It can sometimes feel like you are seeing the same games everywhere you look, even for such a creative industry. Military first-person shooters, grindy looter-shooters or repetitive role-playing games, you know the ones. So occasionally, it’s nice to see or try a game that is a little quirky or tries to do something new in an industry that can sometimes feel a bit stale.
With that said, in no particular order, here is a selection of 7 weird and wonderful games that broke the mould in unique and interesting ways throughout the years. Who knows, maybe you’ll fancy trying one of them!
7. Katamari Damacy/Reroll
Let’s get the ball rollin, and talk about a game about rolling a ball.
Originally released in Japan in 2004, this peculiar entry has you play as a pint-sized prince who is tasked with filling the sky with new stars. All thanks to your father, the king of all cosmos who destroyed them in a drunken stupor.
There quite a few quirks when it comes to this entry. For one, players use a combination of both analog sticks to control their “Katamari” which is essentially a big sticky ball. it requires you to use them both in tandem to move and pivot around objects that make your ball bigger the more you roll up, eventually letting you roll up entire planets. It feels jarring at first but after a few attempts, it becomes impossible to imagine the game working any other way.
On top of that, you have a donker’s story and aesthetics to match with cutscenes that feel like a fever dream. Along with clever mission ideas that feed into the celestial nature of your mission, like collecting twins to create Gemini. It’s a weird concept, but its also one that makes for some incredibly fun gameplay and its entire vibe is one of big dumb fun; And sometimes thats all a game needs to be.
It recently got a HD remaster across multiple console’s too, so it’s well worth a look now its gotten a facelift.
It’s colourful, quirky, and fun. The perfect way to start this list.
Nintendo isn’t afraid to try something new, and this series is a perfect example of that. Its first game releasing in 2015 for the Wii U, this entry takes paintballing to the extreme in a fast-paced shooter with a twist.
What’s unique about Splatoon? Well, for a start it’s whole approach to the shooter genre. Rather than firing bullets, you have a selection of unique weapons like paintbrushes and buckets that you use to paint arenas in your teams ink in order to win. As a result, it has some of the most unique gameplay of any shooter I’ve ever played, with modes and feature that just wouldn’t be possible in other games.
That said, you cant talk about Splatoon without mentioning its style and oh boy it has style. The world is a mishmash of pop art, popular culture, fashion, and sea life, with players controlling kid like characters who can turn into squids. That alone is quite a description, but add in a ton of fashion and style from around the world, a high energy soundtrack and the hugely diverse characters and it makes for a game with a completely distinct style. I’ve spent hours just trying different looks for my character, and I can imagine I’m not the only one.
Splatoon takes the idea of a shooter and flips it on its head, and with a new entry on its way in 2022, there will be more of this funky world to look forward to.
Platforms: PS2 (Japan), Dreamcast
Ok, this one is just plain weird.
First released on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, here’s what this one boils down to. It’s a game where you have a weird human-faced fish as a pet you must learn to care for. Yes, you read that right.
With help from Leonard Nimoy, yes, Spock himself, you care for and interact with your freaky fish friend using the Dreamcast’s microphone attachment and other vague instructions and interactions. I mean, I’m not sure what else I can say about this one.
It’s honestly one of the most peculiar games to ever exist, seriously just look at it. Aside from the fact its a fish with a face, the game itself is barely even a game, as you often have to find your way through trial and error. Its look like something you would see in a nightmare and anytime Ive seen, heard or attempted to play it, it usually ends with my utter confusion that it even got made.
That said, you’ll likely never anything like this again. That alone makes this a worthy addition here, but you know, there’s also the whole FISH WITH A FACE thing I mentioned.
It’s one of the weirdest games we’ll probably ever see. But if you fancy something outlandish, then this might be the best choice you’ll ever get.
4. Death Stranding
To some games are considered art, and this game embodies that idea to the fullest.
First released in 2019 for PS4, this “strand” game is the brainchild of famed developer Hideo Kojima. You play Sam Bridges (played by Norman Reedus of Walking Dead fame) who is tasked with delivering cargo to cities and outposts across a post-apocalyptic world.
So yeah, it’s pretty out there.
Where to start with his one. The game is pretty avant-garde to put it mildly, and I barely managed to keep track of what was happening or what character were saying most of the time. The world is filled with so much lore and detail to explore that it might as well be a series of books; Even then it still didn’t fully make sense. I mean the world is filled with ghost-like creatures called BT’s, the rain speeds up time, and there is a baby in a jar on your chest. Thats the simple stuff.
Along with its story and setting, Death Stranding also has some pretty strange gameplay, in that there isn’t a lot of it. You pick up cargo, take that cargo somewhere, then take more cargo somewhere else. That’s basically it. Its gimmick is how it makes use of asynchronous online features. These let players assist other players by leaving items like ladders and ropes or signs across the game world to make the journey easier, all whilst never seeing another player. Some find it hard to even call it a game.
All that being said, It is one of the most enthralling experience I’ve ever played. Despite being so confused for a lot of my time playing, I was so engaged with how weird the game was I couldn’t stop playing, eager to find the next non-sensical pieces of the story as I wandered across its world.
Truthfully, that only scratches the surface when it comes to this entry. It’s kinda hard to explain, you just have to play it to understand; Or at least kind of understand, it is a Kojima game after all.
3. Mario + Rabbids
Ye, I didn’t see this one coming either.
Released in 2017, this mashup of turn-based strategy, tactical RPG and two very different IP’s was the result of a collaboration between Ubisoft and Nintendo. You play as Mario, his friends, and their rabbit counterparts as you journey across a chaotic version of the mushroom kingdom, dealing with all the mischief and mayhem the Rabbids bring with them.
This might be one of, if not the best collaboration in gaming. It is completely different from anything these franchises have done before. On paper, it sounds mad, but what results is a truly great and unique game full of cool ideas and flair.
It merges the wacky and frantic Rabbids with the world of Mario seamlessly whilst managing to be a really good turn-based strategy; It’s like the developers threw a bunch of assets and ideas into a blender and ended up with this game, but it paid off beauifully.
Whilst not groundbreaking in its genre or anything quite so grand, It is a completely unique game from head to toe for these characters, with a setting and story that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I was floored when it was first revealed in 2017 and it encapsulates so much of what makes gaming great. It’s trying some new with great characters and taking risks, something more developers should learn to do.
Plus, who would expect Nintendo to let Ubisoft use its most beloved IP? Not me.
2. Oddworld series
Platforms: Pretty much anything from the PS1 onwards
With a weirdly wonderful series like Oddworld, it just doesn’t seem right to single one game out, so let’s include the whole series.
This collection of games is the creation of studio head Lorne Lanning’s direction. Set on Oddworld, you’ll explore stories from multiple characters on a planet filled with unique creatures, characters, and environments that just aren’t like other games.
Spanning across 6 games, these games earn their spot for their original style and design. The alien-like designs of Abe and his people are the most obvious example of this and the whole game has the same level of distinct and varied designs. Even the 1997 original has some of the most unique visuals I’ve seen in a game to date, with the newest entry Soulstorm bringing these to life like never before. it’s just a bonus the games are pretty great too.
There is no other game quite like Oddworld, so for that, I think it rightly deserves a spot on this list.
1. Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hands
This may be the only game you can say is legitimately solar powered.
Released in Japan in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance, this entry sees Hideo Kojima taking on a producer role for this action role-playing game. You play Django, the descendent of vampire hunters who journeys to a city of death, fighting undead creatures and monsters in an attempt to stop the end of the world.
Now here are the quirks of the game. By using real-world time, the game would estimate when the sun would rise and set, and simulate this in the game. As a result, certain enemies can’t be exposed to the sunlight, giving players an advantage. It also made use of a light sensor attached to the cartridge, which meant playing in direct sunlight would charge your weapons and affect the game world.
These mechanics are a perfect example of thinking outside the box. They may seem a bit novel and more hassle than they’re worth, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t some truly creative attempts to make your game engaging.
This entry not only has a unique gimmick, but it’s one that connects the game with the real world unlike any other, so naturally, it’s earned its spot here.
Think I missed anything? Know any games that have something quirky or weird I should know about? Leave a comment below and let us know!