The scariest villains EVER

There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about how videogames need to provoke more of an emotional response from gamers, and of how the technology is gradually allowing developers the freedom to evoke those responses. But really, videogames have been expertly tapping into one of our most basic emotions for decades: Fear.

Sometimes, all of that fear is inspired by a single character or creature, and when those characters are realized particularly well, throwing down with them can leave players traumatized - but in a good way. In the following pages, we'll recognize the baddies that scared us the most - and present video evidence to prove that they're just as creepy as we remember.

From: Friday the 13th (NES, 1989)

Seeing as this article's going up on Friday, June 13th, it just wouldn't be right to lock Jason out of the running. Yes, his appearance on the NES was stupid. Casting you as one of six doomed counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, it tasked you with roaming around in circles, throwing rocks at hippie zombies and trying to figure out just what you were supposed to do before Jason showed up and killed you and all your friends. It was also so awful that the mere act of playing it should count as a bold-faced insult to the idea of good game design.

But even with his cartoonish look and the silly little dance he does when he's onscreen, there's a reason that Jason's on this list, and it's that, after 19 years, the bastard can still give us a start. One second, you'll be slowly walking through a house, and then you'll turn 90 degrees and… BAM! There he is! Aggh!

The terror usually wears off the second you get a good look at Jason's purple-and-teal outfit, but the fact remains that - for a split-second - that lame, poorly animated sprite made you jump. No, it's not sophisticated, and yes, it's the videogame equivalent of that internet prank with the ghost or whatever that jumps out and screams at you. But hey, were the movies really that much better? Score one for Jason, and try to forget that - should you somehow manage to win the game - your only reward will be a picture of Jason's stupid fat ass passed out drunk:

From: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, GC, Wii , 1998)

ReDeads are pretty much the worst things ever. Most of the time, they're fairly docile creatures that hang around tombs and ruined cities, content to stare into space and moan stupidly. That changes the second you walk within 10 feet of them, at which point they'll emit a paralyzing shriek and slink slowly toward you on their long, shriveled legs. If they can keep you paralyzed long enough to get within striking distance, they'll leap onto your back, wrap their mummy limbs around you and start to bite, strangle or possibly hump you (it's hard to tell with these chunky graphics).

Probably the worst thing about them is their masks, however. Their ugly skull faces would be bad enough, but when you consider that they're staring at you through huge, empty eye-holes in cheap wooden face-coffins, the creep factor ratchets through the roof. How did they get them? Who put them there? And why, for God's sake, is that the only scrap of clothing they wear?

Thankfully, the ReDeads are all talk; they're fairly weak and easy to overcome, and you can usually get past them just by keeping your distance or by playing the right song on the ocarina. But even when armed with that knowledge, there's just something about the sounds they make and the way they move that makes us want to run far away and stay the hell out of the dank tombs they like to hang out in.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.