Rage Against the Machine
So we've decided to tackle that most troubling of subjects - what are the most frustrating games we've ever played? What follows is our top ten which has been decided (as it always will be) in the quiet times and lunch breaks in our working days. As with everything we write here, these games are OUR opinion. We would absolutely love to hear what you may think we've missed. We've worked specifically with games which either or both of us have spent a lot of time playing, this isn't a list of what's popular to hate, just stuff we've played which we've come close to snapping a controller in half. Unlike some other Top 10 list out there - we've put them in an order, none of that non-committal "in no specific order" nonsense here. So without further ado;
Many of you who played this "classic" probably have fond memories. Many a young female gamer may even recall this as, hey, girls like dolphins. But if you played it at the time did you ever know anyone who actually finished this? Do you know anyone who actually got particularly far in this? Did your 10 year old self understand the cryptic and nonsensical plot which has you travel through time and space?
Naturally in the modern day with Save States and the internet to be your guide many more people will be aware of this but when all you had to do on was a monthly magazine you were given a 5 or so level guide and a bunch of level passwords...which weren't much help as the labyrinthine level structure would have you scratching your head no matter how far you got.
The reason this one makes the list is mainly owed to this guy.
You were warned in the story to move slowly past "eight arms"... but what is slow? You can dash, "run" or "walk" in general and you're on a timer due to your oxygen meter. Dash past this guy, you die. run past, you die. Walk past, you die. You basically have to crawl past this thing..you run out of oxygen and die.
The final nail in the coffin for me as a 12 year old playing this was that the final level included a forced screen maze which could easily crush you against a wall at any point (the screen seemed to shift back and forth erratically and retrace where you'd been but for some reason you were still forced to stay the course). This was followed by a full screen (frankly terrifying) final boss which tried it's hardest to eat you by sucking you into its mouth. Despite putting an invincibility cheat and a code for the final level, if you get crushed by the walls or eaten by the final boss, the game essentially locked up and you had to reset and do the blasted thing again. Even the invincibility cheat was frustrating.
If you were to ask most gamers what their favourite Street Fighter game was, chances are a variant of 2 or possibly, on the outside 4. Most ignore 3 sitting in the middle.
3 is a beautiful game and can be an awesome experience if you play against a friend, especially if you're both familiar with the movesets and characters.
Where the frustration sets in is when you play against the computer and fans of SF2 should be able to agree that Dhalsim is one of the more frustrating characters owing mainly to the fact that the computer can use him...but you can't, at least not well. Blanka is a fan favourite for newbies who just like to constantly try to electrocute their opponents but experts soon move on to someone more technical. Introducing Necro, a SF3 exclusive character (never made it into another game, not even the VS series crossovers), the illegitimate lovechild of both Dhalsim and Blanka. he stretches, he electrocutes, in the computers hands at high difficulty he will piss you off. Take the worse aspects of the series and roll them into a
ball and there he is.
Naturally that alone wouldn't be enough. Pride of place is left to Gill, the final boss of the game. Firstly, even for Street Fighter this guy looks ridiculous. Most of us were expecting M Bison to show up, maybe a bit older or more rugged? no you get a pride parade in his pants. Despite this he is as hard as balls with a full screen hitting super move that will hurt nearly as much if you block it. Worst of all...if you go summon the god of swift fingers or sell your soul and win 2 rounds...his other super just simply refills his health bar to full so yo have do it all again.
Everyone knows this series and I will explain using as fewer different words as possible as to why it's made the list;
Wild Abra Appeared…Wild Abra used Teleport…Wild Abra escaped the battle… Wild Abra Appeared…Wild Abra used Teleport…Wild Abra escaped the battle… Wild Abra Appeared…Wild Abra used Teleport…Wild Abra escaped...
Walking through a cave…Wild Zubat Appeared…Pikachu was poisoned…Wild Zubat Fainted….walk 3 steps…Wild Zubat Appeared…Pikachu was poisoned…Wild Zubat Fainted….walk 3 steps…Wild Zubat Appeared…Pikachu was poisoned…Wild Zubat Fainted….walk 3 steps…Wild Zubat Appeared…
Fresh out the pokemon centre - Wild Geodude appeared...Wild Geodude used Self Destruct…Pikachu Fainted...back to the pokemon centre.
The idea to limit your stamina and not just your health is dumb. Why can I only use that move 30 times?
Finally...haven't I just brought the same game 7 times over the last 20 years? and played each one for like 30 hours?!
You don't get 5 games deep into a series without making valid and usually drastic gameplay choices to develop your series and keep it fresh. Unfortunately Capcom struck gold with a large part of the formula for RE4 and chose to expand upon the worse parts of that series when moving ahead with 5.
The game and mechanics are built around it being a 2 player experience but the split screen reduces the window to around 1/3 of the screen each. Obviously playing online removes this minor irritation but being a fan of sharing proximity with my gaming buddies still makes this grate.
Should you want to play the game alone the game presents further problems due to the your AI assisted buddy. AI just heals you then themselves, then you, then themselves in a constant stream that makes Trainspotting look like it was short on injections.
In addition your partner is constantly in need of assistance making the game feel like one big escort mission. Resi 4 was basically 1 big escort mission but this had the foresight to include the "GET IN THE F-ING BOX" mechanic which made the whole thing acceptable.
The big one for me here is the problem which plagues every Capcom game which uses one - the Inventory system – allocate 9 items (includes armour, weapons, ammo, health ups) on a 3x3 grid which can be quick accessed by using the D-Pad in the Up, Down, Left and Right slots (one slot is taken up by your bullet proof vest?!). It’s too easy to accidentally use healing items in error. You can only adjust your loadout in real time, not when paused so you invariably get attacked whenever you shuffle things. If you run out of ammo and accidentally pick up another type which you can’t use, it automatically gets placed in your free spot which means you can’t then pick up ammo you do need when you find it unless you shuffle your inventory, leaving you open to being attacked again…phew
This is a lesser known series compared to the rest of the list here. In summary the game is a turn based RPG with a battle system akin to X-Com, Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea etc. The original was a nice blend of colourful graphics (featuring probably too much blood) and an intriguing story riddled with double crosses, coup d'etat’s which were simple enough for younger gamers to understand but still interesting enough for an older audience. You know a title takes the wrong steps when formulaic changes are made in the sequel which are then reversed and put back in line with the original title when the 3rd in the series comes along. The original (and third release!) offer a turn based approach where you command your troops one at a time as to where to go and how to attack and how etc. In the second instalment instead of taking individual turns you share a term with an enemy who you may be trying to hit the unit you’re commanding. Because you both move at the same time, the enemy unit may or may not be standing where you command to attack…and vice versa for the enemy. The result from the outside is some awkward ballet of missed thrusts and swings as you have to guess where they’re going to be and which enemy character is moving as there isn’t a certain way to tell! The frustration is only exacerbated by the dull colour pallet and slow as treacle plot which doubles the length of the game, which kills any enthusiasm for a repeated playthrough which the original actively encouraged due to a branching specialisms for the characters. The third game in the series took some interesting aesthetic choices which essentially put the final nail in the coffin for the continuation of the series, but had the second game lived up to the first’s simplistic action it could have been as well known as the other examples of the genre…A simple tampering of the core mechanic which resulted in the beginning of the end of the franchise pops this one high up the list.
It has always been a battle for the top spot for football (or saw-ker) games since video games where capable of pulling off 23 moving sprites. For this entry we’re flying back to 1998 when there were a lot more contenders for the crown. Fifa always stood out due to the full roster of real players and the overall sheen of the presentation. Indeed not being a sports game fan I recall enjoying this iteration purely for the fact I could make a half decent hoof for goal from the centre line but there was an element which crippled the core dynamic of the game this year too. Goal keepers. If you were playing multiplayer and your opponent got a free kick anywhere central in your half, you knew they could and would chip a long ball into the box, the keeper would come for it they would header it over him. Every. Single. Time. Additionally the keepers would always dive out of the 18 yard box with the ball in their hands and get sent off. Stay on your line man! Also auto aim make you a crack shot from anywhere inside the 18 yard line and so you had to play “Long shots only” multiplayer…that or face scores of 30-28…
Battle Toads has gained notoriety for being one of the hardest, but arguably fairest games of it’s generation, if not all time. It was the Dark Souls of its time, hard as nails but built on solid mechanics (for the most part). Now, we wouldn’t want to put a game on this list for difficulty alone (we came close but decided no). The rage inducing elements from this one come from the part of the game which in theory should make it easier. The 2 player game mode. The multiplayer in Battle Toads has destroyed friendships the world over for several different reasons, all of which I believe were design choices, that is that they deliberately wanted it this way! Firstly both characters can hit each other. This isn’t uncommon in scrolling beat-em-ups but when blended with the instant death pitfalls and the limited health and life on hand causes problem
s. Further exacerbating this is the fact that some levels (probably over half!) are on a 2D planes meaning you can’t even step around each other! The game is also full of high speed sequences which spell instant death if not completed correctly. You get 5 lives each and share continues, by share I mean if one of you loses all lives, you both have to restart the stage to use a continue and the player who didn’t loss his last life doesn’t get them refilled, he’s left with what he had, which might be a single life…and once that’s used (and it will be pretty darn quickly), you need to use another continue to start the stage again!! ARGH!
Lumo has been described as a “love letter to 80’s gaming” and it’s not hard to see why as it’s full of homage to early isometric games. It also shares somethings which are less desirable from the time, the difficulty that came with these games, one hit death, lack of identity for any ”characters”. The main thing which rattles my cage is in relation to the viewpoint and lighting. Isometric views can give illusion that something close up is further away than it seems and vice versa. Normally this would be quantified by where the shadows fall beneath the platforms or character and these could be used as a guide…not here. Some area’s don’t have a floor or are waterlogged with no shadows cast. Areas with a floor are often subject to torchlight mounted on the walls which cast a “realistic” shadow related to their placement SOMETHING NO GAME IN THE 80’S WOULD BE ANYWHERE NEAR CAPABLE OF! The crucial failing is the uneven blend of old and new. Finally a design choice grates which is that you’re given a map screen with no indicator as to where you are on it. You can work it out pretty easily based on the shape of the room you’re in but life would be so much easier if it just told you!!
Kick Punch! You all remember? One of the godfathers of the rhythm and action genre features next. The likes of guitar hero were spawned from this, but they did a lot of things better…Firstly, you get 6 songs…the whole game. 6 songs. In the UK at the time games had just recently dropped to a new release price of £30 (£29.99?) and this was pitched as a more budget release due to its quirkiness and how short it was. So the release price? £30. Admittedly it was around the time of the drop where new releases were £40 but it stayed in line with the likes of AAA released like Final Fantasy VII, Crash Bandicoot 2, Tomb Raider 2 etc.
My recurring thought when playing was “I pressed that.”. in the early stages you need only tap 2 or 3 buttons but it was never really evident whether you got it on time. There was a 4 tier grading system which jumped up and down rather erratically as you played. You were encouraged to “freestyle” to get good ratings..but only in ways it wants you to and using button presses it wants you to with no signposting to what it will like or not like… NOT FREESTYLING! Plus, it doesn’t let you press certain buttons early on without penalising you!
It was always going to be…
So this is the short-short version of the reasons why Final Fantasy XIII has achieved the glorious title of Most Frustrating Game. I’m drafting an epic rant on this particular subject which will be published in time. Until then I’ll break down the top reasons that come to mind now;
25 Hour tutorial – the game is around 50 hours in length and it takes half of the time before it finally takes the training wheels off and actually lets you make any worthwhile decisions as to where to go and with whom, until then your destinations and party, are decided for you! Whether you like it or not! When you finally earn the right to pick your own travel buddies you discover that you have to pick certain characters otherwise your party is wildly unbalanced. I can understand that you need to ensure that you manage your own party to some degree but what you’re left with here is being unable to utilise certain characters as they don’t fit, unless you want to go into battle without a healer? Falling in line with the above there are several occasions in the game where you’re faced with Eidolon battles, which are the summons of the FFXIII world. These battles are either 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 if you’re lucky and provide a save spot just prior. Many a player has become unstuck from these fights as you need to be both proficient in the relevant character and have them at a certain level or you’re not proceeding. One in particular stands out (Sazh incase a fan is reading) where you’re left in a position where you have no means to level up any further before fighting the Eidolon and so are essentially stuck…Side note – Eidolon summons also suck so are not worth the effort anyways! In case anyone is thinking that maybe I didn’t play the game enough, I did actually finish it (and the sequel) and the final boss is also the centre of much of my rage. You’re faced with a boss whom’s name you cannot pronounce – Barthandelus who has a trait which has a small percentage chance of casting Death in each hit. The percentage is large enough that it’ll happen in the fight though. Pair this with the fact that if your character dies, it’s an instant Game Over. Doesn’t even matter if you’re not playing as lightning. Game Over. There’s more to this battle and the game as a whole too but I’ll save that for the main article.
Final point goes to Vanille’s voice acting who narrates the story. You have to hear it for 50 hours to let it grate enough to know it belongs on the list.