This was actually one of the hardest listicles I’ve ever compiled. There are plenty of weird and disturbing games out there, especially if you go anywhere near Steam and the PC market. It's the Wild West on there. Then there’s the console market, which is pretty tame comparatively, but there’s always a seedy undertone if you look hard enough. Take for example Super Mario Bros. on the NES. King Koopa turned all of the mushroom people into bricks, which Mario breaks like it’s nothing. What about Pokémon? It's about ten-year-old kids going out into the wild to play with dangerous monsters. Plus, there's always some kind of adult organization trying to take over the world. Pretty messed up for Nintendo, but again that’s only if you dig deep.
We now go to Japanese exclusive games that never came over to the West. There are some pretty obvious ones in here that appear on lists time and time again for various occasions. For instance, there are some erotic light novels. These are on portables no less. Hope those players use headphones to mute the screams in public. Talk about awkward. As a good balance I threw in some pretty adorable games too, but ones that hide a dark secret within. These games are so outlandish that you’ll shake your head at Japan so hard it’ll fly right off. Submitted for the approval of TheGamer Society, I call this story 15 Nintendo Games Too Disturbing For American Release.
15 Doki Doki Majo Shinpan
This game is largely about grabbing young girls; it's gross. Sadly that’s what this game is about. You're a high school student tasked by an Angel to find a witch that's infiltrated your school. Witches have special marks on them, so naturally, the best way to find the culprit is by undressing and prodding them all over. Oh yes, and these girls look like they’re in their early teens if not younger. It's uncomfortable, to say the least especially when they make high pitched squeals as you poke around with your stylus. Can you imagine playing this DS game on the bus over here?
What about a strategy RPG where you're invading Russia under Hitler’s rule? That's Barbarossa in a nutshell. World War II games have been done to death, and yes you've had the chance to play as Germans in multiplayer games like Call of Duty. Maybe there have been some PC games that have a campaign similar to Barbarossa too. I’m not sure. Regardless, this is on a Nintendo platform. Just look at the box art. That was sold to kids. To kids! Yes, the Japanese were on their side, but I'm pretty sure they don't have nostalgia for Hitler. Not even the Germans would play this. As messed up as this is I wouldn’t mind having a copy for the sake of blowing minds. The perfect coffee table display game.
13 Osouji Sentai Clean Keeper
Thought we were done inappropriately touching anime girls? Wrong! We now turn our attention to the Wii where its innovative motion controls can open a whole new door into creeper town. Osouji Sentai Clean Keeper, or roughly translated as Housekeeper Squadron Clean Keeper, is a visual novel starring a bright young lad who wants to make his school cleaner. He does this by forming a crew comprised of young girls who have been granted the power to cleanse magical dust monsters via fairies. As if that wasn’t Japanese enough, these girls need your help to wipe, shake, and prod the dust monsters away with the flick of your Wiimote. It's pretty much Doki Doki Majo Shinpan with a different twist. Now the whole family can watch!
12 Captain Rainbow
As strange as Captaining Rainbow is I’m actually pretty surprised this was never localized. It’s like a sad version of Kingdom Hearts filled with forgotten Nintendo characters from games like Chibi Robo, Devil World, and Famicom Wars just to name a few. I guess better analogy would be to liken it to the Island of Misfit Toys. You’re Captain Rainbow, a washed up super hero that travels to this island to better himself. Instead you’re tasked with helping the other inhabitants cope with their issues. There’s some action in it, but it’s more an adventure game with short mini games more than anything else. It’s gorgeous on the Wii and has a good message to it. I just find it alarmingly depressing at the same time.
11 Haneru No Tobira Wii: Kirigirisu
Haneru no Tobira Wii: Kirigirisu is based on a game show of the same name: Haneru no Tobira. Technically there’s very little wrong with this title. That said, it scares the heck out of me. There’s nothing more horrifying to me than watching a bunch of grown men scrunched into bad bug costumes play sports. Here’s a clip of the show so you can get a basic sense of the action. The game itself is just a bunch of mini-games, but my God do their polygonal models frighten me. What’s more, if you fail these sequences, screeching spider-women will come out and gank you. Is this for kids, or what Nintendo? Let’s traumatize the children with cheap entertainment. It’ll be fine. Right?
10 Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa
This was one of the earliest Japanese Famicom games I ever discovered. Right when I started covering video games too. Plugs aside, the game is about an evil demon that kidnapped everyone in Upa's kingdom except for him. It’s up to Upa to fight back and rescue everyone. I should mention ... Upa is a baby. A literal baby that crawls and he’s armed with a magic rattle. The music, graphics, and general tone of the game is whimsical and adorable, but there's something unnerving about controlling a baby. After all, he can die. It’s only a video game in the end, but I'm sure some parent group would have had a problem if it were localized. It's such a shame too, because it’s by far the best game on the list.
9 Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo Escape! Hajike Royale
As if that name wasn't a dead give away, the Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo anime series is insane. In a world where bald men rule supreme all those with hair are subject to torture. Standing against this tyrannical empire is the titular Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo who not only has a majestic blonde afro, but he’s got magical nose hairs too. So yeah, as you can imagine, any one of his games would be horrifying to witness. I like anime, but Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is unsettling for me. Aside from the hair thing one of his friends, Softon, has a head shaped like ice cream although it reminds me more of poop. Anime aside I included this GameCube brawler RPG as it’s poorly designed and is the real nightmare here.
8 Youkai Buster Ruka No Daibouken
Marukatsu Super Famicom is a Japanese video game magazine and their mascot was a young girl with pink hair. She eventually got her own game, Youkai Buster Ruka no Daibouken, wherein our young heroine uses the severed head of a demon as a weapon and platforming tool. For example, you can suck in watermelons and launch them at foes, or use his mouth as a suction cup to climb up walls. Like Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa the game’s nature is silly, but certain groups may have seen a problem with a girl using a severed head in a game bloody, or not. Weirder still I bet there’s fan art out there of that demon head giving her, uh, head. Sorry. I’ve done too many of these not to go there. I’m in too deep!
7 Otaku No Seiza: An Adventure In The Otaku Galaxy
This list has been lacking on the RPG front, so let’s pop in Otaku no Seiza for some unsettling grinding. No, not grinding like in those erotic games. I’m talking about fighting enemies nonstop to beef up levels. It’s a fairly basic RPG similar to Dragon Quest with a more sci-fi, goofy aesthetic. Every enemy looks like they’re out of a David Cronenberg movie. I’m talking owls with sunglasses, dogs with human faces, and a creepy guy that looks like a fat, melted Yoda. The plot revolves around the player trying to take back rights for men from a city ruled by five women. An alternate reality if ever there was one. Not sure what’s more disturbing. Is it the subject matter, or the creatures?
6 Duel Love
There’s been a lot of awkward sexist stuff toward women in here so I have a solution. Ladies, I hope you enjoy this. So Duel Love centers on a young girl who befriends members of her school's boxing club. She then becomes their message therapist? Why she’s doing it exactly is beyond me, but it’s a visual novel with typical dating sim-like elements. Talk to guys, make choices, fall in love, and so forth. The creepiness comes to fruition when you need to take care of your sports team by rubbing them down with ice, or mopping up their sweat. The better you are the more orgasmic their cries become. Yeah and I thought little girl moans were unsettling. Hey, at least Japan is all-inclusive, or something like that.
5 Jungle No Oja Tar-chan: Sekai Manyu Dai Kakuto No Maki
This is pretty much a Japanese take on Tarzan. Jungle King Tar-chan spawned two manga series, an anime adaptation, and two games. It’s a parody and pretty harmless, more or less, despite some questionable content. For example, Tarzan, or Tar-chan, can use his ball sack as a parachute. He’s like the MacGyver of his own body, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This Super Famicom game is less explicit, but his powers are still present to some extent. He can become a rubbery man and dodge bullets, turn into an otter, er, thing in the water, but creepiest of all is his ability to roll over spikes. He basically scrunches himself into a little ball and looks dead at the camera. You can see that horror right here.
4 Muscle March
The Japanese have a, uh, let's say unique way of celebrating 'same' couples. In the West, they're stereotyped as a bunch of dandies, but in the East they're muscled up to the high heaven. Such is the case with Muscle March. When a villainous football player steals your club’s magical vitamins, it’s up to you and your men to take it back. You’ll chase him/her/it through walls wherein you need to mimic the impression they left using your Wiimote and Nunchuck. Basically, you’re doing rapid poses like an exercise. The longer the level goes on, the faster everything gets, including the already twisted music. Watching a bunch of beefcakes tear through Japan is pretty zany, but it’s the muscled up bear and woman that have me in tears. My mind bled a little.
3 Dragon Knight 4
Dragon Knight is a somewhat long-running series that premiered on Japanese PCs. The fourth game was the series’ debut on a Nintendo console with the Super Famicom. At its core, it’s a tactical RPG, which I’m pretty okay with. Hit Points are represented by soldiers surrounding the hero character, which is a cool visual technique. Compared to the original version it’s less vulgar. In the original, there are erotic scenes between the hero and multiple female teammates. I’m talking full penetration. There are still weird scenes in this version too, but the artwork is covered up. For example, covering up a boob in a breastfeeding scene. The excerpt above is another good example. Censored or not, it’s still pretty crazy Nintendo brought it over to their system.
2 Utsurun Desu: Kawauso Hawaii e Iku
Like so many others on this list, Utsurun Desu: Kawauso Hawaii e Iku is based on one specific character from its parent manga. Kawauso-kun is some sort of human-otter hybrid, and he looks awkward AF. He’s not as hard to maneuver as Tar-chan, but he’s still pretty dumb. Plus you have to hold down the button for way too long to even get an attack better than his puny hand wave. If he dies, he does a Peter Griffon-esque immediate drop to the floor, which I will admit is pretty damn hilarious. So the game is bad, yes, but the most disturbing part of it all has to be looking at Kawauso-kun. Don’t believe? Then watch another gameplay video I put together.
1 Cho Aniki: Bakuretsu Rantouden
What would a list be without one of the Cho Aniki games on it? It’s a fairly basic fighting game released for the Super Famicom. Three of the combatants are pretty normal. The rest are, well, not. For example, there’s a naked guy in a half moon and a woman encased in a battleship with muscular men posing on top of her. She’s definitely the more horrific of the two to look at, but then there are the levels. Like the flower field with two giants dudes in pink thongs and capes prancing around, or the dark coliseum lined with multiple translucent purple macho men doing squats while statues of naked women spin close by. Not sure what that level is trying to say, but either way the game overall is the embodiment of Japanese gaming.