Gaming's grimmest Grim Reapers

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Drawing on the entire thematic backlog of Classical myth, Kid Icarus: Uprising has more than its share of Deaths incarnate. Late in the piece, Death pulls his old trick of donning a flamboyant costume and calling himself Thanatos like we'll never work out who it really is; but before that, there's the common-or-garden Reapers to contend with.

The easiest way to avoid Reapers - just like in the original Kid Icarus, and possibly in life? - is just to stay off their radar; make eye-contact and you'll be fighting off Reapettes (sure, why not) and, eventually, the towering Great Reaper (now you're pushing it). Tough as that fight is, it's still probably more fun than being Thanatos, for whom the afterlife is a dog-eat-dog corporate ladder where only the ruthless survive. What's the point in dying anyway? You might as well just become a lawyer.

Twisted Metal

Over its long line of PlayStation-exclusive vehicle brawlers, Twisted Metal's been repeatedly used to highlight the ways in which Sony's line of consoles do things differently. After all, plenty of games have a Grim Reaper in them, but not many go to the trouble of giving the guy a decent-sized backstory - let alone casting him as a strung-out drug addict.

In the Twisted Metal world, Death's gone off the rails in his thirst for souls, which apparently have a narcotic property of some sort if prepared correctly. This begins a series-spanning arc in which Grimm's played the roles of daredevil, pirate chief, convict and trick-or-treater - all while mowing down foes and jonesing for souls. It all sounds a bit dangerous; if anyone tries to get you hooked on consuming human souls, our advice is to Just Say No. Failing that, at least try not to inhale.

Ghouls 'n' Ghosts

Here you see Arthur the Brave Knight (recognizable, obviously, by the sweet beard and utterly inappropriate battlefield attire) facing off against the Skeleton Murderer, the closest thing Ghouls 'n' Ghosts has to a bona-fide Grim Reaper. Frankly, this dude's looks are all he has going for him, and he's hardly George Clooney to begin with.

Yes, fine, he's got the traditional robe 'n' scythe, and yes, he wants to kill you; but frankly, in this context, that's just not good enough. This is a game where you're vomited on by pig-men, spend lengthy periods traversing a demon's digestive tract, and ultimately pitted against a forty-foot eunuch whose groin's still bigger than your whole body. Some clown in a dress who calls himself the "Skeleton Murderer" but doesn't even murder any skeletons? That's not even worth putting on pants for.

Conker's Bad Fur Day

Pity Gregg the Grim Reaper, undersized and squeaky-voiced avatar of quietus within Rare's irreverent platformer. I'm just doing my job I don't even get paid that much, he laments before explaining Conker's unique relationship to the Hereafter:

Now, the thing is: you may not be dead, but that doesn't mean you can't die. You just have a few more...shall we say, chances. Distributed around your world are these tail things. Squirrels' Tails. If you can get them, I'll give you an extra chance...

That's right: Gregg's sole reason for inclusion is to explain to the player that this is a game in which "lives" function in the same way as in, um, every other game ever made. And he still steals the show, such was Rare's way with characters at the height of their powers. The company would give Death another go in Grabbed by the Ghoulies, but you probably know how well that went over.

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition

Ingmar Bergman's classic 1957 film, The Seventh Seal, immortalized the trope of the "game with Death": a battle of wits against the Reaper himself. But today's Reaper doesn't have time for a whole game of chess, so would you perhaps be interested in a spot of two-on-two?

Apart from a display pic that suggests his parents were cousins, Death's as fleet-footed on the court as any NBA superstar. We're willing to bet, though, that if you did beat him on-court, Death would just bring out the ol' chessboard anyway (see previous entries, Death's a dick). Our advice in that case is to hold onto your pawns, protect your king, buy Park Lane as soon as you land on it, and don't go for a saving throw with anything larger than a D20. (Is any of that chess?)

Dying to have your say?

Look, videogames have a lot of death in them; saying we'd managed to list every single one would be like promising you a picture of every game ever to feature grass. (Absolutely not, please don't ask).

But if we neglected to namecheck your favorite Grim Reaper - or the one that stops you playing that otherwise-fine game at the end of your shelf - here's where you can chip in. After all, we know a thing or two about cheating death: if the afterlife happens to have the Konami Code in it, eternity is going to be pret-ty sweet.