Posted on May 27, 2012 AT 06:44am
Sometimes a game can surprise you with a moment or aspect that just does not feel at home. The following list contains what I think are the creepiest moments in a game (or series) that is for the most part, friendly for children or at the very least, not expected to be eerie at all. Minor spoilers throughout the list.
10. The Mad Piano – Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was a revolutionary game that changed the blueprints for all future 3D games, especially platformers. Its vibrant colors, quirky soundtrack and expansive levels were all examples of typical Mario charm being brought to the bleeding edge of technology. But, there’s a terrible monster lurking in Big Boo’s Haunt, one of the levels, that clashes with the child-friendly nature of the rest of the game. The Mad Piano sits alone in a room with a red coin behind it. Oh hey, no worries right? I’ll just grab it and…
Nope, fuck that, keep your coin.
9. The Pentagram Children of Goldshire – World of Warcraft
Goldshire is a small settlement just outside of Stormwind, the human capital of Azeroth. Aside from some giant spiders, paranoid kabolds and a few bandits, the area is pretty peaceful. It’s likely you’ll see a group of children walking about, but you’ll think nothing of it and continue your questing. But if you do some exploring at the right time, you’ll find these children on the second floor of the leatherworking trainer’s house. You can then notice that they are standing in the shape of a pentagram. A coincidence for sure…until you realize that there is an eerie music playing only on that floor. You may catch some strange sound clips as well, including a voice saying “you will die.” They do this on a schedule every day. Worst of all, if you happen to be using the Quest Helper mod, you’ll find that you are 666 yards from the Stormwind entrance.
8. The Scarecrow’s Toxin – Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman is known for being somewhat fearless, or at least stoic enough that you can’t tell. However, in Arkham Asylum, the Scarecrow manages to get under his skin not once but three times, with each successful strike being a more depraved hallucination. These range from finding his parents corpses in a morgue (where they speak to him) to having the whole game seemingly crash and restart only to find that Batman and Joker have switched places. Peeling walls, skeletons and a vulnerable Bruce Wayne goes to show that fear, when utilized, is a deadly weapon.
7. Dastardos – Viva Pinata
It doesn’t get much more whimsical than Viva Pinata. A cutesy little game where you attract animals (pinatas) through various means and manage a garden. It’s an interesting, and surprisingly difficult, game that was meant for children. There are very few characters, but they all have a specific purpose to fulfill. Your tutor is Leafos, the daughter and sister of Jardinero (your mentor) and Seedos (your…seed provider) respectively. It is revealed through backstory that Jardinero had another son named Stardos. One day, while Jardinero was away, Stardos wandered off into the jungle at a man named Lester’s suggestion. He ate “sour” candy, which completely tainted him and stripped him of his sanity. He then became Dastardos, a pinata grim reaper. Whenever a pinata is sick and the doctor is not called in time, he appears, floating through the garden, donning a horrifying, twisted mask. Perhaps the creepiest part is that no one knows Dastardos was formerly Stardos, they just assume he was lost in the jungle never to return.
6. The Winter Lodge – Fable II
In the Fable games, there are Demon Doors – gateways to rewards that can only be opened through a specific action or accomplishment. One such door is just before Bloodstone, and once you open it, you are taken to the Winter Lodge. As you approach it, it gives off a happy glow as though there is a fire roaring inside with people comfortably celebrating some occasion. Snow gently falls outside. The house is really all too inviting. But, as soon as you cross the threshold, everything changes and you’re left with what could only be described as a disaster area with bones strewn about. It’s startling, but mostly, it fills you with a tinge of despair.
5. ReDeads – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
ReDeads are zombies that stand with horrible posture, rooted to the spot with empty eyes trained on the cobblestones under their feet. When Link walks by them though, a shriek is heard and he is frozen in place until the ReDead is able to shamble toward him and leap onto him piggyback style. I’m not really clear on whether he’s being choked out or bitten, but neither makes the situation any better. Their black hole eyes and open mouth serve as one of the most disturbing things from my childhood. The clincher is their horrific moaning that will be etched into your brain. It is chill inducing.
4. Milla’s Nightmare – Psychonauts
Another very endearing and odd game about a camp for psychics. One of the variety of collectables in the game are in the form of vaults which contain memories that were locked away or hidden by the person they belong to. As Raz, you have the ability to travel throughout people’s minds and have access to these memories. The memory locked away by Milla, a super perky, party-loving camp counselor, gives us a glimpse into Milla’s life before the camp. She worked at an orphanage and cared for the children there, but one day lost them all to a fire. Very serious stuff for the usual tone of the game. But then you find an entrance into that memory, which leads you into a pit surrounded by spirits desperately pleading for help. An overlapping child’s voice asking “Why did you let us die?” is not something easily washed out. I had to lock that one away in a safe of my own.
3. The Broodmother Song – Dragon Age: Origins
When the Warden and his companions enter the Deep Roads in search of the Paragon, Branka, they aren’t sure what to really expect. As you fight your way through darkspawn and other animals, you can’t help but get a strange feeling in your gut, as though something bad is coming up (and not in the traditional ‘there’s a boss soon!’ way.) When zigzagging through the small tombs and corridors, a voice becomes audible along with a terrifying and creepy song. The dwarf, now a victim to the darkspawn’s plans, drones on about a horrific process involving her fellow dwarves. The chant is your only warning of what you should prepare for, though, I doubt you’ll really be ready.
2. Blue Loses a Companion – Pokemon Red/Blue
If you ignore the idea that people are catching and forcing animals to fight for money and sport, Pokemon is a pretty innocent and beloved franchise. Red and Blue, the first games to come out, featured the player as Red while the rival was Blue. As has been the case since then, the rival chooses the Pokemon your starter is weak to and every so often the rival will challenge you. This takes a very odd and morbid turn in Red and Blue. When Red reaches Lavender Town, you’ll be met by Blue who is coming out of the Pokemon Tower (a seven story building that is essentially a graveyard for Pokemon.) Blue implies that one of his Pokemon is now dead and that he was at the tower grieving. It seems like it could be a throwaway comment until you battle him, and you realize the Raticate he had for most of the game is no longer there. It makes sense to assume this means his Raticate has in fact passed away.
1. The Entire Game – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I could spend hours talking about the oddities and general sense of malaise you get from playing Majora’s Mask. After a rather turbulence-free adventure through Ocarina of Time, you’re thrown into the land of Termina, where everything is upside down and disfigured. You could say that Termina is like the Wonderland to Hyrule. In Termina, the land is due to be destroyed in three days by the moon which is rapidly falling towards the earth, fully equipped with a horrible smile. On top of that, the main antagonist is an ancient mask that’s taken control of someone. Link, too, can use masks to transform, but only after they’ve taken the soul of someone dying. The constant clock and general feeling of dread that’s spread through Termina are very jarring in comparison to OoT. The Happy Mask Salesman, no doubt one of the most mysterious characters Nintendo has, has his own aura of creepiness due to his seemingly omniscient knowledge and violent outbursts. The game focuses around the idea that Link can collect masks that do different things, though since every NPC is a doppleganger of some sort from Ocarina, you get the feeling that everyone is wearing a mask of their own and that anything could happen at any moment. It’s very unnerving and surprisingly thought provoking, as though the world is a 2D reenactment of the one Link’s used to.
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