them.
Mad Max: “Hunchback Repair Service”
Despite its best attempts to capture that trademark Mad Max oddness, the 2015 adaptation of George Miller’s apocalyptic saga never really reached the surreal heights it was aiming for. It makes a big deal out of the villain having a dumb name, a leather outfit and a rhino horn over his crotch, but I fit that criteria when I go to the local fetish dungeon every Tuesday.
That said, there was one option that made my eyebrows shoot around to the back of my head. Max’s car tends to get a bit smashed up when he’s fighting spiked dune buggies in what remains of Sydney Harbour, and so we have a button for: “Make my brainwashed hunchback slave climb out of the car boot where I keep the weapons, crawl over the chassis and fix the engine before it explodes.” Because god forbid poor, nervous Chumbucket hang out in the always-empty passenger seat. That front area is clearly only for ruggedly handsome people like the aforementioned Mr. Rockatansky.
And this power is so commonly needed, they assigned it to the “E” button on my computer. I must say, I didn’t expect to be enslaving those with physical deformities by playing on their manic delusions. Hopefully we’ll have learnt to treat him better by the end of the game, yeah?
Bayonetta: “Magical Striptease Hair Shoe Attack”
Sure, there’s actually a bunch of moves in Platinum Games’ bouncy fighting game that this could apply to, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising to acknowledge. Mainly because Hideki Kamiya decided to take some liberties with the word “witch,” stretching the boundaries of that term until it was more synonymous with “occult dominatrix gunslinger hair stylist,” a phrase that’ll also look great on any resume. Seriously, give it a go. I want to see somebody put that out there.
So Bayonetta’s main power involves reshaping her black beehive hairdo into various weapons and animals, but because her outfit is woven out of that same hair there’s a peculiar balance of might and modesty. Whenever the Umbra Witch unleashes the more powerful attacks, all the hair that makes up her clothes reforms into an object that looks reading to smash somebody, usually a giant fist or stiletto heel. Then she beats up the enemies with it, but the reallocation of catsuit fur usually leaves her partially clothed or even entirely naked. Damn, seems the developers just couldn’t think of a way around that problem. I bet they tried really hard, too.
Asterix and Obelix XXL: “Roman Soldier Satellite Launch”
I don’t expect anybody to remember this, much like most of the references I make, but the adventures of these punch-happy Gauls was a big part of my childhood, and that included the PS2 tie-in game. Because what franchise didn’t have a tie-in game on the PS2, quite frankly? If it wasn’t the PS2, it was the SNES. If it wasn’t the SNES, it was an online flash game. And if it wasn’t an online flash game, it was a violent make-believe adventure in the school playground. Good times.
Asterix And Obelix XXL was a fairly straightforward action-adventure title where you ran around Europe beating up Roman warriors and the occasional lion, all fuelled by the protagonist’s strength-enhancing magic potion. And right from the start, the game’s solution to getting rid of enemies who’ve lost all their health is kind of amazing – the heroes just hit them so hard they fly into space and are never seen again. Even the intro cinematic shows helmets and antique weaponry covering the surface of the moon, implying that some poor centurion is going to have a much longer tour of duty than he expected.
Toribash: “Tense Glutes, Fall Over”
To be fair, it’s not a command exclusive to the posterior, but that doesn’t make it any less odd to see at the top of the screen in big letters. For those of you who don’t know, this venerable indie fighting game feels like the evolution of that a game that’s even more dated and considerably less fun: QWOP. Is QWOP still a thing? I assume not, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m not up to date like some kids, I don’t bother with the Facebook.
Regardless, Toribash was a rather clever creation whereby you adjusted the individual muscles in your avatar’s body, clicking on specific regions and choosing whether you wanted them to relax, tense, flex or whatever. Then it would unpause and your little minion would adjust himself accordingly for a second or too, with the eventual goal of beating up the opponent opposite. Usually this degraded into a lot of manic flailing, but that didn’t make it less funny to witness, especially when they ran through the whole thing at the end, Superhot style, and showed just how awful the whole fight was. Great stuff, 10/10, would tense glutes again.
The Elder Scrolls: “Wacky, Wild, Wandomised Wabbajack”
A recurring item in the Elder Scrolls series, Sheogorath’s infinitely unpredictable magic item has eclipsed the fictional diety that created it. The Wabbajack feels like somebody on the design team was writing a Dungeons And Dragons campaign in his spare time, and decided he could make use of some of those random event tables by just bringing them across into his main work. And when asked which of those tables he was going to use, he boldly put one foot on his desk and shouted “all of them, damn it!”
And thus was the Wabbajack born, a slightly creepy wizard’s staff that can do almost anything – just not anything you want it to. With dozens of effects to choose from in Skyrim alone, the staff casts a completely random spell every time you use it, with no way of narrowing your options. Aim it at some troublesome bandit, and you have no guarantees from that point on – you might make him twice as powerful, or blow his head clean off his shoulders. You might cast a spell of invisibility, or turn him into a confused chicken, draped in ill-fitting armour.
Hell, even if you kill him, it’s possible he may get resurrected and try to cave your head in with his undead strength. Impossible to predict, which is why the more cowardly adventurers just dump it in one of those weirdly spacious chests at home and rely on a sword instead. But the braver (and stupider) heroes will venture out into the unknown, jam it into the face of the first dragon they see, and pray to Talos that something good happens when they pull the trigger – because that’s all that you can do.
Those were five surreal and strange superpowers, offered to us by developers who were happy to let their creative sides off the leash. But was there anything you think we missed out? The Sniper Elite series gave us the option to watch Nazi testicles explode via X-Ray vision, and Saints’ Row 4 let you kill people with the awesome, awful power of dubstep music, but do you think anything tops that? What would you have put on this list? Was there anything here that seemed all-too reasonable? Leave a comment below telling us your opinion, and remember not to pick up any staves belonging to Daedric monstrosities. I did, and I had to type this review out with a brand-new prehensile tongue.
Ith very upthetting, I thwear. Altho, doeth anybody have a thweetwoll?