Geek Dave goes all NSFW - in an 8-bit retro fashion...
When we as a species started to write down stories it wasn't long before someone put quill to parchment and produced the first erotica. When 'moving pictures' were still in their infancy an old penny could buy you a quick glimpse at 'What The Butler Saw'. So it's no surprise that the video game industry was quick to capitalise on sex and nudity to sell more titles.
Over the years many video games have used scantily clad images or characters to sell or enhance games, but some have gone further, using sex acts or nudity as a character motivation, in-game reward, or simply as a game-play element.
The first commercially available title to feature sexual themes was the 1981 text-based Softporn Adventure, published by On-Line Systems for the Apple II. Despite heavy piracy the game still sold 25,000 copies, roughly equivalent to 25% of the number of Apple II's sold at the time. In the game, the player (playing a down-on-his-luck party animal)
searches for certain items that will allow him to win the affections of
three beautiful (and sometimes not-so-beautiful) women.
Years later, Softporn Adventure inspired the Leisure Suit Larry series of adult-oriented video games, and the first entry in that series, 1987's Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, was a nearly direct graphical adaptation of Softporn Adventure.
If we factor in the common piracy aspect of the day then I think we can safely say that well over half the Apple II owners had Softporn Adventure - the randy devils! But whereas Softporn Adventure was just a text-based adventure, the Japanese company Koei took sex in video games a step further, and in 1982 released the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics.
Night Life, an early graphic adventure game for the NEC PC-8801, was marketed as an aid for the sex life of couples. It included such features as a schedule to determine a woman's period, and a catalog of possible sexual positions, with artwork consisting of black-and-white outlines.
1982 also saw Koei release another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku (Seduction of the Condominium Wife), which was an early role-playing adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer.
But what the world was waiting for (and for 'world' read 'horny 14 year old boys') was an actual video game where the game-play itself involved sexual acts, and US company Mystique were the first to provide that.
In 1982 Mystique released three unlicensed games for the Atari 2600; Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em, Bachelor Party, and Custer's Revenge. It's gonna get pretty nasty from here on out so by all means go and read something else, I won't mind.
OK, you've been warned.
In the aptly titled Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em players control two nude women; the goal is to catch sperm falling from a masturbating man on a rooftop without missing. That's really all there is to that.
Bachelor Party was a 'Breakout' style game. The premise is that an unnamed bachelor is having his final fling with a
room full of nude women. The equally unclothed bachelor is
propelled repeatedly into the room of women by a container of "Spanish
Fly" used as the player's paddle. The bachelor's
has a large erect penis, and is looking to 'collide' with one of the nude women.
When he returns from having collided with (and presumably had sexual
intercourse with) a woman or after missing and hitting the opposing wall, his penis
sags. It returns to erect when the bachelor is successfully set moving
again after hitting the Spanish Fly.
And then there was Custer's Revenge...
All three of Mystique's titles were noted for their negative reception, but Custer's Revenge gained particular notoriety for its plot. In the game, the player controls the character of "Custer," a naked man sporting a cowboy hat and a visible massive erection, obviously inspired by George Armstrong Custer (possibly not the erection part, I don't know?). Custer has to overcome various obstacles in order to have sex with a crudely depicted, large-breasted Native American woman who is tied to a cactus.
As you might expect, the game prompted complaints from a number of groups - women's rights, anti-pornography, Native American, etc - for its depiction of (what was perceived as) General Custer raping Native American women. Nevertheless, the focused media attention caused Custer's Revenge to sell
approximately 80,000 copies, twice as many as Mystique's other
It really was a sorry moment for the video game industry and just gave lobbying groups more 'evidence' that gaming was corrupting young minds.
Mystique went out of business during the video game crash of 1983, and their catalogue was purchased by a company named PlayAround who began distributing these 3 games packaged in 2-in-1 "double-ender" cartridges. In a move to placate the women's groups who opposed the titles they each now included re-worked versions with female protagonists, Philly Flasher (Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em), Bachelorette Party (Bachelor Party), and General Retreat (Custer's Revenge).
Custer's Revenge was redesigned and re-branded under the title Westward Ho! Naturally.
The modifications made to the game included an effort to remove the 'raping game' tag which was firmly associated with the title. Now the Native American woman turns and beckons to indicate that she welcomes Custer's advances.
So that's alright then!
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