At the Mod-tains of Madness
Game modifications are a time-honored PC tradition. The very best mods can breathe new life into a game by, say, amping up the graphics years after the game released, or patching bugs the developers never got around to fixing. Sometimes they even add entire campaigns or separate game modes. Witness the original Dota mod for Warcraft III, or the way DayZ's zombies and post-apocalyptic survival completely reimagined ARMA II.
And then there are the weird mods—the "I can't believe someone made this. What kind of person thinks up this kind of stuff?" mods. The wacky, surreal stuff that was made simply to blow your mind. What do Randy Savage, the Kool-Aid Man, and Flappy Bird all have in common? Keep reading to find out.
Flappy IV (Grand Theft Auto IV)
In the wake of Flappy Bird's untimely shutdown, developers created approximately a bajillion games that twisted the original concept in some way. Flappy Bert, Maverick Bird, Floculus Bird—everything you could think of, and some that the average person would never, ever have dreamed up.
Enter this terrifying Grand Theft Auto IV mod, which turns your character into a horrific bird-headed Icarus, desperately clawing at the Liberty City sky before plummeting to the ground and kicking pedestrians in the face. Yes, it's as absurd as it sounds.
Wrecking Blub (Octodad)
Octodad's blub language might not be understandable to mere human ears, but surely you can hear the anguish in his voice as he swings around on this mighty wrecking ball. Yes, someone recreated Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball" video in Octodad. Yes, it's as stupid and glorious as you think.
Kool-Aid Man (Left 4 Dead 2)
In Left 4 Dead 2, the "tank" is a zombie that breaks through walls, throws concrete around, and punches cars.
In this mod the tank is replaced with the drywall repairman's best friend, the Kool-Aid Man. Just try to keep your wits about you when the wall busts open and the Kool-Aid Man comes out, screaming "OH YEAH" while punching you in the face. It's eight-year-old me's worst nightmare.
Randy Savage (Skyrim)
Another mod that will haunt your dreams with cries of "OH YEAH!", this work of genius replaces Skyrim's fearsome World Eater himself, Alduin, the most terrible dragon in history, with...Macho Man Randy Savage. "The Macho Man is coming."
Oh yeah indeed. This mod is downright ludicrous and oh, oh so wonderful.
Thomas the Tank Engine (Skyrim)
A whistle chirps cheerfully in the distance. "What was that?" one person asks. He's ignored—until it's too late. An enormous train crashes into a nearby tower. The townsfolk look up in horror. "Guards!" one person exclaims, sprinting for the nearest shelter. It's too late: Thomas the Tank Engine flies through the air, hurling fire in every direction. Toot toot.
And you thought Skyrim with Randy Savage was surreal. What horrors hath man wrought?
Altis Life (Arma III)
Arma III is a military shooter. A serious military shooter, with about six thousand keyboard controls to memorize.
Or you could play Altis Life instead, a user-created mode that turns Arma III into an RPG. You'll play as either a cop or a civilian. Cops enforce the laws. Civilians try to earn a living through an honest day's work. Failing that, civilians sell drugs. Or just annoy the cops.
Altis Life could be a serious game, but instead it's a haven for emergent insanity. People threatening to have their avatars commit suicide, fake terrorists, people singing as they shoot you in the face, people obeying traffic laws—all par for the course in Altis Life.
Just Cause 2 Multiplayer
Just Cause 2 Multiplayer is semi-official now, but it started as just a mod.
If you thought Just Cause 2 was chaotic playing all by your lonesome, try having hundreds of people running around the island of Panau simultaneously, spawning jets out of thin air, blowing each other up, and then parachuting back into the action seconds later. One server even lets you build structures out of in-game items, Minecraft-style.
The best news? If you own Just Cause 2, you already have access to Just Cause 2 Multiplayer. Check your Steam library. And if you don't own Just Cause 2, we're not friends anymore.
Woody (Grand Theft Auto IV)
The worst part about this mod is Woody's dead eyes. Or maybe it's the way his hat sits at such a jaunty angle. Or maybe it's that serial killer smile plastered across his face as he gleefully beats hapless bystanders to death with his comically-oversized hands.
What are you going to do? Call the cops? Woody's the gosh-derned sheriff.
Zombie Teletubbies (Left 4 Dead 2)
Teletubbies were always creepy, right? We can agree on that?
This Left 4 Dead 2 mod replaces all common infected zombies with Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po—a move that arguably makes the game scarier than it was to begin with. Just look at those things. What are they? And why does the temperature in my apartment drop ten degrees whenever they giggle?
Racer Recursion (Morrowind)
Anyone who's played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind can tell you that cliff racers—creatures that resemble nothing more than a cross between a vulture and a bat—are the absolute worst part of the game. From their obnoxious squawking to their seeming invulnerability at low levels to their ability to chase you across entire continents, cliff racers are terrible.
So of course someone went and made a mod where every time you kill a cliff racer, two more spawn in its place. Some people want to watch the world burn.
The Sky May Be (Doom)
The Sky May Be was built to be weird. And it succeeds. That Windows dialog box in the screenshot? That's not some weird error message—that's part of the actual game. And when you hit Cancel, the roof comes down and crushes you. Other parts of the game look like an acid-trip Legoland.
"Odd" doesn't even cut it. I'd recommend watching the video if you want to have any idea what this game is like.
Super Skyrim Bros.
Every attempt to make Mario "more realistic"—whether it was the movie, the sort-of-live-action TV show, or this Skyrim mod—has convinced me of one thing: Realistic Mario is a psychopath. A murderous, rampaging psychopath. It's somehow harder to ignore his xenocidal tendencies when he's removed from his typical cartoonish environs.
Go on, Mario, grab your hammer and swing it at human-sized Goombas like some sort of hallucinating John Henry. Because that's not terrifying.