An inside-of-body experience
What is it like to get swallowed alive by a ginormous animal? Mankind will never know--for if ever one encountered an entity big enough to do so, he would certainly be killed by crushing esophagus contractions or ultra-acidic digestive juices. Indeed, the only way we've ever been able to explore the innards of living creatures is through fictional accounts: the touching tale of Pinocchio; the story of Jonah and the fish; any number of video games.
We decided to pretend we know stuff about anatomy to discern whether or not characters in the following video games could, in fact, survive if they found themselves exploring the guts of a giant creature (Spoiler: Unless magic or futuristic science is involved, nope).
The beautiful tragedy of Earthworm Jim is that he managed to avoid ending up in a bird's stomach, only to find himself in an even bigger beast's bowels (what could this link possibly be?). In a level called "Intestinal Distress," Jim must traverse what is presumably the large intestine of an unidentified creature, shooting down flying fish wearing spinning hats (critters that are likely the bacteria that manufactures farts) while avoiding giant balls of fecal matter.
Could he possibly survive? No--in fact, we believe Jim's intestinal trek to be some sort of hellish afterlife. Why? He never would've made it past the stomach, special space suit or no.
PixelJunk Shooter 2
Q-Games' multidirectional shooter is harder than trying to order a pizza with Kinect, a significant challenge that no person should take lightly. Those brave enough to take on PixelJunk Shooter 2, however, will inevitably find themselves navigating the digestive tract of a giant monstrosity in a microbial spaceship thing. Thankfully, your ship can temporarily shield itself from the disintegrative effects of digestive juices.
Could you possibly survive?: Maybe. We don't know when the game takes place, and it's possible that science will evolve to the point where mankind could shrink space-worthy vessels and use them to explore the human body on a microscopic level.
Gears of War 2
Marcus, Dom, and the rest of the crew survived an awful lot of fantastical situations throughout the Gears of War series--situations that would've killed pretty much anyone else. But few of their experiences are as outrageous as the time they were swallowed alive by a Riftworm. Instead of getting ground to a pulp by the muscular contractions within the worm's gizzard, or getting killed by any number of digestive secretions (assuming the Riftworm's anatomy is similar to that of an earthworm), Delta Team decides they're just gonna kill the thing from the inside and cut their way out.
Could Delta possibly survive? Negative. One does not simply walk through a digestive system.
Dead Space 3
Isaac Clarke's in-body experience is different than many of the others in this list, because the creature whose body he explores is frozen solid. Well, except for its "nerve clusters" that (for some unexplained reason) are still active--nerves that, when shot with a probe, cause a mini horde of creepy Necromorphs to come running.
Could he possibly survive? It's hard to say. It helps that the Nexus was in a frozen state, and because it's an alien creature, it very well could have a hollow cavity in its body. We'll give Isaac the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Attempting to pass through the digestive system of just about any creature would certainly result in a painful death--but Mario & Luigi should thank their lucky stars that they were swallowed whole by Bowser. If the inner plumbing of a Koopa is anything like that of a turtle, the two brothers might just stand a chance. Turtles, especially herbivorous ones, have a slower digestive process than most animals; it can take weeks for a meal to be fully processed. Still, even if the two managed to avoid digestive juices and muscle contractions (the two deadliest culprits of an in-body experience), they'd probably suffocate.
Could Mario and Luigi possibly survive? Probably not. Turns out, all Bowser had to do to defeat those pesky plumbers was eat them.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
The journey of Yoshi and Baby Mario was full of peril and challenging platforming, but it eventually led to the gut of Prince Froggy. This encounter is strange, in that Yoshi must throw eggs at Froggy's acid-spewing uvula (that dangly thing in the back of your throat that definitely does not produce acidic juices), which, for some reason, is located in his stomach. Maybe artistic liberty was taken with Froggy's insides to distract players from the fact that such a journey to the belly of the beast would, in fact, be suicidal.
Could Yoshi and Baby Mario possibly survive? Nooooooope.
Wolf god Amaterasu's journey into the Water Dragon was necessary in order to reach Oni Island. Supposedly the creature was so large that Ammy could safely traverse its digestive tract, using fleshy platforms to avoid the Water Dragon's red, acidic juices.
Could Amaterasu possibly survive? Sure--she's a god after all, and while we can speculate how a Water Dragon's anatomy might work, we can't know for sure.
God of War II
Kratos has a distinct advantage compared to most characters on this list, as he typically winds up inside of automated statues or immortal gods, neither of which eat stuff. That's not to say such encounters aren't dangerous. The interior of the Titan Atlus, for instance, was home to plenty of lava traps and bloodthirsty creatures.
Could Kratos possibly survive? Yep. Seeing as Atlus was a godly immortal, it's highly unlikely the guy even needed a digestive system in the first place.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Remember when Link had to save Princess Ruto from the insides of the Jabu-Jabu? His life was basically forfeit the second he volunteered to hop into its gullet. Because Link's body was almost as tall and wide as the whale-thing's food tube, those muscles would've been grinding him into powder as soon as he tried passing through (otherwise, Jabu-Jabu probably would've choked to death). Then there's the whole issue of running through stomachs. If Jabu-Jabu had an anatomy comparable to that of a whale, the only thing Link would have to worry about in the first stomach would be churning muscles; the second and third stomachs, however, are rife with nasty flesh-melting juices.
Could Link (and Ruto) possibly survive? Dead.
Breath of Fire II
Obesity is a challenging thing to deal with, because it requires actually paying attention to what you eat, as well as partaking in a dumb fad called "exercise." Sometimes we wish our world was more like that of Breath of Fire II, where magical wizards can shrink people before sending them into the guts of those suffering from That-Dinner-Was-Big-And-Delicious syndrome. Such was the case for protagonist Ryu and his partymates, all of whom were miniaturized and transported into the body of Tunlan's Queen--though her obesity problem was more a result of the demons inside her than anything she had for dinner.
Could Ryu possibly survive? In a human stomach? C'mon, we've been through this already.
Honey, we shrunk the hero
What are your thoughts on levels that take place inside of living things? Do they creep you out, or do you enjoy them? Which games do you think have some of the most interesting gut levels? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you're looking for more, check out gaming's red shirt characters and the top 7 most disturbing things about the Zelda universe.