Sometimes a video game tries a little too hard to be different. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however it leads to some games thinking very, very outside the box to be original. This is mostly seen in retro games during the early age of gaming. Back then, games more often than not threw you right into the action without any explanation. This was due to the limitations of the consoles themselves. Very rarely, games could process cutscenes and as such were absent completely. Games that did have them were generally shorter ones, while longer, more complex games failed to include them. Sometimes, the story of a game is more of an aside and never really looked at in the game itself, something especially true in fighting games. In an effort to save space in the cartridges, many developers would write the story and stick it inside the game's manual. Due to this, many would never see the story of the game they were playing. The following list will cover those games that have stories that'll make you do a double take. Some of them are dark, while others are backstories that make little to not sense. It will also only be going over games where the story isn't right in front of you, and would require some reading to get the full story. By scouring through all sorts of video game manuals and extras we've gathered 15 of the most insane backstories from classic video games from the Atari 2600 to the Super Nintendo.
15 Battle Chess
Battle Chess at its core seems like a perfectly normal game. It's simply chess with battle animations when the pieces go head to head. However, the manual explains exactly why this is going on. Battle Chess isn't really well, chess. It's actually an ongoing war. According to the manual, both the blue and red people have been at war for thousands of years. You join forces with the red people to rage war and drive out the "blue foes" from that land that is "rightfully [the red's]. This all means you are essentially a military general trying to rid a kingdom of your foes. Whether or not you are in the wrong is something that is not made clear to the player. Granted, the Blue's King seems to be ready to fight.
Centipede was originally an arcade game that would be later be ported to the Atari 2600 and many other future consoles. In the original Atari 2600 manual, elves were having their mushroom garden attacked by various creatures, and an elf by the name of Oliver found a magic stick that would make these beasts disappear and the mushrooms these creatures poisoned returned to normal. However in an accompanying comic, the enemies were friends with Oliver who were hypnotized by a wizard to attack him. To defend himself, Oliver used the wand on them and turned them into mushrooms. Not only that, the villain of the comic turned the entire population of elves except for Oliver into lifeless toadstools. It's a rather dark story for such a simple arcade game.
13 Crystal Castles
Back in the arcade age of video games, many games lacked endings and would simply cycle back to the start with no real end. One of the first video games to ever have an actual ending would be an arcade game later ported to the Atari 2600 under the name Crystal Castles. Like many games at the time, the story was harder to find and with the console release we would see what it was. It follows Bentley Bear who was daydreaming about food... poached salmon, to be exact. He wouldn't be too dedicated to that dream and would stop to take a nap in his "favorite hollow tree trunk." When he woke up, he would be in a large castle where a witch by the name of Berthilda who had the intent to send Bentley into a "permanent hibernation."
12 Doom (1993)
Doom for many was the start of their obsession with the FPS genre. Who wouldn't want to play as a marine fighting denizens of hell, after all? For the most part, the game just tosses you right into the action without much formalities. The manual tells you the premise of the story while the game itself progress it. The player plays as who would be named Doomguy, a marine who attacks his superior after he ordered fire on a group of civilians. Afterwards, Doomguy is sent to a station on Mars. The military was working with interdenominational travel and while they were able to open a gateway, it wasn't stable. Those who went in disappeared or became insane until they suffered a "full body explosion." Doomguy is sent to one of the outposts with a squad. The squad would be killed while Doomguy is left alone.
11 Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog is no stranger to crazy stories, but it was like that since the early days of the Sega Genesis. For one, Tails has incredibly obsessed with Sonic since he was a baby and chased after him whenever he saw him. Sonic would let him follow, but just to show that he was faster he would blast off at incredibly fast speeds. That's not where the story takes a turn for the dark, however. Dr. Robotnik is turning animals into robotic slaves to build a super weapon to cause a global disaster. He plans to do so by creating a "Death Egg." Robotnik has complete control over everything already, from factories and even cities. The manual also implies Sonic is planning to kill Robotnik as it asks the player to "squash Robotnik forever."
10 Mutant League Football
Mutant League Football was a classic Sega Genesis game that many may have skipped over. It was a sports game that didn't take itself too seriously; granted, it'd be hard to with zombies and aliens playing sports with each other. According to the game's manual, the origins of "Mutant League Football" were unclear. This was due to "thermonuclear destruction," an alien invasion, and a "sloppy filing system set up by a temp." Along with that, records were tampered with by various parties...and barbecue sauce. From the post-apocalyptic society, the Mutant League was born. It was war between parties, played in controlled battles in forms of sports. Despite being battles in a war, it was seen as what it was: sports. According to Mutant League Football, after modern society is gone those who rise from the ashes will fight with... sports.
F-Zero is an incredibly fast racing game released on the Super Nintendo. It was a very unconventional one at that, of which many would fall in love with. The story of a racing game is rarely ever explored, but F-Zero would include the origins inside the game's manual. In the year 2560, Earth has come in contact with alien life multiple times and their framework for life would expand. Bored millionaires would crave a new form of excitement, and turned to F-1 races. The rich would band together to build circuits hundreds of feet in the air and installed anti-gravity beams on both sides to keep them in the air. The first Grand Prix was deadly, and while it was criticized at first, it became what drew people to the races the most.
Bomberman is one of the most well-known multiplayer games out there. It has stood the test of time and many still play it to this day. Granted, the story for the game is much more in depth. According to the game's manual, Bomberman is a robot who works in a bomb factory underground by "evil forces." This robot would have independent thought, which led to Bomberman believing his existence to be unbearable. Luckily, Bomberman heard a rumor that if a robot escape to the surface they would become human. The guards were quickly alerted and Bomberman would rely on his own product to escape. The manual also implies the rumor may not be true, and Bomberman may not even become human if he makes it to the surface. Granted, the game's ending shows the rumor to be true.
Contra is widely considered one of the hardest games in the NES era, and even one of the hardest games of all time. It popularized the Konami Code which would give you 30 lives as opposed to 3. It's a sidescroller shoot-em-up game, and as such gameplay doesn't include story elements much at all. The manual states that a ship from outer space crashed into a basin near an ancient Mayan civilization. Years later, villagers would talk about terrifying creatures coming from the crash site. The Pentagon knows there's warrant to these claims, so why did they only send two soldiers? To "avoid upsetting political stability." It doesn't give much encouragement either, the manual stating the player has no choice but to be the hero, and that the general doubts that the two heroes will succeed.
6 Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. was one of the first games to come out with the return of video games after the infamous crash in 1983. It's also part of the reason that video games caught on again in the first place. It was easy to play, and incredibly fun. A simple enough story right? The hero saves the princess, it's one of the most classic stories out there. However, by taking a peak in the game's manual there's a lot more going on we don't see. For one, the Koopas are known for black magic and turned everyone in the mushroom kingdom into stones, plants, and even brick blocks. This only gets darker once you realize Mario breaks these blocks as he runs through levels...
5 Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct was one of the first fighting games that actively encouraged combos. Like many fighting games, the story was far from the primary focus. The game's manual talks about how two warlords were battling for complete control of the Earth, before being banished to limbo and life returned to normal. In the future however, pollution has hurt the environment, entire governments fell, and corporations are at war with each other. "Killer Instinct" is a tournament that merely acts as testing ground for the weapons of "Ultratech," who sell weapons to other corporations. It's also broadcasted and is the top rated entertainment program. The reason contestants enter a potentially deadly tournament? The winner of the Ultratech tournament would be granted whatever it was their heart desired. Some are trying to redeem themselves while others are just trying to have a free life.
4 Chuck Norris Superkicks
This is by far the most obscure game on this list, but the sheer absurdity of it makes it hard to not include. The Atari 2600 didn't really have much in the way of quality control, so almost any game could be made and sold for it which would ultimately flood the market and cause it to crash. The game in question is Chuck Norris Superkicks. In the game you play as none other than Chuck Norris himself who is trying to reach an ancient monastery to rescue a "famous leader" who is being held captive. It tosses you in as a white belt and in order to enter the monastery to begin with, you have to earn your way to being a black belt.
3 Blaster Master
Blaster Master was one of the most fun 3rd party games on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Like many NES games at the time, the story was rather... out there, but ensured maximum gameplay was included in the cartridge. The opening cutscene doesn't explain a whole lot as to what's going on and we have to turn to the manual to get the gist of it. The character in control of the tank is named Jason who has a pet frog named Fred. It states that Fred "had enough" of being stuck in a fish bowl and ran away. Jason would chase after Fred, who would see him grow after Fred touched a radioactive chest. After that Fred, Jason, and the chest would fall into a hole in the Earth. When Fred landed, the only thing there was a giant tank that he had to use to defeat the villains underground.
2 Smash T.V.
Smash T.V. is one of the most addictive and fun arcade games out there. It's mindless, over-the-top fun. The backstory for the game gets dark, however. In 1999, television viewers only care about one thing: blood lust. Violence is the only thing that gets views anymore. Game shows are at the top of ratings, with SMASH TV leading the charge. It's considered the most dangerous yet rewarding show on television. All these violent game shows carry the mantra "destroy or be destroyed." Contestants on SMASH TV in particular are either working alone or in pairs. However, later it's stated that only one can be the SMASH TV "Grand Champion," meaning that whoever you worked with to get to the end would turn into an enemy and to win you'd have to destroy him too.
1 Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing is about a young (wo)man who moves into a town populated by various animals. It's a cute, incredibly addictive game that is beloved by many. While the game doesn't have much direct story, there is one in the game that can be found by talking to Sable each day. At first she shrugs you off but the more you talk to her the more she opens up. She explains that Sable and her sisters Mabel and Labelle's parents died when they was young. Labelle ran off to the city, leaving Sable to raise Mabel herself. It's a very deep and emotional story that's easily missed in the game, especially considering how dismissive Sable is at first. It's a surprisingly dark backstory for the game itself, too.