The Top 7… Most embarrassing apocalypses in video games
This is the way the world ends
According to millions of people with no knowledge of astronomy, history, or ancient civilizations, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012–this Friday. Some say that Earth’s imminent destruction will come via collision of the mythical (and super nonexistent) planet Nibiru, while others expect all life to be obliterated by a solar flare. But one thing’s for sure: It’s totally, definitely, really going to happen. Seriously.
It’s because of this that we’ve decided to celebrate the end of the world… in video games. We’re kicking things off with this Top 7, honoring the most awkward, embarrassing apocalypses gaming has ever seen. What villains have gotten their way due to the ignorance of the heroes? What world-ending catastrophes seemed to have happened by mistake? We’ve picked our seven favorites, so that we may better understand Friday’s inevitable disaster.
7. Smoke detonates the planet (Mortal Kombat 3)
We’re not sure if cyber Smoke suffers from faulty programming, or if he’s always had a penchant for overcompensating. But neither is a very good excuse for destroying an entire celestial body in the effort to execute a single person. During one of the goofier Fatalities that the Mortal Kombat series has ever seen, Smoke launches a good thirty or so bombs from his chest, covering the ground at his dazed opponent’s feet with explosives. But the plan somewhat backfires when the resulting explosion shatters the Earth–Smoke included–in the blink of an eye. Smoke… wins…?
Even if Smoke kills himself–and the rest of humanity–in the process, maybe he’s doing us all a kindness. With such an abrupt end, there’d be no time to panic, mourn for the things you still wanted to do, or accompany John Cusack on a CG-fueled rollercoaster ride of plot-hole stupidity. One moment, you’re living your life; the next, your ashes are floating through space. Could be worse.
6. The Dark Wanderer jabs himself in the face with the devil's soul (Diablo)
We’ll give the Dark Wanderer this much: He honest-to-God tried. See, at the end of the original Diablo, Aidan, as he was then known, had successfully gone mano-a-mano with Diablo, the Lord of Terror himself. His victory meant Hell’s maw had shut, for the time being. However, Diablo’s not one to stay down, so Aidan had a choice to make. On one hand, he could devise a clever solution to keep Diablo contained, a solution akin to the demon’s original Soulstone. On the other hand, he could just man up.
So he did what any good hulking brute of a warrior-man would do: He jammed that sucker right into his own forehead. Seriously, who could’ve guessed that taking a giant, pulsating shard–a shard that contained the imminently corrupting essence of evil–just taking that thing and ramming it right into one’s skull would be, in fact, the incorrect option? Long story short, he failed. Diablo thus back in the world, the Dark Wanderer then heads off and frees Baal, The Lord of Destruction. Fun times.
5. Stubbs spreads zombie plague after a night with the farmer’s daughter (Stubbs the Zombie)
We know, zombie apocalypses are such a snore these days–but Stubbs’ approach to ending the world is a little different than most brain-munchers. Awakening in the retro-futuristic city of Punchbowl, the would-be paradise is quickly torn apart by Stubbs as he spreads a zombie plague throughout the land. Eventually Punchbowl is overrun with the undead and the only hope to save humanity is to nuke the city. Luckily, Stubbs and his newly undead bride escape, no doubt spreading their plague worldwide.
The embarrassing part is how Stubbs became a zombie in the first place. Originally he was Stubbs the Door-to-Door Salesman, who spent the night with a farmer’s daughter, just like in an old timey lewd joke. When the farmer figures out, he kills Stubbs, leaving his corpse to stew in the earth until the fancy chemicals of Punchbowl awaken him. All that death just because of a little action on the side.
4. Gordon Freeman invites the Combine to Earth (Half-Life/HL2)
Black Mesa scientist Gordon Freeman is perpetually the right man in the wrong place, and though this phrase isn’t tied to him until Half-Life 2, it’s really epitomized in the opening moments of the first game. Gordon, after arriving late for work, jumps into his orange Hazardous Environment suit, saunters silently into a laboratory, and unknowingly ushers in an age of horror, oppression, and darkness to all of planet Earth. Mondays, right?
After pushing a strange specimen into an Anti-Mass Spectrometer, a portal to another dimension opens up, inviting in all sorts of terrible alien monsters to wreak havoc on the Black Mesa facility. This incident is mostly contained, and Gordon is eventually able to shut the portal and defeat the alien beasties–but not before another alien race, The Combine, caught wind of this weird interdimensional instability. By the time Gordon arrived back on Earth in Half-Life 2, the entire planet had gone all 1984 on him, just because of a science project gone awry.
3. The Internet causes a new Ice Age in Indigo Prophecy
Spoilers, obviously–though we have a feeling you don’t really care about the ending of Indigo Prophecy, a game that starts out so simple and ends so utterly bizarre. After Lucas Kane is framed for a murder he didn’t commit, he searches for answers that point to an ancient conspiracy. As all this is going on, snow starts falling worldwide at record numbers, and people are talking the end of the world… then things go really bonkers when aliens and Area 51 come into play.
Eventually, after Lucas dies, gets resurrected, and then sleeps with the female detective hunting him down, he attempts to protect the prophesied Indigo Child from the Orange Clan (an Illuminati-type group) and the Purple Clan (who are, no joke, the Internet come to life). In the worst of three possible endings to the game, the living world wide web steals the secret of the child, causing the snow to keep falling until the world is frozen and three fourths of humanity dies. We wonder if “Internet freezes Earth” was the top headline on the news that night.<
2. Link’s sword gives evil all the time it needs (Ocarina of Time)
An absurdly evil sorcerer named Ganondorf has worked his way into the favor of the king (despite being absurdly evil), so Princess Zelda asks ten-year-old Link to defeat him. Sounds reasonable, right? Link’s first got to get stronger, so goes around and kills some monsters. Eventually, he makes his way back to the castle, where he’s summarily smacked away by the absurdly evil Ganondorf. Link then makes a break for the Temple of Time with his newly nicked ocarina and finds The Master Sword–the only blade capable of destroying Ganondorf.
Link plays some sick songs on his ocarina and grabs the sword… only to find out that he was followed into the Temple. Ganondorf grabs the wholly unprotected Triforce (see: magical triangle that makes anyone who has it a god) and laughs an evil laugh as Link is teleported seven years into the future. There, everything has gone to hell because Ganondorf has conquered everything, on account of Link forgetting to close the door behind him. Good going, brat.
1. War starts early (Darksiders)
When you’re a warrior cooped up in Heaven or Hell, you might get a little bit antsy to bring about the end of the Earth. Then again, if our boss sent us a memo telling us to eradicate every last trace of humanity and turn the planet into a hellish wasteland, we’d probably double-check before acting. The entire premise of Darksiders starts with one unfortunate misunderstanding, as the horseman War rides out to kill some fools–only to find that our planet has already been ravaged by the End War, a century of strife between angels and demons. Turns out, the Apocalypse party got its start before the Four Horsemen could even join in on the fun. Uhhhhhm…whoops!
On the path to prove his innocence in the matter, War eventually learns that (spoiler for a four-year-old game) the entire thing was a setup, orchestrated by the misguided Archangel Abaddon in an effort to cripple the forces of Hell. But just because his job title includes “of the Apocalypse,” War wrongly takes the blame from the almighty Charred Council. Thus begins War’s Legend of Zelda-like journey to undo the most embarrassing Apocalypse gaffe of all time.
See you next week! Maybe!
Well, it’s been fun, everyone–but a planet is going to crash into Earth, so we’re going to go ahead and take the rest of the week off to FINALLY play through all of the games we’ve been putting off. …Eh, never mind, we’ll just keep writing articles. That seems like a better use of our last days in the mortal realm, talking about the end of the world as told through the medium of video games. What are your favorite world-ending gaming disasters? Let us know!
And if you’re looking for more end of the world fun, check out an article asking if the end of the world would be fun and the top 7 most badass game characters of the generation–you know, because they’ve all prevented world-ending events and all.