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Games are jerks.
March 31, 2010 6:56 PM   Subscribe

For April Fool's Day, Wired's Game|Life goes over some of the meanest tricks games have done to their players. (note: spoilers)
posted by flatluigi (64 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The cake is a lie.
posted by DU at 6:57 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


That MG:S trick wasn't mean, it was awesome! First time a game broke the 4th wall for me.
posted by sciurus at 7:00 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am still a little peeved about the poison mushroom of death. Not going to lie.
posted by the_royal_we at 7:04 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem sounds awesome.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:05 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


April First is You're Not Funny Day.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:05 PM on March 31, 2010


Tetris played a mean trick on me when I found I couldn't walk down the street without envisioning which blocks would fit where.
posted by not_on_display at 7:08 PM on March 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


The real MG:S 2 mindfuck (for me, at least) was the part near the end where Campbell starts telling you to "shut off the console". Probably pretty tame normally, but it was like 4am and I was high as hell when I played through that bit and it made me really paranoid.
posted by threetoed at 7:09 PM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seriously? The fourth meanest trick a game ever pulled, according to this ass, is a shitty plot twist?
posted by kafziel at 7:14 PM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Durn Bronzefist: "Wow, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem sounds awesome."

It is. It's a really creative, fun game and I wish they could make a sequel or something else with the IP.
posted by flatluigi at 7:15 PM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fucking Douglas Adams didn't mention that it was important to give the cheese sandwich to the dog at the very beginning of the game, and I died after god knows how many hours of just TYPING. Now THAT was mean.
posted by yhbc at 7:16 PM on March 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


Never approach the love of your life in a fighting stance. Common sense, people.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:18 PM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know. I had a lot of fun with a judo girl who would disagree.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:21 PM on March 31, 2010


You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
posted by googly at 7:27 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


yhbc: "Fucking Douglas Adams didn't mention that it was important to give the cheese sandwich to the dog at the very beginning of the game, and I died after god knows how many hours of just TYPING. Now THAT was mean."

You could also give it to the dog when you played as Ford for a little bit later on!
posted by flatluigi at 7:33 PM on March 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


I watched the Arkham Asylum clip, which was pretty cool, but I don't see what the mean trick was.
posted by grouse at 7:37 PM on March 31, 2010


grouse: "I watched the Arkham Asylum clip, which was pretty cool, but I don't see what the mean trick was."

At the very beginning of it, the game appears to crash and restart. After that, it plays something very close to the actual intro of the game. It's basically something I'd expect to see in the aforementioned Eternal Darkness.
posted by flatluigi at 7:40 PM on March 31, 2010


At the very beginning of it, the game appears to crash and restart.

The X-Men game for the Genesis required you to hit reset the console at one point in the game. But you had to hit it kinda quickly, because if you held the button down for too long the game would fully reset for real.

Both tricks are effective, but I think X-Men's is dirtier.
posted by Spatch at 7:44 PM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


While not a trick, I was really impressed by Zelda: Phantom Hourglass' use of the DS hardware. At one point you see a stone engraving... on the top screen where the action appears. You need to make an imprint of it on your map, which appears on the bottom screen when you open it in your inventory.

To make an imprint, you literally mash the screens together by closing the DS. Of course, this has the effect of putting the DS to sleep, but the game takes it in stride and when you wake the DS the engraving has been imprinted on your map. I laughed out loud.

The game is full of little things like this: extinguishing candles by blowing on the DS microphone, yelling at it to startle creatures with oversized ears. It's one of the best platform exploitations I've seen.
posted by rlk at 7:44 PM on March 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


I thought the fake crash in Arkham Asylum was really, really bad. People laughed at me for resetting my console, but that's because I wasn't fucking stupid. The game autosaves, and if it crashes, and starts over, you'll lose your game. So of course I shut the system down as soon as I thought it was restarting. I didn't want to lose all my progress. As soon as the cutscene started, I hit the power, and tried multiple times to avoid the 'crash'. I didn't ever watch enough of the cutscene to realize it was different. It was my first game on the PS3, on a new console, and how the hell was I supposed to know that was intended to happen?

I got a lot of grief for complaining about that. People seemed to think I was dumb or something, but anyone who didn't immediately shut off their console and go find out what was going on was an idiot.

It also, of course, very badly breaks the fourth wall... instead of being Batman, stalking your prey, you were suddenly a gamer dealing with a balky console. It's one of the poorer design decisions I've seen, and a huge blot on an otherwise stellar experience.
posted by Malor at 7:47 PM on March 31, 2010


Ultima 5:
"Did you bring my sandalwood box?"
"Your what? DOH!"
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:50 PM on March 31, 2010


Oh, and: At the very beginning of it, the game appears to crash and restart.

The crash isn't at the very beginning, it's about 2/3 of the way through, so you risked a lot of lost playtime by failing to shut the console down.
posted by Malor at 7:50 PM on March 31, 2010


Seriously? The fourth meanest trick a game ever pulled, according to this ass, is a shitty plot twist?

Not only that, but it was a plot twist that had already been done better by System Shock 2 in the first quarter of the game, without making a massive deal of it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:50 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


'it' referred to the clip on the page, malor.
posted by flatluigi at 7:51 PM on March 31, 2010


This... can't... be happening!!

I finally played through MGS for the first time a couple months ago. It is indeed a worthy game for the #1 position on this list.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:53 PM on March 31, 2010


I won't use his name, but a famous game developer I worked for (you'd know the name) once told me, during a long flight across the Atlantic, that ... when he was a 19-year-old hotshot in the then-incipient games industry, and development was a one-man project ... he really, really needed to finish a game quickly. Like, the deadline was imminent, there was a risk of not being paid at all.

So, instead of making the final boss encounter an interesting challenge that would suck up a lot of development time ...

... he just made the final encounter impossible to beat. You'd drain and drain the final boss health ... and it'd recover a little ... and you'd drain and drain it ... and it'd recover a little ... and you'd drain and drain it ... and it'd recover ...

You literally couldn't win.

SHIP IT!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:04 PM on March 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


You literally couldn't win.

And that, my friends, is how global thermonuclear war was averted at the last second. Take us back to DefCon 5, people!
posted by The World Famous at 8:10 PM on March 31, 2010


Eternal Darkness is the only thing that tempts me towards getting a Wii. That game was genius. Best bit was when the controller stopped working for a little while.
posted by Hactar at 8:14 PM on March 31, 2010


Speaking of games that break the fourth wall, I love the part in The Secret of Monkey Island (a game known for being impossible to die or lose at) where if you force Guybrush (the main character) to walk to an out-of-the-way edge of a high cliff, the outcropping will give way and he'll fall into the jungle far below. A dialog appears informing you that "you've really screwed up this time" and prompts you to restart the game.

Or, after the player learns that Guybrush can hold his breath for ten minutes, this scene traps him underwater, tied by rope to a heavy weight, surrounded by dozens of sharp blades, all just out of reach. The puzzle doesn't take very long to solve but if the player lingers (for ten minutes), the game will offer some more torment before gleefully killing Guybrush in the only actual exception to the no-death rule in the game.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:14 PM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Speaking of games that break walls: Red Faction: Guerilla.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:18 PM on March 31, 2010


You haven't been fucked over by a game until you've killed the wizard in Dungeons of Daggorath only to find out the first one was a fake.

A L!
A L!
A L!
posted by bondcliff at 8:23 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The stupid god damned shit eating dickhead Kazdan Paratus boss level in Force Unleashed.

Becuase you should design a game so that the toughest boss is a terribly boring character you've never heard of that serves no purpose in the story at all yet is hardier and takes longer to kill than the fucking Emperor. Then you compound that with it being a lengthy, unfun boss fight with stupid save points in useless places and THEN design it so that the controls are unwieldily and the camera shows where you dont want to be looking 9 times out of 10. Also your aim is in the wrong direction half the time because that's good level design.

The guys who designed and built that level should have their thumbs broken and get demoted to the Arby's in the Lucas Arts food court. Assholes.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:30 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and I meant to mention that he appears like at the end of the second level.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:31 PM on March 31, 2010


Wow, Princess Mariko didn't need any rescuing if she could kick that good with her Foot of Death...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:47 PM on March 31, 2010


Oh god, yes, I remember that little Paratus pissferret, that fight was an agonizing waste of my time.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:49 PM on March 31, 2010


One of my favourite tricks I've ever seen in a game was in a short text game called 9:05. You can get it here.
posted by Stove at 8:51 PM on March 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh god, Karateka. Shortly after I first came to this country, my mom borrowed an Apple IIe from the lab she worked at. It had two 5 1/4 floppy drives, one for the OS, one for whatever program you wanted to run. Being a kid, I of course wanted to play games. The only other game I remember was a very basic skiing one that was fairly fun. Just move from side to side and don't go outside the bounds. (Years later, the same essential game on my HP48G helped me pass the time in high school calculus.)

And then there was Karateka. Keep in mind, I barely knew any English, and there was no manual anyway. After lots and lots of experimentation with basically mashing every key on the keyboard, I was able to figure out how to move around and attack people. After many many tries and many many deaths and restarts, I was able to finally get to a damn gate. I ran forward, exhilarated. And then WHAM. The gate crashed down on me and I was dead. I don't remember how many expletives 7 year old me knew in Chinese or English, but I'm sure I used all of them. I never touched the game again.

Now, looking back, I think I'm glad. Cause if I'd gotten past that part only to face the final twist, I'd probably have thrown the keyboard threw the monitor.
posted by kmz at 8:56 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry you guys are all haters, but I liked Bioshock's twist. The game isn't perfect, but the twist was handled really well, and made sense in-game and out.
posted by graventy at 9:14 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malor: "I thought the fake crash in Arkham Asylum was really, really bad. People laughed at me for resetting my console, but that's because I wasn't fucking stupid. The game autosaves, and if it crashes, and starts over, you'll lose your game."

Have you really had that many games fuck you with an autosave? I've been screwed over by low health or ammo before, but I've never been hit by that kind of bug.
posted by graventy at 9:16 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was pretty peeved when the damn guinea pig killed all my Sims.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 9:29 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh god, karateka... A month wasted with impossible controls, to beat so many men, no saves, to be killed by a fucking gate. Then, to be killed by the fucking princess if I walk, don't run at her! Christ what asshole developers. But it was sweet when I won.
posted by uni verse at 9:52 PM on March 31, 2010


There was also that one video game where you spend forever beating the thing, only to have it revealed at the end that you've just wasted hours upon hours of your own precious life poking buttons and staring at a zombifying screen when you could have been playing an instrument or climbing a hill or doing anything at all that's edifying and really worthwhile, and that you'll never, never have those wasted hours back.

Oh wait - that's every video game.
posted by koeselitz at 9:58 PM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


I prefer playing single player games like an interactive book and I find that worthwhile for the story (assuming the story is good, but there are bad books too). Then I treat online multiplayer games as a talent like a sport. You can work at it and become good at it or just play it for fun. I also consider them to be a sport that anyone can be good at, regardless of physical condition.

However, just because you find something not worthwhile doesn't mean you can write off all of it as such.
posted by Chan at 10:03 PM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


doing anything at all that's edifying and really worthwhile, and that you'll never, never have those wasted hours back

Oh shush, sometimes it's fun just to play.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:07 PM on March 31, 2010 [15 favorites]


There was also that one video game where you spend forever beating the thing, only to have it revealed at the end that you've just wasted hours upon hours of your own precious life poking buttons and staring at a zombifying screen when you could have been playing an instrument or climbing a hill or doing anything at all that's edifying and really worthwhile, and that you'll never, never have those wasted hours back.

Oh wait - that's every video game.


Edifying and really worthwhile are subjective judgements. Whatever makes you happy is worthwhile, whether that involves climbing hills while the sun shines, killing thousands upon thousands of computer-generated zombies in the dark, or both.
posted by killdevil at 10:14 PM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


and that you'll never, never have those wasted hours back.

Oh wait - that's every video game.


That's how I feel about impressionist painting, Romantic-era classical music, Kurt Vonnegut, contemporary "adult rock", golf, and most of your comments. Funny how it's all a matter of taste, nyet?

But, hey, thanks for dropping into a thread where you knew the gamers would congregate, just so you could shit on our hobby.

[I know, I know. Don't feed the troll.]
posted by Netzapper at 10:22 PM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


Oh wait - that's every video game.

Because how people spend their free hours obviously deserves judgment. Why is playing an instrument "really worthwhile?" I spent 9 years of my life playing the piano, I hated every second of it AND I can't play a lick worth now. By your standards I should be totally super edified out, even though its clearly been a waste of time and money.

Meanwhile, I rock at Guitar Hero, have a blast playing it at every party I go to, and I love every second of that shit. I must have canceled out my awesome edified childhood out by zombifying my brain to Sweet Child O'Mine at last year's Halloween party. Man that was stupid of me.

I guess I better go get an acoustic guitar and struggle alone in my bedroom for months to master basic chords while other people visit each other and have super social fun waste their zombified lives playing party games on the Wii. Suckers.
posted by shen1138 at 10:36 PM on March 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry - it was just one comment, and worth even less than that. Don't mean to disrupt discussion - please ignore me and carry on.
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 PM on March 31, 2010


Can't we all just play a game called friendship?
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:38 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


...climbing a hill...

No doubt the very hill from upon which Your Lordship looks down upon us heathen game-playing saps! :P
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:39 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't we all just play a game called friendship?

I see your friendship and raise you heavy petting!
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:40 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


MGS2 is what cemented Hideo Kojima as an actual artist in my mind. The You Have Died screen pissed me off. It took me a good thirty seconds to figure out that, hey, waitaminute, I can still control Raiden in that little window.

MGS3 was an even better game. Nothing that broke the 4th wall (that I can recall), but several just insanely beautiful scenes. There are few moments in gaming that compare to simply climbing that ladder as the music swells. Well, and the river of the dead. My first play-through was a no-kill run, aside from a couple chopper pilots, so I got to that river and was totally confused about what it was supposed to be. Then I finally saw the ghosts of the two chopper pilots I killed, and I realized how much it must suck for somebody who hadn't gone to the trouble of tranquing everybody.

He should have stopped at 3, though. MGS4 was garbage. 5 hours of gameplay and 25 hours of cutscenes. It took me three days to finish it the first time through. The second time, I skipped all the cutscenes, and finished it between lunch and dinner.
posted by Netzapper at 10:44 PM on March 31, 2010


I'm not a gamer (except for maybe Mario Galaxy - wtf with the purple coins - and Lego Star Wars), but I was enjoying this thread and remembering playing Kareteka at school in the 1980s when the computer teacher wasn't looking (he used to sneak up on us using the back door), and now this wonderful thread has been derailed.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:49 PM on March 31, 2010


Cool Papa Bell: "... he just made the final encounter impossible to beat. You'd drain and drain the final boss health ... and it'd recover a little ... and you'd drain and drain it ... and it'd recover a little ... and you'd drain and drain it ... and it'd recover ..."

I knew my friends were lying when they said they'd beat Mike Tyson!
posted by roll truck roll at 11:12 PM on March 31, 2010


Re: The Secret of Monkey Island--the "Oops! You screwed up!" screen was also made to look a lot like the "You died--game over" screens in the Leisure Suit Larry games out at the time, which were notorious for killing poor Larry at the slightest misstep.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:31 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fucking Douglas Adams didn't mention that it was important to give the cheese sandwich to the dog at the very beginning of the game, and I died after god knows how many hours of just TYPING.

Reminds me of Earthworm Jim. This is in the first part of the first level of the game...

..and this is the ending.
posted by Evilspork at 11:39 PM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Evilspork, do you have to launch the cow at the beginning?
posted by Netzapper at 11:49 PM on March 31, 2010


the Leisure Suit Larry games out at the time, which were notorious for killing poor Larry at the slightest misstep.

Heck, pretty much all of Sierra's games, the Leisure Suit Larry series included, took great pleasure in killing you off every opportunity they got. Walk between a barfly and a dartboard in Police Quest? Dart to the head! (Hell, forget to walk around and "inspect" your police car each and every time you head out? You'll invariably lose a tire on the way out of the parking lot and DIE.)

If anything, Sierra was just making sure you remembered to save early and save often.
posted by Spatch at 11:50 PM on March 31, 2010


Glaring omission: The first, fake ending of Ghosts 'n' Goblins for the NES, in which you're told to do the most difficult game ever... again. (Not that any human being ever made it that far anyway)

This room is an illusion and is a trap devisut by Satan. Go ahead dauntlessly! Make rapid progres!
posted by Ljubljana at 12:25 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Evilspork, do you have to launch the cow at the beginning?

It won't let you go any further until you knock the fridge down. Watch closely and you'll see that the screen is locked on that scene until a couple seconds after the fridge falls.
posted by Evilspork at 12:43 AM on April 1, 2010


games and april fool's day always work out quite well.
posted by aprilfangs at 1:42 AM on April 1, 2010


Eternal Darkness was all about the story and the tricks (both quite cool), the game itself was deathly boring.
posted by bifter at 2:18 AM on April 1, 2010


Speaking of Leisure Suit Larry, the worst wasn't the insta-kills that lurked in literally every screen, it was the fact you can fuck your entire game 10 minutes in by eating an apple.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:57 AM on April 1, 2010


There was, believe it or not, an Alf-themed adventure game. After playing it for hours, I found a store that sold generic-sounding items like "key" and "fish," and I could only afford one. Don't ask me why, but the first thing I tried was "fish." It was, literally, a "red herring."

In another adventure game I can't remember the name of, the only thing in my inventory was a quarter. The only thing I could find to do with it was give it to a mechanical fortune teller. My fortune: "You wish you had your quarter back."

I never finished either game.
posted by Sibrax at 11:08 AM on April 1, 2010


The best game prank/puzzle I've ever encountered was the final puzzle in the classic Mac game System's Twilight. (Spoilers follow, of course.) You play as an abstract sprite wandering around a computer, and in the end you travel to the system core. The core is badly corrupted, and your actions have seemingly random consequences. After a few minutes you invariably get kicked back out to the previous screen. So what do you do when your computer starts acting wonky? That's right, you force-quit the application that's giving you trouble. Once you restart the game, you'll find that the puzzle is solved and you proceed to the victory screen.

I swear, the moment I figured that out was the hardest I've ever smacked myself on the forehead.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:31 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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