It’s merely a fact of video games: you are not always going to win. No matter how well one plays, every person is eventually going to see a Game Over screen. Most of the time, these screens and small scenes are just a simple little throwaway deal that is ignored as a gamer simply tries again. Occasionally however, there will be something about the Game Over that gives pause. Maybe an entire alternate ending where the heroes fail is played or something very entertaining happens that you can’t help but laugh at, but for one reason or another, attention is given. To celebrate these games that put effort into what happens when we lose, I’m counting down the top 10 “Game Overs” in gaming.
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10.) Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is one of the platformers for the N64 that Rareware was famous for around that time. Trying to depart from their previous outings however, they made a very adult game with crude humor abound and ridiculous circumstances to be found. (Need I mention the Great Mighty Poo?) One such ridiculous thing was the reason the villain of the game, the Panther King, wanted to get Conker in the first place. The table next to his throne was missing a leg and, consequently, he spilled his milk when he put it there. He wants something to replace the missing leg and, as it turns out, a red squirrel, such as Conker, is the perfect height to balance out the table and, as a result, the Panther King wants his minions to tie up Conker and place him there to forever keep his milk from being spilled. Silly, isn’t it?
The best part, however, is that when you lose all your lives and get a Game Over, you see that entire situation play out. You see the King drinking his milk without difficulty while bragging to some minions and end the scene with a close up on Conker, tied up and forced to be a table leg. I really appreciated how Rare followed through by showing you the outcome of failure, as they did with pretty much every other platformer they made at the time. Conker’s situation was just more entertaining to watch than any of those others and I love when I can laugh at my failure.
9.) Resident Evil 4
Sometimes, simplicity can be better than being over-the-top and this is no more true than with the Game Over screen for Resident Evil 4. After experiencing whatever horrible death the game wants to give to Leon Kennedy, the screen turns red and moves like a puddle of blood as the simple message, “You Are Dead,” appears on the screen in red letters. This sight is accompanied by a slight musical interlude with a couple strong, low notes that have a tortured choir backing them up. For reasons I’m not even completely sure of, I’ve always liked frankness when a game tells me I’ve lost. Saying “Game Over” is all well and good, but I’m always more entertained when I instead see something such as “You should be ashamed,” or, as the Angry Video Game Nerd made famous, “You and your friends are dead.” There’s just something about a game not sugarcoating failure that I like and Resident Evil 4 is one of the best examples of that at work. I also really like the music they used for the screen, as it just lends a really miserable quality to the death that fits the mood of the game well. While the entire series has Game Over screens very similar to this, that extra bit of music and detail makes it my favorite in the series and, indeed, one of my favorites in gaming.
8.) Super Smash Bros. Melee
Given the fact that Melee is a Super Smash Bros. game, I spent a lot of my time with it trying to unlock everything I could. This required many run-throughs on the single player parts of the game and, as a result, many viewings of the Game Over screen. This is another one where simplicity is what makes it so good. You see the trophy of your chosen character fall into a rather blank expanse when you are asked, “Continue?” while a small hopeful sounding tune plays. If you choose not to continue, a serious voice says “Game Over” while the picture disappears and the words “Game Over” overtake the screen. The voice is what really makes me like this one, as it is, surprisingly enough, one of the most intimidating voices I’ve heard in a game. There’s something about the voice that makes me feel almost as though I had done something really bad by not choosing to continue, and it’s rare to find something so simple that can evoke emotion of that nature. It also doesn’t hurt that the voice is joined by four, very deep notes that really underline the “seriousness” of the situation. Simply put, I have to give this one credit for being one of the only Game Over screens in and of itself that made me want to make sure I did not fail.
7.) Metal Gear Solid
Out of all the Game Over screens I have on this list, this one is probably the most well-known. Everyone knows this screen and there have been innumerable amounts of jokes based around it. Snake falls down and the Game Over screen appears, as the classic theme plays. In the middle of the theme, Snake gets a call from someone he can talk to, be it Otacon, Colonel Campbell, or someone else, where they ask, in a panic, what’s wrong and usually end with a long, drawn out, “SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKE.” While the music definitely accentuates the situation nicely by taking the already good main theme and giving it even more weight, the calls are what really make this screen enjoyable to see. It seems like the creators were trying to make the calls have a serious tone, but they come off as a bit overdone and are instead funny and entertaining. I always love it when a Game Over makes me laugh and the fact that this one, at the very least, seems unintentional just makes it all the better. There’s a definite reason why, given anything close to a situation where this line fits, gamers will quote the famous, “Snake, Snake, SNAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKE,” without fail.
6.) Sega Rally Championship
Besides the Game Over screen, I don’t really know anything about this racing game. However, that knowledge is really not necessary for understanding why this particular screen is so enjoyable to see. While the screen itself is rather uninteresting with nothing particularly standout, the voice to specifically say “Game Over” that accompanies the screen is the complete opposite. All you hear is, in a very happy tone, “Game Over, YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH,” and, if you’re anything like me, a smile comes to your face due to how ridiculous it was. The voice just sounds so happy, and almost mocking, to tell you that you lost when, characteristically, these kinds of voices sound either bored or serious. It’s a refreshing change from the norm and I can’t help but laugh every time I hear it. Honestly, it’s a bit hard to describe why this works so well, so it’s best to just watch the video above.