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Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: The angriest you’ve been at a video game

Readers reveal the most annoyed they’ve ever got with a video game, from Mario Kart: Double Dash to Trials HD.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Clambake, and asked why exactly you got so upset and whether you felt justified to do so? Did you break anything, or hurt anyone, as a result and what were the repercussions?

The anger-inducing games were evenly split between old and retro, but the two main reasons were consistent for both eras: unfairly high difficulty and unavoidable bugs.

Two good lessons
Oh this is easy, it’s got to be losing at Mortal Kombat with friends. We were playing in a sort of ad hoc, winner stays on style tournament and I was getting beaten left right and centre. Naturally everyone was rubbing it in and at one point I snapped. I wanted to pull a few fatalities of myself but because most of them were bigger than me I ended up trashing the controller instead.

I’m not sure it learnt its lesson because it didn’t work after that, which my ‘friends’ found hilarious. Controllers are expensive, obviously, so I think I learnt my lesson that day: don’t get upset at video games and remember that I’m not very good at fighters.
Cliff Noakes

Remain calm
I see there’s a Ninja Gaiden remaster collection coming up soon, which between that and this Hot Topic has brought back some very unhappy memories. A part of me wants to say I really enjoyed those games, whereas another part wants to admit that they drove me up the wall and, in one memorable occasion through it.

Not me literally, but the end of my controller, which left a big enough hole that it had to be plastered when we decorated. For those that never played it at the time this was basically Dark Souls before there was Dark Souls, but harder and less fair. And if you’re familiar with From games you know that’s not a statement to make lightly.

I did beat the game but only by coming back to it a few weeks later and absolutely promising myself that I have to stay calm.
Gankt

‘You’re an inanimate object’
Everyone says they love Trials HD but that game drove me to such a rage I don’t know how either me or my PC wasn’t hurt as a result of it. It’s a difficult game, as is well, and there’s a certain element of luck but I found the physics just the wrong side of predictable and after the early hours, where I naturally thought I was the world’s best players it took longer and longer to clear a level.

By the end (of my time with it, not the game itself) I was reduced to an incoherent rage where I was screaming obscenities at the game/PC and threatening it with being turned off. Inanimate objects aren’t an easy thing to intimidate though and lucky I realised that maybe the game wasn’t for me and switched it off and uninstalled it. I’ve slept peacefully ever since.
Benson

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The Thing
Most annoyed I’ve ever been with a video game? As soon as I saw this Hot Topic question one thing shot instantly into my mind. I’m currently on my first ever play through of Bloodborne. I’m up to the Blood-Starved Beast. Yes, he’s giving me some minor grief, but I took out Father Gascoigne on my second attempt. I’m confident the Blood-Starved Beast’s days are very numbered. It isn’t that.

The last hard game I finished was Dark Souls Remastered, which, even compared to my experience of Bloodborne so far, was like smashing my head against a concrete overpass for two solid months. But it wasn’t anything from that either.

No. It’s something older.

Not ancient history older or anything. Yes, Manic Miner and Atic Atac used to properly wind me up when I was five, but compared to what I’m thinking of they don’t even exist in the same universe. Even when you take into account the vagaries of whether or not the 20 minute tape loading sequence would actually work before you could even start playing.

No.

No, I’m thinking of you, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and you know it. You know it was only ever going to be you and you know exactly what you did. And just how many times you did it. You vile, disgusting, vindictive, CHEATING pile of pure coding evil. Still there, on the shelf. Laughing at me, even after all these years. And that’s why I’ve never played you again since that last time.

You see, every other game that’s ever wound me up, or lulled me into thinking I’d won before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory didn’t actually cheat me at all. Even you, Dark Souls. No, when I lost to any of the rest of you it was because I just wasn’t good enough yet, or because I’d taken my eye off the ball. I could understand that and accept it. I know this, because I’ve always come back and managed to beat you in the end. Try, try and try again and I’ve always managed to get there. Eventually.

But Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and it’s 150cc Mirror Mode All Cup Tour marathon isn’t like the other games. No. Because no matter how good I got, no matter how hard I tried, no matter what my lap times were or how far ahead I was at any given point, I never managed to achieve the maximum ‘possible’ 160 points in that final, hardest Cup challenge.

And it wasn’t because I wasn’t winning. It wasn’t because I didn’t beat it fair and square. Oh no. Back in the day I was a Mario Kart ninja. No. It’s because every time that hour long, nerve shredding, sadistic slog came to the final, spiralling corner of the final lap of Rainbow Road, it didn’t matter if I was half a second ahead or half a lap ahead of whoever was in second place, on each and every one of the half a dozen otherwise perfect runs I managed, it would do The Thing. Hit me with a teleporting blue shell machine gun (the most was three in succession), usually followed up be some kind of lightning. Then Lakitu would always deposit me, item-less, so far back from where I went off the track, I’d always get pipped to the line.

Pipped.

Not soundly beaten.

Pipped.

The best I ever managed was third in that final race. Which meant I had maximum points for everything, except that All Cup Tour Mirror Mode where the score sheet never read higher than 156. That game really was the absolute worst of Nintendo’s particular brand of rubber band AI cheating masquerading as challenge I think I’ve ever encountered.

There’s hard. There’s challenge. There’s needing to git gud, I get that. But Mario Kart: Double Dash!! didn’t. It wasn’t designed to be fair, or to reward skill or effort, like pretty much every other Mario Kart I’ve ever had the pleasure to play.

No.

I’m 100% certain it was rigged. At the most fundamental level. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! consistently cheated me in a way no other game ever had before or has since. For that, the final time I let it pull it’s schtick, something in my head just popped. I numbly put down the controller, popped that hateful little game disc off its spindle, clicked it back in it’s case… and never. Played. It. Again.

I can’t remember how long it took me to be able to disengage my locked jaw after that final lost race. I know I genuinely considered enacting apocalyptic levels of violence on both my GameCube and the game disc itself. But that’s not my style and I didn’t want that game to have the satisfaction of breaking me. I know I didn’t play any kind of game again for a while. I can genuinely feel the echoes of cold, hard rage when I think about it to this day.

At the risk of sounding like Harry Enfield’s Kevin The Teenager, it was so unfair.

I was so far ahead. 6” off the line. I’d beaten it. Except I hadn’t. It just wouldn’t let me have my victory.

Those four lousy lost points.

One for every letter in the very particular word I think of every time I remember that damned game.

If I didn’t love you so much, Nintendo, I actually think that one game might have made me hate you forever.
yourhomeisatrisk

Nobody does it better
Great idea for a Hot Topic – thanks to Clambake for suggesting it!

There’s been a few instances in the last year or so where I’ve binned it whilst racing in a league race with my mates on F1; when trying to gain that crucial extra tenth of a second, and instead breaking my front wing and having to waste time going into the pits for a new one. Essentially this ended the race, and two hours of work, from a competitive point of view. Queue screams of agony down the mic, although we all suffered that at some point!

But by far the most angry I’ve ever got though is when playing GoldenEye 007 on the N64. Picture the scene: a glorious summer day during the school holidays, me in my bedroom trying to unlock the final cheat by completing the Caverns stage on 00 Agent in a ridiculously quick time. There were a couple of other levels where the time limit was also tight, like Facility and Archives.

However, I found these could be completed quite easily by relying on luck for a scientist with a keycard to be in the right place (Facility) or just sprinting though the level karate chopping the guards so as not to make any noise, so no reinforcements came (Archives). Caverns required the game to be played properly, and completely came down to skill.

I’d got to the end and had managed to precisely line up and take a shot to take out a guard standing next to a scientist and in front of some explosive barrels from distance, with a handgun bullet right between the eyes. A handgun, without a scope, unlike the assault rifle, which was too powerful and would have shot straight though the guard and into the barrels, causing an explosion and the death of the scientist and also destroying the radio you need to use, as I’d learnt on one of countless failed attempts.

A thorough sweep of the area to expertly take out the remaining guards, and to confirm the area was clear. Now all that was left was to go down the final corridor, take out the ceiling-mounted sentry guns, and enter the lift to complete the level. The stopwatch I had set up next to the TV showed I had just enough time left, but I didn’t have much health.

Sentry guns taken out with the assault rifle in the crouched position. Edge forward so you’ve got just enough angle to make the shot: pow-pow, pow-pow – they didn’t even see me. I’d done it! Just sprint to the end!

Except… some guard I’d somehow, impossibly, missed, shot me in the back just as I’d started my sprint. Death, death, death, blood fills the screen, game over. I swore so loud and with such anguish that my dog, asleep in the garden, came to check that I was OK!

It took me a while to regain my composure after that.

I did later complete the level and earn the cheat and was the only one of my friends to earn them all, which is something I was and remain proud of. I loved that game! But yes, that moment is, by a long, long, way, the angriest I’ve ever been whilst playing a video game. Which meant finally completing it all the sweeter of course.

Really looking forward to reading what other people’s stories on this topic are!
Julian

Extreme driving
I’d swear the makers of Driver must’ve had a deal with joypad makers because those games were infuriating. Driver 3 was the worst, with near impossible missions right from the start, but all of them nearly had me putting the controller through the TV screen.

You generally don’t get games like that nowadays, which I’m glad of, and I will never understand why old games were so obsessed with being extremely difficult and extremely unfair. I’m not saying I want everything to be easy but not tempting me to smash the console with the boot of my foot would be nice.
Badgerman

From Hell
There are a few leading examples of rage-inducing moments in games that come to mind, but they can be lumped together fairly easily now I think about it. Not least because they’re all in Souls games by FromSoftware.

I absolutely agree that, generally, these games aren’t unfair once you understand what they’re trying to achieve (and trying to get the player to achieve) but as someone who insists on reaching what I’d regard as 100% with them (usually through unlocking all Achievements and Trophies), a couple of moments stole hours of my life and really affected my mood.

The current leader is the Maneater boss in Demon’s Souls, although I’ve only faced it for the first time this year in the remake. Turns out it has a reputation for being a broken boss, who regularly limits the number of opportunities you have to get an attack in. Which isn’t really a problem if you’re patient, but the real issue is his twin turns up after a set time.

In the original playthrough, it’s easy to get rid of the first one before the second arrives if you’re levelled up enough. By New Game++, it’s practically impossible as the first one keeps flying out of reach for what seems like minutes at a time, then comes back and gets stuck under the arena for several seconds. Which means you end up facing both at the same time.

Again, nothing new for a Souls fan but, talking of the arena, you can easily fall off, whether it’s because one of them rammed you while you were focusing on the other, or simply because you were trying to get a hit into one that was stuck on the scenery and you overstepped your reach.

I won’t go into the other examples, but I’ll quickly shout out Dark Souls 2 for the Pilgrims of Dark covenant final boss and the Frigid Outskirts. The latter is in the DLC but, like the Maneater, both feature two simultaneous bosses and long, boring or extremely difficult runs from their resurrection checkpoints. I think the developers could’ve done a tiny bit more work to make sure the fairness scaled with each playthrough, or at least stuck a bonfire right outside so you didn’t have to cover all that ground with every attempt.

In terms of how they affect me, I can go into a bit of a mood because of how they’ve consumed my time, but I think in terms of visceral anger it’s games more than anything else that actually taught me how to manage rage as a youngster. Probably when facing Sagat in Street Fighter 2 on the SNES.
Panda

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

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