With Halloween nearly here, it’s time to take a look at the darker side of Nintendo. There’s no room for Kirby, Donkey Kong, or Animal Crossing here. From full-on horror games to some of Nintendo’s first-party lineup, there are plenty of scary moments to highlight. After all, who doesn’t love a good fright? Here are my five scariest Nintendo moments.
5. Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
I never played Metal Gear Solid on PlayStation. My only experience with Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece was from a demo disc. Needless to say, playing Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was a must. After years of hearing praise, I rented the remake from Hollywood Video on launch date. I’ll never forget reaching Psycho Mantis. An otherwise engaging spy thriller quickly turned into a frightening experience when Psycho Mantis mentioned games I’ve played. From Super Mario Sunshine to Eternal Darkness to my love of specific genres, he knew everything. I couldn’t figure out how to beat him until my cousin told me the trick. Despite the game being over two decades old, I won’t spoil the solution. That being said, Psycho Mantis is a boss battle way ahead of its time. The fight is brilliant, tense, and features some of the best fourth-wall breaking in gaming. The fact that Hideo Kojima thought of such a groundbreaking fight in 1998 further proves that he revolutionized the industry.
4. Bottom of the well – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game I ever played. Link’s journey was full of adventure, memorable characters, and fantastic dungeons. What I didn’t expect was to be scared out of my mind at 9 years old. About halfway through the game, players drain the well in Kakariko Village before climbing down the structure. Inside, Link finds the Lens of Truth, an item that allows him to discover invisible paths and even enemies that the human eye can’t usually see. The score is haunting, the corridors are ominous, but the kicker is Dead Hand. You fight the terrifying enemy shortly before getting the Lens of Truth. Since 1998, this enemy has been burned into my memory. Long hands shoot out from the ground and attempt to grab Link. Once that happens, the menacing creature slowly moves toward our hero and tries to bite him. The battle isn’t particularly difficult, but the experience is one of the many haunting moments that make The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time such a fantastic game.
3. The Moon crashes into the earth- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is Link’s second outing on Nintendo 64. It’s notably different from Ocarina of Time and features an intriguing premise. The moon is slowly crashing into the earth, and Link must stop it from doing so within three days. He uses various masks with unique abilities to solve puzzles and beat enemies while utilizing the ocarina to reverse time. What’s terrifying about Majora’s Mask is how menacing the moon is that is threatening to decimate the world. Its bulging eyes, broad nose, and rotting teeth make the moon bone-chilling. It’s possible for the player to let time run out, ultimately allowing the moon to destroy everything. The final moments are somber, with bells ringing every few seconds before a depressing score overtakes the scene. Failing to reverse time shows players a scene where the thriving town is destroyed in a fiery blaze. While not scary in jump-scare kind of way, the bleak tone will leave any player feeling hopeless.
2. Encountering the Crimson Heads – Resident Evil
The remake of Resident Evil is one of the best horror games ever created. While the original PlayStation release is iconic, the GameCube remake improved the classic in every way. Capcom added new areas, vastly improved the graphics, added more to the narrative, and introduced players to Crimson Heads. These zombies are some of the scariest enemies I’ve ever seen in a video game. If you think slow zombies are stressful, just imagine ones with super speed. Crimson Heads spawn when you “kill” a zombie by normal means. If you decapitate a zombie or make it so that the monster can no longer move, you’re okay. Additionally, you can also burn the zombie to prevent reanimation. The problem exists if you shoot a zombie down and just leave it. Revisiting earlier areas can be tougher if a Crimson Head enters the picture. These zombies are tougher, faster, and require more ammo to kill. Not only do you waste resources, but they can also chase you through multiple rooms. You’re never really safe when Crimson Heads are around. Resident Evil is about item management and survival. Crimson Heads require you to “burn through” ammo, making the experience a lot tougher. My heart skipped a beat the first time I encountered these, and 16 years later, they still make me jump out of my seat.
1. Your game has been… deleted? – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Eternal Darkness is one of my favorite video games. It revolutionized the horror genre, and I believe it’s a must-own GameCube title. The various sanity effects are what Eternal Darkness is known for. From photorealistic bugs crawling on the screen to bloody images, Silicon Knights created a game meant to get under a player’s skin. One sanity effect, in particular, pushed me over the edge. When saving your game, you may be met with a message that reads, “Are you sure you want to delete all of your Saved Games?” Hitting no (continue without saving) will start the deletion process. After the meter hits the end, Alex screams, and you then realize it’s a sanity effect. I’ll never forget the yells I let out while thinking that all my progress was gone. Eternal Darkness knew how to mess with the player. While not horrific per se, nothing is scarier than losing countless hours of progress.
My scariest Nintendo moments
I love horror games and the Halloween season. Nintendo consoles have their fair share of scary moments. What are some of your favorite scary moments in Nintendo games? Be sure to let me know what you think of my top-five list, and what you would put on yours.