It’s hard work getting your game spotted on shop shelves sometimes, what with all the other titles vying for the public’s attention.
Sometimes you need something to catch their eye: a strong cover image, some positive magazine quotes from reputable publications, something like that.
And sometimes you just need a title that makes people stop, do a double-take and say: “hang on, what?”
A few games over the years have had names that caught me off-guard and made me think: “They can’t really mean that, can they?”
Of course, most of the time they don’t mean that at all, and it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that their game’s title also happens to mean something offensive.
With that in mind, here are fifteen of my favourite examples of classic “did they really call it that?” moments.
Warning: It sort of goes without saying but there are one or two potentially rude words below and a good stiff helping of euphemisms. And if you already missed that euphemism I just wrote then you’re clearly not old enough to be reading on.
(1994, Ocean Software)
Your game is clearly about a man whose main redeeming feature is his enormous testicles. Children might end up playing this game, you know.
And don’t give me any of that “no, he’s actually a squirrel who likes collecting nuts” pish either. I know what you’re getting, at you filthmonger.
What it really meant: It turns out Mr Nutz actually had no links with male organs whatsoever and was actually just a squirrel who liked collecting nuts.
Um, sorry about that, Ocean.
Surely our beloved Nintendo and Sega wouldn’t allow such filth to be peddled on their glorious consoles?
Surely this so-called fighting game couldn’t actually be testicular titillation in disguise?
What it really meant: Ballz was actually a basic polygonal fighting game in which all the characters were made of balls.
Not rude ones, just geometric ones.
(2000, Event Horizon Software)
This Game Boy game seems to glorify physical abuse to simians, and it’s aimed at children?
Is this what thou hadst planned for our younglings, oh Lord?
What it really meant: Rather then being a game about humans punching monkeys, Monkey Puncher saw you training a monkey and entering it in a monkey boxing league. Where it fought other monkeys.
Which actually isn’t that much better, I suppose.
(1987, Nihon Bussan)
Children should not be associated with such terminology. That is an adult word for adult people, and it should not be used to describe youngsters.
If you’ll bear with me, I’m just about to report this game to the authorities.
What it really meant: What’s that, you say? Booby Kids is actually about collecting treasure in prehistoric times while avoiding cavemen and dinosaurs?
Well, I’m glad I didn’t phone the police now, that would have been awkward.
Mike Piazza’s Strike Zone
(1998, GT Interactive)
What it sounds like: I’ve mentioned this game before when I listed the worst N64 covers ever, but I didn’t really give the title much consideration.
Regardless of whether or not you know who Mike Piazza is (and if you don’t, he was a famous baseball catcher), the whereabouts and status of his ‘strike zone’ (which is probably some sort of urban slang) is not my business.
Leave Mike Piazza and his genitals alone.
What it really meant: The strike zone is the invisible square in baseball that you have to throw the ball through to get a strike.
Since Piazza’s the guy who catches that ball, his strike zone is actually something he wants you want to hit, and hit fast. And not because he’s a dirty bastard.
I’m not going to accept any other argument from Natsume, and if it’s going to try to tell me it wasn’t trying to be rude whatsoever I’m simply not having it.
It’s a game about spanking the monkey, or onanism in other words.
What it really meant: Huh. So apparently Spanky is just a fun-loving monkey who throws ‘balls’ at enemies. Not groin balls, just bubbles and the like.
And apparently he’s an innocent chap who has no crude intentions whatsoever. Forgive me if I’m still not fully convinced.
(1998, Hudson Soft)
But never have I heard someone yell “let’s smash” at me.
If anyone had ever tried it I think I would have had to reply with a kind but stern: “Stop. Let’s have dinner first. I only smash on the third date.”
What it really meant: Turns out Let’s Smash was a reference to tennis, being the Japanese name for Centre Court Tennis and all.
Well, that’s a relief. I was trying to figure out how to let them down gently, so thankfully I don’t have to bother now.
(1990, American Sammy)
If you understand it, brilliant. If you don’t, maybe it’d help if I told you that the game starred a scantily clad elf lady.
If you still don’t get it, you probably don’t know that ‘ring’ is also a euphemism for… actually, forget it. I’m not touching that. Literally.
What it really meant: Phew. The elf lady in question is actually called Christine, not Arkista. And Arkista’s ring is an actual gold ring, one with magical powers and such.
Good, that could have put me in a fairly uncomfortable position. So to speak.
Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed
(I would’ve done even more takes but I was starting to feel a bit dizzy by around the fifth or sixth take, so I decided to stop at seven.)
The point remains though – as controversial titles go, this is easily one of the most blatantly shocking in recent times.
And whereas most of the other titles in this list are just happy coincidences, someone at THQ UK had to know what was happening with this one and chose not to flag it.
What it really meant: Big Willy is in fact a mascot for a fast food company, much like the real-life Big Boy mascots.
You take control of it and use it to destroy things. Such as all humans.
Really, though. Come on.
(1994, Cobra Team)
I apologise to anyone born out of wedlock who is offended by the above heading but I promise you that is the genuine title of a Japanese SNES game.
I can only imagine who the chap in question is, and why his birth status infuriated Cobra Team to such an extent that it warranted two exclamation marks, but there you have it. That’s what he is.
I only hope his family doesn’t find out he’s being criticised like this.
What it really meant: In fact, Bastard!! is a popular manga and anime series in Japan about sorcery and wizards and the like.
Other than the name it actually isn’t that offensive at all, and don’t forget in Japan it doesn’t really mean anything. Hooray!
Pole Position sounds like a term used in an instruction manual designed to teach the male how to do ‘the deed’ at the optimum insertion angle.
For example: ‘If your pole position is slightly off-centre, you’ll probably bend your knob on the way in and and it’ll hurt like a bastard.’
What it really meant: Pole Position is a racing term. It means you’re starting a race in first place.
Which is somewhat ironic, because I’m pretty sure ‘finishing first’ in the other context is frowned upon.
Spawn: In The Demon’s Hand
Fine. It sounds like a lonely chap has taken part in a bit of self-love and the resulting effluvia has ended up in his hand.
And since he loathes himself for having such impulses, he sees himself as an evil figure, a demon if you will.
Therefore his ‘spawn’, his sperm if you will, is literally in the demon’s hand. Look, I can’t be much clearer than that, leave me alone. I wish I hadn’t started this article now.
What it actually meant: Spawn is a comic book character created by Todd McFarlane.
This particular arcade and Dreamcast game explains how he made a deal with a demon called Malebolgia to resurrect him so he could see his wife again.
Therefore, he’s literally in the demon’s hand. With not a single drop of spunk to be found.
This can either be satiated by indulging in carnal pleasures (either alone or with a partner), or by simply biting one’s lip and seeing it out until normal non-rigidity is resumed.
A Wild Woody, therefore, is a situation in which a chap’s state of arousal shows no sign of backing down no matter how long he tries to will it away by picturing old people in the buff.
What it actually was: Turns out Wild Woody was just a failed mascot by Sega, designed for its failed Mega CD.
He’s a pencil you see, hence ‘Woody’, and can defeat enemies by rubbing them out. As opposed to rubbing one out.
There comes a point when eventually it’s pretty bloody clear why a game sounds rude.
It’s a spunk joke. You know it is, I know it is.
What it actually was: Seaman was a bizarre virtual pet game released on Dreamcast and PlayStation 2.
You used a microphone to talk to a fish with a man’s head (voiced by Leonard Nimoy in the English language version) and give him company.
In hindsight, I sort of wish it had been about sperm instead. It would have been less odd if your parents caught you playing with it.
Actually, that’s probably enough.
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