11 video game enemies who can down you with one hit

One hit wonders

Video game enemies come in all shapes and sizes. Super Mario's Goombas bite the dust with just a little stomp, while others like Dark Souls' Black Knights slice the player into dozens of pieces if given the chance. But no matter how tough they are, enemies are largely just cannon fodder--it's those bad guys who can kill you with one measly hit that stick in your mind and create a grudge.

I'm not talking about Call of Duty soldiers on Veteran difficulty or Halo aliens on Legendary. These are enemies who can take you down with just one attack, no matter what difficulty you're playing. Start making your hit list, because you're gonna want to hunt down every one of these pricks after reading this...

Atlas (Mass Effect 3)

There's a literal universe filled with bad guys in the Mass Effect series, but none can turn you into paragon pudding faster than an Atlas mech in Mass Effect 3. The Cerberus Corporation manufactures most of the enemies you'll battle in the game, but this guy outranks the troopers and snipers by a long shot.

The Atlas is outfitted with a smorgasbord of deadly weapons like rockets, particle beams, and a massive claw arm--it's that arm that'll end you in one blow. Get lifted into the air, and your torso will be crushed by its pure power.

Hunters (Resident Evil)

When I think Resident Evil, I think zombies. But the series throws its fans curveballs with bio-engineered weapons like snakes, sharks, and the nigh unstoppable Hunters. These ain't your grandmother's pet lizards.

Only big guns like Rocket Launchers and Shotguns can take these guys down, and even then, only from behind. If you round a corner and spot one, run: they love grabbing Chris and Jill and ripping their heads right off. In the Gamecube remake, they slit the STARS members' throats, so at least that's cleaner?

Upgraded Robots (Mother 3)

If the Wobbly Robots didn't present much challenge in Mother 3, then wait until you run into their cousins in the Empire Porky Building. Lucas and company may be impossibly adept at combat for being kids, but even they have a tough time with these guys.

For one, they can spray a gas that makes the party forget all their special attacks. But their deadliest move involves emitting a blinding light that--you guessed it--instantly downs a party member. A battle with the Upgraded Robots is a race to beat them before they perform this flash attack.

Clickers (The Last of Us)

The cordyceps virus has laid waste to the world of The Last of Us, and its mutating effects are hard to avoid. Runners and Stalkers aren't so bad; they move fast and hit hard, but you can take some blows and down them with a few bullets in a pinch. It's their older sibling--the Clicker--who's deadliest.

Clickers are blind, but their sense of hearing is second to none. If they hear the slightest movement, they'll sprint toward you and grab your throat. No shivs? Then your Adam's apple becomes the Clicker's midday snack.

Black Smurfs (The Smurfs)

The 1994 Smurfs game only came to the Game Boy in the states, but European gamers got several console versions of this unremarkable adventure featuring the little blue mushroom people. Well, at least one part is worth mentioning: the nearly racist Black Smurf.

But let's ignore the quasi-political incorrectness of this little guy and talk about how dangerous he is. One touch from the Black Smurf, and you'll lose a life. And since your only offense is to run and jump, you definitely don't want to drop onto these evil little dudes.

Boss Bass (Super Mario Bros. 3)

This isn't the anti-treble rival of Mega Man, but a giant fish that wants nothing more than to make a meal of Mario. He only appears in two levels, but the water in those levels is constantly moving, leaving almost no safe haven for our mustachioed friend. Defeat him with a thrown item or an Invincibility Star, and he'll just respawn soon after.

So what's the big deal? Mario can take at least one hit when he's powered up, right? Nope: Boss Bass instantly devours Mario no matter what shape he's in. Super Mushroom? Gone. Tanooki Suit? Gobbled up. Statue Form? Swallowed whole.

Leader Mutants (The Forest)

This forest isn't a nice Disney-fied Into the Woods grove of trees: it's a horrifying hellscape ruled by mutant cannibals. If the multi-limbed freaks or their standard cannibal buddies don't get you, the Leader Mutants probably will.

The creeps may just try to intimidate you and back away, but if they start moving toward you, run. If they catch you, a flurry of punches will knock you to the ground. Even worse, the Leader might take a step back and prepare for a leaping attack. Once they land on you, it's game over.

Guardians (Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)

Deku Babas and Stalfoses are one thing, but when Link enters the Silent Realm in Skyward Sword, all bets are off. Step out of the safety zone in this world, and the Guardians will begin hunting you down.

There are two types of these jerks: flyers and walkers. The flying Guardians continuously move toward Link no matter where he's headed, and the walking Guardians chase him down once he's spotted. Either type can end Link's life with a single attack. Link is totally unarmed in the Silent Realm too, so collecting the Tears of the Goddesses there is a serious pain.

Tempura Wizards and Ornes (Kid Icarus: Uprising)

The classic Eggplant Wizard provided quite a challenge in the original Kid Icarus, but its upgraded buddy makes things even tougher in Uprising. The Tempura Wizard morphs Pit's upper body into a tempura shrimp (hence the name), turning his attacks into bits of flour. The Wizard then chases him down: one bite and the little cherub is done. Luckily, this guy only shows up three times throughout the game.

Even worse are Uprising's Ornes. A single touch, and Pit dies. Unlike the Tempura Wizard, the Orne shows up all over the game's levels, and you can't even defeat him until you've gathered the Three Sacred Treasures. You might say they're quite... "Orne-ry."

Zombonis and Gargantuars (Plants vs Zombies)

Plants vs Zombies is a simple concept: don't let zombies eat your plants. This also applies to the Zomboni, which the game states is "a totally different life-form more closely related to a space ogre than a zombie." These jerks slide right across the garden, flattening any plants along the way. Even worse, they leave behind an ice trail that prevents you from planting more defenses in those spaces.

Then there's the Gargantuar, a zombie so big it's ridden by another zombie. These guys don't eat your plants--they crush them. The Gargantuar takes two instant kills to actually kill, so say goodbye to your nice little sunflowers if you don't have some serious defense planted.

Everything (Contra)

Ready that Konami code, because literally every enemy on screen can kill Contra heroes Bill Rizer and Lance Bean in a single hit. The Schwarzenegger and Stallone clones definitely have their work cut out for them over the game's eight stages.

Whether it's in the jungle, military bases, waterfall, snow fields, hangar, or alien's lair, every trooper in the Contra-verse is a serious threat. You'd better be dodging every cannonball, laser, rifle, and launcher that fires your way, because every shot that lands is one less life. Even those 30 secret lives don't sound so great now, huh?

Did you make it?

Oh good, looks like you made it past all those tough guys. Some of you didn't? Well, leave a comment and tell us what it's like to be a ghost, then. Which of these deadly-to-the-touch enemies got you?

Have a grudge against some other video game baddies? See if they're included in these 9 enemies we're tired of killing. And if you're a fan of weird bad guys out of left field, check out the creepiest enemies in otherwise cute games.

Freelance Writer

Tony lives in Maryland, where he writes about those good old-fashioned video games for GamesRadar+. His words have also appeared on GameSpot and G4, but he currently works for Framework Video, and runs Dungeons and Dragons streams.