They say a story is as strong as its antagonist. The same is true for video games. Some games live and die on the strength of their playable characters, but just as much focus on the bad guys. Even if you have the tightest controls and the most exciting, smooth gameplay, players won’t remember a fight if their opponent was boring and generic.
Not all video game monsters are antagonists. Some of them are friendly, while others are passive creatures. Regardless of their role in the story, a good monster design can really uplift a work. Here are some of the best of all time.
Let’s start with this one right off the bat. Pokemon is, for most people, the game that comes to my mind when it comes to monsters. It is arguably the greatest video game franchise of all time. With just under 900 species over 25 years, not all Pokémon will be successful. But those who hit the mark hit hard.
Charizard, Pikachu, and Mewtwo stole every child’s heart in the ’90s with their simple, punchy designs. The best-generation debate rages on constantly, but the new episodes certainly have their strengths. Just look at Dragapult, the supersonic-jet-slash-ancient-salamander-slash-dragon, or Snom, who is just plain cute.
9 Shadow of the colossus
There is only one Shadow of the colossus game, so it’s hard to call it a series. It’s still one of the biggest cult hits in gaming history, for a number of reasons. The game has beautifully minimalist landscapes, an emotional storyline, and incredible boss fights.
Colossi are huge armored creatures, part organic and part mechanical. Almost no information is given about the Colossi – they don’t even have names. Some of them attack the player on sight, but others are peaceful. Particularly astonishing is the final colossus, a towering humanoid with the lower half of a fortress.
Bayonetta the titular protagonist is an eight foot tall witch with stiletto heels and hair that transforms into dragons. It is quite difficult to hide. You would expect enemies to turn everything up to eleven so you wouldn’t be forgotten. And that’s exactly what the Angels do.
The Laguna Hierarchy draws its inspiration from Judeo-Christian descriptions of angels. Covered in golden armor with eerie statues-like faces, they exude an eerie sense of dread. In the photo above, Fortitudo, one of the most powerful angels. It takes the form of a huge two-headed wyvern with a human face turned upside down for a shell.
7 Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom HeartsThe core enemies, the Heartless, are extremely important to the franchise’s tangled lore. They are emotionless creatures who know only the desire to devour hearts. Some appear naturally when darkness consumes a person’s heart. Others were created by Xehanort in a lab.
Most of the Heartless have white and black faces with glowing yellow eyes. Having to fill the bestiary of many games and spinoffs meant the designers had to stand out. They range from the size of a cat to several floors. Many Heartless can use magic, and some of them even fly through gummi space.
the Mother series, known as Tied to the earth outside of Japan, has a modern setting. Without the typical dragons and hobgoblins, you have to be a little more creative. Tied to the earth features angry ducks, piles of vomit, and circus tents possessed as villains.
The following, Mother 3, turns the strange dial even further. Pigmask’s villainous army creates monsters called Chimera. Chimeras are cyborg fusions of several animals with robot parts. Some of them are quite scary, like the Horsantula and the Rhinocerocket. The strongest of all, the Ultimate Chimera, appears in Super Smash Bros.
The beloved 2D hack-n-slash series takes inspiration from classic horror. This makes sense, given that the main villain in the story is Dracula himself. Some of the most well-known villains appear in almost every game. These include the Grim Reaper, Blood Skeletons, and those gruesome Medusa heads.
Castlevaniathe magnum opus of, Symphony of the night, has one of the scariest bosses in video game history. Legion is, in layman’s terms, a floating mass of zombies. Hitting him causes the animated corpses to fall. It has a bizarre sprawling core that also shoots lasers.
4 Monster hunter
A little like Pokemon, the Monster hunter the series is only as strong as its cast of beasts. Creatures from the Old and New World range from fairly classic dinosaurs to the strangest. Monster hunter Also takes a very science-based approach to her world-building, so ecosystems look incredibly real.
Designers are certainly not afraid to adopt a high concept. Look at Shara Ishvalda. This huge ancient dragon is inspired by Hinduism and ancient Sumerian myth. His face looks like a Balinese barong hide, with creepy eyes that follow the camera, not the player character.
3 silent Hill
Most silent Hill monsters represent something about the main character’s past and often face trauma or mental illness. Most encounters take place outside of grounded reality. That doesn’t stop the creatures from being uncomfortably visceral and disgusting to watch.
Everyone knows Pyramid Head, one of the Silent Hill 2main antagonists and unofficial mascot of the series. He’s even appeared in other franchises like Death by the light of day. A lot silent Hill encounters are mostly humanoid, like Nurses. Some of them defy description. The Glutton, by Silent Hill 3, is a barely visible shaking mass of flesh with two mouths.
2 Dragon Quest
Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon ball, design the characters for Dragon Quest. He is best known for his human characters, but monsters are arguably where he shines.
Dragon Quest has many iconic enemies, like goodybags, drackies, and hammerhoods. Each has a small army of variations and their own personalities. The weakest enemy of all, the ubiquitous Slime, is the mascot of the series. It even has a handful of its own spinoff games. It’s pretty impressive for a raindrop with a face, right?
1 Dark souls
Dark souls is widely known for its crushing difficulty. Fans of the series will know him for his world-building and traditions. Each boss has its own long history, and the game also pays homage to gothic horror. A lot of these villains aren’t just there to provide a challenge, they aim to give players goosebumps.
Some of the most notable include the Cunning Basilicas, the surprising Mimics, and the rare Deep Accursed. And, perhaps the most terrifying creations of all, Wheel Skeletons. Which are skeletons attached to wheels. These are the most frustrating enemies in the game.
NEXT: Bloodborne’s Rarest Enemies
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