T-McBee’s Top 10 Acid Trip Moments in Gaming

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Remember those moments in gaming that you wouldn’t expect to happen? Have you ever played a game where you experience a scene with random bright neon colours or wavy animations on the screen? Or perhaps a scene where it felt literally trippy for your fragile little brain? Any gamer may see these hallucinating sceneries and concepts while playing a video games, whether its from a level environment, a scene, a character animation or other game assets. This perhaps make players wonder what game developers were thinking to put these offsetting ideas into the game engine.

This is T-McBee here listing down my Top 10 Acid Trip Moments in Gaming.  Here are the rules:

1. One game per franchise

2. The game moment can be an acid trip moment by its visuals, the context it is presented or just my personal preference that feels like a trippy moment.

3. These are just my choices. They’re not the best, they’re just my choices.

Well without further ado, lets step away from the wacky stuff and get high while reading this list instead to begin the countdown.

10. The Station of Awakening – Kingdom Hearts

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Every Kingdom Hearts fan would easily pick the obvious for a “trippy” moment in the series, such as the inverted room in Wonderland from Kingdom Hearts 1 or the FMV intros. Every time I pop Kingdom Hearts in my Playstation 2, I always found the tutorial segment aka the Awakening to be a hallucination moment. Now I know what you’re thinking…

“What? This scene isn’t trippy! It doesn’t have wavy animations and neon colours to make this part like you’re high on drug!”

However, if you decipher the linear path that Sora goes through in this beginning tutorial segment, you’re going to feel like Sora is literally “tripping balls” going through this mysterious path. It is not the look of the game that make this scene trippy, but how it is presented overall.

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Pretend you are a 14 year old boy wearing big red pants going on one pillar to another with Disney princess designs on them. Each pillar is inhabited by odd things you are not familiar with that leads you to more dark creatures and trouble along the way, like your shadow growing into a dark massive creature. Yeah! I’m sure your mind will be blown away if you saw something like that in real life. And it doesn’t help that a voice is telling you to follow this ominous path during this beginning tutorial.

One of my friends literally called the Darkside “Michael Jackson” the first time me and my friends played Kingdom Hearts in high school.

9. Dj Professor K – Jet Se Radio

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For the first game that brought cel-shading in 3D graphics, gamers have to admit that there are some acid trip concepts in Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio). For some reason, I always find the character and narrator of the game, DJ Professor K, to be one mind boggling character to look at. His hip-hoppish flair and design doesn’t make Professor K an acid trip character per say. It is more on his wavy animations that makes me lean my head back and squint my eyes whenever I see Professor K on screen. Perhaps this cutscene below will display his wacky animations the best.

His bouncy dreads and stretchy jaw makes Professor K is one trippy guy to look at.

Sometimes I am in a hypnotic trance whenever I see Professor K’s wavy moves or listen to his commanding dialogue, like…he wants my soul or something…Wonder if he’s related to this guy?

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They kind of have the same hairstyle. So its possible that they can be the same person. 😛

8. The Home Stretch – Chulip

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The following spot on this list will contain Major/Ending Spoilers from Chulip for the Playstation 2.

Chulip…the weirdest game I have ever played this year. In the final segment of the game, there are three trials that your character has to go through inside a very deep hole to slip the good love letter in a red mailbox. I actually like how the Home Stretch segment was presented near the end because this trial was suppose to represent the dark plots that relates to the girl of your dreams and your goal is to reach to her heart (aka the red mailbox). It is a surrealistically symbolic moment that is creatively expressive to end Chulip.

Now here are the three trials that your character has to go through to reach to the mailbox.

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In trial # 1, you got to find the right head on the girl’s father, Goro, back to his body. *Shivers*

You seriously don’t want to see what Goro in this part looks like without his actual head since it will literally make you scream out “OH SWEET POTATO CHRIST!”

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In trial # 2, you need to play a little Ace Attorney to claim these court of chickens that the girl’s mother, Julie, is not guilty for grilling bitter tasting chicken meat for her business. There are a couple of people in Long Life Town that actually enjoys her bitter tasting food.

In trial # 3, you come across a big ferocious cat that asks you 20 questions about Long Life Town. Make sure you answer more questions correctly than incorrectly for this part or else it is game over. Literally!

Once you finally pass all three trials, you put the good love letter into the red mailbox and a giant hand takes you out of the underground world. Yup… only something like that you expect to see in Chulip.

7. Milkman Conspiracy & Black Velvetopia – Psychonauts

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I personally think that Psychonauts is by far Tim Schafer’s best original game idea that he has ever released in the gaming market, even though there always bothersome glitches whenever I play this game. Psychonauts is one weird game that contains hallucinating content, funny characters, humorous dialogue and a lot of creativity overall.  It really shows those acid trip moments in the environment, which was pretty tough to choose only one level from the game. In results, I chose both the Milkman Conspiracy level and the Black Velvetopia level.

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When I first stepped into The Milkman Conspiracy level, I thought I was in the cheery suburban town from Edward Scissorhands, but some almighty being just twisted the town and roads in this spiral design. This was a level that just got weirder as players go further to investigate the whereabouts of the “Milkman” and why the girls selling cookies are acting so psychotic to you.

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It doesn’t help either when you first encounter Boyd the Security Guard in the level. The time I played Psychonauts and met Boyd in my first playthrough, I seriously felt unsettled by his behaviour. Sometimes I felt like Boyd was going to jump on me and TEAR my arms out of my sockets. In other words, Boyd creeped the hell out of me the first time I played Psychonauts.

“Enjoy 10 minutes of Boyd rambling about random theories and quotes”.

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Black Velvetopia was more of a hallucination trip in the graphics department rather than focusing both the design and story content like in the Milkman Conspiracy. Black Velvetopia had a lot of bright neon colours and designs around the black spaces and basic building shapes that were artistically appealing. However, it was a little difficult to go through the paths when exploring the environment. Despite the pink neon bull that can ram the player back to the start of the semi-circle path, Black Velvetopia was one of my favourite levels in Psychonauts, especially spotting dog painters in the alleyways.

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“When a game designer combines two of my favourite interests in a Mexican themed level, I’m going to appreciate it more.”

Normally people would place these moments from Psychonauts higher on a list like this. However, there were other wacky moments in gaming I found that were more of a hallucination trip than what appeared in Psychonauts. Those who aren’t familiar with Tim Schafer’s games will get tripped out by these game environment ideas, though for people who are aware of his games will find it completely normal.

6. The Temporal Vortex – Chrono Cross

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I got to be honest…I only think Chrono Cross is a decent game. It’s got moments that is awe inspiring and fascinating, while others just tedious and very unnecessary (i.e. the amount of members in your party).

But moving on, there is a part in Chrono Cross where the main silent protagonist, Serge, switched souls with the main antagonist of the game, Lynx. There is a reason why their souls oppositely have been switched to their bodies, but it will lead to spoilers if I told you. Plus it is a pretty convoluted scene to explain to someone who isn’t familiar with the game. Even I myself wouldn’t explain better about that part!

Once Serge wakes up with Lynx’s appearance, he ends up wandering in some kind of Monet painting. I actually do find the Temporal Vortex segment from Chrono Cross interesting because the textures of this world does feel like you are walking inside a painting. It is incredible that the developers designed this level for a game released on the Playstation 1.

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Wandering through this artistic maze of madness is crazy enough to make players believe that they were smoking something when playing this part of Chrono Cross. It certainly doesn’t help when Lynx’s partner Harle is telling you that you are actually Lynx instead of Serge, along with some hypnotic advices into the mix.

Thank goodness you don’t say too long in the Temporal Vortex. If this segment was longer, I believe your insanity would probably end up to the roof like many historical painters in history. Van Gogh, Goya, Picasso, Dali, Pollock, Rothko, Caravaggio… Oh why do creative minds have to end up being insane? 😦

   5. Everything – Monster Party (NES)

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Oh boy! Anyone who grew up with an NES in 1989  would immediately know what I’m talking about when I mention the game “Monster Party”. Gamers thought they were expecting a fun horror monster theme game when Monster Party came out in stores, but nope! We got ourselves a disturbingly mind trip game about a boy with a bat merging powers with a green gargoyle monster to fight off weird monsters with the help of good old pills. Yup…even the story of this NES title by Bandai is just trippy enough already. I will just name a few things that made Monster Party one hallucinated game.

 The Enemies

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The enemies in Monster Party do make sense to fit the monster theme, but for ones that don’t should have been out of this game. You get enemies like fish head people with human legs, purple alligators, walking pants and…. naked legs? (shown above).

The Bosses

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If you thought the enemies were weird, then wait until you see the bosses.  The game have bosses that do fit the monster theme, but once again…there are some questionable boss concepts, like a well shooting plates and jumping fried food and tempera shrimp. Sometimes the objectives in the boss fights themselves can be pretty weird too.

….I am not going to dignify that with a response.

I really have no idea how I manage to play Monster Party as a kid without getting nightmares or never questioning what I just experienced. I do think there are some elements that matches the monster vibe in Monster Party, but for the content that doesn’t make any sense…Get out of my house! Wait, I sold that game a long time ago… along with my other NES games…and my NES. 😦

4. Enemy/Boss Battle Screens – Earthbound

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Everyone knows by now how much I love Earthbound for its offsetting atmosphere and wacky humour. I could say the whole premise was weird and trippy the first time I played Earthbound, but I’m going to say those hypnotic looking random battle screens made me thought I was smoking something before jumping into the game.

It is amazing that the Super Nintendo were able to make those background visual effects move so wavy in Earthbound, especially on a 16 to 32 bit cartridge game console. However these hypnotic effects have been used in other games before like Chrono Trigger, but were effective and neat for the Super NES.

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Not only the wacky backgrounds and animations is what makes these battle screen hypnotic, but also the enemies you fight against are just odd in the context they are in, like crows wearing shades, pogo hopping gang members, abstract paintings, melting clocks (reference of a Salvador Dali painting), taxi cabs, ghosts in trash cans, barf monsters, cavemen, and even hippies.

These random battle screens certainly makes players feel unsettled, but also satisfied for how ridiculously humorous that Ape studio created for Earthbound. Sure, there have been some disturbing battle screens in the game, like the Giygas battle fight. However, that has been talked about A LOT.

“Stop it with the Giygas theories people! I agree that it has a bone-chilling ambient, but you overkilled it.”

3. The Gameplay Presentation – DDR series

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Oh DDR…one of my favourite game series back in high school. I’ve always like the song tracks and gameplay that was presented in the DDR games because it would sometimes leave me with a satisfying teary eyed reaction. Seeing the background videos combine with the arrows showing on the screen can make my mind trippingly overwhelmed by its visual effects and weird imagery.

No matter what version/sequel players try out in the DDR series, there’s going to be more than one song track that will make you say… “Whoa…I’m tripping balls here…”. Here are some examples below as to what makes DDR’s presentation quite a trip of changing emotions.

“Try watching this background video of Legend of the Max by keeping a straight face on”
“Spin Unicorn! Spin like you never spin before!”

“Are those teddy bears smiling at me?”

It really depends on your preference whether you find the gameplay in DDR overwhelmingly trippy or not. I wouldn’t say the licensed tracks aren’t as mind bogglingly cool as the original tracks from the series, which is the reason why it isn’t number one on the list. However, I still place the screen presentations in DDR higher for nostalgia factor and how I experienced these weird imagery a lot back as a teenager.

“Meh! A music video isn’t as effective as the rendered graphics and animations in the series”

2. The FunkyBoard segments – Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc

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The Rayman series is quite known to have trippy levels, characters and enemy designs. Normally people will immediately choose any odd visual concepts from Rayman Origins, but I think the Funky Board segments from Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc was one big hallucination ride. Seriously! Some people tend to forget how overwhelmingly eye burning the Funky Board segments were.

“Do I need to explain these segments?”

Funky disco music are being played while players are passing through these trippy looking levels with floating platforms. All these colours and patterns are moving all over the place. It doesn’t help the player’s eyes when these patterns unexpectedly transition while going through this tunnel of bright colours. First you see flowers all over the place and then all of a sudden you are in space.

“Where am I going!?!”

The FunkyBoard levels from Rayman 3 would have made it to the number one spot on the list, but I thought it had acid trip concepts that could have extended these environments wilder and off putting in its presentation. These levels were still trippy to play through that tend to hurt my eyes once in a while, but it had some ideas that felt like it has been shown before.

Anyone who thinks the things in Rayman Origins were trippy to see, well…think again once you play Rayman 3’s FunkyBoard levels.       

1. Touching the Fuzzies – Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island 

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Any Super Mario Bros. game or games with characters from the Super Mario series will definitely have one or even more moments that makes the players believe that Nintendo were on drugs. After all, Super Mario Bros. was highly inspired by Alice in Wonderland. *wink* *wink*

From all the wacky imagery and ideas that Nintendo has come up for the Super Mario Bros series, I will say that the wavy effect when touching the Fuzzies in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s island was one “WHHHHOOOAAAAA” experience that I ever came across to. Think about this for a second and realize how Yoshi’s pupils scale bigger when he makes a single touch on a white fuzzy. The screen distorts in a wavy movement while flashing bright neon colours. It’s like Yoshi just smoked some cocaine in the back alley and entered in Happy Land.

 ‘Whoa! Everything’s moving!”

Touching the Fuzzies in Yoshi’s Island will immediately trip gamers out due to players having difficulty aiming the eggs and moving around while Yoshi is in this state. The player getting hit by an enemy in the presentation is simple, but very unusual, very original and has the “magic of weed” look. That is the reason why I placed “The Fuzzy Effect” (as I like to call it) from Yoshi’s Island as the number one acid trip moment in video games.

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One Comment on “T-McBee’s Top 10 Acid Trip Moments in Gaming”


  1. […] T-McBee’s Top 10 Acid Trip Moments in Gaming […]


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