The world of video games is filled with many weird and wondrous things, digital creations that would make John Waters scratch his head and say, “Well, that seems like a bit much…” It is my goal, nay, it is my QUEST to find and document those games here in the Cabinet of Curiosities.
I can think of no better video game to begin the series than Tongue of the Fatman. I am tempted to say that words fail me when attempting to explain the game, but a loss of words does not a good blog make. So, how to describe it? Imagine if George Romero was asked to choreograph a musical based on the book of Revelations with a script written by chimps that were force fed Fun Dip and Jolt Cola. That gives you a mild approximation of the nightmare imagery found in Tongue of the Fatman.
Released in 1989, the title was developed by Activision and published by Sanritsu. On a base level, it’s a fairly ordinary fighting game. You select a character from a handful of choices and then fight your way through a series of opponents until you reach the final boss. You could choose between one of ten different species (Humanoid, CyberDroid, Cryoplasts, Amazoid, Bi-Husker, Rayzor, Mammath, Puftian, Colonoid, and Celluloid). In the original version of the game, you only had access to three of the species at the start and could unlock more as the game progressed.
Before each match, you had the ability to place bets on how long the fight would last. With the money won, you could purchase things like weapons. You also had a series of gauges to keep track of during each fight. One represented your hit points, another represented crowd support, and the last measured the effectiveness of an attack. The more you used one particular attack, the less effective it would become. It’s a fairly clever addition that keeps players from latching onto one technique and using it ad nauseam.
None of these elements are what made the game so bizarre. It was the Fat Man, otherwise known as Mondu. The word fat doesn’t really do justice to Mondu. It’d be like describing Everest as a mild hill. His cellulite had cellulite, and it all hung out for the world to see. He wore nothing more than a sumo style mawashi. At least, I think it was a mawashi. Looking back, it may have just been a poor pair of tighty whities stretched to near bursting at the seams. His lips were adorned with purple lipstick and his nails were slightly long. In one particular graphic he has both of his hands placed over his sagging pectorals in a manner that could be best described as nauseatingly sensual. The cover of the game played up this nightmarish eroticism by focusing in solely on the mouth and nose of Mondu. Two blue globs hang from the nose and a pair of eyebrows are drawn above the nostrils. It’s reminiscent of the lips at the start of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, if David Lynch had directed it instead of Jim Sharman.
All of this could, perhaps, be overlooked, but the designers didn’t stop there. The folds of Mondu’s gut formed a face. A face which could open its mouth. A face that held an enormous tongue which would fly out of his stomach mouth and attack his opponents. The move was called the tongue lash, and the sound you just heard was me throwing up a little in my mouth as I pictured it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel like I need a shower to wash away so I can wash away the horror. I suspect it won’t be enough…Nothing will ever be enough.