Monday, September 10, 2012

10 Games in Which You Survive Being Eaten

For some reason, compared to the infrequency of which people are swallowed whole in real life, it's an incredibly common occurrence in the world of gaming. There are plenty of games with enemies that attack by eating your character. Usually they munch on you a bit, then spit you out, dealing some damage; or in some cases they kill you instantly. There are even good guys like Kirby and Yoshi who attack by eating. But as those sort of occurrences are so frequent as to be impossible to list, this list will focus on only the times when you, as the main character, are swallowed whole by something and survive as part of the game's story (not getting munched on by an enemy accidentally). [Beware, as this guide may contain minor spoilers.]

10. Tales of Graces f - Inside the Rockgagong
In Tales of Graces f, there's a part where you urgently need to get to a certain city. Unfortunately, a giant rock tortoise monster called the Rockgagong is blocking the path and is acting more aggressively than usual. In typical RPG fashion, our heroes don't have time to let the situation resolve itself and decide to just go for it and hope they don't encounter the Rockgagong. Spoiler alert: they encounter it. Unavoidably, you and your party are swallowed by the Rockgagong and must clear out the enemies in its belly in order to get it to spit you out and return it to its peaceful self. Honestly, the Rockgagong's belly doesn't look much like a belly, since it's made of rock, but that purple liquid does drain your HP if you stand in it, so, like, don't do that.

9. Kid Icarus: Uprising - Hades' Belly
In the battle between the gods, Pit narrowly avoids
some holy crap.
The plot in Kid Icarus: Uprising is kind of like what a kid with ADD might come up with while playing with action figures; it jumps from one thing to the next without any prior warning. One minute you're fighting the goddess of nature and the next your fighting aliens and the next you're inside Hades' belly. More likely than the kid with ADD scenario, the developers probably just had a lot of level ideas and just forced them together with a heavy application of dialogue in an attempt to explain away the madness that's going on. Luckily, this game's a blast to play so it doesn't really matter. In the case of Hades' belly, you're finally going up against your arch-nemesis in an air battle and then he inhales you, as if that's the normal thing to do. You then spend the second half of the mission on foot inside him. Even though the level has an organic look to it, it doesn't really look like the inside of a body beyond that. Then again, Hades is a supernatural being so logical anatomy need not apply.

8. Xenosaga - Inside a Gnosis
Whaddya know..sis.
The plot may have taken a back seat in Kid Icarus, but in Xenosaga it's practically the whole game. If you like scifi and cutscenes, you should definitely give Xenosaga a shot. In this particular part, you and your party are on your way somewhere when suddenly a huge swarm of gnosis (the game's alien antagonists) appear and drag you out of hyperspace. Earlier in the game, you witness smaller translucent gnosis drain the life from one of crew on the ship and just  making physical contact with one seems to be deadly. Somehow though, everyone ends up just fine inside this giant one and spend the next long while wandering around in search of escape.

7. Muramasa: The Demon Blade - Big Oni Battle
This game, along with Rayman Origins which is next on this list, has really nice hand drawn graphics which make seeing the inside of some monster all the more interesting. In this chapter of the game, one of the two heroes, Momohime, finds herself delving into Hell, which is inhabited mostly by oni, which are basically Japanese demons or ogres. When you get to the end of the area, it's time for a boss fight, because that's what happens at the end of areas in games. Without any prior warning, as soon as you enter the boss area, you find that the spirit that had been sharing Momohime's body with her has been eaten by a giant oni and in order to save it you offer yourself to the oni as food and break out from the inside. Yeah... these Japanese games are weird. It's pretty much just an excuse for a boss fight, but at least the giant oni's stomach is as nicely animated as the rest of the game.

6. Rayman Origins - My Heartburn's for You
Probably the third best drawn stomach I've ever seen.
As mentioned above, Rayman Origins has seriously pretty graphics, but it's also incredibly fun to play (not that Muramasa isn't). Its levels are well designed and it offers a lot to do and more difficulty than your typical platforming game. It's so good that when Rayman Origins and New Super Mario Bros. pass each other on the street, New Super Mario Bros. has to hide its face in shame. It's also home to another instance of surviving being eaten; specifically, the level called "My Heartburn's for You". Half of this level is spent running from an angry swarm of fire bird things on ice, after which you run full speed down the throat of a dragon. After a few areas of platforming, you reach the creature's stomach where you must avoid the fire and acid and attack its weak points that pop up. Even after you finish that, you still need to escape the fire that chases you out. Surviving the stomach can be a frustrating game of trial and error, but deftly dodging obstacles while running full speed out of it is pretty satisfying.

5. The Lengend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Jabu Jabu's Belly
This is definitely the most famous game on the list and one which everyone was surely expecting to see. I could probably leave it at that heading and move on, but for the sake of any of you who, for whatever reason, haven't played Ocarina of Time, I'll explain a bit. At this point in the game, Link is collecting the three spiritual stones in order to get into the Temple of Time. One of them is in the possession of Princess Ruto of the aquatic race called Zora, who has recently gone missing. Turns out she had just been exploring the inside of Jabu Jabu, the Zora's giant fish deity sort of thing, in a game of hide and seek gone awry (no, not really). Anyway, Link goes in, uses Ruto to press switches, saves her from an octopus and some electric anemone boss, after which she gives Link the Zora's Sapphire as an engagement gift, which Link promptly steals and runs away with without looking back. Like other games where something's belly is a dungeon, the layout makes no anatomical sense, though there are nifty body-like features such as hallways with peristalsis that slowly push you down the tunnel if you stand still.

It's also worth noting that Jabu Jabu's belly is a dungeon in Zelda: Oracle of Ages as well, and it appears even less like the inside of a fish's body.

4. Tales of Monkey Island - Inside the Giant Manatee
In the five-part point-and-click comedy adventure of Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush Threepwood and the bounty hunter Morgan LeFlay find themselves swallowed by a giant manatee during their quest to stop the spread of the deadly Pox of LeChuck. Unfortunately, the manatee is missing its cochlea and thus its sense of direction. Without that, you won't be able to ride it to your intended destination. In typical point-and-click adventure fashion, it isn't as easy as just finding the cochlea. Instead, you have to earn the trust of the pirates living inside the manatee so you can become a member of the Brotherhood of the Manatee Interior. This too takes several steps which involve the clever use of found objects and well timed witty dialogue. By the end, you succeed in your mission and continue on your way to find the items necessary to stop the Pox.

3. Banjo Tooie - Inside the Big Fish and Chompa's Belly
The Big Fish is also home to some pirates and a Jinjo.
(No, that's not a joke, that's just a statement.)
From here on out, each entry has more than one instance of being eaten and surviving. In Banjo Tooie, these happen in Jolly Roger's Lagoon and Terrydactyland. Adventure games like this have been pretty few and far between as of late, but back in the day games labeled as "adventure" threw you into a big open world to explore, usually with several levels which you could also explore, in which you looked for and collected various objects. If you got enough of these objects you could open the next area, learn new moves, or do other things. Anyway, in Banjo Tooie, the main things you collect are puzzle pieces called Jiggies. In Jolly Roger's Lagoon, one such Jiggy is earned by rescuing Jolly Roger's partner from inside a big fish. It's not as big as Jabu Jabu, but it still has a "bigger on the inside" thing going on. There's also quite a lot of effort put into this relatively small part of the game since for an N64 game, the textures are pretty detailed and the surfaces even jiggle realistically if you jump. How fun.
The other part is in Terrydactyland, which is the dinosaur level as you might've guessed. In a certain cave, if you stand on top of the pillar in the center, a giant dinosaur called Chompasaurus appears without warning, checks you out a bit, and then gobbles you down without even saying "hello". Only when you're in its stomach do you find out that it actually is capable of speech, since it threatens you with digestion if you refuse to take part in its stomach virus shooting minigame. Lucky for you, even after earning the Jiggy on this one, you can replay the minigame from the main menu whenever you want.

2. Okami - Inside the Emperor's Body and the Water Dragon
Okami is also an adventure game, though much more like Zelda than like Banjo Tooie, and in this adventure spanning historical Japan and Japanese mythology, it becomes necessary to be ingested on two occasions. At this point, there are curses and evil everywhere corrupting the land, there's a giant water dragon blocking your path and terrorizing the people, and the emperor is nowhere to be found while his city is covered in a unwholesome mist. It's up to you to get to the root of things, which in this case means using your Lucky Mallet to shrink down and infiltrate the emperor's palace. It turns out that the mist is coming from the emperor himself, so there's nothing to it but to jump down his throat while he's sleeping and beat the crap out of Blight, the evil spirit that's hanging out in his stomach.
It'd look so much less nasty with a mustache.

But that still leaves us with the problem of the water dragon and how to get to our final goal of Oni Island. Well it turns out that the water dragon has the key to getting into Oni Island, the Dragon Orb, in its stomach. Even though this thing could've killed you earlier in the game, it's perfectly safe to jump into its mouth at this point. When you actually do find the orb, it's held in place by fleshy tendril things. But that's alright because you can easily flood the whole area with acid in the next room and use it to dissolve the restraints around the orb. Of course, this and the following boss battle ends up killing the dragon and forcing you to escape while acid is constantly dripping down around you, but it's a small price to pay for a shiny ball.

1. Mario & Luigi Series
"What? A whole series in one entry? He's cheating!" I hear you yelling from your computer chair or similar butt receptacle. "Maybe," I say, "but one of these games takes place almost entirely inside someone's body and every other game in the series also has you get eaten at some point, so you just wait and see. Also you're getting more games in the list than you expected, so what are you complaining about?"

But before we get to that one, let's start with the first two games in this series of hilarious and fun handheld Mario RPGs. In the first game, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, you're facing off against the final boss and somehow managing to hold your own when all of a sudden a bomb appears out of nowhere and knocks both of the bros out. Bowletta takes advantage of this and does the most logical thing: eats you. But it's not over yet! You may be reduced to 1 HP, but the battle continues inside Bowletta. Should you manage to win, you will not only have beaten the game but will also return Bowser to his normal self, which, is good... I guess.

In the second game, Partners in Time, the Mario Bros. and their baby selves travel to Yoshi Island where they end up getting eaten alive by Yoob, a giant fat Yoshi-looking creature sent by the Shroobs (evil aliens) to attack the Yoshis. It's hard to tell whether it's really a living creature or a robot, as the inside of it looks like the floor is made of cushion or quilt and the walls look like red metal held together with mustard. That and there's basically a factory inside it, turning the eaten Yoshis into eggs which it is assumed would then turn into more Yoob-like creatures. Luckily the bros and baby bros put a stop to it and save the day. 
Finally, is Bowser's Inside Story, the game in the series that is entirely based around being inside Bowser's body. Early in the game, Bowser is tricked into eating a Vacuum Mushroom by the returning villain, Fawful, which causes him to start inhaling everyone including the Mario bros.. Throughout the game, you switch between the Mario brothers and Bowser, using one to affect the other. For example, if you have Bowser drink water, it could flood his insides so Mario and Luigi can get up higher. Or if Mario and Luigi strike the right nerve, Bowser could get super strength. Also during battles, Bowser can sometimes swallow enemies and make bros fight them instead. For basing a whole game around being eaten, Bowser's Inside Story, is the clear winner of this list.

Honorable mentions and stuff I found out about/remembered too late: Cronos in God of War 3, Monstro in Kingdom Hearts, PixelJunk Shooter 2, Prince Froggy in Yoshi's Island, the riftworm in Gears of War 2, Body of the Many in System Shock 2, and some giant monster in Dead Space 3.
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