The 10 Most Terrifying Video Game Enemies of All Time
Since the Golden Age of Atari, there have been video game enemies who are so unpleasant that they made us question the existence of a higher power. We at Cracked pay tribute to the rogues' galleries of yesteryear with this list of the 10 most trouser-soiling bad guys in gaming history.
Some of these foes may not seem scary by today's standards, but in their heyday, all of them taught us how to swear, hit the reset button, and, most importantly, cry.
The Wallmasters from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Historically, video game players and enemies have agreed to disagree. We'll kill them and they'll kill us. It's a brutal social contract, but it's worked for the last 30 years.
The Wallmasters flipped this script on us. Most bad guys are courteous enough to kill us as quickly as possible. Not these giant, zombie phalanges--they shanghaied Link back to the dungeon entrance, thus turning our adventure into a boring, repetitive slog and giving us a chance to meditate on all the free time we were spending pretending to be a fey elf dressed in a green camisole and tights.
The Poltergeist from Splatterhouse
During the early '90s home console boom, nothing was creepier than Splatterhouse for the Turbografx-16. Sure, the game's AI was laughably primitive (the enemies' favorite strategy was to rush at you in a single-file line like undead conga dancers), but its revolutionary gory graphics made up for it. Look at those screenshots. If this was 1990, you'd totally be losing your shit right now.
The game's most memorable boss was also its least bloody. In Level 2, the player confronted an angry poltergeist.
The spirit's weapons were antique chairs, silverware and a tasteful art deco tapestry (the monsters of Splatterhouse apparently shopped at Pottery Barn). Once you beat this evil bric-a-brac, the poltergeist retreated and, as a Hail-Mary "get bent," dropped the goddamn chandelier on you. Getting killed by that chandelier is an embarrassing experience you'll never forget, just like the day you lost your virginity.
The Dog from Paperboy
Paperboy was a 1988 Nintendo classic about a plucky paperboy and an entire neighborhood that inexplicably wanted to murder him. The game never explained why and we were too weirded out to ask.
Unsurprisingly, your main nemesis was a yapping canine. Avoiding this dog was easy, but avoiding the crap he chased you into was much harder. A savvy player could shut him up with a well-tossed newspaper, but aiming correctly meant nearly crashing into other fixtures of suburbia such as Hell's Angels, tornadoes and the Grim Reaper. Yes, this damn dog was scarier than Death itself.
Here's your paper, Mr. Johnson
The "Polygon Monster" from Out of This World
In this 1991 cult favorite, you play Lester, a dumpy physicist who is teleported to an alien dimension when his particle accelerator goes kaput. The 2-D side-scroller played by Contra rules: one hit and you're boned.
Among the hostiles Lester met was this unnamed polygon monster. As soon as you arrived in the alien world, this fanged trapezoid immediately chased Lester off a cliff. If you failed to grab a nearby vine, the damn game was over in a crummy 90 seconds. This opening sequence helps explains why Out of This World only sold four copies.
The Cherub from Doom 3
Half Gerber baby, half Rosemary's baby, the Cherubs were the only scary thing about Doom 3, other than the painful fact that we shelled out $50 for this snoozer back in 2004.
This was one of the very few actually frightening monsters in the game. It's not that the other monsters didn't look scary--they did--it's just that they were total idiots. When the Hell Knight got trapped behind a stack of crates, our hearts went out to him. It was like watching a three-legged puppy trying to catch a Frisbee.
However, we had no sympathy for the cherubs. These enfants terrible came after our space marine like his body armor was covered in lactating breasts. Observe:
When battling these diaper demons, we often resorted to the coward's tactic of haplessly waving around the chainsaw and closing our eyes until everything was dead.
Baron von Blubba from Bubble Bobble
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.
Any Body of Water from Sonic the Hedgehog 2
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.
Sinistar from Sinistar
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.
The Poison Head Crabs from Half Life 2
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:"
Evil Otto from Berzerk
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.
Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements. An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move. A young woman from the trailer park and her very smelly cat. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, a new novel about futuristic shit, by David Wong.