Pixelitis Picks: The most hair-pullingly frustrating moments in games

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Frustration. Rage quits. Controller throwing temper tantrums. We’ve all been there (some of us more than others), and probably not for the last time. Either developers are to blame for frustrating design choices (unskippable dialogue before a difficult boss battle, anyone?), or our own frustration is to blame for our lack of patience when technology doesn’t work the way we want it to. Either way, it’s a staple of the videogame medium we can all relate to.

That’s why we’ve decided to discuss our “favorite” frustrating videogame moments for this week. What’s your most frustrating game moment? Shoot us a comment below.

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An exercise in frustration: Dark Souls‘ Ornstein and Smough

OrnsteinSmoughSome of my friends call me a masochistic gamer. I like my games difficult to the extreme, and that’s why I love Dark Souls. Fighting a gigantic, axe wielding gargoyle on top of a church? No problem. What happens when the game throws a second gigantic axe wielding gargoyle at you while the first one is only at half health? Yes. Bring the pain.

However, Dark Souls did cross a line about halfway through the game even for me. Two names will forever live in my mind as the limits of my love of difficulty: Ornstein and Smough. Fighting one enemy in Dark Souls is brutal, and fighting two at once is near impossible. Ornstein wields a lance and moves incredibly fast, and Smough wields a gigantic hammer and can kill you in one blow with it.

Just defeating one of those two is hard enough, but once one is defeated, the other one absorbs him, regains all its health and becomes far more difficult. Trying to beat these two bastards was a barrier I almost couldn’t overcome, and when I did I decided that those two were the final boss (I didn’t want to deal with what came next) and I was done with the game.

Of course, the exhilaration of overcoming such a challenge made me come back for more brutal punishment, but I can safely say Ornstein and Smough will forever go down as the most sadistic and frustrating experiences of my gaming career.

- Lowell Bell

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An exercise in frustration: Being forced to replay the entirety of Super Ghouls’n Ghosts

superghoulsnghostsImagine going through the immensely difficult Super Ghouls’n Ghosts all the way to the showdown with that abhorrently annoying Astaroth, only to be told to do it all over again, but this time on a harder difficulty level.

That’s exactly what this game pulls on you, and it’s downright painful. Princess Guinevere tells Arthur to come back with the “Goddess Bracelet,” a garment of hers that she dropped as she was being kidnapped. I can’t imagine what sort of obscenities were being formed in the minds of SNES users in late 1991 as the screen transitioned back into the first level of the game.

Some gamers would probably rage-quit right then and there, but dammit, I wasn’t going to let this game win in this clear troll attempt by its creators. I plodded through all seven stages again, getting bitterly furious when the increased difficulty got the better of me in certain levels. When you finally return to the seventh level, you have to go through it using your newly acquired Goddess Bracelet, which is a pathetically weak weapon. Imagine trying to take on hoards of flying Red Arremers with that.

And that’s not the worst part–Astaroth has two forms, becoming the more dangerous Nebiroth following his initial destruction. The hardest part about the whole thing is trying to have the patience to avoid all of the crap he throws at you as your puny bracelet barely makes a dent in his health. By this point you just want to be done with the whole thing, but one wrong move or hesitation can screw you up royally, with Arthur’s death forcing you to go through the level all over again, Red Arremers and all.

The most ironic part about this heinous ordeal? The final boss, Sardius, is a freaking pushover! Classic Grade-A trolling, folks.

- Patrick Kulikowski

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An exercise in frustration: Final “boss” in Twisted Metal (2012)

twisted_metal_final_bossWhen David Jaffe drove onto the stage in Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck at the very end of Sony’s E3 2010 press conference, I won’t lie – I was ridiculously excited. As a fan of the original games, as well as the PlayStation 2 classic Twisted Metal Black, I couldn’t wait to see what a dark vehicular combat game would be like on the PlayStation 3.

Leading up to the game’s March 2012 release,my excitement began to waver as more information came out. Gone were the awesome characters like Axel and Roadkill; replaced with only three characters and their mobs: Dollface, Mr. Grimm and Sweet Tooth.

Yet the final straw and arguably my most hated sequence in games this generation was Twisted Metal’s final “boss” battle.

After fighting through the boss’ first two (of four) stages, the thing that nearly caused me to quit videogames all together was the third stage. In this gaudy clown carnival of suck, the player is expected to traverse an obstacle course, full of massive swinging blades, bouncing bombs meant to throw you off course and large, pendulous balls that decimate a vehicle’s health gauge.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever remember a time where the Twisted Metal series was known for its vehicles’ handling. They weren’t known for precise traversal through the game’s maps – they were meant for blowing things up. Nothing more. Driving through the track’s numerous hazards was an exercise in futility for a handful of hours for me and I seriously found myself asking what the whole point of it was, especially since there was still one more section with the actual “boss” waiting for me.

The amount of expletives slung in response to this section could make Tony Montana blush. My Dualshock 3 just barely survived the entire ordeal.

But despite all that, the most frustrating thing about Twisted Metal (2012) in my opinion is the idea of what it could have been. It missed the mark on so many levels – not just the final boss – that at the end of the experience, I was left frustrated and confused as to how an integral PlayStation franchise could have had its reboot fumble so hard.

I mean, I understand Jaffe and EatSleepPlay’s desire to change it up and respect their decision, but it’s like the old adage goes – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

- Andrew Martins

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An exercise in frustration: The final chase in Assassin’s Creed 3

ac3chaseBetween my review and every other review in the wide, wide world of interwebs, you probably already know this final chase is annoying. Frustrating. Difficult. In some cases, for some people, damn near game-breaking. I personally had a small mental breakdown after the umpteenth attempt at the damn mission. At first, as with most things of this nature, I was aiming for full synch. But after a few times, a few choice words, a stiff drink and a switch into more comfortable clothes, I found I had not only given up on full synch, I’d damn near given up on the whole endeavor.

First there’s the absurd placement of the powder kegs and enemy troops, then there’s the ludicrous lead your target gets versus the tight distance you have to maintain lest you fail the whole bloody thing and are forced to start again. Truth be told, this chase was so frustrating, so detrimental to my mental and emotional well being that I haven’t even touched the game since I wrote the review.

That’s right friends, I haven’t beaten it. I started seeing a therapist shortly after and he strongly recommends I avoid the game. I’m making a lot of progress with my father and my self-esteem issues and doc doesn’t think it would be a great idea for me to rock the boat right now.

- Matt Brown

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An exercise in frustration: “Accidentally” dying in Spelunky

spel3Spelunky is a bucket load of fun. Travelling through randomly created levels to constantly reach farther and farther into the depths of the caves while avoiding certain death is an exciting adventure. And by its design, the caves are made to unrelentlessly kill you with enemies and traps around every corner.

That’s the way it’s designed, and that’s the way it’ll frustrate you. No matter how much planning you do, no matter how great you’re doing, one small mistake and you’ll find yourself dead in a instant and you’re back off to square one. See that golden idol over there? You might pick it up and avoid the giant trap rock, but there’s no wrath greater than a pissed off shopkeeper with a shotgun that just got his store smashed by said giant rock.

But the threat of death always being one step in front of you is also what makes Spelunky so great and addicting. Dying doesn’t make you want to give up, it makes you want to try harder. In fact, I would say that Spelunky offers positive frustration. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but hey, it’s much better than rage quitting.

- Allain Richard

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