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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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Revisit Your Favorite '90s Screensaver With This Free Game
Cahoots Malone
Cahoots Malone

In the '90s, a significant amount of computing power was devoted to generating endless brick mazes on Windows 95. The screensaver has since become iconic, and now nostalgic Microsoft fans can relive it in a whole new way. As Motherboard reports, the animation has been re-imagined into a video game called Screensaver Subterfuge.

Instead of watching passively as your computer weaves through the maze, you’re leading the journey this time around. You play as a kid hacker who’s been charged with retrieving sensitive data hidden in the screensaver of Windows 95 before devious infomancers can get to it first. The gameplay is pretty simple: Use the arrow keys to navigate the halls and press Q and click the mouse to change their design. Finding a giant smiley face takes you to level two, and finding the briefcase icon ends the game. There are also lots of giant rats in this version of the screensaver.

Screensaver Subterfuge was designed by Cahoots Malone as part of the PROCJAM 2017 generative software showcase. You can download it for free for Windows, macOS, and Linux from his website, or if playing a game sounds like too much work, you can always watch videos of the old screensaver on a loop.

[h/t Motherboard]

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Brain Training Could Help Combat Hearing Loss, Study Suggests
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iStock

Contrary to what you might think, the hearing loss that accompanies getting older isn't entirely about your ears. Studies have found that as people get older, the parts of their brain that process speech slow down, and it becomes especially difficult to isolate one voice in a noisy environment. New research suggests there may be a way to help older people hear better: brain training.

The Verge reports that a new double-blind study published in Current Biology suggests that a video game could help older people improve their hearing ability. Though the study was too small to be conclusive, the results are notable in the wake of several large studies in the past few years that found that the brain-training games on apps like Luminosity don't improve cognitive skills in the real world. Most research on brain training games has found that while you might get better at the game, you probably won't be able to translate that skill to your real life.

In the current study, the researchers recruited 24 older adults, all of whom were long-term hearing-aid users, for eight weeks of video game training. The average age was 70. Musical training has been associated with stronger audio perception, so half of the participants were asked to play a game that asked them to identify subtle changes in tones—like you would hear in a piece of music—in order to piece together a puzzle, and the other half played a placebo game designed to test their memory. In the former, as the levels got more difficult, the background noise got louder. The researchers compare the task to a violinist tuning out the rest of the orchestra in order to listen to just their own instrument.

After eight weeks of playing their respective games around three-and-a-half hours a week, the group that played the placebo memory game didn't perform any better on a speech perception test that asked participants to identify sentences or words amid competing voices. But those who played the tone-changing puzzle game saw significant improvement in their ability to process speech in noise conditions close to what you'd hear in an average restaurant. The tone puzzle group were able to accurately identify 25 percent more words against loud background noise than before their training.

The training was more successful for some participants than others, and since this is only one small study, it's possible that as this kind of research progresses, researchers might find a more effective game design for this purpose. But the study shows that in specific instances, brain training games can benefit users. This kind of game can't eliminate the need for hearing aids, but it can help improve speech recognition in situations where hearing aids often fail (e.g., when there is more than one voice speaking). However, once the participants stopped playing the game for a few months, their gains disappeared, indicating that it would have to be a regular practice.

[h/t The Verge]

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