Video games have an opportunity to provide us with horror in ways that television and film can not. A video game can put us in control, make us decide our fate and the best way to try and escape a deadly nightmare. And on that journey we will find monsters and villains that truly left an exclamation point. Here I have compiled a list of what I feel to the ten scariest video game monsters. For one reason or another, I believe that these characters have something to offer a true horror fan, even if sometimes you have to dig deep to see it. After all, horror is nothing without imagination, if newer horror films and fans are any indication. So with nothing else to say, let's get right into it. Don't lose your head.
The Top Ten Scariest Video Game Monsters and Villians of All Time
10. The W Star (Drahkken, SNES) - So to claim anything scary can happen in this particular title may seem odd at first, but there are a few moments that are noteworthy at least to nerds as big as me and my circle. Drahkken is an old RPG from the early nineties which tried to utilize a three-dimensional, first person environment. It wasn't exactly successful but did make the game unique for it's time. One thing the game would do is change the time of day as you were playing. Once nightfall hit is when some shit would really start to go down. The player would notice the many stars in the sky, shining quite brightly. As you trek forward you may notice a W-shaped set of stars in the sky. Thinking nothing of it, you continue on. And then suddenly, those stars start to move, flapping up and down like some kind of crazy bird while a creepy music tone on a downward scale begins to play. Then suddenly you hear a loud, low sounding "boom," and everything stops of a second. Then out of nowhere, a flying creature with a skulllike head comes careening out of the sky and attacks. You inevitable think "What the HELL is that?!" and proceed to fight this thing, hoping you're leveled up enough to take it on. This occurance actually happens with multiple sets of stars in this game but the very first time we saw it was with the W-set, earning the name we gave it, the W Star. No matter how much you get used to this, it's always bizarre and unexpected granting it a place on this list.
9. The Cyberdemon (DOOM, PC) - One of the greatest first-person bosses of all time in arguable the greatest first person shooter of all time. As you first enter his level, noting the dead Barons chained up on the wall (which, before this point you assume are the baddest thing on two legs), the Cyberdemon will likely first make his presence known to you once you open one of the four doors leading to the exterior of his arena-like stage, and see the flaming skulls known as lost souls. Inevitably, you will sneer at this relatively simple and weak monster, and take it out with your shotgun. However, upon the first shot of your rifle ringing out into the air, you'll hear a staggering and terrifying roar from an unknown source, followed by an unknown "crash-BOOM!" sound which continuously repeats. You realize something else is here with you. And it is big. And it is coming for you. What will likely happen next is that you will step out into the open area, turn a corner or two, and in the distance you'll see something. "What the fuck is - " will likely be all you have time to think before a missle comes flying right into your face, instantly splattering you all over Hell's floor. Although it's hard to get close enough for a look, the Cyberdemon gets his name from the steel, cybernetic right leg he sports and the rocket launcher which is inexplicably attached to his left arm. The rest of this towering hell beast includes a hooved left leg, huge black horns on the sides of his head, and all kinds of red, bloody wires sticking in and out of him. It's not good enough that all of Hell is trying to tear you apart, but now they're using human cybernetic technology to do it with. What makes the Cyberdemon so terrifying is that he's incredibly large, incredibly strong, and is essentially equipped with a one hit kill. I mean okay, if you have 200% health, Doom Guy might take the first hit, but he's probably not takin' that second hit. Only experienced players can go toe-to-toe with this behemoth, the rest of you will have to run for you life, taking it whatever shots become available to you. The goat-legged Cyberdemon's discouraging endurance, terrifying attack power and horrifying looks give him a sure position among scariest video game monsters.
8. Michael Myers (Halloween, Atari 2600) - It might seem laughably improbable that an Atari game could do anything in the way of scaring you, but here me out, here. In this game, you essentially wander a house which is a series of hallways, taking children to the safe rooms and looking for a weapon. Meanwhile, every time you enter a room (other than safe rooms) within seconds you'll be confronted by Michael Myers, with an Atari-appropriate version of the classic Halloween theme playing during his screen time, "Dee doo doo dee doo doo dee doo dee doo dee doo doo dee doo doo..." as the collection of pixels known as Michael Myers stalks towards you in a constant stabbing motion with the four or five white pixels that make up his "knife." If he gets you, you'll enjoy a rather humorous animation of your female character running frantically with her head cut off, red dots spewing from her neck. Michael will also decapitate the children if you let him, and I do mean "if you let him," as the game allows you to grab onto the children to take them to safe rooms for points, but you may also decide to use them as bait, as Michael seems more interested in killing them rather than you. So at first this isn't scary, just silly. But as levels progress, and you continue to stab Myers with the black knife you can't seem to hold on to, he gets faster and most aggressive until soon, you can barely outrun him. What's worse is that you'll enter rooms with faulty "wiring" causing the screen to flash from normal to pitch black while Michael's in the room with you. "Oh God, where am I?" you'll wonder and you hope to have run past the derranged mad man, only to find yourself headless once the lights come back on. With time, Michael Myers will make this one of your most stressful experiences in gaming.
7. Mr. Graves (Haunted House, Atari 2600) - And yet another Atari release. This time, you are in yes, a haunted house, trying to escape with all of the pieces of the urn of Mr. Graves. You enter said dead man's mansion and wander around, your character only being a part of eyes. You hit the button to light a match which will give you a small orb of visibility. Only with the match lit can you find items and realistically navigate the black squares and lines that make up this house. So when entering certain floors, you may hear an intimidating noise which could be either thunder or wind. Then suddenly, the ghost of Mr. Graves appears and he blows out your match as he chases you down! Sure, he may look like one of those sheet-wearing ghosts from the cartoons, but this guy's not playing around. Something about the speed and frantically waving arms of this character just gets you all high strung and desperate to escape. Should Mr. Graves, or any of his buddies such as the bat or spider touch you, your little eyes will violently roll around as thunder and lightning strike, costing you one life. This game is considered to be a classic and even prompted a remake on the Wii under the same name.
6. Jason (Friday the 13th, NES) - The Hockey Masked killer we all know and love would get his own video game back in the day, even if it wasn't EXACTLY the best piece of media you could own. One thing that couldn't be denied however is that this game could certainly get a cheap scare in on you. The main idea was that you wandered camp Crystal Lake, killing zombies, wolves, bats, and birds until an alarm would sound, indicating that Jason was attacking either the campers or a fellow counselor. You'd check the map to see which cabin was in distress and race to the location before time ran out. Upon reaching the cabin, the inhabitant(s) would thank you for coming, and then you'd search the cabin in pseudo-3D mode. This is where the scare would take place. As you turned corners and advanced forward, eerie but calm music would play as you found a lot of corners and spaces. And then without warning, a loud and horrifying noise would blare and boom, there's Jason, trying to punch, slice, or axe you to death. You'd use whatever projectile you have to try and defeat him while dodging his attacks, repeating this entire process once he's gone. But Jason doesn't only appear in cabins. Without warning, you can be walking along the dirt road, totally care-free (as the zombies are annoying but far from scary), and them BAM - it's Jason! Hurling axes at you will sporting his baby blue hockey mask and purple jogging suit. Look, I assure you, it IS scary, sometimes. Especially when Jason is randomly in a cabin that isn't even inhabited which DOES happen, which is sort of the genuis of this game. Even if he looks silly, Jason IS very unpredictable and can get the jump on you like he did so many randy teenagers in his classic films. This game will never be noted for it's quality but is noted for its intense difficulty. Taking down Jason is a slow, methodical process that spans three "days" and will likely be fruitless for you in the end.
YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD. GAME OVER.
5. Nemesis (Resident Evil III, Playstation) - This is a character that I myself have never met, but have heard much about. I have never played a Resident Evil game, save for the weird one on the Gameboy Color, so I'm going by what my sister has told me about this guy. In essence, as you play through this game, you are constantly being stalked by Nemesis, a mutated version of Tyrant, or in other words, a big fucking zombie. However, unlike Tyrant, Nemesis has a rocket launcher. How fun. Now when I say "constantly being stalked," I do mean that. At every point in the game you're essentially running from him, and he's never too far away. He'll bust through doors and crash through walls to get to you, all the while never quickening his step beyond a walk. There's nothing like the feeling of constantly being chased, and Nemesis will never allow you a moment of ease, making him a high ranking monster in the video game world and on this list, even if I myself have never met him.
4. Sae (Fatal Frame II, Playstation 2) - This is another example of a character and game I've never experienced, but just hearing about this awful child is chilling in and of itself. The idea of Fatal Frame is that you are attacked by ghosts and aparitions, but you cannot attack them, merely snap pictures of them to harm them. So when you take the powerlessness of that situation, tack on the detail of not having even your camera, and then include a demonic ghost child which will kill you instantly with just a touch, you've got yourself a game that even a horror fan such as myself is not necessarily eager to try and tackle. What happens is that you're in a labrynthine area full of dead ends and little hope. Sae, an evil 15 year old girl who was hung for ritual sacrifice, stalks you while eliciting horrifying laughs and a exhibiting a taste for death. Go ahead, run into a different, close the door behind you. Sae will open it up and follow you right in there. Hide in a closet, hope for the best, but if she thinks he knows where you are, she'll open that door right up. In the split second opportunity you'll have to run, you'd better hope you don't find a dead end, or you will indeed be finished. You can't kill her, you can't hurt her, you can only run. And in most instances, you'll only be delaying the inevitable. This very situation taps into my greatest type of fear when it comes to gaming, and for that reason, even if I am unfamiliar with this character and series, Sae ranks highly on this list.
3. Piggsy (Manhunt, Playstation 2) - "Holy Shit!" is the first thing I remember saying when I first encountered Piggsy at the end of what I often call my second favorite video game of all time, Manhunt. You get the Leatherface experience with this character in slightly different packaging. Piggsy is a crazed, naked man who wears a pig's head as a mask, starring in many snuff films by Lionel Starkweather, an ex direction who essentially owns the city of Carcer. Oh, and I forgot to mention, as you'll find while you're walking down the seemingly quiet hallway of a dilapidated attic-like area of Starkweather's mansion, Piggsy also has a loud, powerful and huge fucking chainsaw, which he introduces to you by running right at you from behind a corner, revving it up while screaming at you. Again, "Holy shit!" Instantly you'll run for the fucking hills while this obese man somehow manages to give you a frantic and brain-scrambling chase, the chainsaw roaring hungrily for your blood. With luck you'll find a shadowed area to hide in, while Piggsy stands just a few feet in front of you, searching the area as the motor of his massive-bladed chainsaw idles, intimidatingly. In fact, Piggsy may even try and trick you into dashing out into the open by revving up the chainsaw once again, even if he doesn't actually know where you are. In time, he'll lumber away to search elsewhere. You'll spend the first several moments of this time paralyzed with fear. When you can blink again, you may inch out of your hiding spot and take the nearby glass shard, trying to see if you can spot the location of the chainsaw-wielding maniac in the distance. You'll turn slightly, looking in a difference, direction, completely unaware than Piggsy has once again caught side of you from another angle until that saw revs up again and he charges you. As your brain and hands freeze in horror, you hope your mental capacity return in just enough enough for you to hold down that run button and get the hell out of there....
2. Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2, Playstation 2) - Pyramid head is easily one of the all time iconic video game villains, and also one of the most frightening. Admittedly, fans of this guy can prove to be irksome, especially if they are mainly familiar with the movie version of him. And sure, at times he may seem a bit overrated, but anyone who's truly played Silent Hill 2 knows that he didn't get his reputation for nothing. This bizarre character wields a huge knife that's so heavy, even he must drag it behind him. Sure, he may be slow, but if that knife does hit you...that's it. It's over. Not only that, but he follows you for the entirety of the game, the very embodiment of punishment. You may call him Pyramid Head, you may call him Crimson Pyramid, but you could also accurately call him the Executioner. No matter where you go, he's waiting for you, an unstoppable wraith hell bent on making you pay for your sins. The giant pyramid which makes up what you know to be his head conceals intentions and thought in a fortess of mystery, as he slowly approaches to put you down for all time. Encountering him in a tight space is the stuff of nightmares, and naturally is the way in which you will most often meet him. The battle you have with him early in the game in the stairwell will have you in a death drip of stress, as you are always no more than a foot or two out of the reach of his Great Knife, vieing for any position that may or may not be available. You'll put clip after clip of bullets in his head before he finally retreats, waiting to confront you again at a later time. And that's the truly horrifying part about Pyramid head. It's not so much having to see or fight him. It's that you KNOW he's going to come back. But you won't know where, and you won't know when. Pyramid Head would be a gross oversight if he were to be omitted from this collection, and although it may be a surprise to most that he doesn't make up the crown of this list, it is certainly expected of him to be positioned very high in the world of video game monsters.
1. Sinistar (Sinistar, Arcade Coin-Op) - "Run, Coward! Run Run Run!" There's only one thing worse than a giant, interstellar juggernaut chasing you down, hell bent on catching and devouring you. And that's hearing him tell you about it. Yes, Sinistar is the original badass of the video game world and with good reason. Never before had a video game villain had such personality and such charisma while being so unstoppable. The idea of Sinistar is that aliens are working to build a huge monster known as the Sinistar, a demonic face among a circular border which flies powerfully and without inhibition throughout the universe. To destroy this beast, you must take your tiny ship and shoot planetoids to mine crystals to make Sinibombs, made from the same crystals which are used to build Sinistar, himself. There is no time to fool around. The sounds of Sinistar's construction act as a ticking clock of sorts as you race to be ready for the monster once he is completed. "Beware, I live!" exclaims Sinistar from somewhere deep in space as he announces his own completion. You pray that you have enough bombs to smash the Sinistar as you race away, Sinistar hot in pursuit. "I hunger, coward!" He shouts, revealing his intentions. "Run, coward!" As the huge monster comes closer, you shoot off all of your Sinibombs. You hear his terrifying screams as the bombs connect. He has taken damage but a moment later you come to the heart-sinking realization that not all of the bombs connected, having been intercepted by planetoids and smaller aliens. And now Sinistar is after you, chasing you down with no distraction, no diversion, and no mercy, knocking planetoids out of his way as if they were mere marbles. He's right behind you, as you race as fast as you can into endless space, twisting and turning, unable to shake him. What will you do? The answer - nothing. You can do nothing now. Inevitably, Sinistar will catch up to you. "RAAAAAARGGHHH!" he roars as your ship spins out of control and is pulled to his mouth as if caught in a tractor beam. Finally, as you enter that terrible maw, his teeth snap snap down, shattering your ship into dozens of tiny pieces. Approximate play time: 35 seconds. It's hard to believe a game like this was available in 1982, and it's even harder to believe the cult following it still has, today. There is perhaps no game that imbodies a seemingly inescapable chase such as Midway's classic Sinistar. Perhaps no other game can instill this kind of stress and fear in the player, either. Sinistar was a game that was well ahead of its time, and Sinistar is a villain that simply can't be matched as a character or a villain. Sure, you can destroy him. But he'll be back. And one way or another...he's gonna get you. Although this character and game may not be expected by many comtempary gamers (better known as 'posers'), as a fan of classic gaming, I feel that Sinistar truly deserves to enjoy the top tier of the scariest video game monsters/villains of all time. He was groundbreaking, he was legendary, and most of all...he was terrifying.
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