When I was like 9 and my parents refused to get me a Nintendo or a Sega Genesis, I had to make do with the third place finisher… my computer and its Disk Operating System. Nintendo was apparently just a time waster, but if it was on the PC, then my folks felt that it had some kind of redeeming value. I’m sure the ’80s and ’90s were like this for several of you.
However, there were several games that I’m sure I couldn’t sell to my parents. Games so mind-bendingly insane that one glance at the box would confuse, frustrate, and eventually drive you mad, if you didn’t just put it down and buy something else instead. Here are 10 classic DOS game boxes that will suck your soul out your nose.
10) Pipe Mania
Take your hand and cover up the illustrated character on the left. Just look at the man screaming in agony and the gooey words “Pipe Mania.” Think for a while on this image. Now take your hand off the character on the left and put it over the screaming face. Does this image and title work better at selling the game to you? It does, doesn’t it? Now take your hand off the screaming face. Does that enhance your desire for this game? Or does it make you think of prison rape and only prison rape?
This is either the awesomest board game ever, or the dullest board game ever but it’s being marketed as the awesomest board game ever. I haven’t played it, only seen the box, but I’m thinking that it involves you sawing off your legs and playing a complicated theramin while bored aliens judge you. See that slug thing just to the right of the pole? He’s thinking about all the space TV he could be watching instead of getting sucked into a Quadrel match between two middle-aged nerds. Side effects of Quadrel may include headaches and getting larger while you have those headaches.
8) Arctic Moves
No way does this game live up to the box hype. No way does a giant husky look down disapprovingly as you shoot a gun. No way do you fire explosives from a jetpack at a log cabin. And no fucking way does a photo of some schlubby white dude get more cover space than shooting a fucking Xenomorph. A Xenomorph, by the way, who I’m sure ran into no copyright problems later down the line.
Take Mario, strip him of his charm, his overalls, his hat, his hair, and make him Jewish, and you have Avish! Keep the mustache though. And hell, give him a work shirt that doesn’t hide his gut. And make him afraid of apples and oxygen tanks and… uh, a brick. That’s Avish! Honestly, I can’t decide if this is just lazy Israeli game design or brilliant anti-Semitic propaganda.
6) Big Bug Bang
So what I’m seeing here is a scared burn victim totally petrified by Dobby from Harry Potter, if you feed Dobby after midnight. Unless that little guy is really calm because he’s the big bug who gets banged, and maybe it’s been a little while for him. Maybe he went to a big bug brothel and they gave him a little robe to wear while the big bugs get ready to bang. Maybe the guy in back is forced to watch him bang the big bugs. Maybe I just get a kick out of repeating the words “big bug bang” in different sequences.
5) Federal League Manager Professional
Yeah, that’s what it translates to. Obviously, the person on the cover is not playing the game very well if a car and airplane are crashing on the field. It’s version 2.0, so maybe they fixed the part where the players are suddenly killed by a crashing airplane, although I think that would have been a real draw for kids. I guess you play someone who arbitrates labor disputes at a stadium? “Whoah whoah whoah there, son, this game isn’t about ball handling, it’s about accumulated overtime and construction deadlines.
Although, with the cropping tool, it can easily become about ball handling.
4) Rallo Gump
Get ready for nearly 300 megabytes of AMAZINGLY BADLY DRAWN FURY. Honestly, this game box just screams, “why bother?” That bird thing don’t care, he’d rather be asleep. The fish thing in the pond just looks sick. And there’s an eye with feet on a platform, not really the kind of thing that’s going to get anyone excited about buying Rallo Gump. Oh, and don’t forget the random cardinal on the right, he’s… probably important? I don’t know. I just get the feeling that no one really was pushing this one hard to succeed.
3) Award Winners: Platinum Edition
THIS is supposed to be the box that sells your videogames? Hey, Civilization and Lemmings were not a hard sell to early ’90s audiences, so why go over the top and use an insane person as your spokesman? People just don’t get this happy about three videogames. As an added bonus, the designer of this cover has forgotten that human beings have mass under their shirts and has colored that area the same as the sky. That, or he’s shouting because his torso has been bloodlessly removed from his legs and you can see the background through the hole.
Buy the game that undresses you with its eyes!
I’ve looked at several hundred of these DOS game boxes and this is the one that’s going to be visiting me in my dreams, my dreams of pee. I don’t care if this is the cutest game ever and that it teaches me the true meaning of Earth Day and helps me with my PSATs or whatever, as long as it presents a world where a bearded lady dwarf emerges from a Breeders album cover, it will forever be a curse to my people. THE EYES WILL TOUCH YOUR SOFT PARTS.
1) Beyond the Black Hole
Look, we’re not going to beat around the bush on this. It’s a game where Elvis Costello is tied up and raped by a moldy desk PC.