By Jonathan Wojcik and Crash Carnival

Not long ago, we looked at Exterlien, a skeevy hentai game nonetheless loaded with incredible creature designs. It was shortly after this that Crash Carnival, another obscure video game monster authority, told me of a game with a slightly similar aesthetic, and had already ripped its entire selection!

   Released for PC-88 in 1987, Produce is the royally fucked up story of four students at an institute for ESP research; Gilbert, Tina, Toshio and Sayaka. Toshio is in love with Sayaka, but Sayaka is in love with Gilbert, and as a telepathically gifted child, Toshio's hate and jealousy ends up catching the attention of something beyond normal human perception - an evil thing that lurks in an old, abandoned house and craves human prey. If Toshio can deliver his friends, it promises to let him keep Sayaka, because obviously you can trust the word of things that squat in old, abandoned houses and demand to be brought teenagers.

   The big twist? You play Toshio, gazing through the entity's three eyes and using a wide variety of monster minions to scare your victims deeper into the house, up the stairs to the top floor where the being awaits to consume them. It's you and an army of weird, alien specters against your own friends in a Faustian deal that can't possible end well...and just how weird are those alien specters? Oh man! SUPER weird! And there's thirty of them!


Sadly, there's little else to know about each monster besides its name and its appearance. Each affects the three victims differently and can get into a psychic battle with them, but that's about it. I'd imagine BIRAIN should be pretty good at that, though. I like how it's not just a brain with tentacles, but kind of between a brain and an incomplete human face.

"Bucky" is a great name for a bunch of hollow, slimy anemones. You'll notice that these monsters run the gamut from mundane humanoid devils to otherworldly invertebrates, but with heavy emphasis on the latter, just the way we like it around these parts.

Several of these beings have obviously human origins, and there's a distinct David Cronenberg vibe to their designs and color schemes. Nothing like a meaty, floating head to drive meddling kids where you want them.

Obviously a "doppelganger," but apparently trying to imitate all three of the intruders at once...or maybe it always looks like a big column of ground beef and sprouts out half-finished faces all willy-nilly. It's not like just encountering another you would be as terrifying as your giant face on a waddling meatball.

One of those few "normal" monsters, which is too bad, because I've discussed before how the Dullahan was freakishly grotesque in early folklore.

Geem is one of the cutest, with its gnashing mouth and little snaily eyes, not to mention its name. Your instincts probably want to interpret Geem as a "plant," but I much prefer thinking of it as a stalked and tentacled animal, like a sea lily. I suppose it's most likely that few of these things belong to any recognized kingdom of life, on the other hand.

Yep, just a plain old "ghost," but certainly not in the looks department. I wish more ghosts were as horrible looking as a skinless face that just keeps melting and un-melting into the walls.

The "goblin" is fairly fun too, not weird and disturbing like so many other things in Produce, but it has a lot of personality and I really enjoy the chicken feet on it. Not enough goblins have chicken feet. It seems an awfully gobliny thing to have.

A blatant rip-off of Hedorah is a blatant rip-off I'll always welcome with open arms, though it's quite a bit more than that anyway, with its tentacled lower body, skull-like nose hole, off-kilter eyes and a head that repeatedly cracks open, probably releasing some horrible rancid stink every time.

Why "Hoffman?" Is there a reference here I'm missing? Or did this used to be a person named Hoffman? Its rotten, ragged appearance is perfectly dreadful for something almost recognizable as a once-human face, and its animation looks, to me, like raucious but very slow laughter.

One of the grisliest yet, this thing looks like someone gave up half-way through sculpting a human and then set it on fire for a whie. Is that a tentacle or a tail? It has only one recognizable limb and all the flesh is gone. It also looks like it's in perpetual agony, which is all kinds of scarier than something that just wants to suck your brains out.

It's not especially horrifying, but I do really like this eyeless red sock-puppet-salamander-worm, particularly how the three little cute newt feets seem to be arranged in a ring around its neck.

The game's one ordinary "walking human corpse" is still a more disturbing image than most things fitting that description, with the head just kind of lolling around and the bloody wounds in its green skin. The fact that it apparently just staggers around opening and closing its chest cavity is even worse. Why? Is that the corpse equivalent of a flasher? Does it just feel good? It's possibly one of the most unnerving things a "zombie" could be doing as it shambles up a dark hall in your direction.

I think this is definitely the least frightening monster in Produce. What is this, a cultist? Oh no, don't yell at us angrily about what we should believe in. After giant, melting faces and vomit monsters you would just want to knee this guy and steal his elf shoes.

A little bit creepier, though it may just be the haunting effect of the graphics themselves making this humanoid devil look so uncanny. Horror games really lose something the more vibrant and realistic they do horror films. A stiff rubber suit is still creepier to this day than all the king's computers and all the king's graphics, unless the CG is actually reeled in enough to look like a stiff rubber suit anyway.

Another lovely blob with half-formed human features, and more than you might have even noticed at first. Look under that slobbering, toothless mouth; that's a vestigial, pudgy baby-like body, with tapering arms and no feet! It could be another unstable mimic, something that absorbed and continues to digest a few human victims, or maybe just a person who transformed into a Madanite is and didn't do a very good job because the Madanites I know have way more half-formed baby bodies than that, and they are nicer quality ones too.

"Martha" definitely implies what was once a real person, but now a dripping, flayed corpse that hangs from ceilings by what appears to be melted-together legs. This is one of those "it could happen to you next" monsters, by far one of the most effective categories of monster. You never know, though...maybe she's happy. Animals all have totally different body language, how do we know this isn't what a skinned ghost looks like when it's feeling just fine, thanks?

I like how many of these monsters look like they should have two eyes, but instead have an eye and a mouth. It really never gets old. I also like how Memeki is just a pair of stalks that may or may not be connected to each other. Maybe this is just what a mated pair of Memeki look like? One does all the seeing and one does all the eating...but exactly the opposite of the ones you think would do those things.

That's it? A cute and kind of androgynous snake person with mermaid hair? Hardly anybody even thinks snakes are creepy looking anymore. They're either beautiful and menacing or pudgy and ridiculous. Go swallow some eggs that are way too big so we can laugh as your ridiculous mouth, Meusha.

Mikira almost looks like a four-eyed "fireball," but clearly made of fleshy goo. I like how its eyes seem more socket than atual eyeball, but the way it's looking at us seems more like it can't wait to share a dirty proposition than a threat.

I like Mori. When its head is down, it almost looks like just a scared little boy who might need help escaping all these asparagus demons and snot people but then he shows off his sloppy lamprey mouth and oozing, bloody eye socket.

This is another inoccuous-looking one, just a shiny, slimy worm with adorable red eyeballs and a long, fat tongue, but even an adorable thing would be fairly terrifying if it slithered out of the shadows and just kept licking you with that thing, no indication of whether it was just being friendly, hungry, or way too friendly.

"Nume" indicates slime and "ashi" can pertain to feet or legs, so this is basically "slimefoot." The almost-human shape of its limbs is perfect on that jarringly inhuman frog-body, dominated by a sucking mouth that closes like a nematode's. Personally I like to think it has goofy eyes on its back, so it might be kind of cute when it's turned around, just a kind-of-off green toad.

There had to be a big bug eventually, but while my adoration for arthropods runs indefinitely deep, a big green scorpion unfortunately just feels way too ordinary in Produce. There's just so much more these brilliant designers could have done with insect and arachnid forms. Sesorito doesn't even have the right number of legs! At least the shading on its face gives it a slightly weird, subtly alien quality.

A floating yellow eye with a bunch of snakes coming out of it feels oddly whimsical for this game, more high fantasy than cosmic horror. The design is even just plain adorable, especially when you interpret the loop under the eye as forming a mouth. Snakeeye is so expressive and friendly looking, it's probably the least malicious of all these monsters. Or the most. I guess you can't judge a snake eye by its cuddliness.

I feel like this one's name is a distortion of "chameleon," and it does look like a lizard monster simultaneously phasing out of the ceiling and beginning to take on a human shape. Another one that's just a little too cute to be creepy, but we would have to see how far it takes its transformation to really decide. Maybe it stops just short of looking quite right and then starts eating bugs at you. "This is what you would look like eating bugs!" says Tarelion. "Aaaahhh!!" you say. "I'd better run deeper into this terrible house! Maybe it gets a little better farther in!"

I think they were going for a reference to Slimer here, but Tsunoda is a little more intimidating than the gooey glutton I grew up with. I especially love the silly flounder-like quality we get from its two remaining eyeballs, if that third socket was ever supposed to house one at all. I also enjoy all those little papillae, like a potato that's just starting to sprout in a cupboard.

This might be one of my favorites in the game, just for being a big, fat, eyeless banana-slug person. The little hands poking out of fleshy "sleeves" is a great touch, and I've always found something cool and creepy about toothless, black holes for mouths. The way Ugaruda seems to be bursting open rockets it from "kind of cute" Nerof territory to at least a Hedoria level. Are the green things entrails, or parasitic worms? Are the red things entrails, or parasitic eggs?

Uruk is another in the "giant head" category, but this time an entirely alien one with an uncomfortably Freudian mouth, which as you know is another of my favorite kinds of mouths for a monster to have. It even doubles as the black and toothless kind! There's just something way more menacing about a monster without obvious fangs or claws, because you know its feeding method is probably something a whole lot slower. I'd probably rather get attacked by a shark than a giant pitcher plant any day.

Awww, only one monster with a "Z" name, and it's not even one of the weirdest? Z is the weirdo monster letter! I guess Zegonia's acceptable enough to end on. A two-headed green martian isn't the most frightening or original concept out there, but again, just these 1987 PC graphics are haunting enough, and I get the feeling Zegonia probably does pretty unpleasant things in your head during those psi-offs, maybe moreso than any other monster here.

   With a dark, bent storyline and so many incredibly weird monsters, Produce is instantly one of my favorite games, even if I've never played it and it doesn't look like I'd have all that much fun doing so. I only really appreciate games from the art and story side of things anyway, and I love any horror story where surreal, alien entities exist all around us, just beyond the limits of our simple animal senses.

You can watch a quick playthrough of Produce here, but the game has surprisingly minimal story sequences and barely anything in the way of an intro. I have no idea if it even has more than the one ending....the one that goes about as well as you would expect.

"Thanks for the grub, buddy! This is what you wanted, right?"

   Special thanks to tumblr user and friend Crashcarnival for originally collecting these sprites; unfortunately, the blog is long gone.

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