Best Video Game Moments is a series about memorable moments and mechanics in video games.

Spoiler alert: This post may contain spoilers for the video games it references.

The fate of Hatty Hattington …For BattleBlock Theater

Year: 2013

Hatty Hattington lies dead in BattleBlock Theater

Hatty Hattington turns up dead in BattleBlock Theater.

BattleBlock Theater’s plot is as farcical as its initial setup suggests. It begins when a cruise ship full of people (all of them good friends) shipwreck on an island housing a deadly theatre complex ruled by tyrannical cats. Players guide their custom characters through dozens of trap-filled rooms and platforming challenges on a quest to rescue everyone’s best friend, Hatty Hattington, from whatever fate his feline kidnappers have cooked up.

However, upon finally reaching Hatty in the theatre’s control room during the game’s climax, the absurdist tone vanishes for just a few moments as we realise Hatty has been dead this entire time! Or at the very least consumed, possessed, or otherwise comatose. (Is that malevolent hat atop his inert head to blame for all of this?)

For a story told in such a deliberately silly manner, the revelation of Hatty’s apparent demise causes the journey to end on a surprisingly sombre yet memorable note — one that fans are surely still debating the meaning behind.


Fatality …For Mortal Kombat

Year: 1992

Sub-Zero rips off Liu Kang's head in Mortal Kombat 1

Sub-Zero’s iconic head-rip fatality in Mortal Kombat.

This should really be a headline entry in any talk of video game moments, but I’ve already talked about it so much in the past, I’m not sure what else I can say to adequately express the cultural relevance Mortal Kombat’s “Fatality” had in the gaming space during the early Nineties.

Hopefully we all know the story by now. When the “FINISH HIM/HER” prompt appears at the end of a fight, the winner is allowed one final hit, but inputting a secret button command at the correct distance instead turns the screen black, whereupon your character butchers their defeated opponent in a grisly display of gory violence.

As I said in my old retrospective, performing a fatality was a rite of passage for kids of my generation, and I still occasionally use them to wow younger friends and work colleagues at arcade cabinets to this day.


Embassy Function …For Mission: Impossible

Year: 1998

Ethan Hunt explores the outstanding Embassy level in Mission: Impossible.

Ethan Hunt explores the outstanding Embassy level in Mission: Impossible.

It’s fair to say the 1998 Mission: Impossible video game didn’t achieve the immense potential it once showed in magazine previews. Even so, its Embassy Function mission, which sees agent Ethan Hunt infiltrating a secret Russian lab, is a memorable level thanks to its variety of non-violent mission objectives (a rarity for the time).

From schmoozing with party-goers and matching wits against cunning counteragents and missing sheets of piano music, players must contend with several obstacles to make progress, and it all ends with Hunt raising a prank fire alert en route to his real destination behind this glamorous facade.


Coffee wars …For Deus Ex: Invisible War

Year: 2003

The Coffee Wars side quest turns nasty in Deus Ex: Invisible War

The Coffee Wars side quest turns nasty in Deus Ex: Invisible War.

The most memorable side quest in the second Deus Ex game is more than just a series of Moby Dick references.

This optional mission sees protagonist Alex Denton sabotaging the competing coffee brands of Pequod’s and Queequeg’s. Whether it’s burning their stock or threatening the owners themselves, both brands are desperate to put their rival out of business, with Alex becoming a pawn in their war for market share.

This escalating cycle of sabotage takes a swerve when Alex discovers Pequod’s and Queequeg’s are secretly owned by the same company! (It seems their attempts at inspiring competition between the two brands proved too successful.) Following your dirty deeds, the shadowy board members submit a revelatory email pleading for the infighting to stop hurting their bottom line.

But of course Alex has the power to decide in the end, either by revealing the secret to the coffee stores to foster cooperation between them, or keeping it quiet to let the mayhem continue!


Krita-Yuga is Soul Calibur …For Soulcalibur

Year: 1996

Xianghua kneels before Soul Calibur

Xianghua claims the legendary blade in Soulcalibur.

This is a very subtle gaming moment which shows an uncharacteristic amount of storytelling restraint for a fighting game. It concerns the appearance of the legendary sword from which Soulcalibur takes its title.

Despite the main character Kilik being positioned as the primary protagonist, it’s actually his friend Xianghua who is the true hero of this tale, as her sword was seemingly possessed by Soul Calibur all along.

For players to actually wield the blade in-game though, a player has to select Xianghua’s third costume and fight to the end of the arcade mode with her. This prompts a cutscene where Xianghua’s sword (Krita-Yuga) transforms into Soul Calibur ready for her to wield in the final battle.

I’m not sure why Namco chose to hide Soul Calibur this well (they certainly didn’t in the many sequels since), but it’s a cool moment which makes the rarely-seen blade in question feel positively mythic when it finally does appear.