Nightmare Fuel: Final Fantasy VIII
Ok, by now we know that Final Fantasy can be scary. Final Fantasy VIII may or may not be as rife with scares as its predecessors, but when it does aim to make players scream, BOY does it live up to their standards. The same goes for Final Fantasy IX, the sequel both in name and scares.
- Ooooh cool, Headmaster Cid gave me a Magical Lamp! Ooh this gonna be awesome, just gonna give this a rub and WHOA why's the battle screen coming up and why am I in a black darkened dimension and-HOLYFUCKINGSHITWHATTHEFUCKISTHAT!!! THE SATAN!!!!note
- Doomtrain. Forgetting how it's possibly the coolest summon of the game and that it's insanely useful, the whole concept behind it is terrifying: a limitless wheeled living piece of machinery with a skull latched to the front that inflicts anything it hits with every horrible status effect you can think of. Its summoning sequence is pretty chilling too, starting off with an eerie train crossing siren and then the train wheels clanking on an invisible track with the background all trippy.
- Adel. The fact that she's a towering giant of ambiguous physiological sex who has the face of and moves like a monster is creepy enough, but it gets worse when the lifeless body of Rinoa is attached to her chest and she thrusts it upward to suck Rinoa's life away. And if all that wasn't enough, when you defeat her, the ending cinematic displays her face getting blown off before she falls on her knees to dissolve.
- To make her even more creepy is the fact that when you first visit the Timber Tv Station, there is a big screen on the building with a lot of red text, some of it makes out sentences like "IWILLNEVERLETYOUFORGETABOUTME", "IAMALIVE", and "BRINGMEBACKTHERE". This is highly implied to be Adel sending signals, and she is probably the reason that the broadcasting systems haven't been working for the past seventeen years, which is around the time when Laguna and co. sent her out in space.
- FACELESS SQUALL (pictured above). It's like a Freeze-Frame Bonus that pays off with heebie-jeebies. The image is part of a sequence of hallucinations taking place in time compression, and some of the other images imply that Squall's memories are becoming confused. It may represent emotional emptiness, loss of identity, or guilt feelings, given the preceding scene where he participates in passing Ultimecia's power on to Edea. Ultimecia's final form is similarly faceless, or rather its top half is, with the recognizable human Ultimecia forming the bottom half. The top half drains the bottom half in order to sustain itself, so the facelessness may represent being divided against oneself in a way that causes emotional emptiness, loss of identity, or guilt feelings.
- Faceless Squall is frightening enough, but Rinoa in the ending sequence is no slouch either. At first, it may seem strange that Square places her in an ivory dress for the ballroom scene in which she first approaches Squall: it does little to set off the rest of her appearance, and a cynical player may wonder whether it was designed to make her look as though she were wearing nothing at all. In the end, however, it becomes clear that the reason for this dress is much more sinister: with the help of video (and audio) distortion, it makes her look like an onryo. She's not approaching Squall, she's advancing on him. And the player. And the scene plays over... and over... and over...
- The Lunar Cry. The buildup, turning the moon into an enormous disembodied red eye with a milky white pupil... and then this immense giant blood red cloud of monsters bursting outward like a spear of hellish death...
- Most of Disc Four. You kill Adel and time begins to compress, taking you through a trippy sequence in which you have to slay various sorceresses at different points in time, while the background melts, ending with a particularly freaky-looking sorceress. You finally end up at Edea's House in the compressed time world, and after stepping outside, you find the beach littered with the dead bodies of SeeDs, and see Ultimecia's Ominous Floating Castle in the dark, cloud-filled skies above. Her castle even has Ominous Pipe Organ music. Damn. Not to mention the music that plays during the sequence before arriving at The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. A dissonant five-note sax ostinato and creepy ambience are all you need to convey the feeling that the world is fucked.
- Speaking of which, the final battle with Sorceress Ultimecia. Boss starts out human, like usual. Summons her own Guardian Force, Griever to fight you in the second round, ok. Third phase is a Fusion Dance, still ok. Then you get to the fourth and final phase. Ultimecia's mutated into a giant multicolored monstrosity whose upper half HAS NO FACE, while the bottom half is the "real" Ultimecia, hanging upside down and practically naked (and covered in icky-looking veins). You're fighting, literally, on the edge of oblivion, and all the while Ultimecia is absorbing existence right under your characters' feet.
I am Ultimecia. Time shall compress...ALL EXISTENCE DENIED.
- "Rinoa was lost in space... forever."
- The mission to encounter the Bahamut GF was actually fairly unsettling. You're in this abandoned research laboratory and you see this glowing tube with some sort of floating cubes that appeared from time to time. You would have to walk and if you ran even a step whenever the cubes were active and the tube was glowing, you'd have to fight a TOUGH Ruby Dragon (and even if you had Enc-Half or Enc-None, you still had to walk or else you'd be thrust into a battle). And then when you reach the tube, some demonic rumbling emerges as Bahamut asks you questions (after which even if you get a question right you STILL have to fight a Ruby Dragon). All this happens whilst the somber and rather chilling background music is playing.
- The aptly named "Creeper" enemies in the sewer levels of Deling City. Lets see, a living, breathing, moving shadow? Check. Souless red glowing eyes? Check. A creepy Slasher Smile and long clawed fingers? Check. A slithering animation and creepy Evil Laugh ? Check. Yep, it's a mobile example of Nightmare Fuel.
- The Training Area of Balamb Garden definitely qualifies. The music for starters is very eerie (especially considering the tune for the Garden itself is so cheerful and beautiful), and there are sentient plants which look like those pitcher fly-trapper plants have the ability to put your characters to sleep and then there's the freaking T-Rexuar whos battle cry literally roars in your face, has soulless white eyes and has freakishly large attack power, and is by far impossible to defeat at early levels.
- This raises a few questions: just how is the garden so sure the training area will always be able to keep gigantic Tyrannosauruses from escaping and can we assume the students that dorm possibly wake up at night hearing those roars they make? Oh, and judging by the fact there is no other way that a Granaldo (a giant reptilian/insect creature that looks like Scyther from Pokemon ) and three Raldos (sentient rock creatures) could have come from anywhere else and you never fight anymore in the area after they attack Ellone , just what the hell else is the Garden keeping in the Training Area?
- It gets better: the Training Center is open to students at all hours without supervision. The infirmary, meanwhile, closes at curfew. Go in for some after-hours training and end up mauled by a T-Rex or gassed by a carnivorous plant, and you're on your own until morning.
- Malboros were by far at their peak of terror in this game. Unless you drew just about every status-effect magic and had GFs with the ST-DEF-Junction or the blessing of Odin, the moment you entered battle with one of them you were more than likely screwed. They'd hit you with Bad Breath and then you'd be tapping the escape buttons on constant end while they were unresponsive or struggling to escape the beast. Sure, their encounter rate was low and you may be blessed with Odin's appearance from time to time, but if you wanted the Doomtrain Summon (and of course you did) then you knew the day would come when you had to hunt these down to even attempt to steal a Malboro Tentacle or even stand a chance to win one after a fight with one. (Or you could spend hours upon hours playing Triple Triad, but that provides its own kinds of nightmares).
- A special mention should go to Edea's "official" introduction to the story, where you take control of Rinoa and go to meet her in an attempt to stop her using this vaguely touched upon item that supposedly drains her of her power it doesn't work. Everything that happens after this is downright unsettling the way Edea's mask somehow burns off her face and she sit's up from her chair whilst that..."thing" on her back sprouts out with those curtain tails, how she has Rinoa follow her to the balcony where she gives a creepy (yet pretty over-the-top speech of how she's going to do all these nasty things and then kills Vinzer Deling right in front of the audience and they all simply cheer like it's no big deal. Granted, the crowd's enthusiastic reception was a result of large-scale Mind Control, but that just means that Edea can control the minds of an entire city's worth of people and still have enough power left over to kill someone by thinking about it.
- During this event, Rinoa is under Edea's total control and she placidly follows her to the balcony, stands by as Edea gives her speech, Rinoa swaying with her head slightly slumped to the side and appearing like she's lazily trying to stop herself from falling asleep with heavy eyes and a dreamily smile. And then Edea sics monsters on her after the speech is over]].
- The startlingly creepy way Edea gets up from sitting. It makes sense, given that she's possessed by Ultimecia. It happens twice — first before the parade and again at Galbadia Garden.
- Speaking of your encounter of her at Galbadia Garden, after you beat Seifer and she rises from her chair in that creepy manner, she disappears through the floor and you have to follow her to the lower levels. When you finally arrive at the arena you have to confront her in, some creepy demonic chanting "Fithos Wenosec" plays and then Edea DROPS IN FROM THE FUCKING CEILING AND CRASHING THROUGH A PANE GLASS CEILING.
- Time compression. Watch as our heroes have the floor dropped from under them, after fighting Adel, in a wormhole-type structure. Dropping into the ocean from what looks like the thermosphere (out of nowhere — they were on the planet), sinking, then resurfacing through the "other side" and continuing back up through the air (where the hell did the ocean floor go?!) into a vortex of seagulls. Seagulls. And that's just happening to Squall and company — what did everyone else go through? Try wrapping your mind around what exactly is happening.
- How about being chased by that robotic spider? You're running for your life from a massive mechanical monster which could potentially kill you with panic-inducing music playing in the background. Not as major as some of the other examples, but it is still jarring, especially when one considers that this is the final exam. A final exam being taken by teenagers.
- Ultima Weapon's entrance is bound to send shivers down anyone's spine. The music stops. The only sound that can be heard is the winch pulling ... something up from the bottom of the ocean. Then the winch stops. There's silence for a moment ... and then a loud alarm goes off, red lights start flashing, steam starts spewing from every machine, the winch starts winding up much quicker than before and we get this message on the screen:
"Excavation resuming ... All except the leader must take shelter ...""Warning ... Please take shelter ..."
- Which raises the question ... what did Ultima Weapon do to the leader of the Deep Sea Research Facility?
- Allow me to ease your mind: Ultima Weapon is very clearly human, at least in part. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say: Ultima Weapon was very clearly human, at least in part. Authority Equals Asskicking, anyone?
- Garden Master NORG also has the potential to unsettle. He looks creepy as hell (yellow skin, gaping pitch-black mouth, tiny empty eyes, jumbo-sized hands with arthropod-esque fingers he uses to gestures oh-so-emphatically, etc.), and has unusual speech patterns (he TALKS IN ALL CAPS and constantly interjects burbly "BUJURURU" laughter), and his music track "Heresy" made it sound like something terrible would happen at any moment. NORG entered the story virtually out of nowhere, and so caught one completely by surprise: "(Cid) Oh, BTW, Squall, there's this Garden Master guy you have to go into the basement to defeat." "(Squall/Player) Whatev—HOLYSHITWHATISTHATTHING." The final touch is that attentive gamers are taunted with the prospects of Norg's "rebirth" or "evolution" — he enters a chrysalis after his defeat, which is shown as having hatched if you return to the area later... but the character is never seen again! The lack of closure was torturous. Surely NORG would evolve into something even more grotesque and seek his revenge! Surely a huge yellow butterfly thing would attack at any time...!