Yes, in 1998 developers Digital Image Design released a game titled Wargasm. It was indeed a war game - in fact, it was a pretty good war game mixing real time strategy and both first person and third person action where the player controlled tanks, helicopters, APCs or infantry - in fact, this game could very well have been the inspiration behind such modern games as World of Tanks and Warthunder. The player's main view was an overhead map in traditional RTS-style, but could "possess" their units and either watch the action from their point of view, or control them directly.
But that name? Uggh. They tried to cover it up by saying it was an acronym for War Ground Air Special Missions - but I don't really think they were fooling anybody - aside from the phrase not really making sense, the sexual innuendo is clearly intentional especially with the image on the box art (seriously who fires a gun in that pose?). They obviously came up with the name first then tried to think of an acronym for it later.
While Wargasm does kinda portray that it's a war game, there are also plenty of other titles they could have gone with. I think the marketing department or publisher Infrogrames probably should have vetoed this one before release day....even though the reception of the game itself was mostly positive, with some reviews scoring it in the high 80s and 90s, it's forever remembered as one of the worst video game titles in history.
Interestingly, Digital Image Design were not the first ones to use this word - as in 1992 (6 years before the game came out), all-female American rock band L7 released their album "Bricks Are Heavy", containing a track titled "Wargasm". Going back even further but staying on the subject of music, Wargasm was the name of an American thrash metal band that was active between 1985-1995. A couple of novels also share the name.
That title just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? That's 15 syllables of bliss right there.
Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars was a Playstation 3 game released in 2008. In this game, the player took control of a suped-up rocket car and was one of several cars on a team. The object of the game was to pilot your car around a large arena and smash an oversized ball into a goal on the other side while being able to pull off all kinds of neat stunts and tricks. If that concept sounds familiar to you...that's because it is - the much more well known Rocket League is actually the sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.
You know a game's title is bad though when even the design director admits that it was the "worst-named game of all time", which is exactly what he said during a GDC talk in 2016. They realised it was bad enough that when they decided to make a follow up to the game, instead of calling it "Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars 2", or even some condensed version of that such as "Battle-Cars 2" (which it was actually called during development at some point), they changed it completely...and after seeing the success of Rocket League, it's hard to argue with that decision. Of course, it wasn't just the name change that created the success...Rocket League made a number of big improvements over Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, but the core game was still essentially identical. Rocket League however probably gave you a better idea of what the game was actually about, despite the much shorter title.
Revengers of Vengeance was a somewhat mediocre fighting game that was released for the ill-fated Sega CD. At first glance, the name of this game seems cool and edgy...just saying it might sound cool: *deep movie announcer voice* "Revengers of Vengeance!". However once you take a second look at it, you'll realise it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.
"Revenger" is actually a real word at least, it's not something that was made up for the game, even if the spellchecker in your word processor of choice doesn't recognise it as such. It's defined in the Oxford dictionary as "A person who exacts punishment or inflicts retribution for an injury or wrong", although granted, it's not exactly a word that's in common use anymore. Okay, cool, so far so good. But then you have the word "Vengeance" in there too, which means "Punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong". So...uhhh...the game is titled "Those who get revenge of getting revenge"...or...something.
The whole title is kind of redundant...it's basically saying the same thing twice. It'll be like calling Mortal Kombat "Fighters of Fighting" or Halo "Shooter of Shooting" or Gran Turismo "Racer of Racing". Would it have been that difficult to come up with a title that was...I don't know...less redundant? Even something like "The Revengers" or "Warriors of Vengeance" would have been better than Revengers of Vengeance.
Ballz 3D is one of the earliest examples of a pseudo 3D fighting game on a console - but you wouldn't know that by looking at the title. This game had a 3D look to it by having its characters composed entirely of sphere shapes, and actually allowed a degree of 3D movement around the arena. The game itself however was critically panned, because despite the advances in technology, it wasn't really very good. The game was released on 3 platforms - the SNES and Mega Drive first and then a "directors cut" followed a year later on the 3DO. In the US, it carried the title Ballz 3D: Fighting at its Ballziest while in Europe, its full moniker was Ballz 3D: The Battle of the Balls. I'm actually not sure which one is worse.
Aside from the game itself being kind of lacklustre, the bizarre marketing campaign for the game no doubt also contributed to the game's poor sales. It featured advertising slogans such as "To be the champion, you gotta have Ballz!" (although the SNES version changed this to "To be the champion, you gotta play Ballz") and "Tell your mother you want Ballz for Christmas" while showing an image of a Christmas tree made up of spheres. This campaign, as well as the game's bland box art gave people very little idea of what the game was actually about, with many assuming it was some kind of Tetris clone filled with innuendo. Not exactly the smartest marketing strategy we've ever seen.
See, all this time you thought the advertising slogan for the fictional game "Bonestorm" in "The Simpsons", that said "So tell your folks, buy me Bonestorm or go to hell!" was a made-up joke. No...no...it basically happened in real life about a year before that episode aired. Go figure.
#6: Divine Divinity
Divine Divinity was a top-down, hack-and-slash action RPG that was cut from the same cloth as games like Diablo. Released in 2002 it was actually a pretty good game and was generally positively received - despite the fact that the game's title was totally nonsensical and was completely redundant.
Much like Revengers of Vengeance I talked about earlier, the title Divine Divinity is basically saying the same thing twice. "Divine" is defined as "of or relating to a god, especially the Supreme Being" and "Divinity" is defined as...uhh..."the quality of being divine; divine nature" or "deity; godhood". So the game is basically saying "god that's like a god", or "godlike god". Okay then.
Not only that, but it also implies there's some kind of scale or ranking to divinity...like you start at Private Divinity then move up the ranks to stuff like Sergeant Divinity, Lieutenant Divinity, Captain Divinity and General Divinity until finally reaching the last stage of Divine Divinity. But that's not what divinity means. Divinity is already the highest it goes - if you are a divinity, you can't possibly be more divine - you're as divine as you're going to get. How did nobody pick up on this during development?
At least the developers seemed to recognise the error of their ways after release, as the titles of game's various sequels, prequels and spinoffs didn't contain redundant repeated words.
The mid 90s saw the launch of systems such as the Nintendo 64, Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn amongst others that had 3D processing power, so it was a pretty experimental time for game developers as they tried to figure out how to design good 3D games. Apparently, it was also an experimental time for naming games as well, as the Playstation JRPG Beyond the Beyond demonstrates, that was actually made by the same developer behind the highly regarded Shining Force games. The game was mostly poorly received on its release although has developed a bit more of a following in the years since then. It didn't really do anything wrong, but it wasn't exactly the leap gamers were expecting with the jump to 32 bit consoles...the game played more like a generic 16 bit RPG for the most part.
Beyond the Beyond is a pretty uninspiring moniker. When writing this, I actually searched for a long time trying to find out if there was some kind of meaning behind the title...but I found nothing. I can only really guess at what Beyond the Beyond is supposed to mean, and I'm probably going to be wrong about it - but the phrase "the beyond" or "the great beyond" is sometimes used as an idiom to mean the afterlife, so using "beyond" as a preposition before that might mean something like "the farther side of the afterlife". I'm kind of clutching at straws on this one to try to make sense of it so if anyone has any other ideas I'm open to suggestions. The Japanese version of the game actually carried a subtitle and was called Beyond the Beyond: To Far Away Kanaan, but there's no location in the game called "Kanaan" so this is just even more confusing. No translation errors or anything like that are to blame here - it is what it is, and I'm sure Beyond the Beyond has left gamers scratching their heads about the meaning of the title for a long time.
Not to let a bewildering title go to waste however, "Beyond the Beyond" was also the name of a manga series completely unrelated to the game, published between 2004 and 2008.
The first Prinny game, titled Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, was a spinoff from the Disgaea series - but unlike those games that were RPGs, this was a hard-as-nails 2.5D side scrolling platformer. Released on the PSP, the game had you take control of characters from the Disgaea games called Prinnies. Prinnies were super weak however and died very easily, so the game gave you 999 lives in order to complete it - and on your first playthrough, you'd likely need most of them. The game was then given a sequel also on the PSP, with the same gameplay and same ball-busting difficulty, named Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!
The series is known for its quirky humour but you'd still likely do a double take after reading that title. In the context of the game itself, the title does actually make sense - the sorceress boss of the Prinnies named Etna has had her panties stolen, and it's up to the Prinnies to find them by sunrise or else they will be all turned into panties. Yes, that's the game's plot. I didn't say the plot made sense...just the title once you understand what the plot is.
Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! is an example of a game with a really oddball title that would seem very strange without context, but once you start playing the game it all starts making sense. However, if you were a kid trying to explain to your mother that you wanted this game for Christmas, it might have resulted in some awkward conversations.
For those who are unaware, Kingdom Hearts is a generally positively received series of JRPGs developed by Square Enix in conjunction with Disney Interactive Studios that follow the story of characters created for the games as they interact with various Disney characters. The games have been successful enough to spawn manga, novels and a collectable card game.
The DS entry in the series was titled Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Assuming this is the first time you've seen that title, how do you think it would be articulated?
"Kingdom Hearts three hundred and fifty-eight over two days"?
"Kingdom Hearts three-five-eight over two days"?
"Kingdom Hearts three hundred and fifty-eight divided by two days"?
"Kingdom Hearts three hundred and fifty-eight half days"?
"Kingdom Hearts three-five-eight slash two days"?
"Kingdom Hearts three hundred and fifty-eight by two days"?
If you guessed any of those options, you're incorrect. Believe it or not, despite the fact it's written as Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, it's actually supposed to be read as "Kingdom Hearts three-five-eight days over two". Yep. The words are supposed to be read out of order - the "days" comes before the "two". This was confirmed in the game's official release trailer where they explicitly announced the game's title.
While this is the only KH game that requires you to read the title in a different order to how it's written, following games in the series continued to have some odd names, such as Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
#2: Hand Dic
You know, when I wrote the original list, I was somewhat disappointed I couldn't include the DS game Touch Dic in the list, because apparently Nintendo was like "Hey that's a bad name" or something, and it was renamed to Touch Dictionary, so I just included it as an honourable mention. Hmmph. Well then, imagine my joy when I discovered that a very similar game was released on the PSP, and Sony was totally like "Hey that's a cool name" so it wasn't changed. That game was Hand Dic, and was actually developed and published by none other than Sony themselves.
Just like the DS game, "Dic" here is short for "Dictionary", and to be fair, the game did have a subtitle saying "Hand Dictionary" to try to avoid confusion. Released only in Korea, it was more or less the same as its DS equivalent - it was basically an interactive learning tool designed to teach Koreans how to speak English. Sorry if that was a bit anticlimactic after all of that, it's not the most exciting concept in the world - but hey, the game exists!
There's not really too much else to say about this title, so I'll just leave you with the knowledge that, in 2005, Sony Computer Entertainment actually released a game called Hand Dic. Just let that sink in for a moment.
What could possibly beat that? Glad you asked...
#1: Dragon Wang
Congratulations to Dragon Wang, you're the winner of first place on this list! *Crowd Cheers*
Ummm...so yeah, Dragon Wang. This was a game released by Sega in 1985 for the SG-1000, Sega's first home console. It may surprise you to know that this is not a game about the reproductive process of dragons though. You played as the titular character Dragon Wang, or D-Wang as he was called in-game, in a side scrolling beat 'em up of sorts. The game itself though was pretty bad, with wonky and unresponsive controls, constantly respawning enemies and some weird multi-level platforming. I guess you really needed to channel your inner Wang to defeat your foes in this game.
Why the title Dragon Wang? Who knows. It's probably simply a case of bad translation from Japanese or "Engrish" as it's often known as, as the character is probably based off Jackie Chan's character Thomas from the film "Wheels on Meals". Jackie Chan is Chinese, so they went with the Chinese word "Wang" that means "King". Unfortunately, that's not what it means in English.
It's possible you have not heard of Dragon Wang itself, as this game was a Japan-only release, but you may have heard of its sequel, released on the Sega Master System called Kung Fu Kid, even though you apparently play as the same character. Thank goodness they didn't call it "Kung Fu Wang".
Before concluding this list, I want to make an honourable mention to the game titled Bababadalgharaghtakammin arronnkonnbronntonnerronn tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk. No, I didn't just fall asleep on the keyboard, believe it or not this is a real game. It was however released on the Ouya, and even thought the Ouya is a console, it's also powered by Android, so was ineligible for this list based on that criterion. I wouldn't recommend you play it, because it's pretty bad...awful actually...but it makes this list as an honourable mention. If you're wondering where on earth the title came from, check out the novel "Finnegans Wake" by James Joyce.
So there it is, the top 10 weird video game titles - part 2! This second part has been a long time coming - basically a whole year actually - but I hope the wait was worth it :) Thanks for all the suggestions I received after publishing the first list. As always I welcome constructive feedback. If you feel like I've missed some of the weirdest video game titles out there in either part 1 or part 2, drop me a comment or chat about it on the forums.
Thanks for reading!
List by White_Pointer (11/06/2017)
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