We often take the 21st century’s technological advancements for granted. These days, thanks to the invention of smartphones, everybody carries round a tiny device capable of providing a seamless gaming experience. Whether you prefer to play poker on your phone on the way to work, crush candy on the toilet or fire Angry Birds at towers on your lunch break, there really is something for everyone.

It never used to be this way though. Back before the technology revolution, gaming was reserved for hulking arcade machines and clunky devices you had to plug into your TV – if your technophobe parents allowed you to have one of course…

People often look back on the early days of gaming through rose tinted glasses. Although it was a simpler time, that’s not to say that a few games did not raise eyebrows. Games like these four, for example.

Hollywood Poker

Featuring one of the catchiest theme tunes in retro gaming history, Hollywood Poker caused quite the stir when it hit the shelves in the 1980s. Available on the Atari ST and Amiga, there is not a chance that the game would be available today.

The game managed to replicate the experience of poker fairly well considering the hardware’s limited specifications. However, it also included graphic shots of scantily clad women, including Miss Germany.

A bit sleazy for sure but that wasn’t the actual problem. The real issue was that the game could be played by children. Imagine your mother walking in on that. Geez.

Death Race 

1976 was a different time. Nothing proves this more than the reaction to the release of Death Race to arcades during that year.

The game had you drive around a car trying to run over pixelated goblins in order to win points. That seems harmless right? Well, although the game is ludicrously tame by 21st century standards, it caused an ultimately furore back in the 1970s.

Civic groups claimed that the game would encourage its players to drive over real humans in the street. Obviously, the claims were ridiculous but they garnered a lot of support at the time and led to many arcades boycotting the game. Like we said, it was a different time.


It does not take a genius to work out from the name what type of game Splatterhouse was.

In it you play as a ski mask wearing psychopath with a massive axe, who tears down anyone who gets in his way. It wasn’t just the violence that caused a stir however. A few controversial enemies raised eyebrows as well.


You can file Chiller in the same category of Splatterhouse. That is: gory games that would be considered fine now but in the 1980s they were seen as the devil incarnate.

Chiller invited the player to torture various pixelated victims in a tortute room. A greumosome context for sure, but the terrible graphics  make it more amusing than terrifying. Nonetheless the game was still subject to a widespread boycott by many arcades.

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