The biggest bastard in Bubble Bobble was an albino whale named Baron von Blubba. Back in 1988, this white whale reduced even the most hardened Nintendo vet to a weak-bladdered Captain Ahab.
Whenever the stage timer ran out, Baron von Blubba emerged to rock our faces with his invincibility and horrifying ability to fly only at 90-degree angles. Thanks to our encounters with the Baron, we now harbor deep-seated phobias of whales, geometry and the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Sonic's deadliest nemesis was the innocent pool of water. This sounds totally stupid, but remember: You're playing a video game about a neon blue rodent who jogs at Mach 5. You gave up your right to be incredulous a long time ago.
Once submerged, our hyper-kinetic hedgehog swam slooowly, as if he was paddling through morphine-infused molasses. If you left Sonic underwater too long, you then heard the most panic-inducing music in video game history. Watch what happens as some sadist happily asphyxiates poor Sonic:
We dealt with the water in the most dignified way possible--by screaming and unplugging our Genesis before he drowned.
What do you get when you mix Andrew Dice Clay, a Pog and pure undiluted evil? You get Sinistar, the only video game boss to ever lower our self-esteem.
Playing Sinistar was slightly more enjoyable than being waterboarded. The player first entered his arcade booth, or as we at Cracked call it, the Chamber of Shame. After shooting meteors for a minute or so, you met the star himself, who greeted you with a cheerful "BEWARE, I LIVE!" With formalities dispensed, he quickly turned your life into shit:
The fun begins at 0:40.
Fighting Sinistar was like a therapy session with Dr. Phil--this chatty SOB knew we had problems and wasn't afraid to go for the jugular. Bullies beating you up at school? "RUN, RUN, RUN!" he'd bark. Marriage failing? "RUN, COWARD!" was his advice. Having an otherwise nice day? Once you heard his "RAAAWRGH!" you knew existence was nothing but pain.
Bar none the freakiest first-person shooter enemy ever, the poison head crabs turned our jeans brown and our khakis even browner. If these jumpy alien turds bit your face, their neurotoxins knocked your health down to one percent, at which point the game would twitter "USER DEATH IMMINENT." These buggers were so scary that even your PC told you to quit. Ouch.
Whenever we heard these lil' fuckers ululating in a shadowy corner of the room, we fell back on our default strategy of spinning in circles and shooting at the ceiling. And we weren't the only ones wigging out --the crabs' shrieks were so unpleasant that they reportedly threw Half Life 2 play testers into ammo-wasting paroxysms. But hey, as LeVar Burton famously said, "You don't have to take our word for it:"
Our number one villain is unstoppable, immortal and can be easily drawn on MS Paint. He's Evil Otto, the scariest face in gaming history.
Evil Otto debuted in '80s Berzerk, a groundbreaking shoot-em-up that nowadays could be programmed by a preschooler. Berzerk's plot was seemingly adapted from a Dadaist stage drama. You are a green man who shoots yellow robots. If the robots shoot you, you die. If the robots touch you, you die. If you touch the walls (which are presumably laced with cyanide), you die. Your goal is to destroy 64,000 rooms worth of jaundiced robots, after which you are awarded 72 virgins in heaven.
It was Otto's job to fly through the poisonous walls and zap you when the timer ran low. Otto was merely a pain, but what makes him truly frightful is the fact that he is possibly the only video game enemy in history to kill players in real-life. Between 1981 and 1982, two teenage Berzerk players died of heart attacks shortly after posting high scores at video arcades. Evil Otto watched them die ... with a smile on his face.
For entire games that annoyed us, check out our rundown of The 10 Most Irritatingly Impossible Old-School Video Games. And speaking of old school, remember when the premises used to be about dinosaurs riding giant birds and all other manners of clown shit insanity? Ever wonder why? Find out in Video Game Pitch Meeting (1979). And be sure to read about even more terrifying games in columnist Dan O'Brien's report on the surprisingly dangerous choking game.