July 16th, 2010 | By: Stu Horvath
As you might have already guessed, I love the notion that it was once common practice to have situations in which it becomes impossible to complete a videogame. To add insult to injury, the games in question rarely mentioned that fact to the player, leaving them to lurch around forever in a broken game, not knowing that the only way to succeed was to turn off the game and start from scratch.
Looking back from this current era of narrative-driven gaming, the fact that this was ever considered a good idea boggles my mind. As a simple matter of pleasing the consumer, it is the very definition of counter intuitive. Add that the inner logic of most early text and graphical adventure games was baffling, cruel, and unforgiving at the best of times and it becomes apparent that it was a small miracle that anyone ever finished a videogame in the early 80s. I’m hard pressed to think of any that I beat.
That didn’t stop me from trying, of course. I logged plenty of hours in games like Zork back then (and back last year and, hell, even back last weekend) so maybe there is something to be said for relentless difficulty and the breakdown of reason.
Let’s take a look at the five best unwinnable situations, be they weird, infuriating or just plain amusing. (more…)