Roll up, roll up. And die!
Ah, clowns - the jolly jesters of history. These amiable fellows have entertained children for centuries, with their comically painted faces and hilarious slapstick routines. Yes, sir: nothing sinister about clowns right? Oh, what's this? A trailer for the new IT movie? Yup, clowns are terrifying. Theres a joke at the end of Uncharted 2, where Nathan Drake confesses to Elena that he's terrified of clowns. I'm with you Nate. We're ALL with you. So, at significant cost to my own sanity, I've rounded up the ten most harrowing clowns in all video games. Some are meant to be scary, others not. At night, they will come for you.
The clown (Heavy Rain / PS3)
I feel sorry for Jason in Heavy Rain. Not only is he neglected and abandoned by his father in a crowded shopping mall, but this painted-fiend is the last thing he has any kind of meaningful interaction with. Imagine that - your final conversation on this earth is with a terrifying clown; a painted hell-fiend who gives you both a balloon, and a deeply unsettled feeling at the very core of your being. Had this bewigged-psychotic not been the last thing Jason interacted with, he may have clung to life more tightly, instead of feeling the kind of vast emptiness in his soul that only a clown can create.
Needles Kane (Twisted Metal / various PS)
Before you angrily type in the comments: He's called Sweet Tooth, you idiot, let me tell you that it's the actual truck that's called Sweet Tooth. The driver - a psychopathic, murdering clown (aren't they all?) - is called Needles Kane. With that slice of pedantic pointlessness out of the way, I draw your attention to the clown himself. Nightmare fuel. His head / mask is permanently on fire, and his smiley grin is fixed in a deathly grimace, making him the perfect mascot for this savage (but deeply mediocre) car-combat series.
Kefka (Final Fantasy 6 / SNES)
According to the Wiki entry for Kefka, he's maniacal, short-tempered, flamboyant, destructive, and cruel. He is a psychopath with no regard for human life or remorse for the atrocities he commits, and finds amusement in the suffering of others. So, a typical clown, then. While previous Final Fantasy villains tended to be more cold and calculating, Kefka breaks the mould by being charismatic and utterly unpredictable. The eclectic red and yellow outfit he wears in PSP game Dissidia perfectly reflects his flamboyant, utterly psychotic personality, cementing his place among the very best villains in all of gaming.
Kinky Pinky (NARC / PS2)
The name is a real give away. These deranged, perverted clowns from the 1988 version of NARC are among the first examples of terrifying circus-folk in games. Not only do they look like the kind of shit you'd see in a David Lynch dream-sequence, they're also formidable enemies in game. They'll rush you with knives, intent on stabbing you into tiny person-chunks with no real warning, and they can soak up a bunch of bullets too. Seeing a clown coming at you with a knife is one thing but seeing him still running towards you after slotting a clip-full of bullets into his oversized breeches is downright chilling.
Zombie Clowns (Left 4 Dead 2 / PC, Xbox 360)
What's more terrifying than a clown (part one)? Answer: a zombie clown. Because a permanent, serial-killer smile and worryingly-oversized eyebrows aren't scary enough, the makers of Left 4 Dead 2 chose to mix these features with the rotten, blood-thirsty traits of the undead. In the Dark Carnival campaign clowns will charge players, attracting other infected with the noise from their squeaky shoes. Up close, they'll claw, kick, and punch survivors until they're tender enough to eat. Oh my. Also, their trousers come in different colours. After seeing them in action, so do mine.
Adam the Clown (Dead Rising / Xbox 360)
What's more terrifying than a clown (part two)? Answer: a clown with a massive-goddam-chainsaw. That's exactly what you face in Dead Rising with psychopath boss Adam. Worryingly, this guy isn't even a zombie - he's a human survivor who has gone mad in the face of the undead apocalypse. All Dead Risings psychos are tough fights, so the memory of Adam chasing you around the games shopping mall stays with you. Forever.
Ronald McDonald (McDonalds Treasure Land Adventure / Sega Genesis)
Look at that screenshot. Hey kids, it's Ronald McDonald. Whats he doing? Why, he's stalking his prey, of course. Wow he really can smell blood in this forest! Ok, ok - McDonalds Treasure Land Adventure isn't about hunting small children through a variety of magical landscapes. But fuck me, Ronald looks menacing in that game. Like he really does have a hunger for flesh that Big Macs alone can't satisfy.
Donbalon (Nights Journey of Dreams / Saturn)
This balloon/clown hybrid is a second-level Nightmarian, according to the nerds who update the Nights Wiki. That means he appears at the end of William Taylors Pure Valley dream, and tries to cause grievous emotional harm to Nights. Donbalon scores extra creepy points for strutting around his circus-style arena as you fight him, and for having those awful spindly arms that stick out from his rotund body like grotesque, fucking spider legs. Shudder.
Unicycling clown (Basement Crawl / PS4)
KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE! While PS4's Bomberman-style puzzler, Basement Crawl, didn't live up to early promise (read: it's proper turnip, but people wanted it to be good) it does feature an absolutely ghastly clown. This playable character is a sort of baby clown (although it looks old), riding a unicycle, holding a joystick. It's the mess of imagery that makes this thing awful, along with the fact that it appears in all kinds of weird, gothic settings. Look, I haven't played this game. Maybe the demonic clown baby is basically fine.
Dhoulmagus (Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King / PS2)
Unlike all the other clowns on this list, Dhoulmagus is more of a jester than an outright clown. That being said, he's every inch a jerk. He's a tough, three-form boss in Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King, whose only real weakness is laughing at his own jokes. Like me. Anyway, his final - and true - form is that of a demon, which is irrefutable proof that all clowns are basically Satan. Good day, sir.