User Input

User Input: Exercises in Frustration

Time to head into the field and shoot some more toilet paper for Jane.

I’m going to go ahead and make the bold leap here and assume that most of the AtomicToasters audience (except the Professor, but don’t wake him)  plays video games. Hopefully I’m not the only one who’s relatively terrible at them, but I’m going to assume that everyone has similar experiences to my own, in that there is always one game that drives you insane.

For myself, it was the Final Fantasy series. When I got my Playstation 2 back when I was in university, I heard everyone talking about how awesome these games were, so clearly I had to try them. I went out and rented whatever the latest in the series was, and on a snowy Saturday afternoon, bunked down with some snacks and drinks to play the game.

I then spent the next two hours swearing at the screen at the top of my lungs. The intro to the game involved a five-minute cinematic that guided your character for you, and led you directly into your first combat scenario, before turning the controls over to you, the player, to guide you through learning how the mechanics of the game worked. Except in my case, the game clearly hated me. I would sit through the five minutes of cinematics, and then the very instant the controls were finally released to me, my character would be instantaneously killed in a fraction of a second, and the game would return to the beginning of the cinematics. I’m getting angry just remembering it. I went online to see if anyone else had experienced this, and found myself with the most idiotic dredges of the internet. Yes, other people had experienced this, and were asking how to solve this problem, but the responses that came up to help them were along the lines of, “Press the “X” key to kill the first enemy!”. And the original poster was indicating that ah yes, that was the problem. I was mashing keys even before the character was under my control in the hopes that if I were fast enough, I could keep him alive for a fraction of a second longer. And then he died. And then I returned the game to the store and never looked at the Final Fantasy series again.

What game is your video gaming nemesis? What is the one game you just haven’t been able to beat?

  • Number_Six

    Impossible Mission on the C64 really was just that. My brother and I spent countless hours navigating the labyrinthine lair of the baddie but could never get the onscreen bastard to jump successfully across one particular chasm. It drove us up the walls because the game was awesome and we could never finish. Similarly, we were never able to complete the incredible Hitchhiker's Guide game for the C64. Impossible Mission had some of my favourite sound effects and music of all times – the guys gargly aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhh when he fell to his death was a masterpiece.

    • PowerTryp

      A game that truly lives up to it's name. Also it took me a sec to realize what you meant by C64 cause I checked my keyboard to see how close to N the C key is.

      Don't worry I know you meant Commodore not Nintendo now.

      • Number_Six

        Yes, I am that old.

  • P161911

    Halo. Can't remember if it was 1 or 2. I rarely play anything other than single player mode. I got the game long after it had been released. I got to the second or third level and ended up just wandering around aimlessly having killed everything I could find. I gave up on it.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Did you know that you could save your progress in Zork by typing "save?" My friend and I did not for almost four months.

    • After many many years of playing, and numerous Punchout tournaments in our barracks, I finally knocked that bastard out. Don't think I've ever turned that machine on again.

      • Number_Six

        I'd forgotten this game! I can't remember if I ever beat that guy or not, but I guessing not.

      • I could never beat him. Pissed me off so much I'd bite someones ear off.

  • skitter

    Every mission in Porsche Unleashed that required 180° or 360° spins had me seething. Even when I managed to do a perfect one, the game would fail to register it, and ask more than once if I wanted to skip the mission. But Microsoft Flight Simulator 3.0 through 98, coupled with no instruction whatsoever, closely approximated what would happen if you gave a kid an actual aircraft. Over a span of nine years, I'd be surprised if I actually managed to land a plane more than twice.

  • P161911

    I was one of the few kids unfortunate enough to get the infamous ET game for the Atari 2600
    <img src=",_Jerome_Domurat,_Howard_Scott_Warshaw)_(CX2674)-1.jpg"&gt;
    I don't think I got that game to ever do anything. That idiot ET would just fall in wells or holes or whatever.

    • That game made absolutely no fucking sense and I hope I still have it packed away somewhere. I heard a rumor they are worth something now? Like a dollar?

  • PowerTryp

    Need for Speed Carbon. Honestly near the end of the game if you can't do 300mph around corners you've got no way to win. Not to mention you get the slightest tap from any NPC (non-player car) and you go flying off and left in the dust.

    I love driving games but the Need for Speed series just pushes it a little too far past the realistic barrier too often for me to enjoy more than a couple hours of any game.

    • BlackIce_GTS

      I'm playing that now (it was a dollar). It's bad. Horrible physics, painfully rubber bandy AI, career mode doesn't give you enough money.
      The last race is down a canyon road consisting of 90% hairpins. I beat it by holding the throttle down and turning with the handbrake, which instantly slows you to around 30mph and turns you 90deg. It's stupid.

  • betterwrappedinbacon

    Metal Gear Solid. Months of sneaking around, clandestinely snapping necks, affixing silencers, punching that damn invisible ninja and then, when it came time to fight the big end-of-the-world-harboring, nuke-toting metalic nightmare that the entire game led up to, the whole reason I, Solid Snake, was brought out of retirement, with the ground shaking, I got stuck inside of a control room and couldn't get out. None of my codec contacts offered any advice other than to get my ass out there and stop it. Step-by-step walk-throughs from the interwebs didn't mention some secret way to get out of the room. I crouched, punched and shot everything in that gor-ram room before settling on the idea that the game had a glitch and I would simply never beat it.

    So I gave that game to Goodwill to frustrate someone else.

  • Froggmann_

    This is why I turn on cheat codes. I choose to actually enjoy the game I'm playing.

  • craigsu

    I'm off to find the Professor. The last video game I played was in an arcade (remember those?) while in college in the early 80s. I'm pretty sure it was Defender.

    • The Professor

      Oh yes, I remember arcades. I used to love playing Tempest.

    • betterwrappedinbacon

      I loved arcades because they had the games you couldn't find on consoles. Namely, pinball.

      • The Professor

        Hear hear. Pinball has always been my favorite arcade game, 8 Ball Deluxe in particular. I'd love to have one of those machines in the great room, but, alas. $$$$

    • Defender took ALL my allowance money in 1980.

      And 1981.

  • pj134

    <img src="; width=500>

    Marble madness always irritated the hell out of me. Then again, I haven't played it since I was four, so who knows. Your problem is that you didn't play Final Fantasy VII. That one made it all worth it.

    • The Professor

      I used to play that on the Amigas, but play was rather slow, and a mouse isn't the best controller for playing it.

  • When I was about 18 or so, I went to visit my older cousin in the UK. At that time his son was around 8 years old. I don't recall which game system he had but I clearly remember he was playing Sonic the Hedgehog. He made it look real easy: running around, jumping with perfect timing. Inevitably, I was asked if I wanted to try the blody game. Sure, why not? If an 8 year old can do it, how hard could it be? In a word: very.
    At the very beginning of the game (in easy mode, of course), there was this looping Sonic was supposed to run through (by using some power-up function at just the right time). I never managed it. No matter how many times I tried, I could not pass through that obstacle. I would try three times (or whatever the number of lives were), then the game would restart and I would sit through the intro…

  • SSurfer321

    Trials HD on the Xbox 360 Arcade

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  • Multiplayer or two player on Madden Football. OH MY GOD RIP SOMEONES HEAD OFF ANGRY. No matter what year I am playing, if I play against someone I will get my butt handed to me on a platter. I have no idea why. My 9 year old son will consistently pound me into the sand and I'll have the Packers and he will have the London Blitz or whatever crap team there is. I am trying to win and I can't. I play only ever so often with the kid, not because I don't want to play with him but because I want to punch the TV after the game is over.