Is this the end?
Fight a ton of battles, make it to the boss. Beat up the bad dudes, get to the next level. Repeat until you hit the credits. After playing so many games (much to the dismay of our parents and loved ones), we begin to notice some all-too-familiar patterns.
But just when we start settling into a groove, those sneaky developers pull the rug out from under us, causing our eyes to pop out of their sockets like a Tex Avery cartoon. All of our assumptions come crashing down, and everything that we thought we knew turns out to be wrong. Some games are great at faking us out when we least expect it--like the following 13, which troll players with a fake game over screen, resulting in minor panic attacks. Oh, and if it wasn't obvious, massive spoilers await.
Scarecrow gets inside your head in Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman's just walking along, beating up thugs and generally being the terror that flaps in the night, when all of a sudden, the screen seizes, the sound glitches out, and the game resets itself. You might think your game is broken, but then the intro cutscene plays, only something about it doesn't seem right. Now you're controlling the Joker in the first few minutes of the game, while Batman's the one in restraints, about to be shot in the head. A Game Over screen tells you to press the "middle thumbstick" to escape death. Turns out, the Scarecrow's found a whole new bag of tricks.
"To be continued" in Eternal Darkness 2? Not quite...
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos, Eternal Darkness is a game built entirely around driving its characters--and by extension, its players--insane. Whenever the in-game sanity meter gets too low, some truly ridiculous, fourth-wall-breaking stuff starts happening. The best moment involves a splash screen that appears at the end of a chapter about a quarter of the way through, encouraging players to find out what happens next time in the non-existent Eternal Darkness 2. Just when you start to think the game has one of the most jarring cliffhangers ever, it comes crashing back to reality.
K. Rool monkeys with our heroes at the end of Donkey Kong Country
So you're done monkeying around, and you're ready to give King K. Rool a dose of some real gorilla warfare. After a few rounds of gibbon take (Ow! OK! I'll stop!), you finally reclaim your island from his evil clutches. The end kredits begin their inevitable march--wait, "kredits?" "Koders?" Why are all the names here just a list of the enemies you've been fighting? Looks like K. Rool was just up to some real monkey business and wanted to drive you bananas one more time (Ouch! Fine! No more, I promise!), before you take him down for good.
Think you've beaten Kid Icarus: Uprising? Think again!
Medusa is seriously pissed, and all she wants to do is destroy mankind. Luckily, the angelic warrior Pit is there to save the day, and after eight action-packed levels, you finally put a stop to her evil schemes. Princess Palutena pats Pit on the back for a job well done and the credits begin to roll, complete with the 8-bit strains of the original Kid Icarus theme. Suddenly, a hand reaches in from the darkness and smashes the credits away--a hand belonging to none other than Hades, the true leader of the underworld. And thus begins your journey through 16(!) more levels to stop him from destroying mankind.
Kojima wants you to think you've Fissioned your Mail in Metal Gear Solid 2
Near the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden and friends have uploaded a virus into Big Shell's mainframe, but the process is halted before it can finish. Because series director Hideo Kojima loves taking a giant wrecking ball to the fourth wall, this virus starts to eat away at your very game. Your radar displays random videos, the Colonel starts talking like he ate a big bowl of word salad, and the game over screen appears, transforming it into the now-legendary "Fission Mailed" spoonerism. Kojima's attempt to thrust video games into post-modernism? Sure, let's call it that.
Combining alcohol and medicine leads to an early grave in The Curse of Monkey Island
Everyone knows that mixing hard alcohol and even harder medicine is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, the only way that lovable pirate Guybrush Threepwood can get inside a crypt and reach its untold fortunes is to be buried there, so down the hatch it goes. A funeral is held for our favorite scallywag, mourners comment on how it's supposed to be impossible for LucasArts adventure game characters to die, the credits start to roll--cue record scratch.
X-Men (Sega Genesis) forces players to reboot their console
One of the final levels of X-Men tasks the mutants with storming Mojo's evil techno-fortress. All seems fine when you destroy the final computer screen in the level Until nothing happens. No, the only way to reboot the computer and beat the level is to go against every single instinct you have and press the reset button on the console. Considering that holding it down for just a little bit longer could potentially set you back at square one, this is a particularly evil bit of fake-outery.
Chrono Trigger actually kills off its main character--and keeps going
JRPGs like to throw you into a battle you have no hope of winning for plot reasons, and Chrono Trigger subverts this with a huge twist. About two-thirds through, your party comes face to face with world devourer Lavos. Your party is also woefully unprepared for this battle, and everyone gets their asses beat handily. You're expecting the game to continue just fine afterwards, and it does, minus one person--Crono. You know, the main character of the game. He's dead now. Hope you have a plan B.
Mr. Resetti pretends to delete your town in Animal Crossing
There's a reason why the infamous Mr. Resetti made our list of most hate-filled characters--it's because he's so mean that he actually makes kids cry. If you accidentally cut down the wrong trees and want to fix it by resetting your game, prepare for the tongue-lashing of your life when you return. Piss him off too many times and he tells you that he'll reset your town for you--permanently. Just as the screen fades to black and the gravity of your lost progress begins to set in, Mr. Resetti returns to laugh at you and feast on your tears--it was all a joke. What a bastard.
Agent 47 bites the dust at the end of Hitman: Blood Money
Everything's hunky-dory for Agent 47. His handler, Diana, assigns him targets, and he gets to go kill them for profit. That is, until Diana double-crosses him--killing him in the penultimate section of Hitman: Blood Money. Or does she? Agent 47 lays in an open casket, awaiting cremation. The credits are rolling, but something doesn't seem right--you still have control of the game. A quick press of a few buttons and Agent 47 is off doing what he does best--murdering everyone in the immediate vicinity.
Your client is found guilty in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
The Phoenix Wright series loves to throw legal curveballs, and the first game in the series definitely sets the precedent. Phoenix Wright is defending series rival Miles Edgeworth from murder charges, but it looks like an open-and-shut case. All the evidence seems to work against you--even leading the judge to wind down the case and pronounce your client guilty. The screen begins to fade Hold it! Wright's accident-prone friend Larry Butz shows up to save the day, and you proceed to hear his testimony.
Pretty much everything in The Stanley Parable
The entirety of The Stanley Parable is one giant fake-out because the developers have anticipated your every single action, regardless of how crazy it is. Follow the plotline, and you save Stanley from mind-control--except you don't, because you've just made Stanley do everything the narrator said. If you break from the story at any point, the narrator has a response for everything, whether you're jumping to a different platform, unplugging a ringing phone, or clipping through a window. And when you die or you think you've beaten the game--well, it's right back to the start with you. In fact, the only way to not get trolled is to avoid playing The Stanley Parable entirely.
Want to keep falling down this nightmarish video game rabbit hole? Check out our list of theories about Nintendo games that will ruin your childhood, or some of the dark secrets hidden on the unseen fringes of your favorite video games.