Bad to the bone
I’ve been playing tons of Grim Fandango ever since the remastered version came out a few days ago, and it’s left me with skeletons on the brain… and in the closet.
This led me to thinking about more skeletons in games. There’s a lot of them! While most video game skeletons are relegated to simple enemy fodder, there are still plenty of standout skellies out there. Why not write about ’em?
Here are ten of the best skeletons in video games, no bones about it!
Mr. Grimm (Twisted Metal series)
One of the main recurring characters in the Twisted Metal series, Mr. Grimm is a Grim Reaper who usually rides a motorcycle into battle, and is known for having particularly powerful special attacks. I’m most familiar with his Twisted Metal 2 incarnation, where he joins the Twisted Metal tournament in the hopes of feeding off of the souls of the other contestants, and bringing doom and destruction upon the world. He’s pretty hardcore.
Matador (Shin Megami Tensei series)
There are tons of cool skeletal demons in the Shin Megami Tensei universe, mostly in the form of Fiends. White Rider, Trumpeter, and Mother Harlot are some of the coolest Fiends, but the best of the bunch has got to be Matador. While he’s usually a relatively low level Fiend, he’s got plenty of style to make up for it.
His most notable appearance is probably in Nocturne, where he appears as a boss that you must defeat in order to reach Ikebukuro. Many people say he’s one of the most difficult bosses in the game, if only because he’s the first boss that really requires you to think carefully about your strategy if you ever hope to win. I’d say Matador is the boss that really teaches you how to play the game. If you can beat Matador, then you’ve got what it takes to beat Nocturne!
Carlos Calaca (Guacamelee!)
Calaca is the main antagonist of Guacamelee. He sold his soul to the devil in order to win a competition, but was dragged to the World of the Dead before he could enjoy his victory. He has a penchant for turning people into chickens, including the protagonist, Juan, and even the devil himself. I’d also say that he has the best hat out of anyone on this list.
Igos du Ikana (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
Igos and his two servants are the boss of the Ikana Canyon castle. It’s a pretty difficult battle, and he may seem kinda scary at first, but he’s actually a really cool dude. After he’s been defeated, Igos reveals that he is ashamed of what his kingdom has become, and teaches Link the Elegy of Emptiness to help him bring light back to the kingdom of Ikana. The elegy creates those creepy, dead-eyed statues of Link that you’ve probably seen before… *shiver*
Thanks for the nightmares, Igos!
The Sanbone Trio (Gitaroo Man)
The Sanbone Trio is a group of sweet-looking robo-skeletons that attack with percussion-based powers. Their designs are so damn cool. I mean, look at their pelvic bones. Their pelvises are Playstation controllers! They play the song “Born to be Bone,” which narrowly beats out “Bee Jam Blues” as my favorite song in the game. It’s super hard, but so much fun to play!
Dry Bones (Super Mario Bros. series)
Everyone knows Dry Bones. Dry Bones has been a Mario staple since Super Mario Bros. 3. These bony Koopa Troopas are difficult to defeat, since they’re able to reattach themselves and rattle back to life (undeath?) after being jumped on. There’s also a Dry Bones version of Bowser, who first appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Dry Bowser is pretty terrifying!
Dry Bones even appears as a playable character on occasion. You could play as one in a couple of the Mario Party and Mario Kart games. I love playing as a Mario enemies, so I’ve chosen Dry Bones plenty of times.
Sir Daniel Fortesque (MediEvil)
The story of Sir Daniel is an interesting one. He rather shamefully falls in battle to the very first arrow fired by the army of Zarok, an evil sorcerer. The king of Gallowmere decides to make Sir Daniel out to be a hero, altering the truth so that Sir Daniel’s name goes down in legend. When the sorcerer returns, Dan gets a second chance to live up to his legend, as an undead warrior.
I love Sir Daniel’s design. He’s missing the eye where he was hit by the arrow, as well as his lower jaw. This causes him to mumble all of his dialog, which I always find humorous (I’m finding it really hard not to steal Hansen’s puns right now). He can also detach one of his arms to use as a weapon, which is awesome.
Emil is one of my favorite video game characters of all time, so of course I had to include him. Emil begins the game as a kind-hearted, quiet young boy with the power to turn things to stone with his eyes. That power is a source of major turmoil for him, and because of this, he wears a blindfold to keep his power in check.
About halfway through the game, it’s revealed that he’s actually an ancient weapon created through magic, and he’s transformed into a somewhat grotesque skeletal being. The poor kid can’t seem to catch a break! But the rest of the party reassures him that they don’t feel any differently toward him now that he’s been transformed, so he grows to accept his new appearance.
Emil’s personality and storyline really speak to me. I found that I could easily relate to his character while playing the game. You’ll always have a place in my heart, Emil!
Manuel “Manny” Calavera (Grim Fandango)
I’m only just now playing Grim Fandango for the first time, but I can already tell that Manny Calavera is one of the best video game skeletons around! To pay for his sins in life, Manny has to work as a travel agent for the dead, which basically means he’s a Reaper. He’s sarcastic, witty, and highly competitive, making him a very fun character to get to know. He also seems to enjoy stuffing his suit full of bread and balloons and all sorts of weird things. Seriously, where is he keeping all this stuff?
Gravelord Nito (Dark Souls)
Let’s talk about how badass Gravelord Nito is. He’s a powerful skeleton with dozens of other skeletons draped around him like some sort of enormous skeleton cloak. Who did all of these skeletons belong to? Were they important people he killed, and now he’s wearing their remains like trophies? He seems to control an endless army of undead soldiers, and he wields a huge, nasty-looking blade, which also happens to be made out of skeletons, because of course it is!
Nito’s skeleton motif is so over-the-top, but I can’t help but marvel at how awesome he looks. He is without a doubt the greatest skeleton in video games!