The surprising thing about video game ghosts is that they usually aren't that scary. Sure, some of them are positively horrifying, but the bulk of iconic video game ghosts are goofy and playful. So, without discriminating on ghost "type," we've woven together a list of what we believe are the most affecting, memorable, and downright interesting ghosts in all of video game history.
We hope you can enjoy.
10. Winkly Kong
Donkey Kong Series
Wrinkly Kong, Donkey Kong's deceased mother, certainly hasn't always been deceased. She died sometime between Donkey Kong Country 3 and Donkey Kong 64 of unknown causes, and has since appeared as a vital part of the Donkey Kong recurring in-game tutorial program. She's always squabbling with her hubby, Cranky, and aiding Donkey on his quests, particularly when he needs it most.
9. John Raimi
John Raimi sneaks into the list simply for being one of the very few playable wandering souls. The game he resided within was an underrated hit, and a rare occasion where gamers could toy with the freedom of being totally disembodied. From people to animals, Raimi would possess the living on a quest to regain control of his deceased body. Sure, the game slipped under the radar of many, but its large cult following and memorable hero made it one of the more compelling and ballsy mid-decade puzzle-shooters.
8. Apparitions of Dead Splicers
These ghosts are really just the residual memories of the recycled, spliced-up DNA, but they're an ethereal sort of horror in the BioShock franchise. The ghosts breeze through walls, moaning from exasperation and emotional duress, experiencing the gripping pain of drug addiction and the crumbling of a civilization around them. They're fleeting, yes, but their impact is not.
Gengar is a seriously badass Pokemon, and the progenitor of this list. In all three forms -- Ghastly, Haunter, and its final evolved stage -- it is a potent fighter and one of the powerhouse Pokemon that deserves to be in just about every posse. Particularly against the fearsome "Psychic" types. Also, he's made a few choice appearances in the television show, which doesn't hurt his credibility.
6. The Crawling Girl
Fatal Frame III
There's the obligatory Fatal Frame reference. This was a tough one to choose, simply because there are a hell of a lot of horrifying, unique ghosts that inundate the franchise. We went with The Crawling Girl, a creepy, startling specter that is guaranteed to wet a few pants. She barely edged the Broken Neck Man. Really horrifying, absolutely memorable.
5. Alma Wade
Alma died when she was 26. A series of truly unfortunate and malicious events took place just before her death, and she's come back to seriously fucking ruin the lives of those involved. She's got a substantial psychic presence in the series, and adds to the titular "fear" that permeates the whole of the series. Well, at least the first game. And occasionally in the second game, too.
Monkey Island Series
While not always a ghost, the devious pirate-captain has appeared as a ghost before, and is a total character favorite from the Monkey Island series. He's a compelling bad guy, smart and savvy, and with enchanting control of voodoo magic. We love him as the antagonist, and his ghastlyness plays a significant role in his early appearances.
Legend of Zelda Series
Poes are described as dense miasmas of hatred. They roam Hyrule at night, and capriciously cause Link headaches. They ride the fame of the franchise -- they're presence in the Legend of Zelda series isn't as memorable as, say, the Zora -- but there are small corners of most Legend of Zelda titles that have very eerie, very engrossing Poe tales. Like those damned sisters in Ocarina of Time.
Super Mario Franchise
Ah, the ubiquitous Boo, of Super Mario fame. One of the few mainline bad guys that appears in just about every spin-off and iteration of the dazzlingly expansive franchise, Boos come in many shapes and forms. Their highlight was in Super Mario 64, when an entire creepy haunted house was populated with different-sized ghosts. There are a lot of Super Mario enemies, but very few are as pervasive as Boo.
1. Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde
How could this list not be topped-off with the original video game ghosts? These tough little bastards were among the original video game antagonists, and helped pave the way for video games for literally decades to come. They're challenging enemies, with goofy personalities and puzzling moves. And, more than all that, they're immediately recognizable to just about everyone.