Strange Days: World’s Weirdest Music Games

Strange Days: World’s Weirdest Music Games

We go through long stretches of pop culture history wherein music tends to sound manufactured, but occasionally something different catches our ears. The same can be said for video games based on music: We have the likes of Guitar Hero, which is a fun game to be sure, but as bizarre as damp moss. If you peer under the carpet of the music game genre, however, you’ll find some interesting alternatives brooding in the darkness. Here are seven of the weirdest music gaming outings ever to grace PC and console video game systems, many of them equally strange as the artists that inspired them.

Beatle Quest (1985, Commodore 64/ZX Spectrum) — This near-ancient text adventure dishes up a futuristic scenario wherein you, as a keeper of the far future’s Archives, suddenly find yourself in a computer-simulated world inspired by the Beatles’ best works. Hope you have a good imagination, because there are no visual aids here: Exploring this world wholly relies on navigating roads and environments made entirely out of the Beatles’ lyrics.

Prince Interactive (1994, Windows/Mac) — This game is not a woman; this game is not a man; this game is something that you’ll never understand. Prince Interactive is an adventure game in the vein of Myst that also doubles as a kind of virtual tour through Prince’s Paisley Park Studios. And, like the man himself, the game is a befuddling jumble of puzzles.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1985, Commodore 64/ZX Spectrum) — By 1985, the Famicom and the NES were getting games about a fat plumber jumping on turtles. In retrospect, that’s downright normal compared to some of the stuff home computers received through the same era. Frankie Goes to Hollywood for the C64 and ZX Spectrum casts the player as the band’s logo (a shadowy outline of a man) who must search for the Pleasuredome and four attributes–sex, war, love, and faith–in order to become a whole being. This herculean task involves playing a lot of minigames and solving murder mysteries. We’re experiencing a sudden urge to go fling fireballs at some nice, normal Koopas.

Peter Gabriel: EVE (1996, Windows/Mac) — EVE is a meditative rhythm/puzzle solving game that headlines Adam and Eve as they try to make a paradise out of a bizarre world. Along the way, they must find scattered objects across four worlds and determine the connection between “man, woman, and Nature.” Deep stuff, but the game is basically an excuse to bliss out to Peter Gabriel and great artwork. Not that anyone needs an excuse, really.

Devo Presents Adventures of the Smart Patrol (1996, Windows) — Over in this cage, we have ’80s new wave music bred with a storyline about the countdown to apocalypse. If you’ve ever wanted to see what a turkey crossed with a monkey looks like, though, play long enough to get a good look at the bizarre antagonist of Adventures of the Smart Patrol. Warning: Turkey Monkey does not look like a turkey or a monkey and is bound to set you up for disappointment.

Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix (2005, GameCube) — Despite its upbeat Japanese pop-inspired music and flashy cotton candy-colored backgrounds, the Dance Dance Revolution series is far more normal than some of the offerings on this list. That said. the Mario Mix edition of the game is markedly unusual. Mario can outsmart Bowser and throw fireballs at him. Hell, he can dress up as a Hammer Brother and lob hammers at the poor bastard. Why would the two ever resort to a dance-off in order to solve their differences?

Eternal Sonata (2007, Xbox 360/PlayStation 3) — The Xbox 360 has always been a bit light on Japanese fantasy role-playing games, so the release of Eternal Sonata sparked intrigue from the very beginning. Said intrigue deepened when players learned that the game’s story is essentially a fever-dream in the mind of Polish pianist Frédéric Chopin, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 39. We can never know for sure what goes on in the brain of a musical genius, but if we’re to believe Eternal Sonata, it looks like there’s a lot of rich piano music, monsters, and a whole lot of angst-ridden dialogue.

Special Thanks: GamesRadar

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

3 Comments

  1. You forgot about Music Machine for the Atari 2600. Shame!

  2. Guitaroo man

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