Can't get no satisfaction
We dont expect games to give us a candy bar when we win, but we want something for putting hours into a release. But for all the examples of quality endgame content or touching cutscenes, some games never provide anything resembling closure. These titles cruelly play Keep Away with satisfaction like some schoolyard bully.
In this weeks Top 7, youll find games that punished players (in one way or another) for daring to complete them. Some games on this list are good, others are bad, but they all have one thing in common: they downright failed to reward gamers with anything remotely resembling satisfaction.
7. New Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. is one of the most beloved franchises in gaming, and the games normally reward that devotion by hiding secrets in seemingly every corner. Whether its Super Mario Worlds Star Road or the hyper-challenging final stage you can unlock in Super Mario 3D Land, Nintendo usually saves a little something something for players dedicated enough to find all the collectibles hidden in the Mushroom Kingdom. That tradition led us to believe that New Super Mario Bros. 2 would give us something--anything---for collecting one million gold coins. But since its on this list, you can probably guess it fell short.
Nintendo heavily promoted the million coin goal prior to release, challenging players to reach that lofty total. So what do you get for spending days obsessively replaying NSMB2 until you finally fill up your bank account? A slew of new levels? A new character to play as? A Scrooge McDuck-style pit of gold to swim around in? Nope, it's a new start screen. And if you collect 8,999,999 more, that new start image will be altered again. On the plus side, if you ever need to prove to friends that your personal time is truly worthless, you can just switch on New Super Mario Bros. 2 to prove it.
6. Mischief Makers
Treasure has been earning the respect of its cult fanbase ever since Gunstar Heroes came to the Genesis in 1993. But a big reason the company is so esteemed is that it often challenges players skills with tough gameplay, sometimes withholding important plot points from gamers who only play the campaign once or on normal difficulty. Usually Treasure handles this pretty well, but its little-played N64 sidescroller Mischief Makers was a little too cruel.
One of the first 2D platformers on the system, Mischief Makers starred robot girl Marina, and each stage contained exactly one hidden gold gem. After the final boss is defeated, you find out those gems are key to seeing any of the ending cinematic. Each jewel equals a couple seconds of resolution, and if you dont have all 54, then you wont be able to see the entire two minute conclusion. The solution? Go back and scour every stage for gems, beat the final stage all over again, and pray that you found all the precious stones this time. Back in 1997 we didnt have YouTube.
5. Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
There are many great games that deserved sequels and never got them, but most of them didnt risk as much on an expected follow-up as Psi-Ops did. The Mindgate Conspiracy stars Nick Scryer, a hero suffering from a textbook case of video game amnesia. Throughout the game he slowly recalls that hes an undercover operative who infiltrated a terrorist organization, and that he has powerful psychic abilities that hes slowly relearning. If it werent so clichd it would be a clever way to gradually introduce players to a character and the games novel gameplay, but as any soap opera star will tell you, the important part about fictional amnesia is how you resolve it. Psi-Ops approach is to... save it for later.
After beating the boss, Nick and his companion Sara spend a 60-second cutscene talking about how Nick remembers everything, then immediately they start running from helicopters. Nick begins to attack one of the choppers, but the moment is cut short by a smash cut to black with To Be Continued plastered on the screen. Obviously that was pretty presumptive of the developers, because no sequel ever materialized by the time its publisher, Midway, filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
4. Ghosts 'n Goblins
Ghosts n Goblins is one of the originators of cruelly unrewarding gaming (not that it's something to be too proud of). Beating GnG is a badge of honor that few players earned, mostly because the protagonist, a diminutive knight named Arthur, is surrounded by cheaply placed enemies thatll kill him in two or three hits. Most stages can be beaten through memorization, but there are enough randomly appearing monsters that luck is a huge factor too. Should you be skilled, fortunate, and tenacious enough, youll finally reach your reward at the end of the game: a trip back to the start.
See, you may have thought you killed the final boss and were about to embrace the princess, but according to the game, This room is an illusion and is a trap devised by Satan. Youre then instantaneously sent back to the start of this painfully difficult game in the hopes that beating it a second time might finally give you some closure (you at least get a kiss from the princess). On the plus side, the game offers the helpful tip, Make rapid progress! Thanks Capcom, we hadnt thought of that.
3. Astro Boy: Omega Factor
Osamu Tezuka is marginally known to comic fans outside Japan, but hes so respected in his home country that his work is still in the mainstream even decades after his death. Astro Boy is probably his most famous character, but Sega and Treasures Astro Boy beat em up for GBA embraced almost every major manga and anime of Tezukas. Unfortunately for fans seeking closure, the developers imitated Tezukas affinity for downer endings while also taking a page from Ghost n Goblins' playbook.
After beating all seven worlds of the GBA adventure, Astro Boy has seemingly saved the day, but he then meets the evil mastermind behind the games violent robot revolution. After secret plans are discussed, the ominous Death Mask appears to kill every robot on the planet, and players can only watch helplessly as the world burns while the credits role. Its true that after the credits Astro Boy is resurrected and tasked with replaying the entire game to find the path to the true ending, but good luck pulling that off without a guide.
2. Batman Dark Tomorrow
Before Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Caped Crusader was nearly as synonymous with terrible games as his best pal Superman. While there were perfectly serviceable titles based on the animated series, most of the worst Batman titles came in the form of Dark Tomorrow. It has a laundry list of problems, but it was the games botched finale that made the dreadful campaign feel completely pointless.
Once Bats has saved Commissioner Gordon from The Joker, Batman chases evil mastermind Ras al Ghul to the ancient villains remote castle. Bruce and Ras have a terribly boring sword fight, and once Batman wins, Ras tells him (and the player) that the world is still doomed. Ras bombs explode across the planet and millions die as Batman ridiculously screams to the heavens as the screen fades. Why did Batman fail? He didn't find a hidden bomb relay room that the game basically never tells you about. You could restart from an old save to see the good ending, but Dark Tomorrow's finale was so fitting the overall awfulness of the game that were betting many assumed that was the true ending and moved on.
1. Superman 64
Superman 64 is famously horrible. In fact, the game seems too ashamed of its terribleness to even put its name on the front of the box. Gamers had to control an incredibly fragile Superman through a virtual Metropolis created by Lex Luthor. The bald bad guy has trapped super-friends Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen inside this crappy computer world. To find them, Superman clumsily flies through rings and picks up bombs using the worst controls known to man. And should you somehow find a way to complete these practically unbeatable--unfinished?--levels, the game saved one insult for last.
Once Superman finally frees Lois and Jimmy from their cyber prison, the camera pans over to Lex Luthor with the abrupt text, You managed to get your friends out of this nightmare, but in the real world, Lex is still there. The game then literally laughs at you--technically its Luthor chuckling at your superheroic impotence, but we like to imagine its the cartridge itself, amused that it could kick you in the junk one last time.
Are you not entertained?
Oh did you think this was the end of the article? Nope, youre going to have to go back to the beginning to get the real last slide. And if you dont see it then, you should probably read through the article a third time just to be safe. But if youre a quitter, feel free to share your unrewarding game experiences in the comments.