Games That Scared the Shit Outta Me
by Daryn

When I was a kid, I was a lot more easily freaked out by things than I am now. Video games had such weird graphics in the 80's and 90's that they could produce some seriously traumatizing shit, especially if you weren't quite sure what you were looking at. My friends and I would sometimes play games well after midnight, like to 1, 2, or even 3 am and beyond, and it certainly didn't help suppress fear when these weird things would pop out when it's all dark and quiet everywhere.

EarthBound

Part 1: Moonside Mindfuck

My friend Kiera loved RPGs more than anything else in the universe. We spent many long nights and weekends slogging through these things, probably beating some of them in record time. One day she got her hands on EarthBound and at first I thought it was the most ridiculous-looking RPG she'd yet acquired. I mean, she'd played some strange ones, but this was bizarre in a whole new way I hadn't yet seen. It looked kind of tame and cute, but it got weirder and weirder as we progressed through it. And then, I think it was the town of Fourside where things went from unusual to batshit insane.

Right at the start I knew something was going to be different about Fourside because it was the first town (out of four) where the buildings were all caddy-cornered, like highrises and skyscrapers instead of the suburban towns we saw earlier. There was this one building, a Department Store, that was always closed. Trying to enter it got you a message saying it was closed, and the creepiest, most skin-crawling little piece of music would play.

Here's an mp3 of it

It's only five notes long, but it sure is hair-raising. One reason why is because I had already heard it now and then throughout the rest of the game, and it usually signaled something fishy was going on in the area.

Flying Omelette had pointed out that it's actually the same as the last five notes of the elevator music from Metroid, just played at a different speed (Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka was the composer for both EarthBound and Metroid).

Mp3 of the Metroid elevator for comparison

Have you ever watched a horror movie where someone hears a noise in the basement and they start to go down there and all you can do is yell, "For the love of God, DON'T GO DOWN THERE!!" at the screen? That's the feeling the Fourside Department Store gave me. I knew from that creepy little melody that I didn't want to go in there. Once you do, you're flat-out told that something bad is going to happen (by a mouse, but trust me when I say that mice in this game are unusually candid).

   

Sure enough, the lights go out when you try to leave and something you can just barely see races across the screen and disappears. It takes Paula with it. She is gone from your party. Yeah, my screenshot makes it quite clear that it's a little green alien monster, but it goes by so quickly in the game that it's hard to tell what it is and it really spooked me the first time I saw this part.

   

You wander around without Paula for awhile, and eventually your troubles lead you to this seedy little cafe (actually a censored bar) in a Fourside back alley. You're told at one point to check the wall behind the counter in here, and when you do...

   

You end up in one the scariest, most hellish nightmares I had yet seen in any video game to this point. It's Moonside, a mixed-up, warped version of Fourside in which the only things dividing the buildings from the black void of their surroundings are blazing neon outlines. The way it constantly flashes creates a psychadelic hell, and you're fucking trapped here! The music is really creepy, too, (and I've heard it's sampled from a Ric Ocasek song).

Here's an mp3 of it

   

People here don't talk right. They often stutter in ways that make you think their minds are melting. But by talking to various people, you'll get warped around and eventually you'll end up trapped in a room with no doors where you can just barely make out the shadow of an invisible person walking around against the floor. You need this guy to get out of this area.

   

He's your ticket to the area boss - the Mani Mani Statue. You've seen this thing earlier in the game. It often causes people to do crazy things like paint their entire town blue. When you beat it in the fight...

   

MINDFUCK!

   

It almost seems too weird to be true (even for this game), but the damn mouse confirms it. (What did I tell you about EarthBound's mice?)

GO TO PART 2

BACK TO ODDNESS

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