You ever meet someone, fall in love then later find out they were possessed by some kind of demon when they attempt to poison you and transfer their evil to you through messed-up dreams which slowly kill you from within?
Then that must be the plot of Commodore 64/Amiga game Weird Dreams.
Don’t be fooled by the rather… obvious and uncreative title. Weird Dreams is way more unique, ingenious, goofy and loltastic than it suggests.
You play as Steve, the dude having those titular dreams and you’re laying on an operating table about to have what could possibly be your last nightmare during anesthesia.
In your trusty checkered pajama, you fly off X-Files-style into a mind vortex leading you to a demented world of that demon’s own design.
Battle your demons (literally), make like a tree and get the hell out of there!
The unconventional game starts you off unconventionally in a cotton candy making machine where a giant someone or something keeps making cotton candy while specks of the sugary substance stick on you and cover your chest. Get too close to the rotating stick and your head blows up and explodes.
For some reason.
The controls feel a tad wooden but luckily, in this first level at least, you can kinda take your time. Just make sure you get enough of that pink crap on you before jumping on that fresh, red phallus and exiting the level altogether.
The scary thing is that, the first time playing it, I had no idea where I was or what was going on so I just assumed the pink stuff on that stick was flesh and the floating bits sticking to me were scabs or something.
Like I was in some kind of David Cronenberg wet dream…
Then, you find yourself in a fun fair being pursued by a giant wasp and the trick there is to drop those little pieces of cotton candy as you run away in order to distract it long enough for it to leave you alone.
My favourite part of that screenshot: the roller coaster is literally called ROLLER COASTER.
Anyway, soon you enter a room full of distorted mirrors which henceforth becomes your base where you’ll be passing through every so often in order to go from one level to the other.
God my butt looks big…
One level involves you walking through a garden, picking up a stick and beating the hell out of some rosebushes with teeth.
As you do.
Be careful to exit promptly post roses as a lawnmower passes by and WILL crush you into pieces if it gets the chance. It’s very unpleasant, believe me.
I am the lawnmowered.
(see, or rather listen to THIS podcast to get the joke)
That said, it pales in comparison to the fate that awaits you should you screw up in the next part of that garden level.
You meet a creepy little girl who throws a soccer ball your way which you bounce back mindlessly until you realize the ball occasionally reveals a mouth with teeth you don’t necessarily want close to you.
In a hilarious and sinister turn of events, the little girl starts walking towards you wielding a kitchen knife and your job will be to get that ball to eat her up whole. Time it right and watch as a truly disturbing death scene occurs right before your eyes.
Weirdly, the game seems to have a twisted sense of humour throughout both in its visuals and otherwise.
Think Monty Python meets Clive Barker.
The next part is more Big than Life Of Brian though as you walk over a piano as the keys block your way and/or drop off right from under you. This bit is mostly a pain as it involves a lot of repeated movements.
It still fits in nicely with the rest of the game.
But get this: you then pick up an electric eel which you then use to battle that giant wasp from earlier in what is quite possibly one of gaming’s all time great face-offs.
I mean check this out:
If there’s ever a movie based on this game: that’s the poster, right there.
To beat the wasp, try and corner it to the far right of the screen and keep hitting it with the eel, it’ll take ages but eventually the insect will crumble down never to return again.
And just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any weirder.
Do I even need to explain why that’s weird?
Funnily enough, the fish soon becomes your best weapon yet!
You use it to fight off the most grotesque-looking creatures.
This Salvador Dali-style statue:
Scary-ass chicken boy:
And the end boss: a brain tree made of one giant eyeball surrounded by mini floating brains.
Not sure what kind of drugs designers Herman Serrano and James Hutchby were on when they made this but I gotta find out. I mean, how many games do you know in which a soccer ball literally explodes into a fleshy mess of eyeballs and bodily goop?
You know ONE: this one. And that’s plenty.
I wanted to review another Commodore 64 game since Psycho was a bit of a short one and the game itself was barely playable but also because Weird Dreams is one of my favourites on that platform and it boasts some of the craziest visuals I’ve encountered in a game full stop.
This is a game you won’t forget in a hurry, parts of it will stick with you forever. You’ll find yourself thinking back to it once in a while and chuckling idiotically to yourself. Unfortunately it’s not an easy game when you first play it, if you get killed at any point you’re sent back to the very beginning and you can’t save your game so that’s pretty annoying. If you know what to do though, I’m hoping this review gave you some useful tips, it’s a blast. It sort of plays like a text game with percentages keeping track of your progress but with the most surreal eye candy around to keep you entertained.
Next week I’ll go back to the NES for a more traditional game review but in the meantime, do check out Weird Dreams.
Happy nightmares :D
Seriously though, it’s good: play it.