Let's start with something mildly annoying. You play a game where you have to explore a mansion, a city or some other place, and you have to sweep the place for supplies, keys, puzzles and stuff like that, and eventually, you'll find a door you cannot get through. You cannot force it open, you cannot break it (despite having enough firepower to scrap a bus-sized monster) and your only shoot at it is to find the key, which most of the time is very well hidden and guarded. It can become quite a bore...
The worst offender, without a doubt, is the Silent Hill series, and not just because of the locked doors (there aren't more than in other Survival Horror franchises), but because the jammed doors: doors you cannot get through by any means - period. Sure; it's a device for setting a dungeon in a hospital, an apartment building or a mall, and still have it at manageable sizes (a hospital level with each and every door operational would be massive), but when you're hunting for supplies and stuff, specially with foes at your tail, trying to find the door that's not painted atrezzo can get to your nerves quick. And don't get me started if such door happens to be locked anyway!
Picture it like this: you're playing a pretty thrilling action game, you're trying to gun-ho your way through a throng of mooks (or rather, like in the example games, you're trying to sneak your way through a throng of mooks you can't outgun; quite a high bet), and after that... you get a video scene. These are quite cool indeed, but are quite the pace-killers here; specially if they're long, unskipable and/or ubiquitous. Also, interactive cutscenes (the so called Quick Time Events) are a poor solution; specially when a wrong move means restarting the video until you get it right, or worse, a straight-up Game Over.
As worst offender, look no further than Metal Gear Solid series; the blockbuster stealth action classic, and among the first games that made patent that videogames were capable of conveying plots and production values on par with movies (and sure they did: few movies would do any of these games any justice). Well; I guess lots and lots of noninteractive cutscenes is the byproduct you get when you get to have a videogame with a movie plot. They are actually pretty good, but if you ever wanna play any of these games, do know that you'll spend almost half of your playtime watching movie scenes.
Water hazards are quite ubiquitous in videogames: either they are instakill deathtraps, unsurmontable obstacles (somewhat of an invisible wall), or in some games, a mandatory feature in levels, with some ill effects: things like slower pace, waterborne foes (who pretty much are flying while you're still groundbound) and the tendency of such levels to be quite tough mazes can really get weary; but none of these are match for the capital drawback of these levels: since your character is a drylander (most of the time), getting your feet wet means no breathing air avaliable, effectively putting a timer in such dungeons - should you run out of time, you drown and lose a life. Enjoy!
The worst offenders, by far, are the Sonic, the Hedgehog series, specially the Genesis era games. Each and every drawback of water levels come here twofold: when the game is all about speed, being slowed to a crawl while underwater is a really conspicuous con, badniks being harder to reach sure doesn't help, and these levels eschew the speed-happy mapping for really convoluted maze-like designs, full to the brim with traps. And air supplies are quite far apart. No wonder these are the most dreaded levels in these games.
Imagine a hard game; tough as nails, with a character having to navigate a place with a metric-ton ways to end it's sorry existence, and of course your goal is to get through alive; easier said than done, since one hit means a kill. God bless the checkpoints, for they let you start over with a head start from the beginning of the death maze should you fail to navigate it! Problem is... sometimes these are quite far apart, and getting from one checkpoint to the other is quite a daunting task all to itself. Some games don't even have checkpoints at all! They require you to solve a full dungeon without screwing up ever so slightly, as just one mistake means starting the whole thing again!
As worst offender... you just can't find any game more hardcore than Abe's Oddysee, the first of the Oddworld games. Your character, as per Another World-esque customs, is as feeble as it gets: pretty much anything and everything in the game will kill this bubble-eyed, bean headed alien, and the scenery is riddled with enemies and bobby traps. You at least have infinite lives... but checkpoints are really hard to come by: to get from one checkpoint to another, you'll have to navigate not less than three to four screens worth of such enemies and bobby traps (most times waay more than that)... and needless to say, chances to get killed are staggeringly high. The sequel, Abe's Exoddus, actually took notice and was more checkpoint-happy.
Everyone sure knows the drill: in most action games, after reaching the end of a dungeon, you've got to beat the crap outta a boss character, and then you beat the level. And in many of these games, some particular bosses are dreaded far more than the others (and no; not necessarily the last one) for their insane ability at putting the hurt on you. Few can pass through these veritable beef gates; specially without hefty power-ups.
The worst offender, by far, is Devil May Cry 3. Apart from it's grievous difficulty (PAL and American releases have the difficulty upgraded from the Japanese version, as in PAL/US Normal is Japanese Hard and so forth), the fact that each and every boss character in this game is tough as nails (heck; even the miniboss at level 2 - before any grown-up boss - is really punishing, and that doesn't even count as a boss for real!) and that there're no extra lives (or rather, these exist, but respawning you at the door to whence you died is all these do; you have to try again the boss fight, with the boss at full health. And without these, you'll have to restart the whole level!) makes this game a veritable monstrosity. Also worth mentioning: there's a boss rush level (it's a Capcom game, after all), and bosses aren't any easier there, so caution!
The rules are quite clear cut here: in any game, whenever you get through a dungeon, you get the cash, the xp and off you go to your next destination, ready to wreak some havok. Well... not in these games. While a hefty share of games lets you go back to any previous level to get that hidden item you couldn't get the first time (quite a treat), some notorious games require you to go back to previous levels in order to get to advance the plot - and man is that annoying! Specially if you have to get waay back the road and teleport-points (mandatory for streamlining these games) are hard to come by.
The worst offender games (pretty much the ONLY games guilty of backtracking) are the Metroidvania games, but the worst of them all is completely out of the franchises: it's none other than Rayman. Instead of mainstream backtracking (navigating the maze-like dungeons until you get a powerup, then go back and find the one door you can get through with such power-up; rince and repeat until you beat the game), what you get is a linear platformer get-to-the-finish style, with most levels having about three acts; just like a Genesis Sonic game. There's also the fact that the game is about finding and rescuing Photoons, and you're required to find each and everyone of these in order to beat the game. Well; most are secret (there's no briefing about where to find the rescuees), most require you to get a power-up to find them (and you guessed it: that means backtracking), and whenever you restart a level, you do the whole thing again (you don't get to choose the act or anything like that). Backtracking is quite a drag when it's about figuring where the next dungeon is; tossing around a massive backtrack-happy fetch quest for the hell of it is insane; but straight up repeating levels (WHOLE levels) to get the aforemented fetchees, which also are secret (and of course, if you miss some, you've got to do it one more time) is just bonkers!!
Falling from heights is quite a variable experience in games: it can go from doing no ill effect whatsoever (save for forcing you to climb all the way up to whence you fell from) to do damage (and even kill you outright sometimes); but no matter the falling effects, if such games have the bottomless pit, should you hit the Hole only one outcome is expectable: you lose one life. No wonder it's quite the quintessential instakill hazard of platforming games; even more so than spike pits.
The worst offenders are the Mega Man series, and not only because the aforemented pits are quite abundant, but also because they pair these with such gems as floating moving platforms (which are quite hard to jump from one to another) and flying enemies (nothing makes hitting the Hole easier than having a flying goon slam in your face and knock you off track while jumping). In fact, beating the Master Robots is the easiest part of Mega Man's levels most of the times; reaching them is where the challenge lies.
Videogames, most of them, follow a somewhat streamlined formula, just like books and movies: just as books and movies are dividen in chapters and scenes, games are divided in levels, and you won't get to any level until you get through any previous level. That's the way of things, and everyone is quite happy with that... until you find the One Level; the level so difficult there's no humane way to get through; the level where no feasible human reaction time is well enough to beat it; the level gamers all around the world post videos at YouTube claiming to have beaten it, and getting a gazillion thumbs-up for it! Needless to say, such levels are the mark of the beast, and games such branded are as famous among pros as are dreaded by the common folk.
The worst offender... it's hardly needed to mention it, but if you didn't know it already, it's Battletoads. If you know which level is it... well; I won't tell you (no Spoilers in this Top 10, remember?), but you can just go to YouTube and search Battletoads - that gamers-posting-videos thing is nowhere near lying.
This one is rough: few gaming tropes are more exhausting, more annoying and more dragging than spending two hours upward just killing random critters over and over again just to get the extra cash, gear and levels you need to beat the dungeon; not unless beating the dungeon means spending yet another two or more hours doing the whole thing all over again to beat the next one. Weren't getting new abilities, new items and stuff that big a thrill, RPGs wouldn't be anywhere viable as games, period.
You can count the RPGs that aren't big offenders at mandatory level-grinding with a single hand worth of digits, and you'll have spares; but no game series requires as much grinding as Dark Souls series: the whole "dungeon" thing is rather moot - you have to grind your way just to get from one checkpoint to another without dying trying (and before you ask, you will - a lot); that's what you get when evergreen enemies hit hard for real - not just the bosses.
Well; so far we've discussed chores and features that can drag pretty much any game to a bore, and reduce it's rythm to a crawl. Well; what about something that pretty much keeps you from playing the game outright? That's pretty much what these do: whenever you see a still, scarcely pictured screen with a very conspicuous label saying "LOADING...", you know from the get-go a fundamental fact: you cannot do anything right now but wait to get back to business. Every bit as annoying as waiting at a practitioner's office; no wonder this is hands down the winner of this Top 10. At least the cutscenes were entertaining.
And for the worst offender, look no further than Blood Omen, the very first game of the Legacy of Kain saga; and loading screens and some other drawbacks nonwithstanding quite a cult classic, but while long loading screens where quite an epidemic back in the 5th Console Generation (CD drives really were Loading-screen-friendly), this game got hit the hardest: any and everything you ever do meant a Loading screen: new map, Loading screen; new scene, Loading screen; open the menu... even OPENING THE FRIGGIN' MENU CALLED FORTH THE LOADING SCREEN!! It's actually hard to muster enough patiente to play a game that is bond to make you spend just a little below half of your time blankly staring at a Loading screen waiting for stuff to happen...
Games are entertaining, yes, but sometimes there's something that spoils the fun, and sometimes these are the very things that provide the fun parts to begin with. It's worth mentioning that not every game that have those features are anywhere bad because of them (in fact none of the Worst Offender are anywhere near bad; not even the first one), but whoever wants a taste of these should know from the get-go what are they about to face.
All in all, bad things happen in games, just as much as they happen in life, but the key to happiness is not to have the least bad things, but to search for the most good things (even if that means getting through quite a bunch of bad things); most of the games with these annoying features would hardly be games at all without them, hardly worth playing anymore. Anyway, there's a balance in these features that it's quite hard to get right, and it's not hard for games to be biased towards too-annoying. It's pretty a hard balance indeed...
List by HighEntomologist (05/23/2016)
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