If there is one thing gaming has done, it has been bringing monsters, both real and imagined, to life in a way no other media has done. We can face dragons, demons, and all other forms of evil or oddity across various titles and series. Yet some remain with us forever, haunting our dreams, making us laugh, and fueling our gaming experience with adrenaline and panic. While others have foundicon status, becoming a visual representation of their series. So here is a small look into the origin or purpose of some of the most iconic creatures in major franchises. (All information has been based on canon information and may not reflect on games that distort the main timeline.)
The Licker (Resident Evil 2): This is one introduction I will never forget, having never played any game in the series before Resident Evil 2. Walking down a hallway full of boarded windows and silence, except for the player’s own footsteps. You round a corner to hear the drip of liquid hitting the floor. When the player moves close enough to a small puddle, the cut scene activates. Here you come to find the puddle is blood dripping from the ceiling. Canon tells us this creature is one of many failures in Umbrella’s experimental tests with the various viruses introduced throughout the series. In this case, it is the G-Virus, with the subject’s body reversing itself, organs becoming exposed and no longer vulnerable to a normal attack, teeth becoming sharp knife-like points and the tongue becoming a spear reaching up to 10 or 11 feet like a frog catching a fly. Even in the original graphics, it was an epic reveal. The brain showing in full glory and well-done detail, with lungs on its back like armor to match, with its slithering tongue dripping blood and saliva, letting you know it means business! It was a remarkable and terrifying creature that truly never got what it deserved in the games nor the movie, quickly being brushed aside for other monsters and sub-bosses.
Pyramid Head aka The Red Pyramid (Silent Hill 2): No monster list would be complete without this big guy! The pyramid helmet-wearing, sword/spear-toting, gore-covered monster has become iconic in the franchise. So much so that he was brought back several times throughout the series. Though his role was never as the main antagonist except in the game of his introduction, Silent Hill 2. His popularity has reached such heights that the games creator openly tweeted his wish that he had never created the monster at all. Presumably because he, like the twisted nurses, has overshadowed countless other great monsters, with three or more new monsters introduced per each installation. Either way, he is not one to ignore or forget. Representing James needing to be punished for failing Mary, he lurks in dark hallways, corners, and tunnels, waiting to sneak up on James and scare the player throughout their navigation of the twisted town and its residents, killing both people and monsters alike. Nobody is safe!
THE WHOLE FREAKIN’ WATER TEMPLE!!!! (Zelda Ocarina of Time): One of my favorite games to ever come out of Nintendo, or well, any console really, this Zelda installment brought a whole new layer of cringe to fans of the series. Within the game, it becomes necessary to visit temples in order to put the land back to the way it is supposed to be. You easily fly through the fire temple, laugh at the Woodland temple’s weak attempts to stop you, and then meet THE WATER TEMPLE. This is the only location in a game that I consider a monster all of its own. A truth that would be a repeat offense throughout the series. However, this one tops them all. Between nonsensical raising and lowering water levels to the need for iron boots that you have to take on and off soooooooo many times, this was hell on earth for a kid of 8 in a time where there was no online walk-through to help you out! Even revisiting it as an adult, I often consider just saving and leaving it to rot when reaching this location, but sadly, my dedication is too strong! It is an awful test of fandom and logic!
Cactuar (Final Fantasy VII): This one is the scourging nightmare of any Final Fantasy fan. Found in the Corel Prison Desert, this little guy packs a major punch. Randomly encountered, he appears mild at best. A little knee-high cactus, doing the mailman as he waits his turn. Then it happens….1000 needles… This little desert plant turns into a Gatling gun of needle spines, and it does max damage every single time at 1000 hp per use and up to ten uses per battle, making its grand total on this ability alone 10k hp. NO, THANK YOU! Did I mention it is also element resistant? That fire you love so much is useless! Usually, if the player can survive three rounds, the Cactuar will run off, leaving them with empty hands and battle scars. It is best to just run when able and avoid the desert as much as possible until you’re ready for this guy’s war tactics. They are a killer; kills usually will only result in 259 gil and a weak item, if anything.
Hades (GOD OF WAR 3): God of War as a series has had no shortage of amazing creatures and villains. Set in ancient Greece, when gods still ruled over man with an iron fist, influencing their day-to-day lives like playing chess, it was ripe with the opportunity to place an interpretation on old myths and put faces on the gods we have read so much about. However, none were quite as impressive as Hades, god of the underworld and brother of Zeus. Appearing as a large demon with horns protruding from a massive spiked helmet atop a badly scarred body covered in chains, Hades is an impressive reveal. His chained blades, called the Claws of Hades, are equally as impressive, flowing with electrical energy. They fly with speed unmatched by any other weapon in the game and come with a wide array of combo abilities making them one of the most popular weapons in the series. A deep rumbling voice, he is the perfect tool of death and horror. The series has never matched him.
While this is a small list, it is not by any means complete. So many great monsters have been introduced in gaming over the decades, and more appear every year! Whether it is pokemon or a huge slobbering beast of utter destruction, each one has its place, importance, and special place in the heart of fans around the world. Feel free to leave a comment telling me monsters you think deserve a spot on a future greatest monster list. Take some time to hunker down with some of the other amazing content and authors we have to offer.
Until next time, BeccaWolf, out.