As legions of frustrated, controller throwing, floor stamping, rage quitting, gaming nerds all over the world know: losing sucks. When we play games, we play to win, and this means that there’s little worse than seeing the screen fade to black and getting that devastating GAME OVER text appearing on the screen.
A GAME OVER is usually the last thing any gamer wants to see. In 99% of cases, the death screen merely displays the words ‘Game over’ or ‘You died’ or something to that effect, occasionally with a (not so) helpful hint on how to be less dead next time you play.
However, truly great developers see the game over screen as just another way to get creative. Rather than being obnoxious or irritating, they can be funny, interesting, unique to the situation, sarcastic, hyperbolic to the point of hilarity, or just plain old messed up. They make the best of a bad situation, a resounding triumph of your failures.
First, take a moment of silence for your fallen protagonist of choice, and then let’s have a gander at those game overs that were actually worth dying for...
6. Theme Park - Suicidal CEO
Let’s kick off with some dark humour incredibly inappropriate in a kid friendly game, shall we?
Theme Park is a construction and management sim that rode the craze of similar ‘run your own virtual business’ games that were inexplicably ubiquitous from the mid-90s through to the early 2000s. The aim was to construct and manage your own theme park. Buying attractions, upgrading facilities, selling hot dogs, and making enough virtual cash to attract even the snootiest of virtual gold diggers.
But one thing that sets Theme Park aside from the rest is the game over sequence. Rather than a simple ‘Game Over’ or ‘Your Park Has Gone Out Of Business’ or something to that effect, gamers were treated to a cutscene ending.
In it, we see the reflection of the (now broke) CEO in his family portrait on his desk clamber out of the window and jump from the building, all to the tune of some foreboding, funeral style organ music. It’s enough to give a first time viewer a mini-heart attack.
Not to worry though, his cheeky little face pops up over the window only a moment later, and it’s revealed the building was only one story high. Clearly the devs liked their humour as black as the night sky, and in retrospect it was a good move, as nobody would ever talk about this game anymore were it not for this morbid, gallows humour style game over.