10 Video Games That Punish Players For Sucking

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Difficulty in gaming serves an important purpose - essentially, they grant less experienced players access to the later stages of certain games, without forcing them to spend weeks or months honing their skills. 

Games like Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden pride themselves on their often excruciating difficulty levels, so it's only fair that less able players are given the option of making things a little easier for themselves. After all, they paid for the games, they have a right to experience as much of them as possible.

Unfortunately, some developers feel differently, taking every opportunity possible to berate, taunt or otherwise humiliate their players for taking the easy route. In some cases, not only will a game actively punish the player, but it'll restrict content, forcing them to replay huge chunks of the story or deny them a satisfactory ending.

  1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

    If you die once too many times in the latest instalment of Konami's Metal Gear Solid series, you'll be asked if the game is too difficult for you.

    If you agree, The Phantom Pain increases the amount of time's you can be spotted by enemies before an alert is triggered - but, there's a catch. Not only will your score suffer significantly, but you'll be forced to wear the infamous chicken helmet for the rest of the level, even during cutscenes.

    You might argue that wearing a silly hat is a small price to pay for getting past a difficult section, but you'll be surprised at just how often it spoils some of the more dramatic, cinematic moments in the game.

  2. Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex

    If you die more than five times in Crash Bandicoot 2: Wrath of Cortex, the game will just start handing you Aku Aku Masks (the equivalence of red mushrooms in Super Mario Bros.) until you're able to drag yourself to the nearest checkpoint.

    While that alone isn't an outright punishment - in fact, it's more a lifeline - if you continue to die without without making any sort of progress, the game will transform the closest box into a checkpoint, outright handing you another chance.

    Like MGSV, the game gives you every opportunity to finish a given level. If you still can't make it work, that's nobody's fault but yours.

  3. Streets of Rage 3

    There's usually a massive difference between the American and Japanese versions of a game, particularly in regards to difficulty. Sometimes, a game is actively made easier for Western audiences by the developers, and sometimes the difficulty settings are renamed from "Hard" to "Very Hard", and from "Medium" to "Hard". 

    Why? It's so Western players don't find themselves too discouraged when playing games like Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry.

    In Streets of Rage 3 however, the final two stages of the game are completely unplayable on easy mode, meaning that you'll have to replay the entire game on medium just to see the final ending. Worse, Robot X will actively taunt the player for their mistake, proclaiming "You play this game like a beginner!"

  4. Civilization

    At the end of Civilisation - after hours and hours of warring - political manoeuvring and strategising, you're awarded a rank based on your performance in the game.

    Civilisation isn't an easy game to master, especially for players unfamilar with this particular genre. If you suck however, you'll be awarded the rand of "Warren G. Harding" - a man notorious for being one of the worst, most scandalous Presidents in the history of the United States. The wonderful thing about this award as its true implications aren't immediately obvious, but after a little research you'll realise the extent to which the developers were punishining your awfulness.

  5. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

    Dishwasher: Vampire Smile punishes players for failing repeatedly, reminding them constantly that the difficulty setting can be tweaked.

    However, if you do decide to take this option - the appropriately named Pretty Princess Difficulty - enemies will be rendered almost completely ineffectual (unable to inflict direct damage on you whatsoever), and they'll also bleed big cartoon hearts instead of blood, rendering the entire game an obnoxious walk in the park.

    For a game that prides itself on its gore and violence, as well as its graphic depiction of each, this has to be the greatest insult of them all. For wanting less of a challenge, all challenge is ripped away from you, leaving you feeling like a big coward who couldn't take the heat.

  6. Spider-Man (PS1)

    Released back in 2001, Spider-Man was a fairly well-received game when it first came out, praised at the time for its gameplay and story alike.

    That said, Spider-Man features a difficulty setting so bafflingly easy that it renders the entire game completely pointless. The "Kid Mode" virtually plays itself - to the point that entire portions of the game are bypassed entirely.

    "Kid Mode" removes certain puzzles and boss fights, and even takes away control of Spider-Man for brief intervals in order to complete parts of the game for you. Worse still - during an early sequence in the game - Spider-Man will be tasked with safely defusing a bomb after a bank heist goes bad. On Kid Mode, he'll say "I should find a safe place to put this" - because there's no way to figure that out otherwise.

  7. Devil May Cry

    Throughout Devil May Cry, players have been given the option of reducing the difficulty following a certain numbers of deaths. In Devil May Cry 3 for instance, the player can activate an easy mode, which drastically reduces the difficulty, removes certain enemies and reduces the frequency of more difficult ones.

    In the first Devil May Cry, things are taken just a little bit further, as players are given the option of turning on a mode called "Automatic", which reduces the difficulty, but also reduces the complexity of combos dramatically - meaning that even the most complex attacks can be performed with just a couple of button presses.

    Considering how important combos are the series, and more generally how fun they are to perform, this really isn't something you'll want to give a go. It also locks you into the mode, so you can't change the difficulty again with finishing the game, or starting all over again from scratch.

  8. DOOM

    Doom has often utilised witty titles when naming difficult options, the most popular of which being "Hurt me plenty" and "Thou Art a Smitemeister" - which have been so popular that they've taken on a life of their own.

    Surprisingly, the less popular examples are the best ones, and they're mostly attributed to the easier difficulties. They range from "Hey, Not so Rough!" and "I'm too young to die", to "Thou Needeth a Wet-Nurse", "Yellowbellies-R-Us", and my personal favourite, "Be Gentle". The trend seems to have caught on, seeing as how everything from Wolfenstein to Ratchet & Clank has borrowed the idea since, giving their difficulty settings titles like "Can I play Daddy?", and "Coach-potatoe".

  9. King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow

    Since the very first entry in the series, one of the central appeals of King's Quest has been the adventure itself. From the original all the way up to last year's remake, the games have showcased a variety of environments, enemies and characters, and emphasised considerably your interactions with those around you.

    In King's Quest VI however, the player is given two very distinct options: a quick route, and a much longer quote. The correct route is the long one (at least according to the developers), because the short route bypasses several side quests and even huge chunks of the main quest as well.

    If you do take the short route, Cassima will lament all the missed opportunities and experiences, suggesting that while you have indeed managed to finish the game, you've missed a lot of important stuff. In short, she basically tells you to start again and play it right this time!

  10. Twisted Metal 2

    Sequel to the incredibly popular Twisted Metal, Twisted Metal 2 improved on nearly everything about the first game - including the franticness and unpredictability of the gameplay.

    As such, the game offered players who were having difficulty a secondary option, which is only fair given how incredibly off-putting the series is for new players unfamiliar with the series' speed and intensity.

    What they don't tell you when you select the mode is that it effectively ends the game after the first boss, literally putting a stop-sign in front of the player that reads "No losers allowed" - ouch.

    The sign isn't too far into the game, and it's not like you have to replay that much of it - the option is essentially a practice mode, but you're not exactly told that when you start playing.


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