Best of 2012: Top 10 Annoying Videogame Experiences

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For all the gaming highlights of 2012, there were quite a few moments of frustration, at least for me. They came in many irritating forms. Some were due to glitches in games, some were caused by basic design flaws and/or oversights on the part of developers, some were directly related to my own stupidity or incompetence. All sucked.

There isn’t too much more to say about this list; really, I just want to get it out of the way. It’s not bringing back very pleasant memories.

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VR BEST OF 2012 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. You have been warned, fanboys.
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10. “Why am I trapped in the water?” – Sleeping Dogs

Barely seconds into my first opportunity to explore Hong Kong during Sleeping Dogs, I ended up at the docks. It wasn’t something I intentionally aimed for, but my open-world gaming habits, honed during hours of fun with Just Cause 2, dictated that I should explore as much of the game world as possible. Assuming the region was my oyster, I jumped gleefully into the sea, before discovering that ten minutes of aimless swimming were ahead of me. There was no place from which I could get back onto dry land, at least anywhere I could catch a glimpse of. The docks themselves weren’t much better, as I discovered when I finally did get back on land. There weren’t even any people out there; just a maze of crates and a jumping glitch that froze me in midair.

9. “Why am I still trapped in the water?” – Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation

Later in the year, I was playing Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation while in the Lady Persona, which allows you to blend in with people, charm guards and generally avoid accidental notoriety raises that suck so much while in other Personas or, indeed, while playing other Assassin’s Creed games. The downside to this mingling ability is that you cannot free run at all while inhabiting the Persona. So no climbing or jumping etc. All well and understandable, for sure, until I was pushed into the water by a particularly aggressive NPC, where the lack of free running ability translated into a basic inability to grab onto a ledge and pull oneself out of the water. Cue several minutes of swimming around again until finally, I found a ramp onto dry land.

8. Lazy Camera – Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper

The Wii U launch version of Warriors Orochi 3 was clearly shipped in a partially unfinished form, as the graphical porting job is quite terrible in places. Not that this bothers me all that much, because its ADHD-esque attitude to keeping things moving and changing is addictive, particularly in the game’s dual-screen co-op mode. The mountain of playable characters certainly adds to the fun. But what detracts from it is the game’s awful camera, which admittedly doesn’t matter too much on Easy or Normal difficulties because plowing through enemies is a breeze. But as soon as Hard mode is triggered and enemies start taking much more punishment before going down, it becomes a real problem that literally half the time, you can’t see them. Ugh.

7. Nevi, Nevi Everywhere – Gravity Rush

This one is probably more a case of my own impatience than anything else, but game design is partly responsible too. Though they are uncommon, there are a few moments in Gravity Rush, as well as in at least one of its DLC packs, when the game’s various Nevi enemy types appear en masse and surround you to the point of being overwhelming. The central combat mechanics, dominated by the normally cathartic Gravity Kick move, begin to sag a bit under such weight of numbers. Unless your super attack gauge is fully charged when you get ambushed, you have to “fall” far away from the swarm of orbs and then proceed to either wait for your meter to refill, or pick off the enemies one by one, which is so very, very time-consuming.

6. Disappearing Pokemon – Pokemon Conquest

I’ve mentioned this one a number of times on Vagrant Rant, but it bears repeating. I do need to clarify that this irritating occurrence doesn’t actually ruin the game, as you find out soon afterwards why it needs to happen. However, at the moment you discover it, things don’t look too rosy. After completing what you think is the main quest of the entire narrative, having built up a formidable army through hours of grinding and careful resource management followed by a devastating run sweeping all before you, you fight the last boss. Then you “borrow” a ludicrously powerful god-Pokemon. Then you lose all your Pokemon. All of them. If you want to keep playing, you have to start from scratch with a different Warlord. The reasoning for this is unfortunately poorly explained by the game, which caused several players to put down the game for good in 2012. Such players missed out on a swathe of rewarding gameplay thereafter, which is a real shame.

5. Difficulty Transfer – Pokemon White Version 2

Imagine my disbelief, and subsequent excitement, at finding out that Pokemon Black/White Version 2 would support a difficulty setting, a first for the legendary series. No longer would I have to face moronic AI or uproariously mediocre enemy trainer levels, thought I. No longer would I have to feel like I was just waiting for endgame content to start. Well I was right on these points, at least, but the process of getting to the point of experiencing them was undeniably frustrating. I had to buy an extra copy of Black 2 and wait for a friend to speed-run through it for me just so I could transfer the “Challenge Key” to my fresh White 2 and start the adventure on the harder difficulty setting. Fix this next time, Gamefreak. Please.

4. Boo’s Service – Mario Tennis Open

Mario Tennis Open for 3Ds was one of my favourite multiplayer games of 2012, full stop. It looks amazing, plays so smoothly and supports a single cartridge, four-player multiplayer mode with all the ingredients necessary for a great local session. Unfortunately, one of the characters you can choose is the trollerific Boo. Facing the cartoon ghost’s service game is like driving through suburbia at night without headlights; you have all the tools you need to get by safely, but you’re never confident that you can handle whatever comes your way in a pinch. Boo’s serves will curve with utterly ridiculous trajectories, sometimes late, sometimes early, and he will get the ball to move in ways that no other single-cart multiplayer character can even dream of. Having him on your team almost guarantees a win in your column every four games.

3. Dying For the Millionth Time – Catherine

“Love is Over”. “Love is Over”. “Love is Over”. No game made me feel more inadequate as a gamer in 2012 than Catherine, a sadistic puzzler that may have slightly damaged my emotional wellbeing for good. I saw those three words, and heard those four symphonic notes, so very many times. I kept playing for the fascinatingly unique storyline, but I had to play on Easy and consulted a guide more times than I’ll care to admit, especially later on in proceedings. Catherine should absolutely be experienced by anyone with the stomach for it, but man, is it difficult.

2. *Freeze* *Loud Irritating Noise* – Nintendo Land

The last thing you want to happen when you’re trying any launch game of a fresh home console, let alone one of its flagship titles, is have the game lock up on you. But that is exactly what happened to me, twice, while playing Nintendo Land during the few days before Nintendo released a patch for the Wii U’s operating system. It wasn’t a fault in the coding of the game itself that caused the glitch, rather an odd string of data that the game pulled down from Nintendo’s Miiverse service and didn’t like, but the freezes were a major disappointment nonetheless. Credit to the big N for fixing the problem so quickly, but I’m not likely to forget such an ugly manifestation of the company’s relative inexperience in the online space anytime soon.

1. “**** Sound Shapes” – Sound Shapes

Once upon a time, I loved my Playstation Vita. It was such a beautiful console that provided me with so many moments of genuine fun. Then along came Sound Shapes, a charming downloadable platforming title that looked fantastic, with an undeniable minimalist charm, sounded amazing, and provided hours upon hours of potential creative energy expenditure. But once I finished the game’s main campaign, things changed. They quickly turned sour as its developer’s true colours began to shine through. You see, finishing the main level packs unlocks Death Mode, a truly evil mess of claustrophobic arenas and even more claustrophobic time limits. Your objective is to collect a certain amount of notes in each arena before time runs out, but without a nigh-on unbelievable run of luck and a corresponding run of unwavering focus aligning perfectly, the levels are impossible. The worst part? The game dangles a tantalising double Platinum Trophy in front of you as your ultimate reward (as the game cloud syncs with its PS3 version, duplicating your trophies in the process). Never have I wanted to throw any portable console against the wall so much. Never have I felt so unaccomplished after a long gaming session. Sound Shapes really is a fantastic game that critics absolutely loved upon its release, but I will probably never play it again.

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Dishonorable Mentions

–Block Blocking – New Super Mario Bros U
–“I have to draw that AGAIN?” – Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
–Control Issues – Kid Icarus: Uprising

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