With Halloween right around the corner, it's time to bust out the pumpkins, fill the candy with razor blades, and read a thousand different "scariest games of all time" lists on the internets. But ours is different, promise! Here, among CraveOnline's "20 Scariest Games of All Time" list you'll find a scare-tastic mix of the conventional and the not-so-conventional. But we don't want to ruin the surprise. Instead, let Joey Esposito, and myself, Erik Norris, guide you through the horrors that await.
::Presses play on the "spooky sounds" tape::
If you dareeeeeeeee.
20. Hugo’s House of Horrors
Admittedly, I spent more time typing in innapropriate commands for Hugo to perform ("do it with Penelope"….I’m sorry, I do not understand!) than I did actually playing most of the game, but what I did play was quite spooky. There were three iterations, the original Hugo’s House of Horrors, and the sequels Whodunnit? and Jungle of Doom. As you can probably imagine, Jungle of Doom was full of frightening creatures like bengal tigers and snakes, and that stupid bitch Penelope was in trouble yet again. Come to think of it, one of the scariest parts of this game is how god damn stupid Hugo’s girlfriend is, and how moronic the man would have to be to continue seeing her.
Then again, if he doesn’t understand the command "do it with Penelope", what can I really expect?
19. Fester’s Quest
Uncle Fester alone is one of the creepiest things to hit video games since Michael Jackson, but throw in god-awful gameplay mechanics and endlessly respawning enemies, and you’ve got one of the most intensely frightening experients on the NES. And because it’s so damn hard, I’ve never gotten very far. Uncle Fester, aliens, and the fact that the town’s biggest hope is for Uncle Fester (Fester the molestor…anyone?) to save them from an alien invasion makes this a game that can give you nightmares until the day you die. Or get molested by Uncle Fester, either/or.
While definitely not a scary video game in the conventional sense, Q*bert was still terrifying because of those damn slinky snakes always chasing you around. Nothing was more frightening than racking up a metric shit-ton of points to have one of those tricky bitches drop onto the board and start chasing you around. It became a frighteningly intense game of cat and mouse. Making the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 look like a complete pushover pussy in comparison.
17. Nightmare Creatures
Though incredibly outdated now, Nightmare Creatures actually had a legitimately gothic art design that added a sense of creeptasticness to it. There’s a devil worshipping cult taking over the world, and its obviously up to you to stop them. Except, they’ve got an army of…nightmare creatures (mwa ha ha) in your way. The game wasn’t survival horror, but the intensity was delivered through the adrenaline bar that required you to keep fighting or your health would diminish.
Another scary aspect to this game was trying to get the PC to version to work on your family’s less-than-stellar PC. Or renting it on Nintendo 64 out of frustration only to discover that the FMV movies that were merely sluggish as all hell on your shitty PC were completely removed for the sake of cartridge space.
…I mean, come on.
15. Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing
If you can think of a more horrifying concept, please, enlighten me. He’ll lure you in and gut you fast.
14. Resident Evil
The best thing to say about Resident Evil is it was really the first game to effectively use the patented cheap scare tactic, and use it well. Crows flying through windows. Dogs jumping through windows. Seriously, replacing the windows in that mansion must have cost a fortune.
And what would you do when something did bust through a window looking to gnaw off your balls (or boobs if you were Jill)? You would try your damnest to evade with the clunky controls, precisely implemented that way to capture "freezing up" when scared. Oh, how I wish that were the real reason the controls in Resident Evil games were like a nightmare in and of themselves.
13. Friday the 13th
Though it used to make me jump out of my seat when Jason would swim by at lightning speed whilst rowing on Crystal Lake, the real frightening aspect of this game is that it never, ever ends. No matter how many times you fought and killed Jason, the game continued. I suppose that gives it a strange accuracy to the source material, but nevertheless, once you turn on the power to your NES you are in Jason’s world for good.
12. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
So I’m cheating a little bit here, but Zombies Ate My Neighbors is like the video game quivalent of Evil Dead II. It’s not really scary, but by default it’s always included for sheer awesomeness. Not only does LucasArts throw in every single horror movie cliche in existence, you also get badass music to kill by (see our Top 10 Video Game Music Themes list). One genuinely scary aspect of the game is how many freaking levels there are, racking your nerves the longer you play, making you more prone to pee yourself when those scary chainsaw guys come chaising after you.
It’s all in jest, of course.
11. Clock Tower (North American Version)
Where most survival-horror games give you the means to blow away what’s making you piss your pants, Clock Tower only let you turn into the Neve Campbell character of the story and run like a little girl to hide. Most scenarios played out like this: you’ll be solving a puzzle when the creepy, midi music would kick in and ol’ Scissorman would slowly limp his way onto the scene, snipping his giant bloody scissors. This lead to you crapping your pants and feverishly pointing and clicking you way in the opposite direction. You would find something to hid behind and sit and wait until Scissorman reached your location and pray to god he didn’t find you. If he did; you lost your head. If he didn’t; you survived to live the same experience over and over again. Clock Tower was one of the first Playstation titles I ever played and hooked me on the horror gaming genre, even though there wasn’t a moment that went by playing it that I didn’t want to cry.
10. Dino Crisis
What’s scarier than zombies with shitty controls? Dinosaurs with shitty controls! ‘Nuff said.
Please don’t misconstrue my meaning, there is nothing scary about this game – or the films – as far as its content and scenarios go. Nothing. What terrifies me about Saw is the American public’s willingness to eat up shlock in place of actual horror. This should be the plot of a horror game in and of itself. Imagine: you are the last soul left on the planet Earth that truly understands and appreciate what makes something genuinely scary, and you are forever left to battle your way through a sea of unintelligent garbage while trying to make the mindless turds that surround you to see the light. Terrifying.
8. Doom 3
Don’t fool yourself, the original Doom and Doom II weren’t scary. At all. Doom 3 changed that, exponentially. At the time it pushed the pc to it’s absolute limit, draping the eerie industrial halls of Mars in shadow and sending the player into an absolute crap-shoot. Mars was also apparently chalk full of "monster closets," tricking you into grabbing an item from a seemingly harmless area only to have a god damn monster jump out of nowhere, as if it was there with you the whole time just biding time until you picked up that new weapon before jumping out and scaring the piss out of you.
7. Pokemon Snap
If you check out a lot of other gaming website’s "scariest games of all time" lists you’ll find that most include a title or two from the Fatal Frame series. Now I have no business with that series, haven’t played a-one. But I have played Pokemon Snap. And sometimes those vicious little critters get a little too close to your on-rails rover.
Officially the first real survival-horror game, Frogger put you in the tiny webbed shoes of a frog trying to cross a terrifying highway and a river filled with alligators just to get to a doorway leading to absolutely nowhere. There was no happy closure for this little fellow, you jumped through the doorway to oblivion and started over, and over, and over. Frogger is essentially a social commentary on all life; revealing a truth that shows there is nothing beyond the great fabled archways. Horrifying.
5. Dead Space
Now the pinnacle in survival horror video gaming, Dead Space is a true fright-fest. Just try playing this game for longer than an hour with the lights off and the sound booming. If you were able to, odds are you sent at least $30 on new underwear the next day. Isaac Clarke might have been a speechless hero by the time the final credits rolled, but that mining suit was most definitely filled with his salty tasting tears and enough shit to fertilize an entire farm for months. It’s hard to discuss this game, because there isn’t one certain point that ranks higher than any other in the scare department, but maybe that’s a testament to how well paced, and how frightening this game was all around. Your heart is beating a mile a minute for the entire twelve hour experience.
4. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Any game with the subtitle "Sanity’s Requiem" is obviously going for a crap-your-pants experience. And Eternal Darkness didn’t disappoint. Whether it was the game’s unique "sanity effects," or the game’s terrifying story that spanned centuries, Eternal Darkness easily ranks among the best horror video games ever made. It’s also saying something when you still see "3:33" on a clock and get chills.
Do you know how many times I pooped my pants during the course of this game? 27. If you do the math, Bioshock is, on average, about 15 hours long. That means I shit my pants approximately 1.8 times every hour. That’s a pretty good rate of poopage.
From "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" to "Would you kindly?" everything uttered in this game gave me the willies, not to mention the environments, oh LORD the environments. Peeps hanging and gutted, faces blown off; it was glorious. If you haven’t gotten your pants wet from playing this game then you need to. Would you kindly take a dump in your britches?
2. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is responsible for making two grown men cry simultaneously. That would be Joey Esposito and I. Since the Silent Hill games were nye impossible without a strategy guide, Joey would take the position of navigator, while I handled the controller, and we would huddle around the television and attempt to be "men" and play Silent Hill 2. What ended up happening was after about twenty minutes we would be hugging each other in a pool of our own urine. Mainly because pyramid-head is the single scariest villain to ever appear in a video game. Him showing up was pretty much insta-poop.
It also didn’t help that everything in Silent Hill 2 was covered in a thick haze of fog, not allowing you to see the horrors in front of you until you’re directly on top of them. And just to screw with gamers, Konami also included a condemned children’s hospital with laughing kids and ghoulish zombie nurses. God Konami, you guys suck.
1. Dr. Ruth's Game of Sex
As though an old (old) German woman speaking about vaginas and orgasms wasn’t horrifying enough, Victory Games Inc. thought it would be prudent to release Dr. Ruth’s Game of Sex back in the mid 1980′s, during the peak of Dr. Ruth’s popularity. Essentially it was a sexuality quiz, but as a child, what the hell did I know? Before I got an NES, my main gaming platform was the awesome Commadore 64, which for some reason, my family owned Dr. Ruth’s Game of Sex for. There were many times that I attempted to pop the disk into the drive and magically catch a glimpse of pixelated boobies, but every time I was foiled by one of my many sisters or a parent coming downstairs. I have a feeling that if I were to have successfully gotten into the game, I would have been scared into asexuality by the terrifying mug of the titular Dr. Ruth.
She’s a smart lady, but it’s straight up scary hearing someone with wrinkles say "stroke" (in reference to sex, not the cerebrovascular attack, which wrinkled people actually reference quite often) or "penetration".
(Photo by Mike McGregor/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)