Whether it’s annoying, difficult, ridiculous or all of the above, here are some times where persistence has paid off!
Video games are designed to be difficult. Whether it’s a sudden difficulty spike, a battle you’re not quite ready for, a particularly frustrating boss, or even just a type of mission in general, every gamer is bound to trip up at some point or another. This month, members of the Doublejump Staff took a moment to look back on many, many years of gaming and acknowledge the biggest challenge they’ve faced, whether they’ve completed it or not. Sit back, relax, and enjoy laughing at our anguish!
Ayden: Trying to understand Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee when I was younger
I have this potent memory from my childhood of sitting in my parents’ living room, PlayStation controller damp in my sweaty palms, the last tear of incessant laughter rolling down my cheeks. What had me in such a frenzy of laughter? Flatulence, of course. Abe’s triggered digestive released had whisked me into a whirlwind of wonder, an unforgettable tizzy of green mist and abhorrent, raspy laughter. In this moment, I made a few realisations about myself: I was a dipshit kid who got distracted easily, I had no sense of humour, and I had no real comprehension for a narrative-centric video game.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a title from my childhood that I treasure. It was an enigmatic alien world with a protagonist spindlier than me for once. It’s a title that takes the player through a blended narrative of mythological and Orwellian scope – it’s artistic, wonderful, and compelling. Being the dipshit kid that I was, though, I didn’t recognise any of that, and I just spent all my time in that game farting because I couldn’t understand the controls, objective, or why a blind green man was tooting all over the place. I spent many childhood years trying to understand that game; maybe a bit of hand-holding in video games isn’t such a terrible thing after all…
Cai: SkiFree’s dastardly yeti
There comes a point in everyone’s life where they realise a task is futile, yet they continue at it anyway; mine is SkiFree. I started playing SkiFree when I was but a wee lad, on my grandparent’s computer. I didn’t quite know what was going on, but I knew I was having fun skiing down those soft white slopes, deftly avoiding trees and rocks alike. It felt like hours, skiing in blissful calm… Until I met my nemesis.
I crossed the 2000m mark and the yeti sprinted at me faster than I could comprehend, before eating me and grinning that horrible, horrible grin of his. I was shaken to my core, and I knew then that I would defeat this yeti if it was the last thing I did. Years passed, I continued to fail, and eventually I stopped, resigned to my fate as yeti lunch.
A decade later, I discovered that I could press ‘F’ to speed up and outrun the yeti, and the battle returned. Sometimes I escape him, but he’ll always be back, waiting for me at the bottom of that dread mountain. Nobody escapes the yeti, not forever, but damned if I’m not going to try.
Damon: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s Champion, Cynthia
I’ve played the Pokémon games for as long as I can remember, and I consider myself an experienced veteran of the series – or a Pokémaniac, whichever you want. Having completed the National Dex in Pokémon Ruby and Emerald before it, I thought I was as good as one could get at the games when I started playing through Diamond and Pearl. The grind for a stronger team was more difficult than it was in previous games, and I was somewhat under-leveled when I met the Elite Four. That didn’t matter, though; all of my Pokémon experience had left me skilled and nuanced enough in battle that I could strategise my way to victory… Until I met the Champion, Cynthia.
Cynthia’s team was not only remarkably powerful, but it also boasted great type balance and good move sets as well. Her Gastrodon, Roserade, Milotic and Spiritomb were all easy enough to dispatch due to their weaknesses (I’m aware that Spiritomb has no defensive weakness; my Empoleon resisted all of its attacks), but it was her final two that gave me hell. Lucario is my second-favourite Pokémon of all time, but it was always difficult to battle – especially with my best Pokémon being the part-Steel type Empoleon – and her purely-offensive Garchomp could knock out any of my Pokémon in one or two hits. Those two alone frustrated me so badly that I remember using the most colourful language of my 12-year-old life because of them. Nothing that’s worth it ever comes easily, though, and Cynthia remains my favourite Champion battle simply because of the satisfaction I felt when I finally got the better of her.
I truly miss the Sinnoh region, and I can only hope that Game Freak and The Pokémon Company bring it back for us in beautiful 3D on the Nintendo Switch.
Emily: Any water level in any game ever
No matter how fantastic a game you’re playing, there’s always one thing that can put a damper on the fun and fill you with frustration, fury, panic, or all of the above: those damned water levels. Although they’ve become a staple in video games as they allow developers to show off their impressive, immersive graphics, water levels are rarely ever good; they’re often the most difficult challenges in their games, and it’s usually due to some kind of design flaw rather than actual difficulty.
Nobody has ever said that the Water Temple is the best dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (just ask Nick), or that Sonic the Hedgehog or Crash Bandicoot’s water levels are an inspiration in platform game design… They’re just frustrating. Their biggest pitfalls often fall under three umbrellas: clumsy controls (usually clumsier than in the dry-land stages) that make it difficult to navigate properly; confusing, ridiculous layouts with limited guidance that see players drown just trying to figure out where to do; or, once again, all of the above. Water levels do have one redeeming factor, though. They’re great for a terrifying experience in a horror game – as we’ve seen in Narcosis and SOMA recently – because there is nothing more frightening than a water level.
With all that being said, I’m sure that you can imagine my horror when recent footage of Shadow of the Tomb Raider showed off its beautiful graphics… While Lara was swimming deep underwater. It looks fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but the thought of dealing with another water level knotted my stomach all the same.
Jake: Reaching skill tier 10 on Vainglory
I’ve been playing Super Evil Mega Corp’s mobile MOBA, Vainglory, for more than four years now. I started playing casually when I saw the game featured in Apple’s iPhone 6 reveal event, and I still play at least one game per day. I founded a guild that has gone on to be one of the best in our server region – and a multi-guild organisation – and though it, I’ve watched countless friends and guildmates reach the promised land, always certain that I’d never get there myself.
For the longest time, I was an extremely, extremely limited player. I played a small handful of heroes in one role – the lane – and that was it. It wasn’t until the 10-player map drew near that I realised that that simply wouldn’t fly, stopped pursuing skill tier 10 on the Halcyon Fold and focused on expanding my role and hero pool. It wasn’t easy at all, and it was intensely frustrating to lose matches that I may have won if I was more comfortable around the map, but as a wise man once said, “nothing that’s worth it ever comes easily”.
By the time Sovereign’s Rise arrived and brought 5v5 gameplay along with it, I had put in enough practice that I was solid enough at all five roles on the map. It still wasn’t easy – just ask the people who keep on creating the “solo-queue” memes – but after two seasons of 5v5 gameplay, I’m proud to say that thanks to my quest to “git gud” and the help of my friends and guildmates, I’m finally Vainglorious. Now to push to silver!
John: Bloodborne’s The Old Hunters expansion
When I say “I had trouble with Bloodborne’s The Old Hunters expansion”, I really mean “the Orphan of Kos fucked me up for about five in-game hours”. I’m not the type to ever smash a controller but I definitely shouted profanity at virtual things on a screen every other time I died. For five hours.
Admittedly, it wasn’t Kos’s difficulty that screwed me over as much as it was playing a glass cannon without realising it, which I only discovered while watching my brother fight Kos a few weeks later with normal stats. I fed too many souls into power and not enough into health in a game that really doesn’t reward that maverick Cool Guy attitude when you’re a mediocre player like myself. Up against what was essentially the game’s final boss, every other hit was the fatal kind.
As satisfying as that eventual victory was, those five hours were rough. So were the two hours I spent fighting Ludwig before that (and every other boss, too). A little more health and I could’ve spent some of that time sleeping, or watching Bob’s Burgers again. Oh, how one can dream…
Kristian: Playing through the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trilogy on Veteran
I’ve never been good at shooting games. I tend to favour the slow, methodical style of stealth games over the fast-paced nature of action shooters. That’s why arguably my biggest achievement in gaming was beating every game in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trilogy on Veteran, the hardest difficulty. That’s not to say I found it easy at all. There are people who can beat these missions with minimal trouble, but to do it across all three games took me several years. Some of these areas were so difficult that I’d die 30 or 40 times before reaching the next checkpoint, and I would often quit in the middle of the level and return to it a month or two later. For those who might be wondering, the most difficult missions in each game were Modern Warfare’s “No Fighting in the War Room”, Modern Warfare 2’s “The Gulag” and Modern Warfare 3’s “Scorched Earth”.
I quite enjoyed the Modern Warfare trilogy’s campaigns, despite there only being a few stealth missions in the whole saga. They have that nice big-blockbuster Hollywood feel to them and they are so fun to play. That said, they certainly frustrated me on the hardest difficulty. This is a goal that was years in the making. I first attempted the original Modern Warfare’s campaign on Veteran back in 2012, and I only completed Modern Warfare 3’s campaign on Veteran in early 2017. If I was ever tempted to replay through the trilogy or play another game in the series, I’ll likely skip on the frustration and bump it down to a difficulty more adequately suited to my skill level.
Nick: The Blackout at the Water Temple – my personal horror story
What did you expect? It’s one of the most infamous gaming struggles known to humanity. Floaty physics, constantly changing into and out of iron boots, not getting the key order correct… Just thinking about it is making my blood boil. It doesn’t help that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had terrible controls back in the day, and they haven’t aged gracefully at all.
The level is just the tip of the iceberg for me, though. After finally getting through the Water Temple, I saved my file and took a well-earned break. Unlike today, where surge protection is everywhere, the early 2000s were a terrifying time to be a gamer; I made the mistake of leaving the console running while I grabbed a bite to eat, returning just half an hour later to find that my console had switched off. Thinking nothing of it, I turned it on again and went to load my save file… Which was gone. 35 hours of gameplay and hard work, gone.
Whereas other gamers would get mad for an hour and then start over, I was different. I was too angry. I gave up, and I still haven’t gone back to Ocarina of Time to try again.
Phil: The Melancholy of Trying To Play Co-op and Multiplayer Games…Solo.
Gaming is all about having fun with people you care about and friends who’ve got your back until the end, right up until life hits you like a sack of bricks and you can no longer veg out on the couch with the squad playing Castle Crashers on a crisp Saturday morning.
We’ve all been there, popping in our favorite game, loading up the start screen, picking our character and wistfully looking at all the empty character slots and wishing our friends were with us. Whether it’s Mario Kart, Halo, Rock Band, the Tales series or the aforementioned Castle Crashers, it always sucked when you have a chance to wail on a boss, and there’s nobody beside you (or on the mic) to share in the ridicule of kicking ass in 60fps.
Today, it’s games like Destiny, The Division and any MMORPG in existence, and playing through them solo is a challenge that people take on to show their skill. It’s not the same, though. You start the raid with all the confidence in the world, right until you get pinned down in the first section for what feels like an eternity because you planned to play it with your squad and chose a character with an exclusively close-range skillset who simply can’t beat the bullet-sponge grunts without backup. It always ends the same: you start feeling sorry for yourself, you quit and watch squads of three demolish the raid in record time with a well-balanced party, and you just sit there, breathing a sigh of longing as you sign into Netflix instead.
This could simply be a result of developers focusing less on split-screen co-op in favor of online match-making. It could also be due to the inevitable spiral of soul-crushing truth that is “growing up” that sees everyone either lose interest or time for these games… Or I could just be projecting really, really hard. What we can definitely take away from this, though, is that the biggest challenges in gaming aren’t always stages, bosses or objectives – sometimes, it’s just growing up.
Steve: Dealing with The Evil Within’s Keeper
The Evil Within is one of my favourite horror games ever, and the original is easily the better of the two; it’s scarier, more difficult and it feels more unpredictable and unnerving because we don’t know as much of the backstory. The story is also seriously bent and there are plenty of genuinely gory and spooky moments on offer. Of all of the memorable experiences in this often downright-cruel game, the episode where you are locked in a gas chamber with the Keeper stands out as being completely unforgettable.
The Keeper is a regular source of torment in the game, and is notable because no matter how many times you stab, shoot and think you’ve killed him, he just keeps on coming back from more. Clad in a butcher’s apron, with a combination safe where his head should be and carrying a sack that’s apparently full of severed heads, the Keeper is not only sure to haunt your dreams for days, but he’ll also use his giant mattock to beat seven shades of shit out of you. You meet him more than once throughout the two games – and the Executioner DLC – but being trapped with him in a small maze of gas-filled cells is claustrophobic, deadly and intense. Definitely a fun cat!
Ty: Ninja Gaiden’s second boss
I had a real love/hate relationship with Ninja Gaiden when I was younger. After playing the demo on one of those old demo discs (remember those?), I was hooked, but convincing my parents to buy the whole thing for me could have also been the challenge here. My dad finally caved, though, and I got sucked in all over again.
The game’s second stage ended with me face-to-face with an unnamed samurai on a horse, but unfortunately, the ensuing boss battle wasn’t just against him: the camera and the arena turned it into a three-on-one handicap match and damn near beat me into submission. You see, Ninja Gaiden didn’t have a freely-controllable camera when it was initially released, and it wasn’t always a fan of fixed camera angles either. The only semblance of control it gave the player was the ability to re-centre the camera behind their character.
Sure enough, faced with what is essentially a corridor and an enemy who runs back and forth across an arena that is difficult to get a proper view of, I got pummeled into the dirt more times than I want to admit. I credit this battle – and the game as a whole – for turning me into a bit of a masochist with regard to game difficulty, and I credit those little teleporting minions that fire ranged attacks at you during the fight with my older self’s proficient grasp of obscenities. Thanks, Ninja Gaiden!
As you can see, not every challenge in video games is as straightforward as “this boss was hard to beat.” Some of us just struggle with a particular type of mission, some impose certain challenges on themselves for fun, and some just get wildly unlucky. In any case, everyone’s got a different struggle within video games – we’d love to hear about yours! Sound off in the comments, or over on our social media!
(Featured image via Free Code Camp)
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