Good Games with One (Or More) Mechanic(s) that Drive(s) me Insane

Each and every one of the series on this list are franchises that I respect with utmost certainty, but have one fatal design decision that really irks me to no end. Keep in mind that these games are in no particular order according to my tastes, unlike my last two lists. I'll put more stuff on this list in due time.

List items

  • TROPHY STANDS -

    While I give Sakurai props for taking a bold step into expanding the adventure mode of the Smash Bros saga through the Subspace Emissary, some mechanics could definitely have been done away with. Trophy stands are one of those mechanics.

    Firstly, there's no guarantee you'll even run into a trophy stand when playing through a level. They're a random drop, and while increasing the difficulty makes the odds of coming across one larger, it still might not appear in the segment you want it to. Secondly, when carrying one, all A-button moves are locked out, since that button is what throws the trophy, forcing you to rely on special moves exclusively to deal with nuisances that get in your way. Third, there's no guarantee the damn thing will work, either. While most enemies with short health bars are easily trophy-fied, many others aren't, requiring you to whittle down their health to even get a remote shot at trapping it, and again, unless you didn't pick up the stand firsthand, you'll be using the B-button only to do this. As a final nail in the coffin, unlike other items that can be thrown, trophy stands have significant start-up lag when thrown, not only requiring you to time the throw perfectly, but also leaving you a sitting duck for other enemies to prey upon and strike.

    Thank goodness I'm not a dedicated completionist, because if I was, these items would give me nightmares.

  • DOGS -

    Who let them out? Who knows, but the undeniable truth is that that person is a son of a bitch.

    Dogs in the Call of Duty series are quick, small targets that rush the player and force them to respond to a sudden, super-short quick time event or get their flesh chewed off, killing them instantly. This, combined with the awkward melee button bindings for console players, does not bode well in the slightest. PC players at least get to bind the melee key to whichever button they want, but there is no substitute for fast reflexes. Woof.

  • 2 MECHANICS: CHANCE TIME & HIDDEN BLOCKS -

    It's not like Mario Party wasn't the most luck-oriented franchise on the market already, but these two events stretch the fabric of the games' random distribution to horrifying levels. Chance Time is dedicated to one space only, but when someone lands on it, the events that follow can be absolutely disastrous to any player. The person who landed on the space is forced, against his or her will, to hit two blocks that represent the other players and one block which determines what the players exchange. It wouldn't be so bad if it were just coins that you gave away, but both coins AND stars are vulnerable for exchange during Chance Time. So, basically, whenever somebody lands on this space, somebody's wallet is going to get a massive hole punched into it, and there isn't a single thing they can do about it but pray to God that their face doesn't show up on that block. And odds are pretty high, considering there's two blocks and only four characters. That's a 1/2 chance of getting involved somehow, and in a game like this, those odds are not pretty.

    The hidden block isn't quite as egregious as Chance Time, but can still be overbearingly frustrating. To put it in simple terms, the hidden block appears sometimes whenever you land on a non-green space, and it contains either a sizable amount of coins (usually 20) or a Star. The thing is, there's NO way to ensure that you will land on a hidden block space, because it happens completely out of nowhere. So yeah, that kid that's trailing behind on all the minigames and can't seem to get past the bridge on Pirate Land in Mario Party 2? He could very well end up with a Star on his next roll, and there's nothing you can do about it. At all.

    I know Mario Party is technically a board game where anything can happen, but these two features just rub salt in the wound. Let's hope you didn't actually put any money down on your next game!

  • ESCORT -

    Who even likes escort missions? Was this fad ever met with positive reception during playtesting? What kind of hallucinogens were those poeple on?

    I'm not exactly certain myself, but for those of you people who decide to take on this mission, good luck getting anywhere past level 3 without cheats. In this minigame, you must drive around a hooker and her clients while they have sex in the back of the car. Sounds fun, right? Well, apparently, since it's a great scoop for the news to report mobile prostitution, EVERY NEWS VAN ON THE STREET SUDDENLY WANTS TO RAM YOUR ASS OFF THE ROAD. The damage they do isn't the problem, though; you have 2 meters at the top of the screen, a "Pleasure" meter (indicates how... stimulated... your client is, and you win if the bar is completely filled) and a "Footage" meter, which increases whenever a news van drives around your car, causing your Pleasure meter to stop rising. If this meter fills up, the mission is unsuccessful, and there's NO way to drain it. If that wasn't enough, the clients might also ask you to perform certain stunts, like "Stay in the air for 1 second," which also keeps your Pleasure bar from filling up until you fulfill their demands. News vans randomly spawn out of thin air every 5 seconds, and if that wasn't enough, the first game had you do this IN A PAINFULLY-SLOW LIMO. So yeah, not fun.

  • 2 MECHANICS: SURVIVOR AI & OTIS -

    It's no wonder this mall got overrun as quickly as it did - the human NPCs in this game make decisions that living chimpanzees would shake their heads at. Survivors follow Frank in a straight line when you recruit them, completely oblivious to the surrounding hordes of undead approaching them. If you're a completionist, especially if you're going for the Saint achievement, the ditzy AI pathfinding will drive you insane. Giving them weapons to defend themselves certainly doesn't help - in fact, most of the time they'll end up attacking or shooting YOU while gunning for a zombie that you're currently disposing.

    Then there's Otis. He doesn't have a single voiced line of dialogue in any of the cutscenes, and yet he is the least liked character out of the entire series. The reason for this is that he constantly buzzes in on Frank's transceiver to not only warn him about painstakingly obvious plot objectives, but to clue him in on the locations of ENTIRELY OPTIONAL sidequests such as survivor and psychopath locations. Did I mention you're unable to use your weapons or jump while Otis calls you? Further still, simply hanging up on him or being attacked at any point causes Otis to call you back, scold you for dropping the call while he's talking, and RESUMES TALKING SOME MORE, forcing you to stand in a safe area and wait until he stops babbling about something that could literally be going on RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.

    Fortunately, both mechanics were cleaned up with the sequel, where the pathfinding for survivors was dramatically improved and transceiver calls no longer interrupted your zombie massacring. Unfortunately, it also was host to its own major problem, also detailed on this list.

  • FLUZZARD -

    (Note: If you're wondering what happened to Princess Peach, I moved her to my "Obnoxious Characters" list.) I'm glad Mario games are still attempting to find new, invigorating gameplay mechanics to freshen up the series, but when they fail, they fail HARD, and that couldn't be any more apparent than the aviating atrocity known as Fluzzard. The levels that contain Fluzzard are centered around grabbing on to him and gliding to the end of a series of obstacles that you must avoid by holding the Wii Remote like a paper airplane and tilting in the direction that you want to go. The sensitivity on the Wii Remote, however, is VERY sharp, so one false move can easily end up sending you head first into a wall. By the way, walls that you hit head on are a one-hit kill. The first level isn't terribly annoying, but then you reach the second later in the game, which involves gliding your way through AN ENTIRE SPACE CARRIER. As predicted, there is lava, falling machinery, and super-tight turns to be found everywhere. Oh, and one more thing... Good luck when it comes to getting the Comet Coins for these levels, as they require you to fly through a set of rings with impeccable accuracy, and missing just one of them locks you out of getting the coin at the end. And I think one of these levels involves a Purple Coin Comet Challenge. Yeah, again, good luck with that.

  • NO MORE MOVES -

    Every game of Bejeweled eventually ends. That's understandable. What isn't understandable is why it's so random.

    Classic mode has you keep matching jewels until the board gives you no more matches, at which point the game is over. Here's my question: where's the strategy in this? What fun is it to play a game where there is literally no way to counter when it ends? I guess you could argue that matching and saving up certain Power Gems can help you avoid these situations, but even still, you'd have to get lucky enough to match those together in the first place, and they don't last forever, either.

    The Timed variant should have been the definitive Classic mode of Bejeweled. A mode where you're always timed, but you can always make a match, and making certain matches adds time to the timer. This is a mode in the game, but it isn't considered the 'Classic' mode, and it should be because it's the only one where skill is the most important factor as to when you lose.

  • MINIGAMES -

    Throughout the game, you are often tasked with gameplay-changing mechanics in the form of minigames. Some of them involve driving on a racetrack to win a Treasure Key to running around whacking chickens for no good reason. All of them suck.

    The first one, where you man a miniature submarine with rapid-fire guns attached to the front, allows you to fire on all sides while moving in any direction you want, but the amount of crabs that come in to nab your precious treasure is rather large, and if just one of them manages to make off with the loot, you lose the level and have to start over.

    The racing minigames could've been done well, but they are exclusively controlled with the analog stick, and the van moves adequately fast but the other cars zoom around the track like it's nothing, which means you cannot afford to miss a boost.

    The chicken-whacking minigame is hectic because, again, there is a large number of chickens you need to hit, and sometimes evil roosters with bombs will come out and attempt to kamikaze their way into you.

    Lastly, the missions where you ride around on a hovering turret could have been fun if it wasn't for the fact that most of those levels are spent blasting away at walls for ten minutes.

    The core game is rather ingenious, and enjoyable at that, but they probably should have just stuck with those instead of force-feeding us irritating gameplay switch-ups. There's even a boss at one point who employs this technique, and surprise surprise, she's the hardest boss in the game. Go figure.

  • VOICE ACTING -

    "MY NAME IS BOWLO SANTOZEEEEE

    I AM THE LEEDA OF THE REVOLOOSHUNARY ARMEE KNOWN AS THE REEPURRRS"

    Don't forget she pronounces the word Comrade as 'Com-Raid.' And she's not the only one - just wait until you hear what this game thinks Russians sound like. Eeurgh.

  • 2 MECHANICS: TOM NOOK TUTORIAL AND FORGED PAINTINGS -

    Animal Crossing, being a game that has you make your own fun, doesn't really have an end goal, but the closest thing that comes to it is acquiring enough bells to pay off the mortgage on your house, courtesy of Tom Nook, the game's resident business proprietor. He builds houses ahead of time, conveniently enough before the player moves into town, and as you are forced into choosing a place to live, you accrue a loan that must be paid off, and for the beginning of the game, it's a pretty substantial loan.

    Fortunately, there is a way to shave some bells off of your loan from the get-go. Unfortunately, it requires essentially being Tom Nook's bitch for half and hour, and in the first three games, it couldn't be skipped. Yes, mandatory tutorials are quite frustrating in a lot of games, but hardly any of them take as much time as the average Animal Crossing tutorial, which involves, among other things, planting flowers, delivering carpets to your neighbors, figuring out how to use certain tools, meeting everyone in town, and other assorted tedious errands. To twist the knot even further, Tom Nook only takes off a small portion of the loan upon completion of the tutorial. What a ripoff!

    Once you get settled into the game for a while, another speed bump starts to rear its ugly head. One optional sidequest has you collecting bugs, fish, fossils, and artwork for the local museum. Three of these things can be found in the wild - one of them obviously isn't. Yes, there is only one way to obtain paintings in this game... by purchasing them off of what is essentially the damn Black Market. And, true to the real thing, purchasing a painting from Crazy Redd's underground emporium runs the risk of it being fraudulent, which the museum strictly forbids and won't accept and of course, there is no way to tell whether or not you've bought a fake until you show it to Blathers. Worse still, getting rid of the forgery actually COSTS YOU MONEY unless you have a trash can lying around in your home.

    New Leaf alleviated the problems of this EVER SO SLIGHTLY with its unique Crazy Redd art gallery, but only for the savviest of art geeks. This time, there are four pieces to chose from, and all but one of them is a fake. Sounds hair-tearing, but for those of you who know your shit, you can actually spot visual imperfections within the forgeries this time, allowing you to differentiate between the real thing and the worthless dud replica. Of course, if you hardly know a thing about art, you can just use a guide instead this time and save yourself the frustration. It's a welcome addition, but it's far too little too late to make up for the other games' sins in this regard.

  • HACKING -

    Remember Pipe Dream? I remember Pipe Dream. Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do to hack into shit was play Pipe Dream?

    Well, surprisingly, no, it's not. Pipe Dream can get surprisingly boring, believe it or not, and in BioShock, Pipe Dream takes up a significant portion of the game unless you choose to handicap yourself and not hack anything. This version of Pipe Dream has you reveal each tile on the board, and two revealed tiles can (in most instances) be swapped out for each other. Only the really difficult hacking minigames are really of any challenge - the remainder of them are just droll and suck out the suspense and excitement of the game's combat sections.

    Well, I will give them credit, at least I know why the original concept was CALLED Pipe Dream, since this version definitely makes me want to fall asleep.

  • THE GNASHER SHOTGUN -

    For the longest time, this was the only gun that anyone ever used in Gears of War's online multiplayer. In single-player, it was shit, as most enemies weren't in instant-gib radius and a lot of them could chainsaw you or easily down you with sustained gunfire.

    Multiplayer, however, is a whole different ballpark. The fast-paced, close-quarters nature of competitive Gears of War gameplay and the perplexing headshot range for a gun that was meant to be used as a last resort weapon in regards to the long-range automatic Lancer chainsaw gun boosted it up to broken tier almost instantly. With each successive installment, they tried to tone it down with buffs to other weapons and nerfs to its range, but even today, the Gnasher is regarded as one of the best guns to use against other players online, and it certainly shows.

    Gears of War 3 tried to balance it out by introducing the Sawed-Off Shotgun, an alternative that gibbed anything standing directly in front of you without using ADS. However, its range was absolutely pitiful, and to top it off, there was only one bullet in each clip, compared to the 8-round magazine of the Gnasher, and it reloaded a hell of a lot longer.

    I guess the Gnasher must've been named after the way many Gears players gnash their teeth when they get killed by one. That's the most rational reason I can come up with for it, anyway.

  • THE FRIENDSHIP SYSTEM -

    Go ahead, Roman. Call me up and ask me to play Darts one more fucking time. You won't like where those darts end up.

  • 3 MECHANICS: THE BLUE SHELL, THE LIGHTNING BOLT, AND THE RUBBER BAND AI -

    I know, I can't believe it either. I'm listing THREE FRIGGIN' MECHANICS for one game series, but each of these completely speak for themselves.

    I'm sure you've already heard of the infamous Blue Shell, but I'll elaborate more on it anyways. When fired, it homes in on the lead player, can't be destroyed once it's deployed unlike other items, and EXPLODES ON HIM/HER, severely slowing them down. Do I need to say more than that? The game actively punishes you for being good, it's like Mario Party on friggin' wheels. Besides, how does this benefit the player in, say, 6th place at all? If anything, they'd want an item that would get THEM out of 6th place, not one that helplessly drags the leader back to 3rd.

    The Lightning Bolt isn't quite as frustrating, but it could be considered just as annoying. Upon activation, everyone in the entire damn race besides the user is shrunken, which not only slows them down but also allows them to be flattened by racers that regain their correct proportions, which slows you down even more. This rarely happens if you're in first place, which, by that time, you're already miles away from the computers, but it still sucks to get hit, ESPECIALLY in Mario Kart 7 and 8 where you lose 3 coins whenever you fall victim to the Lightning Bolt, and a lot of times it happens at the home stretch, where there are barely any coins to find (or worse, right before the finish line on your last lap).

    Speaking of the computers, they suck just as much as the aforementioned items. No matter where you're racing, what place you're in, or what game you're playing, the AI finds some way to tailgate you or cheat in some other shape or form. The first game just has them throw computer-exclusive items at you that they NEVER RUN OUT OF, which spins you out if you touch any of them. 64 just gives them mach speed, letting them catch up to you even if they get hit by a blue shell and thrown off the track 2 times in a row. And I swear, from every game on after 64, it's mandatory for you to get blown up by at least one Blue Shell or shocked by a Lightning Bolt once per race.

    In short, Mario Kart is ostensibly one-sided, and you're going to get the crap kicked out of you if you play it. A lot.

  • 2 MECHANICS: NAVI AND KAEPORA GAEBORA -

    Yeah, yeah, moan all you want about how everyone complains about Navi and the giant owl, because that's not going to stop me from telling you how much they suck.

    Navi is an annoyance. Her audio quips 'HEY' and 'LISTEN' have been spoofed more times than one could count. But the one thing that makes me like Navi the least is the fact that she's Captain Obvious. Something in a cutscene could point out that there is some immediate huge danger happening at Death Mountain and Navi would chime in immediately afterwards and say "GEE, I WONDER WHAT ALL THAT RUCKUS IS AT DEATH MOUNTAIN?"

    Kaepora Gaebora is even more annoying. Every time you run into him, he has a Bible's worth of text information to dump on you, and at the end of each ramble, he asks if you want to hear it again. The game makes you pay attention to which option you choose, because the two options that choose whether or not he should repeat what he said are switched around EVERY TIME you run into him again. There's no point. There's literally no point in Nintendo doing that besides to be a massive troll.

    Would you like me to repeat all of that? Of course you don't. Go read the next entry or something.

  • FI (as a game mechanic) -

    Skipping ahead to the future, Fi is the spirit that possesses the titular sword, and swears her allegiance to you when you first find and remove the sword from its pedestal. Oddly enough, she acts as the polar opposite to Navi from Ocarina of Time. And she's just as bad. Why, you ask? She's a literal freakin' GPS, that's why! Anyone who purchased a Strategy Guide for Skyward Sword was legitimately ripped off, because Fi, and I'm not kidding when I say this, tells you EVERYTHING that you need to do in order to progress in the story line. If a door opens in the game world, she'll notice it and tell you that it's your next waypoint. If there's a plot coupon that needs collecting, she'll remember everything about said item's physical properties and let you search for it with the game's Dowsing feature. Trapped helplessly against a band of thugs? Fi will tell you how to rip right through their defenses with your sword. Seriously, including Fi into the game is like having a generic Star Trek extra sit beside you while you play and tell you where to go and what to do. It removes any kind of difficulty that the game's puzzles and enemies try to enforce on you, making more than half of the clues in-game seem pointless and your opponents a complete joke. I don't like being annoyed and frustrated like above, but how about letting me figure out how to progress for myself for once, Nintendo?

  • SAILING -

    The Legend of Zelda games are on quite a spree on this list, huh? In any case, LoZ Wind Waker was my first ever Zelda game (yeah, yeah, I'm not a real Zelda fan, bite me), and, to be honest, I was rather drawn in by the game's interesting art-style and adventurous gameplay. Then, about maybe a couple of hours into the game, I was introduced to the King of Red Lions, a talking ship that beckoned me to acquire a sail so I could travel the seas toward Dragon Roost Isle. And, once I did, it was just, so, boring. All you do is conduct the wind to travel in the direction you want to sail, press X/Y/Z, and wait for about 10-15 minutes until you reach the next island. Forget the owl, forget Navi, THIS is completely unnecessary. There's nothing to do at sea besides maybe look at how cool the camera feels, or whatever. Sure, occasionally, you'll find some enemies or some treasure to dig up, but that makes the game even slower, forcing you to bring out your equipment, slow to a complete stop, and kill everything onscreen/slowly move around and attempt to dig for treasure. Worse still, some of this is required to beat the game, like the stupid Triforce Shards quest, which requires you to obtain sea charts with the Triforce Shard's location, bring them to Tingle so he can charge you an absurd amount of rupees to decipher it, then sail ALL THE WAY over there to obtain the shard. There's at least eight of these things, by the way. There are lots of entries in the Legend of Zelda series that require you to travel from place to place, wasting valuable time, but sailing easily takes the cake as the most boring method of transportation.

  • 2 MECHANICS: SO MANY COLLECTIBLES & DONKEY KONG ARCADE -

    The fact that DK64 went on collectible overload is often the biggest complaint about the game. It's entirely warranted. There's way too much backtracking and way too much tedium involved with going back and collecting each Kong's blueprints, colored bananas, and Golden Bananas. If you had removed a good chunk of the backtracking in this game, it would shave at least 2 hours off of your playthrough. The one saving grace is that to get 100 percent, you don't have to collect every single collectible for each Kong, but figuring which ones you do and don't have to is part of the frustration of playing DK64.

    There's also a watered-down version of the classic Donkey Kong arcade game hidden in one of the game's levels. It controls like vomit. You walk at a snail's pace, barrels get flung at you constantly, and you die in one it. Sounds like the original so far, except this one ONLY GIVES YOU ONE LIFE to beat THE WHOLE GAME each time you activate the minigame, which takes a good 2 minutes to do for each attempt. Even worse, you have to beat it twice to complete the game, and the second playthrough is much harder, with more barrels and less power-ups to use.

  • NOTES -

    Speaking of terribly-designed collectibles, the notes in Banjo-Kazooie come in a close second for "Least Likable Collectible in a Video Game." Whenever you enter a world, one hundred notes are scattered around the landscape, and, to progress through the note doors inside Grunty's Lair (which, obviously, require notes to pass through), you need to collect a specific total of notes for all of the levels. But whoa, there, fella, you can't just waltz into the level, collect some notes, leave, and come back to clean up house later because, instead of saving how many notes were collected, the game saves the total amount of notes you had at the time when you left the level or lost a life. And then, in the most cruel, foul twist that anyone could ever pull in a game, if you leave the level or die, ALL 100 NOTES RESET, and you're forced to track down ALL OF THOSE NOTES that you already collected, plus search for the new ones, if you wish to continue with the game. Again, dick move, Rare! Imagine, playing Rusty Bucket Bay for over an hour (which is already a very unforgiving level in itself), managing to collect 98 notes, then dying in the engine room because you fell off into the abyss below. Welp, too bad! You just lost about 80 minutes worth of progress, buddy! Have fun collecting all 98 of those notes again! This isn't a huge ordeal if you're not a completionist, and the final boss doesn't even require every single note in the game, but even if you aren't a completionist, the boss battle sucks major ass to beat, and there's a health upgrade waiting for you behind one of the note doors in the final room which doubles it up, GREATLY intensifying your chance of survival against Grunty (provided you also collect an extra 4 Jiggies, which you most likely have 90 something of by this point in time), and if you haven't been avidly searching for notes, too bad again, Speedrun Steve! Hope you can get used to seeing the Game Over cutscene! (Thankfully, they fixed this in the XBLA rerelease, but by that time the damage had already been done)

  • HAVING TO RELY ON BULLET TIME 24/7 -

    I get it, dodging bullets in slow-motion Matrix-style is pretty cool, but the developers of Max Payne did not have to make the enemy AI perfect shots in normal motion to illustrate that point. It gets a bit old. The lack of cover mechanics in the first two titles really didn't help the case, either.

  • THE COMBAT SYSTEM -

    Little King's Story is an odd game in context, essentially being MySims Kingdom mixed with Pikmin in a blender of fantastic sweetness. You command an army of civilians and lead them through the land of Alpoko, conquering all that oppose you and reaping your foes of their territories until you become the absolute monarch of the planet. Commanding them to actually attack your foes, however, is like trying to stick your hand in a claw machine and grab a stuffed elephant.

    You can command your squadron into three different formations: in a straight line, following the King's movements, and a defense circle. When you enter combat, your opponent often spots you first and charges up his attack, which is telegraphed by a steam bubble diffusing from its head. After the monster attacks, you send your troops in to get a few hits on the enemy. It soon starts releasing steam again, which is your cue to call back your soldiers. Once they're done again, you rinse, lather, and repeat until said foe is vanquished.

    My main problem with this style of combat is that it's sluggish and boring. In Pikmin, attacking like this would often get you slaughtered unless you were leading a group of 100 Pikmin at a time, and you were often encouraged to throw the Pikmin onto enemies so they wouldn't get eaten or destroyed. Here, the only option is the aforementioned strategy of getting some hits in and retreating before you get hit yourself. Some bosses and large enemies, such as the Bone Dragon in the Skull Plains, have ridiculously fast attacks which can hardly be telegraphed half of the time, making these enemies nearly impossible to fight, especially in a large group.

    Little King's Story was a bold, boisterous adventure with some clever surprises, but it feels way more like a civilization simulator than an RTS game, as the fights heavily suggest.

  • SUPER GUIDE -

    While it isn't as common to see in the industry today, there was a point in time where Nintendo decided that only toddlers were playing their main series games. That's really the only explanation I have for Super Guide's existence. It truly is a poop stain on Nintendo's recent track record, and it really says something about how the company used to perceive us in that era.

    Here's how Super Guide works: the game beats itself for you. Not even joking; if you die enough times on any of the game's stages, you get the option to call in Luigi to show you pretty much how to avoid all the obstacles and beat the level. It doesn't show you how to collect all the special coins in the level, but it pretty much eliminates all the potential effort that new players of the genre could have expunged and it sends a terrible message to our society. Life does not beat itself for you, Nintendo, so why should you hold our hands and buy us ice cream when we haven't deserved it? What's the purpose of playing games anyways if the developers perceive us as absolute morons who can't operate a doorknob?

    This trend is, thankfully, dead now, ever since it sputtered out at Donkey Kong Country Returns due to the heavy negative reception received by it being present in that game. In its defense, that game was much more difficult, but that's no excuse for hand-holding and making us feel dumb.

  • THE TEMPLE OF THE OCEAN KING -

    The Zelda series once again makes it triumphant return on this list with an incredibly monotonous level that made me quit the game outright. I try to avoid putting levels on this list, because those are usually a one-time deal where you trudge through it and move on. That is not the case with the Temple of the Ocean King. In this area, you are forced to sneak around hulking, plate-mailed phantoms with giant swords and solve multiple puzzles. Oh, and one more thing: you're timed throughout all of this. Oh, and another thing: you have to visit this level a plethora of times throughout your quest. Oh and ONE MORE thing: you cannot progress from where you left off the last time you left the temple. This means that once you do whatever has to be done in the temple (or die trying), THE ENTIRE THING has to be done from square one, with only slightly marginal increases in your time limit with each trip back to the temple. It's the second most repetitive activity in a Zelda game, only barely being beaten out by sailing in Wind Waker because of the awesome sword that you obtain late in the game that kills the stupid phantoms for good (if you're asking how I know this because I've never beaten the game, well, I read about it online).

  • COUNTERING -

    The Assassin's Creed games, developed by Ubisoft, are well known for having a multicultural team of developers, a deep storyline connected to protagonist Desmond Miles's ancient ancestors, and fluent parkour and assassination mechanics as the name would imply. What became of the combat, though? I'll tell you what became of the combat: countering. In all of the games, you can counter the first enemy that attempts to cut through you. Doing so kills them instantly. However, this unknowingly starts a "chain-killing" feature, allowing Altair/Ezio/Connor to kill another nearby foe by pointing the control stick at him and pressing the X button. There is no automatic end to the chain-kill combo, so as long as there are enemies still standing you can point at them and execute them in one fell swoop just by mashing the X button repeatedly. Really, most of the games' combat situations can be dully described as "Press Y/Triangle, then X/Square to win." The other aspects of the games are done masterfully, such as the free running and the stealth features, but the combat once again proves to be faulty in an otherwise astonishing game.

  • COOPERATIVE GAMEPLAY -

    It's no secret that Battletoads is no stranger to kicking your teeth in when it comes to difficulty, so you'd expect the ordeal to be somewhat less chaotic with a buddy at your side.

    You would be wrong. Oh goodness, you would ever be so wrong.

    This game's cooperative mode lets you pair up with a friend to face the madness... well, I say 'cooperative' with air quotes, because it's almost anything but. Your attacks can and will hit your ally due to the large hitboxes, so you'll often find yourself doing more harm than good during the early game's more intense brawls, especially during the second level where you find yourself descending from ropes and can be knocked off very easily by the ridiculous wrecking ball attack. Worse still, if one player loses all their lives and gets a Game Over, the level will reset... but the other player's lives WON'T. Unless you feel like mercy-killing your partner to get a fair chance at beating the level on an even pace again, this will likely lead to multiple resets on the first couple of levels.

    Not like it's really worth it to trudge further on past that point anyway, because even if you do nearly make it to the endgame, there's a bug in most versions of the game that prevents you from completing level 11 in co-op mode. Brilliant. Should've seen the warning signs miles back.

    So yeah, if you feel like punishing yourself today, grab someone you know and start playing Battletoads with them. You'll hate yourselves guaranteed, or your money back! (disclaimer: please don't actually ask me for money)

  • POTION SICKNESS -

    Early on in Terraria's life, bosses weren't as hard to defeat because you could simply cheese your way through them and potion-spam, which healed you for a certain amount of HP. To counter this cheesing, the developers added a system where you could only use a potion every minute. This made the game phenomenally harder, and the regenerating health wasn't effective enough to counter it. I can understand this practice for higher-level healing items that can almost heal you to full health, but no matter what healing item you use, it's always the same 1-minute cooldown before you can use another. Even if you accidentally consume a Mushroom instead of the Greater Healing Potion in your inventory. If you ask me, the cooldown should have at least varied between the different tiers of healing items, but nope, I guess healing in general is akin to how you can contract poison ivy. No matter how small or big it is, it always ends up giving you the same amount of grief.

  • BEAR/COW LEVELS -

    *rolls up spotted black-and-white pylon*

    "IT'S A COOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!"

    Apparently, inanimate objects that possess the textural properties of a cow's body are indeed cows themselves. Flawless logic.

  • THE OPENING "RAP" -

    There are a lot of hard sections to complete within Trials Evolution. Only half of them are as hard as turning on the game, because once you do, you get to listen to a terrible rap song sung by a white guy. Just what all Trials fans wanted!

  • SQUAWKS -

    Having been a middle-90's kid myself, I pretty much missed out on the Super Nintendo boom entirely. I played a couple of old-school titles every now and then, but not to a large extent, and I barely remembered how any of them went. Recently, I gave it some thought and decided that it was time for me to travel back to those days by playing through some Super Nintendo classics. So far, I've touched upon several, but my absolute favorite of the bunch has to be this little gem. Donkey Kong Country 1 had so many memorable moments and superb music tracks, but Donkey Kong Country 2 surpasses it bar none with its euphoric soundtrack, unique styles of gameplay and smoother set-up. That all being said, it has its rough moments as well, and the segments that stick out the most in my mind happen to be the dreaded Squawks missions. In Donkey Kong Country 1, Squawks only appeared in about one or two missions in total and acted as a light source so you could see traps and other baddies heading your way. This time around, he's actually playable. Exciting, right?

    Pfff, you have no idea. Squawk's levels play a lot like a space shooter, except he doesn't stay motionless in the air, requiring you to tap the jump button to flap his wings so he can stay aloft. There are a couple of problems with this control scheme:

    1. Squawk's traction is very floaty and it's hard to get him to stop on a dime without jerking yourself into some other hazard

    2. Sometimes you'll have to hang from his talons as Diddy or Dixie, which effectively doubles the size of your hitbox, making you much easier to hit

    3. HIS LEVELS ARE COMPLETELY FILLED WITH SPIKED WALLS AND BATTALIONS OF INSECTS AND OTHER ASSORTED DEATH HERALDS

    You heard all that right; it's not enough that Squawks is rather unwieldy to maneuver, but you have to utilize this unwieldy mechanic to get through several spiked mazes and areas flooded with K. Rool's minions, sometimes without even being able to touch the goddamn walls! It's very easy to see why Squawk's levels are the most revered in the series (don't even get me started on Animal Antics), and worst of all, he RETURNS in DKC3! I feel sorry for all of you early 90's kids who had to deal with this mess, because I can barely do it as an adult.

  • CARING FOR BABIES -

    Parents in Tomodachi Life are terrible at being parents. When their baby goes berserk, they can't even find the courage to figure out the problem themselves, so they turn to the resident omniscient god of the island (you) to do it for them. Very nice message, Nintendo: just have other random people take care of your own children! What could go wrong?

    The worst sound effect in Tomodachi Life is the piercing wail of an aggravated baby. How do you stop it? Apparently, the game's answer is just 'keep poking at it till something good happens.' Sometimes, you can easily find a good way to make the baby cheer up, but on occasion, no matter what you do, you won't be able to make it calm down. The parents give you a reward anyway in these cases, but is it really worth dealing with banshee screams for a good solid 5 minutes?

    Then there's an alternate mode where you have to use the 3DS's finicky gyroscopic controls to rock the baby to sleep, and this is one of the most difficult things to do in the game. First, obviously, you cannot shake the baby too hard. Second, not so obviously, you have to rock the baby in a specific rhythm that you aren't told about, and again, there can be some situations where nothing you do works, which feels like a humongous waste of your time.

    Remember, if someone you don't know tries to hand off their child to you in an attempt to make it feel better, please contact your local authorities. Don't follow Nintendo's example. Just don't.

  • HOVERCRAFT VEHICLES -

    Upon further retrospect, I decided to remove my initial complaint about the vehicles in Jak 3, as I recently revisited both Jak 1 and 2, and somehow the vehicle mechanics in those games are 10 TIMES WORSE.

    Jak 1 introduced the Zoomer, a hover-bike with absolutely dreadful cornering and klutzy traction, and when I say 'dreadful cornering,' I mean it - it takes eons to steer the damn thing and drifting is all but impossible on it. Mainly used for travelling between the hub worlds, the Zoomer was given its own unique level - the Precursor Basin - and, suffice to say, it's one of the more frustrating levels to navigate or even do anything in because there are so many tight passageways and cliffs that require sharp turns. D'oh.

    Then Jak 2 reintroduced the Zoomers and MASS PRODUCED THE GODDAMN THING. That's right, almost EVERY NPC in Haven City can be seen flying one of these junkers, and to make matters worse, there are even larger variations of the Zoomer that take up even more space. To compensate for the game's larger scale, the Zoomers can now ascend or descend from two different heights - ground level and traffic level. Both are congested with other Zoomers, pedestrians, and, worse still, Krimzon Guard soldiers that viciously assault you if you so much as nip the tail end of their armor with your vehicle. That's not to mention their extreme fragility, where one wrong turn straight into a wall or enough fire from enemy rifles can easily send you to your fiery explosion-fueled death. Jak 3 continues the trend, but at least offers more variety with the dune buggy-esque vehicles, which handle so much better, come in more varieties, and take up more of the driving than the previous two titles.

    Traffic may be obnoxious in the real world, but think of it this way; at least you're not strapped to one of these high-tech death traps.

  • KATEY AND ZOMBREX -

    Say what you want about how strict the original Dead Rising was with its timed storyline, but at least you didn't have to worry about getting an antidote for your daughter every 4 hours lest you get the worst ending. It's not that Zombrex is too hard to come by, it's just an annoyance, especially considering that Chuck's daughter is otherwise completely exempt from the plot of the game. This game could have definitely happened without the main character having an infected daughter, but that wasn't the case, the only reason being that Capcom wanted to annoy us again. Thanks, shitlords.

  • SMASH TOUR

    I shouldn't really be speaking for an entire demographic, but... who asked for someone to put Mario Party into Smash Bros? What's the rationale behind that demand? What other excuses are there as to why this pitiful mode is present in the Wii U version of the game? The questions are many and the answers are few, but no matter the thought process behind it, we have a very disjointed and unlikable game mode on our hands.

    Smash Tour has so many things wrong with it, all starting with the progression of the game mode. To 'win' in Smash Tour, you have to traverse a small game board and battle against your friends (or CPUs if you're friendless like I am) for characters you can use in a final battle royale. Along the way, you also pick up stat boosts and trophies that give you a slight edge on the board, in a fight, or both. The big problem with Smash Tour is there is no rhyme or reason as to what happens next; NPCs and bosses can show up on the board at random, fights occur between all players on the board if only 2 manage to collide with one another, and the addition of trophies means that straight-up dumb luck is the heaviest factor into whether or not you'll win as opposed to actual skill. To make matters worse, most of the premeditated battles during the board game phase are special matches that either spawn in a boatload of a certain class of item or changes everyone's proportions or launch rates, piling on even more to the luck factor of the game mode. To top it all off, instead of a varied final round like in Smash Run on the 3DS, the final battle is always, ALWAYS a bare-bones timed stock match on Battlefield with all the characters you've amassed. Talk about a terrible climax.

    This in itself wouldn't be a humongous issue - it's a bad game mode, so nobody plays it, right? Well, except if you want to beat all of the challenges in the game, of course. Yes, 100% completion of the challenge board in Smash Bros for the Wii U requires you to play multiple rounds of Smash Tour and completing certain specific objectives that MAY OR MAY NOT HAPPEN within a single playthrough. It's bad enough trying to do this with friends to help you out, but for the unfortunate souls who don't have many friends or extra controllers (ahem), it gets a thousand times worse, because the CPU difficulty cannot be adjusted and is just as relentless as they are in other game modes.

    I don't want to be a fun hater, i really don't, but I think even the people who play Smash Bros strictly for amusement will find none within Smash Tour. It's a pathetic waste of a game mode that should have been omitted from the development cycle entirely.

  • SHRINKING SECTIONS

    Some areas of Duke Nukem 3D require you to shrink down to about the size of a rat to navigate small holes and passageways. Problem is, with your newly-adjusted proportions, you're more fragile than the game's most basic mooks. You die on contact with many environmental hazards and enemies when shrunk, and worse still, the effects fade away very fast, regardless of whether or not you managed to crawl out of that tiny mouse hole in time. The sickening crunching noises when you die only continue to add to the disparity of being small.

    Duke may be a bonafide ass-kicker, but when he gets put down to size, he'll be lucky if he can survive the dust bunnies. Remember kids, size always matters.

  • WOLVES

    With all the changes made to the game's AI and all the features that have been added over the past few years, you'd think that the developers would be so kind as to patch up the AI for one of your only possible companions in the unforgiving wilderness... but nope, wolves are just as dense as they ever were.

    While they are a bit selective as to what and when they fight, they don't have much in the way of a strategy besides leaping at the enemy repeatedly, even if it means jumping to their almost certain doom. Tamed wolves stumble around everywhere and follow you close behind... sometimes too closely, resulting in you embedding your pickaxe into the back of their skulls. You can order them to sit down, but you have to remember to stand them back up afterwards lest you accidentally leave them behind. Wolves are fed either with wild animal meat - which you almost certainly need to save for yourself - or zombie flesh, which surprisingly does not hinder their ability to not keel over dead from dysentery or salmonella. Finally, as an added twist of fate, wolves have a very hard time avoiding lava for some reason and will almost certainly thrust themselves into an exposed lava flow underground and kill themselves should you decide to take them spelunking for ores and other treasures.

    And people always wonder why I never take in strays...

  • RANKED OUT

    Being the first official kart-based Mario game, there were a lot of elements either borrowed or heavily inspired by the source material. Items took the form of the various power-ups and traps in the Mario universe, Lakitu signals the start of the race and the courses were heavily reminiscent of locales from Mario World.

    However, there was one mechanic that perhaps should have just been left out entirely - the lives system. Yes, the Grand Prix mode has a lives system, and the only way to 'lose' lives is to place below 5th in a race. In such an instance, you cannot continue with the rest of the cup unless you have these lives in reserve, even if you managed to place first on every other race and would have been guaranteed victory anyway. Worse still, you're only given about 3 lives total, after which you fail the cup and have to start all over. This all wouldn't seem too bad, but 150cc boosts the AI's abilities beyond comprehension, making them dodge your items and throw more hazards your way.

    This trend also followed in the immediate sequel, Mario Kart 64, but thankfully, Nintendo wised up afterwards and removed it entirely from the series. It just goes to show how mechanics that might thrive in one genre fail miserably within another.

  • THE ELEGY OF EMPTINESS

    In most instances, the time mechanic is a nuisance at best, and this is why the Elegy of Emptiness is the worst Ocarina song in the game - it takes AGES to do anything with it. The song creatures a statuesque clone of your current form in the spot that you're standing in, which is useful for activating switches. In return, the song and the transformation sequence take eons to get through each time, and the one area that they're used in the most, Stone Tower Temple has several instances of playing the song at once JUST TO GET TO THE TEMPLE. To make matters worse, summoned statues disappear upon exiting a room or an area, which makes backtracking and going through the Temple multiple times a frustrating mess.

    The Emptiness part probably stems from the feeling I get when I have to play the song over and over again to do anything. That's my only explanation for that.

  • SUMMONING FRIENDS AS PHANTOMS

    It goes without saying that Dark Souls is quite the exercise in futility, and getting anywhere essentially either requires you to outright master the game's stringent combat mechanics or call up a buddy to help you double-team that boss you've been having trouble with. Only problem - the summoning barely works.

    I spent a large portion of Dark Souls 1 beating the game by myself because it was honestly easier for me to do that than to reliably get my friends summoned into the game. First of all, you can't even summon anyone unless you're in human form, which also makes you susceptible to human invaders that will attempt to murder you for your humanity, so summoning in and of itself is largely a double-edged sword. The kicker, however, is that there isn't simply just a way to summon someone on your friends list, oh no... you have a specific item in your inventory, a White Sign Soapstone, that allows you to drop a sign on the floor that other players can use to summon you into your game. There are a couple of issues with this system:

    1. Your/their signs might be seen by other players before your friend, and you or they might be summoned to some random stranger's world by accident.

    2. The servers are so janky and awkward that half the time your soapstone won't show up for your friends at all. You have to spam the damn soapstone just so they can see it and there aren't any guarantees that it'll work.

    Also, if I recall correctly, if your friends are out of range of your 'Soul Memory' (basically a total count of progress you've made and enemies you've slain) then there's almost no chance that you'll be able to summon each other.

    I can safely say I knew what I was getting into when i heard that Dark Souls didn't pull its punches, but I was still shocked to see that the game is difficult even on the meta side of things. Once difficult, always difficult, I guess...

  • THE DIALOGUE TREES

    It's been said before plenty of times, and it'll be said again... the dialogue system in Fallout 4 is utter garbage, a shell of the series' former systems that exchanges immersion for voice acting and generic, bland responses.

    Prior games allowed you to choose from a list of responses to a character talking to you, which ranged from gathering information to giving you multiple speech options, sometimes depending on what perks or stats you've leveled up the most. Fallout 4 does away with this in its entirety, and now EVERY, SINGLE, SHITTING dialogue tree is relegated to just four responses. Four! That's almost disgusting in and of itself, but it gets worse - not only are you shoehorned into less dialogue options, you also cannot go back and ask people questions about how certain mechanics of the game work or what the significance of some event towards the plot is because many of the dialogue sequences are one-and-done ordeals.

    To top it off, each dialogue tree follows out with the same four general formulaic responses: the 'nice guy' response, the 'asshole' response, the 'confused' response, and the 'whatever' response. That's it, every single time you talk to someone, 90 percent of the time you will be using one of those dialogue options, and sometimes you can barely tell which is which because the only descriptor you're given is a small phrase between 1-4 words!

    I've certainly created more compelling dialogue out of this entry than the entirety of the game has conceived, at any rate. I seriously hope this doesn't set the trend for future Bethesda RPGs.

  • WORKING AT THE ROOST

    Yes, Animal Crossing has already been generally represented on this list, but a certain feature in the newest iteration for the 3DS is just begging to be included on this list.

    That feature is the ability to work at the Roost, the local coffee shop. In prior games, the only two things you could do at the Roost were buy coffee and attempt to make small talk with Brewster. New Leaf attempted to incorporate more activity into the coffee shop by not only allowing you to order coffee to go, but to actually go and work as a barista for a little bit. Sounds neat in theory, and you do get rewarded for your trouble, but there's just one problem: it's CRYPTIC AS SHIT, needlessly over-complicated and practically luck-based if you're not the note-taking type, and let's be real, you are NOT sitting there playing Animal Crossing with a goddamn pen and pad.

    So you're behind the counter, taking people's orders, right? Well, imagine if you were working at McDonald's, and someone told you they wanted a sandwich with no pickles. They give no other descriptors other than that, and you're supposed to assume what the rest of their order is. You give them a cheeseburger with no pickles, and they get hostile and mad at you because they wanted a double cheeseburger and a side of apple slices to go with it.

    That's bullshit. You had no way of knowing that's what they wanted, right? Well, guess what? That's EXACTLY how this dumb fucking minigame works. Sometimes, your neighbors and the special NPCs have the decency to tell you, oh, maybe one necessary ingredient if they're feeling generous, but then there are the fucksticks who just tell you they want 'the usual...' and that's fucking it! They just ASSUME you know what their order is already, even if you've never prepared anything for them before! NOBODY DOES THIS IN REAL LIFE, NINTENDO! NOT EVEN STARBUCKS! If I was a real-life barista and someone asked me to make their usual order, even if it was one of my closest friends, I'd ask them to elaborate or get the fuck out of here!

    There is only one 'correct' way to obtain the villagers' favorite orders - by talking to them incessantly until they bring it up in casual conversation, and jotting it down somewhere. And I'm going to be honest, in my hundreds of days of playing the damn game, I've only ever seen any one of my neighbors crow about their favorite coffee ingredients TWICE. AND THEY ONLY TELL YOU ONE AT A TIME. And guess what? It could be all for naught, as since the residents of your town are constantly moving out and moving in, you could get all your neighbors' orders completely right and be ready to ace the minigame, and have one of them move out and be replaced by some dickhead whose favorite order you then have to learn through the painstaking process of annoying them until they spill the beans. Oh, and named NPCs like Kapp'n or Digby? Pff, you're boned. You may as well check the wiki, because THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE DIALOGUE ABOUT THEIR FAVORITE COFFEE INGREDIENTS.

    It is, of course, voluntary - in a game where practically everything is voluntary, that doesn't amount to much - but completionists? Sorry, there are exclusive furniture and clothing items obtained through this minigame. It's safe to say consulting a guide is all but mandatory if you want to get those without wanting to hang yourself.