We all love to complete games, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can't cross the finish line. And that's the subject of this week's community question as we ask you to tell us about a game that you really wanted to finish, but for whatever reason couldn't. While you think about your response, here's the USgamer team to admit their failings.
If we're talking about by playing fair, definitely Super Mario Bros. I've beaten it with save states, but by playing straight through from start to finish? Nope.
A big part of that has to do with Super Mario's role in my gaming history. I didn't get to play many games prior to owning an NES, so I really cut my teeth on Mario, the pack-in game. By the time I had developed some decent skills, I was pretty tired of Super Mario Bros. and never went back. I demolished pretty much every NES game I ever played in the next few years, but Super Mario Bros. remained a sort of white whale.
I completed it with the help of save states at long last a few years ago, but it was only this year that I finally sat down to tackle it from start to finish on the original hardware. And… I couldn't do it. The funny thing is, I played through every single world with no warps and found the whole thing surprisingly simple — I had inflated its ferocity quite a bit in my memory — but then I got to World 8-4.
The maze part of 8-4 isn't actually all that tricky (you always take the first pipe to appear after a pool of lava), but the trouble with the stage is that Bowser is a ridiculous wall of instant-kill destruction: Spitting flames, leaping, tossing hammers. Try as I might, I couldn't get past him. World 8-4 contains no power-ups, so you need to complete the entire stage and get past Bowser if you make the smallest mistake after collecting the final power-up in World 8-3. It's weirdly poor design in my opinion, and it really turns that ultimate showdown into a test of luck rather than skill. Which is lame.
I'll beat it someday, I'm sure. But for now, I have a complete recording of myself blasting through Worlds 1-1 through 8-3 like a breeze, and then spending an equal amount of time dying in an infinite loop in World 8-4. Ah well.
After getting swept up in the pre-release hype for No Man's Sky, I was really excited about journeying to the center of the game's universe and discovering what lay there. I managed to avoid all spoilers, and worked away for many hours, slowly jumping from system to system as I followed the path to the core.
However, my biggest and most challenging obstacle was simply frustration. Despite loving the exploration aspect of the game and flying from planet to planet, the mechanics of farming for rare materials to craft essential items, managing my stupidly limited inventory, and constantly having to grind for resources to keep my ship and gear running just bored me senseless. I stopped playing for a week, but because I was just so intrigued by the game and really wanted to uncover its mysteries, I tried again, spending a couple of hours a night doing what was necessary to gear up my ship so that it could make longer hyperdrive jumps. But my efforts didn't last. The work required to make progress was just too daunting for me, and in the end I just gave up.
I've since found out what happens when you reach the game's central objective, and I'm really glad I didn't continue playing, as I would have been incredibly disappointed after investing so much time and effort into getting there. I guess No Man's Sky is ultimately about the journey, and not the destination.
I've been banging my head against Final Fantasy V for more than a decade now. It's a marvelous RPG; but it seems like everytime I start up a game with the intention of finishing it, one of the following happens:
1. My save gets erased (this has happened).
2. I get distracted by some other game I'm supposed to be playing.
3. I get frustrated.
My biggest push to finish during Final Fantasy V came in college, when the release of Final Fantasy X prompted me to try and complete the rest of the series. I think I got as far as Atomos, which devoured my party and caused me to throw my hands up in despair.
There are some people who have mastered Final Fantasy V to the point that they beat every year for the Four Job Fiesta. Unfortunately, whether because I don't care much for the characters or because I don't have time anymore, my goal of finishing Final Fantasy V will most likely remain elusive.
The 2001 American release of Dragon Quest VII (called "Dragon Warrior VII at the time) coincided with a period in my life where I had a ton of free time, a modest disposable income, and an uncritical love for most things Japanese. So, of course I reserved it at my local video game store, which certainly didn't surprise the clerks, who often told me my pre-orders were the only reason certain games would even be shipped to their stores. Now, Dragon Quest VII has a fantastic premise, but, needless to say, its execution wasn't really up to 21st century standards. (And you can read my interview with the English localizer to find out why.) Even if you're into VII's slow pace, the presentation definitely needed a second pass, and fell far short of the high standard set by 1995's Dragon Quest VI.
Despite its flaws, I sat with the game for 120 hours, and highly enjoyed the sprawling adventure DQVII had to offer. But when I got to what felt like the final boss, only to die unceremoniously after dozens upon dozens of hours of building up my characters, the wind had completely vacated my sails. From that point on, I never touched the game again, though I still kept my save backed up on a memory card (which I still own), and regularly joked that I'd find some time to finally knock off that final boss one day. Thankfully, nearly 15 years after its original American release, we now have a vastly improved version available in English, and in a format that makes investing 100+ hours a much more reasonable proposition. Even if it's taken over a decade, victory will finally be mine... just get back to me in six months or so.
I’m USgamer’s Breath of Fire fangirl (was that ever made official? Well, I’m making it official now), so it’s with great shame that I admit I never finished the fifth entry in the classic RPG series, sub-titled Dragon Quarter.
Though I still appreciate how Dragon Quarter tries to do something completely different with what’s otherwise a pretty traditional JRPG series, I still find it a tough game to play. When I go back to a game like Breath of Fire III, I find its familiarity comforting and relaxing despite the game’s overall flaws. After all, if you know how to Final Fantasy, then you already know how to Breath of Fire. You just need to add dragons.
But Dragon Quarter trades its tried-and-true RPG mechanics for something more akin to a real-time strategy game -- a genre that stresses me right the hell out, even if I have nothing but great respect and admiration for it. I don’t want my Breath of Fire games to involve countdowns and penalties and mandatory deaths. I just want to turn into a tiger-dragon hybrid, man.
I can’t even imagine the Capcom of today taking Dragon Quarter-level creative risks. In fact, Dragon Quarter’s poor sales can be cited as one reason why the company opted for safer releases. That’s why every morning I look in the mirror and tell myself, “Well Nadia, your refusal to latch onto Breath of Fire V is the reason why Breath of Fire VI is a free-to-play mobile game. Bravo, Nadia. Braaav-oh.”