Video games can take us to colourful worlds of magic and wonder. They can put smiles on our faces miles-wide, teach us to be like heroes, and generally just make our lives better.
Sometimes though, the game takes a turn for the worse. The magical fantasy land you've been exploring throws you into a dark place where evil things lurk. Worst of all, it's not like a horror movie; you can't just look away when the scary things come out to play. You have to face them, shaking hands and all.
Here's just a few of the creeps that came out of nowhere and made us scared to turn on our consoles.
1) The water - Sonic the Hedgehog Series
Now I know what you're thinking: how can water possibly be scary? It's true, anytime you first end up in one of the franchise's many water levels, they're usually very calming and fun (and have great music!).
That is, until you stay under too long. Then THIS happens.
Some of the most tense and nerve-wracking music in video game history starts playing, and if you don't get some air in five seconds, Sonic drowns. Horribly. This is why you learn to fear the water.
2) Mad Piano - Super Mario 64
Big Boo's Haunt is already a shockingly scary area in an otherwise colorful and innocent game. Accessed by a courtyard full of cackling ghosts, it is anything but a friendly-looking (or sounding) place.
Well lucky you, because you get to explore the WHOLE thing to find the 8 Red Coins hidden throughout the place. Some are guarded by ghosts, while others are a bit simpler. Hey, that one's just sitting behind a piano! What a nice surprOH DEAR GOD NO!
The piano comes to life, with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and chases you throughout the room. You can't hurt it, you can't even slow it down; your only way out is death. Or you could run, I suppose.
3) Snacker - Banjo-Kazooie
The second world of Banjo-Kazooie, Treasure Trove Cove, starts off just as whimsical as anything else we played at the time. It's a beach paradise with giant sand castles, a pirate ship, and some of the catchiest steel drum music ever.
You even get some of your coolest abilities in this area! Kazooie learns both to fly and to shoot eggs out of her beak (and her butt, complete with hilarious sound effect). It's tons of fun!
But whatever you do, stay out of the water. Otherwise... HE comes out.
This toothy horror literally appears out of nowhere and chases you down, chomping away at your health relentlessly until you either get out of the water, or die. It wouldn't be so bad if his theme music wasn't even more terrifying than he is.
Click to the next page for even more terrifying childhood characters.
4) Dead Hand - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time has no shortage of scary moments. The first time night hits in Hyrule Field and dozens of skeletons come out of the ground, when a ReDead first screams at you and paralyzes you, jumping into a giant fish's mouth, the list goes on.
Everything gets taken up a notch though when you enter the Kakariko Village Well. Suddenly you're in a nightmarish maze of invisible pits full of zombies, and you can't leave until you get what you need.
Then you enter this room.
Sure enough your curiosity gets the better of you. You approach the hands, and then THINGS GET REAL.
Dead Hand is terrifying because it saunters over to you slowly, carefully lowering its head before taking a bite out of you. Worst of all, you have to fight the bastard AGAIN in the next dungeon.
5) Chain Chomps - Mario Kart 64
Sometimes scary things can pop up in the most magical places! Rainbow Road is one of the most beloved tracks in Mario Kart history (so much so that a version shows up in each version of the game), and it's hard not to get a smile out of it.
Of course, you sometimes get too lost in smiling and racing that you don't notice one of these jerks bearing down on you.
To be fair, Chain Chomps had already been around for quite a few Mario games at this point, never being particularly scary.
What makes the Rainbow Road ones terrifying is that they blend so well into the course's dark background that you often don't see them coming until they're RIGHT ON TOP OF YOU! Cue plenty of screaming and cursing.
6) The Moon - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Majora's Mask is an unsettling game from the start. Between its bizarre characters, the creepily decaying areas you have to explore (which, fun fact, are all themed after the stages of grief), and the fact that Link seems to be in actual genuine pain when he transforms using his magical masks, it's a game that's likely to send chills up your spine.
However, nothing sets the game's oppressive tone better than what you see every time you look up.
Visible to you from the first time you enter the land of Termina, the moon serves as a constant reminder that you're on borrowed time. You see, it's going to hit the planet in 3 days and wipe everything out unless you can find a way to stop it.
As if that wasn't bad enough, it keeps getting closer to the planet as time passes, filling more and more of the sky with its vacant stare and horrifying grin. By the time the third day arrives, the ground starts to shake with each hour closer to doomsday.
It may not directly attack you, but the moon is always there as a terrifying reminder of just how impossible your situation feels, and gazing into its face as children definitely scarred us forever.
What do you think?