Since the time gaming began, there have been budget titles alongside the blockbuster games we all know and love. Sure, many are utter crap, but every once in a while there is one that is so creative or quirky, you can’t help but like it.
In Japan during the PS1 era, publisher D3 put out a series of games called the Simple 1500. Each game released was generally unrelated to the others except that all cost 1500 yen (about $15); and their titles always start with the English word “The.” When the PS2 was released, D3 put out a sequel series, the Simple 2000 (with an accompanying 2000 yen price point).
There are 123 games in the main PS2 Simple 2000 series (and many more in the various spin-off series). The games range from mahjong and board games to puzzle games and driving games. But mixed among those are more than a few that have unique or silly concepts that just make them stand out — even today.
Vol. 17: The Taisen! Bakudan Poi Poi
Imagine if Bomberman was fully 3D instead of top-down 2D and was set not in a narrow maze but in an open area where you could chuck giant bombs at your opponents. Well, it exists and its name is The Taisen! Bakudan Poi Poi.
Vol. 31: The Earth Defense Force
Of all the games originally in the Simple 2000 series, this one is probably the most well-known and — judging by the numerous sequels and Western releases — the most financially successful. In it you play as a soldier fighting off giant bugs from outer space in the streets of a city. It was released in Europe under the title “Monster Attack”.
Vol. 50: The Daibijin
The Daibijin — literally “The Giant Beauty” — is a game where an alien creature turns a girl on the beach into a giant the size of a skyscraper. You play as a member of the Japanese Self Defense Force and try to stop her march across Japan to Tokyo. But this is easier said than done as all you have are the war vehicles of mankind, while she can shoot power lasers — a la many traditional kaiju monsters. It was released under the title “Demolition Girl” in Europe.
Vol. 61: The OneChanbara
Next to Earth Defense Force, the Onechanbara franchise is probably the most famous spawn of the Simple 2000 series — in fact I’ve been playing a lot of the most recent game in the series. A portmanteau of the word “onechan” (big sister) and “chanbara” (swordfight), this game follows a woman in a bikini and a cowboy hat killing mass numbers of zombies — a tradition that remains in the franchise to this day. This one also got a European release under the name “Zombie Zone”.
Vol. 95: The Zombie vs Kyukyusha
Imagine if Crazy Taxi was set in the zombie apocalypse; that would be this game. In it you are an ambulance driver and you must drive across the city — mowing down the zombies on your way — to pick up the person who needs your help. In between jobs you can upgrade your ambulance and turn it into a zombie murder machine.
Vol. 104 The Robot Tsukurūze! ~Gekitou! Robot Fight~
We’ve had all kinds of fighting games through the years: from the over-the-top like Marvel vs Capcom to the relatively realistic like Bushido Blade. But you know what there haven’t been enough of? Sumo wrestling games. But of course that would be too mundane for the Simple 2000 series; so we get The Robot Tsukurūze! ~Gekitou! Robot Fight~, a remote control robot sumo fighting game. The rules are the same as real sumo: win by knocking your opponent over or pushing them out of the ring. Simple — and more than a little hilarious.
Vol. 113: The Tairyou Jigoku
When a young girl’s mobile phone is stolen by a little white rabbit — think Alice in Wonderland — she chases him to get it back. However, her pursuit means she must fight her way through countless bugs, frogs, and other disgusting things. Luckily, she is quite efficient when it comes to beating things with a stick.