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11 Video Games That Embarrass You for Poor Play

Game developers are aware that some people just aren’t very good at video games, and they love to play off of it, humiliating those who can't complete specific levels or treating players who take the easy way out like wimps. These 11 games weren't content with simple, mocking "Game Over" screens upon the inevitable failures—they decided to embarrass gamers for their bad performances. 

1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain // The Chicken Hat

Metal Gear Solid isn't exactly a game for beginners, with stealth segments that can challenge even the most patient players—so it's not odd to be forced to repeat more difficult sections until you're able to pass them with flying colors. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the latest in the series, and in addition to being one of the series’ largest and most impressive entries, it also features one of the most comical ways to aid players in need of a helping hand: a chicken hat. The poultry headwear can be equipped after multiple deaths, and it eases the difficulty of the game for those who simply can't get their act together. The only drawback? It looks absolutely ridiculous. The game's obviously mocking you for failing to meet its standards, to hilarious effect. 

2. Ninja Gaiden Black // Ninja Dog Mode

Ninja Gaiden Black wears its austere difficulty like a badge of honor, especially given the fact that most of the games in the series are soul-crushingly punishing. You'll die—a lot. And the game knows this all too well. That's why this particular entry in the series will offer you the "Ninja Dog" difficulty once you've failed upwards of three times, where protagonist Ryu Hayabusa is forced to wear a purple ribbon while Ayane, a young female ninja, berates him for being unable to complete his mission. It can be pretty brutal, especially if you're the type to throw controllers. 

3. Dishwasher: Vampire Smile // Pretty Princess Mode

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile was renowned for its frustrating difficulty upon its release on the Xbox Live Arcade, though it was fast, frenetic, and easy to pick up and play. Gamers who died too many times would unlock "Pretty Princess Difficulty," where enemies would do virtually no damage, take fewer hits to eliminate, and would bleed neon pink hearts. For a normally bloody game, it was a harsh blow to the ego to see hearts and other dainty sparkles and colors fluttering out of enemies rather than guts. At the very least, it kept you motivated to push forward and improve. 

4. Alien Hominid // Mockery

Playing through Alien Hominid is no picnic, no matter what difficulty you've chosen. If you choose Thumb-sucker mode, however, you can at least complete the game. But when you actually get to the end, you realize you haven't completed the game at all. Instead, you’ve successfully finished only one third of the entire side-scrolling arcade shooter. As if forcing you to play without bothering to tell you that you're wasting your time weren't snide enough for developer The Behemoth, the game also greets you with the sarcastic advice that you should play the game on a difficulty that's actually challenging. Talk about adding insult to injury. 

5. TimeSplitters 2 // Monkey Army

If there's one multiplayer shooter that plays nearly all of its features for laughs, it's TimeSplitters 2. While Call of Duty rewards you and attempts to bolster your efforts when you die by awarding Kill Streaks (care packages, special perks, and more), TimeSplitters 2 uses Monkey Assistant mode to humiliate you. If you end up in last place, a squad of killer monkeys will be sent out to take out the player who's doing the best in the current match to help you out, because clearly you're not capable of doing it yourself. 

6. Earthworm Jim // Earthworm Facts

Touted as one of the most difficult platformers out there, Earthworm Jim has a huge cult following, mainly due to its humorous interludes and zaniness throughout the game. So it probably won't come as a surprise that playing through Practice Mode wins you a still shot at the end of your journey with a voiceover by series creator Doug TenNapel and some mockery. "What a worm! Playing on practice, eh?" will ring forth from your speakers as TenNapel decides to regale you with all the facts he knows about worms. Meanwhile, you can't help but feel a little like a worm yourself after completing the game on its easiest setting. 

7. Streets of Rage 3 // "You play this game like a beginner!"

The American version of Streets of Rage 3 features an Easy difficulty that is, essentially, the Normal setting for Japanese players. When you defeat Robot X at the end of stage 5 (out of a total of 7 stages), your adversary will spout "You play this game like a beginner." Not only is the game insulting you for playing on what you think is Easy, but as the North American version of the game ensured the difficulty was cranked up, you're actually accomplishing something and still getting told you're bad. You just can't win for losing. 

8. Body Harvest // Multiple Difficulties

Body Harvest was an incredibly tense and difficult title that followed a genetically engineered soldier on a mission to eliminate advancing alien forces. It offered players two settings for adventurers to play on: Hero and Zero. If you choose Zero Mode, the entire game ends after the third level. Given that it takes a ridiculously long time to play through said levels, it's mocking you for wasting all that time only to find out that you'll have to start again and play on Hero difficulty if you want to see the game's final two levels.

9. Serious Sam HD // Exploding Enemies

Serious Sam is a franchise known for its unrelenting difficulty, waves after waves of enemies, and over-the-top gore, and Serious Sam HD is a glorious remaster of the original game that started it all. If you choose to play through on the "Tourist" setting, however, you don't get the gore. Instead, when you kill advancing adversaries, they explode into clouds of flowers and sparkles rather than blood. It's an interesting effect, but quite an embarrassing one, and all because you couldn't play on a higher difficulty mode. 

10. Contra 4 // Cutting the Game Short

If you've read the other list entries, by now you should know that several games simply take delight in making you feel about an inch tall. Take Contra 4, which ends at stage 7 on Easy mode, thus never allowing you to see the final stage if you continue down that path. What's more, the game actually tells you that you'll never see the ending on Easy. As if you weren't self-conscious about your skills already, right? 

11. Devil May Cry // Easy Automatic Mode

Devil May Cry has a very unique approach to combating what it considers to be "bad" gaming, and it can frustrate players beyond belief. If you die three times within the first three missions of the game, you're offered a mode called Easy Automatic Mode. While it's optional, if you decide to take it and play through the game so you don't embarrass yourself further, you can't change the difficulty later. Certain monsters won't spawn, you can't unlock specific modes, and the only way you can get away from Easy Automatic Mode is to begin an entirely new save file. It's brutal in a very strange and unusual way, but that makes total sense for the world of Devil May Cry.

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Something Something Soup Something
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language
This Game About Soup Highlights How Tricky Language Is
Original image
Something Something Soup Something

Soup, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food," is the ultimate simple comfort food. But if you look closer at the definition, you'll notice it's surprisingly vague. Is ramen soup? What about gumbo? Is a soy vanilla latte actually a type of three-bean soup? The subjectivity of language makes this simple food category a lot more complicated than it seems.

That’s the inspiration behind Something Something Soup Something, a new video game that has players label dishes as either soup or not soup. According to Waypoint, Italian philosopher, architect, and game designer Stefano Gualeni created the game after traveling the world asking people what constitutes soup. After interviewing candidates of 23 different nationalities, he concluded that the definition of soup "depends on the region, historical period, and the person with whom you're speaking."

Gualeni took this real-life confusion and applied it to a sci-fi setting. In Something Something Soup Something, you play as a low-wage extra-terrestrial worker in the year 2078 preparing meals for human clientele. Your job is to determine which dishes pass as "soup" and can be served to the hungry guests while avoiding any items that may end up poisoning them. Options might include "rocks with celery and batteries in a cup served with chopsticks" or a "foamy liquid with a candy cane and a cooked egg served in a bowl with a fork."

The five-minute game is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but Gualeni also hopes to get people thinking about real philosophical questions. According to its description page, the game is meant to reveal "that even a familiar, ordinary concept like 'soup' is vague, shifting, and impossible to define exhaustively."

You can try out Something Something Soup Something for free on your browser.

[h/t Waypoint]

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Pop Culture
15 Forgotten Video Game Mascots From the 1990s

With the growing popularity of Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog on home video game consoles in the 1990s, it seemed that almost every video game company was set on creating a lovable mascot to give their brand a unique identity. Sometimes these mascots were memorable and iconic, like Capcom’s Mega Man or Namco’s Pac-Man, but other times they failed to leave any lasting impression. Here are 15 forgotten video game mascots from the '90s.

1. ROCKY RODENT

In 1993, Japanese video game developers Irem Software Engineering created Rocky Rodent, an anthropomorphized rodent with a cool attitude and hair to match. This would-be mascot was tasked with rescuing the daughter of a restaurant owner named Pie Face Balboa from the mob. As a reward, Rocky Rodent would get an all-you-can-eat buffet. His bizarre weapon of choice was a can of hairspray, which he used to both defeat bad guys and style his hair.

2. AWESOME POSSUM

Tengen created a rival for Sonic when it released Awesome Possum... Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt for the Sega Genesis in 1993. The game featured the cool and badass Awesome Possum, who would collect empty bottles and cans instead of coins or gold rings, in an effort to clean up the forest. It was sold as an educational game for children with an environmental activist theme, but it never caught on with gamers, despite positive reviews. Maybe kids back in the '90s didn’t want to learn about recycling and Earth science while they were playing video games.

3. CROC

Originally developed for the SNES, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was created as a 3D platformer starring Yoshi from Super Mario World. However, when Nintendo rejected the game, the developers at Argonaut Games changed Yoshi from a lovable dinosaur into a lovable crocodile named Croc, who tried to rescue furry creatures from the evil Baron Dante. Argonaut then pitched the mascot to Sony, who loved the gameplay and released it for the original PlayStation in 1997.

4. RISTAR

Released in 1995, Ristar was developed late in the Genesis's life cycle by Sonic Team, the same production company that created Sonic the Hedgehog. The mascot was a cute star who had the ability to stretch his arms in any direction to climb, swing, and grab enemies, as he explored a number of planets.

Since the character and game came out just before Sega released the 32-bit Saturn, the mascot never grew in popularity. Ristar managed to gather a cult following for its mechanics and strong gameplay, and the character has since made cameos in other Sega games, such as Shenmue, Segagaga, and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.

5. GEX

In 1994, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer console was released with the promise of high-end 32-bit gaming. To compete with established consoles like the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn, 3DO needed a cool mascot like Mario and Sonic to bring more attention to their video game system. Enter: Gex.

Released in 1995, Gex featured a wisecracking gecko (four years before the first appearance of the now iconic Geico Gecko) with a cool attitude and a penchant for watching TV. The game followed Gex as he tried to find remote controls hidden in TV show-themed levels to get home, but the evil Emperor Rez stood in his way.

While Gex received critical and fan acclaim, it wasn’t strong enough to bring the 3DO into the mainstream against tough competition. The 3DO was eventually discontinued two years after it was released, and Gex was then ported to the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn.

6. CONKER THE SQUIRREL

While he first appeared in Rareware’s Diddy Kong Racing (along with Banjo-Kazooie) for N64 in 1997, Conker the Squirrel received his own spinoff game for the Game Boy Color in 1999. Conker's Pocket Tales was a lighthearted game that followed the adventures of Conker, a cute squirrel who has to rescue his girlfriend Berri from the Evil Acorn. In 2001, Rare released Conker's Bad Fur Day, where the character went from a cute and cuddly mascot into a hard-drinking and foul-mouthed squirrel who would constantly break the fourth wall during gameplay. The game was remade in 2005 for the Xbox, under the name Conker: Live & Reloaded and later included in the Rare Replay compilation game for Xbox One in 2015.

7. BONK

While the NES and the Sega Genesis were the two systems at the center of the console wars of the late '80s and early '90s, NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 was a modest console from Japan, where it was known as the PC Engine before it was rebranded in America. The console’s mascot was Bonk, a prehistoric caveman kid whose main attack was a fierce headbutt. The mascot and game series—the first game was Bonk's Adventure released in 1990—were quite popular in Japan and Europe, but didn’t gain the same success in the U.S. due to the popularity of Mario and Sonic.

8. POCKY AND ROCKY

Released as a sequel to the 1986 Japanese arcade game KiKi KaiKai (it was called Knight Boy in limited release in the U.S.), Pocky & Rocky was developed by Natsume for the SNES in 1992. The sequel followed a young Shinto shrine princess named Pocky and her sidekick, Rocky the Tanuki, as they try to save small and cute creatures called Nopino Goblins in a top-down co-op adventure game. Pocky & Rocky received good reviews from critics and even got a sequel for the SNES in 1994, but the characters were never elevated to mascot status.

9. BATTLETOADS

Rare’s Tim and Chris Stamper created Battletoads, a co-op beat-'em-up game for the NES that featured three musclebound toads named Rash, Zitz, and Pimple as a rival to the widely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games of the early '90s. Battletoads was mostly known for its fun stage design and heart-stopping speed and difficulty level. The characters even crossed over with brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon in an ultimate beat-'em-up action game.

While the games spawned a short-lived cartoon series and comic strip, Battletoads could never escape comparisons to TMNT. The warrior toads have not been featured in their own video game since 1994.

10. BUBSY

In 1993, a cocky bobcat with a cool attitude named Bubsy was positioned to usurp the video game mascot throne from Mario and Sonic. However, Bubsy's games didn't live up to the hype, despite being available for the Sega Genesis, SNES, PlayStation, and Atari Jaguar, where he eventually found a home as one of the console's short-lived mascots.

Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind followed the titular bobcat trying to get back the world’s largest yarn ball from a fabric-stealing race of aliens known as the “Woolies.” A sequel was released in 1994 with an exclusive follow-up for the Atari Jaguar called Bubsy in: Fractured Furry Tales released later in 1994. The game series lasted for one more game with the release of Bubsy 3D: Furbitten Planet for the Sony PlayStation in 1996.

11. GLOVER

In 1998, Interactive Studios and Hasbro Interactive released a platformer called Glover, which followed the adventures of a sentient four-fingered right-handed glove, for the N64. The object of the game was to get a ball to the end of each level, while trying to solve puzzles, dodge enemies, and find lost crystals to restore the Crystal Kingdom. Glover’s life was tied to the ball, so if it fell off the platform, the glove would also die.

The gameplay was a little ahead of its time and would probably do better with motion-control consoles like the Nintendo Wii or touchscreen Android or iOS devices. As a result, Glover had poor sales and low critic ratings, which led to the cancellation of its sequel.

12. ALEX KIDD

Before the advent of Sonic, Sega had a different mascot named Alex Kidd, a small boy with big ears and monkey-like features who lived on the planet Aries, which was also known as Miracle World. The games started out in the arcades, but made their way to the Sega Master System as a mix of platforming and puzzle solving games.

Alex Kidd was featured in six games throughout the late '80s and early '90s, but never rivaled Nintendo’s Mario in popularity. Sega needed a different mascot to represent the company, so video game designers Yuji Naka, Naoto Ohshima, and Hirokazu Yasuhara created Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991.

Sega stopped making Alex Kidd games and focused all of its resources into making Sonic more popular than Mario. However, Alex Kidd still made cameos in various Sega games, such as Altered Beast, Sega Superstars Tennis, and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.

13. TITUS THE FOX

Created by French video game developers Titus Interactive, Titus The Fox: To Marrakech and Back (Lagaf': Les Aventures de Moktar) was released for the Amiga and Atari ST personal computers in 1991. The video game followed the titular fox on a quest to rescue his girlfriend Suzy. He must complete 15 levels through the Sahara Desert while dodging dogs, construction workers, and giant bees to save her. It was also eventually ported to the Game Boy and Game Boy Color later in the '90s.

Unfortunately, Titus The Fox received poor ratings from critics and fans alike, and Titus Interactive ultimately filed for bankruptcy and folded in 2005.

14. BANJO-KAZOOIE

After the pair first appeared in Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 in 1997, Rare released a spin-off game starring a bear named Banjo and a bird named Kazooie in 1998. The puzzle-solving 3D platformer followed Banjo-Kazooie as they tried to stop the evil Gruntilda from stealing Banjo's sister's beauty. The game was praised for its non-linear level design, as well as its immersive graphics and deep sound design. A sequel called Banjo-Tooie was released for the N64 in 2000.

Fun Fact: The video game was originally developed as a role-playing game called Dream: Land of Giants for the SNES before it was re-developed.

15. ZERO THE KAMIKAZE SQUIRREL

In 1994, Iguana Entertainment and Sunsoft released Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel as a spin-off game of Aero the Acro-Bat, where he appeared as a sidekick. Zero’s mission was to stop an evil lumberjack named Jacques Le Sheets after he kidnapped Zero’s girlfriend (or should I say “squirrelfriend”) and started to tear down the forest to make counterfeit money.

While it received favorable reviews, Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel never caught on with gamers due to its sloppy controls, while the perception that the character was a blatant rip-off of Sonic the Hedgehog persisted.

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