Horror – at least intentional horror – is a late arrival into the world of video games. Of course, there are salvos opening (Infocom’s Horror Lurking in 1987, House at the Famicom in ’89, the first Clock Tower games on the Super Famicom a few years later). But devoting an entire video game to scaring the gamers didn’t really become a viable marketing strategy until 1996, when Capcom’s Waiting demon was such a huge hit that the industry had to come up with an entirely new name – survival horror, a mix of combat and deliberate escape – to describe what it saw.
Which is not to say, for all of the horror game’s early absence, video games aren’t horror yetfying. Any media that spends this much time trying to kill its consumers will have several nightmares over the years – deepening because it happens to “you”, not just some random character on the screen. And just like TV and movies, many of the scariest creatures in the horror video game frightened range especially because they appear in games where you can hope to be safe from the abominations of the older or the restless dead. You can rely on zombies to try to bite Jill Valentine or Frank West. But who would have thought Ecco The Dolphin had to deal with space demons, or ZeldaThe link to fend off the screaming, dead-eyed undead with no sense of personal space? Nothing is scarier than a dirty safe haven, the sudden change from sunlit meadows to instant nightmares.
So we celebrate these, the scariest video game monsters born out of games that aren’t really scary this a lot of crap this many players. The giant eel, the evil celestial body, the tormented ghost of the mind, all hid only inches from the sun. It’s never what you might expect.