Grotesque videogames

Games where there’s a huge clash between the visual elements, or an effort at being The Future of Videogames that’s failed to hold up however many years later. An ugliness that grabs your attention instead of repelling it.

Virtual Hydlide is one that comes to mind for me right away. It’s mostly the latter type of grotesqueness – a marshy and mealy experiment in 3D. There’s the former type, too: the “photorealistic” avatar contrasting against the monster sprites, or the overworld’s relatively organic presentation vs. the rigidly laid out map.

I’ll add one or two examples to this post later.


Bloodstorm was supposed to be the Mortal Kombat Killer, or something, I’m pretty sure. One of the magazine ads even had Johnny Cage endorsing it! This example might just be straight up fucking ugly, and not grotesque. I’m not sure. Either way, I think grotesqueness works better in the context of games where you’re exploring a world.

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I remember seeing a screen of Virtual Hylide on the back of the Saturn box and being curious about it but wow that game looks awful. Check out that framerate!!

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The first thing that comes to mind is Daggerfall.

If someone posts Daggerfall in this thread I’ll fight them.

No TES game fits this thread, not when there are a dozen Midway and Atari late 80s/early 90s arcade games left to consider.

Also posting an NPC close-up from Oblivion would be cheating.

Me too, actually. For me, it’s those really abrupt transitions between the textures.

The overworlds of Virtual Hydlide and Daggerfall are also very similar looking.

not sure where this falls on the spectrum of grotesqueness, I was reminded of it by that video of Microcosm

I used to have that game. It was from one of the Tetris guys! Tetris was better.

(I actually played the hell out of this game)

Yeah I had the game too. I was never good at it but I did play it a lot for some reason.

I think I got pretty far in it, I’m not sure why I never finished it. I think the save system was crap maybe? Anyway, I thought it was a pretty interesting take on the FPS genre.

with the hindsight of adulthood, it feels kind of like a trashy pc adaptation of Air Fortress, the way the game is split into space ship flight bits and first person shooter bits feels like a mirror of Air Fortress’s shmup and platforming split.

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Virtual Hydlide is beautiful and one of my favorite games. It comes from an alternate timeline where T&ESoft saw the Zelda series growing more and more realistic and gritty in the wake of people demanding more Ocarina of Time, infecting the rest of the industry with imitators. T&E took a stand the only way they knew how.

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I just liked how the levels started out completely empty and got more dangerous as you started melting ice. Also I remember there was some reward for freezing enemies instead of killing them with fire with a message about conservation.

And there were NPCs who would go do their own thing! And the game had a bizarre aesthetic that I adored. And aliens would go unfreeze other aliens if they escaped you then team up on you! And you had to get people to manage environment settings and stuff! It had some cool stuff going. Too bad it played like a dog…


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A Valley Without Wind

It’s like a letter written in six colors of four fonts, one of which is Comic Sans Bold.


This game is pretty gross:

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I genuinely always think of Daggerfall when I consider games that have an appealing grotesqueness to them.

Goblet Grotto is intentionally like this?? It’s great.


Sonic Blast for Game Gear. Which still wins for cannot believe this is a commercial product for an established franchise.

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one true inspiration for Sonic 4: Episode 1