I consider myself a hardcore gamer. You’ll never catch me sobbing like a spanked child when faced with a challenge. Nope, not me. My dinkle twitches into life whenever I’m confronted with an awkward Xbox achievement. Cheating is unthinkable; the last refuge of a coward. Fuck you for even thinking about it.
Still, even gaming gods have their off days. And sometimes, on those super rare occasions when a videogame is, you know, a little too devious for its own good, I sometimes, but very rarely - almost never in fact - consult the Internet, just to make sure I’ve covered all my bases. But I’m not cheating. Perish the thought. I’m simply moving things along. I’m a busy man and my time is precious. Yup, busy busy busy.
So then, below are five occasions when I’ve had to consult the Internet for a quick information fix. Again, because I’m a busy man. Not because I’m shit at games.
New Super Mario Bros Wii
Roping in a couple of playmates is never a problem when you mention the ubiquitous Italian chubster. Faces light up and eyes mist over with childhood nostalgia. That mystical Mario allure has yet to wane after all these years. Sharing power ups, boosting a chum to reach a Star Coin, piggybacking a weaker player over tricky terrain - all these wonderful moments of teamwork are integral to the happy, shiny, let's-be-friends feel. Until, that is, you reach THAT level.
Breaking point: World 9-7. Lurking beneath the candy-coated exterior is the very essence of Satan himself. The pixel-perfect jumps required to navigate the level will cause many to self-harm and may even induce cancer. The icy terrain poses a twin threat. Not content with being a slippery bastard, it also has the infuriating habit of disintegrating under foot. Add to this the fiendishly placed Star Coins and you have all the ingredients for an aneurism. Trust me, this makes The Lost Levels look like a trip to Alton Towers. Not fun.
Just Cause 2
For my money the best open world game on the Xbox. A massive, gorgeous game-space bursting with real-time potential. See that snow capped mountain looming in the distance, begging to be climbed? Well, you can climb it. And then you can jump off it, free fall for an age, and in what is surely one of gaming’s greatest moments, deploy your parachute and glide gracefully onto the sandy beach below. Magical.
Breaking Point: Trying to find the Vanderbildt Leisure Liner (VLL). In order to complete the ‘Try Everything Once’ achievement you have to drive all 104 vehicles. But guess what? The sodding VLL doesn’t actually exist! A glitch in the game code means that the vehicle never spawns!
Solution: I had to buy the ‘Black Market Aerial DLC pack’. The additional vehicles included in this package helped me hit the magical 104 mark.
Completing the campaign on legendary is hard, but achievable. Trying the same feat with all skulls turned on and without help from a fellow spartan is truly a test of one’s gaming mettle, but still achievable. It’s only when trying for a 100% achievement record that I became unstuck.
Breaking point: For a developer with such a fond regard for its fans, it makes it doubly unpalatable that Bungie created such a painfully hard achievement. I’m talking, of course, about the ‘If They Came To Hear Me Beg’ achievement, where the player is asked to ‘perform an assassination against an Elite to survive a fall that would’ve been fatal’. And yes, it’s as hard as it sounds.
Saw 2: Flesh And Blood
Plunging your hand into a toilet full of used syringes in order to retrieve a rusty nail is just one of the ridiculous, counter-intuitive mini-games in this sordid world of torture porn. But pain, frustration and death are to be expected from a Saw game – it’s the franchise’s raison d'etre. Just don’t expect me to grin and bear it when nasty design flaws are the cause of my suffering.
Breaking point: Those fucking balancing beams. Yup, believe it or not, walking along a plank of wood proved this game’s toughest challenge. Following the onscreen prompts to push the trigger buttons only seemed to hasten my demise. Having fallen to my death for the 156th time I was convinced the game was broken. But no, after consulting the Internet I found that as well as the trigger buttons, which moved my character forward, I also had to use the L-Stick to balance. After another 47 fruitless attempts at walking across that cunting plank the game took mercy on me and crashed.
Solution: Fuck knows; I shattered the disc into a million tiny pieces with a hammer.
Insanely bewildering, like a Kafka novel come to life. A super intense workout for the brain, guaranteed to have you weeping blood in frustration. The time altering mechanics coupled with some truly masochistic level design makes for a double hard bastard of a game.
Breaking point: Fickle Companion, World 4-7. Keys unlock doors, right? But what if the key you need has a mind of its own? How exactly do you unlock the door when the key you’re holding suddenly, and without warning, leaps from your hand and fucks off to the other side of the level? What then!?
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