Video games have evolved into a much greater power from their early days of 8-bit fetushood. They are inching one step closer to mimicking reality and that means they can do more than feed your need for harmless, consequence-free violence. Some can make your skin crawl, almost to the point that it can learn how to walk. Here are the level bosses that still haunt our left and right lobes.
10. Bitores Mendez from Resident Evil 4
He may sound like one of the many Menudo back-up singers who were used and tossed aside like so much musical Kleenex. But one look at him and you'll think he eats those abandoned youth for a light supper. This towering village chief stands at a whopping 7-foot-50, possesses Tony Robbins'-sized hands, and looks like the kind of evil human who's only capability of reasoning is with fire. Complete immolation just makes him madder and into an even taller meat skeleton that looks like he was born in a vat of mechanically-separated slaughterhouse meat.
9. Andross from Starfox 64
Monkeys are rarely menacing. Even the military brutes and ruthless dictators from Planet of the Apes still draw a few giggles and bemused "awwws" as they hunt down Charlton Heston. However, Andross, the evil gorilla arch-nemesis of Starfox, is the only monkey who can give a grown man nightmares until monkeys start pooping grenades. His appearances on the Nintendo 64 remake took him out of his "picture memory desk cube of death" from the SNES version and stuck him right in the viewer's face with his eye-popping stare and menacing polygon grin. Then when you think you've beaten him, his brain and eyeballs somehow survive and continue fighting like some possessed anatomy model set.
8. The Director from Manhunt
Source: Rockstar Games
This menacing slash-and-bash film auteur is probably the wimpiest and easiest end boss in modern video game history. His voice, however, more than makes up for his softball self-defense. The director, voiced by classically trained Scottish actor Brian Cox, follows convicted murderer James Earl Cash from camera to camera in a sinister, leering voice that barks orders for brutal kills around almost every corner. It's so creepy and eerie that if you play long enough, his voice will stay in your head, narrating your every movie and making you think that maybe Jack Thompson wasn't as big of a nutball as we thought. In the end, he turns out to be just another sleazy-looking director with a foie gras gut and a porn director wardrobe that's about as menacing as Ron Jeremy during a post-orgasm nap.
7. The Great Mighty Poo from Conker's Bad Fur Day
Video game bosses have frustrated us, aggravated us, angered us, scared us, and even scarred part of us in ways that only an overly friendly uncle can replicate. None, however, have physically disgusted us as much as this vile creation from the sick minds that created the underground Nintendo 64 classic. Conker encounters this fiendish fecal foe about midway through his adventure and if being attacked by an evil pile of poo wasn't enough to shiver your spine out of its socket, he also serenades you with a vile baritone operatic melody about his love of corn and his homemade "caviar." It's the only reason we're glad Nintendo wasn't working on a special "smell force" pack.
6. Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid
One of the hardest things for any game to do is break that imaginary fourth wall between the player and the game. This leather-sporting cackler came pretty close. He doesn't just invade Snake's mind. He can actually get into the player's head by reviewing their progress through the game, referencing games they have previously played, and even taking over the player's controller. Even if you don't buy his dog-and-pony show, his muffled and scratchy voice will haunt every corner of your mind and eventually become the announcer for your darkest dreams (including the one where you're giving a Care Bear an autopsy on your parents' bed).
5. The Little Sisters from Bioshock
Source: 2K Games
Children possess a natural creepiness that has been tapped into for thousands of iconic horror movies, fiction thrillers, and everything that the Olsen Twins have ever done. Their presence in this groundbreaking first-person shooter, however, makes Little Damien's evil ways seem harmless enough to replace Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire. They roam the diseased halls of Rapture with the menacing Big Daddy and when they spot you, they order their drill-bit toting protectors to rip out your guts and feed them back to you. If you harvest their "Adam," they turn into wiggly little slugs. If you save and release them, they grow up to get their own reality show on MTV.
4. Pyramid Head from Silent Hill
This aptly-named boss is the kind of humanoid monster that appears in your most menacing nightmares if you do about an ounce of meth a day and wash it down with a mason jar of mind-erasing Absinthe. He's a muscular mass of a man topped off with a giant metal pyramid on his shoulder where his equally giant noggin should be. He drags around a huge piece of medieval cutlery that looks too dangerous and garish, even for the likes of those late-night home knife shopping networks. But he doesn't even really need it because he can strangle you with his tongue.
3. Adam the Clown from Dead Rising
Clowns are already scary. Sure they wear cheery face makeup, smile constantly, and laugh without warning, but it's just an emotional mask covering something so dark and sinister that only an orphanage fire, zombie apocalypse, or Dane Cook movie can unmask it. Adam the Clown, one of the psychopaths in the Williamette Mall, proves my theory and can even give a classically-trained mime a raging case of coulrophobia. When the zombies come, he turns into a lightweight chainsaw-juggling madman who could make Pennywise wet his clown pants.
2. Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2
This first level boss might look like the kind of plush toy a first-time mother would delicately place in their newborn's crib. But if she learned the truth about it, she would rip out of her baby's grasp faster than a hungry Dick Cheney snatching a delicious lollipop from a little girl's hands. The instruction booklet for the original NES title describes this dino hybrid as a male who wears a bow in his hair because he wants to be a girl and fires eggs from his mouth because he lacks the necessary fallopian hardware, making him gaming's first official transsexual. The game Captain Rainbow, released on the Wii in Japan, features the character getting arrested for walking into a woman's bathroom, which officially makes him the Larry Craig of the gaming world.
1. Giygas from Earthbound
This final boss from one of the rarest titles on the SNES is disturbing on two different levels. On the surface, this evil alien is a swarming, repeating vortex of ghostly red faces that looks like the pattern on Satan's bed sheets. But if you look closer, you also find a very disturbing image that some speculate is the true nature of the beast you are fighting. If you examine the negative space of the red and black contrasting image, you'll see the downright creepy image of a tiny unborn fetus enveloped in an evil ice cream swirl.
Some believe this hidden "Magic Eye" image embedded in the pattern means your character was sent back in time to destroy Giygas when he was still an unborn baby, so technically that means you're fighting a fetus to the death. That epoch of eeriness can only be topped when Rockstar Games releases Infant Apocalypse: From the Grave to the Cradle.