I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got a dark side. Not a destroy-Alderaan-and-remote-choke-people-who-irritate-me dark side, but rather someone who can see the humor in absurd, misplaced violence. In games, of course, not for real!
Anyway, I suspect there are others out there like me, and if you are one of those people, you might enjoy the following list, in no particular order, of comically violent moves or events in video games:
Gears of War 2, 3: The Pinch
I actually wore out a copy of this game―I cleaned it and cared for it well but I played it so much I actually wore out the disk and had to buy another―and one reason why was the pinching. No game has a more satisfying and comical headshot kill than GoW2: the pull of the trigger, the slight shake of the controller, the “splat!”, the disappearance of a head. What makes it wonderful is the reaction of the target―for just a moment the corpse will stand there, or even better, finish the motion from sitting to standing (or swinging a mace or whatever), then just topple over. The moment of suspension is hilarious… if it’s possible for a freshly headless entity to show surprise and bewilderment, there it is.
Grand Theft Auto: Random Beatdown
While GTA in general has many sparkling moments of comic brutality, there’s nothing so satisfying and funny as going on a random, senseless assault spree. I’m sure it speaks to the worst of my character, but opening up a fierce can of whupass on unsuspecting passers-by for no reason at all is both so funny and so satisfying! What’s wrong with me, you say? What’s wrong with YOU?!? You’ve probably done it at one time or another… based on the phenomenal success of the series, I’d wager almost everyone has.
Gears of War 2, 3: Chainsaw Kill
Chainsaw kills are no longer a big deal, but IMHO, GoW2 is still the standard-bearer for the move. Once the kill is locked in and the animation starts, you’ll have about two seconds to enjoy a brief, gleeful display of dismemberment. Well, not so much dismemberment as bisection. Check out the laughable, bobblehead-like motion of the victim! But since when do you chainsaw a guy does he disintegrate into a pile of goo? Well, if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right!
Marvel Super Heroes (Arcade Game): Iron Man’s Proton Cannon
Everyone’s favorite witty billionaire playboy genius superhero has a ridiculously ostentatious Infinity Combo (a.k.a. super move). Once his Infinity Gauge is full, he’s able to summon a giant, shoulder-mounted proton cannon―which just drops out of the sky, btw―with which he blasts a massive energy beam that takes up about half the screen and lasts for what seems like 20 seconds. Even blocking the attack causes a lot of damage, which is not surprising, as it should atomize any living creature caught in the line of fire. Toasty!
Mortal Kombat 2, 3, etc.: Fatalities
Do I really even need to go into detail here? The over-the-top, snort-producing fatalities of the MK series became the very reason to play the game. Just about any way you can think of to kill your opponent after winning your match is represented. My favorite is the classic Sub-Zero Spine Rip, but there are plenty of others from which to choose.
(Dis)honorable mention goes to the Brutalities, which are so over-the-top as to be cartoonish. Anyone for ribs?
Tekken(s): Yoshimitsu’s Harakiri
When I first performed Yoshimitsu’s Harakiri move it was by accident, and I was so stunned and amused I lost the match without me landing another blow. I had played a lot of fighting games theretofore, and my understanding was that striking the opponent was the best way to ensure victory. That belief, which I didn’t consider to be a questionable one, had worked quite well for me. So I was completely dumbfounded when I saw my fighter take his sword, point the blade at his chest, and run himself through. Only later did I realize that it also hurt my opponent, but up until that time I was awestruck with the absurdity of the move.
Bulletstorm: Whip, Kick, Repeat
A game that I enjoyed immensely, Bulletstorm never hit it big. But, if you don’t have it and you’re the type of person who really likes to severely punish your enemies for daring to resist you, I highly recommend you pick it up. Early in the game the protagonist (Grayson Hunt) adds an “energy lash” (something akin to an electric whip) to his arsenal. It allows the gamer to lash onto an enemy, yank them airborne, kick or otherwise punish them while they are briefly suspended in slow motion, then re-lash them for further beatdown. Over and over! And you can kick enemy thugs about a hundred yards. There are plenty of dangerous items in the terrain you can use as landing spots, like electrified fences and giant grinding wheels.
Oh, and if you work with a partner and you both lash the same goon at the same time, you can literally rip him apart. Mmmm… chunky!!
Road Rash: Crash
If you remember the Road Rash motorcycle racing game series on the Sega Genesis, you probably remember the difficult task of navigating wildly snaking roads while traveling ridiculous speeds on your favorite crotch-rocket… and trying to avoid a crack on the noggin from other riders while doing it. What made this a special experience was the wipeouts on the more advanced levels. When you crash at triple-digit speed, you go flying. And flying. And flying and tumbling and rolling and flying some more! You roll and bounce for what must be miles, and emit a few comic, strangled screams along the way. Seriously, no one could possibly survive that, much less leap to their feet and run back to their cycle for another go at it. Once you’ve crashed once or twice you’re too far behind to win, so at that point, you might as well punish your rider some more… throttle up and prepare him to taste the road!
RAGE: Windshield Launch
What a great game! Plenty of violent deaths here. The mood is *mostly* serious, certainly so when you cruise through the wastelands, trying to avoid (or trying to hunt) the random assortment of psychopaths driving well-armed dune buggies. The atmosphere is tense even between encounters, as you drive through severe, mostly barren terrain and a whole lot of silence. That’s why it’s extra fun to ramp up to full speed and slam into the nearest mountain! You finally get to hear your voiceless protagonist scream, and it’s a hoot to see Mr. Strong-and-Silent yell and ragdoll through the windshield and into the rockface like an angrily disgorged chewtoy. Wait… is that too much? Am I disturbing you?
Dragon’s Lair: All Deaths!
Ah, Dirk the Daring. How many times did I kill you with a poorly-timed press of the button or movement of the joystick? Thousands, probably! “Poorly timed” is relative, of course, because you had to hit everything just perfect, or within a millisecond of perfect, in order to progress through the game. But the wonderfully tragicomic death animations have never been equaled in a video game. I never realized how many there were until I recently checked, and boy did that bring back some memories! Some funny, wonderful, agonizing memories!
OK, well, that’s my list! Clearly, I am a disturbed man, but I’m fine with that. Feel free to comment with a list of your own. Don’t be ashamed to show everyone how much comedic pleasure you’ve taken in the vicious death or beatdown of a computer or video game character that may or may not have had it coming. As long as it’s all bits and bytes and not real fights, it’s all good!