Yes, believe it or not giant crabs and lobsters are some of the most common enemies in video games, especially in platformers and shooters. If you think that I’m exaggerating, just wait till the end of this entry. Honestly I don’t know how to start here because at least the previous enemies in The Bestiarium were at least… you know… intimidating.
Yes, even the slimes
Crabs on the other hand are the enemies that reside in the bottom of my list of priorities in video game enemies. What might look like a giant monster with huge claws that can destroy buildings, for me, it’s just the most expensive dish from a fancy restaurant that wants to tear my wallet from my cold dead hands. Don’t let that my opinion fool you, because crabs can be a really big pain in the butt if you aren’t prepared. So before I start, let’s talk about the biggest crab on existence: the constellation Cancer.
Why Cancer? You’ll see every constellation (or at least most of them) are based on a legend or figure from the Greek, Chinese or Hindu Mythology. In this case (or at least the only one I could find) it’s related to the crab Karkinos who was sent by Hera in order to distract Heracles. Heracles (honored in Rome as Hercules) was battling the Hydra. Karkinos tried to distract Heracles by grabbing him on the toe with his claws to give the Hydra an advantage.
Clearly not the best plan because the little crab was easily crushed in the fight
But because of Karkinos’ effort, Hera gave him a place in the sky… BEST CONSTELLATION…ER…CONSOLATION PRIZE EVER!!… But you know what’s really funny about this? Some people suggested that Karkinos was just a late addition to the myth of Heracles in order to make the “Twelve Labors” correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Basically the guy was a late and lame addition in order to make the “Twelve Labors” canon with signs of the zodiac. It’s like when they integrate a new character on an already established story only to be killed at the end.
I’m looking at you Starkiller
In other words this intro was totally pointless. I mean, I can’t really say that people based the concept of enormous crab creatures on this lousy tale, but at least I can always blame to weird Sci-fi books of the 19th century.
H.G. Well’s Time Machine was weird
So after all said, let’s take a look at giant crabs as a recurring enemy in video games, and movies, and cartoons… you get the point.
Big Meaty Claws
Alien Soldier for Sega Genesis
This is basically the primary weapon of any crab: a huge pair of claws with 90 lbs of crushing strength, almost four times of a human hand. You know what the best part about them? Some species can regenerate their claws when there are ripped off… Yes, I want to see a crab boss that throws their claws as missiles and then regenerates them a few seconds later. This actually sounds neat for a Space Shooter.
Vagrant Story for PSONE
I remember fighting a crab boss that threw bubbles at me when I was a kid. At first I didn’t think twice about it, but then I fought against several other crabs in several other games that did the same thing. I asked myself: where did this reoccuring behavior come from? It turns out that there are two explanations. The first one is that a crab can have bubbles in his mouth when it’s dying. To be more precise it’s a mechanism to survive when exposed of extreme temperatures or water with very little salt. Thankfully, the second explanation is less disturbing but it’s not entirely related to crabs, but shrimp. The Snapping Shrimp is a species with the ability to emit a powerful wave of bubbles that can stun fish and break glasses.
I’m not making that up
I have two theories of why crabs have this ability in video games. The first one is because the creator didn’t knew the difference between crab and shrimp. The second one is that they thought that the bubbles a crab made was used as a form of defense before they tossed the poor bastard into boiled water. Either train of thought is good for me.
Exoskeletons and Shells
Hudson’s Adventure Island 2 for NES
Crabs and lobsters are invertebrates which means that instead of a backbone they are equipped with an exoskeleton made out of chitin and calcium carbonate. These materials also form the shells created by gastropods (snails) used by hermit crabs. These armors protect the little fellas from any harm or impact, and while the shells offer greater protection, exoskeletons have the ability to change its shape or regenerate missing limbs. This in video game terms means crabs have a big defense stat or that your only option to cause them massive damage is attack its weak point.
Wild Guns for SNES
If you can’t find a giant crab to make him fight for you, then your best option is to find a crazy scientist and pay him a crapton of money to make you a giant crab, because…video games. If the idea of a giant crab already baffles the mind, the idea of a giant mechanical crab completely destroys it. It works scientifically speaking. You’ll see many scientists believe that gravity limits the size of life forms. Larger animals have large bones in comparison to its body than smaller animals to overcome gravity. Crustaceans on the other hand have exoskeletons instead of bones, which means that their size limit is less than the one of land animals. They need muscles to move their exoskeletons and keep their muscles and organs in place. This creates kind of a paradox because bigger crabs will need bigger muscles and a bigger exoskeleton to encase it all, making the whole animal much heavier. It’s kind of hard finding a correct balance of these two elements, not to mention the distribution of oxygen and several other factors that makes impossible the existence of giant crabs and lobsters.
So yeah, going with Mecha-Crustaceans is your best choice
This is why robotic life forms are always better because it means that you have a giant tank with spider-like legs and two big giant claws that can crush pretty much anything. It’s a neat idea despite of how silly it looks. Mecha crabs show up in games like Mega Man X2, X3, and X8 (Platformer), Sonic Blastman (Beat’em up), Striker 1945 (Shooter) and Bubble Symphony (Platformer), just to name a few.
Sonic Blastman for SNES
After all that it’s no wonder to see a lot of crabs in video games. They don’t only appear in shooters or platformers, but also survival horror games like Resident Evil 6 (If you can call that survival horror), hack and slash games like Genji 2, RPGs like Vagrant Story, The Elder Scrolls and Pokemon (Since Gen 1), and action games like Dark Souls. All this means is that crabs aren’t only popular, but also very deadly, so have that in mind when you fight a giant crustacean.
Or you might end crushed