When you walk into your local video game proprietor, or begin shopping online, to browse their selection of new and used games, you really don’t know what to expect from the games on the shelves unless you turn them over. You can usually gather what the game is about by simply looking at the tiny thumbnails on the back. Blood means it’s scary and bright colors means it’s kid friendly. And if you’re a real penny-pincher, you’ll go so far as to look at a few reviews or spoiler-friendly videos.
As you play your new purchase, you’ll start to get a feel for what genre it fits into and you begin mentally seeing what may lurk around the next few corners. You’ve fought nothing but zombies up to a point, so it’s only logical that you’ll soon be fighting something similar like a mutated rat or a slobbering janitor with two heads. But, to your surprise, it’s something far from left field that makes you scream aloud in shock. “Ah, WTF,” you say as you search your brain for a way to kill it. This can be true with friendly characters as well. Where some creepy dude will suddenly appear in a seemingly low-key adventure to offer help. What are the most unexpectedly disturbing things that show up?
Warning: some Spoilers lie ahead for these games!
15 The Dollmaker (American McGee’s Alice)
American McGee’s Alice is a dark and twisted loose adaptation of the 1865 novel “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll. I don’t think there is a person alive that hasn’t experienced Alice in Wonderland is some form or another. When you begin playing a game that you think is based upon the story of chasing a white rabbit, you think the antagonist would be the infamous queen of hearts. But then again, you wouldn’t think that Alice would slice up Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum with a knife either.
Our main villain in this adventure, as well as it’s sequel, is the Dollmaker, who is an incarnation of a sadistic doctor hell-bent on ruining all children; including Alice. Murder and child prostitution doesn’t make this four-armed man cringe, in fact he just blames our hero for it all. The black ooze seeping from his eyes makes him incredibly disturbing and it is a question whether Alice can defeat him.
14 Wart (Super Mario Brothers 2)
As one of the founding father’s of gaming, Super Mario Bros. is in a class all of its own. Though not all that terrifying for the most part, we always look forward to the next installment whether it be in space, a 3D land, or just the same old turtle-infested grasslands. Despite being called “2,” this adventure was more of a reboot than anything, which was painfully apparent when you pressed start, picked a character, and saw zero Goombas and Koopas. After that, enemies just got stranger and stranger, from the egg-spitting Birdo to the greek-inspired Hydra. But no boss was as disturbing or unexpected as the last one; no, not Bowser.
Wart was aptly named because he looked as if you were imagining a wart on your finger that could talk and be a king. The green, bubble spewing ruler would eventually expire after being force fed too many vegetables. But that’s okay, because it’s only a dream.
13 Giant Chu Chu (The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap)
There is no denying that The Legend of Zelda is a big fan of blowing things up and I don’t mean with bombs. Making traditionally small things much bigger and more dangerous is Zelda’s bread and butter. The creators of this franchise has done it with spiders, birds, fish, and venus fly traps; just to name a few. In one of Link’s best handheld adventure, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, you quickly meet a talking hat named Ezlo with the strange power to make you the size of an ant.
I was excited to see how inventive they were going to be with the first boss. I was expecting something brand new, but instead got a green Chu Chu; a hopping blob I would yawn at in The Wind Waker. You wouldn’t think something so colorful and smiley would be disturbing, but this oval of sludge definitely was.
12 Medusa’s Head (Castlevania: Lament of Innocence)
Medusa is a Gorgon from greek mythology with living snakes for hair and a stare that could turn a man into stone if her gaze is met. She has made multiple appearances in video games across the board, both greek-inspired and completely fictional alike. The evil winged queen of the Gorgons has even had her fair share of Castlevania appearances, but none as unexpected and disturbing as the one in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. Her sheer appearance isn’t all that surprising, but the fact that she speaks articulately and without hissing moans is disturbingly erie; not to mention her enormous size and that she’s just a head. As a foe, she is one of the most challenging in Leon Belmont’s adventure thanks to her ability to throw stoned soldiers, regurgitate snakes, and her biting hair. Medusa is never a peach, but this time she’s extra disturbing.
11 Anima (Final Fantasy X)
There is no question that Final Fantasy is constantly trying to keep the series fresh with brand new characters and cities in every installment. One of my favorite aspects in the franchise is summons, whether it be Espers, Aeons, or Materia. Final Fantasy has recurring summons like Bahamut, Odin, and Shiva (to name just a few), but sometimes they come up with new ones that make you go, “Oh...neat.”
However, in Final Fantasy X, we met one of the strangest and most disturbing ones ever at the hands of Maester Seymour in the town of Luca during a fight with tons of monsters. It can’t get much more disturbing than a growling demon chained inside a plant pod that shoots energy from its one usable eye, until you eventually see the bottom half, which is an even more disturbing demon that claws at your enemies. The best part is that it can be yours.
10 Sorrow (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
In video games involving war and espionage, there aren’t many surprising characters, because they tend to be quite realistic. Well that's not really the case in the Metal Gear series. However, even though we became accustomed to some insane stuff in the game, nothing could've prepared us for The Sorrow in MGS3.
The Sorrow was a medium in life for the Cobra Unit and was ultimately killed by The Boss by way of bullet in the eye, which caused him to cry blood; it was an unexpected murder. The Sorrow is a rather disturbing individual thanks to his ghostly red eyes and his ability to torture our hero with the anguish of those he has killed. This all transcends into the fight itself, because the more people you kill, the more that tortures you. It's pretty incredible, but also, completely disturbing.
9 Beating Heart (Contra)
As a child, first developing my love for video games, I remember a great side-scrolling shooter called Contra. It had everything a gun loving kid wanted: tons of weapons, co-op mode, and huge bosses. It also introduced me to the famous Konami code and as a 7-year-old, it was a necessity for reaching the end of the game completely devoid of story. Once you reach the final level called “Alien’s Lair,” you’re a little put aback ,not realizing you went from fighting soldiers to aliens. The level is filled with giant alien heads and little spider-like beings that look suspiciously like creatures from the Alien movie franchise.
Then, you reach the final battle with a giant beating heart that pulsates faster and faster until finally exploding. As you race away in your helicopter, you wonder what the hell just happened; truly disturbing and unexpected.
8 The Reapers (Mass Effect)
In science fiction games set in space, you expect many things to make an appearance, such as aliens (obviously), lack of oxygen, and the occasional crew member that loses their mind. In science fiction, there are ships and there are aliens, Mass Effect contains both in a hybrid form called The Reapers. You first hear about them from Turian Councilor Sparatus as he denies their existence, but you soon find out that he was the one that’s wrong. The Reapers are the ultimate villain as not only are they living organic ships in themselves, but they can also brainwash humans after prolonged exposure. Their most disturbing feature is their intelligence and sheer malice for anything that isn’t one of them; their voices aren’t calming either. Even as they lay dying, they continue to harp on the fact that they think they are the right ones and we are the enemy.
7 Lurker (Resident Evil Zero)
It is no secret that Resident Evil has come up with some truly disturbing things to shoot at, from zombified dogs to giants spiders to trolls that look like they're from Lord of the Rings. However, they got somewhat more action orientated over time, so we stopped expecting really disturbing characters. Just before they fully went into the 'action' vein, we got this one.
As one of the last of its kind with tank controls, Resident Evil Zero let us control two characters on a train which people enjoyed, but only because one of them was Rebecca Chambers; a much wanted character. This installment was filled with new enemies such as leeches that could become invincible tar men and various creepy crawlies. The strangest and most shocking is a steroid-infused frog called a Lurker. Hang around water for too long and you'll get a chance to meet this lethargic toad. Just looking at it, you can’t imagine all the diseases in that mouth, but luckily it’ll scamper off with just a few shots of your pistol.
6 Noob Saibot (Mortal Kombat II)
A fighting game wouldn’t be a fighting game without a few hidden characters waiting to be discovered. When it comes to secret characters, Mortal Kombat has never disappointed from all the way back to 1992 with the introduction of Reptile to just a few years ago when Freddy Krueger joined the fray. And the second game was no exception with three secret fighters in addition to the 12 already playable ones.
The most shocking and intriguing character was named Noob Saibot, as he was nothing more than a shadow of a ninja and, though you couldn’t play as him, it was fun to fight this hard to find character because of his rarity and extreme difficulty. Only after winning fifty straight fights did you get the esteemed honor of battling Noob. Now, we know that Noob Saibot is a take on MK's creators names, but then, all we saw was a disturbing shadow who could take us out easily. Scary stuff.
5 Mr. Big (Narc)
Like so many kids in the 80s, I pretty much lived in the arcade and pushed quarter after quarter into the greatest games of the time. In the 20th century, it was technically impossible to get incredible graphics in a home console and we were either forced to hit the arcades or play a lesser version of our favorites at home. One of the fan favorites in 1988 was Narc, a game where you play as a narcotics agent that arrested and murdered various drug dealers on the streets of Washington D.C.
The prologue begins talking about the drug lord Mr. Big and continuously hypes him up throughout the game until the final battle. Finally, you meet Mr. Big and realize he’s nothing more than a giant double-chinned head; hence the name. He’s rather disturbing on sight, then he unexpectedly sheds the flesh and is nothing more than a swinging skull; a great ending to a game about staying off drugs in the most violent way.
4 Zombie Shoguns (Tomb Raider)
One of the first games available at the launch of the first PlayStation was a shoot em up called Tomb Raider and it spawned over a dozen sequels chronicling the life and adventures of Lara Croft. Lara Croft could best be described as a female Indiana Jones that’s packing heat. A few years ago, the series received an overhaul with a more “realistic” Lara Croft and a darker story-line involving dark men wandering an island she’s found herself stranded on. As you play through this adventure, you tend to forget about the originals and the enemies involved.
Suddenly, without notice, you are introduced to a new menace than the first half of the game; the dead stormguards. They are ancient samurais that don’t kill you or the male scavengers roaming the hills, so it’s tough to say if they are trying to protect the island or are an actual enemy. They are definitely disturbing and unexpected when they attack our heroine.
3 Sarlacc Pit Monster (Super Star Wars)
They have been making Star Wars video games since 1982 and over that nearly half a century, they’ve been trying to capture the magic of the movies. Fifteen years after A New Hope came out, Super Nintendo began releasing the trilogy to an enthusiastic audience. I was in fourth grade when they came out and I loved them to death, but one boss in Super Star Wars was extremely unexpected.
In the Star Wars films, we are introduced to a Sarlacc Pit during Return of the Jedi. It’s the first boss of the game based on the first film and it looks nothing like you’d expect from a “pit” monster. At the end of the first stage, a giant worm erupts from a pool of quicksand and you find yourself feeling rather overwhelmed. I kind of wish that this was a scene in the first film, it could have used more disturbing monsters.
2 Darmani (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is arguably the best/worst Zelda game of all time; in fact, friendships have ended over that argument. However, what isn’t deniable is how dark Majora’s Mask is as a whole. The music has an eerie vibe to it, your only friend hates you, and your trusty steed may have been murdered. As you play, you accumulate new items including one from the previous adventure called the Lens of Truth, which isn’t surprising.
What is unexpected is what the magic magnifying glass sees; the ghost of a dead Goron. It’s a truly disturbing moment as you find yourself chasing a ghost through the snowy trails, anxiously looking for answers. You soon find out that his name is Darmani and he has died in order to grant you the powers of Gorons through the magical mask. Definitely disturbing and unexpected, but also for the greater good.
1 Michael Myers (Call of Duty: Ghosts)
What is as disturbing as a demented serial killer? Well, I believe that becoming a serial killer tops being hunted by one. In Call of Duty: Ghosts, there are a fair amount of unlockable characters to gain through various tasks. One such character is armed with an ax and called “swamp slasher,” but you’d know him better as Michael Myers from the Halloween slasher films. If you’ve ever wondered how Michael always seems to catch up to his victims, it’s explained in this game because the masked murderer runs 15% faster than other characters. Your health will even recover after hacking someone to death with the ax as you are stealing their soul. I would not expect this from a first person shooter, but I welcome it with open arms. This is disturbing, unexpected, and a great reason to play Call of Duty: Ghosts (one of the few).