EB Roundtable: Games That Frustrate
We’ve all been there. Whether you’re a lifelong gamer or in the casual party, at some point during your gaming experience frustration set in. It could’ve been a lack of instruction on what to do next, a boss that just couldn’t be beat, or controls that made you lose your mind. Whatever it may be, it’s a part of gaming that adds an unwelcome challenge. Let’s face it, some games are difficult enough without the added stress of repeated death or running into walls because there’s no clear direction on where to go.
We here at EB are no strangers to horrible bosses and rage quitting, so I summoned a few our gaming aficionados to share their tales of anger from games old and new. Check out everyone’s experiences below, especially Matt’s.
Kiefer Wall – Staff Writer
For me, my most frustrating gaming related moment has got to be the “save data corruption” message. This happens less and less nowadays, but back when memory cards were prevalent these three words would ruin my entire day. The worst being Final Fantasy XII. I had just gotten the Zodiac spear and was ready to finish getting my espers and beat the game. I saved and when I got home from school the next day all of my data was gone. To this day I haven’t played Final Fantasy XII in fear of that corruption once more afflicting me. When it comes out on PS4 I will try it once more and maybe then my trust issues will finally stop crippling my relationship, but I doubt it. I MEAN WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME BALTHIER, I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS YOU SKY PIRATE BASTARD!
Justin Ludwig – Podcast Host
1) Bad controls
There is nothing more immediately and permanently frustrating as a game with bad controls. Ironically, it seems like for many of us it wasn’t until our “twilight” years of video gaming that we actually considered this aspect in critique because I don’t remember caring at all when we first played these games. It’s also frustrating to describe the degree to which the controls suck because most of them time it’s hard to articulate without using concrete examples. An example of this example is Castlevania; a great NES platformer of which the main flaw is the awkwardly stiff jumping. There is no way to control Simon Belmont once he jumps as in other games. There’s no way to explain “stiff jumping” without either having played the game or referencing another game like Double Dragon. Castlevania also came out a few years after Super Mario Bros., which is still a solid standard for fluid game physics. Makes it all the curiouser that Konami couldn’t figure it out until Super Castlevania IV on the SNES.
Look, I bought all the strategy guides when I was younger, but I didn’t need them. Any jamoke can beat Pokemon without a strategy guide or FAQ, but there are some games that you cannot beat unless you have a walkthrough. A great example, not to harp on one of my favorite series, is Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. It is paramount in RPGs that the NPCs provide clues and hints, unfortunately Japanese kanji characters are more condensed than the English language so the translation left out many important details. Equip a red crystal and kneel next to a wall for three seconds; how the hell am I supposed to know to do that? Also, games without maps are annoying because unless you have pencil and paper it’s not worth playing. I haven’t played more than ten minutes of the original Metroid because there is no map. After you move four or five screens you have no sense of orientation and you get lost (which was probably part of the point). But even Legend of Zelda gave you a dot on a rectangular grid! At least later versions had maps, and I love those games.
This isn’t the fault of anything except the limitations of home consoles back in the day, but it was still frustrating to see how butchered the home port was of a great arcade game. The arcade version of NBA Jam is loud, flashy, and exciting. The home port retains the basic arcade-style (as opposed to simulation) basketball but instead of big digital players we get these bland sprites. I still played the heck out of my Genesis version but we always died a little inside to see the scaled down graphics and sound on home ports versus the arcade original. It’s also extremely surprising that the Genesis competed so closely with the SNES given the default controller for the Genesis had only three buttons. Remember playing those awesome arcade fighters with three buttons? Seriously, how cumbersome was playing Street Fighter II as Ryu/Ken and having to hit start to toggle between kick and punch. Haduken to a whirling kick was an awkward combination of buttons on the Genesis but not for the SNES. Samesies for the Mortal Kombat series which did have default buttons for punch and kick but without all the possible types of those attacks that the arcade had.
Keith Mathias – Podcast Host/Associate Editor
1) Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
This was one of the first games that I had as a kid. I was a young gamer in the early 90s, devouring every SNES game I could get my little hands on. When I got Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for Christmas one year, I was excited. I was well into a lifelong fascination with fantasy and the opportunity to play something that appealed to those sensibilities excited me. And then I never beat the game. Heck, I barely made it through the halfway point. After a couple of years of trying, I just gave up. More than 20 years later, I still haven’t beaten it.
2) Modern Warfare 2
Overpowered shotguns. Teammates who cared more about dropping a nuke than winning the game. Bugs on top of bugs on top of bugs. After dumping a truly outrageous amount of time into Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and then rejecting its half-baked sequel, World at War, I couldn’t have been more excited for the second entry in the Modern Warfare franchise. For a time, it was great. I loved the experience of playing around with my loadouts, fiddling around with killstreak packages until I found something I liked, and learning the new maps. But then something happened. I stopped having fun. I could get past the balancing issues without too much trouble, those are present in most shooters. But the killstreak thing bothered me more than anything else. Games were no longer successes if players didn’t hit that magic 25-kill mark. Teamwork went out the window as a proliferation of Harriers, Chopper-Gunner, Tactical Nuke packages dominated gameplay. It ruined the game for me. It ruined Call of Duty for me. I haven’t truly enjoyed the franchise since.
Matt Heywood – Editor-In-Chief
The Games that Frustrate challenge is one that took me no time at all to ponder a time when a game got the best of me, as they’ve been known to do over my 30+ years of gaming. The game that just rubbed me the wrong way and caused minor damage to my parent’s home as a result, is none other than 1989’s Batman for the NES. You know, the Batman game starring a purple Batman.
It was loosely based on the Michael Keaton Batman film, but outside of the menu screen you would have never known thanks to the odd color choice for the Dark Knight and the fact that developers couldn’t do much visually with an 8-bit title. The reason this game was so frustrating is tri-fold. First, it was a brutal platforming title with some horrible jumping controls and a devilish difficulty setting. Second, it was an NES game, which meant that you didn’t have any sort of modern checkpoint system in place. If you did happen to get past an impossible platforming section by the grace of the gaming gods, the fear of dying became so great that you could hardly focus on what to do next. All you knew was that if you died one of the game’s many cheap deaths you would have to restart damn near everything, so an unplanned death was similar to being punched in the balls voluntarily. Finally, like most games from the era, it really didn’t provide a clear path to move forward, so you usually ended up getting caught up in a death cycle while blindly looking for a level’s exit without getting snuffed out in the process from an enemy or a bad move.
These three factors combined on a cold day in Pittsburgh, PA in my parents home when I was just 9-years-old. I had been determined to get past a section of a level in Batman that had been giving me problems for days, if not weeks. Most of the time I’d just give up and chalk it up to the game being a piece of shit, or my skills being off on a particular attempt, but for some reason on this day I decided to go for the gusto. My dedication to pain paid off and I made it past the area giving me an ulcer at an early age, but then I was reminded of how unforgiving Batman can be. I soon died—in a cheap manner of course—resulting in a progress reset, so my feat had been futile after all. When I realized that I lost more life to this game and that no matter how hard I tried it would still find ways to emasculate me, I simply lost it. I had been known to chew on a controller or two, or use a NES controller as a deadly whip when a game pissed me off, but before this Batman fail I never really hurt anything else due to my budding gamer rage.
That all changed when the purple Batman died after getting through a near impossible section in his stupid ass licensed movie game. Without even thinking I put my right elbow through my bedroom wall while spitting saliva out of my mouth like a snake in disgust over the game’s poor design and punishing gameplay. I was immediately shocked at what I did and listened eagerly for the cries of my Mother to calm down or she’d take my NES away. Those cries did indeed come, and after she saw my handiwork so did the loss of my NES. I eventually got the console back based on good behavior, but out of all of the controller smashing episodes and self inflicted pain I’ve suffered over the years as a gamer, I’ll never forget the day that Batman caused me to knock a hole in my parent’s house. What an ass.
What are some things that caused the demise of your gaming enjoyment? Let us know in the comments below!
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