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I will now face my ultimate video-game fear.
It's not the regenerator from Resident Evil 4, or one of the splicers from Bioshock, or even a mutated fisherman from Cryostasis.
Actually, it’s from…The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
I'm talking about the redeads.
When I was a child, these strange zombie creatures gave me multiple nightmares. Their screeching wails froze Link, and they also froze me as a player. The suggestive way they hopped onto Link’s back is something that cannot be unseen.
My first encounter with a redead occurred when I was only nine years old. I had just reached the Hylian Royal Family's tomb. Inside, I heard strange sounds and noticed green gasses floating in the air. Through all that, I spotted some hunched-over people who seemed human.
“Talk to him,” my brother encouraged. Okay, sure. The tomb hadn't been open for generations, but I walked over to one of the figures anyway. From that point on, I never looked at Ocarina of Time the same way again.
Link stopped in his tracks and the redead leapt onto his back with extraordinary ease.
At this point, I threw down the controller, covered my eyes, and waited for it all to end.
Looking back, the unexpected nature of the redeads is what really scared me. Up to that point, the game never gave me an indication that it would incorporate aspects from the horror genre. I thought I could talk to anyone who resembled a human and not worry about negative repercussions.
With the Zelda series, you expect to conquer dungeons, defeat bosses, and collect items. You don't expect to feel fear. When this happens, the effect is multiplied. Nintendo created the redead to push the norm.
I also think that my age at the time had something to do with my reaction. Nowadays, I'm able to enjoy things that scared me as a kid — including looping roller coasters and Resident Evil titles.
Redeads used to frighten me, but now I like them, even though they can still give me chills. I’m not embarrassed to admit that as an adult.