5 Hilarious Ways Game Designers Mess With Players That Lose
Death in most games produces nothing more than a "Game Over" screen and the immediate opportunity to try again (a feature that would be really nice to see patched into real life). But, a few game developers look down on their less skilled consumers with such disdain that they've devised special methods for making them feel like complete losers -- because why settle for momentary frustration when you can make total strangers feel like they're as big of a failure at enjoying an escapist fantasy as it's assumed they are in real life?
Metal Gear Solid V Makes It Clear You're A Chicken
The Metal Gear Solid franchise is more famous for its lengthy cutscenes that ramble on about politics, war, and philosophy than it is for actually being fun to play. So, naturally, gamers who bought Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in the hopes of experiencing another intriguing storyline were punished for screwing up stealth missions by having a chicken hat shoved over protagonist Solid Snake's grizzled visage.
"I'm still less ridiculous than that guy who could shoot hornets."
Get killed by the same enemy a mere three times in a row, and the impatient game decides that you need help. And yes, this is the same franchise that once made you figure out that you needed to lug an owl around in your pants in order to solve a puzzle. The chicken hat lets you accidentally wander into a guard's vision three times before he actually sees you, so the game's essentially saying, "You're so bad at this stealth game that we've removed the stealth. Enjoy looking like the mascot for a bad family chicken restaurant, champ."
"Kick your dinner plans into Chicken Gear!"
The hat itself seems disappointed by the player's ineptitude, and, apparently, it's turned to smoking pot to cope with its emotions. You have to look right into its eyes throughout every cutscene that's supposed to be serious, but end up completely ruined by the intrusion of a cartoon chicken headpiece. Come on, some people just want to enjoy the story. That's like making moviegoers wear dunce caps if they fail preshow trivia about the prequel.
While we're on the subject of long-running franchises and head accessories ...
Punch-Out!! Gives You A Special Helmet
Who doesn't love Punch-Out!!? It's a '80s classic people still refer to whenever maddeningly difficult games and absurd racial stereotypes are the topic of conversation. 2009's Punch-Out!! reboot continued the tradition of giving double the exclamation points and half the fucks, as the challenging game shows absolutely no sympathy when your scrawny boxer gets his ass beat by a giant, rampaging gorilla.
"I want a good, clean fight, so no shit flinging."
You need to win 27 fights to beat the game, and, if you manage to rack up a whopping 100 losses on your way, the game concludes that you're as bad at fictional boxing as you presumably would be at the real kind. So, you're given an "interesting gift" in the form of a damage-reducing helmet.
Be it a fight or a playground, getting a special helmet just screams "vote of confidence."
Think about the logic of this. The commissioner of the league himself sent you a helmet to protect you. What does that make you in the commissioner's eyes? A goddamn liability he can't get rid of because you funded the league by buying the game. Nothing says you're terrible at games like a fictional official trying to cover his ass by making sure you don't get permanent brain damage and sue. And this is the same guy who lets people fight a literal gorilla, so you have to go pretty far to set off his alarms.
Dragon Spirit: The New Legend Secretly Switches The Difficulty, Pulls A Double Inception
Dragon Spirit is a standard shoot 'em up where you turn into a very spiritual dragon and fight bad guys. But, the easiest difficulty gives you an entirely different story, and the game chooses your difficulty for you based on whether or not you fuck up on the first level.
If you die in the opening stage, the game shunts you to easy mode, complete with a brand-new dragon that's much more powerful than the normal creature. But, the unexplained change in giant reptile is the only indication that something is amiss, so those unfamiliar with the game (i.e. people who would die on the first level) are tricked into playing a game that's half as long as normal and features a ridiculous fake storyline. The regular story is your typical fantasy world in peril:
And it ends pretty much how you would expect:
Yeah, Galda, that's what you get.
But, if you trigger easy mode, the plot switches to this:
"Ha, ha, ha! You won't get any dessert tonight!"
Your hero is now a little boy who wakes up from a nightmare, after which the villain shows up to politely introduce himself and announce that he wants to kidnap your sister. You eventually beat him, of course, and are thus treated to this gem of an ending:
"She's a pussy!"
All that work was for the revelation that the game was a dream within a dream by a younger version of the hero, and the awesome dragon could be taken out by a moderately aggressive house cat. The game basically calls you a silly little kid who isn't mature enough to handle the real challenge. We guarantee you that many players turned the game off after this, never realizing that they were given a fake plot because they never bothered playing the dumb, short, and easy game again. But, Dragon Spirit thinks that's just what they deserve for not immediately proving their strength.
The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Takes Away All That Nasty Violence
The Dishwasher games are your standard ultra-violent beat-em-ups, starring what we think is a barista as he battles his way through a horde of evil cyborgs. One of the biggest selling points is the ridiculous levels of gore, whether it's spewing from the hundreds of enemies you slaughter or from your hero's body as he's defeated in one of many over-the-top ways.
Let's just say there are a lot more decapitations than in your typical Mario game.
Reviews of the first game were positive, but there was some criticism of the game's gore and difficulty. So, the sequel added an achievement called Game Reviewers Shall Be Pleased. Die four times in the same spot, and you unlock a special difficulty called Pretty Princess that drops the challenge to almost nothing and floods the playing field with hearts.
Think more "girly girl," and less "Temple Of Doom."
The gore's still there, but it's buried under so many lovey-dovey effects that it's barely noticeable. Players who can't handle the challenge are also deemed too immature to handle the gallons of blood, so scenes that were designed to look like brutal confrontations between a man with superpowers and an evil machine now come across as touching reunions between old friends.
"I run straight/straight into your arms."
Ninja Gaiden Black Strips You Of Your Title And Mocks Your Masculinity
Ninja Gaiden Black has a level of difficulty that can best be described as "Fuck You." That's part of the appeal -- you're meant to be a ninja master, and, goddammit, you have to prove it. But, if you can't handle it and die three times in a row on normal difficulty, you're given the option to "abandon the way of the ninja." This makes the game much easier, but it also makes the game treat you like cold shit.
See, you have an ally named Ayane. She trusts you to be a badass, and you trust her to inexplicably look like a J-pop star. But, if you abandon the way of the ninja, she expresses more disappointment in you than our parents did when we announced we were quitting medical school to try comedy writing.
Here she is apathetically examining your battered corpse.
First, she says she greatly overestimated you and strips you of your title of Ninja Master. You're a Ninja Dog now. That sounds like a "so bad it's good" '80s movie, but we're just getting started. She explains that you're still her only hope of defeating the villain, but, damn, does she wish you weren't. So, she's going to hold your hand every step of the way and issues you the first of many flowery ribbons that give you combat superpowers at the cost of making you look like a flower girl at a wedding.
You're less aerodynamic now, but you are more fashionable.
The sarcastic easing of the difficulty came in response to complaints that the original game was way too hard, with the developer pretty much straight up calling anyone who needs it pathetic. Regardless, becoming a Ninja Dog is the only way to beat the damn game for some, but, in the process, you're stripping the main character of his pride so hard that he even gets replaced by Ayane on the title screen. It takes a special kind of worthless to no longer be the star of your own game.
Game developers really enjoy it when their fans suffer. Like the makers of Sonic switching up the game rules out of nowhere, or when they make downloadable content that's purely meant to rip everyone off. See what we're talking about in The 6 Biggest Dick Moves In The History Of Video Game Design and 5 Video Game DLC So Bad, They Should Be Considered Scams.
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