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Custer's Revenge (Mystique)

DoctorSpuds

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UHHHG! Where to start with this one… Well let’s start with a basic trigger warning, 35 years on and this game is still highly offensive, so if you have strong opinions I would recommend that you avoid this one, even though I’m going to lambast this one as much as possible, it does actually have one or two positives. Let’s begin with the company itself, Mystique, it was founded by the Caballero Control Corporation, who originally, and still do, produce pornographic films. With the emergence of the video game craze CCC jumped on the bandwagon peddling their games under the ‘Mystique’ brand. If I have to give the company credit for anything it’s that they packaged their games in striking and unique boxes. The boxes are a little taller than the average box and a centimeter wider and thicker, inside the gatefold box would be the warranty card fastened to the inside cover, while the instructions and game itself is housed in a plastic and leather case, I’m not sure if the leather is real, but I wouldn’t doubt it. It all gives the impression that this is meant for the adults, it’s time to put the kiddies to bed since this is strictly for adults. And, of course, since these were meant to be sold in reputable establishments there were no pictures on the back of the box, or even in the manual, all you had to go on was innuendo of the lowest caliber, I just gotta say… Hoo boy this is some shit right here, this is Custer’s Revenge.

 

I really hate to say it, but on a technical level the graphics in Custer’s revenge are actually pretty impressive, I don’t like what is being displayed, in fact I feel dirty just knowing I have to write it down. The two sprites that will draw your attention are Custer and ‘Revenge’ who is standing next to a cactus, both of them are large and ‘detailed’, with Custer himself boasting a whopping four colors, blue for his hat, red for his ascot, brown for his boots, and pink for everything else. It seems however that the programmers decided to make Custer an ugly bastard, since with his large hooked nose and shit-eating grin he looks more like Gonzo from the Muppets than an actual human being, he also has one hell of a beer belly. Revenge is vaguely human shaped, she is bald, her head is shaped like Pac-Man, and she has anti-grav boobs. She is boasting three colors, but they’re relegated to her skin color and her headband and feather. Honestly the best part of the graphics are the background elements, there is a large rock formation reminiscent of a Road Runner cartoon, and the little teepee sending smoke signals is actually rather cute, if this background was used in any other game it would great, but this is what we’re saddled with.

 

Custer’s Revenge is a very musically inclined game, using mostly military tunes, like Charge when you score, and Taps when you lose a life, there is also a song that plays when you start the game but I don’t know the name. When you’re playing the game there is a driving beat, perhaps trying to emulate tribal drums, but it simply comes off as the console rhythmically farting. The only other sound I can think of is the sound made when you either run into a cactus or are hit by a spear, it’s a fairly chunky explosion noise that makes running into spears all the more rewarding, since by the end of the experience that’s all you will be doing.

 

The main goal of the game is to get Custer from one side of the screen to the other while avoiding falling spears and in games three and four a randomly materializing cactus. When he gets to the other side all you have to do is mash the button while avoiding the occasional spear. When you get to 50 points you gain an extra life and are moved back to the far side of the screen, now you move faster and the spears fall faster. This game already annoys me just with the set up, since if you want the spears to fall slower initially you have to put the difficulty switches to the “A” position, which is usually used for the higher difficulty modes in almost any other game, Hell, the Sears systems even labeled that as “Expert”. Conceptually the basic premise is actually rather solid, avoid obstacles while moving towards a goal on the other side of the screen, when you score the allotted amount of points you start back at the beginning but you and the obstacles move faster, this was done to a certain extent in ‘Lady in Wading’ and ‘Night on the Town’, problem is that those are also Pornographic games, and therefore are automatically shit. Also the means by which you avoid the spears is somewhat stupid, they won’t fall all the way to the ground, actually they will barely make contact since they vanish on the same line as Custer’s hat, so as long as the bottom pixel of the spear doesn’t make contact with the top pixel of the hat you’ll be fine, even though most of those spears would have impaled the bastard, and I wish they would.

 

I don’t need to explain to you why people find/found this game is highly offensive and in poor taste. Custer is a very controversial figure in American history, and he represents a side of America best relegated to the past, but here he is doing one of the worst things that can be done to a woman. This game is worse than bad, it’s offensive, I know it was released as a joke, but my goodness it was in poor taste. I know I sent X-Man to the boiler room of the Collector’s Zone, so I’m gonna send Custer’s Revenge to the boiler of the Collector’s Zone. Watch it burn!

 

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I was, until very recently, the proud (?) owner of this game. If your joystick has a rapid fire button, if works.. umm, well in this game. In fact it would be hilarious, excepting that it amplifies the peculiar embarrassment associated with playing.

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I may have written this before, but this game striked a major controversy in Sweden earlier this year (2018).

 

We have a system where teenagers may form groups or assocations dedicated to playing various forms of games, both video games as well as traditional board games, role playing games and so on, and get money by state grants for doing so. The control mechanisms to determine if those newly formed associations - which by then already have been granted state money - are run as intended are weak, many teenagers abusing the system just to get free money to buy games which also reflects in the nonsense, sometimes even racist names they make up for their pretended assocations.

 

A group of reporters decided to highlight this and put shame to the politicians responsible for the system and lack of control, so they made up an association called "Custer's Revenge" and wrote in the application for money that they intended to play this classic Atari game. Obviously none at the nation wide association handling out the state grants paid any particular attention and proceeded as always, and the trap had closed! Now the reporters could publish their article and get nationwide news coverage both about how the system is abused, and about how terrible and tasteless this 35+ year old Atari game really is. Few people - even among modern and retro gamers - had even heard about it, but suddenly it was big news.

 

Actually the game itself seems not so different from e.g. the arcade game Money Wars by Hoei in 1980, adapted for the VIC-20 and which also was cloned under a few other names in the early 80's. Replace the woman with a bag of money (ok, I don't mean it in a bad way) and go back to start to cash it in, and you for most part get the same game.

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I was, until very recently, the proud (?) owner of this game. If your joystick has a rapid fire button, if works.. umm, well in this game. In fact it would be hilarious, excepting that it amplifies the peculiar embarrassment associated with playing.

 

I actually have an Amiga Powerstick that I use for rapidfire games like this. Simply hold it horizontally between your fingers and thumb, and start vigorously jerking your arm up and down so that you hit the buttons on either side with your fingers and thumb. It will damage your pride beyond repair, but is an effective way to play the game, it's also an excellent workout for your upper back and arm muscles, kinda like a shake-weight.

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