Goat Jump

Author: Unknown
Year: Unknown

Old video games tend to be a source of weird shit. PC titles are the most obvious culprits, but even unlicensed console games were fairly easy to do on a lark. I'm sure some people remember something weird first-hand, and others have heard of something. Me, I like to collect these weird games when I get the chance. Most of them are idiotic, unfinished and unplayable, but some are funny or even creepy. Take Goat Jump, for example. I got it from a pawn shop I know about that buys old games. I don't know if Goat Jump is the actual name, but that's what was written on the makeship label slapped onto the cartridge over remnants of a previously-removed one.

Goat Jump is an unlicensed NES game. Pop it into your console and it starts right up. There are no credits, no start screen, and no explanation. The graphics consist of scrolling ranch/prairie-type scenery. The player character is a poorly rendered cowboy. The "goats" don't really look like goats, but they don't look like anything else, either. A makes you jump, while B doesn't do anything. Pressing Start pauses the game and fills the screen with the word "STOP" in white blocky letters. Pressing Select makes your character freeze and plays a loud buzzing noise. The music is low-quality, pseudo-western beepy stuff, sort of like what you'd hear in an Atari game.

Walking into a goat causes a buzzing noise to play - the same one that plays if you press Select. The screen goes black and the word "LOSE" fills the screen. From there, the game has to be manually reset. The gameplay consists of jumping over goats. Your apparent reward for this is one point per goat, with the scrolling speed and number of goats slowly increasing. If you play for a while, things start getting strange. I think I timed it at around the 15 minute mark. The music starts getting interrupted occasionally by loud beeps or scratchy, out of sync tones. The goat sprites start varying wildly, gaining different color palettes and sometimes looking like an even more incoherent mass of pixels than they already are. The cowboy's sprite kind of flips left and right every once in a while.

This gets more and more severe and the terrain is eventually affected, too. The sky turns grey, the trees turn completely brown, and there are red pixels everywhere (I assumed it could have been blood). The music turns more and more incoherent, becoming screeches and tuneless beeps. Your sprite glides along without any animation, and the goat sprites even appear to sink into the terrain at points. Playing for around 30 minutes gets you to what appears to be the end of the journey. You enter your first and only building. From there, your sprite glides into something that I think looked like some sort of threshing machine. Something I think was supposed to represent a scream plays. You get 100,000 points for this, for some reason. A black screen appears, with "YOU ONE" [sic] over it. Below the words is a fucked up goat sprite, dancing.

After this, the game has to be manually reset. On subsequent playthroughs, I noticed that the graphical and audio "glitches" appear a bit more randomly, sometimes even earlier than in the first playthrough. Goats sometimes become replaced with the cowboy sprite, surrounded with red pixels (blood?) and sometimes missing parts. Sometimes, I even noticed the cowboy being replaced with a goat and, baffingly, a large boot. Like I said, it's the weirdest game I've ever seen. I've never even found any information on it anywhere. I assume it was less of an unlicensed game and more of a personal project someone put onto a cartridge. All I can say about this game, really, is "what the fuck?"