With everyone’s favorite radioactive lizard monster stomping his way back into theaters over the weekend, we here at GamesBeat have beasties on our minds. Video games just wouldn’t be the same without a colorful assortment of demons, robots, and rogue animals of various sizes to provide obstacles to overcome and frustrating dead ends that lead to controller throwing and the calling down of curses.
Here are our picks for the most memorable creatures we’ve ever fought — or been — in our gaming careers.
Managing editor Jason Wilson
Final Fantasy’s Cactuar
I bet most of my colleagues are picking big, scary monsters. My favorite monster isn’t big and sure as hell doesn’t look frightening — in fact, it’s kinda cute. But it can be scary — especially when these cowardly creatures stick around instead of running away and launch its devastating 1,000 Needles attack, which deals 1,000 points of unblockable damage. And in some Final Fantasys, Cactaurs have 10,000 Needles, an even stronger attack. If you blunder upon these critters when you’ve got less than 1,000 hit points in many Final Fantasy games, you may poop your pants worrying about a party death.
News reporter Jeff Grubb
Pretty sure I was supposed to pick an enemy monster for this, but the giant gorilla you play as in the classic arcade game Rampage was the first monster that came to my mind. Sure, he’s just King Kong with an extreme 1980s makeover, but I didn’t care. It was just awesome to get to play as a giant, building-destroying creature for once rather than having to kill it. I guess what I’m saying is that don’t we all really have a monster inside of us?
Well, mine will punch through a window and eat you while you’re using the toilet.
Staff writer and community manager Mike Minotti
Any colossus from Shadow of the Colossus
When I think about giant monsters in video games, one title immediately jumps to mind.
The PlayStation 2 classic Shadow of the Colossus had players climb, outsmart, and ultimately murder over a dozen memorable creatures. Each encounter was intense and epic, so I’d really have a hard time picking a single one. Whether I had to jump from my horse onto a flying serpent or grab onto an unsuspecting giant’s beard, they were all some of the best bosses in gaming.
Plus, despite being gigantic monsters, they all have a sympathetic quality that still haunts me.
Writer Giancarlo Valdes
Zombies Ate My Neighbors’ Giant Babies
Don’t let their looks fool you: These mutant babies are pure evil. They’re 2 stories tall and can squish you before you even get the chance to pull out your water gun. I played a lot of Zombies Ate My Neighbors on my Super Nintendo as a kid, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get past them, even in co-op.
Hell, just thinking about them is getting me angry again … and I haven’t touched the game in almost 20 years.
Writer Evan Killham
War of the Monsters’ Kineticlops
I loved this PlayStation 2 fighting game that pits every stock beastie against each other in mortal combat. It had them all: a giant gorilla, a big lizard, two huge robots (one Japanese and one courtesy of the U.S. Army), and even an overgrown insect for fans of films like Them! and The Deadly Mantis.
But War of the Monsters also had Kineticlops, which is nothing but a giant eyeball with arms and legs made of lightning. It came to be when a hapless security guard received a powerful zap from a flying saucer that had crashed into some power lines.
I don’t know where the eye enters into that scenario, but come on. It’s a goddamned electric eyeball.
Writer Rory Appleton
The F.E.A.R. series’ Alma
Alma isn’t really a bad girl per se, but she’s still the scariest psychic/demonic child I have ever seen.
Nothing is creepier than laughing or crying children who pop up out of nowhere to mess with you. I never really knew if I was supposed to shoot her repeatedly or give her a hug. The Alma Factor is even worse in F.E.A.R. 3’s multiplayer, where my friends and I would be clearing waves of soldiers and crazy hellhounds only to have Alma pop up around a corner and end our game. She harkens back to old-school survival horror. You can’t fight her; you simply run and hope for the best.
Moderator Chris Hoadley
Chrono Trigger’s Lavos
Sometimes, the scariest monster is the one that grows and festers until it’s too late to stop it.
Chrono Trigger is a fun time-travel tale until our heroes land in a desolate future brought about by the space parasite Lavos when it emerged after eons spent under the Earth’s surface. You can jump to the doomsday date of 1999 and challenge the monster at any time after a certain point, but its brute power alone will demolish you and ensure that the bleak future will still occur. Even a high-level team of heroes from across time struggle to break though its multiple forms and defeat the leech once and for all. And just like Godzilla, Lavos has one of the most iconic screams in pop culture.
Writer Stefanie Fogel
I was going to pick Silent Hill 2 baddie Pyramid Head, but then I realized that I find one video game monster more compelling and scarier than a hulking, mannequin-raping personification of a man’s guilt: humanity.
Whether it’s The Walking Dead’s Bill Carver, Outlast’s Doctor Trager, or even Silent Hill 2’s own Eddie Dombrowski, humans often have the capacity to be crueler, crazier, and more frightening than anything game developers can dream up.
What are your favorite game monsters? Be sure to let us know in the comments.