Game Over screens — obviously they’re something you want to avoid if at all possible, and over the years a lot of game makers have really tried to emphasize that fact by making their Game Over screens as creepy, weird and bloody as possible. Even relatively mild games will sometimes spring a surprisingly graphic Game Over screen on you, just to encourage you to stop sucking.
So, in honor of this spoooky time of year, here’s 10 of my favorite bloody and/or creepy Game Over screens…
thanks to GameOverContinue for putting a lot of these Game Over screens up on YouTube
Ninja Gaiden (Arcade)
This list wouldn’t be complete without the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden. For the most part Ninja Gaiden is a fairly harmless ninja brawler, but if you die suddenly Eli Roth takes over the game and you have to watch as a buzz saw descends on a weirdly detailed Ryu Hayabusa. If you don’t pump a new quarter in on time the screen is drenched in red. This game came out in 1988.
Resident Evil 2
All the Resident Evil games have pretty solid Game Over screens, but for my money Resident Evil 2 is still the best. The way the game switches to an empty black background and the music cuts out so you only hear the chomping, screaming and squelching really emphasizes the gruesomeness of your demise. The blood spattering the screen is also a nice touch.
Street Fighter II
The Street Fighter series doesn’t have a reputation for being particularly violent, but the Game Over screens for the original Street Fighter II were surprisingly brutal. In a lot of ways, the Game Over screens trumped anything in Mortal Kombat — yeah, Mortal Kombat was more over the top, but when you lost in Street Fighter II your character really looked like they’d been through the wringer. Their injuries looked realistic and their pain seemed real. Well, except for Blanka, but his weird eye-bugging animation was pretty off-putting in it’s own way.
So, what’s a Disney platformer doing on this list? Well, Disney’s Tarzan partially stars Tarzan as a kid and so features numerous Game Over screens of said kid tumbling to his death against a stark black background. They even add some grim touches like Tarzan’s monkey buddy coming up and checking his pulse before letting his limp arm flop to the ground. Whoever developed this game were clearly not enthused to be working on a licensed Disney title.
The Strike Series
EA’s Strike series (Desert Strike, Urban Strike, Jungle Strike and so on) was, for the most part, totally generic. I mean, blowing things up with helicopters was fun enough, but there was just very little personality to be found in the games — until you died that is. For some reason all the Strike titles have these disturbing, frankly kind of depressing Game Over screens featuring nameless soldiers lying face down in the dirt. They were weirdly out of place in games that were otherwise all about causing as much mindless destruction as possible.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
As we’ve established, you don’t need to be a gory horror game to have a disturbing Game Over screen, and Majora’s Mask may be the ultimate example of the E-rated game with a “Argh! What the hell?!” death screen. The first time you see that giant skull shaped moon descend from the sky and wipe the earth clean with a cleansing fire you’re left slackjawed — and the game inflicts it on you dozens of times before you finally save the world.
A lot of the games on this list have Game Over screens that don’t seem to fit with the game they’re in, but falling to your splattery death in your underwear with the message “Love is Over”? That’s pretty much perfect for Atlus’ weird, psycho-sexual puzzle game/relationship sim.
XCOM: UFO Defense
The original XCOM already had a pretty dark, weird ending on PCs, what with the hideous mutant freaks and all, but the Playstation port of the game upped the crazy level considerably. I can’t do this Game Over justice with mere words. Just watch.
Silent Hill 3
For a series that’s otherwise so disturbing, the Game Over screens for most Silent Hill games are usually merely okay. The exception is Silent Hill 3, which has all sorts of twisted deaths in store for Heather Mason. The most disturbing Game Overs are the ones that involve the creature named Valtiel, who drags Heather off in a very, uh, unwholesome way when she dies. But don’t worry, Valtiel’s actually a good guy, so there’s nooothing to worry about.
The Oregon Trail
Hey, if s–tting yourself to death isn’t disturbing, then what is?
There’s my 10, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to creepy Game Over screens — what are some of your favorite/most childhood warping ones?