As we've shown before, video game designers are not above screwing with players' minds. But that article was about developers punishing pirates in bizarre, elaborate ways that would make Dante proud. It takes a truly mad game designer to bring that Jigsaw-Killer deviousness to bear on their most die-hard, legitimate fans. Here are a few of those brilliant psychopaths:
MGS2 starts out like any standard sequel. The main character, Solid Snake, infiltrates a tanker staffed by guards. You get like 45 minutes of legit play time -- or approximately five hours of tranquilizing guards and putting their unconscious hands on each other's butts -- then the boat suddenly sinks, Snake is declared MIA, and players are introduced to their new hero, Raiden. Raiden wasn't in any of the ads, was never mentioned in previews, and isn't even on the game's cover.
"Stop kidding around. Snake? SNAAAAAAAKE!" -everyone that spent money on this.
Which wouldn't be so bad, if Raiden wasn't the complete opposite of good ol' badass Solid Snake. Raiden was sulky, unlikeable, and stupid-looking -- it was like if you got 15 minutes into Escape From New York and the director suddenly switched out Kurt Russell for Corey Feldman. And gamers weren't caught by surprise here just because they weren't paying attention: Kojima went out of his way to hide Raiden's existence. Preview footage even inserted Snake into sequences that, in the game, were actually played by Raiden.
If you have time to read essays on what video games are really about (congratulations, newly unemployed person and/or Cracked employee!), you'll learn that Kojima was making a statement about information control and the Internet. Specifically, he wanted to point out how easy it is to manipulate the willing by controlling the information they can access -- Raiden is manipulated by the villains of the game in the same way that fans were manipulated into thinking they were going to play a game they liked.
Now you know. And knowing is half the boredom.
There's much, much more to the whole thing, but to explain it all we'd need a 15-part analysis, a better grounding in postmodernism than Internet comedy has given us, and several bottles of grain alcohol. Long story short: Most fans missed the meta-commentary and were simply infuriated by the bait-and-switch, along with the confusing, fourth-wall breaking, and generally bonkers plot. Our hats are off to you: Truly, Kojima, you were the greatest gaming troll ever ... until Eve Online came out.
Ghosts 'N Goblins was apparently designed by somebody with a deep and personal hatred of controllers, judging by all the shattered components it has left in its wake. Even by the standards of old-school games, Ghosts is harder than The Thing's erection. But players who were tenacious enough to reach the final boss would find that, unless they were inexplicably still using the game's weakest weapon for the big fight, they couldn't harm the boss at all.
"Sorry, but the weapon is in another castle where you thoughtlessly dropped it
and probably don't even remember where."
You don't get to just retry it, either: Upon losing, Sir Arthur is kicked back to the start of the fifth level to find the proper weapon and finish the final two stages all over again -- because there is a God, and he is all-knowing and all-powerful, but he really, truly hates you.
After once again fighting their way through the hardest part of the game, determined players at last subdued the leader of the legions of hell by bludgeoning him to death with a metal board. At which point they were greeted with an orgy of Engrish that essentially told them to take a flying fuck at the moon.
"The time you're wasting is also an illusion, for was it ever really yours?"
Then you're dumped all the way back to the beginning of the game, but this time, it's even harder. If you're some kind of saint and did not immediately smash your controller and devour the pieces in an impotent rage, you can beat the game again to get this ending screen:
The only "happy end" is to the pain.
Eternal Darkness is a horror game that gives the player a "sanity meter," which would diminish based on how much contact they had with in-game monsters. That specification probably wasn't necessary -- if you're having contact with monsters out of the game, your personal sanity meter is already flashing red. Deplete the crazy bar and your controls would get all funky, enemies would pop up and vanish when attacked, rooms would flip over. It was a neat mechanic, but it didn't stop there: Eternal Darkness was not content just fucking with your character's reality; it started to fuck with yours as well.
If you stayed "insane" for too long, the sound would shut off, accompanied by a legitimate-looking TV menu "Mute" on-screen. Or maybe the video would cut out entirely, like somebody sat on the remote and switched inputs. By the time you finished beating up your siblings for messing up your game, the video was suddenly back, like nothing had happened at all. Those could be dismissed as mere pranks, but Eternal Darkness took it one step further and crossed a sacred line no game is allowed to mess with: Sometimes it would fake crash, then reboot -- indicating that all of your save data had been corrupted and lost.
Too real, ED. We've lost friends to that.
Yes, Zelda counts as a friend.
"My vision went red, and the next thing I knew, I was bludgeoning him with the cartridge,
yelling, 'Why don't you try blowing on it now?!'"
Policenauts is basically Lethal Weapon in space. The game follows a pair of detectives named Johnathan and Ed, who are 100 percent original characters with no ties to existing properties whatsoever.
Though at this point their Riggs is less of an embarrassment to the franchise.
At one point, the pair are forced to disarm a space bomb in the middle of a space mall before it destroys the whole space station. Disarming the bomb is a serious test of your mini-game skills, and the first part involves dragging a square through a maze without touching the sides, like a game of robot Operation.
Which is still better than most versions ...
Every tiny mistake leads to space disaster. If you fail three times, you're given the gamer equivalent of your dad lifting you up for a dunk -- letting the computer take over. Ed declares, "Alright! You won't regret it," brags about his skills, and proceeds to disarm the bomb at the slooowest possible pace. As the scene drags on, you begrudgingly tolerate it -- assuming you're getting a mercy pass -- only to be taken by surprise when Ed fails at the absolute last possible moment. Hit continue and Jonathan will be ... less than impressed with Ed's efforts.
Not-Riggs then does a Shemp impression.
As if you haven't been humiliated enough, the maze is then replaced with a Fisher-Price version, just for you, the special li'l gamer.
"To continue, please insert two testicles."
We still have several sheets of tear-stained notebook paper full of passwords to commemorate the days before all games had save points. Dragon Quest did allow the player to save, but only in one special location. Still, that minor concession was like being tossed a chainsaw in the punishing Nintendo Thunderdome. At least if you died you were brought back to life with all of the items, experience, and blisters you had collected. That is ... unless you happened to fail the game's randomly inserted morality test.
In the climax, players trekked through a long dungeon to face the Dragonlord, who offers the hero a place at his side and a chance to rule half the world in all its pixelated glory. Most players will of course say no, but if you agree ...
"Shit, seriously? Well this is awkward, I was just trying to be polite."
At first the Dragonlord seems to live up to his deal, telling you that half the world is yours. But then he says "Thy journey is over. Take now a long, long rest. Hahahaha ..." and the screen turns blood red, neither of which is a super good sign.
"I swear to Christ, if this is another fake game crash, I will shit a hedgehog into Yuji Horii's mouth."
At this point the game freezes, and the only way out is to hit reset and lose everything you gained during your fight through his castle. The lesson is clear: Evil doesn't pay ... unless you're an old-school video game developer.
Alan is being trolled by Kojima daily on his twitter account @foxtaku.
For more psychotic game designers, check out 6 Hilarious Ways Game Designers Are Screwing With Pirates and 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted .
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