No matter how hard a video game is, what's important is that it's fair -- it lays out the rules, you agree to them, and away you go. But every now and then some malcontent designer adds a feature that pulls the rug out from under you and laughs when your ass hits the floor. Until the PlayStation 5 comes with an extendable middle finger, this is the closest designers have come to telling gamers to go fuck themselves:
6Shadow of the Beast Is Nonstop Dicking at Every Turn
When Shadow of the Beast was released in 1989, it was praised for its ground-breaking visuals and haunting atmosphere by the three people who managed to finish it. The game is ostensibly an open-ended platformer, but it has to be completed in a very, very specific order in what we hope was just an incredibly misguided way of padding the length of the game and not the product of developers who held stock in monitor manufacturers and anger-management clinics.
"... to Hell."
You start in the middle of a field with no instructions, so like any conditioned gamer you head right. You soon find a well you can sloooowly climb down, but the bottom is locked. All you can do is climb back up and keep moving.
Everyone's least favorite part of gym class, now in 16-bit form.
You come to a castle where you can go left or right. If you go right you'll fight your way through hordes of enemies and your reward is a one-way drop to a boss you can't kill.
Look on the bright side: at least it isn't the sequel.
Did we mention that there are no save points? So you die and start all over, and this time when you enter the castle you go left and find another fork in the road. One path leads you to a gun that can kill the boss ... in a room that traps you with an electric field.
"This gun would look pretty good against my head."
Assuming you don't quit and go for a relaxing nature walk, you restart and take the other direction at the fork. Down this road you'll find that the castle's stalwart defenders are protecting a wrench that's just lying around for no good reason.
The final boss is guarding a half-empty Mountain Dew and some Cheetos.
OK, now everything's falling into place. You get the gun, use the wrench to turn off the electricity, use the gun to kill the dragon ... and have your quest stopped dead by a locked door, the key to which is waaaaay back to the left of where you first started the game (that locked well you thought we forgot about was the exit). If you're wondering why the front door of the castle isn't locked, the only answer we can come up with is that the developers are a bunch of floppy dicks.
Eldritch horrors? No problem! Wooden doors? Shit!
By this point you've probably head-butted your computer out the window, but if you persevere you're rewarded with the final boss: a giant foot that's defeated with the subtle strategy of "mash the attack button and hope he dies before you do." Congratulations!
And then you face a bonus boss: the realization that you could have been doing something productive with your time.
5Fable III Speeds Up a Crucial Deadline -- by Months
Time is kind of a funny concept in games -- in most open-world games, the main story mission will be some urgent quest to save the land, but you can then spend the next five years wandering around the countryside and finding creative new ways to set innocent villagers on fire. If a game ever has an urgent mission and really means it, you'll get some kind of timer on the screen (as in, "Escape the headquarters before the reactor overloads! We have four minutes!"). Imagine, then, if a game gave you just such a timer, then spontaneously detonated the bomb with a third of the time still left on the clock. That would be a serious dick move, which brings us to Fable III.
The all-time king of rushing you through to the end.
Most of the game is about organizing a rebellion to overthrow the evil ruler, Logan. But once you take the crown, there's a twist -- Logan reveals that an evil primordial slime monster is going to attack the kingdom in a year, and the only way he could prepare for that was by acting like a huge dick. It isn't clear why he didn't just say, "Hey folks, I've got to raise taxes a bit because an ancient evil is coming to annihilate the very concept of humanity, k?"
He could have at least shaved his "I'm obviously evil" beard.
Anyway, you, the player, are the new king, so the monster is now your problem. The gist of the plot is that you're supposed to decide between pissing people off to raise money and save their lives or making everyone happy but also ripe for the slime monster to pick off like Skittles.
But because the clock ticks down only when you complete story missions, the smart/cheap player who doesn't like moral complexity can buy a ton of rental properties, play the game until the day before the attack, then just sit around for hours while the treasury rakes in sweet, sweet landlord money to fund the kingdom's defense. So imagine your surprise when the game tells you that you have 121 days left until the attack, then suddenly shunts you to the final battle. Surprise!
Apparently, they forgot to add "hibernate."
That's right -- the game immediately skips ahead four months and stops time with the monster on your doorstep, preventing you from making any further preparations. If you didn't raise enough money because you had this weird idea that you still had a third of a year to do it, you get to eat shit while the monster slaughters your people.
Your year as king does feature other time jumps -- you shift from having 365 days left to 339, to 294, and so on. But 121 to zilch is a big damned jump, especially since the game gives you absolutely no warning. It's like they realized how lame it was that you could bypass the entire moral dilemma with investments and patience, and rather than find a creative solution to that problem they responded with an even bigger dick move of their own.