So, I just got done playing through DuckTales: Remastered, which ended with something I don’t recall seeing recently — a game-ending escape sequence. You know, those bits after the final boss has been defeated where the evil lair starts crumbling, or the space station starts self destructing and you ONLY HAVE SECONDS TO ESCAPE. They’re stressful as all hell, but if done right they can also be incredibly memorable and leave you feeling deeply satisfied should you make it out alive (or deeply rage-filled if you don’t).
Here are a few of the video game escape sequences I’ll never forget…
Note: I’ll try not to delve too deeply into plot specifics, but we’re going to be talking about the ending sequences of several games here, so SPOILERS are unavoidable.
Star Fox 64
Game-ending escape sequences are always tense, but often they’re not terribly difficult — the ending to Star Fox 64 is an exception. At least for me it was. The final level of Star Fox 64 consists of a tough-as-hell dogfight followed by a very drawn out boss, so you’re already totally drained by the time you hit the escape sequence, which has you racing as fast as you can through a narrow branching corridor as you attempt to keep up with another ship. Lose sight of that other ship and you’re screwed. Bump the sides a couple times or go down the wrong path and you’re screwed. There’s very little room for error.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
There aren’t many escape sequences more epic than this one. Flaming rocks falling everywhere, the vulnerable princess (actually, Zelda is invincible, but she seems vulnerable) tagging along the whole way, and then just when you think things are going well and this won’t be too hard, the damn game throws Stalfos and those awful screaming zombie guys at you! Arrrgh! Are you trying to give me a heart attack Ocarina of Time?
So, you get to the end of Bionic Commando and pop Hitler, er, I mean Master D’s head, but the game doesn’t let you bask in the fact that you just killed the most evil guy of all time. Nope. Now you have 60 seconds to escape! Oh, and halfway through you’re attacked by this Robocop-looking assface. This escape sequence is short, but it took years off my life.
Final Fantasy VI
Sometimes a game being slow-paced can make an escape sequence even more nail biting. Take the escape from the floating continent from the end of Final Fantasy VI — you really don’t have that far to go, but your guy moves so slowly and you’re constantly being waylaid by long-winded random battles. Getting off that floating rock is guaranteed to be six of the most excruciating minutes of you life.
Resident Evil 2
Speaking of escapes being made even all the more unbearable due to a slow pace, pretty much every Resident Evil game ends with a sequence in which you race against a countdown clock while desperately cursing the game’s controls. Hell, the Resident Evil games usually take things a step further, tossing in an extra boss battle or two during the final escape sequence. For my money the various endings to Resident Evil 2 are still the series’ most stressful, if only because the game has the gall to pile multiple timed escape sequences on top of each other.
Well, of course this list ends on a Metroid game. The Metroid series pretty much invented the escape ending, and almost every game in the series has had one. Now the original Metroid probably had the most challenging escape, but Super Metroid’s ending is definitely more memorable. Few things in this world make you feel more badass than blasting through the entire Zebes underground (which you just spent 20-hours hacking through) in under three minutes flat.
So there are my picks. Any particularly memorable/nerve-shattering escape sequences you think I missed?