There's just something glorious about a truly demonic demon, one that embodies the spirit of the classics -- a big, red, horny, behooved, gleefully evil beast-man from the flaming depths of Hell. Who doesn't love demons? Well, Christians, I suppose. Some of them, anyway.
Lucifer (Ghosts n' Goblins)
The classic Capcom title Ghosts n' Goblins scores points by going straight to the top of the food chain. It doesn't get more demonic than Satan himself, and this isn't your post-modern, social commentary, Al Pacino take on the character -- this is proper Satan, sitting on a proper skull throne, being a proper demon.
As is an important requisite for being a real demon, Lucifer's skin is as red as the blistering fires that will melt the endlessly regenerating flesh from our bones for all eternity. However, he places last on the list due to the lack of horns, hooves, or other defining traits that would make him a truly demony demon. With the hair, pointy nose, and generally washed-out color of his skin, he looks more like a cross between a Super Saiyan, a witch, and that woman out of Hellraiser II: Hellbound.
Nevertheless, he is still a good demon.
Lucifer (Dante's Inferno)
Like Capcom, Visceral Games decided to pick the big guy himself when creating an ultimate baddie for Dante's Inferno. He's a solid example of a demon done justice. The horn-to-head ratio is tilted firmly in favor of horns, which is always great to see in any demon.
Speaking of horns, this particular Lucifer has a gigantic penis that flops around when he walks. This is often a cause of humor to some, but folk like me take our demon penises incredibly seriously. It is not mandatory that a demon have a penis, but if it's going to have one, it's got to be huge and massive and capable of hammering a nail into plywood. They did a great job on all counts with this particular penis, and I'm grateful that Visceral takes a good dick as seriously as I do.
Diablos (Final Fantasy series)
Diablos is a pretty damn good demon. His face is basically made out of spikes, he's got a giant pair of wings that look more suited to putting holes in things as opposed to flight, and he's sporting a classy red and black color scheme that is both demonic and fashionable.
Square Enix did a great job with Diablos, giving him a modern look to make him appealing to the youth of today while still retaining a lot of classic demoniness that will never go out of style. Fans of the satanic, young and old, can come together and celebrate their love of the blasted wasteland that shall host their lives in oblivion, united by a shared appreciation of Diablos. The Dreadful Mother whispers her knowledge where no ears are there to hear them.
Eidolon (Hexen 2)
Now we're really cooking (cooking like in Hell with fire ha ha). Eidolon has got it going on, with a dark red color pattern, black claws, and even a pair of hooves. We're getting into serious demon territory with these bad boys. Extra marks are had for the goat-like nature of its horns and beard. Since the dawn of time, goats have had an affinity with the damned, due to the fact that they can eat clothes, which humans use to hide their sinful boobs and anuses. This is where we get the term "scapegoat" from, "scape" being Latin for, "chewing my pants."
The snake-like face is a bit offputting and a reason why the Eidolon didn't rank higher, but any disturbance had from that feature is offset by the brass nipple ring located on the demon's left teet. This is a nice touch, and adds flavor to the design.
Flame Demon (Castlevania series)
The Flame Demon has almost got it all. Fire, teeth, horns, wings, nearly every incarnation of the Flame Demon throughout the Castlevania series has been a fantastic look at what goes into making a truly demony demon.
That said, the Flame Demon from Symphony of the Night really lets the side down, and can eat balls as far as I'm concerned. First of all, it's green. Green! Demons aren't green, they are almost ALWAYS red, and maybe sometimes grey or black with some red on them somewhere. They're not red and green like they're made out of fucking Christmas! Those pathetic little points on its head do not look like horns. They're more like a snail's eye stalks. Frankly, the whole mess resembles some sort of stupid insect and I honestly hope whoever designed it is homeless now and can never improve his social standing -- also, the bastard can never die, so he is stuck homeless forever and really hungry and thirsty but waking up every morning so he can keep being poor and homeless and generally having a bad time.
That little issue aside, great work on the Flame Demons!
Samael (Darksiders series)
Despite a voice that makes him sound like he should be selling suspicious car stereos at a covered market in East London, Samael is an incredibly demonesque demon who demons really nicely. This guy wears horns so well that he's managed to fashion a bunch of them into a beard. Samael has a hornbeard! That's how you know you're hitting the grade-A hardcore demon shit.
Top marks also go toward a pair of wings that look like they're made out of steak, as well as armor that's pointy enough to be badass while small enough to showcase at least one tit. Demons are at their best when they're wearing only a slight amount of clothing, so we can see how red they are. Samael is pretty damn red, which makes him really good at being a demon.
They're coming for you, you fucking worm. They're scratching the inside of your skull with their barbs and they'll break free at night to drag you, bleeding, from your rancid little cot.
Horned Reaper (Dungeon Keeper series)
Did you think we'd do this article without mentioning Dungeon Keeper? What's wrong with you, you pathetic little idiot!? It doesn't get much better than the Horned Reaper, that scythe-wielding nightmare from Bullfrog's short-lived series of simulation games. Tough to unlock, and tougher to keep satisfied, these devilish bastards bleed pure demon.
They're red. They're horny. They've got hooves. They are classic demon, through and through. I prefer the original design over the sequel's overhaul, due to it having better teeth and no pupils in the eyes, but both versions are pretty ace-potatoes. Abuse.
Diablo (Diablo series)
After the thirteen black sacraments have been performed, the matriarch of spiders descends from an icy haze of withering deceit and the judgement of those that have wreaked their rusted vengeance upon their deniers. She will ask you a question, and you must answer this pressing inquisition with honesty in your heart, no matter the perversity of her accusation, for your secrets collect on her entangled web like dew drops in the spring morning, and she has grown fat on your life of lies and wicked deeds. Know now that she sees all, her eight unblinking eyes possessed of the spirit sight, and her words cut like jagged glass dragged upon the flesh of your soul. With a single query she can reduce a man to a gibbering, wretched thing, and only the steeliest of resolve can shield itself from her accusatory spite.
The first of the keys to the locks to the door are yours upon your completion of this task. Only when the door is open will you free yourself of the torment you have knowingly invited. You, who began your quest in pursuit of power, will end it in pursuit of peace. I warn you, beseech you, do not tread this path. Though I am bound by my own misdoing to instruct you, whoever you may be, I am free to tell you that you must not, cannot, do this.
What have I done?
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