Often, the gaming community is a smart one; it takes a lot to fool them that a game is actually a work of fiction rather than a playable title for them to dive into. Sometimes, fictional video games look so darn real that we wonder if they’re actually a title available in flesh.
Regardless of what tricks your eyes or savvy internet users play on you, one thing remains; many of the titles that fooled us look pretty damn slick. We’re taking a closer look at the stories behind them with our list of fake video games that fooled us all.
There are a ton of fake video games that have appeared in the Simpsons television show over the years But one really stands out to many gamers as a title they’d love to have seen adapted in some way shape or form.
We’re talking Bonestorm, the Mortal Kombat parody that was significantly more violent then the game it was satirizing. It appeared in an episode titled Marge Be Not Proud in 1995 as a game that Bart wanted oh so bad.
He ended up going on a bit of a shoplifting spree for the game, yet it proved to not be what he thought it was; the whole commentary behind the episode was the idea that the moral panic that surrounded the game (Mortal Kombat that is) was not something to be taken seriously, and that at its core, it’s just kind of silly.
Let’s start off our list with a game that looked very real, but was just a fictional creation for a movie The game Starfighter, an arcade game, comes from the film The Last Starfighter, a 1984 space opera of sorts that tells the tale of a teenager recruited by aliens to fight in an interstellar war.
The teenager, a kid named Alex Rogan, spends most of his free time at the arcade, playing a game called Starfighter, and learns that the arcade game is actually a space battle simulator used as a recruitment tool for aliens. He finds himself whisked off of earth and piloting a real Starfighter.
Many consider the film to be a precursor to other films that incorporated video games on a more serious level, and funny enough, the producers were actually in talks with Atari to create a tie in Starfighter arcade cabinet. It was eventually canned though when they realized that Starfighter wasn’t going to be a huge success at the box office.
This number focuses on an alternate kind of fake video games; the world of bootleg fakes. More persistent than ever it seems, there are a ton of video game knockoffs, including consoles, that have hit the market and can be bought online mistakenly if you don’t know what to look out for.
For example, this Chinese knock-off of the NES that looks real as hell, and even has marketing within the box that looks spot on. There are some subtle differences, like games missing from the console, lower resolution on the menu screen, and switched images on some of the marketing materials on the box and inside of it. The music for many of the games is also sped up, despite some of the gameplay being pretty spot on.
While it seems like it’s very possible that
KillSwitch is a game that merely derives from a fictional story, there are some out there that consider it an urban legend that actually, at one point in time, was a real game. If you’ve never heard of it before, KillSwitch was an alleged video game set in an abandoned mine, where you play as either Porto or Ghast, the former being a little girl and the latter being an invisible ghost.
As the tale goes, no one was ever able to beat the game as Ghast, because it’s incredibly hard to maneuver and invisible character, and as far as Porto was concerned, if you did beat the game playing as her, the game would completely delete off of your computer, making it an incredibly rare game to get your mitts on. Kotaku even published an article about it calling it the creepy game no one has ever played because of this.
As the legend goes, a man in Japan had purchased a copy of one of the last remaining KillSwitch games out there and planned to upload footage of him playing the game so everyone could see what KillSwitch was about. Except when footage did get uploaded onto YouTube, it featured no gameplay, just the man crying for over a minute, looking incredibly distraught. So is it real? Did it ever really exist? You all can be the judge.
So this is yet again a slightly different take on the idea of fake video games that people thought were real. I’m sure most of you have been inside of an IKEA. And if you haven’t well, hard to say whether you’d feel you’ve been missing out or you’ve dodged a bullet your entire life.
Matter of preference, really. Regardless, Ikea does one thing that’s really neat in their showrooms. They often use fake electronics in order to make the living spaces they create with their furniture feel more realistic. And turns out IKEA has a pretty solid idea of the kinds of fake electronics resonate with customers.
Back in 2015, some news went viral concerning fake consoles and fake game cases they had in their showrooms. The titles included grand-ma’s auto (get it?)and The Pimps, a riff on the Sims. They also included fake consoles, one that sort of looked like a boxy version of the PlayStation 3 and 4, and another that resembled the Xbox called ‘Beat Box.’
In 2006, a film called Stay Alive was released; a supernatural slasher movie in which the characters find themselves all dying after playing a video game called Stay Alive, murdered in the same way that their characters in the game were killed.
All things considered, having a video game go meta and dictate how you die probably wouldn’t be all that fun, but many people out there were really sold on the idea of Stay Alive, and wishful thinking had raised many an online request to see a title similar to the game in Stay Alive be produced in real life.
It’s a game that, while people clearly weren’t fooled by it, would be a title that a lot of fans would be game to try out for themselves, no pun intended, and obviously without the death
In 2013, director Spike Jonze came out with the science fiction romance film Her, which followed Joaquin Phoenix playing a man who develops a relationship with his AI virtual assistant, who is personified via a woman’s voice, played by Scarlett Johansson.
The whole film is filled with fascinating bits of technology, but one scene in particular, where Phoenix is at home at night playing a video game. In order to move his character, he uses simple swiping motions, and it looks really believable, so much so that people wondered if it was a real game that was adapted into the film.
That, unfortunately, isn’t the case, but there is a small saving grace; the designer of that game, a fellow named David O’Reilly actually has a real game he created called Mountain, in which he says you can, I quote,
“live out all of your dark twisted fantasies” of being a mountain.
Polybius is widely considered an urban legend. It’s an arcade game that, according to the tale, first hit the scene in the early months of 1981 in various arcades in Portland Oregon. And apparently, the game was part of a government-run psychology experiment in which playing it caused psychoactive and addictive effects in the player.
According to those who claim to remember Polybius in their local arcade, men in black would periodically visit it to retrieve data from the machines and analyze the effects of players. Then, out of nowhere, the game completely disappeared, never to be seen again. Since people have actually made games inspired by the urban legend
And if you’re still doubtful, take a look at the name of the game; Polybius. That’s taken right from a Greek historian, who was known for his assertion that historians shouldn’t report what they cannot verify from witnesses.
Fix-It Felix Jr.
Wreck-It Ralph is a 2012 Disney film that follows a video game character who is loosely based on the concept behind the original 1981 Donkey Kong game and its sequel Donkey Kong Jr, a fictional title called Fix It Felix Jr.
The film features a ton of video game references and cameos from real-life video game characters, something that producers of the film felt would make the world of the movie feel more authentic
This was so much so that some people actually thought Wreck-It Ralph was based on a real 8-bit title from the early days of video games. The cabinet of Fix It Felix Jr was designed to look just like Donkey Kong, with Ralph and Felix even posed in similar ways as to Mario and DK on the Nintendo original.
In 2017, a Fake Video Game called Arc Symphony made the rounds on Twitter; a game for the PS1 that apparently made some fans nostalgic despite, you know, it never having existed. Here’s where it gets fun.
Arc Symphony is a twine game about a fictional game, exploring the nature of fan culture via internet boards of the early internet days. The creators of the game, Sophia Park and Penelope Evans, made a few keepsakes of it, including old PS1 cases for it, and people got really into it, some knowingly, some unknowingly.
Many indie developers thought it was a cool concept and dug the sense of play that went into the illusion of participating over the ‘nostalgia’. While game devs in Toronto were clearly in on it, some gamers on twitter would claim to remember the title, saying something along the lines that they never really dug into it; that’s how convincing the PS1 case made it look.