When I think about my favorite games and franchises, one common denominator among most of them is a unique weapon or collection of battle armaments. While there are no such things in Super Mario Bros. per se, power-ups generally fall under this same category.
In the great tradition of gamer internet debates, I present the following question: what is the greatest video game weapon of all time? The answer depends on how you define “greatest”; does it mean most powerful? Most unique design? Most useful to the player character in the game which it represents? And what does “most powerful” mean, anyway? Most powerful relative to the universe in which it exists?
My answer is simply “because I like it and it’s cool”.
These, then, are the greatest video game weapons, ever.
Series: The Legend of Zelda
First appearance: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super NES (1991)
It can be argued, fairly convincingly, that as far as the convoluted Zelda timeline is concerned, the “Magic Sword” obtained toward the end of the original NES Legend of Zelda is indeed the Master Sword in its final incarnation (first chronologically, last canonically). But for our purposes, we’re going with the first named appearance, which of course was in the incomparable A Link to the Past. Folks, this is the Sword of Evil’s Bane (awesome second name, BTW) — it can reflect magic spells with the grace of a butterfly net; it plays a critical role in killing various forms of Ganon / Ganondorf multiple times; and apparently it is incredibly light in spite of its size, because as a child, Link can swing it about with ease. Also, in real life it looks pretty freaking awesome. Here’s hoping the Master Sword plays a major role in Breath of the Wild, which seems likely since it was featured at the end of the E3 2016 trailer.
Series: Final Fantasy
First Appearance: Final Fantasy VII, PlayStation (1997)
Arguably the most iconic sword in video games, the Buster Sword is as over-the-top as they come. It’s also extremely bad-ass. A real-life version would weigh more than 75 pounds, which I guess explains Cloud’s absurdly huge forearms. It should be even more fun to swing in the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake.
First Appearance: Devil’s Castle Dracula, Famicom Disk System (1986)
Like Zelda, Castlevania has a confusing timeline which has been retconned so many times, it’s nearly impossible to determine exactly when in the series timeline (and precisely in which game) the Vampire Killer whip really originated. Of this much we can be certain: it’s used to kill Dracula… and it contains the soul of a Belmont’s beloved, who sacrificed herself to give the whip its supernatural powers after she became a vampire or something. At any rate, it is by far the most-familiar whip in video games, and no game can use a whip without an inevitable comparison.
Series: Mega Man
First Appearance: Rockman, Famicom (1987)
Here again, there is some debate over when the Mega Buster was first properly used by Mega Man. I’m going with the first game in the original series, since technically Rock’s arm cannon was always a Mega Buster. However, I can certainly understand the argument that a proper Mega Buster did not appear until Mega Man 4 (NES), when it was given the charging ability by Dr. Light. What makes this weapon really special, though, is its ability to assimilate the special weapons of defeated Robot Masters — an ability taken to its inevitable conclusion in the Mega Man Dies at the End web series.
First Appearance: Doom, PC (1993)
They call it the “Big F***ing Gun” for a reason. You can’t convince me that this isn’t the most overpowered fantasy weapon in video game history. It kills EVERYTHING on the screen in one shot. I say “fantasy” weapon to distinguish this from the nuclear bombs in Civilization II and its sequels, since those are, you know, nuclear bombs. Naturally, it’s the most recently updated weapon on this list, as it returns in this year’s remake / reboot of Doom.
NOTE: The header image above comes from a delightful poster created by artist Daniel Nyari, simply titled “Famous Weapons”. It is featured here with Daniel’s kind permission. You can order a print at Society6.com.