Video games are supposed to make us forget about all of our problems by whisking us away to fantastic worlds full of magic, wonder, and traffic law impunity. And, yet, there are more and more parts of modern gaming that seem specifically designed to bum us the hell out. Yes, you are not the only one who has bought a game looking for some light diversion, only to end up getting sucked into unbearably sad experiences such as these:
#5. Playing A Party Game By Yourself (Murders Your Soul)
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Party video games, if you've never played one (i.e., if you're the one heathen on Earth who didn't have Mario Party 2 on the Nintendo 64), are basically digital board games made to be enjoyed by little kids or drunken adults. You can mix and match both groups, I guess ... as long as they're still groups. Why? Because playing these things all alone is just one of the saddest experiences ever. I'm pretty sure that if games such as Wii Party simply didn't have a single-player option, the world's suicide rates would drop by at least 30 percent.
People should automatically lose if they pick this.
Everyone who buys a party game does so with the expectation that they'll get to play it with other people, preferably during a party. It's right there in the name. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way -- maybe you bought it to play with your girlfriend, but then she left you, or maybe you thought your friends liked party games, but it turns out they didn't. They just liked your girlfriend ... and stopped coming around once she stopped.
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Don't worry. Princess Peach will never leave you.
Whatever the scenario, at some point, you feel like you have to play the game by yourself, if only to justify the $60 investment. So, you sit there, rolling fake dice over a fake board with a group of a calculatedly multicultural fake people with names such as "Guillermo" and "Shaniqua." Part of you wishes you could fast-forward through all of their turns, but another part doesn't -- because the automated gameplay at least provides the illusion of company. Computer players can't abandon you or pass out after puking on your couch. Who needs real friends when you've got Shaniqua, Guillermo, and Abdullah? But then ... betrayal!
TU ERES UN HIJO DE PUTA, GUILLERMO. TU ERAS MI UNICO AMIGO.
Yes, now the game itself is mocking you for daring to think that you deserve friendship and happiness. And that's why I think single-player modes for party games should be banned. It's like if someone invented a way to have sex with yourself. Can you imagine how sad that would -- uhh, wait, I guess you can do that?
Be right back.
#4. When The Game Lets You Win Out Of Pity
According to Cracked's own Jason Iannone, one of the things that surprised him the most about modern video games, after not playing them for a decade (he was in a coma triggered by extreme sexual exhaustion), is that we can now tell some games to just play themselves when we get bored. As in, you sit back and watch the console do all the work and have all the fun. It's pretty pathetic that people do that ... but, there's something worse: when you don't want the game to finish a level for you, but it slaps the controller out of your inept hands like a frustrated older brother and does it anyway.
For instance, if you get squashed too many times by the giant boulder at the beginning of LEGO Indiana Jones, the game gets tired of your bullshit and goes to this cutscene:
Without so much as a "would you like to skip this part, you magnificent pussy?" prompt, the game unceremoniously kicks you out of the temple and lets you continue the rest of your adventure, albeit burdened with the knowledge that the first level of a game for children was too difficult for you. I could give a hundred more examples stolen from this TV tropes page, but what inspired this entry was this:
The international sign for "move aside, incompetent asshole coming through."
Friggin' Bullet Bill from Mario Kart -- an item you get when you're so hopelessly behind the other players that the game automatically sends you flying, like, half a lap ahead. The usual reaction to getting an item on Mario Kart is "AWWWW, YEAH! GONNA FUCK Y'ALL UP, MOTHERFUCKERS!" (it's probably a good thing that this game doesn't have voice chat) -- but not when you get the Bullet Bill. When you're zooming past everyone without making the slightest effort, it's more like, "Sorry sorry sorry sorry. I promise I don't usually suck this much. It's just that ... well, things have been hard since Jenny left."
"The Animal Crossing stage theme was our song. Oh God, I miss you so much."
And then, there's the human variation of this experience: when you're playing your 20th losing match against the same person online and you can tell they're intentionally letting you win one out of pity. This is even sadder when you lose anyway, and sadder still when it's against a little kid -- something you know you'll never have because Jenny was your last chance to start a family.
#3. Cheating On A Fitness Game To Get Out Of Doing Exercise
Fitness games combine all the fun and excitement of gaming with the "I'm not fucking dying at 40!" panic of the overweight. You know how it is: You see that Wii Fit is on sale, and you think, "I could play video games and temporarily fend off the perpetually looming specter of death? Sign me up!" So, you buy the game and set up a workout program, thinking that maybe if you drop 20 pounds, Jenny will take you back.
Of course, you're wrong. Jenny will never take you back. She already moved in with that guy from her office: fucking Pierre, who you always hated.
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Saying "fucking Pierre" all the time had an unfortunate subliminal effect on Jenny.
But, also, you're never dropping those 20 pounds -- mainly because you only used the fitness game for a few days before discovering that, holy shit, doing exercise takes effort. You want to start over again, but the problem is, you programmed a three-month workout routine, and, if you pick it up now, the game will know you were sitting on your ass for the past two weeks. You'll either have to do extra work every day to make up for it, or wait until October to play the game that you bought. But then, you think: What if it could be October now? What if you set the console's calendar three months ahead to end the current workout program? You do that, promising to yourself that it's only just this once. Congratulations: You've just cheat-coded your health, you sad bastard.
Next thing you know, it's April 2495, and you're still a fat fuck.
Don't get me wrong: Making a video game do something it's not supposed to do can be a great feeling. I remember when I figured out you could play Street Fighter II without the energy bars and the timer by entering and quitting the options menu 27 times in a row -- I felt like a goddamn master hacker. Sure, I "figured it out" by reading the instructions in a kids' magazine, but still. This was some Angelina Jolie in Hackers shit right here.
I was a little disappointed that Chun-Li wasn't as naked as the kids' magazine promised, though.
Cheating in a video game can feel great. Cheating in a fitness game, on the other hand, is basically just cheating yourself, and it just leads to crying over your controller as you realize how low you've sank. Or, uh, so I've heard.
Note: Since this entry was conceived, Wii Fit U has been updated to let you cancel your workout goal without waiting months. However, I'm still keeping it because, ehhhh, it's my article. Thank you for understanding, or eat a turd if you don't.