The Top 10 Games That Just Rub It In

December 7, 2010

Every gamer is familiar with two words: “game over.”  There are plenty of ways to lose in games: exploding, getting shot, falling off a ledge, crashing, being lit on fire, falling into water, and so on and so forth.  Most games decide the shame of your sudden, painful maiming is enough to get the point across, but some game designers think that watching your hideous/hilarious death isn't quite rubbing it in enough.


Photo: Sierra Entertainment

By: Dan Seitz

10. King's Quest

Back when PC gaming meant a lot of pointing, clicking, and figuring out the moon logic of the game designer, because combining butter and a weasel totally makes sense in the real world, nobody put out more adventure games, or put out harder adventure games, than Sierra.

One mistake was all it took for a game over, and Sierra probably spent more time writing one-liners than they did developing the actual game, but one, from the original King's Quest, stands out as the worst.  Being a Sierra game, you can screw up and die by  falling into a moat within thirty seconds of starting your adventure.  The game over?
"The moat monsters appreciate your good taste".

Gee, guys.  Thanks.

9. Sega Rally



Photo: Sega

Sega, back in the '90s, were arcade gods, and put out a truly superb game called Sega Rally Championship.  It was the first game where the surface you drove on made a difference in speed.  And it was also a model of sportmanship. Except when you lost, the game was REALLY happy about it. Upon losing, a loud rhythmic tune would play “Game Over Yeah” in the most annoying way possible.

8. Total Distortion



Photo: Pop Rocket

Total Distortion
was a pretty innovative game where you played a music video producer fighting “Guitar Warriors.”  It was better know for its humor than its gameplay, probably because it was about ten years ahead of its time, and also because it's hard to make a game about rock music that doesn't involve a plastic guitar and doesn't suck.

As it was created by Joe Sparks, the man behind Radiskull and Devil Doll, when you lost, a cute little metal ditty.
We're pretty sure we heard “Your heart is stopped and your brain is cold” in a Ke$ha  song.

7. Half Life 2




Photo: Sierra Entertainment

Half Life 2 really shouldn't need any introduction, unless you've been gaming on a Mac your entire life, in which case, we think Half Life finally became available on Steam!  You should go play it!

Anyway, being an FPS with physics puzzles, it kept insisting on making you jump various chasms, leading to a whole lot of death.  And it's not enough that you died and failed to save the Earth, the NPCs themselves actually stand around and make fun of you.  For example, the rebels actually say: "He'll be OK, he's done this before."  You know, in front of your corpse.
We guess Gabe Newell popping up in full-motion video and yelling “HA HA YOU SUCK!” was a little too resource-intensive.  Maybe in five years, when Episode 3 comes out.

6. Tony Hawk




Photo: Activision


One of the eternal riddles of the Tony Hawk games is how your character, an athlete able to do back-flips at high speed, resist the forces of gravity long enough to twirl 720 degrees, and having the inhuman strength to stomp on the end of their board in a stall from zipping up a half-pipe at eighty miles an hour, can't swim.  Seriously, this guy is so athletic he's superhuman in real life, and water undoes him.

Just to rub it in, apparently the programmers feel the need to inform you, the player, of how much you suck. Our personal favorite is the reminder to “Stay in School!”

Yes, that's for the inspirational message, guys. You do realize Tony Hawk is what we're playing to avoid school?





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5. Quake



Photo: ID Software

There were so, so many ways to die in Quake.  Nails to the face, a shambler landing on you from out of nowhere, being sniped by a camper...ahhh, the glory days of blowing things up on a Pentium.

Since there were so many ways to die, somebody at id Software decided you needed a custom message for each death.  Generally, these were just along the lines of “You've been shot”, or “You were killed by...”  But sometimes they got really creative, our personal favorite being when you fell in a slime pit:

“You cannot subsist on slime alone.”

Or if you cooked a grenade just a little too long:
“Player 1 Tries to Put the Pin Back In”.

Well, if you can eat the stuff, what are we doing running around looking for medkits?

4. The Lost Vikings




Photo: Blizzard Entertainment

Back before Blizzard discovered that they could mint money with MMOs, they made a game called The Lost Vikings.  Featuring Erik the Swift, Baelog the Fierce and Olaf the Stout, you had to make them work together in order to solve puzzles and escape from salad-themed aliens.

It was, as you may have gathered, mildly silly. You had infinite retries to finish the sometimes brain-breaking puzzles, but that didn't mean Blizzard was going to let it slide with no comment.  The Vikings would chew you out every time you screwed up, complete with late-'90s voice sampling technology.  And if you screwed up enough times, no less than the god of thunder himself, Thor, would show up to mock you.

Yes, this is a game where, if you made enough mistakes, the gods themselves told you that you sucked.

3. Unreal Tournament



Photo: GT Interactive

Although Quake really introduced the idea, it was Epic and their Unreal franchise that really introduced the idea of running around and shooting your friends in the face, instead of running around shooting a primitive AI in the face.

The problem is, of course, that you can't feature the same message over and over again, so they decided to have a little fun.  Hence, messages like "Player 1 cornered Player 2 in a foggy London alley" or “Player 1 rode Player 2's rocket to oblivion.”
In UT 2004, they included suicide messages like “You tested out your landmine.  It works!” and “Silly player, grenades are for enemies!”


2 Warhawk




Photo: Sony Computer Entertainment

Warhawk
was a somewhat futuristic flight-sim for the PS1 that was fun, but nothing special.  One thing that was special, however, was your death.  Depending on the level you died in, the game offered you a detailed explanation of what happened next.  For example, one mission would describe how you slowly burn to death in the wreckage of your car.  Upbeat stuff like that.

Although the final level does at least have a somewhat good ending: yeah, you die horribly, but you were such a screw up that the main villain laughed himself right into an early grave.  So at least you killed the bad guy!

1. Demolition Man




Photo: Acclaim

We've had everybody from game programmers to Norse gods weighing in on how terrible you are, but Demolition Man takes it up a notch.  It's not just the game telling you that you suck.  It's Sylvester Stallone himself.

You see, the 3DO version of Demolition Man was made during the era that everybody believed that Hollywood and video games were going to merge into one FMV spewing industry.  So Stallone took the time to record a bunch of videos critiquing your performance as a gamer and your manliness as a human being (both lacking).

But there's one consistent item to all these videos: they end with Stallone telling you “You suck.”
Just the ego boosts America's kids needed!  Good thing none of them owned a 3DO!




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