By the Last Token Gaming Staff
Last year, we put together a list of what we considered the 10 worst sidekicks in all of gaming. Not surprisingly, it provided a great source of agreement (and catharsis) for both the LTG staff and our readers. To start this year, we present a new (and slightly longer) list of characters that have long been a craw in our sides. This time, we pick the recurring enemies (whether in one or multiples games of a series) that drive you to a state of frustration (or pure rage) instantly. While there have been many sidekicks we wish would take a hike, the plethora of infuriating enemies is far greater.
And make no mistake, having challenging and memorable enemies in action/adventure games is an essential component. But just because games should be challenging, doesn’t mean all recurring enemies make for a good part of that challenge. Whether it’s because they’re insanely overpowering, appear too frequently when you least want them, or make a hideous sound, we give you the 15 worst enemies in all of gamedom, working our way down from 15 on down. You’ve hated them for years, now it’s time to vent! Enjoy! And if you feel we missed anyone, leave us a comment to let us know.
- Working Joes, Alien: Isolation
Marshall Garvey: I’ve praised Alien: Isolation as not only the first truly great game of the franchise, but also an innovative triumph in survival horror altogether. That said, the game still has some notable flaws, easily the greatest of which is the overabundance of Working Joes. For those unfamiliar with the game, they’re a brand of expressionless synthetic androids who tend to essential jobs throughout the Sevastopol station (the game’s setting). In and of themselves, they’re fine. They’re good enemies in moderation, and the plot of them going haywire and attacking humans is perfectly in-line with one of the series’ key tropes. So why are they on this list? Simple: They interrupt the gameplay’s rhythm.
For me, nothing was as deflating as coming off a taut, white-knuckle confrontation with a relentless Xenomorph, only to have to slog through passages of fighting off Joes. The problem with this transition is that when you’re up against the alien, the game is at its best and most cunning in how it challenges you. You can’t kill the alien, and must scavenge the bare minimum of resources in order to hide and distract it to barely survive. When you’re being attacked by Working Joes, all of that minimalist gameplay is tossed aside in favor of just mindlessly killing them. Worse, because you have low ammo and weapons to begin with, you can easily end up wasting them just to get past Joes, rather than save them for those make-or-break moments with the most terrifying organism in space. The most egregious offender is when you travel down to the ship’s core (the location of the main Xenomorph hive no less), and well before your elevator has even landed, a quartet of yellow-suited Joes have already seen you and are marching over to attack. Note to Creative Assembly: I can’t wait for the sequel, but if you want to make it even better, drop these guys entirely.
- Flood – HALO
Terry Randolph: They’re not difficult to kill, but they’re annoying to fight. With the various forms of flood you have to face on any given specific level dedicated to these douchebags, they just come at you like someone vomiting chicken tortilla soup around every corner or open doorway. They make even the most ardent fans of HALO sigh in frustration and annoyance as you have to pick them off. At least grunts have a skull that goes “YAY!” when you headshot them.
13. Zubats, Pokemon Red and Blue
Terry Randolph: Everytime I go into a cave in Pokemon, I have to ask myself the question…is this cave infected? Not with any sorts of infectious, deadly diseases mind you, but something much more troubling: Zubats. Yes, that’s right, Zubats. These are the little guys who stop you when your Pokemon are down to 1 HP and you see the entrance to the cave right before you. These are the Pokemon who stop you every three steps you take in a cave, and even make the most ardent Pokemon players groan in rage at having to deal with. The Pokemon company, seemingly believing this to be a funny joke, have now made Wubats the other form of infection caves can have in game. If you’re REALLY lucky, you’ll get both of them in the same area.
12. Piranha Plants, Super Mario Bros. series
Sean Willis: One of the first annoying enemies most gamers ever came across. They stick out of pipes and in some versions shoot fireballs at you. Easily annoying new players, but in the heat of a moment they make any open area of a pipe a death zone. Sure they won’t pop up if you stand nearby, unless it happens to be those red ones from Mario Lost Levels (or Super Mario Bros 2 in Japan) who would appear anyway unless you stood directly on top of the pipe they inhabited. It is a quick lesson to never take any pipes lightly and expect the worst for sure. Later games put them on the ground and even walking about. They live to bite your face, they are made just to bite your face and they won’t stop. Though they did get a little easier in the latest games, and a good fireball back at them usually did the trick. But you can’t count on one popping up just when you think the coast is clear.
- Conkdors, Super Mario 3D World
Sean Willis: Walking around in cat suits, ya, just jumping about collecting coins and green stars, having a grand grand ole time…..then we meet these weird things. Turtle shell with spikes on back, itty bitty wings, weirdly long neck, and a large beak. Like hammer bros. in animal form, they live only to stand there and slam their faces down into the ground, daring you stand directly in front of them or even near them at times. The game often puts them in your way in narrow areas or to protect some things, and while they aren’t difficult to defeat, they can prove to be a bothersome obstacle for even veteran players. You only need to jump on their weak spot, some on top of their round polished bald heads, but you have to get them to attack first. Trying one’s patience, as the player must step in close and time their jumps. Otherwise, it ends up a confusing mess of lost power-ups and random jumping for them, especially on a small screen or with three other players. I often find myself avoiding them or running past instead, just not worth dealing with.
- Everything from Dark Souls (and DS2)
Sean Willis: After playing Dark Souls one might think of it as quite the triumph and feel like they can do anything. Before that you have to die, not just a lot but just about every single time you progress in the game. Something as miniscule as a skeleton on a bridge could lead to a sudden bombardment of enemies and spell utter doom for that lovely collection of loot, er, souls in this case, you left behind in your last death. Just about every enemy has a chance of nearly killing you, if not simply instantly killing you. Every block has to be perfectly timed and their attacks have to be very carefully watched. Even the large rats will not only poison you but push you off the ledge of one of the first areas you meet them.
The game is nothing but death, the enemies are nothing but death, the bosses are nothing but death, there’s no escape, and it doesn’t stop. Only way is through and before you learn to muster up the courage it gets pretty annoying just how frequently you die. Usually the player’s mistake is clear, but sometimes you just want to pass that one little thing and BAM! A trap, more rats, or poison. Then you finally make it to next area, only to be smashed by an enemy hiding in the dark, or maybe a plant monster that happened to be waiting for you so it could nibble on your face. Ya, its annoying, but it only makes victory feel that much more like a momentous accomplishment.
- Creepers, Minecraft
Terry Randolph: These creatures serve no other purpose other than to blow shit up. This is especially applicable to when you put time, energy, and effort into building some magnificent, glorious recreations of the Millenium Falcon, or of Winterfell from Game of Thrones. These little guys will go “Oh HAI there! Nice work, I’ll try not to touch–oh no,” Boom. Yes, little Creeper, you’ll be sure not to touch it next time.
- Gorgons, God of War II
Marshall Garvey: This one only recently popped back into my awareness from my Hall of Fame playthrough of the game. GOW II’s joyously overwhelming battles feature many enemies that, while challenging, make for rewarding and highly entertaining combat. That is, unless your impromptu death match pits you against Gorgons (or as I mistakenly called them, Medusas, due to their ability to turn you to stone with their gaze). Sweet Zeus, these things are the goddamn worst! Not only do they quickly slither away from even your most measured attack, but they constantly swipe you with their sharp claws and tail. The worst is when they’re attacking in a group of enemies, and the moment they turn you to stone, someone else can step in and kill you with just one little hit.
Worst, it must be said that no amount of strategizing for the battle can lead you to avoid jumping into the air to dodge their tail swipe, only to be turned to stone in midair and crumble to death upon landing. Luckily, I found a sufficient strategy to hasten any encounters with these scaly heathens: the Atlas Quake. Once you have this power, use it to slam the ground constantly and offset the Gorgons’ pattern. I found it makes them more vulnerable and speeds up their path to having a “kill finish” button pop up over their heads. Naturally, that button prompts you to step in and rip their head off. I’ll sound like a screwed up sadist when I say this, but: Oh, man, does ripping their head off feel goooooooood.
Author’s Note: I wasn’t able to find a good video depicting Gorgons. Perhaps this can be chalked up to other gamers hating them so much, they didn’t want to bother documenting the agony of facing them. Here’s a video depicting a challenge mode outside of the main campaign, where a Gorgon uses her stone gaze frequently. If you haven’t played the game, you can imagine what a pain in the ass they can be, especially in groups!
- Tonberries – Final Fantasy series
Terry Randolph: You know the enemies who look so adorable you aren’t aware of how fucking terrifying they really are? Enter Tonberries, the adorable lizards draped in monk robes. It’s understandable if you thought they were harmless…provided they weren’t carrying a knife and lantern with them. With each turn, they inch closer to you, expressionless like their face is frozen with a botox injection. But wait, you could kill them before they reach you, right? Tonberries want to teach you otherwise; for each attack on them, they deal a counter move either called “Karma” or “Everyone’s Grudge” (where the damage dealt is based on the number of enemies slain by the attacker). To top it off, they’re known to have a lot of HP…which basically means good luck fighting your way out of this one. It isn’t until they’re right in front of you do you realize you’re staring death in the face, and its name is Tonberry.
6. Malboro, Final Fantasy Series
Terry Randolph: If you wanted it confirmed that Bad Breath can kill you, look no further than the cancer-inducing…I mean ever-deadly enemy Malboro in the Final Fantasy series. The Malboro looks like Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors mixed in with someone’s traumatic moments involving plants; a gangly, sharp-tooth maw sitting atop some plant roots. Oh, and that Bad Breath? It hits every active member in your party with every negative status known to man in Final Fantasy – Sleep, Poison, Confused….you name it. It’s not only ugly in appearance, but ugly in approach, not to mention downright deadly.
- ReDeads, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask
Jake Rushing: If you have played any of those two games, then you’d know better than to tread lightly with these enemies. If you’re not careful when approaching them, BAM! Those fleshy, mask wearing zombies will stop you right in your tracks, followed by a high pitched scream. You push every button in hopes that you’ll wiggle away before you end up giving this enemy a chance to jump on you. If you fail to wiggle away before he gives you a temporary piggyback ride, you’ll have a bit of your life meter sucked out of you depending on how fast you are with button mashing. Do you want to sneak by it in hopes that you’ll get away from it or kill it before it notices you? Good luck, because the success rate is roughly 50%. And I may be a bit generous. Assuming that you’re in tight areas of course.
4. Cazadors, Fallout: New Vegas
Marshall Garvey: Even as a Fallout fanatic, I had strangely forgotten to even consider any enemies from the series when first brainstorming for this list. Perhaps it’s because, since the games are set in the aftermath of nuclear war, you get used to almost everything being a grotesque, radioactive abomination. Just about every enemy is relatively challenging to kill, but not to the point of inducing pure anger. (And if you hate Deathclaws at all, then, well, it’s your fault you missed all those signs en-route to Quarry Junction!) That said, Cazadors are a must for this list. They’re nothing more than oversized, black and orange wasps, and make for a quick death unless you have the ammo to overpower them. Otherwise, they’ll kill you pretty swiftly with their sting, which also sends you flying some 20 feet and disorientates your view. Maybe if the denizens of the Wasteland had bothered to develop some radioactive Raid spray, this problem could have been avoided.
3. Mountain Lions, Red Dead Redemption
Marshall Garvey: For a game set in the dying Wild West, it’s only fitting that its terrain be rife with uncompromising hazards. For the most part, the game delivers with everything from ruthless bandits to rattlesnakes. But even then, Red Dead Redemption goes a step too far with the inclusion of mountain lions (or cougars, according to official listings). And not because mountain lions are out of place in the western desert, as they certainly fit the wildlife you’d encounter (especially in the hills and forests). Rather, it’s due to the fact that, for whatever reason, they possess the strength of a rhinoceros, and are basically a one to two-hit kill each time they pounce you. Nothing’s more of a turn-off (for your console, anyway) than galloping through the gorgeous scenery, only to have one of these misanthropes barrel out of your blind spot and send you flying like you’re in Turbo Dismount. This will not only assuredly kill your horse with one hit, but also have you staggering about trying to figure out what happened before the lion finishes its kill. It’s strange how four bandits on horseback pummeling you with gunshots can seem to only be an annoyance, while one hit from a mountain lion feels like an instant game over. RDD may be one of the best games ever, but these brutish felines are a rage-inducing waste of time that should have been left on Rockstar’s cutting room floor.
- Nemesis, Resident Evil 3
Terry Randolph: Nemesis is an grade-A douche; this is the guy who chases you in your nightmares, makes you his playtoy, and does so over and over again while you cry pure tears of horror. His most redeeming quality? In situations when the coast seems clear, he barges in like the Kool-Aid man on crack coming at you to mess you up. Worst part about that? He’ll come at you from off-camera, and that makes it tougher to anticipate when he’ll grace you with his putrid presence. Oh, and not to mention, he’s extremely hard to kill. In fact, there are several times you try to off him, only for him to mutate even more into a badass monster. He wants you to kill him, because he’s just. That. Metal.
1.Cliff Racers, Morrowind
Marshall Garvey: Everyone has an opinion on what the most annoying sound in the world is. Car alarms, your neighbors having sex, nails on chalkboard, screaming kids, vuvuzelas, Jason Derulo’s music…the real world never has a shortage of audial assaults to fray your nerves. But if you’re a gamer, there’s only one sound that can be considered the most irritating, hair-raising, frustrating, badgering, horrendous one possible:
Did you feel it? Did you immediately start clicking your mouse nonstop to swing your sword and fend off a horde of these monstrosities? Were you suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of exasperation? If not, then you’ve yet to encounter the most annoying enemy in gaming history: those god, damn…CLIFF RACERS. Unlike most enemies on this list, their annoyance level has nothing to do with difficulty. In fact, they’re incredibly easy to dispatch and pose no real threat to even the most mildly skilled character. But if anything, that just adds to how irritating they are. They appear so frequently all over Morrowind, and are so hard to sneak by, that dispatching them becomes a mindless grind. Even as you savor the richness of everything else the game has to offer, just stopping in your tracks to fend off another batch of these fuckers generates the same feeling you get from washing dishes or printing copies of something at work. That this happens so frequently during what is arguably the single greatest adventure game of all-time just makes their incessant irritation worse. I’ll never forget when Oblivion was about to come out, and when it was confirmed that Cliff Racers would be entirely absent, the news was widely celebrated across the internet. Rightly so.