Video game moments that took players by surprise

Video games are like little pockets of consistency that the bored and lonely can curl up in for a few hours at a time and disappear from the strangeness of reality. When you plug in Super Mario Bros., you can expect a succession of progressively harder levels until you reach the end, and at no point will you be expected to help Mario pay his taxes or deal with migraines. Not every game follows the same predictable formula, however, and a game will occasionally have a segment that's so out of left field that it just boggles the mind. Here are just a few levels that will leave you scratching your head.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) - Bombing the Hudson

The hugely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES is a game that every '90s kid has played and loved…until the end of level two. That's when pure hatred sets in. During the game's painful underwater level, you're forced to defuse bombs strapped to a dam, and all bets are off. It's a swimming level in the middle of a standard platformer, where countless obstacles can cause quick death, and you only have about two minutes to save New York. Since when does the Hudson have pink, electrified seaweed? Sorry, New Yorkers: you're just going to have to learn to swim to work.

X-Men (Sega Genesis) - Mojo's Reset

Mojo's level in X-Men for the Genesis wasn't all that nontraditional itself, but its conclusion breaks just about every expectation you've ever held about video games. After defeating Mojo, you're told to "reset the computer," which seems to imply that you should find some kind of hidden button that you need to hit with some mutant projectile…except there's no button. Instead, gamers are expected to actually tap the reset button on their Genesis console; only then would the game restart on the next level. It's some insane fourth-wall thinking that few games have ever replicated.

Far Cry Primal (PS4, Xbox) - Urki

There are three segments in Far Cry Primal that simply don't fit into the serious, life-or-death caveman warrior aesthetic, and they all involve a weird caveman named Urki. As you traverse the land of Oros, rescuing your prehistoric pals and murdering rival tribes with trained wolves, you encounter a genuine redneck caveman. Even though all of the game's dialogue is spoken in an imaginary primitive dialect, Urki has an unmistakable Southern drawl, and the ridiculous antics to accompany the stereotype. It's completely incongruous with the prehistoric theme—and absolutely hilarious.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo 3DS) - Chaos Vortex

The legacy of Kid Icarus was given a whole new layer with Uprising, exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS. It's a pretty standard third-person shooter with alternating aerial and ground levels, based very loosely on Greek mythology. But the Chaos Vortex level drops the Greek theme for total insanity. Giant shadowy hands reach across the screen, human eyeballs blink in empty space, enemies curiously crowd the viewer's camera, and huge script words fill the screen for no apparent reason. If you make it through, things go back to normal, but it's probably the closest thing to an acid trip that Nintendo has ever offered.

Metroid (NES) - Escape the Planet

Metroid is one of the first kinda-open world games, allowing for free exploration in all directions, provided you have the right equipment to blast through certain doors. It's a leisurely stroll through shooting up alien weirdos at your own pace, until you defeat Mother Brain and the planet starts to explode. Suddenly, the game becomes a frantic, unexpected rush against the clock as you platform upwards on the smallest ledges in the entire game. Your prize if you survive the heart-attack inducing stress? A tiny digital picture of a girl in a bikini. Thanks?

Earthworm Jim 2 (SNES, Sega) - The Villi People

Every level in Earthworm Jim 2 is pretty weird and none of them seem to follow any kind of theme, whether it's escorting bombs across isometric landscapes, solving timed puzzles to save puppies, or basic 2D platforming. But the weirdest level of all is "The Villi People." Inexplicably, Jim is dressed up as a blind albino lizard, swimming through the intestines of some huge creature, avoiding pinball bumpers and pencils. At the end of the level, you're forced through a trivia contest with meaningless answers, and then a game of Simon. It's level-creation chaos at its weirdest, and then it's back to shooting baby-throwing ants and stuff.

Star Fox (Super Nintendo) - Out of This Dimension

If you follow the right sequence of portals in Star Fox, you'll be zapped into an inescapable dimension of certain death, which is a lot better than it sounds. It takes perfect timing and careful controls, but when you pilot your Arwing into the area known only as "Out of This Dimension," you'll be forced into a never-ending fight with paper airplanes, an intelligent slot machine, and eventually, and the words "THE END," which you fire at until you decide it's time for dinner and shut the system down. There's no escape, the Lylat system is doomed…but at least you got to see some insane, grinning moons before you run out of oxygen or starve. Whichever comes first.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Into the Moon

As if the grimacing moon threatening to destroy Hyrule in Majora's Mask isn't scary and strange enough, the game's final level has Link flying through the moon's toothy mouth and into a surrealist final level. Like a '90s music video, there's a single tree at the top of a hill in a hazy field and creepy kids run around the base asking for masks. If this wasn't weird enough, Link also acquires a mask that essentially turns him into a god…but only for the final battle. Sending Link into space isn't really a Legend of Zelda kind of thing, but as long as there's some kind of magical element to it, it kinda works.