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Custer's Revenge (Atari 2600) artwork

Custer's Revenge (Atari 2600) review


"Large mountains, blue skies, and fluffy white clouds loom large against the yellow sands of the desert. An Indian teepee sits off in the distance, putting out a regular smoke signal. The sound of the American Cavalry's bugle plays loud, immediately followed by what is presented as an Indian battle tune more than common to the ear of any American television audience. War is looming on the horizon. A naked Indian maiden stands tied to a pole, faced with the daunting reality of an encroaching Gener..."



Large mountains, blue skies, and fluffy white clouds loom large against the yellow sands of the desert. An Indian teepee sits off in the distance, putting out a regular smoke signal. The sound of the American Cavalry's bugle plays loud, immediately followed by what is presented as an Indian battle tune more than common to the ear of any American television audience. War is looming on the horizon. A naked Indian maiden stands tied to a pole, faced with the daunting reality of an encroaching General Custer. Custer, prepared to take his revenge, rushes for the squaw. He braves arrows falling towards him, and random cacti sprouting out underneath him, all while wearing a cowboy hat, scarf, boots ... and nothing else.

Yes you read that correctly. No need to adjust your eyeballs. It's General Custer alright. He's naked, angry, and that long thing at his midriff isn't a gun! In a game that attempts to give "The Battle of Little Bighorn" new meaning, we are rather left with a mixed bag of hearty laughs, moral turpitude, and very little else.

The goal of this gem is to traverse your naked self from one side of the screen to the other, while avoiding the diagonally flinging arrows sent your way courtesy of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian tribes, and reach the lady in waiting on the other side. At that point, you press the Atari joystick's fire button and, excuse the pun, "score". When arrows try to interrupt your attempts at pixelated coitus, you must guide Custer away for a moment, and move back in when the coast is clear. Every time you score 50 points, you are returned to the beginning to repeat the process, where things are sped up significantly. Getting hit by an arrow takes one of your lives, of which you initially get three, prompting the General to leap out of his boots in pain, and leaving once proud "little Custer" limp with fear.

This is, as far as I can tell, the first example of a pornographic video game in the history of the gaming industry. It also happens to be among the most politically incorrect games ever made. When it was released in 1982, It met sharp criticism from religious moralists, women's rights organizations, and Native American interest groups across the country. The reasons should be obvious. While the producers of the game, which also produced the popular erotic film series "Swedish Erotica", likely thought of this as nothing more than setting to joystick a quick and dirty storyline that might appear in any one of their many mass-produced "feature" films, it was immediately noted by the aforementioned outside interests that the game's depiction of sex was a little on the sadistic, non-consensual side, and it's depiction of Native Americans was perhaps just a tad bit racist as well.

It's hard to tell what the goals of the producers and developers actually were. The game tries to be explicit, but on a system like the Atari 2600, which was capable of so little graphical prowess, the detail is laughable. There are plenty of interesting sound effects, and corny music that any fan of cowboy westerns would recognize, but together they aren't up to even the already-low standards of a pornographic movie soundtrack. The subject matter is obviously offensive to some, and just plain comical to others. If they were attempting to portray any sense of eroticism in the then new and popular medium of the home video game console, they certainly missed the mark there. Whatever their goals were, what they accomplished is a certain notoriety that hasn't died in more than the two decades since. This title will live in infamy as the first video game to stir up one of the censorship storms that have become so common in the gaming industry. It's also easily one of the worst games that industry has ever put out (no pun intended).

Rating: 2/10

m0zart's avatar
Community review by m0zart (March 27, 2006)

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