To continue yesterday’s Guy Fawkes celebrations, we’re now moving from fireworks to a new kind of light show: video game explosions! Not only that, it’s a pretty good choice of subject matter when considering our website name, don’t you think?
Yesterday we featured three touching firework scenes. Like that list, the following blasts aren’t necessarily rated on their destructive power or magnitude, but rather their emotional impact and how memorable they are. Resident Evil 6 is practically a Michael Bay movie in video game form, with explosions just exploding from start to finish. But not one is worthy of a place in this list, because, while visually impressive, the game’s constant detonating lacks any sense of pace and desensitises the player very quickly, making them very dull very quickly.
Similarly, you won’t find any generic explosions from popular first-person shooters or red barrels here – I love blowing up things as much as the next guy, but here we’re only picking the ones that matter. So hold onto your seat, things might get messy!
5: Electrode Self-Destructs – Pokemon Snap
The second level in Nintendo’s fantastic Pokemon spin-off saw you traversing through a dark, spooky cave. Zubats fly in your face, Kakunas hang eerily from the ceiling and Electabuzzes run amok, and even the legendary Zapdos makes an appearance if you hatch its egg. But how on Earth do you progress to the next stage?
There’s also a large quantity of Electrodes, the PokeBall-style Pokemon, rolling around. Throwing apples at them cause them to explode, gaining extra points if you snap a photo of them as they prepare to detonate. There is one in particular, though, that serves a much higher purpose.
Don’t be distracted by the Magnemites, as near the end of the level is the Electrode you need. Positioned in front of a wall of mounted rocks, causing this particular Pokemon to explode will allow you to progress, opening a path to the Volcano stage. Pokemon Snap was filled with secrets and encouraged experimentation in the items you use, and this was one of the greater moments of satisfaction.
4: Nuking Megaton – Fallout 3
The Fallout franchise in itself constitutes a great explosion – it’s a series entirely based on the fallout of a nuclear war. But just because you’re living in the aftermath doesn’t mean you can’t blow up what’s left on the desolate wasteland. Good or evil options are renowned for being very diverse in the Fallout series, and sometimes it’s too much fun to play the villain.
The settlement of Megaton, of which its name derives from a huge undetonated atomic bomb in the center, is sprawling with a small community of survivors. The survivors, while grateful to have a place to live away from the mutated beasts lurking outside, are living in fear that the bomb may one day activate. You could deactivate the bomb for a 100 cap reward from the Sheriff, but where’s the fun in that?
A shady resident by the name of Mister Burke will offer you a greater reward for a much more enjoyable feat – provided you haven’t become too chummy with the locals and don’t value your positive Karma. Burke asks you to help him detonate the bomb, as his employer Allistair Tenpenny wants to eradicate Megaton, considering it no more than a “blight on a burgeoning landscape”.
After setting up the charge and meeting Mister Burke and Allistair at Tenpenny Tower, you will be given the honour of pressing the button that will determine Megaton’s fiery fate. You are given a clear view of the distant, gigantic mushroom cloud in the company of two very sinister gentlemen who will begin celebrating. Upon returning to the remains of Megaton, you will see torn-apart corpses strewn across the rubble and the broken Deputy robot’s head repeating its final, fading words. Still, at least now you have a nice hotel suite.
3: The Moon Crashes – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
With the whole game centred on a constant, impending apocalypse, it’s easy to see why Majora’s Mask is the darkest in the franchise. Link must relive the three days before the world ends over and over, until he can prevent the planet’s doom.
Using Majora’s Mask, the villainous Skull Kid has cast a spell on the once beautiful space rock, directing it on a collision course with Earth. He has given it the most terrifying face imaginable – and wherever you go, when you look in the sky, that’s what you’ll see.
As well as a giant pair of glowing, evil eyes and a sinister grin looming over you, you also have a clock counting down the hours until the world ends. If you let the time run out, then you’ll be forced to watch as Clock Town falls, being merely the first to go down as the sinister moon burrows into the Earth and destroys it.
The clock tower crumbles first, with the rest of the architecture shortly after. All of the residents that you’ve got to know over the three days will now meet their end, and a huge fiery wave will come flying towards Link to consume him, too.
2: Safer Sephiroth’s Supernova – Final Fantasy VII
There’s a reason Sephiroth is considered by many FF fans as the badass of the series: he can destroy an entire galaxy on command. In his final form, Safer Sephiroth, he can use a limit break attack known as “Super Nova”, an attack that has a two minute long cutscene. And if you weren’t afraid of this final boss utterly destroying your party’s HP, you’d love it every time.
The ridiculous and exaggerated nature of this explosion makes it both hilarious and awesome to watch. Observe as the solar system you know obliterates, one planet at a time. The carnage combines into one galaxy-sized explosive mass, which inflicts on Cloud and friends. If you didn’t come prepared for this fight, you can easily receive a “Game Over” after this attack – better go grinding!
Okay, so I said earlier that I’m here to judge memorable explosions, not the scale thereof. But this one just happens to be both. Not to mention, throughout the two minutes of watching the attack unfold, tension increases as you pray that you’ll survive it. That’s right, this is simply an attack from Sephiroth – meaning he’ll destroy all planets and stars over and over again to stop Cloud.
1: Raccoon City Destruction – Resident Evil 3
Despite my aforementioned criticism of RE6, there are tons of memorable explosions in the Resident Evil series – every mainline game has ended with one, and each could easily be a potential contender for this list. However, there is one that beats them all.
After battling your way through the huge city across not one, but two games, watching Raccoon City become obliterated after the missile detonates is a truly awe-inspiring, bittersweet moment. At last the nightmare is over and you have successfully escaped with your life, leaving every zombie, Hunter, Licker, and even the indestructible Nemesis to ruins. But that’s where, victory aside, a feeling of sadness develops.
[SPOILER ALERT: Skip to 5:00 for the ending cutscene, and the explosion!]
You’ll catch a glimpse of the remaining victims of the T-Virus and Umbrella’s bio-weapon experiments stumbling around aimlessly, clueless to the carnage that is about to envelop. The only serenity left for them now is that they can finally be put to rest, and any remaining survivors will no longer live in fear. And with that, a once thriving community is wiped off the map and gone forever.