Top Five Weirdest Bootleg Video Games

By Kyle R – 17th February 2014
Top Five Weirdest Bootleg Video Games

There is a dark, mysterious corner of gaming that must be seen to be believed. An underground world of ROM hacks and physical bootlegged video games, the creators of these freak shows take existing games and turns them into hideous Frankenstein-esque monsters that (usually) play terribly and look awful, yet have a weird brilliance about them. This is the world of bootlegged video games, and they must be seen to be believed.


Like many, this is the first bootlegged video game I ever played. Originally released in 1994, Somari emulated Sega’s 16-bit hit Sonic the Hedgehog via 8-bit hardware. Essentially, the game was ported over to an NES, with Sonic stripped out of the game and replaced with Mario. Why is Mario able to run fast, around loops, and perform speed attacks while crouched in a ball? I have no idea, and I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Yet, that’s a bootleg video game for you – it doesn’t have to make sense.

Surprisingly, Somari isn’t a bad game. It plays a lot like the original Sonic the Hedgehog sans a few slowdowns and music that doesn’t sound nearly as crisp as the original Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis’ 16-bit hardware. Even so, it’s pretty amazing whoever developed this was able to port the speed of a Sonic game over to an NES, and for that, they should be applauded.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 – SNES

This is obviously a bootleg as a Sonic the Hedgehog game not only never graced a Nintendo console until the Nintendo GameCube in the early 2000’s, but Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was never even released until 2010. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a mashup of the SNES game Speedy Gonzales: Los Gatos Banditos with Sonic-related sprites plastered all over the game. And instead of saving animals in each level? Sonic must save a trapped Mario from a human-sized cage. I guess because this bootleg copy was released on a SNES console, it seemed naturally to the developer to have Sonic saving Mario for whatever reason. Not only does it look ugly and a bit revolting, it also plays like garbage as you can see from the video below.

Listen to those sound effects. How awful does that sound? Literally, it sounds like the guy responsible for this bootleg was using one of those crappy PC microphones from the late 90’s to mimic the sound effects he heard in a Sonic the Hedgehog game. Kudos to him for getting Sonic to actually run fast in the game (and the Sonic sprite doesn’t look bad either), but as for the background music? What is that, a rejected track from the film A Nightmare on Elm Street? Terrible bootleg all around.

Kart Fighter

For what Kart Fighter is, it’s actually not that bad. Created before Super Smash Bros., someone had the bright idea of taking the racers from Super Mario Kart and throwing them into a Street Fighter type of game. The result? A 2D side-scrolling fighter start Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the gang.

It’s a pretty good game too. Each fighter has their own special moves, the AI is pretty solid, and the arenas are actually pretty decent to look at. Add to the fact that the game was developed to run on 8-bit hardware (once again, NES), and you have a rare bootleg game that actually has a leg to stand on.

The Grand Theft Auto Bootlegs

Now we’re getting into some weird territory here. There are places across the world that sell some of the most mind boggling pirated video games you will ever see. These are 100% real, so if you think these covers have been photoshopped, think again: these games are actually for sale in various parts of the world.

Gameological contributor Joe Keiser wrote an awesome piece on the pirated video games he found during a year-long stay in Nairobi, and the Grand Theft Auto video games he found below are some of the many gems he found during his stay! First up:

Grand Theft Auto Saw

gta saw cover

There’s really nothing special about this game as it simply stars the main character from Saw in a version of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

Grand Theft Auto Kirk Douglas

gta kirk douglas

Look at that cover! Complete with Kirk Douglas sporting his outfit from the film Spartacus, the only thing that is special about this modified version of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is that the loading screens have been replaced with pictures of Kirk Douglas and his son Michael Douglas. And the missions have been removed, so really, there’s no point to this game.

Grand Theft Auto Dubai City

grand theft auto dubai city

Don’t be fooled, this is still Grand Theft Auto San Andreas but with the opening scene being a promotional video for visiting Dubai.

This post is full of other awesome bootlegged video games, so check it out here to read more.

Wilford Brimley ROM hacks

Believe it or not, but there are a ton of ROM hacks dedicated to Wilford Brimley. Perhaps the old man is comical in how he presents the issue of diabetes – who knows. Below are two of the best around.

Wilford Brimley Battle

Starring everyone’s favorite’ diabeetus’spokesperson, Wilford Brimley Battle is a hacked version of the NES classic River City Ransom (there is a ton of hacked ROMS based off River City Ransom for some reason) that allows players to take control of Wilford Brimley as he represents Quaker Oats Inc. and sets out to destroy the Kellogs company. Every enemy is as old as Brimley, yet every old man in this game packs quite a punch.

Wilford Kong

Something doesn’t sit right with me when playing Wilford Kong. Sure, it’s the arcade classic Donkey Kong starring Wilford Brimley playing the role of Kong, yet the guy looks like he’s made of nightmares. Wilford Kong plays exactly like you would think it does, except you control Jumpman (later known as Mario) as he flicks a wooden spoon instead of a hammer. Instead of barrels, you are tasked with dodging oatmeal, thus continuing the theme that Wilford Brimley has diabetes, and he believes you should eat as much oatmeal as possible so you can live a healthy life.

Do you have a favorite bootleg video game/ ROM hack that was left off the list? Let us know in the comments below!