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.

“Would you kindly” …For BioShock

Year: 2007

A wall showing old photographs and the Would you Kindly message from BioShock

BioShock’s iconic twist.

OK, seriously: SPOILERS!

Through good old fashioned 3D vistas and audio logs with an unforgettable cast of talking heads, BioShock introduces players to the underwater empire turned retro-futurist dystopia called Rapture.

Your handler in this renowned first-person shooter is Atlas; a mysterious rebel who has an axe to grind against the founder of Rapture, Andrew Ryan. In his dulcet Dublin tones, Atlas suggests we hunt Ryan down and slay his crazed foot soldiers in the name of a people’s revolution.

By the time players catch up to Ryan though, the full horror of what we’ve done is laid bare. Ryan exposes how Atlas has been manipulating us all along. It turns out the simple words “Would you kindly” have mind-controlling qualities when uttered to test subjects like us, and Atlas has exploited this to have us “kindly” commit wanton murder and mayhem in the name of his lunatic fantasies.

BioShock boldly points the finger at us players for not questioning the motives of those giving orders. This was pretty subversive material for a major video game in 2007, and the cutscene where a broken Andrew Ryan forces the player to murder him — just to prove his point — is a breathtaking twist.


Warthog run …For Halo: Combat Evolved

Year: 2001

Master Chief escapes an exploding spaceship in a Warthog jeep.

Master Chief makes an explosive escape during Halo’s finale.

The famous final level in Halo: Combat Evolved is not bookended by a lumbering boss fight nor a mindless quick time event. Rather fittingly instead, players are treated to the game’s most thrilling vehicle section, wherein Master Chief must drive to escape a detonating starship primed to destroy the ring world along with its lethal parasite.

No matter how many dozens of times I play it, this tense final dash always gets my adrenaline pumping in time for the closing credits.


Gunther Herman’s kill phrase …For Deus Ex

Year: 2000

JC Denton and Gunther Herman chat in Deus Ex

JC Denton and Gunther Herman have a little chat in Deus Ex.

Another groundbreaking first-person shooter, another memorable video game moment. Funny how that works.

This one is courtesy of Deus Ex and its lovable German killing machine, Gunther Hermann. This augmented NPC resembles a walking cigarette machine with a head on it. He’s a cruel slab of mechanized flesh whose only purpose is to maim people.

Facing Hermann in combat would be suicide, but cunning players can discover his kill phrase — “Laputan Machine” — which will destroy Hermann when players say it to him during their final conversation late into the game.

There is something so darkly comic about terminating what would otherwise be a terrifying encounter, and JC Denton’s hilariously dry retort at the end makes it even better.

“Sticks and stones.”


Nuke ‘Em …For Lemmings

Year: 1991

Lemmings 1 Gameplay Screenshot

Lemmings get nuked to fail a level.

One of the greatest games of all time, Lemmings is a classic puzzler with one hilarious mean streak.

Whenever the green-haired critters prove too frustrating to save, players can always quit a level with a few pyrotechnics instead. That’s exactly what the “Nuke ‘Em” button does: set each lemming to detonate after ten seconds. This command never factors into the solution of any level, but that doesn’t stop players from using it!

The resulting explosions will rather amusingly tank the frame rate on larger levels, but that only adds to the spectacle of failing in such gruesome style.


Manfred Von Karma breaks down …For Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Year: 2005

Manfred Von Karma tastes bitter defeat in the first Ace Attorney.

Manfred Von Karma tastes bitter defeat in the first Ace Attorney.

A delightful trait of the Ace Attorney games are the “breakdowns” that Phoenix Wright’s opponents suffer during the final moments of a case. Arguably the best one from the original game is the breakdown of Case 4’s ultimate villain, Manfred Von Karma.

This ruthless prosecution lawyer shows no quarter in tearing down Wright’s arguments from the very start of this long and winding story of murder and betrayal. However, when Wright successfully delivers his closing argument, Von Karma relives the entire case in fast forward. The visual flashbacks are so painful and humiliating, it causes him to repeatedly slam his head against the courtroom wall in a feeble attempt to crush the memories forever.

It’s deliberately silly, but the notion that Von Karma can’t even reconcile his own past without applying physical force is very telling of his character, and after such a long journey full of so many twists and turns, this final vignette offers players some well-deserved catharsis.