Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween: MORE Spooky Levels in Non-Horror Video Games

A creepy chill is in the air, and that only means one thing--Halloween is here once again. Three years ago on this very day, SuperPhillip Central took a ghoulish glimpse at some truly terrifying levels that came from non-horror video games. Allow SuperPhillip Central to once again treat you to our trick of providing even more spook-tacular video game levels from the most unlikely of games. While you probably won't be shocked and scared to your very core, perhaps you'll occasionally feel a chill run down your spine from reading this list.

Be Afraid of the Dark - Yoshi's Crafted World (NSW)

I can imagine younger players enjoying the bright and bouncy, happy-go-lucky levels of the relatively recent release of Yoshi's Crafted World for the Nintendo Switch, and seeing that delight on their faces turn to sheer fear, dread, and utter panic once they arrive at one of the late levels of the game, Be Afraid of the Dark. As the level name suggests, players should stick to the light, because if they don't, axe-wielding dolls will charge at them, chasing them mercilessly until they reach the light. Thankfully for Yoshi, these enemies brandishing axes can't enter the light, but unfortunately for Yoshi, the level likes to play a lot of tricks, including turning off lights suddenly, introducing several jump scares, and having an ending dash to the finish where Yoshi is pursued by an army of raging maniacal axe-wielders that wish for nothing more than to "cut" to the chase. While the level won't scar kids for life, it certainly will have them (and even older players) feeling uneasy throughout.

Pokemon Tower - Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! (NSW)

In the already spooky village of Lavender Town, where things always seem a little bit... off, their stands a seven-floor tower whose shadow stretches beyond the town's borders. This tower is a burial ground for deceased Pokemon, and many of the spirits inside are restless, including a Marowak, which haunts the tower to this day. The Ghost Pokemon taking up residence in this tower cannot initially be seen, but with the help of the Silph Scope, their true forms reveal themselves, able to finally be battled. This includes the aforementioned Marowak, who by being reunited with its Cubone child that it was protecting when it perished, has its spirit set free, no longer haunting the tower. The overall vibe of the tower and the haunting music (especially the 8-bit version) played while inside make the Pokemon Tower one that sent chills up this player's spine when he had his very first Pokemon adventure back in 1999.

Big Boo's Haunt - Super Mario 64 (N64)

Our next level comes from the classic Nintendo 64 launch title that redefined 3D gaming, Super Mario 64. It's Big Boo's Haunt, a spooky mansion with a central lobby and multiple doors leading to a variety of creepy rooms. Some rooms feature flying books armed to the literal teeth with... well, TEETH, some feature fake floors, and one room in particular features a harmless-looking grand piano that when Mario approaches--oh, dear GOD, that thing has teeth, too!? Meanwhile, exploring the basement floor of the mansion reveals a crooked carousel that spins around, seeking to singe Mario with its fire jets, all the while playing a creepy carnival-esque theme. To say that Big Boo wishes Mario enjoys his stay at the specter's mansion would be something that couldn't be further from the truth.

The Bottom of the Well - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 3DS)

Speaking of the Nintendo 64 era and industry-defining games, we have a really spooky area which has part of its spookiness coming from the dark, relatively crude and unrefined graphics of the time. The other, more sizable part of this area's spookiness and creepiness comes from the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time mini-dungeon "The Bottom of the Well" is just freaking disturbing as all get out in the first place. Complete with Wallmasters, Like Likes, hidden passages, fake walls, Skulltulas, a bottom floor grotto filled with acid and surrounded by sleeping Gibdo mummies that want nothing more than to get up close and personal with Young Link (by, you know, strangling the life out of him), and a particular boss that is all "hands on" with its prey. As a kid I dreaded every time I had to visit the Bottom of the Well mini-dungeon and its follow-up, the Shadow Temple. Venturing through this well of horrors as Link's kid self, knowing such a place existed under the bustling and otherwise welcoming Kakariko Village, still fills me the occasional dread to this day.

Halloween Town - Kingdom Hearts series

Based off of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloween Town is a Disney world that finds Sora, Goofy, and Donald visiting it multiple times within the Kingdom Hearts series. There are the visits in the first two numbered Kingdom Hearts games, as well as various handheld games like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Halloween Town features a myriad of points of interest that any Nightmare Before Christmas fan worth their weight in pumpkins would recognize immediately, such as Curly Hill and the Guillotine Plaza, which the latter serves as the central hub of the world. Kingdom Hearts II would further expand on the Christmas zone, offering players not only a significant helping of Halloween to satiate fans' appetites, but also a sizable offering of twisted holiday charm, too.

Hallowee Ville - Puppeteer (PS3)

If you're looking for Tim Burton-esque Halloween magic without Tim Burton actually having anything to do with its creation except by inspirational proxy, Hallowee Ville from Sony's insanely overlooked and underrated Puppeteer is a horror-fied place of the game that provides plenty of spooks and scares. From jump scares aplenty, zombie hands that poke out of the ground, a grim reaper boss that wishes to crush Puppeteer protagonist Kutaro with its bare bone hands, and a gigantic Pumpkin that not only barfs out ooze but also swallows our hero whole, requiring Kutaro to rush through its innards or else be crushed by its closing, pursuing line of teeth, Hallowee Ville isn't one to welcome its guests with open arms and well wishes. That's okay, though, because the challenge and horrors found inside make it all the more entertaining and memorable of a level.

Tawfret - Jet Force Gemini (N64)

The tragedy of the planet Tawfret of the Nintendo 64 cult classic Jet Force Gemini from Rare is a sad one. A once hospitable planet in the galaxy full of leafy forests and lovely lakes, the environment of the planet turned into a swampland and full of murky marshes under a perpetually gloomy and stormy sky. When Emperor Mizar's drone army took the planet under his control, a local shaman and king of the Tribals inflicted a zombification curse on the army. Now, under the spooky skies and scary setting of Tawfret lie a nightmare come to life, enemies that are true zombies in every sense of the word. Tawfret is the third and final planet Juno, one of the three protagonists of Jet Force Gemini, ventures to before reaching Mizar's Palace, and it's not exactly the most welcoming environment in the game. Housing a bog, bridge, and castle settlements, constant downpours, flashes of lightning, and an understated but tense score to it, Tawfret very much applies as a spooky setting in a non-horror video game.

Haunted Woods - Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

The final of four tracks in the Dragon Forest area of one of my favorite kart racers ever created, Diddy Kong Racing, is Haunted Woods. The Dragon Forest selection of tracks is mostly medieval-themed with some courtyards, castles, and of course, as the Dragon Forest area name would suggest, forests. The Haunted Woods track is a rather short track compared to the other three inside the area, having players navigate around a fountain in a central courtyard before entering into a castle tunnel leading to a windy section of track, curving around a twisted, tall, and large tree trunk. It's here that ghosts and specters in the shape of villain Wizpig's head float around to haunt passersby with their crooked grins and mocking laughs. Short but sweet, Diddy Kong Racing's Haunted Woods delivers a Halloween-style track under sinister burnt umber skies.

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