Even if you consider a game to be near-perfect, it is exceedingly rare to find one that doesn’t frustrate you atsome point. Whether it’s because of a particularly difficult boss, a strange narrative decision, or a tonally disconnected mission, moments of frustration creep into just about every game – even those we consider to be the best of the best.
These moments aren’t necessarily deal-breaking after we get past them, but they do result in a few broken controllers and lost hairs. From modern classics to legendary titles of the past, here are six frustrating moments in great video games.
Cuphead -- King Dice
Cuphead is one of the most difficult games of 2017, with its run-and-gun gameplay drawing heavy influence from the tough-as-nails arcade shooters of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but its challenge is almost always fair. Even the final boss – the Devil himself – can be beaten pretty easily after you get down his patterns and learn when you need to attack.
King Dice, who you fight just before the Devil, is absolutely infuriating. A multi-stage fight that can be made longer through a literal roll of the dice, the “boss” actually consists of several enemies that must be defeated before you get a shot at King Dice himself. Slip up just a few times, and you’ll have to start the entire scenario over again. Once you do start taking shots at King Dice, a brutal platforming and countering section will take out all but the most nimble-fingered players. When I finally saw “knockout!” displayed on the screen, I didn’t feel accomplishment, but relief.
Bloodborne -- Shadow of Yharnam
Most fights in Bloodborne – and From Software’s Dark Souls trilogy – pit you against a single opponent, who you must learn to attack without leaving yourself open to damage. The “Shadow of Yharnam” encounter differs in that it’s actually three separate enemies, each of whom must be defeated in order to win. The three characters have their own unique attacks, with one focusing on traditional melee combat while the other two mix in fire-based abilities.
It sounds simple enough, but one of the shadowy figures has access to a flamethrower attack that is essentially a one-hit kill, and with your attention often drawn to one of his friends, you often won’t even know he’s getting ready to murder you. Should you defeat one of the enemies too quickly, you’ll have to do the rest of the fight with the other two transformed into even more powerful beasts, as well as a giant Alaskan Bull Worm launching itself across the battlefield.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – the courthouse shootout
Warning: Spoilers in the video!
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has a twist at the halfway point so irresistibly cool, players should be willing to do just about anything to get to it. Unfortuantely, MachineGames appears to have thought that, as well, as the section preceding it undoubtedly the hardest moment in the entire game. Ostensibly a power trip fantasy, the courthouse shootout pits BJ Blazkowicz against an absolute horde of Nazi soldiers, dogs, and robots. With very little in the way of weapons or supplies, the odds are stacked against him.
As you attempt to defend yourself from a seemingly endless wave of enemies, you’ll find yourself wondering when you’re going to get some assistance, but that moment never comes. You simply have to play at your absolute best or hunker down in a corner and hope that the other enemies don’t spot you before you can throw off a grenade or two.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – the final battle
The Fire Emblem series has been known for its difficulty since it began, but the GameCube title Path of Radiance is actually one of the more forgiving games. A “bonus experience” system allows you to level up characters who may have missed out on the chance to fight during the previous mission, and with multiple character classes to pick from when “evolving” your units, you can tailor your team to fit your particular style.
But that didn’t stop Intelligent Systems from throwing everything and the kitchen sink at you for the last encounter in the story. Make a few wrong moves, and you’ll find your party quickly thinning down to just a few peopled before you get the chance to defeat big baddie Ashnard. Of course, if you’re a strategy god or have over-leveled your team, you can just send in Ike and beat the whole thing in a few minutes.
Donkey Kong Country – Mine Cart Carnage
The Donkey Kong County games have been among the hardest platformers Nintendo has released over the years, with the Wii U and Switch game Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze particularly challenging. The original Super Nintendo Donkey Kong Country is one of Rare’s best games, with tremendously creative levels and a kick-ass soundtrack, but its realistic animations also make it occasionally tough to time your movements.
This is particularly annoying during the game’s mine cart sections, which force you to leap from one piece of broken track to another without making a mistake. The speed at which you have to react is pretty ridiculous, and with a pretty unforgiving extra lives system, the best way to run through the game is with save states on the SNES Classic … just don’t’ tell your friends.
BioShock Infinite – the Siren
Unlike the other entries on this list, the Siren boss fight in BioShock Infinite isn’t frustrating because it’s difficult – it’s just plain annoying. As we’re approaching the climax of a game that largely centers on the characters Booker, Elizabeth, and Comstock, the story takes a pause to examine the bad blood between Elizabeth and her late mother. As this is a shooter, this naturally takes the form of a boss fight, and not a good one.
The ghost-like Siren revives dead citizens and sends them after Booker, who must avoid or kill them while trying to land shots on the Siren before she teleports to a new area. What ultimately could have been done in a cut scene is instead a long, boring fight against a character whose inclusion serves almost no purpose in the story.