Minecraft: The Tyranny of The Creeper
To celebrate the launch of Minecraft – Mojang’s hugely successful build ‘em up – on the Xbox 360, D+PAD decided to take a close look at one of the game’s most-compelling (and downright evil) characters: The Creeper. So, with cuboids in hand, Charles Etheridge-Nunn enters the world of Minecraft and sets about dissecting this curious and terrifying foe…
The Creeper is possibly one of the best villains in computer game history. For a green, kind of phallic cactus thing, it’s surprising, but I think I’ve never shouted at my screen louder at anything more frustrating. The shock of seeing a creeper a second before dying at its hands makes me scream like a little girl in an unmarked, windowless van.
The Creeper is king of all bastards, and here are some of the reasons why he’s an interesting, compelling villain, and deserving of all our hate.
1) He is the Unmaker
Minecraft is a game where you build things. They could be small and practical or vast and ostentatious. You create, and that’s why it’s one of the best games around. In a video game culture where shooting foreign people in an environment made of varied brown hues, this is a colourful world where you make.
The Creeper does not make though. He destroys. He is death, he is the internet troll, he is the terrible remake of a song you like, forever etching a ruined version on your ears.
You build a hut, a creeper gets in and while you’re swinging your sword like crazy, he starts to hiss. He flashes. Then boom! He destroys everything.
If you die in Minecraft, there’s little cost. You respawn right away, and maybe you lose some nice items you had, but that’s not the problem. He’s killed your cabin, and night WILL fall. You have to start again. A creeper in your castle is a nightmare. Hillsides outside your home fill up with massive craters, scarred by his passing. Death isn’t the most important thing here, but your home, your project, your art is. They are the diametric opposite of you and that is why they are best.
2) Jumpscares Are Lazy , But Effective Horror
The hiss. That damn hiss. I’ve scared people out of the game by making that noise, and it’s a dick move. I’d fall for it too, I bet.
Zombies groan, spiders make slurping noises (again, I do a great spider noise), but creepers make no noise until it’s too late. You might be exploring a cave, wandering a beach, up on a hill or in your own home. There’s the fizzing noise and it’s too late. You spin around, see that green face and BANG! The deed is done. You’re dead, your home’s ruins and your possessions are scattered all over the place. I’ve played Minecraft since early in the beta, yet it’s still a surprise every time.
3) He Doesn’t Give a Shit
The creeper has no ties, no allegiance, nothing to limit it. You need to eat, it doesn’t. You need shelter, you have a home and you have trunks full of items. This makes you weak. The creeper doesn’t need these, it is not weak.
Its kin, the zombie and the skeleton, burn in daylight, the spider becomes docile. The creeper couldn’t care less. Even in the brightest day, you’re keeping an eye out; desperate not to die at their hands. They don’t have the same need, the same foibles. You are nothing, and the creeper knows that.
4) He’s His Own Man And Looks Good Doing His Thing
Nothing looks like a creeper. Well, a cactus, maybe, and that’s a whole other problem in itself. Still, it’s not a zombie, otherwise the creeper wouldn’t be identifiable as its own brand of bastard. It would be Minecraft’s version of a zombie. Don’t get me wrong, zombies are sods when they’re pounding on your door, but they’re not unique.
The creeper is entirely Minecraft’s monster; from the shoddy, blocky look to the purpose and its way of inconveniencing you. It is pure Minecraft and perfect for that reason. So many villains aren’t interesting, generally they’re just foreign people with guns (Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc), pointy aliens (Halo and its kin) or zombies (pick a game, go on, pick any game right now). Maybe they’re distinct, but have been used in the IP for decades, like slimes in Dragon Quest or Koopa Troopas in Mario. The creeper is a new piece of IP which looks interesting. He graces t-shirts, Lego, memes, he’s iconic after only a year or two, and that’s pretty unique for new intellectual properties.
5) Even The Creeper Isn’t Happy Doing What It Does
Look at the creeper’s face. It doesn’t take pleasure doing what it does. It looks sad, like there’s possibly some kind of backstory going on. Who knows how they’re made, where they come from. They know they’re going to die, and they may not care (see point #3), but they’re still not happy. That sad face has unspoken tragedy, horror. If they laughed, if they giggled, did anything to show that they loved their job, they would simply be a dick, or an evil clown. Instead, they’re not killing you out of spite. It’s all they have, and they’ll have their way.
So there we have it, five reasons why the creeper is the best enemy in video games, or at least one of them. They’re nice, simple, evil creatures that makes going up against them both a blessing and a curse to be. Without them, Minecraft wouldn’t have a serious threat to your projects. Rather than put you off of Minecraft because of how effective and how vicious these green sods are, I hope it gives you impetus to buy it. These creepers are an interesting challenge, a worthy adversary, and the risk they bring makes a completed project even more satisfying.
Now you’ve read this lengthy, purposefully sweeping statement, do you agree or disagree? Are there more effective nemeses in videogames? Do you have any war stories from the fight against the creeper menace? Comment in the thread below.
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