You never want to encounter a game over screen during a game, and it’s usually because it signals that you’re about to get sent back to the beginning of the game. However, some developers make game over screens so bone-chillingly creepy that you want to avoid it just to prevent the mental trauma.
What makes these game over screens so nightmarish? Take a look at the following most disturbing game over screens, and see for yourself.
When I played Tarzan as a kid, I expected a lighthearted game that involved swinging through the jungle and hanging out with wild animals. While I did get to have some fun, the game over screen made me never want to play the game again.
You play as the child version of Tarzan at the beginning of the game, and that makes the game over screen that much worse. As soon as you die, you’ll see an image of young Tarzan’s limp body on a pitch-black screen.
Depending on the part of the game you’re in, a monkey or elephant will sadly look upon the corpse. This disturbing scene then gets followed by a grim screen that reads “Game Over.”
2. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Getting a game over in Majora’s Mask is literally the end of the world. When you don’t reverse time within the span of three days, the creepy-looking moon will crash into Termina, leaving Link to burn as the town turns into a ball of fire.
You’ll then see Majora’s mask behind a wall of flames as it slowly fades away. This is then followed by ominous cackling, and a screen that reads “You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”
At least in Majora’s Mask you don’t get sent back to the beginning of the game—the Happy Mask Salesman simply resets the clock for you, and you have to start at the beginning of your previous time sequence.
3. Luigi’s Mansion (Beta Version)
If you ever played Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube, you probably remember the classic “Good Night” screen that pops up every time you die. Although this screen was a bit unsettling, it doesn’t compare to the original game over.
The beta version of Luigi’s Mansion was never released, but the game over sequence has since been leaked. I can’t even imagine the fear this screen would strike in me if I were to play this version as a child.
When you die, the camera pans out, showing the dark outline of the mansion and the gate in front of it. You’ll then see Luigi enveloped in shadows. Lightning flashes, lighting up the screen and Luigi’s ghastly face—his face appears elongated, pale and has completely soulless eyes that will forever mar your mind.
4. Ninja Gaiden (Arcade Version)
Now I see why people wanted to keep putting coins in the Ninja Gaiden arcade game: to avoid the gory game over sequence. Well, maybe the game frustrated some people so much that letting the game over scene run its course gave them some sort of sadistic satisfaction.
The game over screen consists of Ryu Hayabusa tied down with rope, while fanged monsters overlook him. You’ll see the screen count down from ten, encouraging you to continue in the most disturbing way possible.
As you run out of time, so does Ryu—the saw above him slowly approaches his midsection. When the clock hits zero, the screen gets covered by a curtain of blood, signaling that Ryu has been chopped in half.
5. Final Fight
Final Fight itself isn’t a particularly gory game. It involves a lot of punching and kicking, but it’s nowhere near fear-inducing violence. That’s why the game over screen comes way out of left field.
Like the Ninja Gaiden arcade game, Final Fight really wants you to put more coins in its machine. When you get knocked out for the last time, you’ll see your character tied up with chains.
To make your character’s situation worse, dynamite is strapped to their body. The fuse burns more as the timer counts down, and your character begins to look more and more distraught. If you let the timer hit zero, the screen will flash, resulting in the gruesome death of your character.
6. Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 on its own is scary—trying to survive in a world full of disease-infested zombies doesn’t sound appealing to someone who hates horror. Its game over sequence matches the game’s inherent dark and dreary feel. Even if you don’t flinch easily at horror movies, you might get chills watching Leon and Claire’s deaths.
When a zombie manages to kill you, your character gets transported to a black screen with said enemy. In the death animation, the zombie basically slaughters your character and proceeds to feed off of it. Blood splatters across the screen, followed by a blunt phrase that reads “You died.” To make it even more gut-wrenching, you’ll have to listen to Leon and Claire’s screams as they get devoured.
If you think getting killed by a single zombie triggers a scary cutscene, try getting killed by multiple monsters. In that case, you’ll see your character get consumed by several zombies.
The More Chilling, the More Memorable
As much as you might hate disturbing game over screens, they give a ton of personality to a game. You can tell a lot about the game’s developers and overall theme just by watching your character die. It might sound weird, but it’s true!
Encountering a game over screen once or twice isn’t a big deal, but losing over and over again can make you feel frustrated. In these hardest levels in video game history, I’m sure you saw that game over screen more than you ever wanted to.
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