Why a list of the 10 Best Game Over Screens? Because when the going gets tough, the tough have to slog through the inevitable death screen. Lets face it, video games can be controller snappingly difficult sometimes, and we end up having to look at an image that mocks our failure. Developers know that we see quite a few game over screens and many take the time to create something of beauty to look at. Even if they are good looking, our list of the 10 Best Game Over Screens really is a tribute to all the lives we’ve lost and every one of our failures. But, these screens allow us to fail with a bit of grace.
ANDROSSSSS!!! Of course that mocking mug has to be the game over screen for every Star Fox game. That is the face of pure evil in the galaxy, and its presence is a reminder that Fox has failed and needs to pick up the pieces of his broken ship and try again. Of course Star Fox was going to make it onto our list of the 10 Best Game Over Screens.
The thing about great game over screens are that they’re memorable regardless if they make sense or not. Goemon’s Great Adventure features a muscular guy made of very few polygons who is flexing his heart out. It is odd, silly, and a bit uncomfortable, but that is what makes it so great.
A banged up and battered Donkey and Diddy is something that no gamer wants to see. Look at their pathetic bandaged faces and tell us that you don’t want to try again and help those two primates make it through to the next level. This game over screen brings with is a sense of pity at your own failure and the will to continue.
The Fallout games always had a morbid sense of humor bordering on the macabre. For the game over screen in Fallout 2, you’re treated to a view of your corpse decked out in vault gear decomposing in the desert sun. You aren’t even fresh. Your sun bleached bones are out basking for all the irradiated carrion birds to see. All that is left is a few shreds of your vault suit. The wastelands can be a harsh place.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
After the inevitable wail of “SNAKE!!!!” you’re treated to a very simple, yet very beautiful game over screen. It doesn’t bother with much else besides the two words that are most important. It is a digitized illustration of your failure to use cardboard boxes correctly. (Every special ops soldier knows how to use a cardboard box.)
Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Zelda II is the outlier in the Legend of Zelda franchise. This is also reflected in the game over screen that festoons your TV when you fail to save Princess Zelda. It is just an ominous silhouette with the words “Game Over Return of Ganon” emblazoned in black on a blood red background. It clearly illustrates the gravity of your failure and the downfall of Hyrule.
No game’s continue screen is more in-your-face about your failings than this one. Each time the Dark Knight falls, you’re greeted by the sneering face of one of his enemies, mocking you for your ineptitude with a controller. They confidently break down the 4th wall and reach out from the screen with their constant yammering. It is never good for your ego when Harley Quinn shouts, “Loser loser loser!” in your face.
The Resident Evil games have always had a way with words when a zombie ends your life. “You Are Dead”, or some such variation, is as simple a sentence as could be while still conveying your devastating failure. It has been a staple of the series that lesser games have borrowed, but we’ll always remember that Resident Evil did it best.
That miniscule skull and crossbones laid out on the pixellated road was one of the first symbols of a life lost that many gamers became familiar with. It introduced them to the concept of rejection and failure via digital medium. Throughout all the iterations of Frogger, some featuring a smushed amphibian with tire tracks on its back, that stinging sense of game over has always stuck with the series.
That dog. Oh, that damn dog! Just look at him hiding in the tall grass with that smirk. He is the mocking embodiment of your pitiful skills with a light gun. How many times have you failed to nab a single duck and that pooch rears up his face, only to mock you? If you’re like us, you’ve definitely tried to empty a clip into that bad 8-bit pooch. That face has haunted gamer failings for decades, and might be the perfect wordless embodiment for “Game Over.” For that, we’ve given that smug mutt the top spot on our list of the 10 Best Game Over Screens.
next: 10 best continue screens