Gameological contributor Joe Keiser is in the midst of a year-long stay in Nairobi. We asked him to check out the video game selection in his neighborhood. This is what he found.
In Nairobi, there is this shopping center called Diamond Plaza. It is the natural conclusion of a city that doesn’t enforce building codes. It is always under construction, has always been under construction according to the locals, and is a malignant tumor of a building. You can go the second floor, climb through a four-foot doorway into a straight, too-small hall, and end up somehow on the first floor. The stairwell constricts around you the further down you go. There are multiple doors on the highest levels that open into the alley dozens of feet below.
It is a beautiful, terrible place, perhaps my favorite in the city. And they sell games here, the sort of games you would expect in a place where only some of the rooms have a floor. Which is to say they are delirious hacks of old, pirated PlayStation 2 standards, from all over the world, with cover art that is uniformly amazing.
Grand Theft Auto: Saw
Notice the liberal use of rainbows on this cover, which accurately depicts the childlike whimsy of both Saw and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the game this hack is based on. San Andreas is about the deep entrenchment of American gang culture in the early ’90s, and Saw is about getting people to murder each other. So, rainbows.
The game itself is a mutation of San Andreas where the load screens and main character have been replaced with the Jigsaw puppet from Saw. It’s the perfect game for the least discerning of Saw fans, which might be all of them.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Kirk Douglas
Full disclosure: this article exists so I can tell you all about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Kirk Douglas. Just look at it! It’s exquisite. The game itself is as grand as the cover. It is San Andreas, with the load screens replaced by EXTREME closeups of Kirk Douglas—and occasionally his son Michael Douglas, because hey, close enough, right? In the game, the main character appears to be a rough approximation of Kirk Douglas. Oh, and all the missions have been removed, so there’s nothing to do.
Why would someone make this? Is there some shadow demographic of Grand Theft Auto/Kirk Douglas fans that is going completely unserved? No? Then let us create one, you and I, and give this labor of love the respect it deserves.
Battlefield 2: Special Forces
Now, there is a real video game called Battlefield 2: Special Forces, but it never came out for the PlayStation 2, and it certainly never starred deceased pro wrestler Eddie Guerrero, even though he was amazing and should be in everything VIVA LA RAZA! Hey, the guy who made this cover knows what I’m talking about.
Anyway, you might think the game inside this case is simply a pirated copy of the Battlefield 2 game that did come for the PS2, because that would be a sensible thing to steal. Yet that would make too much sense. This is actually a Japanese game, Simple 2000 Series Vol. 108: The Nihon Tokushubutai, which is translated as “The Special Forces.” It’s not really clear how you could start out intending to pirate one game and end up pirating an obscure, Japan-only budget title instead, but at this point, we should really be willing to accept anything.
Guitar Hero: Satellite 2009
This is a hack of the classic plastic guitar phenomenon Guitar Hero 2, but all of the songs have been replaced with Bahasa rock and rap, which are actual things that exist. This is actually a cool idea for a pirate hack, since it gives the local community a version of the game the original developers never would have made. But for this specific game, that local community is in Jakarta, thousands of miles away. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it, so go ahead and listen to “Maaf Dari Surga” while you play air guitar.
Guitar Hero: Unleashed and X’mas Songs
I know what you’re thinking: “Bahasa versions of Guitar Hero are all well and good, but where is the compilation of Christmas songs and Nu metal?” Don’t worry, here’s Guitar Hero: Unleashed and X’mas Songs. Do you like “White Christmas”? Do you also like Korn? No? Well, that’s okay, because all of the bonus tracks are Bahasa rock and rap. Something for everyone!
Guitar Hero: The Legend: Beatles and Friends
You’ll come for the Beatles, but you’ll stay for the anime girl that maybe is supposed to be Yoko Ono. Okay, the Beatles have other friends, too, but they are mostly Bahasa rock and rap stars.
This is just an old, awful RoboCop game that nobody should ever play. Look at that cover, though! It will brighten your life in countless ways.
Grand Theft Auto hacks that are all the same
Grand Theft Auto: Supernatural, The Legend, Infinite World, and 2012: End of the World all seem like they would be different games, right? They took the hero of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost And Damned , Johnny Klebitz, and Photoshopped his head into so many different other games! Unfortunately, all of the games are San Andreas—more specifically, a San Andreas hack of possibly Brazilian origin that removes the story missions and adds explosive superpowers (and Linkin Park to the radio). 2012: End of the World gets bonus points for replacing the game’s opening video with a trailer for the movie 2012. Very classy.
Grand Theft Auto: Dubai City
This one was a real surprise. Oh, it’s still San Andreas. But it was edited and “improved” as much as possible. The opening video is a tourism promotional video for Dubai.
The loading screens are all advertisements for Syrian Games, which may be an outfit of pirates and thieves but also employs video game cover artists of great vision and poise.
The face of Dubai City’s new main character will periodically glitch, becoming a horrible nightmare with stretched skin and an impossibly distended jaw.
Many of the signs and billboards in the game have been replaced with Arabic text, and the radio stations play only Arabic music. It’s quite a comprehensive hack, and the best part is that buying it in Kenya almost certainly doesn’t violate American sanctions against Syria. So any American customs agents reading this article shouldn’t even worry about sending me to federal prison. Please?
Looking to extend your descent into pirate-game madness? Check out our treasury of the Syrian Games cover artist’s finest work.