In the light of recent controversy over the takedown of Flappy Bird, which allegedly happened as a result of incessant hate-mail pertaining to the hours gamers ‘wasted’ trying to beat the incredibly difficult mechanic, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the most frustrating games I’ve come across.
There are only two criteria that apply here:
- The game must have made me shout at the screen and/or throw something
- The game must have been released in the last ten years
The last point is important because difficulty and challenge in games has been noticeably diluted in recent times. I think this is a change for the better, as it is clearly a move to incorporate a wider audience into what is now becoming a mainstream industry. If I were to include retro games, the list would be endless. It is worth noting that I struggled to even come up with five annoyingly difficult games that have been released in this last generation.
5 – Kororinpa
A relatively unheard of little gem for the Wii, this is easily one of the most frustrating and funny games I’ve ever played. This may be largely due to the fact that it has a co-op mode, which facilitated a silly and slightly drunken night with a friend swearing at the screen every time our little ball fell off the course in a race to the finish. The premise is simple and not entirely original; tilt the board using the Wii-mote to steer your ball safely, with the added twist that you have to collect every damn orange crystal on the way; otherwise, you fail.
After a quick Google search, I’ve just discovered this on Wikipedia, which is a bit embarrassing:
We clearly sucked at that game, then.
4 – Octodad: Dadliest Catch
If you’ve missed the rave surrounding this one, you’ve probably died and not realised it. Or at least been away on holiday. Playing as an octopus posing as a human dad has never been more difficult; trying to control wobbly tentacles as you navigate simple tasks such as reaching for a cereal box or mowing the lawn proves to be almost impossible. I couldn’t even walk in a straight line without accidently smacking my kid in the face on a number of occasions. Early tasks in the game are frustrating, to say the least (I was ready to punch my laptop when I couldn’t ascend an escalator moving downwards) but the challenge becomes tenfold when you later have to perform under timed conditions. In the end, I had to team up with a friend in order to really see the funny side, causing chaos by taking a couple of limbs each as we attempted to traverse Octodad’s unforgiving world.
3 – Demon’s Souls
Interestingly, this is the only AAA title that makes the list, and what a risk for a big-budget studio to make a game that doesn’t even have a frickin’ ‘Pause’ button. That’s right. No stopping if the phone rings. Or if you need the toilet. Or if the house is on fire.
Whereas most games will take you by the hand and gently ease you into the narrative through an easy tutorial, Demon’s Souls drops you into a massive boss fight which is designed to kill you, before leaving you to fend for yourself in a hostile environment where death is not only permanent, but punishing, causing you to restart the level with half your health. You will literally turn into an aggravated ball of stress.
2 – Trials Evolution
This game is gruelling to the point where it hurts. As a motorcycle stuntman, you have to complete a series of 2.5D levels of ramps, pits, jumps, sheer climbs and more with a cripplingly sensitive accelerator and ‘lean’ controls. Far removed from any fast-paced action racer you might be used to, each stint to the next checkpoint is a laboured mission of persistence and patience, with the slightest bump to the head causing a CRASH and restart. However, this downloadable arcade game is also very addictive and will have you mercilessly subjecting your poor rider to repeated fatal accidents.
1 – Flappy Bird
Yes, this crowns at number 1, and it’s a well-deserved spot; after immediately crashing into the first pipe, my initial game of Flappy Bird morphed into a two hour stint of crazed tapping that didn’t end until I had reached a score of 67. It’s harsh. It’s unforgiving. It’s incredibly frustrating. I don’t even care to count the frequent strangled cries of outrage that escaped my lips because I was convinced that I had Definitely Not Touched That Last Pipe. But, again, this is another game that feeds on the desire to overcome any challenge presented, no matter how obtuse or repetitive, and it should probably be avoided if you’re fiercely competitive and without much time on your hands (Moi? No!)
There is a fine line between a frustrating mechanic that keeps you coming back for more and one that turns you off a game completely because it’s too hard. I think, for the most part, this is a list of games that are immensely enjoyable because they present a challenge that is hard to resist rising to.
So what do you think? Would your top five look completely different? Sound off in the comments below with your most frustrating experiences if you think you know better. Which you don’t. Because I’m obviously right.