Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Custer's Revenge

Earlier today I was reading an old copy of Videogaming and Computer Gaming Illustrated from 1983 that was discussing the uproar surrounding the then-contemporary game Custer's Revenge. If you've been around the video games scene for a long time you've probably heard about this notorious game for the Atari 2600. Even though the game is terrible it is noteworthy for the controversial splash it made so I thought I would do a post on it.

Right off the bat I do have to begrudgingly award the game an extra point for the hot babe on the box - she looks a lot like Salma Hayek - and I have always been a sucker for Salma Hayek. Salma, if you are reading this - call me. But I digress.

Custer's Revenge was released in October 1982 by the Los Angeles company American Multiple Industries (AMI) under the brand name Mystique / Swedish Erotica for the Atari 2600. In the game you play as General George Armstrong Custer who, in accordance with 7th cavalry regulations and the battlefield custom of the time, is completely nude except for a hat, hot pink scarf, and cowboy boots. He is also sporting a foot and a half long bitmapped erection. Sorry - but there is just no ignoring that monster once you see the screenshot.


Custer's goal is to make his way across a dusty plain, avoid being killed by arrows, and hook up with a lovely Native American maiden on the other side of the screen who has a 2D rack so big it makes Lara Croft look flat-chested.

If you are able to successfully navigate your way through the arrows (and attacking cactus on if you play games 3 or 4) you are able to begin peace talks with the lovely lady by rapidly hitting the joystick fire button to "score". And that is all there is to it.

The game was immediately met with outrage from womens' rights groups and Native American groups as well as critics of the video game industry in general. Protests were staged outside of electronics shows where the game was being demonstrated.

The depiction of the sexual act was inflammatory enough but the artwork with the Native American girl tied up and the use of the word "revenge" in the game's name seemed to indicate that the sex was rather non-consensual - although AMI president Stuart Keston insisted that both parties were indeed consenting adults. In fact, Keston was so comfortable with the content that he said he let his 11-year-old son play the game. "There's no violence or venereal disease - we have entertainment in mind."

I've played the game on the Stella emulator out of curiosity and I can say for a fact that the game sucks. Not because of the alleged depiction of rape but simply because the game is just no fun. But as is often the case, the negative press given to the game back in the early 80's actually increased sales and AMI reportedly ended up selling 80,000 copies of the game.

And if YOU want to own one of those copies for yourself you can get a sealed version of this conversation piece off of eBay for just a little over what it was going for in 1982 at

Oh - and I also just found out that a Brazillian company called Mysticca actually made a remake of the game in 2008. I haven't actually tried it myself so I can't vouch for it at all - but if you want to check it out you can download it from

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gnome said...

Excellent write-up. Guess I'll now have to Retro-treasures-blog you...

Fallguy40 said...

Impressive Little Bighorn, General Custer.

What the hell were they thinking when they came up with this game?

The pink scarf is a nice touch though.

MadPlanet said...

@Gnome: Thanks Gnome. It came with a nifty leather case too - classy! I assume it must be inside the sealed box.

@ Fallguy: Yeah, historians have often noted how Custer would distract his opponents with his scarf and then slap them in the face with his sabre. Heh. AMI made a couple of other "adult" games too that were less well-known than Custer's Revenge, but I didn't want to prattle on too long in one post.

Mik said...

We all agree that rape ain't fun. But this game's idea is just TOO crazy to ignore it. Nice one MP!

MadPlanet said...

Thanks Mik. Yeah I'll go out on a limb and state unequivocally for anyone that might actually be offended by the post that rape is indeed a very bad thing. But hey, according to AMI's Stuart Keston she consented and was totally into it. Who knows. The truth is forever buried in the annals of American history - OH! SOMEBODY STOP ME!

Mik said...

By the way, I managed to play the remake for a couple of minutes.

And the girl is actually tied.

Scissors are now handled by girls, and you can, ehm, "shot" at 'em.

Plus, the "final act" is louder and detailed, and ends with... well ok, now we're going too far.

MadPlanet said...

I'm assuming they made her look like she was enjoying it and maybe the ropes were just a bondage thing or something? With the old 2600 game it was impossible to tell those kind of details but I assume modern graphics bring a little more clarity to the nature of the situation. Now I gotta go play it to see for myself.