A “Game Over” screen represents the most infuriating moment a video game player has to face: their ultimate and definitive defeat. (Well, until you restart the level or reload that last save, anyway.) Reaching a Game Over screen not only means losing progress, but it’s also a reminder that you, the player, are n weren’t able to overcome an obstacle with your current skills. A game on screen urges you to try again, rubbing your failure right in your face. However, some video games have implemented such unique ways of telling players that the game is over that it is somewhat rewarding to die.
From inspired cutscenes to lore essentials, the best Game Over screens bring something unexpected to the table, turning the player’s defeat into a fun moment that can be enjoyed on its own. So, in honor of us average gamers who constantly die in games, we’ve put together a ranking of the best Game Over screens that will turn your failure into an exceptional gaming experience.
9. Paper Mario: The Millennial Gate
paper mariothe direct sequel, Paper Mario: The Millennium Gate, turns every fight into a theatrical spectacle. There’s even an audience watching you fight, and they’ll eventually help you or continue your way, depending on how well you perform. So what happens when Mario dies? That’s right – curtain call! The millennial door The Game Over screen shows Mario falling to the ground, with the entire scene fading to black as a single spotlight shines on the fallen hero. Then the curtains close and the show is over. It’s a simple cinematic, but also quite effective and able to keep the illusion that every fight is a spectacle.
8. Ninja Gaiden (1988)
the original Gaiden ninja was developed to be played on arcade machines. This meant that each time a player put a coin in the machine, they got more lives. And if you lost all your lives, you were redirected to a Game Over screen which also gave you the option to continue playing if you put more coins in the machine. There’s a reason retro games are really hard, and it’s because developers wanted gamers to spend more money to beat their games. While “continue” arcade screens usually show a simple countdown, Gaiden ninja has a unique animation of the player character being strapped down by their enemy, while a giant spinning saw slowly approaches their torso. It’s true: if you don’t put in another piece quickly, you will allow the hero to die a gruesome death.
7. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time features a narrator who adapts the tale based on the player’s actions. The game’s narrator is the player character, narrating from the future the adventures the player is having in the present…meaning the entire game details a past event. And if the main character is still alive to tell his story, it stands to reason that he cannot die. What happens when the player fails? Well, the narrator then changes his story to keep his past alive and even makes jokes about it. With lines such as “No, that’s not how it happened” and “I don’t remember well”, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time adapts the story it tells to justify each death as a failing by an unreliable narrator, taking the blame out of the player’s hands.
“SNAAAAKE!” While the Solid metal gear The franchise has one of the most memorable Game Over screens, the radio communication that pops up every time Snake dies is also the perfect narrative tool to reflect the weight of death. In all games in the franchise, players have access to a radio that they can use to communicate with allies spread across the globe. These allies follow Snake’s missions and react with different messages if the player keeps calling them. It is therefore logical that Solid metal gearGame Over screens feature an ally screaming at the top of the lungs over the radio as he realizes the super spy has just been killed in battle. It’s also fun to see how the developers have adopted the goofy scream from the original game, replicating it in the various sequels.
5. Chrono Trigger
In the trigger of a stopwatch, players attempt to prevent the destruction of the world by slaying an evil entity named Lavos. Lavos came from space centuries ago and now feeds on the planet’s core until it receives enough energy to burst its cocoon, destroying all life. While death can be an unpleasant experience, most games treat it as a hiccup in gameplay, as the hero can stand up, brush the dirt off their shoulders, and resume the fight. However, the trigger of a stopwatch also wants the player to feel the weight of their defeat, so the game features a Game Over screen that explains how Lavos remained undefeated and was able to destroy the planet. You didn’t just die. Your failure also resulted in the death of…well…everyone! I bet you’ll be more careful on the next try, won’t you?
4. Conker’s Bad Fur Day
During the Nintendo 64 Golden Age, Rare created some of the most brilliant video game experiences ever made. One of their games is Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a project that slipped an adult game into a console generally considered family-friendly. Conker’s wacky story follows a squirrel who drinks too much and gets lost in a magical kingdom. Unfortunately for Conker, the king has a problem: his four-legged table is missing a leg, and every time he puts his glass of milk on the table, it falls to the floor. How to solve this problem? Well, the king’s scientist studies the matter closely and comes to the conclusion that only thing that can replace the table leg is a red squirrel. So, of course, that means reaching a “game over” leads to a unique cinematic of Conker being bound and gagged, being used as a table leg.
Banjo-Kazooie was the first Rare game to feature a particularly wacky Game Over screen, earning it higher honor than Conker’s Bad Fur Day. The family-friendly platformer follows the adventures of a bear trying to save his sister, Tooty, from an evil witch, Gruntilda. The witch kidnapped Banjo’s sister because she wants to be pretty. She puts the girl in a machine that transfers everything that makes Tooty cute into the witch. And that’s exactly what happens if the player loses his entire life. The “game over” cutscene shows Tooty transformed into an ogre-like creature, while the witch emerges from the machine looking stunningly beautiful. One of Banjo’s in-game allies even shows up to ask Gruntilda on a date. It’s a fun cutscene that serves as a bad ending to the adventure. And what’s even better is that Rare has coded the game so that the player can see the cutscene if they stop playing. You don’t want to reach your sister as soon as possible? Well, bad luck – the witch wins!
2. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
In The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Link gets stuck in a time loop as an evil entity crashes the moon onto the earth below. Link only has three days to find a way to stop the moon from falling and defeat Majora’s mask. Luckily, Link is the hero of time, who can use his ocarina to return to the start of the time loop if the moon gets too close to destroying the earth. But what if the players do not do use the ocarina? What if someone decides to stay and watch the moon fall? Well, the brave player will be rewarded with a brutal cinematic showing the moon crashing into the earth and spreading fire in all directions, consuming all lives and destroying all buildings. Who said that The Legend of Zelda is a family franchise?
1. Batman: Arkham (entire franchise)
the Batman: Arkham franchise (arkham asylum, Arkham Cityand Arkham Knight) has taken Game Over screens to a whole new level. Whenever the player allows the Dark Knight to be defeated, they will watch a short cutscene where one of Batman’s rogues gallery villains taunts the vigilante. There’s a full set of Game Over screens for each Super Villain, which means dying multiple times lets you watch different cutscenes. On top of that, these cutscenes aren’t always random, and often the bad guy who will show up to taunt Batman is the big bad guy you’re chasing at that exact moment. Are you trying to invade Joker territory? The Clown Prince of Crime will greet you when you die. Did you decide to fight the Penguin instead? Well, get ready for some umbrella puns! Batman: Arkham found that the best way to turn punishment into reward was to have not one, but multiple Game Over screens that you’ll never tire of staring at.
One for each of the Nine Kingdoms.
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