Halloween lets you pretend to be someone else for a night, but video games let you do it every day. And you’re always the monster.
For every virtual quest-giver insisting that you’re the hero of legend, there are a thousand digitized corpses proving that you’re worse for their computerized world than a plague of magnets. So sit around the virtual campfire, save your progress for a while, and read this file about how your most beloved heroes are virtual history’s greatest monsters.
Mario is the classic movie monster: he kills wherever he goes. He mostly kills with physical violence, and no matter how many times he dies, he’s back for bloody revenge. Drop him down a pit, drown him, burn him, beat him to death with a flying hammer. It doesn’t matter, because his last act is to leap off the screen so that—in true horror villain fashion—there’s no body. And if there’s no body, he’s not dead. And no matter which level, world, or even galaxy his enemies flee to, he’ll hunt them down. He’s Mario Myers, the utterly unkillable plumber.
He’s even got a distinctive murder method: crushing victims beneath his feet. Like most movie murder methods, it’s ridiculously impractical but terrifying for anyone who finds the bodies. He psychotically charges into new lands to kill beings who’ve never done him any harm. Look at Super Mario Bros 1-1. Those mushrooms and turtles were just out for a walk! Most of his enemies would peacefully walk their whole lives away if he didn’t leap in to crush their dreams (by crushing their skulls).
He even draws power from their painful deaths. Not just one death, or two, but if he can chain together eight brutal flattenings in an exponentially escalating orgy of death, then he gets an extra life to keep going. That’s the exact plot of most slasher movies (and just like slashers, he also gets a sequel if he collects enough coins). He’s even made the horror movie leap into 3D, and he’s used the third dimension to kill far more than Freddy Kreuger and the Saw franchise combined.
Mega Man, the noble hero who saves the world—by ripping chunks from his murdered victims and stitching them into his own body so that they can kill their friends. He’s not a robot, he’s a Franken-Borg-cannibal. Imagine the horror of Electro-Man’s last sight being Mega Man killing him with his own dead friend Cutman’s severed head-blades.
Mega Man’s entire existence is psychological horror. He personally proves that these robots aren’t expendable drones, but could be independent beings with their own hopes and dreams. The story usually says that the bosses have been reprogrammed by the evil Dr Wily. But instead of repairing those victims, or simply shutting them down, he blows them into expanding spheres of bits so that he can rob their corpses of the only things that gave them any identity. He’s the only sentient being in their world who knows that the villains are thinking, feeling beings, who are just as much victims of the real villain as everyone else, and he doesn’t tell anyone so that he can steal their silicon souls and use them to kill more robots.
Pac-Man is a Sarlacc monster that can chase you, with an endless hunger that will never stop, can never be filled, and as a ghost, you’re locked in an inescapable maze with him. And even though you’re dead, he can still eat you. And that’s still no escape, because a tiny escaped fragment of your soul is forced into another ectoplasmic body only to be hunted and consumed again. Worst of all, that enduring fragment is nothing but your eyes. So that even double-death doesn’t interrupt your endless view of your infinite prison.
During this endless ectovorous orgy of spectral flesh, you’re forever surrounded by bits of food you can never eat. Pac-Man’s maze is a haunted house built on several hells combined, most of them the torturous Greek ones built by gods with nothing better to do than come up with appalling punishments. We’re not sure how Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde managed to annoy Hades this hard. Or how they got stuck in a sealed labyrinth with an endlessly hungry electro-minotaur. Or the Tantalus-torment of all the food.
Even when they manage to stop Pac-Man, it’s only for a second. He vanishes, only to reappear all over again. Even Sisyphus didn’t have it that bad. At least his giant spherical nemesis wasn’t trying to eat him.
Link is every Japanese horror movie combined into one blonde little package. He’s a family curse on the Ganondorf bloodline. No matter where Ganondorf settles, a Link will be spawned to destroy him. And in the finest tradition of horror, the Link always inhabits a cute little kid. Which you see on a screen. He’s The Grudge and The Ring incarnated across every possible fantasy world.
No matter how huge an empire Ganondorf assembles, it counts for naught, for the Link is always coming, always advancing, always getting closer to killing him. All the material might in the world is pointless. Armor, weapons, soldiers, castles, an entire kingdom, the Triforce itself, everything is useless against the unstoppable curse of the Link.
The Link Follows.
The slashers are scary, the aliens are atmospheric, the monsters gooey and gorey, but the ultimate creatures in horror are the Lovecraftian Elder gods. Beings so far beyond their victims’ understanding that they can never be defeated, never even comprehended, for to experience the least glimpse of their attention means certain doom, as the vast, undefeatable things will destroy without ever bothering to even notice their prey’s fear. And in the video game world, the Lovecraftian gods are YOU.
You existed ages before them, because you turned on the console. You exist across all possible worlds, across every time, and if their world exists, it’s only because they know you’re outside looking in. Their feeble minds seem stupid to you. Clumsy little things following obvious patterns, utterly incapable of perceiving your nature, and you sneak up and drop hand grenades into their pockets just because you can. Their minds can’t comprehend your evil. Their tiny flickers of awareness gutter and dim, blocking out the trauma, taking only a few seconds to forget that you’ve killed all their friends, as they return to their pointless patrol route and await your fatal arrival.
In fact, you’re worse than the Lovecraftian gods. They don’t care about their victims. You do it on purpose. You called their entire plane into existence at the press of a button just so that you could destroy everyone in it. You’re the ultimate evil god, summoning them to do nothing but die for your pleasure. You’re the greatest and most sadistic monster in the entire history of virtual monsters.