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 411mania » Games » Columns

The 8 Ball 01.21.14: Top 8 Most Frustrating Game Moments
Posted by Marc Morrison on 01.21.2014

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week, Liana and I are going to talk about some of our most frustrating moments in games. It was originally going to be about just the most frustrating games of all times but then those lists would just be filled with things like Ninja Gaiden, Battletoads, Bebe's Kids, and so on. So we tried to pick some moments from games that made us frustrated and talk a bit about them. Here we go:

8. Vay (Multi)

I got to the end point of this game and just couldn't beat it and boy did I try. Vay was probably the first JRPG I got into, and I couldn't beat it. Right near the end, in the evil fortress, you are presented with a grid of 7 vertical and 6 horizontal rooms. In the room is a healing potion that would restore your health/magic but also transport you to another room. In the hallways between each room were some of the hardest enemies in the game, save for bosses. Only one character was useful, she could do attacks between 100-300 damage, the other 3 characters would do attacks between 30 and 60 damage. It was just the sheer monotony of trying every door to get to the one that would get you past this. After about 3 hours of this nonsense, even calling the Sega tip line to figure out where to go, I gave up.

7. Mortal Kombat 2011 (Multi)

As opposed to Vay, I did finish this game, but MAN, the last few fights in the story mode seriously annoyed me. The story mode concludes with Raiden in a serious of 3 on 1 fights that are unpleasant to accomplish. The first is against Jax, Stryker and Kabal, with the second one being against Kitana, Nightwolf and Kung Lao. Both fights are extremely challenging because you only have one life bar, and if you lose against any of them, you have to restart the fight over. Once this is accomplished, you then fight a fairly weak Liu Kang, then a dominating version of Shao Kahn. If you get hit with his X-Ray move, that is half of your health gone. There are certainly ways to cheese the fight, Raiden's torpedo and spinning kick are great tools against him, but it can be aggravating to lose over and over. Good luck if you try and do the challenge tower also, since the last challenge is fighting against Goro, Kintaro, Mileena and Shao Kahn in a single round. If you lose enough times, the game does start giving you some health back between rounds, but still, it's not an easy task to do.

6. Comix Zone (Multi)

I would say almost everything about Comix Zone is a challenge. The game just plays kind of dirty with things like "taking damage when you have to punch down a door to go to the next panel", or having to blow up a barrel (by punching it), only it explode when you hit it, damaging you. I don't think I've ever met anyone who managed to beat this game without cheating, no level select, infinite health, or doing the paper airplane trick. One of the hardest things is a jump in the second level, that requires such specific timing, you need to be a robot to do it correctly. It was a great idea for a game, just not an enjoyable one to play. It still has a cool soundtrack though.

5. Gunpoint (PC)

While Gunpoint is more puzzle game in nature, there are some tricky things that can happen during the levels. It can be annoying to spend 5 minutes carefully re-wiring a building up, getting the doors you need open, the plan you want to take, only for some guard to spot you and put a bullet in you. To be fair, there is a great auto-save system that can rewind the game back in (usually) 5, 10, second intervals, but it's not always the case. There's always a solution to the puzzles in the game, but I've found the AI behavior isn't always consistent when dealing with levels, so it adds an irksome randomness to the more complicated levels.

4. Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (Multi)

The popular story about the Lost Levels is that Nintendo of America thought it was too hard for American audiences (among other things), and they cancelled it. And you know what, they were right. I'm sure if you were 20 years old when original SMB came out, you could get through it, and possibly the Lost Levels as well. But for me, and a lot of kids at the time (think like 6 or 7), SMB could be challenging, and if the Lost Levels came out, it would have been brutal for most young kids. Even now, going back to it almost 20 years later, the game is still way harder than its predecessor. While I'm glad American audiences did get to try out the Lost Levels in the SNES Mario All-Stars pack, Nintendo of America made a good choice in not bringing it stateside back in the day.

3. WWF Attitude (Multi)

WWF Attitude for the Playstation actually caused me to break the system I was playing the game on. The game had familiar wrestling modes like hardcore matches, "I Quit" matches, First Blood matches, and Handicap matches. A handicap match is what caused me to become incensed by it. I was in a 1 vs. 3 match, where it was literally impossible to win. Even if I destroyed the other three guys, the minute I would try to pin one of them, the other two would break it up. I literally spent an hour trying to win this match, because it was a part of the story mode. In anger, I chucked my PS1 controller at my PS1, causing a loud crash. I went to the console to see that the controller landed just right and had cracked (and broken) the spindle that held a game in place. That was how much this game infuriated me. I got a new PS1 in a few weeks, and never put that game in again.

2. Spelunky (Multi)

Spelunky is tailor-made to be frustrating and it succeeds completely at its job. You can (and will) die a million different ways in the game from falling too far, arrow traps, giant spiders, ufos with ray guns, to fighting Anubis and trying to get his scepter. When the game gives you a chance, it can be one of the most rewarding things ever, say getting a jetpack on a random drop, or lucking into finding an alien rifle, but these moments are few and far between. You can try and make a good run out of almost every new game, but having the skill, patience, and luck to succeed is a different matter entirely.

1. Super Meat Boy (Multi)

Screw the Dark World in this game. While in Spelunky there is randomness to each game you play, there is nothing random in Super Meat Boy, it is just designed to destroy you endlessly. You can easily spend 20 lives in a Light World level, some of them are very challenging later on. But switching to the Dark World is a whole new hellish ballgame. That's in addition to trying to find hidden warp zones, do the hacked levels, and collecting bandages (both in light and dark worlds) to unlock new characters. The devious thing is that they include a replay feature after you beat the level. So you can see the dozens, if not hundreds of different Meat Boys have been killed, until one finally manages to slip through. There are hard games, then there are games like this, which can challenge your sanity at the best of times. If you can make it through the Dark World, with all the bandages unlocked, I salute you.

The Better Half with Liana K


Top 8 Frustrating Games

We all have those games we wish we'd never started playing, but due to stubbornness, pride, or a masochistic streak, we just can't stop playing, despite feeling like our heads are going to explode from some sort of overwhelming video game impotence. The following games are so irritating for various reasons, I'm pretty sure that, collectively, they turned me into a terrible person. Sometimes it was an entire game that chafed me. Other times, it was a moment or series of moments so enraging that they're seared into my brain forever. The weird thing is that I actually still love a lot of these games, even though they sometimes piss me off.

8: Gears of War Judgement

People are frequently shocked to find out that I'm a Gears of War fan, but the first three games were fun romps that I played to death. So I have no idea why anyone thought it was a good idea to make two beloved characters into boring assholes in a futile attempt to produce a smart script. Gears of War isn't supposed to be one of those ground breaking stories! It's supposed to be a fun game with good dialogue that doesn't take itself too damned seriously. What's truly irritating about Gears of War Judgement was that it was an effort to appease the franchise's critics, instead of creating a product that was consistent with what made the series popular in the first place Furthermore, when are we going to finally be allowed to say that Tom Bissell is an extremely overrated writer? That alone is a source of frustration!

7: Super Mario Bros / Super Mario Galaxy

Luigi's Purple Coins. Oh do I hate Luigi's Purple Coins. But the Mario franchise as a whole has a lot of frustrating moments, because they're gameplay-driven titles with minimal story, so the engagement with the games has to come from challenge. World 8 of any of the classic Mario games tended to cause me to risk an aneurysm, especially that airship level in Super Mario 3! See it in the video above?! The video makes it look so easy, but I died sooooo many times! I could only ever beat it as small Mario, too, because that way I could duck under those stupid flying wrenches and not lose my momentum by taking one to the melon, causing me to fall to my doom. Oh god I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it! Screw you airship level!

6: Wizardry Gold

The Wizardry series was, admittedly, ambitious and creative, and Wizardry Gold could almost be described as what you'd get if you threw Elder Scrolls: Oblivion into a blender, then added a Fallout game and spaceships and stirred. If you think that sounds overwhelming, you'd be right, and I spent a really long time bumbling around trying to figure out what the heck I was doing in the game. Even dozens of hours into the game, I still didn't entirely feel like I knew what I was doing. During the events of the climax, I was still pretty confused. It's a unique kind of frustration when you invest yourself in a game that requires a lengthy time commitment and a lot of level grinding, but you never end up feeling like you know what's going on!

5: Guitar Hero 3

I hate that someone made this video. I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. I weep for humanity when someone has this level of hand-eye coordination and uses it to play freaking Guitar Hero instead of blowing someone up with a Predator drone! But that was not the thing that drove me absolutely bonkers in Guitar Hero 3, because you weren't required to beat Through the Fire and the Flames to beat the game. No, to win, you had to get past Lou the Devil in a battle, which on any difficulty above medium was a raging pain in the ass.

That. That drove me insane! I have really small hands and tiny pinky fingers, so expert difficulty on Guitar Hero games tended to be a challenge. But on every game before Guitar Hero 3, I rose to that challenge. Then that stupid devil with his stupid battle mode had to make me feel like a video game cripple! Curse my tiny pinky fingers! They make the Shift key hard to press on PC games too!

4: Halo's Warthog Runs

I hate the Warthogs in Halo. Hate them hate them hate them. As a rule, I'm not big on driving in shooters, because I play shooters just to kill a lot of things that can never love me! That being said, I don't terribly mind controlling the Ghosts or the Scorpions, but there's something about driving the Warthogs that I just can't stand! We hates them, Precious! We hates. Them! So oh, awesome, I have to drive one through an obstacle course from hell on a timer?! Screw you, Halo games. Screw you and your Warthogs! See also: my loathing of Halo 4's "Midnight" flying level, and the jet ski escape in Resident Evil 4. Grrrrrrr!

3: Civilization V

In previous Civilization games, you could build these sprawling empires that spanned the globe, and I discovered that fictional world domination was an oddly soothing way to combat stress. But in Civ V, they made it enragingly hard to create large empires, and the game, at times, caused me stress instead of taking it away. Then there was the high likelihood that you could build a society that had absolutely no access to a critical resource, and the AIs for the other factions were working so hard to be assholes that you had to trade the equivalent of a kidney so you could build advanced technologies. I'm pretty sure that's why Montezuma looks so constantly ready to go postal in game. Don't get me wrong, I still played a lot of Civ V and enjoyed a lot of elements of it, but there are parts of that game that are downright irritating.

2: Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal

I used a clip of Cespenar from BGII: Throne of Bhaal because I love him. No other reason. In other news, the expansion pack to Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn had to set the difficulty bar high because of the way Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition's high level class abilities create characters of time, space, and death. The resulting game, however, ends up being extremely... ahem... challenging. The trial and error involved in figuring out what works for any of the numerous bosses can be utterly maddening, but even more frustrating is the way your spell casters are demoted to defensive spell demolition experts with little time to cast anything else except, perhaps, high-level summoning spells. By the time you complete the game, you'll be sick of casting Remove Magic, Breach, Pierce Magic, and Ruby Ray of Reversal, because while they're useful, they're boring spells. Furthermore, whoever came up with the concept of level drains should be eaten by a grue. Yes, when you finally beat various really tough fights, you feel an intense sense of accomplishment. The path to get there, however, will frequently test your patience.

1: Ninja Gaiden 2

This is the only game, in the history of video games, that has ever caused me to throw a controller in a fit of pique. When I played it, I was ignorant of the fact that Ninja Gaiden games are infamous for being really freaking hard, so I played the game on normal difficulty. My husband was witness to me finally beating this accursed digital purgatory of crappy camera angles, and he was absolutely baffled when I "celebrated" by standing up, slamming the controller down, saying "fuck this game, man", and walking out of the room. He just reminded me about the "man" part, which was, in retrospect, a lame addition. My husband puts up with a lot.

Complainer's Corner

My big honorary 9th pick for my list would either be Dark Souls or Demon's Souls. I know a lot of people get deeply frustrated by both games, the obtuse mechanics, enemies that can one-shot you, the plodding animation, but I never quite found either game (well, really Dark Souls) frustrating. It's very languid and you have to be alert, but that's all. Some other games that didn't make my top list were: Trials HD or Evolution, Ecco the Dolphin, Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Inquisitor and Dead Rising.

The General Roundup

There were actually some prescient comments from last week, including a list from someone else (which is what more people should be doing), which I'll address a little here: Bubble Bobble is a pretty cute game, with some terrific music. But the game can get damn tricky later on, which is what I mostly remember. I like the design work of Katamari Damacy, the Princess is cute, but the King is pretty scary. Pokemon also has some great creature designs, but the idea of enslaving wild animals to fight for you, rubs me the wrong way. Also, if you think Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo is cute, check out Pocket Fighter as well.

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