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The ten most annoying flying enemies in videogames

4:00 PM on 07.10.2012 // Chad Concelmo

It's a known fact that the most annoying enemies in videogames are the flying kind. They are the worst.

When you are about to jump over a bottomless pit, they are always there to hit you right in the face. When you are equipped with a sword, they always manage to swarm you and hover just out of reach.

Seriously, they are the worst.

But which flying enemies are the most annoying of all time? My God, there are so many to choose from.

I will never forget the first time I encountered Lakitu in the original Super Mario Bros. I remember thinking to myself: Oh look! That guy is flying in a ridiculously cute cloud! It's smiling! How cute!

This warm first impression was quickly shattered when Lakitu starting throwing spike-covered Spinies down upon Mario's head. And then he continued to throw more. And more. And more! The rain of Spiny destruction never stopped until poor Mario ran away, ducked down a pipe, or made it to the end of the level.

Why would you corrupt that poor cloud like that, Lakitu? He is so cute! So cute ...

 

Yeah, Rippers are near-invulnerable and can only be killed with the Screw Attack and other late-in-the-game Samus power-ups. But that is not what makes them really annoying.

What makes them so frustrating is their placement in the Metroid games. The Rippers move back and forth in small, hard to navigate areas, making them tough to avoid. In addition, they are almost always found in tall, vertical shafts, causing Samus to fall all the way to the bottom if hit by them. It is super irritating and seems to always happen right before you make it to the safety of an elevator.

Riiiiippeeeeeers! <shakes fist in air>

 

Even if you have never played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, you may have heard tales about the dreaded Cliff Racers. These flying prehistoric creatures like to constantly swoop down and attack helpless players in giant swarms. And to make matters worse, since Morrowind is primarily a first-person game, you can rarely see them coming, resulting in a constant barrage of unexpected attacks.

The Cliff Racers are so notoriously awful, that the designers themselves even admitted their inclusion may have been a mistake. THE DESIGNERS EVEN HATE THEM! It is no coincidence that the winged creatures have not appeared in any Elder Scrolls game since.

And the sound they make. Oh, man, that sound ...

 

The original Legend of Zelda is a top-down, 2D game, so trying to include flying enemies must have been a tough design decision. How do you make something fly out of reach when Link can technically still hit it with his sword because of the perspective?

Oh, I will tell you how. You make the Peahats spin their propellers, simulating flight and making them impossible to hit until they are motionless and back on the ground. Now, how do you make them super annoying? You allow the Peahats to hit Link at all times, even when he can't strike them. That'll do the trick.

To this day, I still avoid fighting Peahats. It is too much of a hassle to bother with them.

 

When you are standing on the ground, the birds in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time are not that tough to defeat. Sure, they make quick jabs towards you, but their attacks can be easily blocked and immediately countered. Not too tricky.

The birds become annoying when the Prince is balancing on a skinny ledge -- which, of course, happens throughout the entire game. When balancing, the Prince can’t block, forcing you to have to swing your sword at the exact right moment. There really is only a split second window when the bird is in striking range. Delay for even a moment, and the Prince is knocked off the ledge.

It is beyond annoying.

 

I refuse to speak ill of Phanto in the fear that he will find me and kill me.

 

The Moas are flying eyeballs that, at first glance, don’t seem like they would pose too much of a challenge. Most of them can be killed with one sword slash, and they don’t have any armor to protect them.

But encountering them is the worst.

In the already-challenging-enough Zelda II, the Moas fly back and forth in strange, irregular patterns, making them very hard to connect with. In addition, some of the Moas drop fire, while others drain precious experience points when they hit you. There are even some -- the rare blue variety -- that are invisible unless Link possesses a certain item. When fighting in groups, this enemy will drive you insane.

The only redeeming factor of the Moas is the satisfaction you get when attacking them with a perfectly timed down- or jump-thrust. It feels so good to connect with one of these moves, and almost makes fighting them worth it. Almost.

 

UUUGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!

That was the exact sound I made as a child when I used to run into the Red Devil in Ghosts 'n Goblins for the NES. Actually, that is the noise I still make when a run into this flying red jerk. He is that annoying.

The Red Devil swoops down on the helpless Arthur and is a huge nuisance to kill. For those of you that don't know (and have been spared the game's torturous difficulty level), main character Arthur is killed with only two hits in Ghosts 'n Goblins. Two hits. That's it! One sheds his armor; the other hit turns him into bones.

When fighting a Red Devil, the flying demon is constantly hovering high on the screen so Arthur cannot hit him. When he does swoop down, it is very fast,  forcing the player to have to jump over him at the last possible second and then quickly turn around to attack. (Good luck if you accidentally get stuck with the fireball as a weapon.) The process is insanely difficult, made near-impossible by the brutal two-hit death rule.

And don't even get me started on later in the game, when two Red Devils attack Arthur at the same time. Yeah, that actually happens.

 

I am laughing to myself as I type this because the eagles in the original Ninja Gaiden drive me so insane that I can't help but chuckle like a madman when I think about them.

Ninja Gaiden is one of my favorite games of all time. I absolutely adore it and make a point to play it at least once a month. But every time I pick it up, I am still blown away by how frustrating the eagles are.

The main reason the eagles are so infuriating is actually a fault in the design of the game. Throughout the entirety of Ninja Gaiden, if you move even one pixel in the opposite direction after killing an enemy, that enemy will immediately respawn.

This is manageable for most of the enemies, since you are constantly moving forward, but the eagles always (always!) appear right before you jump over a pit. After killing them it is only natural to want to back up a bit to make the tough jump. By doing this, though, the eagles just keep reappearing. Over and over and over again.

<sigh>

 

I am sure all of you know about the Medusa heads in the original Castlevania. I am sure you have all even experienced the Medusa heads in the original Castlevania. They are infamous for a reason.

The Medusa heads are never-ending spawning enemies that approach Simon Belmont from both sides in a hard-to-hit wave pattern. This by itself is annoying, but what makes these enemies so awful is the fact that they knock Simon back when they hit him.

This jarring knockback usually results in Simon being thrown back into a pit -- especially on the clock tower level. And these sadistic Medusa heads never stop, no matter how long you sit there and attack them. THEY JUST KEEP COMING!

On the rare occasion that the Medusa heads drop a reward for your patience and skill (a heart or maybe a money bag), you can't even retrieve it on the very likely chance another head will appear and knock you back -- you guessed it -- into a pit.

Eff the Medusa heads. And eff pits!

 

-----

I am sure there are many other annoying flying enemies in videogames, but these are the ones that have always bothered me the most. What are your picks for the most irritating enemies that just can't stay on the goddamn ground?



Chad Concelmo,
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