By Joseph Walter
Whether visually, narratively, emotionally or more, some "Game Over" screens have gone above and beyond when it comes to making their simple message not-so-simple, taking things to a level that one might even be able to consider a unique art (not unlike the "lost art" of Title Screens)
Obviously, not every "Game Over" needs to go beyond its intended purpose, so this series isn't suggesting that everything that isn't featured is terrible. Instead, I'm just going to highlighting the ones that, for whatever reason, stuck with me throughout the years, along with others that are totally awesome in their own right.
For this series' inaugural entry, I decided to go with a "Game Over" screen that has haunted me ever since I first laid eyes on it: Donkey Kong Country.
Finally, upon truly getting started, I was fully immersed in the jaw-dropping, gorgeously rendered jungle environment, its rich atmosphere, and infectious music. I was having an absolute blast, and will never forget discovering the secret tunnel bonus room, or how the sun would set at the end of the stage.
The fun wouldn't last though: I was a kid, and DKC was hard.
Deaths came often, and so did the "Game Over" screen.
Gone were the the colorful visuals of the jungle. Gone were the cartoonish antics of jumping on a malevolent beaver. In their places were beaten, battered, broken and bruised Kongs. They had clearly suffered, and they had suffered because of me and my failures.
Bathed in stark light amongst a sea of darkness, the pain and disappointment in Diddy's eye seemed so real, and it struck a chord in my soul that resonates to this very day.
This emotional burden was only amplified by David Wise's chilling score. It's one of the most defeated and depressing pieces I've ever heard, and even its scattered instruments seem like they're too exhausted to even continue.
What solidified this nightmare, though, was that no matter what I tried, I couldn't seem to skip this screen or proceed past it. It was like I was locked in hell as punishment for my foibles. The only escape was resetting the system... but this screen has never stopped haunting me.