We love playing video games. It can be a mode of escape, a time to relax, a story to get deep into, or something to stimulate the mind. But the fact of the matter is, we also hate playing video games. They can be really hard, we lose unfairly, a mechanic doesn’t sit right, or we forget to save.
Of course, these frustrations are never permanent (isn’t that what keeps us coming back, after all?), but this doesn’t make them any less annoying. Sometimes we really need to complete a certain task to move on with the game and other times it is all about our own sanity: “I have to overcome this obstacle/defeat this boss/find this item before I can put it down.”
This is a mode that some great games wear proudly on their sleeve. From Elden Ring to Tunic, we did an awful lot of dying last year. However, these gaming frustrations are not limited to so-called ‘hard games’. What about the times that a mechanic just doesn’t click or when we overthink something so much that finding the extremely simple solution on Google somehow makes it worse (not speaking from personal experience, of course)?
In order to get some of these frustrations out of our system, a collection of our writers have come together to share the moments that had them ready to throw away the controller and move to a remote forest where the ice-cold grasp of video games could never get them again. Have a read through our most frustrating moments and then take to the comments to share the times that you have entered the pause menu for a moment of screaming into a pillow.
From the specifically simple to the genuinely very hard, here are the video game moments that have got us the most frustrated…
Jim Norman, Staff Writer
I get frustrated with almost every single game that I play because, for the most part, I am not very good. This being said, there are a few stand-out moments that have really got me grinding my teeth and contemplating crushing my controller with my bare hands (if 1. I was anything like strong enough to do that, and 2. I didn’t care so much for my controllers).
On a large scale, the first time that I ever took on Phantom Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has always stayed with me as being my first experience of really grinding a boss fight. Whether it was the lack of camera control to quickly switch my view between the paintings or my inability to memorise attack patterns, this one took me way too long and almost brought me to tears on a number of occasions at the tender age of seven.
Far more specifically though (and this is the small hill I will die on) is wall jumping in Super Metroid. Yes, the game is a masterpiece and yes, it still holds up today, but I swear that the wall jump mechanic is one of the most frustrating controls that I have ever come across. The section where you need to perform a consecutive chain of those little blighters in Maridia while shooting at the ice monsters above? I genuinely gave myself cramp in my right hand. That’s how long it took me.
Alana Hagues, Staff Writer
I’m the kind of person who seems to get wrapped up in a lot of RNG-style nonsense. We’re talking about spending hours trying to catch low-spawn-rate Pokémon, or wasting time trying to get the Sword of Kings in EarthBound. Things that annoy me to no end but I can’t drop because my pride won’t let me – I have to have the stupidly-rare things, and the fact that RNG hates me just makes me more determined.
But I can’t get properly annoyed at things like this. What I get frustrated by still is Wizpig from Diddy Kong Racing. Honestly, I don’t really like most of the boss races in Diddy Kong Racing anyway. Tricky is an appropriate name, and Blubber is irritating because of the bouncy water physics. But the first race against Wizpig feels almost impossible.
For starters, Wizpig cheats, getting off the line before the countdown has even finished. Then, if you managed to overtake Wizpig early in the race, he’s almost guaranteed to overtake you again unless you play perfectly. If you even miss one boost then you might as well restart. It’s maddening, and I spent almost a week trying to beat the wizard pig. My hands were sore pretty much every day from trying so much. I eventually did it with Tiptup – and managed to unlock everything in the game – but my God getting there was a pain. there’s no way I have the patience to do it again today.
The worst part? The second race against him is so much easier. Why!?
Ollie Reynolds, Staff Writer
When it comes to games being frustrating, there are quite literally dozens of examples that I could choose from when it comes to sheer difficulty. But as a child, the one thing that really burnt my toast was the hunt for the legendary dogs in Pokémon Gold And Silver (I had Gold, specifically). This was, by far, the most anger-inducing task I’ve ever undertaken in a video game, and by the time I actually managed to catch Entei, Suicine, and Raikou, I was so tired of the whole ordeal, I immediately put the game down and moved on with my life.
For those unaware, the legendary dogs would basically run from battle at the first opportunity, and their location — though viewable via the in-game map — would change when you yourself move from one area to the next (or if you stay in one spot for too long). The most fool-proof way to run into these beggars would be to position yourself in a region where you could easily swap from one location to another. Once you see one of the dogs in the same location as you, you quickly pace back and forth in the tall grass until they pop up in battle.
Now, my feeble child mind didn’t realise that the ‘Mean Look’ move would prevent a Pokémon from fleeing from battle, so I foolishly never used it in my endeavour. What I did do, however, was chip each dog’s health down to 1 HP and put them all to sleep, and I still managed to burn through about 50+ Ultra Balls. It was absolutely infuriating, and if Game Freak ever pulls something like this again, I’ll be having words.
Kate Gray, Staff Writer
I feel like I’m gonna catch a lot of flak for this one, but I can’t be bothered with precision platforming, so my choices are two Metroidvania games that made me want to quit games forever.
The first is Hollow Knight’s Crystal Peaks area, which is full of nasty spiky walls and laser beams. It exists to piss me off. There are harder platforming sections and harder bosses, even, but Crystal Peaks is right near the beginning of the game, so I keep thinking, “it can’t be that hard! Let’s try again” and then BOOP I’m dead because I panic-dashed into spikes, AGAIN. I hate you, Crystal Peaks.
The second is this one bit in Ori and the Blind Forest that’s the same deal — spikes. Spikes on the wall, on the floor, on the ceiling, with maybe an iiiiiitty bitty bit you can land on. You have to be really good at platforming and dashing, and I’m just… not. I think spiky walls in platforming games are evil.
Gavin Lane, Editor
There are many instances in games when I’ve been impaled on a difficulty spike, but the biggest sticking points come when you feel a game is being unfair or gives you inadequate tools to do the job. And if it comes from a developer that you know can do so much better, it’s doubly irritating. Super Mario Sunshine sticks in my memory as having some of the worst cases of this I’ve ever encountered. Not because it’s a beacon of bad game design — there are some great parts! — but because seeing Nintendo EAD trip over such evident, elementary problems added a hefty dose of confusion to my frustration. I mean… how? WHY!?
There are various stages that feel uncharacteristically scattershot and unpolished from a design perspective. The pachinko level is often cited, and with good reason, but Ricco Harbor’s ‘Red Coins on the Water’ shine — yes, the infamous Blooper one — still stands out for me. The surfing itself I never had an issue with (in fact, I like how the Blooper controls), but the inability to dismount and the tiny margin for error when jumping to collect the shine at the end wound me up no end.
A hidden ‘trick’ to dismount the thing was discovered years after the fact, and it was admittedly hilarious to see new players encounter Sunshine’s foibles when 3D All-Stars launched a few years back. Still, I’m in no rush to return to Ricco Harbor. Nuts to Ricco Harbor.
Austin Voigt, Contributing Writer
Admittedly… one of the most challenging memories I have with gaming is my very first encounter with Unowns in Pokémon Crystal. At the tender young age of 8, this was my very first foray into the world of Pokémon video games – and while I was obsessed with it, I was also frequently stumped by many of the puzzles it contained, specifically in the Ruins of Alph.
Now, looking back as an adult with a fully-formed brain and years of experience under my belt, it’s easy for me to decipher the various messages and clues spelled out by these alphabetical animals. Clearly, one can see that each of them is shaped like a different letter, spelling words like “ESCAPE” that prompt you to use an escape rope in that particular spot. But alas, to 8-year-old Austin, these were unrecognizable hieroglyphs which required enigma-level deductive reasoning that filled multiple notebooks (still residing somewhere in a closet in my parents’ home). Because these were the days before easily-accessible home internet – and I did not have the pocket money for a physical game guide – I would sit in bed at night with my Game Boy Color, a matching purple worm light, a lined notebook, and a pencil, carefully copying down all of the “coded” clues spelled out by the Unowns and attempting to use mathematics / logical reasoning determine what exactly they could be trying to spell out!
Never once did it occur to my younger self that they were designed to look like letters they represented – no! My inexperienced mind failed to see this obvious relation to the alphabet, and spent literal hours trying to figure out how exactly to read the Unown messages and get through the ruins in that wonderful game… ahh, to be young and ignorant again.
Mitch Vogel, Reviewer
For me, it would be getting the “Truly Awesome!” Trophy in Rayman Legends. I’m a bit of a fiend for trophy hunting on PlayStation and given that Rayman Legends is such an awesome game, I decided that I’d do what it takes to add its Platinum to my collection. In order to do so, you have to raise your ‘Awesomeness’ level to 11, which requires approximately 6000 points from cups you get for completing levels. The problem is, beating the game 100% only nets you 4184 points. The remainder has to be grinded out by doing the daily and weekly challenge runs, of which you can do a total of sixteen every week. A Diamond cup (the highest) nets you 50 points, but this requires you to be in the top 1% of all players for a challenge. The next highest cup, Gold, only requires you to be in the top 20%, but it grants you a mere 10 points. You can probably see where this is going…
If you played every challenge without fail and got a Gold every time, it would take you a little over 11 weeks of playing this game every single day to get all the points you need. Any missed days or cups of lesser value would extend that timeline even further. So, guess what I did? I opened this game first every single time I booted up my PS4 for a little over a year so I could get in my challenges and collect my damn points. I questioned my life choices every time I opened the game, but at least now I can say I’m part of the elite .3% who hate themselves enough to actually do this ridiculous challenge. After all that, I still love Rayman Legends, but woof I hope Ubisoft takes it easy on us with the next game.
Do you have any gaming frustrations of your own to add to our pile of anger? Let them all out in the comments below!