We’ve all had that moment. I don’t normally play horror games, it’s just the little slice of the overall genre that I don’t connect with very well. I’ve played through a handful of horror games, but they always seem to get me just that much more scared than a movie would. Resident Evil 1-4, parts of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly on the original Xbox (I bought it as a collector, had to try it out), and others like Alan Wake have caught my attention. But we’re not here today to talk about the horror games out there. That’s a different entry for another day. Today we’re talking about the frights of games that aren’t supposed to be scary.
Sure, there are sections of games that might be scarier than others; but this is more of a personal account of times I’ve been scared by games, including Pokémon. Yes, I’ve been frightened by Pokémon before. We’ll start with the moment that might’ve scared me the most though.
Never Play Fallout 3 Without Audio, Ever
Fallout 3 was a religious experience for me. Whether it was the atmosphere, the entire map, or just the story, the game was perfect to me. Bugs and normal Bethesda game issues aside, I got addicted to this game, hard. The environments and setting of the game lends itself to some pretty tense moments, and the various Vaults are actually pretty scary at some points. The most frightening moment for me though, was just a normal walk through the Capitol Wasteland. Back in high school, I would either play my games while listening to music, or browsing YouTube watching whatever videos of the day. So I didn’t have the game sound on. To compound that, I’d play with headphones on, so my parents wouldn’t have to hear me blare Iron Maiden or Judas Priest all night.
Well what happens in Fallout 3 when you don’t listen too carefully to the game?
A Deathclaw (pictured above) scares the shit out of you. Deathclaws are the most fearsome and dangerous enemy in the game (besides the one guy in the Capitol building armed with a mini-nuke launcher). So when they come up on you, you better be ready.
I was not. And I shrieked like a small child when I turned around to see one lunging at my character.
In a game full of experiences, moments, and story beats, this is what I remember most from the game. A Deathclaw sneaking up on me.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Gets Real Spooky, But Not Actually
This one is more about the atmosphere and hunt for something that isn’t there. I, like many of you, played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as a kid. It’s not my favorite GTA game, but it’s the one that shaped my gameplaying love the most. I still remember the day it came out, and popping it into my fat PS2. The rumor everywhere at the time was that you could find the mythical Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti in the game in the mountainous region of the game, Mount Chiliad. It was so prevalent, that people ended up making entire guides to try to find the thing in the game.
I heard at school about a kid saying he had found the mythical beast in the game. You just had to search around Mount Chiliad at this certain time, on a certain day, with a certain weather pattern. Luckily, you could cheat the weather, and time pretty easily in the game. Piece of cake, right? This all centers around the “Hot Coffee” mod for the game that made it so you and CJ’s girlfriend could have sex ON SCREEN in the game. Queue up teenage boys trying to see simulated pixel sex.
The game’s first version (the one I own) can still have this mod accessed, but the later versions of the game do not. These later versions of the game led to speculation that other content was still accessible in this new version. Enter Sasquatch.
It’s Not About The Kill, It’s The Thrill Of The Chase
The entire mythos of the surrounding countryside area in San Andreas fits this myth of the Bigfoot in the game. There are plenty of “spooky” secluded forest areas where this mythical creature could theoretically reside. I wanted to find out for myself. I wasn’t smart, techy savy, or in possession of a PC that could run the game, so modding was out of the question. Plus, I still believed that you could find the character in the game. More and more detailed guides on how to find Bigfoot in the game came out. Certain ones weren’t just being at a certain place at a certain time, others were just random encounters. Well, if you can guess what part of San Andreas I hung out in a lot, it was the wilderness.
My quest for Bigfoot and the interest in it waned the longer I played the game. At a certain point, I wanted to access the other areas of the game and progress the story. There are internet rumors to this day that Bigfoot or Piggsy (a serial killer from the game Manhunt) still reside in the mountainous areas of San Andreas. For those that still believe, keep searching Back O’Beyond and Mount Chiliad.
For me, the hunt for Bigfoot led to some of the scares and just a general feeling of spookiness. Sitting and waiting for hours trying to catch a gilmpse of the monster was enough to keep me occupied. Maybe Bigfoot is still out there, we might have to see.
And Now For Why Pokémon Scared Me As A Kid
As a kid, not a *lot* scared me. Just Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, The Exorcist, clowns, big dogs, ghosts, Chucky, and the avatar for Zapdos from Pokémon Red. It’s really not that long of a list. You can probably add roller coasters (those still get me), and some other things. But that damn Zapdos avatar almost made me shut my game off. If you’d like me to explain why it scared me so much, I can’t tell you.
It does look a bit frightening, and as a kid playing through Pokémon Red, that area of the game was tense. So combining the tense gameplay section with a somewhat jarring appearance of Zapdos, I almost threw my GameBoy and shut the thing off. Luckily I didn’t do either of those, I just set it down for a bit. Collected myself, and caught the bastard. (I didn’t know about saving before, so I got lucky on the first attempt). MewTwo, however, I did not get on that first playthrough.
There were some other things about Pokémon‘s first generation that frightened me. The Lavender Town tower and music was creepy. That whole section of the game was troubling as a child, and is more chilling now as an adult. Missingno and the whole glitch involving that “Pokémon” somehow scared me. Even seeing a screenshot of Pokémon Stadium from the strategy guide I owned, freaked me out.
There’s Sure To Be More From Childhood To Remember
These might be three examples of scary moments that I remember from “non-scary” games, like the Moon from Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask but there are sure to be more. That’s what happens when you revisit the games of your childhood. You remember these things, I remembered the Pokémon Stadium one from looking at the old strategy guide for the game.
What’re some of your scary moments from “non-scary” games that you remember?
For more on horror, check out Fright-A-Thon, or stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.