Saturday, 23 August 2014

Harem (Arcade)

If you're cool and smart enough to be reading this blog, you'll aware that modern videogames, especially the big-budget AAA titles are full of casual misogyny and racism, though it's the subtle kind of misogyny and racism that hollywood movies use all the time, so it mostly goes unnoticed. There are, however certain relics from the distant past that act like videogame equivalents of The Black and White Minstrel Show or Love Thy Neighbour, examples of the bad old days when overt hatred was the norm. The most widely aknowledged example obviously being the rapacious and imperialistic Atari 2600 title Custer's Revenge.

Harem, the only known videogame output of the Italian company IGR is another such example. In it, the player controls a slightly portly beturbaned man who roams the desert kidnapping women and carrying them back to his harem. Attempting to stop him are knife weilding guys who live in tents, who will run around trying to catch the villain (which is you, obviously).

There are three stages in the game, the first two are pretty much the same: your victims are travelling, either by camel or car and you use you throwing knives to destroy their transport and carry them away to the harem at the bottom of the screen, while avoiding the guys. The third stage has the women sleeping in tents at the top half of the screen, with the player going into the tents to snatch women and carry them away. The player can complete a stage either by filling all six beds in the harem, or by killing all of the women's protectors.

There's a couple of other mechanics too, like a constantly decreasing bonus timer that counts down from 500 to determine how many points your next kidnapping will score you. It resets with each successful kidnap and a life is lost if it reaches zero. A nice little detail is that there's an oil well in the background that will start to run dry as the bonus timer decreases. I guess the player character is not the owner of the harems he's filling, but merely a mercenary in the employ of some corrupt oil baron? There's also another enemy, in the form of a large pink snake that only seems to appear on the last stage, and is bigger and faster than your human assailants.

Harem is only worthwhile as a historical curiosity. The game isn't exciting or interesting enough to be worth your time, even before you get to the offensive theming of the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment