Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ghost's Arcade: My Top 10 WTF Moments in Gaming

This is Ghost, Thanks for joining!

So, you're going about your daily life minding your own business and bothering nobody.  Then out of absolutely nowhere something happens that makes you scratch your head and go...
This can be a semi-common occurrence in life especially if you have children, hang out with college students, or live in a large city.  Gaming is absolutely no different.  You don't even have to be playing a game that intentionally messes with your brain to uncover things that are weird, surreal, bizarre and disturbing.  These sort of things leave you doing a double take, asking what people were smoking, or just laughing at the intentional weirdness or emotional impact.  Those moments are the ones that we're going to look at today..

My Top 10 WTF Moments in Gaming

Now before I begin I just have to lay a couple ground rules.  First off this is my personal list of things that confused me highly not the most shocking moments in all of gaming. I also intentionally did not include anything from the Mother series as I generally do an entire segment on weirdness from those games in their reviews.   So...without any more yacking let's jump straight into it.

#10 - Luigi's Hanging Shadow
Luigi's Mansion - Gamecube
Who doesn't love Luigi's Mansion?  The Gamecube launch title was quite a bit of fun and the first really good game in which Luigi was the star.  Originally the game was supposed to be a lot darker and creepier but Nintendo decided to keep the more lighthearted nature of a Mario game for this title but something seems to have slipped by.

While you are in the attic of the mansion, a phone rings for you.  Nothing too weird but then as you pick it up, lightning flashes filling the room with light and for a brief moment you see Luigi's shadow hanging mid-air against the wall as if he had been hung to death.  How the heck did this make it through when everything else super creepy got cut??  The reason this is #10 is because there is some speculation that Luigi's shadow was coded to be set to the camera angle and since the camera panned in for the telephone call when the lightning flashed that was just the natural place for the coding to put the shadow.   I don't know... I like to think of it as his hanging shadow to keep just that tiny bit of creep factor still intact from a much darker game.

#9 The Great Mighty Poo
Conker's Bad Fur Day - Nintendo 64
This is another one that was intentionally placed low on the list mostly because the majority of gamers know about him.  Honestly though, it doesn't feel right excluding him from this list because he's just so bizarre and so memorable.

When Rare announced they were going to make another game after Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie everyone took one look at the art style and assumed it would be another kid friendly game.  What they got was a drunken foul mouthed squirrel and all manner of other atrocities.  As you play through you eventually come across a room filled entirely with feces and little corn kernels with eyes running around.  You toss them into the mess and then you behold something you weren't expecting.  Even after we had previously met a drunken scarecrow, a topless flower, and a robotic pile of hay... nobody would have guessed that one of the bosses in this game was a large pile of excrement with corn for teeth who sings opera throughout the battle.  You toss toilet paper into his mouth and eventually flush him down the drain.  Conker's Bad Fur Day is a weird game already and this is where it took a left turn towards becoming even weirder.  Because of his strangeness he will be a boss that I and several others will never forget.

#8 Encountering the Mastadoom
Super Mario RPG - SNES
Super Mario RPG is a treasure of a game.  Nintendo and Square put their all into this game and it's the reason why so many people are passionate fans of this game and its characters.  There is a reason people have been wanting Geno in the Super Smash Bros series.  It's all because this game is so good.  It not only had Mario and Bowser team up but it also sent the group into a wide variety of locations across the Mushroom Kingdom.

One such place is known as "Starry Hill."  It's a cloud-like land where all of the wishes of the world are born.  it's a wonderful calming blue with stars everywhere.  Littered about are the wishes of characters in the game.  You do encounter enemies but they are cute little gophers popping out of the clouds, cute chibi thief looking characters, or geckos just sort of hanging around.
All and all it's a fairly adorable setup....then suddenly THIS APPEARED

I only ever saw one of these creatures ONCE but it was certainly jarring to see cute little gophers then suddenly BAM! Mastadon skeleton floating in the clouds.  WTF?!  There's nothing incredibly special about him as far as his strength or defense.  He's not a special mini boss or anything and all evidence I've seen online show that he's just a normal weird enemy like all of the other really strange enemies in Super Mario RPG.  However, I've only ever seen the one and it just seems to not fit in with the rest of the atmosphere of the only area it appears in.  This is the stuff that creepypastas and fan theories are made of!

#7 Lumiose Ghost Girl
Pokemon X and Y - Nintendo 3DS
Speaking of fan theories and creepypastas, the Pokemon series is definitely no stranger to the strange and bizarre.  Nintendo doesn't shy away from the creepy with these games due to the many horrific pokedex entries talking about death and doom, to including haunted houses and a kid who is trapped in a nonstop nightmare.  Let's not even mention the fan theories such as Gary's Rattata.  An entire WTF list could be extracted from the Pokemon series all together but for this particular one I chose a very small scene in Pokemon X and Y which has yet to be explained and probably never shall be.

When you are in Lumiose City, you will want to go to one particular office building and take the elevator to the second floor.  Upon arriving there, the lights will begin to flash and a girl will suddenly appear behind you.  She will then float beside of you and keep floating forward (with no movement animations)  Once she gets close to the bottom of the screen, she says "No, you are not the one..."  and just disappears.  I sat there looking at my 3DS for a solid 5 minutes wondering what on earth just happened.  Who is this ghost girl?  Who is she actually waiting for?  That has yet to be answered but it certainly caught me off guard when she showed up.

#6 Mr. Game and Watch Approaching
Super Smash Bros Melee - Gamecube
There are fewer things more exciting than hearing that alarm sound as you play a Super Smash Bros game.  That glorious alarm means that you've fulfilled one of the criteria to unlock another fighter.  Sometimes these new characters are old familiar faces while other times you may be looking at someone you have never seen before.

Smash Bros, for me, has always included characters that I have little or no knowledge of in every iteration.  When Smash Bros came out for the N64 I was just starting out in my video game knowledge and had no earthly idea who Samus, Fox, Captain Falcon or Ness were.  When Melee came out, I got to learn who the Ice Climbers, Marth, and Roy were.  Brawl gave me Ike and Pit to become familiar with, and Smash Bros 3DS/WiiU made me have to look up who the heck Shulk was and why this anime dude was in my Smash.  Discovering a new character or franchise isn't exactly anything new for me with this series but one stands out above the rest when it came to a big surprise...and that was Mr. Game and Watch.

When Melee came out I was still in the semi-early stages of learning video game characters and finding what I was interested in.  Smash 64 did an excellent job pointing me towards some great characters and I figured Melee would do the same.  Then suddenly it happened.  The alarm went off and I saw what looked like some little cartoon man's silhouette appear on my screen.  Next thing I know, my character is being put on a stage that resembles some sort of handheld device and a solid black 2 dimensional man is attacking me.  WHAT?!?!?!?!  I knew that the developers liked to throw in lesser known characters but a 2D solid black guy from some old handheld that I had never heard of?
Smash Bros has attempted similar things such as the inclusion of the Robotic Operating Buddy for the NES and the Duck Hunt Dog but both of these characters were fairly well known or recognized.  G-Dub was just so out of left field that his strange inclusion still hasn't been topped.

 #5 Fairies in Mummy's Tummy
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - PS3
If you have a PS3, like Japanese RPGs, and haven't played Ni No Kuni then you honestly have made a gaming error.  The game is an absolute masterpiece in many aspects... not to mention that the art style was done by Studio Ghibli.  You know, the studio that has given us such great anime movies like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro?  It's something that I intend to give a full review at some point in the future so I won't talk in too great detail about it.  Being a Japanese RPG with anime elements there are definitely a lot of quirky characters, weird moments, and strange decisions, but the instance I have chosen to highlight for this post is a special case... mostly because the longer you think about it the more disturbing and awkward it is.

Along your adventure through the world, your party arrives in the Fairy Lands. Fairies in this game are not your stereotypical cute things with wings.  Rather they look like monster potatoes with a Scottish accent.  Well once you arrive here there's a problem that you need to help sort out which is pretty standard for RPGs.  You go and speak to the Fairy Mother which looks like a giant whale mountain thing.  The problem is that no new fairies are being born so the mother asks you to investigate...then swallows you!  Now having a level inside a whale is nothing new as Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Kingdom Hearts (as well as I'm sure others) have already done this.  The insides of the Fairy Mother look like a preschool with various doors and playrooms which is kind of odd but the real strangeness doesn't happen till the end of the level where you come face to face with an electric jellyfish.
Now again, on face value alone it's not really that strange but when you really sit down and think about it... you are inside the womb of a living creature where you encounter an electric jellyfish in the uterus and proceed to shove babies out of the birth canal from the inside... all done by a grown man, and two children.  It's just.... I don't even.   Let's not put anymore thought into this one.

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Number four I ended up giving to two kind of similar actions in two very different games.  They both made me drop my jaw and just stare at the screen temporarily unable to believe what I just saw.  While one of them ended up being a red herring and the other very real, the shock value of what I had witnessed in the moment will never be forgotten.
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#4A - Goofy's Sacrifice
Kingdom Hearts 2 - PS2
Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite video game series of all time.  The meshing together of Disney and Final Fantasy honestly didn't appeal to me when it first came out but I randomly gave the first game a chance and I've been hooked ever since.  In fact, this particular game I'm talking about it still probably my favorite entry in the entire series... though Birth By Sleep is giving it a run for it's money.  The adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy have taken them to many worlds and seen many strange things in the 3 games they had been in at this point in the series.  However the most shocking moment of all comes from the mid-way point of Kingdom Hearts 2 while on the world of Hollow Bastion.

After emerging from Tron's world in the computer, our trio of heroes find that hoards of heartless are overtaking Hollow Bastion.  King Mickey Mouse tells them to leave so that they can try to track down the main villains but they refuse and go to help their friends on that world.  Mickey joins them but a heartless blasts a boulder off the top of a cliff.  As it plummets towards an unsuspecting Mickey, Goofy jumps in and tosses Mickey out of the way getting the full hit of the bolder directly on the head.  His body ragdolls to the side as Sora and Donald try to revive him, but Goofy does not respond.  Mickey responds in the most epic way ever.  Looking the angriest I have ever seen this character, he says "They'll pay for this" and rips off his cloak to go fight.  As Mickey and Donald go off on a rage against the heartless, Sora takes one last look as his friend and follows the fight teaming up with various Final Fantasy characters along the way.

It was beyond shocking to see a character you had spent 2.5 full games with getting to know and rely on just...die like that.  Especially a beloved Disney classic character not just some original character created for the purpose of eventually dying.  It was freaking GOOFY.  Now this one was the red herring because after the segment where Sora teams up with the Final Fantasy characters, Goofy comes running afterwards saying he's been hit on the head with harder things than that before.  So all was well in the end.  Now when I re-play this game I look forward to teaming up with the Final Fantasy characters and Mickey's angry moment rather than the sadness of Goofy's "death", but the first playthrough of this game I was devastated.

#4B Sarah's Death
The Last of Us - PS3
As I mentioned in my review of The Last of Us, this game is an incredibly emotional one for different reasons.  It's not a game that you walk away feeling better or happy from.  The world as we know it has definitely died as the zombie creatures and multitudes of organized thugs have taken over wherever the military hasn't lorded over.  Between this bleak outlook on survival, the brothers you meet, and the ending revelation of what was supposed to happen to Ellie followed by the that ending scene just lay heavy on your heart.  It's the sort of thing people mean when they say "tragic beauty." 

However, for me this game's biggest middle finger to the emotions happens right in the intro to the game.  You start off the game with a young girl named Sarah and her father Joel.  I'm not sure how they characterized this relationship so perfectly but within the 2 minute cutscene introducing these characters you perfectly understand who they are and you are instantly connected to their relationship.  Sarah is the first character you get to control as she wakes up from the noises outside as the zombie apocalypse starts happening.  She's scared and begins looking for her father.  Eventually she witnesses her father shooting a zombified neighbor and they try to escape with her uncle, Tommy.  As they are driving through the city they are sideswiped by another driver which causes the truck to flip and Sarah to be hurt, her leg broken.  From that point on you are her father Joel who is carrying his injured daughter through the chaos and up towards safety where they meet a soldier.  The soldier is ordered to open fire on any civilians he sees.  Joel begs the soldier to let them walk away but he opens fire anyway.  Joel falls to the ground and the soldier comes in for the kill shot giving Tommy adequate time to shoot the soldier in the head.  Joel notices that Sarah has been shot in the chest.  Trying to console his scared and dying child, Joel holds the blood back and begs her to hold on but she passes.  Joel holds his lifeless child as the screen goes black.

This probably should have went on a Top 10 Emotional Moments list but it was still just so shocking it belongs here as well. Sadly this one was not a red herring.  The very first character we had gotten used to and wanted to see get out of there was murdered before our eyes as the game sits there on the scene and goes silent making you sit in the realization of what just happened.  It's incredibly rough and heartbreaking and was definitely not something I was expecting.  Even though I fully know what's going to happen this still affects me every time I see it and was certainly a shocking moment that I will never forget.

#3 Pregnant Baby
Super Scribblenauts - Nintendo DS
The Scribblenauts series is one that passed me by completely when it was first released.  Mostly because I never heard anyone talking about it and there was little to no publicity about the games showing how creative they actually were.

Scribblenauts is an action puzzle game where you have to come up with drawings and a variety of words from the in-game "dictionary" to solve puzzles.  Be honest with me, when you hear that a game is played by writing words and coming up with different combinations of words to put into the game you instantly see of it as an educational and boring game.  I had the same misconception.  While there are some simple things like needing to reach a higher level so you type in the word "ladder" to spawn a ladder to reach your objective.  However in Super Scribblenauts, the game allows you to add tributes to the items spawned so you could type things like "blue vacuum" or "anthropomorphic broom." and they would appear.  You can even go full out crazy and type "Big Flying Pink Alligator" and that would show up as well.  The combination of words you can create are almost endless.

It's that special combination of words that gives you something truly mind-blowing... Type in the words "Pregnant Baby" and you get THIS
Yes you are seeing the above screenshot properly.  Putting "Pregnant Baby" into the game summons a large baby that you can ride around the level like a horse.  Within seconds of this baby being summoned to the screen it gives birth to a smaller baby which can be picked up and tossed at items.  If you want some more humor try tying "Big Pregnant Baby" or "Big Purple Pregnant Baby" for the exact result you typed.  What the heck kind of game is this anyway?!?!  I was speechless the first time I saw this and still can barely wrap my brain around it. 

#2 Mother Punga Hallucinations
Fallout 3 - PS3
The Fallout Series, especially the modern ones, are well known for their quirkiness by placing humorous dialog, easter eggs, hidden references, depressing stories, and a lot of really weird stuff.  There are a multitude of things I could have mentioned on this list from the United States Wasteland such as the hulking behemoth that shows up when you get near a certain teddy bear, or any of the Wild Wasteland inclusions in New Vegas.  I could talk about all of the different Vault Tech Vaults and the weird experiments they decided to play on people...and almost did in the case of Vault 11.  However when it comes to off the wall raving crazy you don't have to look any further than the Point Lookout DLC.

During the Point Lookout DLC,  you take a boat up the river to Maryland where you find an abandoned boardwalk, a mansion owned by a ghoul (people who look like zombies but still have their humanity) and a lot of tribal looking people.  During one quest of this DLC you are sent out into the swamps to recover a seed from a Mother Punga Plant.  After traveling through radiated swamp water filled with monsters of various kinds, you arrive at the Mother Punga to college the seeds.  As you do so, the plant douses you in spores as you collapse to the ground.  When you get back up things aren't exactly normal.

The first thing you encounter are bobble-heads who either insult you or tell you something is wrong.  Then you start to hear classical music just floating in the air.  Next you see a red ghostly saw (pictured above) just sawing into the earth.  As you keep walking you start seeing soda bottles dropping from trees into the swamp water.  On impact,however the soda bottles shout "Mama!" in a high pitched baby voice and then explode!  In the middle of the kamikaze baby bottles you begin to hear enemies shouting and running at you though nothing is there.  As you progress forward you come across an area where you are walking on tree limbs with the earth above you.  Past that is a needle and thread sewing the ground together.  Then comes the most disturbing part of the whole thing.  You approach a medical table that has a skeleton on it wearing a birthday hat with balloons tied to it and a heart monitor beeping.  As you approach the monitor flat-lines and you are given the name of the skeleton.... "Mom."   WTF?!?!?!?!?!  And that's not even where the insanity ends.  After that you see the floating bodies of people you have helped out and began to trust along your journey just around in the swamp water and at the end of the hallucination you talk to a man as the atomic bomb he was leaning on explodes.

I realize this was intended to be bizarre and show off a really bad acid trip but it still really disturbed me especially your mother's skeleton on the table.  I can be taken off guard fairly easily but it takes a truly disturbed mind to get me anywhere near shocked by an image and this didn't fail to deliver the shock value.

Speaking of disturbed minds...

#1 EVERYTHING in the Abortion Clinic
South Park: The Stick of Truth - PS3
It feels kind of like a cheat to put something South Park related at the top of the list especially since this series has gone out of its way multiple times to hit people with something shocking. I had seen an episode or two of the show so I knew the caliber of shenanigans I was about to encounter with this game and expected the worst.  It didn't disappoint.  The game includes a metric ton of cursing, bloody tampon grenades, a dildo you use as a sword, anal probing aliens, a level taking place entirely in the colon of a gay man, zombie Nazis with actual audio from Adolf Hitler himself, and battling an underpants gnome on the bed your character's parents are currently having sex on.  If I were to mention everything disturbing or weird about this game we'd be here all day.  In fact, I could probably do a Top 20 WTF List from this game alone.  However, even though I walked in preparing for the worst possible things to plague my television screen... absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the abortion clinic level.

In order to get the girls of South Park to join your cause, you have to go undercover to the abortion clinic to see who is making false claims that one of the girls is going in to have regular abortions.  So you dress up as a girl and go in for an abortion.  The doctor says that he'll get that "f*** trash" out of you and starts the process only for you to short out the machine with your butt.  You then go undercover as a nurse and have to perform a fake abortion at gunpoint on another male who was investigating other claims about the clinic.  Eventually you find out that the clinic has been storing this green slime from an alien spacecraft (constantly referred to as a Taco Bell in the game) which has been turning people into Nazi Zombies.  The slime spreads through the clinic turning the workers and mice infesting the building into more Nazi Zombies.  Making your way through the walls as the government takes out the zombies they discover something very unsettling.  The slime has also turned all of the aborted babies into Nazi Zombies eventually resulting in you having to fight a gigantic Nazi zombie fetus as the final boss of the area.

Where to even begin?!  There is just so much disturbing about this entire level that goes beyond what I would have normally expected.  I mean... I guess kudos to the South Park team for coming up with something so horrible that it shocked me even knowing what I was getting myself into.  The aborted babies coming to life with Hitler's voice coming out of them...referring to an unplanned pregnancy as "f*** trash".. I just... I can't even begin.... *sigh*   This is by far the most disturbed I have ever been and though the game was actually pretty fun I'll probably be shying away from playing it again because of this one level alone.

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So there you have it.  That was my personal top 10 WTF moments in gaming.  Some of them weren't that bad but those top few on the list...GEEZ.  Have you discovered something in your gaming history that you found overly strange and bizarre that I haven't mentioned or even experienced?  Feel free to comment with some of the most bizarre things you've ever seen playing a video game.

Until next time this is Ghost....and I need a shower after re-thinking about that South Park level.... YUCK.  Why in the name of all things holy...

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