Human beings are smart. Really smart.
We're the only species on earth with the brainpower to comprehend its own existence. We've landed on the moon, built great feats of engineering, constructed huge buildings that pierce the clouds in the sky, and made tremendous leaps in the fields of science and medicine. So yeah, we're a clever bunch, all told.
This makes it all the more embarrassing when we have moments that have us truly questioning our own intelligence. Moments that stoke the imposter syndrome and make us think "huh, maybe I'm not that smart after all". When we have these moments, it's good to talk about them. Admitting our own minor setbacks and laughing it off in the company of our peers can be exceptionally liberating. It makes us realise that we're all in the same boat, just trying to navigate our way through life as best as we can.
With this in mind, we thought we'd share our own shameful gaming moments that made us question our intelligence; seemingly simple tasks or mechanics that should, in theory, prove to be no issue whatsoever, and yet kept us stumped for much longer than we'd usually care to admit, with the eventual revelation coming as both an incredible relief and an extreme embarrassment.
Did I really get stuck here? Gosh...
Ollie Reynolds, Ball Dropper
Playing through Metroid Prime Remastered over 20 years after I initially booted the original up on the GameCube, it reminded me of a rather embarrassing moment during the game's opening tutorial section on the Space Pirate Frigate.
I turned the GameCube off in frustration. "I'm clearly not cut out for this experience," I thought.
You see, at this point in the game, Samus has many of her core abilities intact; it's only when you actually escape the Frigate and land on the nearby planet Tallon IV that she loses them all. So, Missiles? Check. Grapple Beam? Check. Morph Ball? Check. I knew I had the Morph Ball, because I tested it out directly after jumping off my ship. And yet...
There's a moment about ten minutes into the game where you come across a locked door. Scanning the monitor in front states that in order to open said door, you need to "insert metallic sphere" into an indentation on the ground. Naturally, of course, this is referring to Samus' Morph Ball ability, but for reasons I still can't quite comprehend to this day, I must have spent a good two hours or so scouring the rooms I'd already visited for some sort of spherical object. Over and over and over... Obviously, I didn't find one.
No joke, when I finally realised that the game was referring to the Morph Ball ability, I turned the GameCube off in frustration. "I'm clearly not cut out for this experience," I thought. I went back to it a few hours later when I'd calmed down, and I'm so grateful for doing so, because the journey afterwards was mostly plain sailing, and it resulted in one of the most thrilling gaming experiences of my life.
Metallic sphere... Hahaha. If you can't laugh, you'll cry.
Alana Hagues, Ninja Neglecter
Shame on me, but Final Fantasy VI was one of the last Final Fantasy games I beat. Yet, over 20 years after the game first came out, I made a huge mistake, one that shocked plenty of people. I know others have done this too, but look, the game pretty obviously hints at what you should do. So it's time to confess. Spoilers for Final Fantasy VI ahead...
Around the halfway point of the game, you're on the Floating Continent. You've rescued a former ally, Shadow, who you found out was secretly working for the Empire, and he chooses to join the Returners until you confront Kefka and Emperor Gestahl at the Warring Triad, where Shadow leaves. A lot happens, and you're forced to escape the Floating Continent in a limited amount of time.
when I told my friends, they were shocked. I've been branded a ninja murderer
When there's a time limit in the corner of a screen, I always panic, and so I see this clock ticking down as I'm running around the Floating Continent, trying to save the party's lives, and I think "I need to get out of here fast". I got to the end, and below me, the Blackjack was floating, waiting for me. Then the game gave me a choice — jump or wait. Not even thinking, I selected 'Jump'. And we escaped. It didn't once twig that hey, Alana, there's a timer and the game is suggesting for you to wait. Why? Had I said 'Wait', and tried to jump again, the game would've specifically suggested "Gotta wait for Shadow...". Literally, the game put flashing warning signs in front of me and I just totally ignored them.
It was only when I got about five hours into the World of Ruin and I was rounding up the rest of the Returners again and I was like, wait, where's my favourite ninja? As it turns out... I couldn't. He's permanently dead, and there's nothing I could do about it. Oops. I still saved the world and ended Kefka's reign as God, but with some extra blood on my hands...
I'm glad I'm not the only one who did this, but when I told my friends, they were shocked. I've been branded a ninja murderer despite the signs Final Fantasy VI gave me. It's not obvious like "fire magic heals the fire enemy" — maybe if I'd done this as a kid I'd feel a bit better about it. But I was in my 20s. The internet was right there.
Or I could have just, you know, read.
Jim Norman, Arrow Avoider
The year was 2005. The game was LEGO Star Wars on the GBA. Yep, this title might not match up to the others on this list in the ranking of 'best games eva', but it was still enough to stump little ol' me.
I got lost. In a Lego game.
As anyone who has ever played a Lego game will be able to tell you, these levels are pretty straightforward. You move from a clearly-defined point A to an equally clear point B, solving some not-too-head-scratching puzzles along the way and getting involved in some very simple single-button combat. True, the 100% collectathon that comes after can be challenging, but my issue came with point one of the aforementioned list: I got lost. In a Lego game.
There was one level (I forget which episode) where you are trundling along as R2-D2, dropping mines, and using your hover ability to cross gaps. I emphasise hover in this instance because, well, it was pretty important. After making it so far, I was faced by a big gap with a series of studs across it. Unlike the other gaps that I had come across to this point, I couldn't see the other side. "I suppose that's just a hole that leads to nowhere," I concluded, after using R2's limited hover ability to fly out, collect the studs and then fly back to my side. The safe side.
I then found myself at something of a dead end. With nowhere left unexplored apart from this giant hole in front of me, where was I possibly supposed to go? I kept turning off my GBA and rebooting the level — this had to be a hardware problem, right? What I neglected to think about was the gap's hovering studs that I had collected so many times were lying in the shape of — you guessed it — an arrow. All you had to do was follow the direction of the arrow and the scrolling screen would move with you, showing you the other side of the pit.
Whether it's the shame of blaming the hardware or my complete negligence around the massive arrow in front of me (bear in mind that the GBA version was from an isometric perspective, making the direction even clearer) I'll never know. But one thing I am sure of is how that gap still haunts me. If a Lego game — or any game, for that matter — presents you with a giant arrow, kids, you should probably follow it.
Liam Doolan, Pokémon Master
Not long after I got Pokémon Blue on Game Boy, I decided to use my first-ever Master Ball on a Jigglypuff.
I even saved the game file... d'oh!
Gavin Lane, Barrel Blocker
This one is something millions of us ran into, but I can't think of anything quite so simple that stalled me for so long: the Sonic 3 'barrel'.
For those not in the know, this was a rotating bouncy cylinder that blocked your path in Carnival Night Zone. The key to getting past it is to realise that you can affect the barrel's elastic-y bounce by alternately pushing up and down on the D-pad, thus propelling the platform down far enough to access the next part of the level and spin dash on your merry way.
Bearing in mind how elementary Sonic 3's controls are (the D-pad and a single button), to get stumped on this until the timer ran out multiple times did make me question my sanity when I finally found out how to get past the thing. Erstwhile NL contributor and Retronaut Stuart Gipp wrote about it a few years back, quite rightly admonishing anyone dim enough to be outfoxed by a bloody barrel. No excuses, here. My bad.
Ah... We feel better now that's off our chests. Now, we'd love to hear your stories, too. Do you have any moments in gaming that made you question your own intelligence? Moments that, until this day, you've been simply too embarrassed to tell anybody?
Don't worry, we're all friends here. Share your story in the comments section below.
Yep in Super Mario Odyssey, I kept waiting for a plot twist to happen that never did. C’mon that hat controls people, Cappy is always on top of Mario in his mind controlling googley eye form so clearly he’s controlling Mario. Then you don’t lose lives in this game almost like Mario doesn’t have any life now…
@jump Wow. That’s deep and mildly terrifying
At one point in Spirit Tracks, there was a puzzle, something to do with the line of sight of a statue, or something like that. I was stuck on it for ages, despite having been able to do similar puzzles in many other games. After a while I realised that the lines were supposed to pass each other, but I had just kept ending them about when they intersected. For this instance, I can only assume that Ghostbusters was on the tv. Probably some even worse instances, but they've probably been locked in the deepest section of my mind out of shame.
City of tears from hollow knight
I've been waiting for a post like this...
The year is somewhere in the late 2000s. Little ol' me got a Wii for my birthday and a couple of crappy games. Pajama Man Sam was one of them.
It was just one of those simple point and click adventures, about this kid who's scared of the dark.
So I play through the game and get to the point where the final boss (Darkness) is on the other side of the door. Problem is, the door is guarded by two magical trees who give you a quiz on the past environment you've encountered.
The final question was something along the lines of "what did the sign in the mine say." It was referring to a sign, in the mine. That I explored earlier. I knew it said DANGER because the other answers were the obvious silly ones, but it never worked! "Whoops! Wrong answer!" The trees would reply, as they shook me upside down.
I tried the other two. Nothing. Me and my dad used the internet and nothing. Hours upon hours, trying and trying. I could never get the door to open, and I would never know what Darkness looked like.
Flash forward to about a year or two ago, I'm going through my old Wii games and I find Pajama Man Sam. Figured I might as well try again with my quest for the elusive quiz answer.
My save point is at the trees, of course. I answer the quiz, exactly as I remember, and then the mine question comes up. I select DANGER, and surprise! It doesn't work.
At this point, I'm still stumped. I decided to leave the final area and actually backtrack to the mine. Go through it and yep, the sign says DANGER all right. I click it to interact with it, and the little prompt says something about the quiz. I return to the trees and select DANGER...
All I had to do was to backtrack to the sign to read it and interact with it to prove that I had seen it. My jaw literally dropped to the floor, and I turned off the Wii. I put the disc back into the case, and the case back into the box.
I will never let myself see what Darkness looked like.
Mario and Luigi: Dream Team had me stumped at one point during my play through (unfortunately I can’t remember what part of the game I was stuck on), so much so that I actually stopped playing the game for a while. Eventually I picked it up again and got past whatever I was stuck on, albeit with the help of the official strategy guide for the game. Stellar game though.
The barrell one in Sonic 3 is kind of a running joke with Sonic fandoms and I believe even SEGA.
As for my intelligence questioning moment, I'd say that belongs to Donkey Kong 64 in two instances actually, the Dogadon's Revenge and the King Kut Out bosses.
With Dogadon, it was when the platform starts to sink into the lava, I didn't realize that you needed to punch him with the Primate Punch (Z+B).
With King Kut Out, after he loses both arms, he starts to spring briefly before changing places, I didn't get the timing correctly, which led to a lot of confusion and some anger.
Mind you, this was when I was a kid. When I played it again back in 2021 I remembered.
Hmm Sonic 3 barrel got me also. I had Sonic Jam and would always play normal instead which took it out.
Zelda Links Awakening as a kid I got stuck in bottle grotto 2nd dungeon for years because I didnt know the names of monsters and you had to kill them in a certain order... I also thought I could wake wind fish by playing fishing minigame.
I got Smash Ultimate a few weeks after it’s launch. Got it for Christmas with my first switch, in fact. As soon as I booted it up, i immediately went for the World Of Light. Played only that mode for days straight, not even the Smash mode. I got to Dracula’s Castle in the dark world, and I was completely lost. I got stuck several times. There was an underground passage that I skimmed over that literally had Ridley in it (If you find a character in smash ultimate world of light, you fight them, win, and then you can play as them.) So I had to backtrack. I also couldn’t figure out how to damage those cogs that were near Dracula’s throne room. I kept shooting the cogs in a way where I blocked off access to an unlockable character, and once I did it another way, I blocked access to the Throne Room. It was super stupid and stressful. That was how I got a joy-con sized dent in my bedroom wall.
Shadows of Mordor. I was playing the game and thought that this game was really- really hard! And I couldn't work out how to do so many of the skills seen in the trailers and such.
I finally beat it and began messing around with the open world only to realise.... I had forgotten all about the skill trees! I hadn't put any points into anything outside of the tutorial part! I unlocked everything and then the game was too easy 😅
Another one was recently with Xenoblade 3. I was stuck in the city at a certain part of the story and I couldn't get back out. Had to Google it. I found out then you could fast travel to different regions on the main menu.... About 90 hours of play time I had been travelling to the ends of every map to travel to the next region when I could have just fast travelled directly there. 90 hours .....
I think I made a big mistake when I quickly want to kick out unwanted villagers from ACNH, I realized I need them for a while to learn different expressions from 8 different type villagers and I missed some expressions from unwanted type of villagers.
The Sonic 3 barrel....that one had me for days until I figured it out.
There was a one on Link's Awakening on GB that had me, a wall needed bombing on a dungeon but I could never see it, weeks lost searching the map. Got the screen in the right light to make out a bomb-able wall and then I was away.
Jigglypuff in a Master Ball though! Love that
Calling the Nintendo hotline out of pure frustration to ask how to beat the spiny shell things in Tail Cave (the 1st dungeon in links awakening) despite the owl statue having literally just told me exactly how to do it, on my GBC back in the days when I had hair (I blame this moment for the fact I now have not so much.)
The person on the hotline didn’t even give me a courtesy rustle of their gaming notes to pretend they had to look it up.
I couldn't exit the players room in Pokemon Sun (My first ever videogame). I nearly went back to GameStop to ask how you do it.
For months, I played Vita without realizing that the analogs were clickable. Made games so much more difficult. You think I would learn my lesson when I had PS3, where I also had this very issue. Also, when I first got PS3, I would just shut it off in middle of game, not realizing that I was interrupting game saving and corrupting them. Thought the PS3 was broken. Felt pretty dumb when I figured it out
Paying for the NSO Expansion Pack.
I didn’t find out that you could save Shadow until after playing through the entirety of Final Fantasy VI for the first time. After I discovered this, I proceeded to start the whole game over and play through it again. The game was so damn good that I didn’t even mind.
Phantom hourglass, when you had to put the console to sleep to transfer an icon to the bottom screen. Though I was using a 2ds to be fair.
Metroid dread, the boss fight with the specimen or whatever it was called - it has a phase where it holds onto the walls with its four arms and somehow I never figured out to shoot them for like an hour and a half.
The only time I found myself questioning my intelligence is when I listened to people on the internet.
I think I could still barely read when I finished Pokemon Red, so I probably felt like a genius for whatever parts of it I managed to get through on my own. The times I can really remember being stuck in a game were interpreting the first set of motion control QTEs in The Force Unleashed on Wii, that first spinning eye puzzle in Skyward Sword, and most recently, opening the dungeon under the bird statue in Link to the Past. Turns out the solution on the last one was just to hold the button longer. Oh, and those "puzzles" in Portal 2 where the solution was noticing a tiny speck of white somewhere off in the distance. I'm sure there were others, but those are the ones that have stuck with me.
plying the Shin Megami Tensei games it makes you question which path to take (law, order, chaos, neutral) and if you fell like you made the right decision
Twilight Princess, as a fan of Zelda games i had waited for the game to be released, pre-ordered it with the Wii. After just probable 2 hours I got stuck and was completely stuck..... after years, during the covid pandemic, I started the game again, from the beginning and couldn't believe I was stuck back in the days. 😅
When I was a kid, my local video store had Mega Man X and the SNES Game Genie available to rent at the same time. My older sister rented both for me. IYKYK
Anywhere in Zelda III when you have to push blocks to move forward. Took me way too much time to figure out which way to push them.
In my 3rd playthrough of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne as I was going through the Amala Labyrinth doing one of those diving minigames where you're supposed to avoid the rocks as you're falling I accidentally hit one of the buttons and learned that you in fact can punch through the rocks in those minigames and don't need to just avoid everything, I never even considered that was an option, I facepalmed pretty hard at that point.
Pokémon Crystal was my first Pokémon game when I was around 10. I could barely understand English, but I'm not sure it's really relevant here, because...
For one, I used my Master Ball on a Chansey. I thought it was so rare that I pretty much needed to use it.
Why didn't I use it on the legendary beasts? Well, because... I defeated them. And I was so proud, I remember searching for an NPC that would congratulate me on such a feat. Well, the only thing I accomplished is locking myself out of the Ho-oh sidequest, because you need to catch the three legendaries for that to happen (and trading them over does not work). Well.
When I selected to retry the hundedth time in one mission in Hong Kong Massacre to try and get all the stars at once (no slo mo, within time limit, and 100% accuracy, in a game of bullet dodging and every bullet being an instant death). It was the last one where I didn't get it yet... And I already had all the stars from separate runs. I was definitely no longer having fun since the twentieth or so try, and I hated everything by the fiftieth, and no amount of satisfaction from a challenge to myself was ever going to make up for the frustration by that point. At 100, I literally asked myself why I did this to myself, what I was trying to prove to who, other than that I'm a complete fool for doing what I was doing.
@Expa0 Same here, same here.
@Dman10 this is me when I first played Splatoon 1. didn't know they pressed and it took awhile to figure out how to activate the specials.
The time I bought Pokémon sword
There's a little area in Super Metroid referred to as Noob Bridge. I discovered this name after having to Google the solution and learning that a run button exists in that game. So much backtracking and searching just to need to run.
Remember quite some times when a game was just to hard to get any further, but don't remember any moment like these.
Well when Skyward Sword HD came out it was a no brainer for me to get. I never owned a Wii so I missed out on this one (and TP so bring on the TP/WW HD please) and knew I wanted to try.
When you get to fly for the first time, I couldn't figure out how to fly higher. As I couldn't stop descending, I eventually got stuck in the clouds and the game was giving me pity help by flashing the controls on the screen for me. After probably 5 minutes of trying exactly what the screen was telling me to, I was getting frustrated and threw my arms up in the "well wtf I give up" sort of way... and I started to ascend... Turns out I wasn't exaggerating the control movement enough to make a real difference. I was a bit ashamed that a core movement of the game sort of stumped me, even when it was telling me what to do on the screen.
Now you're all my secret keepers.
Playing Broken Sword 4 as an impatient 16-year-old. You were supposed to open a door, but couldn't reach the latch. The solution was simply using the golf club that had been in your inventory for most of the game. I used a walkthrough.
Ocarina of Time, I couldn't figure out how to get the Goron tunic. The door to the shop wasn't open and the shop owner doesn't sell the tunic to Child Link. I had no idea. I had to go get a strategy guide, which in the mid 90s meant I had to leave my house and go find the guide in a local store. I slapped my head when I read how to get it from the Prima Guide. Oh, and the universe punished me for looking at a guide. I opened the book right on the page where it reveals who Sheik is.
@Dman10 Er, the analog sticks on the PS Vita were never clickable….
I had a friend in college with the exact same experience on the morph ball "puzzle." I was extremely amused.
No shame in getting stuck on Sonic 3's barrel of doom. Others have analyzed why it's objectively bad design already.
I always forget that you can roll into objects to shake them in 3D zelda
Having to reset the Genesis in X-Men. I didn’t even figure it out until the dawn of the internet.
That moment when you are trying to level up your Luvdisc into Alomomola.
Ollie, please. I've even googled Ace Attorney walkthroughs on a couple occasions. What "intelligence" is there to question?😅
F-Zero. 15 year old me loved the game, but could never finish Queen League due to a certain little course named White Land II. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to clear the long jump. I must've tried it dozens of times before I accidentally touched the D-pad and figured out the trick to the jump.
My wife and her family all make fun of me because I never got the jacket from the old man BotW. I made increasingly complicated machines and food trying to get to the top of some mountain, I eventually quit and never looked back. After describing what happened they've never let it drop lol
Water Temple in Ocarina of Time. I’m pretty sure I did the same things over and over again expecting different results.
playing any game with my kids when they were young. my revenge now when they are being smart getting stuck cant defeat a boss take controller one shot walk it. then say later copil
Mine was Batman: Arkham Asylum, after some battle the Riddler says something about a painting.
The painting is apparently in the same room the battle was in, but I couldn't find it, I went back to the start and back to the room listening to the Riddler clearing saying its the painting.
I quit and never went back.
Absolutely the Sonic 3 barrel - if only the Internet had existed!
Twilight Princess there was a snowy area and it said it was too cold to go in my current clothing, I’d need some sort of fur coat. So off I went trying to find somewhere to buy or unlock a fur coat… of course the solution was to turn into wolf link who has a built in fur coat.
When I first got SNES Punch-Out (without instructions) I just kept hitting the buttons randomly. The more I kept losing, the more I kept mashing the buttons harder and harder. Incredibly frustrating but I was determined to keep going rather than write off the game. It was only many years later, when the Wii version came out, I finally twigged it was a reaction-type game. D'oh!
Oracle of ages final dungeon boss battle i think.
The boss had three phases, one you had to shoot his back with the seed shooter i think. Cant remember the other. But when his arms turned to the ball and chains i could not defeat him.
As a kid i thought it made sense to pick them up but it just wouldnt work. I went through the whole game so many times looking for an item i might have missed.
Never beat him. As an adult i researched it out of curiousity apparently there was an upgrade to the bracelet thing that let you lift heavier items.
I can't wait for Oracle of ages on NSO so i can finally go back and beat that SOB. Beat the only game that ever beat me lmao.
When I was a kid, I struggled my way through basically every single dungeon of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I honestly felt like an idiot playing every Zelda game I played when I was younger, but I’m happy to say that they don’t give me any trouble anymore!
I could not work out how to get down from the first tower in Breath of the Wild. I kept jumping off, knowing that there was a paraglider in the game from trailers and assuming it would deploy when I jumped. I died several times before thinking to take the ladder I'd just used to get up there.
I would play Pokemon Blue/Yellow in the GB tower in Pokemon Stadium and just exited to main menu thinking it saved (it even warns you) when of course you had to save in the games themselves. I don't know how many times it took me to cotton on to the fact I was losing my data every single time, but it was far too long...
Also any game that has puzzles ever, when I was a kid my mum had to help me with sliding ice puzzles, and I still need help with them even to this day. I always overthink and overcomplicate things and my partner just says 'give it here' and solves in in minutes... XD My head is empty I tell you!
Slay the Spire often makes me feel stupid when I use a single block card, which blocks for 5 when I have the relic 'Orichalcum' which automatically blocks for 6 at the end of each turn, but only when you end the turn with no block.
I also had the same issue with Sonic 3 as a kid. Took me a bit to figure that out.
The DS was bad for me with this. Like in Zelda where it says a breeze will put of a fire or candle (I forget exactly), so I'm racking my brain trying to find and use items that might make a breeze, when actually I have to blow into the DS microphone. ****, I hated those forced gimmicks in those Zelda games.
the water temple from ocarina of time that place confused the hell out of me especially trying to find the key i missed who ever design that dungeon should be slapped.
So...as a kid, i always remembered to wait for Shadow. Sadly I was willing to let time run out to make sure i waited for him. I remember a friend telling me that when i let him borrow the game, he didn't wait for Shadow...beause he said it. And i was like, 'well...you should always wait for your friends/allies"
And in Sonic 3...let sjust say there is a reason why i hate Carnival Night Zone....ok two reasons, that music is really bad too!
I remember as a kid never being able to pass the second level of Link's Awakening because I didn't know you had to destroy the enemies in the order of Pols Voice, Keese, and the Stalfos. Even after the stone slab/owl told you to do so. And then when I finally got it, i was so happy...but MAN looking back do i feel like an idiot for not getting that.
When I was a kid, I didn't know you had to jump down and cut the spider web to get down to the basement floors of Inside the Deku Tree in Ocarina of Time.
Playing Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology recently and trusting all the reviews i read.
Braid and Baba is You
I didn’t know you could use Stasis+ rune to freeze enemies (namely, Lynels). I told my wife and she was like, “yeah it says it right in the description…”
The legend of Zelda ocarina of time
There was a lot's of bombs next to each other around a statue, I should had light a bomb to make a chain explosion, but when I saw those I told myself:
"Oh look! Lots of bomb, next to each other, how cool!!"
And then I past them🙂
I can’t think of any particular instances but I’ve noticed games that stumped me as a kid I’ve easily beaten as an adult. Like hey wait a minute that was supposed to be hard 😆
Getting that codex. I didnt own a boxed copy, so had no idea what they meant.
I got horribly stuck in resident evil(ps1). I was missing two medallions to unlock the entrance to the lab? spent hours backtracking and couldn’t find anything, put the game down for six months, I made another attempts to find them but gave up after an hour and went to the menu to admire the inventory items 3-D renders. picked one of the books to look at and was spinning it around out of frustration, went to back out of the menu but I got my buttons confused and all of a sudden the book opened and there was the medallion.
Portal 2 co op. One of the earliest stages. There was a stage with an easy enough puzzle with I think lasers and at some point you had to get back up to a higher level where the door was. Me and my friend kept trying to find a way to get our portals up there. As it turns out all we had to do was time a jump right to get there. Probably took like 30 minutes.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. For years, I could never figure out how to open the first door. Then I cracked open the game manual and learned that I needed to press the Space key to open doors. I felt like such an idiot.
I was largely able to breeze through the game after that, but then I got to the part where I had to extend the two halves of the bridge in that fortress at Barons Hed.
I'll admit, I ended up using cheats at that point to just fly over the bridge, because I could never make the bridge stay extended for long enough to where I could cross it. And I also used some cheats for the rest of the game, such as the flying cheat and the healing cheat.
One that comes to mind is way back when I played Zelda II:AoL and was looking for the 6th temple. (POSSIBLE SPOILERS for the two that haven't gotten this far in Zelda II:AoL). I had put down the game and didn't return to it for a long time. Then when I returned, something told me to go to the middle of the 3 rocks in this spot and play the flute, despite the hints. Also, I forget the exact details, but there was a town with a high wall that I simply could not figure out how to get past it, but of course, the answer was in front of me and I figured it out.
I skipped the Magnet Beam when I first played Mega Man.
I can relate to Ollie's story,although not exactly my case.
Having played through prime multiple times,I picked up Prime trilogy on the Wii. And having the experience in the past,I rarely scanned things and just relied on memory. I believe it was that exact door,needing the morph ball to open, but I overlooked it constantly. I ran through every area,multiple times,got frustrated MULTIPLE times.I decided to delete the save and play through again,thinking I missed something important. This playthrough,i was scanning everything and yep...realized what I needed to do...so I opened the door..went to save..turned off the console and took a break for a few days because I just couldn't believe I overlooked something such as that😂
Any time using/accessing a game mechanic or feature in a specific way is clearly explained in a randomly displayed tutorial splash screen near the beginning of the game (you know the kind I'm talking about: suddenly interrupts the story/action for a quick info-dump), and I gloss over or forget part of the explanation and proceed to never use it in my play style.
And then, several/dozens of hours later, that specific mechanic is suddenly mandatory for a puzzle/boss in the late game. And then, once I come to the conclusion I'm clearly doing something wrong and search for some form of explanation, I find out about it in a random Youtube comment from people that had the same problem in the comment section for a video of that part of the game.
On a related note: huge props to developers that make any in-game tutorials able to be read later in the game, in the main menu. Huger props to developers that give enough visual feedback that key features/mechanics can't be missed/forgotten in the first place.
I love the Metroid series so much but it makes me feel like a complete idiot with every game, I need help figuring out some puzzles I really, REALLY should’ve been able to figure out on my own
Spent the whole first night w/ Pokémon Red not recognizing that rectangle on the ground was a doormat/the way outside.
I got Final Fantasy III (VI) and a Super Scope for Christmas as a lad, and the characters always ran from battle with no input. I was inconsolable. After two days I convinced my parents this was not how the game worked and called the Nintendo phone line. The guy who answered said "unplug your Super Scope."
I got so addicted to Fire Emblem Heroes (gacha) that I studied the AI extensively and studied builds to the point I could wipe out abyssal maps my first try and reach the highest tier in aether raids. The game was so full of whales and I had to save orbs for months the get fully merged characters. Fact of the matter is people who spend 1000's of $$$ on JPEG's of their favorite waifu/husbando for max merges were always going to have the advantage, so I leveled the playing field by being a master of character builds and AI manipulation...
...I lost so much time from playing real games cos of that crap. On one hand I regret it, on another hand that tactical adaptation has translated quite nicely to real games. It made me realize I wasn't a good as I thought I was before I played FEH. Boot camp indeed. (Glad I beat the gacha addiction though.)
The Sonic 3 barrel is beatable using timed jumps. With Sonic the bubble shield makes it easier, but me and my mate also did it with tails when we were younger, frustrating but possible. It took 5 years to figure out the up down method, there was no internet back then so unless you accidentally discovered the method you were out of luck. I remember the day I figured it out, I was playing S3&K on the mega drive and my mate was playing my Dreamcast on his other TV! We were both in shock after realising you could just press up and down!!
I'm sure I have plenty of examples to use, and could probably list many of them at any other time...
...but now that I have read this article and am trying to think of something on the spot, my mind is a total blank right now lol!
Ah, well. Ma'be I'll come up with SOMETHING later...
So many while playing Zelda games…
One of the worst was in BOTW when I didn’t know how to turn the cannon things in the Goron area and all I had to do was hit them with a weapon. I spent much more time than I would like to admit trying to use much more complicated ways to turn them.
I remember when I first played the GBC Links Awakening a couple years back on 3DS not realizing I could pick up the ball thing in the one dungeon.
Used my first Master Ball as a kid on Heatmor in Pokemon Black because I assumed he was rare and cool. lol
In the original Silent Hill there’s a puzzle in Nowhere concerning Zodiac signs and numbers. My sister and I spent hours going through her astrology books and finding different correlations and coincidences to try. Nothing worked.
Turned out the number in the puzzle just corresponded to the number of extremities in the images used to represent each zodiac. I actually called the damn tip line.
Psycho Mantis battle moments...echoes inside my brain (metal gear solid)
Oh, Yeah! Now I remember one. It's concerning the Master Ball in Pokemon Silver. Used it on a Jynx, because, from what I remember, they were rare and had a tendency to flee. Oh, well. At least I was able to catch the other Legendaries with tons of Ultra Balls instead. Though I now have a tendency to catch all the Legendaries in the various games with Ultra Balls, leaving the Master Ball essentially unused in all my playthroughs lol!
Pokemon Emerald Ice Gym. Could not get to the gym leader for the life of me due to the sliding puzzle
In Superstar Saga, I got stuck at the part where you have to hammer Luigi into a surfboard shape. I just couldn't figure it out! However, one day, I saw a kid playing his GBA in the library, and he was further than me, so I asked how he did it. He showed me, and now 20 years later, he's still my best friend
Two instances for me:
Resetting the computer in X-Men for the Sega Genesis where you had to literally press the Reset button on the console itself.
Defeating an enemy in Phantom Hourglass, where you had to put the DS into Sleep mode by closing the system.
My little brother telling me to "feed the small fish to the big fish" (Jabu Jabu) in Ocarina of Time back in the day. I, of course, dismissed his idea as too silly, but I gave it a try anyway because why not... 25 years or so later, I'm still embarrassed about it.
Another particular instance I had trouble with is the aforementioned infamous "Barrel of Doom" from Sonic the Hedgehog 3's Carnival Night Zone.
While, yes, there ARE only two things on the controller you can work with, those being the Control Pad & Jump Buttons; the FIRST thing you're probably going to try is jumping on it...
...which produces an IMMEDIATE response from the barrel. Going from this, you'll note that, each time you jump on it, the barrel will dip even lower and lower with each consecutive jump. So you'd be forgiven for believing this is the way to solve this "puzzle," to no avail...
And the saddest and worst thing about all of this is, it IS entirely possible to pass it by jumping on it multiple times! I remember watching my brother figure out the timing once when we were WAY younger many years ago, when the game was first released...
In F-Zero, I always tend to fall off that jump at White Land II not knowing that all I need to do was hold the d-pad down to hover my craft to land safely and I'll passed. As a kid back then technical manuver like this just doesn't come to mind.
Landstalker. The crypt.
Those puzzles are great!
The 7th Guest is a bunch of brain teasers set in a haunted house with some sort of loose story that gets unlocked.
I religiously watched the Donkey Kong Country cartoon and a friend at school told me that you had to memorize every song-and-dance routine to beat the final boss. I spent hours and hours dancing and singing these heavenly tunes only for the show to be canceled after two seasons. If it is ever rebooted I am ready for whatever waits at the end of the journey.
In recent memory, I was stumped a few times in Odyssey only to realize after looking up online that if you shake the controller, bullet bill and the frog costumes both propel you further. I was mainly playing in handheld mode but still…
All I can say is that Sonic 3 had me baffled until dumb luck helped me learn about moving the barrel using the D-pad. You'd think there was SOME kind of sign to let the kids know, but alas, we didn't have much internet to look up on at the time.
@Horace Link's Awakening DX actually gave more hints than the original version.
I grew up playing the original version. It was the first Zelda game I finished. I got stuck for weeks on Master Stalfos. It's not a very obvious solution how to beat him if you HADN'T played A Link to the Past first (I guess that was the sort of thing testers probably didn't think about that, sort of like how some games like Pokemon had softlocks from testers probably not considering the WORST possible player.)
I ended up getting the Player's Guide, only after I had already beaten it. I think it only helped me find a Heart Piece. But it turns out it is a collectible at least (since I thought it was only available by ordering it from the Nintendo Power order line, not at retail).
LoZ: The Phantom Hourglass on DS. You have to knock out four torches using your boomerang. I ended up moving from spot to spot, trying to find a place where the boomerang would come back to me fastest. I was knocking them out one by one as fast as I could, but just couldn’t do more than three before one burst back into flame.
Turns out you can draw a single path taking out all four. **facepalm**
The masterball one is easily solved when you use the item glitch (or rare candy glitch as some people call it)
@Tott omg this. I recently played through again given the he version and yes…. Flapping the joycon. Maybe I’m a stereotypical guy not reading the instructions…
Also I just played through TP again and could not for the life of me flip beast ganon at the end, even though ‘push A’ flashes on the screen. He must have hit me 20 times before I managed.
Fighting Psycho Mantis on Metal Gear Solid. I thought my console was broken when it kept beeping and HIDEO kept popping up in the top right hand corner. I wondered why it said Hideo and not Video, not knowing who Hideo Kojima was at the age of about 12. Im sure i wasnt the only one who had to Google what the hell to do.
Zelda Skyward Sword back on Wii. On the way to the second dungeon, just made it to the second area - whatever the volcanic region was.
I was literally just tutorialed what to do but for some reason I forgot I could roll bombs like bowling balls so I couldn’t for the life of my pass a simple bridge thing. Spent about an hour there getting frustrated.
I think I accidentally did it with the Wii motion but I may be imagining that now ha
@Arminillo this type of puzzle of pressing every square only once has been in several games I’ve played since. I always do it first time as this puzzle on Pokémon seared it into my brain
I think games now should have a button or something that u press and it auto plays the game for you, and then press again to resume control xx so frustrating to get stuck in games xx
As a child playing Zelda Links Awakening, I got the shovel and was told by the character that I should try digging different places, you never know what you may find. I dug almost every diggable space in the games lower map until I figured that he must not have meant for me to dig everything. Lol. It was hard to shake as I still believed there was some rare treasure somewhere.
I was pretty embarrassed not have seen the events at end of the first chapter of Broken Age coming. I spent about 3 seconds thinking "what a great twist", followed by a much longer period of reflection on how incredibly obvious it should have been.
When I bought F-Zero in the mid 90s, there's a track (I dont remmber its name) with a jump plate that sent me into a huge pit (longer than all the other ones I'd seen before). I just couldn't jump/fly over that one and kept falling into it time and time again. After months I thought I could try using the d pad to make my jump longer - I think I just had to press down to make the jump longer. That's a sad story....
Whenever I see an article like this, I think "I know I've had lots of moments like that, but without digging through my collection I can't remember them off-hand." But then I read the bit about the Sonic 3 barrel. Yay! That was me, too!!!
@Tainaru I did a similar thing with Charabug, I levelled it up to 87 before reading you had to be in a certain place for it to evolve.
A link to the past on the Gameboy. Not sure which dungeon but apparently I was meant to be looking for a hidden bomb wall.
Had to call a Nintendo hotline for this.
Kids will never know the pain of having no Internet.
Edit: links awakening***
To be fair to Alana waiting could've led to a "bad ending" and game over (can't think for now of examples from games of that specific period so not sure if it was a thing back then, but Paper Mario TTYD and especially Super immediately came to my mind).
Anyway, the most recent of those moments for me were getting stuck for way too much time in Persona 5 Royal more than once because I somehow kept on missing some kind of switch on walls (although I do blame in part the fact that I'm playing in handheld) with the most embarassing one being the first one in Madarame's Palace when the rest of your party gets trapped since it clearly has to be in the only new part of the room you can access (there's even a Shadow patrolling there).
I was having a super hard time beating Thunderblight Ganon, so I decided that I would go get some food and better arrows and stuff, but when I jumped off Vah Naboris, Link just screamed and the screen went black. I spent 3 MONTHS, 3 MONTHS trying to kill Thunderblight before I realized that I had to stand on the pad at the entrance to the Divine Beast so I could teleport out.🤦♂️ I’m not a huge fan of guides unless it’s for 100%-ing, but this almost broke me. I relished my freedom from that moment on.
At least you weren't an adult, Ollie. cough
Been playing Minish Cap via NSO and I encountered 2 specific moments wherein I got stuck for way too long and then the solution made me go "oh, maybe I'm just stupid then." It was the masks on the wall in the mayor's house, and not realizing that I could use the Mole Mitts to dig into those doorways filled with dirt.
When I first got Crash: Mind Over Mutant for the Wii, I never realized that you had to press 'A' on the save screen to actually save your game. I thought it just saved to the slot that was highlighted. Had to replay the beginning section of the game three or four times before I figured it out. I even thought changing the difficulty would let me save my game. At least I can say that I've beat Crash: Mind Over Mutant on a Wii Mini on Bonkers difficulty (highly specific, I know).
Playing Minish Cap on NSO, and a lot of this game feels off; a lot of solutions and avenues that don't seem either intuitive or logical.
Has some charming moments for sure,
but struggling to see why it's quite so raved about.
"Wasn't her frequency written on the back of the CD case?"
I was stuck for a week on that part of Metal Gear Solid.
@jon128 Ha, I feel you—I just stumped myself on that recently on my second play through. I managed to forget that it was a simple as hitting the cannon and was convinced I forgot to talk to someone or turn on the power of something. And was very embarrassed when I finally figured it out (again). D’oh!
Personally, I have enjoying the h*ck out of Minish Cap, even despite the hangups I've encountered. For the most part I would say I've found the puzzles pretty manageable and fun, especially in dungeons, and I really love the art style which definitely adds to the game's charm and sort of breezy feeling for me.
The issues I've encountered have so far almost entirely been between dungeons either requiring mechanics that I don't recall being properly demonstrated, or just feeling very filler-y (cough library books cough). But to me these have been pretty minor inconveniences that have had very little impact on how much I have otherwise been enjoying the game.
I would say going back and playing Metal Gear Solid 2.
As a teenager I listened to all the meta and social commentary in that game and said “this crap will never happen. It’s just Kojima being a conspiratorial nutcase.”
Played it again a few years back. Boy I felt stupid. It predicted exactly what the internet would do to us as a society to a tee.
The combination lock puzzle in Dishonoured 2. Still need a guide (though I’m aware you can get clues throughout the level). It’s deviously difficult, even for this 90s point and click pc game veteran!
The first door in Fallout 2. When I figured out I have to press and hold right mouse button to open an action menu after being stuck there for weeks I felt very, very dumb. I haven't played Fallout 1 before trying 2 and I had no manual (it was a copy attached to a magazine).
My best friend and I played the hell out of Zelda Four Swords on the GameCube... yes we had all the Gameboy Advance systems needed for 4 players but as we were roomies, we mostly played 2 player .... we got stuck near the end, in the realm of the heavens ...we couldn't figure out where to go, and were stuck for a week straight. Turns out, his VERY old CRT TV was so curved that the way to progress (left) was obscured where the glass tucked under the plastic housing of his TV. We had to buy a strategy guide to figure that out.
"Talking Point: Which Gaming Moments Made You Question Your Intelligence?"
(answer: never question own intelligence)
Mystic Quest/Final Fantasy Adventure/Seiken Densetsu for Gameboy.
Palm trees and 8. Got it?
Well, I got it after a looooong time. Something I'll never forget afterwards.
@Walterd I’m glad I’m not alone.
Another one I remembered is in Ocarina of Time at the point where you need a red tunic I thought “great I’ll go back in time and buy one,” but then I think it tells you that it is too big for you because you are a child and you can’t buy it. I think what I actually had to do was to stop a Goron that was rolling around in a circle or something. I thought my solution would have been more fun. (I also may be mis-remembering some of these details).
I think some Zelda puzzles end up being a bit more like riddles where you can’t always use logic to get to the answer. Or you need to use special “Zelda logic” to get to the answer.
I should really re-play some Zelda games. Sometimes it is fun for me to solve these types of things with a fuzzy memory of the answer.
I can't really think of any one specific thing other than a vague sort of issue I have with LoZ games, which is that it tends not to be the puzzles themselves that get me but just little random things that aren't really even puzzles. For a recent example, in Link's Awakening I had to move that weathercock to wake up that blue rooster. I knew I had to move it so I tried many things, playing the ocarina near it, grabbing it, shooting it, bombing it. Turns out you just have to move into it, D-pad only, no grabbing.
I’m glad to see the Sonic Barrel on this list. I’d be questioning my own sanity if it wasn’t.
The only other similar thing which I remember made me feel I was crazy that isn’t on this list (but was mentioned in a different NintendoLife article in the past) is the Zelda puzzle on DS (I think it was Phantom Hourglass but it could be spirit tracks) where the solution was to close your DS. I don’t know how long I was trying to tap everything on the map or press every button.
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