Have you ever spent hours and hours playing a game, finished it, and then wondered why the hell you even bothered? Some of my favourite games are also some of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had. It fills me with misplaced rage and existential doubt – am I some kind of masochist? Do I just hate myself? Has it really been three days?
There’s something about these games, you get to a point where you’re no longer playing them to have fun, but because you’re angry and you want to defeat them. It’s only really when you finish them that it dawns on you that they’re not actually sentient beings, and also that you’re kind of an idiot.
And yet, I look back on them fondly. Perhaps it’s that misguided sense of achievement, or an overwhelming sense of relief. I’m not exactly sure, but these are the ones that made me feel angry/happy/depressed the most.
Anything by Sierra
If you don’t know who Sierra is (or your mind is repressing the painful memory), pretty much any text-based adventure game ending in “Quest” was made by them.
If you’ve never played one of these games, it’s pretty hard to explain how stupidly difficult they were. As a general rule of thumb, you can die at any time. “Oh look at that cave over-“ dead. “Let me walk across this brid-“ dead. “I wonder what-“ DEAD. You’ll just get killed out of nowhere, and then the game will mock you for it.
That, however, isn’t the worst part. The worst part about these games is that absolutely nothing is obvious at all, and a missed item at one point can impact the game 45 minutes later – but you’d never know you’d missed it in the first place.
Let me give you an example, since not long ago I was somehow possessed to play through Space Quest again – a momentary lapse of judgment. I played through the game for a while, and I reached a point where a laser blocked my path. I tried for ages to get past it, with no luck, and was eventually forced to do the unspeakable – open up a walkthrough.
Turns out, way back near the beginning of the game I was required to type “take glass” next to my crashed spaceship, so I would be able to use that glass to block the laser. That was the moment Space Quest and my hard drive parted ways.
Seriously, f**k these games.
I got a little mad just typing this game’s name. This is one of those games that somehow was ridiculously labelled as “addictive”.
This game was not addictive; it was annoying as all hell. Maybe I just find it so frustrating because I legitimately sucked at it – I don’t think I ever got more than two steps.
Then why the hell did I play it so much?
Super Meat Boy
This is easily one of my favourite games in recent memory, but it’s also the only game to ever make me want to cry – and it wasn’t the compelling storyline. There’s something uniquely heartbreaking about going through a level for the 67th time, making it all the way to the end and then mistiming an easy jump over a sawblade, sending your eviscerated parts flying at that fluffy little pink bitch who just stands there and looks at you like-
I need to stop.
This might be the most realistic zombie apocalypse game ever created. Beginning life as a humble mod, it’s now being turned into a standalone game – much like Counter-Strike, and that game ended up doing alright.
Like a typical Average Joe falling on hard caught in the end of the world, you start with nothing. You must make your way around trying not to get killed while you search for food, weapons and tools for survival. All you have to do, really, is not die.
This is easier said than done, as basically anything with or without a pulse really doesn’t like you very much at all. And as we’ve all learnt from various zombie apocalypse movies and series, people will kill you for a jar of peanut butter.
However, if you do die, you lose everything. Let me reiterate: EVERYTHING. You can play this game for days, gathering food, weapons, fighting for survival – and then you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time and everything you’ve worked for is gone.
Ghosts ‘N Goblins
GnG comes from that golden era of video games where developers literally didn’t give a damn. In the late ’80s, the NES was king and games weren’t good unless they made you claw your eyeballs out.
There were no save games, no walkthroughs and zero f**ks were given. Beat the game or admit defeat – those were the terms. But this game was ridiculous.
Seriously, I just tried playing it right now and I lost all my lives in the first two minutes. Zombies pop up out of the ground under your feet, plants shoot fire at you, birds drop out of the sky. The sheer number of enemies on the screen at once makes you feel like you’re playing Space Invaders. Everytime you get damaged you get knocked back as well, usually straight into another enemy or down a pit – and it only takes two instances of damage to lose a life.
The biggest WTF however, is that not only do you have to beat the game one, but TWICE before you actually get to face the boss. That’s twice through, and the boss, with no save games or extra lives.
If you want to experience the seventh circle of Hell for yourself, be my guest (Enter to start, Arrow keys to move, Ctrl to shoot, Shift to jump. Not that it matters, you might as well bang your face into the keyboard repeatedly):