Did you feel slightly on edge when you got out of bed this morning? Like your world was just a little bit more dangerous? As you went about your day, did you have the sense that you were… hunted?
Well, that might be because IT'S MOTHER EFFIN SHARK WEEK, YO.
Shark Week is the Discovery Channel's greatest (and certainly most well-known) indulgence, a glorious annual tradition perhaps best captured by New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz: "Has there ever been a more effective merger of science and sensationalism than Shark Week? I doubt it."
Tracy Jordan lives every week like it's Shark Week. But the rest of us only get to experience it once a year. In honor of that week, I polled our editors and writers to come up with the best sharks in video games.
I should note up top that there are few things that scare me like the idea of a monster coming at me from beneath the depths while I float on the surface. Swimming in a boat yard, with big ships looming out of the fog above me, while some horrible slimy thing slips about beneath the surface… yup, it's one of my deepest fears. Maybe it goes back to when I was a kid, and we'd go to the beach and sometimes we'd step on crabs and they'd bite our toes? I don't know. It's good to know that I'm not alone; Luke's with me on this one, at least.
Before we get going, props to this very funny top-7 list at GamesRadar, which notified me of a couple that we'd left off. And before you point it out: I couldn't find a good video of the sharks from Wind Waker, so they didn't make the list. But consider them an honorary inclusion.
Release the sharks!
One of the most famous sharks in gaming, the Land Shark Gun from Armed and Dangerous set a precedent for over-the-top weaponry that would be unmatched by most every video game. Except...
…well, actually Saints Row The Third also had a downloadable Land Shark Gun, which makes sense, given the game in question. This video is pretty great all across the board, actually.
A questionable inclusion, since Sewer Shark doesn't actually have a shark. But what the hell, this is a list of the best sharks in gaming, and if only for being a landmark achievement in cheesy full-motion video games, Sewer Shark gets the nod.
One of my big gaming blind-spots is that I've never played Okami. But of course the game has a shark, of course it does! This shark seems more into belly-flopping than actually biting, at least when it's in the air. I'll see this guy soon in the HD version, I'm sure.
Did I mention that I hate water-scares in games? I do. This one in Resident Evil is one of the earliest, and scariest, but there are plenty of moments in later games that are equally freaky. Something about seeing it coming for you, about waiting for it to grab you from under the water… yeesh. (This one won't embed, so you'll have to click through to watch it.)
Of course, friendly Ecco had to go up against more than a few sharks—a whole ton of them in this level, called "Open Ocean." "The open ocean is very cold and dangerous."
After making his way through one of the most tedious sections of Arkham City, Batman finally takes that stupid shark head-on and punches the shit out of him. In what almost has to be a reference to this incredible sequence from the original show, it made me laugh and laugh as I mashed the punch button. (James O'Connor informs me Bats also fought a shark in the comics, naturally.) Holy sardine, indeed.
Our resident WoW expert Mike Fahey clued me in to this one, a massive Whale Shark that requires a ton of people to take it down.
This clip is from Depth, a game that's not out yet, so maybe it's cheating? But all the same, it felt worth including because the shark attack here is terrifying.
Okay, okay! You win! By popular demand, here is a video from Banjo Kazooie in which Banjo gets attacked by the deadly Snacker The Shark. It was the one colossal, unforgivable oversight in our roundup, and now it has been rectified. Let the record show that Snacker The Shark is indeed one of gaming's great sharks. May he shark forever more in our memories.
I'm one of the people who actually liked Tomb Raider: Underworld, though I didn't much care for the underwater sections. That's partly because they have sharks, and partly because they were kind of a mess to navigate. In this clip, a player nails a perfect grenade-lob into a dumb shark's mouth. Take that, shark!
Hey, if Sewer Shark gets on the list, so does GameShark. Better known as "The other, better Game Genie," GameShark improved on the now-famous Game Genie in a number of ways, most notably allowing users to save codes in memory. The company has since been bought by Mad Catz and still exists today, though built-in cheats have relegated Game Genie like devices obsolete.
There may be no better way to let someone know that the area they're heading into is "out of bounds" than having them get eaten by a shark. In Crysis, you spend a lot of your time on land feeling like an unstoppable predator (well, a bit less unstoppable than in the sequel), but at this moment, you're a scared little kid desperately trying to escape a killer. (This video is great, too.)
Hey, it was on Atari 2600, but Shark Attack was still a mighty unnerving game. Watch out for that shark! It's like Pac-Man, except the ghosts don't respect the walls of the level, and also the ghosts are a KILLER SHARK.
In the same vein as Crysis comes this bit from Scarface: The World is Yours, which is as cheesy and disjointed as possible… and yet still kinda creepy. And do I detect a Wilhelm Scream there? Hard to tell with the blaring music.
This is not a fearsome shark, it's more of an impressive, majestic shark. And unlike the one in World of Warcraft, the whale shark in Endless Ocean does not require you to team up with a bunch of players and exterminate it.
Another obligatory addition, this is one of the better gameplay videos from Jaws Unleashed, though it takes a while to get where it was going. Sometimes it's nice to play as the shark, you know?
Let's close it out with my favorite of all, which is another way of saying it's the one of these that scared me the most. It's barely a shark… really, it's more of a catfish monster thing, or maybe an Ichthyosaur… whatever it is, it scared the bejesus out of me when I first played Half-Life. Here I was, content to fight against monsters and zombies and aliens, but not to go into the water, in a shark cage, to fight a terrifying/goofy fangmonster. Who did they think I was?? I wasn't cut out for that crap!
And okay, I know I just said that was the last one, but here's one more. It's not from a video game. It's from Deep Blue Sea (and technically it's a spoiler. And if you've seen that movie, then you know that we really have no choice but to go out on this one:
"I'm Sick And Tired Of All These Mother F***ing Sharks On This MotherF***ing [CHOMP]"
Have good shark weeking, everybody.