Video games are often vile, hateful asses determined to drive us away in frustration. We've covered this topic before with The 6 Most Absurdly Difficult Video Game Puzzles and The 5 Most Absurdly Difficult Video Game Puzzles (Pt. 2). Here are five more crimes against logic someone tried to pass off as entertainment:
In the 2000 adventure game Escape From Monkey Island, you play as Guybrush Threepwood, a terrific name for an all-in-one product that combs, golfs, and pleasures your prostate, but a silly name for a man. Without boring you with a summary of the entire plot, let's just say that for this section you need to return to the scene of a bank robbery in order to collect evidence and clear your (stupid) name.
The bank puzzle begins with mild insanity. You go to a prosthetic limb store and ask for free body parts. The owner immediately agrees, but you get to pick the type of prosthetic only by guessing characters' names in his rambling story. We're only two sentences into the puzzle, and if you're still following along, we are legally allowed to diagnose you with dementia. Did you just blindly guess that the pirate in the owner's story was Larry? Then you get a fake butt. It's so, so weird. It's like logic took a trip on the event horizon and brought some unspeakable darkness back with it.
"Here's your free rubber butt, sir. Negative $10 if I can watch you test it."
At this point you might imagine the solution to breaking into the bank is creating some flesh golem monster you can unleash on it. Not exactly. These body parts have no point. They stay in your inventory as if to say, "Maybe THIS is the puzzle you solve with a fake butt!" for the rest of the game.
Someone must need this! WHAT MADMAN WOULD PUT A PROSTHETIC BUTT
IN MY BACKPACK FOR NO REASON!?
Here's what you were meant to do instead of Frankensteining together a fake human: You need to walk into the store knowing what names to give to the guy behind the counter. So ... do you go try to find that guy's diary? Talk to his therapist? Nope -- you find them by pulling a manhole cover off a sewer line and reading the love note carved into it. If you use those names to fill in the blanks in the butt store owner's tale, he gives you ... a pile of prosthetic skin. Skin. The entire puzzle is like something you'd scream in disbelief as your last words.
Guybrush's inventory is what police refer to as "probable cause."
Once you have the skin, you stretch it out across the open manhole cover. This will signal other serial killers that you've claimed the sewers as your own, but it also creates a trampoline allowing you to access the bank.
"I FLY ON THE SKIN OF MAN! THROUGH THIS FLESH I AM MADE FREE!"
So, to summarize: Read a declaration of love on the bottom of a manhole cover, use those names in a game of Mad Libs with a foot salesman, take a wad of skin as your reward, and use it to build a trampoline. Every time someone reads the solution to this puzzle, Xiuclueesk, the ancient god of madness, grows stronger. At 2 million hits, we summon him. Let's do it, gang!
Despite the fact that King's Quest V proudly continued Sierra's player-hating policy, it became the best-selling PC game from 1990 to 1995 (it was dethroned by Myst). The developers knew most players used frequent game saves to avoid death, so they came up with a sinister way to kill gamers -- they hid goals and items in locations you couldn't return to, but were necessary to win. Here's an example:
Early in the game, you might notice a rat being menaced by a cat outside an inn. You need to, for no clear reason, help the rat escape. If you don't, the game doesn't care, and that's where the treachery lies. In most games, failing a puzzle means you are killed and go back to a checkpoint. King's Quest V will let you play for hours before you discover that innocuous fucking decision to let a cat win a fight cost you your entire adventure.
Quick! You have three seconds to use the boot from your inventory on those pixels
in the middle of the screen or you will die two years from now!
Say you, like every player on their first playthrough, let the rat die. Later in the story, you are tied up and left in a basement. If the rat is dead, your choices are waiting while you die or struggling while you die. If you saved its life, your rat friend will appear and chew you loose. It sort of makes sense after you know it, but picture solving this without the Internet 20 years ago and you'll start to realize why gamers often seem so cranky.
"I always die at this part! If only I had more rat friends! W-wait a minute,
that's it! Cheese-scented pants!"
And that shitty rat puzzle wasn't the only time you could unknowingly mess up and make the game impossible. Early on you can get a pie from a bakery, which the game lets you eat. Yum, that seems like the right thing to do with pie! Well, if you eat it, then you have nothing comical to throw during the sudden yeti attack that happens later.
Once again, eating a pie is not the solution to your problems.
The cruelty of tricking the player into saving their game after creating an unwinnable situation never lets up. Did you let your useless owl friend die on an island? Did you forget to stuff a cat into a sack? Did you neglect to be caught by a monster so you could stick a fish hook in the dungeon wall to retrieve moldy cheese? You idiot! All three of those decisions will make it impossible to beat this game!
Welcome to your doom, King Graham! Unless you brought your moldy cheeses and sacks of cats!
Double Fine Productions
In the Kickstarter success story Broken Age, your character is tasked with untying a knot (in one particular puzzle; that's not the whole game). Said knot can be one of eight different wads of nonsense, and you get only a quick glimpse before you attempt to untie it. If you fail, the way the knot is tied changes, making process-of-elimination impossible.
Double Fine Productions
... is how the Kickstarter backers responded when asked if the devs should include this feature.
To make things more complicated, you don't just go try to untie the thing yourself. Oh, no -- you instead have to describe the random knot to other characters in the game, to get tips. It almost stops being a game and starts becoming a psychological test.
Double Fine Productions
"I guess I'd describe the knot like grandmother's knitting needles wrestling with two fathers' penises."
Once you have the knot memorized (something your brain probably isn't used to doing), you walk to another location and describe it to a knot expert for instructions on untying it. Of course, if you mistook a "lazy pole vaulter" knot for a "headache wearing a belt" knot, the instructions will be useless and you'll be one more confused person tugging on a lazy pole vaulter and wondering why nothing is happening.
Double Fine Productions
It's kinda like an inkblot test, in that it'll make you instantly recognize how crazy you are.
This all may seem doable, but the instructions from the knot expert for the untying sequence are not A, then B, then C. They are written in a bizarre string of non sequiturs. For instance, do you poke the clown's nose after tickling the foot, or before? The puzzle is like lying in a field with a crazy person and trying to figure out which cloud is shaped like a cat driving a hot dog.
Double Fine Productions
It looks like the cartoon adaptation of True Detective.
If you botch these byzantine blueprints, you of course have to reset the puzzle. That means trudging back to get another set of "instructions" to follow. The reliance on weird descriptions makes the solutions feel frustratingly subjective, and when you combine that with the long walks needed to retry it, you may decide to solve this knot Alexander The Great-style and just hack your computer in half with a sword.
Codename: Iceman is a radly named 1989 spy adventure game set in the future of 2004. You are Johnny Westland, an American naval officer on a mission to rescue a U.S. ambassador. None of this is quite as fun as it sounds, as the game was weirdly faithful to the complicated and precise procedures of submarine piloting. It's not quite right to call it boring. It's more like a genuine attempt at authentically re-creating boredom.
Sometimes the boredom steers into frustration, since Codename: Iceman has all the standard Sierra adventure game dickery. For instance, not realizing the Pentagon security guard handed you the wrong ID card two hours ago and now the submarine doesn't work, so you need to start the game over.
"Here's your ID card! Footlong Frank's Sub Club ... that's your name, right?"
But where the game really shows its hate for its players is when you wander below deck to play poker with a drunken old crewman. Because nothing says "important covert mission" like hours and hours of booze-fueled card games.
"What mission? Some asshole handed me an ID card that gave me
nuclear submarine clearance, so I walked on and started drinking."
The drunken old man has an important device that neutralizes magnetic fields but won't give it to you unless you beat him at Boss Dice, a variation on poker played with dice. It's a pretty absurd obstacle for a spy to run into. It'd be like Q refusing to give James Bond his laser watch until he comes to his improv show and brings five friends.
So you need to play dice to get your mission-critical equipment. Fine. It's not like you got into playing video games for your love of sensible logic. Anyway, the nice thing about gambling in a game is you can always save. If randomness doesn't go your way, you simply rewind time and try again. Well, remember, this is a Sierra adventure game, so your obvious solution can suck it.
If you lose at this game, and since it's random dice you might, you can only reload your game once. If you do so a second time, the old man breaks the fourth wall and declares you a cheat. Which is true outside of video games, but he seems to know he's in one, which means we've uncovered a paradox that surely threatens all existence as we know it.
"Now lad, ye can be fuckin' yerself."
In this old coot's code of morality, it's fine to withhold stolen, important equipment from a superior officer, but if you cheat at a game he made up you can go straight to Hell. And he doesn't just force you to replay some of the poker -- he nukes your entire save file. The developers decided that if you can't roll dice well enough, that ambassador doesn't deserve to live. Be thankful for the games you have today, world, because 20 years ago they were designed entirely around nyah and nyah.
Last Window: The Secret Of Cape West is a Nintendo DS puzzle game set in 1980s Los Angeles. This game includes two puzzles that require you to not only close your DS (as if you were done playing) but to close it at exactly the right moment without any hint that you are supposed to be doing that. Let us explain.
The first occasion is when you are trying to get a key that is stuck in a music box. The game wants you to close the music box to get the key, which is unprecedented, but kind of clever. However, even if you think to do it, you're not supposed to close it aalll the way. You need to keep it slightly open until the music reaches a specific point, then hold R, reopen it, then tap the screen as fast as you can. Or, in puzzle-solving terms: Try random shit until you look it up and discover the solution was not in the realm of possibility.
"Hmmm, a key? How about we close the system, wait, hold a button, then open it!
And tap! Tap! Tap!"
The nice thing about the key in the music box is that, while impossible to intuit, you can still try again if you land on any of the equally unlikely random solutions. The same isn't true when you are trying to save a girl named Marie from leaping off a roof.
"She must be upset about all the time I spent complaining about that
GODDAMN KEY IN THAT GODDAMN MUSIC BOX!"
After you walk close to Marie you need to employ the police negotiation tactic of quickly lunging at the upset person, which is simulated by closing your DS. It's times like this where the word "huh!?" seems so inadequate. And figuring out that isn't enough; you have to wait for the brief moment when she turns her back completely to you and then rapidly snap your DS closed. If you time it right, you'll reopen it to a daring rescue. If you miss, her last moments are you impotently lunging at her.
Another relationship saved by closing a Nintendo.
Gavin saw a Transformer today. A bicycle changed from a vehicle into a pedestrian, instead of waiting for the red light. He has a Twitter: @GavinJamieson
Video games are the spawns of evil. Anyone who disagrees has never dealt with the characters in The 10 Most Terrifying Video Game Enemies Of All Time and 13 Dick Moves We Never Forgave Video Game Characters For.
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