After playing terrifying games like P.T. or violent games such as PAYDAY 2, a bit of light relief is a necessity. Grab a puzzle platformer or the latest Nintendo title, and all your recent anxieties about the ghosts of murdered mothers and unborn fetuses will drift away. But then there are moments in these games that can be just as traumatic. Here’s a look at the top five brutal deaths in games where brutality shouldn’t really exist.
5. Earthbound – Ripped Apart By Spirits
Granted, Prince Poo didn’t die here, which is why it’s so low on the list. This would be at the top had he died. In the game, Prince Poo must undergo spiritual training, which I guess means ghosts tearing Prince Poo’s spirit self limb from limb (or sense from sense). The game is light-hearted outside of a few dark moments, and this was definitely one of them. Even though it’s only in text, the scene finds other ways to get to you.
Even without an actual death, you can see why this makes the top five.
4. Super Mario 64 – Drowned
This one always gets me, and it’s not just that drowning is a particularly horrible way to die. Drowning in Sonic was the easiest thing to get over; after the (admittedly stressful) music plays out, Sonic just throws his hands up and sinks off the screen. Not so in Super Mario 64. Mario wretches and grabs his throat for several seconds before beginning to float, and at that point, you’re thankful to see Bowser’s stupid laughing face eclipse the gruesome scene.
3. Frogger: He’s Back – Shredded by a Lawnmower
If you’ve had the good sense to find a PC port for this game, good on you, and you’ll know how tame most of the deaths are. Usually, it doesn’t matter if Frogger is hit by a car, eaten by a dog, drowned in the river (which doesn’t really make sense, now that I think about it). The same death animation will always play: Frogger flattens out and a red ring expands from his body. That’s some kid-friendly dying, right there. The only exception occurs when Frogger gets hit by a lawnmower, and the result is exactly what you’d expect from a large frog encountering such a machine. Considering how far his body gets spread around, the enemies in He’s Back are having frog legs for dinner whether they like it or not.
2. Crash Bandicoot – Skewered by an Obstacle
For the most part Crash Bandicoot has the tamest death animations I can think of. Touch an enemy, and Crash’s soul leaves his body with angel wings on an ascent to (presumably) Heaven. It’s almost a happy ending, no matter how many damn times you’ve died, that you can comfort children with. Other times, Crash doesn’t even die. He just sits there dumbfounded until I guess he decides to go back to the beginning to have another go at it, apologizing to the scores of unconscious beasts in his wake. It’s not surprising then that the most brutal death in Crash isn’t even his own.
In one of the levels where Crash gets to ride a hog, you’re tasked with jumping over a spiked pole. Simple enough. But mistime or forget about the jump, and your hog get stuck on the pole like background decoration. The worst part is how the hog squeals as the sharp blades pierce his spine for a quick, but terrifying end. And Crash? Well that bastard just flips over the pole and lands on his back, staring up at the sky like an idiot before finding another other white meat to murder. PETA-philes beware: this video contains graphic content.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Stabbed through the Freaking Skull
If you want the prototypical example of brutality in an otherwise tame game, it’s Wind Waker. Its one black mark is the final battle with Ganondorf. Evidently, Link had all he could stand of Ganon laughing and taunting him throughout the fight. Completely fed up, Link takes his giant sword and jams it in the top of Ganon’s stupid cackling head. If you listen closely, you can hear the exact moment the life leaves Ganon’s body. Rated E for Everyone!