Today I'm doing a Top 15. Why? Because it's 2015! Next year I'll do some Top 16s. The idea behind this one is to look at regular enemies rather than bosses; I feel like bosses get plenty of lists and mentions, yet regular enemies go largely unsung. What are the most difficult/annoying regular enemies I've ever faced in games? That's the subject of today's list, so let's have at it. I give you...the Top 15 Biggest Troll Enemies.
#15: Medusa Heads (Castlevania series) - The Castlevania series is full of fantastic games, most of which I've talked about on here at one time or another. However, the early games in the series could be extremely frustrating, and a large part of that were the flying Medusa Head enemies. Travelling in a wave-like pattern, they were great at knocking the player off of platforms and seemed to pop up in the worst possible locations.
#14: Slimes/Spawns (Legends of Terris) - Back in 1997 and 1998 I spent a lot of time playing Terris, a brilliant text-based MMORPG (or MUD - multi-user dungeon - as they were known at the time). It is now known as Legends of Terris and as far as I know it's still alive after all these years. While it was a great game with compelling classes and a skill system that let you branch out into non-class abilities at will, there were a few negative things about it. Some of the enemies were a bit on the cheap side, and chief among these were Slimes and Spawns. These two enemies would spam the player with Mindmaze, a stun spell that could leave you incapacitated for upwards of THIRTY SECONDS. You'd have a couple seconds to try and hit back between stuns, but if any other enemies wandered in you were generally screwed. The good news is that both Slimes and Spawns were one-shottable for most players...that is, if you could get one attack off in the first place.
#13: Cazadors (Fallout: New Vegas) - Not only are these flying insects highly evasive, they proc poison effects on the player. In most RPGs poison isn't too bad, but not New Vegas. In this game poison absolutely owns your character until it gets cured, and if you don't have any antidotes on you, you're dead.
#12: Marlboros (Final Fantasy series) - These recurrent bastards have been popping up in the Final Fantasy series for a long time and they have never ceased to be irritating. Their signature "Bad Breath" attack inflicts a variety of status ailments, usually on your entire party at once. A run-in with a Marlboro can easily ruin your trek through a dungeon, especially if you're playing one of the Final Fantasies where status ailments stick around after a fight. These guys are the very definition of "troll enemy", right down to their grin.
#11: Cops (Grand Theft Auto series) - I'm not a fan of the cop-hating that is so prevalent in modern society, but this has nothing to do with that. In the Grand Theft Auto games, the cops are a constant thorn in the side of the player. Once you get to a two-star wanted level or higher, these guys DO NOT leave you alone, and before long they bring in tanks and helicopters to make absolutely sure that you end up as a smoldering crater. Trying to escape from the police is an ordeal that took up way too much of my time in the GTA series.
#10: Snatchers (Bloodborne) - While many enemies in Bloodborne could make this list, I chose Snatchers due to their sheer ability to cause grief. Not only can they one-shot lower level players fairly easily, they also send you to an optional prison-dungeon once you fall into their clutches. A run-in with a Snatcher can completely disrupt your gameplay.
#9: ReDeads (Ocarina of Time) - Much like the Terris enemies I talked about above, these guys can stun the player and leave them vulnerable, which is annoying to say the least. So why are they so much higher on the list? The scream. That awful ReDead scream is not only chilling, it accompanies the stun. After a while, hearing it can provoke an almost Pavlovian response in a person. The most scary videogame enemies are the ones who not only appear scary, but have a scary effect on your play-session in terms of inflicting consequences on you, and ReDeads certainly fit that bill.
#8: Like Likes (Zelda series) - Staying with the Zelda series, the Like Like is one of the most annoying enemies in video game history. While they're not much of a threat, lacking any good attacks or status ailments or the like, they do have the ability to eat Link's shield. When this happens, you have little choice but to trek back to the nearest shield merchant and buy a new one. It's developer trolling at its worst, and when I saw Like Likes popping up on the horizon I was more likely to steer way clear of them than anything else.
#7: Medusas (God of War series) - The petrification-gaze of the Medusa can freeze Kratos in place. The good news is that it isn't instant death and you can shake out of it with vigorous button mashing. The bad news is that if an enemy hits you while you're petrified, Kratos shatters and it's game over. If you get petrified while jumping, gravity shatters you and it's game over. All things considered, these enemies are a huge threat and a major pain to deal with.
#6: Hammer Bros (Super Mario Bros) - Perhaps the most classic entry on this list, the Hammer Bros have been a problem for Mario going all the way back to 1985. While Hammer Bros aren't too bad when they're on platforms above you, they can be a real problem when they're on the ground and you don't have a fire flower. There's nothing worse than getting through a level only to find a Hammer Bro guarding the exit and no way to reliably get past it. Well, there might be one worse thing: The gang of Hammer Bros that you have to go through in World 8-3. I've never been able to beat that level without bringing a fire flower along.
#5: Hill Giants / Sand Giants (Everquest) - While the game has evolved greatly over the years and these guys haven't been a threat for a long time, few things were quite as trollish as Hill and Sand Giants in early Everquest. In 1999 and 2000 when the level cap was 50 and enemy strength generally scaled far higher than players of the same level, Giants ruled the outdoor areas of the game. They were level 40+ monstrosities that would roam aimlessly around zones where the level range of the content was skewed far below them otherwise, one-shotting low level characters who often wouldn't even see them coming. These moments of instant death out of nowhere were infuriating, but at the same time they were oddly compelling in terms of making you want to get to a high level to get revenge. I remember reaching the high 40's and finally being able to kill one of these guys after a pitched fight, and it felt like such an achievement. This also gave high level players a reason to hang out in lower-level zones as they kept the plains clear of giants, thus adding to the sense of community that Everquest did so well.
#4: Birds (Ninja Gaiden) - Birds in Ninja Gaiden are an absolute menace, flying towards you at odd angles just in time to intercept that difficult jump that you're midway through, sending Ryu spiraling into a pit. If they miss, they turn around and make another pass at you, and this repeats until you stop and defeat them. The worst part? They very often respawn instantly if you don't continuously move forward through the level, giving you no time to stop and think.
#3: Frogs (Final Fantasy VII) - These little buggers tend to strike in large groups; they also tend to get pincer attacks on your party, meaning you can't run away from the battle. They have low HP and barely hit for anything, but they constantly inflict "frog" status on your characters. Once frogged, your character is essentially defenseless until they get frogged again (which de-frogs them). Making things worse, the frogs also cast Sleep. When you get six of these things frogging and sleeping your characters endlessly, you can very easily end up in a situation where the only way out is to RESET THE GAME. It's absolute trolling.
#2: Chocobos (Final Fantasy Tactics) - All of the Chocobo enemies in Final Fantasy Tactics are unusually overpowered, even in a game where most of the monster NPCs are already more powerful than similarly-leveled humans. Even the lowest-level regular Chocobos can be a pain to defeat right from the beginning of the game, and later you can get utterly obliterated by Black and Red Chocobos with their super-overpowered range attacks. This comes to a head with one battle about halfway through the game where you have to defeat around eight Chocobos at once. Up to that point, you can generally avoid fighting Chocobos since they mainly appear in random battles. However, this particular battle is a required story mode fight, and it's absolutely vile in its difficulty. Making things worse, the Chocobos scale to the level of your characters, so overleveling in preparation for the fight doesn't help. In fact, it makes things worse. On my last playthrough of the game I made the mistake of powerleveling early on since I was having so much fun learning class skills. By the time I got to this fight, I didn't have any chance whatsoever of victory and had to start the whole game over. Yep. Who knew Chocobos were powerhouse death-machines?
And now, the worst troll enemy that I've faced...
#1: Firebrand/Red Arremer (Super Ghouls and Ghosts) - This guy. THIS guy. He won't make you reset the game, or start it over, but he'll make sure to ruin your day nonetheless as you die to him over and over due to his insane agility. Combine that with the sluggishness of your character and it's a recipe for frustration. The good news is that the Bow+Arrows work well against him and the
powered-up homing arrows can render him almost a non-factor. The bad news is
that you probably won't have that when you need it, plus the Red
Arremer pops up a LOT in the later levels. Be prepared to die repeatedly to this guy as the game forces you to fight him a bunch of times in a row. Worst of all, he always seems to just barely dodge your attacks, and does it all with a big smile. He is absolutely the biggest troll enemy I've ever faced.