Welcome to the Fear Factory
You know that advert for a certain brand of frozen foods with the stupid Polar Bear? The one that lives in people’s fridges, judging their choice of foods and pestering unsuspecting suckers on holiday. Cute and cuddly for some; makes me want to punt the TV with my foot and hide behind the sofa. But why? As Brian Conley would say, “It’s a puppet”. It can’t hurt me.
People can’t help but have quirky fears. And it doesn’t help when games developers keep slipping in the odd red herring to keep sales of brown underwear on the rise.
I’m not talking about your obvious horror – you know, things that go bump in the night and then eat your face off when you come to seek out the source of the noise. I’m talking about the things that you know can’t hurt you really, but that creep the hell out of you nevertheless. Here’s a little list I spent some horrible agonising time compiling.
MIMI from SUPER PAPER MARIO
Oh good God, where do I start. From a game that looks like Mario-branded fuzzy felts came this vision of horror. She looks like a cute little girl, talks like a cute little girl, then her head spins around and legs grow out of her torso like a cute little…um…oh. And her war cry is her own name. She’s a master of disguise, but if you’re smart enough (i.e. over age 3) to see through her masquerade then you’ll realise you’re leading your comrades to her spidery brand of doom.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 3
THE SEGA CHORUS from SEGA GAMES SERIES
Everybody knows this, surely. That choral sound whenever you booted up a game on your Sega console. SEEE-GAAA! It’s jaunty, it’s classic, it’s bloody horrifying. No, hear me out: it is. It doesn’t even sound like people, and when I try and imagine it as a choral piece I imagine a bunch of doomed and vengeful spirits trapped inside my Dreamcast, ready to burst out in the night a wreak revenge on the girl that forces them to sing against their will. Even the ‘lighter’ version, used before later games such as Sonic 3D Blast, doesn’t dispel my fear either. Or is it just me?
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 6
MAJOR BURROWS from SUPER MARIO GALAXY
For all his chubby Italian charm, Mario is a repeat offender when it comes to bowel-shattering weirdofear. This boss takes the form of a giant mole. Sounds harmless, right? Not if you consider that in reality moles are squinty little creatures with massive claws and snub noses. This is a giant cartoon version, and you know how cartoons exaggerate reality? And have you heard the noise this thing makes? Imagine the cries emitted by Brian Blessed as he is encased in carbonite, a la Han Solo. It’s chilling.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 2
COFAGRIGUS from POKEMON BLACK/WHITE
This little sod puts the ‘Monster’ in ‘Pocket Monster’. I mean, look at it: it’s a coffin. With arms. And if you look at its PokeDex entry in Black Version: “It has been said that they swallow those that get too close and turn them into mummies.” Surely in order to train these Pokemon you have to get close to them? Yeah, that’s right, their trainers. I don’t know about you but I’m burying this one in the storage box system and never getting the bugger out again.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 5
GAME OVER MUSIC from SONIC SERIES
I had an ex-boyfriend who was a walking train wreck apart from his taste in games (hey, doesn’t everyone?). One day he confessed to having a recurring nightmare: he was playing Sonic and died mid-level, only to find the end-game music got stuck on the last note. He turned off the game: it didn’t stop. He turned off the console, unplugged everything and ran out of his room but still the sound followed him all the way, droning in his ears. He couldn’t hear anything else, just the last note of that Game Over music. I wasn’t convinced until I played the game again some time later, and as much as I hate to admit it, he’s right.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
RABBIDS from RAYMAN SERIES
I had a rabbit a few years ago. Her name was Misty; she was pure white, timid and cute, and the best thing about her was that not once did she open her jaw up to three times the width of her own face and scream “DAAAAAAAAAH!” in a blood-curdling voice. I used to like Rayman as well; I could even see past the slightly creepy way his arms and legs were separate from the rest of him. And now you’re expected to make these eldritch abominations sing, dance and play party games avoiding the glaring fact: they’re freakish. You expect to find them crouched over the corpses of their own kind, eating the entrails.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
THE SMOKY PROGG from PIKMIN 2
Ah, nothing like trawling through the landscape with a herd of Pikmin as your wards. Ooh look, a butterfly. Ooh look, a lovely pool of water. Ooh look, an egg. Let’s smash it open. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT. It looks like a ghost’s abortion. Make it go away, Olimar. I suppose that’s what you get for smashing up eggs.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
Author Terry Pratchett once explored the notion of bad dreams in his writing, and he came up with the idea that the worst nightmares are normal things gone wrong. Everyday objects turning evil. Amen, Terry.
Night night, sleep tight. Don’t let your alarm clock bite.