Welcome To Hell
Hell is meant to be eternal punishment for the souls of sinners. Suffering. Torment. Demons. Screaming. All things like that - nasty horrible things. Because the concept of Hell has been perpetuated over thousands of years and is well established as somewhere not nice, its always a popular environment choice for game developers as its such universally recognised shorthand for you dont want to be here. At least thats the idea.
While plenty of games have given us traditional, evil fire world depictions of Hell, there are some instances where the Devils dominion bucks the trend by being decidedly free from everlasting damnation and--as Hell goes--really isnt so bad after all...
Devil World | NES | 1984
Hell is... a Pac-Man clone made by Shigeru Miyamoto
An early NES curio from important Nintendo man Shigeru Miyamoto (and the equally important but not so well known Takashi Tezuka) shows that even the perpetually smiling Miyamotos dark side is only slightly less cheerful than a rainbow.
The titular Devil World (which well conveniently assume is Hell), is a labyrinthine arrangement of corridors occupied by not very terrifying one-eyed demons that are pink. The games hero, a cutesy winged dragon called Tamagon, wanders the maze eating dots and ice cream, avoiding the pink minions of Beelzebub, and collecting religious iconography, which there seems to be a curious abundance of considering its the Devil World and everything.
Also, the Devil in this Hell is particularly ineffectual. He has the comical appearance of a dwarfish, out-of-shape Mexican wrestler, and the extent of his power seems to be pointing his fingers. He'd be better at directing traffic than being Lord of Darkness.
Tony Hawk's Underground 2 | PS2, GameCube, Xbox, PC | 2004
Hell is... designed to accommodate the demands of the modern skater
A secret area which becomes accessible by doing a bunch of nonsense and travelling through a series of portals, THUG 2s version of Hell is an irresistible playground of opportunity for skaters. Do a tricky trick on the ribcage. Invert your goofy over the river of lava. This Hell is for skating--presumably for all eternity--so go wild.
If you do get bored playing on your wheeled plank and fancy a change of pace, you can always join the Devil for a dance. He can be found in the lounge area (yes this Hell has a lounge area) wearing a smoking jacket and reclining on a luxuriant chaise lounge. For all his faults, the insatiable red-faced consumer of souls clearly has good taste in music, with Frank Sinatras Thats Life and Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash both on the play list. He cant be all bad then, surely?
Magicland Dizzy | ZX Spectrum, C64 | 1990
Hell is... Where the good guy lives
Look at that screenshot. Does anthropomorphic chicken discharge Dizzy look terrified to be in Hades? He does not. He is smiling. He has discovered the bad afterlife of suffering and damnation isnt that bad. Its only one screen big and is also a source of valuable minerals. The most hellish thing in this Hell is the colour scheme.
But what about Satan surely the Bible bad guy, defiler of godliness, peddler of sin, and the very personification of evil, boils Dizzy like an, er, egg in the scorching flames of his dominion? Actually he doesnt because it turns out the Devils not so bad either. In fact, hes a good guy - he helps Dizzy defeat the evil wizard Zax and then transports Dizzy and all his egg friends home. Thanks Devil.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock | PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360 | 2007
Hell is... a noisy guitar version of the Charlie Daniels Bands good ol country tune The Devil Went Down to Georgia
After being unwittingly signed and managed by the Devil (aka Lou aka Lucifer), an attempt to renege on contractual obligations leads the player to an almighty rock duel in Lous Inferno, located somewhere in Hell, against an axe-wielding Horn Lord.
As a heavy metal approximation of the Underworld, this isnt so much a purgatorial holding pen for tortured souls, but more a paradise for tabard-wearing music enthusiasts with an appreciation for loud guitar-based noise. As a venue, Hell is equipped with an impressive speaker array, smoke machines, a wide variety of stage lighting and pyrotechnics, and dancing lady demons.
And all you have to do to get away is out-guitar the Devil--once beaten he plunges into the depths of Hell (which we dont really understand but whatever)--and everyone escapes on winged motorbikes.
Catherine | PS3, Xbox 360 | 2011
Hell is... an eternity of fantasy erotica
Were not going to try and explain precisely how or why or what, but take our word for it that an optimum ending to this unusual game concludes with protagonist Vincent being sent to Hell, where he exists in a perpetual male fantasy surrounded by perpetually aroused succubi who want to pleasure him perpetually. And persistently. While perspiring. Probably.
But the perpetually aroused succubi are mere distractions from Vincents beautiful wife--the daughter of the Plenipotentiary of the Netherworld i.e. the Devil--who is herself also in a constant state of near indefatigable arousal. As if all that wasnt enough, Vincent and his lady friends get a big comfy sofa to languish their bodies upon while in the lubricant throes of pleasurement - a big comfy sofa that is actually the aforementioned Plenipotentiary of the Netherworld. We know. Its weird, but as Hell goes, not entirely unappealing.
Better The Devil You Know
Are there more gaming Hells which fail to live up to the biblical billing and are actually not too bad when you stop and consider the alternatives? Wed like to hear about those Hells. Please tell us about them.