Have You Played… Total Distortion?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Thought you were hot? Guess what? You’re not.

Total Distortion holds the highest honour of featuring one of the most entertaining Game Over screens of all time, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a psychobilly freakout.

I’ve never seen a game so accurately channel the strangeness of the ’90s, rock-and-roll, and other assorted oddities of FMV gaming, but creator Joe Sparks of Spaceship Warlock fame absolutely nailed it here.

You’re tasked with entering the Total Distortion Dimension and beating the pants off of Guitar Warriors as you figure out how to jumpstart pop culture as you know it on Earth. In layman’s terms, you have to shoot a bunch of music videos to bring back home. You’ll also own face at guitar battles, amass fame and fortune, and complete minigames as your character sleeps so you don’t have nightmares.

As far as innovation goes, Total Distortion is one of the only games I’ve ever seen to so completely break the mold in nearly every way, from its voice acting and soundtrack to the surrealistic visuals.

I get giddy just thinking about how it could have turned out if somehow Quest for Fame’s V-Pick peripheral could have been implemented somehow. It could have been music nirvana. But I’ll settle for the Distortion Dimension. C’mon, baby.


  1. Skeletor68 says:

    I genuinely love that song.
    link to youtube.com

    I demand you all give it a listen.

  2. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Ah, Total Distortion. Never thought I’d ever see that being mentioned here. Good memories. Think I’ve still got the disk!

  3. Distec says:

    I was young when playing this, and I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. Pretty sure I always died on the the first guitar battle. But I’d always restart because everything was just so colorful.

    Would be interesting to revisit.

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    gritz says:

    Fuck yeah Total Distortion. Maybe the most 1990’s game ever?

  5. Harlander says:

    I seem to remember this coming in an implausibly huge box…