The Top 5 of 2010: FFFFFUUUUUUUU Games
We’ve all been there: a game you’re playing gets so frustrating that you just want to yell out “FFFFFUUUUUU!”, throw your controller/keyboard at the wall, and never want to play again. It could be due to a game getting unbelievably difficult, pants-crappingly terrifying, or just plain frustrating thanks to some game-breaking glitch or lost connection issues. These are the games of 2010 that most exemplify these traits, for better or for worse.
I’m not really a huge fan of racing, but Split/Second‘s gorgeous graphics, stylized arcade gameplay, and amazing Power Play gimmick truly hooked me in. However, just as it was the most epic racing experience of this generation, it also provided the absolute worst rubberbanding AI I’d ever seen in any game. Tell me if I’m wrong, but there’s something not quite right about being in first place in a race from the very first lap, and being nearly eight seconds in front of the 2nd place car in the finishing stretch, only for you to make a drift that was a bit too wide (but nothing race-ruining) that somehow results in the guy behind you getting an ultra-hyper-crazy speed boost to change your position from eight seconds ahead, to three seconds back. This is absolutely consistent through all of the game, and in later races, it’s even worse. If I can’t even surpass a racer two seconds in front of me after they mess up, how the hell does the AI consistently do crazy things like that? Truly the definition of FFFFFUUUUUUU.
Minecraft has garnered a rabid following through the year, and while it’s not hard to see why (think first person LEGO: Harvest Moon), sometimes it’s indeed difficult to ignore that it’s been in Alpha for the vast majority of its time, and just recently went into Beta. This is a game where if you die, you lose every single item in your inventory, and if you have things like Diamond armor and weapons and various building materials, it can be a FFFFUUUUUU experience in and of itself. But that can be further exacerbated by various bugs in the game that make living harder, including enemies that are somehow invisible and can still attack you, skeleton archers that shoot invisible arrows at you (and they still hurt), and some wonky combat issues. At one point I was trying to hack a zombie in a dungeon, but no matter how often I would swing my sword, the zombie would not get hurt, all while it was still able to damage me fairly easily. Naturally, I died, and of course, I FFFFFUUUUUU’d.
Speaking of enemies, your first night in the Minecraft world can be an additionally terrifying FFFFUUUU experience. During the night is when all the creepy crawlies and baddies come out, and if you don’t have any shelter or weapons, you’re absolutely screwed. On top of that, nighttime is actually nighttime, meaning it’s almost pitch black, with only the moon illuminating your way. Most people starting off don’t have enough materials to build a decent shelter, so all they can do is dig a half-assed foxhole and essentially bury themselves alive so as not to be ripped to shreds. Sitting in a pitch black dirt hole at night with the sounds of zombies, creepers, spiders, and skeleton archers emanating all around you can be the longest, most taxing ten minutes of your real life.
This gravity-flipping platformer from Terry Cavanaugh was one of the most fulfilling gaming experiences of the year. It was also one of the most satisfyingly difficult games of 2010. As Captain Viridian, you don’t have the ability to jump, but rather the ability to alter gravity, flipping yourself upside down or right side up as you see fit to complete levels. The entire game is just hardcore, balls-deep difficult, but the later levels and areas really ramp it up, with portions where switching gravity in quick, calculated motions is essential to beating the game. You also can’t forget about Veni Vidi Vici/Doing Things the Hard Way, one of the most notoriously frustrating sequences in a game this generation. You’re not even required to go through it, but most people have tried, and many have failed just for the chance at bragging rights. For the record, yes, I breezed through that. And by “breezed”, I mean “died about 610 times before somehow stumbling my way to victory.”
2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Full disclosure: I never finished Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It’s not for a lack of trying; the game is just so terrific that the gamer in me consistently goes back to try to complete it. But every single time I go back there’s always something that’s exponentially more terrifying than what I experienced in my last attempt, and the pussy in me craps and pees my pants at the same time and doesn’t want to play it ever again. Previously Silent Hill 2 held the title of scariest game ever, but just halfway into Amnesia, and I already know that no other game could terrify me like this one has. This is FFFFFUUUUU terror at its best (or worst, depending on who you are). Even though it’s just a first person adventure game at heart, the process by which Amnesia scares the hell out of you is just brilliant: you get progressively insane in the dark, or when you see something unnatural, like one of the many monsters patrolling the huge castle. The more insane you get, the more stuff starts blurring and the more your character starts whimpering, causing said monsters to hear you and rush towards you.
As a result, every encounter with these freaks is just plain horrifying; you have to hide in the dark so the monster doesn’t see you, but at the same time you can’t look at the monster or else you’ll go insane. In every encounter you’re forced to spend your hiding time crouched in a corner, eyes staring directly at the wall, petrified to check over your shoulder and see if the beast is still there. And when the monster starts chasing you? Run. Don’t ever look back; just get into a room, shut the door, and hide in the cupboard. And oh God, I haven’t even talked about the sewer level fairly early on. If you can get past that level, you’ve already done better than most people I know who’ve attempted this game. There’s just no doubt that Amnesia belongs here; they’ve taken the “fear of the unknown” philosophy and honed it into an absolute masterful artform. I don’t even want to imagine what developers Frictional Games have up their sleeves as a follow-up.
1. Super Meat Boy
Was there ever any doubt that Super Meat Boy would take the title as most FFFFUUUUU game of 2010? About 300 levels of ruthless, impeccably precise platforming; impossibly located bandages to obtain across various levels and fifty bajillion saws and other death traps liberally spread throughout one game? Just reading that makes me want to throw a controller across the Pacific Ocean. And yet, thanks to the ingenious instant respawn system and the most meticulous level design this side of Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Meat Boy doesn’t feel cheap or unfair in any way whatsoever. If Frictional Games has perfected the panties-dampening FFFFUUUUU, developer Team Meat has certainly mastered the controlled, consistent, satisfying FFFFUUUUU.
That’s it for the FFFFUUUU games. We still have a couple more special lists coming out, as 2010 was a special year. Stay tuned for that!