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Top 10 Game Over Screens

Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. No matter how good you think you are at video games, you will eventually die. If you die often enough, you’re bound to see a game over screen or two… or perhaps even thousands.  This is especially true in retro games where a game over was actually possible, not like today with infinite continues and checkpoints.

 There are many types of game over screens. Some of them make the player hungry for vengeance, others lead the player down a path of depression, while some of the best actually celebrate the player’s death. Nevertheless, I decided to look at my top 10 most memorable retro game overs. Keep in mind that these are not Continue Screens (with a countdown) but rather what happens when the lives and countdown run out.


Honorable Mentions

There were a few game over screens that just couldn’t make this list. The first is the game over from The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask. In this game when you get a game over the moon comes crashing down onto Termina, killing everyone there. The reason I didn’t include this, was because I never really played a lot of Majora’s Mask, just a few minutes, but I made it the featured image for this blog so you all wouldn’t complain.


 In addition, I wanted to give an honorable mention to Mega Man 3. I wanted to include the game over screen from Mega Man 3, mainly for the music but besides that, there’s nothing special about it. Maybe except for brentalfloss’ video.

10.) The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner

I’m going to start this list off with a classic, and one of my favorite NES games. The 3-D Battles of World Runner is a game where you play as a man named Jack who is constantly running forward. You must defeat evil creatures, jump over bottomless pits, and run into a lot of pillars on 8 different worlds…  all in glorious 3D! All of the worlds culminate in a boss battle against a Serpentbeast.

The game over for this game is quite simple but effective. If you get a game over there will be a serpentbeast flying across the screen taunting you to try again. It’s also effective because there will be a different serpentbeast depending on which world you died on. It motivated the player to try and get better to see and defeat the next serpentbeast.


9.) Comix Zone

Comix Zone is a tough game, so be prepared to see the game over screen a lot. It is also one of the most unique graphically game of the 16-bit era. In this game you play as a comic book artist who gets sucked into his own comic book and the main villain gets sucked into the main world. The villain draws enemies and tries to destroy the comic creator.

Once you receive a game over the main villain, Mortus, is no longer bound to the comic book. He proclaims he is free at last, and stands on the roof of a building with lightning striking in the background. I always liked and remembered this game over because it’s terrifying that something you created can kill you.


8.) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is perhaps the best Casltevania game ever created. The game follows Alucard on a quest to stop his father’s resurrection and destroy the castle. All the while, he must figure out what Shaft is planning and what happened to Richter Belmont.

The game over screen of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is just creepy. A horned demonic skull, ribcage, and cross are half buried in the sand with Dracula’s castle in the background surrounded by bats and with a blood red moon in the background. Besides all that, a deep voice says “Game Over” and then laughs maniacally. “Let us all go out this evening for pleasure. The night is still young.”


7.) Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is one of the “best” LJN games ever made. Best is a subjective term, because as we’ve discussed, most LJN games are just terrible. It’s actually playable unlike the X-Men LJN game… so that’s a plus. The game somewhat follows the film it’s based off of, as you play as a camp counselor who is in charge of protecting the campers against Jason Voorhees.

The game over screen for Friday the 13th is infamous for its bluntness and for the Angry Video Game Nerd episode about the game. The game over screen just says “You and your friends are dead. Game Over.” There’s no thanks for playing, or try again. It just says that your dead and anyone you cared about is dead.


6.) Ninja Gaiden Arcade

If you’re a big fan of the show Continue? On YouTube then you might already be familiar with this game over screen. The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden is very different from the NES game. The arcade version is a sidescrolling beat-em-up and has a two-player mode as well. In addition, I feel like the arcade version is superior, because it’s much less difficult. You won’t be constantly knocked off ledges by those gahdamn birds.

The game over screen is memorable because of the Continue screen that precedes it, and its brutal nature. When you die, you see the ninja strapped to a table with a buzz saw slowly being lowered. As the Continue timer counts down the blade gets closer and closer. If it reaches 0, the screen turns red and a scream can be heard with ominous music. If the thought of a man being sawed in half doesn’t make you fish for more quarters, then nothing will.


5.) Splatterhouse 3

What happened to this series? I heard there was a new Splatterhouse released a few years ago, but I just never heard anything about it. Nevertheless, this bloody and horror-themed video game series is one of my favorite on the Genesis. Splatterhouse 3, stars Rick once again who dons the Terror Mask to rescue his wife (Jennifer) and his son (David) from the forces of evil.

This game over screen always stood out in my mind because of how sad it made me feel. The screen is black with a glowing version of Jennifer looking down and weeping over Rick’s deceased corpse. The player is given a chance to retry, but if he clicks “No” then Rick’s skin literally melts off his body leaving a skeleton with bits of flesh clinging to it.


4.) Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid has one of the most famous game over screens of all time. If you’re not familiar with the Metal Gear Solid series you’ve been living under a rock. It’s a series of games that follow covert spy, Snake, and a ton of tanks, nukes, and terrorism. I’ve never been good at the stealth aspect of the series, but it’s one of my favorite series anyway.

If you’re a gamer, then you know the Metal Gear Solid game over. It starts off with a high pitched screeching noise, a memorable little jingle, and then someone screaming “SNAKE!” I always enjoyed this game over screen because it expresses how others in the video game would feel if the main character died. You’re not alone on the Metal Gear Solid series, and this game over series shows it.


3.) Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

I don’t really enjoy the Legend of Zelda series, but by far the best game in the series is Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. This game was a sidescrolling action game released for the NES. Many fans of the series, despise this game because it’s not like other games in the series and because it is very difficult. However, all those fans are wrong and stupid, because this game is amazing!

Zelda II follows Link as he tries to revive Zelda from a sleeping spell. Meanwhile, the followers of Ganon are trying to kill Link because Link’s blood can be used to revive Ganon. If you receive a game over in this game, then Ganon is revived. The screen is an uncomfortable and obnoxious orange with a silhouette of Ganon on the screen. Then all you hear is Ganon’s laugh. Not only is true evil revived, but it’s also mocking you.


2.) Banjo Kazooie

Banjo Kazooie is a game I didn’t finish until very recently, but I’m glad I did. The game follows Banjo and his smart-mouthed partner Kazooie  who are on a quest to rescue Banjo’s sister, Tooty. Tooty was kidnapped by the evil with Gruntilda who wants to steal Tooty’s youth and beauty.

The game over screen for Banjo Kazooie is one of the few game over screens that you actually want to see. If you lose all your lives, you get to see what would happen to Tooty and Gruntilda if Gruntilda stole all of Tooty’s beauty. Tooty looks like an ugly and fat beast, but Gruntilda is a knock out. I can deal with the green skin and constant rhyming, with a body like that. Whoops! I accidentally died again… on no.


1.) Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger follows Crono as he travels around to different locations and different time periods. Crono wishes to return home, but he must also destroy an evil being known as Lavos which is draining the planet, and will destroy everything if it is not defeated. Crono goes to the future and sees the destruction and sadness Lavos causes and vows to defend it.

The game over screen for Chrono Trigger, puts some real weight behind your failure. If you get a game over, it’s the end of all life on the planet, and it’s all because of you. Everything that exists and everything that might exist has been destroyed because YOU failed. The game lets you know that by showing a dark screen with the planet in shambles from Lavos and simple message that is dark, depressing, and memorable for years…

But… The future refused to change.

This game over shows the apocalyptic results of your failure, and punishes your insolence for trying to defy destiny and it’s my most memorable game over ever.

Wow, that was a depressing end to this blog wasn’t it? Well let’s end on a bit of a lighter note with a game over that just didn’t make the cut.