Happy Halloween everybody! Last year on Halloween, I made a list of the top 5 video game witches. So I figured it made sense to follow it up this year with another such list, this time with ghosts!
Now, I know I’m going to be leaving out a ton of ghosts. There have been so many of them in video games it’s not even funny. Ghosts have given us perennial enemies and allies in the world of gaming, and narrowing it down to just five is never going to be easy.
Perhaps I’m a bit of a softy, or it’s my love of classic video games, but this list isn’t really comprised of genuinely terrifying specters. Perhaps some time I’ll get around to making a list of the scariest ghosts in video games, to better represent the horror genres of gaming. But this particular list is mostly comprised of ghosts who stand out to me, so they’re going to be more iconic than scary.
If you have a problem with that, deal with it and move on with your life.
Anyway, let’s get on with this Halloween celebration by shedding some light on my top 5 video game ghosts!
*Honorable mention goes to LeChuck from the Monkey Island series. But because he’s sometimes a demon and sometimes a zombie, I can’t in good conscience just list him as a ghost. sorry.*
5: Wrinkly Kong (Donkey Kong series)
The interesting thing about Wrinkly Kong’s status as a ghost is that she wasn’t always a ghost. But she’s been one ever since DK64, so she’s consistently been depicted as an apparition since then. After running a school in DKC2 and housing Banana Birds in DKC3 (both times serving as a save point), she passed away at some point, and has been DK and company’s friendly guide from beyond the grave ever since.
4: Poes (The Legend of Zelda series)
Poes are something of an easter egg hunt in the form of an army of ghosts. Whether it’s in Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, whatever, Link is always going to have to track down Poes, defeat them, and capture their souls in bottles for one reason or another (aren’t they already ghosts? How are their souls separate entities?). One thing is for sure, the constant side quests provided by Poes have made them an invaluable element in the Zelda series.
3: Ghastly, Haunter and Gengar (Pokemon series)
There have been plenty of ghost-type Pokemon added to the series since its inception, but the spot on this list has to go to the originals. In Pokemon Red and Blue, there were only three ghost Pokemon, all part of the same evolutionary chain. Ghastly, Haunter and Gengar were all among the coolest Pokemon from the original titles, and added a mischievous charm to the otherwise cute and cuddly Pokemon of the day. They paved the way for all ghost Pokemon to follow.
2: Boo (Super Mario series)
Cutest. Ghosts. Ever.
Boos first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3, and have become one of the most iconic and beloved Nintendo baddies ever since. But what really gets Boos such a high spot on this list is just how cute they are! I’m not just talking about their simplistic character designs, but the concept behind them as well. They’re ghosts who are shy! They’ll only try to spook their unsuspecting victims when their backs are turned. Should Mario (or anyone else) be looking at them dead on, they’ll stop in their tracks and blush. How adorable!
1: Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde (Pac-Man)
The original gaming ghosts. Not only do Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde date back to the golden age of arcades, but they also set the stage for the many “cute ghosts” who were found in gaming during the 80s and 90s. Without this quartet of ghosts, perhaps Boos wouldn’t be as cute as they are (I shudder to think)!
Really, when you think of video game ghosts, who else would come to mind first? The Pac-Man ghosts may not be terrifying like the ghouls found in modern video games, nor are they even as cute as some of the specters they inspired. But the fact remains that they are the video game ghosts. Their simplistic “bed sheet” character designs, distinguished solely by their differing colors, made them instantly recognizable. They’ve been the eternal thorn in Pac-Man’s side, and paved the way for countless other ghosts to be eternal thorns in the sides of other video game heroes.
Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde are the video game ghosts.