Way back in late 2000 when I was feverishly beside myself with the imminent prospect of Tekken Tag Tournament, I remember stumbling into my local games shop looking for something to take my mind off the PlayStation 2. Browsing across the shelves my thought pattern went along the lines of "tactical espionage action, done that... another game with that stupid bandicoot... when are they going to release the ninth one... a strawberry-flavoured condom wielding a pair of Uzis..." Followed by a brief pause then WTF?!?
Overcome with curiosity, I picked up the bizarrely titled Team Buddies and read the back of the box, which revealed bullet-points like "some of the foulest language ever heard" and "loads of big weapons - enough to compensate for even the smallest [appendage]". Even at a young and less discerning age, this type of vulgarity immediately set alarm bells ringing - suggesting the game would be both poorly made and aimed at kids who watch South Park for the bad language. Except Psygnosis was written in the small print, so I went against my better judgement and took this baffling game to the counter for a rental.
The weekend of multi-tap gaming that followed remains one of the most stupid yet hilarious I can remember, because despite going in with low expectations Team Buddies turned out to be a deranged and surprisingly tactical experience.
Everything kicks off with a bright FMV sequence showing the capsule-shaped "buddies" dancing at a friendly rave. Before you know it weapon crates start falling from the sky and - rather than trying their luck at the local knife surrender bins - the formerly peaceful buddies gleefully start blowing each other to bits.
It seems that's all the excuse Psygnosis needed to build a game where, instead of making the effort to come up with a suitable slur or mum-related joke, players could simply tap a button and the game would do it for you. These ranged from the Scottish buddies, who would either call you an effing bastard or threaten you with a Glasgow smile, to the Geordie buddies who were similarly brash but instead called everyone a muppet. There was also some Python plagiarism on the French team with the words hamster and elderberries being used in the same sentence.
But although Team Buddies offered cheap laughs over those first few games, it wasn't until my little gang of friends noticed its subtle complexities that we began to appreciate its brilliance. The gameplay is easy to learn and best described as a mix between third-person shooter and real-time strategy - with a focus on base-defence and crate-stacking. The maps are littered with these crates, and by stacking them in various ways players can gain anything from shotguns and extra buddies to giant mechs and stealth bombers.