I have a bit of a confession to make with this post: You see, I already made this list and uploaded it onto my Tumblr account about a couple months ago. That said, I don't have much else to comment on in the gaming world at the moment, as I have just moved back into college and won't have as much time to dedicate to my favorite pasttime once cIasses start. In the meantime, enjoy this self-indulgent list of mine.
I've been playing video games for about as long as I can hold a controller with my own two hands, and there was almost no game that I didn't play. Given that I was pretty young when I started out, this led to a lot of games legitimately terrifying me to the point where I needed to have someone else play the game for me so I could see more of what it had to offer. The sad thing is most of the games that scared me back in the day weren't even trying to do so; rather, it was my own imagination that kept me paralyzed in fear for several years. On the other hand, I really haven't been scared by a video game in ages, and I've played quite a few so-called "horror" games in that time. Even if a modern game manages to unnerve me, however, I doubt they could ever freak me out as much as these 5 games did.
#5 - Resident Evil 2
The lowest-ranked game on my list is ironically the only one that could be ****fied as a horror game. Resident Evil 2 was a game my dad rented for me one day, and the first time I played it was an event I'll never forget. Right from the start, you're immediately attacked on all sides by zombies, and in my inexperienced youth, I had absolutely no idea how to deal with them. I kept fumbling with the controls, but all it led to was me walking into the zombies and getting munched on. Eventually, I saw the game over screen, which showed the character getting painfully eaten alive by a group of zombies. I was so scared, I literally backed out of the room, too afraid to take my eyes off the screen.
The last time I played Resident Evil 2 was well over a decade ago, but by that point, any fear I had while first playing the game was completely gone. Through multiple rentals, I had seen enough of the game to know what to expect as well as learned how to actually defend myself against the monsters. In fact, none of the other Resident Evil games were able to scare me anymore, whether they had the same gameplay styIe as 2 or played completely differently like Resident Evil 4.
#4 - F-Zero
What could be so scary about F-Zero? I mean, it's a futuristic racer with bright graphics and an emphasis on speed. Well, truth be told, there was only one thing that freaked me out about this game, but it was terrifying to me. Whenever your vehicle ran out of power or fell off the course after hitting a jump ramp, it would explode with a large "BOOM!" sound effect. The camera would then move forward a few yards, and then turn around showing the smoldering remains of your car. It may not seem like much, but as a kid, that was downright terrifying to see yourself screw up so horrifically. I couldn't tackle even the first race because I was too scared of flying off-course from hitting the first jump ramp.
Again, this is something I'm largely over. I downloaded F-Zero from the Virtual Console a few years back and was able to smoothly race through all the tracks without much trouble. That said, I've always averted my gaze whenever a crash occured.
#3 - Banjo-Kazooie
I already elaborated on this before, but even games as kid-friendly as Banjo-Kazooie could have the potential to freak me out. What got to me in this case was the fear of the unknown. Gruntilda's Lair, the major hub of Banjo-Kazooie, was filled with lots of secret tunnels and corridors, and about 99% of the time those areas led to something that would help you out. Unfortunately, I didn't know that, so I assumed that there would be some kind of super-freaky thing ready to jump out and make me jump through the roof on the other side. Not to mention there were places where the camera would be zoomed right in on Banjo and the entrance as he entered, and I was simply too freaked out to even move the camera for the same reasons. Then there was Mad Monster Mansion, a level taking place in a haunted manor filled with traps and nearly-invincible creepy-crawlies.
Once I finally discovered what was behind all the corridors and rooms in BK, however, I immediately got over any crippling fear I had. Just recently, I went and played through the game again, and even got all the Notes and Jigsaw Pieces in every level, which means that my fears for this game are well and truly in the past now.
#2 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
There's so much freaky material in Ocarina of Time that I won't be able to describe it all in one post without rambling, so I'll go with the scariest parts: Back when I first discovered the Tomb of the Royal Family inside the graveyard, I had no idea of what awaited me inside. In the second room is the first time you meet the redeads, quite possibly the scariest monsters in gaming ever. They don't look like much, but get too close to them and they give a loud shriek that paralyzes you. They then proceed to slowly walk towards you and then strangle the life out of Link. That stuff was grade-A nightmare fuel back in the day, and that's not the only place they appear, either. They're everywhere when you go to the Hyrule Market as an adult, and they also make frequent appearances inside the Bottom of the Well and the Shadow Temple, two places made solely for the purpose of freaking out the player.
But again, the fear of the unknown also got to me here as well. Hyrule was littered with holes that led into caverns, some helpful and others…less helpful. What freaked me out about these were two things: 1.) The eerie hollow music from Inside the Deku Tree, and 2.) the fact that they were empty save for you and a chest about 95% of the time. Again, it's a case of my imagination scaring me more than the actual game. I've since grown out of my fear for this game as well, although I still whip out the Ocarina whenever I hear the moaning of a redead.
#1 - Super Mario World
Closing out this list is the game that by all accounts should not be scary, but absolutely was to me. Super Mario World was one of the first video games I ever played. It was back at that age where even something moving too fast could be enough to make someone jump, and believe me, there was a metric ton of things in this game that gave me nightmares. Most of it was just little stuff that nobody would likely bat an eye at: Things like Mario hanging in pitch-black mid-air after he wins against a boss and the music stops, to the unsettling music when in the Forest of Illusion. The little thing that freaked me out the most was the keyholes. Certain levels had a key and a keyhole you could take it to to find a secret exit to the level. When you bring the key to the hole, the keyhole suddenly grows huge and then swallows Mario whole. As a kid, witnessing such an event without having any prior knowledge about it was borderline traumatizing. The only thing that freaked me out in Super Mario World that was meant to be scary in any way was the Bowser boss fight. He rides atop a gigantic floating device with a creepy clown face on it that gets mad when you hit him enough times. To this day, it remains the only clown face that I've ever found scary.
The reason this game is number one is because even now, I'm still not 100% over this. Even though I can go through the game with little trouble now, I still can't watch when I take the key to the keyhole, and sometimes in the middle of the night when I'm not thinking right, haunting images and songs from the game will invade my mind and get my heartrate going. Not exactly the most pleasant images to think of when you're trying to get back to sleep. I guess you can never fully get over some traumatic experiences from your childhood. Oh well, I'd rather have it be of something as isolated as one video game if it's going to be something that haunts me for the rest of my days.